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From Little Things, Big Things Grow.

Today was the occasion of the baptism of Grace, the niece of our Youth Ministry Coordinator Aimee Johnson.

Luke 13:10-17

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 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. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised


14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 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?”

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated.


Way back in the Sundays after epiphany, before Easter, I mentioned that this year in the Revised Common Lectionary, (the arrangement of readings that we use in worship that follows a three year cycle) is a year where we concentrate on the gospel of Luke. You may even remember that I gave you all some homework, and that was to go and have a look at a video on the Bible project website about the first half of the gospel of Luke.

Early in the gospel of Luke (chapter 4:18-19) Jesus gave his mission statement, which the bible project calls Jesus’ manifesto for life in the upside down kingdom of God. It went like this:

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”[f]

Now as we move through the stories in Luke in what we call the non festival half of the year I encourage you to watch the video on the second half of the gospel of Luke on the Bible project website. Chapters 10-25.

In these chapters we see Jesus living out this manifesto of what life looks like in the kingdom.

The story that we are concentrating on for today only occurs in the gospel of Luke. I assume this is because many such healings like this happened that are not recorded in any of the gospels, too many to write down, but Luke noticed that this one really fit in with the unique point that he was trying to make about the kingdom in his gospel. This is a story where Jesus is once again living out his mission Statement.

The gospel of Luke is about the upside-down Kingdom of God: it is about life when the Kingdom of God enters the everyday world.

And throughout Luke’s gospel, Jesus concern is for the seemingly unimportant, for the seemingly forgotten, the seemingly small and insignificant people and things of this world. He is, after all, proclaiming good news to the poor.

Now, the word “poor” in the gospel of Luke does not necessarily mean those who are low in money but it was all those who are easily persecuted, all those who are taken advantage and abused because of their condition, and this woman definitely fits into that category. We use it the same way today. If you would think of someone’s name and put before it the word poor this is who Jesus was talking about [“oh poor old so and so.”]

Once again the hypocrisy that was on display in the Synagogue leader who did not like being upstaged, especially on his most important day of the week, the sabbath, was easy for everyone to see.

There was actually a list of 39 things that were forbidden on the Sabbath. It is in a writing called the Mishnah Shabbat, chapter 7 verse 2 , and it contains such things like sewing, baking, building, hunting and leading from one place to another.

Healing of life-threatening conditions on the other hand was, in the opinion of all the rabbis, expressly allowed on the Sabbath, but there was some argument about whether non life-threatening healings were permitted on the Sabbath, such as this one. It was not clear, but it was definitely not included in the list of 39 forbidden activities like leading was.

As so often happens those in power at the time, those in control, put more emphasis on the things that suited them and retaining their power and their control and their lives than on the things that helped the poor, the injured, those that needed help the most.

It was amazing how easily Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy. And we were told that they were humiliated.

But Jesus’ victory over the synagogue leader was not the main part of this story. Jesus’ victory was cosmological in significance. Jesus spoke of this woman’s condition being as a result of Satanic bondage. His healing of her was a victory far greater than that over any synagogue leader. It showed his supernatural spiritual power and resulted in verse 15 in Luke calling him “the Lord”.

Now we must be careful not to suggest that this means that every and all disabilities, illnesses and injuries are demonic in nature. But everything in this fallen world that stands between us and the perfection that God originally planned for us is because of sin in the world, and the brokenness of creation. The fight against illness, disease and death was and is a spiritual as well as a physical one. And it will go on until we stand in perfection in heaven.


Just as in the Old Testament lesson today we hear of the power of words given by God to the prophets, we see again in the words of Jesus “woman you are set free from your infirmity” the amazing power of the spoken word of God.

I spoke before of Jesus mission being to the seemingly small and insignificant in this world. And the word seemingly here is important. Because to our creator God there are none who are small and insignificant. Straight after this miracle of healing Jesus went on to speak about faith as small as a mustard seed and the mighty tree into which it can grow.

Now if we combine those elements together: someone who is poor in the eyes of the world, by being small, the mighty power of the spoken word of God, the proclamation of the Lords favour, the cosmological victory over Satan, sin and death, The growth from a small amount of faith , into faith that can move mountains, what image does that bring to mind for you?

Could it be anything except holy baptism? Could it be anything except the grace of God shown to one who cannot do anything to add to the occasion themselves, to someone who is seemingly small and insignificant, but not in the eyes of Jesus?

How could this be any better summed up than by the name Grace.

As we define Grace in our confirmation classes: Grace is love we don’t deserve. It is pure gift, unearned and unobtainable on our own.

But we must also remember. It doesn’t end here. The kingdom of God does not end, cannot end with us. It is not big enough, never big enough. We pray “your kingdom come”, and this is a prayer that it might come through us.

So go out today and love as God loves. Lavish the grace that he has given you on others. Value the seemingly little ones, the seemingly little things. So that they too might be set free from what binds them, by the power of the word of God, spoken through you.


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