Jesus is the Son of Man
Time is Short
(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)
All right! Let’s go ahead and open our Bibles to Luke chapter 12. We are finishing this chapter this morning, picking up right where we left off just a few weeks ago.
Jesus has been focusing his teaching and preaching in this chapter on focusing on the right priorities. And the only right priority is the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.
And what our attitudes are, what our actions show, what our hearts and prayers and behaviors are and do and show, directly reflects how important Gods Kingdom and Glory are to us.
We work here and now, we do what’s good for this world, we act on the today, but we focus on, and we look forward to and we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ; his death, his resurrection, his second coming, and the culmination of his Kingdom.
And here Jesus is issuing a wake-up call to those who are following him and listening to his teachings. Now is the time to repent and believe. He just told his disciples that division will be coming, between those who believe and those who don’t, now he turns to the crowds and tells them to get on the right side of that division.
Let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 12, verses 54-59. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.
Luke 12:53-59, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reads:
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so, it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”[j]
May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.
So, Jesus starts off talking about what most small-town, blue-collar folk talk about, the weather. IN that region, the weather was pretty easy to predict. When the winds came from the west, they were coming off the Mediterranean Sea and that generally meant rain. If the winds were coming from the South, it was coming from the desert and the winds would be bringing heat with them. And everyone knew this simply by observing nature.
We do this today as well. We read the signs, we know that when certain things are coming up, what it will look like and how it will affect us. We know when certain winds are blowing, we will see certain things happen. We can see what God is doing with the weather. And what Jesus shared is just one example of that.
What He is showing us is that we can and will see what we want to see. And we can and will not see what we don’t want to see. We will see what’s important to us and we will ignore and suppress what’s not important to us. You have heard me use this example before, but the Bible is a perfect example. What you are looking for in the Bible, whether true or not, is what you will find. If you go into the Bible looking for it to confirm your views, regardless of what they are, you can find a Bible verse to support it. It may be ripped out of context, it likely doesn’t actually support your views, but what you are looking for you will find.
That’s what’s going on with people in Israel that Jesus is talking to here in this passage. They are seeing what they want, and they are consciously or subconsciously, ignoring and not seeing what they don’t want to see. Jesus is saying that they can’t see what is right in front of their eyes.
Jesus said back in Luke 11:20, telling the crowds who he was, But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. He is giving them the answer to the question that they don’t even realize is being asked.
Jesus was right there, in the flesh, literally. He was what God was doing right there in their midst. And they couldn’t see it. They wouldn’t see it. They were blinded to it. And they were distracted.
They were distracted by the same things we are distracted by today. They were distracted by being good, moral people and following Gods Law. They were distracted by the outer influences on their society, in their case the Roman occupation of Israel. They are distracted by things that seem good and seem important. Politics, weather, nationality, and so on…
They are so distracted by these things that they can’t see the good and great works that God is doing. They can’t see who God is. Jesus calls them hypocrites because they know this deep down, but they are unwilling, again, often subconsciously, to see Jesus for who he is.
We get so caught up today in what’s going in Washington DC, or what’s going on in Sacramento, or how things are being played out across the country, different trials going on, the seeming worsening of the moral fabric of society that we miss the good and great work that God is doing today, in America, in California, in Butte County and in Bangor.
We talked a few weeks ago of the works that God is doing specifically in rural communities throughout the country as churches like ourselves, and so many more are partnering with Village Missions to reach out to the communities they are in and through these rural domestic missions, show people the love of Christ and the truth of his Word.
IN that regard, we are working for the here and now by focusing on the eternal. But when we focus on the here and now at the expense of the eternal, when we are distracted by the things which seem right and good, we miss Gods work and what he is doing.
So, instead of reading the tea leaves, instead of reading conspiracy theories or prophecies into every headline we read, instead of focusing on those things, we are to look and marvel at the great work that God is doing and that he is doing it through His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus is saying that, in context, they should have seen. What should they have seen? Philip Ryken details it, writing:
What, specifically should they have seen Luke is the Gospel of knowing for sure, and it has shown us what Jesus was saying and doing. People should have learned from his teaching that he spoke with divine authority. This was the man who took the old promises of salvation and said, “They are fulfilled in my ministry” (see Luke 4:21) They also should have seen from his miracles that he had true divine power. This was the man who ruled the waves and cast out demons “by the finger of God” see Luke 11:20). If people had been able to interpret the times, they would have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah who had come to bring salvation.
They also would have seen that judgment was coming. Jesus was just the kind of prophet who always got persecuted, and probably killed. Already the religious leaders were plotting against him (see Luke 11:53-54) and this served as a storm warning. If people had been able to interpret the times, they would have seen the gathering clouds and taken cover. Yet they never saw it coming.
Jesus says they should have seen it. Jesus isn’t going to say things like this if there it wasn’t true. He is God, he can’t be wrong. If he says we should have seen, then we should have seen. He was clear, they and often us are the ones that miss it.
And He says, And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Jesus calls us back to what he was asked and what he answered back in verses 13 & 14 when the gut wanted Jesus to judge between, he and his brother in an inheritance case.
He uses this reference to share another mini parable. He is telling us to settle our case now. There are two applications to this, one, the main, eternal one, and the secondary one for here and now today.
Make amends in your relationships. Fix those relationships and friendships that have fallen away. We are never promised tomorrow. WE don’t know how long we have or how long they have, you never know when it will be too late to make amends, especially if you are the one who is guilty or at fault. And if the other person is at fault, make sure they know that you have forgiven them, that you are ready to move on and make amends. As one commentator pointed out, sometimes we are really good at believing in forgiveness, but not so much in acting on it.
All of us in this room, many of us recently, can testify to those times when a loved one is here one day and gone the next. The question always comes up, do we know where they are going? Sometimes we do. That has been one of the things that we can be so grateful for when we know a person’s faith, we see and hear their love for Jesus and so we know that when they die, they are with Him in eternal Glory, no tears, no pain, no nothing, just eternal glorification and communion with God.
Sometimes we know that a person has no faith and there is no evidence that they are saved. We know where they are going and its not good news. Other times, and I had this with my mom, we have no idea. They might profess some faith, but not show much fruit. They may not talk about any faith they may have or were raised in a different faith tradition where you can’t tell by talking to them if they have a saving faith. That, I think is the toughest.
But the question is there, sometimes in the background, sometimes brought by circumstances or by conviction of the Holy Spirit, do you know where your loved ones and friends are going after they die? And the follow up, what are you doing about it?
We can’t force anyone to believe, so while we do have the responsibility to share the truth of the Gospel with our friends and family, there may be an even more important question. DO they know where you are going, if you were to die today? If you are the one who is here today and gone tomorrow?
Jesus is saying that this needs to be determined here and now. The time for mercy is now. The time for settling our case before God is now. This requires recognizing and admitting our guilt. That all of us are guilty of sinning against the Almighty and all holy God.
The only way that we can receive mercy, a commuted sentence is through the mercy and grace of God when we turn to Jesus and repent of our sins and believe on him who died for the forgiveness of our sins.
We will all stand before the judge when we die, and will give an account for our lives, sins and all. Once we are standing before the judge, the time for mercy is over. That’s why Jesus is calling for us to decide now. Once we are before the judge, if we have not previously received his mercy, there are no more options, no more chances. He has no choice but to find us guilty, because we are. That’s the only verdict possible. The time for mercy is over and the time for justice has arrived.
And so, Jesus is offering to settle our case. If we admit our guilt, repent from our sins and throw ourselves on the mercy of Most High, he is merciful. If we reject mercy, we receive justice. It is just that all sins are punished through eternity in Hell. Sin requires that all of us receive justice, that all sin is accounted for.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He has attained the forgiveness of sins by taking the wrath and punishment for sin. Justice was served. Therefore, God the Father chooses to pour his mercy, his forgiveness, on some. Those who believe, those who repent, those who put their faith and trust in Christ.
We owe a debt that we can never repay. Even if we could, we continue to sin until we are in Heaven, in our new, glorified bodies, so we would continue to accrue more and more debt, so to speak. But once God’s mercy is poured out on us, though we stumble, we shall never fall. Though we fall, we will get back up. WE are, what Martin Luther termed, “at the same time justified and sinner.” Simul Justus et peccator
The very first of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, which would unintentionally go on to start the Protestant Reformation says that a believer’s life is one of continual repentance. Salvation, or Justification is a one time, once and for all, It Is Finish event. But our living it out, our working out our salvation with fear and trembling, our sanctification is an ongoing, lifelong process.
It is better to receive this mercy, before we get to the judge, than to face the justice we so truly deserve when the verdict is handed down.
Jesus has given all the information; he has been clear and left no room for doubt. Now it is up to each one if us individually to believe Him, to acknowledge the truth, His Truth, the Truth of the Bible. Jesus tells those who are hearing him in this passage, they should have seen through all the other stuff, they should have read the signs and they should have recognized Him for who He was.
And how much more, seeing these people reject, having the whole counsel of scripture and have it all here, laid out before us, who much more should we see and acknowledge His Truth and recognize Jesus Christ as our LORD and savior and trust and obey.
My great uncle, who was a priest, was so very fond of saying, “We are promised forgiveness if we ask, but we are never promised tomorrow.” Look around at what many in our family right here have dealt with over the past number of months and you will see the truth.
Sometimes it can be somewhat expected, we can know it is coming soon. Sometimes it will come out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s a little in between. God knows the number of our days, but he doesn’t let us in on that.
And as we think of how we have grieved for different people we have lost; think how they will grieve for you. WE can give them a gift by assure them of where we are going after we die.
Salvation Belongs to the LORD.
Today is the Day of Salvation.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
And lastly, John 5:24: Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.