MIRACLES MENTIONED ONCE
The miracles of Jesus are an integral part of His earthly ministry. The four Gospel writers have recorded for us the ministry of the Lord Jesus, which lasted something more than three years. That period must have been packed full of miracles and miraculous events. When the Apostle John came to the end of his Gospel he wrote, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
We can be certain that the miracles that are recorded were written for our help and guidance and edification and to inspire us to have faith and trust in Him.
One miracle, the feeding of the five thousand, is recorded in all four Gospels. Ten miracles are recorded by three of the Gospel writers, among these are Jesus stilling the storm, healing the leper, casting out the legion of demons, healing the man with the withered hand, healing the man sick of the palsy and giving sight to blind Bartimaeus. Two Gospel writers record four miracles. These are the draft of fishes, healing the Centurion’s servant, healing the demoniac in a synagogue and healing of the daughter of the Syrian Phoenician woman. Twelve recorded miracles are described by one Gospel writer only. This does not mean that these miracles were of lesser known. The reason they are mentioned once must be because each of them were of special importance to the writer as he describes events that took place or the miracle itself must be outstanding in the writer’s mind.
No 1.THE WOMAN WITH THE SPIRIT OF INFIRMITY
“the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing”
Luke is the one writer who describes the healing of this woman whom Jesus found in the synagogue. We are told that on a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. At this period in His ministry it is likely that He had been prevented of preaching at many of the synagogues, this particular synagogue was probably in a village or a country district where such a ban did not exist. It is also likely that Jesus was speaking here for the first time when a lady who had been crippled for eighteen years caught His attention and it seems from the context that this was the first time that Jesus seen her. Her illness might be described as curvature of the spine and it was probably as she came into the synagogue that Jesus noticed her. We can say this because her bent condition meant that she would not have been easily recognised in a congregation.
When Jesus saw her He called her forward to Him. As she later looked back on the events of that day she would no doubt feel how wonderful that call was. We might say it is typical of the gospel call. Jesus calls men to Himself. He calls those in need. On one occasion He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 7:13) It was when He called the disciples that they left all and followed Him. He called the crowd when He ministered to them “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) On one occasion when He saw the hardness of men’s hearts. He said, “you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:40)
When He met this woman in the synagogue, Jesus called her to Him: He asked her to come forward, and this she did. It needs to be said that we need to come to the Lord to receive the blessing He as for us. The gospel invitation can be condensed into this one word ‘come’. It is a command that needs a response. It is an invitation that needs an acceptance. Very few things just happen. We need to ask and receive, to knock and the door will be opened. In the New Testament we read “come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8) We are told we do not receive often times because we do not ask. And we cannot ask or pray aright until we come to the Lord.
Jesus called this woman to come forward that He might speak to her personally. God, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, would speak to each one of us personally and those who feel sometimes that they are the furthest away are just the ones who the Lord is waiting to receive. God’s Word tells us that the Lord is close toe the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17) So often it is only when reach an extremity that we turn and come to the Lord to receive His blessing in our life.
WHY LUKE RECORDED THIS MIRACLE?
When we are looking at a miracle that is described once only we need to ask why the writer included it in his Gospel. No doubt this was an occasion when Luke remembered the fanaticism of the leader of the synagogue in refusing to accept a healing on the Sabbath day and thought this should be brought to our attention. When this woman came forward Jesus said to her “you are set free from your infirmity”, then put His hand on her and immediately she straightened up. This made the ruler of the synagogue indignant because he said there are six days on which to be healed, come on those days and not on the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out to him just how hypocritical he was for he would release his ox or his ass on the Sabbath and take the beast for water and yet he would prevent this woman from being released from the bondage on the Sabbath day.
Then it may be that Luke marvelled at the way this woman was healed after eighteen years and that made him include the miracle in his Gospel. She had probably reached the stage where she thought she would never be healed and that: she had to be content to be all bent up for the rest of her life. In this connection it is interesting that Jesus lid not ask her whether she still wanted to be made well. He was so saddened and concerned to see this woman bent up and crippled in the synagogue, God’s house, the place where people should be made free.
Then perhaps it was that Luke wanted to bring before his readers how a woman suffering in this way was actually bound by Satan. It was not just a bone deformity or a gross irregularity or a disease that had struck her but it was a Satanic attack: it was the work of the devil in this lady’s life and Luke wants to bring before us the way in which Jesus made her completely free. We recall the verse of scripture that tells us “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (I John 3:8) And Luke no doubt recognised what a good example we have of this when Jesus healed this woman in the synagogue on that Sabbath day long ago.
We are taking the scene that Luke paints for us in the last verse of his account and when he describes to us how the opponents of Jesus were humiliated but the people delighted with the wonderful things He was doing. It is the delight of the people who saw and recognised the wonderful things that the Lord was doing that Luke makes the lasting impression he wants to leave with us.
It should be the same with you: you can be delighted with what you recognise God to be doing in your life. You may be surrounded by those who will not believe or accept the Word of the Lord in their life or the lives of others. Though the rulers were complaining the people were delighted when Jesus revealed His mighty power and delivered this woman from her spirit of infirmity.
1. GOD IS AT WORK
The verse we have chosen as our theme verse speaks of the wonderful things God was doing. And what He was doing then He continues to be doing them now. The Bible is a book of what God is doing. It begins with the words “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1) when in seven days God created the heavens and the earth. Three times in the description we have in that first chapter of Genesis we read that God saw what He had created and it was good. First when God called the dry ground land and gathered the waters which He called seas we read that God saw that it was good (verse 10). Then, when God made the animals according to their kind and all the creatures that moved we read that God saw that it was good, (Verse 25). And then at the end of that chapter we read that God saw that all that He had made and it was very good, (verse 31). The work of God’s creation was good.
God continued to work even when sin entered our world and man fell. When man disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit and was expelled from the Garden of Eden we read that the Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. This was God beginning the work of restoration and it was a picture of the provision He was to make in clothing man in His righteousness.
Yet in six short chapters in the beginning of the book of Genesis, the evil upon the earth had become so great that God decided that He must destroy man and we find God continuing to work in providing a refuge for the eight souls that were to be saved as Noah under God’s instruction built his ark.
Later, God chose Abraham to be the father of His special people – father of a great nation, a nation for whom we read that for their sake God rebuked kings. (I Chronicles 16:21 also Psalm 105:14) He did not wipe them out when they rebelled when Moses has ascended the Mount Sinai to receive the law on the tables of stone and left Aaron in charge. On that occasion God’s chosen people turned away and called upon Aaron to make them a golden calf, an idol that they might. On his return we find Moses interceding on their behalf when God would destroy them –‘Turn from your fierce anger, relent and do not bring disaster upon your people’, he cried to God.(Exodus 32:12) Moses cry was heard and God continued to work on behalf of His people.
When the people rejected God’s message through the prophets, God did not give them up, but finally provided salvation through the death of His Son Lord Jesus. The voice of God the Father from heaven was heard when Jesus was baptised saying, “You are my son whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”(Mark 1:11) The work of salvation was completed when Jesus cried as He hung upon the cross and was about to give His life, “It is finished” Yet even then God’s work did not cease. Jesus is now returned to Heaven preparing a place for those who love Him. He said to His disciples, “I am going to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:3)
God continues to work through His disciples and followers right to this very day. In the last verse in Mark’s Gospel we read, “the disciples went out and preached , and the Lord worked with them confirming His word by the signs that accompanied it.” In one way and another, God has been working ever since.
And we can be assured that this work will continue. God will continue to work amongst us until His purpose is complete. And when this capsule of time is done away in the ages to come we read in the Book of Ephesians chapter two that God might show the incomparable riches of His grace. (Ephesians 2:7).
God’s work will not cease. Throughout our life we may see God working among His people. It need the eye of faith and the anointing of the Holy Spirit to see just what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of others around us.
GOD’S WORK IS WONDERFUL
We have seen how God’s work is good – but it is more than good, it is wonderful. In that description good we understand the perfection in God’s creation and all His ways. In the verse we have taken as our theme we see that God’s work is wonderful because it affects us. It does us good, it lifts our spirits, it blesses our hearts, and it causes us to rejoice and to praise His name. This is not just the opinion of those who saw this bent woman made straight those many years ago, it is the testimony of all those who have experienced God at work in their lives, or have seen the wonder of His grace in other lives around them.
The phrase from the well-known hymn speaks of “the triumphs of His grace.” Heaven will hold the trophies of grace that God made all down the years. God calls His people, His followers, His disciples to triumph in Christ and to know the wonders of His salvation. The joy of the Lord is the blessing of those who walk in His ways. Let us list but four ways in which God’s work is wonderful.
1. He keeps His promises
The Bible is a book of promises. It is a record of what God has done and what He is doing. But more than that it is a book of promises that He gives to those who will be His servants. Meticulously compiled, jealously guarded, conveyed by the Spirit of God to the mind of man, those who read its pages will find and know God speaking to them, assuring them of His presence, of the power that is available to them through the Holy Spirit, of His purposes that will be wrought out and finally the joy that will be theirs eternally at the end of life’s race.
Many of God’s promises have been fulfilled. We have come to see many promises spoken in the Old Testament about the coming of Messiah marvellously and meticulously fulfilled. There are so many promises that have been fulfilled to enable us to easily believe that He will keep the promises that are revealed to us.
It is through the promises that we are able to draw near to God and to test the faith that we exercise in Him. Out of the many hundreds we take but two promises.
The first is , “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honour me.” (Psalm 50:15) To call upon the Lord demands tht we believe. Faith expects: and faith receives. God’s deliverance does not always come in the way we expect: we do not understand in most cases just what God is doing; we cannot appreciate the final product that He will make out of each of our frail lives. But we can call upon Him, we can expect Him to give us sufficient appreciation and understanding and the consciousness of His presence to go with us and to be our support and comfort.
A second promise – perhaps the greatest promise – is “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21) We know that there is something wrong in the world in which we live. Man needs saving, saving from himself, saving from his sin and rebellion against God, saving from the evil that is around him and saving from the judgement that is about to come.
There is a provision for man’s salvation in the Lord Jesus. “Now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26) God has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself’. Jesus said “But I when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all me unto myself” (John 12:32)
When a soul appreciates what God has done and the invitation extended to that soul to reach out and trust God then the promise can be put into effect, the sinner can call and the Saviour will save him or her.
2 God’s work is wonderful because He does what man could never do.
We can never save ourselves. When Jesus hung upon the cross they taunted Him with the words ‘He saved others … but he can’t save himself.” (Mark 15::31) We must be eternally grateful that He did not come down from the cross but that he died for our sins. Christ died for us: it is through Jesus and through Jesus alone that we have salvation. The Bible says that “salvation is to be found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The Apostle Peter wrote, “it is not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of Christ.” (I Peter 1:18) That blood that was spilled when they nailed Jesus to the cross on Calvary. When the Roman soldier pieced His side with a sword we see the price paid for our redemption.
It is as though man’s sin and disobedience placed Him in the bondage of Satan and God the Father through the sacrifice of His Son redeemed us from the bondage or slavery into which we had fallen.
Cleansing ourselves from the defilement of sin was something we could never do, no soap or detergent or effort or sacrifice on our part could ever enable us to appear before a Holy God. In the Book of the Revelation we read of those who did appear in God’s presence and were clothed in white robes, robes that had been made white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14) God’s work is wonderful for He cleanses us from all sin.
John tells us in his First Letter that “if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) God’s promise is will sweep away our offences like a cloud and our sins as the morning mist. (Isaiah 44:22) And in the same prophecy we read that God will put all our sins behind His back. (Isaiah 38:17) never to be remembered any more.
And finally under this heading of what man could not do we must note that God has wonderfully sanctified or set apart those He has cleansed. Those who He has saved He sanctifies or sets apart for His service. And then one day we shall be presented before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy. (Jude 24)
3. God surprises us with the blessings He gives
What a surprise it must have been to this crippled and bent up lady on that day when Jesus healed her in the synagogue! What a surprise for the paralysed man around the Pool of Bethesda when Jesus came towards Him and healed him! He had been there thirty-eight years waiting for the troubling of the water in the hope that he would be the first to be in it, for the it was said that the first person to enter the water when it had been troubled or disturbed would be healed of whatever disease he had, but Jesus surprised him by giving him instant healing .
God loves to surprise His people. Again and again they have been surprised to find God in their lives in places or experiences they may not have expected. In dark valleys, difficult experiences, in exercises they thought they would never be able to accomplish, in situations they thought that would get them down, the followers of the Lord Jesus have found that God is there.
The Psalmist knew something of this. Someone has said psalm country provides every aspect of life for us. The Psalmist said, “Prise to the Lord, to our God and Saviour, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19) A surprise is something you do not expect, but when the Lord gives it you enjoy it and know it is God’s blessing for you.
In the Book of the Lamentations we read, “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22,23) On those days when you feel you will not get through and you cannot cope with life, may you find that God is there.
It was the Psalmist who wrote, “I have been anointed with fresh oil.” (Psalm 92:10 AV) He obviously expected and needed God’s special anointing for the work that he faced.
4. God’s work is wonderful because His ability is infinite.
There is nothing that God cannot do. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord says, “ I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27) This is a question we need to ask when we wonder if God can or will or is ready to work on our behalf. When as children of the Lord we feel hopelessly outnumbered, God gives us His promise “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)
There is a scene in the Old Testament when Elisha’s servant woke one morning to find the city surrounded by an army with horses and chariots and asked the prophet, “O, my lord, what shall we do?” To this Elisha replied, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with uis are more than those who are with them” and he prayed that the lord would open his eyes to see horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (II Kings 6:16,17)
The Scriptures remind us of some of the things God is able to do. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20): Because the Lord suffered He is able to help those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18) ; He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25); and the power of the lord Jesus Christ enables Him to bring all thins under His control (Philippians 3:21).
We need to recognise God’s ability to perform these promises and in faith to call upon Him to do so.
When the Pharisees and Sadduccees came to John the Baptist, he told them not to think it was enough for them to be able to say “We have Abraham as our father”, because God could raise children for Abraham out of the stones that were under their feet. (Matthew 3:7-9) – a good example of faith in what God could do!
The laws that limit us do not bind God. We may not know what He is doing indeed, we may not like what He is doing or choose the path He asks us to take, but one thing is certain. His ability is infinite. His ways are past finding out. What God is doing in the lives of his people is wonderful.
NOW, OUR DELIGHT IN HIM
The Lord is at work. It is a good work and His work is wonderful but we need to recognise it and then we shall delight in what God is doing. The Psalmist wrote “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4) and again, “happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15 AV). When Philip preached in Samaria we read in the Book of Acts, “there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).
We need the experience that the crowd had in that synagogue long ago when they saw just what Jesus could when He made this bent woman stand up straight. We need some of the delight that they had as they saw Jesus at work. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, John records in his Gospel, right at the end of the gospel as recorded by John we read “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (Acts 20:20). This is the joy that we need to have today.
FREEDOM FROM INFIRMITY
Look now at the freedom that Jesus brings. Jesus called this lady forward and said to her “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” When He said this the woman stood before Him crippled and bent up just as she had been for some eighteen years. Jesus meant that the spell of Satan was taken off from her, that the power of the Devil that had been evident in her physical body causing her to bow down was broken. It was when Jesus touched her – “put his hands on her” – that she was immediately made straight. The Lord touched her and poured His regenerating life into her. The warmth of His own infinite power came into contact and overpowered that bondage of the devil that had given her that painful sickness all those years.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil. We read “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (I John 3:8) The great blow of destruction was made when Christ died for our sins upon the cross, was buried and then rose again from the dead. The effect of that mighty deliverance has been helped all down the ages as people have received His life-giving power by faith.
It was not just when Jesus told this woman she was set free but when He touched her that this woman was straightened up. The Bible says she praised God and all the people rejoiced or were delighted when they saw what He was doing. It is the touch of God upon our souls that we need!
We need to let our Hosannas sound forth. When Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem upon a donkey, again fulfilling the Old Testament scripture, the crown were not silent. “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 21:9) We need to let our praise and delight in the Lord be seen: then it is that others will see and share in its blessing.
In the days of Nehemiah the people were told to let the joy of the Lord be their strength. When the walls were being rebuilt some of those present remembered the days gone by and they wept when the thought of all the declension that had taken place but Nehemiah said to them “Do not mourn or weep. Do ot grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” And we read that their joy was very great.” (Nehemiah 8: 9 & 17)
We must rejoice in sin forgiven, not grieve over the past when the Lord has cleansed our heart from past transgression. It was the apostle Paul many years later who said “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice!” This is a truth that needs underlining and emphasising and putting into practice wherever and whenever we can. The servants of the Lord are to delight in Him.
The hope of the gospel is as a sound of victory. In the last book of the Bible that great vision given to John on the island of Patmos of the things that should take place, of the glories and triumphs of the gospel one verse seems to be a key to all that is to happen, it is the seventh verse of the tenth chapter which says the ‘mystery of God will be accomplished just as He announced to His servants the prophets’. God’s will shall prevail, His way leads to life. Those in His presence shall know joy for evermore. There is delight in the blessedness of knowing Jesus.
There is just one more aspect from this miracle of the healing of the woman in the synagogue that we must note. It is that this pleasure that the crowd experienced when Jesus healed this woman was pleasure at someone else being blessed. The people rejoiced at this woman’s deliverance. Our pleasure must not be a selfish grasping after what we would have but joy seeing God working in answer to prayer in the lives of those around us.
Those who know the Lord need to pray for others and tell them about Jesus. It is a sign of true family love when there is joy when our brothers and sisters in Christ are blessed.