Luke 11:27-32 Jesus is the Son of Man Believe the Words of God

Luke 11:27-32

Jesus is the Son of Man

Believe the Words of God

 

All right, turn with me, if you will, in your Bibles to Luke chapter 11. As most of you know, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can rectify that situation.

Last week, we saw that Jesus was addressing the crowds around him. He was casting out demons. He was teaching, as Mark says in his gospel, as one who has authority.

And we saw last week that there were three groups of people in the crowd, and those three types of people fell on two different sides of the issue. The issue, of course being, who is Jesus?

On one side, we see those who believe that Jesus is who claims to be. Simple enough. The second and third groups are on the other side, those who actively don’t believe, and those who are not able or willing to make a choice, those who were looking for signs and more evidence.

And as we learned, what you look for, you will find, whether its true or not. There is no neutrality. You either believe or you don’t. You either follow Christ or you don’t. You hear and you see the truth, or you don’t.

As we continue on this morning, Jesus continues to address the same crowd, the same three groups that we looked at last week. SO, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 11, verses 27 through 32.

I encourage you to follow along in your Bible, with your preferred translation. I will be reading from the English Standard Version. Luke 11:27-32:

 

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

So again, we see this is Jesus continuing to address the same crowd, the same people as we looked at last week. It was the same instances, the same timing, everything.

And as he was saying these things…The things he just said, there is no neutrality. That he is stronger than Satan. That he works through and with the power of God. These things he was telling the crowd.

And then this lady in the crowd, she shows whose side she is one. She shows where her loyalties lie. She is Team Jesus. She yells out that he is so great that his mom is blessed. Blessed is she who took care of you, who birthed you, who nursed you, who raised you, she must be amazing!

This is where a part of the basis for the Catholic prayer, Hail Mary comes from. This is where a part of the idolizing of Mary comes from in the Catholic teaching comes from.

Now, it is wrong to worship Mary. She is blessed, yes, but she is a human woman, a sinner like we all are. And during the Protestant Reformation, this was one of the things that really was protested against, was idolizing and worshipping people other than Jesus, saints, Mary and the like. But we can sometimes go to far in the rejection of this looking up to Mary.

Jesus here does not disagree with this woman. He does not correct her. Instead, he shows what is greater than he. In essence, he says, yes, she is blessed, but there are some who are more blessed.

Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it. Thank you to Cindy and Jean for putting that exact verse on our reader board down at the road. So, Mary was blessed, but Jesus shows us why she was blessed. Those who believe in Christ, those who are saved by faith, including Mary, are even more blessed than one who gave birth to him. Jesus says elsewhere, if you love me, you will keep my commands.

 

Now, here is where we need to talk about the law, about keeping his commands. The covenant that God made with Adam was keep the rule I gave you and you will have eternal life. Romans 5 is one example where we see that Adam was not only a literal man, the first man, but as such, he was a covenantal head of humanity. The covenant God made with Adam, he made with mankind.

Keep the rules I give you and you shall live. Or put another way, disobey my rules and you shall surely die. Adam broke the covenant, and therefore we all have broken the covenant. In addition to this, we have all individually broken this covenant. In fact, the Bible tells us that not a single one of us has the ability to keep the covenant. No human being, Jesus of course being the exception, not a single individual is able to not sin.

Jesus is able to not sin, as we see in the Gospels. He is the greater Adam He has kept the covenant between God and humanity and therefore is able to redeem mankind. He succeeds where Adam failed.

Where Adam, as a representative of mankind, broke the covenant, Jesus as a greater representative of mankind, live a sinless and perfect life and therefore earned eternal life for those trust in him.

We are still not able to keep our own end of this and so, it is offered to us by the grace of God, through faith is Christ and his works, the works that earned eternal life. Not our works, but Christs works.

In that, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and minds. He changes our desires and abilities. We now have some, key word SOME, ability to not sin.

 

And so, through Christ, we have a New Covenant. Now we are commanded not to obey, and we will live. Instead, we are commanded to live in Christ and then obey.

If you have a chance, read all of Galatians 3. This is a great section by Paul laying out the whole thing of salvation by works or by faith and relationship between Jesus and the law. It finishes up verses 25-29:

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

 

The New Covenant, the greater covenant is here. Jesus is the greater Adam. Jesus initiated the new covenant, and we are partakers of it through faith. WE have faith in what Jesus did and who he is. He initiated the covenant through his sinless life, through his death, his burial and his resurrection. Through his blood shed and through his work on the cross. When we are brought into this covenant, we are given everlasting life. We are given the forgiveness of sins. We are given eternal communion with God.

That sounds simple enough, right? Trust and obey. Believe and live. Except that our inherent human nature is corrupted since the Fall in Genesis 3. We don’t want God’s grace. We don’t want his forgiveness.

We want to think we can do it all on our own. We want to think that we can earn Gods favor and forgiveness. WE think that we are not bad enough to warrant any discipline or punishment from God. We think that, at least we are better than those around us and that has to count for something.

And so, we are disinclined to believer the Word of God, even when it becomes flesh and appears here on Earth. Jesus is the Word made flesh and many disbelieved and many more continued to seek for signs.

Despite the fact that Jesus had been giving them signs throughout his ministry, including one they just witnessed. Jesus says that he will give one sign to mankind, the sign of Jonah. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish, only to reemerge, by the power and sovereignty of God, and preach salvation and repentance to sinners. Jesus would end up spending three days in the tomb, only to reemerge, by the power and sovereignty of God, to achieve salvation and call sinners to repent.

Jesus is the greater Jonah. As much as the Ninevites repented at Jonah’s preaching, which we read about in this morning’s Scripture Reading, how much should we repent at the preaching and signs that Jesus shared.

Jesus tells us about Jonah and then he tells us about Queen Sheba. She travelled, basically, the entire known world in order to hear the wisdom of King Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man in the world. She travelled to seek the wisdom that we have at our fingertips in our Bibles.

And we know that Jesus is the greater Solomon. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:30:  you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, Jesus is wisdom. If Sheba were willing to travel so far to hear the wisdom of Solomon, how much more should we be willing to do to hear the Wisdom of God presented to us in the Bible? How much more passion and devotion should we show in our pursuit of Godly wisdom?

Jesus here is not comparing himself to Jonah or to Solomon, but instead is arguing from the lesser to the greater. He is the greater. He is stronger than Satan as we saw last week. He is the greater Jonah, taking the miraculous things that happened to him and amplifying them. He is the greater Solomon, wiser than the wisest man, Wisdom personified.

Think about whoever you look up to. Think about whoever is influential in your lives. Think about who you listen to. Think about who you read. Think about who you let speak into your life.

Jesus is greater. How much more should he influence you, speak into your life. How much more should we listen to and read Jesus? He is the greater everything. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.

 

Ultimately, our judgement at the end will be based on What did we do with the truth when we were presented with it. We have been given all the information needed, all the signs that we could want. And yet, so many of us keep asking for more signs, more evidence, more proof.

One commentator points out, “The fact is, that the people who demanded another sign would not have been convinced by it or by any number of signs. Their seeking of a sign was not an indication of their willingness to believe if only adequate evidence was provided, but a rationalizing of their unwillingness to believe the perfectly adequate evidence they already had.”

God has given us all the evidence, al the signs we would need. He has told us to believe, and we will live. What are we doing with the truth that has been laid in our hands?

Remember that its not just knowing what the Bible says. Its not just memorizing verses. It’s not only about head knowledge, though that is important. But what we do with that knowledge, that’s the most important part. DO we turn that intellectual knowledge into a saving faith?

God draws us to him, opens our eyes to the truth he has presented. We then believe and repent. WE believe and we show our love for him by keeping his commands. Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep them.

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 11:14-26 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus is the Strongest Man

Luke 11:14-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus is the Strongest Man

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11.

 

We are continuing our series, our journey through the Gospel of Luke. And in this Gospel, Jesus is continuing his travels, making his way towards Jerusalem. His followers, his disciples are travelling with him and being taught by Jesus, being trained by him, mentored in order to continue after Jesus leaves to preach the Kingdom of Heaven is here, it is at hand.

Jesus has been teaching and showing his disciples the two greatest commands; Love God and Love your Neighbor. He has shown them things that can pull them away from loving God; among which include distractedness, anxiety and troubledness over many things.

When this happens, we can often let our preconceived notions about, people, about God, about the Bible, we can let them take over and further get in the way. These preconceived notions can further separate and divide us from God and from those around us.

Jesus is going to deal with some people who have entrenched themselves in their preconceived notions in the passage we look at this morning. It is going to cause these people to ignore all indications of the truth, no matter how clearly it is presented to them.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke 11, verses 14 through 26. I encourage you all to grab your Bibles and follow along, whatever your preferred translation. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Luke 11:14-26:

 

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

 

 

May God Bless the reading of his word…

 

So, Jesus is casting out demon, doing what he does. And in this instance, he was casting out a mute demon. This is not meaning that the demon itself could not speak, but that it caused the person it was tormenting to not be able to speak. I think its quite curious that this story about a man not being able to speak because of a demon comes right after the passage about praying and lifting our voices up to God.

 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence…

 

Anyway, so this mute man was delivered from this demon, and he spoke. What a feeling this must have been! What emotions this guy must have had! The scriptures don’t say how long he was mute, whether from birth or not, but we know it was long enough that he was known as the mute guy. He was known not to be able to speak. And so, when he spoke and the crowd heard it, there were amazed! People marveled.

And this reaction from the crowd, this astonishment from the mute man, this bona fide miracle that all acknowledged, this is the first step in the point of why Jesus did these types of miracles. Yes, of course, there was the compassion. Jesus had a heart for those who were suffering. He had a heart for those who needed healing.

But the main reason he did the miracles and the healings and the signs and wonders that he did was to testify to his message. It was to testify to his deity. And his message was the kingdom of heaven and salvation from sin. The miracles and healings were down to show that he had the authority to make the claims he was making and the power to back them up.

 

The people saw the miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, and they were astonished. They marveled! And then they gave credit to Satan.

 

Some attributed his power and abilities to Beelzebub. This was a name referencing the Canaanite god, Baal from the Old Testament and was often a stand in for Satan himself as well.

So, the crowd saw what Jesus was doing, casting out a demon, and they decided that, instead of seeing that this was through the Power of God, they decided that Jesus was getting his powers and abilities from Satan himself.

Isaiah 5:20 could be written about these people in the crowd, as it is written,

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

 

To see the good being done and to attribute that good to the devil instead of to God, woe, woe to them.

 

WE see another group in the crowd though too. Luke tells us that some in the crowd kept seeking signs to test him. They weren’t willing to give credit of what Jesus was doing to Satan, but neither were they ready to give the credit to God. They were the definition of neutrality that we see towards the end of this passage.

This group reminds me of an episode of MASH that I saw recently. One of the injured soldiers came in and thought he was Jesus Christ. The medics of course don’t believe him and try to get him to tell them who he really is.

He says, “What can I do to convince you?”

Their response, “Well, a miracle would be a good start…”

 

Except that even if the guy really had been Jesus, and if he had been able to do a miracle for them, they still wouldn’t believe. Jesus says this very thing of in Johns Gospel, paraphrasing here, but basically, you are not believing my words, you are not believing my signs and you are not believing what Moses said about me so long ago. You are looking for reasons and finding them to not believe.

 

Jesus of course knew the hearts and the minds and the words of all those in the crowd. And he told them, “Y’all are making no sense whatsoever…”

Why would you fight against yourself? IT makes no tactical sense. Its stupid to fight against yourself. And Satan is many things, but stupid is not one of them.

Satan is smart. He provides and communicates just enough truth wrapped up in his lies. Jesus says in Matthew 24:24 that he can lead astray even the elect. He has power, limited by God, created by God, but he does have some power to do some signs and wonders. To a point. That’s important.

Because the signs and wonders, the power that he posses and shows are not true, against the laws of nature miracles. He can only do so much. We see the magicians in Pharaoh’s court, back in Exodus 7 as an example.

Moses came in proclaiming the name of God, telling Pharoah to let the Israelites go. TO back up his claims and to show the power of God, Moses did signs and wonders. The first couple the magicians in Pharaoh’s court were able to mimic, as if they had the same power that Moses had received from God. But Gods power overwhelmed and defeated the power of the magicians and showed that any signs and wonders done in the power pf Satan are pale imitations of the true miraculous work of God.

 

Jesus then turns to the people and says, “Oh by the way, some of your own people are casting out demons as well. If I’m doing it through the devil, who are they doing it through?”

 

Jesus said, it is by the power of God that I do the things that I do. It is to confirm my words to you that the kingdom of God is here. Most of the pharisees did not believe where Jesus got his power and authority from. Though one did. IN John 3 we see Nicodemus, a pharisee, come to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Nicodemus says to Jesus in verse 1, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.

Nicodemus was able to set aside his preconceived notions and see what was really in front of him. Many in this crowd were not. The people of that day, like ours, had their own ideas of who God was and who Jesus was. Some of it was a misunderstanding of scripture. Some of it was just purely made up in their own minds. Whichever was the case, they were blinded to the truth.

They were attributing the good works of Jesus to a pagan god, to Satan, instead of to the true God. Because they were unwilling to see the good in Jesus. Because they were unwilling to believe that God would work in this way that they were not expecting.

 

This view of God, that he is Love and he wouldn’t let bad things happen. He wouldn’t punish people for messing up. He allows many paths to himself. Sin is not a big deal and there is no judgment or hell.

This view of the Bible, that it is just a book, not the inspired Word of God. That it’s a book of morals, teachings and life lessons, but holds no authority.

This view that Jesus is not God, or that he is not man. That he was not sinless. That he never died, or that he never rose from the dead. That he never spoke on numerous subjects that the Bible is crystal clear on. That he is not the Word incarnate, that he is not the Alpha and Omega, and that he is not the one who will come to judge.

These preconceived notions are what we need to overcome in order to see the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what he has said. Those things that we are born with, and we naturally hold in ourselves. In our hearts and in our minds. We all have them, and the first key is to recognize them. Because when we see Jesus at work, when we read the Bible, we will read it through the lenses of our preconceived notions.

What you look for, you will find. This is true throughout life but is especially true with the Bible. IF you decide you believe one way about a subject, then you will find validation for it in the Bible.

It could be your view on a specific sin. It could be looking for which political party you want to vote for. It could be any theological issue. What you are looking for, you will find. It doesn’t mean its right, but you will find it. That’s how our hearts and minds work. So, we need the God to raise the cover from our eyes. We need the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. We need Jesus to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Without them, we are slaves to our preconceived notions.

 

 

Jesus then gives, kind if a parable to the crowd. We see the strong man in his home or fortress. Satan is the strong man in this example. He is the god of this world (little g). God has allowed him to have some power and some authority here for a certain amount of time.

Jesus comes into the earth as the stronger man. He destroys the strong mans kingdom and takes over as the authority in that house. We know from scripture that Jesus defeated Satan, sin and death with his death, burial and resurrection.

Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-15:

 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[c]

 

              Its not just that Jesus defeats him in a battle that they just get into, but Jesus is defeating Satan in order to win our souls. He is defeating Satan so that we may be freed from our sins by our faith in Jesus Christ.

RC Sproul writes that yes, we do have to respect and acknowledge the power that Satan has and holds in this world, but not overly so. Jesus already won. He has already shown he is the strongest man. He has already removed Satan’s attempt at a kingdom with the Kingdom of God. Its already finished and The Kingdom of God has already been established.

 

Jesus makes it clear in verse 23, there is no neutrality. You are with Jesus, or you are not. You are a citizen of the kingdom of God, or you are not. There is no dual citizenship. The scriptures make it clear that you cannot serve two masters. You are a follower of Christ or an enemy of Christ. And nothing, not your works, not your attendance, not your knowledge determines which side you are on, only the grace of God giving us faith in Christ.

 

And he who does not gather, scatters. Those who are not a part of the body of Christ, will work at dividing the body of Christ. They will create division and sow disunity among the family of God.

 

We finish this passage in verses 24-26, where Jesus shows us that we cannot do it on our own. The example that Jesus gives here, an unclean spirit, for whatever reasons, boredom, finished job, or exorcism, prayer, sheer will, leaves a body, it goes looking for a new one. But without the Holy Spirit occupying the original host, the unclean spirit just comes right back and is even stronger and does more damage.

That’s not a problem we can solve with good old American ingenuity. We can’t pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. We can’t clean up our life by sheer force of will. We need Jesus.

Jesus gives us this example using an unclean spirit, but I see it working practically in our day to day lives if we think about our habitual sins. Some are easy to leave behind when we become new creations in Christ. But others continue to pick at us, nag us, tempt us, sometimes feeling like they own us.

We can make a little bit of outer progress on our own. There are people who change, who quit addictions, we stop cheating, we change quite a bit about their lives and their behavior without turning to Christ. But if they do, they often replace one sin for another, one addiction for another and none of it helps our souls, our hearts or our eternal destination.

That’s all Jesus. He offers salvation. He offers forgiveness of sins. HE is the only way to change who we are deep down inside. The salvation and forgiveness come instantly. But he also changes our heart and our desires. Though not all those desires change instantly. Some happen over time. Some never completely change until we are face to face with God himself.

I had someone make, what I think was a brilliant point to me this week. While we are here on earth, those temptations will not be permanently eliminated completely. But as we dive into Gods Word, and our relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be more equipped to deal with those temptations. The temptations might even grow stronger as we grow in Christ. The spiritual sure get fiercer, but our equippedness will also grow stronger, therefore our ability to resist that temptation will grow stronger. And of course, we say our, as if we are the ones doing, but knowing that all the ability, equipment, desire and strength comes directly from the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, we are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. His work changes us. His work defeated Satan.  And today we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

Now, I ask that if you are not a Christian, if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, please just pass the elements along. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing special about it for those who do not believe that Jesus Christ gave his broken body and his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There will be no pressure and no judgment.

stemming from that, Communion does not save us, it does not cleanse us, it does not do anything along those lines. It has no power to keep us clean or to restore our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. This was given to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering. Remembering who Jesus was. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering how much he loved us and remembering just how big of a deal our sin really is. It is meant to be sobering and somber, but at the same time it is meant to be a celebration.

Thirdly, we are told that we need to come and participate with the right heart. As I said, we do this in remembrance of what he gave up for us, the sacrifice he made. We do this because we remember how big of a deal our sin is, that he died on the cross for it. We need to make sure that our hearts and minds have their hearts set on what’s important and that we seek God’s forgiveness and make our relationships are right with him. In addition to a tradition becoming too important and placed above the word of God, tradition can become bad is by it losing its meaning and becoming simply a ritual. Please take some of this time to reflect on what this tradition means and to make sure that you are prepared to receive. There will never be any judgment if you choose not to participate, and just pass the plate.

Paul recounts to the church in Corinth what I now tell you as well, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:

 

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

          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 11:1-13 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Shows Us How to Pray

Luke 11:1-13

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Shows Us How to Pray

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11. If you do not have a Bible, or are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help with that.

So, last week we saw Jesus staying with two sisters, Mary and Martha. As he was staying there, he not only helps a teaching session with some group of people that including Mary, who sat at Jesus feet to listen to his teachings. Jesus also held a private teaching session with Martha, loving her and comforting her in her anxiety and frustration.

Jesus and his disciples continued their travelling from town to town and from village to village. Jesus was making his was way slowly but surely towards Jerusalem, where he was to fulfill his purpose. Along the way, they were preaching the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven being here in the here and now. We have seen many signs and wonders by Jesus to confirm his deity and the truth of his claims.

As he and the disciples are travelling, Jesus is teaching the, mentoring them, preparing them for ministry after he leaves his earthly ministry. The wonderful thing for us, is that these teachings that Jesus shared with his disciples, many of them are recorded in the Gospels contain in the Bible, so we have access to them whenever we want. And this morning we see some very important and practical teachings from Jesus.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s text before we dive in to the teaching. Luke chapter 11, verses 1-13. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 11:1-13, Luke, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit records the following:

 

Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,[b]
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence[c] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

Its always interesting to me when God and when the Gospel writers include or omit certain details. In this case, Jesus was in a certain place. Where that place was, was not important. What was important was that Jesus was praying. We have seen him does this often and it emphasizes to the disciples and to us, if Jesus needs to spend time in prayer, how much more do we?

So, Jesus is praying, and as was common for teachers and disciples of the time, Jesus followers wanted their teacher to teach them how to pray. Every teacher had their own style and method and pattern of prayer. The disciples mention John the Baptist and though we don’t see his prayers recorded in scripture, the disciples had heard of them and wanted to hear Jesus’ versions of prayer.

The disciples looked at Jesus as a number of things but included in that would have been seeing Jesus as their spiritual mentor. They wanted to model their spiritual life off of his. They wanted to be just like him. They wanted to learn from him. He had a robust spiritual prayer life, and they wanted the same.

They were saying to Him, “Lord, you were praying, you have such a good prayer life, your so good at praying, we want to have that same prayer life.”

 

And Jesus was a great example of a good mentor. When Jesus does show the disciples how to pray, he doesn’t give them a list of rigid instructions. He doesn’t say, “First, do this…Second, say this…” Instead, he gives example. He teaches the principles. He explains the whys and such.

 

And in verses 2-4, Jesus gives them a model of prayer. We see here a truncated version of the Lord’s prayer that we see in Jesus teach in Matthew 6:9-13, the version we all know and have memorized.

I think that’s the first think for us to take away form Jesus’ teachings this morning. The length of the prayer does not affect how well or how much God the Father hears our prayers. He does not hear longer prayers any more than shorter prayers. For sure, pray as long as is needed in that specific situation, but there is no need to make it longer and to fill it with fluff words to try to make it more holy.

Now, there are a number of different acronyms and lists and different descriptions out there about what is included in making a good and complete prayer. You may have heard the acronym, ACTS. An ACTS prayer would include Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (or asking). A-C-T-S.

RC Sproul listed some attributes of this and other prayers in scripture as Adoration, petition, confession and intercession. For this passage here this morning, the most common descriptions I read over and over were vertical and horizontal.

This means first, you pray vertically, upwards, towards God. Prayers are directed at someone, and who they are directed at matters. We don’t send our prayers and thoughts out to the universe. We don’t send prayers to people. We don’t pray to a God we don’t believe in or to any God that might hear it. We are praying to the Creator God of the Universe. We are praying to God the Father. We are praying to the one True God. And we need to make sure that we recognize that.

Now of course, this is not to legislate that every prayer we say has to include an out loud, personalized greeting to God. When something happens, sometimes, we just throw prayers out there. God still hears those and responds to those as well. They are no less valid prayers than the more formal prayers we are addressing here this morning.

After praying vertically, we then pray horizontally. We pray for the things, situations and people around us. First, we look up to Heaven, to God, then we look around us. Love God, love your neighbor. Pray to God, pray for your neighbor.

 

Jesus starts the prayer addressing God as Abba Father. Personal, individual Father. We who have been saved by the grace of God through our faith in Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. God also tells us that we are to approach boldly the throne of grace. God is our Father, if we are children in the faith. And he wants to make sure that we know he is approachable. He wants us to know that we can go to him. Anytime, anywhere, about anything. Jesus will talk more about God as Father coming up.

Hallowed be God’s name. God’s name should always be spoken of with reverence, with awe. He is Holy Holy Holy as Isaiah declares. And so, we are to approach God boldly, as our children approach us as parents, but also humbly.

AS we approach God, as we approach our Father, we then ask for provisions. We ask for what he has already promised us. Now God will often overdeliver on those promises. What amazing that we don’t have only manna to eat each and every day, but we have a plethora of amazing foods, flavors, spices, and so much more. These are things that God knew about and put into our world and into our lives so that we could enjoy them. His promises are for our sustenance, to get us through the days. His delivery is often so much more, for our enjoyment, for our pleasure.

Jesus shows us in this model prayer that next we thank God for what he has done for us and what he is continuing to do for us. We also thank him for those very provisions and gifts that he has and will give us.

He also reminds us that what God has done for us, specifically forgiving us our sins, we are to make sure that we do to those around us. Forgiveness, like prayer, is a tricky thing to talk about sometimes.

God, of course, models forgiveness for us. Forgive us our trespasses as we then forgive those who trespass against us. Gods’ forgiveness of us is a once and for all deal. We come to faith in Christ and all our sins, past, present and future are instantly forgiven. And that’s good because we are in constant need of forgiveness.

The forgiveness we give out (and ask from others around us) is an ongoing and continual event. We need to have a continual spirit of forgiveness, always in the present tense. Our forgiveness of others and the forgiveness we ask of others is not a once and for all thing.  It reminds me of the Martin Luther quote that a believer’s entire life is one of repentance.

Jesus gives us a parable in verses 5-8 that shows a couple of things. First, persistence works. We are imperfect friends, sinners. There are times when even if our friends are asking for something that we are expected to give them, we don’t always want to do it. It can take them asking over and over. Eventually we will get up and do it.

Persistence often works. We will see this is the parable of the persistent widow and the point is don’t stop praying. Gods’ answers don’t always come quickly.  I don’t need a show of hands, but how many of us have been praying for years if not decades for certain or specific family members, friends, whoever, for them to come to know Christ. Some of you have seen results from those prayers. But it wasn’t quick or immediate.

Now, where we have to be careful with this story from Jesus is to take the parable too far. God is not annoyed with us for asking too often, or from praying too long (unless its full of hypocritical holy sounding fluff words and the like, but that’s for a different time) The parable is not that God is the friend that needs to be pestered. Instead, the point is that in opposition to how we fail to act and give as we are supposed to, God is happy and delighted to give us good gifts and to answer our prayers.

Now, persistence does not mean repeating the exact words of the prayer over and over. It does not mean ritual. It does not mean wrote repetition. It does not mean mindless repeating of a prayer we have memorized. Jesus warns against this very clearly.

Instead, we are to not give up. We are to stay faithful and steadfast. We are to trust God that he knows what he is doing and will answer our prayers. We trust in God’s definition of good and right and remember that his answer will fit into that category.

 

 

Verses 9 & 10, Jesus says, And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

First thing is let’s remember the context of this passage. The context is believers praying to God their father. These often get misapplied to unbelievers.

When Jesus says Seek and you shall find, this is not referring to those outside the church who are “seeking God.” Scripture makes it clear that we don’t seek God on our own.  Romans 3:10&11, Paul writes:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

 

I came across a great quote while reading RC Sproul’s commentary and he relayed a comment by Thomas Aquinas. Sproul wrote:

Now, it may appear to us that he’s seeking after God. Thomas Aquinas answered the question this way: “The reason we think people are seeking after God when they’re not is that they are desperately and earnestly seeking for those things that only God can give them—happiness, meaning, freedom from guilt, peace—all of these benefits that accrue to those who put their faith in Christ.”

Sproul continues: From our perspective as Christians, we say, “They’re seeking the benefits that only God can give, therefore they must be seeking after God.” Aquinas said: “No, they’re not seeking after God. They want the benefits of God without God.” That’s the dilemma.

 

People who don’t yet know God, do not seek after God. God draws us to him. Once we believe, then we pursue God and to know him as much and as closely as we can. Jonathon Edwards said that seeking after God is the central pursuit of the Christian life. Jesus tells those listening during the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33:  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We also see Jesus say, knock and it will be opened to you. This of course holds allusions to Revelation 3:20, where Paul tells the church at Laodicea, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me

 

These verses are often used in reference to evangelism, “Jesus is knocking in your heart, so let him in and be saved.” That’s absolutely NOT what these verses are talking about. In both these cases, Jesus is talking to people who already love him and are believers.

 

But here is what I think is important to know about these verses. The way they are written is literally Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. So, I see the purpose of these verses as two-fold. First, of course is that God will deliver and respond to our prayers, not always how we expect of course, but our prayers will be answered.

Second, the Christian life is on of action. Our salvation and forgiveness are not by our doing anything., They are solely by the grace of God. But our life after that is one that we are continually called to, maybe that’s not the right word, but we are compelled to action. Prayer, Loving God and Loving our neighbors. Learning from the Word of God. Serving in whatever capacity God has called us to and created us for.

We finish up with verses 11-14. We are imperfect sinners, even as parents. We want to give our kids good gifts, especially if they ask. But we fail and we fail often. Hebrews has a similar passage regarding our earthly fathers and how no matter how they are, God as our Father is so much better. No matter what kind of gifts we give as a father, God gives better and greater gifts. Paul writes in Romans 8:32:  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

And we see specifically one gift. The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift. God the Father desires to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him in Faith. How great the fathers love for us!

He has already given us these great gifts. Love, forgiveness, redemption, grace, eternal life and the like. He wants us to come to him. He wants us to talk to him, that’s what prayer is, talking to God. He wants us to get to know him. He wants us to trust him. He wants us to act like his children and to treat him like our father.

 

God, our Father is Holy, yet approachable. He is loving, yet just. He gives out perfect wrath, yet perfect mercy. He is our perfect Father. And the Son promises that the Father will give us the Holy Spirit.

Ill finish with Ezekiel 36:26&27:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a

Luke 10:38-42 Jesus is the Son of Man: Mary & Martha

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus is the Son of Man

Mary & Martha

 

All right all right! Lets go ahead and open up our Bibles to Luke chapter 10. To be clear, it doesn’t matter if you have a physical, paper Bible, a Bible on your tablet, or on your phone, what matters is that you have one and you open it and read it. If you do not have, please see me after the service so we can help rectify that.

 

As we continue through the text, its important to remember what we looked at in previous weeks, and especially the immediate week before. This is not only, or even mainly to remind ourselves, but because it directly feeds not and informs the current week.

Last week, we looked at the events of verses 25-37. And at the end of it, we don’t really see what happens physically. I picture the crowd just kind of slowly dispersed, similar to the picture we get in John 8 in the story of the woman caught in adultery.

And its important to remember what Jesus was speaking on. He was speaking on and showing the importance of loving God and loving our neighbors. And we see that these are not ways to acquire salvation and to earn faith, but instead it is a sign of, an outflow of the faith that is already in us.

This morning, we see two attempts to do this, to love God and love your neighbor. We are looking this morning at the story of Mary and Martha. This wont be the last time they show up in the Gospels either and we will see their brother Lazarus makes an incredible impact on Jesus life.

Now, again, this is one of those very famous, very well known stories in the Bible that we often make assumptions about and gloss over. Many of us dismiss it for reasons we will get to later.

As I’ve said before, including last week, I try to specifically dive deeper into those stories because there is so much more to them, so much more that God is communicating than just the surface level Sunday School version of the story that we are so often given.

But I also want to be careful with that. We don’t want to try so hard at trying to find deeper meaning, try so hard to find something new that you haven’t heard before that we read something on the text that’s not there, or create something that doesn’t exist.

My job is not be creative, to make things sound better so it appeals to more people. My job is to share the Word of God and teach, to the best of my abilities what it means. I can promise you this, if I share insight or an opinion on something that you have never heard or even don’t agree with, its not something I just made up. It is something that has historically been taught on the church at some point over the last 2000. I look through commentators and theologians, guys dead long ago who are way smarter than myself and through reading and studying the scriptures and lots and lots of prayer, try to best determine what God wants me to share with you all.

 

So, all that being said, lets go ahead and read this mornings text, Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verses 38-42. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to grab what ever version you prefer and follow along as we read Gods Word. Luke 10:38-42, Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

 

 Now as they went on their way, Jesus[d] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[e] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

 

God Bless the Reading of His Word

 

 

So, again, we all know this story. And I bet for at least 90% of you, I can sum up what you think of this story in one sentence. If you are a “Martha,” you think that Work needs to get done, no matter what else is going on and Mary is last and inconsiderate. If you are a “Mary,” Marthas need to chill out and quite bossing everyone around and enjoy life once in a while.

The Question we need to ask is, IS that what the text says? Lets find out.

 

We start in v 38, after the crowd dispersed from the passage we read last week, Jesus and his followers continue on their journey from village to village. Here they stop in Bethany, 2 miles outside Jerusalem, where Mary and Martha live.

And immediately, Martha was modeling Love your Neighbor. The scriptures tell us that Jesus had no place to lay his head. Martha welcomed him into her home and was practicing the gift of Hospitality.

Hospitality is a big deal in the scriptures. The Old Testament is full of commands to show it and examples of when Jewish people did and did not show hospitality. Paul writes in Romans 12:13, in a section of the true marks of a Christian life, he writes:  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9, Peter writes:  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. These are but two examples of many in the New Testament where hospitality is shown as a way of loving our neighbors.

Martha does this, she brings Jesus and presumably at least the Apostles, if not more, into her home. She went about using her gifts to show love and to serve. She would have had to figure out and facilitate a wonderful meal, she would have had to make sure the rooms were made up, things were clean and so on.

While in Mary and Martha’s home, Jesus did what he does and this would not have come as a surprise to the girls. Jesus held a teaching session. Wherever Jesus went, lots of people followed. So, when he had the chance, he would teach.

And it seems to indicate that Mary and Martha were very well off. They had room to host Jesus and his friends. They had room to have additional people there while Jesus taught. They had the resources and likely servants to provide for all these people. And they both loved Jesus and wanted to show him that love.

In verse 39, we see how Mary showed her love for Jesus. She sat at his feet. This was strictly forbidden by first century rabbis. For Jesus to even teach Mary was frowned upon, considered a waste of time. But Mary wanted to hear from him directly, wanted to soak in Gods Word. She had a desire to learn. She was showing her love for God, by being sanctified by the hearing and studying of Gods Word, as we are all called to do.

In verse 40, we see that Martha, on the other hand, was “distracted with much serving.” Now, that’s a little vague, as we don’t know exactly what was going on. Was she fussing with the cooks who were trying to get the meal prepared? Was she doing the dishes after the meal so they   got done? The truth is we don’t know.

We do know that Martha was a real go getter. Commentator Kent Hughes says that she was a whirlwind. She was caught up in doing what she saw needed to be done. She didn’t want to be distracted with serving. She wanted to be sitting with and listening to Jesus as well. She wanted to be sanctified.

When the text says that Martha was distracted with serving, in the original language, it denotes the idea that she was being pulled away. She didn’t want to be doing whatever she was doing. She wanted to be with Jesus.

A great example today is moms with young kids in church. They are in the sanctuary, listening, or I should say, trying to listen to the sermon, wanting to worship God while teaching her kids to worship and trying to maintain their focus and keep a check on their behavior. She is getting pulled away from what she wants to do because of her duties. That’s what Martha was dealing with.

But there were things that hadn’t yet gotten done. And you can tell Martha is thinking what many of us think at times. “I’m the only one that will do it, no body else will.” Or “Yeah, they are willing, but no one else will do it right.” WE can so easily get caught up in doing our thing that we get mad at everyone else who is not doing the same thing as us. Because they are not doing what I’m doing, that means they are not doing anything.

Serving is a gift, and we are to use that gift to love others, This is where serving gets in the way of loving.

 

Martha was, of course, mad at Mary. Its so easy to get mad at those who are closest to us. You can picture Martha giving Mary those “IF looks could kill” stares and Mary very clearly and purposely pretending she didn’t see it.

But Martha didn’t just get mad at Mary, she was also mad at Jesus. She was mad at him for letting this all happen.

We will so often get increasingly critical of those who are not doing what we think they should be doing. We get increasingly critical of those who allow the things we are getting mad at. And sometimes, we get increasingly critical of ourselves, “There is so much to get done, I’m the only one doing it, but I’m not doing enough.”

And so Martha lashed out at Jesus. Again, in ways we still tend to do today. Lord! Your doing it all wrong! Your wrong to let this happen! I know better! Do it this way instead, the way I think is best!

 

We get tied up in the idea that Jesus needs us to do stuff. Jesus doesn’t need us or our work or our deeds. Luke records in Acts 17:25 that the Lord is not  served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  

          Jesus does want our good works. That’s what we were made for. Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

          God wants our good deeds and chooses to use them for his redemptive purposes, but he does not need them. That burden, that he needs us, that is a burden that we cant and were never meant to bear.

But that’s a burden we often put on ourselves. A burden that continually pulls at us, pulls us away from what we would rather be doing. Pulls us away from loving God and loving our neighbor.

Jesus knows that we put these burdens on ourselves. That’s why we tells us in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

As a quick aside, this passage takes place in Matthews Gospel as a part of the same paragraph as Matthews version of Luke 10:22.

Jesus is able to take that burden off of us. He is the one able to give us rest from our work. He responds to Martha with this heart and this attitude. He does not sharply rebuke Martha. He does not lash out back at her.

Instead, he says, Martha, Martha… Repeating a name like this is Jewish way of showing love and affection. He says, Martha, you are too anxious. He is telling her that her to do list is too long. She wasn’t able to let things go undone. She was not able to stop worrying about things not getting done. His message is, Martha, your not resting in me.

Here’s the thing, Jesus didn’t tell her to stop necessarily. This is because her actions were a result of her love of Christ. Martha’s actions were not wrong in and of themselves. They were not wrong unless and until they are not submitted to the heart of Jesus and the will of God. And that’s what happened in this story here. In trying to Love God and Love Neighbor, she was trying to do instead of trying to be…

 

Jesus says to her, Martha, you are troubled about many things.

 

So often, we are troubled about stuff at work, or the conversation we had on the phone with family or money or any number of things. And when that happens, we take it out on those closest to us. Martha was troubled about many things and she took it out on Mary and she took it out on Jesus.

 

 

Now, lets be clear about what Jesus is NOT telling Martha here. He is Not saying, “Mary did right and you, Martha did wrong.” Jesus is telling her that she is anxious and troubled about many things. That anxiety is pulling her away from Christ and the rest that he offers.

 

Jesus says “one thing is necessary.” Now of course, this leads to the question, What is that one thing?

 

Survey says,…”Jesus!” That’s right. And specific to this context, Jesus the Word of God. That’s what Mary has chosen here. Spending time with the Word of God.

Again, this is not about Martha and Mary themselves. And its certainly not about Mary vs. Martha, despite how its usually portrayed. Remember this, Martha still needs quiet prayer time, time with the word of God. And Mary, Mary needs to show her faith in action, she needs to serve. All of us need to do both of those things. Most of us tend towards one over the other.

Martha was pulled away from the Word of God. As a Pastor, I can be the first to tell you that there are times when serving Christ and serving the church can pull us away from time with Christ and his Word.

 

Jesus does say that Mary has chosen the good portion. As we have seen Jesus do before, what we assume is a one did right/ one did wrong, when there is a competition going on, we expect Jesus to be clear. Instead he says, not the Mary chose the better portion, but she chose the good portion.

This portion will never be taken away. The one who choses Jesus was first chosen by Jesus and to the one who has Jesus, Jesus will never be taken away.

 

Martha was anxious about many things. This does not mean that, despite what some think, that someone who is anxious or deals with anxiety, fails to trust Jesus. The truth is that while we still have a saving faith, a trust in the work of Jesus Christ, our day to day walk with Christ will fluctuate. Some days will be better than others. Some days our trust will go up and down. Some days we will have bad days and our anxiety will go up.

Often, those bad days, those times when we get very anxious. Often, its times when we feel further from God, or when we haven’t been in the Word enough. Often, its when we have been listening to too much secular news, or politics, or arguing, using the tactics of those who are not held to a higher standard, or we haven’t been in church enough.

Things like that can cause our anxiety to go up, cause us to be anxious about many things, pull us away from our walk with and our submission to Christ. What gets us back to our walk with and submitting to Christ is the good portion, the one thing that’s necessary. The Word of God.

And so I’m going to leave us with a few passages of scripture, the first two, ones we have already heard.

 

Philippians4:4-9, which Mike read earlier:

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Matthew 11:28-30:

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

1 Peter 5:6-11:

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

And lastly, Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Lets Pray

Luke 10: 25-37 Jesus is the Son of Man Good Samaritan (Audio pt 2)

Here is the second half of the audio on the Sermon of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37. Thank you

 

Luke 10: 25-37 Jesus is the Son of Man Good Samaritan

Luke 10: 25-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

Good Samaritan

(Note: Because of the length of this weeks sermon, the audio will be broken up into two posts, though text will all appear on this post. Sorry for any inconvenience.) 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn to Luke chapter 10. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get the Word of God into your hands.

If you look at and read through Luke’s Gospel, we have actually been building to this passage for a little while. In Luke 9, we saw a Samaritan village reject the Apostles as they went to prepare the way for Jesus on his travelling teaching journeys. Last week, Jesus prayed in verse 21, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.

          We are going to see this morning an example on one of the wise and understanding, a lawyer, a man who knew the scriptures inside and out, we are going to see how he gets the law wrong, how he gets to love of and the will of God wrong. And how we often get the law and the gospel and the will of God wrong.

The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well know stories in the Bible. Unfortunately, as with most of the well-known Bible stories, it is all one of the least understood or most misunderstood stories. When we are too familiar with certain stories, our tendency is to skim by it or to overlook it and not spend enough time reflecting on it and mining the Biblical truths that God has for us in these stories.

Let’s go ahead and read our passage this morning, which includes the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke chapter 10, verses 25 through 37. Ill be reading, as always, out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to follow along as we read, from your preferred translation.

The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following Words of Jesus Christ:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

So, in 2008, ABC News did an experiment. Much of what I am sharing with you about this experiment comes directly from the news article.

They placed ads in a newspaper and on Craigslist. The ad said we were looking for people to participate in an “on-camera tryout” for ABC News. Those who responded were interviewed on the phone, and those selected were asked to come to appointments over the course of two days.

When they arrived for those appointments, the volunteers met with an ABC producer who talked to them in general about the audition but did not go into specifics about what they were to do. She explained that each person needed to have a topic to discuss before the cameras, and that she was going to help them select that subject. She then showed each of them a sampling of cards and asked them to pick one.

What appeared to be random was in fact not a choice at all. The topic listed on all those cards was the same: The Good Samaritan story that we are going to look at this morning.

They were given the Sunday school version of the story. A man who is beaten by robbers and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious men come by and ignore the victim. But a third man, an outcast from society, a Samaritan, comes along next and not only stops to help the man and care for his wounds, but he also takes him to an inn and pays for him to stay in a room there and have meals. Jesus instructs his followers to follow the lead of the Good Samaritan.

After our producer read the story to each person, they were told they were to give a short speech about it for their “audition.” Thinking that the cameras were set up at a nearby studio, they walked the short distance. They set off with the Good Samaritan story fresh in their minds. Following the directions took the volunteers through a small park. They had no idea what would be awaiting them there: actors hired by ABC News.

Two men took turns playing a person in distress. They were seated on the grass directly alongside the path the volunteers were instructed to use. The actors were told to play men clearly in need of help, and both cried, moaned and rocked back and forth. They seemed to clearly need help. Who better to come to their aid than our volunteers, who approached with the Biblical story of helping one’s fellow man echoing in their ears?

The question: Would these participants stop to help? Carrie Keating, professor of psychology at Colgate University, expected they would. She predicted they would be suspicious of the situation, and likely to do anything to make themselves look good.

But Keating was in for a surprise: many of the 22 volunteers did not stop. They rushed right by the actors, proceeded to the studio, and gave the speech on the Good Samaritan. Their words were the complete opposite of their actions from just minutes before.

They completely missed the point, much like the lawyer in our story, many, many years before this experiment.

Jesus would often teach in parables. Parables are simple, memorable stories that use common examples or imagery from the culture and use them to teach greater truth. Sometimes the greater truth was painfully obvious and sometimes the truth was hidden. Jesus would, at times explain the meaning of some of the parables, not to the public, but to his disciples.

After teaching a parable early on in his ministry, the disciples asked Jesus what it meant. In Mark 4:11 & 12, Jesus tells them,

        “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that

 

“they may indeed see but not perceive,

                and may indeed hear but not understand,

        lest they should turn and be forgiven.

The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. However, sometimes the truth comes through to everyone and, as happens here, is very pointed at the Pharisees, or the religious leaders of the day.

Now, sometimes I think the Pharisees get a bad rap. I don’t mean that they were right when we think they were wrong. But I mean that all the things that we pile on and pick on the pharisees for, we are often guilty of ourselves. I think this parable here is a perfect example of that, whether we want to think of it that way or not.

First, again, as I said at the beginning, we remember the context of this passage. Jesus was rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, praying to God the Father. Things were going well. And part of Jesus prayer was thanking the Father that he had hid from the wise and understanding what the Truth is and exactly who the Father and the Son are. And then this lawyer, this guy full of knowledge, this pharisee stands up and proves Jesus’ point.

We see here that the expert in the law asks a very deep and profound question. Now, he just thought he was trying ask a difficult question to try to trip up Jesus or get Jesus to contradict himself. But he asked a question that people everywhere and, in every time, have been asking and we have here a very clear answer. The lawyer asks in v. 25, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He is asking what do I need to do to be saved?

Now this is a common and understandable question, but there are actually two issues with it. First is the lawyer’s motivation. As just mentioned, he wasn’t asking with a pure heart, but asking the question to put Jesus to the test, to trip him up. Secondly, the man asks, “What shall I do?” His focus was on himself, and what he needed to do, instead of what God and his grace and his mercy.

There was an old rabbinical saying, common and famous at the time, that said, “Great is Torah, for it gives to them that practice it, life in this world and in the world to come.”

And in that, we see the focus on obeying the rules, on earning salvation, on being good enough. But the scriptures make it clear that it is not our goodness that grants salvation and life in the world to come, but God and his richness and mercy and love that bestow it upon us.

Jesus, as is the norm for him, answers this question with a question himself. He asks the man, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Good teachers will do this. If you ask a question that you already know the answer to, they will redirect you in a way that has you say the answer and think through it instead of just telling you the answer.

And the man did give the correct answer. He replied to Jesus, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus affirmed this answer as correct.

So, there you go. The lawyer knows what he had to do. Love God and Love your neighbor. This is the summation of the law. And what he will sometimes forget, is that the law does, sort of, offer salvation. If we were able to keep the law, all of it, 100%, outwardly and inwardly, then we would be able to be saved by keeping the law. But as the entire Bible, points out, pretty much the second biggest theme of the Bible, behind pointing to Jesus himself, is that we can’t keep the law.

Jesus is clear in the Sermon on the Mount that, even if we keep it outwardly, we still often and continually sin in our hearts and our minds. Paul points out a couple times that if anyone could make a claim to keeping the law, he would be able to make that claim, and yet, he calls himself the chief of all sinners.

And so, Jesus gives the layer a legal answer. You know what to do. DO it, do it perfectly, do it completely and you will live.

Now, all of us will come to the point where we have a choice to make. If God has changed our heart, opened our eyes, if He has chosen to reveal himself and the truth to us, then we will recognize who we are as sinners, undeserving of eternal life. We will look for God’s mercy and his grace and we throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus.

However, often, before we get to that point, we will refuse to see the truth. WE will entrench our selves in our preconceptions. We will reject grace when it’s offered to us and we will insist on living life ourselves, do it on our own, the American idea of rugged individualism and pulling our selves up by our bootstraps. WE dig in that if we just work harder, try more, get better and shove ahead with brute force and will power, that we can do it. It’s a lie from the devil.

We will do everything we can to justify our views, our opinions, our actions, our beliefs and everything else about us. Just as the lawyer does in verse 29.

The lawyer’s heart was all wrong. The scriptures show us that the lawyer was trying to justify himself when he asked, “who is my neighbor?” Instead of genuinely asking and looking for who his neighbor was and how he could help them, he was looking for loopholes, looking for reasons to not help. He was looking for the least that he could do. The least he could do to not help those around him…To not help those different than him…To not help those he did not like…. To not help those he did not know…

By teaching him this parable, Jesus is showing the lawyer, and us, that the question is not Who is my neighbor? But instead, Am I loving my neighbor?

The lawyer is asking, Who is my neighbor that I have to love? AND underneath, by extension, Who is my non neighbor that I don’t have to love? This is what we often do. I don’t want to love that person, or, as also applicable to this parable, I don’t want to love that group of people…

Jesus twists it, so the question is not Who is my neighbor, but instead, Whose neighbor am I?

 

Now, Jesus is really going to twist things up as he goes ahead and tells those listening and the lawyer the parable. The details that Jesus uses in this parable are not incidental or accidental. The man was walking from Jerusalem down to Jericho. This was a 15-mile journey and the road here was very treacherous. It was steep, rocky and had a lot of twists and blind turns. It was notorious for  having many bandits  being a very dangerous journey. This was well known for having these dangers and people knew the risks involved in this journey. Often times people would wait at one end of the journey for a group of them to gather so that they would at least have a little it of safety in numbers.

So, this man got mugged and beaten and was left lying on the side of the road, half dead. Now, even though this was an infamous, dangerous walk, many people did take this journey alone as well. It took 8 hours for the journey, and sometimes, time was of the essence. It was the only way to get between these two cities.

Now, Jesus brings along a Priest. If anyone would see a man in need and stop and help him, to show him mercy and kindness it would be a priest, right? He sees the man, crosses to the other side of the road and just walks on by. He had a job to do, he was ceremonially clean, and he didn’t have time to deal with this situation and then get ceremonially clean again.

The law at the time was looked at as the ‘Be-all, end-all” and it didn’t matter what had to be sacrificed, or what the motivation behind it was. In this case, there would have been no reason, no excuse in the priests’ mind to becoming ceremonially unclean, not even a different Law of God.  If the priest had stopped, the best-case scenario for him was that he would be unclean until the next sundown. That’s assuming he had time to get home and go through the cleansing process. If the body was a dead body and the priest came in contact, he would be unclean for a minimum of 1 week. During these times of being unclean, he would not be able to enter the temple or take part in any of the ceremonies.

However, some also speculate that he knew he was making the wrong decision and that’s one of the reasons why he crossed over to the other side of the road, so that the man would not recognize him if he survived, and this story later got out. Either way, the priest was not willing to take time out of his busy schedule doing God’s work, to be a neighbor to this beaten broken man.

After he passes by, Jesus brings along a Levite down the road. Instead of crossing to the other side of the road, the Levite actually looked at the situation before deciding to continue on his way. Levites were of the same family, in the line of Aaron that the priests were. In modern terms, if the priests were the pastors, the Levites were the elders, the deacons, the worship leaders, or other people in the church that work behind the scenes to keep the church running.

Just like the priest, the Levite knew the Law and had it memorized since he was a young man. He knew the laws about loving your neighbor, which are all throughout the Old Testament. But, for whatever reason, he did not want to take the time and effort to stop and help this man. He looked at the situation and it was very likely that he could see the gravity of the situation, that he could see that the man would surely die if he did not get any help, but also that the man could be saved. The Levite saw what was happening and then crossed over to the other side and passed on by. These men thought they had the duty to not stop and help a dying and beaten man.

James 4:17 tells us, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

 

          Now, the people listening likely thought they knew where this story was going. They probably expected the next one to come along and help the beaten man was going to be a common, everyman Israelite. They thought it was going to be a critique of the religious establishment. Instead, Jesus throws everybody through a loop and has the next guy walking along the path be a Samaritan.

A Samaritan! What is he going to do? Finish the man off? See if the robbers and muggers missed anything? At best, he will just do what the other two did and just pass on by. I mean, he is just a Samaritan.

This was the mindset of the Jews at the time regarding the Samaritans, and vice versa. There is no putting it mildly, they disdained each other.

The Samaritans were partial Jews who had been living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel prior to the Exile in Old Testament times. When the Northern Kingdom was conquered and captured, they intermarried with the culture around them and were often guilty of worshiping false gods and idols.

The Jews looked down on them, mocked them, made jokes at their expense, and this hatred was returned back at the Jews by the Samaritans. When traveling to certain areas of Israel during this time, the quickest, most direct route would be through Samaria, for example from Jerusalem to Nazareth, where Jesus was from, or the Sea of Galilee. Instead of going through Samaria, most Jews went far out of their way, going around the area, adding much time and distance to their journey.

The Jews would say that Samaritans “should be pushed into a ditch and not pulled out.”

So, when a Samaritan comes walking down the path and sees a Jew, beaten and bloody, there is no inclination that he would stop and help.

And yet, he does. He stopped his journey. He bandaged the wounds of this man. Luke, who was a physician, noted that the Samaritan poured oil and wine on the man’s wounds. But he didn’t stop there. He lifted the man up and put him on his own personal donkey and took him to the nearest inn. It was here that he essentially put a down payment and opened up a tab at the inn for whatever the beaten man needed.

The two denarii that the Samaritan gave to the innkeeper would pay for a few weeks of care for the beaten man. Now, we do notice that the Samaritan still had to go about his life. He still had to deal with his own business and take care of his own stuff. But he did that while taken care of and loving this beaten man.

Jesus asks the lawyer in v. 36, “Which of these three, do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

And you can almost hear the contempt and defeat coming out of the lawyer’s mouth when he says in v 37 “The one who had mercy on him.” He couldn’t even refer to him directly, just, “That one…”

 

It hurts, doesn’t it? Those times when unbelievers, atheists, pagans, when they outperform us? When they out compassion us? When they out love us? When they outlive us biblically? That hurts. We don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to see it. We see an unbeliever doing biblical things and we will find a way to deny that it is biblical. We will cover our eyes and see things through the wrong point of view.

We see that throughout the parable that Jesus told. See, each group in this story saw the man who was beaten very differently. The lawyer saw the man as a subject to discuss. The robbers saw the man as someone to use and exploit. To the priest and Levite, the man was someone to avoid at all costs. The innkeeper sees the man as a customer. To the Samaritan, the man was a human being, a man worth caring for and helping, a neighbor.

  The lawyer in this story was full of head knowledge. But he would not see or admit the truth. He knew what the commandments said about loving God and loving neighbors. He knew who his neighbors were. The priest and the Levite in the story, They Knew! They knew that they were supposed to stop and help the man. And yet, they didn’t. Knowledge without application.

James is quite clear in his letter that faith without works is dead.  This if course is not saying that works are necessary for our salvation, but that true faith will produce works. And those good works are a sign of a changed and repentant heart.

Back to the experiment I talked about earlier. They had divided the volunteers into two groups at the start. Everyone heard the Good Samaritan story but only half of the volunteers got something more: time pressure. That group was now facing a dilemma. In order to get their chance at something they really wanted — a chance to be on TV — they would have to hurry. And researchers discovered, that made a big difference in their behavior.

Only about 35 percent of our volunteers in a hurry stopped to help our actors. But almost 80 percent of those who were not rushed stopped to help.

Since the volunteers thought they were rushing in order to do something they thought would be beneficial to them, perhaps it is not surprising that time pressure would influence them. The researchers found that being rushed changed people’s actions. Time pressure was the only significant factor the researchers found that they concluded would determine if a particular volunteer would stop to help a stranger.

Keating says that other research since then has shown that it is possible to make anyone disregard the needs of others if enough pressure is introduced. She concluded that in this experiment, not stopping to help was not an indication at all of whether any particular participant is a good or moral person. She said any of us might act in the same way.

And we do, every day. But we shouldn’t.  Every subject in this experiment knew that the right thing to do was stop. But many of them didn’t. Would we? Do we? I said earlier that the lawyer asked the wrong question. Again, to reiterate, the question was not Who is my neighbor? But should have been, Am I loving my neighbor?

Now, I have had church people who have told that my neighbor is the person sitting next to me in the pew at my church. The only conclusion to draw from this is that the person is doing the same thing as the lawyer in this story, justifying themselves as to who they do and do not have to love.

And yet, the definition according to Jesus, of who is my neighbor, is any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.

 

We need to remember this, “any other person whom we chance to meet.” It doesn’t matter who it is. God put them into our life, into our Day for a reason.  It doesn’t matter if it is someone we know and don’t get along with. It doesn’t matter if it is someone of a different religion, Muslim, Wiccan, Hindu… It doesn’t matter even if they live by different moral codes than the one that God gives to us. It doesn’t matter if they have different political views than us. In other words, it doesn’t matter if they are Republican, Democrat, capitalist, Communist, socialist, fascist.  We are to love them. It’s not a choice available to us to not love them.

But in our minds, we are justifying ourselves, asking, “Do you know how long that would take?” or “But I am on my way to go do this or go do that” “But its inconvenient,” “How much will it cost me?”  I know I do this all the time. But when Jesus said, at the end of v.37, “Go and Do Likewise,” he was not just talking to the lawyer, or to the Pharisees, or to the Jews. He was also talking to us. And the commands he gives to us, they are rarely easy.

One of the aspects that the lawyer missed, is that the law the lawyer referenced earlier was to Love your neighbors as yourself. That doubly shows that the question of “Who is my neighbor?” was an invalid question. If we were beaten, robbed and mugged, how would we want to be treated? Which of these three figures would we want to be the ones to come along? Whatever our answer is, and most of us, if not all, would want someone to act like the Samaritan, stopping to help us, that is how we treat the people we come across in our lives.

I mentioned earlier that each character in the story saw the man who was beaten in a different way. One that I did not yet mention was Jesus. To him each and every character in the story, from the lawyer, to the pharisees, to the priest and the Levite, the innkeeper, the Samaritan and the man who was beaten and robbed, he sees them all the same way, as a sinner in need of a savior, as someone in need of forgiveness and someone who by all objective standards is not worth the time to die for and take care of. It doesn’t cost God anything to not save us. It did cost Jesus his human life to die for us. But, as God, being in complete control, he knew the outcome. He knew that, though we were not worth dying for, the act of dying for us was worth it. There was nothing reckless about Jesus’ love for us. God knows the end of the story and all the outcomes because he wrote the end of the story.

Like the Samaritan, he sees us beaten up by sin, by grace through faith, picks us up and put down a down payment on the price of our sins and has an open tab for us, not matter what it costs to win us, for those that are his, he did it. No one else has been able to do that because no one else was God and man. No one else was able to atone for our sins and offer forgiveness. Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, any other religious figure that people follow, they are the lawyer, the priest and the Levite, unable to help us in our sin. Only one can offer forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Jesus said that He is THE way, THE truth, and THE Life. Paul wrote that God showed us what love was, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Love him, trust him, repent and believe, as Jesus says, and let him show us how to love others.

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 10:1-16 Jesus is the Son of Man Accept or reject Jesus Christ!

Luke 10:1-16

Jesus is the Son of Man

Accept or reject Jesus Christ!

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn on our Bibles to Luke chapter 10. Caleb is so happy that we are out of Chapter 9! As always, if you do not have a Bible or need one, please see me after the service and I will get one to you.

As we continue past chapter 9 and into chapter 10, we see a renewed focus on Jesus’ purpose. First is his overall, number one purpose. This is the crucifixion that is going to take place in Jerusalem. This is the reason Jesus left heaven and came down to earth. This is his number one purpose and now that he was focused on getting there, nothing else was going to get in his way.

Second, as he was focused on and making his way to Jerusalem, Jesus was focused on training and teaching the Disciples to continue the ministry of preaching the Kingdom of God after Jesus left them.

Over the next number of chapters, we will see some miracles and sign and wonders, but much fewer. Even when we see those miracles, Jesus’ focus is going to be on using them to teach and prepare.

We have already seen this as Jesus has been calling people to follow him and at the same time, warning them about the obstacles and difficulties that it will entail. Following Christ, following him the way that he calls for us to follow him will require sacrifice, repentance and complete and total commitment.

 

Let’s go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 10, verses 1 through 16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab whichever version you prefer and follow along in your own Bible. Luke 10:1-16, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

 

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

We start off with, After this… Last week, the last few verses of Chapter 9, we saw Jesus calling people to follow him and three different instances where they don’t follow him.

This week we see Jesus sending out those who are following him, 72, or 70 depending on your translation, disciples, sent out 2 by 2. The number is significant for a few reasons.

First, we see that number back in Exodus 24 and Numbers 11 referring to Moses and other elders among the Israelites.  Two by Two is a biblical principle that goes all the way back as well. The Disciples and the Jewish leaders of that day would have known that instantly.

The number is also significant because it matches the number of nations of the world that came about that we see listed in Genesis 10, from the sons of Noah. So, following biblical patterns, first, we see Jesus send the 12 out to villages and towns of Israel. 12 disciples for 12 tribes of Israel.

Then he sends out 72, or 70 disciples out to every town and place He was going to go. 72 Disciples sent out for the 72 nations of the world. Jesus came first to Israel, and then to the Gentiles and that is the same pattern we see with these disciples and its what we see the Apostles do after Jesus’ ascension. They went first to the Jews, first to Israel, then to the Gentiles, to the nations of the world.

The Good News, the Gospel, Salvation is for all people and all nations. Whosoever believes. All who repent and trust in Christ by grace through faith. IT is not a different message or different standings for the Jews first and then the Gentiles. IT was the same message, Salvation through Christ, first to the Jews then the Gentiles, first to Israel then equally to the nations of the world.  And now there is no distinction. There is not Jew or Gentile, in terms of standing and salvation, no male or female, no slave or free. All are one in Christ. One people of God.

SO, Jesus sends these 72 out, the number symbolic but the mission literal. The missions were the same only expanded as what we saw in Luke 9:51-56. They were going ahead to the towns and villages that Jesus was going to, to prepare the way, make sure food and lodging were available.

The other thing these 72 show us is that the job of preparing the way for Jesus is not just up to the Apostles but was assigned to all of Jesus followers. And the job today of preparing the way for Jesus’ return is assigned to all of us followers of Jesus.

And Jesus then tells them something we have all heard, but often don’t think about too much. The Harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

You know, sometimes our instinct is the unknowingly think the opposite of this. Often, backed up with Matthew 7, where Jesus tells us the about the narrow path and the wide path, we assume that the laborers are plenty, but the harvest is few. He thinks that Heaven won’t be too crowded. We think that most people are really believers, and most people don’t know Christ.

We look at the world around us and its understandable why we think this, and we even have Bible verses to back us up, the aforementioned Matthew 7:13 & 14 for example. But as with many things that the Bible tells us, there is a balance, a middle ground, as if it were dependent on the context, when it comes to things like this.

Of course, this is not to say that all things in the Bible require a middle ground or compromise. Who Jesus is, for instance, is not up for negotiations. But when we see the Bible say too things that could possibly seem contradictory, it just might mean that both are true, depending on the context in which they are said. SO, when we try to look at who we think is in, and who we think is out, and we try to use the Bible to say, See? Only a few people will make it! Or see? Everyone or nearly everyone will make it! Well, we need to remember balance and context.

 

One of the keys to remember is that it is Jesus who is LORD of the Harvest. He is the only one who knows. In Johns Gospel, chapter 6, Jesus says that the Father is the one who sends them to Jesus, and all that come to him will not be reject. Jesus is the one who does the Harvesting, but he uses laborers.

So, pray that he would send out the laborers. And guess what, YOU ARE ONE OF THE LABORERS. 1 Corinthians 3 reminds us that we plant, we water but it is God that brings the increase.

God could save people however he wanted to. God could do it all. But he has revealed in his Word how we choose to bring salvation. People are saved by responding to the Word of God by the grace of God with faith in Christ.

Romans 10:13-17, Paul writes:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Christ sends us out to spread the message, to spread the word of God, so that those who are ready to respond, can hear the Word of God and respond to the offer of salvation.

But its not always that easy. Society is opposed to the Gospel message. And it will actively oppose our broadcasting and spreading of that message. So, Jesus sends us out as lambs among wolves. The Bible uses a lot of imagery about us being lambs, including the need for a shepherd, the Good Shepard being needed to keep the lambs safe and protected.

But here’s the other thing. We are not sent out as Wolves among Wolves. We are not to respond in kind. We are to make sure our tone and demeanor are appropriate for the call that God has calls us to. WE are not “allowed” to respond with the same negativity, the same name calling, the same underhanded tactics as those who oppose us. The Bible is clear that the Gospel message of salvation by Christ alone is offensive to those who don’t believe, it is a stumbling block to the world. But it is just as clear that we are not to be offensive, we are not to be stumbling blocks to the world around us.

V 4 shows Jesus giving instruction to the disciples before sending them out. And he is specifically speaking to our reliance on Christ alone for protection and provision. He is not literally telling all of us to go out barefoot.

Once the disciples get to the towns or villages, they are to be a blessing and to bring peace to all they come across. He says, and again we saw this before, when he sent out the 12, at the beginning of Luke 9, that they are to stay in just one home in town. Don’t move form house to house within the community. But accept the hospitality and generosity of those who are giving it. Don’t keep looking to move up whatever ladder it is and improve your own lot. Accept what is provided to you and be content with what God has provided.

 

Jesus tells them to go in and heal and do miracles and proclaim the Gospel. He assures the disciples and informs them so they can pass along the message that the Kingdom of God has come near you. This is not just some ethereal hope for the distant future, but it is here and now and now is the time to respond. The disciples are to lay this offer out to all they encounter.

Many will hear and many will respond in faith. But Jesus tells them, many will reject you, and by doing so, reject him. Rejection hurts. Not only personally, but also, when we know the value of what is being offered and the importance of it, it hurts that the people rejecting it don’t want any part of it.

Jesus recognizes that they disciples will want to call down fire on those who reject. Again, just like we saw with the Apostles and the Samarian village in Luke 9:54. He says, don’t…

Shake the dust off your sandals and move on. This was a symbolic gesture done by the Jews when they came from a place that was not of the People of God. So, Jesus is saying that those who reject Christ and his messengers, specifically his message, they are not a part of the People of God.

Nevertheless, even if the message is rejected, the Kingdom of God has still drawn near. Rejecting it, disbelieving it does not make it not true. Christ is still in control. He is still sovereign. You don’t have to believe it for it to be true. People rejecting God does not make him not God. It does not limit his power. It does not affect his plans or thwart his will.

The Bible makes it clear in multiple places that in the end, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. And for those who accept Christ now, who become a part of his Kingdom now, it will be great for them, for us.

The greatest, the biggest, the worst, the sin that will incur the greatest wrath from God, the worst judgment from God is the continual, unrepentant, unbelief and rejection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

For those who reject him, they will acknowledge him in the end, but it will not be good for them. Jesus says it will have been better for Sodom that for those who reject Christ.

Jesus is saying this while focusing on his upcoming crucifixion and bearing the wrath of God, feeling all Gods wrath for our sins. And I think part of the point is to make sure we don’t underestimate how deep and how complete the wrath of God is. His judgment and his justice will be perfect, and they will be complete. Sin will not receive a slap on the wrist. Sin will be dealt with and will be dealt with harshly.

Jesus continues, Woe! Woe to those who reject Christ. Woe to those who continue in their unrepentant sins, their worldly ways and their lifestyles.

In verse 16, Jesus tells them, to reject the message of Gods messengers is to reject Christ himself. And to reject Christ, to reject the scriptures, to reject the Word of God, to reject the Living Word, the Word incarnate, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to reject God himself.

The key to all of this is that the Kingdom of God has come near. Again, not some distant hope. But here and now. We live today, saved by faith, committed to Christ, repented of our sins, empowered by the Holy Spirit to grow, to be sanctified, to produce fruit. We are commissioned, all believers are commissioned to go and make disciples and share the coming of the Kingdom of God, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. We pray that God will send us and others out as laborers because the Harvest is plenty.

Ezekiel 33: 2-6:

If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

 

We are watchmen. We are laborers. We are disciple sent out to prepare the way, prepare the coming of the LORD. We share the good news, bringing peace and blessings to all we encounter. We go out as lambs among wolves. And offer the Word of God, which teaches that salvation from punishment for our sins is exclusively through the blood of Jesus Christ. We plant, we water.

But after that, we shake the dust from our hands. After we do what God has called us to do, then it’s in God’s hands. He brings the increase. Salvation belongs to the LORD.

I’ve shared them both before but I’m going to leave you with two Charles Spurgeon quotes about sharing the Gospel with all. He says:

“If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.'”

And then:

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 9:57-62 Jesus is the Son of Man Denying Self

Luke 9:57-62

Jesus is the Son of Man

Denying Self

          All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9.  This week we finally finish up looking through Luke 9. We have been in Luke 9 for almost two months.

And a lot has happened in those two months, covering, before today, 56 verses. Jesus sent out the 12 Apostles to spread the word and perform miracles, healings, signs and wonders. Even Herod heard about this Jesus fellow. The crowds following Jesus grew and grew.

Sometimes the crowds were too large, and they didn’t bring food with them. We saw Jesus use 5 loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of 5000 men, likely 15-20000 people total.

And then a gradual turning point. First, Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. In this, Jesus first tells his followers, specifically the inner circle, the 12, that the Messiah must suffer, be rejected and die and then he will raise from the dead. They didn’t fully understand this, but Jesus knew that.

Jesus then brought the inner three, Peter and James and John, the Sons of Zebedee, up on to a mount where they witnessed Jesus shining like the sun, God’s glory and radiance reflecting off of him.  While they were up there, they also saw Elijah and Moses, and Jesus spoke to them about his upcoming journey and mission, heading to Jerusalem to be crucified.

When they come down off the mount, Jesus helped heal a boy who was suffering from what appears to be epilepsy that was being triggered by an unclean spirit. The disciples had been unable to do this because of their lack of faith. Jesus then reminds them that he will be headed to Jerusalem so that he will be handed over to men and killed. Again, the disciples didn’t quite understand what Jesus was saying.

The disciples decided not to focus on that part and, due to their pride, started arguing and excluding other groups of followers and wanting to punish and exclude those who rejected Jesus. So, Jesus rebuked their pride and showed how destructive that sin can be. A key verse, that will drive us through the next 10 chapters or so is in Luke 9:51, where Luke says that Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Jesus’ focus is changed and now that he knows that his focus is on the culmination of his purpose, and will spend the next 10 chapters continually travelling, Jesus is also focusing on making disciples and preparing them, training them for after he leaves them.

SO, on that note, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 57 through 62. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I do encourage you to grab your Bible, whatever the translation and follow along as we read the Word of God.

Luke 9:57-62, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke writes:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus[g] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

So, Jesus is walking and travelling and visiting towns and villages along the way. As he is doing so, people wanted to come and join him. Some would just follow the crowd. They wanted to see the pageantry and the miracles and to be a prat of something that everyone was talking about. But some actually wanted to join Jesus. But what we are looking at this morning is the people who want to join Jesus on their own terms. Jesus makes it quite clear, “Nope. That’s not how this works. Not gonna happen. It’s not about you!”

Luke shows us three instances where Jesus corrects this misunderstanding to the people in front of him and the people around him. Wholehearted, complete dedication, or nothing.

We start in v 57, with a gentleman coming up to Jesus, initiating the conversation. Jesus! I will follow you everywhere! The definition of easier said than done.

Jesus knows us better than ourselves. He basically says to the guy. No, no you won’t. To follow me, will be inconvenient and uncomfortable. He knows our strengths and weaknesses; He knows when we are sincere.

So often we might think we are sincere. And yet, as we see in the parable of the 4 seeds, we can fall away when things get tough, when the weeds choke us out, when the thorns get in the way or when we have no roots. Jesus knows this.

He says even the animals have homes. I have no home, no place to rest my had. Now, we know this doesn’t mean that every single night that Jesus sleeps with a rock as a pillow. We know he sometimes stays with Peter and his mother-in-law; he finds rest and rejuvenation with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But he has no place to call his own and from one day to the next. Each day is an unknown. No comfort, no stability, no assurance. We don’t know what he is going to ask us to go without or to give up. But he will require sacrifice and he does require us to put him before our own comforts.

James Boice superficially reassures us when he writes: It is true that Jesus may never ask us to break with our families for his sake or sell all we have and give it to the poor in order to follow. Indeed, in the great majority of the cases, this is not required at all. But we must be willing to obey in these or any other areas if Jesus asks it, and we must actually do it if he does.

          We are called to trust and obey. And most of all, to be willing to obey. Tim Keller calls comfort the God of this age. And that tends to be the thing that we will hold on to the tightest. We will hold onto our comfort with closed, tight fists. And that is the last thing we will want to give up. We will follow Jesus all the way, right up until the point we need to be uncomfortable. Right up until we are pulled out of our comfort zone. WE see that in a different part of the Gospels when the rich young ruler follows all the commands of God and is generous with his money but refuses to put Jesus ahead of his wealth. He follows Jesus right up until the point where he wasn’t comfortable anymore.

Next, Jesus invites someone to follow him. The response he gets is Let me first go and bury my dad.

Well, that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Except that the man’s dad isn’t dead yet. He might not even be old and infirm yet. How do we know this? Part of it is because of the customs of the dead. Jewish custom was to bury the dead within 24 hours of the death. If this mans Dad was dead, he would be too busy making arrangements to bury his dad to be talking to Jesus.

Sure, the man wanted to keep the 5th commandment, Honor your mother and father. But the man was really saying, wait until I get everything sorted out and situated, wait until I have no more distractions and then, of course I will follow you.

We are, of course, called to take care of our parents. As they take care of us in our infant days, we are to provide and take care of our parents as they age and become unable to take care of themselves. But we are not to use our parents as a reason not to obey and follow God when he calls us.

And we are not to make excuses and put things in front of God, even good things. Often, good things, wonderful things are the things that keep us from following Jesus. But my family… But my kids… But my job… But my home…

 

This man is saying, after these distractions are gone, after my folks die and I have nothing tying me down and keeping me here, then Ill follow you, Jesus.

Jesus tells him that he is to be THE top priority. Leave the dead to bury the dead. He is saying, let the spiritually dead people focus on the other spiritually dead people. They will focus and the things of their world instead of the things of God.

On the other hand, those who are spiritually alive will focus on the Kingdom of God, on the things above this world. There are many things that can be left in the hands of unbelievers, however, following Jesus and spreading the message of the Gospel is not one of those things. As one commentator says, “The demand of the Kingdom overrides all earthly loyalties.”

The last instance of these three, the man says, I will follow you, but first, let me go say goodbye to everyone. Again, sounds reasonable on the surface. But this reads to me, as I’m not ready to follow you yet. I need to go live life first, sow my wild oats, live it up and all that. Ill have time later in life to make that decision. I still have time to have plenty of fun and commit plenty of sins before I have to be forgiven. I can even wait till I’m on my death bed and then follow or trust in Christ.

 

This shows a heart that rebels against God. This shows that this guy was not ready or willing to trust and follow Jesus. There is no later in this. My great uncle was a priest, and he was fond of saying, “God always promises to forgive us, but he never promises us tomorrow.” We never know if there will be second chances. Because we don’t know when our time is up. Once our time is up, there are no more second chances. Today is the day of salvation. If you have not trusted Christ, there is no better time than now. There may be no other time than now.

 

In verse 62, Jesus makes it clear that we follow Jesus, and we don’t look back. He uses the analogy of plowing a field. IF you plow a field and you look behind you, your rows will not run straight, you will plow crooked lines.

So, when we follow Christ, we do so full speed ahead, no looking back.

There is no, “I miss sleeping around.”

There is no, “I miss getting drunk.”

There is no, “I miss cursing, smoking, doing drugs,” whatever it is that we leave behind when we follow Christ.

 

God is enough, Jesus changes our desires, our wants. Jesus changes, to a point, our likes and dislikes. We are New Creations in Christ. Sometimes those changes come fast and immediate and sometimes they come slowly over time. SO, if you are struggling with what I just mentioned, I don’t want you to come down to hard on yourself.

But it is also a truth that needs to be heard. Jesus saves us where we are in our sins, but he does not allow us to stay where we are in our sins. When we are in Christ, if we are following Christ, we will grow in spiritual maturity. We will grow in our relationship with Him. We will be and continue to be sanctified. WE will put sin to death, and we will desire new things, Godly things instead of worldly things.

Paul makes this progression and the directions that we grow clear in Galatians 5. In verses 16-24, he writes:

 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

 

          We want comfort, we want security. We want the familiar and family. We want attention, we want to be noticed. We want gratitude. We want all these things, none of which are bad in and of themselves, but they so often get in the way of us and Jesus.

Instead, Jesus says I am enough. Follow me. Keep your head down. Do your work. Trust me. Keep your eyes on me. The author of Hebrews tells us that we are to be looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

 

          One commentator recounts a story of John Wesley. He writes: John Wesley once gave some helpful advice to people who wanted to know how to follow Jesus. He said: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”

         

 

          Jesus shows us that he is not calling us to do anything that he is not already doing as well. He has given up everything. He left ruling and reigning in heaven. He gave up comfort and security to be born a human man here on earth. He gave up everything in order to do the Fathers will.

Now he calls us to do the same. Not necessarily to give everything up, but to hold it all with an open hand. We are to be willing to give up everything at the drop of a hat, if Christ calls us to.

He demands obedience, loyalty and commitment. No half-hearted following. No partially committed. No divided loyalties.

Christ or nothing. If you are not fully devoted to him, there are a lot of other hobbies that will be more fulfilling than Church and the Bible. If you are fully devoted to Christ, there is nothing more fulfilling than Christ and the Bible, and his bride, the church.

Jesus calls us to choose. Him or ourselves. Us or Christ.

 

To finish us off, C S Lewis wrote:

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 9:49-56 Jesus is the Son of Man Pride disrupts Unity.

Luke 9:49-56

Jesus is the Son of Man

Pride disrupts Unity.

 

All right let’s grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

So, we have been looking at some of Jesus’ teachings over the past couple weeks. And while they have greatly varied on their details and their subjects, the themes underneath them has remained remarkably consistent.  Pride, disunity, and the link between them, And Jesus as the source of everything; our salvation, our unity, our humility, our righteousness.

Jesus is going to double down on those themes in our passage this week. We warned, especially last week, of the sin of prideful exclusion; the idea that because I am saved, because I am a Christian, even because God saved me, that I am better than those around me who aren’t.

We are going to see two examples this morning of Jesus addressing the disciples doing exactly this. They fell into the trap that only my way of following Jesus is the right and acceptable way. Only my way of doing baptism, doing communion, the style of music, only my way of doing those is the right way.

Jesus shows us that this could not be further from the truth.

Let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 49-56. As usual Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though it doesn’t matter if you have ESV, New American Standard, King James, New King James, NIV, New Living or whatever else, all pf them Are the Word of God.

Luke 9:49-56, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following:

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[e] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[f] 56 And they went on to another village.

God Bless the reading of his Word.

 

 

Now, the first incident here, the first few verses are in direct response to the last few verses, which we looked at last week. Jesus heard the disciples arguing about which among them was the greatest. They were competing because they were traveling with and therefore associated with Jesus. IN those days, much like today, of you are associated with someone great, someone with great power and influence, then you too will be considered great and will have some power and some influence.

Jesus makes it clear that there is no “greatest.” In his kingdom. All who are the least of them in this life, on this world will be great in his Kingdom. All who receive and call on the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, will be great.

Jesus lets them know this and John steps in and speaks to Jesus. Many commentators attribute many different tones to John’s question here. Confusion, anger, dismissiveness, arrogance. We do know that John during the time of Jesus earthly ministry, as we see in both these stories today, was just as impulsive and wild with his tongue as Peter.

He says, Master, someone else, not from our group, not from our church were doing things in your name. We tried to stop them because they are NOT part of our group, not part of our circle right here.

Here’s the thing. There are boundaries and borders that we have to defend. Not everyone who says the word God or says the name Jesus knows the true and biblical Jesus. And Jesus is the only way to salvation. So, we have to make sure we understand biblically, what we fight for, what we defend against, and what we accept, and we agree to disagree.

One pastor I listened to used this analogy that I will paraphrase and probably misquote to the point he wouldn’t even recognize. But he said, your local church is like your city. Your city is a group of somewhat or mostly likeminded people who gather together within the state. Now, with rural community churches, the amount of the like mindedness might be less that other types of churches, but still.

Now, denominations and groupings of churches are like the state. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and so on. These are all different states. There are distinctions, there are differences, they do certain things different ways, and they believe different things about some of the secondary issues. If you live in an area with options, you will study with the differences are in these different denominations, or different associations and so on, and choose which state you align more with.

Every one of these states is within the confines of the country. Everyone of these states holds to an orthodox view of Christianity, Jesus and the Bible. We would not agree about everything with each different state, but we would stand together with them against other countries.

The country is true Christianity. The country is a right view of Jesus and who he is. Fully God, fully man. God himself. The Son of God. Virgin Birth. Sinless life. Put to death on the cross. Paid for our sins. Took the wrath from God that we deserved. Rose from the dead, defeating death and sin. Ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father until he returns to judge all of humanity and recreated the heavens and the Earth.

The country is a right view of Gods Word. That it is inspired. That it is inerrant. That it means what it says and that it says what it means. God is all knowing, all powerful, all times. He is the creator of all that exists. He is Holy and just and good. He is Holy and punishes sin. He so loved the world that he sent his Son, Jesus. And Jesus shows us love, in that while we were yet, sinners, he died for us.

Those are the National borders of Christianity. Those are the things we will rally around and those are the things that we will defend. Opposing views on those are other countries and are outside historical, biblical, true Christianity.

The idea that Jesus was God but not man. The idea that Jesus was man and not God. The idea that Jesus was an angel or any sort of created being. The idea that he didn’t die on the cross. The idea that he didn’t rise from the dead. The idea that we don’t need him to die for our sins. The idea that the Bible is a bunch of good moral lessons. The idea that the Bible is a parable for life.

These are things that are not Christianity and that we do have to fight against.

But within those borders, we band together. With those borders, we stand united, and we allow those who are following Jesus differently than we understand to continue to do so and praise God that we are not Stepford Christians.

Jesus tells John here, do not stop them. One who is not against you is for you. The disciples seem to be protective and jealous of what they were empowered to do by Jesus. They didn’t want anyone else to be able to do it, because that would take away from them, from their ministry, from their influence and their greatness.

I love how Kent Hughes writes about Jesus’ response to John. He says:

Jesus desires his followers to have an open heart, not an exclusive heart. Let’s be like Jesus.!

He then lists examples from the Bible itself, writing:

When Joshua rushed to Moses to warn him that some elders named Eldad and Medad were preaching and thus stealing some of Moses prominence, Moses gave the big-hearted reply, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29)

          While in “the slammer” in Rome, Paul learned that rival preachers were seizing the opportunity for self-promotion. His noble response? “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) Or consider Jonathon, next in line to be king according to human reason, but who “made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4) Or John the Baptist who responded to Jesus’ ascendance by saying, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heave…He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)

 

          Do you see the point that he is making here? It is not about us. At all. Its all about Jesus. And there are simply two options. With Jesus or against Jesus. And Jesus makes clear in Matthew 7, that some who think they are with Jesus are wrong. They are actually against Jesus.

But that’s getting slightly off topic. Jesus points here. With him or against him. Those who are not against him are for him. And we should support and not limit or restrict those who are for him, no matter what group or city or state they are in, because we are all within the same country. The Jesus States of Heaven.

Now, Luke pivots and makes a brief mention that changes the trajectory of the next 10 chapters of his Gospel. When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

          Luke does, of course, take his time, be he shows that Jesus knows what’s coming and has turned his focus on going towards Jerusalem and fulfilling his reason for descending from Heaven, and becoming a man. From here on out, he was perpetually traveling, no time to dawdle. He is always on the move.

Now, those who were traveling with Jesus were many. And they would overwhelm a village if they showed up out of nowhere. Most villages would not have the resources or the lodging to support such a large travelling caravan.

So, messengers were sent out ahead. They were to visit the towns ahead of time, let people know he was coming and prepare food, lodging, etc. In this instance, they came to a Samaritan village. This village did not offer hospitality to Jesus and his entourage, who were Jewish. This is obviously a part of the whole Jewish/Samaritan hatred that run deep, deeper than small town family feuds. We will get into all that in a few weeks. Suffice it to say, you will have to trust me that there was no love lost between the Samaritans and the Jews.

Most commentators will take this moment to point out another theme we see in Luke’s Gospel specifically and in the Gospels of Jesus life in General. As RC Sproul writes:

Where was he received? He was thrown out of Galilee. They wouldn’t accept him in Judea. The Samaritans rejected Him. The Geresenes expelled him. Everywhere he went, he was unwelcome.

 

As Peter writes in his first letter, The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.

 

 

          James and John, the Sons of Zebedee were also nicknamed the Sons of Thunder and we see why here. When the Samaritan village rejected Jesus, they wanted to go Ballistic. LORD, should we reign fire down on them?

There are obvious allusions here to 1 Kings chapter 18, where Elijah reigns down fire on the prophets of Baal. And this reaction by James and John can be somewhat understandable, sort of, maybe?

This village rejected Jesus. They rejected the Messiah. Plus, or maybe even worse in the eyes of the disciples, they weren’t Jewish. They were in another country, to use the analogy we used earlier. And countries go to war with other countries.

Now, yes, we are to go nuclear on the sin in our lives. Jesus tells us that its better to cut off our hands or gouge out our eyes instead of letting sin run wild through our bodies and our lives. His point is to show how contagious and quick spreading sin is. It really is a cancer, and it will grow unimpeded, often times without us even knowing it’s there, if we do not cut it out of our bodies.

But in society, there is a call for a more nuanced approach. Yes, we are called to stand against it and to preach the truth. However, Paul makes it clear that we are to speak the truth in love and that ultimately, Jesus is the judge who will determine guilt and innocence. He is the one who will suss out the righteous and the unrighteous.  And he is the one who will dole out perfect and final justice. And there will be final and eternal punishment for those who reject Christ. But that is for him to deal with, not us.

And so, Jesus rebukes James and John. This is not who we deal with people. Christians are called to love, not retaliate, and certainly not to preemptively strike. The disciples thought that since they were a part of Jesus followers, that they had the right, the authority and the responsibility to dole out punishment and justice wherever they saw fit, especially to those who were not followers of Jesus.

There is that prideful exclusivity we were talking about. First, if someone else is doing good work, but not part of our group, they are not really true Christians, or they are not as good as us. Leave the hard work, leave the real work to us. Second, if they are going to reject us and therefore, reject Christ, then we need to blow everything up and go scorched earth, playing Judge, jury and in this example, literally, executioner.

Notice what Jesus does about the Samaritan village. He doesn’t say, No don’t reign fire down on them, that’s my job. He doesn’t take it upon himself to punish the village. He passes it by and moves on to another village.

See, in case there is any misunderstanding, Jesus is not condoning and approving of the village rejecting him when he tells the disciples to not reign down fire. Sometimes, we fight, sometimes we preach, sometimes… sometimes we shake off the dust from our feet, wash our hands of the situation and move on.

We can’t fight every battle of every single sin and every single approval and support of sin that we see. We just finished “Pride month.” Pride, in any and all forms is a very destructive sin. Pride in our personal sins, especially when we don’t see them as sins, is the most destructive of all.

Pride creates disunity. Pride made the disciples want to stop the other group of people from doing work in Jesus’ name. Pride makes us want to reign fire on unbelievers and sinners. Pride makes us unforgiving. It makes us not forget slights and insults. It makes us hold on to grudges and to think negatively about others. It causes us to forget that all human beings, both Gods children and those who reject him are created in God’s image. It makes us forget that we are to love one another and others, and what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Though it fits, the context here is not romantic love. Instead, the word used here is Agape, pure love. The love we are called to love one another. Pride blocks this love. Pride gets in the way of love. Pride gets in the way of unity.

 

And we are called to unity. We don’t have to all agree on every single point on the checklist of theological beliefs and traditions. We don’t have to agree on all points. But if, as we established earlier, we are all citizens of the same country, in this case, the kingdom of God, then we are all one in Christ. Ephesians 4:4-6, There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

 

          One, one one. We are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. And today, being the first Sunday of the month, we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

Now, I ask that if you are not a Christian, if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, please just pass the elements along. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing special about it for those who do not believe that Jesus Christ gave his broken body and his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There will be no pressure and no judgment.

stemming from that, Communion does not save us, it does not cleanse us, it does not do anything along those lines. It has no power to keep us clean or to restore our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. This was given to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering. Remembering who Jesus was. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering how much he loved us and remembering just how big of a deal our sin really is. It is meant to be sobering and somber, but at the same time it is meant to be a celebration.

Thirdly, we are told that we need to come and participate with the right heart. As I said, we do this in remembrance of what he gave up for us, the sacrifice he made. We do this because we remember how big of a deal our sin is, that he died on the cross for it. We need to make sure that our hearts and minds have their hearts set on what’s important and that we seek God’s forgiveness and make our relationships are right with him. In addition to a tradition becoming too important and placed above the word of God, tradition can become bad is by it losing its meaning and becoming simply a ritual. Please take some of this time to reflect on what this tradition means and to make sure that you are prepared to receive. There will never be any judgment if you choose not to participate, and just pass the plate.

Paul recounts to the church in Corinth what I now tell you as well, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:

 

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

          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.