Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Reflect: Which passage spoke to you the most? Were you intrigued by the woman who had suffered from curvature of the spine for 18 years and who Jesus healed instantly? Or the women who funded Jesus’ ministry? What about the woman who gave everything she had to live on to the Church? These are all powerful stories, each rich with implications and each pointing to Jesus in an unexpected way. I will address them this week in the order that they are laid out in the series introduction: Luke 13:10–17, Luke 8:1–3, Luke 21:1–4.
There is a fundamental question about pain, about disability, and about miracles that cannot be ignored. While the U.S.A. was still processing the loss and pain inflicted on Houston by Hurricane Harvey, another part of the country faced Hurricane Irma. Aside from all the speculation as to whether we are entering a new age of apocalyptic storms, I could not help but notice the range of reactions on social media to the disasters. The anger and slander sent towards God was intense—as it tends to be when we humans find ourselves powerless against forces that we don’t understand. Why doesn’t God do something? Why does He let these things happen? These are complicated issues, and unfortunately, there is no quick answer.
Jesus understood the need to assign blame very well. The religious leaders of His time wanted to ascribe all blame for any illness or disability on the individual or their parents. Someone must have sinned. Therefore, any instance of recovery or healing would have to result from an act of God. This is pretty important to remember when considering the miracles in the Gospels. A single miracle was not a random act, but part of a much larger picture—part of the mission that Jesus was bringing His community and of the message He has for us today. Each miracle illustrated a profound lesson. Why is this important to remember? Because when we see an example of a miracle, we need to look beyond it every single time. We need to ask, “Is there another lesson in this moment?” In this story (Luke 13:10–17), we might ask the following: Why did Jesus choose to heal the woman at this particular moment? Why heal her and not someone else? Who was she? Who else was present to witness the miracle? Who was watching? What would this healing mean? Would it help the mission or hinder it?
For thousands of years, God’s character as expressed in the Trinity had been destroyed. Jesus came to jump start a journey of restoration. Every single moment of Jesus’ ministry, every time He showed what life could be like (no pain or suffering) with God, was intended to help people re-map how we think about Him.
Recalibrate: Are miracles (in the Bible or today) about Jesus or about us?
Respond: Pray for insight.
Research: Read John 9 for more information on why people in Jesus’ time believed someone was sick