“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath day. And behold, a woman that had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years; and she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, he called her, and said to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thy infirmity. And he laid his hands upon her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:10-13).
There are forces in this world which have a terrifying power to crush us. We try to match our strength against them, but suffer defeat. The strongest man must yield and the fairest woman fade. Life is one great defensive battle against illness, old age, and death. This depressing truth should be sufficient to teach us that we have little reason to be proud. Not until we are in the grave will our battles be over.
From a larger point of view our greatest calamity is not that we have a body that is bound for the grave. The body is at best but a habitation for the soul; the Bible calls it our earthly house, a tabernacle, and a vessel of clay. When we look at each other it is really only the earthly house we see; the soul, spirit, character, the “you” and “I” are invisible to human eye. We are most keenly aware of this when death has paid a visit. Then we can see only the house which is in the process of being demolished; the one who lived in that house has moved. Our friend, brother, sister, child or parent is no more; they have left us, and we lay their house away.
Our misfortune has deeper roots; the Bible declares that it is in our heart. This “you” and “I,” intended for freedom and mastery, is here on earth in bondage and servitude. Death is now the master. The life which God gave in the garden of Eden has been transformed to a life of sin and infirmity. We walk among the ruins of our former fortune, or lie mortally wounded along the lines of battle, having no power to rise again.
This story came out of World War I: In one of the battles on the western front thousands of wounded men lay dying between the lines. All at once, and all as one, they began to scream in agony and pain; it was so heart-rending a cry that the other soldiers were at the point of giving up the battle. Then the band was brought in to play pieces of martial music which drowned out the cries of the wounded and dying men. Hearing no longer the death-cries of their companions, the others continued the battle.
It pictures perfectly the plight of the human race today. The cries of the race reach to high heaven, but Satan drowns them all in his macabre music; and the wounded die on this bloody battlefield, though few there are who hear the cry.
How will this end? Is there no escape? Are we condemned to live and die in this hopeless night?
There is one hope, and this one is sufficient for our help and healing. Our only hope is in Him of whom our text speaks. It is He who placed His hand upon the bent body of the unfortunate woman and removed her infirmity so that she could rise and rejoice; it is He who raised Lazarus, and who today can heal the hearts that are broken. How good it is to have this one comfort, and how blessed it is to bring it to others!
I’ve found a blessed hope divine in Jesus,
‘Tis a daystar ever shining bright;
It fills my earthly way with heav’nly glory
And turns life’s darkness into light.
These words will undoubtedly reach some people who are trying their best to be Christians, but find it to be so impossible. If you are such a one, bound by a spirit of infirmity as the woman in our text, none but Jesus can save you from the power of sin and Satan. Without Him you will fail both in time and eternity; but if He is permitted to touch you He will loose you from your infirmity. Why not let Him into your life now? Do not turn your back upon Him any longer. Do not try for a single day further to fight your battles single-handed.
The world has been bathed in blood and tears twice in this century; what the future has in store for us no one knows. Science, culture and education have not saved us from the devastation of war. This is not because they are evil in themselves, for they are good; but there is a spirit of infirmity that has bound our race. Each nation knows that wars are never won; even the victor loses more than he gains. And yet the nations cannot break loose from their infirmity.
What if leaders and rulers, kings and presidents, and people great and small would desist from seeking their own and begin to seek God? What if everyone from monarch to menial servant would come to God with this confession and prayer: We have sinned against Thee and our fellow-men. We are bound by a spirit of infirmity. Forgive us and be gracious to us and our enemies. Save us from our infirmity.
Then we should have peace on earth. It is my firm conviction that if the peoples of the world would turn to Jesus we should have that world peace for which everyone is longing. But if the race is going to turn more and more from the only Savior of mankind, we are facing further destruction. It cannot be otherwise.
The spirit of infirmity has bound the nations so that the whole race is bent and bowed down. Alas, it is to be feared that the people as a whole will not turn to the Savior yet.
But you as an individual can do so. The day of grace is still here, and you can be saved from a perverse generation.
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Finally, a word to you who are a Christian.
Do you remember the time when Jesus raised you up from sin and gave you life and peace? You were fearless and glad then. You testified for Christ both publicly and privately. Your prayer chamber was a festive hall, and the Word was as honey to your soul. How is it now? Are you still cheerful and happy? Do you still praise God? Or have you been bound and broken by the spirit of infirmity?
If you are one of the unfortunate people who have lost their peace and joy in the Lord, you can still have the joy of salvation restored to you. You can walk erect as a son of God through both life and death. Christ’s hand of grace can convey the power of victory into your life to make you courageous and strong.
Let Him into your life anew!
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