When I read this passage from Luke I immediately remembered an exegesis paper I once wrote after reading an article by a doctor about what disease the woman might have. He concluded that she has a certain kind of arthritis—the same kind I had been recently diagnosed with. This gave me a sense of immediate connection with the woman in the story.
Such personal identification is homiletically useful.
Larry was my spiritual director for seven years, but when I moved from Durham, North Carolina, to Pittsburgh, I could no longer make the monthly drive. On my last visit, instead of lighting a candle and inviting me to sit with him in a time of silence, he suggested we take a walk.
Richard Lischer suggests that one of the ways to organize a sermon is around a “master metaphor”—that key image on which the sermon’s progress and structure can hang. More often than not, the scripture passage itself gives us the master metaphor.
If it’s difficult for listeners today to connect with the Bible’s injunctions against idolatry because our own idolatry looks so different, the metaphor of God as “fountain of living water” being forsaken for self-dug, cracked cisterns is striking.
I once read an article by a medical doctor who tried to identify the condition that kept the woman in Luke 13 crippled for 18 years. I don’t remember his methodology, and in retrospect it seems to me a dubious endeavor, but I was deeply interested in his conclusion: the woman suffered from an arthritic condition called spondyloarthritis.