Jesus does wonderful things—He heals the sick, forgives the sinner, frees the captive, and fiercely loves!
August 17-18, 2019
Pastor Joe Wittwer
Summer Bible Series
What I love about Jesus!
Luke 13:10-17 (p. 896)
Today, we are going to read a really cool story about Jesus breaking the rules to heal a crippled lady. Jesus valued people over protocol. I love that about Jesus! In fact, there’s a lot in this story that I love about Jesus. That’s what we’re going to talk about. And, we’re going to kick off Love Week! Let’s start by standing and singing; we’re going to use some songs to tell Jesus we love Him!
Introduction and offering:
ILL: Eileen wanted nothing to do with God. In fact, when her daughter told her that someone at school had been talking to her about God, Eileen was so upset that she couldn’t sleep that night.
At midnight she went downstairs and picked up a Bible. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been to a church, nor had she ever opened a Bible on her own. When she opened it now, she noticed it was divided into an “old” part and a “new” part. She decided to start with the “new” part, figuring the book may have been updated.
So in the still of the night she sat on her living room floor and began to read the gospel of Matthew. By 3 a.m. she was in the middle of John’s gospel and found, as she puts it, that she had fallen in love with the person of Jesus. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she prayed to God, “but I know you are what I want.”
Jesus has that effect on people. He’s amazing. Today we are continuing our Summer Bible Series in the gospel of Luke with a story about Jesus that just makes me love Him more. Here it is:
Luke 13:10–17 (p. 896)
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Here are five things from this story that I love about Jesus.
- Jesus’ habit of weekly worship.
The story opens on a Sabbath with Jesus teaching in a synagogue. It’s easy to read right over this because it’s so ordinary: Jesus was always in a synagogue on the Sabbath. It’s where you’d find Him every Sabbath.
Luke 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
Different translations render this, “on the Sabbath day, he went into the synagogue as usual, or as he always did, or as was his custom or habit.” What did Jesus do on the Sabbath? He went to worship at the synagogue. Why did He do this?
First, Jesus was an observant Jew, one who followed God’s Law. Of course, the Sabbath was #4 of the Ten Commandments. Every 7th day on the Sabbath, God’s people were to stop working, rest, remember and worship God. Jesus honored God by obeying His law—including the Sabbath.
But what was the purpose of the Sabbath law? On another occasion Jesus was being accused of violating the Sabbath because he allowed His hungry disciples to pluck some heads of grain. Jesus answered his accusers:
Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath was made for man. That is, God gave this law, this rhythm of work and worship, work and rest, for our benefit. We need this! This weekly rhythm of working six days and then taking a day to rest and worship was designed not only to honor God, but to bring rest and refreshment to His people, and to reorient us back to God.
ILL: I told you a few weeks ago about my backpacking watch that has a digital compass in it. Each year when I replace the battery, I have to recalibrate the compass. I hold down a button and turn in a slow circle, 360 degrees, and then release the button, and the watch finds true north again.
I need to do that same thing spiritually! I wander, and I’m constantly recalibrating back to God, to true north. I have rhythms I follow: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly. One of those rhythms is weekly worship—gathering here with you to worship and learn and connect. Just like you could always find Jesus in the synagogue every Sabbath, you’ll find me every weekend gathering with other believers to worship. I need it—it’s good for me.
We need this weekly rhythm to remind us, reconnect us, reorient us back to God. And Jesus modeled it for us. It’s why we say that the first three steps here at Life Center to follow Jesus are:
The first step is church—just come each week, worship, learn, connect with God and people, remember, and recalibrate. Back to true north.
I love this about Jesus: His habit of weekly worship. (Of course, I especially love it because I’m a pastor.)
- Jesus valued people over protocol.
This is the Big Idea from this story.
Jesus and the synagogue ruler had very different values and priorities. The synagogue ruler was concerned about protocol. Protocol is the accepted or established code of procedure or behavior in any group. Protocol is about the rules, the code, the accepted way of doing things. The synagogue ruler cared about the rules about the Sabbath and the synagogue—what you could and could not do. He didn’t care as much about this poor woman. He was actually bothered that Jesus healed her on the Sabbath!
Jesus, on the other hand, wasn’t so concerned with protocol—He was concerned for this woman who had been crippled for 18 years. Jesus valued people over protocol. I love that about Jesus!
A little background. God gave the Ten Commandments in very simple form, without much commentary or explanation. Take a look at:
Exodus 20:8-11 (p. 64)
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
You’ll notice that this is longest of all 10 commandments. Some are very short, like, “You shall not murder.” But even the Sabbath command is quite simple: on this day, you shall not do any work.
The Jewish rabbis, in their desire to obey God, decided they needed to define work. They ended up with 39 categories of work.
For example, one of those was carrying a burden. But then you had to decide, what was a burden? William Barclay explains:
“The Scribal Law lays it down that a burden is “food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve, paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen”—and so on endlessly. So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear her wig, even if a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, or if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day.”
Another category of work was to heal. I quote Barclay again:
“Obviously this has to be defined. Healing was allowed when there was danger to life, and especially in troubles of the ear, nose and throat; but even then, steps could be taken only to keep the patient from becoming worse; no steps might be taken to make him get any better. So a plain bandage might be put on a wound, but no ointment; plain wadding might be put into a sore ear, but not medicated wadding.”
Again, all of this was well-intentioned. They wanted to obey God. But they had taken God’s simple command—keep the Sabbath holy by not working—and had turned it into a back-breaking burden of minutia and rules.
This is what religion does. It inevitably devolves into stifling protocol, rules and customs that misses the point. The protocol overwhelms the people.
ILL: My freshman year in college, I traveled with a band called the Joyful Noise. We were doing a Friday night concert in a church in Portland, and were unloading and setting up our equipment. We got hot, so we took off our coats and without thinking laid them on the communion table up front. A man from the church walked in and saw our coats on the holy table and went ballistic. Red-faced, he yelled at us to get our coats off the Lord’s Table and show some respect. He chewed us out! We removed our coats and apologized. But I wondered what Jesus thought. Here’s the irony: the table celebrated Jesus’ death. But Jesus didn’t die for the table—he died for us, the people. We were far more valuable and important to Jesus than that table, but to this man, the table was more important than we were.
This is what religion does. It ends up missing the point. Protocol overwhelms people. God gave the Sabbath for people—for our benefit. That was the point. It’s about people.
When Jesus came, He valued people over protocol. Jesus saw this poor woman who had been crippled for 18 years, He wanted to help her. He knew that healing her on the Sabbath would offend some people, would break the rules, violate their sense of protocol. He did it anyway. I love that about Jesus! He values people over protocol.
- Jesus forced the issue.
Did you notice in verse 12 that it says, “When Jesus saw her, he called her forward?” Jesus forced the issue. I love that about Jesus!
How many of you like confrontation? How many don’t? Most of us—including me—avoid confrontation. Jesus didn’t—especially when a person’s well-being was involved. Someone was sick, stuck, hurting, suffering—Jesus forced the issue. Let’s get it fixed! I might have quietly whispered to the woman, “Meet me out back after the service.” But Jesus called her forward and forced the issue.
There is something fierce about Jesus—a fierce love. When He sees a person He loves hurting, He moves to protect or heal—He forces the issue. It’s fierce love.
ILL: Many years ago, my teenage son Jeff was jumped by 4 teenage bullies who beat him up. When adults intervened, the 4 boys stepped back and Jeff jumped up, ran up the back of their sedan and kicked in the back window.
I was out of town and quickly came home to take care of my son, and I’ve got to tell you that my Papa Bear instincts kicked in. “You mess with my son, you mess with me.” When the owner of the car called and wanted me to pay for his window, I told him that wouldn’t happen, that he should be paying for my son’s medical expenses. And I warned him, “Tell your son and his friends to watch out for me.”
As stupid as my threats were, they were motivated by one thing: a fierce love for my son.
I believe that’s what motivated Jesus—a fierce love for people. That’s why He’d force the issue. And Jesus not only loved the crippled woman; He loved the synagogue ruler too. He was as stuck as the woman, just in a different way. I’m convinced that Jesus forced the issue out of fierce love for him as well as her. Look at:
Mark 3:1–6 (p. 860)
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Jesus forced the issue not only for the sake of the sick man, but for everyone there who was stuck in religious stubbornness. It’s fierce love that made Jesus force the issue. I love that about Jesus.
- Jesus frees the captives.
Jesus healed this woman. “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”
And look at v. 15-16. The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
“You care for your animals on the Sabbath—shouldn’t you care as much or more for this woman who was bound for 18 years?” Jesus set her free—it’s what He does, and I love that about Jesus. Look at Jesus’ mission statement in:
Luke 4:16–19 (p. 883)
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This was Jesus’ mission statement. He came to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and set the oppressed free.
This woman was oppressed by Satan for 18 years. Her sickness had a spiritual source—it was the result of Satanic bondage. This is important: some sickness is purely physical, and some is spiritual. Most of Jesus’ healings were physical—like the story we just read in Mark 3—but some like this one had a spiritual component. Jesus healed her by setting her free from spiritual oppression.
When Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his friends, this was his one sentence summary of Jesus’ life.
Acts 10:38 (you know) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
What did Jesus do? He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil. Jesus frees the captives. Whatever has you trapped, Jesus frees the captives. It’s what He did, and it’s what He still does.
ILL: Lee Strobel tells the story of doing a baptism service where they invited each person being baptized to write their sins on a piece of paper and then pin them on a large cross up front, then get baptized. The Bible says that our sins were nailed to cross with Jesus, paid in full by His death. One woman wrote this letter afterwards.
“I remember my fear. In fact, it was the most fear I remember in my life. I wrote as tiny as I could on that piece of paper the word abortion. I was so scared someone would open the paper and read it and find out it was me. I wanted to get up and walk out of the auditorium during the service, the guilt and fear were that strong.
When my turn came, I walked toward the cross, and I pinned the paper there. I was directed to a pastor to be baptized. He looked me straight in the eyes, and I thought for sure that he was going to read this terrible secret I kept from everybody for so long. But instead, I felt like God was telling me, I love you. You’ve been forgiven. I felt so much love for me, a terrible sinner. It’s the first time I ever really felt forgiveness and unconditional love. It was unbelievable, indescribable.”
Lee concludes: Do you have inside of you a secret sin that you wouldn’t even want to write down on a piece of paper out of fear somebody might open it up and find out? Let me tell you something about the Jesus I know. Not only does he want to adopt you as his child, he wants to lift the weight of guilt off your shoulders.
He wants to set you free!
Are you stuck? In bondage? Trapped? Jesus frees the captive. If you’d like prayer, please come up front in a few minutes when we finish. Members of our prayer team will be here to pray with you.
Jesus frees the captives. It’s what He did, and it’s what He still does. I love that about Jesus.
- Jesus does wonderful things!
Look at verse 17: When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
I love that about Jesus! He does wonderful things—things that bring joy and delight. He heals the sick, forgives the sinner, frees the captive, and fiercely loves us! He does everything well!
Mark 7:37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Jesus does wonderful things. He does all things well. I love that about Jesus.
Let’s finish with two things. I’m getting done early, so please stay seated until I finish these two things.
First, would you like Jesus to do wonderful things in your life? If you’ve never said yes to Him, you can right now. Pray.
Second, this is Love Week! Hundreds of us are serving all over town. We want to represent Jesus who does wonderful things. So often Christians are known for what they’re against, not what we’re for. We are for our community! We love Spokane! And we want to show that love by doing. If you’re not signed up yet for love week, you can sign up at the tables in the commons which are organized both by serving opportunities and by day and time. And we are putting together 4000 food kits with one of our partners, Bite2Go that provides food for kids in town who may not have access to three square meals a day.
So come pray, or go serve!
 Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The Gospel of Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 128). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.
 Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The Gospel of Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 129). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.
Lee Strobel, “Meet the Jesus I Know,” Preaching Today tape no. 211