A Daughter of Abraham

She had come to worship God. Walking the short distance to the local synagogue, and greeting friends and neighbours along the way, she was well-known in the community. It was not her fame or success, or her numerous good deeds and her many merciful acts. She was known because of her physical handicap. For the last eighteen years she had been bent over, unable to raise herself up.

"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." Luke 13:10-11)

She arrived at the synagogue, as she had done so many times before on the Sabbath. Something was about to happen that would totally change her life.

"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." (Luke 13:12-13)

The woman was overwhelmed and surprised by this exceptional outpouring of lovingkindness from the LORD. She knew that it was the LORD who had released her from her infirmity, and so she glorified God.

But there were others who seemed opposed to anything Yeshua did or said. The ruler of the synagogue was one who voiced his disapproval.

"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 in the Sabbath day.'" (Luke 13:14)

The ruler's suggestion appears worthy enough, namely, to heal those in need during the week. However, his enthusiasm for the Sabbath, to keep it holy and set apart, unfortunately was imbalanced and appears to have hardened him to the work of God. After all, it is God who heals, not man. And if God wants to heal someone on the Sabbath, then who can stop Him?

Moreover, the Eternal knows the thoughts of man, and He is witness to all that man does. Nothing escapes His view.

"The Lord then answered him and said, 'Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water?'" (Luke 13:15)

Compassion was shown to a man's ox or donkey when it was loosed and led away to water on the Sabbath. This compassion toward the animal was correct and proper. Moreover, the same kindness ought to have been shown toward another human, who is made in the image of God.

In fact, compassion should have been readily extended to her because she was unable to free herself. The teachers of the law and the scribes were knowledgeable in these things and had the capacity and resources to extend compassion to her. They had even demonstrated that they could show care on the Sabbath by loosing their ox or donkey. Then why not accept the healing of this woman?

"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?" (Luke 13:16)

She was more than just an ordinary woman, who should have been honoured. She was more than just an object of compassion. This woman was a daughter of Abraham.

A daughter of the one who was the friend of God, the Almighty. She was a daughter of the Father of the faith, and of the faithful; those who will inherit the world to come. Abraham was the one with whom God chose to make His covenant so that He might bless the whole world. This woman was his daughter. So then, ought not this woman be blessed and be loosed from her infirmity in order that the nations might see the great mercies of the God of Israel?

This was the Sabbath. God commanded His people to rest from their labours and to honour Him on the Sabbath. So then, this was the day in which His goodness and His mercies were abundant. His lovingkindness would be more obvious than on any other day, because on this day His people would be constantly looking to Him. They would be seeing things from His perspective and their eyes would be enlarged with God's lovingkindness and light. They would therefore, view their neighbour with forgiveness, and see those in need with eyes of compassion.

"Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

"Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

"Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry and he will say, 'Here I am.'

"If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

"The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

"Those from among you shall build waste places; you shall raise the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.

"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honourable, and shall honour him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 58:6-14)

The people of Israel were to be sanctified to God; set apart from the nations, as light from darkness. His light was to shine in their hearts and pervade their lives before the nations. Here was a woman, not only a daughter of Abraham, but she was bound by God's adversary, Satan, the ruler of darkness. Surely, on this day, God's day, she should be released from Satan's oppression.

There is further significance in the healing of the woman on the Sabbath when we consider the role of women on the Sabbath. It is the woman who welcomes the Sabbath by lighting the candles. Usually her daughters stand by her side, while the men folk watch on. As darkness falls, the light from the Sabbath candles remind us that only when we see His Light do we see light.

Surely now, on the Sabbath, and after eighteen years of physical and spiritual bondage this woman should be free! Sadly, there were some who viewed the event with a small eye of compassion, while others were able to see it from God's perspective, with eyes of compassion wide open.

"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 13:17)

There were those who regardless of the word or deed could not enter the joy of the Sabbath because they chose not to receive Yeshua as the Messiah, the Anointed One. Instead they were put to shame. While many others, because they received Yeshua and the miracles He performed, were able to rejoice in the life and liberty of the Sabbath and so glorified God.