Focusing on the Symptoms: Luke 13:10-17

Focus Passage: Luke 13:10-17 (GW)

10 Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the day of rest—a holy day. 11 A woman who was possessed by a spirit was there. The spirit had disabled her for 18 years. She was hunched over and couldn’t stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her to come to him and said, “Woman, you are free from your disability.” 13 He placed his hands on her, and she immediately stood up straight and praised God.

14 The synagogue leader was irritated with Jesus for healing on the day of worship. The leader told the crowd, “There are six days when work can be done. So come on one of those days to be healed. Don’t come on the day of rest—a holy day.”

15 The Lord said, “You hypocrites! Don’t each of you free your ox or donkey on the day of rest—a holy day? Don’t you then take it out of its stall to give it some water to drink? 16 Now, here is a descendant of Abraham. Satan has kept her in this condition for 18 years. Isn’t it right to free her on the day of rest—a holy day?”

17 As he said this, everyone who opposed him felt ashamed. But the entire crowd was happy about the miraculous things he was doing.

Read Luke 13:10-17 in context and/or in other translations on!

Have you ever misjudged something? Perhaps, in a heated discussion, you took one side, believing that it was the better option only to realize later that you chose incorrectly.

Even trickier than misjudging something/someone, we can place our view (i.e. opinion) of something as the only way to see the situation and ignore all other possibilities.

Our passage for this entry demonstrates how one can place their view of a situation as the only “right” way. In this passage, the synagogue leader demonstrates this narrow mindset. He acknowledges Jesus ability to heal, but He discounts everything else about this situation – such as the cause of the disability, the length of the disability, and the glory being given to God because of this healing, etc.

The unfortunate thing about the situation we see in this passage is that it is easily repeatable today, though with a few twists. If we brought this situation into modern times, and a woman had this disability for 18 years, our culture would praise the physician who prescribed or the surgeon who operated, and not on the God who healed.

In this synagogue, the leader could only see Jesus as a “man”, specifically as a doctor, trying to steal attention to Himself and away from God. The synagogue leader completely ignored the reality that this woman’s disability was caused by something in the spiritual realm, and that the only way Jesus could have healed her was through tapping into a spiritual power – which is another way to say that Jesus healed her through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today, too often we look at physical symptoms and try to diagnose physical causes. This works well in the case of injury. For example, the ambulance brings a scraped up and bleeding person to the emergency room – the cause: an automobile accident; or a man’s arm is bleeding near his shoulder – the cause: a bullet punctured his skin. With cases where we are physically injured, we can almost always find a physical cause for the injury.

But where this doesn’t work well is diagnosing physical symptoms in cases where there is not physical injury. Why is this individual depressed? Sure it could be a hormone imbalance (which is physical), but that still could just as easily be described as another symptom (i.e. part of a chain reaction), and not really the root cause. Why is this person obese or withering away from malnutrition? It could be from what they are eating, and their portion sizes, but that could also be another symptom of something else: such as eating too much to distract from a painful hurt in the past, or eating as little as possible to become what they believe to be “attractive”. Physical symptoms like these are traced to spiritual and emotional causes, and it is only when we open our eyes to the holistic view of each individual person can we begin to see causes that stretch beyond what can be measured physically.

Which leads us to the big idea in this passage: How many times do we look only at the symptom of an issue and not the cause? How often do we discount the physical symptoms we experience as only physical problems and ignore their spiritual and emotional roots?

I am not a doctor, nor do I even claim to be close to one. I simply have observed how too often, the chronic, persistent pain present in our lives is a spiritual issue – and something that only God can heal.

The woman who was healed in this passage gets that this is spiritual issue. I’m positive that at some point during those 18 years, she had visited a doctor – a doctor who simply checked her out for physical causes to the disability and found none.

Jesus gets that this is a spiritual issue as well. Spiritually caused illness needs a personal Savior as its source of healing. This is as true today as it was when Jesus walked the earth in the New Testament.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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