Everett Henes: Interrupting Jesus

Have you ever been frustrated because you were interrupted? In Luke 13, Jesus is teaching his disciples by way of parables. In verses 6-9 he teaches that bearing fruit is important. In verses 18-21 he teaches of the importance of faith and that even a little faith — like a mustard seed or yeast — will have a big impact. He speaks of the narrow door through which all must enter if they want to be part of God’s kingdom. In the middle of this instruction, he is interrupted.

Verse 11 gives us the description, “And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.” The Greek describes it as the woman being bent double on herself. This might have been a fused spine or some other spinal problem. One of the things we are not told is how old she is. Is she young, and suffering from this most of her life, or is she older and this came upon her later in life? We don’t know.


What we do know is that Luke gives us the ultimate issue involved, a disabling spirit. But notice that the woman does not go seeking Jesus. We can be certain that with this disability she is not part of the crowd that has been following Jesus. She is most likely local and simply going about her Sabbath day. Jesus that takes notice of her, calls her, and speaks to her. All of this speaks to the incredible compassion that he has on those who are bound. It was for people like this woman, bound by Satan, that Jesus was sent.

The simplicity of how Jesus heals her shows that it is not an exorcism. What I mean is that, though Luke points out that it is a spiritual problem at its root, it is not as though the woman was possessed. And that’s something worth noting. She was bound, oppressed, but not possessed. As Jesus will point out later in the passage, she is a child of Abraham.

He speaks to her, lays hands on her and she immediately set free and able to stand up. Her reaction is just as simple and yet just as profound, she glorified God. She immediately recognizes what the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the synagogue ruler are unable to see, that Jesus is sent from the Father.

The response to Jesus’ action is predictable, “But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’” (Luke 13:14) Imagine being angry because Jesus healed a helpless and hurt person. He is making it sound as though this woman sought out this particular day and moment to be healed.

Jesus will not stand for this, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Notice that the word ‘hypocrite’ is in the plural. There are others there that Jesus knows will agree with this man.

There are others who, to appear pious, will stand against the work of God. That is the most dangerous sort of opposition to the Gospel. I am never concerned about those who directly attack the existence of God, the life of Jesus or the truth of the Gospel. I am concerned about those who, trying to appear pious and religious and good, take away the centrality of God’s grace in Christ. Jesus reveals this man and others like him for what they are, merely those who play the part.

This is the same Jesus, the same Lord that calls in his gospel today. Our needs are never a bothersome interruption to him. His compassion is shown in the forgiveness of sins and the knowledge that we will be received by him on that last day, we will not be put to shame. This passage also confronts us as it calls us to reflect on where we find ourselves. Are we like the woman who responds to the call of Jesus and glorifies God or like the those who hide behind piety in order to oppose what Jesus is doing?

Pastor Everett Henes, the pastor of the Hillsdale Orthodox Presbyterian Church, can be reached at pastorhenes@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: Everett Henes: Interrupting Jesus