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View From The Cheap Seats

Tacoma Washington

Feel anonymous – huge crowd.

Detached from what’s happening.


You can end up feeling lonely even though you’re in a crowded room.

When the preacher gives away a book, he’s not picking someone from 150 rows back.

When they’re pulling someone out of the crowd for some sort of illustration, they’re not pulling from the back.

A lot of people experience so much of life that way.

Sense of being a spectator.

Don’t feel any connection with anything BIGGER that’s happening.

Don’t feel strong connection with God or to other people.

Like you’re in the cheap seats.

Luke 13

Woman who lives her life from the cheap seats.

From the outside looking in.

Watches things, notices things from a distance.

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. (Luke 13:10)

Synagogues were their meeting place of worship – like a church today. Sabbath was their Holy Day.

And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. (Luke 13:11)

Greek : ‘Spirit of Weakness’.

She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. (Luke 13:11b)

I want you to imagine what life is like for this woman.

The bible is not a subtle book. If it says someone has a condition, it’s pretty severe.

This woman spends 18 years hunched over.

Bible scholars tell us : For 18 years the only view this woman has is what’s going on around her feet.

That’s all she sees.

When she goes to the synagog, when she goes to the market, she sees nothing of people but their feet.

Incapable of seeing anyone else eyeball to eyeball.

I wonder if you can imagine how that would feel. No look-somebody-in-the-eye connection. For 18 years, this is what she endures.

Unclear – reason.

The text is unclear on the reason for this. Luke, the author, is a physician, but isn’t coming from a technical place in this book.

Modern day – disorder – causes – spine : fuse improperly.

This totally possible.

Jews living under the oppression of the Romans, she may have just suffered under backbreaking labor year after year and has caused this.

Text describes :

Spirit of Weakness

The text describes it as a ‘Spirit of Weakness’.

One thing that’s so cool about Luke is he puts things in cosmic terms.

God is bringing wholeness and life.

Anything that dehumanizes, hurts, inflicts – is seen as being from the evil one.

The point he’s making is that this isn’t just a physical reality, this is a spiritual reality too.

It’s not just her body that’s hunched over, it’s her spirit that’s hunched over too.

Amazing girl There was this amazing girl I used to know, that was funny and beautiful, but she could not get it in her head that she was anything but super dysfunctional.

I believe that’s what Luke is communicating here, that’s it’s not just her eyes that are always looking down, her soul is always looking down too.

For 18 years, this condition has defined her.

She has no name in the text. I’m assuming that’s because Luke like everybody else didn’t know her name.

“The Crippled Woman”

Anyone who’s had a disability or even some life-altering thing happen in your life knows the feeling of being defined by something.

  • The Cripple
  • The Drug Addict
  • The Divorced Girl

In this lady’s case, so much so that it becomes shorthand for describing her ‘You know, the bent over lady.’

That’s how people know her.

When I was growing up, my first job – New Mexico commission for the blind.

Worked with a teenager who was in a wheelchair – Brian.

“You’re so lucky to be in a wheelchair.”

Naive, stupid thing a kid would say.

Truth : No one knows – complexity : your situation.

People ‘Not – that bad.’

But isn’t that how it always is – No one knows the complexity of your situation but you? – People will look at you and say ‘Well that’s not really that bad if you think about it.’

But they’re not there during the dark night of the soul, when only you can see the unique challenges that you face.

Something about having a physical handicap that makes it impossible to hide. In the way that we’re all used to hiding.

This was a different culture – crippled people, not to mention a cripple WOMAN, is completely invisible.

When Jesus saw her, he called her over (Luke 13:12a)

I love it when we see great acts of faith in the bible – when the woman just touches the gym of Jesus’s garment. – How can you not love that.

But in this case – She’s not looking for Jesus. She’s not asking for Jesus. She not even able to make eye contact with Jesus.

She can’t even see Jesus, let alone look for Him.

Beautiful : For people :

Cast down

‘spirit of weakness’

Hunched over – guilt, shame, inadequacy. Abuse.

You’re at a place where you’re not even sure if you can look Jesus in the eye, Jesus comes and

It doesn’t matter if you can’t see Jesus, because Jesus can see you.

Everything changes the moment Jesus sees her. – It doesn’t matter that no one else can see her.

When you can’t call out for God, he calls out for you.

She’s not looking for a miracle.

This is a woman that’s so used to being overlooked, I don’t think she would have called out to him in a million years. – But he calls out for her.

and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” (Luke 13:12b)

After 18 years, one sentence from Jesus. – Changes everything.

When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. (Luke 13:13)

He doesn’t just see her, he doesn’t just call out to her, he lays his hands on her.

There’s something so validating, so human about the touch of another person, not only is she not beneath the gaze of Jesus, she’s not beneath the touch of Jesus.

You guys know that I’m slightly germ-y. In seattle, I not only give the homeless money, I touch them.

There’s something about the touch of Jesus that allows people to stand up straight.

Not only physically, but spiritually. This woman who couldn’t look anybody straight on, is not standing up and looking Jesus straight on.

Of course there’s controversy.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” (Luke 13:14)

I think it would be missing the point to say that Jesus hates Judaism, and doesn’t care about the sabbath. No he’s there keeping the sabbath.

But they miss the spirit behind what they do.

Instantly think : These guys are nuts.

And as weird as it sounds, we can actually do this too. – We can reject the move of God in the world because it doesn’t look how we expect it to look.

I’ve found that God’s work in people lives can often times look really chaotic and not how we expect. That God is moving in people’s hearts, but we can reject it because their life is still really imperfect.

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 manger, and lead it away to give it water? (Luke 13:15)

And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. (Luke 13:16)

This is the ONLY time – New or OLD testament that this phrase is used : “Daughter of Abraham”.

It comes only from Jesus and only about this particular woman – who is nameless – who up to this point has just been called ‘The Crippled Lady’.

And if there’s one thing we all know about ‘Father Abraham’ it’s what?

“Had many sons.”

It’s the thing that really kicks the bible into gear. This promise God makes to this guy Abraham and his sons in Genesis 12. “I will make you a great nation. And through you all the nations of the world will be blessed.”

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Nation of Israel, David, Solomon

Eventually – Jesus – whole world.

The whole plot line of scripture is about Abraham and his sons. And for the 1st and only time in scripture Jesus uses this phrase ‘Daughter of Abraham’.

Who is he describing when he uses it? – A crippled, unnamed, overlooked woman living life from the cheap seats.

Someone – used to seeing God’s promises :

Someone who was used to seeing God’s promises in a detached way – always through the men – no you are a ‘daughter of abraham’ just as much as they are sons.

Jesus says of the outcast – Every blessing belongs to her. Healing belongs to her. Identity belongs to her.

Just because these men can’t understand it doesn’t mean they can write off God’s working in anybody elses life.

In the same way – Just because we can’t understand it doesn’t mean we can write off God’s working in anybody elses life.

It’s so easy to get to the place where we ‘understand’ how God moves.

God would never work in THAT kind of person.

There is a great and subtle temptation to suggest to myself or others where God is working and where not, when he is present and when not, but nobody, no Christian, no priest, no monk, has any ‘special’ knowledge about God. God cannot be limited to any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants.” (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus looks at the religious leader – who’s a male – and calls him a hypocrite. And then looks at the crippled woman, and calls her a daughter of abraham.

Brief comment on women.

A brief comment on women. – This is not just a story for women, but I do want to say this.

I feel like there’s so many daughters that I meet that feel overlooked by the church.

This is what Jesus does – He takes hunched over daughters and lets them see eyeball to eyeball with everybody And I think this is what Jesus does – is He takes hunched over daughters and lets them see eyeball to eyeball with everybody else.

Same thing that happens with the samaritan woman – Living in a religious culture that would never validate her, all of a sudden, God himself comes and validates her.

So often we hear of amazing things happening to people because of their amazing faith, and their amazing devotion to God.

There’s not ONE reference in this text to anything good this woman does.

Doesn’t say that she prays more than anybody else, fasts more, goes to synagog more, none of that.

She’s not even looking for Jesus, she’s not asking for anything.

But Jesus comes and gives her an identity that is totally opposite of the labels people have been putting on her.

I don’t want to overstate this : I think that SO much of life, SO much of the human struggle is how we see ourselves.

Are we able to believe what God says about us, over and against all the other voices that have opinions about us?

Most often times the voice that is the most condemning is OF COURSE ourselves.

It’s so easy to go against what God has said about us, and instead let our past or our present failures define us.

When we have all these others labels about ourselves – given to us by others and by ourselves. – In the words of Isaiah, ‘Who’s report will you believe?’

Will you believe about yourself that b/c of abuse, b/c of addiction, b/c of failure – that that’s what defines you for you the rest of your life?

  • Once and addict, always an addict.
  • Once a failure…
  • Once a victim… Is – really – want – live life? Is that really how you want to live your life?

“Existence can be ugly or existence can be beautiful. But that’s on you.” (Mr Robot)

So much of that has to do with how you see yourself.

It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, it just matters what he thinks.

It doesn’t matter what anybody else says about you, it doesn’t matter what YOU say about you. It only matters what HE says about you.

Are you willing to make his opinion more important than your own?

That’s what makes every other kind of change possible.

(Prepare for communion)

Sex Trafficking – How they see themselves. – Video

One of the things that amazing ministries that are pulling women (and men) out of these unbelievably horrible situations – one of the main things that they’re having to deal with them on – is how they see themselves.

We watched a video just this past week listening to a woman who was involved in sex trafficking from a very early age – that even as a child has cigarettes put out on her skin. What that does to a persons view of themselves.

I know the majority of us can’t even fathom something like that, but that’s not to say this doesn’t apply to us, it definitely does. – We ALL think demeaning thoughts about ourselves. That are destructive forces in our lives, and marriages, and careers. We all think demeaning thoughts about ourselves that affect our own sense of happiness and peace.

I remember years ago, I wrote in my journal this sentence: “Needed core value : I am strong.”

I even think that well intentioned people – speaking good things – can sometimes be a real burden – because they’re so LOFTY – ‘David you are going to pastor the biggest church in the city!’ – OMG!

You are going to be the next president of the united states of america! – OH MY GOSH, I work at Dions. – Expectations are so intense, that you feel like you could never measure up to that.

Whatever – Makes you – believe – Lie “≠ matter.”

God comes in and says ‘You are my son. You are my daughter.’

Anybody telling you that you’re less important than other people in the room, even if that somebody is yourself, is lying to you.

This is me giving you permission to reject defeating views of yourself.

I think it would amaze you how BIG of a difference it would make in your life to see yourself and whole, valuable, and so deeply loved.

The label God has for you tonight – Son of Abraham or Daughter of Abraham, which is way of saying ‘You’re in MY family.’ And you’ve always got a place at MY table.