"Straighten Up"

Sermon Preached By Rev. Richard E. Stetler - August 22, 2004

Luke 13:10-17

    When you were a child and you were slouching in your chair, an adult would often tell you to sit up straight. 

    If you came home one semester with a poor report card, your parents would tell you to straighten out your grades. 

    If one of the neighbors saw you misbehaving on a consistent basis, you might have heard, “You better get on the straight and narrow.” 

    If you came in the house hanging your head, you might have heard, “You need to stand up straight.” 

    Throughout our lives we have constantly been reminded that we must be straight. 

    No one has ever told us to go out into the world and be crooked . Throughout our lives we had been reminded that we must be straight, that we must make ourselves right in some way, whether that be with our posture, behavior, or morals.

    But before there was: etiquette on proper posture, report cards, or behavior updates, we have an account of this person, named Jesus, telling a particular woman to straighten up.

    Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath.  And while he was teaching, this particular woman, who had been crippled for 18 years, entered his view.  This woman was bent over and she could not stand up straight. 

I. Duration—18 years

    The first thing that we must note is the duration of her deformity.  This woman was bent over for 18 years.  Now there is something about 18 years that holds significance.  For some reason the age of 18 is designated as the proper amount of time for a child to mature into an adult in this society. 

At the age of 18, your little boy becomes a man and your little girl becomes a woman, and they are allowed to  partake in the decision making process of this country.

At the age of 18, they are allowed to leave the home and venture off on their own.

At the age of 18, they are allowed to secure their own employment, buy their own possessions, and make their own choices.

At the age of 18, your newly matured man or woman is now independent; they are now their own separate entity.

    This woman was crippled for 18 years.  This woman was crippled for so long that her deformity had become its own separate entity; it had taken on a life of its own.  The text tells us that a spirit had crippled her.  Now a spirit in the Greek equates to breath or life.  This woman had an illness that was an independent, living entity.

    Have you ever had something wrong with you for so long that you gave it a name? 

    You might have heard some people say old Arthur came to visit me today.  And of course old Arthur means what?  Old Arthur means arthritis.  Many people personify their arthritis by giving it the name Arthur.  But we must be very careful about giving our illnesses names.  You see there is a difference between old author AND Arthritis.

    Arthritis is just an illness, but old author is an independent living entity.

  • Old Arthur comes to your door early in the morning and tells you today is going to be difficult.

  • Old Arthur tells you what you can and cannot pick up.

  • Old Arthur makes decisions for you.

  • Old Arthur does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants because you have given him legs to walk and breath to breathe.

    We must be very careful about personifying our illnesses.

    This woman had a deformity for so long that it literally became a life of its own; it started to breathe.

II. What was her disease?

    Now the scriptures tell us that the woman’s illness was that she was bent over; however, the fact that she had some type of physical back deformity is only a surface interpretation of the text.

    When someone is bent over that person is usually looking at the… ground.  That person’s default position is downward and a person constantly looking down on the ground is always seeing:


Dried up gum

Filthy tennis shoes

Discarded trash…

    This woman, who Jesus saw in the synagogue had a, primary deformity that was not of the back, but was a deformity of perspective.  The only things this woman could see were

  • Disappointment

  • Pain

  • Suffering

  •  Broken promises

  •   Loss

  •   Disillusionment

  •   Rain

  •   The negative side of any situation.

And because she had a crippled perspective she couldn’t see:

  • Hope

  •   Possibility

  •   Healing

  •  Fulfillment

  •   Vision

  •   Grace

  •   Deliverance

    Because she had this cripple perspective, she couldn’t see Jesus.

    This woman’s primary deformity was not of the back, but it was of her perspective.

    The woman’s perspective was so warped that she could not see the very person who could assist her.

    Now when you have a warped perspective it usually affects your attitude and your state of being.  When all you can see is negativity then you will start to adopt a nasty, mean attitude. 

III. A Healed Sick Person

    So this woman is walking into the synagogue with a negative perspective and attitude, which prevents her from seeing Jesus.  She couldn’t see Jesus as result of her perspective, but Jesus sees her and calls her over and tells her that she is cured from her deformity. 

    Now notice this: Jesus has cured her from her deformity, but the woman is still bent over; the woman is still looking downward.  She can’t straighten up; she is still walking around crooked.

    Have you never met a healed sick person?

    What do they call those people, who always think they need some medication—hypochondriacs? 

    And if you are a real intense hypochondriac, then  you start developing the symptoms of an illness and disease that you do not have.  The moment Jesus told this woman to straighten up, the moment this woman was cured, she became a kind of hypochondriac; she became a healed sick person.

    This woman was cured, but was still acting as if she was sick.

    Can you imagine what this woman was thinking after Jesus had told her that she was free from her deformity and she was still bent over?  There is a lot that is not recorded in between the verses.  She was probably like, “This guy is a joke.  He is going to call me over and waste my time.  I wasn’t bothering anybody, I was minding my on business.”

    Some of you have already been released from your disability, and you are still walking around as if you are crippled.

    Some of you have been released from:

Your insecurity but you are still acting insecure

Your fear, but you are still acting fearful

Your stressful character, but you are still acting stressed

Your addictions, but you are still acting addicted

    Some of you have already been released from your disability, and you are still walking around as if you are crippled.

    This woman had been healed and she was still walking bent over, she was stilling looking downward.

IV. A Healed Healed Person

    After Jesus told this woman that she was healed the woman was still bent over. So Jesus placed his hands on the woman, and , once his hand hit the woman’s flesh, she began to stand up straight and praise God.

    Jesus had to touch the woman in order for her to realize that she was healed.

    Too often something tangible has to occur in our lives before we can see we have been released--before we can see that we have been healed. 

    Every now and then I watch this show called Extreme Makeover, and the show’s title is exactly what it is: a show in which people received extreme makeovers.  Anything, I mean anything that you do not like about your body this show will change for you.  What is so amazing about this show is the reaction of the person who went through the makeover.  The realization of the makeover does not surface until the end of the show because at the end of the show  family and friends gather  where the made over person is revealed.  And family and friends tell the person how different they look, how beautiful he/she is, how he/he now resembles an actor/actress or singer or model.  The makeover does not really sink in with the person until they receive some outside verification and confirmation that it has happened.      

    We don’t believe something is changed until we receive some confirmation.

    We have to actually:

See our child(ren) do something positive before we believe they have bright futures

See the increase in our paycheck before we believe that we have a promotion

Hear the doctor say the cancer is not spreading, before we believe we are healed 

Read the letter before we believe that we are admitted.

    But little do we know it was all taken care of before physical verification appeared.  The amount of physical verification that you need reflects your level of spiritual consciousness.  You can be healed before any physical verification of the healing occurs.

    The woman had to be touched in order for her to realize that she was healed.

V. What Healed people should do

    Although the woman did not realize she was healed until physical verification started to occur, she did do something right.  The text tells us that the woman began praising God as she began to straighten up.  She was praising while the physical verification of her healing was occurring.  She did not wait until after her verification was complete; she was praising God in the process of it.

    It is never too early to begin praising God.

    We need to get in the habit of praising God before, during, and after anything that is occurring in our lives.

    We need to praise God for what God:

will do,

is doing,

has already done.

    Most people praise God after God has done something.

VI. How others react to you being healed

    Once the leader of the synagogue saw that the woman was healed, he became upset and told the rest of the people there that the Sabbath was not a day made for healing.

    To the leader of the synagogue the healing was work, was a job and work was prohibited on the Sabbath, but to the woman it was a blessing.

    Most people categorize something based on how it affects them directly. It is amazing how people’s sense of urgency changes based on how much they are benefiting from the particular situation.

    Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a piece entitled, “ Why We Can’t Wait,” and in it he noted how the people who didn’t benefit directly from Civil Rights legislation were a lot more patient and lackadaisical about its manifestation than the African-American children, women, and men, who would gain immediate benefits.

    King even noted how it appeared as if the non-benefactors of the Civil Rights legislation and the possible benefactors of it, had two distinct definitions of time.  The first group thought change was moving too fast, while the second group thought change was happening too slow.

    You see, to the leader of the synagogue, this woman could have waited for one more day to be healed, but when you have been afflicted with a disability for 18 long years, your sense of urgency is a little bit different.

    Last point I want to make.:

Always treat other people’s blessings as if they are your own because we are all children of God.

If there is one thing that I have learned in my short time on this Earth,  is that there are enough blessings to go around for everyone.

You making it harder for someone else to receive their blessing is not going to allot you any more.

VII. Conclusion

Jesus said straighten up.

It is time for some people here to straighten up their marriages.

It is time for some people here to straighten up their friendships.

It is time for some people here to straighten up their work situation.

It is time for some people here to straighten up their finances.

It is time for some people here to straighten up their commitments.

It is time for some people here to make some things right…

    And when you hear those words, “You are set free from you disability”

    You straighten up your back and walk.


    Precious God, you have liberated us from sickness, death, and need.  You have given us the key to life and fulfillment.  You have opened the door to a higher state of living.  Lord, now show us how to embrace our freedom that we may no longer be hindered by physical situations.  Teach us how to use our key to unlock the treasures of a content life.  Lead us through the doors of heavenly consciousness.  We ask for your infinite patience as we strive daily to embody Christ.  Amen.