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Dec. 21, 2022

“God Sees, God Cares and God Saves”

Text: Luke 13:10-13 (NIV)

10 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.

The text as quoted comes  from the Gospel of Luke chapter 13:10-13. Through  the reading we learned about a woman who was healed by Jesus on the sabbath day. 


Subject: “God Sees,  God Cares and God Saves”

     Often, when teaching from this text, the focal point is that Jesus, healing someone on the sabbath, outraged the religious leaders of the day. They believed that this healing activity of God was against  (or antithetical) to the law, and it was disturbing to their customs,  practice, and  tradition. 

     But  today because we are now one week away from celebrating, the birth of Jesus, the coming of The Christ, I want to take another look at what happened when Jesus came into the life of this woman in the synagogue.

The question for us is how does the encounter between Jesus and this woman serve as mirrored reflection of  our own salvation experience?

I love this story of because, as we slow down and take a closer look,  we get to see what an encounter with Jesus looked like for a particular, yet unnamed woman. We also get a clear picture of who GOD is, how much He loves us and what He desires for us today. This is a salvation story. 

So let us now attend to the Word of The Lord.

The Bible says:

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 

Yes, Jesus is doing what he often did, during his earthly ministry which was to teach. He taught large crowds, small groups and he even taught one on one. 

I was delighted as we were in  Sunday school last week and our sister reminded us that God’s Word is His breathed Word and that it gives life. 

 In Sunday school, the overarching goal is not simply  about getting to know Bible facts, biblical characters, events, and memorizing scripture. All of these things are highly important to the formation of our Christian education. But the goal is for us to be led,  through the Word, to an with encounter with God, who wants to come into our lives. His living word is to be experienced not simply read through the lens of academic exercise. His Word tells us about who God is, who God is to us, and who we are to God. As we prayerfully embrace the Word of The Lord,  lives are transformed. As we pray with the scripture, His word speaks order into chaos. 

How to pray with scriptures is a topic that deserves more of our attention. 

The passage continues:

While Jesus was teaching the Bible says:

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. 

A woman is introduced into the story, not with a name,  but we come to know  her through her condition. She is described as crippled by a spirit  for 18 years. Almost two decades, that’s a long time. The Bible says she was bent over and couldn’t straighten herself up at all. Imagine that. Her physical condition, effected her,  in a way that she was forced to look downward at the ground  most of the time. Imagine someone having to walk around all the time with their head down. The way she is described  paints a picture of struggle, suffering, sadness, despair and the lack of joy. 

Nevertheless, she made her way to the synagogue on the sabbath.But even in the synagogue, amongst people of faith, she may have been overlooked, un-noticed, practically invisible. She probably sat in the back, without much attention being paid to her. After all nobody could really help her.  In her condition,  she didn’t have much hope for a brighter tomorrow. I asked the question: how does the encounter between Jesus and this woman serve as mirrored reflection of  our own salvation experience?

If you think about it, this story portrays this woman in a way that is very similar  to the lived experience of  many of us today, both men and women. 

At times we also  feel bent over, unable to walk upright in this world for a lot of different reasons. There are people who  have been crippled along their life journey by shame. That  dreadful feeling that they are defective, not good enough, unforgivable, or unworthy of Gods love. Some people are bent over from the trauma of emotional wounds from  childhood that continue to weigh us down. And some  are walking with their head down because of being tired of struggling to pay bills and not being able to take care of their families the way they would like to. Some are tired of the pains in our bodies. Then there are the unwanted  worries, anxieties that take over our thinking all day and keep us up at night. 

 The burdens that we carry in this life, can be so heavy, at times,  that it is not difficult for us to identify with this bent-over woman. We all get a little bent over at times. 

But, in this story,  on that day, in the synagogue, something was different for this woman. She was now in the presence of Jesus. And the good news begins in this way.

Verse 12 begins with  When Jesus saw her, 

It should come as no surprise that my first point is 

God sees us

Jesus, the Son Of God, saw this woman. He was drawn to her because she, was a person, who was afflicted and suffering. Her many years of pain and discomfort would not get past the watchful, caring eye of Jesus.

I’m writing  to encourage you, and to remind you  that your loving GOD, your sovereign GOD who sits high, and looks low, sees us this morning.

 Just like he saw this woman, he sees you and I this morning.  He sees all that we struggle with, all that we wrestle with. He sees all of our circumstance, he sees all of our discomforts, physically, emotionally,  economically, spiritually, both individually and collectively as a church family.  

But Jesus does more than gaze upon us with sympathetic eyes. 

Not only does he see us, but  my second point is 

“He calls us”

“Verse 12 continues: he called her to him 

He  called her out of the crowd, out of her seat, out of her despair, out of her isolation, out of her loneliness, and out of her helplessness. And guess what, when she heard His voice calling her, something happened.  She  was still physically bent over, but her heart was lifted. And with a hopeful expectation, she lifted her eyes looking only at Jesus, the one who called her, the author and source of every blessing, our mediator. So when Jesus calls you keep your eyes on the Lord.

Gazing upon the Messiah, she began to sense the glorious splendor of His majesty. She courageously, walked forward in response to the invitation of Jesus. I can imagine her eyes tearing up as she slowly walked towards the Master. I can imagine her feeling recognized, valued and cared, for as she was called to the front of the assembly.

In the same way , God is calling us today, in this Advent season, He is Inviting  us to come forward into His presence, in prayer, with all of our frailties,  all of our faults all of our concerns, all of our victories, all of our failures and all of that disturbs  us. He wants to meet you where you are. We have a tendency to be secretive about our pain. We don’t tell anybody. Don’t become so secretive that you won’t even tell God about your struggle.

He’s inviting us as the songwriter said, to “have a little talk with a Jesus, tell him all about our troubles.”

 Please stick with me for a just a little longer, don’t go anywhere. 

So far — He saw her, he called her, then he 

Jesus spoke to her. 

V 12   And he said to her,

“Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 

He gave her the good news. News of deliverance, news of her being rescued, and restored. He didn’t say,  “I’m thinking about setting you free.” He didn’t say “I would like to set you free but first you’ve gotta get yourself together .”  Not at all. He didn’t say I’m going to  pray for you. He said 

Woman, you are!!!! set free!

He declared her victory, proclaimed her wellness, her wholeness, her healing. The words of Jesus  spoken into her life were performative. His word makes things happen. His words changed her existence, reframed her reality and prospered her life in an instant. Whatever it was that caused her pain and suffering, and  caused her to walk with her head down for 18 years was commanded to “cease and desist.” Whatever it was that kept her bound in sorrow, dissipated rapidly in the presence of God. She was liberated, she was healed, delivered and set free.

So —- He saw her, he called her, he spoke to her. 

But then, when we may have thought there was nothing else to do, the Bible says 

13 Then he laid his hands on her, 

He touched her!

Here we see the touch of God. Has anyone in here  been touched by God? …

Do you remember when He first touched you with his finger of love. When you first got saved and you cried tears like a river because you were so overwhelmed with the consoling love of God? Remember when he entered into your struggle, perhaps  he met you in a valley and it was there that He touched you.  He touched you  and you’ve never been the same. I’ve got good news for you today: He’s gonna touch you again. Are you ready and willing to embrace another touch from the Lord? 

A touch from the Lord can liberate you from what binds you. A touch from the Lord will, lift you to a higher level of gratitude, service and worship. Somebody in this building is going to experience another touch from the Lord. It won’t be long your going to find yourself saying:

 Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole. 

          Today is  a good day to remember how we-have been touched by grace over and over again. God is able to touch you one more time and bring you through. 

After Jesus saw her, called her, spoke to her, and touched her.

V13 and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Can you Imagine how she must have felt? Standing  upright and tall, amazed at her new ability to move. She celebrated her newness in life by praising God. Maybe she began to sing, maybe she started to dance, or shout out words of thanksgiving and gratitude. She experienced God’s love.

This is a wonderful story in the Bible that paints a picture of our salvation experience. We are all a little bent over in some way. But  God knows our needs, God enters into our struggle,  and takes care of us. It’s called Gods providential care.

 As we approach  celebrating the birth of Jesus, I’m reminded of the scripture from Exodus 3:7-8  where God says: 7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them 

 And so it is with the coming of Christ. He has come down in the person of Jesus to rescue us. This Advent season is an opportunity for us to further embrace Christ who has come into our lives and prepare ourselves for His coming again.

     As we heard about this woman being made whole by Jesus, she becomes a symbol of hope, reminding us that Jesus responds to our suffering in the same compassionate way. Her story inspires us to have faith in the restorative  power of Christ that comes to us in graceful and often unexpected ways. Through this gospel story our faith is increased, our hearts and minds are pointed to Gods providential care and our hope is built up.

 To God be the glory, he heals the way we stand, the way we walk, the way we talk. He takes away our shame and gives us hope and faith.

God is calling us not only to be delivered from what binds us, He is calling us  to be the church. To care for the underserved  in our communities. To be a voice for the voiceless, to help to the marginalized, to be  a welcoming  place for outcast, to provide relief for the poor, minister to the sick, the alien and the orphan. To care for the young and the elderly, and to love God and one another.

God bless you. 

This is the word of the Lord Amen