Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah
“18 Years of Suffering”Categories: Miracles of Jesus
In this reading we’re introduced to her. We don’t know her name. We don’t know much about her story. What we know is that she’s bent double - unable to straighten up. Have you ever thrown out your back and found yourself stooped over, unable to straighten up? Can you imagine living like that for a length of time? Your life is bound/restricted, forced to look at what no one pays attention to – the ground, feet, all that lies beneath. Unable to pick something up, like a child. Imagine sleeping – unable to stretch yourself out. This was her life. For 18 years she suffered with this ailment.
But there’s something beautiful and powerful God reveals about this woman. Where is she when we meet her in this story? She’s in the synagogue - the place of worship and learning. She has been sick for 18 years, likely praying for healing/help/relief. Yet where is she? The synagogue. She hadn’t given up on God. She didn’t allow her crippled body to cripple her faith. Nearly 20 years of suffering, and she still worshipped God. What an example she is!
In v. 12 it says that Jesus saw her. It’s not just that He noticed her. When you look at v. 16, Jesus said she had been bound for 18 long years (NASB). He saw her suffering. He saw the years of struggle. He saw her, and saw her pain. Without a doubt this woman had been seen/noticed by others. They had seen her walk by (probably annoyed she wasn’t moving faster in a crowd). They might have known her as, “that woman that’s always bent over.” They saw her but never really saw her.
He calls her over and tells her in v. 12 that she’s free of her sickness. But it doesn’t end there. He laid His hands on her. There have been times when Jesus healed without touching (Matt. 8:13). Here Jesus touched. One of the reasons would have been to show that this miracle, this healing, the power came from Jesus. She was made erect after He laid His hands on her. Touch communicates love/care. Studies have been shown that doctors who
come in and lay their hands on their patients recover more than the doctors who stand at a distance telling the news. Jesus touched those who wouldn’t have been touched like lepers, Without a doubt this woman had been bumped into, but Jesus brings healing with a gentle touch.
What was her reaction (v. 13) she was made erect “stood tall” and glorified God. She’s been freed from her sickness, freed from her restricted position, freed from having to worship looking down – she is free to stand tall and reach towards the heavens worshipping God
Not everyone is amazed and thrilled. The synagogue official is indignant. Irate. Furious. Outraged. Irritated. Bothered. Instead of rubbing his eyes in awe he’s raising his voice in anger. Who does he address? The audience. He’s trying to get the crowd back on his side. He’s mad that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, confused on the difference between what God said and what man taught. This angry official judges the woman’s intentions, that she only came to be healed, not out of her devotion to God - and tells her that she should have waited.
Then Jesus speaks. He exposes the man’s hypocrisy - these Jews untied their donkey to give it the basic needs for life – water and food. That wasn’t considered work. Jesus is saying, I just did the same thing. I untied this woman from her disease. That’s the hypocrisy. It’s ok for you to untie your animal, but not for me to untie this woman from Satan? This woman – a daughter of Abraham. She belongs to God’s people. She is a
woman of faith. It’s a term of endearment. This synagogue official made a judgment about her faith – yet Jesus praises her for her faith. She is valuable. Satan has bound for 18 long years – shouldn’t she have been released? She’s waited long enough. You’re telling her she should have waited for another day. She’s waited a long time. Why not today? Wouldn’t today be a perfect day?
From this he and all his opponents were being humiliated. There were sympathizers with the synagogue leader. They were embarrassed, humiliated by their evil, their hypocrisy. By this reasoning they cared more for their donkey than they did for this woman. The rest of the crowd was rejoicing over all that was being done v. 17.
There’s a lesson for us – are there some people in my life that I not really see? Are there people bent over with health problems, family problems, worry, stress, guilt, temptation – and I don’t see them. Many of us do good wearing masks (everything is always fine). Sometimes we can tell by the way they look, act, something is wrong. Would I see it? Jesus saw those in need. He saw those overlooked. He saw people’s suffering. Oh to be like Jesus, to have eyes that see, a heart that consider the needs of others. “Open my eyes Lord, I want to see like You.”
Christ of compassion, how touched I am to see your love and kindness. How amazed I am to see how moved you were with those who hurt. How comforted I am to see how you comforted the suffering with your healing touch. How strengthened I am to see you confront the hearts hardened by pride. Lord I want to see like you. Open my eyes, soften my heart, renew my spirit to see those in my life as you see them. Help me to see past the masks we wear, to see the needs of others, to see how I can help and serve as you would. In the way I live with others, Lord help me to be more like you.