Jacob is not one of my favorite characters in the Bible. When I read the events of his life, they remind me of afternoon “soap operas” on TV.
In Genesis 28, this less than laudable man received a message from God in a dream.
–– Genesis 28.12-13 – And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring;
And your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth . . .
Jacob’s ladder is a picture of God’s grace. We will never be able to erect a ladder on our own accord and climb to God’s presence.
God sends a ladder to us, takes us by the hand, and climbs the ladder with us to the abundant life he desires for us.
Today’s passage from Luke pictures Jesus reaching out his hand of healing grace to a woman.
Life for a Crippled Woman
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross explains how the number 18 represents life in the Hebrew language.
Notice how Jesus gives life to a woman who had been crippled for 18 years.
— Luke 13.10-13 – Now he 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.
It is important to note that the woman was a non-status person, who was marginalized by society because of her illness.
The world’s system equates a person’s ability to produce with their value. According to the world, she had little value.
However, the woman and all like her have great value to God.
A Cautious Leader
Leaders of congregations are responsible for how other people influence those under their care. Jesus did something unusual and the leader felt it necessary to correct his actions.
— Luke 13.14 – 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.”
The rational of the synagogue leader was that the woman’s healing constituted work which was a violation of the sabbath laws.
Rudy has an excellent explanation about healing on the sabbath on today’s video.
It is possible that the synagogue leader believed that the woman and Jesus could have met the day after the sabbath and fulfilled both healing and the law.
Jesus thought differently.
A Hypocritical Position
Jesus valued the woman enough to reach the “ladder” of his mercy to her and to lift her to life.
He gave her the same support that the synagogue crowd would have provided one of their farm animals.
— Luke 13.15-17 – 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.
It is easy to see Jesus’ logic when viewed as a story from a book that we revere.
The question is how willing we are to apply Jesus’ logic to life today. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves.
— What sort of people do I overlook and see as unimportant?
— Am I sensitive enough to the direction of the Holy Spirit, that God can use me to reach out a “ladder” of his grace to anyone he deems important?
— When was the last time I sensed God had dropped the “ladder” of his presence in my life? Was I willing to take his hand and climb the ladder with him?
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy has some insights from his Jewish heritage and Bible study that you will want to hear.
The videos are on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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