This morning we are picking up the discussion we started last week where Jesus is teaching us what God Cares About. Last week we saw that He cares about sin and our response to sin. Indirectly He told us not to focus on other people’s sin, because ours is just as bad, and we are our problem and if we don’t take care of our own sinful condition by repenting, we are just as bad as the worst that we see around us in other people.
Remember the five A’s of repentance:
God Cares about People:
So God cares about sin and our response to it. He also really cares about people. That is the topic of today’s lesson.
Two situations recorded in today’s passage show how deeply Jesus cares about people. The first one shows how much He cares about our physical needs.
And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him. Luke 13:10-17Let’s see what we can learn here. Verse 10 says:
And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.It's important to understand that Jesus did not disregard or disobey the Old Testament teaching concerning the Sabbath. What He disregarded were the rules, the traditions, that had grown like ivy over the “walls” of God's Word until you could no longer see the walls, only the ivy.
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23Then verse 11 tells us
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Matthew 9:35
He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” Matthew 13:54
And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had be brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. Luke 4:15-16
And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. Luke 13:11This was not simply a physical illness. Somehow demonic influence was involved in this woman's suffering. Later, in verse 16, Jesus says that this woman had been bound by Satan. That’s a sobering reminder. Sometimes physical conditions are rooted in spiritual issues. As we discussed last week, illness does not mean that it is caused by sin or by Satan, but by the same token, that possibility also exists. Her condition is a reminder to us of the spiritual battle taking place in the world:
And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day? Luke 13:16
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
When Jesus saw her...
Jesus was always sensitive to the needs of individuals, even when ministering to large groups. Jesus saw people in a different way than most of us see people. He saw their needs; He saw them as victims of Satan and sin. He saw opportunities to help people and to glorify God. This reminds me of what Matthew said about Jesus:
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36It's interesting to notice how rarely Jesus blamed people for their condition. He healed the sick, He helped the poor, He freed those imprisoned by Satan without ever saying, “See, you got yourself into this mess; now you're going to have to get yourself out of it!”. That is what I would have said, but apparently Jesus knows best.
Then Jesus did something about it. He did not just see, He did.
When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. Luke 13:12This shows us the response God desires of people when they have a genuine encounter with Jesus. When Jesus heals us, we have the responsibility to praise God.
There are numerous references to people praising God after being helped by Jesus:
Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.” Luke 5:25-26Think of something Jesus has recently done for you. Have you taken time to praise Him for it? Verse 14 shows that the indignant righteous got on their high horse.
Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” Luke 7:16
Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice... Luke 17:15
Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God. Luke 18:43
But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14The Pharisees and religious leaders condemned Jesus because they considered healing to be work and the Old Testament command was that no work should be done on the Sabbath:
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. Exodus 20:9-10Someone defined legalism as obeying the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of it. That’s what these religious leaders did. God’s command to not work on the Sabbath was never intended to prevent us to helping someone in need.
This wasn’t the only time that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The Life Application Bible lists “Seven Sabbath Miracles”
that Jesus performed:
|Jesus sends a demon out of a man||Mark 1:21-28|
|Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law||Mark 1:29-31|
|Jesus heals a lame man by Bethesda Pool||John 5:1-18|
|Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand||Mark 3:1-6|
|Jesus restores a crippled woman||Luke 13:10-17|
|Jesus heals a man with dropsy||Luke 14:1-6|
|Jesus heals a man born blind||John 9:1-16|
Jesus did not cut the indignant righteous any slack.
But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites...” Luke 13:15Do you remember how we defined hypocrisy? “pretending to be what one is not or pretending to believe what one does not; especially the taking on of the appearance of virtue or religion.” 3Webster's Dictionary
These religious people cared nothing for this poor woman who had suffered for so long. Yet they disguised their hard-heartedness behind a seemingly “spiritual” concern for the Sabbath. But they cared no more for the Sabbath than they did for this woman their real concern was for their own positions of authority over the people.
The Life Application Bible Notes say:
“The Pharisees hid behind their own set of laws to avoid love’s obligations. We too can use the letter of the law to rationalize away our obligation to care for others (for example, by tithing regularly and then refusing to help a needy neighbor). But people’s needs are more important than rules and regulations. Take time to help others, even if doing so might compromise your public image.”There are many references to Jesus condemning religious hypocrisy, especially in the gospel of Matthew. Here are a few as phrased in the New Living Testament:
And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. Matthew 6:5 (NLT)What can we do to avoid falling into the sin of hypocrisy?
Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. Matthew 7:5 (NLT)
You hypocrites! Isaiah was prophesying about you when he said, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings.' “ Matthew 15:7-9 (NLT)
How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things. Matthew 23:23 (NLT)
How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! Matthew 23:25 (NLT)
How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs — beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity. You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:27-28 (NLT)
Compassion is such a dominant trait in Jesus' life. We need to be praying that He will give us His heart of compassion for people. Lots of Christians help Salvation Army and homeless shelters during the Christmas season. But people don't need help just in December; they also need help throughout the year.
What might be some reasons that Christians today in the U.S. aren’t compassionate toward the needy as Jesus was/is? People today aren’t impressed by religious activity; but they are impressed when they see genuine compassion in action.
Think about this: Earthquakes, ethnic wars, poverty, starvation the horrors are so unrelenting that some Christians are developing ‘compassion fatigue’. If it seems as if there is no end to the sadness and struggles in this life, it's because there isn't but there is a lot of hope. The president of the Christian relief and development agency, “World Vision,” says. “Sometimes I tell our people that no matter what we do, there are going to be more disasters,” Rich Stearns, 48, told Religion Today. “Sometimes we think, 'Why do we do what we do?' If we do what we do because we think we can eventually eradicate the pain of poverty, we are going to have problems. But if we do what we do because we love the poor and the disadvantaged, then satisfaction comes not from our accomplishments but from our knowledge that we have been obedient. Asked why she didn't feel like a failure with increasing poverty all around her, Mother Teresa responded, 'My Lord didn't call me to be successful, but only to be obedient.'”
How committed are you to helping people all year round? When someone needs your help, do you view them as an interruption and a burden or as an opportunity to love people with the love of Christ and to glorify the Lord?
Jesus instructed us:
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16This week, pray that God will give you His heart of compassion to help others as you have the opportunity. God cares about people’s physical needs, but He also really cares about their Spiritual Needs.
Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave 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 reach My goal.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Luke 13:31-35Let’s dissect this teaching. In response to the warning that He needs to get out of here because Herod wanted to kill Him, Jesus responded: “Go and tell that fox...”
Like Jesus, we need to focus on what God wants us to do and not on what others may or may not do to us.
Then in verse 34 Jesus sends a message to Jerusalem, really to Israel, really to the Jews:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Luke 13:34Jesus' love for people really shines through here. Most of the Jewish people have rejected Him and will soon be calling for His crucifixion. But there is no anger or resentment or calling down judgment on Jesus' part. Most of us have no concept of how deeply God cares for the lost:
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4In verse 34 Jesus makes it plain who is at fault: ...and you would not have it!
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Whose fault was it that these people weren't saved? Consider all that Jesus did born in human form, teaching, healing, performing miracles, even dying on the cross. Is it Jesus' fault that these people weren't saved? Have you ever heard someone say, “If God is really a loving God, how can He send people to hell?”.
This verse (13:34) shows that we have to take responsibility for whether we receive or reject the gift of salvation offered to us in Jesus. God does not so much send people to hell as people choose to be sent to hell by rejecting Jesus.
Suppose I have a fatal disease and you have the vaccine that can cure me. You do everything possible to try to convince me to take the vaccine you tell me about it; you show how it helped others; you pay for the vaccine yourself; you plead with me in tears to take it. But still I refuse. When I die, whose fault is it? If we die without eternal life, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Then Jesus makes sort of a parting statement.
Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Luke 13:35Jesus is quoting from Psalm 118:26.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;He is apparently referring to the time when He will ultimately return to Jerusalem to establish His millennial kingdom. He seems to be saying to these people, “You are not going to believe in Me until it's too late!”.
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
Next week we will finish Luke Chapter 13 by seeing that God cares about His Kingdom.