Summary: We must care for the hurting the way Christ cares for us.
- Fred Craddock tells of an experience he once had at his home church in Oklahoma.
He was scheduled to preach at a service and part of the service was the singing of a beautiful choir. After it service was over, Craddock went around back behind the stage and ran into an elderly woman who had just finished singing. Craddock commented on how beautiful and lovely the music was. The woman looked at him and said, "Well that’s good, because that was it, I quit." Craddock said, "What do you mean you quit." She had been in the choir for decades so he thought maybe she was hanging up her robe, but that’s not what she meant. He asked again, "What do you mean you quit?" She said, "I quit." "I know what you said, but what do you mean?" She said, "All of it, church, all of it, I quit, I quit." "I look out Sunday after Sunday, I see the people singing, and talking and coming, and I quit." "Why," Craddock asked, "Why do you quit."
She simply responded, "Who cares?"
- Bum Phillips, former coach of the NFL football team, the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) once made the comment, "There are two types of coaches in the NFL: them that have been fired, and them that are gonna be fired." His statements applies to our passage today. Because in this world, there are two types of people. Those who have been hurt, and those who will be hurt. All of us fall into one or both of those categories. If we have not been hurt, then it is only a matter of time. We can’t escape it and we can’t avoid it. And being a Christian, making a commitment to follow Christ, doesn’t mean we will have an exemption from getting hurt.
- I know that some of you here this morning are hurting. Relationships gone bad, physical ailments, financial hardships, spiritual darkness, loss of loved ones. Many of you come this morning with hurts and pains that you have kept locked up in your heart, unwilling to share it, to reveal it to anyone. Even to God. And others of you are completely unaware of the hurt that is right around the corner. Pain that is just around the bend. A week, a month, a year from now, it will happen, you will be blindsided, and you will be searching for hope.
- There are two types of people in this church: them that are hurting, and them that are gonna be hurting. Our story this morning is one for all of us. We all need it. Because in it, we see that...
1. Jesus Cares for Hurting People
- It was the Sabbath, that day that was set apart in the Ten Commandments. And as was Jesus’ custom, he was in the synagogue teaching the people. We’ve seen him there many times throughout the gospels. And often it results in fireworks. It would be no different on this particular Sabbath day.
- As he is teaching, Jesus is in the middle of his sermon and he notices a women. She is with rest of women, set apart from the men. But there is something different about her. Everyone could see what was different about her. Luke says that she was "bent over and could not straighten up." I spoke with a leading chiropractor from the city of Havana... i.e. Tony Roberts. And I asked him what this sounded like. And he said it was probably one of two things. Either she had scoliosis of the spine, where instead of her spine growing straight, it grew sideways, or at a curve. Today, there are things that could be done to help her, but in Jesus day, nothing could be done. Or she was a part of some traumatic experience. Fell off a cart, ran over by an animal, something that caused chronic, irrepairable damage to her spine. Whatever it was, and however old she was, for 18 years she had been living with this hopeless, painful, uncomfortable physical ailment. And Jesus saw her. And when he saw her, nothing else became as important as caring for that hurting woman.
- Because Jesus could not only see the physical pain that she was in. He also was able to see the spiritual pain she was suffering. And in this particular case, the cause of her ailment was none other that Satan himself. He was oppressing her. He was the one inflicting this hardship upon her. As Luke puts it, she "had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years."
- It’s important to understand at this point in the story that pain and suffering is not God’s will. It was not his intention when he created the universe, when he created man, it was never his intention for there to be pain and suffering in the world. But sin brought pain. Sin introducing suffereing and hurt. And God’s promise is that someday, we who know him and have accepted his son, will enter a new heaven and new earth, where all pain and suffering is extinguished forever.