Luke 8:1-15 Jesus is the Son of Man: Parable of the sower

Luke 8:1-15

Jesus is the Son of Man

Parable of the sower

          All right! Leets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. As always, if you don’t have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and I can get one to you as a gift from Bangor Community Church.

So, we have been walking through Luke’s Gospel over the last number of months. In chapter 6, Luke focused on Jesus teaching the right understanding of the Word of God. Jesus followed that up in Chapter 7 with his actions, showing that He was who he said He was. Jesus has showed us that he had the authority to say the things he said and to do the things he did.

Here in Chapter 8, we are going to see that some will believe and follow Jesus Christ.  But we will also see that not everyone will follow and believe.

We are going to read this morning’s passage in two parts. In total, we will read and look at Luke chapter 8, verses 1 through 15. And we will do it multiple parts. We are going to start with verses 1-3. As always, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation, reading for your yourself the Word of God.

So, starting with Luke 8:1-3, Luke writes:

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their means.

 

          So, we have seen throughout the Gospels, it is almost always the unexpected that are saved by Jesus and end up following him. Luke finished chapter 7 showing us the sinful woman whose sins were forgiven, as the most recent example.

And then Luke mentions these ladies here in verses 1 through 3. And this would be very scandalous, and it was put in very purposefully. Rabbis would not teach women during those days, so Jesus having these women as followers would have been unusual.

Luke is showing throughout his Gospel that Jesus’ teachings and his salvation were open to everyone. And He makes a very clear point that these ladies were an integral part of Jesus ministry and the Apostles as well. We see it throughout Luke’s Gospel and we also see it throughout the book of Acts as well.

Paul writes in Galatians 3:28,  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.  We are all created with different roles, different functions, but with the same worth and same dignity, the same standing before God.

We will see in the parable that Jesus says that the only qualification one needs to become a follower of Christ, only one thing that is needed to become a child of God.

So, lets jump into that parable, reading Luke 8:4-8:

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

So, this is maybe one of the more famous parables that Jesus tells. It appears in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels and really kicks off a series of parables here in Marks Gospel. I want to make sure we really look at this and the explanation that Jesus will be giving because there is a lot going on here.

So, he starts off with the sower going out to sow some seed. When he does this, there are 4 results that Jesus shares. First, some of the seed was sown on a path, where the ground is hard. The seed is unable to get into the ground and just ends up sitting on top of the soil and being eaten by the birds.

Next, the seed falls on rocky ground. There is some soil there, the seed sprouts quickly, shoots up fast, but has very shallow roots, no foundation. So, when the sun comes out it gets scorched and withers and dries out very quickly.

Third, the seed falls among weeds and thorns. It starts to grow there, but the weeds do what weeds due and chokes out the good seed, so that it doesn’t produce any harvest or grain.

So, these were the first three of the four that Jesus told us about. Notice that, despite initial outward appearances, none of these three ends up yielding positive results. That’s going to end up in a pretty low success percentage. But Jesus is not done, and he gives one more example.

Fourthly, the seed is sown onto good soil. It produces grain and yields a harvest that increases its yield. It increases as much as 30 times, 60 times and 100 times.

Jesus lays out these 4 scenarios and then he says something odd. He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you?

When you are teaching someone, when you are talking to someone, do you usually say things like that? Don’t all ears hear? Shouldn’t all ears hear? Jesus is going to explain that and the meaning of the parable next.

Jesus continues on in verses 9-15:

 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 

When Jesus taught to the public, he taught in parables. He did this on purpose because once he was with his disciples, often when he was with the Twelve, he would then explain the parables and some of the disciples might even understand them.

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah here. The context of that passage in Isaiah is interesting. It’s in Isaiah 6, and God asks, whom should I send, who will go for us? Now the use of the word, “us” is a different point for a different time, but Isaiah responds and says, “Send me, I’ll go!”

Here is what God tells him his message to the people will be. Isaiah 6, verses 9&10:

Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,[c] but do not understand;
keep on seeing,[
d] but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[
e]

and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

I then read the study notes for this section and it helps connect what Jesus is saying and what God is saying to Isaiah.

My Bibles study notes say this: The proclamation of the Word is paradoxical in its effect. The prophetic word closes the way of God to those who are rebellious, proud and hypocritical, but opens it to the deaf, the blind, the humble and the poor.

That’s what we see the teachings of Jesus showing us. 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. We often see the disciples not understanding even after Jesus explains it to them.

But Jesus says here that they will make sense to those who are in the know. To those who are not in the know, no matter how clear you make it, they will not understand. To those who have hardened hearts, closed ears, the Gospel, the Word of God is foolishness. Paul tells us such in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 &19:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

We will understand nothing that Jesus says, without Jesus or the Holy Spirit giving us understanding. Proverbs tells us this, James tells us this, we just saw Isaiah and Paul tell us this and Jesus tells us this.

 

So, Jesus addresses all four of the situations that he spoke of moments ago. For the most part, this addresses 4 different kinds of people and their responses. However, we could also look at it as four different stages of life or situations where we hear the Word and our responses to it.

So first, Jesus tells us what the seed is that is being sown. It is the Word; it is the Gospel.

The first place the seed is sown is along a well walk, well-worn path. Satan has done such a good job make this path wide and easy, that when the seed is sown, when the word is spoken, there is no hearing at all, no acknowledgment whatsoever. The seeds are sown and immediately it is taken away. Jesus uses a path here in this parable, and he uses a path again in one of the other Gospels. Matthew 7: 13&14, Jesus tells us about 2 different paths in the world.

For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Obviously, the path that these seeds were sown on was wide and easy.

The next situation is the seed sown on rocky ground, sprouting fast and withering quickly. I see this as someone who hears the word and starts to believe in their head, but has no heart change, no life change and as soon as troubles pop up, they bail. Practically, today, this could be someone who is walking along the path to, who is seeking, who is visiting church and interested in learning and seeking and something happens and turns them away.

The third is seeds sown among the thorns. I look at this and I see two specific instances that we see today. First is those who hear the word and may even intellectually believe, but at least acknowledge some validity to the Word. Yet, instead of changing their lives and handing it over to Christ, they refuse. They say, if I go ahead with this Bible stuff, with this Jesus stuff, I’ll have to give up all the things I like in my life. I’ll have to quit doing drugs and sleeping around, quit cheating, stealing, quit living for the world and I really don’t want to do that.  The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The second way I see this today is when someone is interested in hearing more, in seeing just what the Gospel is all about, but they are not willing or able to remove themselves from the people around them, friends, family, whatever, and they are so afraid of what those people around them will think that you can never get them into a one on one situation long enough to give them a chance to make a true, decision based on the Gospel.

I had one of these in my life a few years ago. He was mad at God and he would attack Christianity at any and all opportunity. I was able to live my life a way that allowed me to speak into his life IF and that is a big if, IF no one else was around. As soon as someone else was around, he felt, that to keep the image up and not open himself up to ridicule or whatever, he had to go on the offense.

Again, I want to point out that 3 of the 4 situations come away with a negative outcome. Again, see what Jesus said in Matthew, For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

One of the four, the last of the four is what Jesus desires. The seed sown on Good soil, hearing the word and accepting the Word and producing fruit. Now this section, this situation, this outcome includes all of us who are called children of God. If we are believers, we are in this 4th section here.

And there are a few things I want to point out now that Jesus is done explaining the parable.

First, when you are out there, sharing the seed, sharing the Word of God, most people will reject it in one of those three ways. Only one of the four ways is a positive outcome. I can’t stress this enough when it comes to us sharing the Word. Most people will not respond in genuine conversion, at least not right away. Our job as one sowing the seed is not to ensure the good fruit-growing from it. That is the Holy spirit’s job. Our job is to get the word out there, to get the seed sown.

Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3: verses 6-9:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

And here is the thing. We sowed seed this past week. You all here are well experienced with seed planting, helping out after the fire last year, the commodities food boxes each month, things like that. That seed has been and will be sown throughout Bangor and the surrounding communities. At that same time, the odds are against us seeing immediate, long term, genuine results. And whether it is there or not, is out of our control. God is the one to determine whether the seed sprouts and whether fruit grows or whether it doesn’t.

The seed that we have all and will all sow throughout the community, many of those seeds wont sprout. God says, “Don’t worry about that, I’ve got that.” Of the seeds that do sprout, not all are going to automatically come here. There are many reasons people will go to certain churches and not to others. Some of those are valid reasons, some of those are petty at best, but plain wrong in many instances.

My point is that God tells us to do what he has entrusted us to do, regardless of what the results are. He tells us to leave the anxiety, the worry, the stress behind and trust in gods goodness and his perfect knowledge, his perfect plan and his perfect will. If those who have heard the Gospel, if they respond, believe and repent, then getting them connected with a Gospel Preaching, Bible Teaching, Believer Discipling church is the number one thing. When we believe, we become part of Gods church, Gods family and so as long as we are committed to a local, discerning and orthodox church, orthodox, meaning right, historical, biblical beliefs. As long as new believers get hooked up with a church like that, they are good. My point in that is that we should not be discouraged if we are doing our job, doing what gods has called us to do and we don’t necessarily, especially early on and right away, see the numerical growth or the outward fruit of those works God calls us to do. The benefits of VBS, of commodities, of Fire outreach and relief, are not often or immediately seen. That doesn’t mean we stop doing it. We remember that God is in control of all of it.

Getting believers into God’s word is crucial. If there are no roots for the seed to grow and take hold, what is that root system? If there is an unrealistic expectation that there will be no troubles, that you become a Christian and you get rich and don’t get sick anymore, what is the foundation that shows us what god has and has not promised?

The Bible is where roots can take place. The Bible softens ground. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. One of the stories we shared and taught the kids this week, Matthew 7:24-27:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Bible, the Word of God, God’s revelation of himself and Jesus Christ is that foundation. With Gods word as our foundation, when those rains come, when the thorns try to choke us and when the lack of root system causes issues, we will persevere. God will bring us through. We will not avoid hard situations and we will have the rains come, but God brings us through that with our foundation, our faith, everything still standing.

The last thing I want to point out is the mystery that RC Sproul points out in this parable. I’m going to paraphrase him here. He says the mystery here is not moral teaching about human’s hardness of heart. But instead, the mystery of this parable is the paradox that God’s kingdom, God’s reign, Gods power, is identified here with a fragile seed.

His point is that true power shows up humbly. True leaders will walk with humility. Jesus Christ is God. He is all knowing, all powerful, all everything. He is the King!

And yet, he comes down to us here on Earth as a human baby. He comes down in the must humble way possible. He comes down and he makes himself one of us. He puts off till later his right to reign on earthly as a warrior king and instead he gives up his life to die the most humbling death. The death on the cross. He does this for the forgiveness of our sins.

That is the seed that gets sown, that gets thrown on the soil. That is the seed that was planted in each and every one of us. So, lastly, take a look and ask, question, look into yourself and see which one of these four results are you? Are you one sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Are you one sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Or, as I pray everyone here is, are you one sown on good soil, the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I ask that you take that question seriously, don’t just assume the answer, because those thorns, that rocky ground can trick us and be deceptive. They can look good and inviting and encouraging at first, but in them there is no true transformation, no true regeneration. If there is, if we have that transformation, if the seeds that are sown are sown on what God makes into Good soil, the fruit that comes out of it will be incredible and God will give the increase and fruit will be born thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

 

Lets PRay

Luke 3:1-20 Jesus is the Son of Man: John the Baptist

Luke 3:1-20

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist

Good Morning. Please grab your bibles with me and turn to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3. As always, if you do not have or own a Bible, please see me after the service and we will get a Bible into your hands.

 

Now we have been going through the Gospel of Luke. Luke is a historian, a researcher, and prolific organizer and a physician. He has done an incredible amount of research, getting eyewitness testimony, interviewing as many people as possible.

Luke has been paralleling and contrasting John the Baptist with his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth. Both of their miraculous births were foretold ahead of time by an Angel, they were born and named ahead of time. John was sent to be the forerunner, to pave the way for the Messiah, who just happened to be his younger cousin.

The last time we saw John was in Luke 1:80, where Luke notes: And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

         

          So, we drop off John as a kid and we come back and we will see him come out from the wilderness and start his true, God given ministry. That’s what we are going to read on this morning, Luke, chapter 3, verses 1 through 20.

I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to grab your Bible and follow along in your preferred translation. Always, always Always! Read for yourself what the Word of God says.

Luke 3:1-20, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to write:

 

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a]
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics[b] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation and be content with your wages.”

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

So, we start with Luke being Luke and proving that he can and will be trusted. Luke, ever the historian, ever the researcher, spends some time and establishes some details, names some names, so that we can know exactly when this takes place.

Herod was the ruler during the time of Johns birth and Jesus birth. When he died, rule passed on to his sons. Well, they did such a bad job that Romans took power away from them and appointed their own governors.

Pontius Pilate was the 5th such governor and he ruled from 26 AD-36 AD. This, of course, also sets the stage for Jesus trial and crucifixion that would take place about three years from this.  Johns ministry took place somewhere around 27-29 AD.

 

The other thing we see with Luke’s list of names here is that there were no good rulers during this time. Israel was locked in a pattern of ungodly, immoral and evil leaders. And in the midst of this, under terrible, corrupt, anti-God authority, God is doing his greatest work. That might be something that this nation needs to remember. One side of the aisle for the next four years, the other side of the aisle for the previous four years. No matter how bad it is, Gods got this.

I like how Ligon Duncan says it: The good news for us is that means no matter how dark our times, our circumstances, or our contexts, God can overrule it all. He begins the ministry of the Messiah through the ministry of John in a dark, dark point of Israel’s history. Don’t ever judge God’s power and ability by your present circumstances. In the very darkest night, He can prepare to do His brightest work.

 

During this time, the Word of God came upon John. He went out and he was not sharing his own words or his own message. He was not sharing his own opinion or his own thoughts. He was sharing the Word of and the message of God.

John went out, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This was an incredibly offensive message that John was preaching. We will get to the repentance aspect in a moment. But first, even the baptism part was deeply offensive to the crowds.

John Piper explains:

In the context in which John lived baptism had one main significance among the Jews: it was the symbolic rite that proselytes had to go through to become Jewish. This made John’s baptism very offensive. It implied that unless the Jews were willing to repent, they were not really Jews and could not count on the promised blessings God had made to his chosen people. Or to put it another way, in calling Jews to accept a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, John was telling them that they cannot rely on their Jewishness for salvation; they have to be changed in their heart toward God.

 

Again, we will get to the second half of that momentarily. But what Piper was pointing out was that only Gentiles had to go through baptism until this point. In order to be converted, they had to be washed clean in order to be brought into the family of Abraham. TO say that everyone had to be washed clean, that no one was inherently worthy, just because of who they were, that was offensive.

Our society tells kids that they are special and that they are deserving of everything they want. Our culture is one of never saying no to our kids. And they grow thinking that they deserve to have the world handed to them on a silver platter. Its offensive to them when we tell them no, or when we tell them to repent.

It’s the same way what John was telling the crowds. Of course, we know that baptism doesn’t save in and of itself. Baptism doesn’t regenerate our heart. Baptism doesn’t wash our soul clean. And of course, baptism doesn’t grant forgiveness or repentance. Baptism, instead, is a sign of those things already being granted to us by the Holy Spirit.

The math is simple. Without a regenerate heart, there can be no repentance. Repentance plus atonement equals forgiveness. But any atonement that we could offer would never be near enough. So, it is only Christs atonement that, his shed blood on the cross that can take the part in that equation and provide the forgiveness of our sins.

Luke quotes the prophecy in Isaiah40, showing that it refers to John, that he is the fulfillment of that prophecy. In fact, all four Gospel quote Isaiah 40, verse 3 in regard to John the Baptist. Only Luke, however, also quotes verses 4 & 5. The general consensus is that Luke, as we see throughout his Gospel, is emphasizing that salvation by Christ is for “all flesh.”

John looks out at the people coming to see him and to hear the message from God and he has strong words for them. He calls them a brood of vipers. The Jewish people of the day would have understood the reference and the insult contained in that phrase. It was a reference to the serpent in the garden in Genesis 3. John was calling them Sons of the Devil. Jesus made this very same comment in his ministry as well.

The truth is that this is one of our two only options. We are either a son of the devil or we are a son of God. There is no in between. And there are many who think they are children of God who are going to be eternally disappointed and eternally covered in the wrath of God when the judgment comes.

John has strong and harsh words for the religious establishment. In modern parlance, he was talking to those who knew their Bible. He was talking to those who lived morally and voted exclusively Republican. He was talking to those who showed up to church every Sunday. HE was talking to deacons, elders, pastors and their families. He was talking to those who lived the life, had the appearance of living for God, but did not have the grace of God.

Who John was talking to usually holds to an us vs them mentality. WE are good because we are Christians, and they are bad because they are not. We deserve salvation because look at all we have done and look at where we were born and the life we have lived. They don’t deserve it because they are sinners. This is the group of religious people of the day that John was addressing.

John makes clear that we are to bear fruit keeping with repentance. We can have an outward moral shell, but with no grace and no repentance, we will no bear good fruit. Paul, of course, lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 & 23: 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.

 

Repentance and faith. Those are the two things required of us. Faith and the repentance that follows are the only things that can offer us forgiveness and salvation. Nothing else matters.

Your pedigree doesn’t matter.

Your nationality doesn’t matter.

Your race doesn’t matter.

Your gender doesn’t matter.

Your morals don’t matter.

The only thing that matters is who you say Christ is.

Baptism and their Jewishness couldn’t save the Pharisees.

Indulgences and money couldn’t save people during the time that Martin Luther started the Reformation.

The Social Gospel or legalistic moralism can’t save people today.

Instead, as the scriptures say in multiple places, “The just shall live by faith.”

John continues the tree analogy, as does Paul later in Romans. The trees that think they are good, but have no faith, those trees are cut down. And in their place, other trees which are bearing good fruit will be grafted in. Once a tree is grafted together, there are no longer two trees. There is no difference, between the two. They are the same identity, the same tree.

One tree, one people of God. One plan of salvation. There never has been and there never will be two means, two paths to salvation.

Gospel has bad news necessarily in it. The wrath of God is coming. We all deserve it. God, in order to be perfect and holy must punish sin with his wrath. But it also has good News, that’s what makes it the Gospel. That good news is Christs substitutionary Atonement. He took our place, took the wrath of God up there on the cross that was meant for us. He took it and didn’t deserve any of it because he lived a perfect life. He offered up the forgiveness of sins and the atonement for our sins.   John knew this and shared both. He was not afraid to share the bad news, to speak strongly to those who needed to hear it.

Some who heard did indeed become convicted of their sins. And so, they essentially asked John, “So, what should we do?” And John tells them to fundamentally change the way they treat their fellow human beings.

You all remember Zacchaeus? HE was a wee little man? Jesus met him and told him what he needed to do in order to show that he was truly repentant. He told Zacchaeus to pay back those he took advantage of by giving them back 4 times what he took. That’s the same principal that John uses here as he gives three examples of how to live.

First, to the general public, he says to be generous, caring, sympathetic. If you have enough and someone has none, give them some of what you have. Be generous. The motto that Hope and I live by, taught by her parents, “You can’t out give God.”

Second, don’t cheat people. Don’t be greedy. Take only what you are owed. Don’t take more than that. Don’t overcharge. Pay what you owe.

Thirdly, Do your job. Work hard. Obey your bosses and the authorities over you. Don’t abuse any authority you may have.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Johns point in this is to live your faith. Live with fruit bearing with repentance. Repentance is important. Johns ministry starts here with a call to repent. Jesus ministry starts with a call to repent. Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation with a call to repent. The very first of his 95 theses states, when our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘repent’, he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

The Westminster Catechism, one of the best of the historical Question and answer teaching tools about faith and doctrine, asks with question 87: What is repentance unto life?”

Then it answers:

“Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a
true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ,
doth with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full
purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.”

 

This is incredibly important as a true sign of new life, a new heart and saving grace given by God.

As John was talking about these things, its peaked people’s interest and it made them wonder about the promised messiah. They were wondering, they were questioning, they asked, Could John be that promised messiah? Could he be the Christ? Even here, Johns actions and preaching were pointing people to the Christ.

In verses 16 & 17, Johns words point them to the Christ who was still to come. He must increase and we must decrease. None of us, are even worthy to unstrap the sandals of the Christ.

He said this baptism is symbolic, but the baptism that Jesus brings, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is the baptism that saves us from the judgment to come.

The Good News of the Gospel doesn’t exist with out the knowledge of the bad news. John shared the bad, the coming judgment and all that. But John preached the good news to all who would come to hear him. He preached repentance. He preached holiness. He preached bearing fruit in keeping with that repentance.

Not everyone appreciated this message, however. John would call out behavior when he saw it that went against Gods standard. This included Herod and his divorce and remarriage. This was not appreciated by Herod and John got locked up for speaking the truth, for speaking the word from God.

Philip Graham Ryken shares a story. He writes:

John wasn’t trying to win friends and influence people; he was trying to get them to repent. Therefore, he spoke with holy boldness, bluntly confronting their sin. I am reminded of the nineteenth century Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright, who once preached to President Andrew Jackson. Before the service he was warned not to say anything out of line. So, when Cartwright got up to preach, he said, “I understand Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to Hell if he doesn’t repent.” The congregation was shocked, but afterwards the president shook Cartwright’s hand and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.”

John the Baptist was not so lucky. He preached the word of God and he was arrest for it. We see in Johns Gospel, chapter 6 that he was eventually put to death because of it.

 

One of the things that Luke wants to make clear is that is only through Christ and him alone that our salvation takes place. John points towards the way. As a messenger in the mold of the Old Testament prophets, he shows types and shadows of what Christ will fulfill in full. John fulfills his mission by pointing directly to the Word of God and Jesus Christ himself. As such, we should see through John the Baptist, as an example and look directly to Jesus Christ and the Word of God itself.

Let’s Pray.

 

We are back

Hi guys! Wow! What a busy couple of weeks! Hope and I just got back this past weekend from two weeks out on the road.

 

First we went to Bible camp for a week. Our church partners with about 4 or 5 others and run a camp during the first week of August. I was the teacher there for this year and it was quite the experience. This was my first camp experience and it went great! We started with the kids ages 8 through 12. They went up Sunday after Church and came back Wednesday after noon. The camp is about three hours away from our church. Thursday morning the teenagers came up and stayed through Sunday, going home in the afternoon.

 

It was really neat to see the kids, some of whom I knew, most, I didnt. It was neat to see them learn and grow and mature through the week. We were able to see that especially with the teens. There was one especially that stepped up, was a leader when needed, lead devotions and ended up getting baptized at the end of the week.

 

Speaking of baptisms…… Finn decided to get baptized on the last day of camp! About two years ago, Finn decided to ask Jesus into his heart. Since then, he has grown and started praying very often, and I (mostly) joke that he is a better preacher than I am! He is definitely a gifted 4 ½ year old theologian. So he came to Hope and I that he wanted to get baptized on that Sunday and we asked him why, not wanting him to do it just cause others were. He replied that Jesus said it was time to get baptized. When we asked why he wanted to get baptized, he said because he wants to follow Jesus more and show people about Jesus.

 

So he and I waded out into the lake and I preformed my first baptism! I could not be more excited and honored that my first baptism was my son. I could not be more proud of him for making this decision. Our camera was not working at that moment, but I will be receiving pictures of camp as a while, and therefore of the baptisms, in the next few weeks and will update when we get them.

 

So that camp finished up and then Hope and I got the kids in the car and went, not home, but further east and north, to a Village Missions Pastors conference for a few days. The themes was preventing ministry failure and it really did a lot to encourage both Hope and I.

The worship at the conference was fantastic. It was originally just going to be one of the pastors and his guitar, but the first night he found out that one of the other pastors played the harmonica. With just a few minutes of talking, and no practice, they got up and played beautifully together. Te next day, they noticed one of the kids (10 or 12 maybe?) played drums on the table and some one found him a snare drum to play. Again, no rehearsal together, they just jammed and it came out wonderful.

 

 

It was a long two weeks, but it really was a lot of fun. I promise as we continue to get back into the grove of things that I will post more. Love you guys!

 

 

Casey

Ephesians 3:14-21