Jesus: The one who unties

Pictures often help us enter into ideas far better than words.

In Luke 13, Jesus is teaching in a synagogue (a place people went to learn and give) and uses the picture of a thirsty ox/donkey tied up in a stall wanting water. The question then is, "Wouldn't you let them out to drink?"

We’ll come back to this in a second, but first let’s read the text:

“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 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. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

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? 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?”

When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” Luke 13v10–17


See this

1. Jesus is for her…. He’s on her side.

Jesus saw her. Jesus called her to come to Him. And Jesus started the conversation. All the while, this woman’s current life situation (and 18 years of constant reminders) screamed that the universe was against her. That if God did exist… that she must have either made Him mad or He must not care much about her. Jesus (God with us) invites her to believe a different story.

2. She responds to Jesus.

This story moves from Jesus seeing and calling to her, to Him speaking directly to her and laying His hand on her. Remember, Jesus and this woman are in a public place, surrounded by people listening to Jesus’ teaching. For this lady to step forward in that atmosphere is a big deal. I’d suggest it’s her responding to Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Now, back to the picture of the thirsty ox/donkey tied up in a stall. Jesus speaks healing to this woman, places His hand on her, and what happens? The story says she immediately “straightened up and praised God.” But the religious leaders get upset. Are you serious!? While there’s a ton of background on why they got upset, the basic assumption we get from Jesus is that the religious leader’s anger identifies that they’re completely missing the point. And what picture does Jesus use to help them, and everyone else listening, get it? One of a thirsty ox/donkey tied in its stall. Of course you’d untie it and give it water. This woman longed to be set free and Jesus was not only able to do so, but He also cared for her.

It’s a no brainer… but this is the intersection where the religious leaders in this moment had to choose whether to accept or deny Jesus’ way. The people listening choose to be “delighted with all the wonderful things he (Jesus) was doing.” While the leaders choose humiliation, or in other words, they set themselves against Him.

Those who hated or opposed Jesus were the ones who left no room for God to change their thinking about what it means to love each-other and God.

So what does this mean for us today?

Well, for one… in the moments we find ourselves feeling as if life is a tangled rope, tightly knotted, and impossible to fix. Stuck. Trapped. Bound by a terrible situation. In those moments when all we want to do is retreat from feeling anything. When our most desirable option seems to be choosing to numb our pain, or fixate on the mess (which only leads us to becoming more anxious/worried, then depressed/angry)… recognize Jesus is for you.

This women moved her attention from her situation… onto Jesus. That’s not easy to do, but I believe that was her deepest healing. The physical release from the bondage she experienced was secondary.


In the Scriptures, we most often see healing (in various forms) happen when people are with people. And, I’m guessing for some of us this response may feel as big as it did for the woman when she was asked to step out from the crowd. That’s okay. In fact, that may identify the need even more... to release holding onto your situation to another.

If there’s a part of your life that feels like a tangled rope, tightly knotted, and impossible to fix. Stuck. Trapped. Bound by a terrible situation, then find two people to pray with. Tell them briefly about the situation, but be careful not to fixate on it and create an atmosphere of unbelief. Then ask them to pray with you. I’d suggest you ask them kindly to use only a few words at the start and simply invite Holy Spirit to come be your healer. From the practice we see in the Scriptures, have them lay a hand on you as if to say, God’s power through them to you. Your job as they pray is to moved your attention from your situation… onto Jesus, not onto the healing you think is needed… let Him do that part.

May you continue to wake up to more of God’s care for you.

Nate K