Straighten Up!

Straighten Up!

Luke 13:10-21

What have you heard people say when they are really upset.
Many years ago, Elvis Priestly had a song in which he sang, "I'm All Shook Up!"
My folks used the phrase, "...all tore up."
Another expression that I often heard was don't get all "bent out of shape."
When someone was upset about something It would be said that he was "bent out of shape".

I read of a the story of a man and his wife that illustrates how most of us are never satisfied.
John and Betty had been married for 40 years.
John turned 60 a few months earlier and they were celebrating Betty's 60th birthday.
During the birthday party, John walked into another room and was surprised to see
a fairy godmother appear before him.
She said, "John, this is your lucky day. I'm here to grant you one wish
-- what would you like
?"

He thought for a moment, and said, "Well, I would really like to have a wife
who was thirty years younger than me
."

The fairy godmother said, "No problem."
She waved her wand, and "poof" -- suddenly John was 90 years of age.
Don't you imagine that John was a little " bent out of shape" over that.

In our Scripture passage we are going to look at two people who were bent out of shape.
One was a woman who was physically bent out of shape and the other was a religious man
who was spiritually bent out of shape.
One was crippled by a spirit of weakness and the other was crippled by a spirit of legalism
and bitterness.
Jesus healed one of them, but the other one continued to be spiritually bent out of shape.

We read in Luke 13:10-21: "On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues,
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.
When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free
from your infirmity."

Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people,
"There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days,
not on the Sabbath."
The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox
or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
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
?"

What Jesus did then; He is still doing today.
Many here may be "bent out of shape".

First, look at this woman who was bent out of shape physically. (10-13)

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue.
The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday, and most synagogues still have services
on Friday evening, so this is probably on a Friday night.
The opposition against Jesus is growing, and this is the last time in Luke's gospel
that we find Jesus in a synagogue.

He saw this poor woman who was so bent out of shape she couldn't stand up straight.

  • She had been this way for 18 years.
  • She was so bent over that she couldn't look up and see the sky.
  • She had spent the last 18 years looking down at the ground and at everyone else's feet.
  • Eating and drinking were difficult for her and she could only rest curled up in a fetal position.
    Can't you imagine how she must have suffered?

    Luke is a physician, and he uses some interesting words to diagnose her condition.
    He doesn't use the word that would mean "illness, disease, or injury."
    (Greek words malkia or nosos).
    In verse 11 He uses the phrase "crippled by a spirit."
    Then, in verse 12, Jesus uses the word "infirmity."
    It's the word, asthenia, which doesn't mean "sickness caused by disease" --
    it means "weakness."

    Her weakness was caused by demonic spirit because Jesus says in verse 16 she had been
    "bound by Satan" for 18 years.
    Demonic spirits can provoke physical problems but not every illness or disease is caused by demons.
    There are 26 recorded miracles where Jesus heals someone of a physical problem
    and only seven of those are caused by demonic influence.
    Demonic spirits can influence a person in a variety of ways.

    The term "demon possession" doesn't appear once in the New Testament;
    it's simply the word "demonized."
    Jesus cast demons out of many people but this encounter is different.

    First, in other instances when Jesus cast a demon out of a person, he never touched the person;
    He simply commanded the demon spirit to depart.
    In this passage Jesus touches the poor woman.

    A second difference is when demons are cast out, it is always a dramatic, and scary experience.
    As one pastor commented: "Remember the demons that entered the pigs
    and they did the swine dive and committed soooie-cide
    "?

    In this case, the woman simply stands up straight.
    A lying spirit had convinced this poor woman that she couldn't stand up.
    From the language Luke uses it seems she had no physiological cause for her affliction.
    There are some amazing connections between the mind and the body.
    Some people are literally sick because they think they are sick and there is no organic
    or physical reason to explain their illness.
    They are just as sick as someone who has an infection, but the illness started in their mind.

    For years, people told the woman, "Stand up!' And she would say, "I can't!"
  • "Look up!"
  • "I can't!"
  • "Lift up your eyes!"
  • "I can't!"
    When asked why she couldn't, she would say, "I just can't!"

    Are there any here who have a case of the "can'ts"?
  • Stop drinking! "I can't!"
  • Stop looking at pornography! "I can't!"
  • Stop abusing drugs! "I can't!"
  • Stop being bitter! "I can't!"
  • Stop hurting the ones you love! "I can't!"
  • Stop being so angry! "I can't!"
  • Forgive that person who hurt you! "I can't!"
    Jesus can deliver you from your "can'ts" today.

    Have you ever seen a circus elephant tied to a small wooden stake outside a circus tent?
    That grown elephant could easily rip the wooden stake out of the ground.
    But when elephant handlers are training baby elephants, they use a strong iron anchor bar
    and drive it deep into the ground.
    When the baby elephant tugs and tries to get away, he can't and experiences the pain
    of the shackle on his leg.
    Finally, he gives up and stops pulling.

    Gradually, as the elephant grows up, they replace the iron anchor bar with a wooden stake.
    That's why the grown elephant doesn't pull away; he doesn't think he can, so he can't.
    It's not the stake in the ground keeping him in place; it's the thought in his mind
    that keeps him there.

    One the devil's greatest tools is to make you think you can't do something God has told you to do.
    That's why the Bible says in Ephesians 4:27, "Do not give the devil a foothold."
    If you give the devil an inch, he'll take your smile; he will rob you of your joy.

    Now, notice the steps Jesus takes to deliver this woman.
    First, He looks at her, and then He calls her.
    Jesus could have bent down and looked into her eyes?
    He smiles and says, "Ma'am, you are set free from your infirmity."
    She is still bent over, so Jesus reaches out and touches her.
    Verse 13 says, "Immediately she straightened up and praised God."

    I don't know what she said or sang; it just says she started praising God.
    If she were around today, maybe she would have sung,
    "He touched me; O He touched me.
    And O the joy that floods my soul;
    Something happened, and now I know
    He touched me and made me whole
    ."

    WHEN JESUS TOUCHES YOU, YOU'LL STRAIGHTEN UP
    AND YOU WILL PRAISE GOD!

    Maybe the problems you have suffered has doubled you over.
    You feel bent out of shape because of the burdens you have to carry.
    Worry and anxiety can bend you over.
    Heartache, pain, frustration, and suffering can bend you all out of shape.

    Some of you have lost your jobs, you've been hurt, abused, or rejected and it seems
    as if you can't look up.
    You may be trapped in some sin, or carrying around some deep, dark secret,
    and you feel all bent out of shape.
    People say, "Just look up!" And your reply is "I can't!"
    They say, "Just shake it off!"
    You say, "I can't!"

    Jesus wants to do the same for you that He did for this woman.

    First, He sees you and He knows your hurt, your pain.
    You can hide your pain from others behind a smile, but Jesus sees you and He knows
    how to help you and free you from that which has bowed you over.

    Next, He calls you to Himself.
    "Come to me all you who labor and are bent all out of shape, and I'll give you rest."
    Today, He speaks to you to let you know that you can set free from your weakness......
    But, best of all He touches you.
    Every time you encounter Jesus in worship, He touches you.

    Here's His word for you: "Straighten up."
  • If your life is a mess and you feel bent over from the burden, let Jesus touch you,
        then straighten up and praise Him.
  • If you are addicted to something, let Jesus touch you,
        then, straighten up and praise Him.
    You can't be touched by Jesus and stay the same.
    Let Him touch you and free you...you today.

    This poor woman was not the only crippled person there that day.
    There was a man who was bent all out of shape by religious rules. (14-16)
    The poor woman who had been set free was praising the Lord, and all her friends were rejoicing
    and shouting, "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!"
    But the leader of the synagogue couldn't stand it.
    He became indignant and all bent out of shape.
    In the midst of the rejoicing, he ordered everyone to be quiet and stop rejoicing.

    This kind of behavior was not acceptable in HIS synagogue!
    He quoted Exodus 20:9 to justify his action.
    There wasn't going to be any healing in HIS synagogue on the Sabbath.
    No sir!
    It's one thing to quote scripture, it's another thing to apply it correctly.

    Apparently, the synagogue ruler had a few others who agreed with his action
    because Jesus addressed His words to a group.

    Here is how Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in The Message: "You frauds!
    Each Sabbath every one of you unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water
    and thinks nothing of it.
    So why isn't it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall
    where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years
    ? "

    The Jews had made so many loopholes in the Sabbath laws, they had adapted the rules
    to suit themselves so that they could untie their livestock and lead them to water,
    even if the water was more than a Sabbath's walk away.
    Jesus was accusing them of treating their animals better than they treated people!

    Sad to say, but the descendants of this self-appointed religious expert are still with us today.
    These descendants are relying more on a set of strict religious rules than on a liberating,
    joyous relationship with God.
    These people are often called legalists or religious traditionalists.

    You can usually spot them when other folks get happy in the Lord and start praising God,
    they are quick to complain like the man in our text.
    They still get upset when they see someone having a good time in the Lord: why?
    It seems as though they think religion ought to make you miserable, and if you are enjoying yourself,
    you can't be very spiritual.

    As someone stated: "Most of them have perfected that "Baptist Holy Look" that is
    an expression that looks like a cross between acid indigestion and a migraine headache."
    Those who have been set free by Jesus are under the constant scrutiny of these legalists
    who are ready to condemn any unexpected exuberance.

    Sam Jones was a Methodist Evangelist who lived and preached late 1800s.
    And Sam Jones was extremely plain spoken.
    Once he was preaching about how some people refuse to get enthusiastic about God
    because they were afraid they might lose their "dignity."
    He said: "Dignity is the starch of the shroud.
    The more dignity a fellow has the nearer dead he is.
    I expect to be as dignified as some of you when they put me in my coffin
    ."

    Every church has a "the cold water committee."
    Whenever the fire of God starts burning in the hearts of some folks, they rise up
    and pour cold water on it.
    Whenever there's a new and creative way to do things, they pour cold water on that idea.
    The cold water committee is not an elected committee, the members are self-appointed.
    They think it is their job to make sure things don't get out of hand in their church.
    Their favorite phrases are "we don't do things like that around here"
    or "we've never done it that way before."

    Like the ruler of the synagogue, these people may even quote a little scripture, but they are
    more into rules than into the liberty Jesus gives.
    I hope you make sure you don't become a part of that committee and don't pay any attention
    when someone on that committee corners you to complain about something going on
    in the church that they don't like.

    The Jews weren't the only ones with religious traditions.
    Baptists have religious traditions, too.
    There was an association close to the church that I pastored right after seminary.
    They did not believe in anything new or different than they had been doing the past hundred years.
    Their associational director was trying to move them out of the dark ages.
    He told me that someone had donated a slide projector, and he was delighted.
    It was the first equipment that they had.
    Some of the pastors heard about the projector and called a special business meeting.
    They were not going to have any pictures shown in their association.
    So, they voted to throw the projector into the Tennessee river.

    There are some religious traditions that are completely benign.
    But when you allow traditions to overshadow the Word of God, then they become foolish and dangerous.
    Jesus said in Mark 7:8, 13, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on
    to the traditions of men...thus, you nullify the Word of God by your tradition which you have
    handed down
    ."

    God is always at work in the present, and a tradition always anchors us to the past.
    Someone has written a clever definition of a religious tradition.
    Someone has said that religious tradition is: "A clock that tells you what time it was."
    It's sad to say that many churches and many Christians still want things to be the way
    they "used to be."
    When they sing about "the old time religion" they aren't talking about 2,000 years ago
    in the book of Acts, they are talking about church in the south in the 1950s and 1960s!

    The laws of God were never intended to restrict us, but to set us free.
    Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man -- not man for the Sabbath.
    In Galatians 3:24 Paul is writing to a group of Christians who have forfeited their liberty under grace
    and have slipped back under the restraints of the law.
    He says, "The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
    Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law
    ."

    Legalists don't enjoy their faith -- and they don't want anyone else to enjoy it either.
    A legalist is someone whose list of rules is longer than God's and they want to impose
    their list of rules and regulations on others.

    Max Lucado wrote: "Legalism has no pity on people.
    Legalism makes my opinion your burden, makes my opinion your boundary, makes my
    opinion your obligation.
    Nothing will keep a Christian more immature than trying to keep a long list of rules
    ."
    (Up Words, May 1993)

    Learning to ride a bicycle is hard because you have to learn how to balance.
    You know why a bicycle can't stand up without a kickstand?
    Because it's "two tired". (It's a joke!)

    Learning to ride a bike involves learning to maintain your balance on two wheels.
    When my granddaughters were learning, we bought them little bicycles with training wheels.
    They were small wheels attached to the bike that kept it from falling over.
    Training wheels made it easier to learn how to balance the bike.

    God's laws are like training wheels.
    They help us as we begin to learn how to balance freedom with responsibility.
    But training wheels on a bike are only temporary.

    My granddaughters have grown since then, and they have learned to ride their bikes
    without training wheels.
    They were so pleased with themselves when they no longer needed the training wheels.
    As you grow as a Christian you can learn how to balance your life on God's two primary commands:
    love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
    If you keep these two commandments you won't need the training wheels of all the rules
    and regulations of the Bible.
    A legalist is still using training wheels.

    Jesus said you "Shall know the truth and the truth will set you free!" (John 8:32)
    But the truth will make you mad (angry) before it sets you free!
    You may not be bent out of shape like the crippled woman, but are you bent out of shape
    like the man crippled by legalism and rules?

    Jesus wants to set you free today.
    The word "bent" can be used as an adverb meaning "to have a strong
    inclination or disposition
    ."
    If you are all bent out shape, the Great Physician is here.
    This is why God brought you here today.
    You came to hear from God!
    And God has spoken to you, and like that woman in our Scripture passage, you are ready to be free
    of the problems, the burdens, the hurts that have tormented you.
    Jesus will touch you, and free you, today -- right now!
    This is the moment for which you have been waiting.

    Christian, you have been longing for that closeness to the Lord that you have enjoyed in the past.
    That first love for Jesus has diminished, and He is not as real to you as when you
    began your new life with Him
    Jesus will touch you with His loving touch, and you will experience the joy, the excitement
    that you have lost along the way.
    Talk to the Lord!
    Experience His very presence!

    If you are here, and you have never received Jesus as your Saviour, this is the most important
    and critical moments of your life.
  • You came in without Jesus, but you can leave with Jesus.
  • You came in with all your sins, and you can leave with them all forgiven,
        and cast into the sea of God's forgetfulness.
  • You came with hell as your eternal destination, and you can leave with heaven
        as your eternal home.
  • You came in as a sinner, and you can leave as a saint.

    "Shackled by a heavy burden,
    'Neath a load of guilt and shame;
    Then the hand of Jesus touched me,
    And now I am no longer the same.

    Since I met this blessed Saviour;
    Since He cleansed and made me whole,
    I will never cease to praise Him,
    I'll shout it while eternity rolls.

    He touched me,
    O, He touched me,
    And O, the joy that floods my soul;
    Something happened, and now I know,
    He touched me, and made me whole."


    Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White