He had known this daughter of Abraham (Lk. 13:10-17) from her beginning. After all, He knit her in her mother’s womb. He knew her in her “unformed substance.” What’s more, before she had even taken her first breath, He had written in His book every one of the days He had formed for her “when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:13, 16).
So, He also knew about the disabling spirit that would come upon her. He knew what it would do to her. How it would inflict the frame He had “made in secret” (Ps. 139:15). How it would take that which was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) and contort it, the spirit from Satan binding her and forcing her body to twist and bend so that she would be unable to stand up straight.
He also knew He would heal her. That written in her book was a chosen Sabbath day when He would come face to face with her, call her over, and say, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” That on that day He would lay His hands on her and immediately she would be “made straight”.
He knew it all. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, knew it all. He knew when her suffering would start, the very day the disabling spirit would enter her, and He knew when it would end, the day He would cast it out. And, He knew that in between those two days there would be eighteen years.
Eighteen years! That may not be a lot in heaven years, but on earth, in mortal years, that’s a long time! A long time to be hunched over. A long time to be unable to look up. A long time to be looked down upon. And, having become a man of earth Himself, Jesus knew it would be a long time for her.
And yet, something Paul says in one of my other readings this morning impresses upon me that how Jesus dealt with this woman was according to “His perfect patience.”
I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.
(1Timothy 1:13b-16 ESV)
Jesus knew Paul, too. He knew this descendant of the tribe of Benjamin, this Hebrew of Hebrews, this man dedicated to the Law and zealously defending it. He knew He would harness and redirect the zeal of this son of Abraham for the sake of the gospel. But He also knew that before then, the man born Saul of Tarsus would persecute the church. That, in his blind fervor, this Pharisee of the Pharisees would preside over the capture and execution of born again children of God.
But on a day He had written in Paul’s book, the eternal Son of God would stand face to face with this murderous zealot and deliver him from his bondage of blindness (Acts 9), saving the chief of sinners that His mercy and His overflowing grace might be an example for all who would be called to faith. The timing of which was determined from the foundation of the world–in accordance with His perfect patience.
His longsuffering towards the notorious Paul, an enemy of the cross bound by the blindness of sin, all part of making known the glory of His mercy and grace.
Similarly, His restraint in dealing with the suffering of the unnamed woman of Luke 13, a hunched over nobody bound by the debilitating dominance of Satan, equally part of making known His glory as conqueror over sin, sickness, and death.
And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. . . . and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by Him.
(Luke 13:13, 17b ESV)
We, as well, can trust in His perfect patience. That what He permits in our lives, and for how long He permits it, has been written into our books that it might ultimately evidence the sufficiency of His grace and be an example for His glory.