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This week's sermon:

             Luke 13:10-17  -  "A Crippling Spirit"
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I want to encourage you to do something. If you have never read Victor Hugo’s memorable novel the HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, pick up a copy and read it. Hugo uses an interesting literary technique in the story. The reader is allowed to see the basic decency and humanity of Quasimodo, the hunchback, while the crowd sees him only as a monstrous freak. The story, in its essence, is part tragedy, and part hope.

Our text this morning, not surprisingly, comes from Luke’s Gospel. This story also, is part tragedy and part hope. Luke is the only Gospel writer who records this event in the life of Christ. But Luke, being a physician, would have been drawn to a story like this. He does not go into a lot of detail. In only three verses he tells us that there was a woman who was a hunchback. We do not know her name; we do not know about her family background. We know that she has had this condition for eighteen years. The implication is that she had not been born with it. Perhaps it was a calcium deficiency, a spinal injury, or genetic, or some extreme case of osteoporosis. We don’t know. We are simply told that a spirit has crippled her. Jesus called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” We are told that she suddenly stood erect, and began praising God.

I am not quite sure what to make of this spirit. But, in some way it is responsible for this woman’s tragic circumstances. As we take a closer look at this story there are other spirits at work. There is at work...

I. The crippling spirit of the woman.
II. The legalistic spirit of the synagogue ruler.
III. The joyful spirit of the congregation.


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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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