“Healing on the Sabbath”
August 21st 2016
Introduction: I cannot count the number of times older saints have mentioned to me that they remember fondly the “good ole days” when almost nothing was open on a Sunday. Sunday Blue laws as they were known in those days. Everyone went to church and then home to Sunday dinner, perhaps a nap and then maybe visiting with neighbors, family or friends. Ahh the good ole days! Were they really that way or did we just think they were good?
We are called and created to be vessels that carry the Word and love of our God. This roll is so important according to the Prophet Jeremiah and the psalm writer, that it becomes an inseparable part of our very being, even before we are born. We might say that it is written into our DNA. How can we refuse the One who formed and continues to form us, who shields us, who heals and perfects us, and who completes us in love? All that we were, all that we are, and all that we will be, proclaims the living Word!
Ill. We have all known someone in our lives, that in the face of life’s most trying trial still has a positive outlook and is perhaps even cheerful in spite of the circumstances. How do people at such times in their lives still think of themselves as blessed? Perhaps it is in being bowed down that they are able to see God’s handy work even in the mud beneath them? Let’s take a look at our story for today.
I.) The characters in the story
A.) Jesus (of course, who else, right)
1. He is teaching on the Sabbath in one of the synagogues.
2. We are not told what he is teaching on this particular occasion just that he is teaching.
3. This account does not appear in any of the other Gospels!
4. Leave it to Dr. Luke to pick a healing story like this one and include it for us.
B.) The woman
1. She, according the story, has been bent over for 18 years by a spirit of infirmity and cannot straighten herself.
2. She does not come to Jesus and ask for healing but rather, he notices her and calls her to come to him and he tells her that she is healed.
3.) Her response is to praise God!
C.) The ruler of the synagogue
1. He attempts to assert his position and power.
2. He may also feel that the people like Jesus’ leadership more than his, jealousy perhaps.
3. Apparently some of the people must have agreed with the ruler because Jesus rebukes them in the plural with, “You hypocrites!” (There is that word again.)
D.) The people, the worshipers, the crowd
1. There is always the struggle for the hearts and minds of the people.
2. Is that what this story is really about or does it go much deeper than this?
II.) What lesson is at the heart of this story?
A.) Rules are made to be broken (this might actually be a better title for this sermon)
1. On the surface this story is about the healing of a woman who is crippled and stir that the healing causes because it is on the Sabbath.
2. I believe it goes much deeper than this.
3. Conformity is cast aside and what we see is not always what we get.
4. This is because the Love of God always seems to confound our preconceived notions and ideas.
5. The love of God casts aside expectations for that which is more important.
6. This is where miracles happen!
7. This is where despair turns into hope!
8. This is where what seems impossible becomes possible and real.
9. The trials of life become places of real growth and victory!
B.) This is the place where those we look down upon, or pity, teach us the valuable lessons about life and about the transforming love of God.
1. The storms and challenges of life would distract us from what is really important.
2. God’s love must be at the very core of all that we say and do as believers and yet the circumstances of our living would pull us in other directions.
Conclusion to message: We can easily stereotype the conflict between Jesus and the synagogue leader. In that stereotype, the synagogue leader embodies the stuffy, nit-picky, rule keeper, while Jesus releases us from dead legalism to show love and compassion. The synagogue leader watches the clock, while Jesus notices the woman’s suffering.
We should not so quickly dismiss the concerns of the synagogue leader. The contemporary church constantly faces the danger of ignoring the wisdom and teaching of the law of the Old Testament. We have moved so far away from the stance of the synagogue leader that we no longer take seriously the call to set aside quality time for God. Perhaps Jesus her is teaching us that true Sabbath-keeping does not focus on what to avoid but on what to embrace. Jesus teaches us to use Sabbath time to honor God and to celebrate what God is doing among us even today! The gift of God’s love can be found when we take time for Sabbath in our busy lives.