“A PLACE WHERE NEEDS ARE MET”
*Jesus: Head Of the Church – Part 1*
In my 25 years of ministry I have done many wedding ceremonies, and I have witnessed many things.
I mean, I have seen a fainting groomsman.
I had a bride one time who was so nervous that she giggled all the way through the vows.
When I asked one groom to repeat after me, “I take you to be my lawful wedded wife,” he was so nervous that he said, “I take you to be my awful wedded wife.”
Now he said it was an accident, but I told him it wasn’t a good start to a relationship!
I’ve about dropped the rings numerous times.
My wife, who was the maid of honor in one of the ceremonies I performed, actually lost a ring somewhere on the way to the platform!
I’ve seen brides almost catch themselves on fire by getting their veils too close to a candle flame.
I’ve seen almost everything.
I’ve seen just about everything, that is, except for one thing.
And that is, I have never seen an unattractive or ugly bride.
It’s amazing how they give incredible attention to their makeup, and how every hair is in place, and how meticulously manicured their nails are.
The care and concern is so evident.
Everything is color-coordinated.
They have their outfit planned months in advance.
I’ve never heard of a bride waking up on the day of her wedding and saying *(through yawn)*, “Hmm, I wonder what I’ll wear this afternoon?”
They have it all planned out.
Well Jesus says the church is His bride.
Isn’t that a vivid word picture?
And the Bible says the bride is /“blameless, without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish”/ (Ephesians 5:27).
Jesus loves the church, just as a groom loves to see his bride coming down the isle.
And we should too.
*Today, we begin a new series of messages entitled: “Jesus: The Head Of the Church.”
*And the messages we’re going to be considering over the next several weeks will be focused upon the church—the Bride of Christ.
You see, Jesus Christ is the head of the church and He should dictate our decisions.
Now the elders lead here, the Sr.
Minister (me) serves as a teacher and spokesman, the staff helps to facilitate our mission, but Jesus Christ is the head of the church.
Well what does that mean?
What are the implications of that?
Well, that’s what we’re going to study in this series.
*Today we look at how Jesus responded to the needs of a woman in the synagogue.
We’re going to learn how the church—the Bride of Christ—is to be a place where needs are met.
*And we’re going to learn some lessons from the story of this healing that takes place in the synagogue of how we should respond to the needs of others in our church, as well as in our community.
You see, one of the main reasons for our existence as a church is to go out into the world as witnesses and to minister to the needs of others.
In Luke chapter 13, we read about this healing that takes place.
And it’s really kind of a strange story.
Because after Jesus heals this woman the church leaders are all ticked off and upset with Him.
They are majoring in minors.
Our goal, though, is to imitate Jesus Christ and to be His bride, and for this church to be a place where needs are met.
*So let’s see how Christ met those needs and let’s make four different observations.*
*I. /AWARENESS/ NOT /APATHY//./
*The first observation I want us to make is that Jesus had /awareness/, not /apathy./*
Look at Luke chapter 13, verses 10-12: /“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.
She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.
When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’”/
*The first thing that we can do as a church is to /notice/ those who are in /need./*
This passage tells us that Jesus “saw” this woman.
In other words, He was on the lookout.
If some asks you, “What’s the opposite of love?,” oftentimes people will say, “Well, the opposite of love is hate.”
But I would disagree.
I think the opposite of love is indifference.
It’s an attitude that says, “I really don’t want to get involved.”
And there are a lot of people with special needs that come to the church.
There are people who are grieving.
There are people who are struggling with chemical dependency.
Some have just moved to this community and they don’t know a soul.
Many are having problems at work, or problems at home.
Maybe it’s a rebellious child.
Or maybe it’s some mistakes they’ve made in their marriage.
But most people, when they have needs like that, it’s easy to turn those thoughts inward.
And as a result they can become isolated and alone.
And those folks desperately need a friend, or someone who will just notice them and listen to them.
Mother Teresa said, “What the poor need, even more than food and clothing and shelter, is to be wanted.”
Now I doubt that this woman that Jesus sees has felt very wanted or cherished during the past 18 years of her illness because communities can be cruel to those who are less healthy, or less attractive, or less affluent.
And so can churches at times.
But as Christians, our antennae must be up and we must be on the lookout to help those who are in need.
How can you go out of your way to express kindness to someone?
Andrew Davidson, of Colgate Rochester Seminary, tells of a time when he was privileged to go and spend three days with Dr. Albert Switzer right in the very area where his jungle hospital was set up.
He said, “I learned a great deal from spending time with Switzer.”
But what stood out even more in Davidson’s memory was one day in the terribly hot sun, approaching noontime, watching all of their group walking up a hill, when all of a sudden Switzer noticed a woman carrying a load of firewood up the other side nearby.
And Switzer left their group and went over and grabbed the wood from her shoulders, carrying the materials up to the top of the hill.
At the time, Albert Switzer was 85 years old.
And when they met back together, the group kind of looked at Switzer and kind of implied that because of his age, and in light of the heat, that he really shouldn’t be doing things like that.
And Albert Switzer looked back at the group and pointed to the woman, and he said, “No one should ever have to carry a burden like that alone!”
And that’s the way the church is supposed to be. *The church is supposed to be a place where needs are met, where no one should have to carry a burden /alone/, by themselves.*
Awareness, not apathy.
/COMPASSION/ NOT /COMPETITION./
* The second observation I would make is that Christ showed /compassion/, not /competition./*
You see, the religious leaders and the Pharisees were involved in a competitive spirit with Christ.
They were bothered that He was getting more of the attention, that He was gaining popularity.
*But Jesus was /eager/ to show compassion.*
He wasn’t wrapped up in the popularity, He was wrapped up in trying to help people and meet their needs.
He did more than just look, He followed up.
Have you ever been in a worship service and during a song, or during the message, someone near you is overcome with emotion and they start to cry?
And you sit there and you say to yourself, “Boy, I hope that after the service is over somebody will say something to them.
I hope somebody will reach out to them.”
And we’re completely oblivious to the fact that we could be that person who encourages.
That we could be the one to reach out to them and express compassion.
You see, the Pharisees were jealous of Christ’s popularity and power.
They were in competition.
He was hurting business for the religious leaders.
He focused on love; they focused on the law.