By Ministry Matters
HOW DARE YOU?
In a “Peanuts” comic strip, good old Charlie Brown is reading while Lucy swings. He says, “It says here that the world revolves around the sun once a year.” Lucy gets this totally stunned look on her face and says, “The world revolves around the sun? Are you sure? I thought it revolved around me.”
We all know people like that, people who think the world revolves around them, and when we have to deal with folks like that, one of our immediate responses is, “How dare you?”
I. Attitudes Make a Difference
It is easy to take offense at such an arrogant, selfish attitude. Such presumptuous pride sets our teeth on edge like fingernails on a chalkboard or the thought of a sauerkraut milkshake. Sometimes pride even gives us cause to be humble; especially when we look at our lives in light of the Son of God’s sacrifice for us.
II. Our Attitude Should be Thanksgiving
In this letter the author gives a glorious invitation: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe” (v. 28). We give thanks but our inward reaction to the invitation is “How dare we?” How do we approach God, let alone offer “an acceptable worship”?
A prosperous farmer, while being interviewed by a newspaper reporter, was asked to tell the secret of his success. He told about an old rooster he had observed on his father’s farm. “This rooster could peck harder, jump faster, fly higher, and fight better than any other rooster in the place. But he lost most of his fights, even against punier roosters. The trouble was that just as he was winning a fight, he would stop to crow.” As Christians we can’t afford to let that attitude rule.
A city bus driver had a passenger who was upset about something and let loose a string of invectives that would burn the ears off an elephant. Everyone on the bus was shocked and embarrassed. When the bus stopped and the profane rider got ready to disembark, the bus driver said, “Excuse me, sir, you left something behind.” The passenger growled, “Yeah, what?” And the bus driver said, “A bad impression.”
When we are haughty and arrogant in our faith and in our witness, all we leave is a bad impression. Does that describe you? When we are haughty, arrogant, demanding, and rude there’s no faith and no room for Christ. There’s no room for love, mercy, or grace. When there is no room for faith, love, mercy, or grace, then there is no “acceptable worship with reverence and awe.”
Our Lord and Savior died for us. Contrary to what Lucy thought, the world doesn’t revolve around us. There is nothing for us to be arrogant about. Instead, we’re called to give thanks.
The thankful spirit shows reverence and awe. Thankfulness acknowledges that all we have and are comes from God. When we acknowledge that, there can be no haughtiness and pride. How dare we? We dare to come to God, through a thankful heart filled with awe and reverence. (Billy D. Strayhorn)
MAKING THE CROOKED STRAIGHT
The setting of the text is a Jewish synagogue on a sabbath. Other than Jesus, the names of the characters of Luke’s recorded drama are unknown. The focus is on a person being healed. The intent is the demonstration of the crooked becoming straight at the loving hand of the Lord.
According to the records of the Gospel writers, at this point in his ministry, Jesus was no longer teaching and preaching in the synagogues. On this particular sabbath, he did return to teach. This is the last account of his doing so. His presence in the synagogue where the lady in desperate need had come to worship was for her one of God’s divine appointments. Like many worshipers today, she came to “church” anticipating more of the accustomed sameness. Because she met Jesus, she left a new person. And so may we!
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah shouted the need to make the rough places smooth and the crooked ways straight for the coming of the Lord. In Luke’s account, a back is made straight at the coming of the Lord because its crookedness is taken away by his healing.
Many today need lives that are made straight by the hand of the Lord. In all the ways of our crookedness, Jesus calls us to wholeness. We can stand erect and straight in him.
I. The Concern of the Lady (vv. 11-12)
The Scripture says that the lady had been “bowed together.” This was a term for the curvature of the spine. When Jesus saw her, he called to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity” (13:12 NIV). Also, he laid his hands on her. In his healing ministry, Jesus healed by speaking to the person. He also healed by touching that part of the body that was to be healed. In all likelihood, Jesus put both hands on her back. She was immediately healed, and began to praise God for her great blessing of wholeness.
For a period of eighteen years, she had suffered. Since the Jews traced all evil to the power and presence of Satan, she had been judged as a great sinner. Even as a “daughter of Abraham,” she had been held captive. Now, on the Lord’s day, in the Lord’s house, by the Lord’s Son, she had been set free.
Freedom from bondage to Satan, sin, and self is available today through the same Lord Jesus Christ. He is waiting for your faith response to his grace to be free in him.
II. The Complaint of the Leader (vv. 13-14)
Such a miracle should cause rejoicing. Instead, it prompted censure on the part of the president of the synagogue. He was indeed a hypocrite, for he acted as if he had concern for the people. In fact, he was more committed to preserve the status quo than to celebrate a miracle of God.
The implication is that the leader was aghast at the action of the woman, when obviously his tirade was directed to Jesus. He decided that healing was work. Therefore, Jesus had worked on the sabbath. Jesus had broken the strong cords of legalism. Law was more important than persons. Adherence to man’s interpretation was more valuable than an individual. The debate still goes on: Law or grace? Legalism or freedom? Blind, unquestioned submission or individual priests unto God?
III. The Compassion of Christ (vv. 15-17)
The Jews said healing was acceptable if the person’s life was in danger. The lady’s need was not so critical that it could not wait a day to be healed. Yet, God’s love is immediate. His concern is always in the present tense. And his love is ever now! Out of his constant compassion, Jesus brought new life to her. He did it in the today of her life when, so often, we delay to another day to express our love and care in the life of one in desperate need.
The text ends with a party. The party poopers have been “put to shame.” The people are rejoicing at the glorious thing Jesus had done. The lady who stands at last erect, strong, and straight is leading the parade. (John Lee Taylor)