Pastor Chuck’s Message
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Seeing with the Eyes of God
“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 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. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 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." 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? 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?" When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”
There are two major and powerful themes that run through Scripture: love and forgiveness. You can’t have one without the other. They are intricately linked in the heart and mind of God. The message of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is about God’s relationship with man, specifically how God works through history to restore the broken relationship between Himself and His people. It’s about redemption and restoration, love and forgiveness.
You will remember that one day, in Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
What’s the implied truth here? In our scripture this morning, we have a great example of what seeing people as God sees them is about. The implied truth is that you cannot love God without it resulting in loving people.
That is what happens when we see other people through the eyes of God. There are five challenges that I want to give you.
1. Look Around
The Bible says that as people heard Jesus’ teaching, they were drawn to His teaching because He taught differently. The unique thing about Jesus is that He was different. He stood out! On this day, Jesus is in the synagogue and He’s expounding on the scripture. The Bible says that a large crowd had gathered there. Now, in the crowd that day was this woman, a woman who, the Bible says, for the last eighteen years had been crippled and bent over and unable to stand up straight. As Jesus is teaching, the Bible says Jesus saw her. He saw her. He noticed her. His eyes locked with hers and, He was moved with compassion.
You know, one of the greatest miracles I find in the Bible is that God, in His infinite grace, pays attention to each of us individually. God is so intimately interested and knowledgeable in the details of your life that the Bible says that every hair on your head is numbered and when one falls out, He notices. It’s been my experience that He doesn’t replace it but He does notice! No one ever noticed and paid attention like Jesus did. He really saw people. He especially saw the people who other people passed over.
Matthew 9:36 proves this point: “When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
He saw. He noticed. You know, attention is one of the most powerful forces in all of the world.
There’s a blessing in the Old Testament in Numbers 6:24-26 that says, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious. The Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.” The imagery is that when the Lord turns His face to us, He gives us His attention.
In our Scripture this morning, I want you to notice that as Jesus is in the synagogue His eyes catch the eyes of this crippled woman and He turns His face towards her.
Let me give you a couple of observations about our world before we move on.
A. First, there are all kinds of people just waiting to be noticed. You pass them every day. They look good on the outside but, on the inside, they need someone to pay attention and to notice them. And like this woman, many of them are emotionally and spiritually crippled - they long to be noticed and to be loved.
B. You have to slow down to really see people. When you’re in a hurry you miss the details. And if you’re really going to see people you have to slow down. The slower you go the more you notice.
Have you ever run into someone in the parking lot or the grocery store or the mall and, you know the drill? You see them. “Hi! … How are you? How you doing?” Then they have the audacity to actually stop and start telling you how they’re doing! And you think to yourself, Wait a minute. That’s not how the game is played. I wasn’t really serious. I was just making nice.
God tells us to really pay attention to people, not just make nice. We’ve got to notice. Especially notice the people that nobody else notices. The first challenge is Look Around. The second challenge is…
2. Take a risk
In our Scripture this morning, the Bible says that Jesus saw the woman but then He took a risk to speak to her and to call her forward. This was very risky socially. This was not proper protocol. This was not in the order of service. This would have been very unconventional.
Then think about how this woman must have felt. How awkward and embarrassing for her – crippled over for the last 18 years. It was probably tough enough just for her to get out in public anyway. Now this rabbi teacher calls her to the front during the synagogue service.
Here’s the point. When you choose to demonstrate the bold, reckless, radical love of Christ, sometimes it will be risky. But it is worth the risk. Generally, our temptation is to want to play it safe. It is not God’s desire that we just live for ourselves. No. He wants us out there, in our neighborhoods, in the marketplace, at the softball field – being the love of Christ to the people that are out there. Mixing it up in the real world.
The reality is that when you do take the risk to really reach out and love people, sometimes you will be rejected and occasionally you will get hurt. C. S. Lewis said it like this, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” Jesus calls us to enter into life’s experiences. He calls us to demonstrate the love of Christ and commands us to love people we wouldn’t normally love.
In fact, look at Matthew 5:46: “If you love only the people who love you, you’ll get no reward. Even tax collectors do that. And if you’re nice only to your friends you’re no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends.”
So let me ask. Who do you need to love that’s in your world that it’s not easy for you to love? Can you image what it would be like if in our homes or in our offices we were all so filled with the love of Christ that we started taking the risk to say loving things to the people around us? And we started taking the risk of doing loving acts spontaneously? Wow, what a place this would be! What would make you willing to take those kinds of risks? It’s the love of Christ. 2 Cor. 5:14 says, “For Christ’s love compels us. Because we’re convinced that one died for all and that therefore all died.” When it’s invaded your life, you’re willing to take some risks to help it invade the lives of other people.
- Let me propose another application. Would you consider taking the risk this week and sitting down with someone and say, Could I just pray with you and for you? In the more than forty-three years that I have been a pastor I have never had one person refuse to let me pray with them. There are people in your world in whom there’s some real stuff going on. People in your home, people at the office, people on your team, people in church. It doesn’t have to be long or fancy. Would you take a risk to simply say, “Could I just say a simple prayer for you?”
So challenge number one is Look Around. Number two is Take a Risk. And
3. Reach out
Actually, begin to do it. Most of all love gives and love reaches out. Giving is how love expresses itself. One of the marks of true Christian love is that it is available to all and to everyone, no matter their economic status, their educational background, the color of their skin or where they live. Romans 2:11(ESV) tells us that, “God shows no partiality.”
Here are some very important points you need to understand and remember:
- You will never meet another person in this world that is not created in the image of God.
- You will never shake hands with another person who Jesus did not die for.
- You will never walk down the street and pass another person who doesn’t matter to God.
- You will never lock eyes with another individual who is not on the heart of God.
Love reaches out. In our Scripture, Jesus saw the woman. He noticed her. He called her forward. He took a risk. But then He reached out to her and He laid His hands on her and He spoke to her and she was healed.
In a world where people are beat up and put down, you and I have the unbelievable privilege of saying to people out loud “You matter to God. God loves you. Your life counts and the God of the universe is interested in you.”
Jesus reaches out and He touches this woman. He didn’t have to. Many times, Jesus just spoke the word and someone was healed. But Jesus knew the power of touch. Look around, reach out, take a risk. But I want to give you a warning. And it’s the fourth challenge…
4. Expect Some Criticism
When you show love, not everyone will understand or stand up and applaud you. In fact, when you were to read on in this passage, Luke 13:14-15, “Indignant because Jesus healed on a Sabbath the synagogue ruler said to the people, ‘There are six days for work so come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” Think about how ridiculous that is. This priest says, “We don’t do miracles. We don’t do healings here at the synagogue. Do them six days a week. Come back another time. That’s when we do the healings. Luke 13:16-17 “Jesus answered, ‘You hypocrites. Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen years be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’”
It’s interesting to me that when Jesus wants to address the synagogue ruler the first word picture that comes to His mind is that of an ox and a donkey. You can draw your own conclusions from that that. Here’s what Jesus was so upset about. He said, “You have made this a policy issue not a people issue.” Jesus was a fanatic about people. He could care less about human traditions and rituals that didn’t make their first priority God and people. Jesus had great patience with people who were broken and hurting and seeking. But He had little patience for a self-righteous, pompous religion that cared little or nothing about people.
Jesus was criticized for healing this woman on the Sabbath. And as He refers back to this incident when He talks about this woman, He doesn’t just call her “woman.” Rather this time when He refers to her, He calls her “a daughter of Abraham.” A daughter of the most famous of all Jewish men, the patriarch of Judaism, Abraham. I have this picture in my mind of her walking home that day after being healed and she’s standing up straight and she’s looking people in the eye for the first time in eighteen years and she’s seeing things that she hasn’t seen in eighteen years and ringing in her head, in her ears, are those words “daughter of Abraham.”
Jesus absolutely refused to let His critics sidetrack Him from spontaneously showing radical acts of love. When you choose to be a dispenser of God’s love there will be some people, even some religious people who will say things to you like, “That’s not how we do it here,” or “We don’t associate with those kinds of people.” I would encourage you from the life of Jesus, don’t let the critics stop you from being a dispenser of God’s radical love.
Look around – notice people; take a risk – move outside your comfort zone; reach out – be willing to speak words of love; don’t be afraid of criticism. Then finally…
5. Seize the Moment
Jesus would likely never speak in this synagogue again. It was likely His life would never intersect the life of this woman again in this world. Yet He notices her, He takes a risk to call her forward. He reaches out to her and, in spite of the criticism, He would not let this opportunity pass to seize the moment and show a spontaneous burst of love to someone in need. And that one act of love would forever change her life.
1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and with truth.” The Message Bible states it this way, “My dear children let’s not just talk about love, let’s practice real love.” Seize the moment. Let’s be honest. It’s not always a grace-and-love-filled world in which we live.
I know for some of us as we look at our world, there’s so much need that we feel almost paralyzed. We say, “I can’t respond to everyone. I can’t meet everyone’s need.” That is absolutely true. But you can meet someone’s need, someone that God brings into your world, into your life, so that you can meet their need. Will you seize the moment?
You and I get to be the hands and the feet and the voice and the arms of Christ to say to our world, “There is Somebody in this world who loves you.” That is an unspeakable privilege. So I challenge you. Take the risk. Seize the moment. There’s too much at stake. Look around, reach out and do it!
Seeing Through the Eyes of God by Stacy Kole
Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Steve Merryman
Matthew Henry Commentary on Luke by Matthew Henry
Lesson 64: Religion Versus Reality Bible.org
Adam Clark Commentary by Adam Clark
The Warren Wiersbe Bible Sturdy Series by Warren W. Wiersbe
Suffering Brings Us to Repentance by John Piper
Seeing with the Eyes of God by Dr. Rick Warren
Luke: Swindoll’s Living Insights Commentary by Chuck Swindoll