Jesus is the Son of Man
The humble are lifted up.
All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you don’t have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.
Luke chapter 9, as we have seen shows the change in direction of Jesus and his ministry. He has been ministering to the region of Galilee and now, he turns his direction and his eyes to Jerusalem and more specifically, the cross, his death and resurrection.
IT started After Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. We saw it on the Mount of Transfiguration as Jesus spoke to Elijah and Moses. Last week, we saw Jesus, along with Peter, James and John come down off the Mount and walk right into the spiritual warfare that was ramping up in order to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus healed the boy with the unclean spirit and reunited and broken family. We left off with the first half of verse 43, All were astonished at the majesty of God.
Jesus now has some things he wants to say, some things he needs to teach the Apostles. He needs to focus on and focus them on THE Reason for his incarnation, which he is going to remind them of 1st thing here.
So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, second half of verse 43 through verse 48. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 9:43-48. The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record what we now read:
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus[d] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Thus Says the Word of God.
So, first thing I want to touch on is the break in the middle of verse 43. I am assuming most Bibles, and at least all the ones I looked at this week have a break in the middle of verse 43, separating it how I did between this week and last week.
I didn’t bring it up last week, and sometimes I won’t, but I wanted to bring it up this week. When we read the Bible, every single word that is in here is inspired and inerrant. As we learned in our CDI class, even the past, present, and future tenses, the plurals and possessives, everything written down in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
However, the chapter numbers and breaks and the verse numbers and breaks are not inspired and inerrant. They were inserted later in history as a helpful means to memorize scripture and to find useful passages. Since they are not inspired, occasionally you find a spot where they don’t make as much sense, or where I would choose a different spot to put a break. Most Bible translators agree that this verse, verse 43, makes more sense broken in half.
So, onto the actual text. About a week and a half ago, in the text, Jesus told his disciples that, as the Messiah, he must suffer and die. This was back in Luke 9:21 & 22.
The Apostles didn’t quite understand what Jesus was saying and Peter, so devoted and passionate and wanting to do the will of God, actually started doing the will of Satan, trying to get Jesus to not go to the cross.
Now, between now and then, the disciples saw the transfiguration, they saw Elijah and Moses. They saw Jesus cast out and unclean spirit and they saw the boy healed and reunited with his father.
While still marveling at all that had been seen, at the majesty of God, Jesus shares somethings with his Apostles. He is telling them; this is the reason I am here. Not all these other miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, the power over nature itself. None of that is why he came down from heaven. As Marks Gospel explain, He came down to be a ransom for many. He came down to gives his life for ours. TO pay the penalty for sin that we couldn’t pay.
He tells the Apostles the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. Marks Gospel makes it even clearer, saying The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him.” He says, “I’m going to be put to death. Remember this.”
There is a direct contrast between the majesty of God, the Glory of God that was just recently seen and the horror and shock and shame of a death on the cross.
The Disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying, no matter how clear he was being. But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
That’s a quadruple negative there by the way. Any time there is repetition in the scriptures, you know that it is important. When its quadrupaly repeated, you know its massively important. As one theologian puts it, the disciples, and all of Israel, were waiting for the royal pomp of the Son of David. They were not prepared or willing to see the Truth about what Jesus needed to do.
God opens and closes the eyes. He is absolutely sovereign, and he is the one who calls us and saves us. But we are also responsible for our actions and decisions. The Apostles here were not willing to look the cross. They were also not willing to ask the questions needed to stretch them and grow them.
God told them clearly, and he also hid it from them, blinded them for the time being. Scriptures often say that Jesus told the disciples things that they would not remember till after the resurrection. They just couldn’t and wouldn’t tie the suffering servant from Isaiah to the coming Messiah until after the cross when their eyes were opened.
The Disciples were scared to ask. It should be clear that they didn’t misunderstand what Jesus said, meaning they didn’t think they understood and understood wrong. They knew they didn’t understand, and they were unwilling to ask.
Maybe they were scared of looking foolish. Maybe they held to the old lawyer’s adage, Never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to. Maybe their pride was just too much for them to realize they were wrong on things.
The Pride aspect makes sense because that’s what we see Jesus’ address next. While the previous few sections were very specific in their timing, verse 46 shows us in nonspecific timing. Luke pairs them together, not because they occurred one after the other, which they may have, but it seems Luke pairs them together because it reiterates a point.
While the Apostles didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, it may have gotten them thinking about down the road, when Jesus would be reigning as the Christ.
They were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. In that day status was all about who you were associated with and who you were attached to. If you were attached to someone great and important then it means you too must be great and important.
Now, some ambition is good. We all rightly want our life to matter. We all rightly want to make a difference, to do good for the kingdom of God. We all want our lives to not be wasted. But in doing so, we so often focus on the wrong reasons, the wrong methods, and so on.
And in doing so, our pride starts to grow. We are important. God can’t do it without us. He needs our permission to work. He needs our permission to save. We become like Cats. Let me explain, or better yet, Ill let Kent Hughes explain. He writes:
Consider the difference between dogs and cats. The master pets a dog, and the dog wags its tail and thinks, “He must be God.” The master pets his cat and the cat purrs, shuts its eyes and thinks to itself, “I must be God.” After God has graciously reached down to us, there is a perverse human tendency to think like the cat!
He continues later:
We may not think, “I must be God,” but we do silently imagine, “I must be pretty good.” We become proud of our apparent sanctification, our knowledge of the Bible, our evangelical routines. After all, we understand the mysteries of grace, while the unregenerate dolts around us have no clue. We become proud of our spirituality.
Hughes has a point. We start to become proud of ourselves and the spiritual growth that takes place in our lives. The very things that allowed us to come to Christ and put our faith and trust in Him, the humility and humbleness that allows ourselves to see our sins and our true identity, that all falls away. We are saved by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. As Jonathon Edwards says, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sins the made it necessary. We have nothing to do with our salvation. And yet, we often take too much pride in our salvation as if it was something we accomplished.
Jesus sees this pride growing in his disciples and he brings a child to his side as an illustration. Children in that day were considered unimportant. They were not useful to one’s status.
And yet, what Jesus is showing as, as one commentator points out, there is glory in receiving, in caring for, in holding, in teaching and in nurturing children. We can see Christ in children, and we are to be concerned with them and to take their lowly positions for ourselves. Jesus himself came not to be served but to serve.
We are called in scripture to have a child like faith, but never a childish faith. This means that we are to trust in God the Father just as our kids implicitly trust us as his parents. And that reminds us that there is a huge difference between believing in God and believing God.
RC Sproul writes: That’s what Jesus is saying: “Trust me! You can’t believe in me and then not trust Me.” That’s what faith is. Its trust. And so he says, “He who is least among you all,”—by which he means he who is most trusting— “is the one who is great.”
I think its interesting that Jesus doesn’t say the greatest, but great. Even when telling us how to be great, by being the least, he makes it clear that this is not a competition. He makes sure to remove any obstacles to allow us to get our heart in the wrong position.
Service, humility, humbleness, not thinking too highly of ourselves. These are the characteristics that Christ is calling us to. JC Ryle writes, “Of all creatures, none has so little right to be proud as man, and of all men, none ought to be so humble as the Christian.
Jesus here is showing us what is called the upside-down Kingdom. To be first, you must be last. To be first, you must be a servant to all. You are to serve each other. You are to serve others with humility and humbleness. You are to be a servant. Jesus came as a Servant Savior.
We are called to serve, to think of others as better than ourselves. Jesus here is not talking about how to become a Christian. You do not become a Christian by serving, by doing good works, by being a good person, by anything that you do. Instead, he is talking about how you live after you are a Christian. You serve.
Are you serving? Some of you are. Some of your service is absolutely vital to this church’s door staying open. But this is a question for each of us to ask ourselves deep in our heart. Are you serving? This involves so many different aspects of our life.
Are you serving your wife? Loving your wife as Christ loves the church. Are you serving you husband? Are you serving your children? Your parents? Are you serving your community? Are you serving your neighbors? Are you serving your church? Jesus’ church?
You were created to worship, and part of worship is serving. You are called to serve. Are you filling your calling?
This Upside-down Kingdom goes against everything this world holds in high esteem. Jesus is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of LORDS. He is the Son of God, God himself. He is a Warrior King. He is the first born of all creation. He is the fulfillment of all the scriptures. And he was born a lowly baby and died a shameful death on the cross. He touched and healed lepers. He ate with outcasts. He had in his group repentant sinners. He calls sinners to repent and fought against the injustice of the powerful. But he rose again and defeated death, ascended into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the father, ready to come again, where every single knee will bow and every single tongue will confess that he is LORD.
The Kingdom is in place, but it is upside down from what we expect.
One theologian writes:
One of the most challenging concepts of the Kingdom of God is that what we celebrate as people on earth is often of little value in the Kingdom, and vice-versa. Jesus’ teaching, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, is at odds with much of human wisdom. Jesus’ establishment of his Kingdom through death rather that human strength is a foolish stumbling block to our world. The elevation of the week and foolish as well as celebrating personal weakness and God’s power makes no sense to a world that celebrates power and wisdom.
The nature of the Kingdom of God is radically different than any human kingdom. All the human attributes that are valued in our world are of little account in the Kingdom. And the attributes valued in the Kingdom are typically discounted in our world. We will never, on our own, know or enter the Kingdom. It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we can be a part of his kingdom.
WE are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Not through anything we have done, not through anything we can or could do, so that none of us can brag or boast. But through and in Christ alone.