Sermons

Summary: Jesus touches our crookedness

A farm family from a rural area was making their first visit to a big city. They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sights.

Leaving the reception desk the father and son came to the elevator entrance. They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was. Just then an elderly lady with a cane hobbled towards the elevator. The doors mysteriously opened; the old woman entered, and the moving doors swallowed her whole.

About a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly beautiful young woman. Without turning his head the amazed father said, "Son, go get your mother." [1]

There’s a lot of crookedness in life. Isaiah had this to say about it:

4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 40:4 - 5 (KJV)

In our main text Luke has the incident of a crippled woman healed of her crookedness, a religious leader shamed for his hypocrisy and a synagogue brought to life with praise for God!

Certainly wherever Jesus shows up, crookedness will be made straight! Let’s look at some of those places.

A Crooked Spine

10Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. Luke 13:10-13 (NRSV)

In a poem [2] entitled “Oh Woman…Dear Nameless Woman” Anna Murdow describes the crippled woman at the synagogue:

Oh woman, dear nameless woman,

Your life isn’t as it should be.

What has held your head down?

What has bent your back and heart

so severely?

What has burdened you so, dear woman,

that you are bent over …

that you are unable to stand straight …

that you cannot look into the eyes

of others?

What has shackled you in this position?

Is it poverty … or abuse?

Has all sense of worth

been stripped from you?

Have the cruelties of life

spit upon you and mocked you?

Have you been used by men to the point

of losing your own name?

Has death taken the very ones

who would have taken care of you?

Oh woman, dear nameless woman,

how your heart must long

to look into the eyes of others once more;

to seek hope and acceptance and love.

But alas, you cannot, can you?

Your head cannot be lifted.

For whatever reasons, it is bent low.

You see only the dust of the streets

and the feet of those who

step over you and around you

and on you.

Oh woman, dear bent-low woman,

God has brought you to this place …

to this synagogue … to this person

who is teaching freedom from bondage.

On this day … yes, on this very Sabbath day

you will be set free

and will stand tall once more.

You must sense this hope, don’t you?

You made such a great effort to come.

You risked being turned away by the leaders

as being one so nameless that

you would be in the way …

a mere nuisance in their day.

But you have come to this place.

Dear woman, is this a last hope for you?

He has called you … not by name, but “Woman”.

Even before his touch,

even before you might stand tall,

he proclaims that those things

that had kept your head low

and your back so bent

be gone forever.

Did you hear his words, dear woman?

SET FREE!

Set free from all of the bent-down bondage!

His eyes are the first eyes

that you have seen in so long.

How can you not respond

in the way that you do!

Standing straight … Praising God!

Oh woman, dear nameless woman,

Have you heard his name for you?

"Daughter of Abraham".

Your great faith has given you a name

and this man whose own name is Jesus

has seen your faith,

even in your crippled posture.

What a beautiful name you have!

This crippled Jewish woman was quite low on life’s totem pole. In that culture and time, women were to keep “their place” in the synagogue, and also keep quiet in a man’s presence; she lived a crooked existence in a crooked society. And her crookedness was severe and overpowering. The description of her being “bent over and quite unable to stand up straight” is literally translated as “overcome”….she was unable to “unbend” – she was powerless against her crookedness.

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