The ‘theme” for Luke 13 is “REPENT or PERISH”.
Luke 13 is a “part” of a series of parables about the Kingdom of God on earth. God sent His Son, Jesus, in the form of a man to teach us about the Kingdom of God on earth. He wanted to save the whole world and to invite those who are saved to be used by God to help save, heal, and restore others.
The Gospel scripture for Sunday was from Luke 13: verses 10-17. The 1st teaching in Chapter 13 is the parable of the barren fig tree. A barren fig tree is a metaphor for a church that does not bear any “fruit” in the Kingdom. The parable is a “no holds barred” warning about non-bearing fruit. The 3rd teaching in Chapter 13 is the parable of the mustard seed.
Sunday’s reading is the story about a woman, a daughter of Abraham, who came while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on Sunday. She had been “bent over” for 18 years with rheumatism. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” Then Jesus touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God! The leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things Jesus did.
Many of us have heard this story for years. And more often than not, regrettably, we have made fun of the synagogue leader, or the “Jews”, or the “Pharisees” for not wanting Jesus to heal the woman. We shake our finger at them and say “shame on you”. “Don’t you want this poor woman healed?”
Let me defend the synagogue leader here. Can we look at it from his perspective? In “deuteronomic” theology or thinking, she got what she deserved. Apparently she must be a sinner and that is why she is bent over. And she has been held in bondage by the devil because her soul is not right with God.
The leader of the synagogue was guilty of trying to be “too obedient”. He has his understanding of what it means to “be the church” in that day and time. Their identity was in obeying God’s Word.
Would you describe this church as a “bible believing church”? Would we agree that the number one thing is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our strength and all our mind? And the 2nd part was to love our neighbor as yourself?
That’s probably how he would have described his synagogue. That is right out of the Torah. Their “apostle’s creed” was the Shema, and that is the Shema.
The leader might have described himself as “Orthodox” which is their word for “conservative”. “We know what God wants us to do. We know how to keep the Sabbath Holy. We follow the Word to the letter of the law.“
Pastor Cliff explained, “A wise Christian theologian, a Jesus loving scholar, often tells me that these can be some of the toughest situations when somebody believes, very sincerely, that they have the “truth”. He had advised me that these situations are tough because “sincerity has nothing to do with the truth.”
“The church leader didn’t want her healed on the Sabbath because his understanding of the “rules” said “no work on Sabbath.” And the rules said the Jesus himself became “defiled” or no longer Holy in God’s eyes, because He touched this woman. He touched this woman needing healing because He was sincere in His belief. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
You see, this is an example of where we pick out “parts” of the Word to justify our actions. Jesus quotes to the synagogue leader the part of the Torah that he left out. Jesus asked him, “Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?”
‘You see, that is allowed – in the Torah - to be done on the Sabbath in their sincere quest to be obedient and keep the Sabbath Holy. They are denying God’s love, God’s healing, God’s wholeness for a woman who has been bent over, essentially, all of her life because their focus was on WHAT you couldn’t do on the Sabbath.’
‘Are you ready for a few uncomfortable questions? Ready for the Word to be living and active in our hearts? Ready to have God reveal anything in you or me that is NOT in accord with His Word? God only does that on our invitation.”
Here we go:
Who do you know that has been in bondage for almost all their life? Maybe the demon is drugs. Maybe the demon is “unforgiveness”, control, power, money. There are plenty of demons out there. Have you ever found yourself looking at that person and saying to yourself, “they got what they deserve?”
You see this is a teaching about limiting God’s grace.
Some more hard questions for the Sunday sermon: Have you ever gone to this person and offered to pray for them? Have you ever gone to this person and invited them to church? Have you ever gone to this person and invited them into your home for a meal?
This is a teaching about church folks, who, in their understanding of obedience to God, sometimes exclude the very people God wants to heal. Let me remind you what the synagogue leader said about Jesus healing on the Sabbath: “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.” Jesus is wrong to heal on the Sabbath.
Have you ever been in a meeting or maybe just a conversation over a meal talking about how to “reach out” and heard somebody say, ‘”Hey, that won’t work in this church.”
What is God’s “agenda” for this church? For any church? In Luke 4, Jesus said it was: bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, (Luke 4:18-19 NRS)
To do that, the Word of God in Philippians 2, says “we need to have the same attitude as Jesus.” We need to learn from His example, “even though He was “equal” to God, He gave up His Divine privileges.”
The Men’s Choir practice is tonight at 7:00 PM.
Happy Birthday to Teresa Koock on the 27th (yesterday).
Michael Gleghorn will celebrate his birthday on September 4th. Way to go, Michael.
Blessing of the Backpacks will be held next Sunday.
Thanks to the Men’s Choir for the hymn “Help Somebody Today”. You sounded great!
Thanks to the large crowd that covered books last Monday. Seems like there is always some way to serve others.
Pray for those people that are going to San Vincente, Mexico on September 27th to work on the medical clinic. Support them with your prayers and contributions. Money is always nice.
Pray for Pastor Cliff and Vicki as they assist at Kingdom Camp at Mt. Wesley over the Labor Day weekend.
Thank Kathy Jordan for taking care of the preacher’s and Vicki’s dogs and cats when they are away.
Continue to pray every day for Etta Marie Mutschink, Dick and Dorris Ann Pierson, Don and Marge Boyd, Johnita Bohmfalk.
Pray for rain.
Has your pew been empty lately?
Have a great Labor Day!