I've had to come to grips with my own contorted spine this past year. I was worn out. My mind and my body couldn't hold up under the pressure of being what I thought I had to be or what other's expected of me. The confidence that I exuded in my adolescence had been completely worn away. There is such a loud voice in my head telling me things like "you could have done better", "Well, you really screwed that up!" and so on..... I can't tell you when I realized that my gaze was fixed on the ground and not the world around me.
The Bent Woman is me, the Bent Woman is you. Read Luke 13 and discover that she holds her head high now. I have some big decisions to make this week. I'm committing them to prayer. I will not be bent over by the sins of others or my own insecurities. I have been made whole!
I've attached my little talk.....I hope you enjoy it.
Falling into the Arms of JesusI am so thrilled to be here with you today. The theme “Falling into the Arms of Jesus” is exactly what each of us must do. Maybe some of you are resting in His arms right now, and yet, I know there are some women here who have no idea that His arms are open to them. After praying about just the right passage to share, the Lord led to me to The Bent Women. Please open your Bibles to Luke 13:10-17.
Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all the adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:10-17)
My husband takes teaching and preaching of God’s Word very seriously. On any given Sunday morning at our church there will be the occasional disruption out in the congregation. A baby will cry, children will be laughing, some dear soul will have a terribly loud cough, a cell phone will ring…you name and I’ll claim it! I am always amazed how well Wayne can keep his thoughts and composure together. He’s spent a large part of his week preparing this message and only an emergency will prevent him from finishing his sermon. In this passage, Luke 13, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus was not easily distracted…He was on a mission to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:9). He knew that in this crowd were some seriously lost individuals who were literally dying to hear His promises. One of these dying souls was a bent woman. She had been unable to stand up straight for eighteen years. She knew her family and neighbors by their feet and not their faces. She made no commotion that day, she didn’t cry out for healing, she didn’t shuffle up to touch Jesus’ robe. She was merely present. Sometime during His teaching, this crippled woman caught Jesus’ eye. He didn’t just make a mental note to see her after his message….He stopped and called her to Him!
Jesus was the center of attention, all eyes were on Him. In those days, women were not permitted in the synagogue on the Sabbath. She was probably standing in the fringes, keeping a low profile and just under the radar. How many women are here today hoping that they can get out of this room without ever being noticed? I promise you that Jesus has taken notice of you. How long and painful that walk must have been for her! Surely, onlookers were aghast! Who is she? What’s wrong with her? Doesn’t she know that she isn’t welcome here? Was she hopeful for a miracle or was she full of dread? Sometimes, we dread the very act of surrendering ourselves to the Lord. If she was afraid, her fears would soon be erased.
The Bible tells us that she had “a spirit of infirmity” for eighteen years. This means that her physical condition was caused by an evil spirit. Satan had tortured this poor woman and had robbed of her vitality. She was useless to society. I’m sure if anyone noticed her, it was out of pity. “Man, I’m glad I don’t have to live like that!” Many of us can relate to the Bent Woman. My father was a very young man when illness and disease zapped him of his strength and energy. I can remember him struggling for every breath just to walk from the car into the house at night. Some of us can relate to the spiritual pain of having been a prisoner to sin and despair. Are you broken down and crippled by this evil world? I shop for groceries every week. When I get to the canned food aisle, I’ll pick up the cans we need. I always inspect the cans; if they’re dented I push them aside. Are you one of those precious people that have been put back on the shelf? Have you been broken and forgotten about? You may believe that the dust around your heart has settled for good…..
He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. Luke13:12-13 After all those years she was immediately healed! Praise God! I have been trying to get my psychology degree for the past thirteen years. Between chasing after love, getting married and started a family, I’m almost there! The classes that I’ve taken in counseling and therapy have never assured me that science can heal any of us from our anguish. No doctors or counselors set this woman free. With just a touch from her Maker the Bent Woman was bent no more. She was not physically able to fall into Jesus’ arms. She didn’t have to do anything. He brought His arms to her! The Lord saw her and called her to Him! He saw into her heart, he felt those long years of pain. She could not hide herself from His eyes. No one is insignificant. Jesus’ arms are open to you. He sees the pain and disappointment that have long been forgotten by others. He alone can make you straight. This beautiful woman went from being a crushed tin can into an instrument of glory! Speaking as a previous tin can, I know that Jesus can do the very same for you.
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to pray.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work: therefore come and be healed on them and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14
Time out! Here we have the ruler of the synagogue calling out the Ruler of the World for breaking the rules! He spoke indigently; he was deeply offended that the Sabbath had been broken. Had he even notice this woman shuffle into the corner? Was she a first time visitor? I doubt it; I believe that she probably attended faithfully every Sabbath. We have to remember that she hadn’t come to the synagogue expecting anything. His rebuke shows only the coldness of his heart. How many times are we guilty of the same sin?
How many of us sit on the same pew every week? How many of us get into our cars after church without ever speaking to someone new? We attend our church because that is what we've always done. We’re comfortable within a social circle at the WMU or Ladies meetings. I have to be honest with you; nothing in ministry has grieved me more! I think that people often assume the pastor and his wife will minister sufficiently to newcomers and those who are suffering. That is a lethal assumption. Let us pray that we will have the compassion of Jesus. It is my prayer that church isn’t just the place we always go, but the place where our hearts and eyes are open and no person goes unnoticed.
The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not his woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound –think of it- for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame and the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. Luke 13: 15-17
Wow! Doesn’t that make you want to shout “You Go Jesus!” He called the leader exactly what he was, a hypocrite. This man had no interest in the miraculous healing of this humble woman. He merely wanted to take a cheap shot at Jesus. When asked if he valued livestock more than human life no verbal answer is recorded. His true character had been exposed and he was put to shame. Doesn’t our Lord always bring the darkness to light? Hallelujah!
Ladies, I am so thrilled that we have a hero! Jesus is far better than a knight on a white horse. He is not a fairy tale. He came to this suffering woman’s aid and straightened her crippled body. When the world sought to rebuke her and drive her into further shame, Jesus lifted her up high and beautiful. He called her “a daughter of Abraham”, a description making her equal to the “sons” of Abraham. He didn’t just knock out the big mouth; Jesus showed the crowd that this woman was as precious to Him as any man present.
Can you not hear his compassion when he said, “whom Satan bound – think of it – for eighteen years!” “Think of it.” He felt every bit of her long confinement. Why did she have to suffer for so many years? Why was Satan allowed to torture her?
2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." We are reassured in Jeremiah 29:11 of God’s plan for each of us. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. This woman didn’t ask “Why?” She stood tall with her head held high and glorified God!
I have some dear friends that have faced trials that I can only imagine. Their testimonies of abuse and desperation literally give me goose bumps. Yet, these women didn’t grow their roots in desperation; their roots are firmly planted in Christ. These sisters of mine are the first ones to run to the side of some one suffering. Just a few weeks ago, I was hiding out in my house, a situation in my life had gotten the best of me. I wasn’t answering the phone and I definitely wasn’t coming to the door. Well, two of these wonderful ladies didn’t bother to call or even knock….they were coming after me, whether I liked it or not. They ministered to me; they took the excess of the love in their hearts and filled up my empty cup. I am quite positive that our lady from Luke 13 ran (can’t you picture it!) to the aid of many other broken people.