What? Did Abraham have a daughter? There is no record of Abraham having a daughter with Sarah, Hagar, or with his last wife, Keturah.
There is only one place in the entire Bible where this phrase is found. Jesus said it in a story you might have skimmed over because it preceded a debate with the synagogue’s leaders about Jesus healing on the Sabbath.
It’s in Luke chapter 13
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.Luke 13:10-13
Can you picture her? Perhaps she had a hunchback or some other spinal disease that caused her to be bent over so that she could only see the ground and the feet of those around her unless she turned her head to the side and looked with one eye. She had been this way for 18 long years. Like so many ailments in that time, there were no treatments for diseases and deformities like hers.
How stilted the world looked to her, and how lowly and poor was she? What would that kind of condition do to your sense of self-worth? There is no dignity in going through life bent over like that. How difficult the simplest chores would have been. Imagine being unable to stand up straight and stretch your arms above your head. Or not being able to reach up and take something off a shelf.
I know it’s just a little bit of a story, but it got my attention, and the closer I looked, the more it drew me in. First, she did not seek out Jesus or ask to be healed. She was there because she regularly attended synagogue. She may or may not have known Jesus and his disciples would be there that day. She went seeking nothing and asking nothing. But Jesus noticed her.
He saw her. He called her. He touched her, and she was healed!
Jesus had such compassion for her! He touched her, and she was able to stand up straight. For the first time in 18 years, she could see all around her and in front of her. She stood up straight, and finally, she could look them all in the eye, face to face.
At this marvelous, radically life-changing moment, while she praised Jesus for the miracle of her healing, what a shame if the first faces she looked upon were those of the priests with their brows furrowed in anger, because Jesus dared to heal on the Sabbath.
I honestly hope her eyes were on Jesus and no one else!
These devoutly legalistic, self-righteous priests completely overlook the miracle they have all just witnessed. The Law of Moses declared that no one should do any work on the Sabbath. They were right. That is what the Torah demanded. Jesus did not deny the law. He just reminded them that the law allowed an exception to care for one’s animals.
“Would you lead your ox to water?” he asks. Of course. They were responsible for the well-being of their livestock. Jesus reminded them that caring for another human being was at least as important as caring for an animal. And here’s the best part.
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”Luke 13:15-16
This is, as I said, the only place this phrase was used in the Bible. To be declared a son of Abraham was common. Calling her a daughter of Abraham was a new concept.
We hear the word inclusive a lot these days. In a male-dominated society, Jesus was being inclusive of women. In a society that valued women only in their capacity as wives and mothers, he referred to her as the daughter of Abraham. If they wanted to be sticklers for the law, he reminded them that she, too, was a true Israelite, a descendant of Abraham. And once again, he stands to defend a woman’s right to have a place in the kingdom story. She mattered. She mattered more than the Law and the law abiding religious leaders. She mattered to Him, and so do you.
Now you could dig deeper into this story and how she is symbolic of Israel, bent over with the weight of the sins only Jesus could take away. It does say that she was oppressed by an evil spirit, and he delivered her from whatever caused her condition. Jesus gave her back her dignity and an identity beyond her malady.
I can relate to that, as I think many can. This was my story. Maybe it’s your story too.
I am not the person I was when Jesus became the center of my life. I may as well have been carrying a bag of rocks on my back, bent low to the ground, depressed, oppressed, and hopeless. A crippling disease is not the only thing that can weigh us down and cause us to hang our heads and slump our shoulders. There are many types of oppression, like sin and shame, poverty, fear and worry, poor health, depression, unhealthy relationships, loneliness, alienation from our families, or lack of family, spouse, or children.
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,Psalm 3:3
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
The law of sin and death keeps us in the bondage of guilt and shame. Satan wants to keep us bowed under the weight of our sins and shortcomings, fears and doubts; doubts about God’s love for us and our true value.
Like the woman bent over for 18 years, he wants us to ignore the petty arguments and bickering about what makes us worthy of being loved. He wants us to stand up straight because he values us, and he’ll bypass all the naysayers and rule keepers to prove that you are worthy of his attention, mercy, and healing touch on your life. Forget what other people might think of you. It only matters what God thinks of you!
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.Romans 8:1-2
Whom the son sets free is free indeed.(John 8:36) Has he set you free? Well then, stand up, ladies, and act like the daughters of Abraham he has declared you are! Stop measuring your value by the bathroom scale, the other mothers, the women you work with, that other lady at church, and whoever else you compare yourself to. You are not who or what you used to be.
He calls you daughter. You are the daughter of Abraham.
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me
If you like what you’ve seen here, please consider picking up a copy of my book
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me – available on Amazon.com
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Having endured an undiagnosed illness for thirty years, I prayed daily for healing and diligently searched the Bible to answer the questions we all ask when faith does not seem to be enough.
With a comprehensive and balanced application of scripture, I address the topic of healing and answer the questions that test our faith.