Easter 2021 Luke 7:11-17 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus raises the dead.

Easter 2021

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus raises the dead.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and open up our Bibles to Luke chapter 7! As I say on an almost weekly basis, if you do not have a Bible, if you need one, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

So, we have been walking the Gospel of Luke the last few months and seeing who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish. Luke gives his reason for writing this Gospel in Chapter 1, verses 3 & 4, writing: it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

          So, Luke has been investigation, interviewing witnesses and generally verifying the life and stories of Jesus as true and passing them along so that we may know that they are true.

We got to Chapter 7 a few weeks ago and we kind of took Chapter 7 out of order so that we could look at this morning’s story here in Easter Morning.

Leading up to this point, Jesus was putting his words into action. As he was teaching, preaching truth; grace, mercy, holiness, repentance, he was basically being asked, “Who are you to tell us…” This is a reaction we all have, when people tell us things we don’t want to hear or things that are hard to hear, our first inclination is to reject it and usually that is done by discrediting the one telling us the hard thing.

Jesus essentially responds, “Who am I to say? Ill show you who I am…” He says this is who I am, and this is the evidence of my power and authority. He showed so far in Luke’s Gospel that He had authority over sin by forgiving sins. He showed he had authority over sickness and disease by healing people. He showed his authority over weather and nature by calming storms and the wind. He showed his authority over the Scriptures by teaching and preaching a right understanding of the Word of God. And finally, as we see this morning, he shows his authority over life and death itself, by raising the dead.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 11-17. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, buy please read along for yourself in your preferred translation. We look at Luke’s account, inspired by the Holy Spirit as he records:

Soon afterward[c] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[d] gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

 

          Thus, says the Holy Word of God.

 

So, at the beginning of Luke 7, we saw that Jesus was in Capernaum. He and his followers went down to a town called Nain. Nain was about 25 miles from Nain, or about a day’s journey. As usual, he had great crowds and followers going with him. They had heard stories; they had heard his teachings and they wanted to see and hear more.

As the came to Nain, they “just so happened,” they “coincidently,” came upon a funeral procession. Remember, this was directly after he healed the Roman centurion’s servant who was, according to Luke, who was a Dr, “sick unto death.”

The man who died, the man whose funeral this was, was the only son of his mother. His mother had already lost her husband, she was a widow. This son of hers was all she had. In that time and in that culture, there was no retirement funds, there was no social security, there were no safety nets at all. There was your family and there was charity that was, by human nature, undependable.

So, this woman, had already lost her husband at some point, now lost her son, her only family and had nothing left, no on to help take care of her. She was grieving and the whole town it seems was there grieving with her.

Jesus comes across this woman and sees what’s happening. He tells here, “Do not weep.” He does not say this to rebuke her. He doesn’t sit as in, “Why are you weeping?” He says this not as a command, but because he had compassion on her. He saw her grieving and had compassion on this lady.

He went to the boy’s body. Touching a dead body would, of course, make him unclean. It was not something that was done. But Jesus was willing to do anything, he was willing to sacrifice for the sake of mercy. He touches the coffin and tells the son, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”

 

And he did!

 

Jesus gives the son to his mother. A gift she did not ask for. But out of grace, mercy, respect and compassion. This points us directly towards Jesus own death and resurrection.

Interestingly we see a similar story & miracle with Elijah back in 1 Kings 17. We are not going to read the whole thing but, in that story, we have a widowed mom who lost her son, and with mercy and compassion, Elijah, through God raised the son from the dead. The language between the two stories is very similar.

One commentator grabs on to that and points out that both the language and the results are similar. The mom in 1 Kings saw the Elijah was a man of God, a prophet. The people in Luke who saw this son raised form the dead recognized that Jesus was a man of God, they called him a great prophet. The commentator says: Jesus was much more than a great prophet. But ascribing such a title to him was the best the townspeople could do without further revelation. It was a spontaneous chorus of realization that messianic times had fallen on them.

          They were recognizing that Jesus was more than a man. Many would have recognized the allusions to the story or Elijah. But Jesus was more than a prophet. He was the fulfillment of prophets; he was the more perfect prophet.

People recognized Gods power at work through Jesus of Nazareth. They cried out in fear and worship, and this is key, they said, “God has visited his people.”

This is who Jesus is. Immanuel. God with us. God become man to save sinners. Immanuel, the name that Isaiah gave to the long awaited and prophesied Messiah. Immanuel, the name the Matthew showed us was fulfilled in Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is Immanuel. God with us.

Why is this important? It is because Jesus has the power over life and death.

Yes, Jesus came as an example to us, an example of how to live. But, thankfully, that’s not all. IF we think that, we fall into one of two mistakes. First, some so called churches teach that because Jesus came as our example that means we can do all the things that Jesus did hear on earth. This passage for example. They say that, because Jesus was our example, that through God, we can raise the dead. They are wrong.

They other mistake we fall into is that when Jesus came to be our example, as long as we try to live by that example, as long as we try to be good people, then that’s all that matters. If Jesus is our example, then all that’s required of us is to try to live up to that example of love and peace and goodness. This is what most of the world thinks. They are wrong.

There have been a lot of Good Examples through out history. Billy Graham, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, John the Baptist, David, Joshua and Caleb, Abraham. Some of our friends, family, my dad was a great example. But these people and their examples cannot save us, and Jesus’ example couldn’t save us either.

What the Bible clearly teaches, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, essentially, what we talked about last week, that our sins require the shedding of blood in order to receive forgiveness, is being rejected by may churches today. They say that Jesus didn’t actually need to die to save us. Instead, they say, we, as in humanity, killed him and his death on the cross was instead, an act of obedience. That obedience was an example to us. It wasn’t that Jesus died for our sins, but instead that our sins put him up on the cross.

Now, there is truth in that, but Jesus did not just come to be our example. He came to die for our sins. He came to give up himself, so that we might have life. All humanity has sinned. All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. This sin separates us from God. Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden to walk in perfect relationship with God. But their sinned separated them form God and we inherited their sin, meaning we are sinful and separated from God. The wages of sin is death. Sin cannot be allowed to continue unabated. It couldn’t just go as is.

Sin needed to be atoned for. All sin is sin against God himself. RC Sproul calls all sin Cosmic Treason. Sin created debt to God that needed to be paid for. When Adam and Eve sinned, God instituted a sacrificial system. Blood offering offered the temporary forgiveness of sins. This, and especially the Passover that we looked at last week, were types and foreshadowing to what Jesus came for and accomplished in the cross. The sin offering, the sacrificial system called for a lamb without blemish.

Jesus of Nazareth, truly man, truly God, was born and was, as John the Baptist pointed out, the “lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”  He lived the perfect life. He had no sin to separate him from God. He and the Father were one. He had no sin to atone for.

And so, his death, his shed blood on the cross was able and did atone for all of our sins. Big enough for all the sins of the world. Effective for those who, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. Your sins are forgiven only through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

But the forgiveness of sins is not the only thing. God’s power of death is not the only thing. In fact, we celebrate Easter, not celebrating the death of Jesus Christ, but his resurrection. God has power of death and life.

Jesus literally physically died in the cross all those 2000 years ago. And if that was the end of the story, Paul says we are to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15 is an incredible chapter. Not always easily understandable, but the point is this. We serve a risen God. We serve a living God.

We have the promise of life after death. We have the promise of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus is the proof of this. He is the fulfillment of this. Without that promise, none of this means anything. As Paul’s says, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Without the resurrection our faith is in vain. What faith could we have if there is nothing after this?

God rose Jesus Christ from the dead, showing that there is indeed a resurrection, that there is life after death. That there is something after this life. He shows us that through Christ and in Christ, with our sins forgiven that we will also be resurrected. We will have life and life abundantly. We stand before God and give an account for our sins and our life.  Only through the grace of God and his righteousness, Christ’s righteousness covering us because of his finished work on the cross, will we gain entry into the Kingdom of God. We will receive our heavenly bodies. We will spend eternity with Christ in eternal worship and glorifying the all Holy God if the universe for ever more.

Without the resurrection, all we have is a good, moral example of how to live life. With the resurrection we have eternal life and forgiveness. Death has lost its power. It has lost its victory and it will lose its sting. All of this is available, if you chose to follow Christ and trust him alone.

Some will say that Chris is one of the ways we can get to God. Some will say that we don’t need to be reconciled to God. I say that a plain and simple look in the mirror and at the world around us says otherwise.

Joshua led the Israelites after Moses died. Moses was leading them out of slavery in Egypt and bringing them to the land the God promised. As with human nature, the Israelites doubted and wanted to go back to slavery, where at least they were comfortable. They knew that life and so they would complain to go back. In Joshua 24:14 & 15, he challenges them, saying, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

          Today is the day to choose. Do you believe that you can be good enough? Do you believe that you don’t need to be reconciled to God? Do you believe that your good outweighs your bad on the cosmic scales? DO believe that there are plenty of ways back to God, that Christ is but one?

Or, to quote RC Sproul, “OR are you convinced that Jesus Christ is Gods only so, the only one to provide atonement for our sins, the One whom God raised for our justification, the One whom God has appointed as judge of the whole world? Jesus will judge- not Muhammed, not Confucius, not the Buddha. Muhammed is dead. Confucius is dead. The Buddha is dead. Only Jesus has been raised and elevated to the right hand of God the Father, where he sits now as the King of kings and the LORD of Lords.

 

 

 

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

Let’s Pray.

Passover Sermon Exodus 12 and Luke 22

Passover Sermon

Exodus 12 and Luke 22

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me as we open up Gods Word. This is a special week for Christians. Today, the Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday. This is when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and many bystanders laid down palm branches as a way of honoring Jesus. This would kick off the week known as Holy Week. Much of the Gospel stories take place during this week. We are going to especially focus on one of the nights of this week.

Jesus and his disciples met in an upper room on a Thursday night for a dinner celebration. The twelve that were with Jesus did not have any idea that this would be there last meal together. They had no idea that one of them was about to betray Jesus, that he would be illegally tried three times that night. They had no idea that he would die the next day and they had no idea the things that he would reveal to them that night.  This was not an overly special week to them, with one exception.  All they knew was that it was Passover, and they were there to celebrate.

If you look at your calendars, you will see that Passover started at Sundown last night. Today we will take a look at the Passover we will look at a number of different texts, but if you want to open up your Bible, we will be starting in Exodus 12, and then moving over to Luke 22. When I read the scriptures, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read along in which ever is your preferred translation.

To know about the Passover, to see why it was a celebration and how important it was to the Jews in that time, we need to start in Exodus 12. The setting of Exodus 12 is that the people of Israel were slaves to the Egyptians. God was done with that and was ready to free his people and bring them to the land that he had promised Abram 400 years ago. So, He told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let the Israelite go. Pharaoh would not so God sent a number of plagues on Egypt to show his power and might and Pharaoh would still not let them go.

So, God decided to send one final plague. A plague that was so harsh, so brutal, that Pharaoh would not be able to stop the Israelite s from leaving. God was going to kill all the first-born males in Egypt. This included all the first-born Egyptian sons. This included Pharaohs first born son. This even included the first-born male cattle. And this was going to so complete and so total that it would have included the first-born male Israelite s, except that God gave them a way out.

Exodus 12 lays out the way out of this plague. Starting in verse 3, God tells Moses and Aaron,

“Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers house, a lamb for the household….” V.5, “Your lamb shall be without blemish…”, and picking up in v 7 & 8, “Then they shall take some of the blood (from killing the lamb) and put it on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.”

OK, so God told them how to eat a very specific meal and to wipe the blood of the lamb on the doors. But it doesn’t yet tell us that God will spare the Israelite s from this plague. But God then goes on to spell it out for them and us.

Starting at the end of v11, “It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and I will strike all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”

God told them to sacrifice a lamb without blemish, and that the blood of that lamb would protect them from the wrath of God that would be poured out on the nation. More on that in just a little bit.

The LORD also went on to describe to the Israelites how they were to continue to celebrate this Passover celebration every year for all the future generations to learn as well.

We pick right back up in v 14, “ This day shall be for you a memorial day and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” and later in v 25, when Moses is telling Israel what the LORD told him about Passover, he shared this with them for the future, “And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” you shall say, “It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” (v25-27)

God told the people that this was a joyous occasion, that he had spared them from this wrath and that they needed to celebrate it and teach their kids what had happened. Sometimes, in the church, we forget that our kids don’t know as much as we do about some of these things. We forget that they have not had the experiences that we have. In this case, the children would not have seen Gods wrath passing over the nation of Israel and sparing them. To this day, in the Jewish Passover celebration, the youngest child asks the question and the father then tells the Passover story.

I heard a quote a couple years ago. I don’t remember who it was that said it and I couldn’t find it this week, but they said, “What the first generation knows, the second generation forgets, and the third generation never knew.” What this is saying is that we need to constantly remember to teach our kids, not just church, but the gospel. This was one of Israel’s big problems throughout the Old Testament. Israel would turn to God and experience a revival, but within one or two generations, they were back to worshiping false idols and, as God puts it in numerous places, committing spiritual adultery on him.

God knows all this ahead of time and told the Israelite s that part of this yearly ritual and celebration was to pass the story on to the younger generation.

I also saw a quote recently that reminds just how smart our kids can be. It said, “As soon as we assumed that children were too stupid to figure out what the pastor was talking about, they were” Our kids are much smarter than we ever give them credit for and if we teach them and talk to them as if they are smart enough to get it, they will.

But this is also a reminder to ourselves. How many times, how often do we receive an answer to prayer, a miracle from God and we forget about it shortly after it happened? I know it happens to me all the time. And with big things even. Right after Hope and I got married, I lost my job and was out of work for 6 months. I happened to get placed in a company through a temp agency, and through circumstances that could only be brought about by God, I got hired on full time. Not only was this a job, but this was a job that paid well, and had great benefits. To be completely honest I would have taken a decent pay cut just to have had those benefits. But I would often forget how God arranged all this and I would take it for granted and I would look for other jobs and I would get frustrated there. Then something would remind me.

This is why the disciples were celebrating the Passover with Jesus on this Thursday night. To Remember. They didn’t know that the Jewish leadership was planning on arresting Jesus. Well, one did.

Luke tells is right at the beginning of Chapter 22 that the Jews were afraid of the people and that was why they were looking to put him to death. They were afraid of the people because Jerusalem was packed full of Jews traveling there to celebrate the Passover. Luke tells us earlier in his book, that the religious leaders had trouble coming up with ways to kill him because the people were hanging on every word to come out of his mouth. There was no way that all those people would stand for the arrest of Jesus. They would be whipped into a frenzy. It would become a mob mentality and there would be no predicting what would happen. So, to protect themselves, they would wait until they could encounter Jesus away from the crowds.

Even with the evil in their hearts, their preference was to not do this during Passover. They did it because the opportunity came up and they did it because they could not see who Jesus was.

Jesus revealed himself to be THE Passover Lamb. The New Testament shows us this in many places. John the Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him in John 1:29 and recognized Jesus for who and what he was. He said to himself, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” It wasn’t just that John called him that that made it so. There were many reasons the scriptures point out. Exodus calls for the Passover lamb to be one without blemish. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, Peter says “You were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

The lambs that were chosen for sacrifice in the Old Testament times were very purposefully to be without blemish. We are blemished, we are sinful and full of defects. We are told that “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) In the Old Testament, we would offer blood sacrifices to atone for our sins. But that was just temporary, we could not stay perfect, no matter how hard we tried. We needed someone who was perfect, who had no sin, no blame. The only person that could accomplish this was a perfect man. The sacrificial lambs were sacrificed in place of us to pay the temporary payment of our sins. Jesus was the Lamb that was sacrificed for our sins permanently.

While the blood on the door for the Israelites signaled for Gods wrath to Passover that household, so does the blood of Jesus on our hearts signals the wrath of God to Passover us when stand before him in judgment.

The Passover ended up being the final plague on Egypt. After the death of all the firstborns, Pharaoh wanted them to get out and they left. They were now freed from slavery. In the same way, we are slaves to sin. The New Testament is very clear on this. In the same way the Passover freed the Israelites from slavery of Egypt, Jesus freed us from the slavery of sin.

Now, as I said, the Israelites were commanded to pass along the tradition and celebration of the Passover. We are no longer under the law. On the night of the last supper, Jesus replaced the Passover celebration, and the Abrahamic Covenant was fulfilled in the New Covenant. But Jesus orchestrated the Passover to be the time when he was going to be crucified. In Luke 22:15-16, Jesus tells his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

What he is saying is that while Jesus is THE fulfillment of the Passover lamb and he secured freedom for us from Gods wrath, that freedom will not become totally seen until we are with God in Heaven.

He replaced the Passover meal with communion. Instead of eating of the Passover lamb, sacrificed and drained of blood, we are to partake in eating the bread, symbolizing the body of Christ, who was THE Passover Lamb and drink the wine which was the Blood of Jesus who was THE Passover lamb.

Instead of celebrating the freedom from slavery every year, we are to celebrate the freedom from sin and the freedom from eternal torment whenever we gather together. But that doesn’t mean that we are to forget. Hope and I enjoy celebrating Passover and Hanukah, some of the Jewish holidays. Of course, it is not required as it was previously, but, for me it helps make the Bible more real. It helps us to remember that Jesus is our Passover lamb. It helps us to remember that his blood allows Gods wrath to pass over us.

We forget that sometimes. If not intellectually than definitely practically. We all have things that become our practical Passover lamb, our idols, our practical saviors. For some of us, it’s that we are a good person. We think that is enough to save us. That was what mine was. For most of my life I figured I was a good enough person and that’s all that was needed. That is one that I still find myself struggling with at times.

For some of us, it’s our good works. If we do, do, do, if we help the poor, if we protest against abortion or homosexuality, the we can outweigh whatever bad we may do on the scales at the end. I’ve heard one pastor describe this as trying to wear the same set of white clothes for eighty years and trying to keep them pure and spotless. And I think that’s a good illustration, but it doesn’t go far enough. Because, even if we were to physically keep the outfit pure and spotless from our environment, we could not keep our sweat, tears, that sort of thing, just as our mind, our heart, our sinful nature has already ruined the outfit. We all have these things that come between us and Jesus.

And the Passover, and communion remind us that Jesus closes that gap. Between us and him. It is not through anything that we do, but through his blood, his love and his grace that are out white outfits stay pure and spotless.

Finally, the Passover is an intrinsically important part of our history. It’s not just world history, or Jewish history or American history. But it’s your history and it’s my history. Its believer’s history. If you are a follower of Jesus, who was Jesus?

Jesus was not a Christian, not in the sense that we understand it. He was not American; he was not white. He was not gorgeous. He was not anything like we picture. He was a plain looking, brown skinned, middle eastern Jewish man.

Most of us spend our time in the Bible in the Gospels and Paul’s letters… We might go through the Old Testament for our daily reading plan, but how often do we spend intentional, studious time in Numbers, or Deuteronomy, or Lamentations, or Joel? Joel is one of the Old Testament prophets by the way…

But what Scriptures did Jesus know? The Gospels weren’t written when he was alive. Neither were Paul’s letters. Jesus had the Old Testament. He had the writings of Moses, the first 5 books of the Old Testament. He had the historical books, starting with Joshua and going through Esther. He had the wisdom books, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and the like, and he had the Prophets, Isaiah through Malachi.

These are the scriptures that Jesus had, and the Jews had, and they were vital for understanding God, his story and his redemption plan. Now, most of us are not Jewish, ethnically speaking. But Once Jesus came, he followed the Old Testament, and he came as a Jew, to the Jews, and offered them salvation. Then he turned to all the rest of us and we were allowed to receive the gift of salvation as well.

For us to know Jesus better, we need to know who he was, when he grew up, what the culture was. That’s one of the things that The Old Testament does for us. Jesus celebrated the Passover, for us to know Jesus better, to have a better relationship with him, we don’t have to celebrate the Passover, but you have to understand it and why Jesus celebrated it.

My challenge to you, to me, to us, is, are you, are we utilizing all of the resources available to us to understand Jesus better, to grow closer to him.

We have our Bible, are we reading it? All of it? Or just our favorite parts? Are we only skimming it because it’s in our daily reading plan or are we actually reading it? Both Testaments?

Are we praying? This hits a couple of areas. Are we praying for those around us? In our congregation and in our family? Are we praying the list of prayer requests that come in the bulletin each week? What about prayer requests that come in Bible Studies? Or even just your everyday conversation with friends, family, coworkers, and the trials and troubles that come up in their lives. What about personal time in prayer just for you and God. Time to pray, meaning talk to him, listen to him and just be with him.

Are you talking to the people in your life that you can learn from? If you’re not sure who that might be. My phone is always on and my office door is always open. Are you reading or listening to things that bring you closer to God? This could include things on TV, music on the radio, but it includes books about Jesus, in includes sermons online, podcasts, things like that. I’m not saying you have to do all, or even any of these things. If you belong to God, you belong to God, but these are resources that you have, that can help you know Jesus Christ better, help you grow closer to him.

 

 

 

As I referenced at the beginning of the sermon this morning, this week is what is called Passion Week, or Holy Week. Today is Palm Sunday. The day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. He was there this week specifically because it was the Passover. Thursday night is when he had the Last Supper with the disciples, the Passover meal, the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Thursday was the night the Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and turned him over to the Romans and Jewish leaders. He was illegally tried through the night, with false witnesses on trumped up charges, the loudest of which was blasphemy.

Friday he was beaten to within an inch of his life. The beating the Romans doled out was called the half death, because half of the prisoners who received it, died from it. He was then forced to carry his own cross and then crucified on it.

The details are horrendous, and I won’t go into them today, but there was a reason that the Passion of the Christ was Rated R. Jesus died on that cross. He died for me, he died for you, he died for all of us.

And on Sunday morning, he accomplished all he came here to do, by being raised back up from the dead by God the Father and proclaiming victory over death and sin.

This is the most important week in Jesus life. We today tend to celebrate Christmas as the most important date in Christianity. And don’t get me wrong, the birth of Jesus Christ was a monumental moment in history. It was world changing, to say the least.

But then, 30 plus years later, Jesus would have yet another, greater world changing moment. This week is designed by God to be one of reflection. Do you understand what Jesus went through this week? Do you see that what he went through allowed you and I to be passed over in our sin? That his life, and his death, were a fulfillment of the Passover, and that his resurrection made that Passover permanent? Take some time this week, think about it. Reflect on that. How serious are we about our relationship with God? And what are we doing to bring ourselves closer to him?

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 7:36-50 Jesus is the Son of Man: Your sins are forgiven

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus is the Son of Man

How Forgiveness affects us

 

          All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 7. As always, if you do not own a Bible or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

We have been walking with Luke through his Gospel as he has been telling the story of Jesus ministry here on earth. What Luke has been showing us is that Jesus was both exceeding expectations of who people thought he was and completely subverting and undermining expectations of who people thought the Messiah was going to be.

To be clear, as Luke has shown us in his Gospel, Jesus was the Son of Man. He was the Son of God. He was the promised Messiah. He was Christ. But he wasn’t acting like it. At least not according to what the people of Israel were expecting. As we saw last week, even John the Baptist didn’t understand Jesus’ ministry and had some moments of doubt as to whether or not he was the Messiah.

We have seen Luke show us that Jesus, during his ministry did many signs and wonders. He healed people, people with infirmities, diseases and leprosy. He cast out unclean spirits. He even raised people from the dead. But in addition to those signs and wonders, Jesus ministered and taught with compassion, mercy and grace. He extended this compassion to outsiders, those whom the religious leaders of the day would not have even bothered given a second look at. We saw the Centurion’s servant healed, we saw the widowed mom’s son raised up, well we will actually look at the story on Easter Sunday, but Luke already put forth that story in his Gospel.  And Jesus taught as one having a true and right understanding of the law and the Word of God.

And as we saw in the scripture reading this morning and the story we are about the read; Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins. This last one really made the religious leaders mad and genuinely confused them. When he did this, Jesus claimed to be God, for only God had the authority to forgive sins.

So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I greatly encourage you to read along in your preferred translation so you can read for yourself what the Word of God says. Luke is recording the ministry and life of Jesus under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he writes the following.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[h] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Thus, saith the Word of the LORD.

 

 

So, after all we have seen Jesus do so far, we now see that one Pharisee, whom we later see is named Simon, one Pharisee wants to have Jesus over to his house for dinner. Now, there are many, many theories and opinions as to why Simon invited Jesus over. Everything from wanting to trip Jesus up, to embarrass him, to Simon being curious about Jesus, some even think that Simon didn’t really want anything to do with Jesus, but there was a status, an esteem that people would have for him for hosting a traveling teaching rabbi in his home, which was what Jesus was.

But we have to be clear that Scripture does not give us any indications, no clues as to the motivation or the goals of Simon. So, we have to be very, very careful if we choose to speculate.

And let’s review who the Pharisees were in this time. They were they ones who tried to hold as closely to Gods law as possible. They were the ultra-conservative, moral majority. They were the right wing political/religious party. They were so worried about being a sinner, that they added many layers onto Gods law and made sure outward, moral behavior was important but had not heart, no mercy and no grace.

Jesus received the invitation that Simon extended, for whatever reason he did, and he accepted. IT made me laugh when I read one commentator say that Jesus “was willing to eat with anyone, even Pharisees.”

Some commentators talk about the open floor plan and that a dinner like this, at a well-off persons home would have been kind of in a open air credenza type setting. Somewhere that could have people coming and going, watching like it was a spectator event.

This is used to explain how the women in this story get into the dinner and was able to get up to Jesus. Another commentator suggests that any Pharisee throwing a party like that would have had a doorman or a guard, and this lady, because of her alabaster flask would have looked the part and gained entrance that way.

The reason I tell you some of these alternate theories for what happens or how things happen is not to toss out idle speculation, but to point out that there is so much that scripture doesn’t tell us and that if scripture doesn’t tell us, we need to remember that it is only theory, and not as certain as scripture. We all assume things into the scripture, but as long as we recognize that, we can make sure that we hold to the authority of scripture and scripture alone.

However, this woman gained entrance to the dinner party, a “woman of the city,”, a sinner was there. Many speculate on her sinfulness, often speculating that she was a prostitute, but again, scripture doesn’t say. What we do know is that whatever her sin, it was publicly and well know. She would never have been invited. The Pharisees believed in salvation by isolation. They thought just knowing a sinful person, let alone spending any sort of time with them would rub off on them and wipe away much of their own righteousness.

This woman just knew that Jesus was there, and she needed to see him. She gained entrance and she brought with her an alabaster flask of ointment. It would have been an expensive possession to have. She approached Jesus and she was so overwhelmed by the grace, love and mercy of Jesus Christ that she can’t hold back her tears. She cried all over his feet, soaking them. He would have been sitting on the floor, with his feet out behind him, leaning n his left hand, eating with his right hand. She came up behind him and cried tears onto his feet and them tried to dry his feet with her hair. Showing her hair like this in public, would have also been, in that society, an indecent showing, further cementing her status as someone not worthy of being around proper company.

She further humbled herself before Jesus and kept kissing his feet. She anointed him her ointment and she literally humbled herself as low as she could possibly physically go.

Simon saw all this happen and knew that Jesus was not a prophet. Again, we get no indication of whether he was surprised or if his thought was confirmed. But he had proof in his mind that Jesus was now no prophet. Maybe Jesus didn’t know who she was, what kind of sinner she was. If not, he was no prophet of God. OR maybe he knew and worse yet, didn’t care. IF that was the case, he certainly could not be a man of God. This is exactly one of the kinds of judgments that Jesus warns against in Matthew 7 and back at the beginning of Luke 6.

The mindset was that a man of God, a prophet would never have let a sinful woman do what she was doing to Him. And so, it was time to reject Jesus as prophet, let alone more than that. Jesus told them, when we looked at last weeks passage, that they had a history of rejecting all the prophets that God had sent to them, no matter who they were or what they spoke to Israel. Scripture is clear that time and time again, God sent prophets to Israel, to speak the Word of the LORD, and they were rejected, often beaten or killed for the messages they relayed.

Simon didn’t say any of this out load, to anyone around him. He said it all to himself, inside his mind. We have to be really careful of this attitude regarding our interaction with sinners and sinful people. First of all, this should need to be a disclaimer, but lest we think more highly of ourselves than we ought, all of us are still sinners, all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. So, it is not sinless people against sinful people. It is sinners saved by grace and sinners who think they don’t need a savior.

We need to be careful if those who we spend time around lead us into temptation and lead us into sin. If that’s the case, we need to remove our selves from those situations. The answer is not to shoot people who cause our temptations. But to acknowledge our own responsibility in putting the sin inside of us to death. John Owen famously said, “Be killing sin or it be killing you.”

However, we are called to be a part of this world that we are living in as we wait for the consummation of the Kingdom of God. We are called to extend love, mercy and grace, just as Jesus did, to those around us. Those of you who were here Thursday evening, you heard our Village Missions district Rep, Richard Hayes talks about his. The idea of showing love and building connections and relationships with those around us, those who are perishing, those who are lost, as we seek to gain an audience with them in order to share the good, life saving news of the gospel.

We are not to simply be a “inviting church,” be we are to be inviting people to come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of people out there are open to hearing the gospel, and many are willing to attend church if there are invited. But few will go out of there way to actively seek the Gospel or a church if their heart is not already change by the Holy Spirit, if god is not already calling them. So, this salvation by isolation that I mentioned earlier that was how the Pharisees lived and thought, though I should point out that they would not see it this way, and so many other Christians and Churches think and live this way is not just wrong biblically but also strategically. We can’t plant seeds from in here. We must go out and invite. Go out and share. Not bunker down and close our selves off but go and make ourselves vulnerable and plant the seeds Christ has called us to plant and to make disciples.

Back to Simon and Jesus. Simon had these thoughts in hi head about who Jesus was, or more accurately, who he was not. He didn’t speak them out loud, but Jesus knew them anyway.

And he responded with one of the simplest, clearest parables in the Gospels. The story of the money lender and two debtors.  There were two guys who owed money. One was 2 months wages, the other, about two years’ worth of wages. Neither of them could pay their debt. The man that they owed the money to cancelled both of their debts. No conditions, no strings, just a simple act of mercy bestowed on two men who didn’t deserve it. They did nothing to earn it and they certainly couldn’t repay it.

Jesus asks Simon, “Which of these men appreciated it more?” Now, of course, in that situation, both men would have been grateful. But which one more? Simple question.

Simon didn’t want it to be a simple question. He knew what Jesus was saying. Simon does not come across as a dumb guy. He knows what point Jesus is making and he doesn’t like it. So he answer Jesus. Which one was more grateful? He says, “I suppose the one who had the greater debt.”

I suppose… That answer makes me think of the parable of the good Samaritan. We will get to that later on in Luke, but at the end, Jesus asks the group he is talking to, Which of these men proved to be a neighbor to the man who was beaten? When the scribe answered, The one who showed him mercy. You can hear the disgust and the contempt falling off of his lips. I feel the same here from Simon. He doesn’t want to give the right answer, so he says dismissively, I suppose…

 

Despite his reticence, Simon gives the right answer. Jesus affirms it! He says, You have judged righty! RC Sproul comments that this is probably one of the very few times that the Pharisee made a judgment that was right.

Jesus continues to talk to Simon, rebuking him. He says, all the things you were supposed to do for me, as a guest, all the tenets of hospitality that our society demands of you, you didn’t. No water to wash my feet. No kiss of greeting. No anointing my head with oil. Instead this woman that you are judging and looking down on, she did them all for me instead. She washed my feet with her tears and her hair. She kissed my feet and she anointed my with her ointment. He tells Simon, Yeah she has a lot of sins. Her sins are many. But through her faith, her sins are forgiven.

We see that this woman, through her actions, shows that she understands how big that forgiveness is, what a big deal it is to have her sins forgiveness. One who has few sins, does not think their sins are a big deal.

See its not that having fewer sins is a bad thing. Its that people who live what they consider to be less sinful lives tend to justify their few sins and not think they those few sins need forgiveness.

The Pharisees, to their credit, strove to be holy. This is what we are all called to do. Both Peter and Jesus in Matthews Gospel tells us that we are supposed to be perfect and holy like God is. That is Gods standard. And the Pharisees tried to live up to that standard of Holiness. However, they left out grace, mercy, compassion and love, which are integral to true, pure holiness. One commentator notes, “A life of love is a grateful response of a sinner who has found true forgiveness in Jesus Christ.”

Jesus then turns to the woman and authoritatively declares to her that her sins are forgiven. Now, she already knew this and he already said it to Simon. Why say it again here? Well the short answer is, “I don’t know.” But here is what I know. We all need to be reassured at times. We all need to be told time and again that our sins actually are forgiven. We all sometimes have trouble believing Gods grace, mercy and forgiveness. We can intellectually memorize and remember 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can know that and still forget it practically sometimes.

Now, of course, after Jesus said this to her, everyone else was question who he thought he was. Why would he think he had the authority to forgive sins? Only God can do that.

Jesus turns to the woman, knowing the thoughts of the rest of the people in the room and finishes by telling her that he faith has saved her and to go in peace. See, our salvation is by faith alone. Not faith and love. Not faith and works. Nor faith and anything. Just faith alone.

Ephesians 2:8 & 9:  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The woman was saved by her faith, but she cant boast about her faith. The faith that saved her was a gift from God.

In the end, there are only two groups of people in this world. RC Sproul lays them out. He writes: “There are two kinds of people in the world: people whose sins have been forgiven and those whose sins have not been forgiven. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who repent of their sins and those who remain steadfast in their impenitence. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who heap lavish praise and adoration on Jesus and those who refuse to submit to Him.

And he is right. Those are our only two options. Salvation by grace through faith in Christ, or eternal hellfire and suffering. By grace through faith, we get to hear “Your sins are forgiven.” How great indeed is that?

The debt of our sins forgiven. It is completely wiped out. No conditions, no strings, just a simple act of mercy bestowed on us who didn’t deserve it. We did nothing to earn it and we certainly couldn’t repay it. How sweet the sound, how amazing the grace.

Lets finish with the lyrics to Amazing Grace then Ill pray:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within 
the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Lets Pray

Luke 7:18-35 Jesus is the Son of Man: John the Baptist Doubts

Luke 7:18-35

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist Doubts

 

 

          All right. Please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. IF you do not have a Bible, if you need one, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

Now, you might notice that we are going just a bit out of order today and for the next few weeks. Normally, our next passage would be Luke 7:11-17. However, we are going to skip over that passage temporarily and come back to that section on Easter Sunday.

So, we are looking at this next passage here this morning. Luke has been recording a number of signs, teachings, and evidence of Jesus’ power and authority. The Jewish nation had been waiting for this Messiah, this Christ, for thousands of years.

God the Father sent him, in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, second member of the trinity. But Jesus was not like what they expected. And this caused even his most ardent followers to wonder at times, Is this really the one?

So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 18 through 35. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke writes:

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[e] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus[f] began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,[g] having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

 

 

John was imprisoned at this point because he was publicly critiquing and calling out the King Herod  and his abhorrent morality. Even in prison, he and his disciples heard all about Jesus and his teachings, his miracles, his signs and wonders. His disciples came back and reported them to John.

John knew the message preached in the Sermon in the Plain. He had heard of the various healings that Jesus performed. He knew of Jesus raising the bot from the dead, which is what he temporarily skipped over this week.

John knew what he said when Jesus came to be baptized, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World.” He knew what he saw after Jesus he was baptized; The Holy Spirit descending like a dove, the Father’s words spoken loud and clear, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.”

John knew all this and had seen some of this with his own eyes… And yet…

And yet, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask the question, Are you the One? Or should we keep waiting?

John had some expectations regarding Jesus that he did not see being fulfilled. John knew has was the forerunner to the Messiah. And John was called to be a very specific person. He preached hell fire and brimstone, calling the Jewish leaders of the day a brood of vipers, calling them to baptism and repentance. We looked at why it would have been insulting to the Jewish leaders to be told they had to get baptized when we look at Johns ministry earlier in Luke’s Gospel. Only Gentiles who were converting to Judaism were supposed to be baptized, to wash, essentially, the gentile off of them. But John told them they had to do it too. John lived alone in the desert, ate locusts and honey, was one strange looking dude. And he was imprisoned. It would be safe to assume that John would have expected the Messiah to carry on his ministry, since he was the forerunner.

But Jesus ministry was vastly different than Johns. Jesus preached holiness and repentance and he preached on Hell, but he did so while preaching mercy, grace and compassion.

So, John was confused. It seems Hes thinking to himself, Did I get this wrong? Is he really the one? Or is he another forerunner like me? So, he sent the messengers to Jesus to ask him directly.

Now, part of our human nature is that we like to think the best of the people we like. We don’t like to acknowledge their faults or their weaknesses. This is a trap we can fall into with people characters as well. There are some who think that John didn’t actually have any doubts about Jesus. Instead, it was the disciples who passed the stories of Jesus along to John who were having doubts and that John sent them to ask in order to confirm their faith instead of his.

The problem is that this is nowhere in the text. When we prop people up, and ignore the fact that they are not perfect, when we put people up on a pedestal, especially Bible people, then we have to read into the text what isn’t there in order to justify our beliefs.

John was having doubts, he was confused and wondering. And he sends this question to Jesus. Jesus, when he receives this question, we see how he responds. He responds first with signs and wonders. He heals disease. He restores sight. He casts out demons and unclean spirits.

Jesus tells Johns to Disciples, “Go tell that to John.” Then he quotes scripture to them, Old Testament prophets who describe the ministry of the long-awaited Christ. Isaiah specifically, as Jesus quotes Isaiah 35:5 & 6, and Isaiah 61:1, which he also read during his first sermon in Nazareth, opening his public ministry. I think it’s important to notice how Jesus responds to John, he does so with dignity and patience. And he sends the disciples of John back to John with this affirmation of who He is, encouraging John in his faith, encouraging him through his doubts.

Notice what and when Jesus does next. It would be easy to dump on John for doubting. TO get frustrated at him for not understanding and for questioning. But Jesus doesn’t do that. Instead, he praises John.

John rejected luxury and riches. He didn’t tell people what they wanted to hear. He was indeed a genuine prophet. In fact, he was more than a prophet, he was also prophesied about. Verse 28, Jesus famously says that, “Among those born of a woman, none is greater than John.”

Luke writes parenthetically that God saves sinners, no matter who they are. No matter the outer appearance, those who trust in God, have faith in His son, will be justified. Those who, no matter what their appearance is, no matter who moral they act, no matter how conservatively they vote, if you reject God and his purposes, then you will be rejected as well.

Jesus then speaks to this generation. Its important to note that generation is not a limited generation. Often in the Bible, and the New Testament especially, generation is often used for the time between Jesus 1st coming and his upcoming 2nd coming. This is absolutely important when it comes to accurately understanding the context of the words of Jesus.

So, he is talking to those around him then and he is talking to us now, all a part of the same generation. And he says that this generation is like petty children. Each one trying to come up with a game for them to play, but nobody agreeing on anything. RC Sprouls describes it as children playing and some rejecting every suggestion or every game that another one suggests. It’s a no-win situation in which some are never satisfied, no matter what.

Jesus points out to the religious leaders, John came, didn’t drink, didn’t eat, and they rejected him and criticized him for it. And then Jesus comes along, eating and drinking, and they criticize him, saying, Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

          The religious leaders were not willing to hear anyone that God actually sent to speak to them. Because even if Jesus and John had different styles and focuses, they were both speaking the Words of God, and that challenged people. It challenged their view of self. It challenged their view that they were good enough, that they earned their good standing with God. Sure, they were looking forward to the promised Messiah, but they didn’t really feel like they needed him. We see this often today. A lot of people are looking forward to Jesus coming back, but they don’t really believe, live or act like it matters.

IF we don’t feel a need for Jesus and his saving grace, his saving work on the cross, then we won’t listen to anything that God has to say. We won’t feel the need to read his Word and to obey his commands. We won’t feel the need to confess our sins and to repent. We won’t realize that the right way is to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. And we wont trust in Christ alone for our salvation, thinking consciously or not that we can earn good and right standing before God.

But, as we know, Jonathon Edwards said, you don’t contribute anything to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul’s writes, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” If we reject that mediator, we reject God.

John the Baptist was the greatest born of women, but as Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3, that’s not enough. We need to be born of the Spirit. John obviously was this as well. It is simply through the grace of God alone that allows us to be born of the spirit. Ephesians 2 tells us that our faith is a gift from God, that’s through his grace. That faith, is the vehicle through which he pours out his salvation and through which the Holy Spirit changes our hearts from a dead heart of stone to a heart of flesh, born in the spirit. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

And that faith that he gives, we see this morning, through this example of John, this faith is big enough for the occasional doubts. Mark 9 tells the story of a man whose son is having trouble with an unclean spirit. He asks Jesus to heal the boy, Jesus responds that, “All things are possible to one who believes.” The father blurts out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

I think if we are all honest, we all have those times in our walk. John knew, probably stronger and more true than any of us could know, that Jesus was the one. That he was the Christ, the Messiah. I don’t know if anyone could have been as sure as John was. Leaping in the womb, seeing him as the Lamb of God, seeing the trinity after the Baptism. And then, through the circumstances of life in this fallen, broken world, he questioned, he doubted, he wondered. Then he knew again, Jesus walked through that time with him.

Our walk, our growth, our sanctification is not linear. Its is not a straight line up. IT is much more of a jumbled mess. Ups downs, lefts, rights, all over the place. The bigger the picture, the more we will see our walk improve, but if we narrow it in too much, we will see moments in our life that show up as dips or doubts or struggles.

Jesus ends this section saying that Yet wisdom is justified by all her children. Essentially this is another way of saying that we will know a tree by its fruit. Words mean nothing if not accompanied by actions. IF you have wisdom, that wisdom will bear many children. The effects of that wisdom will show up in a number of different ways. The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

If you are going through one of these times. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself. Jesus is still right there walking with you, bringing you through this season. HE uses his works his grace poured out on this world, and he uses his Word to testify to who he is. I don’t have all the answers, but I can point you to them. God is clear that the answers are contained in him and his Word.

Jesus is the Word incarnate. When you feel furthest from him, when you are having questions or doubts, that is the time to cling to Jesus the tightest. He has promised to never leave or forsake us. Cling to him, to that old Rugged Cross and he will bring you through the other side.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Luke 7:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Faith and Authority

Luke 7:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Faith and Authority

 

All right, please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. We are continuing through our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Each of the Gospels, as you read through them have a bunch of little subsections that we go through. They are each the life and more accurately the ministry of Jesus and so each section and subsection have a different setting or a different focus or whatever.

We just finished a section of Jesus teachings called the Sermon on the Plain. In this teaching, Jesus focused on showing us that our hearts need to be turned to love, whether our friends, our enemies, those who treat us well or those who treat us like dirt. To do this, w must use our wisdom and discernment that comes along with having our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit and living a life of Faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus finished off by telling us that if we do the things that he taught, it will show up in our actions. Jesus talked, he taught, and he used words. Now, he will be showing those things, teaching us with his actions.

Words and actions go hand in hand. If they don’t, there is a disconnect, there is an inaccuracy between what we say we believe and what we actually believe. And as we touched on last week, this is not talking about a single event, or a moment in time. All Christians will sin. We all fall short of the standard that God has set for us.  But this is talking about looking at the totality of someone’s life, or more importantly, our own life. And that disconnect is a huge sign that we need to pay attention to.

So, with hat thought in mind, that our actions need to match our words, lets look at some words. This week’s passage is Luke chapter 7, verses 1-10. As usual, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation as we read what the Word of God has to say.

Luke 7:1-10, Luke records the works of Jesus, writing:

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant[a] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion[b] heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

So, WE see Jesus spent chapter 6 teaching his disciples and followers. Here, as he finished up his teachings, he went into town. In this town, Capernaum, there was a Roman Centurion there who had a problem.

Centurions were military officers at that time. I’ve heard them compared as an equivalent rank of Captain. He would have been in charge of 100 or so men, hence the name Centurion, as in Century, as in 100. Now, it was rarely exactly 100, but that was the idea.

RC Sproul points out that every time we see a Centurion mentioned in the New Testament, they are men of good character. We see this in here in Luke 7:4. In Luke 23:47, in Acts 10:2 and in Acts 27:43.

 

This Centurion had a servant who was very sick. How sick? Well, lets remember that Luke was a physician. And he confirms that the servant was sick to the point of death. He was dying. There was nothing left to try, nothing left to do besides wait.

And we see that this was not just a slave to the Centurion. This was not some whipping boy or an errand runner. This was not just a servant. This reads to me like the Centurion and the servant were close friends. He would have meant a great deal to the Centurion, not as a commodity, but as a person.

This Centurion had heard of Jesus. He had heard of the healings. He had heard of the teachings of Jesus. He had heard of the sings and wonders that Jesus had performed. He knew that Jesus could heal his servant.

And what we are going to see next is three different perspectives. We are going to see the Jewish perspective. We are going to see the Centurions perspective and we are going to see Jesus perspective.

The Centurion sent some Jewish elders to speak to Jesus. That they would, speaks, again, to the character of the Centurion. And they did. The Jewish elders went to Jesus and pleaded the case of the Centurion. They tried to show how he was worthy. This is the Jewish perspective. They are applying merit to him, trying to show that he should have right standing before God based on merit, based on his good works.

They said, this man is worthy! He is a good man! He loves the Jewish Nation! We see that he did help build the Synagogue, presumably the one in Capernaum.  This perspective is one we see through society today. I’m good enough. I’ve done enough. I’ve given enough. That will earn my place in heaven.

Now, we know of course, that this isn’t true. This perspective is wrong. None of us can ever be good enough, do enough, give enough or anything to be worthy of the grace and mercy of God.

During this time, there were folks known by the Jewish people as “God Fearers.” These were Gentiles who believed in and seemed to worship the True God, but who did not convert to Judaism.

Was he saved by Grace? Was he that we would call a Christian in the way that we would call Abraham or Noah for example? IT appears at this point possible, if not likely.

Jesus obviously saw something, so he headed to this Centurion. Before Jesus got there, the Centurion sent some friends to intercept him. The Centurion, either had a change of mind and heart, was embarrassed because he didn’t know that the Jewish elders would promote his supposed worthiness. His message to Jesus started with “I’m not worthy.”

Then the Centurion recognizes, acknowledges and defers to Jesus authority. He knew Jesus was able to not only heal, but that he could heal from a distance, with just his word.

As a Roman military officer, the centurion would have had a great deal of power and authority at that time. Rome was occupying and ruling over Israel at that time and would have had absolute authority over any Jews that he wanted to order around any Roman soldier underneath him. He says this, “I know authority, I command someone and the do it. Period.” This centurion didn’t have to defer to anyone or show respect to Jesus, but he did.

HE recognized the authority within Jesus because he had authority himself. This is the centurion’s perspective. His authority was less than Jesus. He knew that all authority was handed down and given by God.  He was not worthy for Jesus to come all the way to his house.

This Centurion understood grace better than most of Israel did. He understood grace better than most of the church today does. He knew that anything Jesus would do was not because he was worthy in any way, not because he deserved it, but because the LORD is merciful and full of Grace.

Jesus was marveled at the Centurion. Scripture only shows us two times that Jesus was marveled. The first was in Mark 6:6, where Jesus marveled at unbelief in Nazareth. This is the second time, in the faith of a foreigner.

Every religion in the world, including the so called no religions, every religion in the world says do good, be good. They all have their own definition on what being and doing good looks like, but they all have the same call. Be good, do good and you will be accepted, by a god, by society, by friends and family, by who and whatever. Be and do good and be accepted.

Except we can’t be good enough. And that might sound like bad news. Except it is actually good news. We don’t have to be good enough. Jesus flips the script on this line of thinking. He says you are accepted, therefore, be and do good.

The Centurions faith here becomes the focal point. This is Jesus perspective. And he especially contrasts it with general Israel. One of the big points that Jesus makes in his Gospels, one of the biggest beliefs that Israel held that Jesus refutes is that, As Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring.

Not all who play the part, are a part of the family of God. Not everyone who is an Israelite is a child of Abraham. Not everyone who is a member of a church is a member of THE Church. Not everyone who says LORD LORD will be saved. This puts into action what we saw Jesus talk about last week.

The faith of the Centurion marvels Jesus. IT should marvel us as well, because it shows that faith, true faith can save anyone. We should not presume our salvation, but Paul writes in Philippians 2, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

We should not presume, but we can have assurance. John writes in his letter, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

It is by the grace of God alone that he gives faith. It is that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that offers us salvation. Part of what we read this morning, Hebrews 11:1 & 6: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Jesus calls on us to repent and believe the Gospel. Belief is required, but belief is only a part of faith. Faith is that deeper, that heart knowledge, the words paired with actions.

The scripture uses faith and belief interchangeably. John also famously writes, John 3:16-21:

“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The centurion had faith that Jesus was able to do what he had heard he could do. It appears that the centurion had faith that Jesus was who he said he was and had true saving faith. His salvation would come as a gift from God, not as a reward for something he did, or who he was, but because of who Jesus was.

David Gooding says this about salvation: salvation is not granted on the basis of man’s good works, worth or merit. It is given on the grounds of faith. And faith according to this story, is not confidence that we have done the best we could, that God will assess our merits generously; faith is abandoning trust in our works and merit and any thought of deserving salvation and relying totally and without reserve on the Person of Christ and the authority of his Word.

 

It is out faith in Christ and our faith in his word that drives us to bey and to follow.  Jesus says that our faith, the faith that saves is faith in His work on the cross, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now, each month we remember Jesus sacrifice, his shed blood and his death on the cross. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Luke 6:46-49 Jesus is the Son of Man: What Wisdom Looks like

Luke 6:46-49

Jesus is the Son of Man

What Wisdom Looks like

 

All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 6. As always, if you don’t have a Bible or need to give one to someone, see me after the service and I will get one for you.

So, in the midst of this portion of teaching by Jesus, he has showed us a number of things.  He has shown us the need for right and biblical discernment. He has touched on the how to rightly and authentically love our enemies. He has shown us the right way to judge and confront sin.

All of the things that Jesus has been teaching us, they all have some things in common. They are all issues of the heart as opposed to issues of outward obedience. Most importantly, and tied to the rest, these are all issues of needing wisdom.

Jesus address wisdom much more blatantly and outright here at the end of his teaching passage, the passage we are looking at this morning. And it’s important to know that this is the undertone of all of Jesus teachings; wisdom, discernment, and making sure you have a right heart through all of it.

So, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this morning, the last few words that Jesus teaches on the Sermon on the Plain, Luke chapter 6, verses 46 through 49. I will, as usual, be reading out of the English Standard Version. I love that we have so many different translations here in the congregation, and I encourage you to read along with your preferred translation, so that you are reading for yourself what the Word of God says.

Luke 6:46-49, Luke records Jesus finishing his teaching, writing:

 

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[c] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

 

 

Jesus is nothing if not blunt and straightforward. When Jesus asks this question, he is calling out the blatant and complete hypocrisy that is in the crowd. He goes into greater detail and gives harsher warnings in the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to Matthews recording, chapter 7:21-23:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

See, Jesus is not talking to unbelievers. He is talking to those who claim to know him. And its in two parts really. See, we have an epidemic in this country. Not only in this country, but throughout the world, and it has been going on since the first century. Jesus is speaking to it right now. Why do you call me LORD, but not do what I say?

He is not talking about the type of thing that Paul talks about in Romans 7. Paul’s says that the things he wants to do, he doesn’t, and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does. Jesus isn’t referring to this here. Honest, faithful, honest to goodness Christians, who have been saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, will sin. That is an unfortunate fact of life. Jesus talks a lot about that, but right here and now he isn’t talking about that.

Jesus is addressing to groups of self-identified Christians here. First group are those who claim the name of Jesus, but that’s it. I’ve quoted these stats to you before, but 91 % of Americans believe in “a god.” 91% believer that there is something or someone out there that is bigger than us.

Something like 76% of Americans call themselves Christians. That’s a lot. And if that was true, that 76% of Americans actually were Christians, this country would look completely different. But we all know that number is not accurate. You can walk up and down the street and talk to everyone you meet, and most of them would say, Yes, I believe in Jesus. I believe I’m going to heaven. I’m a good person. Every president we have had in this country has called themselves a Christian. All I know is that the last number of them have not shown any fruit of that.

They say they believe in Jesus, but he is asking, why wont you do what I say? Because they don’t actually believe. They don’t believe that they need a savior. They don’t believe in anything supernatural. They don’t believe that Jesus is God clothed in flesh, they don’t believe that the Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God and they don’t believe thy have to live by what it says.  God is love and he has forgiven us all and I don’t need to let it affect my life in any way. And so, they don’t. There is no fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of wisdom.

But that’s not the only group Jesus is addressing here. RC Sproul points out that Jesus is also talking to those “who claim, not just a passing knowledge of Jesus, but a deep, intimate, sincere relationship with Christ.”

Not every gathering that calls themselves a church is actually a church. Not every leader who calls themselves a pastor is actually a pastor. Not everyone who says LORD, LORD knows the true and biblical Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake, the LORD will not be mocked. We see these so-called churches, and so-called pastors being exposed left and right. Churches that have been teaching false doctrines, and heresy for many years. Pastors who believe they are above Gods law and can do whatever they want to whomever they want. Sexual abuse, affairs, corruption, abuse of power, bullying, arrogance, and so much more.

People who are deceived by these churches and pastors into doing what they believe is the work of God, in Gods name. But in reality, they are being taught and fed and false God, a false Jesus, false teachings, false works and unfortunately, a false salvation.

It is so important for us to define our terms when teaching and talking and witnessing. Who is God? Is it who the Bible says he is? Or who we feel and thing he is? Who is Jesus Christ? Is he who the Bible says he is? God, Man, both. Incarnated, Perfect and sinless, crucified, resurrected, ascended. Or was he who humans say he is, a good teacher, God in heaven, but no on earth, an example that we can become, doing miracles and healings, just like he did? What is the Bible? Is it the Word of God himself? IS it, God breathed, profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness? Or is its good rule book for life? A parable for living.

IF your understanding of the Bible, its authority and its inerrancy, is different than what the Bible says about itself, Your wrong. Your wrong about the Bible and you are going to be wrong about what it says. If your definition and your description of God differ from what the Bible says, you’re following a false god. If your definition and description of who Jesus is is different from who and what the Bible says he is, you’re following a false Jesus. And there is no forgiveness in a false Jesus. No salvation in a false Jesus.

Jesus has made it clear throughout our walk-through Luke’s Gospel who he is, his authority, his power and his deity. And so, after he questions those who are following him, he lays it out. Here is what it looks like to follow me, to be an actual and true follower of Christ.

Scripture is clear on what it is to be a follower of Christ. IN the context of what he is saying here, James tells us to be doers of the word, not hearers only. Jesus says elsewhere, if you love me, follow my commands.

Kent Hughes recounts a story of knowledge and action being more important than simple book learning. He writes:

A young Korean man traveled a great distance to the home of the missionary who led him to Christ, then announce the reason for his visit: “I have been memorizing some verses of the Bible, and I want to quote them to you.”

          The missionary listened as the young man recited, without error, the entire Sermon on the Mount. He commended the young man for the remarkable feat of memory. Then, being a good missionary, he cautioned the young man to not only say the Scriptures, but to practice them. The man responded, “Oh, that is the way I learned them. I tried to memorize them, but they wouldn’t stick, so I made a plan. First, I would memorize a verse. Then I would do it to a neighbor. After that, I found that I could remember it.”

 

          One of the morals of that story and of what Jesus is telling us is that anyone can say anything, whatever they want. What we say matters, but its not just about what we say. Our actions matched with our words are what matters most.

He speaks of the wise man, the one who hears what Jesus says, really hears him and then, gasp, does what he says. He builds his house digging deep down to the rock, building a firm foundation. That house will stand against the storms that come.

We all have a foundation upon which our life and our eternity are built on. Wisdom determines the foundation. Wisdom dictates that we build our foundation upon the strongest rock that there is.

Many of our best hymns speak to the fact that Jesus himself is our foundation. One we sing here often; Jesus is our firm foundation. I know I can stand secure. Another of my favorites, On Christ the Sold Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus is the foundation we build our house upon. Specifically, we look at Ephesians 2:19-22, where Paul writes:

you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[e] the Spirit.

 

 

Scripture shows us that the foundation of the household of God is the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus being the most important piece the corner stone, the piece that makes sure the rest line up, stay straight and do what they are supposed to do. The cornerstone anchors the foundation. He makes the foundation firm and stable and secure.

Revelation 21 shows us that the New Jerusalem is built on 12 foundations named for the Apostles and the prophets. We looked previously that the Apostles and Prophets ministry, the foundation that they built is the very Word of God. They went out and they shared the Word of God. That is the foundation of the church, of the household of God, the Word of God. And we know from John 1, that Jesus is the Word of God. The Word made flesh. It is equally true to say that Jesus is our foundation, and the Bible is our foundation because the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Word.

 

I was talking to a former pastor this past week and one of the topics that came up was that the job of pastor can be incredibly discouraging at times. There are times, as one example, where pastors feel like what Jesus is saying here, you call him Lord, Lord but won’t do what he tells you to!

This week has been an especially powerful reminder of the times of discouragement and how the firm foundation of Christ will sustain you.

This week marks three years that Hope and I have been here in Bangor. Those three years have moved incredibly fast. The previous three years felt like a lifetime and were full of discouragement. At times, it felt like we were banging our heads against a brick wall. There were good times too and some great friends that we made and continue with, but the ministry where we were was a lot of discouragement.

The three years we have been here in Bangor have been the exact opposite. As with any ministry, and anytime time humans are involved, there are trials, there are disagreements, struggles, and so on. And don’t ask, because I’m not going to get into the specifics of any of those.

It hasn’t always been easy, but Jesus has been our firm foundation. God has confirmed time and time again that he has placed Hope and I here. This is where we are supposed to be, and we pray that it is permanent. That assurance, that foundation has allowed us to be content, to be settles, even through the storms that come.

With a firm foundation, with assurance, anything is bearable. Any storm is tolerable and able to be gotten through. No one, especially Jesus said that it is going to be easy and with out harm. But it is able to be gotten through. We know where our hope comes from, God above, the maker of Heaven and Earth, His Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ and his Gospel, it is the power of God to salvation, for all who believe.

Our hope is in Christ. It is not in the church, whether the gathering of believers or the building. It is not in, of course, our selves or our good works. It is not in pastors and preachers.

As I said earlier, many churches and pastors are falling, it is coming to light often, sometimes it feels like every day another one comes out, that churches and pastors who are keeping evil hidden and failing to follow the words of Christ are being revealed to the World. Hillsong, Bethel, Harvest, Willow Creek. Churches that either taught blatant false teachings, following a false Jesus, or covered up pastoral abuses and corruption, watering down the Word of God. Men like Bill Hybels, James McDonald, Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacarias. Men who took advantage of their position, let it go to their heads and covered up and hid sin, some incredibly heinous sins.

But Jesus tells us our hope, our foundation is not in them. But on the Gospel. Mark Driscoll was one who hit me hard. When I first started going o church, I listened to him a lot. I heard the true Gospel loud and clear. I heard great teaching and it helped me grow in my faith to the point where I can honestly say that I probably would not be a pastor if not for the influence his ministry had on me.

But when he was disqualified from ministry, that did not negate my salvation, it did not cause my growth to be erased. For my hope and my salvation is not based on him, but the firm foundation of the Gospel that I heard preached over and over again.

Our house in the kingdom of heaven is built upon foundation that cannot be shaken. It is not built on our power and righteousness, but on Christs. Even when the storms come, if a wall gets knocked down, if the wind rips the roof off, if windows get broken, because of our sin. Even then, our foundation is still built on solid rock. We can rebuild and repair the house because of that foundation.

Without that foundation of Christ, we will fall, our hope and our house will fall. Without Christ, we have no hope at all. With out that foundation, we have no hope for eternity. With no foundation we will continually try harder and lean more on ourselves trying to keep a sinking house above ground, something we cannot hope to accomplish. So, we trust in our behavior more and more, our ability to follow the rules, like the pharisees we read about, but our heart hasn’t changed and does not abide in Christ.  It’s a vicious cycle that can only end when Jesus saves us.

Bruce Larson writes:

Watchman Nee talks about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. “No matter how much I pray,” said the man, “no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my LORD. I think I’m losing my salvation.” And Nee said, “DO you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen, I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my Kingdom? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christs heir because it is for you that He died.” So, it is with us. We are Christs heirs, not through our perfection, but by means of his grace.

 

We are able to rest easy, to put all our burdens on Jesus Christ, for his yoke is easy, his burden is light. With Jesus as our foundation, we stake our hope on him, and rest easy, knowing that we are secure in his hands, by his grace.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 6:37-45 Jesus is the Son of Man: Biblical Judgment

Luke 6:37-45

Jesus is the Son of Man

Biblical Judgment

 

          All right! Let’s grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 6. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

So, we left off last week looking at Jesus’ teaching that we are to love our enemies. Specifically, we looked at what it meant for us practically as we live our lives as followers of Christ. We are to do good to those who hate us. Bless those who curse us. Pray for those who abuse us. And how looked at how difficult how hard this is.

What we didn’t look as much at what this is not. What loving our enemies is not, it is not never confronting anyone in their sin. It is not affirming sin and the lifestyles that the Bible denounces. It is not being a doormat. It is not being a pacifist.

As we look ahead to the passage this morning that we are going to look at is that there is a balance between last weeks passage and this week’s passage. There is a context that we need to see this week to properly understand last week and vice versa.

 

So, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage and jump on in, Luke chapter 6, verses 37-45. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 6:37-45, Luke records the teachings of Jesus, writing:

 

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure, you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

May God bless the reading of His holy Word.

 

 

Judge Not. Sometimes, Judge not lest ye be judged. That is all that many people know and can quote regarding the Bible. And they love to use that against us when we express anything related to sin or false teaching or whatever. Many will even say, “Only God will judge me…” to which I want to respond, “And that should scare you!”

But there is a lot more to this passage than those two words, Judge Not…

This passage, in context and along with the rest of Jesus teachings, is clearly not telling us not to make judgments, full stop, end of statement. Instead, it’s telling us how and why to judge, what to judge and how to do so in context of Love your enemies. He is also reminding us, not so gently that we also will be judged.

RC Sproul writes on this passage: Jesus elsewhere teaches that his disciples must sometimes judge what others do (Matt 18:15-17) and that the character  of a persons heart can be recognized from the actions that flow from it (vv.43-45; Matt 7:15, 16) What he warns against here is the hypocrisy of those who condemn others for what they themselves are guilty of (vv. 41-42) and the failure to show mercy. (v. 36)

 

Its all a heart issue. With Jesus, its always a heart issue. We are not to judge with the wrong intentions. We are not to judge hypocritically. And we are not to judge by our own standards, making up our own rules, laws or traditions.

 

Most sin is black and white. People often ask, By What Standard? The Bible is clear. Some sins it is crystal clear about. Many sins it is crystal clear about. However, sometimes, individuals are called to, what is usually a stricter standard, called, usually to abstain from things that are not sins for other people to partake in. Because of these occasions, we cannot judge if someone is living up to our standard, because our standard is not what they are called for. Gods standard is what we will all be judged by. Not our own personal standard.

When we make judgments based on our own standard instead of on Gods standard, we fall into judgmentalism. Kent Hughes describes it this way: Judgmentalism is an unwitting revelation of one’s own soul, because people rush to condemn their own sin in others.

          Instead of a heart and a disposition of judgmentalism, we are to have a heart and disposition of forgiveness. The two are diametrically opposed. You can’t have both. That forgiveness, both that Jesus tells us we have received and that we are to give, is what allows us and requires us to rightly judge.

We are not to judge someone’s heart. We are not to judge someone’s spiritual status. We are not to judge someone’s eternal destiny. Those judgments are left to the one who can see the heart. The one who determines the eternal destiny.

Just like love, as we looked at last week, judge is an action word, a verb. We are not the judge or the jury regarding those around us. We do not make a decision on where someone’s heart is. We do not make a decision on whether one is saved or not. We’ll get to a bit later how we can look at the evidence, the fruit produce and ask questions based on that, but we do not make a decision as to where they will go.

One of the aspects that Jesus touches on here is the idea of weights and measures. With the measures and judgments, we use, so will be used on us. Don’t us false measures or inaccurate accounting of people’s sins, or of their heart, or even their motivations and intents. Because that opens the door for them to do the same thing right back.

 

Now, there is something that is very hard for us to remember and some people would argue with me on this. But I believe the Bible is very clear that we cannot hold unbelievers to the same standard, the same expectation as we hold ourselves to, or as the Bible holds us to. As I said last week, we are held to higher standards than the world holds for itself.

It’s because we know and believe the Bible. We know and believe the standards it has set for us. We know and believe that Gods standard is right and pure and true.  The world doesn’t know this. They trust in themselves. They don’t believe in Gods standards, instead they lean on their own understanding, looking for the way that seems right to man, but leads to death.

But because of that, because there is no acknowledgement of Gods standards of right and wrong and because, as Jesus is making it clear, all of these things boil down to a heart issue, there is no way to legislate morality. WE can make all the laws we want, and we should. Make no mistake that this not an excuse for the world, for non-believers to do whatever they want. There is universal right and wrong and we should make laws establishing that. But we should not fall into the mistake that if someone follows all the rules, keeps all the laws that their heart is right. We are easily tricked and if we judge by that standard, we will be wrong more often than not.

As we saw earlier, Jesus is also telling us that we are not to judge hypocritically. We are to make sure that we are looking at ourselves, concerned with our own holiness, pursuing our own righteousness, instead of accruing self-righteousness.

Jesus reminds us that we are the disciples, and he is the teacher. We are not above him. But we strive to be like him. WE defer all authority to him, especially in regard to judgment, all while we strive to emulate him as much as possible.

We are led, first by Jesus, but of course after Jesus, below Jesus, there are others whom we follow as well. Jesus tells us not to follow those who are not following him. They are spiritually blind. They have no authority to lead us spiritually. So, don’t follow them because they will lead us into the pit.  Follow those whoa re following Jesus, those whose eyes have been opened, who are no longer spiritually blind.

 

Jesus used parables here to teach us this, but he also uses the absurd, he uses humor to make his point as well. He talks about us having to deal with the plank in our own eye before dealing with the speck in others. This visual this idea is the height of foolish, and absurdity. This is the same point that he makes with the Golden Rule. This is the same point he makes 1 Peter 4:8,   where Peter writes Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

The biggest point in this section is that we need to protect and watch out for hypocrisy. Nothing shines so bright to unbelievers and to the world out there as a Christian living as a hypocrite. From National leaders claiming to be Christians in order to get our vote, to ministry leaders, pastors and the anybody walking through those doors and sitting in the pews every Sunday morning. The World is watching, and nothing turns them off quicker than hypocrisy.

A major way for us to ensure this is repentance. Constant repentance. Martin Luther famously said: When our Lord and master Jesus Christ said, “Repent,” he willed that the whole life of believers should be one of repentance.

          Repentance gives humility, grants us humbleness, reminds us of the plank in our own eye. We focus on ourselves and our sins before we nitpick every little sin in those around us. Paul calls himself the chief of all sinners. That is how each and everyone of us should see ourselves.

Because our natural tendency is exactly what we are warned about here. We always tend to think that we have the splinter and those around us have the plank.

Now, this is what this does NOT mean.

This does not mean that we have to be perfect in order to recognize in in others.

This does not mean that we have to be sinless to confront others on their sin when needed.

This does not mean that we don’t discern right from wrong.

There is a time, a place, a method for confronting sin, and most importantly, a heart. With the wrong heart, the time, place and method will automatically be wrong. With the right heart, we need to discern when the right time is, where the right place is and what the right method will be when we lovingly confront people in their sin.

Now, while we should not judge hypocritically, unlovingly or with a wrong heart, we can and should judge the fruit that we see produced in the lives of those around us. And even them carefully, and usually without using the word judge…

 

If we truly are humble, repentant, and discerning. If we are truly saved, if we are following our teacher Jesus, as his disciples, we will produce good fruit. Conveniently, Paul gives us a list of spiritual fruit we should be bearing in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

          Now, again, we will not have perfect fruit. But over the course of our spiritual walk with Christ, we will produce good fruit. Notice too, that good fruit does not always come from the prettiest trees, or the most polished, put together and manicured trees. But it comes from good trees. Good trees, trees grafted into the people of God, produce good fruit, the fruit of the spirit.

 

`On the flip side, if we are unrepentant. If we are full of self-pride and self-interest and self-righteousness, if we are not saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we will produce bad fruit, evil fruit, anti-fruit, as we read the parallel passage in Galatians 5, the fruit of the flesh, or as I sometimes call them, the vegetables of the flesh.

 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

 

          Remember that not all bad fruit comes from a tree that look like it produces evil fruit. Sometimes it’s the prettiest trees that produce the worst fruit. Those who are outwardly moral with good old-fashioned values but no love for Christ, those are the ones who produce the worst fruit.

There is in this of course, the obvious connection that we can’t judge a book by its cover. It is especially those individuals, those communities and those nations that have a crisp, hard moral outward shell, that will be rotten on the inside, producing bad fruit.

What kind of bad fruit?  Here is one example.

 

Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached

 

 

          Any fruit that is not rooted in Christ is bad fruit. That’s what it all comes down to. In Christ or out. Those are our two options and only two options.

Will we be blind, or have our eyes opened?

Will we be spiritually dead or spiritually alive?

Will we be goats or sheep?

Will we be and do wrong, or right?

Will we be bad trees producing bad fruit or good trees producing good fruit?

There is no middle ground. No partial Christianity. No mediocre fruit.

We are not justified; we are not saved by our fruit. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We do nothing and can do nothing to in anyway earn our salvation.

You al know my favorite Jonathon Edwards quote: You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary. So, the fruit does not earn us any good will towards God or earn our way through the pearly gates. Instead, the fruit we bear is an outwards sign of our spiritual standing. Good fruit is Christs work through us. Bad fruit is the absence of Christs work in our lives.

Jesus underlying message throughout all these teachings so far is Check your heart. Outward obedience is not enough without a heart of flesh, a heart changed by the Holy Spirit. Don’t judged where someone else’s heart is and don’t judge others on things we haven’t fixed within ourselves yet. We may not be where we are going, we may not be where we want to go, but thanks to the grace of God, and the work of Christ in our lives, we are no longer where we were.

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 6:27-36 Jesus is the Son of Man: Love your Enemies!

Luke 6:27-36
Jesus is the Son of Man
Love your Enemies!

All right! Let’s turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 6. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, or if you know someone who needs a Bible, please see me after the service and we will get a Bible into your hands.
So, we are looking at Luke’s Gospel, we started this past fall. We are in a section now of Jesus teachings that is referred to as the Sermon on the Plain. There is a lot of crossover in content between this section and the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew chapters 5-7.
Luke has spent a lot of time establishing the authority that Jesus had, including but not limited to his Authority over the scriptures. He has the authority to interpret scripture correctly and the authority to show us the correct understanding of what the scripture means.
Now this is not usually in doubt, not usually contested, at least with in the church. But there are some you may come across who think that only the words in red are Jesus words. Therefore, in that line of thinking, the rest of the Bible, usually speaking of Paul’s letters and the Old Testament, these are not inspired, there are contradictions and only what Jesus said in the Gospels counts. We know of course the this is a gross heresy. All scripture is God breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16 and Jesus is the word of God, John 1.
In the passage we are going to read and look at this morning, we are going to see Jesus, not add to the commandments, not contradicting what the Old Testament says, but instead explaining the full and complete intent of them.
So, lets go ahead and read this mornings scripture, Luke chapter 6, verses 27 through 36. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to go ahead and read, follow along in your preferred translation reading for yourself.
Luke 6:27-36, Luke records the teachings of Jesus, writing:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Thus, saith the LORD.

Ok, so when Jesus delivers similar content in the Sermon on the Mount, he repeatedly tells the crowd, “You have heard it said one way, but I say to you, this is the true meaning.” And one of the ones he addresses is the one we are looking at this morning. He says in Matthew 5:43, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
And here in Luke, Jesus tells the crowd, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Now, some of the things that Jesus is telling them that they heard wrong are misunderstandings of things found in scriptures. However, this is one where this statement is not found in scripture. Nor, if read in context, is anything that can be misconstrued as that.
But it was. It was a misunderstanding, possibly purposefully, at least at first, of who is my neighbor. The Jewish people thought that it was only those in the Abrahamic covenant, circumcised Jews. The ones who had the most open view, thought that it pertained to all of Israel, but no further. It was a very limited view. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but Jesus makes it quite clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our definition of neighbor is not to be limited.
But it sounds so inviting, doesn’t it? Love your neighbor but hate your enemy. It just makes sense. It’s easy to see, to feel and to understand. It’s what we all want to do. There is nothing else that makes sense to do except hate your enemies. It’s hard enough sometimes to love those close to us. Why should we have to do it to those that hate us, fear us, sin against us, those that don’t love us? We deserve to be able to hate those people. And we limit our definition of neighbor is limited because it’s easier to live life with a limited definition. It limits who we have to love.
Jesus says NO. We don’t get to take the easy way out. We don’t get to live the easy life, our best life now. We don’t get to hate our enemies. We don’t get to just feel animosity to those who hate us. But we are to love our enemies. Whether or not they love us. And we are to pray for those who persecute us. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who do you harm. That’s the definition of the hard way. That is Jesus raising the bar well above, both what we thought it was and what we are comfortable living.
This is not optional; this is a necessary result of being called a child of God. And if we are saved, if we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our LORD, as our Savior, if we have been transformed by the Holy Spirit, then we are told that we need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Now, of course, just listening to this so far, we know that this is one of the hardest passages of scripture to obey. This calls us to obedience not only in our physical acts, but even more than that, in our heart. This requires a change in heart, from worldly and sinful, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. This is something that no one but Christ can change.
RC Sproul says that this is one of the most radical teachings that ever came to us from Jesus lips. We are called to love our enemies as Christ loved us when we were his enemies. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.
Now, of course it doesn’t say that the kind of love we are talking about here is the warm, fuzzy feeling love. Nor is it of course, romantic love. This love is a verb. Its s action. As Jesus said, do good to those who do you harm. Act loving to them and it will change the situation.
We may never change the people who curse, who want to do us harm. We may never change the way they treat us or think about us. But we are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are called to be better than the standards of the world. We are called to fight hate with love. We are called to expel darkness with the light of the Gospel. We are called to higher standards than the world has set for itself.
Its hard. It doesn’t seem fair. But if things were fair, we would have no grace, no salvation. WE can’t control fair. We can’t control other people. WE can only control ourselves.
If we can control ourselves, we take power away from those wish us harm. The pleasure they can get from treating us poorly is greatly diminished when they see that it doesn’t bother us.
Any one with multiple kids can tell you, at some point, one or all of them will provoke their siblings just for the fun of it. And of course, the siblings fall for it and lash out at the sibling. How many times have I had to tell them, don’t react, don’t give them the attention they are looking for? The same goes for adults. Don’t give them the attention they are looking for. There’s the old saying, don’t wrestle with a pig in the mud, it just makes you dirty and the pig likes it.

A couple of scriptures to consider:

Proverbs 25:21-22: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.

Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In fact, leading up to that, Romans 12:14-21:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And part of what we had Frank read this morning, 1 Peter 3:9:
9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

In verse31, Jesus shares with us a version of the Golden Rule, And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Every example of this concept we have recorded in history before Jesus was worded negatively. Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you. Jesus, as he is wont to do, and is really good at, turns everything on its head. Actively do good to others as you would want them to do good to you. Not as they are doing to you. Not as they promised to do to you. But as you would want them to do to you. This has huge and radical, relevant implications for every conceivable situation you could ever be in. (That’s not too big of a statement, is it?)
As I talk with Pastor friends of mine, we often discuss things we agree on and disagree on. One of them, his name is Ryan, put into words better than I could some thoughts on this passage, starting with the Golden Rule that I want to share with you:

Those who use wrong B to avoid the implications of wrong A are seeking to do unto others as has been done to them. This is a corruption of Christ’s teaching. An inversion. It is a form of returning reviling for reviling- something condemned from stem to stern in scripture. It is a form of avoiding accountability and is the opposite of a heart of humility and repentance. If a wrong is papered over because of a) it’s comparison to another wrong, or b) because of the good that the offender(s) have done, we pervert righteousness in Christ alone, and are measuring righteousness by works (either of others or of the one/s being addressed).

So many papered over his grotesque sins because of perceived benefit to the Kingdom. The kingdom is not advanced by our actions- but through our actions by the hand of God. More souls are saved as a result of proper humility before the Lord than through the smooth words of a gross hypocrite.

Think of all the examples in the OT of those who would corrupt their means to achieve the perceived righteous ends. And those who didn’t. (Gideon, for one example.) God *can* work through the evil that is done under the sun. However, we who are believers are called to live lives of holiness, lives of not returning reviling for reviling, but trusting that the Lord will require justice for the evil done in the world. We are to be holy, as He is holy. This means that we are to have tongues, hand, and feet which rush to acts of righteousness, not tongues, hands, and feet that rush to acts of sin. James’s sections on the tongue are a HUGE part of this. How can both bitter and sweet come from the same spring?

Those are wise words we would be wise to consider and meditate on.

And it touches on the last part of what Jesus said that we are looking at this morning. Verses 32-36, Luke records:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

How easy is it to fall into the easy way? I’m the same as those I disagree with and make fun of. They do it, so why can’t we? Social Media especially makes it really easy to fall into this. Memes and pictures with quotes that are sometimes true and in context, but more often, out of context or just completely made up. And we see these, and they are designed to paint the subject in the most negative light possible. And we share these with glee, laughing at the person and the people that agree with them and not giving it a moments thought on how these actions line up with Gods commands.
Even if we are on the receiving end of this sort of treatment, we are not to respond to it. We are not to give back what we are receiving. WE are called to suffer humiliation over and over again on behalf of Christ. WE look to him as our example, When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly, 1 Peter 2:23.

Within that however, it can be easy to get beaten down, cynical, frustrated. But we can not let their hatred break our spirit, our love, and our generosity. WE also need to remember that being right is only half the battle. (I really want to say that knowing is the other half of the battle, Yo Joe!) But we are to not only speak the truth, we are commanded to speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4.
We are to give generously, without conditions or expectations. We can’t outgive God. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we are not to be responsible, but that we are to trust God and give cheerfully and sacrificially. One practical example, I don’t lend out books that I couldn’t live with not getting back. Now, of course, I want to get them back, unless I specify otherwise. But If it would be a big deal to not get them back, I just won’t lend them out.
We are to be kind to ungrateful, unjust, and unmerciful people. We are to show grace, just as God showed us grace.
God’s grace is by definition, undeserved. When we think of God’s grace, we mainly think of his saving grace. We think of his forgiveness, his mercy, the promise of eternity in Heaven with him. Those things that we cannot even begin to deserve. The truth is we deserve the exact opposite, but God has given us his saving grace through faith alone in Christ to His glory alone.
And that is an accurate and right thing to think of when we think of his grace. But there is another grace that he pours out. It’s called common grace. His saving grace is poured out on those who are called his children, those who are covered in Christs righteousness. Those who are followers of him. Common grace is poured out on all people indiscriminately.
The sun rises and sets on both the good and the evil. The rain falls on both the just and the unjust. We see things like doctors and medicine that all people are able to benefit from, jobs and income that all are able to use to provide for their families, music, sports, art, food, all given to all people to enjoy. Even nature itself, given for us to enjoy and for us to see God revealing himself in. Given to all people.
As the saying goes, this is the closest to heaven that unbelievers will ever get. They get glimpses. They get signs, they get common grace designed to point them to who God is and to His Son Jesus Christ. But without believing in him, this is as close as they will get. On the other side, if you are a believer, if you are a follower of Christ, a disciple. This is the closest to Hell that we will ever get.
But, again, we don’t get to take the easy road. Jesus makes sure that we understand that he is raising the bar. He wants us to have no mistake that we are expected to be better, to live up to a higher standard. He says it’s easy to love those who love us. Everyone does that.
He has raised the bar. The standard that God has is perfection. What the scriptures do, what Jesus does, what we are to do is to show, both, the impossible standard that that is to live up to, and the wholly undeserved grace that is poured out on all who believe and follow Christ.
And how we treat others is one of the ways that we show that. We show the love of Christ by the way we love others. The parallel, the correlation is clear. The way we treat others is not dependent on how they treat us. Just as, the way that God treats us, the love that he shows us, the grace he pours out in us is not dependent on how we treat him. Because if it were, we would all be in hell. Not destined for hell, but upon our first sin, we would be immediately sent there. We are in constant rebellion against Gods sovereign reign over his creation. God says, I love you anyway, here is grace.
The choice we have to make is whether we settle for common grace, and often if we choose this, we will raise the things that God has graced us with, we will raise them up as idols. We can settle for common grace or we can accept his true loving, sacrificial saving grace. And when we choose that path, Gods saving grace, we need to remember that it was while we were unlovable, while we were yet sinners, that Christ dies for us.

Let’s Pray.

Luke 6:20-26 Jesus is the Son of Man Blessings and Woes

Luke 6:20-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Blessings and Woes

 

Good Morning! Let’s grab our Bibles and turn in them to Luke chapter 6. As always, if you do not have a Bible or know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and we can get a Bible into your hands.

So, we are going through Luke’s Gospel and we have now come to a section of a chunk of Jesus’ teachings. Luke has been showing the readers, Theophilus and us, been showing us Jesus authority over all things. And we have seen Jesus had just finished calling his 12 Apostles out of his numerous disciples.

This teaching we are going to look at has very similar content as the Sermon on the Mount that we see recorded by Matthew in his Gospel, Matthew 5-7. But we saw, according to scriptures, “on a level plain.” Because of this, some have nicknamed this passage, “The Sermon on the Plain.”

We also have seen that people had come from all over to see and listen to Jesus. From Judea to Jerusalem, from Tyre to Sidon, people came from all over to hear him. And what they are going o hear, is Jesus reiterating, rephrasing and subverting their expectations for the rules of life.

So, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 6, verses 20-26. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation, reading the Word of God for yourself. Luke 6:20-26, Luke records the very Words and teachings of Jesus, writing:

 

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

 

Thus, saith the LORD.

 

So, we start by seeing this word, “Blessed” used by Jesus. This word is often thought of to mean “happy,” but it really means so much more than that.  Blessed is so much deeper than happy. RC Sproul says that it is more to be brought into an intimate relationship with God. He writes, “When the Bible pronounces blessing, it doesn’t mean, “Be Happy.” It means, “May you understand in the depths of your soul, in the deepest chamber of your heart, the sweetness of the presence of God as you live before his face every moment.”

          And so, we will go through these Blesseds that Jesus speaks of here, and afterwards, the opposite, he pronounces Woes that correlate to these same Blesseds.

First, Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Now, in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records Jesus as saying, Blessed are the Poor in spirit. The point Jesus is making at that point is that none of us are able to be righteous enough or to be religious enough to get ourselves into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And I don’t think that the too things that Jesus says are exactly the same, nor are they unrelated or opposites of each other. Luke is very concerned with those who are physically in need. Those who are poor, those who are sick. Those who are oppressed. We saw with the scripture that Jesus read to introduce his ministry in Luke 4:18, that he is also concerned with the very same groups. And so, Jesus could have and obviously, that he is also concerned with the very same groups. And so, Jesus could have and obviously address both those who are spiritually poor and those who are materially poor.

And poverty, poorness is a very humbling experience. That’s what it is intended to provoke. And so, this is not a proof text for so called, “poverty theology.” Poverty theology says that those who are poor and those who have little to no material possessions are more spiritual and righteous than those who do have material possession.

We know that’s not the case, as we see both rich and poor can be both righteous and unrighteous. The point that Jesus is making is that we are to be fully reliant on God, for both the material and the spiritual.

On the flip aside of this, Jesus cries out, Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Nowhere in scripture does it say that having money is wrong or sinful. What it does say is that money, comfort, and material possessions make it much more difficult to recognize our spiritual poverty and our need for God and his grace. Martin Luther observed: Rich folks’ children seldom turn out well. They are complacent, arrogant, and conceited and think they need to learn nothing because they have enough to live on anyway.”

          His point, when we don’t have any needs, when we don’t need to rely on anyone or anything, then we reject reliance on our God and He who judges our soul and determines our eternal destiny.

Building on that, I believe, Jesus gives his next Blessed. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Again, different but related, in order to fully flesh out the idea behind what Jesus is saying, we look at what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

What did you think about the Bible before you became a Christian? Was it nothing? Was it a book to be on your shelf, your side table or coffee table, but never to be opened? Was it a good idea, full of nice stories to teach us to behave? For me, it was the truth, but never read, never looked and therefore, never known what it said. How can you think it’s true if you don’t know what it is? But most people, before they are Christians don’t really have an interest in what the Bible says, especially in understanding it.

Can you remember one of the biggest changes that came about when you became a Christian? What about opening that Bible that was sitting in the shelf and collecting dust? What about, now that you believe in Jesus Christ, that he is God, finding out what he said? Having a hunger and thirst for knowing what his word says? Right along with that, I would argue unable to be disconnected from that, is a drive to please God, to obey his commandments and to do his will? Those are things that come along with having your heart changed from stone by Him and being brought to life out of death.

The problem comes that we cannot achieve this, we cannot satisfy these hungers and these thirsts fully in this world and this life. We hunger and thirst for righteousness, but we have no righteousness of our own. We can grow in righteousness as we mature and grow in the LORD, but as we do so, how easy is it for this to morph into self-righteousness, or to morph into judgmental ism, or legalism. Our passion and our heart are to learn more about God and to do the will of God. But we cannot see or know perfectly. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, that for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

          There are times we will get the will of God wrong. There are things in the Bible that we won’t understand. But our new heart, our changed nature gives us a hunger and thirst to now God better, to know his word, to try to live up to the Holy standard that God has set. And when we enter the Kingdom that hunger, that thirst will be satisfied. We will know full, see clearly, just as we have been fully known. We have no hunger, no thirst for righteousness without God. We desire to fulfill our own fleshly desires. We want what we want, and we want it now.

Jesus tells us that not only spiritual hunger, but physical hunger exists to point us towards God. We need to rely on him for all that we need, physically and spiritually. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

          God provides for our physical needs and our spiritual needs. He does so out of his grace. But when we lose that hunger, we forget that it is God who provided. We get comfortable. We get complacent. We refuse to step out of our comfort zone.

I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. We don’t always think it consciously of course. “I’m just going to sit here in my comfortable bubble, here at home, or here at our church and wait for people to come to me instead of going out there…”

So, we need to keep that hunger, that hunger for righteousness and the hunger to fulfill Gods Will. For it is only by fulfilling our calling in Christ that we will be truly and fully satisfied.

But we won’t be satisfied immediately, not in the sense that Jesus is talking about here. Next, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” We all know that there is a lot to weep about in this world. RC Sproul writes about this verse. “The context indicates that these are mourning over sin and evil, especially their own, and over the failure of mankind to give proper glory to God.”

Now, let me ask you a question, can anyone who does not know God, truly know him, know him through his Son, Jesus Christ, can they truly mourn about sin, and about the failure for humanity to give glory to God? Now, the answer is no, but before you give that answer without thinking, I want to point something out. I want to point out how the enemy doesn’t have to tell us complete lies. He doesn’t have to point us 180 degrees away from Gods truth. He just has to get us 1 degree off.

Do you see the people today who are decidedly not Christian, who are protesting social problems? Do you see those fighting against injustices? Do you see how passionate they are to make things right? They see that there are things broken in this world, that this is not how it is supposed to be. They see the effects of sin, on people, on families, on society, on the world. They don’t see that it is sin that does it. They see people as generally good, or at least some are good, and if they could only convince the others, who are bad, that what they are doing is wrong, then they will be good too. There are bits of truth mixed into the ball of lies.

Yes, sin has broken this world. There are social problems. There are injustices. We should be that passionate about fixing those problems and injustices. But the truth is, the Bible tells us there are none good, no not one. That all our “goodness” doesn’t amount to a hill of beans to God. And after we see things with open eyes, when the Holy spirit lifts the veil from our eyes, it is only then that we can see the truth, and how bad things truly can be, and how bad, how unrepentant of our sin, our lack of honoring and giving glory to God that we truly are.

Once our eyes are truly open, the effects of sin should break our hearts. The hordes of lost souls walking down the wide and easy road down into hell, going of their own choosing, following their feelings, following their friends & following the culture and society, that should break our hearts, that should cause us to mourn. Nehemiah, when he heard that Jerusalem had been destroyed, he sat down, and wept and mourned for days.

The good news is that those who are truly, rightly, mourning, those that have had their eyes open and the veil lifted, they will be in the Kingdom of Heaven, where Jesus tells us through John at the end of Revelation, there will be no tears, no more death, no mourning, nor crying nor pain. In other words, no more sin, no more social problems, no more injustice, no more brokenness. We are comforted in that we know that’s what God has waiting for us, we know that God has won the battle already, we are just waiting for time to catch up with God. And we will be comforted when we enter the Kingdom of Heaven because there will be nothing to mourn. Instead, we will laugh and rejoice and dance in worship to our king.

 

Lastly among the Blesseds, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

 

          Now, this is a favorite among Christians when things seem to be going the wrong way in society and the culture. And its true, Jesus testifies to it multiple times that the world will hate a right understanding of what the Bible says. Many will and are trying to make it say something that it never said and never meant.

But here is the thing I want you to take away from this. This Blessed cannot be reverse engineered. If people hate, revile exclude you, that does not automatically mean that you are being biblical or Christlike.

I know someone needed to hear that, and sometimes its me.

Verse 26 has the parallel woe, 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Each of these Blesseds have a balance to them. This one for example. Yes, the world will hate us, given the right understanding of that. But we balance that with the context of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, especially verse 7, when listing the requirements for an elder, Paul writes, Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

          That’s not an easy balance to strike. I like how I have heard it before. The Gospel is offensive, there is no way around that. People do not want to be confronted with their sin. But just because the Gospel will be offensive, does not give us the right to be offensive.

 

Overall, Jesus is making the point that if you want the benefits and rewards of and in heaven, you’re going to have to go through some stuff here on earth.

We have the choices to make, between the Blesseds and the Woes. The choice is not between blessed or neutral. It is not beloved or ignored. Our choice is between blessed or cursed, forgiven or punished, grace or wrath.

Woe to those who are full, who are rich, who laugh now, who people speak well of. Just like we sometimes misunderstand Blessed, we do so as well with Woe. Woe is not used here as a threat of judgment, but more along the lines of what we said about blessed are those who mourn. This Woe is more of a sadness regarding what is going on, Basically, in this context, a mourning over the choice that was made.

We need to remember to look at these sayings on context. Remember what I said at the beginning, one of the things Jesus is doing is showing us the true meaning of Gods commands and subverting the expectations of those who were listening to him. What Jesus is teaching here in our passage today and through out the rest of this teaching passage, is not about strict obedience to the letter of the law. Its not about Finding loopholes either. You know, when we think to ourselves, “How close can we get… or How much can we do and still not sin…”

J.C Ryle wrote “We must take good heed that we do not misunderstand our LORDs meaning when we read these expressions. We must not for a moment suppose that the mere fact of being poor, and hungry and sorrowful, and hated by man will entitle any one to lay claim to an interest in Christ’s blessing. The poverty here spoken of, is a poverty accompanied by grace. The want is a want entailed by faithful adherence to Jesus. The afflictions are the afflictions of the Gospel. The persecution is a persecution for the Son of Mans sake.

 

          Listen, of course its not wrong to laugh. Its not wrong to have material possessions. Its not wrong to have a full belly or to be well thought of by those outside these walls. It is wrong when it comes at others expense. It is wrong when it’s at the expense of righteousness. It is wrong when it comes at the expense if God and the Gospel.

 

What does it profit a man to gain the world, yet lose his soul?

A lot of us need to remember this when we watch the news or follow current events. The Bible is clear, we are not going to “Christianize” the nations. There is no such thing as a Christian nation in the physical world.

Instead, we serve a King of a different kingdom, one not of this world. One whose citizenship requirement is simply the faith granted to us by the Grace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ. His death on the cross, his resurrection, his ascension, made possible the forgiveness of our sins, enabling our eternal souls to be reconciled to God the Father. We will come back to that in just a moment.

First, A blessing and Woe that I put together from what I read from Jesus, something I think the church needs to hear in America today.

Blessed is he who serves the Kingdom of God above all others. Blessed is he who recognizes and serves no King but Jesus. Blessed are they who are exiles in a land not their own, who work for the welfare of the city, but whose eyes are looking forward to the city built and designed by God, for they will receive eternal life with Christ.

        Woe to those who put their faith in politicians and parties. Woe to those who put their faith in the outcome of elections. Woe to those who villainize people who disagree with hem, who vote opposite of them or see things differently from them, for they have their reward already.

 

Now, each month we remember Jesus sacrifice, his shed blood and his death on the cross. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

 

 

Luke 6:12-19 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus’ Followers

Luke 6:12-19

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus’ Followers

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 6. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one for you.

So, Luke has shown us the start of Jesus ministry, which so far has included, but has not been limited to healing and preaching the Word and calling a few new followers.

In this, Luke has been, since the start of Chapter 4, establishing Jesus authority for his readers. And his authority is All encompassing. We have seen his authority established over Satan, we have seen it over sickness and diseases, we have seen it over physical ailments. We have seen his authority established over sin, established with the ability to forgive those sins, authority established over the Sabbath and the authority to speak and interpret the Word of God.

This week we see some of his authority in who he then gives authority too. The first part is going to make official what had likely been know, at least in part, beforehand, who amongst his followers had authority. The second part is going to be an introduction to a section that will take up the rest of Chapter 6, a teaching section where Jesus shows us his authority to speak and interpret the scriptures and what they truly mean.

So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 6, verses 12 through 19. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I greatly encourage you to read along and follow along with your preferred translation so that you can read and see for yourself what the Word of God says, instead of just talking my word for it.

So, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following, Luke 6:12-19:

 

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

Now, we already know that Jesus was a prayer warrior, but we see that reaffirmed right here from the beginning. He often went off to desolate places, places to be alone and to focus and to spend a large amount of time in direct prayer with God the Father. This is the third such time that Luke has shown us this in as many chapters. He would sometimes us this time to rest, sometimes to recharge, but always to seek and confirm the will of the Father.

In this case, Jesus likely spent over 10 hours of intensely focused prayer. He was specifically meditating and praying on the choices he was making. In the Greek it says that “all night he continued.”

Of course, one of the big takeaways for us is that whenever we have a big decision, whenever we have something important to determine or decide, we should always take significant time in prayer. If Jesus, of all people, needed this time, how much more do we?

In one of his poems, Hartley Coleridge writes the following:

He sought the mountains and the loneliest height,

For he would meet his father all alone,

And there, with many a tear and many a groan,

He strove in prayer throughout the long, long night.

Why crave in prayer what was his own by might?

Vain is the question- Christ was man indeed,

And being man, his duty was to pray.

 

A reminder to us all that, as Paul tells us as well, we are to be in constant prayer.

And in the morning, when Jesus is done praying and comes down, he names 12 of his followers to be his Apostles.

So, some things that we see, and we know here in this. First, we see in the Gospels, there are three levels, or maybe categories would be a better term, of followers of Jesus. The first was just that, followers. Jesus had many of them. They would follow him around; they would listen to his teachings and they would want to see healings and miracles that Jesus was quickly becoming famous for. However, for the most part, they were not particularly committed to Jesus.

Next were his disciples. We don’t know how many of these he had, but we know they were many. We will see one instance later in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus sends out 72 of his disciples to spread the word. These disciples were committed to following Jesus and believing his teachings and trying to get others to believe it as well.

The final category was the 12 names that Jesus listed here in Luke chapter 6. The Apostles. These are not just followers, but the Apostle means sent ones. They would be given the authority to act and speak on His behalf. Their very words would carry authority. This is why, when the canon of the New Testament was being confirmed, one of the requirements was that the Gospel or letter had to be, either written by one of them (later to include Paul as well) or to be told by one of them and written by one of their closest acquaintances.

These 12, the Apostles, would become Jesus inner circle. They would be the ones he would confide in. They would get the extra teaching and explanation. They would become his family during the next few years, during his earthly ministry. And they would act just like our families do today. They would be the ones that would believe in Him, and he them. They would be praying with and for each other. They would be holding each other accountable. Just like our families, there would be those who would disappoint and betray him, and he knew that from the beginning.

Here is something that I think we need to hear. Jesus chose these men to be his Apostles, just like he chose each of us who are called to become the children of God, each and everyone if us who are saved by Gods grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus chose each and every one of us. And he knew everything that would happen before hand.

He knew they would act. He knew how they would sin. He knew their failings and he still called them and chose them, in spite of all that. HE knew before he chose us. He knew how we would act. He knew how we would sin. He knew how we would fall.  He knew it all. And he chose you anyway. He chose me anyway. He chose each of us, despite knowing that we would fall and sin. He knew and he died and rose again in order to purchase our salvation and to forgive us of our sins.

I heard one pastor say, years ago, and the way he said it really hit me. God is the only who can forgive sins. And if he has chosen to forgive us, who do we think we are if we say we can’t forgive ourselves? We think we are above God. Pair that with, If God says that he has forgiven us, but we don’t believe that he has or could forgive our specific sins, then what are saying about the Word of God? We are saying that it can’t be trusted.

The Bible is clear. Jesus is clear. God the Father is clear. The Holy Spirit is clear. If you are a child of God, if you are in Christ, by grace, through faith, then your sins have been forgiven. You have been cleansed. You have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. You have been clothed in Christs righteousness. You have been justified, are being sanctified and will be glorified. All of that is Promised by God and its all true, whether you feel like it or not. Take comfort in that. Rejoice in that. Let that light shine in the dark corners of shame that comes om naturally when we sin and don’t feel worthy of the forgiveness that he has already said is ours.

Now, we see the names of the twelve that Jesus called to be his Apostles. Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Now, every time we see a list of the twelve in scriptures, the middle is in different order, but each list starts with Simon Peter and ends with Judas Iscariot, the traitor. That’s not a coincidence. It’s obvious that because he is a traitor and will end up being replaced in the book of Acts by Matthias, that’s why he is listed last. Peter is listed first because he would end up becoming the de facto leader, the first among equals of the Twelve.

Now, some of these twelve, we know some about based on the scriptures. Names like Simon Peter, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Thomas, Matthew who was Levi, and of course, Judas Iscariot. These guys, there are things written about them in the scriptures so we can get a sense of who they are.

The others, Andrew, Simons brother, Philip, Bartholomew, the other James, Simon the Zealot and the other Judas, them we don’t know much about. I’ve included in the back, some of you have it already, a printout on the twelve. This is what we know from scriptures about each of them. This was compiled by RC Sproul and I copied it out of his commentary on Luke’s Gospel. I think its an excellent resource and a great way to get to know the Apostles maybe better than we do now. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, please do so on your way out.

These twelve, Jesus chose them. The ordinary, the mostly uneducated, the poor. The everyday man. Just like you and me. With the authority and the responsibility to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ after his ascension. We read in Ephesians 2 this morning, the Apostles are a part of the foundation that the Kingdom of God is built on, with Christ as the chief cornerstone. Revelation 21:14 tells us that the New Jerusalem that the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Now, whether we see that imagery as symbolic, metaphorical, literal or whatever, I think we can all agree that it shows how important and how vital to the kingdom of God, these men were.

They were chosen, not because of anything about themselves, but because of Gods sovereignty and his omniscience. Nearly all the commentaries I’ve read this week on this passage reference the same quote by Oswald Chambers. He says:

God can achieve his purpose either through the absence of human power and resources or the abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.

 

 

Next, we come to Jesus descended with the Apostles and getting ready for a lengthy teaching session. There are a lot of similarities to the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-7, but this is very clearly not on a mount, so some call this the Sermon on the Plain.

We see that there is a great crowd around him already, both his disciples, those committed to him and followers and curiosity seekers from all over the country.

Many came and looked to be healed. Those who had unclean spirits were cleaned. His power was on display as many were cured and healed. Jesus authority over the physical realm was established and his spiritual authority was about to be on display with the teaching that is coming.

In this, I think that Jesus is showing us a choice that we have to make. As I mentioned earlier, we see three categories of followers here and so, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, you have to look at which of these three that you fit into.

Are you partially committed? Looking for the healings and miracles, the emotional highs that can some with worship? Is your assurance in your church attendance and your moral life and is the church a social club where you here good teaching?

OR you could be fully committed to the worshipping and listening to Jesus. Knowing that he is Christ, that you saved by his grace and its not because you attend church and live right but that your worship and sanctification are fruit from that salvation. That’s great. I wish there were more that were that committed.

Lastly, are you completely and totally committed to doing and living the teachings of Jesus Christ. Listening and reading the Words of God. Putting them into practice in our every day lives. Committed to loving our neighbors and enemies with grace and forgiveness, making disciples, teaching them all that the LORD has commanded, not being perfect and sinless but walking in the fruit of the spirit, being that one that Oswald Chambers was speaking of, renouncing dependence on natural abilities and resources?

These are questions that we have to ask ourselves honestly and often.

 

Let’s Go ahead and pray.