Good News for Everyone
We’ve been on quite the trip through Luke these past few weeks. We’ve heard about God the Thief, quickly followed by Jesus the Homewrecker. Listening to Jesus’ hard edge in these Gospel narratives can be tough to take; and yet we’re left grateful that, in the end, God is God and we are not. It is also a reminder that Christianity is not an easy-going religion, it is a faith that is based on the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In order for salvation to be proclaimed to each of us here today someone had to die.
We are also, therefore, a faith that is based on compassion and gratitude, not entitlement and jealousy or anger. We did not deserve any of the gifts that God has given us and yet God gave them to us regardless of the state of our souls or lives. And that Good News that Christ took your sins to the grave and left them there? That is the same news given to prince or pauper, young or old, upright citizen or downright scoundrel. My friends, God’s grace is for all people.
An Unexpected Healing
This morning, in the story of the crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17), Jesus is teaching in the synagogue and he looks out and he sees the woman and without her even asking for it he heals the woman… it was almost spontaneous this compassion for her condition. I mean imagine her life. Here was a woman (and women were already second class citizens) bent over with some sort of spinal condition that even further marked her status as an outsider. Her perspective of the world was reduced to the ground beneath her feet. And Jesus’ compassion flowed out of him towards her, “You have been made well.” And she was healed and began to immediately proclaim the greatness of God.
Would that we would do the same, hmm? Is your salvation and the faith that you will one day be in God’s presence not enough for you? Is it not enough for us to know that no longer can anyone or anything in the world come between you and God, not even death? I know, it’s tough. We aren’t used to talking about our faith, but I also think that we aren’t used to thinking about ourselves as healed either. But the healing isn’t even the most important part of this story… Jesus didn’t heal every person he met and there was no expectation that he would have healed this woman either. The healings that Christ performed were side gigs, they were evidence of his divinity but they weren’t the main reason Jesus came and ministered in Judea.
Word AND Deed
The Gospel story continues with the reaction of the religious leaders. They seemed to be physically unable to have any joy for the woman who Christ healed. Instead, they griped and groaned, “there are six other days for this kind of work to be done but the Sabbath is not one of them.” They were unable to see Christ’s purpose on earth; they only saw that Jesus was disturbing the status quo and breaking the religious laws. Right in front of their noses. By the time Jesus finished with them they were put to shame and the people were cheering him on. Jesus came not just to heal although those who have been healed by Christ have much to be thankful for. He came to proclaim God’s mercy in word and deed.
He not only proclaimed the coming kingdom of God, but he also showed how that kingdom was coming into being even in the midst of his people. With the bringing the outside in and restoring the broken to some sense of wholeness and community. That is what a life in Christ looks like. Not standing in judgment over other people for that puts us in God’s role. No, we are receivers of God’s grace and mercy and are then called upon to share that grace with our neighbors. That’s what God demands from us – to love him and our neighbor as our self.
Could you Love?
But if you hate yourself how can you not but hate your neighbors? But if you were told that you no longer have to feel bad about who you are, that you are beautiful and broken, and dusty and worn out but also happy and thankful and scared and thrilled and and and… that all of those things have nothing to do with your identity in God in Christ Jesus… could you love that person? I bet you could.
And then there is nothing holding you back from being that cup of cool water to your neighbors who are on the exact same journey as you. Life. Whether you have received physical healing from God or not the truth that God is with us, in all of our joys and pains, that he stands in our presence and notices us. That is a miracle. That is mercy.
Thanks be to God.