The following story is an excerpt from a book I am writing about the healings of Jesus. Its working title is, Fringe Benefits: Gifts in Suffering. If you like this story, and would like updates and special previews, please follow me by email. You can enter it on my home page. Thank you for your support! I will be querying soon, so please pray that an agent will pick it up for publication!
Woman Bent Double
There is a healing story in the Bible of a woman bent double. She probably had ankylosing spondylitis, an arthritic inflammation of the vertebrae, which leads to curvature of the spine and inability to flex the joints. There is no cure for Ankylosing spondylitis. The affliction of the woman, it appears from scripture, is due to the bondage from Satan. The woman bent double had been in this condition for eighteen years when Jesus noticed her at the synagogue. Of course, this healing happens on the Sabbath, much to the religious and political leaders’ chagrin.
“Come to me,” Jesus says as he sees her. “You are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” Bada bing, bada boom! Jesus sees, Jesus has compassion, Jesus touches, and Jesus heals. After eighteen years of walking with her spine at a 90° angle like an L-square, Jesus instantly straightens her spine. Do you know what happens next? You can guess, right? It’s the Sabbath, so it’s predictable. Yep. The synagogue ruler is angry, doesn’t acknowledge the healing and doesn’t have compassion. What the heck? How can someone be so spineless and cold and not rejoice that the bent double woman is standing upright, spine as straight as a yard stick? He is really the one suffering from being spiritually bent double. He just sees the ground rules.
Jesus calls out the synagogue ruler and the other religious leaders, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
“When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”
We must see people. We must be compassionate. We must reach out and touch them in some way; our efforts will help heal something in that person. All of us are bent double in some way. We are out of whack, out of touch, burned out, checked out, out of order, out of tune, out to lunch, out to get someone, out of line, out of time, out of sight.
We gotta reach out, look out, figure out, and not miss out on the fringe benefits of what we can learn from this story. This woman happened to be in the right place at the right time. She didn’t approach Jesus; she may not have known he was there. But she—she caught his eye. He saw her and didn’t look away. He zoomed in and conquered Satan by restoring this woman’s health. It is a sign of what was and is to come for each of us, no matter our type of suffering. Jesus sees each of us. He wants each of us to be healed of our infirmity, our binding. He is waiting to look us in the eye, face to face, and say to us, “You are set free from your infirmity.” This will happen when he returns to take us home if we respond to him in this life differently than the Pharisees and other religious leaders did.
Symbolically, the Pharisees are like Satan. Satan has bound them, blinded them, hardened their hearts, and opposes Jesus’ workings for our eternal restoration. We can choose to see. Just see! Just open our eyes! Look at what Jesus has in store for us! He made us so that we could share in a relationship together. He is waiting, but if we have been blinded by Satan (sin) and we need to choose between staying blinded by pride and sin, or open our eyes, turn away from sin, and see others with compassion.
The woman bent double was forced to face the ground. You may be feeling low facing the ground too. Let Jesus lift your chin and look into your eyes. He is with you right now and sees you. You can look up to the Shepherd who has a purpose for your life and wants to lead you to green pastures and cool brooks. Sadly, if you don’t choose to follow him, our default mode is to follow sin and Satan. It’s just easier.
Putting your faith in Jesus, whom you can’t physically see, may be the most challenging thing you will ever do in your life, but it is the most critical decision you can make. If you’ve been putting off seeing him, stop reading this book and open your Bible to Matthew or John and begin reading. You will find him there in the red print. When you meet him there, let yourself go to him like the woman bent double was called to come. Choose healing. Choose life. Then praise Him!