Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

July 2008

Bent Over How?

One of my favorite scenes with Jesus (yet least noticed) is when he talks with and heals a woman who had been living life bent over for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17). The psychological dimensions are intriguing!

First, her problem is a spirit of “weakness,” which many commentators think means that her griefs and burdens (possibly even resentment and guilt) weighed her down and made her bent over at the waist. The enemy is mentioned, but the situation doesn’t sound like demon possession.

Second, she is slow, almost reluctant to be healed. She sits there in the synagogue with Jesus but does not ask him to heal her. Instead, Jesus has to call her forward. When he says, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment,” she continues to stand there bent over. Only after Jesus lays hands on her does she finally stand upright.

I identify with her because when things weigh me down, I don’t always think Jesus can help me or even wants to help me. “After all, my problem is not life-threatening,” I say. Or I think that maybe Jesus wants me bent over - that’ll teach me some lesson! But Jesus doesn’t think that about her (or me). He doesn’t let her sit there. He calls her forward.

Many years ago while meditating on this scene, I acted it out by walking around my living room bent over for five minutes. From that position I tried to turn my face up toward where Jesus’ face would have been, but I figured out I couldn’t have seen him. (Try it.) I found it hard to even move my mouth while looking at my feet but trying to look up. To even try made me want to lie down and . . . be depressed.

Let yourself become her for a few minutes. Do you want to be healed from the things that weigh you down and hold you back? Are you aware of the things that keep you from blessing people you come in contact with? No matter - Jesus calls you forward and woos you into being healed. As you finally stand up straight, life looks very different. You see for the first time the face of one who loves you and heals you from weakness and slowness.

How might you be “bent over” from something, someone or some situation (seemingly small)? How is Jesus urging you forward--eager to have you walk upright and enjoy his face?

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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