Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Bent Woman, She's Me...She's You

Luke 13:10-17
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.

She knew her friends and family by their feet, not their faces. A prisoner for eighteen years, trapped in her own broken body. She was The Bent Woman.

This passage resonates with me. Within these verses, I can see every woman I know.

Life on this planet bends us. We suffer the blows of our own sins. We suffer from the sins of others. We learn to brace ourselves from the pain. But before we even realize it, are gaze has settled in the dirt. We thrash and fight but it does no good, we cannot rise up.

Modern science might pinpoint our problems. It may offer us a diagnosis and sometimes a little relief. But nothing can heal us.

We're bent women. We've been abandoned and abused. We've lied and we've cheated. We've been robbed and we've stolen. Our case is hopeless.

But here we are, just like her, searching. She was in the synagogue that day, listening to Jesus teach. She must have known that He was The Healer. But she didn't ask Him for anything.

She didn't have to.

He saw her. And he sees you.

He calls us to Him.

She took every painful step towards Him.

Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Her broken back didn't define her anymore.

1 Corinthians 15:10 says, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. Even though she suffered, she was no less of a woman. Jesus saw her for who she was and He was moved with compassion toward her. With just His touch, her chains were broken. She was free to stand at her full height, she was free to look other people in the eyes and glorify God. She was free to tell her story. His grace had not been in vain.

Her story tells us that she was bound by Satan for eighteen years, pretty heavy stuff. What comes to your mind when you think about that? If she were at our church, sitting in our Bible Fellowship class, would we pick the seat right next to her? Or would we look at her clothes, at her broken posture, and sit across the room? Would we think to ourselves, That's one for the pastor and his wife to deal with. 

The absolute, most heartbreaking aspect of being in the ministry, at least for me, was not being able to be everything. I couldn't possibly pray with the woman sobbing in the pew if I was downstairs teaching Children's Church. The phone call after church to let me know that she had slipped out, unwelcome and unreached, would send me to bed in tears. Why can't we remember that we've all been bent?

In fact, The Bent Woman's healing ignited anger in her day. The ruler asked why Jesus hadn't healed her on another day? He saw her as an interruption and a nuisance on the Sabbath. Are we any different? For some of us, Sunday is our only day to relax. It's the only day when we are free to do what we want. Would we be open to a change of plans? A longer church service, with an even longer invitation? Would we be irritated with somebody praying at the alter for more than five minutes? Would we loath being stuck in the infant nursery past 12:15?

The week before my dad went into the hospital for the last time, he drove himself to work, an hour and half one way. He was too sick to drive and he knew it, my mom knew it, we all knew it. I remember how angry we were at him. I remember how we worried, all day long. He called to say that he'd be late. But then he never came. It was after midnight when phone rang, He'd run the station wagon into a ditch and had two flat tires. Mom and I went to pick him up.

It was that night, when I saw him, that I knew my daddy wouldn't be with us much longer. His shirt and pants were ripped, his hands were black with grease.He looked so old, so tired, so bent. For more than two hours he had tried to put the spare on. Hunched over, on the side of a busy road, as car after car passed him. Surely, someone would have stopped to help if they had only known this man could barely carry his briefcase much less jack up a car. Surely, they would have stopped if they knew the man hunched over would never stand straight again.

But no one stopped. Mom had the car towed the next morning.

Jesus sees what we don't see, Jesus knows what we don't know. He sees beyond the labels: bent, abandoned, bankrupt, divorced, selfish, needy, depressed, prideful, two-faced, flaky, tramp, lazy, stupid, sick, old...... He's sees straight into our hearts.

What if that religious ruler could have felt how she'd suffered... for eighteen years? What if he had made a path for her? What if he had let go of the laws and rituals that made him feel important and her worthless? What if he had rejoiced when she stood up?

What if the ruler could have had the compassion of Jesus?

My friends, Jesus is a friend to sinners. He is a friend of mine.

Let us not forget how broken we were. Let us not forget how He straightened us out. Look beyond the labels, look beyond the trouble, the hassle, the time restraints.

Look through the eyes of Jesus. Know what Jesus knows..... that every daughter of Abraham is precious to Him.And be the one who reaches out, be the eyes that she can look into.

Write it girl


  1. Man....that is so true and so powerful. Thank you for sharing. There are so many hurting and broken everywhere, and we as the church are far too often caught up in our routines and often, pride, to pause and see what opportunities surround us to reach out in Jesus' name...

    1. The Lord has been working on me to "be the one" willing to make a difference. I thank God for your family, Calley. Your story and faithfulness has been an inspiration to me.

  2. The very beginning grabbed me: "She knew her friends and family by their feet, not their faces."

    And then: "Her broken back didn't define her anymore."

    Such a beautiful post, Reagan! One of the greatest stories of all time.

  3. Jen, I think so too! I don't think I've ever heard a sermon/meesage on it before, at least not the whole passage. I love her story.

  4. I love the picture of being bent... bent by the world, by life, by fear... I love that you point out that Jesus had her standing straight. Never noticed that before... I love when that happens! Powerful Image! A yay for the power of Jesus! Stopping by from Write It Girl... glad I did :)

    Amanda @

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda! Yes, His love changes everything.

  5. Oh, Reagan. I cannot begin to explain how specifically this touched me. Maybe someday. Thank you for being a conduit of the grace and healing and encouragement of the Lord. His voice in your words is unmistakeable. I'll be praying for you as this powerful ministry you have no doubt infuriates our adversary. Keep your eyes to the hill sister. - Rachel

  6. Thank you, Rachel. Your words have encouraged me!