Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jesus Releases Hunch-backs

In Luke 13:10-13 we read of Jesus's encounter with a woman who had a "spirit of infirmity" which afflicted her for eighteen long years.

Verse 11 says she was "bent over and could in no way raise herself up". Whether it was from pain or a literal bending of her spine, this woman was essentially a hunch-back. She was bent and deformed and she could not help herself. She could not straighten herself and raise herself up. Most of us, if we are honest, have had areas of our lives that have been bent and out of shape. We appear crooked to others. We have ways that are unsightly and deformed. Worse yet, no matter how hard we seem to try, we can't raise ourselves up. We can't do right, we can't line up. Like the woman with the spirit of infirmity, we want to walk upright, but we are unable to help ourselves.

Now let's look at what Jesus does for this woman in verse 12. First it says that "Jesus saw her". Wasn't that good news for her? Jesus saw her. He took notice of her and purposed in his heart to help this poor woman who was unable to help herself after eighteen years of trying. We too can take heart. Jesus sees us! Amen! In all of our mess, in all of our affliction, in all of our crooked ways - He sees us. He sees when we are bent, misaligned with His righteousness and He has purposed to help us! Next it says that "Jesus called her to Him". Jesus didn't condescend to her situation. He didn't lament with her. He said, "Come here because I am about to tell you something that is going to change your life forever!" He said "Woman you are loosed from your infirmity"! Now isn't it awesome that Jesus spoke in the past tense! The translators translated the Greek word "Apoluo" as loosed or freed - past tense. This woman was still as hunch-backed as when He first laid eyes on her, yet her healing and deliverance was as good as done in His mind. I looked up the meaning of the word "Apoluo" and I like one elaboration of the word in particular. It says, "to acquit one accused of a crime and set him at liberty". Sickness and demonic oppressions are just manifestations of being judged and condemned as sinners. This woman herself may not have sinned any more than the rest of humanity, but she was sill under the obligation of perfect adherence to the law and under the curse of the law (Deuteronomy 28, Galatians 3:10). This word Apoluo speaks of a release, a pardon from a sentence of the law. The same word is used of Barabbas who was released by Pilate instead of Jesus (Matthew 27). This woman's sickness was a sentence - not on her alone for her sins, but a curse that was in the earth to all who failed to keep the law. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). She was a captive. Praise be to God that Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives and to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18)! Jesus, who was totally innocent, took on all of our sin and guilt and was punished in our place. He was made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). That's why Jesus could grant this woman a release, a pardon - because He knew what He was going to do for her and it was as good as done in His mind. He had "set His face like a flint" to go through with the agony of the cross for us (Isaiah 50:7).

God wants you and me to know that whatever sins we have been found guilty of, whatever crooked ways still linger, we are pardoned. We are released. Our "apoluo" has been granted. In the natural, we may see ourselves sick and bent over still - broken, malfunctioning, but God says you are free. If the Son has made you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36). You see, this is the truth. The truth is that sinners who desire it have been given the free gift of righteousness. It's not something we have to work for. We are simply justified, made righteous by the unmerited grace of God apart from any works or effort of our own (Galatians 2:16). This is the simple truth. However, many of us, including myself, have not grasped this basic truth of the Gospel. The more we hear this truth, the more the truth makes us free (John 8:32). This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the power of God unto Salvation (Romans 1:16). A friend of mine teaches that the word "salvation" in the Greek mentioned in Romans 1:16 means in part being saved from the "molestation of sin" - from the molestation of the enemy. God has proclaimed our liberty from the molestation of sin!

This woman was a picture of those, who under the system of law, had no hope in the world. She could do nothing to help herself. She has been in this bent over condition for eighteen years. She was in a prison and being molested by an evil spirit responsible for her sickness and there was nothing she could do about it. She needed a savior. She needed someone to reach down and save her from her mess. Thank God for Jesus!

There's more to the story. In verse 13 it says that Jesus "laid his hands on her". The laying on of hands always involves a transfer of something. We see this in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the priest would lay his hands on the sacrificial animal and confess the sins of the people on it. A transfer took place. When Jesus laid hands on this woman, He secured her release by transferring all of her condemnation and judgement to Himself and transferring all of His righteousness to her. He had not yet gone to the cross, but it was as good as done. By His stripes she, and all of us, would be healed from the infirmity of sin and all the condemnations and judgement that go with it (Isaiah 53:5). When Jesus laid His hands on her, she "was made straight and glorified God" because she received the righteousness of God by faith (Romans 3:22). When you and I stop receiving the condemnation of the law and embrace the liberty, the pardon that is in Christ, our condemnation, our imprisonment is lifted, and the righteousness of Christ is transferred to us. For those who understand accounting, there is a debit to Jesus's sin account (though he never sinned) and there is a credit of righteousness to our account (though we did in fact sin). Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.

Jesus sees your infirmity and mine. He knows we are bent. He knows we can't fix ourselves. He knows we are sick and need a physician. Praise be to God that He has already made a way out. He has already secured our release and our pardon. All we have to do is receive it by faith and we too can be straightened of every crooked and perverse way.

God bless all who read. - E.Mc.