By Pastor J. F. Odesola
“… Ought not this woman being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond?” (Luke 13:16)
I want you to notice two things first: the desperate condition of the woman and then, the way deliverance came to her.
- The desperate condition of the woman
I think she must have been the saddest worshipper in that congregation. When you go to church to worship the Lord and to hear his word expounded, I wonder, do you feel miserable because of your failure to live the Christian life to the glory of God? I think this woman must have felt like that in that congregation: she was so defeated, so bowed and down. This thing has gone on for so long; she was deformed and she was in need. But Jesus saw her.
I want you to notice several things about her which are mentioned in Luke 13:11 and 16:
“And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself… ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
Notice first: she was a daughter of Abraham, and she was in the synagogue. She was not a worldling; she was not outside the house of God. She was a daughter of Abraham. She was always in her place on the Sabbath; she was always in church – but she was still fettered, miserable and defeated. Oh, the tragedy of it: to go to the house of the Lord on Sunday, to sing His praise, to read His word, to listen to the messages, and to go out just as she came in, still gripped by that horrible thing which for eighteen years has been spoiling and marring her life.
A Christian, but bound. A church member, but chained. A deacon, but diseased. A Sunday school teacher, but gripped by some evil thing. A minister, a missionary, a Christian worker needing to be loosed by the Lord and liberated by the Saviour. Yes, we are Christians, but are we still not in bondage?
The next thing to notice is that she had a spirit of infirmity. She was bowed together; and Satan had done this. C.S. Spurgeon says that “she has lost all her natural brightness”; Well, I should think she had. She was not only bowed down physically but had you been able to bend down to see her face, you would have seen a very a sad one.
Another thing which Spurgeon says about this poor woman is that “she was bent double, bowed toward herself; and therefore, the only gaze she had was herself.” She represents these Christians who are self-centred, self-assertive, self-pleasing and defeated. Are these things true of us? Are we joyless and self-centred? Oh, the bondage of it!
This cruel self, oh, how it strives
And works within my breast,
To come between thee and my soul
And keep me back from rest.
– Eliza H. Hamilton
“How can I get freedom?” She must have said that for eighteen years concerning her physical condition. Is that what we are saying about our spiritual and moral condition?
There is a third thing to notice: she had been like this for eighteen years. Eighteen years before then, Satan had set upon her, and for eighteen years she had been his slave, bound and fettered. Eighteen years!
Not long ago, when I was with a little group of people, a Christian did a very clumsy thing. Fortunately, it did not have far-reaching consequences, but it was a clumsy thing all the same. Someone remarked, “well, don’t worry too much. He’ll never alter now!” And the inference was that he had always been like that. He was a Christian worker in a church, but he had been like that for such a long time (and of course he was getting older now), and the thing had gripped him for such a long time that he could never alter now.
Oh, the tragedy of it! It had gone on for too long. Eighteen years! Eighteen years ago, we had a bad temper; and we still have a bad temper. Eighteen years ago, we were unreliable; and we are still unreliable. Eighteen years ago, we were critical; and we are still critical. Eighteen years ago, we were difficult to live with; and we are still difficult to live with. Eighteen years ago, we had some secret sin which we had nurtured and loved; and it still grips us. Eighteen years ago, we were careless with regard to our attitude towards the opposite sex which ruined our spiritual testimony; and we are still careless. We have never learned the way of victory. We were undisciplined men and women and we have to confess that it has been going on for a year, three years, five years, and ten years – eighteen years?
As we think quietly about this heart-searching matter, I want to ask you this question: How long are you going to go on like this?