The woman shuffled into the synagogue where the young rabbi from Nazareth was speaking. She moved around the edges, hoping not to be seen. The woman heard the conversations around her, a few comments thrown her way in pity or disgust. All she could see was the feet of those who filled the synagogue that day, or any day, in fact, for the past eighteen years. She had been year after year unable to stand upright, bent over double, and had resigned herself to her place in the pecking order of her day. She was the one who was “in the way,” uninvolved with the real happenings of importance—unseen, unheard, and, indeed, unknown. She lived in a world all her own and had learned to tune out the world around her.
Her quest for wholeness and health, her raised hopes for freedom from the slavery of anonymity and poverty, had been dashed again and again over more than a dozen-and-a-half years, probably most of her adult life.
She began to notice the feet around her backing away from her field of vision. A hush was beginning to take the place of the chatter she had heard just a moment ago. Uncertain she stood still long enough to hear the words floating above her, “Woman, come over here to me.”
A stab of fear made her almost crumble to the ground, but she caught herself and slowly followed the sound of the voice. “Woman, do come here.” The voice was kind.
Now there was silence. She felt embarrassed. She couldn’t see what was happening, only the fact that she stood now alone before a voice that spoke with tenderness.
“Woman, you are freed from your disability.” Hands, gentle yet firm were laid on her, and a feeling like the crashing of waves swept over her, leaving her with a freshness and youth she couldn’t remember ever before experiencing. Slowly, she began to lift herself, to straighten herself…
Did this woman, a daughter of Abraham, see Jesus’ hands first as she lifted herself straight? Hands that were open, caring, gentle? What did she see when she looked into Jesus’ face, the first face she had seen in almost 20 years? What did she see in his eyes? Joy? Excitement? Compassion? Did Jesus’ eyes convey to her that she was the beloved of his Father? The Work of his creative Love? Jesus had bent over her to bring her back to life, as the Father had once bent over his broken world, promising a Savior. Was there in Jesus’ glance a desire to restore, to hold, to protect, to run toward her, hands out to catch wounded humanity before it collapses to the ground?
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