When Life Gets You Bent Out Of Shape
“Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” – “Luke 13: 10-13”
“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 ruler 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 his 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 13:10-17”
It is a fact that in the majority of organisations there are what one might call the “the cold-water committee members.” It’s the type of committee in the “Business or Church” World that believe it is their “right and duty” whenever there is a “new and possibly creative way” to do things they utilise their authority to “pour cold water” on an idea that is about to burst into flames.
These folks are normally “a non-elected committee; and the members are usually “self-appointed”. There is a phrase that is commonly utilised by them and it is “We don’t do things like that around here” or “We have never done it that way before”. In their world, everything is about “keeping the rules”. It’s all about “tradition” but as one person once said, “Tradition is a clock that tells you what time it was.”
“Tradition is a clock that tells you what time it was.”
One thing that these types of people do is to try and “anchor us to the past”, but one thing I’m here today to do is to tell you that “God is always at work in the here and now”.
The Bible tells me that “Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever” – “Hebrews 13:8” and that being so means that He can work today in the same way He did in the past or He can “do a new thing” in the “here and now” and that’s just what I believe God wants to do for many of us here today.
In many religious communities, they have allowed the “traditions of men to overshadow” what God really wants to do and in fact even Jesus alluded to this in “Mark 7: 8-13” He said “Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command, so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions!” The Message – The King James Version puts it like this – “He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
Jesus Christ has and always will bring “liberty and freedom” He came into this World in order to “Release People” it was said of Him “That He had come to bring “good news”, to announce pardon to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind and to set the burdened and battered free” – “Luke4:18” and He is still doing that today. I can testify of it from my own experience in seeing miracles from Heaven and I’m guessing there are many reading this who could certainty say the same.
The Bible does not present Jesus Christ as one who pushes forward – “Religion, Religious Systems or Creeds” no it presents a “Living Person” it is the person of Jesus Christ and the work of salvation He accomplished on the cross at Calvary.
Today, I am “Proclaiming Liberty” to you, I am “Announcing Forgiveness for your sins” I am declaring a “Pardon for your life” I am stating that “Where you were blind to the possibilities ahead of you” you can now receive sight and that if you are feeling “Battered and Burdened by the trials of life” Christ the “Healer and Liberator” is here to meet with you at the very centre of your need.
So very often many think that God just wants to “confine, restrict and oppress” but the reverse is the truth. He is not a God of “Legalism but of Liberty”.
God’s laws aren’t to tie you down but to set you free!
Max Lucado the well-known “writer and preacher” once wrote: “Legalism has no pity on people. Legalism makes my opinion your burden, makes my opinion your boundary, and makes my opinion your obligation. Nothing will keep a Christian more immature than trying to keep a long list of rules” (Up Words, May 1993).
I’ll tell you today that “Legalists don’t enjoy their faith – and they don’t want anyone else to enjoy it either.” Legalists have lists of rules far in excess of any that God might have, and they always want to impose these rules and regulations on others. Jesus I’m sure would day to them a “Pox on your houses”.
In the Scripture “Luke 13:10-17” which I chose to base my words to you on today we there discover a woman who was very ill. The Bible tells us that for 18yrs she had been bent over forward with the only view on life being her feet. She had been to many physicians, but none were able to help her.
On first reading of this story, it would be easy to think that Jesus was expressing His opposition to legalism, or that it is a story that reflects the victory of Jesus over Satan’s oppression. However, in reality it really is a simple story of love.
The writer of the Gospel is Luke; he was a Doctor by profession. The language Dr. Luke uses appears to inform us that the woman had no physiological cause for her affliction. Physicians today can testify of the amazing connection between the mind and the body. Some people are literally sick because they think they are sick, and there is no organic or physical reason to explain their illness. They are just as sick as someone who has an infection, but the illness started in their minds.
I’m sure that for many years’ friends and neighbours and family had told her to “Stand up!” her reply would be “I can’t!” They would say to her “Look up!” she would reply “I can’t!” and when asked why not, she would simply say, “I just can’t!”
I want to ask you a very personal question today – “How Is Your Life?” I meet many people in the course of my secular employment and especially as I go about my “Mission Activities” and I can tell you a great deal of them are “Bent out Of Shape”. By that I mean their lives are a mess, they are bowed down with worry and stress and really do not know how to face tomorrow.
Some of you engaging to this today have a good case of the “cant’s” also like this woman.
- You have a problem with alcohol, and you’re asked to “Stop drinking!” and you reply, “I can’t!”
- You have a problem with pornography, and you’re asked to “Stop looking at pornography!” and you reply, “I can’t!”
- You have a problem with drug abuse, and you’re asked to “Stop abusing drugs!” and you reply, “I can’t!”
- You have a problem with bitterness of spirit, and you’re asked to “Stop being bitter!” you reply “I can’t!”
- You have a problem with forgiveness, and you’re asked to “Forgive that person that hurt you!” and you reply, “I can’t!”
Have you ever seen a circus elephant tied to a small wooden stake outside a circus tent? That grown elephant could easily rip the wooden stake out of the ground. But when elephant handlers are training baby elephants, they use a strong iron anchor bar and drive it deep into the ground. When the baby elephant tugs and tries to get away, he can’t and experiences the pain of the shackle on his leg.
Finally, he gives up and stops pulling. Gradually as the elephant grows up, they replace the iron anchor bar with a wooden stake. That’s why the grown elephant doesn’t pull away; he doesn’t think he can, so he can’t. It’s not the stake in the ground keeping him in place; it’s the thought in his mind that keeps him there.
I want to re-assure you today that no matter what – “Pornography, Alcohol, Drugs, and Bitterness of spirit, Hated or Un-forgiveness” – Jesus if you will let Him can deliver you from all your “Cant’s”.
A lying spirit had convinced this poor woman that she couldn’t stand up and perhaps today it is the same for you – Right now for you as a reader if you are in need of it – I come against all lying spirits in your situation in the “Name of Jesus” and by the “Power of His Shed Blood” and I declare desist from your lies.
One of the devil’s greatest tools is to try to erect a stronghold in your mind to make you think you can’t do something God has told you to do. That’s why the Bible says in “Ephesians 4:27” – “Do not give the devil a foothold.” If you give the devil an inch, he’ll take your smile; he will rob you of your joy.”
The Touch Of Jesus Straightens Out Lives
So, let’s consider the woman of our story. In the synagogue, we see several things: –
- Firstly, we notice that Jesus knew her need it says He looked at the woman.
- Today Jesus is looking at you, and He knows your specific need.
- Secondarily, we notice is Jesus called her.
- Today I say to you that Jesus is calling you also.
I like to imagine that Jesus bent down and looked into the eyes of this woman, with compassion upon her and He sees her fearful but ever hopeful eyes. In today’s modern language Jesus then says – “Ma’am, you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus then reaches out and touches her and “Verse 13” says, “Immediately she straightened up and praised God.” We are not told what she said or sang; it just says she started praising God.
If she were in our day and age perhaps the words of a familiar song would have been her declaration “Love lifted me, love lifted me! When nothing else could help, love lifted me.”
But why does Jesus call her? Is he trying to make a point, and she is the perfect case with which to do it? I don’t think so.
Jesus is not an “issues leader, but a people” leader
Jesus is not an “issues leader, but a people” leader. I have no doubt how He behaved here was how He operated throughout his ministry. When He sees people in need, His heart is “moved with compassion” In “Matthew 14:14” it tells us “When Jesus emerged from his retreat he saw a vast crowd and was very deeply moved and cured the sick among them.” likewise in “Mark 1:41” we are informed “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” – King James Version
So, Jesus calls her forward, to the front of the synagogue where he is sitting teaching the congregation. Imagine for a moment the hush as she moves to the front. Some people look anxiously at the synagogue president as this happens. When she arrives, Jesus speaks to the lady and says – “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”
I won’t go into the finer meaning of the Greek language that is utilised here but it is sufficient to say that the words declared that He Jesus was: – Jesus King Over All and Jesus is a Liberator. He still is today because “Yesterday, Today and Forever Jesus is the same”.
The Touch Of Jesus Brings Joy and Rest To Lives
Luke records, “and she praised God.” And that really seems like an understatement. You can imagine what she says: “Praise God! Hallelujah!” and she isn’t quiet about it. Everybody in the synagogue murmurs in amazement, wonder and approval. Her friends and neighbours are grinning from ear to ear. Perhaps some of them are weeping for the crippled, now-healed friend. The people are deeply moved.
I want to tell you today that knowing the “Redemption, Forgiveness and Healing of Christ” is not a miserable affair it is one “full of joy” and it is a joy that lasts not only now but it goes on into all of eternity.
Maybe you feel the weight of the world has doubled you over. You feel bent out of shape because of the burdens you have to carry. Worry and anxiety are filling you – Heartache, Pain, Frustration and Suffering can do that.
Some of you have Lost your Job; you’ve been Hurt, Abused or Rejected; and it seems as if you can’t look up like the woman of our story. Jesus, I tell you today; wants to do the same for you that He did for this woman.
First, He sees you, and He knows your pain.
- You can hide your pain from others behind a smile, but Jesus sees you.
Second, He calls you to Himself.
- “Come to me all you who labour and are bent over with care, and I’ll give you rest.”
Third, He speaks to you.
- To let you know that you can be set free from your weakness.
But best of all, when He touches you it will be the time when you discover “Real Joy” for the first time.
The story we have looked at is a story showing Jesus is motivated by love – nothing else. Nothing and no one stand in the way of His love.
The woman would have been considering “I’m a real person after all! If Jesus loves me, then I can be someone to be proud of. I can change. I can leave the past behind. If God is for me, then who can be against me?”
Some of you know the problem: you’ve fallen, and you can’t get up. We live in a world of broken people. Life is fragile; it should be handled with care because people break easily. All the self-help programs and religious rules can’t fix the broken hearts, broken hopes, and broken homes of the people around us. Jesus Christ was the only person who ever claimed to be able to heal broken hearts.
The Great King
The Story is told of a “Great King”. The King delighted in all of his royal court and also in his subjects. However, of all of his people there was one who was his very favourite and it was his “Court Jester”.
Whenever the King had too many problems resting on his shoulders, he would call for the jester and he knew he could always count on him to make him laugh. One day the King thought he had a great idea. He had the jester brought to his chambers. The King was holding a “Golden Sceptre” in his hand. He gave it to the jester and said, “My friend go into my entire kingdom and when you find a bigger fool than you give him this golden wand”.
So, the jester / fool left the Palace and went through every village in the Kings realm asking the same question of all “Do you know of a bigger fool than me”. The same response came “No”.
Meanwhile back at the Palace the King had become ill, and the physicians had said he was dying, and the court jester was called back to the Palace. The King said to him “I am going on a long journey from which I shall never return, I’m dying. The jester said to him “Have you prepared for that journey your Highness? The reply from the King was “No I haven’t!” The jester then said to the King “My Royal Highness I must then present you with the golden Sceptre” – The jester had at last found a greater fool than himself.
The question that must be asked today – “Have you prepared for your coming journey?