Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who can stand?

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, a woman was there who had a spirit that had disabled her for eighteen years, and she was bent over and not able to straighten herself up completely. 12 And when he saw her, Jesus summoned her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability!” 13 And he placed his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, answered and said to the crowd, “There are six days on which it is necessary to work. Therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the day of the Sabbath!” 15 But the Lord answered and said to him, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you untie his ox or his donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it away to water it? 16 And this woman, who is a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan bound eighteen long years—is it not necessary that she be released from this bond on the day of the Sabbath?” 17 And when he said these things, all those who opposed him were humiliated, and the whole crowd was rejoicing at all the splendid things that were being done by him.” (Luke 13)

I cannot express to you how immensely reassuring these verses are to me.  By now I hope you know to look for the gospel in every chapter, verse, word, jot and tittle of the Word.  It’s there and in this particular story the good news just drips off the page like honey based medicine.

One of the reason’s it’s so sweet to me is a footnote in my Bible that says the phrase, “that had disabled her,” is literally, “weakness.”  She had a spirit of weakness for eighteen years and could not stand up straight.  Isn’t that just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?  It is to me and here’s why.

The chasm.  The gulf.  The vast, empty, impossible void between what I should be as a beloved son of God Most High and what I am.  Paul’s rant in Romans seven describes it.  He knows what he should do, he is willing but unable to do it! 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  We are supposed to stand firm in our faith, to put on the full armor of God so we might resist the evil day and having done all, to stand.  But who can stand?  12 because our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6)  We’re going up against Angels of Hell, no wonder we fall!  But at that time when you did not know God, you were enslaved to the things which by nature are not gods.” (Gal 4)  We are Satan’s slaves, in bondage!  The Bride of Christ is chained with a spirit of weakness!

Ah, but “is it not necessary that she be released from this bond on the day of the Sabbath?”  Not, “Is it good?”  Not, “Is it right?”  But, “Is it not necessary?”  The Sabbath was a mini-festival.  A day set aside by God to rest.  To rest in God and His work, His provision.  Every seven days there was a Sabbath Day.  And every seven years there was a Sabbath Year.  And every seven Sabbath Years was the Year of Jubilee, the Super Sabbath!  The day all slaves were set free!  The day all land returned to its owners.  The year everyone went HOME.  These were not suggestions.  They were not just laws.  They were gifts!  Wedding gifts from God to His Bride.  Time set aside just for them!

And who is Jesus?  And he said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”” (Luke 6)  The Lord of the Sabbath!  Jesus is our Sabbath!  Here is our Master at last!  Here is our Bridegroom!  He is our rest from the toils and slavery of our former master we sold ourselves to, from the curse on the land, from the duty of the law and performance, from the old man I am!  Jesus sees us; he places his hands on us and frees us!  Suddenly… We. Can. Stand!  Not in our strength, His!  The gulf closes.  The void is filled with Jesus’ body, Jesus’ righteousness.  On the Sabbath there was no work, not even to prepare bread.  God prepared enough the day before.  Now, we lift not a finger to accomplish our salvation, our justification and our redemption.  Jesus is the Bread and the Living Water provided for us.  Feast upon Him.  Jesus is the Bridegroom who delights in His bride, cleanses and dresses her and longs to take her to Himself!  Run to Him!  Or if you feel you cannot run, if you are still bound to your yoke of slavery, to the old master, to the sin that will not let you go, to your guilt…

Then crawl to where He is, fall at his feet and wait, cry out, He will see you, He will touch you, He will lift you up…

And you will stand!

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