The Gospel According To Luke
“A Jesus Who Points The Way”
Pastor Duane Smets
January 28th, 2018
To Healing (v.10-17)
To Growth (v.18-21)
To Safety (v.22-35)
I found this old map in my truck today. Some of you have probably never seen one of these. It’s a map of southern California up in and around the Big Bear area and all the roads there and where they go. I have no idea where I got this map. It’s easily just been sitting in my truck for 7-8 years.
You see, before we Apple Maps or Google Maps, or you guys remember MapQuest? Before we had them we had to use an actual map like this if you were trying to figure out how to get to a place you’d never been before.
If you didn’t have a map you only had two options. One, to just go for it and try and figure it out and hope you make it. Or two, you pull into a gas station, ask for directions and then do your best to follow the way that person told you to go.
Today for the Bible portion of our service we are taking another fairly big chunk from the Gospel of Luke that we’re working through as a church in our desire to get to know Jesus and what He’s all about. In the chunk, we’re looking at we’re going to a see a Jesus on the move…He heals this woman with a crooked back, tells some stories, and passes through a number of towns and then ends up in Jerusalem where He shares His deep heart for people.
In each scene Jesus is giving direction, direction concerning the point and purpose for His coming and ministry and direction concerning the course of our lives in what we need, how to get it and where that takes us. So I titled my sermon for this morning, “A Jesus Who Points The Way” and the three things we’ll be looking at is how He points the way “To Healing”, “To Growth” and “To Safety” and the one big idea I’m hoping we walk away with today is simply, “Jesus knows…Jesus knows the way we need to go.”
Well, let’s go ahead and stand and read the chunk of Luke we’re taking in today.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
He said, therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
To Healing (v.10-17)
Let’s jump into this first point, “To Healing” where Jesus heals this lady who had a crooked back, hunched over for eighteen years. Eighteen years…that’s intense!
I have this slipped disc in the lower L5 region of my back. I have to regularly stretch my back and do exercises to keep that disc in alignment. One time I was literally laid out in bed and wasn’t able to get up for two days until I went into the doctor, literally walking in all hunched over and they gave me a cortisone shot in my butt.
It was terrible. Two days. I can’t imagine eighteen years of chronic pain!
But sometimes God’s people suffer. Jesus here seems to indicate there was some kind of spiritual thing going on here too because in verse 11 He calls it a disabling spirit and then in verse 16 says Satan had bound her in this way for eighteen years.
Now, I don’t think we need to get too hung up on that, because whether it’s physical or spiritual, and those two are always connected, whether it’s physical or spiritual, anytime there’s something bad going on, you can pretty much safely assume that Satan, the arch enemy of God is at work in it some way and some how.
The enemy loves to use physical ailments to bring our spirits down and likewise when you’re down in spirit you tend to become more susceptible to disease or disasters. It’s Murphy’s Law right…everything just comes in clumps and tends to go from bad to worse. The enemy just loves to screw things up, bring us down, breaking our backs and leading us into a live of bondage and misery.
Jesus is different. Pretty much Jesus does three main things in His life. He heals people, He preaches and then He dies and rises. So when He heals this lady He’s just doing one of the three main things in His job description.
But when He does a bunch of the ancient pastors of the day get all ticked at Him. They tell Him He isn’t supposed to work on the Sabbath, the church day. In response, Jesus gets pretty upset, calls names, “you hypocrites” and then humiliates them.
It’s funny because the ruler of the synagogue pastor dude doesn’t seen to even care that Jesus did this whole miracle. He wasn’t excited at all about Jesus healing this lady who had a crooked back for eighteen years. What did He want Jesus to say? “Um, I’m sorry Mam, can you come back tomorrow and I’ll heal you then?”
Earlier, back in Luke 6:5 referring to Himself He said, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Which basically means He can do what He wants on the Sabbath because He created it and rules over it. He could’ve of just said that again and left it at that. But He goes ahead and gives explanation and His explanation shows God’s heart toward His children.
He brings up an ox or a donkey. How in compassion for an ox or donkey these guys would untie them and allow them to be refreshed with a drink of water. If they have compassion for animals how much more should they have on this woman whose back was all tied up in knots and desperately needed a drink of God’s living water.
Look what Jesus calls her in verse 16, “a daughter of Abraham.” Abraham was God dude. The one to whom God promised He would become a spiritual father to hundreds and thousands of people. So this is a way of Jesus saying, this girls I one of God’s kids and God the ultimate Father promises to love and heal His kids.
You see, any time you ever read a story in the Bible of someone who experienced something great from God, like a healing, it’s a story that not just meant to be a historical account but also a picture and lesson for you and I, what we need and God’s heart towards us.
So you see, you and I are like this woman with a crooked back. God sees us as His sons and daughters and He sent His Son Jesus to heal us. To heal what’s crooked and to make us straight.
John the Baptist, who was another preacher in the Bible said in Luke 6:5-6 that through Jesus “The crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God..”
Jesus job is to point us in the way of healing, to offer us healing and to make the crooked straight. So today, what in you needs healing?
What are the things that have happened to you in your life and your story where things haven’t gone right? What things in you have gotten twisted?
You don’t make it eighteen years in life without some stuff happening to you. And that stuff breaks you and shapes you. And God sees that, He sees you. And He sees you as loving Father looking down on you as His beloved son or daughter and He wants to heal you.
We’ve got wounds. But we have a Jesus who invites us to have Him heal our wounds. He doesn’t care whether it breaks the Sabbath or some kind of rule. He can’t help Himself. Jesus wants to free us from the things that have hurt us and brought us down.
Jesus knows, He knows the way we need to go and the way we get there is by experiencing His healing touch which frees us and brings us great joy.
When we begin to experience that healing it starts something in us that grows and grows bringing us into a fullness where we flourish and enjoy the life He means for us in His kingdom. Let’s transition and talk about that for a bit in our second point, “To Growth”.
To Growth (v.18-21)
In these verses, 18-21 Jesus tells two short parables or illustrations meant to point out how spiritual growth happens. Namely it’s starts out small and slow…but in time multiplies abundantly.
The first story is a about a grain of a mustard seed. Apparently it’s one of the tiniest seeds there is, barely one millimeter. But in time, in several years it can grow into being a very large tree. And when it does birds love to flock to it and find home and a family in it’s branches.
That’s how it usually works with us. It just starts slow. Something happens that gets you thinking about God. Maybe a conversation with someone or something? Maybe you go to church one Sunday and like some things that are said? Spiritual life sparks in you and over time as that seed gets watered and sees the light of the sun it grows.
We start out small, just baby steps in walking with God. Then over time we grow more and more like the mustard seed. And then what happens is our spiritual life really begins to flourish is that others see it and want to come, be around us. So they do, they fly in, and we start doing life and community together in as a spiritual family building a nest in the branches of Jesus’ church.
The second story Jesus tells is about the same thing only this time talking about leaven. Leaven is the stuff that makes the dough for bread rise. Some of you have probably never seen this before.
When I was little my grandma used to come visit, usually around Christmas time, and when she did she would make homemade bread. I remember watching her old, wrinkly, yet strong hands need the dough. She never used any measuring cups or anything. She’d just throw handfuls of flour, pinches of salt, leaven and I don’t know what else and she’d work it into the dough.
Then she would take chunks of the dough and put them in these tin pans all around the house. And I remember there being like 10 of them or so, with just these little oval balls inside and she’d put towels over all of them and then just leave them for a couple hours or so and what happens was the bread began to rise, getting bigger and bigger until they fill out the tins and started overflowing over the side of the tin containers and then you knew they were read to be put in the oven.
I remember asking her how it did that and she told me, it was the leaven. Just a small pinch of leaven in that dough made it more than double it’s size in just a few hours.
And this is what can happen with us. You just get a little bit…a little bit of God’s Word, something just sticks. You have a little experience sensing God’s love and grace. And it just starts working in you and growing in you. And before you know it you are spiritually growing and becoming this rich tasty loaf of bread.
I think what Jesus is wanting to point us to with both of these examples is to simply respond to that small invitation, to trust it and to see what it does in us. You don’t have to change everything in your life to follow God. There’s all kinds of stuff God does in us throughout the course in our life. We’re not meant to take it on all at once.
We just start small. Just start listening. Just start reading His Word. Just start coming regularly to church. Just start opening ourselves up to Him and others. And as we start to do that, in time we just start to grow.
Sometimes I think we’re too hard on ourselves. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says we “are being transformed…from one degree of glory to another.” Just one degree at a time.
You just work with whatever God is presenting to you. If you’ve just got a small little mustard see of faith, great! Start small and just start taking small steps. If you’ve just got a little leaven of faith, just a little energy, then do what you can. You don’t have to become this super Christian all at once.
Just embrace whatever God is giving you and trust that He will do His work in you and that it will be good. Jesus points us in the way of growth and that way is simply to trust Him as a good King of the Kingdom who will lead us well and do great things in and through us.
What is inviting you into? What measure of faith has He put in your hands? Whether it’s a small seed, just a little leaven, take hold of it and watch it do a great work in you.
Jesus knows, He knows the way of growth starts small but eventually results in fullness and maturity that becomes a great blessing to others.
Well, our last point for today covers the biggest section of our text where Jesus points the way “To Safety.”
To Safety (v.22-35)
This is one scene where two different people say things to Him which result in both some hard words and at the same time an expression of how much Jesus loves and cares for people.
The first person asks Jesus this question in verse 23, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” Jesus kind of answers yes and no.
His first response is to say there’s a narrow door for salvation and you have to strive to enter through that one and explains striving as being more than just coming out to listen to Him and eat and drink with Him.
The word “strive” in verse 24 is an interesting word. This was originally written in Greek which gets translated into our English Bibles and the Greek word for strive behind this the word, “agonidzomai” where we get the word “agonize.” It was a word that was used in the games to talk about a person agonized with their muscles to run races and win.
Jesus is here, with a big crowd all around calling people to really become His disciples, to walk with Him and run this race He’s inviting people into. But to do that, Jesus says is going to take more than just coming out to hear what He has to say and more than just having dinner with Him.
What Jesus calls people out on here is just wanting to use Jesus to get into to heaven and be saved but not really being interested in getting to know Him. He says to those people saying let me in, “I don’t know where you come from…you didn’t walk with me, I don’t know you.” And they’re not allowed in.
So up to that point it kind of sounds like Jesus is saying, “yeah, few people will be saved.” But then he says in verse 29, “People will come from east and west and from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God.” Which is pretty clear, they’ll be a lot of people, different from everywhere who are welcomed into the heavenly banquet, because they know Jesus and have walked with Him.
Isaiah 25:6 describes this banquet saying, “The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” All peoples, from every color of skin and every background. Jesus welcomes all kinds and they’ll be a lot of them.
What Jesus points to is the narrow door, tons of people can go through it but the only way they do is through Him. Jesus says it this way in John 10:9 “ I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”
You see just hearing about Jesus isn’t enough. Just coming to church and hearing about Him doesn’t mean you know Him and walking in relationship with Him. You can eat the bread and drink the wine, the spiritual meal Jesus gives to us each week here in His house, but that doesn’t make you a Christian. Just because you grew up in a Christian family or prayed a prayer one day doesn’t make you a Christian.
It’s simply knowing Jesus. That’s the only safe way.
So that’s Jesus response to the first person. The second person doesn’t ask a question but makes a comment telling Him that Herod the Jewish King wanted to kill Him. Jesus saying He’s the only way has never been a popular idea. Oh you think you’re God Jesus and that you’re the only way to heaven? Best watch yo back.
In response, Jesus calls Herod a name, a “fox” and basically says He knows and that it’s the reason He came…verse 32 on “the third day I finish my course” which He says in verse 33 and 34 is going to happen in Jerusalem where He’ll join a long line of prophets who were killed there.
The two words together “third day” became a phrase reference in the early church for Jesus’ resurrection on the “third day.” Jesus came from heaven to earth with a mission, to go to Jerusalem and die for His people’s sins and rise again on the third day.
Jesus says this and tone seems to shift once He says it. He just called Herod a fox. Foxes are known for preying on chicks. They sneak in, often at night, attack them, kill ‘em and eat them.
Jesus makes this statement about Herod the fox and references His own impending death and then utters phrase which shows the depth of Jesus’ love and heartbreak for His people…why He was willing to give up His life for them.
When I read it I just imagine Jesus breaking into tears. He says verse 34, “How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”
Jesus’ heart and desire is to gather us into His safe and loving arms. That’s His heart. Jesus longs for us to come to Him. He longs for us to hear His invitation and to respond, coming to know His love, His forgiveness, His grace, His healing.
In Revelation 3:20 He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.”
What Jesus is appealing to here is our need to be loved and to be safe in Him. We all want and need to be loved. Rich Plass and Jim Coefield, who wrote the book, “Relational Soul” were with us this week with our staff all day on Wednesday and then our leaders in the evening. One of the things they said in our time together was this,
“The tendencies of our heart is to live from a posture of defensiveness. We are self-protective. The ego’s default is to be reactive. We either fight, freeze or flee. But none of these options move us any deeper into transformation.
The first movement of Christian spirituality is to learn to be loved. Learning to be loved is the reenactment of the first stage of childhood in which we learned to trust because we knew we were loved. God comes to us and in Christ declares we are love by Him.”
There is a safety that comes from being gathered under Jesus’ wings, His arms of love. They are strong enough to protect us and pure and tender enough not to hurt us.
Many people in Jesus day rejected Him, the safety and love He offered. To them he said, they were forsaken and there would be mourning and pain, this weeping and gnashing of teeth. There’s no safety outside of Christ. Only in and through Him can we find the home and family we long for.
Today, do you find yourself just kind of looking in from the outside, wishing and wanting to belong? You can, you can come in to the safety and security of Christ.
Jesus knows. He knows the way for us to be safe and it’s in His arms.
Jesus points the way, the way to healing, the way to growth and the way to safety.
Well, I started out this sermon showing you my map and remembering that before Apple and google maps we only had two options in trying to get somewhere we’ve never been before.
One, to just go for it and try and figure it out and hope you make it. Or two, you pull into a gas station, ask for directions and then do your best to follow they way that person told you to go.
Here’s the truth. None of us have been to heaven yet. We don’t know how to get there and there’s no app you can download that will just take us there. So we have two options.
One, we can just go for it, trying to figure life out on our own and hope we get there making our own way.
Or two, we can stop and listen to the directions of Jesus who points the way for the healing, growth and safety we need.
We’re going to respond today as we do each week here at The Resolved by reading some words of Confession and Assurance followed by a special time were we eat a spiritual meal with Jesus, receiving His body and blood given on the cross, here with us today in the tokens of bread and wine.
Today we heard Jesus heal a woman with a broken back. Jesus is our healer and can heal us of our deepest wounds because He put a cross on His back and was broken for us.
Today we heard Jesus speak about being a tree to nest in. Jesus is that tree and we are the branches who find a home in Him.
Today we heard Jesus speak about being a bread to eat. Jesus is the bread of life who nourishes our souls.
Today we heard Jesus say to enter through the narrow door and feast. Jesus that door.
Today we heard Jesus tell us of His heart to gather us in under His wings. Jesus stretched out His arms on a cross so we could see the extent of His desire and love for us.
Friends, family, today we say, “Blessed be the name of our Lord, Jesus our Savior.”
Would you stand with me and read these words of Confession and Assurance?
Lord, we confess we are broken, weak with small faith, often ignoring the narrow door and scared to come in to your arms. Help us to hear your invitation and respond trusting your love for us.
Jesus our Savior, heals us, frees us, promises to strengthen us and welcomes us into His house of safety and joy! Blessed be the name of the Lord!