Ever feel like that?—Like you’re bent over double—from worries, responsibilities, guilt, exhaustion?
Maybe the question isn’t, “Have you ever felt bent double?” But,“Have you ever not?!”
One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. Jesus called her over and said, “Woman, you are healed of your sickness!” He laid hands upon her and instantly she was made straight and began to praise God! —Luke 13:10-13
In a culture that discounted women, Jesus was counter-cultural.
Jesus saw the women.
Luke tells us Jesus saw this woman, crippled and bent double for eighteen years!
In the original Greek, the word saw means more than just visual. Jesus not only saw her physical state, it means He saw her spirit—He saw her soul. And for this woman who had been pushed aside and ignored, to be seen was to be given worth for the first time in nearly two decades!
Luke continues his account by telling us“Jesus called her over”— He called her to His side.
I wonder … how did our woman—bent over double—feel when the eyes of Jesus met hers?
Did Jesus have to bend over to get her attention … to make eye contact? I wonder how many times Jesus is bending over, trying to make eye contact with us?
She was a woman … used to being unseen. She was crippled … used to being an outcast. An object of shame. Invisible to others.
But not to Jesus.
Never to Jesus.
We are never invisible to Jesus.
Our own burdens? … Those things or people that bend us over double? … Jesus sees them too. And, just like our woman in the story, Jesus calls us to His side.
“Woman, you are healed…” He said. You are released … let go … set free!
That’s it! That’s what I want! I want to be set free from the weight of the burden. Free from the bag of guilt and shame I’ve been hauling around behind me. Free from the judgements of others and free from my own crazy expectations. Free from useless worry and anxiety. Free from fear. Just free.
Because I’m tired. Tired of living life bent over double.
And just like our woman in the story, I don’t have the strength to stand up straight on my own. But as my spiritual director gently reminded me yesterday, “Isn’t that the point?” … That I can’t save myself.
So maybe there are a couple of learnings for us in this story. Not only am I incapable of healing myself, but the focus of my eyes—am I looking at Jesus— makes all the difference between being attached to myself or attached to God. Our question then is, When Jesus bends over to look in my eyes, am I responding to the invitation … or am I looking away?
Freedom is ours for the asking, but it takes practice. Our bent-over ways have become comfortable and familiar. They have become a habit—ways of being we don’t even think about.
Yet, freedom is possible.
With God, all things are possible.
Later in the story, the synagogue leaders get angry with Jesus for healing our woman on the Sabbath. And in classic Jesus-style, He rebukes them and lifts up the value and worth of our woman.
Reversing cultural expectations, Jesus shocked bystanders by calling a woman to His side, healing her, touching her. It was a bold public statement of God’s incredible value of and love for women, both then and now.
The compliment Jesus then gave our woman—our standing-up-straight woman— was the greatest compliment a Jewish woman could have received. By it He gave her dignity, equal standing among the men gathered near, and equal worth before God. Jesus called her a daughter of Abraham. Only men were called descendants of Abraham. Only men. Undoubtedly, this statement infuriated the Pharisees that day, bringing Jesus that much closer to the cross … because you are that important. That loved. So my sister …
Jesus is inviting.
Jesus is always inviting.
Our only job—yours and mine—is to choose whether or not we go to His side.
One of the best ways I know of siding up to Jesus and allowing God to reform my mind—to transform my ways— is through Imaginative Prayer—imagining myself … yourself … as the Bent Over Woman of our story.
Below you’ll find a PDF to help you get started imaging this story. I’ve also included some questions you might ask yourself … or Jesus. Have fun with this. It can be life-changing to look into the eyes of Jesus and be loved. (For a detailed explanation of Imaginative Prayer, see post: https://daughtersofeve.blog/2020/04/06/covered-in-dust/#more-825.)
CHILDREN: Imagine being a young girl sitting in Sunday school as you hear about the women in the Bible being just as important to God as the men. Imagine you hear the Bible refer to God with both male and female images. Imagine the stories you hear are of Bible women who are strong and confident followers of God. Don’t you think you would sit up a little straighter? Don’t you think the boys might grow into men who have a greater respect for women? It starts with us. The following Download is a coloring page (thanks to Sunday School Zone for sharing) of Jesus and the Bent Over Woman ... so you can tell the story of Jesus and this woman to the children in your life.
>The word saw in the original Greek language Bible Hub. Retrieved 4/26/2020: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/luke/13.htm
Pictures in Order:
>Cover Image: Healing of the Crippled Woman. By Theophylact, Byzantine Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria. 1055 a.d. Retrieved 4/8/2020: https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2017/12/gospel-commentary-for-twenty-seventh.html
>Coptic-Arab Manuscript. by Patriarch of Alexandria, 1250 a.d. Retrieved 4/8/2020:
Jesus Healing the Bent Over Woman. Icon in restoration at The Archangel Michael Greek >Orthodox Church, Port Washington, New York. Retrieved 4/27/20: https://archangelmichaelchurch.org/
>Jesus Heals the Crippled Woman; The Parable of the Barren Fig-tree, by Alexander Master, 1430, National Library of the Netherlands. Retrieved 4/27/20: https://www.kb.nl/en
>Jesus and the Bent Over Woman, by Barbara Schwarz OP. Retrieved 4/8/2020: https://wrestlingwordblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/the-lord-upholding/
Christ Healing an Infirm Woman by James Tissot 1886-1896. Picture Retrieved 4/26/2020: Orthodoxpath.org
>Sixth-Century Syriac Manuscript known as Rabbula Gospels. Retrieved 4/8/2020: https://ptochotrophia.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/womens-healing-in-the-rabbula-gospels/