August 25, 2019
Truth in the Face of Contempt
Sermon Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I stand before Your people, to deliver Your message. Though the words are mine and I prepared this message, I pray that this message is Your message in its entirety. I pray your blessing and anointing on the message, its delivery, its reception - and most of all, its application in our lives.” Amen
Once again, Jesus teaches how truth overcomes adversity and scorn.
Many, many years ago on a Sunday afternoon, after church I was helping “Red” a friend of mine cut firewood in a forest. He was a barber who worked six days a week trying to make ends meet. That’s why we were getting firewood, to save on his heating bills. Well poor Red went to put a handle on the end of his file, so as to sharpen the chainsaw. As he raised the file and handle intending to bang it tighter, the file slipped from the handle and as Red’s hand came down with force the file punctured through his hand. It was awful and we were miles from civilization. I drove breakneck speed back to town and the emergency room of a large hospital. While waiting in the emergency room, a nun approached us. Back in those days it was common for nuns to minister in hospitals dressed in the “habits” with the winged headgear. Red explained to her how the injury occurred. Her immediate response was very much like the synagogue leader in our reading. She chastised us for working on Sunday and implied that he got what he deserved. I was taken aback when Red answered her, “Well, aren’t you working on Sunday?” I was embarrassed by that but in retrospect see a slim parallel.
In our gospel reading, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. Among those attending was a woman bent and crippled. When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and healed her of that impairment that had lingered in her life for eighteen years.
“And He laid hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (v 13)
That is when the ruler of the synagogue became indignant and chastised Our Lord for working on the Sabbath.
Jesus reminded him that there are circumstances that demand an element of work on a daily basis. His example was watering the livestock. He then goes on
to say that releasing this woman was like loosening her from Satan’s bondage. (found in vs 15-17)
Do you think that Jesus could have waited and healed her on the following day? After all, what is one more day when she has been like that for eighteen years?
Jesus saw this as a perfect opportunity for a lesson on truth overcoming adversity and scorn.
Wouldn’t it have been a much better response to that nun in the emergency room, if Red or I were familiar enough with this reading, to simply quote “the truth” by referring to this reading?
I want to go back to verse thirteen. “And He laid hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God”. The point that I want to make is that part about glorifying God. IMMEDIATELY! It wasn’t an after-thought, it was true heartfelt gratitude!
Do I have a real, true life example to share? You bet!
When Edna and I were on the mission field in the Dominican Republic, we had a congregant, Juan who was almost crippled with ‘elephantiasis” It attacked his groin and external genitals. We hosted a medical team of doctors and surgeons from Medical Ministries International. These doctors examined Juan and performed surgery and treatment, which included castration. As Juan was being anesthetized, he was literally singing praise and worship songs.; The doctors and attending staff were impressed and amused. But can you believe it? When Juan came out from under the anesthesia, he was still singing praises to God. Now that did impress the medical team and our church when it was told to us. Like in today’s reading, it was as immediate as it gets.
Is there something else that God wants us to understand from this reading? Yes, I think so.
“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (verse 16)
An underlying message just jumps out. That is the truth of redemption and restoration from the bondage of Satan and sin. How long has some nagging sin been plaguing you? How long have you suffered from unconfessed sin? I think we all have things in our background that cause us so much embarrassment or shame, that we kind of just push them back. Wouldn’t it be a better thing to just get off by yourself and tell God how ashamed and embarrassed you are and how you would like to be free from that haunting past? God already knows and He has been waiting all this time for you to come to Him, so He can free you.
You will be singing: “Free at last, Free at Last. Thank God Almighty I am free at last!” quoting Martin Luther King
Finally, one more: As I was wrapping up this message, Edna came in my office to share the latest report on my dying sister, who is hanging on and talking about God and angels. Then a niece was telling her about a friend in hospice who when family gathered and the doctor came in, said to them all: “The HOLY SPIRIT is here and DO NOT BLOCK HIM!” This lady was experiencing the ultimate freedom and truth”. She departed in absolute peace.
Let us now go forth to LOVE and SERVE God by loving and serving each other – ALL OTHERS!
Let us pray.
I humbly and sincerely ask for your prayers!
Note: It is the practice of this church to preach straight from the bible. We follow the lectionary assigned readings from which the sermon/messages are derived.