I was riding down the crowded streets of Mexico City in a cab when I saw her. She measured about four feet high, backed curved, bent at the waist at a ninety-degree angle, and fingers gnarled and twisted shut. Like an upside down chair, her face was parallel to the dirty sidewalk. Feet, dirt, trash. That was her view of the world. She shuffled alongside our car as we inched through the congested traffic. I saw her, but she did not see me. She could not see me. She just saw feet.
Sharon, look at my daughter, God seemed to say. When you read in the Bible about the woman with the crippled back, never again see her as a character in a story. See her as you see this woman now. Flesh and blood. Real and relevant. My daughter. Your sister.
God reminded me once again that the women we read about in the Bible were real people–just like you and me. We must never forget that. And while we might not be able to relate to being crippled physically like the woman in Luke 13:10-17, most of us can relate to being crippled spiritually or emotionally.
We see feet…people passing by going about their busy lives. We see dirt…the mistakes we’ve made through the years. We see trash…the pain inflicted on us by others and many times by our own poor decisions.
Jesus said to the woman with the crippled back, “Woman, you are released (set free) from your infirmity! (Luke 13:12 AMP)
He invites you and me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
Rest for our souls. Isn’t that what we all want?
Like the woman with the crippled back, we may have “a spirit of infirmity,” a sickness of the soul. That is an interesting way to explain her illness. More than just a crippled back, her spirit was crippled as well.
Linda Hollies, in her book, Jesus and Those Bodacious Women brings this point home.
“There are many spirits that can cause you to walk around in a bent-over state. They might be your color, your gender, your age, your marital state, your family, or they could be abuse, injustice, resentment, oppression, despair, loneliness, your economic state, or even a physical challenge. It makes no difference what has hurt you in the past, it makes no difference how old you were when the trauma affected your life, and it makes no difference what your wealth, position, or status is. For the evil one comes to steal, kill, and destroy and each one of us is a candidate for being bent and bowed.”
Bent and bowed.
The weight of the world on your shoulders.
Little by little.
Day by day.
Heaviness too difficult to bear.
A spirit of infirmity.
Crippled by shame, fear, pain, disappointment, depression, poverty, insecurity, inferiority, inadequacy, broken dreams.
Satan, the one who orchestrates the spirit of infirmity, wants to cripple us into inactivity so that our walk becomes a shuffle. Our voice becomes a whisper. Our vision becomes a blur.
Who put the chains on her in the first place? Jesus said Satan had her bound (Luke 13:16). In reality, all sickness was ushered into the world when Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie over God’s truth and ate the forbidden fruit.
For the thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth, he was in a life-and-death struggle with evil. John tells us that the reason Jesus came was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8). The battleground is the world and humans are the pawns of the evil one.
Note the language in Luke 13, “locked up” and “set free.” This is about much more than physical healing. It is about spiritual freedom. And when Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” it was.
Don’t miss this. Jesus said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” There are those words again–set free. The words paint a picture of chains and manacles falling from a prisoner’s shackled body. Another translation says it this way, “Woman, you are released from your infirmity!”(Luke 12:13 Amplified). The irons of oppression that held her prisoner to this crippled frame gave way and fell at Jesus’ feet as he unlocked the chains that had her bound.
Jesus came to set us free and that freedom comes in many forms. Whatever Satan is using to bind you, Jesus came to free you. Free from…and free to.
I can’t say that enough. For far too long we’ve looked at freedom only in terms of what we are free from. But freedom encompasses so much more than a shedding of chains. esus set us free to live the abundant life by being all that he has created us to be and accomplishing all that he has planned for us to do. Setting her straight (literally) was only the beginning for her.
What is God setting you free from today? What is God setting you free to do?
Coming October 1, 2015. How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free: A Woman’s Walk in Power and Purpose. Available for pre-order at Amazon.com.