When Jesus met a young woman who had been sick for eighteen years, He said to her, “Woman you are freed from your infirmity.” (Luke 13.13) You might think this was a good thing, after being sick for so long, but the crowd that was watching wasn’t so happy. Like other miracles of Christ, this one also took place on the Sabbath. Once she was healed, she immediately glorified God.
According to the Old Testament Law, it was not permitted to work on the Sabbath, so the crowd innocently enough was trying to be obedient to God’s Law. Unfortunately, they never fully understood God’s Law. Jesus said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound -- think of it -- for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" (Luke 13.15-16)
It is hard to imagine being willing to untie an animal so it can drink, but refuse to free a young woman from an illness that has crippled her for eighteen years. That is just what the crowd was suggesting. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the joy in God’s blessings when things don’t happen the way we expect them to take place. Eventually the crowd understood Jesus and was filled with joy.
Now it is our chance to be set free from our infirmity. What will our response be? As we continue to prepare to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas in just a few weeks, will we get caught up in how we think Christmas is “supposed” to be? In our case, whether it has been eighteen years or eighteen minutes, each of us have the chance to be set free from God this Christmas.
Our infirmity may or may not be an actual physical illness, but our spiritual illness will always need God’s healing touch. One thing is certain. We are more valuable than any animal, and He is always willing to free us from what truly ties us down. What ties us down? No matter who we are, and no matter how long it has been, we are all tied down by our inability to see God’s blessings for what they truly are. He has set us free from sin. Isn’t that worth some joy?