Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:10-17)
The Infirmed Man
Jesus was the great miracle worker showing the power of God through healing, comforting, casting out demons and raising the dead. No time in the history of man has there been such an incredible demonstration of immediate reversal of physical calamity. There was no disease Jesus could not conquer. His cures were complete. The visual evidence of the miracle was purposed for the hearts of men to see Him as the Son of God. Thousands were healed. At times single individuals received the welcomed touch of the great Physician. Some the Lord warned not to tell while others He healed in the presence of hard hearted Jews intent on destroying Him. Jesus could heal the body but many He could never change their hearts to see Him for who He was.
On a certain Sabbath Jesus was teaching in the synagogue when He saw a pitiful sight of a woman so infirmed she could not stand straight. He knew she had suffered in this manner for eighteen years. What a miserable existence to be unable to stand straight or sit with any comfort. Sleeping may have been the only respite from her misery as she endured many years of incredible pain and discomfort. What of her family? Did she have a husband who cared for her or children that concerned themselves with her welfare? We are not told but it was clear Jesus saw a need and His heart filled with compassion at the sight of this poor woman. Calling her over to Him, He declared her loose from the infirmity, laid His hands on her and the warm feeling of healing swept over her body. The pain was gone and the crippling malady that plagued her for eighteen years was immediately removed. It must have startling to her mind to be in such agony one moment and feeling the gentle touch of Jesus as her body became whole. She glorified God for many reasons. Her infirmity was gone and she knew the only way that was possible was by the power of a loving God. How great was her thanksgiving and how joyful she could now live a full life. As her friends and family saw her they were astonished that she stood straight and tall. This woman was no longer infirmed.
Watching the events in the synagogue was a man in a place of authority among the Jewish people. As ruler of the synagogue he possessed a position of great authority and prestige. The people would come to him for spiritual advice and it was under his leadership the synagogue was conducted according to the traditions of the fathers. When he saw what Jesus did he became indignant. It is possible he knew the woman infirmed for eighteen years and may not have given much notice to her wretched state. There was nothing he could do and she was probably not important to him. Along with the crowd gathered that Sabbath he witnessed the woman healed immediately by the power of Jesus. He saw her glorify God and praise Him for the wonderful blessing of healing. The heart of the ruler great dark as he boldly declared to the crowd that healing should not be done on the Sabbath day. If anyone wanted to be healed let them come the other six days but he reminded them the Sabbath was not a day for healing.
Jesus was incredulous. Here was a man serving as ruler of the people and witnessing an amazing miracle; and he accuses Jesus of profaning the Sabbath. The Lord shames the ruler and those who sided with him that if they had an ox or donkey that needed a drink of water that they would – on the Sabbath – take their animal to a trough of water. If they had such compassion for an animal, why would they not have compassion on a child of Abraham to be loosed from her infirmity? One of the most remarkable things that happened with the miracles of Jesus is no one denied the miracle. The ruler did not say the miracle did not happen. He thought (in his hypocritical mind) that Jesus should restrict His healing to six days. In the story of the woman infirmed for eighteen years we find the real story is the man who is infirmed in his mind to deny the power of Jesus as the Son of God. She was healed but the ruler was infirmed.
The Bible has stood for centuries under the barrage of criticism and rejected by the wisdom of man. But it is still here and continues to change lives because of its power to heal the broken and contrite heart. Many look at the word of God with derision and scorn but they cannot deny its reality. In the face of a world that denies the power of the word it remains the only hope for removing the infirmity of sin. Those who are blessed by its message find relief. For the masses that reject the word – infirmity remains.