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Luke 13:10-17 – A woman with a spirit of weakness

A woman has a spirit of weakness, that is, a spirit that causes weakness in a person. In her case this expresses itself in her being bent over and not able to fully straighten herself. Jesus sees her, calls her to himself and then tells her that she is loosed/released from her weakness – and she is.

Repeated references to ‘the Sabbath’ indicate this is somehow important in the story. The religious leaders are offended because they view Jesus’ healing to be a breaking of the rule to rest on the Sabbath. However, the significance of the Sabbath in the Mosaic law was that God had worked the Exodus from bondage in Egypt. Israel’s observance of the Sabbath looked back to that great salvation event – the goal of Sabbath then was rest in the loosening/release that God had worked. In this sense Jesus fulfilled the goal of the Sabbath by working loosening/release for this woman – resulting in the people glorifying God.

A final observation is that twice Luke records that the woman has been bound for eighteen years. This forms a doublet with the account of the tower of Siloam having killed eighteen people. (Similar to Luke’s story of a woman with bleeding for twelve years and a twelve-year-old girl who had died). Previously the number 18 was associated with a judgment-to-come and now it is associated with a loosening/release-from-bondage. In other words, the answer to 18-judgment is 18-restoration brought by Jesus.