Holy God of healing,
Your healing changes everything:
It restores us,
It lifts us up,
It helps us stand in Your strength.
Give us open hearts to rejoice in the healing of all -
That all may be restored,
That all may be lifted up to stand in Your strength.
In the Name of the One who reached out to heal, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
"She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight." What was this woman's daily view? Of herself - of her loved ones - of the world? Her view was downward - always downward. She probably had everyone's feet memorized! But did she know the color of anyone's hair, I wonder? Was she able to look anyone in the eye when she was in conversation?
Jesus calls her over, lays hands on her, and heals her. Immediately, the text says. Immediately! Not with months of chiropractic treatment - but immediately, she stood up straight and began to praise God. "Thank you, God, for healing me! Thank you, God, for restoring me!"
Then...here come the critics. Here come the ones who would rather focus on God's rules than God's healing. Here come the ones who don't understand God's kingdom come to earth. It is Jesus who reminds them (and us) that the Sabbath is ultimately a gift from God, and that even God's laws are meant for love.
Closing Prayer (from Psalm 31)
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand.