Conflict in the Synagogue
Passage: Luke 13:10–13:21
Chance Faulkner is one of the pastoral interns at the Gathering. He preached this sermon from Luke 13:10-21. The Gathering is a church located downtown Peterborough.
Conflict in the Synagogue
June 19th 2014
If you have your bibles, open them to Luke 13:10-21. The last couple of weeks we have been talking about repentance. As Christians, we are to live lives of continual humble repentance. Last week we were in the end of Luke 12 and the start of Luke 13, where Jesus calls the religious leaders to repent. He gives a parable of a barren fig tree. As the apostate religion of Judaism in the first-century they were bearing no fruit. They had turned judaism into a man made, merit earning, works based relationship with God. They were not bearing fruit and Jesus says in 13:5 unless they repent of their sin, they will perish. This is Jesus speaking. Although they were not bearing fruit Jesus tells us that God will be gracious and patient and give them a chance to bear fruit with repentance. And so the original readers are left at climax of the story. Will the jews repent? What will happen? Will they bear fruit or will they be cut down. The text this morning continues that story. The text this morning answers that question. And just like the rest of the book of Luke, we are going to see Jesus flipping the original readers worldview on their head. Deconstructing their worldview as they knew it, and reconstruction reality as he had made it.
I have four points for us this morning. In the text this morning we see four things. The first thing that we see in this text is:
1. The Compassion and Authority of Jesus (10-13)
It is Sabbath and Jesus has been invited to the synagogue to teach the Word of God. A synagogue was a meeting place where jews met for worship and instruction. This is not the temple. This is just a gathering place. So from our perspective this is pretty cool. We know from John 1 Jesus is the Word of God. So the Word of God is teaching the Word of God. What an experience that the original audience had. So here is the Word of God, the one who is before all things. The one who is the fullness of God.All things were created through him and for him. And in him all things hold together, he is teaching the Word of God and what do we see happen?
I don't know how exactly it happened, the text doesn't say. Perhaps it went something like this:
Jesus is teaching the glorious things of the Kingdom of God and out of the corner of his eye he sees this disabled women listening. She had been bent over for 18 years.We know everyone was watching. Jesus calls over this women who had been bent for 18 years.
“Woman, you are freed from your disability”
What authority and power and control that Jesus possess' that he can command this women to be healed and she is. By his Word the the women is freed from her bondage.This is the same Jesus who tells the winds and the waves to cease and they do.He tells the demons to shut up and they do because they authority that he has in his voice. Just picture this for a second. Try to get in the shoes of the original audience.Jesus is teaching and he stops and looks over at the disabled women, his heart fills with compassion, he stops what he is doing, he calls her over and this is amazing.
Not only does he have the power to heal her, not only does he have the authority to heal her, not only does he possess the control to heal her, but He is willing to heal her. But thats not all. Not only is he willing to heal this broken woman, but he joins into intimacy with her. He invites her over. He enters into relationship with her. Jesus could have spoke from afar and healed her. It would have been no trouble for him. His word is sufficent and nothing more needs to be added to it. But look at what he does brothers and sisters.He touches her. He enters into relationship with her. To know that someone has power, control and authority is a far cry then knowing that that person cares for you.This is amazing grace.
Was Jesus obligated to heal this woman? By no means. Was Jesus obligated to touch this woman? By no means. Was Jesus obligated in any way to have compassion on this woman? Not at all. He just did it. He chose to heal her. He chose to touch her. He chose to have compassion on her. This is amazing grace. Jesus frees her from her bondage just because he did.The God who is all powerful, has all control, who is all authority enters into relationship with his creation and he serves them. Not only he is Lord and judge, over all his creation. Not only is he transcendent above all,he is near, he is immanent, he is present. He enters into relationship with his creation.This is the Jesus in which we call Lord. This is the heart of the God in whom we call Father. There is so much to say but we must move on.
The second thing we see in this mornings text is:
2. The Faithfulness of the Woman (10-13)
This woman has had a disabling spirit for 18 years. She has been bent over for 18 years. She has not been able to straighten for almost two decades. How awful. If you have ever had serious back pain you might have an idea of how excruciating it can feel. Chronic pain that does not go away is defeating. Some who have experienced chronic pain would say that its hard to eat, you feel sick all the time, your body hurts, you are bed ridden, its hard to go to the bathroom, its hard to shower, it is discouraging, defeating, you just want to cacoon yourself and be on your own. And remember, There are no medicine to take the edge off, there are no therapists.18 years brothers and sisters.Some of us here are only 18 years old.
How much reason did she have to be bitter towards God,How much reason did she have to feel sorry for herself, to be angry and despairing at her circumstance?
But what do we see her doing? She is at the synagogue, she is gathering to worship, she is gathering to be with God's people, She is gathering to hear God's Word. How convicting this is to me. How convicting this should be for us.How often do we make excuses for not gathering to meet with God's people. What ever your circumstance is, hers was worse. I can only imagine the sacrifice it took for her to be there. Yet where do we see her?
Worshiping, being instructed, gathering.
This text is suppose to his us to the heart. It's suppose to be shocking, and scandalous, its suppose to make us feel a little uncomfortable. Its suppose to break down our faulty understanding of reality. Its suppose to deconstruct the world as we know it and reconstruct the world as God made it. But it doesnt. And it doesnt because we are not the original readers.Although scripture is written for us, it is not written to us. Its written to a specific people, during a specific time, for a specific purpose. And because we do not understand the historical context it was written to, we can miss the meaning and the significance of the story.
Who is the book of luke written to? Luke 1:3 for you Most excellent Theophilus, "that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught". It's written to Theophilus, A wealthy, greek or roman, non jew who has heard of Jesus but wants to know the truth.
As a roman or greek he would be functioning out of a worldview in which saw women as 2nd class citizens, women are to obey their husbands in everything and not question, they are to put up with the affairs of their husbands but they themselves were to be faithful, women are not intellectually capable as men are. They lived extremely sheltered lives, this is the worldview that the original readers are operating out of. And in the book of Luke this is a major theme.
Women are mentioned over 41 times in this book. This is 12 times more than Matthew and more then john and mark combined. In Luke, many times a woman is mentioned it is in contrast to the men. In Luke 1, An angel shows up to Zechariah a priest of God and to announce the birth of John the baptist but Zechariah does not believe. Immediately after the angel shows up to Mary, a young woman and its mary who believes. So he shows up to a male religious leader who doesn't beleive in contrast to a young, single girl. In Luke 7, Simon the Pharisee does not give Jesus water to wash his hands and feet but it is a woman who comes and with her tears, kisses his feet and washes them with her hair and tears. It is the woman who jesus says has love, it is the woman who finds intimacy and forgiveness of sins not the pharisee who is a man.
In Luke 8 it is women who are following Jesus around and providing for him.It is women who touched jesus in faith that he could heal her from her bleeding.It is women who first find jesus' tomb empty.And there are many more incidents. Women are a theme in the gospel of Luke and it is no accident.So when we come to this text and we see that it is a women with a disability praising God, gathering, Listening and being faithful, its suppose to speak to us. Its suppose to disturb us because unlike the worldview of Theophilus.
The Kingdom of God is not for the elite. The kingdom of God is not for the wealthy. The kingdom of God is not just for the men,It is also for the women.This is who the gospel is for. Luke is deconstructiing their world as they knew it and reconstructing the world as God made it.Look what he does. He contrasts her with who?This passage shows us the faithfulness of the woman in contrast to the fruitlessness of the leaders. She is healed and her response is appropriate, her freedom leads to glorifying God.This text also shows us:
3. The Fruitlessness of the Leaders (14-16)
Instead of appropriately glorifying God for this life set free, the religious leaders grumble towards Jesus and the woman. Once again, Jesus' ministry is butting head with the leaders. This time it's over the issue of healing on the Sabbath. In the OT, The people of Israel were to observe the Sabbath. This meant to cease from labor and have a day of rest, it was a day that was made holy for the Lord. It was a day of worship. The purpose of Sabbath was to give people rest from their labor, and that they might remember when God brought them out of Egypt from slavery, sin and bondage. No where in all the OT does it command that their could be no healing. In fact. The OT did allow for mercy and kindness. The OT did require the people to love their neighbour. But the leaders took God's law and enforced rules outside of the law, categories outside of the law, systems outside of the law to enforce and assure that they wouldn't even come close to breaking the law. In the OT they profane the Sabbath by their traditions, and in the new Testament they did it aswell. They created a man made, merit earning, works based relationship which allowed them to earn their righteousness and position before God. They misinterpreted the Word and demanded that everyone follow their traditions.
So instead of glorifying God, instead praising him for the miracle, and the freedom from bonadge, the leader grows hard hearted and accuses Jesus of breaking the law.They just saw a miracle! They just saw someone in their community freed! Yet they do not respond rightly. This is was false religion is so severe. They are hypocrites and Jesus point it out. This is the very nature of false teaching.
Look how Jesus responds. Jesus responds with a lesser to greater argument. On Sabbath you will allow yourself to go untie your animals and take them to get a drink, but it is inappropriate for one of your own people, made in God's image to be freed from a spirit which she has been binded for for 18 years. Where are your priorities? Your a leader! You are leading people astray. Now at first, this sounds pretty silly, which it is, but we must not be too quick to judge them. Don't we do this as well? Just like them, We too can neglect the weightier matters.Should they take their animals for a drink, yes absolutely. God has called us to be stewards of all creation. But they neglect the weightier matters.
We do this too.
Lets just be honest for a second. Our culture does this too. We probably do this too. We stomp our feet at the injustice of the bees. Save the bees. No parkway! More Jobs! Save the rain forest, the bugs, the fish.... yet human beings, made in the image of God, our very own neighbors are being slaughtered every day in our own neighbourhoods and we are silent. We are silent and our silence proves that not only are our priorities screwed up, but we are not loving, we hate justice and we are not talking in obedience.
Where are our priorities.
Our priorities are not there. Is nature important? Yes. Should we be good stewards of the earth, absolutely. Are these things greater than human life? By no means. Neglecting the things of greater importance is proof of a lack of love.This is how hard hearted and far they are from God. They inappropriately interpreted the Scriptures and therefore they inappropriately responded to the healing.
This is a leader who should have been glorifying God with her. God just freed this person from 2 decades of chronic pain and spine deformity. 2 decades of being in bondage to satan, how amazing is it to see God at work! These men have a lot to learn from this woman. She responds with worship, the religion leader responds with a hard heart.
How is it that we respond when we see brothers and sisters freed from the power of sin? Do we throw them a party or do we sulk outside? Do we glorify God or do we harden our hearts?
Let us respond with excitement and praise. For we all once were led astray, we all once were slaves to sin but thanks be to God, Christ has redeemed us.
The religious leaders will bear no fruit. The fourth thing that we see in this passage is:
4. The Way of the Kingdom
I think if we are honest, most of us would just finish the passage right here and move on. But look at the next word. Therefore. Very important. When we see the word therefore, we must ask what is being connected. Therefore is an important word. If you have a pen, do a circle or a doodle or underline it. Its important. Unless you dont write in your bible.So what every Jesus says in these next few verse is him connecting to what just happened. How is a mustard seed growing into a tree, and how is a women who bakes break connected to this evident? How is this connected to the compassion and authority of jesus, the faithfulness of the woman and the fruitlessness of the leaders? There are a few things. First, I it is showing the nature of the Kingdom.Like the Mustard seed, which starts as the smallest garden seed, almost invisible to the eyes, and slowly grows to be a tree, so too the kingdom of God has humble beginnings with a glorious ending).Let me explain, The history of redemption is progressive. Which mean this become more clear as time goes on.In Genesis Chapter 3, God promises humanity a Savior who would be born of the woman. He promises a seed who will crush the head of Satan. In Genesis we see a tiny glimspe of this hope; from genesis 3 and the rest of the Old Testament we see the theme of this seed become more and more clear. This seed will come from Abraham and will be a blessing to ALL the nations, This seed will come from the Tribe a Judah, this seed will come from the Family of David and he would reign forever. When we get to the end of the old testament Israel has been plagued with sin, exile and hopelessness, and are just waiting in anticipation for this Saviour. There is 400 years of silence and Israel once again is under national oppression. This time from Rome. When will he come. When will our conquering messiah come!?
Enter the New Testament.
From an insignificant family, in a insignificant town, the messiah is born. Meek, humble, God comes in the flesh, as a helpless baby, born to a teenage girl who got pregnant and told everyone that God was the father, For 30 Years this messiah grew up in a hick town, working a blue collard job and when he finally starts his ministry he chooses faithless, sinful, uneducated, poor , powerless,disciples. Fisherman, tax collectors. For three years they do life together, poor, no where to lay their head. They hangout with the poor, the prostitutes and the outcasts of the soceity. This is not what the jews expected. And so they took the messiah to the cross and executed him because he is not the God that he wanted. They kill him. Is this the glorious messiah in which they expected? Is this the glorious messiah in which they wanted? Is this the way that God's kingdom was going to be inaugerated? This is not the messiah that they wanted.
They killed him, and they put him in the ground. But little did they know that this seed, the seed of Abraham had to go into the ground and die so that it would bear fruit. That he could over turn death, come alive, give his spirit, create his church and build his kingdom.The very tree in which our sins where to be put to death, is the same tree in which sinners and slaves can come and find rest and protection for their weary souls.This is the point of the Kingdom. These are the types of people who come to take rest in the Kingdom: Small, weak, powerless, insignicant, poor, sick, gentile sinners. Any one can come.
This is the way of the Kingdom.
Secondly, This is much an encouragement to the disciples listening and watching, and it is much of encouragement to us today. Here is what he is saying.If you acknowlede Christ before men, people will hate you. If you are with Jesus and his word and his message, please will despise you. But despite how much opposition we face, despite how much persecution the disciples are going to experience from the religious leaders, from the government. God's Kingdom will prevail. God's Kingdom will grow. God's Kingdom will triumph. We may not see it all the time and the disciples may die off but the kingdom will continue to grow.
We can continue to hold fast to his Word, Hold Fast to his Person Hold Fast to his message, because even when things are looking dim, even when people reject the message, even when people try to ruin your reputation, God's kingdom will prevail. God will bring his sheep to his fold. He is not slow to act but he is patient that more might come to him. What a fuel for evangelism. What a encouragement to preach the gospel to our friends and family and world. Gods Kingdom is sure, it is fixed.
If you are not a believer. We plead that you would turn from you sin and put your hope and trust in Christ and find the forgiveness and cleansing, acceptance and justification, rest and protection that your burdened and wear souls longs for.The day of Salvation is NOW. Come to the kingdom of God and find rest. Come today. Find rest in Jesus. Join us in the kingdom and allow us to celebrate with you. If you are a believer. How amazing is it that Jesus the one with all authority and all control has freed you from your sin, freed you from your slavery, on the cross of Christ he has justified you and declared it finished.Whether season you are in, take heart he has over come the world. Like the woman who was enslaved to satan, we too were once slaves to Satan but thanks be to Jesus, by his word he set you free.Therefore Let us turn to him in awe and thankfulness and glorify him and walk in obedience. Let us take communion. Let us remember what he has done on that old rugged cross.
Come to him, take rest.