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.

 

Luke 9:37-43 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Does what He does

Luke 9:37-43

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Does what He does

 

All right, please turn with me to Luke chapter 9. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

We are in the middle of this chapter of Luke’s Gospel and Jesus is the midst of changing his direction and focus from ministering to the region of Galilee to heading down towards Jerusalem. But in that change, Jesus doesn’t take his eyes off of what he has been focusing on, which is the people. Individuals. The negative affects that sin has had in this world.

Jesus and the inner three disciples, James, John and Peter, went up on the mount and they saw the transfiguration, the majesty of God reflect from and out of Jesus, the Son of God. They saw Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah, the embodiments of the Law and the Prophets, THE most import people (aside from Maybe Abraham) in the Jewish culture and religion. And they saw Jesus as greater than and the fulfillment of both.

So, we are going to pick up right where we left off as we always do. This morning we are going to read Luke chapter 9, verses 37 through 43. Ill be reading, as always, from the English Standard Version, though the important thing is for you to read for yourself in your Bible, whichever translation you prefer.

Luke 9:37-43, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

So, the very next day. Luke will sometimes be very specific with the timeline in his Gospels. Sometimes he will be very nonspecific as to the timeline as well. This is one of those very specific times. The very next day from James, Peter and John seeing the glory of God, the very next day, the descend down the mount.

I want you to think of a major happy moment in your life. More specifically, a moment in your spiritual life where you felt closest to God, where you witness an event or a moment of clarity where God was as real as he has ever been, where Jesus is as real as he has ever been to you.

That’s where Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ 3 closest friend, were after the passage we looked at last week. They were up on a mountain alone with Jesus, they saw an amazing preview of Gods glory peeking out of Jesus during his transfiguration. They heard God the Father speak audibly, confirming the Jesus was God the Son, and that they needed to listen to him. They had some private teaching with Jesus, and they started down the mountain. They were on top of the spiritual world, confused about some things to be sure, but on top of the spiritual world.

And as they descend, there is a great crowd awaiting them. More accurately, there is a great crowd awaiting Jesus. Mark tells us that there was an argument going on, but that doesn’t concern Luke.

Instead, we see that Luke records that a man, a dad, calls out to Jesus. Please, look at my boy. My only Son. Please see him. Don’t let him go unseen, uncared for, unhealed.

He tells Jesus what’s wrong with his son and it’s a heart-breaking scene for a father to see, especially over and over. One commentator describes the boys’ issues thusly:

When we piece the Gospel descriptions together, we get a heartbreaking picture. When the demon seizes the boy (Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39), the child screams (Luke 9:39). The spirit throws him to the ground in convulsions so that he foams at the mouth (Luke 9:39). He grinds his teeth and becomes stiff as a board (Mark 9:18). Many times, he had been cast into fire and or water by the evil spirit (Mathew 17:15), and he is covered with scars. Even worse, the spirit has made him deaf and dumb (Mark 9:25). The poor boy lives an aquarium like existence. He can see what is going on around his pathetic body, but he cannot hear or speak. His father concludes here in Luke, “It…shatters him, and will hardly leave him.” (v. 39) – literally, “it is crushing him.”

 

As a father, especially to think about that on Father’s Day, it had to tear this dad up. HE tells Jesus, I asked your disciples to heal him, but they couldn’t. This would appear to be the other 9 Apostles while the inner three were up with Jesus. Some things we know and some things we don’t. The Apostles were given authority to cast out unclean spirits back at the beginning of Luke chapter 9. So why couldn’t they help this dad and his boy? It appears, as most commentators agree, that the Apostles were forgetting that it was Jesus who was casting out the unclean spirits through them. They were trying to do it by there own power, through there own methods. They were trusting the methods and the process as opposed to trusting Jesus. That’s what appears to have happened here. Scripture doesn’t spell it our for us, BUT scripture is clear that the Apostles were not able to do this because they lacked faith.

Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Jesus shows us all what appears to be frustration. If so, we know its righteous frustration of course. Jesus is without sin, so we know that anything he did and anything he said was righteous and sinless. I don’t know a better word for it, so I’m going to use frustration even though it doesn’t feel quite right. But who was he frustrated with? Again, it appears that it is the Apostles specifically and the generation around him generally. He knows that once he is gone, which is what he and Elijah and Moses were discussing by the way, that some of these healing’s won’t happen. He knows that his Apostles are very imperfect people and all his followers, us included will have moments where we lack the faith that Jesus is referring to here.

The faithless and twisted generation that Jesus references here goes all the way back to Moses and the Israelites. And it fits all the way to today as well. There will be no faithful generations until the LORD comes back.

Each generation fulfills and upholds beliefs and values that go against what God has clearly told us he desires. RC Sproul writes:

The culture into which Jesus came was twisted. It was distorted. The values they held dear were things that were noxious to the LORD God, and what was precious in the sight of God was despised in their culture. Theirs was a twisted culture because it was a faithless culture.

When human beings fail to trust God, they twist their lives into all kinds of crazy shapes.

Sound familiar? It sounds quite a bit like today. IT is the same with every single generation that has come about since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is no perfect generation. There is no “Christian” culture or nation.

Sproul continues:

Consider our own age. The sanctity of life has been twisted; the sanctity of marriage has been distorted. We are twisted. We’re distorted and therefore faithless.

The world we are living in is in terrible shape. I know it seems as if it’s worse than it’s ever been. But it’s been in terrible shape since the time of Jesus, and thousands of years before. During the first century we see atrocities such as King Herod killing all the boys aged two years or younger. We see an occupied people try to come up at revolt for their freedom and end up crucified, lined up along the road for miles upon miles as a deterrent to others who might thing that silly word, “Freedom.” We see Jesus, according to the ruling authorities at the time, a crazy man claiming to be God, be crucified. We see the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Compare that to today, and roll the White House, the Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell, The Statue of Liberty, and whatever else you want to throw in there. Roll them all into one and let some other country take over and destroy it. Completely destroy it, Leaving not even one stone on top of another. We see the Jews organized almost a genocidal search for “heretical” Christians, stoning them to death if they would not renounce Jesus as LORD.

The world was terrible then and its terrible now.  World Wars 1 and 2, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Japanese Internment camps here in America. Vietnam, 9/11, Taliban, Isis. Turn on the news. People were looking for a savior then and they are looking for a savior now. Even after we know Jesus is our Savior, we look for saviors within the world as well. Even as the First Century Jews were looking for a Warrior King to free them from Roman Occupation, we look to flesh and blood people to save us.

I have bad news. They can’t. Donald trump can’t save us. Joe Biden can’t save us. Barrack Obama can’t save us. George W Bush couldn’t save us. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, FDR, Lincoln and Washington couldn’t save us. And yet we keep expecting them too. Sometimes we do so consciously and sometimes we do so practically.

 

 

But Jesus is not going to let the lack of faith around him prevent him from pouring out grace and mercy on those who need it. He tells the dad to bring the boy to him.

Dr Luke describes what we see as the boy is brought to Jesus. The unclean spirit, the demon messes with the boy one last time. He knew the boy was going to Jesus. He knew he was going to be healed and the spirit was going to be cast out. So, he gave the boy another episode. TO me, this story reads as if the boy had legitimate medical conditions that the unclean spirit was triggering, as opposed to the boy being possessed or the symptoms being caused purely by the spirit, but that is just conjecture.

What we do see is the demon trying to do as much damage as possible while he can. As one commentator notes and many of us can attest, especially those of us who came to Christ later in life than childhood:

The demon made one last desperate attempt to keep him away from Jesus. Stan never gives up any of his victims without a fight, and often it is right before someone comes to Christ (whether literally or spiritually) that he makes his most violent assault.

 

That’s what we see happen here. But when Christ calls someone to Him, he will never be denied. When Christ calls someone to Himself, that person is already secured, in the long-term perspective. It’s called the Effectual Call of God, or Irresistible Grace. In short, the effectual call is understood as God’s sovereign drawing of a sinner to salvation. The effectual call to a sinner so overwhelms his natural inclination to rebel that he willingly places faith in Jesus Christ. 

(https://www.gotquestions.org/effectual-calling-call.html)

 

          Jesus sees what is happening to the boy and rebukes the unclean spirit. He sends him away and then heals the boy, fully and completely. No more convulsions. No more foaming at the mouth. No more deafness and dumbness.

 

And Jesus reunites father and son. Now, I don’t know if this was intended to be THE point, but it fits. Jesus unites and reunites his true spiritual family. The Father, God and his sons and daughters, the children of God will be united through THE Son, Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit.

This unity is despite our differences. This unity is not uniformity. He has purposely made us different, as scripture points out, different parts of the body, different spiritual gifts, different callings. This unity is also, and maybe most especially, despite whether we like each other or get along.

This unity occurs when we eliminate gossip, slander, anger, unforgiveness from our church body, from within each other. This unity only occurs when we make the conscious decision to act loving towards each other regardless of anything else, because this is what Christ calls us to.

At conference, one of the speakers gave this illustration that has struck me and stuck with me. We know that the church, which is all believing individuals, is the bride of Christ. How would you feel if someone was talking to you, telling you how much they loved you, liked you, respected you, wanted to be your friend, but, they said, I just can’t stand your spouse?

That’s what it is like when we complain about a fellow Christian, even if its just in private with God. I love you but hate your spouse. That’s what its like when we fight with each other and refuse to love and respect each other. How long would you let that go on, if someone was saying how much they didn’t like your spouse? How long can we expect Jesus to let us continue to talk bad about his spouse?

 

Spiritual warfare is all over this story. And its all around us today. Just as it is shown trying to separate father and son, it is working hard today to divide the body of Christ. It is not solely a battle between unbelievers and believers either, unfortunately. Even we, as family, as followers of Christ, even we can act in the enemy’s interest. Even we can do things that go against the same Jesus that we claim to and attempt to follow.

We remember just a few weeks ago, we saw that Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ. In Matthews recording of that story, when Peter heard Jesus say that He, as the Messiah, must go to Jerusalem and die on the cross, Peter tried to convince Jesus not to go, that he didn’t have to go and die. Jesus’ response, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter was doing the work of the enemy in trying to support and save Jesus.

When we fight, when we argue, when we complain about fellow Christians, we are doing the work of the enemy, creating division and disunity within the body of Christ.

 

Now, Luke ends this section beautifully and with a bow on the top of both of the last two sections we have looked at. Verse 43, And all were astonished at the majesty of God. God revealed his majesty up on the mount at the transfiguration to the inner three Apostles. Here, he shows his majesty through Christ to the rest of the Apostles and the crowds and especially the father and son in this story.

It is revealed to all who will see it. His majesty shines on the mountain top and it shines down in the valley. God won’t let us not see his majesty. In our lives, it will be easy to see God’s glory and majesty, his grace and his mercy when we are spiritually up on the mountain tops. But it is harder to see when we are down in the valleys of life. But its still there. All we have to do is see it.

We will see when God shows it to us. And we will see it easier and more often the more that we have seen it in the past. The more we see God’s majesty, the closer we will grow to him, being conformed to the image of his Son. And the closer we grow to him, the more we will see God’s majesty. I’ll end with 2 Corinthians 3:17-19:

Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[e] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

 

 

                            

Luke 9:27-36 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Transfiguration

Luke 9:27-36

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Transfiguration

 

All right! Please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not own a Bible or have need of one, please let me know and we will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

. Many of the events or stories that are recorded in the Gospels here are somewhat famous. Many people know, at least in general terms, of some of the healings, or the feeding of the 5000. Many know of the calming of the storm and the walking on water. These, even if they are incredibly hard to believe, as they would be for those whose eyes God has not opened to the Truth, they are easy to picture.

They are easy to know, again, in general terms, what happened in those instances, even if the meanings and importance are not always understood. However, of the miracles, works and stories that are easily recognized, there is one especially that it seems as if nobody really knows what to do with. Some people can tell what the big picture meaning behind it is, or why it happened, but to really know and describe what happened, the transfiguration is one of the hardest to picture and communicate.

But it is arguably, one of the most important events in Jesus’ life and ministry to take place, one of the most important events in Jesus’ life and ministry for the disciples to witness.

How many of your Bibles have those little subheadings that give you an idea about what a section is about, or at least the different chapters? I will bet if you have this, many of your bibles will include verse 27 with the passage we look at last week. And the way Luke is going to phrase it, you can see why. But it fits really well the subject matter we are looking at today, with verses 28 through 36.

And so, I read it last week in that passage, but I didn’t expound on it. And I’m including it this week as we will expound on it, including it in the context of the rest of todays passage.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 27 through 36. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read along in whichever is your preferred translation.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

 

But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,[b] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One;[c] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

 

          May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

So, Jesus finished of last week by saying, But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.

There are a few opinions among theologians and bible scholars about what Jesus means here. What is it that will be seen as the kingdom of God coming with Power? Many, based on where this statement is, right before the transfiguration, believe that that is the event Jesus is talking about here.  Others say that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the event, and still others say the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given from Heaven unto all believers. There are good arguments to be made for each of those. And it might be one of those, but after doing research for this message, this passage, my view is that Jesus is talking about the temple being destroyed almost exactly 40 years after his death, after the time of him telling the disciples that some of them will see this.

RC Sproul explains the reasoning for this view: When these terrible events occurred in AD 70, the Christian Church was finally understood as an entity distinct from Judaism. It was no longer considered a subset or a sect within Judaism. The triumph of the Messiah’s church was made visible and manifest in power with the judgment of God on the Jews. And some of those present when Jesus prophesied the manifestation of the power of the kingdom, did in fact die between his announcement and the coming of the kingdom in power in 70 AD.

 

Sproul will continue on to say that he does know for sure that this is the correct answer, and I do not presume to know which one is correct, but I looked at a tiny bit of the evidence and decided I think this is the most likely. I encourage you to do the same, look up some of the evidence for the different views and see which one you think makes the most sense.

          8 days after telling the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer and die, and 8 days after he promised that the Son of Man will come in glory, Jesus leads Peter, John and James up onto a mountain alone. Peter and the brothers, the Sons of Zebedee, James and John are Jesus’ best friends, they are his inner core among the disciples, among the Apostles. They are his confidants. Often, scriptures shows that if it is not the whole group of Apostles with him, it is these three.

They go up on this mountain alone and Jesus is transfigured. It is interesting to me that Luke does not give any physical description of what happened to Jesus, not in a way that we can picture. His clothes turned dazzling white. His face was altered, but He doesn’t describe how his face was altered. Mathew tells us in his Gospel that his face shone like the sun. Pure light shone from him, not as a reflection like we see with the moon reflecting the sun, or with Moses’ face reflecting God’s glory in Exodus 34. This is one more piece of evidence to show that Jesus was who he said he was. But Luke doesn’t describe it specifically at all. I don’t think we were meant to know. This is, I think, one of the reasons that we have such a hard time with this story sometimes. We aren’t able to picture what happened very easily. As I mentioned at the beginning, those other stories, they are easy to picture, even if we don’t believe them. This, not so much. I think it would take too much focus away from the other things we are to take from this story if we had a clearer picture.

Now, one of the important things to notice is what words are used here. Mark says that Jesus was transfigured. The word in the Greek is metamorpho. Its where we get the word metamorphosis. It means to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. Now what makes this interesting is there is only one place this word occurs in the New Testament where it is not referring to Jesus’ transfiguration. In Romans 12, verse 2, Paul writes:

 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

 

Jesus was physically, visibly transformed up on that mountain, all those 2000 years ago. For a brief moment, his human body could no longer keep his glory hidden, but transformed into a preview of what we will see when he comes back in all his glory. Something happens to us, when we become disciples of Jesus Christ. We have a similar transformation inside of us.

Who we are before, who we are in the world is sin, is darkness? We live how we want to live. We do what we want to do and nobody else has any right to tell us anything differently. When we make the decision to follow Christ, to turn our life over to him, something has to change. We cannot expect to follow Jesus and have our lives stay the same. Something will change.

The Holy Spirit comes down brings with him a piece of the power of God. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot make ourselves better. We cannot, in the words of Pastor Alistair Begg, change our cosmic, spiritual grade from an F to an A. And we cannot change darkness into light. But God can. And Jesus can. To be sure, that’s what we see here, pure light coming off of Jesus.

We cannot change to darkness inside of us in light. Jesus does that for us, if we are willing to be used by him, to allow him. When he changes that, he expects things to change. He tells us to change things. Now, I say this often and I will continue to say it so that I will not be misunderstood. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Nothing we do can make us look better in Gods eyes than the darkness and sin he sees in us every time he looks at us.

But he changes us. He turns that light into darkness. And God no longer sees our unrighteousness. We are still just as unrighteous. Nothing about us has changed, nothing except that Jesus has covered us with his blood and the Holy Spirit has come and found a home inside of us.  Nothing we do from here on out makes us righteous. Nothing we do from here on out can maintain our right standing with God. We didn’t earn it and we can’t keep it.

But there is now a light inside of us, generated by the Holy Spirit. And Jesus says that this light is supposed to be reflected off of him and the Holy Spirit and be reflected in us to be shown to the world and the people around us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5, in his Sermon on The Mount, verses 14-16:

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

 

That light he is talking about is him. It is the hope of the world. It is the hope that even though we are undeserving sinners, who can nothing to change our selves, nothing good in and of ourselves, that there is a hope. That we can be transformed. Not that we will now be righteous, but that God will now see us as righteous.

          We have a question to ask ourselves right now. Are we reflecting the light of Jesus to those around us? I don’t mean are we talking about sin. I don’t mean are we reading our bibles. I don’t mean are we going to church every Sunday? I mean are we being a light, a beacon of hope for the people around us. Are we shining the true light of Jesus? Or are we hoarding it for ourselves?

Jesus was transfigured up on that mountain and who else do the disciples see with him? The Law and the Prophet. Moses and Elijah. They came as the two most revered men in the Old Testament. They came as symbols of the law that God gave to Israel and the prophets who told Israel about the coming Mighty Warrior King. They came to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of all this. The law was given to Israel to show the need for a savior, to show they could uphold the law all on their own. The prophecies were given to show that God had a plan all along and that none of it was an accident.

Jesus was the fulfillment of all of that. He was better than and above them. That’s why Peter wanting to build all three of them tents to stay in was a bad idea. Peter was putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus. He was putting the law and the prophets on the same level as grace and mercy.

Peter is once again like us today. Peter had an amazing spiritual experience. He got to see this moment, Jesus transfigured, Moses and Elijah. And he didn’t want it to end. He wanted to make camp up on the mount and have a permanent Bible Study with these three. He wanted to chase the feeling of the experience.

We often do that today. We don’t want to put in the work of studying the scriptures, praying without ceasing, dealing with the rough times, but still knowing that God is right there with us. We don’t always feel him, we don’t always see his hand at work, but we are told, and promised that he is with us til the end of the ages. We won’t have all our moments be mountain tops. We will have valleys. But our natural inclination is to avoid those valleys, avoid reality and seek out emotional highs, manufactured emotions that don’t last.

But God was quick to correct Peter. As the Glory of God as radiating from Jesus, heaven opened up and the Father said “This is my beloved Son;[c] listen to him.” God the Father was saying that Jesus was above Moses and above Elijah, he was God the Son. And we have the command to listen to him. What he says we are supposed to do. How he says we are supposed to live. And how we are to try to be like him as we spread the hope of Jesus to those around us.

Jesus gives us hope because he did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He paid the penalty for our sins. It cost him his broken body and his blood on the cross.

And today, being the first Sunday of the month, we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, which is the remembrance of his sacrifice, his act of pure true love for us. 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 8:26-39 Jesus is the Son of Man: Demon Possessed Man

Luke 8:26-39

Jesus is the Son of Man

Demon Possessed Man

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. IF you do not have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

It is interesting to me, when we read through the Bible, there are parts that are more difficult to believe, more difficult to imagine, and like this week, more difficult to explain. Most of the time, what sections these are for each of us depends on our spiritual background, what church or religion we grew up in. It also depends on where we were born. For example, the story we will look at today, will be harder for those of us born in Western society to come to grips with than those who were not.

In the Western world, I see two main things that define the way we look at scriptures. Both will be address in this passage. First is that we tend to go to one of two extremes when it comes to Satan, demons and the spirit world.

According to C.S. Lewis, There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist and magician with the same delight.

The first extreme is that we give them not enough power. We dismiss demons, we dismiss Satan as if he doesn’t exist, he isn’t real. One of the greatest quotes, this is by an old poet and I was unable to find his name again so forgive me, but in one of his poems, he said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Scripture shows us that Demons, Satan, angels are real, they are real, they were real then, and they are real now. They also have power. They can influence people and things of this world.

The other extreme is that we give them too much power. Anything and everything that happens is because to the devil. We end up putting him almost on par with God. We think of them as two sides to the same coin. That God is the good God and Satan is the evil God. But again, going to what the scriptures say, Satan is not even close to the same level as God. He is a created being, falling under the authority of God, the creator. He will be defeated, and Jesus won’t break a sweat doing it.

The second thing that we tend to do in Western society when reading the scriptures is to make them about us. They are not. First and foremost, the scriptures are about Jesus, his power, his authority, his love for us, his death for us, his manhood and his godhood. Now, often there are secondary features of the stories in scriptures that we can apply to ourselves and our lives. But the most important thing to remember is that we and any application to our lives is secondary.

 

Before we get to this story, lets catch up with where we are coming from. Jesus has spent the whole day preaching and teaching and was naturally exhausted. He told the disciples that they were going across the lake instead of finding some place to sleep. During the boat ride, Jesus did sleep, at least until a huge storm came out of nowhere. The disciples woke Jesus up and he told the storm, literally, Be muzzled, and the wind and the waves were instantly calm. The disciples were afraid and asked, “Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey his commands?”

So, we will go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 8, verses 26 through 39. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along and read in your preferred translation. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit records this passage:

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes,[c] which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus[d] had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed[e] man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

SO, I struggled with that while preparing this sermon this week. This story is easy to repeat, easy to recount. The story itself is pretty straightforward. But I’m not the only one who struggles with this passage. RC Sproul, in his commentary of Marks Gospel on this same passage, says this: “I cannot help but ask a speculative question: Why did the Holy Spirit choose to inspire the Gospel records of this event? In other words, what value is there in this text for us?”

 

We are going to try to answer that question this morning.

 

So, Jesus finishes up an exhausting day of preaching and teaching, sleeps for a little bit on the boat, the disciples wonder about him and fear him, but he gets to the other side of the sea and steps of the boat and is instantly confronted with this man.

Essentially, Jesus, a Jew, walks into, possibly, the most unclean situation possible. This man was demon possessed, he had unclean spirits inside of him. He was a wild man. The people had tried to contain him, but he had unnatural strength. He was breaking the chains and shackles that the town had tried to use to control him. He was aggressive and when he was exiled to the tombs, he would take that aggression out on himself; self-mutilating himself with rocks and stones. In a word, the man was chaotic. He was also helpless and hopeless.

The people of the surrounding area couldn’t control him or tame him, so they exiled him to the tombs, which added another layer of uncleanness. The Israelites were not allowed to touch dead bodies, based on God’s commandments. In an effort to not even get close to that and to be even more Holy, or more safe from the accidents or temptations, their tradition was if you touched anything related to death, be it coffins, tombs, etc. that meant you were unclean. This man was living in the tombs.

This man was also a gentile, not a Jew. He was unclean from birth. He did not know the true God, even before the demons got a hold of him. And yet, he saw Jesus from far away and knew instantly who he was. He ran up to him and fell down before him. How did he know?

He knew because of the unclean spirit inside of him. The spirit knew exactly who Jesus was, the Son of the most High God. See, demons, fallen angels, whatever you call them, they know the scriptures. Their theology is solid. Angels, demons and Satan know the scriptures from Genesis through Revelations. They know that God is God and Jesus is the Son of God. They know they can’t win.

They fight and they try to destroy as much of Gods kingdom as possible, but they know how things will turn out and they show that here. Jesus tells the spirit to come out of the man, and the spirits throw the man on the ground, and start begging for mercy.

Why would you beg someone for mercy? Because they had the power and the opportunity to do something to you that you don’t want done. The power and opportunity to destroy you.  That’s what the unclean spirit is doing here.

It knows that Jesus has ultimate authority over him/it/whatever. It knows that Jesus can order it out of the man, and it has no choice but to obey. He thinks Jesus is coming for it and he begs that Jesus not to torment of them. Jesus then asks the name of the spirit. The response is “My name is Legion, for we are many.” As I was looking at this this week, I found that a Roman Legion can be anywhere from 3000 to 5600 to 6000 troops depending on what commentator and historian you ask. Ultimately it means, “A lot.”

This man has a lot of demons inside of him. He was out of control. He was hopeless and he was chaotic. The demons knew they were not long for this body, but they also knew that it was not time for the final judgment, the final battle, the moment when their ultimate defeat would occur. So, they asked Jesus for something. Since it was not the time for their destruction, but they had to leave that body, how about sending them into that heard of pigs over there?

Now the herd of pigs is another unclean aspect of this story. As you likely know, the pig is one of the unclean animals that God command the Jews not to eat, to touch or to have anything to do with. One of the things this is showing is that this further shows that we are not in Jewish territory anymore. We are in Gentile territory. And this man and these demons recognize who Jesus is. And they would rather be sent into a herd of pigs than to deal with anything else Jesus could do to them.

Now Jesus does a couple of things here. Number 1, he once again demonstrates his authority over the spirit world. He gives Legion permission to go into the pigs. The 2000 pigs then run over the cliff and drown themselves in the Sea of Galilee. They couldn’t do this without Jesus’ permission. If he had said no, they wouldn’t be able to do this.

Jesus is also showing the proper order of dominion. He is showing how important each and every one of us are to him. Jesus put people above animals. The soul, the body, the well-being of this possessed man meant far more in the kingdom of God than the herd of pigs. It was more loving, more merciful and more just to send the unclean spirits into the pigs and have the pigs drown than to allow this unclean gentile to continue to suffer. His redemption was more important than animals. Every human soul matters. Every human soul is created in the image of God and deserves to be thought of and treated as such.

Now the death of these two thousand pigs had some repercussions. The men that were in charge of these pigs ran off and told everyone what happened. Crowds came from the country and the city to see what happened for themselves. And what do they see? Notice that it doesn’t say anything about the sight of 2000 dead pigs floating in the sea. It doesn’t say anything about the money that the dead pigs cost their owners. It doesn’t say anything about the effect on the water supply that 2000 dead pigs would have.

No, what it says is that they saw was this man, if they even still considered him a man. This man who was running wild. This man who was terrorizing everybody he would see. This man that was breaking chains and shackles and beating himself with stones. They saw this man calm. The saw him dressed. They saw him sane. And it terrified them.

Showing you how bad this man had been, the sight of him in this new, calm, sane state was way more shocking than the sight of 2000 dead pigs floating in the see. This scared them more than any emotion or reaction about the dead pigs.

Jesus’ power is scary. This is second story in a row that the scriptures show us this. Last week, the disciples saw Jesus calm the wind and the waves and they were frightened. They were afraid because of the power of Jesus. The demons, Legion were afraid of Jesus power and would rather be sent off into a herd of pigs that end up drowning than face the wrath of Jesus.  Now here, this community, this town or whatever. They see that Jesus has transformed this man from the out of control, chaotic, wild, demon possessed man into this calm, well dressed rational man. And they were afraid.

I said this last week, but I think it bears repeating. The word here for fear is not the same word used in situations like Proverbs 9:10 or Psalm 111:10, which both say, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;” That word is along the lines of awe or reverence. No, the word here for afraid, means afraid or fear, or frightened. These men were scared of the power of Jesus. His power is scary. We are going to come back to that in a moment.

But first I want to finish this story. The people of this area were so scared they told Jesus to get back in the boat and go back across the sea. The man that Jesus had rescued, saved, changed, whatever word you want to use, the man ran up to Jesus and wanted to go with him. He wanted to learn from him, serve him, travel with him and be one of his followers and disciples. Now, what would be better than being a new believer and having Jesus standing right there… A chance to learn from the man that just transformed your soul. A chance to follow him and serve him. What would be better, more noble, wiser than that?

Jesus said No. Instead, what he said to the man was this, ““Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  Jesus once again shows us that no matter how great our plans seem to be, no matter the motivations behind our plans to worship and serve the LORD, if that’s not what God has for us to do, it is wrong for us to do it. The same thing happened to Peter as well. At the transfiguration, Peter, James and John were with Jesus, and in addition to seeing the transfiguration, they also saw Moses and Elijah. In Matthew 17. Peter has an idea and says: And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We don’t see any rebuke here or even Jesus’ answer, but we know that it’s a no. There are other plans that God has for the besides hanging out with the Messiah and the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament.

Jesus has better plans for us than anything that we could come up. The problem is that his plans can be scary. They can be hard. What would have been easier for this man to do. Get in the boat with Jesus, follow him like the rest of the disciples, or to stay where he was, to go back home to his family for the first time in who knows how long? The go and be able to have simple conversations with people he growled at and chased away, let alone telling that what the LORD did for him. To live day after day, knowing what he did to these people, terrorizing them and knowing that many of them didn’t trust that he had truly changed. Jesus’s way is the harder way. Matthew 7:13 & 14 read “13 “Enter by the narrow gate. 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.”

          Jesus’ way is hard, and it can be scary. His power is amazing. We see the stories here, written on paper, but they were real events, happening to real people, real miracles. Jesus, while he was here on earth, voluntarily limited the power that he accessed. He was still God, and he was able to do anything, but he limited himself to what God the Father sent him to do. And even with that, look at his power, that scared these people.

Do you get scared when you see God’s power? I know what most people will say. Not all, but most will say, “I’ve never seen God’s power work in that way.” I say that you have. If you are a child of God, you have seen it. Jesus transformed the man in this story from a demon possessed, ravaged man and he transformed him into a man who could reflect the image and glory of God, who could go out and show his friends, his family and those around him the mercy that God showed on him.

That is the power that scared these people. That is the power that he exhibited in you. You may not have had legion in you. But you and I were in the same spiritual and eternal condition that this man was, before Jesus transformed him. You have seen that power take place inside of you. And if you have seen that power, Jesus says to testify to that power. God is calling you to do something difficult. It will be accomplished with the power of Jesus, not through us. It will not be done in our comfort zone. It will be scary. It will be what God has called us to do.

If you have not witnessed that power of Jesus in your own life, in your own heart. You have the opportunity to see it. My guess, and that’s all it is, a guess, is that you are not filled with legion. But, as I said, you are in the same eternal condition as this man was. Jesus can change that. But it’s going to be scary and fulfilling and rewarding and incredible. It will not be like you see on TV, where you become a Christian and everything bad in your life goes away and things all fall into place and life is good. No, it will be hard. There will be spiritual warfare going on all around you. It’s not going to be “safe.”

CS Lewis addressed this in his book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Aslan is the Christ character type in the book and one of the kids is going to be taken to him. The kid asks if Aslan, a lion, is safe. This is the response. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

          Jesus limited his own power as he was here on earth, now that he is ascended back into heaven, he has unlimited access to that power. If it was that scary then, how scary powerful is he know? If he is that powerful and that good, which side do you want to be on? The time to pick sides is now. It won’t be easy, but it will be right. It won’t be safe, but it will be good. Take this opportunity to see God’s power work in you for the first time, securing you eternal security. Take this opportunity to remind yourself of when God’s power worked in you, changing you what you were, to who you are now. And then listen to what God is telling you to do. And do it. He has you in his hands. Even if it’s scary and hard and dangerous, you are in his hands. If you are in his hands, you will be there for all eternity. He is not safe, but he is good.

I don’t know what specifically God has planned for you here and now in this life. I know that if you are Gods, I know what he has for you eternally, but I don’t know his specific plans for your life here and now. I do know that it will be scarry. It will push your boundaries. It will pull you out of your comfort zone. And it will be worth it.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

Luke 7:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Faith and Authority

Luke 7:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Faith and Authority

 

All right, please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. We are continuing through our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Each of the Gospels, as you read through them have a bunch of little subsections that we go through. They are each the life and more accurately the ministry of Jesus and so each section and subsection have a different setting or a different focus or whatever.

We just finished a section of Jesus teachings called the Sermon on the Plain. In this teaching, Jesus focused on showing us that our hearts need to be turned to love, whether our friends, our enemies, those who treat us well or those who treat us like dirt. To do this, w must use our wisdom and discernment that comes along with having our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit and living a life of Faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus finished off by telling us that if we do the things that he taught, it will show up in our actions. Jesus talked, he taught, and he used words. Now, he will be showing those things, teaching us with his actions.

Words and actions go hand in hand. If they don’t, there is a disconnect, there is an inaccuracy between what we say we believe and what we actually believe. And as we touched on last week, this is not talking about a single event, or a moment in time. All Christians will sin. We all fall short of the standard that God has set for us.  But this is talking about looking at the totality of someone’s life, or more importantly, our own life. And that disconnect is a huge sign that we need to pay attention to.

So, with hat thought in mind, that our actions need to match our words, lets look at some words. This week’s passage is Luke chapter 7, verses 1-10. As usual, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation as we read what the Word of God has to say.

Luke 7:1-10, Luke records the works of Jesus, writing:

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant[a] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion[b] heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

So, WE see Jesus spent chapter 6 teaching his disciples and followers. Here, as he finished up his teachings, he went into town. In this town, Capernaum, there was a Roman Centurion there who had a problem.

Centurions were military officers at that time. I’ve heard them compared as an equivalent rank of Captain. He would have been in charge of 100 or so men, hence the name Centurion, as in Century, as in 100. Now, it was rarely exactly 100, but that was the idea.

RC Sproul points out that every time we see a Centurion mentioned in the New Testament, they are men of good character. We see this in here in Luke 7:4. In Luke 23:47, in Acts 10:2 and in Acts 27:43.

 

This Centurion had a servant who was very sick. How sick? Well, lets remember that Luke was a physician. And he confirms that the servant was sick to the point of death. He was dying. There was nothing left to try, nothing left to do besides wait.

And we see that this was not just a slave to the Centurion. This was not some whipping boy or an errand runner. This was not just a servant. This reads to me like the Centurion and the servant were close friends. He would have meant a great deal to the Centurion, not as a commodity, but as a person.

This Centurion had heard of Jesus. He had heard of the healings. He had heard of the teachings of Jesus. He had heard of the sings and wonders that Jesus had performed. He knew that Jesus could heal his servant.

And what we are going to see next is three different perspectives. We are going to see the Jewish perspective. We are going to see the Centurions perspective and we are going to see Jesus perspective.

The Centurion sent some Jewish elders to speak to Jesus. That they would, speaks, again, to the character of the Centurion. And they did. The Jewish elders went to Jesus and pleaded the case of the Centurion. They tried to show how he was worthy. This is the Jewish perspective. They are applying merit to him, trying to show that he should have right standing before God based on merit, based on his good works.

They said, this man is worthy! He is a good man! He loves the Jewish Nation! We see that he did help build the Synagogue, presumably the one in Capernaum.  This perspective is one we see through society today. I’m good enough. I’ve done enough. I’ve given enough. That will earn my place in heaven.

Now, we know of course, that this isn’t true. This perspective is wrong. None of us can ever be good enough, do enough, give enough or anything to be worthy of the grace and mercy of God.

During this time, there were folks known by the Jewish people as “God Fearers.” These were Gentiles who believed in and seemed to worship the True God, but who did not convert to Judaism.

Was he saved by Grace? Was he that we would call a Christian in the way that we would call Abraham or Noah for example? IT appears at this point possible, if not likely.

Jesus obviously saw something, so he headed to this Centurion. Before Jesus got there, the Centurion sent some friends to intercept him. The Centurion, either had a change of mind and heart, was embarrassed because he didn’t know that the Jewish elders would promote his supposed worthiness. His message to Jesus started with “I’m not worthy.”

Then the Centurion recognizes, acknowledges and defers to Jesus authority. He knew Jesus was able to not only heal, but that he could heal from a distance, with just his word.

As a Roman military officer, the centurion would have had a great deal of power and authority at that time. Rome was occupying and ruling over Israel at that time and would have had absolute authority over any Jews that he wanted to order around any Roman soldier underneath him. He says this, “I know authority, I command someone and the do it. Period.” This centurion didn’t have to defer to anyone or show respect to Jesus, but he did.

HE recognized the authority within Jesus because he had authority himself. This is the centurion’s perspective. His authority was less than Jesus. He knew that all authority was handed down and given by God.  He was not worthy for Jesus to come all the way to his house.

This Centurion understood grace better than most of Israel did. He understood grace better than most of the church today does. He knew that anything Jesus would do was not because he was worthy in any way, not because he deserved it, but because the LORD is merciful and full of Grace.

Jesus was marveled at the Centurion. Scripture only shows us two times that Jesus was marveled. The first was in Mark 6:6, where Jesus marveled at unbelief in Nazareth. This is the second time, in the faith of a foreigner.

Every religion in the world, including the so called no religions, every religion in the world says do good, be good. They all have their own definition on what being and doing good looks like, but they all have the same call. Be good, do good and you will be accepted, by a god, by society, by friends and family, by who and whatever. Be and do good and be accepted.

Except we can’t be good enough. And that might sound like bad news. Except it is actually good news. We don’t have to be good enough. Jesus flips the script on this line of thinking. He says you are accepted, therefore, be and do good.

The Centurions faith here becomes the focal point. This is Jesus perspective. And he especially contrasts it with general Israel. One of the big points that Jesus makes in his Gospels, one of the biggest beliefs that Israel held that Jesus refutes is that, As Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring.

Not all who play the part, are a part of the family of God. Not everyone who is an Israelite is a child of Abraham. Not everyone who is a member of a church is a member of THE Church. Not everyone who says LORD LORD will be saved. This puts into action what we saw Jesus talk about last week.

The faith of the Centurion marvels Jesus. IT should marvel us as well, because it shows that faith, true faith can save anyone. We should not presume our salvation, but Paul writes in Philippians 2, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

We should not presume, but we can have assurance. John writes in his letter, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

It is by the grace of God alone that he gives faith. It is that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that offers us salvation. Part of what we read this morning, Hebrews 11:1 & 6: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Jesus calls on us to repent and believe the Gospel. Belief is required, but belief is only a part of faith. Faith is that deeper, that heart knowledge, the words paired with actions.

The scripture uses faith and belief interchangeably. John also famously writes, John 3:16-21:

“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The centurion had faith that Jesus was able to do what he had heard he could do. It appears that the centurion had faith that Jesus was who he said he was and had true saving faith. His salvation would come as a gift from God, not as a reward for something he did, or who he was, but because of who Jesus was.

David Gooding says this about salvation: salvation is not granted on the basis of man’s good works, worth or merit. It is given on the grounds of faith. And faith according to this story, is not confidence that we have done the best we could, that God will assess our merits generously; faith is abandoning trust in our works and merit and any thought of deserving salvation and relying totally and without reserve on the Person of Christ and the authority of his Word.

 

It is out faith in Christ and our faith in his word that drives us to bey and to follow.  Jesus says that our faith, the faith that saves is faith in His work on the cross, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now, each month we remember Jesus sacrifice, his shed blood and his death on the cross. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. 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 6:20-26 Jesus is the Son of Man Blessings and Woes

Luke 6:20-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Blessings and Woes

 

Good Morning! Let’s grab our Bibles and turn in them to Luke chapter 6. As always, if you do not have a Bible or know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and we can get a Bible into your hands.

So, we are going through Luke’s Gospel and we have now come to a section of a chunk of Jesus’ teachings. Luke has been showing the readers, Theophilus and us, been showing us Jesus authority over all things. And we have seen Jesus had just finished calling his 12 Apostles out of his numerous disciples.

This teaching we are going to look at has very similar content as the Sermon on the Mount that we see recorded by Matthew in his Gospel, Matthew 5-7. But we saw, according to scriptures, “on a level plain.” Because of this, some have nicknamed this passage, “The Sermon on the Plain.”

We also have seen that people had come from all over to see and listen to Jesus. From Judea to Jerusalem, from Tyre to Sidon, people came from all over to hear him. And what they are going o hear, is Jesus reiterating, rephrasing and subverting their expectations for the rules of life.

So, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 6, verses 20-26. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation, reading the Word of God for yourself. Luke 6:20-26, Luke records the very Words and teachings of Jesus, writing:

 

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

 

Thus, saith the LORD.

 

So, we start by seeing this word, “Blessed” used by Jesus. This word is often thought of to mean “happy,” but it really means so much more than that.  Blessed is so much deeper than happy. RC Sproul says that it is more to be brought into an intimate relationship with God. He writes, “When the Bible pronounces blessing, it doesn’t mean, “Be Happy.” It means, “May you understand in the depths of your soul, in the deepest chamber of your heart, the sweetness of the presence of God as you live before his face every moment.”

          And so, we will go through these Blesseds that Jesus speaks of here, and afterwards, the opposite, he pronounces Woes that correlate to these same Blesseds.

First, Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Now, in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records Jesus as saying, Blessed are the Poor in spirit. The point Jesus is making at that point is that none of us are able to be righteous enough or to be religious enough to get ourselves into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And I don’t think that the too things that Jesus says are exactly the same, nor are they unrelated or opposites of each other. Luke is very concerned with those who are physically in need. Those who are poor, those who are sick. Those who are oppressed. We saw with the scripture that Jesus read to introduce his ministry in Luke 4:18, that he is also concerned with the very same groups. And so, Jesus could have and obviously, that he is also concerned with the very same groups. And so, Jesus could have and obviously address both those who are spiritually poor and those who are materially poor.

And poverty, poorness is a very humbling experience. That’s what it is intended to provoke. And so, this is not a proof text for so called, “poverty theology.” Poverty theology says that those who are poor and those who have little to no material possessions are more spiritual and righteous than those who do have material possession.

We know that’s not the case, as we see both rich and poor can be both righteous and unrighteous. The point that Jesus is making is that we are to be fully reliant on God, for both the material and the spiritual.

On the flip aside of this, Jesus cries out, Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Nowhere in scripture does it say that having money is wrong or sinful. What it does say is that money, comfort, and material possessions make it much more difficult to recognize our spiritual poverty and our need for God and his grace. Martin Luther observed: Rich folks’ children seldom turn out well. They are complacent, arrogant, and conceited and think they need to learn nothing because they have enough to live on anyway.”

          His point, when we don’t have any needs, when we don’t need to rely on anyone or anything, then we reject reliance on our God and He who judges our soul and determines our eternal destiny.

Building on that, I believe, Jesus gives his next Blessed. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Again, different but related, in order to fully flesh out the idea behind what Jesus is saying, we look at what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

What did you think about the Bible before you became a Christian? Was it nothing? Was it a book to be on your shelf, your side table or coffee table, but never to be opened? Was it a good idea, full of nice stories to teach us to behave? For me, it was the truth, but never read, never looked and therefore, never known what it said. How can you think it’s true if you don’t know what it is? But most people, before they are Christians don’t really have an interest in what the Bible says, especially in understanding it.

Can you remember one of the biggest changes that came about when you became a Christian? What about opening that Bible that was sitting in the shelf and collecting dust? What about, now that you believe in Jesus Christ, that he is God, finding out what he said? Having a hunger and thirst for knowing what his word says? Right along with that, I would argue unable to be disconnected from that, is a drive to please God, to obey his commandments and to do his will? Those are things that come along with having your heart changed from stone by Him and being brought to life out of death.

The problem comes that we cannot achieve this, we cannot satisfy these hungers and these thirsts fully in this world and this life. We hunger and thirst for righteousness, but we have no righteousness of our own. We can grow in righteousness as we mature and grow in the LORD, but as we do so, how easy is it for this to morph into self-righteousness, or to morph into judgmental ism, or legalism. Our passion and our heart are to learn more about God and to do the will of God. But we cannot see or know perfectly. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, that for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

          There are times we will get the will of God wrong. There are things in the Bible that we won’t understand. But our new heart, our changed nature gives us a hunger and thirst to now God better, to know his word, to try to live up to the Holy standard that God has set. And when we enter the Kingdom that hunger, that thirst will be satisfied. We will know full, see clearly, just as we have been fully known. We have no hunger, no thirst for righteousness without God. We desire to fulfill our own fleshly desires. We want what we want, and we want it now.

Jesus tells us that not only spiritual hunger, but physical hunger exists to point us towards God. We need to rely on him for all that we need, physically and spiritually. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:26, Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

          God provides for our physical needs and our spiritual needs. He does so out of his grace. But when we lose that hunger, we forget that it is God who provided. We get comfortable. We get complacent. We refuse to step out of our comfort zone.

I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. We don’t always think it consciously of course. “I’m just going to sit here in my comfortable bubble, here at home, or here at our church and wait for people to come to me instead of going out there…”

So, we need to keep that hunger, that hunger for righteousness and the hunger to fulfill Gods Will. For it is only by fulfilling our calling in Christ that we will be truly and fully satisfied.

But we won’t be satisfied immediately, not in the sense that Jesus is talking about here. Next, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” We all know that there is a lot to weep about in this world. RC Sproul writes about this verse. “The context indicates that these are mourning over sin and evil, especially their own, and over the failure of mankind to give proper glory to God.”

Now, let me ask you a question, can anyone who does not know God, truly know him, know him through his Son, Jesus Christ, can they truly mourn about sin, and about the failure for humanity to give glory to God? Now, the answer is no, but before you give that answer without thinking, I want to point something out. I want to point out how the enemy doesn’t have to tell us complete lies. He doesn’t have to point us 180 degrees away from Gods truth. He just has to get us 1 degree off.

Do you see the people today who are decidedly not Christian, who are protesting social problems? Do you see those fighting against injustices? Do you see how passionate they are to make things right? They see that there are things broken in this world, that this is not how it is supposed to be. They see the effects of sin, on people, on families, on society, on the world. They don’t see that it is sin that does it. They see people as generally good, or at least some are good, and if they could only convince the others, who are bad, that what they are doing is wrong, then they will be good too. There are bits of truth mixed into the ball of lies.

Yes, sin has broken this world. There are social problems. There are injustices. We should be that passionate about fixing those problems and injustices. But the truth is, the Bible tells us there are none good, no not one. That all our “goodness” doesn’t amount to a hill of beans to God. And after we see things with open eyes, when the Holy spirit lifts the veil from our eyes, it is only then that we can see the truth, and how bad things truly can be, and how bad, how unrepentant of our sin, our lack of honoring and giving glory to God that we truly are.

Once our eyes are truly open, the effects of sin should break our hearts. The hordes of lost souls walking down the wide and easy road down into hell, going of their own choosing, following their feelings, following their friends & following the culture and society, that should break our hearts, that should cause us to mourn. Nehemiah, when he heard that Jerusalem had been destroyed, he sat down, and wept and mourned for days.

The good news is that those who are truly, rightly, mourning, those that have had their eyes open and the veil lifted, they will be in the Kingdom of Heaven, where Jesus tells us through John at the end of Revelation, there will be no tears, no more death, no mourning, nor crying nor pain. In other words, no more sin, no more social problems, no more injustice, no more brokenness. We are comforted in that we know that’s what God has waiting for us, we know that God has won the battle already, we are just waiting for time to catch up with God. And we will be comforted when we enter the Kingdom of Heaven because there will be nothing to mourn. Instead, we will laugh and rejoice and dance in worship to our king.

 

Lastly among the Blesseds, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

 

          Now, this is a favorite among Christians when things seem to be going the wrong way in society and the culture. And its true, Jesus testifies to it multiple times that the world will hate a right understanding of what the Bible says. Many will and are trying to make it say something that it never said and never meant.

But here is the thing I want you to take away from this. This Blessed cannot be reverse engineered. If people hate, revile exclude you, that does not automatically mean that you are being biblical or Christlike.

I know someone needed to hear that, and sometimes its me.

Verse 26 has the parallel woe, 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. Each of these Blesseds have a balance to them. This one for example. Yes, the world will hate us, given the right understanding of that. But we balance that with the context of 1 Timothy 3:1-7, especially verse 7, when listing the requirements for an elder, Paul writes, Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

          That’s not an easy balance to strike. I like how I have heard it before. The Gospel is offensive, there is no way around that. People do not want to be confronted with their sin. But just because the Gospel will be offensive, does not give us the right to be offensive.

 

Overall, Jesus is making the point that if you want the benefits and rewards of and in heaven, you’re going to have to go through some stuff here on earth.

We have the choices to make, between the Blesseds and the Woes. The choice is not between blessed or neutral. It is not beloved or ignored. Our choice is between blessed or cursed, forgiven or punished, grace or wrath.

Woe to those who are full, who are rich, who laugh now, who people speak well of. Just like we sometimes misunderstand Blessed, we do so as well with Woe. Woe is not used here as a threat of judgment, but more along the lines of what we said about blessed are those who mourn. This Woe is more of a sadness regarding what is going on, Basically, in this context, a mourning over the choice that was made.

We need to remember to look at these sayings on context. Remember what I said at the beginning, one of the things Jesus is doing is showing us the true meaning of Gods commands and subverting the expectations of those who were listening to him. What Jesus is teaching here in our passage today and through out the rest of this teaching passage, is not about strict obedience to the letter of the law. Its not about Finding loopholes either. You know, when we think to ourselves, “How close can we get… or How much can we do and still not sin…”

J.C Ryle wrote “We must take good heed that we do not misunderstand our LORDs meaning when we read these expressions. We must not for a moment suppose that the mere fact of being poor, and hungry and sorrowful, and hated by man will entitle any one to lay claim to an interest in Christ’s blessing. The poverty here spoken of, is a poverty accompanied by grace. The want is a want entailed by faithful adherence to Jesus. The afflictions are the afflictions of the Gospel. The persecution is a persecution for the Son of Mans sake.

 

          Listen, of course its not wrong to laugh. Its not wrong to have material possessions. Its not wrong to have a full belly or to be well thought of by those outside these walls. It is wrong when it comes at others expense. It is wrong when it’s at the expense of righteousness. It is wrong when it comes at the expense if God and the Gospel.

 

What does it profit a man to gain the world, yet lose his soul?

A lot of us need to remember this when we watch the news or follow current events. The Bible is clear, we are not going to “Christianize” the nations. There is no such thing as a Christian nation in the physical world.

Instead, we serve a King of a different kingdom, one not of this world. One whose citizenship requirement is simply the faith granted to us by the Grace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ. His death on the cross, his resurrection, his ascension, made possible the forgiveness of our sins, enabling our eternal souls to be reconciled to God the Father. We will come back to that in just a moment.

First, A blessing and Woe that I put together from what I read from Jesus, something I think the church needs to hear in America today.

Blessed is he who serves the Kingdom of God above all others. Blessed is he who recognizes and serves no King but Jesus. Blessed are they who are exiles in a land not their own, who work for the welfare of the city, but whose eyes are looking forward to the city built and designed by God, for they will receive eternal life with Christ.

        Woe to those who put their faith in politicians and parties. Woe to those who put their faith in the outcome of elections. Woe to those who villainize people who disagree with hem, who vote opposite of them or see things differently from them, for they have their reward already.

 

Now, each month we remember Jesus sacrifice, his shed blood and his death on the cross. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. 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 4:31-44 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Preaches the Word

Luke 4:31-44

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Preaches the Word

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Luke chapter 4. IF you need a Bible, if you do not have a Bible, see me after the sermon and we will get a Bible for you to take as your own.

Last week we saw that Jesus started his earthly ministry and he started it by preaching in the synagogues. He started doing what He was sent to do by the Father. He returned home to Nazareth and preached in his hometown synagogue one Sabbath.

He shows that he has come to preach good news to the poor. He came to bring sight to the blind. He came to preach the Gospel and Salvation, making it available to all, all who would hear and all who would accept, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Now, the people of Nazareth did not appreciate this. So much so, that they wanted to kill Jesus after hearing his message. But it was not his time. It was not the time or the place that God the Father had planned out and orchestrated and so Jesus was able to slip away untouched and unharmed. Jesus then left Nazareth, and as far as we know, never returned.

This morning we are going to read three mini stories about Jesus after he left Nazareth. These three stories fit together to show Jesus establishing his authority here on earth and over all things. So, we are going to read Luke chapter 4, verses 31 through 44. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke, after doing very thorough research and investigations, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha![b] What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.[c]

 

 

So, Jesus left Nazareth and went back to Galilee. He went down to Capernaum. It says down because, even though Capernaum was north of Nazareth, it was 2000 feet lower in elevation. And he continued to teach and preach in the synagogues on the Sabbath.

And we see that his Word, his preaching continued to astonish people. What Jesus was telling them was not what they were used to hearing. Mark tells us in his Gospel that he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. Jesus was establishing his authority over and through the Word of God. The people were used to hearing teacher reference other teachers. And there is nothing wrong with that, to a point. We should study and build on what people smarter than us have taught and written. But Jesus didn’t need to do that. He didn’t have to appeal to authorities because he was and is the authority.

Now, at some point during one of Jesus sermons, a demon possessed man interrupted things. This was something we saw rarely in the Old Testament and we would see it occasionally during the Apostles ministries. But we will see quite a bit of this during Jesus earthly ministry. RC Sproul makes the connection that demonic possession was more prevalent during this time because it is a “primary part of the opposition of evil to the coming of the Son of God.”

We see in scriptures that spiritual warfare is very real, though often physically unseen. It is happening all around us today, Demons, or fallen angels do exist. They exist to battle against angels and the Son of God. They are led by Satan and they do have some power, some ability here on earth.

Their activity seems to even more focused in the time when Jesus was here because they knew who he was, what he was able to do and what he would eventually do.

We see them yell out right here, “Ha![b] What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.

          They knew why Jesus was there. They knew who he was. They knew he had ultimate authority over them. They were not blinded to him like all of us are and were. And yet, it seems they can’t help themselves. They have to talk trash. They have to portray this bravado. They puff themselves up and try to intimidate. And it can work against us if we are not careful.  But it couldn’t and wouldn’t work against Jesus.

C.S. Lewis speaks about demons, which he calls devils. And I see much truth in this statement. He says:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

 

          IF we don’t recognize their existence, if we ignore them entirely, we leave ourselves wide open to their spiritual attacks and the warfare that is being waged. No military can win a war by ignoring that their enemy exists or is fighting the war. But we can often give them way too much power and way too much credit.

One commentator points out the error on this side. He says: In some Christian circles it has become popular to attribute every sin to a particular demon. People who think too highly of themselves have a demon of pride; people who eat too much have a demon of gluttony; and so, one. When people talk this way, they are really blaming Satan for their own sinful nature. Their sins are not the direct result of demonic control, but simply the expression of their own sinful desires.

 

          We are responsible for our actions and no one and nothing can make us give in to temptation. But if we let them, they can intimidate us with their puffed-up bravado. Jesus was not so easily intimidated.

Jesus speaks, simply speaks. “Be silent and come out of him!” And with those simple words, Jesus shows and exercises authority of the spiritual forces, the powers and principalities, over the heavenly beings completely. He speaks and they have no choice but to obey.

He speaks and things happen. His Word has power and authority. We start the entire Bible off with this, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Paul writes in Colossians 1:16: For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

          As the one who created everything, he has authority over all creation. We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus merely speaks, and things happen. He speaks and the results are immediate.

The people in attendance recognized the authority that they had just witnessed. When Jesus spoke, people listened. He spoke as one with authority. They didn’t always believe him or like what he said, but people couldn’t help but stop and listen. And when he spoke and when he acted, when he exercised his authority, people talked about. We saw before he went back to Nazareth that there were reports of what Jesus had said and done going through the region. People can’t help but talk about him.  We see that here again, reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

So now, Jesus leaves the synagogue and heads over to Simons house. Simon would become known as Peter later in Jesus ministry, but Luke hasn’t actually introduced the Apostles yet, so he still refers to him as Simon. But Luke does put his doctors’ hat back on, so we have Dr Luke writing in this section.

Jesus went to Simons house and Simons mother in law was sick with a high fever. First, before we get to the fever, one quick aside we see in is that Simon Peter was married. The first pope according to the Catholic church tradition was married.

Anyway, to the point of the story. When Mark relays this story, he simply says that she has a fever. Dr Luke uses his medical background to very specifically say that it was a High Fever. This means that it was dangerously high. She was not just under the weather; she was very sick.

Jesus stands over her and rebukes the fever. I think the word rebuke is used here specifically to denote the authority that Jesus had over diseases. He rebuked the fever and it left her straight away. And not only that, but she got up immediately and started serving them. Talk about a gift of Hospitality! Now, most of you can remember times when you have had a fever and it broke and you didn’t have the fever any longer. Were you able to jump up and immediately start serving people? Depending on the fever, you might have been able to push through if you really needed to, but I doubt there would have been anything immediate about it. It takes time to get your energy back and to get back to feeling normal.

Not so when Jesus heals. When Jesus heals, we see that it is immediate, and it is complete. There is no process of recovery. The high fever is not just broken and going away, its completely and fully gone. When Jesus calms the stormy waves, when he heals the lepers, when he heals blindness, and so many more examples, there is no partial healing, no process, no waves gradually calming down as they do in nature, no gradual healing. It is complete and immediate.

Well, word got out about this and everyone who was sick with a disease came over to Simons house and Jesus took the time to heal all of them. This was a rarity in Jesus’ ministry. He would often heal one or a couple and leave the rest. He would rarely heal everyone. That was not the purpose of him being here. But especially here, Jesus was showing that the same authority he had over the demon possessed man, he also had over diseased people.

While he was healing diseases, he also brought out many demons. Some sickness is simply sickness, but there re also sicknesses that are reflective of spiritual battles and forces. Its not very easy to tell them apart. We often will treat one when the other is the problem. Jesus didn’t have that problem and healed each person according to their need and their root issues.

One of the things we can infer from this story, and from other stories in the Gospel as well, is that this was exhausting work for Jesus. We see that we went out into a desolate place for rest and solitude.

This would be a common occurrence in his ministry, making sure to take time to rest and to get away with God the Father. Mark specifies in his Gospel that this was intended to be a time of prayer. Jesus shows us the importance of making time with God a priority.

And how tempting it must have been to stay there in Capernaum. Especially after the events in Nazareth. These people wanted him to stay. They wanted to keep him there. This didn’t necessarily mean that they trusted him as their savior. But he was preaching things that intrigued them and he was healing people from their diseases and casting out demons. Why wouldn’t they want him to stick around?

But Jesus’ purpose was not to stay in Capernaum. His purpose was to spread the Word about the Kingdom of God. Jesus did miracles and especially the healing not to make us expect to be healed, or to expect the miraculous, but to confirm his identity as the Messiah and to prove his authority over all creation.

That doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t still miraculously cure illness and disease. He absolutely does. We pray for that often with ourselves, friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, and the like. But the miraculous are, by definition, rare. They are not Gods normal method. He much more often uses the ordinary and the mundane. He uses doctors, medicines, herbs and food and lifestyle to bring people to health. But Jesus shows that he is who he says he is and that he has authority over diseases and demons and so much more.

And Jesus came, not only to show this to Capernaum but to others as well. He came to preach the Kingdom of God to all who would hear. This was the purpose he was sent for, to bring forgiveness of sin and salvation to those who believe, to grant citizenship to the kingdom of heaven. He came with a mission. To preach good news to the poor. Healing to the sick. Sight to the blind. And to set the captives free.

He came to preach the Word and to love the people.   He came to preach the kingdom of heaven. Ligon Duncan says: The kingdom of God
establishes for us who our authority is, and our recognition of that authority
is a very important point in our Christian lives. It also sets forth before our
eyes our proper aspiration in this world.

 

 

          The people of Nazareth couldn’t and wouldn’t recognize who Jesus was or what authority he had. The people of Capernaum recognized his authority but didn’t show any sign of recognizing who he was. But we see that demons knew both who Jesus was and how extensive his authority was. They knew and had the knowledge of all those things. But they did not love or worship Jesus as God. They had no faith.

But we also saw the curious thing that Jesus did not want the demons to testify to who he was. I spent a bit of time trying to figure out and research why this was. Many think that Jesus didn’t want people to know who he was yet. And I just don’t think that makes sense in the context. He was actively preaching the good news to the poor and performing signs and wonders.

He was trying to show people who he was. Instead, I think that Jesus didn’t want them telling people who he was because even if some truth comes out of their mouths, they are liars. They are not trustworthy. We are better to not get in the habit of listening to liars, even on the occasion that they tell the truth once. If we listen to them just that once, we are more open to listening to them about other things they are not telling the truth about. They are saying the right things, the wrong way and for the wrong reasons.

And the other thing we see is that the Gospel, the truth about who God is might be verified by signs at times, as we see Jesus doing, but his main thing is preaching the Word. The Gospel spreads by the spreading of and hearing of the Word.

Philip Ryken elaborates on this point, writing:

This is how the word spreads: by word of mouth, from person to person. When we see what Jesus can do, we want others to know about it, so they can see for themselves. In this case, people not only saw his power, but they also saw how he exercised it: by speaking his word. Just as God once spoke the universe into being, so Jesus spoke, and it was so. Here was a clear demonstration of his divine power. He spoke his words with the very authority of God.

 

We are to preach the Word of God. We are to preach the power of Gods Word. We are to preach the authority of Gods Word. We are to preach the truth of God’s Word, in season and out of season, especially in a world that doesn’t believe in Truth.

But it is the power, the truth of and the authority of the Gospel, of Gods Word that leads to changed lives, that leads to loving the people, that leads to living with biblical worldview and living sanctified lives. The Gospel is what brings sight to the blind. The Gospel is what sets us free from the captivity of sin. The Gospel is the good news for the poor.

I’m going to leave you with one last quote from Ligon Duncan. He writes:

 

My friends, does the knowledge that you have of
Scripture make you love truth? Does the knowledge that you have of Scripture
make you hate sin? Does the knowledge of Christ that you have make you trust Him
and love Him? Does the knowledge of God’s will that you have make you to say
with the psalmist, “How I love to do Your law, O Lord”? Knowledge that does not
lead to trust and faith and love and service is knowledge that will only puff
up, and at last will condemn you. Do not leave the precious truths that are
proclaimed to you from God’s word rattling around somewhere between your ears.
Embrace that truth with all that you are, in the very depths of your heart, and
love and trust and believe on and follow the Savior; or James will be saying in
your ear as he did in the ear of the unbelieving one who claimed to be a
believer in James 2, “Do you believe in God? You do well. So also do the demons,
and they tremble.” Don’t tremble, trust. Don’t fear Him with a servile fear;
have faith in Him. Believe on Christ as He’s offered in the gospel. Acknowledge
Him to be your Messiah, the Son of God, your Savior.

 

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 4:14-30 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus rejected in Nazareth

Luke 4:14-30

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus rejected in Nazareth

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 4. As most of you know, if you do not have a Bible, or need a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

So far in Luke’s Gospel, we have seen Jesus preparing for his public earthly ministry. We saw him studying. We saw him being discipled. We saw him preparing.

At the end of chapter 2, we saw Jesus study and learn Gods word, listening to the rabbis and teachers in the temple. He was being taught Gods Word and submitting himself to the teaching authorities.

In the first part of chapter 3, we saw his baptism. In this, we see that he affirmed the ministry of John the Baptist. It was also a personal declaration of Jesus faith and his affirmation of who he was, or Christ is, and who God is. Lastly in that passage, we see that Jesus had an active prayer life.

Last week, in chapter 4, we see Jesus being tempted. We see him living a holy, sanctified life, what would be evidence of conversion in our lives. We see the Holy Spirit helping him resist temptation. We see more evidence of his active prayer life. We see him accurately and rightly using his knowledge of the Word of God. And we see him practicing various spiritual disciplines, fasting and the like.

All of this prepares him for his public ministry. All types of ministry, preaching, teaching, leading, serving, and so much more, all of them take at least some kind of preparation. It takes prayer, it takes knowing the Word of God, it takes living a holy and changed life. It takes these things to prepare a person to serve in the way that God has designed us for.

But one of the things that we are going to see Jesus show us here, is that, even with all the preparation in the world, even with all the Bible Knowledge, even with all that, as written in 1 Corinthians 13, if we have all knowledge, but have not love, we are nothing.

And so that brings us to out text for the evening, Luke chapter 4, verses 14 through 30. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab your preferred translation and follow along in the text, reading for yourself what Gods Word says. Luke 4:14-30, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit writes:

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

 

 

Thus, ends the reading of Gods Holy Word.

 

We start with Jesus travelling once again. He went to the Jordan, for his baptism, he went out into the wilderness and now he is back from the Galilee region. He went back home. Home to Nazareth. But before he went home, we see that he had already done some stuff. His ministry had already started. There were reports coming in, even to Nazareth about some of the stuff that Jesus had been doing.

Its interesting. The Gospels, all four of them. They are not written in chronological order. And all the authors choose different events in Jesus life that were important to share, that speak to what they are showing us about Jesus.

There are books called the Harmonies of the Gospels, and they try to align all the Gospels in chronological order within themselves, but also show how the Gospels line up with each other.

Luke skips the events of John 3 and 4, and the most of Matthew 3 & 4, which most theologians agree took place before this event in Luke 4. Jesus has established his name in the region, Luke, remember he is inspired by the Holy Spirit when writing this, doesn’t not feel the need to spend time on those events. He sums up in verses 14 and 15, that reports about him went out and that he had already been teaching in many synagogues.

And now Jesus comes back home. He comes back to his hometown. He comes back to his home synagogue, his home church essentially. As an aside, not the main point, but a valid point I believe, is to look at what this says about Jesus and his commitment to regular, public worship. They didn’t have churches then, they had synagogues. They didn’t meet on Sunday Mornings, they met on Saturday. But they did meet to worship God and to learn about his Word.

Jesus made sure that he attended this worship on a regular basis. There was no thought that since he was, you know, God, that he could worship God on his own, that he didn’t need fellowship or community. We have made this point with a few other things too, but if even Jesus, the Son of God himself, the Word incarnate, if even he needed regular worship and teaching and preaching, how much more do we?

Now, the Bible does not give us much regarding the order of the worship service in synagogues. What we know comes from outside sources, rabbis’ writings from this time and from this little bit of Luke. There was no set, weekly preacher. Often, if there were visiting rabbis from out of town, they would be asked to teach in the synagogue.

There would be singing, or reciting of some psalms, then the teacher would open up the scroll, would stand out of respect for Gods Word and would read a passage from what we call the Old Testament. He would then sit, and he would exposit the Word of God.

And that’s what Jesus did. He stood up and read from the scroll, finding, without chapters and verses, exactly the passages he was looking for. Even more impressive, if you took our Bibliology class, we know that Hebrew was written much differently than what we are used to reading. First, they did not write the vowels, just the consonants. Second, they didn’t write spaces in between the words, so it would look to   a non-Hebrew reader like a random string of letters.

All these things put together and we see that Jesus was intimately familiar with Gods Word, able to find the exact passages he was looking for and find them easily.

Jesus was very specific about choosing these verses as well. He read from Isaiah 61:1 & 2, and Isaiah 58:6. Why dd he pick these verses? Philip Ryken tells us: Luke recorded this sermon because of all the things that he wanted us to know for sure, the most important is the good news of salvation in Christ. And what better way for us to hear than from the Saviors own lips?

          Some call this passage, the Gospel according to Jesus. All that is wrong with this world, all that is broken, all that is because of sin will be restored and will be fixed. Those under bondage will be set free. Those who are blind will see. The poor will receive good news. This has a lesser, more immediate context of the physical and earthly. However, the fuller meaning of this is, of course, the spiritual, the heavenly and the eternal.

Jesus came to bring the good news of salvation. The poor that are mentioned here are the same words and the same meaning as the poor in Spirit in Matthews recount of the Sermon on the Mount. He came to show love, compassion and inclusion of the seeming outcasts of that time, to show that the Kingdom of heaven is open to many who would not be otherwise assumed.

Jesus announced the year of the LORDS favor, the jubilee of jubilees. Its interesting that Jesus didn’t read the last half of Isaiah 61:2 which mentions the day of vengeance of the LORD. Jesus rolls up the scroll and tells the congregation that the scripture he read is fulfilled that day with their hearing.

The day of vengeance was not fulfilled that day, but the season of the LORDs favor was fulfilled that day, fulfilled through Jesus. The day of evidence is not until Jesus comes back. But now, today, this very day, the blind are able to see, the captives are being set free and salvation is brought by Christ.

He says it is through their hearing that this is fulfilled. Jesus came and offered salvation by grace through faith in him. We know that Faith comes by hearing, Hearing by the Word of God.

Jesus says that it is now fulfilled. Jesus is the fulfillment of all prophecy. He is the fulfillment of all signs, and types and shadows. He is the fulfillment of all promises and blessings. And we see that TODAY it is fulfilled. The blessings and the promises of God have started to be fulfilled and they are already accomplished, though we will not see the completion and the ultimate fulfillment of that until the Day of the LORD.

This is called the already and the not yet. Jesus speaks through the Gospels, of the Kingdom of Heaven in the present tense. Jesus is currently reigning in on his throne. We are currently being saved and glorified and sanctified. The Kingdom has already started to manifest itself here on earth, starting with Jesus first coming. IT will be finally and completely and perfectly and totally fulfilled and renewed and transformed when Jesus comes a second time. So, the Kingdom of God is already here and, at the same time, not yet here.

Jesus reads these scriptures to the congregation and we see that they spoke well of him and marveled at his teaching. Then they started asking, “Wait a minute, isn’t this Josephs boy?” They remember seeing him playing around the neighborhood. They remember him learning in the synagogue. They remember him working with Joseph in his carpentry business.

There seems to be a recognition that Jesus was a good teacher and a nice guy, but we certainly weren’t God, like he was insinuating with his sermon. By the way, he was doing a lot more than insinuating there.

 

You know, we see this a lot today. We hear it a lot. Some of us have even said it before, maybe not that long ago.

“Prove it.”

“Show me.”

“If God would just show himself, then Id believe.”

No. No you wouldn’t. How do I know? Because he did. And we see this morning how they responded. They didn’t believe Jesus when he was standing right in front of them. He even said, you didn’t believe me, why would you believe Moses?

He then goes and shows us a couple of examples from the Old Testament about those who didn’t demand signs or wonders or proof but believed by faith.

We are not going to read the whole stories, but the first one Jesus mentioned is from 1 Kings 17. In the middle of a three-and-a-half-year famine and drought, Elijah came upon a gentile woman in Sidon. She had just enough flour and oil for a single loaf of bread for her and her son. In fact, she said, I’m going to make this loaf and then we will sit down to die. Elijah tells her to bring him some too. She responded by faith and did bring him some, and the flour and oil she had lasted here throughout the rest of the famine.

Next Jesus tells a story from 2 Kings chapter 5. The Syrian king came down with a case of leprosy. He tried everything, from every god he could think of, but eventually sent for Elijah. He told him to dip himself in the Jordan river 7 times and then he would be healed. Now, he definitely fought back on this. He didn’t want to do it. But eventually he did, without and signs or wonders ahead of time. He responded out of faith that he didn’t fully have yet; it was still developing.

Jesus was telling them two things. First, that salvation comes by faith. It does not come through ancestry, or heritage, or any ability to see, or being a prisoner or a freeman, or a king or a widow, or anything else but faith alone. And second, this is Old Testament evidence, that salvation for Gentiles, that Gentiles being brought into the fold of the people of God was not a Plan B. Gods plan for salvation was always that both Gentiles and Jews would be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Nazarites in the synagogue did NOT appreciate this. It says they were full of wrath and fuming at what Jesus had to say. It seems that they didn’t even let Jesus finish the service. They were going to kill him.

See Jesus offended them in one of the deepest ways. He told them; they were not worthy. They were not good enough on their own to earn salvation. I love how Kent Hughes describes this. He writes: The fine citizens of Nazareth had heard enough. It was bad enough to be told that they were poor and blind and captive and oppressed, but now to be told they were less spiritual and less wise than the Gentiles, both Naaman and the widow, was just too much!”

 

          Jesus cut through their religious façade, through their outer moral shell. These would have been the people in church every Sunday. These would have been those who knew their Bible, inside and out. These would have been the church leaders and prominent members of the church community. But they were still spiritually blind. They were still captives to sin. And Paul writes in Romans 8:7 that the mind that is set on the flesh hostile to God. That’s what we are seeing here in Nazareth.

The congregants. Who knew Jesus, had grown up with him, who watched him grow up and who spoke well of him and marveled at his words, they back up Jesus to a cliff and were going to kill him.

Somehow Jesus escaped. Some say it was because he was so ordinary, that he couldn’t be picked out of the crowd. I believe this was a supernatural event. We know that this was not his time, and this was not the place that He was supposed to die. And so, somehow, he slipped through the crowd and escaped this attempt on his life.

It was not Gods will. It was not Gods plan for Jesus to die there in Nazareth. The plan was and always would be for Jesus to be tried and crucified by Pontius Pilate and the Jewish religious leaders. The plan was for him to be buried for three days and to rise up from the dead. The plan was exactly what happened. Paul recounts that in 1 Corinthians 15. That’s what happened and that’s what scriptures said was going to happen. That was what Jesus came to do and that’s what Jesus accomplished.

This is the last time we have Jesus recorded as being in Nazareth. Sometimes we are called to stay home when we want to go, sometimes we are called to go when we want to stay. But we are not going to get into that, that’s for next week.

The key takeaway for this passage in Luke is that the Grace of God needed by all and it is open for all who know that they need it. We can’t repent, we can’t believe, we can’t receive Gods grace unless we realize we need it. We are blind and cannot see without God opening our eyes.

Hebrews 11:6 says: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him

I think of who I was when I read thins like this. Before Christ, I was a good guy, a nice guy, moral and standup. I believe that God existed. I believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I believed that the Bible was true, but I had never read the Bible, so I didn’t know what it said. I didn’t know what it meant to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I did not have saving faith.

Then I started going to church. I started hearing the things the preacher was saying. It didn’t track with what I thought I knew. I realized I had to start reading the Bible and seeing what I claimed I believed in, what it truly had to say. It was then that I realized that I was in need of Gods grace. My morals, my being a good guy were worthless. I was blind. I was oppressed. I was captive. But Jesus came to set me free.

We all were and still are sinners in need of Gods grace. The quicker we stop trusting in ourselves and start to realize who we really are. The quicker we realize how needy we truly are before God, the quicker we can respond to his call.

 

I want to leave you this morning with a story I read this week.

 

A large prestigious British church had three mission churches under its care. In the first Sunday of each new year all the members of the mission churches would come to the parent church for a combined Communion Service. IN those mission churches, located in the slums of a major city, were some outstanding cases of conversions—thieves, burglars, and others. But all knelt as brothers and sisters’ side by side at the communion rail.

          On one such occasion the pastor saw a former burglar kneeling beside a judge of the Supreme Court of England- the very judge who had sent him to jail where he had served 7 years. After his release this burglar had been converted and became a Christian worker.

          After the service, the judge was walking out with the pastor and said to him, “Did you notice who was kneeling beside me at the communion rail this morning?” The two walked along in silence for a few more moments, and then the judge said, “What a miracle of Grace.” The pastor nodded in agreement. “A marvelous miracle of grace indeed.” The judge then inquired, “But to whom do you refer?”  “The former convict,” the pastor answered. The judge said, “I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself.” The minister, surprised, replied, “You were thinking of yourself? I do not understand.”

          “You see,” the judge went on, “it is not surprising that the burglar received Gods grace when he left jail. He had nothing but a history of crime behind him, and when he understood Jesus could be his savior, he knew there was salvation and hope and joy for him. And he knew how much he needed that help. But look at me- I was taught from earliest infancy to live as a gentleman, that my word was to be my bond, that I was to say my prayers, go to church, take communion and so on. I went to Oxford, obtained my degree, was called to the bar, and eventually became a judge. I was sure I was all I needed to be, though in fact I too was a sinner. Pastor, it was Gods grace that drew me. It was God’s grace that opened my heart to receive Christ. I’m the greater miracle!”

          All who bow to him, acknowledging their need and hopelessness, receive eternal life. Miracles of Grace! (From Kent Hughes)

 

Let us all see our need for Gods grace and what a miracle indeed it is that he opened our eyes to him and poured his grace out on us.

Let’s Pray.

Luke 2:39-52 Jesus is the Son of Man: Young Jesus at the Temple

Luke 2:39-52

Jesus is the Son of Man

Young Jesus at the Temple

 

Good Morning! Let’s go ahead and grab our Bibles and turn to Luke Chapter 2. If you do not have or own a Bible, please see me after the service so that we can get you a Bible.

So, in the Gospels, we see two of the writers start, more or less, with Jesus as an adult, about to or actively starting his ministry. The other two Gospels, Matthew and Luke share stories about the birth of Jesus birth and his early, early childhood. With the exception of what we are going to look at today, however, there are no stories, in the Gospels, no reliable, believable stories outside the Gospels, of Jesus as a young kid on up through until about 30 years of age.

And Luke, I think, shares this story, because he is showing Theophilus the dual nature of who Jesus is. We have seen that over the last couple of weeks as we have gone through the, first, the birth of Jesus and then last week, the dedication of Jesus.

Luke has been emphasizing, perhaps pounding at the point may be a better way of saying it, that Jesus is truly man, a physical human being born of a woman. A man, born under the law. A man, who was living, breathing, bleeding and would and could die. He was also very, very clear on who else Jesus was. He was the LORDs Christ. He was the Messiah. HE was the Son of God and he was the Son of Man.

Both. Not one or the other. Not sometimes one, sometimes the other. But both. Not one appearing as the other. Not 50% one, 50% the other. Both. Completely and truly both. Completely both. 100% both.

We are going to see that there are some ways that this creates complications and situations we don’t fully understand. And we may never fully understand them. But that doesn’t change that we know they are the truth.

Without further ado, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke 2:39-52. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and implore you to read along in your preferred translation, seeing for yourself what the Word of God itself says. Luke, chapter 2, verses 39-52.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, having done much investigation and research, writes:

And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[g] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[h] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[i] and in favor with God and man.

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

So, we start, first off, with Mary, Joseph and Jesus back in Nazareth. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for whatever reason, does not mention, as Matthew does, the warnings from the Magi and the exile into Egypt and then their safe return back. Luke skips all that and brings them straight back to Nazareth.

Luke then bookends the story with mentions of Jesus growing in wisdom and strength and growing in favor of the LORD. That this is mentioned twice, albeit phrased differently, shows that this is an important point that Luke wanted to make. It was a sign that Jesus was a real physical person. He was a human being, he grew. He learned. We will get more into this later on in the sermon, but I want you to hear that before we continue.

 

Now, Passover is one of the most important days of the Jewish year. It is the celebration and the remembrance of God saving and bringing his people out of slavery in Egypt.  Its named after the fact that the angel sent by God killed all the first born makes in Egypt except those that had the blood of the lamb covering their doorway. It passed over those houses, sparing them from the wrath of God.

This was an event held yearly in Jerusalem. The Old Testament made it clear that the men were required to make this trip. Women and children were not required but were welcome. That the whole family went, and it seems that they went together every year is another example of Luke pointing out the righteousness and obedient faith of Mary and Joseph.

It seems it was also a custom to bring a son with when they were 11 or 12 years old, even though it was not required. This was to give them a glimpse of what was required of a covenant people of God during this week. When the son would turn 13, he would become a “son of the covenant,” he would go through what is know today as the bar mitzvah. When he turned 13, he became a man in the legal Jewish sense. So, bringing him with at 11 or 12 would be a part of the training you give your kids, part of them growing and learning.

Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and any other kids they would have had at this point, because they did have additional kids after Jesus,         they went to Jerusalem, celebrated the Passover, stayed for a week and then they left to head home to Nazareth.

The way this is written shows that they were travelling with a larger group, likely in a big caravan. This was likely in the same large group, with the same families and friends that they travelled with every year. Probably all the residents of Nazareth that would go down to Jerusalem. They travelled through Samaria which would have been a hostile section to travel through, so there was security in numbers.

The other reason this is important is that we need to realize what’s going on with this story. Mary and Joseph didn’t forget Jesus. He needs to make sure that we are too quick to judge them. They went a day’s journey away from Jerusalem and they realized that Jesus was not with them. Many commentaries give additional information about these caravans.

One of them that I read this week shared how the caravans were laid out. The women and the children were at the front, leading the way. The men were in the rear, making sure that everything was moving together. That being the case, it would be easy to see each parent think that Jesus was with the other. Jesus was still considered a child, as mentioned earlier, so Joseph could easily assume he was up with Mary. Jesus was almost a man and was there that year learning what that looked like, so it would be easy for Mary to assume he was back with Joseph. Or, as many of us picture, they both could have just assumed he was running around with the other kids, pre-teens, almost men in the caravan.

Either way, when they made camp for the night after that first day’s journey, they realized that Jesus wasn’t with them. This would freak any parent out. You can just imagine. So, they looked all through camp. They made the days journey back to Jerusalem, looking all along the way. Finally, they got to Jerusalem and spent much of the day looking for him, finally finding him at the temple.

Now, some will question this story and wonder, did Jesus do anything wrong? Well, we know from various scriptures that Jesus was completely and utterly without sin. (John 8:46, John 8:49, Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 7:26, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:21) He was fully in Gods Will in all things. So, we know, we can extrapolate from the scriptures that no, in no way did Jesus disobey or do anything that we would be able to call as wrong.

 

 

Now, in Jewish education, there was a lot of emphasis on discussions as a teaching method. Teacher and Students asking questions back and forth and giving answers back and forth. They would discuss the problems as they came towards the answers.

This is what Jesus was doing in the temple. He was not, contrary to how we sometimes like to think about, standing up and teaching the pharisees and Sadducees. It wasn’t Jesus teaching that they were amazed with. Instead, it was his understanding and the answers he was giving to the questions.

 

One huge takeaway from this that I want all of us, including me, to hear. Jesus Christ is the Son of God; he is the Word of God incarnate. He is God himself. And if Jesus himself wanted, desired to study and to learn about the Word of God, then how much more should we, who don’t have an infinite capacity to learn and store knowledge? How much more should we, who dint have a built in, intimate relationship with God the Father? We should so much more desire to study Gods Word because we need to more than Jesus does.

 

Now, back to the story. Mary and Joseph find Jesus at the temple. Now, as parents, you just know they had been worried out of their mind. Any parent would be if they were not able to find their kid. Now, add to that that they knew Jesus was no ordinary child, but was the Messiah, sent from God. They fear and the pressure, the anxiety and the fear (yes, I said that twice) would have been astronomical.

Parents often respond to and snap at their kids out of fear. I know we focus on being better parents by not snapping at our kids out of frustration or anger, but out of fear is one that I think can’t be held in check as much. If your kid starts running in the parking lot, or is grabbing a pot off the stove, anything like that, you will scream their name and grab them back as quick and as harshly as possible. And Mary and Joseph do that here, “We have been looking for you!” “Your father and I have been so worried!” And you know if mom says, “Your father and I…” its serious.

 

Of course, Jesus famous response, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

 

          Jesus at this point, at 12 years old, he knew here and know that he was different. He already knew that he had a very special relationship with God. It should go without saying that the Son of God should be in His Fathers house, communing with him and growing closer to him. Whatever Jesus did not yet know, He certainly knew who he was at this point.

This is a significant story because of how Jesus refers to God. Here he introduces the concept of God the Father as Abba Father. God as the personal, involved, loving and accessible God that we know.

There was no concept of this in the Old Testament. The Old Testament refers to God as Father 14 times, all in context of nations, as in the Father of Israel, groups of people. None in the context of the Father or individuals. The New Testament has over 60 references to God as Father, specifically in the context that Jesus uses it here, as our Father. This is the introduction of a huge part of our theology and our relationship with God.

 

Now, again, another thing that Luke has mentioned numerous times. This is at least the third time that Luke says that Mary and Joseph did not understand. They knew he was special, don’t get it wrong. As we said last week, they believed all the things that God had shared with them, through Angels, through shepherds through Prophets and the like. They had an understanding of what God had called them and Jesus to, but they didn’t understand all the way.  They didn’t understand Jesus response to them here. IF they are anything like me as a parent, he answered, they looked at him for a moment and said, “Just get in the car!” Jesus was just like any other kid, except without sin. It must have been incredibly difficult, incredibly frustrating to raise him as his parents.

But Jesus was indeed without sin. He obeyed and honored his mother and father. When they told him to git, he got. Jesus submitted to them. He was an obedient kid. Jesus knew who he was. He knew his identity and his calling. That made it easier to obey. You can be more at ease and more flexible when you are more settled with who you are.

And As has been mentioned often, Mary treasured all these things in her heart. And her son, Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge and stature and in the favor of God.

This is an important part that I don’t think many of us think about. Jesus was all man. He was also all God, for those things to co-exist, he had to set aside prats of himself. Jesus is omniscient, meaning he knows everything. Period, end of discussion.

But we also see that Jesus, as a man, as a kid, as a teenager, Jesus was learning. He didn’t know everything as a human being. He set aside his omniscience. He had to learn to talk. He had to learn to walk. He had to learn that 2 + 2 equals 4. He had to learn how to be a builder like Joseph. He had to learn how to be a man. He had to learn the Word of God.

Kent Hughes draws out this point. He says: “An obedient, submissive inner spirit is a key to experiencing proper spiritual growth- growth in favor with God and with men. When we submit our lives to God in Scriptural terms, saying, “Her I am! Send Me!” (Isaiah 6:8) or presenting our bodies as a “living sacrifice,” (Romans 12:1) Gods favor rests upon us.

He continues: But there is more, for such Christians will also submit themselves to serving a lost world for the advancement of the Gospel and the glory of Christ.

Lastly, he says: Also, an obedient, submissive inner spirit like Christ’s comes from knowing who we are. Jesus understood that he was the Son of God and that God was his Father, and that awareness produced profound submission to God and Man.

 

That’s something I want you to take with you. When we know our identity is in Christ, when we know we belong to Him, when we are assured of our standing, clothed in Christs righteousness, before God, we can submit to things we don’t particularly want to. We can submit to the governments that the Bible tells us to. We can submit to the laws of the land, whether we agree with them or not. We can render unto Caesar what is Caesars, because we are rendering unto God what is Gods. And that allows us to accept whatever happens Tuesday for example. Because we know how is on the throne and who is in control and know that He has us in his hands.

 

We are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to takeaway the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. 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 1:1-4 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Purpose of Luke’s Gospel

Luke 1:1-4

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Purpose of Luke’s Gospel

 

Good Morning Bangor! Let’s grab our Bibles and turn in them to the Gospel of Luke. If you don’t have a Bible, or don’t own a Bible, please grab one off our back table or come see me after the service so that you can have one as our gift to you.

We are starting a new Series this week through Luke’s Gospel. We finished up through Daniel last week and there is an interesting connection between Luke and Daniel. One of the ways that Daniel identifies the coming Christ, the coming Messiah is to call him the Son of Man. One of the most common ways that Luke refers to Jesus is as the Son of Man.

Today we are going to be introduced to both Luke himself and to his Gospel. We are going to answer at least three questions about this Gospel, Who, when and why. Who wrote it? When Did he write it? And Why did he write it?

The Gospel of Luke is an interesting book. It is, by far, the longest of the Gospels. It has stories, parables, teachings that none of the other Gospels have. It is also one of the synoptic Gospels. What that means is that it is paired with Matthew and Mark and the three of them all seem to share a common source, as some describe it, the share much of the same stories and content. So, we will look at many of the parable passages as we go through Luke.

This series will take us quite a long time to go through, and I do encourage you to read and study it for yourself as well as we go through it.

We are going to start with the introduction of Luke, the first four verse of the book. We will read those and then answer the Who When and Why questions w just mentioned. Luke chapter 1, verses 1 through 4. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Let’s read the text. Luke 1:1-4, Luke writes:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

What a beautiful sentence. All one sentence by the way, and it’s the same in the Greek. It is also a classic literary introduction, showing us that Luke was a learned man, a well-educated man. And that makes sense, as we find out in Colossians 4:14, Paul refers to him as a physician, a doctor. So, you may, on occasion, or more than on occasion, refer to him as Doctor Luke.

We know that he was a close friend of Paul’s and very loyal. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul is imprisoned and getting close to being put to death. Paul writes that everyone has left his side, that he is alone, except for Luke.

Doctor Luke traveled with Paul for much of Paul’s travels. Some believe he also was Paul’s personal doctor. In Acts, which Luke wrote, we see many passages where it is written that “we” went and did this or went there. That “we” refers to Luke, the author being with Paul during this time, not just writing what Paul told him.

Luke was very thorough in his investigations, in his research. He held accuracy in detail very high. All of his material was well documented. Many of the commentators I’ve been reading have made bid deals out of Luke’s accuracy, pointing out that if we can not trust some of the minor details or historical details, then how can we trust the actual Gospel that Luke is presenting. Every commentator I’ve read has included a quote from Sir William Ramsey where he says: Luke was a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rules in the evolution of history; and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident

 

          Luke was a prolific writer. Luke wrote this Gospel and Luke wrote the book of Acts. He wrote more of the New Testament than anyone. He wrote more than Paul did. When you count the words, when you look at the volume, Luke’s writing is more than Paul’s, even if you include Hebrews in with Paul’s writings, which is unclear at best.

Lastly, Luke was humble. He doesn’t mention himself or bring attention to himself as he writes through Acts. He just says “we.” The only reason we know many of these things about him is because of what Paul says. Some come to the conclusion that Luke started out as a hard-core skeptic. They say that this is why he is so thorough in his research and presentation, trying to eliminate any doubt from the mind of the readers.

So, that who Luke is, that’s what we know about him. Next, we ask, when did he write this. Now, its very likely that The Gospel and Acts were written at the same time. Rabbit trail moment: I have always wondered why the Gospels are not laid out Matthew, Mark, John and Luke. Then Luke would end and flow right into Acts… I know it’s because Matthew, Mark and Luke are the synoptics and John is the outlier, but still, c’mon!

So, there tend to be a few different ideas and thoughts about when Luke and Acts was written. I’m really only going to focus on the only one that makes sense to me. The book of Acts ends with Paul being imprisoned in Rome in about 62 AD. Now we know that Paul was released from this imprisonment and was arrested at least one more time, and ultimately was put to death as the result of one of his later imprisonments. If Acts was written later on, it would make sense that Luke would have included more of Paul’s story. So, I believe that it was written very shortly after the book of Acts ends, likely around 63 AD or so.

 

And now we get to the big question; Why did Luke write this book, the Gospel according to Luke?

Well known atheist, Sam Harris has said, “I don’t want to pretend to be certain about anything I’m not certain about.” To me, this sounds like exactly the person that Luke was writing for.

Now, Luke was not an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He is the only Gospel writer who wasn’t. But Luke did his researched. He spoke to many eyewitnesses who were still around and were willing to testify to the truth and life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

There were still many eyewitnesses around, this was less than 30 years after the death of Christ. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:5 & 6, after Christ rose from the dead: that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 

Paul even testifies that many were still alive, and he is telling people, “Go ask them for yourself if you don’t believe, or if you have doubts or if you’re not sure.” And that’s just what Luke did. And What he heard form them is what he is relaying to us in this Gospel.

Again, Luke is a historian. And Christianity is not irrational. Christianity is not illogical. It is not without evidence and historical legitimacy.  It is in fact, rooted in and grounded in history. IT is rational and it is reasonable and there is lots of evidence for the truth that is right here in our hands.

I was having an online conversation this week with someone, and they made the comment that the Gospel has everything to offer to any who are willing to consider it honestly.

Most of you know at least part of the story of Lee Strobel. He was a courtroom journalist. He knew the importance of eyewitnesses and their testimony. His wife came to know Christ and he saw a change in her. He went out to use his investigative talents that he developed as a journalist and he went out to prove Christianity false. Over the course of his investigations, talking to scholars and theologians, hearing about the eyewitness testimony of the Bible, how the Apostles personally witnessed these things and wrote them down, even under the threat of death. In the end, it was too much and instead of proving Christianity false, he turned in faith to Jesus Christ, being certain in what he was taught.

Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, wrote, what I think is truer than even he knew when he wrote: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

And that’s what Luke did. He eliminated the impossible. He eliminated the questions, the doubts. He researched and opened himself up to the truth and went where it led him. What remained, what he wrote down in this Gospel, was the truth.

Known truth, not blind faith, but learned faith are the foundation of Christianity. Faith is the evidence of things unseen. I’m not saying that there isn’t a leap of faith. I’m not saying that you have to intellectually know all the details, all the nuances of the faith before you can trust in Christ. But I am saying that you can know that your faith is grounded in reality. Its not arbitrary. It is something that has a firm foundation and the trust that you put in Christ, the faith that you have will not disappoint, it will not crumble and I will not be proven wrong.

 

Now, Luke was writing this to the most excellent Theophilus. Theophilus is either a name or a title given to this person. Theophilus means “friend of God.” Most likely, based on Luke’s other uses of the term “most excellent,” he was a fairly prominent member of the Roman government.

And someone, sometime had a chance to share the truth of Jesus Christ with Theophilus. Maybe Luke, maybe not. To be honest, we can’t even be sure that Luke was a Christian at the time he started this mission. But Luke was sent out and was going to make sure that Theophilus could be certain about what he had been taught. My guess is that he was, but again, there is no indication about whether Theophilus was a Christian at this point, or was a curious person, looking to learn more about what had been shared with him. Luke was going to make sure he received the complete and total truth.

Something that I share with you guys often, don’t take everything you were taught as Gospel fact. I remember being taught that Luke worked for Theophilus. Maybe he was Theophilus’ doctor. But I was taught that Luke was commissioned by Theophilus to go out and investigate and research and verify the Gospel. Yet, there is nothing in the text that indicates this. We can read a lot into the text, and some or much of it may be true, but we need to discern what the text says from what we read into the text.

Let us also notice as we read and study this book that Luke is a storyteller. Luke investigates, learns the details, and tells the story. This is opposed to Johns spirituality and philosophy. This is opposed to Marks action packed Gospel. This is opposed to Matthews focus on prophecy fulfillment. Luke researches and tells the stories with details.

Luke is writing to a universal audience. He is writing so that all may hear. Again, this is opposed to Matthews Jewish audience. This is opposed to Marks specifically Roman audience and this is opposed to Johns church audience.

One of the key messages of Luke’s Gospel is that the offer of salvation, brought by the Son of Man, is an offer to all. Every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. I read this and I am reminded of something Charles Spurgeon said, He said:

If God would have painted a yellow stripe on the backs of the elect, I would go around lifting shirts. But since He didn’t, I must preach “whosoever will” and when “whatsoever” believes I know that he is one of the elects.

 

Luke is writing this to a universal audience, but he is also writing it personally to Theophilus. Relationships play a big role in Luke’s stories. And in his stories, we see where Luke’s heart lies. We will see his heart for the lonely, the poor, the beaten down, the oppressed, and, as a doctor, his heart for the sick and the suffering.

Jesus came to save even them. Jesus came to say even us. Jesus came to offer salvation to all, not just the powerful. Not just the popular. Not just the put together. Not the sinless. It is in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 5, verse 31 that Jesus says: It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

          The last thing that Luke says in this introduction, V4:  that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

          Luke wants you to believe. And he wants you to know what you believe. That Jesus Christ is the Son of Man. That Jesus Christ is the Messiah. That we are sinful, broken, spiritually dead. Jesus Christ came and offered his life in place of ours, to give us the forgiveness of sins. By Gods Grace, poured out through our faith in Jesus Christ. All of this done to glorify God and God alone. Jesus first words in Marks Gospel, he says repent and believe the Gospel. In order to have eternal life with Christ, eternal citizenship in the kingdom of God we must believe. Not just intellectually, though that is important, but to believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Christ is LORD.

If you haven’t, today is the day. Salvation belongs to the LORD and today is the day of salvation. There are no second chances and life on this earth can end in a flash. Jesus Christ is the means to salvation and eternal life.

 

 

 

He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he performed this act, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. 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.