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God’s Word for You

Luke 13:10-13 She stood straight up

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman

10 Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on a Sabbath day. 11 There was a woman there who had an evil spirit that had caused an illness in her for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 He laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began to glorify God.

Luke describes the woman’s condition with five specific medical terms: “illness,” “crippled,” “could not straighten up,” “you are released,” and “she stood straight up.” Let’s look at these words to give glory to Jesus and what he accomplished.

“Illness” is astheneias (ἀσθενείας), a weakness of any sort, including the frailness of human flesh in general (even that of Jesus, 2 Corinthians 13:4). This illness was brought on by a spirit, which we take to be an evil spirit. God permitted this to happen in order that her faith might be tested, and that Christ might be glorified. In this way, her test was similar to that of Job (Job 2:7), except that her agony went on for eighteen years, and Job’s did not last nearly that long.

“Crippled” is syngkyptousa (συγκύπτουσα), to be bent over double, which describes the problem with the woman’s body clearly for us. She was “bowed down” like the “rascal bowed down in mourning” in Sirach 19:26, but her problem was real, not feigned. While there might be many medical terms for this today, none of them is relevant since the source of her trouble was not medical but came from an evil spirit. Today physicians still run into problems for which they cannot find any satisfactory answers. Luke was the leading physician we know of in the early Christian Church, and he was satisfied when the Holy Spirit led him to believe that she was not crippled by either weakened or infected muscles, but by a demon.

“Could not straighten up” is anakypsai (ἀνακύψαι). The Greek physician Galen uses this word to describe the straightening of the vertebrae and the spine (De Usus. Part. Xiii,1). Hippocrates also uses this word when the curvature of the spine (kyphos or kyphoma) was reversed (Artic. 806,807). In the Greek text of Job, this word occurs in the sentence: “Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift up my head” (Job 10:15; cp. Susanna 1:35).

“You are released” is apolelysai (ἀπολέλυσαι). It occurs frequently in medical texts for someone released from a disease, especially in Hippolytus, but this is the only instance in the Bible where it is used of a medical recovery. More often it is the release of a woman in divorce (Matthew 5:32; Luke 16:18), the release of a prisoner (Mark 15:6; 1 Macc. 10:43), or the release of a debt in forgiveness (Luke 6:37). Jesus set her free from her captivity to the illness.

“She stood straight up” is anorthothe (ἀνωρθώθη). What better definition is there for this term than in Psalm 20:8, “We rise up and stand firm.” Medical writers use this word to describe setting a bone or some other part into its natural position. The woman was able to straighten up into her natural posture simply because of the power of Jesus’ words.

This woman was released from her crippled condition by the power of Jesus. He spent no time at all on the demon, who was cast out of her, and the demon’s corruption of her body was undone in every way. She was no longer crippled, or weakened, or bent over double. She was given strength, released from her crippling posture, and made whole once again. In this woman’s healing we have a glimpse of our own restoration from every infirmity in the resurrection. When we are called home by our Savior Jesus we too will be released from all sin, from death, from the power of the devil, and even from the scars and injuries that sin has brought into our lives. We will be whole once again. And we will live freely forever with our Lord.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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