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Weekly Word

Entries in Religion (1)

Tuesday
Feb102015

You are Loosed

Today we will look at Luke 13:10-17.

In this passage we have a remarkable healing performed by Jesus and yet, we also have a remarkable objection that is made at the same time.  Over the last 2,000 years precious little has changed.  The Gospel of Christ is still making an impact upon this old world and yet, many make illogical and hypocritical attacks against the work of Christ.  As a Christian, we need to be confident in our connection to that man who walked this planet 2 millennia ago.  We need to recognize that our faith exists today because of the work and message of Jesus.  We are part of the work of God.  That said, we also need to remain humble in the realization that we can allow a wayward heart to disconnect us from the work of God and the True Jesus Christ.  This very dynamic will be on display in today’s passage.

A Woman Is Set Free

We see that Jesus was teaching in a synagogue.  We are told the location.  As Jesus taught he saw a woman who had an obvious physical condition.  We will talk about that more in a minute.  However, I must state that Jesus knows both the obvious conditions and the conditions that are not obvious; those ones that remain oblivious to others.  You need to see that Jesus knows your true condition, he has compassion for you, and he has the answer.

Now the condition of the woman is one in which she was bent over in half and could not straighten her back.  It sounds somewhat different than scoliosis, but some debilitating disease had racked her body into a painful shape for the past 18 years.  Just pause for a moment and imagine this happening to you and lasting for 18 years. 

We are also told that the underlying cause to this condition is a “spirit of infirmity.”  Now this is an interesting statement.  First, it clearly points out spiritual activity as the source or cause of the problem.  It is easy in our modern age to scoff and declare that we know it wasn’t a spirit, but rather a virus of some sort.  However, the Bible does not treat sickness as some evil magic by the spirits.  It is only in some cases that we are told either demonic possession or spiritual activity was at work.  Many other cases do not mention or imply any spiritual activity.  If the God of heaven, who is Spirit, could cause matter to come into being at his command, is it not possible that spirits can affect the physical in one way or another?  This is the revelation of the Bible; some physical things have an underlying spiritual cause.  It is also interesting that it does not say the woman is possessed.  There is no interaction with the “spirit” and neither is there an exorcism.  She is not told after the healing, “Go and sin no more…or something worse may come upon you.”  Is she suffering the same way that Job had suffered?  Yes, demonic possession can manifest itself through physical disease.  But, Job was not possessed.  In his case we are told that Satan caused all the problems, even the physical boils.  So some spiritual activity is not so much about possession as it is about oppression.  I think that is the case with this woman.  For whatever reason, God has allowed a spirit to oppress her for the last 18 years.  Now not all sickness is caused by spirits.  However, regardless of the cause, believers are instructed to do the same thing.  We are to gather together and pray in faith for healing; even to the point of calling together the elders of the church and praying over one another.

Here we see that Jesus calls this woman out of the crowd in order to set her free from this affliction.  I have to think that the woman hoped Jesus could heal her that day and yet we see no evidence that she asked.  Rather, Jesus initiates this moment.  It is a joyous thing to know that we serve a God who is an initiator.  In fact, many fail to recognize that He is waiting for a response from them to what He has done in the person of Jesus Christ and the wave of disciples that have come from him.  No matter your need Jesus sees your situation and he has taken the initiative to provide for your healing.  He can set you free physically, emotionally, relationally, and most important spiritually.  Like this woman, we can become bound up by things that we need to be free from; both seen and unseen.  God desires freedom for you.  He did not create you to be bound up by such things.  2 Corinthians 3:17 states, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

Jesus touches the woman and says, “You are loosed.”  Her immediate ability to straighten up requires a bit of meditation.  This is huge.  Eighteen years of pain and suffering came to an end in an instant at the Word and Touch of Jesus.  This leads the woman to glorify God.  He is the proper object of our rejoicing.  Too much glorifying of man is going on among the body of Christ.  If God uses someone to help you in one way or another, give Him the glory.  Yes, we can give thanks to a person.  However, we can fall into idolatry when we give to a person what we really should give to God alone.  No man can heal in and of themselves.  They can only trust God and become a channel of His power and grace.  Our tendency to glorify the person is not good and leads to all manner of evil.

An Objection Is Made

In verse 14 we see that the ruler of the synagogue does not like what he is seeing.  It is ironic here that the straightening of a woman who was literally bent, leads to the ruler becoming bent out of shape metaphorically.  He becomes indignant over this situation.  You can tell a lot about a person by what they get angry over.  However, it would behoove us to pay attention to what makes us get mad.  Often we get mad about things we shouldn’t and sit complacently by near things we should be mad at.  When you get mad over little things, or over things that are actually good, it is a red flag that you need to recognize.  Otherwise, our anger will go unchecked and lead us into sin.

The objection he makes is that she is being healed on a Sabbath day in which there was not supposed to be any work done.  His argument is that healing is work.  Now this is a rather flimsy argument.  People could still breathe, speak, and touch one another on the Sabbath.  However, because a woman is able to stand straight at the word and touch of Jesus, it suddenly becomes “work.”  This is clearly a very strained interpretation of what the Old Testament required for the Sabbath observance.  In fact, if we were to call healing work, we might ask ourselves, “Who is really doing the work?”  Healing is the work of God by His Spirit.  Since He created the Sabbath, He is the one who defines “work” and what it is not.  Even then, God is not a slave to the Sabbath.  He is able to do what He wants on a day of rest that he made for humans.  Notice his argument.  There are 6 other days on which you can come and be healed.  So don’t come on the Sabbath.  It seems incredulous that this is his argument in light of the shocking healing that occurred—as if healing were actually happening on those other 6 days.  It is sad that instead of being amazed at the wonder of God’s miracle, he is stretching himself out to make an objection.  When our heart is not right we often “stretch” to make ludicrous objections to God and whomever He is working through.

We might also notice the passive-aggressive style the man employs.  Instead of rebuking Jesus, he stands up and rebukes the crowd.  This underhanded way of slamming Jesus without facing Him is not of God.  The passive-aggressive person has developed a bad habit of trying to make others feel like they are the problem.  They will throw a fit over things that are innocent or irrelevant simply because it isn’t how they wanted it to be.  But Jesus knew exactly how to deal with such a man; he takes him head on and unmasks his sin.

The Answer of Jesus To The Objection

How many years had such leaders ruled over the people of God without a rebuke from Him?  Throughout the Old Testament we are told that God had been faithful to send prophets to rebuke leaders and false prophets.  This would relieve the oppression that godly people would feel underneath of ungodly leaders.  Yet, until John the Baptist, Israel had gone 400 years without a prophet from God to publically check such leaders.  As difficult as it may be in such times, we need to learn to trust God and His seasons.  He works with groups and even individuals in seasons.  Today was a day of freedom for this synagogue.  Whether for spiritual things or for the material things of this world, God can be trust to deal with all things in His time.  Though I may suffer, I can suffer in a way that brings glory and honor to him.  Then I will be ready to participate in the day when he turns my sorrow into joy.  Another thing to remember is that it is important for us to be praying for His intervention.  This is part of growing to understand our need for God’s pure and yet merciful judgment. 

Jesus gives the decision of God against the leadership of this man.  He had probably made similar bully statements over the years.  And yet, this day, God rebukes him.  Jesus tells the man that he is a hypocrite.  He and those leaders throughout Israel who thought like him were steeped in hypocrisy.  Please remember that objections to what Jesus has done are generally masking hypocrisy in the heart of the objector.  Their rejection of Jesus, both his Words and his Deeds, come from a life of pretense.  We will either repent of our tendency towards pretense, or we will press on and reject Christ.  This man was a part of the people who had said they would follow the God of Moses and do everything that He commanded.  This man would say so, and yet here he rejects the very God who he pledged to follow.  How does this happen?  Is it possible today to reject what Jesus is doing all in the name of standing for Jesus?  How many leaders today are teaching people to ignore God’s Word and elevating a modern system of theology over the top of the Truth of God?  How many “Christians” will be led to make objections to True Christianity because they have been following a pretend Christ (or pretending to follow the true Christ)?  God will not let us remain so forever.  He will eventually bring the polarizing truth of His judgment.  In that day we will make our last choice of whose side we will be on; his or our own.

Jesus goes on to flesh out the man’s hypocrisy.  He points to the reality that animals needed to be and were watered on the Sabbath.  If it is permissible to break the Sabbath in order to minister to the physical needs of an animal, how much more is it permissible to minister to the needs of this woman who has been in need for 18 years?  More than that Jesus refers to her as a “daughter of Abraham.”  She is a believer and has a place in the promise of Abraham, but her brother objects to her being set free?  Now it is interesting today that many people have the same heart.  They have more compassion for an animal being killed than for a human baby being ripped out of the womb.  How insensitive have we become to the gross degree to which our ethical decisions display our hypocrisy?  May we wake up before it is too late and repent of such ways of thinking and return to the ways of God.

Now Jesus makes another point.  The way that he words the phrase in the original language emphasizes that the Sabbath is exactly the day on which she should be set free, and not on the others.  It is the most proper time.  This woman, who has had no rest from her suffering, while others around her were able to enjoy the Rest of God, needs rest.  Who will give it to her?  This life has a certain weariness to it.  It is a place of work and toil in the midst of difficulty and suffering.  Yet, in the midst of it, God wants to give us rest.  In some ways our life is a metaphor for these things.  Each day our bodies rest at night in order to be refreshed for the next day.  And yet, eventually we all come to the day of death in which our bodies rest forever.  Yet, this speaks to an eternal refreshing that God has for us.  Similarly, God refreshes us throughout this life in our spiritual walk.  Though we be weary we can find rest and refreshment in Him.  However, it is in the Resurrection and the Age to come that we will find our ultimate rest and refreshment. 

Let us hold fast to these things in faith.  Let us not grow weary in doing the good work that God has given us to do.  Let us not be bullied by the objections and commands of those who are hypocritical.  Rather, let us follow Jesus.  It is He who is making all things new.  The crowd that day was divided into those who were indignant at Jesus and those who rejoiced.  God is doing a good work today.  Many in this world are indignant at it.  But we can rejoice with Him in all that He is doing.  Those who are indignant will be put to shame, but those who rejoice will enter into His rest and be completely restored and healed.  The Truth of God will be made evident in That Day and the logic of those who stand against God will be clearly exposed and judged.  How respond to Christ and His work reveals much about our heart.

 

Loosed audio