God Is Eager To Heal Us
Chan Gin Kai
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. (Luke 13:10-13)
It was already the later stage of Jesus’ ministry. Opposition against him, especially amongst the religious authority has risen greatly. However, there were still a few synagogues that allowed him to teach, and he was preaching in one of them.
God Sees Us
A woman in the synagogue had been crippled for 18 years. It was literally difficult for her to move around, but that didn’t stop her going. It was embarrassing too, as she knew all eyes would be on her. There was a common misconception at that time that anyone with a handicap must have been especially sinful, and thus punished by God. The woman must have known what others thought about her, and felt ashamed. Her handicap could have been a physical and emotional excuse, but she went to the synagogue nonetheless.
And it was on one of her faithful trips to the synagogue that her life changed forever.
As Jesus was teaching, he saw the crippled woman, bent over, unable to straighten herself. She had neither approached Jesus nor asked him to heal her. Instead, “when Jesus saw her, he called her forward” and healed her.
The woman didn’t even need to ask, but Jesus was moved by his compassion. He didn’t even need to call her forward, but he wanted to touch her. He could have healed her from a distance, but he wanted her to know that he saw her, and that she was special.
God sees all that we do, the good and the bad. He hears all that we pray, the praises and the cries. Yet it is not our repeated requests that touch Him, but His deep compassion that moves Him. We matter to God.
Many erroneously think we’ll need frequent fasts and persistent prayers to move God. We wrongly believe it’ll take loud cries and sad tears to touch Him. What kind of hardhearted God must He be to require us to work so hard to convince Him?
We like to think we have the need to earn God’s affection, and the means to gain His attention. That’s how prideful we humans are. By thinking that it is our prayers that convince God, we proudly elevate our power and insolently debase His love.
We pray persistently till we surrender to God’s will, not to bend God to ours. That’s what Jesus did at Gethsemane. We fast regularly to soften our hearts, not to change His. That’s how we allow God to draw close.
God sees us clearly, and He loves us dearly. Why would we want to change Him?
God Has Our Back
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
The Lord answered him, “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. (Luke 13:14-17)
It was neither the first time Jesus had healed on a Sabbath, nor the first time he got an adverse reaction. He knew what people would say, but that didn’t stop him.
Did Jesus deliberately heal on the Sabbath to invite more opposition? He never shied away from attacks and accusations, but he certainly never created them on purpose. Did he do it just to create an example to preach about? He wasn’t short of teaching points, though he was running out of preaching venues.
So why did Jesus want to upset the synagogue ruler and heal the woman on a Sabbath? Couldn’t he have waited for the next day? After all, she’s already been crippled for 18 years.
That’s probably how we’ll think if we choose to be pragmatic. But that’s not how Jesus thought, because he was focused on her pain. To us, what’s another day’s wait when she’s already endured for so long. To Jesus, she’s already been tormented for 18 years and he wouldn’t want her to suffer even one more day.
So what if he lost another venue to teach at? So what if he angered the synagogue ruler? So what if he got persecuted? To Jesus, the woman’s healing mattered more. He has her back (please pardon the pun).
In his reply to the synagogue ruler, Jesus gave an example of how people would lead their animals to water on a Sabbath day. The ox or donkey won’t die just because of a day without water. But the owner wouldn’t want the thirst to affect the animal’s health, even if it’s only slightly. How much more does God care for us?
It was interesting the synagogue ruler told his listeners they should have sought healing on another day, especially considering the woman didn’t even ask Jesus to heal her. He was afraid to confront Jesus directly. Perhaps he felt deep in his heart that what Jesus did was right, even though it clashed with all that he knew. What was the synagogue ruler to do? On one hand, Jesus broke the Mosaic Law; on the other hand, what he did was the compassionate thing to do.
Aren’t we glad that’s how God cares for us? All the commandments that God set and everything that God does revolve around His love for us. No inconvenience is going to stop Him, no opposition is going to change His mind… He is set on loving us.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Now that doesn’t mean that life will be a bed of roses and we will never face troubles; there is after all some value in pain. But He will never want us to suffer more than we need to. We need to trust in God’s timing and deliverance. Trust that He has our back.
What troubles us today? God sees our pain clearly and He loves us dearly. He is eager to heal us, and nothing can stop Him.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry of the Central Christian Church. He describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.