Luke 12:1-12 Jesus is the Son of Man IN Christ Alone

Luke 12:1-12

Jesus is the Son of Man

IN Christ Alone

          All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 12. Right around the halfway point as we go through the Gospel of Luke.

Over the last few chapters, Jesus has been giving a lot of application to the knowledge of the two greatest laws; Love God and Love your Neighbor.  Jesus has been showing the disciples, the Pharisees and anyone else who ill listen that to Love God IS to Love you Neighbor. You can’t have one without the other.

Last week, the passage we looked at showed Jesus addressing and confronting the Pharisees and their wrong understanding resulting in their wrong attempts at Loving God. They were portraying outward holiness and moral righteousness but doing so without Loving their neighbors. They were attempting to obey the rules without any love, grace or mercy.

After that, we read of the Pharisees, in Luke 11:53 & 54:

As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

 

They were mad at Jesus and wanted to trap him and end his public teaching and ministry. That leads immediately into this morning’s passage that we are going to read and look. This morning we are looking at Luke chapter 12, verses 1-12. I will be reading out of my preferred translation, the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 12:1-12, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following:

 

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b] And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Word.

 

So, many, many thousands of people are crowding around Jesus and wanting to hear what he has to say. The way this reads, this appears to be as and immediately after Jesus leaves the meal he was having with the Pharisees and lawyers at the end of Chapter 11. And the big crowds had been gathering and following and waiting.

As a result of what he witnessed and what he shared in the dinner, Jesus starts speaking to the disciples, purposely where the rest of the crowd can here as well. Sometimes Jesus would wait until he had just the 12 around him to share teachings and warning. Others, just the larger group of disciples. This time, he wanted as many people as possible to hear and to heed these warnings.

He tells them to Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees. Specifically, he is referring to the hypocrisy that Jesus just exposed in them. He pointed it out to them at the dinner and now he was warning the people in public. He is warning them about when our words and actions don’t match and when our words and hearts don’t match.

He uses this phrase, beware the leaven of the pharisees. He uses it specifically. A little bit of their influence can go a long way. Paul writes in numerous places, but especially Galatians 5:9, A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company ruins good morals.” The negative influence, the hypocrisy of the pharisees can spread without us even seeing it. Sin generally and some sins specifically, like hypocrisy, spread like cancer. They start little by little; we don’t even notice they are there. But then it starts spreading, slowly and unnoticed. Eventually, if left unchecked, it grows and takes over and eventually it kills us.

The idea of leaven can be good too. We see coming up in Luke 13:21, that Jesus uses it to explain the spread of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is here and now, but it is not fully realized yet. It is spreading through  this world, through history like leaven through dough.

As the pharisees negative influence spreads through, a little going a long way, so does a Christians positive influence, Christianity’s influence, a little can go a long way in the lives of people around us. It might seem to be just a little, it may be just a little, but it can go a long, long way and it is a part of something much, much bigger, the work of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus reassures and warns us that all will be revealed in the end. All of our sins will be exposed. Especially when the disciples would see the hypocrisy of the pharisees, when we see the sins of those around us seeming to go unnoticed and unpunished, we can be reassured that God sees and they will be exposed in the end.

But it is also a warning. All those moments, all those stray thoughts, all those things that we do and say and think and hide that nobody else knows about. All of it will be exposed and put on display at the end when we stand before the Great Throne in judgment.

Its important to note that it is not just non-Christians who will stand in judgment at the end. We all will. RC Sproul writes it well:

Many Christians have the misguided idea that Christians don’t have to worry about this disclosure on judgment day. They assume its only the pagan or the corrupt person or the Pharisee who has to fear. After all, we have passed from the judgment to life, and we know that one of the benefits of our justification is that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to worry about being condemned by God on the last day. On the last day, your judge and your defense attorney will be Jesus Christ. However, even though our entrance to Heaven is not based in any way on our good works, and though our good works contribute nothing to our salvation, every one of us will be evaluated on that day according to our works. The truth about our obedience, our sanctification, and our profession of faith will be made manifest.

 

What we do and what we say and all of our actions and works do nothing to affect our eternal destination. However, our deeds and our actions will be made known and will be see both the good that we have done and the evil that we have done.

There is a purpose, I presume to us seeing all the evil we have done at the last judgment. When we see all the sins we have committed, all the evil we have been a part of, the cosmic treason that we have committed against God, we will see how great his grace and how undeserving we are of said grace.

 

Now, in the context of this passage, what Jesus is saying, he is speaking of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees being exposed. They will not be able to hide their sins and their hypocrisy from God. Our natural tendency is to try to hide our sins, even from God. This goes all the way back to Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and sinned, bringing sin and death into the world, they tried to hide form God. They recognized that they were standing before him naked and unashamed. They made coverings from fig leaves, and we have been trying to cover up our sins ever since.

 

Now, to be clear. Sin does not automatically equal hypocrisy. We all sin. We all fail. That is something that we will be struggling with and fighting against for the rest of our physical and natural lives. But pretending that we don’t sin, Not acknowledging our sins, acting like our sins aren’t as bad as anyone else’s sins, only pointing out other people’s sins, that’s hypocrisy.

 

The hypocrisy of the Pharisees stemmed from them fearing the opinions of men and their fellow Pharisees more than fearing God. They wanted the people to fear their opinions and judgments and to submit to them. Jesus says, don’t fear those who can kill the body only.

The Pharisees those days had the ability and some authority to kill the body. We see this through the book of Acts, Paul specifically was tasked with tracking down early Christians, and he watched over and approved of the killing and stoning of Stephen.  Certain sins were punished by stoning. The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was going to be stoned until Jesus said what he said.

Governments, which God says he puts in place, sometimes specifically with this purpose in mind according to Romans 13, have the ability to kill the body. OF course, criminals have that ability as well.

God doesn’t ever promise to spare our physical natural lives in every situation. History is full of martyrs who have given up their lives for their faith, to stand for Jesus. The Bible shows many of them, history shows that every one of the Apostles was martyred except John who survived attempts to martyr him. Read Fox’s Book of Martyrs for many more examples. The Reformation was chock full of examples. Many, many Christians around the world today are dying right now for the faith that many American Christians take for granted.

But as Jesus points out, if they do punish you or kill your body, that is the end of their ability to influence you or affect you. They can’t do anything more to you at that point. They have no authority over eternity. Instead of fearing men, fear the one who has authority over eternity.

There are different types of fear. The easiest way to describe this fear, the fear of the LORD that Jesus is calling us to, is the type of fear that involves awe and reverence. In certain contexts, this is all that is needed. But it involves more than this. And especially in what Jesus is saying, it also involves fear, being afraid. We should be afraid of a God who has the power and authority to determine our eternal destiny.

Proverbs says in multiple places that the Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 36 says that the wicked have no fear of God before their eyes. But there is a right kind of fear. This is the fear we see in Moses in Exodus 3 when he was afraid to look upon God. We see it in Isaiah 6, when he was set down before the LORD and professed that he was a man of unclean lips. This is the fear that we should have of Him.

He is the Judge who will welcome us to Heaven or the one who will damn us to Hell. One commentator reminds us that Hell is not Satan’s dominion but instead his prison. He is not the one who has authority in Hell, God is sovereign over all of His creation, and this includes Hell.

But there is a balance to that fear for those who are in Christ. We are to fear God instead of Man and we are to have this healthy fear of God. But we are also to remember that the place he has prepared for us is secured and he will not forget us or forsake us.

Sparrows are the cheapest animals that you could buy at that time. Almost literally a dime a dozen. And God remembers them all. We are infinitely more valuable than sparrows. God knows and never forgets the numbers of hairs on your head. Even as that number changes as we age, God still knows.

We fear him and all that it entails; awe, reverence, and fear itself. But we also remember that he loves us, he remembers us, and he cares for us. Paraphrasing RC Sproul, we fear Him on one hand, and on the other, we have no fear.

God does not send people to Hell because he forgets about them, or he forsakes them. He doesn’t send people to because he wants to or because it makes him happy.

So, what does determine whether we are welcomed into eternal glory in Heaven or if we are damned to Hell?

Jesus says, acknowledge me, trust in me, believe in me and you’re in. By Gods grace our hearts are changed and our eyes are opened. We see the truth and put our faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

We can’t believe and then tell people we don’t believe. Romans 10:9, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Of course, words by themselves, just like actions or works by themselves are nothing, they are not enough to save us or to damn us. The issue is our heart. And what flows out of us is usually a pretty good indication of what’s in our heart.

Verse 9, if you reject or deny Christ, you will be denied heaven and you will be rejected from spending eternity with Christ. This is true no matter what our words say. Not everyone who prayers a prayer or makes a public confession of Christ has been legitimately changed by the Holy Spirit. Not everyone who is physically in the church is spiritually in the church. Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended form Israel belong to Israel and the meaning of that is a sermon or discussion for a different time, but it is the same with he churches today. Not all who are in the church belong to the church.

Not everyone who publicly identifies as a Christian is truly saved or has been truly changed by the Holy Spirit. If we reject Christ in our hearts, if we reject Christ and his works, he will reject us.

Now, he does say that we are able to have all our sins forgiven. We could blaspheme Jesus and that is able to be forgiven. Which is good because before Christ, we all speak against God, and we all blaspheme Christ. And if that was unforgiveable, we would all be out of luck.

 

Jesus says something that has been the source of controversy, of confusion and of despair for Christians for 2000 years. The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

There have been many different ideas, many different beliefs, many different interpretations on what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We are not going to argue over or let it divide us.

Before we look at this, I want to remind us all of the first two rules of understanding the Bible. First, we let the Bible interpret the Bible. Let scripture interpret scripture. IF we don’t know what something means, we look at what scripture says in other places on the same subject or in other places that can speak to the same thing. Second, we let the clear scripture interpret the unclear scripture. That’s the key to what we are looking at hear.

So, what do we know that the scriptures say clearly?

1 John 1:9, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We know that Christ died on the cross or the forgiveness of sins. Verses 8 & 9 here in this passage in Luke show that even speaking against Jesus can be forgiven. John 3:36 says Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

According to one commentator, The Blood of Christ is sufficient for any sinner who truly repents- even a sinner who has on occasion denied the name of Christ.

We have seen in scriptures such a wide variety of sins, even and especially serious, crazy sins be forgiven. Adultery, lying, eating from the forbidden tree, murder, false teachings and prophecy. So much more.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

All those sins were forgiven. Peter says in Acts 2:38: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, Jesus died for the sins of the world. All sin can be forgiven except this, what can it mean? I think the key to understanding this is right here in the passage we are looking at this morning, all the information we need is right here.

Verse 8 & 9: And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God

 

How I read this, the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is dying while still rejecting Christ, denying Christ. It is dying without the Holy Spirit doing his regenerating work on us. IF you die without having placed your trust and faith in Christ, you are not able to be forgiven. There is no forgiveness outside of Christ Jesus. In context, to me, that’s the only thing this could mean.

The key to what we are reading this morning is the idea of fear of man vs the fear of God. And Jesus reiterates that as we finish up in verses 11 & 12. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

We see immediate proof of this throughout the book of acts. In context, the takeaway, application is that if you are worried about denying Christ in the face of opposition, in the face of true persecution, trust in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We can not be unafraid or unashamed in our own strength and in our own power. We can only do it through His power, through the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit.

 

I am going to leave you with a story about Martin Luther showing the fear of God overcoming the fear of Man. This is relayed from Kent Hughes in his commentary on Luke.

When Martin Luther first stood before the Diet of Worms, John Eck, the archbishop of Trier, asked him, “Martin Luther, do you recant of the heresies in your writings?…Do you defend them all or do you care to reject a part?” Luther gave the quiet answer, “This touches God and His word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this, Christ said, He who denies me before men, him I will deny before the Father. To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think it over.”

Luther asked for 24 hours to consider the situation. Eck and the whole assembly were amazed. How could the supreme intellectual leader of this movement ask for more time to think? Was he succumbing to fear?

Hughes continues:

That night, Luther and his colleagues passionately called out to God in now-celebrated prayers. With the rising of the sun another, larger hall was chosen, and it was so crowded that scarcely anyone except the emperor could sit. Eck, spoke long and eloquently in the flickering candlelight, concluding, “I ask you Martin- answer candidly and without horns- do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?”

Luther contra mundum spoke, and his voice rang. He spoke first in German and then in Latin:

“Since then your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reason- I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other.  God help me. Amen.”

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 11:33-54 Jesus is the Son of Man: Whitewashed Tombs

Luke 11:33-54

Jesus is the Son of Man

Whitewashed Tombs

All right, let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11. As most of you know, if you do not have a Bible, if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and I will make sure we can get one into your hands.

 

So, Jesus is continuing in the same setting, continuing to speak to the same crowd, the same gathering that we have seen him in the last few weeks. And his main message has been, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.

Jesus is emphasizing a combination of head knowledge, inner trust and outward action. There is an inner change first, and then, flowing from that, there is the outer, behavioral change.

Its important to remember that our works and our behavior flow from our faith and salvation, not the other way around. All of that, the points Jesus makes and the things that he says, all continue to flow into the passage we are looking at this morning.

We are going to be reading Luke chapter 11, verses 33-54, a bit of a longer passage to read. I’m going to be reading out of the English Standard Version, my preferred translation, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 11:33-54, the Holy spirit inspires Luke to write:

 

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.

37 While Jesus[e] was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

 

May God Bless the Reading of the Word

 

So, a lot to get into here. Starting with the first section here, Jesus is saying two different things in regard to light shining. First is, of course, that the light inside of us cannot and was never meant to be hidden. That inner change, that heart change is meant to be shown to those around us.

That light that shines from that heart change inside of us, what good is it if we hide it? Light is meant to shine, there is no point in being a lamp, if you are going to be covered up. When the light is lit inside of us, it will make itself known.

Secondly, Jesus’ work, the light of the Gospel, the signs and wonders he did, His death, burial and resurrection, they were down in plain sight, for all the world to see.

The scriptures, especially psalm 119 show us that the word of God is the light of the world. I especially like two verses from psalm 119, verse 130 says

The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.

 

          and verse 105:

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

 

Then Jesus also uses the analogy of our eyes being the lamp of our body. The correlation regarding blindness and sight, between lightness and dark. When your eyes see, when they are working correctly, when God has taken the blindness away form you, you can see the light that already exists, The light of the Gospel, even better.

We talked the last few weeks about the desire for more signs, more wonders, more evidence of who Jesus was. In the words of RC Sproul, Jesus here is saying, “The people seeking a sign did not need more light, but better receptiveness to the light they already had. What God was doing in Jesus was plain enough.”

          The light and the darkness are used biblically to describe our spiritual condition and our sin nature. When we are in the darkness, we desire the darkness. We want to stay in the darkness because that’s where we are comfortable. We are comfortable in and with our sins. We think we are good because we avoid or protest against certain sins, but we have our own secret pet sins that we keep in the dark.

But the light drives out the darkness. The light of the Gospel inside of us exposes us to our sins, exposes our sins to us. We desire to stop and quit those sins because the darkness cannot exist in the light.

In verse 37, the scene starts to shift. One Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. Now, many will tell you that this was a setup and that this pharisee was trying to trap Jesus from the beginning. That might be true, however, there is nothing in the text that indicates this.

Not all the individuals who were pharisees were Jesus enemies. Nicodemus was a pharisee. This unnamed pharisee invited Jesus to dinner and Luke does not tell us that there were ulterior motives.

Jesus knew what was going to happen. He knew how it was going to turn out and he still went. One commentator points out one principal from this is that we should always be looking for opportunities to build relationships, to build bridges and get to know people.

Jesus accepted the invitation and went to eat with the pharisee, seemingly at a big dinner party with lots of other pharisees and lawyers, or scribes.  And Jesus sat down with out ceremonially washing his hands before the meal.

THE SCANDAL!

The pharisees added so many man made traditions and rules and regulations to the law, to the rules that God gave down and this was one of them. The idea here was that our hands got dirty each and every day, some of it was ceremonially and ritually unclean. Since many of the meals in that day were eaten directly with the hands, this presented a problem to them.

The Mishna is major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. This is where all the man-made traditions of the pharisees and the rabbis throughout Jewish history to that point were written down. We have the records of what was a part of the pharisaical law of the time. In the Mishna it says that “tradition is the man-made fence around the law.”

          The noble idea being, the further away from the line we stay, the less likely chance we have at crossing it. We will return to that later.

 

          So, Jesus shocks His host and the pharisees by not ceremonially washing his hands. When they say something, Jesus comes back at them. He tells them outer physical cleanliness is not enough.

          In fact, outer cleanliness matters less than inner holiness, than inner righteousness. The condition of the heart is what God sees. It is not our outward behavior that makes us clean. Its why we sing and read in the Bible, “Create in me a clean heart.”

          Our outward behavior needs to flow from a clean heart that God gives us. This is the opposite of what our nature tries to do which is that we need to behave outwardly in order to cleanse ourselves.

          God tells the Israel through the prophets, throughout the Old Testament, in many different ways, I desire Mercy not sacrifice. This is, in essence, what Jesus is telling the group here. You misunderstand what it is that God desires from you.

          You are taking what is good, taking the law that God gave, taking what is right and you are taking it an extreme absurd. Your focus is more on your outward appearance and behavior than on the Heart of God.

          The pharisees were focused on confronting and avoiding sin, which is a good thing. They would have been protesting against same sex marriage and abortion and all sort of other sins. They would have been setting up boycotts of various companies and businesses because of their support of various things or their selling of stuff. Fighting sex trafficking and prostitution and pornography.

          The problem is not that they were fighting those causes or trying to eliminate those sins and that evil.  The problem was that they were more focused on all that instead of, or at the expense of loving God and loving neighbor and treating all people as image bearers of God.

          Jesus says, you are supposed to do both. You are supposed to fight against sin and evil as a way of loving God and loving your neighbor, not as a way to avoid loving God and loving your neighbor.

 

          But, like so many that we see in this world, and maybe like so many that we know, Jesus shows that they were more interested in people seeing them and their good works and their status’. They wanted to make sure people knew they were going to church, that they were pillars of the community, that they gave to the needy, that they volunteered, that they were a moral compass.

          Again, all of those are good things, except when that is the reason that you do them. Goods deeds done for the wrong reasons are not good. The right thing done for the wrong reasons are wrong.

          People see the outward signs and outer moral shell and they are tricked into not realizing that a person is spiritually dead on the inside.

          Jesus speaks of unmarked and hidden graves. Graves would make people ceremonially unclean. Hidden and unmarked graves would be a hidden source of spiritual impurity.

          The pharisees, because their outer behavior was not often accompanied with the inner heart change, they were hidden sources of spiritual impurity to those around them. They made people want to be like them, act as good as them, and that this was the key to earning favor with God.

         

          Jesus was not holding back any punches here. And the people in the room knew it. He was talking about them, and they were not happy. They were feeling convicted. One of the lawyers, one of the professional theologians, he says to Jesus, woah now, you are insulting us!

          The lawyer would have been at home here today. Jesus don’t say what your saying, even if its true, because we might be offended. And if we are offended then it must not be true, so there. As we know, there is no greater sin in today’s society than to offend somebody. It seems it wasn’t so dissimilar 2000 years ago.

          Now, it is very easy, when confronted with your sins, to respond by getting offended. The first thing we need to do, if someone says something that we get offended by, is to look deep in ourselves. We need to see if there is any truth or validity to what is being said. Often times getting offended is a defense mechanism for trying to avoid acknowledging the truth.

          That being said, we know that Jesus offends, that the Gospel offends, the light of the Gospel, as we mentioned earlier shines a lot on people’s sin and that makes people offended and defensive. However, nowhere in scripture does it allow for us to be offensive. As Paul says in Ephesians 4, we are to speak the truth in love.   Let Jesus and the Gospel do what they are going to do, we are to share it in love.

 

          This lawyer says Hey, you’re offending us. Jesus’ response, Woe to You!

 

          Woe to you putting extra burdens on the law. Jesus came to lift these burdens, burdens that God never designed us to be able to bear.

          Again, the original idea was to avoid getting close to sin, to avoid getting close to breaking Gods law. The pharisees had a great respect for the holiness of God and wanted to obey what they understood was the purpose of His laws.

          But what does this lead to? How far can I go without it being sin? How can I avoid breaking this law but still do whatever I want? This goes back to Eve in the Garden. God told Adam, don’t eat from the tree. When the serpent asked Eve, she said God said don’t even touch it. This extra level of fence around the law, as the Mishna out it, adds extra burden to us that is hard for us to bear.

          Even when the lawyers and pharisees were “honoring” the fallen prophets of the past, it was an outward honoring. They were still rejecting them. When the prophets were active, Israel, the kings, all the people, they refused to listen to the prophets, refused to hear the Word of God. They persecuted and killed them all.

          They were still refusing to listen to them. They were pretending to honor them but were really dishonoring them. If they wanted to honor the prophets of the past, they would live how the prophets described and to do what they said to do.

          This generation, the generation that Jesus was talking to, they were held even more responsible because they had Jesus right there in front of them, physically, literally right there, sitting with them and dining with them. And they rejected, persecuted and kill Him just as their fathers had done to the prophets, just as they and their children would do to the Apostles. There are clear allusions to verses 31 and 32 here as well, that Jesus is the greater prophet and the greater Apostle.

          In verse 52, Jesus rebukes the lawyers, saying, “you have taken away the key of knowledge.” The lawyers felt that their additions to the law should be even more held to than Gods laws because they were clearer and easier to understand. Jesus is telling them they are wrong. As one commentator points out that these traditions, these additions to the law, they made it impossible for the regular people to understand the meaning and purpose of the law.

 

          Instead, the lawyers used these additions and traditions to avoid the demands of the law itself. As I mentioned earlier, how can I technically keep the law but still do whatever I want?

          As Jesus leaves this scene, this crowd and especially the people who he was at dinner with, he leaves many of them mad and scheming. They would spend the rest of His life trying to get him to say something wrong, to answer questions, to teach something that would allow them to persecute and prosecute Him. Jesus, as of chapter 9 has set his eyes on his journey to Jerusalem. Here and know, the Pharisees and lawyers have set their eyes on Him. And not in the right way.

 

          Philip Ryken writes that the Christian faith is not a law to keep but is a Gospel to believe. Our morals, our values, our behavior they mean nothing in terms of us being saved.

          Now, of course, we will bear fruit once we are saved, but our works and our fruit are not what save us. Good works and fruit do not equal Christian. Being pro life does not equal Christian. Being anti sin does not equal Christian. Being pro Bible does not equal Christian. Believing that a God exists does not equal Christian. Reading and memorizing Scripture does not equal Christian. Voting for a particular party does not equal Christian. Church attendance does not equal Christian.

          Trust and faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross, his death, burial, resurrection. Trust and faith in his righteousness, not ours. Trust and faith in his sinlessness, not our sins. Trust and faith in his perfect obedience, not our attempts. Hearing the Word of God and keeping it. Complete and total dependence on Him and resting in his good work. That equals Christian.

 

Let’s Pray.  

            

Luke 11:14-26 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus is the Strongest Man

Luke 11:14-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus is the Strongest Man

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11.

 

We are continuing our series, our journey through the Gospel of Luke. And in this Gospel, Jesus is continuing his travels, making his way towards Jerusalem. His followers, his disciples are travelling with him and being taught by Jesus, being trained by him, mentored in order to continue after Jesus leaves to preach the Kingdom of Heaven is here, it is at hand.

Jesus has been teaching and showing his disciples the two greatest commands; Love God and Love your Neighbor. He has shown them things that can pull them away from loving God; among which include distractedness, anxiety and troubledness over many things.

When this happens, we can often let our preconceived notions about, people, about God, about the Bible, we can let them take over and further get in the way. These preconceived notions can further separate and divide us from God and from those around us.

Jesus is going to deal with some people who have entrenched themselves in their preconceived notions in the passage we look at this morning. It is going to cause these people to ignore all indications of the truth, no matter how clearly it is presented to them.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke 11, verses 14 through 26. I encourage you all to grab your Bibles and follow along, whatever your preferred translation. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Luke 11:14-26:

 

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

 

 

May God Bless the reading of his word…

 

So, Jesus is casting out demon, doing what he does. And in this instance, he was casting out a mute demon. This is not meaning that the demon itself could not speak, but that it caused the person it was tormenting to not be able to speak. I think its quite curious that this story about a man not being able to speak because of a demon comes right after the passage about praying and lifting our voices up to God.

 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence…

 

Anyway, so this mute man was delivered from this demon, and he spoke. What a feeling this must have been! What emotions this guy must have had! The scriptures don’t say how long he was mute, whether from birth or not, but we know it was long enough that he was known as the mute guy. He was known not to be able to speak. And so, when he spoke and the crowd heard it, there were amazed! People marveled.

And this reaction from the crowd, this astonishment from the mute man, this bona fide miracle that all acknowledged, this is the first step in the point of why Jesus did these types of miracles. Yes, of course, there was the compassion. Jesus had a heart for those who were suffering. He had a heart for those who needed healing.

But the main reason he did the miracles and the healings and the signs and wonders that he did was to testify to his message. It was to testify to his deity. And his message was the kingdom of heaven and salvation from sin. The miracles and healings were down to show that he had the authority to make the claims he was making and the power to back them up.

 

The people saw the miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, and they were astonished. They marveled! And then they gave credit to Satan.

 

Some attributed his power and abilities to Beelzebub. This was a name referencing the Canaanite god, Baal from the Old Testament and was often a stand in for Satan himself as well.

So, the crowd saw what Jesus was doing, casting out a demon, and they decided that, instead of seeing that this was through the Power of God, they decided that Jesus was getting his powers and abilities from Satan himself.

Isaiah 5:20 could be written about these people in the crowd, as it is written,

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

 

To see the good being done and to attribute that good to the devil instead of to God, woe, woe to them.

 

WE see another group in the crowd though too. Luke tells us that some in the crowd kept seeking signs to test him. They weren’t willing to give credit of what Jesus was doing to Satan, but neither were they ready to give the credit to God. They were the definition of neutrality that we see towards the end of this passage.

This group reminds me of an episode of MASH that I saw recently. One of the injured soldiers came in and thought he was Jesus Christ. The medics of course don’t believe him and try to get him to tell them who he really is.

He says, “What can I do to convince you?”

Their response, “Well, a miracle would be a good start…”

 

Except that even if the guy really had been Jesus, and if he had been able to do a miracle for them, they still wouldn’t believe. Jesus says this very thing of in Johns Gospel, paraphrasing here, but basically, you are not believing my words, you are not believing my signs and you are not believing what Moses said about me so long ago. You are looking for reasons and finding them to not believe.

 

Jesus of course knew the hearts and the minds and the words of all those in the crowd. And he told them, “Y’all are making no sense whatsoever…”

Why would you fight against yourself? IT makes no tactical sense. Its stupid to fight against yourself. And Satan is many things, but stupid is not one of them.

Satan is smart. He provides and communicates just enough truth wrapped up in his lies. Jesus says in Matthew 24:24 that he can lead astray even the elect. He has power, limited by God, created by God, but he does have some power to do some signs and wonders. To a point. That’s important.

Because the signs and wonders, the power that he posses and shows are not true, against the laws of nature miracles. He can only do so much. We see the magicians in Pharaoh’s court, back in Exodus 7 as an example.

Moses came in proclaiming the name of God, telling Pharoah to let the Israelites go. TO back up his claims and to show the power of God, Moses did signs and wonders. The first couple the magicians in Pharaoh’s court were able to mimic, as if they had the same power that Moses had received from God. But Gods power overwhelmed and defeated the power of the magicians and showed that any signs and wonders done in the power pf Satan are pale imitations of the true miraculous work of God.

 

Jesus then turns to the people and says, “Oh by the way, some of your own people are casting out demons as well. If I’m doing it through the devil, who are they doing it through?”

 

Jesus said, it is by the power of God that I do the things that I do. It is to confirm my words to you that the kingdom of God is here. Most of the pharisees did not believe where Jesus got his power and authority from. Though one did. IN John 3 we see Nicodemus, a pharisee, come to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Nicodemus says to Jesus in verse 1, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.

Nicodemus was able to set aside his preconceived notions and see what was really in front of him. Many in this crowd were not. The people of that day, like ours, had their own ideas of who God was and who Jesus was. Some of it was a misunderstanding of scripture. Some of it was just purely made up in their own minds. Whichever was the case, they were blinded to the truth.

They were attributing the good works of Jesus to a pagan god, to Satan, instead of to the true God. Because they were unwilling to see the good in Jesus. Because they were unwilling to believe that God would work in this way that they were not expecting.

 

This view of God, that he is Love and he wouldn’t let bad things happen. He wouldn’t punish people for messing up. He allows many paths to himself. Sin is not a big deal and there is no judgment or hell.

This view of the Bible, that it is just a book, not the inspired Word of God. That it’s a book of morals, teachings and life lessons, but holds no authority.

This view that Jesus is not God, or that he is not man. That he was not sinless. That he never died, or that he never rose from the dead. That he never spoke on numerous subjects that the Bible is crystal clear on. That he is not the Word incarnate, that he is not the Alpha and Omega, and that he is not the one who will come to judge.

These preconceived notions are what we need to overcome in order to see the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what he has said. Those things that we are born with, and we naturally hold in ourselves. In our hearts and in our minds. We all have them, and the first key is to recognize them. Because when we see Jesus at work, when we read the Bible, we will read it through the lenses of our preconceived notions.

What you look for, you will find. This is true throughout life but is especially true with the Bible. IF you decide you believe one way about a subject, then you will find validation for it in the Bible.

It could be your view on a specific sin. It could be looking for which political party you want to vote for. It could be any theological issue. What you are looking for, you will find. It doesn’t mean its right, but you will find it. That’s how our hearts and minds work. So, we need the God to raise the cover from our eyes. We need the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. We need Jesus to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Without them, we are slaves to our preconceived notions.

 

 

Jesus then gives, kind if a parable to the crowd. We see the strong man in his home or fortress. Satan is the strong man in this example. He is the god of this world (little g). God has allowed him to have some power and some authority here for a certain amount of time.

Jesus comes into the earth as the stronger man. He destroys the strong mans kingdom and takes over as the authority in that house. We know from scripture that Jesus defeated Satan, sin and death with his death, burial and resurrection.

Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-15:

 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[c]

 

              Its not just that Jesus defeats him in a battle that they just get into, but Jesus is defeating Satan in order to win our souls. He is defeating Satan so that we may be freed from our sins by our faith in Jesus Christ.

RC Sproul writes that yes, we do have to respect and acknowledge the power that Satan has and holds in this world, but not overly so. Jesus already won. He has already shown he is the strongest man. He has already removed Satan’s attempt at a kingdom with the Kingdom of God. Its already finished and The Kingdom of God has already been established.

 

Jesus makes it clear in verse 23, there is no neutrality. You are with Jesus, or you are not. You are a citizen of the kingdom of God, or you are not. There is no dual citizenship. The scriptures make it clear that you cannot serve two masters. You are a follower of Christ or an enemy of Christ. And nothing, not your works, not your attendance, not your knowledge determines which side you are on, only the grace of God giving us faith in Christ.

 

And he who does not gather, scatters. Those who are not a part of the body of Christ, will work at dividing the body of Christ. They will create division and sow disunity among the family of God.

 

We finish this passage in verses 24-26, where Jesus shows us that we cannot do it on our own. The example that Jesus gives here, an unclean spirit, for whatever reasons, boredom, finished job, or exorcism, prayer, sheer will, leaves a body, it goes looking for a new one. But without the Holy Spirit occupying the original host, the unclean spirit just comes right back and is even stronger and does more damage.

That’s not a problem we can solve with good old American ingenuity. We can’t pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. We can’t clean up our life by sheer force of will. We need Jesus.

Jesus gives us this example using an unclean spirit, but I see it working practically in our day to day lives if we think about our habitual sins. Some are easy to leave behind when we become new creations in Christ. But others continue to pick at us, nag us, tempt us, sometimes feeling like they own us.

We can make a little bit of outer progress on our own. There are people who change, who quit addictions, we stop cheating, we change quite a bit about their lives and their behavior without turning to Christ. But if they do, they often replace one sin for another, one addiction for another and none of it helps our souls, our hearts or our eternal destination.

That’s all Jesus. He offers salvation. He offers forgiveness of sins. HE is the only way to change who we are deep down inside. The salvation and forgiveness come instantly. But he also changes our heart and our desires. Though not all those desires change instantly. Some happen over time. Some never completely change until we are face to face with God himself.

I had someone make, what I think was a brilliant point to me this week. While we are here on earth, those temptations will not be permanently eliminated completely. But as we dive into Gods Word, and our relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be more equipped to deal with those temptations. The temptations might even grow stronger as we grow in Christ. The spiritual sure get fiercer, but our equippedness will also grow stronger, therefore our ability to resist that temptation will grow stronger. And of course, we say our, as if we are the ones doing, but knowing that all the ability, equipment, desire and strength comes directly from the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, we are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. His work changes us. His work defeated Satan.  And today 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 11:1-13 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Shows Us How to Pray

Luke 11:1-13

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Shows Us How to Pray

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11. If you do not have a Bible, or are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help with that.

So, last week we saw Jesus staying with two sisters, Mary and Martha. As he was staying there, he not only helps a teaching session with some group of people that including Mary, who sat at Jesus feet to listen to his teachings. Jesus also held a private teaching session with Martha, loving her and comforting her in her anxiety and frustration.

Jesus and his disciples continued their travelling from town to town and from village to village. Jesus was making his was way slowly but surely towards Jerusalem, where he was to fulfill his purpose. Along the way, they were preaching the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven being here in the here and now. We have seen many signs and wonders by Jesus to confirm his deity and the truth of his claims.

As he and the disciples are travelling, Jesus is teaching the, mentoring them, preparing them for ministry after he leaves his earthly ministry. The wonderful thing for us, is that these teachings that Jesus shared with his disciples, many of them are recorded in the Gospels contain in the Bible, so we have access to them whenever we want. And this morning we see some very important and practical teachings from Jesus.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s text before we dive in to the teaching. Luke chapter 11, verses 1-13. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 11:1-13, Luke, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit records the following:

 

Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,[b]
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence[c] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

Its always interesting to me when God and when the Gospel writers include or omit certain details. In this case, Jesus was in a certain place. Where that place was, was not important. What was important was that Jesus was praying. We have seen him does this often and it emphasizes to the disciples and to us, if Jesus needs to spend time in prayer, how much more do we?

So, Jesus is praying, and as was common for teachers and disciples of the time, Jesus followers wanted their teacher to teach them how to pray. Every teacher had their own style and method and pattern of prayer. The disciples mention John the Baptist and though we don’t see his prayers recorded in scripture, the disciples had heard of them and wanted to hear Jesus’ versions of prayer.

The disciples looked at Jesus as a number of things but included in that would have been seeing Jesus as their spiritual mentor. They wanted to model their spiritual life off of his. They wanted to be just like him. They wanted to learn from him. He had a robust spiritual prayer life, and they wanted the same.

They were saying to Him, “Lord, you were praying, you have such a good prayer life, your so good at praying, we want to have that same prayer life.”

 

And Jesus was a great example of a good mentor. When Jesus does show the disciples how to pray, he doesn’t give them a list of rigid instructions. He doesn’t say, “First, do this…Second, say this…” Instead, he gives example. He teaches the principles. He explains the whys and such.

 

And in verses 2-4, Jesus gives them a model of prayer. We see here a truncated version of the Lord’s prayer that we see in Jesus teach in Matthew 6:9-13, the version we all know and have memorized.

I think that’s the first think for us to take away form Jesus’ teachings this morning. The length of the prayer does not affect how well or how much God the Father hears our prayers. He does not hear longer prayers any more than shorter prayers. For sure, pray as long as is needed in that specific situation, but there is no need to make it longer and to fill it with fluff words to try to make it more holy.

Now, there are a number of different acronyms and lists and different descriptions out there about what is included in making a good and complete prayer. You may have heard the acronym, ACTS. An ACTS prayer would include Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (or asking). A-C-T-S.

RC Sproul listed some attributes of this and other prayers in scripture as Adoration, petition, confession and intercession. For this passage here this morning, the most common descriptions I read over and over were vertical and horizontal.

This means first, you pray vertically, upwards, towards God. Prayers are directed at someone, and who they are directed at matters. We don’t send our prayers and thoughts out to the universe. We don’t send prayers to people. We don’t pray to a God we don’t believe in or to any God that might hear it. We are praying to the Creator God of the Universe. We are praying to God the Father. We are praying to the one True God. And we need to make sure that we recognize that.

Now of course, this is not to legislate that every prayer we say has to include an out loud, personalized greeting to God. When something happens, sometimes, we just throw prayers out there. God still hears those and responds to those as well. They are no less valid prayers than the more formal prayers we are addressing here this morning.

After praying vertically, we then pray horizontally. We pray for the things, situations and people around us. First, we look up to Heaven, to God, then we look around us. Love God, love your neighbor. Pray to God, pray for your neighbor.

 

Jesus starts the prayer addressing God as Abba Father. Personal, individual Father. We who have been saved by the grace of God through our faith in Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. God also tells us that we are to approach boldly the throne of grace. God is our Father, if we are children in the faith. And he wants to make sure that we know he is approachable. He wants us to know that we can go to him. Anytime, anywhere, about anything. Jesus will talk more about God as Father coming up.

Hallowed be God’s name. God’s name should always be spoken of with reverence, with awe. He is Holy Holy Holy as Isaiah declares. And so, we are to approach God boldly, as our children approach us as parents, but also humbly.

AS we approach God, as we approach our Father, we then ask for provisions. We ask for what he has already promised us. Now God will often overdeliver on those promises. What amazing that we don’t have only manna to eat each and every day, but we have a plethora of amazing foods, flavors, spices, and so much more. These are things that God knew about and put into our world and into our lives so that we could enjoy them. His promises are for our sustenance, to get us through the days. His delivery is often so much more, for our enjoyment, for our pleasure.

Jesus shows us in this model prayer that next we thank God for what he has done for us and what he is continuing to do for us. We also thank him for those very provisions and gifts that he has and will give us.

He also reminds us that what God has done for us, specifically forgiving us our sins, we are to make sure that we do to those around us. Forgiveness, like prayer, is a tricky thing to talk about sometimes.

God, of course, models forgiveness for us. Forgive us our trespasses as we then forgive those who trespass against us. Gods’ forgiveness of us is a once and for all deal. We come to faith in Christ and all our sins, past, present and future are instantly forgiven. And that’s good because we are in constant need of forgiveness.

The forgiveness we give out (and ask from others around us) is an ongoing and continual event. We need to have a continual spirit of forgiveness, always in the present tense. Our forgiveness of others and the forgiveness we ask of others is not a once and for all thing.  It reminds me of the Martin Luther quote that a believer’s entire life is one of repentance.

Jesus gives us a parable in verses 5-8 that shows a couple of things. First, persistence works. We are imperfect friends, sinners. There are times when even if our friends are asking for something that we are expected to give them, we don’t always want to do it. It can take them asking over and over. Eventually we will get up and do it.

Persistence often works. We will see this is the parable of the persistent widow and the point is don’t stop praying. Gods’ answers don’t always come quickly.  I don’t need a show of hands, but how many of us have been praying for years if not decades for certain or specific family members, friends, whoever, for them to come to know Christ. Some of you have seen results from those prayers. But it wasn’t quick or immediate.

Now, where we have to be careful with this story from Jesus is to take the parable too far. God is not annoyed with us for asking too often, or from praying too long (unless its full of hypocritical holy sounding fluff words and the like, but that’s for a different time) The parable is not that God is the friend that needs to be pestered. Instead, the point is that in opposition to how we fail to act and give as we are supposed to, God is happy and delighted to give us good gifts and to answer our prayers.

Now, persistence does not mean repeating the exact words of the prayer over and over. It does not mean ritual. It does not mean wrote repetition. It does not mean mindless repeating of a prayer we have memorized. Jesus warns against this very clearly.

Instead, we are to not give up. We are to stay faithful and steadfast. We are to trust God that he knows what he is doing and will answer our prayers. We trust in God’s definition of good and right and remember that his answer will fit into that category.

 

 

Verses 9 & 10, Jesus says, And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

First thing is let’s remember the context of this passage. The context is believers praying to God their father. These often get misapplied to unbelievers.

When Jesus says Seek and you shall find, this is not referring to those outside the church who are “seeking God.” Scripture makes it clear that we don’t seek God on our own.  Romans 3:10&11, Paul writes:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

 

I came across a great quote while reading RC Sproul’s commentary and he relayed a comment by Thomas Aquinas. Sproul wrote:

Now, it may appear to us that he’s seeking after God. Thomas Aquinas answered the question this way: “The reason we think people are seeking after God when they’re not is that they are desperately and earnestly seeking for those things that only God can give them—happiness, meaning, freedom from guilt, peace—all of these benefits that accrue to those who put their faith in Christ.”

Sproul continues: From our perspective as Christians, we say, “They’re seeking the benefits that only God can give, therefore they must be seeking after God.” Aquinas said: “No, they’re not seeking after God. They want the benefits of God without God.” That’s the dilemma.

 

People who don’t yet know God, do not seek after God. God draws us to him. Once we believe, then we pursue God and to know him as much and as closely as we can. Jonathon Edwards said that seeking after God is the central pursuit of the Christian life. Jesus tells those listening during the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33:  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We also see Jesus say, knock and it will be opened to you. This of course holds allusions to Revelation 3:20, where Paul tells the church at Laodicea, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me

 

These verses are often used in reference to evangelism, “Jesus is knocking in your heart, so let him in and be saved.” That’s absolutely NOT what these verses are talking about. In both these cases, Jesus is talking to people who already love him and are believers.

 

But here is what I think is important to know about these verses. The way they are written is literally Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. So, I see the purpose of these verses as two-fold. First, of course is that God will deliver and respond to our prayers, not always how we expect of course, but our prayers will be answered.

Second, the Christian life is on of action. Our salvation and forgiveness are not by our doing anything., They are solely by the grace of God. But our life after that is one that we are continually called to, maybe that’s not the right word, but we are compelled to action. Prayer, Loving God and Loving our neighbors. Learning from the Word of God. Serving in whatever capacity God has called us to and created us for.

We finish up with verses 11-14. We are imperfect sinners, even as parents. We want to give our kids good gifts, especially if they ask. But we fail and we fail often. Hebrews has a similar passage regarding our earthly fathers and how no matter how they are, God as our Father is so much better. No matter what kind of gifts we give as a father, God gives better and greater gifts. Paul writes in Romans 8:32:  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

And we see specifically one gift. The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift. God the Father desires to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him in Faith. How great the fathers love for us!

He has already given us these great gifts. Love, forgiveness, redemption, grace, eternal life and the like. He wants us to come to him. He wants us to talk to him, that’s what prayer is, talking to God. He wants us to get to know him. He wants us to trust him. He wants us to act like his children and to treat him like our father.

 

God, our Father is Holy, yet approachable. He is loving, yet just. He gives out perfect wrath, yet perfect mercy. He is our perfect Father. And the Son promises that the Father will give us the Holy Spirit.

Ill finish with Ezekiel 36:26&27:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a

Luke 10:38-42 Jesus is the Son of Man: Mary & Martha

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus is the Son of Man

Mary & Martha

 

All right all right! Lets go ahead and open up our Bibles to Luke chapter 10. To be clear, it doesn’t matter if you have a physical, paper Bible, a Bible on your tablet, or on your phone, what matters is that you have one and you open it and read it. If you do not have, please see me after the service so we can help rectify that.

 

As we continue through the text, its important to remember what we looked at in previous weeks, and especially the immediate week before. This is not only, or even mainly to remind ourselves, but because it directly feeds not and informs the current week.

Last week, we looked at the events of verses 25-37. And at the end of it, we don’t really see what happens physically. I picture the crowd just kind of slowly dispersed, similar to the picture we get in John 8 in the story of the woman caught in adultery.

And its important to remember what Jesus was speaking on. He was speaking on and showing the importance of loving God and loving our neighbors. And we see that these are not ways to acquire salvation and to earn faith, but instead it is a sign of, an outflow of the faith that is already in us.

This morning, we see two attempts to do this, to love God and love your neighbor. We are looking this morning at the story of Mary and Martha. This wont be the last time they show up in the Gospels either and we will see their brother Lazarus makes an incredible impact on Jesus life.

Now, again, this is one of those very famous, very well known stories in the Bible that we often make assumptions about and gloss over. Many of us dismiss it for reasons we will get to later.

As I’ve said before, including last week, I try to specifically dive deeper into those stories because there is so much more to them, so much more that God is communicating than just the surface level Sunday School version of the story that we are so often given.

But I also want to be careful with that. We don’t want to try so hard at trying to find deeper meaning, try so hard to find something new that you haven’t heard before that we read something on the text that’s not there, or create something that doesn’t exist.

My job is not be creative, to make things sound better so it appeals to more people. My job is to share the Word of God and teach, to the best of my abilities what it means. I can promise you this, if I share insight or an opinion on something that you have never heard or even don’t agree with, its not something I just made up. It is something that has historically been taught on the church at some point over the last 2000. I look through commentators and theologians, guys dead long ago who are way smarter than myself and through reading and studying the scriptures and lots and lots of prayer, try to best determine what God wants me to share with you all.

 

So, all that being said, lets go ahead and read this mornings text, Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verses 38-42. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to grab what ever version you prefer and follow along as we read Gods Word. Luke 10:38-42, Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

 

 Now as they went on their way, Jesus[d] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[e] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

 

God Bless the Reading of His Word

 

 

So, again, we all know this story. And I bet for at least 90% of you, I can sum up what you think of this story in one sentence. If you are a “Martha,” you think that Work needs to get done, no matter what else is going on and Mary is last and inconsiderate. If you are a “Mary,” Marthas need to chill out and quite bossing everyone around and enjoy life once in a while.

The Question we need to ask is, IS that what the text says? Lets find out.

 

We start in v 38, after the crowd dispersed from the passage we read last week, Jesus and his followers continue on their journey from village to village. Here they stop in Bethany, 2 miles outside Jerusalem, where Mary and Martha live.

And immediately, Martha was modeling Love your Neighbor. The scriptures tell us that Jesus had no place to lay his head. Martha welcomed him into her home and was practicing the gift of Hospitality.

Hospitality is a big deal in the scriptures. The Old Testament is full of commands to show it and examples of when Jewish people did and did not show hospitality. Paul writes in Romans 12:13, in a section of the true marks of a Christian life, he writes:  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9, Peter writes:  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. These are but two examples of many in the New Testament where hospitality is shown as a way of loving our neighbors.

Martha does this, she brings Jesus and presumably at least the Apostles, if not more, into her home. She went about using her gifts to show love and to serve. She would have had to figure out and facilitate a wonderful meal, she would have had to make sure the rooms were made up, things were clean and so on.

While in Mary and Martha’s home, Jesus did what he does and this would not have come as a surprise to the girls. Jesus held a teaching session. Wherever Jesus went, lots of people followed. So, when he had the chance, he would teach.

And it seems to indicate that Mary and Martha were very well off. They had room to host Jesus and his friends. They had room to have additional people there while Jesus taught. They had the resources and likely servants to provide for all these people. And they both loved Jesus and wanted to show him that love.

In verse 39, we see how Mary showed her love for Jesus. She sat at his feet. This was strictly forbidden by first century rabbis. For Jesus to even teach Mary was frowned upon, considered a waste of time. But Mary wanted to hear from him directly, wanted to soak in Gods Word. She had a desire to learn. She was showing her love for God, by being sanctified by the hearing and studying of Gods Word, as we are all called to do.

In verse 40, we see that Martha, on the other hand, was “distracted with much serving.” Now, that’s a little vague, as we don’t know exactly what was going on. Was she fussing with the cooks who were trying to get the meal prepared? Was she doing the dishes after the meal so they   got done? The truth is we don’t know.

We do know that Martha was a real go getter. Commentator Kent Hughes says that she was a whirlwind. She was caught up in doing what she saw needed to be done. She didn’t want to be distracted with serving. She wanted to be sitting with and listening to Jesus as well. She wanted to be sanctified.

When the text says that Martha was distracted with serving, in the original language, it denotes the idea that she was being pulled away. She didn’t want to be doing whatever she was doing. She wanted to be with Jesus.

A great example today is moms with young kids in church. They are in the sanctuary, listening, or I should say, trying to listen to the sermon, wanting to worship God while teaching her kids to worship and trying to maintain their focus and keep a check on their behavior. She is getting pulled away from what she wants to do because of her duties. That’s what Martha was dealing with.

But there were things that hadn’t yet gotten done. And you can tell Martha is thinking what many of us think at times. “I’m the only one that will do it, no body else will.” Or “Yeah, they are willing, but no one else will do it right.” WE can so easily get caught up in doing our thing that we get mad at everyone else who is not doing the same thing as us. Because they are not doing what I’m doing, that means they are not doing anything.

Serving is a gift, and we are to use that gift to love others, This is where serving gets in the way of loving.

 

Martha was, of course, mad at Mary. Its so easy to get mad at those who are closest to us. You can picture Martha giving Mary those “IF looks could kill” stares and Mary very clearly and purposely pretending she didn’t see it.

But Martha didn’t just get mad at Mary, she was also mad at Jesus. She was mad at him for letting this all happen.

We will so often get increasingly critical of those who are not doing what we think they should be doing. We get increasingly critical of those who allow the things we are getting mad at. And sometimes, we get increasingly critical of ourselves, “There is so much to get done, I’m the only one doing it, but I’m not doing enough.”

And so Martha lashed out at Jesus. Again, in ways we still tend to do today. Lord! Your doing it all wrong! Your wrong to let this happen! I know better! Do it this way instead, the way I think is best!

 

We get tied up in the idea that Jesus needs us to do stuff. Jesus doesn’t need us or our work or our deeds. Luke records in Acts 17:25 that the Lord is not  served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  

          Jesus does want our good works. That’s what we were made for. Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

          God wants our good deeds and chooses to use them for his redemptive purposes, but he does not need them. That burden, that he needs us, that is a burden that we cant and were never meant to bear.

But that’s a burden we often put on ourselves. A burden that continually pulls at us, pulls us away from what we would rather be doing. Pulls us away from loving God and loving our neighbor.

Jesus knows that we put these burdens on ourselves. That’s why we tells us in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

As a quick aside, this passage takes place in Matthews Gospel as a part of the same paragraph as Matthews version of Luke 10:22.

Jesus is able to take that burden off of us. He is the one able to give us rest from our work. He responds to Martha with this heart and this attitude. He does not sharply rebuke Martha. He does not lash out back at her.

Instead, he says, Martha, Martha… Repeating a name like this is Jewish way of showing love and affection. He says, Martha, you are too anxious. He is telling her that her to do list is too long. She wasn’t able to let things go undone. She was not able to stop worrying about things not getting done. His message is, Martha, your not resting in me.

Here’s the thing, Jesus didn’t tell her to stop necessarily. This is because her actions were a result of her love of Christ. Martha’s actions were not wrong in and of themselves. They were not wrong unless and until they are not submitted to the heart of Jesus and the will of God. And that’s what happened in this story here. In trying to Love God and Love Neighbor, she was trying to do instead of trying to be…

 

Jesus says to her, Martha, you are troubled about many things.

 

So often, we are troubled about stuff at work, or the conversation we had on the phone with family or money or any number of things. And when that happens, we take it out on those closest to us. Martha was troubled about many things and she took it out on Mary and she took it out on Jesus.

 

 

Now, lets be clear about what Jesus is NOT telling Martha here. He is Not saying, “Mary did right and you, Martha did wrong.” Jesus is telling her that she is anxious and troubled about many things. That anxiety is pulling her away from Christ and the rest that he offers.

 

Jesus says “one thing is necessary.” Now of course, this leads to the question, What is that one thing?

 

Survey says,…”Jesus!” That’s right. And specific to this context, Jesus the Word of God. That’s what Mary has chosen here. Spending time with the Word of God.

Again, this is not about Martha and Mary themselves. And its certainly not about Mary vs. Martha, despite how its usually portrayed. Remember this, Martha still needs quiet prayer time, time with the word of God. And Mary, Mary needs to show her faith in action, she needs to serve. All of us need to do both of those things. Most of us tend towards one over the other.

Martha was pulled away from the Word of God. As a Pastor, I can be the first to tell you that there are times when serving Christ and serving the church can pull us away from time with Christ and his Word.

 

Jesus does say that Mary has chosen the good portion. As we have seen Jesus do before, what we assume is a one did right/ one did wrong, when there is a competition going on, we expect Jesus to be clear. Instead he says, not the Mary chose the better portion, but she chose the good portion.

This portion will never be taken away. The one who choses Jesus was first chosen by Jesus and to the one who has Jesus, Jesus will never be taken away.

 

Martha was anxious about many things. This does not mean that, despite what some think, that someone who is anxious or deals with anxiety, fails to trust Jesus. The truth is that while we still have a saving faith, a trust in the work of Jesus Christ, our day to day walk with Christ will fluctuate. Some days will be better than others. Some days our trust will go up and down. Some days we will have bad days and our anxiety will go up.

Often, those bad days, those times when we get very anxious. Often, its times when we feel further from God, or when we haven’t been in the Word enough. Often, its when we have been listening to too much secular news, or politics, or arguing, using the tactics of those who are not held to a higher standard, or we haven’t been in church enough.

Things like that can cause our anxiety to go up, cause us to be anxious about many things, pull us away from our walk with and our submission to Christ. What gets us back to our walk with and submitting to Christ is the good portion, the one thing that’s necessary. The Word of God.

And so I’m going to leave us with a few passages of scripture, the first two, ones we have already heard.

 

Philippians4:4-9, which Mike read earlier:

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Matthew 11:28-30:

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

1 Peter 5:6-11:

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

And lastly, Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Lets Pray

Luke 10: 25-37 Jesus is the Son of Man Good Samaritan

Luke 10: 25-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

Good Samaritan

(Note: Because of the length of this weeks sermon, the audio will be broken up into two posts, though text will all appear on this post. Sorry for any inconvenience.) 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn to Luke chapter 10. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get the Word of God into your hands.

If you look at and read through Luke’s Gospel, we have actually been building to this passage for a little while. In Luke 9, we saw a Samaritan village reject the Apostles as they went to prepare the way for Jesus on his travelling teaching journeys. Last week, Jesus prayed in verse 21, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.

          We are going to see this morning an example on one of the wise and understanding, a lawyer, a man who knew the scriptures inside and out, we are going to see how he gets the law wrong, how he gets to love of and the will of God wrong. And how we often get the law and the gospel and the will of God wrong.

The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well know stories in the Bible. Unfortunately, as with most of the well-known Bible stories, it is all one of the least understood or most misunderstood stories. When we are too familiar with certain stories, our tendency is to skim by it or to overlook it and not spend enough time reflecting on it and mining the Biblical truths that God has for us in these stories.

Let’s go ahead and read our passage this morning, which includes the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke chapter 10, verses 25 through 37. Ill be reading, as always, out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to follow along as we read, from your preferred translation.

The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following Words of Jesus Christ:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

So, in 2008, ABC News did an experiment. Much of what I am sharing with you about this experiment comes directly from the news article.

They placed ads in a newspaper and on Craigslist. The ad said we were looking for people to participate in an “on-camera tryout” for ABC News. Those who responded were interviewed on the phone, and those selected were asked to come to appointments over the course of two days.

When they arrived for those appointments, the volunteers met with an ABC producer who talked to them in general about the audition but did not go into specifics about what they were to do. She explained that each person needed to have a topic to discuss before the cameras, and that she was going to help them select that subject. She then showed each of them a sampling of cards and asked them to pick one.

What appeared to be random was in fact not a choice at all. The topic listed on all those cards was the same: The Good Samaritan story that we are going to look at this morning.

They were given the Sunday school version of the story. A man who is beaten by robbers and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious men come by and ignore the victim. But a third man, an outcast from society, a Samaritan, comes along next and not only stops to help the man and care for his wounds, but he also takes him to an inn and pays for him to stay in a room there and have meals. Jesus instructs his followers to follow the lead of the Good Samaritan.

After our producer read the story to each person, they were told they were to give a short speech about it for their “audition.” Thinking that the cameras were set up at a nearby studio, they walked the short distance. They set off with the Good Samaritan story fresh in their minds. Following the directions took the volunteers through a small park. They had no idea what would be awaiting them there: actors hired by ABC News.

Two men took turns playing a person in distress. They were seated on the grass directly alongside the path the volunteers were instructed to use. The actors were told to play men clearly in need of help, and both cried, moaned and rocked back and forth. They seemed to clearly need help. Who better to come to their aid than our volunteers, who approached with the Biblical story of helping one’s fellow man echoing in their ears?

The question: Would these participants stop to help? Carrie Keating, professor of psychology at Colgate University, expected they would. She predicted they would be suspicious of the situation, and likely to do anything to make themselves look good.

But Keating was in for a surprise: many of the 22 volunteers did not stop. They rushed right by the actors, proceeded to the studio, and gave the speech on the Good Samaritan. Their words were the complete opposite of their actions from just minutes before.

They completely missed the point, much like the lawyer in our story, many, many years before this experiment.

Jesus would often teach in parables. Parables are simple, memorable stories that use common examples or imagery from the culture and use them to teach greater truth. Sometimes the greater truth was painfully obvious and sometimes the truth was hidden. Jesus would, at times explain the meaning of some of the parables, not to the public, but to his disciples.

After teaching a parable early on in his ministry, the disciples asked Jesus what it meant. In Mark 4:11 & 12, Jesus tells them,

        “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that

 

“they may indeed see but not perceive,

                and may indeed hear but not understand,

        lest they should turn and be forgiven.

The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. However, sometimes the truth comes through to everyone and, as happens here, is very pointed at the Pharisees, or the religious leaders of the day.

Now, sometimes I think the Pharisees get a bad rap. I don’t mean that they were right when we think they were wrong. But I mean that all the things that we pile on and pick on the pharisees for, we are often guilty of ourselves. I think this parable here is a perfect example of that, whether we want to think of it that way or not.

First, again, as I said at the beginning, we remember the context of this passage. Jesus was rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, praying to God the Father. Things were going well. And part of Jesus prayer was thanking the Father that he had hid from the wise and understanding what the Truth is and exactly who the Father and the Son are. And then this lawyer, this guy full of knowledge, this pharisee stands up and proves Jesus’ point.

We see here that the expert in the law asks a very deep and profound question. Now, he just thought he was trying ask a difficult question to try to trip up Jesus or get Jesus to contradict himself. But he asked a question that people everywhere and, in every time, have been asking and we have here a very clear answer. The lawyer asks in v. 25, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He is asking what do I need to do to be saved?

Now this is a common and understandable question, but there are actually two issues with it. First is the lawyer’s motivation. As just mentioned, he wasn’t asking with a pure heart, but asking the question to put Jesus to the test, to trip him up. Secondly, the man asks, “What shall I do?” His focus was on himself, and what he needed to do, instead of what God and his grace and his mercy.

There was an old rabbinical saying, common and famous at the time, that said, “Great is Torah, for it gives to them that practice it, life in this world and in the world to come.”

And in that, we see the focus on obeying the rules, on earning salvation, on being good enough. But the scriptures make it clear that it is not our goodness that grants salvation and life in the world to come, but God and his richness and mercy and love that bestow it upon us.

Jesus, as is the norm for him, answers this question with a question himself. He asks the man, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Good teachers will do this. If you ask a question that you already know the answer to, they will redirect you in a way that has you say the answer and think through it instead of just telling you the answer.

And the man did give the correct answer. He replied to Jesus, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus affirmed this answer as correct.

So, there you go. The lawyer knows what he had to do. Love God and Love your neighbor. This is the summation of the law. And what he will sometimes forget, is that the law does, sort of, offer salvation. If we were able to keep the law, all of it, 100%, outwardly and inwardly, then we would be able to be saved by keeping the law. But as the entire Bible, points out, pretty much the second biggest theme of the Bible, behind pointing to Jesus himself, is that we can’t keep the law.

Jesus is clear in the Sermon on the Mount that, even if we keep it outwardly, we still often and continually sin in our hearts and our minds. Paul points out a couple times that if anyone could make a claim to keeping the law, he would be able to make that claim, and yet, he calls himself the chief of all sinners.

And so, Jesus gives the layer a legal answer. You know what to do. DO it, do it perfectly, do it completely and you will live.

Now, all of us will come to the point where we have a choice to make. If God has changed our heart, opened our eyes, if He has chosen to reveal himself and the truth to us, then we will recognize who we are as sinners, undeserving of eternal life. We will look for God’s mercy and his grace and we throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus.

However, often, before we get to that point, we will refuse to see the truth. WE will entrench our selves in our preconceptions. We will reject grace when it’s offered to us and we will insist on living life ourselves, do it on our own, the American idea of rugged individualism and pulling our selves up by our bootstraps. WE dig in that if we just work harder, try more, get better and shove ahead with brute force and will power, that we can do it. It’s a lie from the devil.

We will do everything we can to justify our views, our opinions, our actions, our beliefs and everything else about us. Just as the lawyer does in verse 29.

The lawyer’s heart was all wrong. The scriptures show us that the lawyer was trying to justify himself when he asked, “who is my neighbor?” Instead of genuinely asking and looking for who his neighbor was and how he could help them, he was looking for loopholes, looking for reasons to not help. He was looking for the least that he could do. The least he could do to not help those around him…To not help those different than him…To not help those he did not like…. To not help those he did not know…

By teaching him this parable, Jesus is showing the lawyer, and us, that the question is not Who is my neighbor? But instead, Am I loving my neighbor?

The lawyer is asking, Who is my neighbor that I have to love? AND underneath, by extension, Who is my non neighbor that I don’t have to love? This is what we often do. I don’t want to love that person, or, as also applicable to this parable, I don’t want to love that group of people…

Jesus twists it, so the question is not Who is my neighbor, but instead, Whose neighbor am I?

 

Now, Jesus is really going to twist things up as he goes ahead and tells those listening and the lawyer the parable. The details that Jesus uses in this parable are not incidental or accidental. The man was walking from Jerusalem down to Jericho. This was a 15-mile journey and the road here was very treacherous. It was steep, rocky and had a lot of twists and blind turns. It was notorious for  having many bandits  being a very dangerous journey. This was well known for having these dangers and people knew the risks involved in this journey. Often times people would wait at one end of the journey for a group of them to gather so that they would at least have a little it of safety in numbers.

So, this man got mugged and beaten and was left lying on the side of the road, half dead. Now, even though this was an infamous, dangerous walk, many people did take this journey alone as well. It took 8 hours for the journey, and sometimes, time was of the essence. It was the only way to get between these two cities.

Now, Jesus brings along a Priest. If anyone would see a man in need and stop and help him, to show him mercy and kindness it would be a priest, right? He sees the man, crosses to the other side of the road and just walks on by. He had a job to do, he was ceremonially clean, and he didn’t have time to deal with this situation and then get ceremonially clean again.

The law at the time was looked at as the ‘Be-all, end-all” and it didn’t matter what had to be sacrificed, or what the motivation behind it was. In this case, there would have been no reason, no excuse in the priests’ mind to becoming ceremonially unclean, not even a different Law of God.  If the priest had stopped, the best-case scenario for him was that he would be unclean until the next sundown. That’s assuming he had time to get home and go through the cleansing process. If the body was a dead body and the priest came in contact, he would be unclean for a minimum of 1 week. During these times of being unclean, he would not be able to enter the temple or take part in any of the ceremonies.

However, some also speculate that he knew he was making the wrong decision and that’s one of the reasons why he crossed over to the other side of the road, so that the man would not recognize him if he survived, and this story later got out. Either way, the priest was not willing to take time out of his busy schedule doing God’s work, to be a neighbor to this beaten broken man.

After he passes by, Jesus brings along a Levite down the road. Instead of crossing to the other side of the road, the Levite actually looked at the situation before deciding to continue on his way. Levites were of the same family, in the line of Aaron that the priests were. In modern terms, if the priests were the pastors, the Levites were the elders, the deacons, the worship leaders, or other people in the church that work behind the scenes to keep the church running.

Just like the priest, the Levite knew the Law and had it memorized since he was a young man. He knew the laws about loving your neighbor, which are all throughout the Old Testament. But, for whatever reason, he did not want to take the time and effort to stop and help this man. He looked at the situation and it was very likely that he could see the gravity of the situation, that he could see that the man would surely die if he did not get any help, but also that the man could be saved. The Levite saw what was happening and then crossed over to the other side and passed on by. These men thought they had the duty to not stop and help a dying and beaten man.

James 4:17 tells us, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

 

          Now, the people listening likely thought they knew where this story was going. They probably expected the next one to come along and help the beaten man was going to be a common, everyman Israelite. They thought it was going to be a critique of the religious establishment. Instead, Jesus throws everybody through a loop and has the next guy walking along the path be a Samaritan.

A Samaritan! What is he going to do? Finish the man off? See if the robbers and muggers missed anything? At best, he will just do what the other two did and just pass on by. I mean, he is just a Samaritan.

This was the mindset of the Jews at the time regarding the Samaritans, and vice versa. There is no putting it mildly, they disdained each other.

The Samaritans were partial Jews who had been living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel prior to the Exile in Old Testament times. When the Northern Kingdom was conquered and captured, they intermarried with the culture around them and were often guilty of worshiping false gods and idols.

The Jews looked down on them, mocked them, made jokes at their expense, and this hatred was returned back at the Jews by the Samaritans. When traveling to certain areas of Israel during this time, the quickest, most direct route would be through Samaria, for example from Jerusalem to Nazareth, where Jesus was from, or the Sea of Galilee. Instead of going through Samaria, most Jews went far out of their way, going around the area, adding much time and distance to their journey.

The Jews would say that Samaritans “should be pushed into a ditch and not pulled out.”

So, when a Samaritan comes walking down the path and sees a Jew, beaten and bloody, there is no inclination that he would stop and help.

And yet, he does. He stopped his journey. He bandaged the wounds of this man. Luke, who was a physician, noted that the Samaritan poured oil and wine on the man’s wounds. But he didn’t stop there. He lifted the man up and put him on his own personal donkey and took him to the nearest inn. It was here that he essentially put a down payment and opened up a tab at the inn for whatever the beaten man needed.

The two denarii that the Samaritan gave to the innkeeper would pay for a few weeks of care for the beaten man. Now, we do notice that the Samaritan still had to go about his life. He still had to deal with his own business and take care of his own stuff. But he did that while taken care of and loving this beaten man.

Jesus asks the lawyer in v. 36, “Which of these three, do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

And you can almost hear the contempt and defeat coming out of the lawyer’s mouth when he says in v 37 “The one who had mercy on him.” He couldn’t even refer to him directly, just, “That one…”

 

It hurts, doesn’t it? Those times when unbelievers, atheists, pagans, when they outperform us? When they out compassion us? When they out love us? When they outlive us biblically? That hurts. We don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to see it. We see an unbeliever doing biblical things and we will find a way to deny that it is biblical. We will cover our eyes and see things through the wrong point of view.

We see that throughout the parable that Jesus told. See, each group in this story saw the man who was beaten very differently. The lawyer saw the man as a subject to discuss. The robbers saw the man as someone to use and exploit. To the priest and Levite, the man was someone to avoid at all costs. The innkeeper sees the man as a customer. To the Samaritan, the man was a human being, a man worth caring for and helping, a neighbor.

  The lawyer in this story was full of head knowledge. But he would not see or admit the truth. He knew what the commandments said about loving God and loving neighbors. He knew who his neighbors were. The priest and the Levite in the story, They Knew! They knew that they were supposed to stop and help the man. And yet, they didn’t. Knowledge without application.

James is quite clear in his letter that faith without works is dead.  This if course is not saying that works are necessary for our salvation, but that true faith will produce works. And those good works are a sign of a changed and repentant heart.

Back to the experiment I talked about earlier. They had divided the volunteers into two groups at the start. Everyone heard the Good Samaritan story but only half of the volunteers got something more: time pressure. That group was now facing a dilemma. In order to get their chance at something they really wanted — a chance to be on TV — they would have to hurry. And researchers discovered, that made a big difference in their behavior.

Only about 35 percent of our volunteers in a hurry stopped to help our actors. But almost 80 percent of those who were not rushed stopped to help.

Since the volunteers thought they were rushing in order to do something they thought would be beneficial to them, perhaps it is not surprising that time pressure would influence them. The researchers found that being rushed changed people’s actions. Time pressure was the only significant factor the researchers found that they concluded would determine if a particular volunteer would stop to help a stranger.

Keating says that other research since then has shown that it is possible to make anyone disregard the needs of others if enough pressure is introduced. She concluded that in this experiment, not stopping to help was not an indication at all of whether any particular participant is a good or moral person. She said any of us might act in the same way.

And we do, every day. But we shouldn’t.  Every subject in this experiment knew that the right thing to do was stop. But many of them didn’t. Would we? Do we? I said earlier that the lawyer asked the wrong question. Again, to reiterate, the question was not Who is my neighbor? But should have been, Am I loving my neighbor?

Now, I have had church people who have told that my neighbor is the person sitting next to me in the pew at my church. The only conclusion to draw from this is that the person is doing the same thing as the lawyer in this story, justifying themselves as to who they do and do not have to love.

And yet, the definition according to Jesus, of who is my neighbor, is any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.

 

We need to remember this, “any other person whom we chance to meet.” It doesn’t matter who it is. God put them into our life, into our Day for a reason.  It doesn’t matter if it is someone we know and don’t get along with. It doesn’t matter if it is someone of a different religion, Muslim, Wiccan, Hindu… It doesn’t matter even if they live by different moral codes than the one that God gives to us. It doesn’t matter if they have different political views than us. In other words, it doesn’t matter if they are Republican, Democrat, capitalist, Communist, socialist, fascist.  We are to love them. It’s not a choice available to us to not love them.

But in our minds, we are justifying ourselves, asking, “Do you know how long that would take?” or “But I am on my way to go do this or go do that” “But its inconvenient,” “How much will it cost me?”  I know I do this all the time. But when Jesus said, at the end of v.37, “Go and Do Likewise,” he was not just talking to the lawyer, or to the Pharisees, or to the Jews. He was also talking to us. And the commands he gives to us, they are rarely easy.

One of the aspects that the lawyer missed, is that the law the lawyer referenced earlier was to Love your neighbors as yourself. That doubly shows that the question of “Who is my neighbor?” was an invalid question. If we were beaten, robbed and mugged, how would we want to be treated? Which of these three figures would we want to be the ones to come along? Whatever our answer is, and most of us, if not all, would want someone to act like the Samaritan, stopping to help us, that is how we treat the people we come across in our lives.

I mentioned earlier that each character in the story saw the man who was beaten in a different way. One that I did not yet mention was Jesus. To him each and every character in the story, from the lawyer, to the pharisees, to the priest and the Levite, the innkeeper, the Samaritan and the man who was beaten and robbed, he sees them all the same way, as a sinner in need of a savior, as someone in need of forgiveness and someone who by all objective standards is not worth the time to die for and take care of. It doesn’t cost God anything to not save us. It did cost Jesus his human life to die for us. But, as God, being in complete control, he knew the outcome. He knew that, though we were not worth dying for, the act of dying for us was worth it. There was nothing reckless about Jesus’ love for us. God knows the end of the story and all the outcomes because he wrote the end of the story.

Like the Samaritan, he sees us beaten up by sin, by grace through faith, picks us up and put down a down payment on the price of our sins and has an open tab for us, not matter what it costs to win us, for those that are his, he did it. No one else has been able to do that because no one else was God and man. No one else was able to atone for our sins and offer forgiveness. Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, any other religious figure that people follow, they are the lawyer, the priest and the Levite, unable to help us in our sin. Only one can offer forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Jesus said that He is THE way, THE truth, and THE Life. Paul wrote that God showed us what love was, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Love him, trust him, repent and believe, as Jesus says, and let him show us how to love others.

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 9:43-48 Jesus is the Son of Man The humble are lifted up.

Luke 9:43-48

Jesus is the Son of Man

The humble are lifted up.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you don’t have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Luke chapter 9, as we have seen shows the change in direction of Jesus and his ministry. He has been ministering to the region of Galilee and now, he turns his direction and his eyes to Jerusalem and more specifically, the cross, his death and resurrection.

IT started After Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. We saw it on the Mount of Transfiguration as Jesus spoke to Elijah and Moses. Last week, we saw Jesus, along with Peter, James and John come down off the Mount and walk right into the spiritual warfare that was ramping up in order to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus healed the boy with the unclean spirit and reunited and broken family. We left off with the first half of verse 43, All were astonished at the majesty of God.

Jesus now has some things he wants to say, some things he needs to teach the Apostles. He needs to focus on and focus them on THE Reason for his incarnation, which he is going to remind them of 1st thing here.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, second half of verse 43 through verse 48. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 9:43-48. The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record what we now read:

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus[d] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

 

Thus Says the Word of God.

 

 

So, first thing I want to touch on is the break in the middle of verse 43. I am assuming most Bibles, and at least all the ones I looked at this week have a break in the middle of verse 43, separating it how I did between this week and last week.

I didn’t bring it up last week, and sometimes I won’t, but I wanted to bring it up this week. When we read the Bible, every single word that is in here is inspired and inerrant. As we learned in our CDI class, even the past, present, and future tenses, the plurals and possessives, everything written down in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

However, the chapter numbers and breaks and the verse numbers and breaks are not inspired and inerrant. They were inserted later in history as a helpful means to memorize scripture and to find useful passages. Since they are not inspired, occasionally you find a spot where they don’t make as much sense, or where I would choose a different spot to put a break. Most Bible translators agree that this verse, verse 43, makes more sense broken in half.

 

So, onto the actual text. About a week and a half ago, in the text, Jesus told his disciples that, as the Messiah, he must suffer and die. This was back in Luke 9:21 & 22.

The Apostles didn’t quite understand what Jesus was saying and Peter, so devoted and passionate and wanting to do the will of God, actually started doing the will of Satan, trying to get Jesus to not go to the cross.

Now, between now and then, the disciples saw the transfiguration, they saw Elijah and Moses. They saw Jesus cast out and unclean spirit and they saw the boy healed and reunited with his father.

While still marveling at all that had been seen, at the majesty of God, Jesus shares somethings with his Apostles. He is telling them; this is the reason I am here. Not all these other miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, the power over nature itself. None of that is why he came down from heaven. As Marks Gospel explain, He came down to be a ransom for many. He came down to gives his life for ours. TO pay the penalty for sin that we couldn’t pay.

He tells the Apostles the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. Marks Gospel makes it even clearer, saying The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him.”   He says, “I’m going to be put to death. Remember this.”

There is a direct contrast between the majesty of God, the Glory of God that was just recently seen and the horror and shock and shame of a death on the cross.

The Disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying, no matter how clear he was being. But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

 

          That’s a quadruple negative there by the way. Any time there is repetition in the scriptures, you know that it is important. When its quadrupaly repeated, you know its massively important. As one theologian puts it, the disciples, and all of Israel, were waiting for the royal pomp of the Son of David. They were not prepared or willing to see the Truth about what Jesus needed to do.

God opens and closes the eyes. He is absolutely sovereign, and he is the one who calls us and saves us. But we are also responsible for our actions and decisions. The Apostles here were not willing to look the cross. They were also not willing to ask the questions needed to stretch them and grow them.

God told them clearly, and he also hid it from them, blinded them for the time being. Scriptures often say that Jesus told the disciples things that they would not remember till after the resurrection. They just couldn’t and wouldn’t tie the suffering servant from Isaiah to the coming Messiah until after the cross when their eyes were opened.

 

The Disciples were scared to ask. It should be clear that they didn’t misunderstand what Jesus said, meaning they didn’t think they understood and understood wrong. They knew they didn’t understand, and they were unwilling to ask.

Maybe they were scared of looking foolish. Maybe they held to the old lawyer’s adage, Never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to. Maybe their pride was just too much for them to realize they were wrong on things.

The Pride aspect makes sense because that’s what we see Jesus’ address next. While the previous few sections were very specific in their timing, verse 46 shows us in nonspecific timing. Luke pairs them together, not because they occurred one after the other, which they may have, but it seems Luke pairs them together because it reiterates a point.

While the Apostles didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, it may have gotten them thinking about down the road, when Jesus would be reigning as the Christ.

They were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. In that day status was all about who you were associated with and who you were attached to. If you were attached to someone great and important then it means you too must be great and important.

Now, some ambition is good. We all rightly want our life to matter. We all rightly want to make a difference, to do good for the kingdom of God. We all want our lives to not be wasted. But in doing so, we so often focus on the wrong reasons, the wrong methods, and so on.

And in doing so, our pride starts to grow. We are important. God can’t do it without us. He needs our permission to work. He needs our permission to save. We become like Cats. Let me explain, or better yet, Ill let Kent Hughes explain. He writes:

Consider the difference between dogs and cats. The master pets a dog, and the dog wags its tail and thinks, “He must be God.” The master pets his cat and the cat purrs, shuts its eyes and thinks to itself, “I must be God.” After God has graciously reached down to us, there is a perverse human tendency to think like the cat!

 

He continues later:

We may not think, “I must be God,” but we do silently imagine, “I must be pretty good.” We become proud of our apparent sanctification, our knowledge of the Bible, our evangelical routines. After all, we understand the mysteries of grace, while the unregenerate dolts around us have no clue. We become proud of our spirituality.

 

Hughes has a point. We start to become proud of ourselves and the spiritual growth that takes place in our lives. The very things that allowed us to come to Christ and put our faith and trust in Him, the humility and humbleness that allows ourselves to see our sins and our true identity, that all falls away. We are saved by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. As Jonathon Edwards says, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sins the made it necessary. We have nothing to do with our salvation. And yet, we often take too much pride in our salvation as if it was something we accomplished.

Jesus sees this pride growing in his disciples and he brings a child to his side as an illustration. Children in that day were considered unimportant. They were not useful to one’s status.

And yet, what Jesus is showing as, as one commentator points out, there is glory in receiving, in caring for, in holding, in teaching and in nurturing children. We can see Christ in children, and we are to be concerned with them and to take their lowly positions for ourselves. Jesus himself came not to be served but to serve.

We are called in scripture to have a child like faith, but never a childish faith. This means that we are to trust in God the Father just as our kids implicitly trust us as his parents. And that reminds us that there is a huge difference between believing in God and believing God.

RC Sproul writes: That’s what Jesus is saying: “Trust me! You can’t believe in me and then not trust Me.” That’s what faith is. Its trust. And so he says, “He who is least among you all,”—by which he means he who is most trusting— “is the one who is great.”

I think its interesting that Jesus doesn’t say the greatest, but great. Even when telling us how to be great, by being the least, he makes it clear that this is not a competition. He makes sure to remove any obstacles to allow us to get our heart in the wrong position.

 

 

Service, humility, humbleness, not thinking too highly of ourselves. These are the characteristics that Christ is calling us to.  JC Ryle writes, “Of all creatures, none has so little right to be proud as man, and of all men, none ought to be so humble as the Christian.

         

Jesus here is showing us what is called the upside-down Kingdom. To be first, you must be last. To be first, you must be a servant to all. You are to serve each other. You are to serve others with humility and humbleness. You are to be a servant. Jesus came as a Servant Savior.

We are called to serve, to think of others as better than ourselves. Jesus here is not talking about how to become a Christian. You do not become a Christian by serving, by doing good works, by being a good person, by anything that you do. Instead, he is talking about how you live after you are a Christian. You serve.

Are you serving? Some of you are. Some of your service is absolutely vital to this church’s door staying open. But this is a question for each of us to ask ourselves deep in our heart. Are you serving? This involves so many different aspects of our life.

Are you serving your wife? Loving your wife as Christ loves the church. Are you serving you husband? Are you serving your children? Your parents? Are you serving your community? Are you serving your neighbors? Are you serving your church? Jesus’ church?

You were created to worship, and part of worship is serving. You are called to serve. Are you filling your calling?

This Upside-down Kingdom goes against everything this world holds in high esteem. Jesus is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of LORDS. He is the Son of God, God himself. He is a Warrior King. He is the first born of all creation. He is the fulfillment of all the scriptures. And he was born a lowly baby and died a shameful death on the cross. He touched and healed lepers. He ate with outcasts. He had in his group repentant sinners. He calls sinners to repent and fought against the injustice of the powerful. But he rose again and defeated death, ascended into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the father, ready to come again, where every single knee will bow and every single tongue will confess that he is LORD.

The Kingdom is in place, but it is upside down from what we expect.

One theologian writes:

One of the most challenging concepts of the Kingdom of God is that what we celebrate as people on earth is often of little value in the Kingdom, and vice-versa. Jesus’ teaching, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, is at odds with much of human wisdom. Jesus’ establishment of his Kingdom through death rather that human strength is a foolish stumbling block to our world. The elevation of the week and foolish as well as celebrating personal weakness and God’s power makes no sense to a world that celebrates power and wisdom.

The nature of the Kingdom of God is radically different than any human kingdom. All the human attributes that are valued in our world are of little account in the Kingdom. And the attributes valued in the Kingdom are typically discounted in our world. We will never, on our own, know or enter the Kingdom. It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we can be a part of his kingdom.

 

 

WE are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Not through anything we have done, not through anything we can or could do, so that none of us can brag or boast. But through and in Christ alone.

 

Let’s Pray.

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.

 

 

                            

2 Corinthians 2 Mans wisdom vs Gods Wisdom

 

Scripture Reading/ Call to Worship:

1 Corinthians 1:18-31:

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

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

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 

Sermon Scripture:

 

And I, when I came to you, brothers,[a] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony[b] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men[c] but in the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.[d]

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.