‘Oh, hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” the lady shouted, hopping about in extreme ecstasy.
We were all witnesses of it, and although we weren’t jumping about like her, we were all just about as excited as she was, considering all she had been through since we had known her.
At the time I was born, this lady who was now jumping about was bent over in this really weird position. Growing up, I always thought she was messing about, but after a while, I noticed it was pretty serious; she never stood up straight. Always bent over in a really uncomfortable position. My parents had no idea what was wrong with her. The only real piece of information they ever gave me was that it was sudden. They were just in the market one afternoon, chatting heartily when instantly she just cricked over, and that was it.
So I and my brother Evi grew up seeing this woman in a pathetic state. Always needing someone to help her, always in obvious agony. Of course, we helped her every now and then, but it was always quite a disheartening feeling to see her in that state, year after year. If only someone could help her. Because everybody else who could possibly help was of no help at all.
Then that man came into town. That man who came to preach and teach the word of God with some serious level of authority. I still remember the first time I heard him. Wow! I was taken aback. He was something else!
His name was Jesus.
So that day was another Sabbath, and as usual, the whole family was on their way to the synagogue. Our dear friend was with us as well. Something I really admired about her was her dedication to fellowship. Even though this condition had left her in an awful state to the eye, she never failed to come to the synagogue.
So this great teacher named Jesus was at the synagogue, and he was teaching. We listened to him as spoke about the commandments of God in a way we had never really heard before. Simply awesome!
Then as we listened, he stopped for a moment. He was looking at someone. I followed his gaze and realized it was in the direction of our lady friend. Everybody turned to what he was looking at. The lady seemed quite uncomfortable.
But Jesus gently beckoned to her and said in a clam but firm and audible voice, “Come.”
Slowly, with the help of one of the people living with her, she came to the front of the synagogue where Jesus was preaching.
He looked at her for a moment, then said, “Woman! You are loosed from your infirmity!”
Immediately after that, he placed his hands upon her low shoulders, kept them on for about five seconds, then let go.
What followed left us all stunned.
She stood up straight! For the first time in my life, I saw this lady standing like a normal human being. I couldn’t believe it! Such an awesome miracle!
As she jumped about in sheer delight, overjoyed at the reality that she had been healed, we were happy too, lifting our hands and praising the Lord. Little did we know that someone wasn’t happy with what was going on.
The synagogue ruler.
He was really strict and unrelenting when it came to keeping the rules intact. And of course, it was a Sabbath day; we weren’t supposed to do any sort of work. So with what was going on, he definitely wouldn’t be pleased.
He rushed forward and once in front of everyone, he raised his hands and in a harsh voice announced, “Listen, people! This is the Sabbath day. we’re supposed to keep it holy. That means no work of any sort. Including healing. If you really need to be healed of some sickness, there are six days you can come and get healed. But not on the Sabbath day! The law is the law, and it should be kept as such!”
That certainly dampened the mood. Of course! We were supposed to obey the law.
But then Jesus looked at the official. And trust me, he looked very annoyed!
“Tell me, if your lamb needs water on the Sabbath day, don’t you untie it from its stall and lead it to where it can drink?” he asked calmly.
The synagogue official raised his hand to argue, but stopped halfway. A nice question. Clearly he couldn’t dispute that.
Jesus shook his head, looked straight at him and said really harshly, “You hypocrite! You care for your animals and don’t forget to do what’s necessary for them. how much more this woman, who is a daughter of Abraham, and has been bound by the evil one all these years? Shouldn’t she be relieved of all her pain and grief on a Sabbath day? shame on you!”
As the ruler stood there, clearly rendered speechless by this harsh rebuke from Jesus, he hung his head in shame.
And we, we rejoiced and praised the Lord.
Because this man Jesus was showing us something about the heart of the Father. A God who loved us. A God who loved His people.