August 25, 2019

NAME CALLING

Luke 13:10-17

10 Jesus Heals a daughter of Abraham on the Sabbath. On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues,

11 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.

12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity."

13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."

15 The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?

16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

REFLECTION

Are you called by a nickname because of your limitations?

Have you been set free by Jesus?

Are you called by a nickname because you are a follower of Jesus?

This passage is about the kingdom of God breaking into the life of a woman.

Parents to be, purposefully scan books with lists of names and its meanings, in order to pick a name for their child. Why? Because they know that a name can mean so much to their child. We all have friends whom we cannot see with other names.

We do not choose our names. It is especially when we are given nicknames when we realise we do not give ourselves names. Our names choose us. Often it is names we would not pick ourselves. Sometimes, when we call someone a name it is because we admire that person, but it can also be chosen to hurt.

I believe all of you can recall an incident when someone was called Fatty/Fats at school. The person might have tried everything to lose weight and might have succeeded or not. But, when we think about it, we realise that a lot of hurt is included in the nickname. It makes a difference what we are called. Someone told me there is an English idiom which says: "Give a dog a bad name and he'll live up to it.” Luke 13 tells us about a certain woman. No name - just that she was crippled – a woman known only as a "crippled woman." In another translation she is called a "bent woman." Would you like to forever be remembered like this in the Bible? Verse 11 says: "She was bent over and could not straighten up at all." What was her name? She wasn't called Mary or Martha or Lydia or Sheila. Maybe people spoke of her as the "Bent woman." They probably would say: "Here comes the Bent Woman, the crippled one."

It was as if the woman's whole existence was determined by her nickname. Her name told us what her past was and what her future likely was to be. The only name this woman had was the one given by the people of the town, and it was a name based on her handicap. She had no other identity than the identity of a victim. She personifies all people who have to bear the burden of nasty nicknames: Drunkard, Slowpoke, Nerd, Fatty, Common, Idiot.

But, this woman was noticed by Jesus. I hope you notice the way he spoke to her and how he healed her. Verse 12: "he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." She was healed, she straightened up and praised God. For the first time in her adult life she could stand upright, look people straight in the eye and be restored to "normal."

The most liberating thing is what Jesus had to say about her. He did not call her crippled or bent or abnormal or a victim of the unfairness of life. Jesus did not allow her to be a professional victim whose handicap described her whole life. Jesus called her "daughter of Abraham."

What does it mean?

Abraham was the great, great, great granddad of Israel. Abraham was the one to whom a promise was given on a starlit night. God promised to bring forth, to establish, a nation from Abraham, a nation through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed.

When this woman received a new name, it was evident that the kingdom of God became a reality in her life. The kingdom of God was called over her life and this new reality was a blessing to all who were there and could witness it. This woman was a daughter of Abraham. She is an heir of God's blessings. Even more: She is called to be a blessing for the whole world. She was meant to be more than her name with which she was called in a crude, superficial and restrictive way up till then. She is, as a bent person, part of God's salvation of the whole world.

She straightened up. Even if her back wasn't healed by Jesus, she would be able to look the world in the eyes because Jesus made it clear that she also was included in the promises of God to the world.

She received a new name, not any more as the long story of injustice, heartache and handicaps, but as part of the great drama of God's salvation. Let us remember her as the daughter of Abraham.

Jesus wants to give you and me new names. He does not want us to give in to the nicknames the world is calling us. We are children of Abraham. Our lives are meant to have meaning. Our names have to play a part on the stage of God's great salvation drama. Revelation 3:12: “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.”

We will be known by the new name that is written on us. That is why we mention the names of little children when they are baptised. Although parents call them Callum, Jack, Melissa, Lana, Jamie or Courtney, we officially give them a new name: "Christian." We prophesy that these children's lives will be a journey where they will grow into the name in God's gracious promise for us. This will also be true of the two children that will be baptised here next week.

You are also a son or daughter of Abraham. Your name, whatever people may call you, is "Christian." Straighten up, look people in the eye and live as prince or princess of the heavenly kingdom in this world.

When you call people names is it nasty names?

What lies behind your name-calling?

I sometimes call Jenny “Super Nan” because I admire her ability to, not only maintain a good relationship with our grandchildren, but also to teach them life-skills, build their self-esteem and be their confidant.

What role do you play in the name-calling of people?

What role do you play in the healing of people?

Jesus called a woman by a nickname that lifted her status in the community. He revealed who she really was. He healed her physically and mentally.

Go! Be Jesus to the broken people of the world and call each individual by a name that will lift him/her up in their own eyes and in that of the community and most of all to bring them to a closer personal relationship with our Father in heaven.

Rev Zak Crtonje