Jesus is the Son of Man
The Gospel Saves
(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 turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 13. As usual, of you do not own a Bible, please see me after the service and we can get one for you.
As we start a new chapter in Luke’s Gospel, we look at what Jesus has been doing and how it continues and changes in the chapter and chapters ahead. TO put it in its simplest of terms, Jesus has been preaching and teaching the coming of and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
He has been showing us how our faith affects how we see things. And maybe even more important for our practical living out of our faith, how we see things affects our faith.
Ultimately Jesus has been showing us that our worldview, our works and our good deeds, our entire life in fact flows out of our faith, instead of the other way around, and that is where our focus should be.
Jesus has been making some enemies as well, as he has been telling the people who are listening to him and to us, the things we need to hear, not necessarily the things we want to hear. We are people and creatures of comfort, and we don’t like to be dragged out of our comfort zone. Jesus says, I’m not going to let you stay in your comfort zone.
So, on that note, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, where Jesus continues to encourage and draw us out of our comfort zone. We will be reading Luke chapter 13, verses 1-9. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I greatly encourage you to read along in your preferred translation. The Power is in Gods Word, not in my voice reading it.
Luke 13:1-9, He writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Thus Says the Word of God.
So, we open up with the crowd telling Jesus about an incident that we don’t know anything about outside of these couple of verses. Its not recorded anywhere else in history or in scripture. And so, we have to be careful in what we pull out and picture in this story.
As best as theologians and historians can figure is that there was a group of Jews from Galilee who came down to Jerusalem for the Passover and Pilate ordered a bunch of Roman soldiers and guards to squash a perceived rebellion or to pay them back for some perceived slight that was perpetrated against Pilate. The soldiers murdered the Galileans and in doing so, mixed their Jewish blood with the blood of the animals that was being sacrificed. You can imagine how offensive this would be to the people of Israel. Now, again, this is conjecture, but it makes sense based on what we do know.
The people brought this story to Jesus and wanted him to comment on it. We see from how Jesus is going to respond, exactly what the people were looking for.
The prevailing worldview at that time was that things like disasters, disease and death were the direct result of sin. That’s what these people thought when they told Jesus about what happened. The Galileans must have had some hidden sin underneath their outward piousness. Their church must have been too liberal, too accepting of sin. Or they might have been too legalistic. Whatever their hidden sin was, that’s why God let happen what happened.
We see this idea play out a few times in scriptures. We see it in Job, where his friends came around to “comfort” him. Instead, they tell him that he must have done something wrong for God to allow this to happen, so he might as well confess his sin. Job 4:7 records them telling him:
“Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
Now we know from reading the rest of Job, especially the beginning that he was upright and blameless, not meaning perfect, but that he was not being punished because of his sin.
We see again in the Gospels, in a direct question to Jesus, John chapter 9. They saw a blind man to Jesus and asked him why the guy was blind. And this wasn’t the pharisees trying to trick him, it was his disciples asking a genuine question!
John 9:2 & 3:
his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
And we still tend to think this way today as well. When tornados or hurricanes hit, when the fires come through other places, 9/11 is a good example. Jesus even gives another example that the people would have been acquainted with, a tower collapsing and killing 18. Oh, that’s a case of Gods judgment on the people that died.
How hard and cold and calloused do we have to be to think that? We don’t think it when we are the ones affected! And there is some truth to saying that it is the result of sin generally, that God is in control of it, that sometimes it can be a judgment on worldwide or widespread sin. Linguistically and semantically, there can be some truth in that.
But the tone and the meaning and the worldview behind it could not be more wrong. Even famous “pastors,” and I use that title loosely, those who you see on TV, even they will say things like, “God does these things to punish sinners. If they weren’t sinners, it wouldn’t have happened.”
We see this in Jesus’ response to them. He points out that they are asking the wrong questions. Remember part of what he was saying the last couple of passages we have looked at, the last parts of Luke chapter 12. He was warning against hypocrisy and self-righteousness. And here the people were coming and saying, “What about those Galileans, eh?” Jesus points out that they were being the hypocrites he was warning against.
He says, “their sin is no greater than yours.” We compare our sins to others, and we grade others and ourselves by different standards. Theirs are worse of course. Their sin is way more devastating and destructive than ours.
I like what Philip Ryken says. He writes
Notice the precise place where Jesus disagreed with his listeners. He did not say that they were wrong to hold God responsible for the fall of the tower. Jesus knew that this too was under Gods sovereign control. No, the place he disagreed with them was in their assumption that they were morally superior to the people who died at Siloam. On the contrary, the people who died in the tragic accident were no better and no worse than anyone else.
We talked about this a bit on Wednesday. Scripture makes it clear that some sins are different than others. Some sins have more devastating consequences. Some sins hurt others more. Some sins require different amount s of punishment and discipline.
But in the context of God holiness and our salvation. All sin is sin. All sin separates us from God. Even if we were born sinless, which we are not. But even if we were, one the only sin we commit is a little white lie, or stealing a candy bar when we were 12, or something like that, it is enough to besmirch the holiness of God and it is enough to make us worthy of his full wrath. In this context, all sin is equal, and we are all sinners.
Jesus is telling us that we would do well to remind ourselves of our own sinfulness and our own mortality. And we need to make sure we are ready. We make sure we are ready by responding to the Gospel. Jesus tells his listeners, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Just like all sin is equal in separating us from God and making us deserving of eternal punishment, all sin is also forgiven through repentance and trust in Christs work on the cross. All sin from smallest to largest.
The listeners were saying, “Those people who died because they deserved it!” Jesus tells them, “How are they any different from you?”
When it comes to salvation, when it comes to the need for repentance, when it comes to the need for forgiveness, we are all guilty as charged. None of us are “more” guilty or “less” guilty than others. We all deserve death, wrath, eternal damnation.
Without responding to the Gospel, without Christ’s righteousness, his saving work on the cross, without faith, trust and repentance, none of us will get anything other than what we deserve. But with those things, all sinners can be reconciled to the Father. All sinners can be adopted as a child of God. All sinners can be spared from his wrath. Not all will, of course, scripture is clear about that. But all have the opportunity, to repent or perish.
His steadfast love endures forever.
Now in verses 6-9, Jesus enters into a time of teaching in Luke 13, starting with this mini parable about the fig tree that wont produce fruit. The first, broadest point is that Israel was not willing to believe the message of the Gospel. They were not able and willing to produce the good fruit that is born of repentance and faith. And so, they were going to be cut down and the rich, fertile soil would be made available to the rest of the garden. Gentiles, you and I have access to the Gospel, through faith and repentance. And so do the Jewish people. All have access to the Father through the Son.
But we also see some practical things we can pull from this parable, things we can use in our own lives and try to help the lies of those around us.
Sanctification is us bearing fruit in accordance with our faith. IT is not always instantly visible, but it is always there. RC Sproul writhes that this is Jesus reminding us, not to repent someday, but that now is the time. The Father is generous beyond what is required of him, but when he decides our time is up, our time is up.
When our time is up and we stand in front of the Father, we will be judged. We will be judged on what we did and did not do. We will be judged on the fruit that we produced. Most importantly and most applicable, we will be judged on whether we have trusted in Christ for our salvation and repented of our sins.
God can see the fruit in our lives, even when its not visible to others yet. Sometimes it takes time for our fruit to become visible. Sometimes a person needs to be poured into. Sometimes a person needs to be discipled, tended to for a time, given good fertile soil before the fruit begins to show. We can often be guilty of demanding fruit immediately. But that doesn’t work in nature. You can’t plant a tree and expect it to immediately produce fruit. The same with us.
IF we are saved, we will produce fruit. Martin Luther wrote that we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone. If fruit never produces, God says that is a sign of an unregenerate heart. And an unregenerate heart will be punished and cast out or cut down to use this parables metaphor.
But we need to be careful in our judgments. We cannot always, or maybe even often, tell when we look through a narrow lens at one specific moment in time at one specific instance with one specific set of circumstances.
IF you feel frustrated, like you are not producing the fruit that you know your faith should be producing, or if you are looking at another believer and not seeing the fruit that you think there should be, I think we all would do well to keep Romans 8 in mind. It’s a great chapter. It starts in verse 1, saying: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
And then that closing passage of the chapter, starting in verse 28 through the end of the chapter:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you have truly repented of your sins, trusting in Christ and his work on the cross, you can be assured of his salvation, his steadfast love which endures forever. And Jesus wants us to continually be assured and remind of it and how it was purchased by His work on the cross.
And it is His work on the cross which we remember each month, on the first Sunday as we celebrate communion. We are going to this now with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.
If you have not truly repented and trusted in 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.
Lastly, I want to read the words of RC Sproul and plead on last time for anyone who has not repented as of yet. HE writes:
If you have lived this long without ever having truly repented of your sins or fled to Christ for your forgiveness and your healing, today may be your last chance. You may not have next week or even tomorrow. Don’t presume on the grace of God. IF when you lay your head on your pillow tonight, you remain unconverted, I pray that you would not sleep until you are on your knees before the living God, taking advantage of the blessed redemption that he has given to all who repent and believe in the LORD Jesus Christ.
Amen. Let’s celebrate Communion.