Summary: A sermon about laying your burdens down.
I have poor posture.
When I see other people with good posture, I really admire their ability to sit or stand up straight, naturally—without even thinking about it.
Mary Ellen has naturally good posture.
My little 1 year old Owen has naturally good posture.
I used to have good posture as well.
When I was a kid I was a really good basketball player for my age.
I can remember the day, I was 5 or 6 years old and playing with a basketball in our driveway, when I decided that basketball was going to be my favorite sport.
It was going to be the sport that I concentrated on and got really good at.
It was a decision between basketball and football.
I loved both sports.
We played both on the playground at school.
But for whatever reason I chose basketball.
From that day on, I would spend hours and hours shooting baskets.
Whenever I had a free hour or two, I would play basketball.
I remember, the pride I felt when older kids and adults would say things such as: “Kenny is going to play in the NBA someday.”
In middle school I was considered the best basketball player in my class.
That was my identity.
I lived for it; I loved it.
On the weekends I would head for the public basketball courts early in the morning and play all the way until dark.
And during summer vacation—I would do this every day.
When I was in the 7th grade I made the Freshman high school basketball team.
This was a big deal.
But, suddenly I was no longer the best basketball player on the court.
I was 2 years younger than the other kids on the team.
And 2 years at that age makes a big difference.
To make matters worse, we didn’t go to the same school.
I was a little middle-schooler; they were big high school kids.
And so I got made fun of.
Today they would call it bullying.
In any event, I lost my confidence that year, and became very anxious on the basketball court.
And in order to divert attention away from my anxiety, I began to slump my shoulders on purpose—to try and seem relaxed and cool.
I haven’t had good posture since.
I had a burden, a self-esteem problem which caused me to bend my back.
One day “Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.”
And a woman was there.
She had been disabled for 18 years.
“She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight.”
What do you suppose she was doing there?
Was she there every Sabbath or had she come that particular day because she had heard that Jesus would be teaching?
Had she heard about how Jesus had compassion on people?
Had she witnessed or heard the reports of His miraculous healings?
Had she heard people talking about how He seemed to have a special affinity for the least, the last, the lost, the broken, the lonely, the people living on the margins?
Was she hurting—mentally and physically?
Is that why she had come?
Was this her last hope?
I wonder how many other things she had tried in order to be “set free” from her condition.
Had she tried self-medication—perhaps she had gone through addiction problems only to find that they only make matters worse.
Had she read self-help books?
Had she spent money at seminars led by motivational speakers promising everything under the sun?
I know that some folks think this woman had osteoporosis—a degenerative bone disease.
But I don’t think so.
I think her problem was more mental than physical…
…more spiritual than material.
The Scripture tells us that she had been “disabled by a spirit for eighteen years.”
And she was in a synagogue seeking help.
Also, when Jesus heals her He uses the language of being in bondage and being set free.
I wonder what this woman was in bondage too?
What was the breaking point?
What had caused her back to bend?
Obviously, it hadn’t always been that way.
Had she been bullied and called names as a kid?
Had she believed those names and those bullies?
Was that the burden that was causing her back to bend?
Had it gone on for years?
Did her back bend slowly, over time or did it happen quickly?
People with all sorts of burdens are walking our streets, working in cubicles next to ours, riding the school bus three seats behind; living home alone, day after day.
Some people, like the woman who couldn’t stand up straight are more visible than others.
I see a lot of these folks coming to our church building during the week in order to get food, ask for a light bill to be paid, get help with their rent.