February 27 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 13)

Submitted by Lem M. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Luke 13:14-15

What can we conclude about the state of the synagogue ruler’s heart?

The state of the synagogue ruler’s heart is crippled because he cannot rejoice in the fact that a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years is now healed.  He is more concerned that the established tradition has been broken by Jesus’ healing ministry.  There was a similar incident in Mark 3 when Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath which upset the Pharisees greatly.  The synagogue ruler, like the Pharisees, was more concerned that Jesus play by the rules and obey the letter of the law rather than acknowledge that Jesus shared in God’s compassionate heart in healing this crippled woman.  Anyone else seeing this miracle would have rejoiced and in v. 17 we read, “the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”   Being crippled means the use of one’s limb is impaired.  The synagogue ruler has a crippled heart because he responded with an indignant attitude rather than rejoicing like the woman healed who was able to praise God for the miracle witnessed in the house of worship.

The synagogue ruler became indignant at Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath.  What do I get indignant about?

Sadly, I must confess that I get indignant about similar things as the synagogue ruler in this text.  I don’t like it when people step outside of the boundaries of established rules and traditions.  I never thought I would become such a “rule-keeper.”  I always associated myself with the rotten sinners in Jesus’ encounters or like the younger prodigal son who experienced wild living before returning back to the Father.  However, as I grow older in my faith, I realize I am a rule keeper.  The Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day set up strict guidelines for religious living including what was permissible on the Sabbath.  It’s a religious system they developed and enforced and they became celebrities by excelling in this system.  Jesus comes on the scene and criticizes their narrow view of God’s law.  He challenges them to consider the heart of God behind the law.  If it’s ok to help an ox or donkey, then why not this precious daughter of God?

I am like the synagogue ruler who likes to see the issues of life in black or white.  I like rules because it’s easy to organize life in this way.  I am lazy in my thinking and would like things to fall into a neat pre-ordered structure because it’s easier for me to deal with life.  However, I have learned that in ministry and life in general there is nothing easy and simple.  I have to do the hard work of thinking about the heart of God and stretch my heart and mind to do what’s best for the person in front of me.  I become indignant because of the extra effort I need to put into life and ministry and it’s a dangerous road to take because like the synagogue ruler I am taking steps toward a crippled heart that cannot rejoice when God works powerfully beyond my framework of possibilities.

Is there a relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended?

Yes, there is a direct relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended.  What angers me is something that affects my comfort, my image, my plans, my agendas, my desires, etc.  I become angry when someone humiliates me or throws a curveball in my plans for the week or challenges me on my values and what I desire.  I have this view that life centers around me and when someone crosses me I respond in anger.  That visceral response cripples my heart because I am not functioning as God intended.  God challenges me to stop thinking about myself but rather perceive the needs of others.  I am called to love others in compassion as Jesus modeled for me.  God intended for my heart to expand and stretch to care for more and more lives.  When I become angry it’s almost always a selfish response because I feel crossed in some way instead of a sense of injustice because God’s will is crossed.  I cannot give into this selfish anger which cripples my heart but rather learn to see
the situation from God’s vantage point and to respond with a heart of compassion and love as God intended.

Luke 13:10-16

How did Jesus see this woman, and how did the synagogue ruler see her?

Jesus saw this woman as someone bound by her infirmity and by Satan. He refers to this woman as a “daughter of Abraham” in v.16.  The word daughter expresses love and intimacy.  Jesus saw this crippled woman from God’s perspective as His precious daughter in need of healing.  The synagogue ruler saw her as another generic cripple who wanted to be healed.  She was someone who was participating with Jesus in this breach of Sabbath tradition.  In v. 14 the synagogue ruler says; “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”  His words express a person who is not interested in the woman’s personal history or the hurt and burden she must have felt for eighteen years.  He wanted the crippled woman and the rest of those looking for healing to come back at a more appropriate time.  The synagogue ruler didn’t even care for her as a person much less a “daughter of Abraham.”

What is revealed about Jesus-his heart, his power-from this incident?

Through this incident we can gather a lot about Jesus’ heart and power.  First, Jesus saw the crippled woman in the synagogue and called her forward.  Jesus has a heart of compassion and though I am sure many people were crowded to hear his teaching he locks in on the plight of this woman and extends healing to her.  Jesus is the fullness of God’s heart and is modeling for the blind synagogue ruler the proper response to this precious daughter of God.  The synagogue ruler saw worship of God as keeping God’s commands, but Jesus comes on the scene and shows worship of God as understanding God’s heart.  The synagogue ruler, and others like him, got it all wrong.  The synagogue ruler viewed power as obeying the list of do’s and don’ts of the Sabbath.  Jesus reveals that true power comes from loving people with the heart of God.  This incident shows Jesus’ power to heal in miraculous ways as he was able to touch this crippled woman of eighteen years and she was able to straighten up and praise God.

Luke 13:18-21

What is the similarity between the mustard seed and the yeast?

The mustard seed is considered one of the smallest seed which was slightly larger than a grain of salt and yet it would grow into a large garden tree.  A pinch of yeast kneaded into dough was enough to work through the dough and cause the dough to rise during baking.  Therefore, the similarity between the mustard seed and the yeast is that something seemingly small can end up having a big affect on its surrounding.

How has this parable been worked out in history, and in your life?

This parable has been worked out in history through the spread of Christianity and the rise of the church.  Christianity began with Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, which was an obscure part of the ancient far East.  Upon Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus’ followers spread the Gospel and the testimony of Jesus’ resurrection throughout the Roman Empire.  The Gospel spread through Europe and was brought to America by Christians seeking a land where they could freely worship God.  The Gospel is continuing to be preached throughout the world and those who believe in the
Gospel and become Christian begin to change the environment around them.  It was Christian theology and principles that gave rise to the elevation of women/children’s status in society from just mere property.  Christians pushed for the abolition of slavery.  Christian missionaries founded schools and hospitals to elevate the standard of living in developing areas of the world. Christian missionaries raised up generations of native Christian leaders that would be able to spread the gospel in their own nation.  The Christian faith which started in an obscure part of Israel 2000 years ago by a carpenter turned Rabbi has changed the world, and it has become the dominant religious faith in the world.

Personally, the Gospel has had the same affect in my life.  The Gospel seed was planted in my life in 1997 and to be honest I had doubt that I would grow into the sort of person my leaders modeled for me.  I was much too selfish, arrogant, proud and hot-headed to be follower of Jesus.  In faith I clung to my new found faith and refused to throw in the towel in the midst of many spiritual trials.  The Gospel began to flourish in my life and I saw my heart grow for people.  I wanted to serve rather than to be served. Through the prayers and guidance of my leaders I began to grow in my character.  The Gospel began to transform my values as well.  The purpose of life wasn’t to amass wealth and power but rather to give my life so that others may know Christ and experience the freedom I have come to know.  This transformation did not happen passively but was an active process.  Kneading a pinch of yeast into a mass of dough takes work and constant attention.  I thank God for our church, my leaders the brothers and sisters of my church who kept kneading the Gospel so that it would spread through my entire life.

In what ways is the picture of “a tree [with branches in which] the birds of the air can perch” an apt picture of a Christian’s life, or of a church?

The picture of a tree with branches that allow birds of the air to perch is an apt description of a Christian’s life and a church because it is a sign of maturity.  When a seed is planted and begins to grow, it’s struggling for survival.  It’s not at a point where birds can come and perch in its branches.  It takes time for that little sapling of a tree to develop into a strong tree with branches that can support the weight and pressure of birds resting in its branches.

This parable was the parable P. Ed used to describe the Davis ministry some 14 years ago.  P. Ed cast the vision that one day the Davis ministry would grow to be a sizeable church where many lost souls, tired of flapping around in the world, can rest in our branches and experience the love of God.  Davis just had our college winter retreat last week and 37 brothers and sisters made salvation decisions.  The scene at the retreat was a picture of heaven as people came to commit their lives to Christ and to confess they were tired of living in sin and living this life with their own strength.  There were staff spread out praying for their students and what brought me the greatest joy was seeing my former students now leading their own people across the line of faith.  I would have never imagined 14 years ago that our Davis ministry and the larger Gracepoint Ministries would be at this point in our maturity.  God is sending weary souls to our church because we are at a point at which our ministries can love and care for them.  My commitment is to see this growth continue and to pray for the spiritual health and strength of our church.

This maturing process has to happen in my life personally as well.  My “sapling” faith has to mature and I have to become the spiritual father and shepherd that can support many lives and invite weary souls to rest in my care.  It’s a heavy calling but it is this maturing process that Jesus says depicts the Kingdom of God and I want to see that maturing process happen in my life and in our church.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for today’s DT that helps me face the “rule-keeper” heart of the synagogue ruler and Pharisee within me.  God help me to grow in understanding your heart for every person and every situation so that I can properly exhibit your love and compassion.  God, I thank you for the reminder of the vision you have for our church and my life to become that tree where many weary souls can find rest.  Last week’s Davis winter retreat reminded me of the stages of growth in our church.  God help me never be complacent in my spiritual growth.  You call me to greater maturity so that I can invite more weary souls to rest in our branches and to share the peace we have come to know in Christ.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Submitted by Karen M from Gracepoint Davis Church 

  • Mustard seed; yeast

The mustard seed and yeast are things that are insignificantly small. Looking at it, it seems like they would amount to nothing much.  However, when the seed is planted and the yeast is placed into dough, the power of that little thing is revealed. They end up having amazing transformative powers, affecting everything around it. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God works like this. When the word of God is received into someone’s heart, over time, it works to transform everything. I have experienced that in my own life and in the life of our church. When I first took the step to ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of my life, I was a very insecure, lonely, selfish, quiet person. I never imagined the kind of change God would bring into my life. Now, 12 years later, I find myself sharing the Gospel, meeting and leading groups of students, giving advice, etc. God changed my heart towards people and shaped my character over the years so that I could be a part of his transformative work in other people.

In our church, I’ve seen the pattern of a people committed to sharing God’s word, growing into large trees where many can rest, happen over and over again. Jesus himself began with just 12 disciples, and now Christianity has spread throughout the world and made a huge impact on millions of lives. Our church in Davis began with a handful of people who moved up from Berkeley. Our church has grown and just a week ago, we held our college retreat where 37 brothers and sisters made salvation decisions. We have indeed witnessed God grow our church into a place where many can find peace and rest from sins. Our church plants in San Diego, Riverside, Minnesota, likewise began with a few carloads of people moving just a year and half ago. Now we have seen them grow into churches where many made salvation decisions at their respective winter retreats as well. It’s really exciting seeing the ways in which God works. He is able to take our small steps of faith and use that to bless many. It’s because it’s God who is at work and not dependent on my own strength, wit, or wisdom. But he chooses to involve us, so that we can take part in what he is doing and to witness the power of God go out and transform people.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                          

Dear God, thank you for being a compassionate God, who saw the ways in which I was crippled by sin and rescued me. It’s because I am precious to you. Teach me God to see others as precious to you as they are bound by sin and crippled and in need of healing. You have given me the privilege of joining you in this kingdom work and to see how it has transformed people in amazing ways. I am thankful that I can be part of this church as a tree where the weary can come and find rest. I commit to continue this kingdom work so that the yeast of the gospel can spread throughout this campus, and to all the places that you send me to.

Submitted by Sarah Y. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Luke 13:14-15

  • What can we conclude about the state of the synagogue ruler’s heart?

We can conclude that the state of the synagogue ruler’s heart was crippled like the crippled body of the woman.  His heart was cold and unfeeling; it wasn’t working right.  His conscience was broken.  He had no concern for the woman while she was crippled and did not care that she had just been healed.  The synagogue ruler was in charge of taking care of the building and selected those who participated in the service.  His daily routine revolved around this place of worship but his heart was far from the heart of God.

  • The synagogue ruler became indignant at Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath.  What do I get indignant about? 

To be indignant is also described as being irate, outraged, angry, offended and more.  I get indignant about various things, but most often about situations that seem unjust to me, situations that are particularly centered around me—feeling misunderstood, feeling unappreciated, feeling unheard, feeling ignored, feeling judged unfairly, or being insulted by something someone says or does to me.

  • Is there a relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended?

The relationship between what angers me and what “cripples” my heart from functioning as God intended is that God never intended all my emotions to be so self-centered.  When my heart only responds to situations that inconvenience my life and my personal agenda, then my heart is all shriveled up and broken; it’s not working the way God created it to function.  God created my heart to be deeply connected to him and to other people rather than being so disconnected from everyone else because my main concerns are focused on myself, as if everything was meant to revolve around me.

Luke 13:10-16

  • How did Jesus see this woman, and how did the synagogue ruler see her?

Jesus saw this woman as someone who needed to be set free now from this crippling spirit that had kept her bound for eighteen long years.  He was very concerned about her.  He saw her as someone who was worthy of his immediate attention.  He called her forward, put his hands on her, and healed her.  He didn’t have to touch her.  He could have healed her from a distance, but he wanted to personally touch this woman’s life.  After seeing how bent over she was from this crippling spirit, most people probably didn’t want to get close to her.  Her body was distorted and her crippled condition limited the services that she could offer to others, so she wasn’t very useful.  But Jesus showed her such care and compassion because she was “a daughter” with great worth in his sight.

The synagogue ruler dehumanized this woman and saw her as less worthy of attention than an ox or a donkey that he would have labored to give it water.

  • What is revealed about Jesus—his heart, his power—from this incident?

From this incident, I can see that Jesus’ heart is very tender towards those in need of his healing no matter how much it has crippled us and no matter how long we have been crippled.  And he has the power to heal us even in these seemingly hopeless conditions.  Jesus does not want to withhold his power from us.  He is eager to use his power to heal us, but he is grieved when we try to limit his power in the lives of those around us with our self-centeredness and narrow-minded thinking.

Luke 13:18-21

  • What is the similarity between the mustard seed and the yeast?

The similarity between the mustard seed and the yeast is that both of them are very small but over time they positively impact everything around them.  The mustard seed takes time to grow into the tree but it grows to become a resting place for all the birds in the area.  The yeast takes time to be kneaded into the flour but it spreads and works within the whole mound of dough.

  • How has this parable been worked out in history, and in your life?

This parable about the kingdom of God has been worked out in history in the way that God’s salvation plan was revealed to us by one man, Jesus Christ, through his life, death, and resurrection.  He came into this world like the mustard and the yeast–unnoticed by most people and unrecognized for who he was as the Son of God.  Over time, the movement led by the Jesus and his small band of disciples has spread throughout the world and over generations to still impact so many lives today.

In my life, the kingdom of God started as a mustard seed of faith that helped me to see the truth of who I am as a sinner in need of Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.  I accepted his rightful place in my life and tried to live his way instead of my way.  Over time, my understanding of the kingdom of God has grown as I became more connected to God’s people, the church.  The church and all these relationships that I have where Jesus is at the center have become that tree in my life where I find rest from all my temptations to wander around aimlessly in pursuit of happiness through worldly values.  The kingdom of God has been like yeast in affecting every area of my life—e.g., the way I spend my time, the way I spend my money, my view of relationships, my priorities, and more.

  • In what ways is the picture of “a tree [with branches in which] the birds of the air can perch” an apt picture of a Christian’s life, or of a church?

The picture of a tree with branches in which the birds of the air can perch is an apt picture of a Christian’s life or of a church because we are grounded in the truth of God’s Word and those who are still flying around and looking for answers can find rest if they choose to remain with us.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                          

Jesus, thank you for being willing and wanting to heal the parts of my life and heart that are still spiritually crippled.  I don’t even want to look at myself and see the distortions but you see it all and still have compassion on me.  Thank you for letting your kingdom somehow grow in my life by having your word impact every area and allowing me to find rest in the church from all my wandering and, in turn, being able to offer that rest to others as a part of the church.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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