ONE of those colorful pictures from our Lord’s ministry that carries many human-interest elements is found in Luke 13:10-17. The Lord was teaching on the Sabbath in one of the synagogues. The day of worship found Him at the house of the Lord. He was not one of those whose manner is to forsake the assembling of themselves together with other believers on a pretext of “worshiping in the great outdoors.”
He found in His audience a woman afflicted with a spirit of infirmity, bent over for 18 years. I am struck with the phrase “spirit of infirmity.” Our Lord went on to say later that it was Satan who had crippled her. There are thousands today shackled with a spirit of infirmity, bound by Satan. Some are not really sick, organically, but bound in mind by fears and obscure mental conditions. They think they are sick, and they need the liberating touch of the Lord.
Jesus healed this woman, and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. It must have been an exciting time. The man who finds himself released from a spirit of infirmity has a right to praise God; and though he may be a disturbing nuisance to the dignified, God is pleased with the praise of His creatures.
It seems almost incredible that anyone should have complained at such an occurrence, but the ruler of the synagogue was angry because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath. Imagine a soul so warped that it can overlook the loosing of a body bound 18 years and see only the breaking of a custom. But these are still among us. If a revival should break out in the average church today and the “hallelujahs” of souls set free resounded through the house of God, the Pharisees would still object and be more concerned about the infraction of a custom than the freeing of a soul.
Our Lord answered this man by calling him a hypocrite and citing that the Law allowed the loosing of an ox or ass on the Sabbath to lead it to water. Surely then this poor woman could be loosed from her infirmity on the Sabbath day. Jesus looked over everything else to see human need. He was interested in helping souls, not in observing customs. The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath—and He used the less to serve the greater.
The adversaries were ashamed, we read, and all the people rejoiced. There has never been a great spiritual movement that did not stir up the opposition of the rulers of the synagogue. The great reformers and preachers of the past had to contend with the contemporary preachers of their day, the established customs of their times. Finney was reviled because of his new measures. Wesley and Whitefield met the scorn of established religion. Spurgeon was ridiculed as a wild sensationalist. But the common people have heard them gladly and have rejoiced at the power of God shown through them. Anyone who would walk in the steps of the Lord and give himself to loosening the spirit of infirmity in men and women must expect to displease the rulers of the synagogue, but he will find the poor and weak and despised praising God for him!