The Daughter of Abraham
In Luke 13, there’s a story of a daughter of Abraham, who was more then a mere physical Jew, but a full blown believer who was bound by Satan and had a spirit (demon) of infirmity. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible where a believer is delivered from demonic bondage.
Luke 13:10-16, “And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?”
Was she a true believer?
This I believe is made clear by the way to which Jesus handled both physical Jews and spiritual Jews. Jesus openly rebuked the Pharisees (who were physical Jews) and made it clear that their father was not Abraham. Then Jesus took somebody who was most likely not a physical Jew at all (Zaccheus, who was an established resident of Jericho with a high ranking governmental position), and said very clearly that he was a child of Abraham because he believed upon Jesus (Luke 19:9). Romans 2:28-29 also makes it clear who a child of Abraham really is, “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people.” (NLT)
In John 8 verses 37 and 56 you’ll find the ONLY two times where Jesus did refer to mere physical Jews (the Pharisees) as seed or children of Abraham, but in the same breath, He was making it very clear that they were not true children of Abraham, only physical Jews, which meant absolutely nothing to Jesus (John 8:39-40)! Clearly, the one day Jesus did call them ‘seed or children of Abraham’, it was a mere rebuke for being physical descendants of Abraham and not true children of Abraham. Jesus made it very clear that simply being a physical Jew was NOT enough to be called a child of Abraham (John 8:39-40). Even John the Baptist made it very clear that physical Jews are not necessarily children of Abraham (Matthew 3:9 & Luke 3:8).
John 8:39, “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” (Jesus was speaking to non-believing physical Jews here when He said this.)
After Jesus said that, I would expect every person that Jesus considered a child of Abraham to be doing the works of Abraham (which was believing God – Romans 4:3)! Outside of John 8 (where Jesus let them know that they were only physical Jews), Jesus never even used the term “child of Abraham” without the person being a full blown believer.
A challenge for the critics: Whenever somebody refuses to accept the fact that she was a true daughter of Abraham (a believer), I ask them to explain what Jesus meant when He said what He did in John 8:39, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” In other words, Jesus made it very clear that being a mere physical Jew does not make you a child of Abraham. Throughout the rest of the four gospels, Jesus never considered anybody a child of Abraham unless they were an obvious believer.
Did she indeed have a demonic bondage?
If she wasn’t affected by a demon, then what was it? It says she had a “spirit” of infirmity, and she was “bound by Satan”. If this doesn’t indicate a demonic bondage, I don’t know what does. Satan himself is only one demon, and he can’t be everywhere at once, so he works through a network of demons to carry out his tasks. Therefore if somebody is said to be bound by Satan, it’s clear that one of Satan’s workers is involved. Therefore it is obvious that she was in demonic bondage.
In the NT Greek, the phrase ‘possessed with a demon’ means to be under the power of a demon or to have a demon. Clearly when it says she was bound by Satan, it refers to her being under his power. In Matthew 12:22, there’s a story of a man who had a spirit which caused a different kind of physical infirmity. With the daughter of Abraham, it was keeping her from standing up, but in this man’s situation, it was keeping him from seeing or talking (he had a blind and dumb spirit). In this passage in Matthew, it states clearly that Jesus healed (made whole) the man who was said to be “possessed with a devil”.
Why didn’t Jesus ‘cast the demon out’? Not every deliverance was handled the same way in the Bible. Sometimes Jesus would command the spirit to come out (Mark 5:8), but other times He would simply rebuke the spirit (Matthew 17:18), then there’s times when He was said to have ‘healed’ those who were possessed (Matthew 12:22), and in this case, Jesus spoke “be loosed from thine infirmity!” Paul was even praying over prayer clothes and when they touched those possessed with demons, the demons came out of them! So there’s a variety of ways which demons were driven out in the Bible. But one thing is for sure, she was bound (in bondage, or under the power of) by a demon, and she was released (loosed) from it and she was made whole!
A challenge for the critics: As Luke 13:10 puts it, “There was a woman which had a spirit (demon) of infirmity.” And Luke 13:16 says, “Whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” How can you say she didn’t have a demon when the Bible says it right before our eyes? You can get some pretty desperate and silly arguments like this from folks who try to twist God’s Word to make it suit their fancy!
In a nutshell
How do we know this woman was a believer? Jesus made it VERY clear that merely being a physical Jew was NOT enough to be a child of Abraham in John 8:39. Jesus NEVER considered somebody a true child of Abraham unless they were an obvious believer (like Zaccheus).
How do we know she had a demonic bondage? As Luke 13:11,16 puts it, “Behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years… whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?”
The atmosphere of this deliverance
I would also like to point out the atmosphere in which she was delivered. This woman was a churchgoer, she was there in church listening to Jesus teach on the Sabbath, but when He saw her, He stopped what He was doing, and He called her up front where He was teaching and as He laid His hands on her, she was set free and made whole, right before the whole congregation! In a tone of honor Jesus said that she was a daughter of Abraham. She was much more then a mere physical Jew in Jesus’ eyes… He considered her worthy to be called a ‘child of Abraham’!