Summary: A sermon about allowing Jesus to help you stand up straight and not have to live a stooped over life.
The woman crippled for 18 years and unable to stand up straight does not ask for healing.
Instead, Jesus calls her and sets her free from her disability by laying hands on her.
Her response is to stand up straight and start praising God.
Over the years, she has become used to, if not resigned, to her long and serious illness.
For 18 years this unnamed woman must strain to see the sun, the sky, and the stars.
For 18 years she has become used to looking down or just slightly ahead but never upward without a lot of difficulty.
For 18 years her world has been one of turning from side to side to see what those who stand up straight can see with just a glance.
She is used to this, and no one questions her fate.
Instead, the leader of the synagogue gets terribly offended that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath.
What do you suppose was wrong with this woman?
What caused her to walk all bent over?
The term uses for "crippled" or "disabled" or a "spirit of infirmity"--it all depends on the translation of the Bible you are using--literally means "illness."
Have you ever seen someone walk around, stooped over--with bad posture--slumped shoulders, and eyes that will not look you in the face--only at his or her feet?
I see a lot of people like that.
Some of them come to our food pantry during the week.
Over the years, I've known a lot of teenagers that act this way.
When I lived down in Mississippi, I would come along a lot of older African American people who looked this way.
What might cause a person to be like that?
Low self esteem could cause a person to walk bent over.
Guilt can be such a heavy load to bear, that it might cause a person's back to bow.
Abuse can make people hunched over.
Ever seen a puppy that has been severely abused?
People can look like that as well.
Depression can cause people to slump their shoulders, shuffle their feet and look at the ground.
I believe that the problem with the woman in our Bible passage for this morning is spiritual, not physical.
Jesus says she had been "bound by Satan for eighteen long years..."
And haven't we all bound by Satan in one way or another?
We live in a lost and broken world.
Even our own little city has been bound by the recent terror attacks.
But for those who answer the call of Jesus; for those who do not allow hate and darkness to leave them bent over--they will stand up straight and praise the Lord!!!
J.B. Phillip's translation of the New Testament reads that the woman had been "doubled over due to some psychological cause."
This woman's problem is severe and she has had it for years.
For 18 years, she has been walking around looking at passing feet.
She cannot see the smile on the faces of strangers passing her.
Some unnamed burden has sucked the strength from her.
She can no longer stand up straight.
We can probably pretty safely assume that this woman was unhappy.
And it's hard to serve the Lord when we are unhappy.
When we are unhappy we are often focused on ourselves; we are self-absorbed.
It's hard to focus on God and on others when we are unhappy, depressed, bowed over with guilt and shame.