Jesus Heals a Possessed Crippled Woman

10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and 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. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then 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?” (Luke 13:10-16).

The passage we are studying today is about a lady who would probably be diagnosed by physician’s today as Marie-Strümpell Disease, a fusion of the spinal bones. There are no medicines known today that can cure this physical condition. But in this particular case the disease had a spiritual cause rather than a medical. Early in the course of the disease, sufferers often find that the pain is relieved somewhat when they lean forward. Sufferers go through the day leaning slightly forward, and gradually their spine begins to fuse. The more they lean in order to relieve the pain, the greater the angle, until a patient might be bent almost double, as the lady referred to in our passage. The bones become calcified and people are not able to straighten themselves. This lady had lived with this condition for 18 years and it was steadily getting worse.

It was a Sabbath day and the religious rulers would not allow healing to be practiced on the Sabbath; they considered it work. The woman sat there and silently trusted. The Lord Jesus knew the storm of controversy that would erupt at healing the woman on the Sabbath day, but He cared more for people than all the little rules that the religious leaders had put in place. Those that were out for His blood never intimidated Him! This passage is interesting because Jesus didn’t heal her; he set her free from the demon by casting out the spirit. When the spirit was forced to leave her at the command of Jesus, she was released from her ailment. The demon had not only caused this crippling disease 18 years previously, but was still keeping her tied up in a spiritual way. When Jesus put His hands on her, she immediately straightened up. We are told that she praised God. What joy flooded her heart!

At the sound of the woman’s praise, the synagogue ruler angrily tells off the woman accusing her of coming to be healed on the Sabbath. What a cold stone of a man he is! It does not seem right that he is in charge over a congregation of God’s people. Doesn’t it make you wonder how a man with no heart and compassion can lead the flock of God? He is indignant, what a strong word scripture uses about him. Instead of joy at this woman’s deliverance and healing, he is very angry and upset.

The synagogue leader does not scold the Lord for healing her, but this religious person takes it out on His people instead! This woman had patiently sat in her seat; it was Jesus who had called her forward. It strikes me how the Lord is so quick to defend this daughter of Abraham, a child of God, from the attacks of the evil one. The enemy sometimes uses religious people to squelch out the praise of God. One would expect that a leader of this synagogue would be a lover of people, but this man showed no compassion whatsoever. His words betray his heart. Something wonderful and God-honoring had happened in his synagogue and he is angry about it. On the other side, though, we see how kind the Lord is. He encourages her by calling her a daughter of Abraham, even though she had just been released from a demon that had disabled her for 18 years. Jesus speaks words of love and affirmation to her. How kind and reassuring that must have felt to her.

Jesus reminds the synagogue leader that animals are treated better than the Lord’s people under the heavy rules of the Jewish leadership. Doesn’t any man allow his animals to drink in the morning? One can hear the care in His voice for this poor woman that has been under the cruel bondage of Satan for 18 years. Not another day, He says. How about you? Isn’t it time you were released from whatever has bound you. Call upon the Lord with all your heart and He will hear you (Acts 2:21).

Keith Thomas

The Casting Out of a Dumb Demon

37The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” (Luke 9:37-40).

When Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He found a father in desperation. He said to Jesus, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child” (v. 38). His only son was being tortured by an unseen evil spirit. When the spirit came upon him, it tried to kill him by throwing the boy into fire or drown him in water: “He has seizures and is suffering terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water” (Matthew 17:15). The evil spirit waited until he was near a campfire or the home cooking fire before throwing the boy’s body into the flames. Burns, scratches, and cuts were likely seen all over his body as a result. Likewise, whenever there was a river or a well, the spirit would throw the boy into the water with a view to destroy him. The boy could never be left alone, not for a second. It must have been an extremely exhausting, draining, and horrible existence for the entire family, coming face to face with demonic activity on a regular basis! As Jesus came close, the boy screamed at the top of his voice (Luke 9:39). After the scream, the demon threw him to the ground in convulsions (Luke 9:39). The demon took control of the boy’s vocal chords and sense of hearing so that the child became mute (Mark 9:17) and deaf as well (Mark 9:25). Aside from the terrible screams, the demon would not allow the boy to communicate his condition. Think of what this must have been like for him; he was totally isolated. He could not express what was going on inside him to his father or hear any words of comfort from his family.

Mark tells us more: “It slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out” (Mark 9:18). The Greek word that is translated into English as slams him is a very violent word. This was a frightening demonstration of a dark supernatural nature. When the boy is brought to Jesus, he is thrown to the ground having convulsions. He “rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20), grinding his teeth while becoming stiff as a board. The father’s testimony about his son goes further: “Only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves” (Luke 9:39). When the father describes the mauling, what was he seeing? More than likely, he saw bruises appearing all over the boy’s body as the evil spirit tears him before leaving him until the time of the next attack.

We should not think that this was an epileptic fit, for Luke is a doctor, and I’m sure he knew about such things. We are to take Jesus at His word that it was an evil spirit causing this. As we read the various accounts, this was more than a physical phenomenon. The mauling of the boy before their eyes, the foaming of the mouth, inability to hear, the suicidal tendencies, and the way the spirit reacts to being confronted with the presence of Jesus should be evidence enough that this was not epilepsy. Neither should we make the mistake in thinking that all epileptic fits are demonic in origin. Mark adds that, when the boy is brought to Jesus, the spirit grabs hold of the boy and threw him into convulsions before their eyes as he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth (Mark 9:20). Demons cannot stay hidden before the presence of Christ.

41“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 42Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43And they were all amazed at the greatness of God (Luke 9:41-43).

There was a visible manifestation as soon as the demonized boy came into the presence of Jesus. Mark tells us, “When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20).

While the boy was being thrown onto the ground by the demon, even though the boy was dumb to the words of Jesus, the Lord spoke to the demon. “But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father” (Luke 9:42). The boy was completely healed as the spirit that had tormented the boy left. What then took place in front of their eyes?  The boy’s scars, burns, and cuts were healed instantly while they all looked on. No wonder Luke records that, “They were all amazed at the greatness of God” (v. 43). I would have loved to have seen their faces and the amazement that they had. I hope there are re-runs in heaven! I would love to have witnessed this deliverance and healing! Keith Thomas

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:1-7).

 The Light of the World

Imagine living your life without the sense of sight and what challenges that would present to you on a daily basis. In our devotional today, we will meet a man that was blind from birth. Jesus had stated in the previous chapter, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). He said this about Himself while up in the Temple Courts (John 8:2), more than likely before the four big giant candelabra’s symbolizing God as the One who had been their light leading them in the darkness during the wilderness wanderings. Notice that He didn’t say I am a light, but I am the light of the world. He claimed exclusively to be Israel’s Light.

Now He is set to prove it as He is leaving the Temple precincts. Often beggars would be sitting near the gates to the temple area, ready to hold out their hands to any worshippers whose hearts were softened by worshiping the Lord. Jesus notices the blind man and stops. The disciples ask Him how this man came to be in this condition, having been born blind. “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” (Verse 2). The prevailing notion amongst the Jewish people at that time was that God visited upon the children the sins of the parents. The Lord did not enter into the discussion, not being concerned so much with the reason for the man’s blindness, but rather, what He was going to do with the opportunity. He saw it as a chance for the Father to vividly demonstrate that whoever was in darkness, should know the Light of life.

 Put yourself in the shoes of the man born blind. He could hear the conversation between the Lord and his disciples, but didn’t know what was going on. He more than likely heard Jesus collecting spittle in his mouth and spitting it on the ground. I would think that the Lord told him He was about to put something on his eyes. Did he know who it was before the mud was put on his eyes? I think not. He explained later on, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see” (verse 11). If he would have known Jesus he would have said, “Jesus told me to go to Siloam and wash.” Siloam was a pool of water that was sent through a water tunnel that King Hezekiah had constructed, so that water from the Gihon Spring could be sent to the Pool at Siloam (Siloam means sent). Jesus sent the man to wash at the Sent place. I wonder if that while he was blindly trying to find his way to Siloam people were trying to wash the mud from his eyes. I see him fending them off trying to be obedient to the Lord’s commandment to wash only there. Faith took him to Siloam, and he was rewarded for his faith by being totally healed. May your eyes be opened to the darkness of our day too, that you may see the Light of the World, Jesus.       Keith Thomas

The Supernatural Feeding of 5,000

12Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” 13He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14(About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Luke 9:10-17).

We are told that there were five thousand men (Luke 9:14), not counting the women and children. Five loaves of bread and two fish are not much when you consider there was probably 12,000 people that sat down to eat. Furthermore John 6:9 tells us that we are talking about 5 small barley loaves, which, in the Mishnah, a Jewish Commentary, was the bread which the poorest of the poor ate.[1]

It is the apostle John who tells us about Andrew finding a boy who was willing to share his lunch (John 6:9). We are talking about just enough food for one person, perhaps hurriedly stuffed on his person by his mom as he went to leave. John uses the Greek word opsarion to describe the two fish in the boy’s lunch. This word describes the small and generally dried or pickled fish eaten with bread, similar to the size of sardines. We’re talking about fish that are a maximum size of 6 inches. When the boy’s packed lunch was brought forth, it consisted of five barley loaves, more than likely smaller than your average pita bread size. The pickled fish would add a bit of taste to get it down. As the disciples looked at this boy’s lunch the Lord uttered something startling, “Have the people sit down” (verse 10). This was the same as saying “let’s sit down to eat,” when there was nothing to eat but this boy’s lunch. What marvelous faith! Luke tells us that Jesus directed the people to sit down in groups of fifty and hundreds:

He then broke the bread and fish into pieces and “gave.” The Greek imperfect tense of the verb says that He “kept giving.” The more they were given the more they ate. It was astonishing to them that so little food was now filling each of them. I’m sure they asked for reassurances from the disciples as to the truth, “Are you sure that this was just one boy’s lunch that we are eating?” As they ate they looked at one another in amazement at the impossibility of it all. With God all things are possible!

How amazing it would have been to be one of the disciples sent by the Lord with a basket to collect the leftovers! As each group of fifty or a hundred threw their left over pieces of fish and bread into the basket, they would each look into the basket and see way more fish and bread than what they had started with! How glorifying to the Lord as each family and social group confessed they had eaten and had so much left over. John tells us that when the people began to realize the miraculous nature of the five thousand fed, they started saying, “This is truly the Prophet!” (John 6:14). Moses, many hundreds of years previously had told them that God would send them a prophet like himself, and that they should listen very carefully to Him:

15The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Here before them was the One that Moses had told them about. Christ is the Prophet who should come into the world, and like Moses, He had fed them miraculously. Moses had fed them with the heavenly bread that came down, the Manna. He had also multiplied meat miraculously for them by feeding them with quail brought all around their camp (Numbers 11:31-34). When they began to realize that this was the One spoken of by Moses, they wanted to take Him and make Him king. It was not God’s timing for Him to be crowned king—God’s plan was to crown Him with thorns. Keith Thomas

[1] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Hendrickson Publishers, page 467

The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter

49While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore” 50Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened (Luke 8:49-56).

Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (v. 50). When they got to his home, the professional mourners were there, crying and wailing at the loss to the family. He said to them, “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead” (v. 52-53). The Greek word translated as laughed in verse 24, is a scornful belly laugh at the words of Jesus. The mourners ridiculed Him knowing what death looked like. They were not beginners at funerals. She was not asleep. This was no coma. They were witnesses to the death of the twelve-year-old. What did Jesus mean by saying that she was asleep? Those who are of the household of faith in Christ never die. Our body may be put in the ground, but we are very much alive at the point of departure of the body.

Some believe that, when a Christian dies, his soul sleeps and that he is unconscious until Christ comes for him or her at the resurrection. The Bible does have a few passages where Jesus talked about death for a Christian as “sleep.” In the case of when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, He deliberately waited another two days before He even left for the tomb (John 11:6). The Lord waited so that He could prove to the skeptics that He had authority over death. Jews believed that the dead person’s spirit could remain around his body for up to two days before going on to the afterlife. Lazarus was not sleeping in the tomb. He was dead.

11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep (John 11:11-13).

[Jesus said:] “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

The believer in Christ is never dead; he is separated from his body, a state that Jesus calls “sleep.” A person is only dead, according to the Lord Jesus, when he has not entered into a relationship with Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5). We are told that, at this moment in heaven, there are the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:23). In another place, when Christ returns for His church at the Rapture, “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Their bodies were in the grave, but they themselves, the unseen part of our nature, i.e. our spirit and soul, are very much alive and with the Lord.

When I get into my car, it is dead until I turn on the ignition. It will do nothing at all without my driving it. In the same way, the real me is composed of a spirit and soul that “drives” my body. The real person lives on beyond death. There is more to life than just this body of flesh.

At a funeral we bury something, not someone; it is the house not the tenant that is lowered into the grave. Verna Wright.

 1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Paul the Apostle wrote: “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). He fully expected that, the instant his body released him, he would go immediately to be with the Lord. If you are a Christian, the body is seen by the Lord to be “asleep” until the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Lord. To be “absent” from one’s body simply means to die because, at death, the spirit is separated from the body and moves into its eternal abode—either heaven with the Lord, or hell, separated from God for eternity.

Back to Luke’s testimony. The Lord took Jairus and his wife, plus His three closest disciples: Peter, James and John. It was an intimate moment with the Savior. Can you imagine the joy of your only child coming back to life from the dead! He cares for us in our pain, He cares for us in our trouble. Jesus cares! 54But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:54-55). When Jesus took the daughter’s hand and told her to get up, Luke tells us that her spirit returned (v. 55). What a wonderful sight as her eyes flickered before opening and seeing the face of the Lord Jesus. Many of us reading these words will one day have that experience of shutting the eyes of flesh and seeing the Lord Jesus as we pass into real life—eternal life. Where had the little girl been? Her body was dead and laying on the bed before the Lord and three of His disciples, but the real person, her spirit, had been somewhere else—with the Father in heaven. I hope to see you there. Keith Thomas