Luke 9:57-62 Jesus is the Son of Man Denying Self

Luke 9:57-62

Jesus is the Son of Man

Denying Self

          All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9.  This week we finally finish up looking through Luke 9. We have been in Luke 9 for almost two months.

And a lot has happened in those two months, covering, before today, 56 verses. Jesus sent out the 12 Apostles to spread the word and perform miracles, healings, signs and wonders. Even Herod heard about this Jesus fellow. The crowds following Jesus grew and grew.

Sometimes the crowds were too large, and they didn’t bring food with them. We saw Jesus use 5 loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of 5000 men, likely 15-20000 people total.

And then a gradual turning point. First, Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. In this, Jesus first tells his followers, specifically the inner circle, the 12, that the Messiah must suffer, be rejected and die and then he will raise from the dead. They didn’t fully understand this, but Jesus knew that.

Jesus then brought the inner three, Peter and James and John, the Sons of Zebedee, up on to a mount where they witnessed Jesus shining like the sun, God’s glory and radiance reflecting off of him.  While they were up there, they also saw Elijah and Moses, and Jesus spoke to them about his upcoming journey and mission, heading to Jerusalem to be crucified.

When they come down off the mount, Jesus helped heal a boy who was suffering from what appears to be epilepsy that was being triggered by an unclean spirit. The disciples had been unable to do this because of their lack of faith. Jesus then reminds them that he will be headed to Jerusalem so that he will be handed over to men and killed. Again, the disciples didn’t quite understand what Jesus was saying.

The disciples decided not to focus on that part and, due to their pride, started arguing and excluding other groups of followers and wanting to punish and exclude those who rejected Jesus. So, Jesus rebuked their pride and showed how destructive that sin can be. A key verse, that will drive us through the next 10 chapters or so is in Luke 9:51, where Luke says that Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Jesus’ focus is changed and now that he knows that his focus is on the culmination of his purpose, and will spend the next 10 chapters continually travelling, Jesus is also focusing on making disciples and preparing them, training them for after he leaves them.

SO, on that note, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 57 through 62. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I do encourage you to grab your Bible, whatever the translation and follow along as we read the Word of God.

Luke 9:57-62, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke writes:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus[g] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

So, Jesus is walking and travelling and visiting towns and villages along the way. As he is doing so, people wanted to come and join him. Some would just follow the crowd. They wanted to see the pageantry and the miracles and to be a prat of something that everyone was talking about. But some actually wanted to join Jesus. But what we are looking at this morning is the people who want to join Jesus on their own terms. Jesus makes it quite clear, “Nope. That’s not how this works. Not gonna happen. It’s not about you!”

Luke shows us three instances where Jesus corrects this misunderstanding to the people in front of him and the people around him. Wholehearted, complete dedication, or nothing.

We start in v 57, with a gentleman coming up to Jesus, initiating the conversation. Jesus! I will follow you everywhere! The definition of easier said than done.

Jesus knows us better than ourselves. He basically says to the guy. No, no you won’t. To follow me, will be inconvenient and uncomfortable. He knows our strengths and weaknesses; He knows when we are sincere.

So often we might think we are sincere. And yet, as we see in the parable of the 4 seeds, we can fall away when things get tough, when the weeds choke us out, when the thorns get in the way or when we have no roots. Jesus knows this.

He says even the animals have homes. I have no home, no place to rest my had. Now, we know this doesn’t mean that every single night that Jesus sleeps with a rock as a pillow. We know he sometimes stays with Peter and his mother-in-law; he finds rest and rejuvenation with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But he has no place to call his own and from one day to the next. Each day is an unknown. No comfort, no stability, no assurance. We don’t know what he is going to ask us to go without or to give up. But he will require sacrifice and he does require us to put him before our own comforts.

James Boice superficially reassures us when he writes: It is true that Jesus may never ask us to break with our families for his sake or sell all we have and give it to the poor in order to follow. Indeed, in the great majority of the cases, this is not required at all. But we must be willing to obey in these or any other areas if Jesus asks it, and we must actually do it if he does.

          We are called to trust and obey. And most of all, to be willing to obey. Tim Keller calls comfort the God of this age. And that tends to be the thing that we will hold on to the tightest. We will hold onto our comfort with closed, tight fists. And that is the last thing we will want to give up. We will follow Jesus all the way, right up until the point we need to be uncomfortable. Right up until we are pulled out of our comfort zone. WE see that in a different part of the Gospels when the rich young ruler follows all the commands of God and is generous with his money but refuses to put Jesus ahead of his wealth. He follows Jesus right up until the point where he wasn’t comfortable anymore.

Next, Jesus invites someone to follow him. The response he gets is Let me first go and bury my dad.

Well, that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Except that the man’s dad isn’t dead yet. He might not even be old and infirm yet. How do we know this? Part of it is because of the customs of the dead. Jewish custom was to bury the dead within 24 hours of the death. If this mans Dad was dead, he would be too busy making arrangements to bury his dad to be talking to Jesus.

Sure, the man wanted to keep the 5th commandment, Honor your mother and father. But the man was really saying, wait until I get everything sorted out and situated, wait until I have no more distractions and then, of course I will follow you.

We are, of course, called to take care of our parents. As they take care of us in our infant days, we are to provide and take care of our parents as they age and become unable to take care of themselves. But we are not to use our parents as a reason not to obey and follow God when he calls us.

And we are not to make excuses and put things in front of God, even good things. Often, good things, wonderful things are the things that keep us from following Jesus. But my family… But my kids… But my job… But my home…

 

This man is saying, after these distractions are gone, after my folks die and I have nothing tying me down and keeping me here, then Ill follow you, Jesus.

Jesus tells him that he is to be THE top priority. Leave the dead to bury the dead. He is saying, let the spiritually dead people focus on the other spiritually dead people. They will focus and the things of their world instead of the things of God.

On the other hand, those who are spiritually alive will focus on the Kingdom of God, on the things above this world. There are many things that can be left in the hands of unbelievers, however, following Jesus and spreading the message of the Gospel is not one of those things. As one commentator says, “The demand of the Kingdom overrides all earthly loyalties.”

The last instance of these three, the man says, I will follow you, but first, let me go say goodbye to everyone. Again, sounds reasonable on the surface. But this reads to me, as I’m not ready to follow you yet. I need to go live life first, sow my wild oats, live it up and all that. Ill have time later in life to make that decision. I still have time to have plenty of fun and commit plenty of sins before I have to be forgiven. I can even wait till I’m on my death bed and then follow or trust in Christ.

 

This shows a heart that rebels against God. This shows that this guy was not ready or willing to trust and follow Jesus. There is no later in this. My great uncle was a priest, and he was fond of saying, “God always promises to forgive us, but he never promises us tomorrow.” We never know if there will be second chances. Because we don’t know when our time is up. Once our time is up, there are no more second chances. Today is the day of salvation. If you have not trusted Christ, there is no better time than now. There may be no other time than now.

 

In verse 62, Jesus makes it clear that we follow Jesus, and we don’t look back. He uses the analogy of plowing a field. IF you plow a field and you look behind you, your rows will not run straight, you will plow crooked lines.

So, when we follow Christ, we do so full speed ahead, no looking back.

There is no, “I miss sleeping around.”

There is no, “I miss getting drunk.”

There is no, “I miss cursing, smoking, doing drugs,” whatever it is that we leave behind when we follow Christ.

 

God is enough, Jesus changes our desires, our wants. Jesus changes, to a point, our likes and dislikes. We are New Creations in Christ. Sometimes those changes come fast and immediate and sometimes they come slowly over time. SO, if you are struggling with what I just mentioned, I don’t want you to come down to hard on yourself.

But it is also a truth that needs to be heard. Jesus saves us where we are in our sins, but he does not allow us to stay where we are in our sins. When we are in Christ, if we are following Christ, we will grow in spiritual maturity. We will grow in our relationship with Him. We will be and continue to be sanctified. WE will put sin to death, and we will desire new things, Godly things instead of worldly things.

Paul makes this progression and the directions that we grow clear in Galatians 5. In verses 16-24, he writes:

 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

 

          We want comfort, we want security. We want the familiar and family. We want attention, we want to be noticed. We want gratitude. We want all these things, none of which are bad in and of themselves, but they so often get in the way of us and Jesus.

Instead, Jesus says I am enough. Follow me. Keep your head down. Do your work. Trust me. Keep your eyes on me. The author of Hebrews tells us that we are to be looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

 

          One commentator recounts a story of John Wesley. He writes: John Wesley once gave some helpful advice to people who wanted to know how to follow Jesus. He said: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”

         

 

          Jesus shows us that he is not calling us to do anything that he is not already doing as well. He has given up everything. He left ruling and reigning in heaven. He gave up comfort and security to be born a human man here on earth. He gave up everything in order to do the Fathers will.

Now he calls us to do the same. Not necessarily to give everything up, but to hold it all with an open hand. We are to be willing to give up everything at the drop of a hat, if Christ calls us to.

He demands obedience, loyalty and commitment. No half-hearted following. No partially committed. No divided loyalties.

Christ or nothing. If you are not fully devoted to him, there are a lot of other hobbies that will be more fulfilling than Church and the Bible. If you are fully devoted to Christ, there is nothing more fulfilling than Christ and the Bible, and his bride, the church.

Jesus calls us to choose. Him or ourselves. Us or Christ.

 

To finish us off, C S Lewis wrote:

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 9:49-56 Jesus is the Son of Man Pride disrupts Unity.

Luke 9:49-56

Jesus is the Son of Man

Pride disrupts Unity.

 

All right let’s grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

So, we have been looking at some of Jesus’ teachings over the past couple weeks. And while they have greatly varied on their details and their subjects, the themes underneath them has remained remarkably consistent.  Pride, disunity, and the link between them, And Jesus as the source of everything; our salvation, our unity, our humility, our righteousness.

Jesus is going to double down on those themes in our passage this week. We warned, especially last week, of the sin of prideful exclusion; the idea that because I am saved, because I am a Christian, even because God saved me, that I am better than those around me who aren’t.

We are going to see two examples this morning of Jesus addressing the disciples doing exactly this. They fell into the trap that only my way of following Jesus is the right and acceptable way. Only my way of doing baptism, doing communion, the style of music, only my way of doing those is the right way.

Jesus shows us that this could not be further from the truth.

Let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 49-56. As usual Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though it doesn’t matter if you have ESV, New American Standard, King James, New King James, NIV, New Living or whatever else, all pf them Are the Word of God.

Luke 9:49-56, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following:

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[e] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[f] 56 And they went on to another village.

God Bless the reading of his Word.

 

 

Now, the first incident here, the first few verses are in direct response to the last few verses, which we looked at last week. Jesus heard the disciples arguing about which among them was the greatest. They were competing because they were traveling with and therefore associated with Jesus. IN those days, much like today, of you are associated with someone great, someone with great power and influence, then you too will be considered great and will have some power and some influence.

Jesus makes it clear that there is no “greatest.” In his kingdom. All who are the least of them in this life, on this world will be great in his Kingdom. All who receive and call on the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, will be great.

Jesus lets them know this and John steps in and speaks to Jesus. Many commentators attribute many different tones to John’s question here. Confusion, anger, dismissiveness, arrogance. We do know that John during the time of Jesus earthly ministry, as we see in both these stories today, was just as impulsive and wild with his tongue as Peter.

He says, Master, someone else, not from our group, not from our church were doing things in your name. We tried to stop them because they are NOT part of our group, not part of our circle right here.

Here’s the thing. There are boundaries and borders that we have to defend. Not everyone who says the word God or says the name Jesus knows the true and biblical Jesus. And Jesus is the only way to salvation. So, we have to make sure we understand biblically, what we fight for, what we defend against, and what we accept, and we agree to disagree.

One pastor I listened to used this analogy that I will paraphrase and probably misquote to the point he wouldn’t even recognize. But he said, your local church is like your city. Your city is a group of somewhat or mostly likeminded people who gather together within the state. Now, with rural community churches, the amount of the like mindedness might be less that other types of churches, but still.

Now, denominations and groupings of churches are like the state. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and so on. These are all different states. There are distinctions, there are differences, they do certain things different ways, and they believe different things about some of the secondary issues. If you live in an area with options, you will study with the differences are in these different denominations, or different associations and so on, and choose which state you align more with.

Every one of these states is within the confines of the country. Everyone of these states holds to an orthodox view of Christianity, Jesus and the Bible. We would not agree about everything with each different state, but we would stand together with them against other countries.

The country is true Christianity. The country is a right view of Jesus and who he is. Fully God, fully man. God himself. The Son of God. Virgin Birth. Sinless life. Put to death on the cross. Paid for our sins. Took the wrath from God that we deserved. Rose from the dead, defeating death and sin. Ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father until he returns to judge all of humanity and recreated the heavens and the Earth.

The country is a right view of Gods Word. That it is inspired. That it is inerrant. That it means what it says and that it says what it means. God is all knowing, all powerful, all times. He is the creator of all that exists. He is Holy and just and good. He is Holy and punishes sin. He so loved the world that he sent his Son, Jesus. And Jesus shows us love, in that while we were yet, sinners, he died for us.

Those are the National borders of Christianity. Those are the things we will rally around and those are the things that we will defend. Opposing views on those are other countries and are outside historical, biblical, true Christianity.

The idea that Jesus was God but not man. The idea that Jesus was man and not God. The idea that Jesus was an angel or any sort of created being. The idea that he didn’t die on the cross. The idea that he didn’t rise from the dead. The idea that we don’t need him to die for our sins. The idea that the Bible is a bunch of good moral lessons. The idea that the Bible is a parable for life.

These are things that are not Christianity and that we do have to fight against.

But within those borders, we band together. With those borders, we stand united, and we allow those who are following Jesus differently than we understand to continue to do so and praise God that we are not Stepford Christians.

Jesus tells John here, do not stop them. One who is not against you is for you. The disciples seem to be protective and jealous of what they were empowered to do by Jesus. They didn’t want anyone else to be able to do it, because that would take away from them, from their ministry, from their influence and their greatness.

I love how Kent Hughes writes about Jesus’ response to John. He says:

Jesus desires his followers to have an open heart, not an exclusive heart. Let’s be like Jesus.!

He then lists examples from the Bible itself, writing:

When Joshua rushed to Moses to warn him that some elders named Eldad and Medad were preaching and thus stealing some of Moses prominence, Moses gave the big-hearted reply, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29)

          While in “the slammer” in Rome, Paul learned that rival preachers were seizing the opportunity for self-promotion. His noble response? “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) Or consider Jonathon, next in line to be king according to human reason, but who “made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4) Or John the Baptist who responded to Jesus’ ascendance by saying, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heave…He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)

 

          Do you see the point that he is making here? It is not about us. At all. Its all about Jesus. And there are simply two options. With Jesus or against Jesus. And Jesus makes clear in Matthew 7, that some who think they are with Jesus are wrong. They are actually against Jesus.

But that’s getting slightly off topic. Jesus points here. With him or against him. Those who are not against him are for him. And we should support and not limit or restrict those who are for him, no matter what group or city or state they are in, because we are all within the same country. The Jesus States of Heaven.

Now, Luke pivots and makes a brief mention that changes the trajectory of the next 10 chapters of his Gospel. When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

          Luke does, of course, take his time, be he shows that Jesus knows what’s coming and has turned his focus on going towards Jerusalem and fulfilling his reason for descending from Heaven, and becoming a man. From here on out, he was perpetually traveling, no time to dawdle. He is always on the move.

Now, those who were traveling with Jesus were many. And they would overwhelm a village if they showed up out of nowhere. Most villages would not have the resources or the lodging to support such a large travelling caravan.

So, messengers were sent out ahead. They were to visit the towns ahead of time, let people know he was coming and prepare food, lodging, etc. In this instance, they came to a Samaritan village. This village did not offer hospitality to Jesus and his entourage, who were Jewish. This is obviously a part of the whole Jewish/Samaritan hatred that run deep, deeper than small town family feuds. We will get into all that in a few weeks. Suffice it to say, you will have to trust me that there was no love lost between the Samaritans and the Jews.

Most commentators will take this moment to point out another theme we see in Luke’s Gospel specifically and in the Gospels of Jesus life in General. As RC Sproul writes:

Where was he received? He was thrown out of Galilee. They wouldn’t accept him in Judea. The Samaritans rejected Him. The Geresenes expelled him. Everywhere he went, he was unwelcome.

 

As Peter writes in his first letter, The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.

 

 

          James and John, the Sons of Zebedee were also nicknamed the Sons of Thunder and we see why here. When the Samaritan village rejected Jesus, they wanted to go Ballistic. LORD, should we reign fire down on them?

There are obvious allusions here to 1 Kings chapter 18, where Elijah reigns down fire on the prophets of Baal. And this reaction by James and John can be somewhat understandable, sort of, maybe?

This village rejected Jesus. They rejected the Messiah. Plus, or maybe even worse in the eyes of the disciples, they weren’t Jewish. They were in another country, to use the analogy we used earlier. And countries go to war with other countries.

Now, yes, we are to go nuclear on the sin in our lives. Jesus tells us that its better to cut off our hands or gouge out our eyes instead of letting sin run wild through our bodies and our lives. His point is to show how contagious and quick spreading sin is. It really is a cancer, and it will grow unimpeded, often times without us even knowing it’s there, if we do not cut it out of our bodies.

But in society, there is a call for a more nuanced approach. Yes, we are called to stand against it and to preach the truth. However, Paul makes it clear that we are to speak the truth in love and that ultimately, Jesus is the judge who will determine guilt and innocence. He is the one who will suss out the righteous and the unrighteous.  And he is the one who will dole out perfect and final justice. And there will be final and eternal punishment for those who reject Christ. But that is for him to deal with, not us.

And so, Jesus rebukes James and John. This is not who we deal with people. Christians are called to love, not retaliate, and certainly not to preemptively strike. The disciples thought that since they were a part of Jesus followers, that they had the right, the authority and the responsibility to dole out punishment and justice wherever they saw fit, especially to those who were not followers of Jesus.

There is that prideful exclusivity we were talking about. First, if someone else is doing good work, but not part of our group, they are not really true Christians, or they are not as good as us. Leave the hard work, leave the real work to us. Second, if they are going to reject us and therefore, reject Christ, then we need to blow everything up and go scorched earth, playing Judge, jury and in this example, literally, executioner.

Notice what Jesus does about the Samaritan village. He doesn’t say, No don’t reign fire down on them, that’s my job. He doesn’t take it upon himself to punish the village. He passes it by and moves on to another village.

See, in case there is any misunderstanding, Jesus is not condoning and approving of the village rejecting him when he tells the disciples to not reign down fire. Sometimes, we fight, sometimes we preach, sometimes… sometimes we shake off the dust from our feet, wash our hands of the situation and move on.

We can’t fight every battle of every single sin and every single approval and support of sin that we see. We just finished “Pride month.” Pride, in any and all forms is a very destructive sin. Pride in our personal sins, especially when we don’t see them as sins, is the most destructive of all.

Pride creates disunity. Pride made the disciples want to stop the other group of people from doing work in Jesus’ name. Pride makes us want to reign fire on unbelievers and sinners. Pride makes us unforgiving. It makes us not forget slights and insults. It makes us hold on to grudges and to think negatively about others. It causes us to forget that all human beings, both Gods children and those who reject him are created in God’s image. It makes us forget that we are to love one another and others, and what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Though it fits, the context here is not romantic love. Instead, the word used here is Agape, pure love. The love we are called to love one another. Pride blocks this love. Pride gets in the way of love. Pride gets in the way of unity.

 

And we are called to unity. We don’t have to all agree on every single point on the checklist of theological beliefs and traditions. We don’t have to agree on all points. But if, as we established earlier, we are all citizens of the same country, in this case, the kingdom of God, then we are all one in Christ. Ephesians 4:4-6, There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

 

          One, one one. We are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. And today, being the first Sunday of the month, we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

Now, I ask that if you are not a Christian, if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, please just pass the elements along. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing special about it for those who do not believe that Jesus Christ gave his broken body and his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There will be no pressure and no judgment.

stemming from that, Communion does not save us, it does not cleanse us, it does not do anything along those lines. It has no power to keep us clean or to restore our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. This was given to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering. Remembering who Jesus was. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering how much he loved us and remembering just how big of a deal our sin really is. It is meant to be sobering and somber, but at the same time it is meant to be a celebration.

Thirdly, we are told that we need to come and participate with the right heart. As I said, we do this in remembrance of what he gave up for us, the sacrifice he made. We do this because we remember how big of a deal our sin is, that he died on the cross for it. We need to make sure that our hearts and minds have their hearts set on what’s important and that we seek God’s forgiveness and make our relationships are right with him. In addition to a tradition becoming too important and placed above the word of God, tradition can become bad is by it losing its meaning and becoming simply a ritual. Please take some of this time to reflect on what this tradition means and to make sure that you are prepared to receive. There will never be any judgment if you choose not to participate, and just pass the plate.

Paul recounts to the church in Corinth what I now tell you as well, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:

 

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

          We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Luke 9:43-48 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.

 

 

                            

Luke 9:10-17 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus feeds the 5000.

Luke 9:10-17

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus feeds the 5000.

 

All right, let’s go ahead and grab our Bibles. Turn with me to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands.

We are walking through the Gospel of Luke, who has travelled with Paul, as his personal physician. He has heard Paul’s stories, he has heard Paul’s teachings, he has heard the Gospel and the stories of Jesus life and ministry. And now, he has gone back and investigated them, he has interviewed the people who were there, the eyewitnesses and he has confirmed everything that he now writes down in his Gospel.

Luke has been and will continue to record some of the miracles thar Jesus preformed in the early part of his ministry. We have seen the casting out of demons. We have seen Jesus teaching the Word of God with authority. We have seen Jesus heal sicknesses and diseases. And we have seen him bring people back to life after they have died.

And we remember the purpose for these miraculous signs and wonders is twofold. First is, as all things created are designed to do, is to bring glory and honor to God. Second, and more specific the Jesus earthly ministry is that these miracles were done to confirm the authenticity of Jesus Word, which was the very Word of God. These miracles were done by Jesus to show people that the Gospel is true.

Today we are going to look at one of the more famous miracles that Jesus performed. Along with the miracle of Jesus resurrection, thus is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. Today we will be looking at Luke chapter 9, verses 10 through 17, Luke’s telling of the feeding of the 5000.

I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, as always and I greatly encourage you to read along in your preferred translation, reading for yourself, not relying solely on me, but reading the Word for yourself.

So, Luke 9:10-17, Luke inspired by the Holy Spirit records:

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

 

So, we pick up with the Apostles coming back from their missions trip essentially. And they were so excited to tell him all about it, from the looks of it they just started talking all over each other as soon as the get to him. I picture this seen kind of like when you go pick someone up from the airport that was on an amazing vacation, maybe you haven’t seen them for a long time. You meet them at the gate, and they stop when they get to you and just start telling you all about it.

When that happens, what do you do? You try to either get them to walk with you to a different location, your car, your house, whatever.  Or move them off to the side so that you can hear all about the trip and they don’t have to wait to tell you.

That’s what Jesus does here with the Apostles. He tells them “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” The Apostles had just gotten back from a long, busy journey. Jesus had compassion on them and wanted them to rest, to sit and eat. So, they get onto a boat, once again finding solitude and rest away from the crowds, once again on or by the sea.

This is mentioned over and over again in the scriptures. When that happens, it happens for a reason. God tells us to spend time in rest. He tells us to spend time I solitude. He tells us to spend time alone with him. Time alone with Jesus. Time alone with the Bible, his word to us.

Have you found a place that you are able to be alone with him? Is it a spot in your home? A chair or a room or whatever. Is it a spot on your property? Maybe you are lucky enough to have a nice, quiet view. Maybe your porch. Or is it somewhere else. Maybe looking out at the lake. Maybe in the woods. Maybe its running or working out. Maybe its yard work or gardening. So, Jesus and the disciples went off in the boat alone, and heading to a desolate place where they could sit and rest and talk. But, as we saw last week, Jesus was becoming famous. People were flocking to him.

 

Mark tells us in his telling of this story, in Mark 6:34, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”

          This verse kills me. Jesus saw this crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a Sheppard. They were waiting to be herded. And he began to teach them many things.

Human beings are made like sheep in many ways. We are all looking for a Sheppard to lead us. And without one, we are really stupid, and will run toward danger, get caught in snares, unable to rescue ourselves. We all know there is something more than ourselves out there. We see it all around us. Paul tells us in the book of Romans, Chapter 1, verses 19 & 20:

 

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse

 

Now he is talking about specifically people who have rejected God, but he is also talking about human beings in general. God made us to look towards him, to be incomplete without him. And we feel this inside of us. We were made to worship. We were made to have something lead us, herd us like a Sheppard does with his sheep.

Think about the people in the world today. They are looking, they are searching and reaching out. They feel, they know, there is something more out there. We see this in culture and in society. We see that it is full of signs where people catch glimpses of the God of the universe, or his Son or his creation, and they just miss the truth in it, or they miss what it really means. But themes in art and music and TV and Movies, many of them point straight at Jesus. We see ideas that people have, we see the way people lift up others and it should all point right at Jesus. And we completely miss it.

We worship creation instead of the creator. We worship championship athletes instead of he who created sports. We worship our political parties, expecting our choice for office to save us, if only the other side would just get out of the way. But we worship them, looking to them to save us instead of towards the King of Kings who is our savior. We see these partial, incomplete glimpses that point us to all powerful, all knowing, all good, all just, all merciful and loving Lord of Lords, creator of the universe. And we settle for whatever is placed in front of us.

There are two examples I want to give you. First is a personal example Hope shares. There was a time that she was questioning her faith.  She still believed in God, but was questioning the deity of Jesus, and walking away from Christianity, so she started to attend the local Jewish temple.  She was drawn back to a fervent love of Jesus at Temple of all places. It was there that she saw how clearly everything pointed to Jesus. All the prophecies that they would mention, all the waiting that they were doing, all the traditions and festivals they were celebrating, all such clear pictures of Jesus, how He was the answer to all their efforts and prayers. and It reaffirmed her faith and it broke her heart that they couldn’t see it.

The second example I want to give you is a commercial I saw a few years ago. It was a craftsman commercial. It may have been a Superbowl commercial, I honestly don’t remember.

Here is a portion of the transcript from that commercial, and pay attention to the language:

Our Fire to create is not lost. Nor can it ever be extinguished. Our passion to make is part of us. And needs only be fueled again. For we were born to make. Mold, build, shape, transform, incredible things. Coursing through our veins, the urge to create something out of nothing, and build a legacy for us all

Do you see this language? “Our fire to create,” “the urge to create something out of nothing,” “build a legacy for us all.” This is biblical, godly language. This commercial recognizes that we have these desires, these fires, these passions inside of us, built in. But before we are transformed by the Holy Spirit, we don’t give these things the right credit. We don’t give the credit for these passions, these instincts, these things inside of us, we don’t give the credit to God. We give it to nature and evolution, or we give it to human nature. We were built in the likeness of a creative, powerful God, and we trade that for copying the world.  God made us to be like him.  And as we just read in Romans, God has revealed himself to us. He has made himself know in his creation, so that when we look and when we reach out, it is to him. He is what we see.   If a craftsman commercial can see what we were made for, then we should as well.

 

 

 

The crowds were with Jesus, listening to him for the whole day and it was starting to get late. The Disciples were trying to think practically. They cared for the crowd and they knew that there was nowhere for them to sleep if they stay nor was there any food for them to eat. They wanted the crowd to be able to eat.

But the disciples are real people. And it seems that everything the do good or say right, they end up messing up and undoing all the good that they had just learned. We see them continue to give Jesus advise and suggestions on how to handle various situations.

Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I know I’m just as imperfect as the disciples. I think this is a tendency that we tend to fall into in our prayers sometimes, or more than sometimes of you are me. “God, if you would just do this…” “God, this isn’t working out the way I think it should…” We think we know enough to know the ways that God will work and the timing in which he will do it.

Jesus aint having that. He looks at the disciples and tells them, “YOU feed them.” I think there is a dual meaning to what Jesus is saying here. The Disciples saw a need, had compassion and tried to find someone who could fix the problem, someone who could provide for the needs that they saw. The disciples saw that these people needed to eat and wanted to send them to the supermarket or a deli or whatever.

One commentator shares the lesson he sees in this verse, writing, “As a Pastor, I am often asked by concerned parties to intervene and counsel some friend or relative. I usually say “No. God sent that person to you, not to me. Let’s talk about how you can provide the necessary help.” Invariably they find that they do have the insight and authority to deal with that troubled person. Jesus says to the disciples here, and to us, to believe that God has given us the resources to meet the needs with which we are presented.

 

          God puts specific people in our path, in our lives for specific reasons. And we are put into other peoples lives for a reason. But you are put into peoples lives in order to help them and to be a blessing to them. Sometimes, instead of spending so much time looking for other people help someone you know is in need, sometimes, you just need to step up and help.

Now, that is not a one size fits all rule either. Because we see the other thing that happens when Jesus tells the disciple that they should feed them. They know they are not able. They tell him, there is no way we can feed them. We don’t have the ability, the resources, the food or the money not feed all these people.

So even when we are put into the lives of people to help them in their time of need, we also need to realize and recognize that any help we do provide is not through our power and ability, but through Gods. It is through Gods grace and Gods goodness not our own.

So, Jesus shows the disciples that they are to feed those who are hungry right now and also that they do not have the ability to succeed with out Jesus power. Now, I mentioned at the beginning some of the types of miracles that the disciples had been witness to so far in Jesus’ ministry. Creating food out of nothing was not one of them. Feeding 5000 people, which is a misnomer by the way. The 5000 number is the official count, but in that time, they only counted the Men, so that is not counting the women and children. Scholars estimate a total of 15000-20000 mouths to feed there. But my point is that the miracle they were about to see was not something that they previously seen and therefore wouldn’t have expected.

He spends the day teaching them many things. He does this and he fulfills our spiritual needs. He teaches us, he takes time to be with us, spending all day with us. And then he goes and fills our physical needs. This group and 5000 men and countless women and children spent all day out in the middle of nowhere listening to Jesus

How would they eat this evening? Would they have the energy or the money to go to town and get something to eat? Or would jesus be their Shepard and provide for their physical needs. The disciples mention that they have 5 loaves and two fish. Not big french bagguettes and fresh caught Salmon, it is much more likely these would be more along the lines of big crackers and sardines.

 

We like shiny magic tricks. We like reasonable, logical explanations that take away the supernatural. We try to imitate them. Moses went into Pharoahs court and performed miracles. Then Pharahs advisors perform their own “miracles” or magic tricks or whatever they were.

But Jesus did not perform “magic tricks.” Jesus did not pre hide some food at this location and pass it out. The situation was not made up or exagerated. He fed these 20,000 people with a few crackers and sardines and had more left over than before they started. He performed bona fide supernatural miracles, proving the authority he had over reality itself. Jesus gave them, not only just what they needed, but he gave in abundance, so much so that the disciples collected 12 baskets full of pieces of the loaves and fishes. \

Now, there are many ways that people try to explain this miracle away. Just watch any program on the History Channel or A&E or whatever that they make on the Bible and its stories. You will always see someone on their explaining away the miracles in a scientific manner or moral manner.

Some say that Jesus knew they would be there and hid some food aside. Some say that some brought food and the miracle was that Jesus convinced everyone to share with those who had none. All the different theories have one thing in common, they eliminate the supernatural, insisting on only being able to explain things via the natural. The test is very clear what happened here. There is no other explanation for what happened if you are going to say that you are a Christian.

Jesus himself is supernatural. This story, this miracle testifies to his deity. It, along with all the other supernatural miracles Jesus did, just confirmed that he was the Son of God.

We see in this story allusions to Israel wandering in the dessert and Go providing their daily manna for their sustenance. We see in this the power of prayer, that God is able and often willing to answer our needs and provisions. And we see the necessity of our dependence and belief in Jesus.

 

Johns Gospel, especially in his recounting of this story makes it clear that Jesus is the bread of life. This shows us that we are all spiritually starving, and that Jesus is the food that will sustain us.

We are not able to feed ourselves and we are not able to feed others. All our spiritual food comes from Christ himself. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are saved by Grace through faith, and that even that faith is a gift from God, so that none of us should boast.

 

JC Ryle wrote, “The heart of man can never be satisfied with the things of this world. It is always empty, and hungry, and thirsty and dissatisfied, til it comes to Christ.”

 

          Feed yourself on the bread of Christ. Pass the bread around to as many people as we can. Remember that Jesus works in the supernatural, some the results will often be unexpected. Don’t depend on others to help people that come into your path and into your life. Depend on Jesus to use you to help those around you.

 

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 8:22-25 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Calms the Storm

Luke 8:22-25

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Calms the Storm

 

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. Luke Chapter 8, as we have seen and we will continue to see, has some of the most famous moments in Luke’s Gospel and in Jesus’ ministry overall. Today’s passage will be one of those as well.

 

Jesus has been going around, mostly in the region of Galilee, bringing the word of God, introducing the kingdom of God, and giving proofs that he is who he says he is. He is the Messiah that was promised throughout the Old Testament.

We just finished up, looking at some of Jesus parables. These parables lay the foundation for how to become a part of the Kingdom of God and what that should look like in our life. Jesus is going to return, over the next couple of passages to showing, once again, his authority over all of creation. Showing it in as many different manifestations as we could think of. We have seen and will continue to see that Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, does some teaching, then some practical, physical examples of his power and his authority. We just spent a few weeks looking at some teaching, some parables and whatnot and now we will spend a few weeks on some of his deeds and miracles.

So, let’s go ahead and read our passage for the week, Luke chapter 8, verses 22 through 25. As always, Ill be reading from the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation, whether that’s King James, NIV, NASB, New Living or any others. Ok, Luke chapter 8 verses 22-25, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So, they set out, 23 and as they sailed, he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, Jesus just finished up a long day of teaching and preaching. We know this from Marks Gospel, where, in Chapter 4, Mark records some of the same events as Luke chapter 8. Jesu told the parable of the soils and talked about not putting.

our light under a bushel. HE then says, At the end of that day, Jesus got into the boat…

 

So, he was tired. I can tell you from experience that preaching drains the energy from you. Jesus was tired. It was the end of the day, into the evening. Now instead of stopping, looking and finding a place to sleep and hunkering down for the night, he said, let’s go across to the other side of the lake.

On the other side of the lake from them, being in Galilee, was Garasenes in Decapolis, the Ten Cities. These cities were Gentile Roman instead of Jewish.

So, Jesus and the disciples were on their way over to Gerasenes and all of a sudden, a great storm came up. It came seemingly out of nowhere and the boat started to fill with water. This would not be a completely unexpected event in the Sea of Galilee. My Study bible notes: “The Sea of Galilee is 700 feet below sea level, thirteen miles long and eight miles wide. At its southern end is a deep, cliff lined valley. The wind tunneling through the surrounding hills and through this valley can whip the lake into sudden storms.”

          So, this would not have been completely unexpected on the disciple’s end. Storms came up and came through often. But we see from the disciple’s reaction, this storm was stronger, more violent than the normal storm. The waves were breaking the boat and the boat was filling with water. These men thought they were going to die.

Have you ever been in a near death experience? It can be terrifying. Now, again, some of you men have been soldiers, sailors, you have served in the military. Some of you have been in combat. That’s a near death situation. What happens? Your training kicks in and it helps get yourself out of that situation or survive it. For many of us, we have not gone through training like that for whatever our experience is. What happens for us? Any training we may have had, any faith in getting through it safely flies right out the window.

When we think we are about to die, without enough training, we freak out, we do illogical things, and we may do or say things we don’t really believe. What little training we do have abandons us. That’s what we see happen to the disciples here. They are freaking out and afraid they are going to die.

 

 

 

Where is Jesus during all this? He is sound asleep in the stern, snoring away. He is not worried about the storm. The disciples see this, and they lash out at Jesus, crying out, trying to wake him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Marks Gospel shows them angry and frustrated with Jesus, saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

 

We can really see a lot of ourselves in the disciples if we are just willing to look. And not just the good things we want to see. Something happens to us. We lose our job, we get bad news from the doctor, we lose someone close to us, whatever it is. We look around and we see people living it up, people who are not following God succeeding and we are struggling, and we ask Do you not care?

This did not start with the disciples either. We see the prophet Habakkuk crying out the same sentiment. In Habakkuk 1:2-4, he looks around and cries out to God:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.

 

Habakkuk looks around and to his human eyes, it looks like God is just letting stuff happen, that he doesn’t care about those whom he loves, those who are living for him, in Habakkuk s Old Testament context, his chosen people.

The “storms of our life” cause us to wonder, to doubt, to forget. Now this story is partly about the storms in our life and how God will calm those storms, and get us through them, I’ll talk about that in a bit. Much more than that, this story is about a literal physical storm that threatened to kill the disciples. They woke Jesus up and he responded quite differently than the disciples. And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 

We saw earlier that these storms could be whipped up out of nowhere, and I’m sure they could disappear quickly. But the wind doesn’t just cease. The waves don’t just stop rocking. They settle down, they wind down. That’s not what happens here. It says the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Jesus calmed this violent storm INSTANTLY. This is a bonafide, powerful, doesn’t happen in nature miracle.

So far, up to this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has shown he has authority to forgive sins. He has authority over the Sabbath. He has shown he has authority in his teaching in. He has shown his authority over demons. And now, Jesus shows his authority over nature itself. As one commentary stated, this was an example of Jesus binding the strong man and reclaiming his physical creation with his power.

Mark 4:39 says that Jesus said to the storm “Peace! Be still!” That translation helps show the calm and control that Jesus had in this situation. But a more accurate translation of those word in the original language would come out “Be Muzzled.” I like this translation a little bit better because it better shows the power and control over nature that Jesus exhibits here in this story.

Jesus turns and looks at the disciples and asks Why are you afraid, have you no faith? I picture Jesus here lying back down and going back to sleep, but it doesn’t tell us here. I don’t agree, but I like that one commentator said of this part, “Sometimes Jesus gets grumpy.” Sometimes people are grumpy when they are woken up from a nap.

Now most of the time, when this story gets told, we stop there, and we then apply it to our lives. We say things like, if we have enough faith, God will you get you through the storms of life.

While that is true, if we trust in God, he will bring us through our trials, our struggles and we will spend eternity at peace with him.

 

But that’s not what this story is showing.

The disciples did not have faith here. Looking at the text, they did not even ask Jesus to save them.

From their angle, they were trying to keep the boat from sinking and them drowning and Jesus is still asleep in the boat. They not only didn’t have faith in him saving them, but They also forgot how much he loved them, how much he cared for them. Their response was, don’t you care that we are going to die? The disciples forgot their faith and the forgot Jesus’ love for them. Maybe more accurately, they didn’t feel Jesus love at that moment.

That’s makes it a little more real, doesn’t it? A little more personal? Because we all go through these times. At times, Gods feels so close to us we can almost touch him. He speaks to us with crystal clear clarity. And other times we don’t feel that.  Sometimes, he has never felt further away. We are blinded and we see no evidence of his love for us, his mercy and his grace. We don’t feel him when we read his Word, we don’t feel him when we pray.

They key here is “feel”. We will have times when we don’t feel something that we know is true. Then, we can go back to God’s word and trust in that, what we know is true, as opposed to what we feel.

I did not have a moment of salvation where I fell on my knees and angles started singing and a light shone down on me. I didn’t have that one powerful moment. Because of that, as a new Christian, I often doubted my salvation. In fact, it didn’t end with just being a new Christian, this doubt followed through much of my growth and maturation as a believer. I FELT that because I didn’t have that Saul on the road to Damascus moment, that My salvation was not clear cut, or strong or as assured, or legit, or whatever. You name it and I felt it.

My Pastor and numerous other mature Christians counseled me on this and took me to the Bible. Did I believe that Jesus Christ was my LORD and my savior? Did I believe that he was God, and he was Man? Did I believe that he was born, died for my sins and rose again three days later?
One of the places they kept bringing me back to in the Bible was Romans 10 verses 9 & 10:

 

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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

Since I believed that and I confessed that, my assurance was not in whether I felt saved, but rather the truth of the scriptures.

That is what we need to remember during the storms when it feels like Jesus is nowhere to be found. Scripture tells us differently. One of the scriptures I always go back to is Joshua 1:9. God is telling Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

          We see in the New Testament as well, in Matthew 28, the last words that Matthew records Jesus saying: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

          Even when we don’t feel him close, he is there. One of the most comforting attributes of God is that he is omnipresent. He is in all places, in all times, all at once. That means he can be with me right now; he can be with you right now. He can be with the underground church in China, right this very moment. He can be with Martin Luther while he is walking up to post his 95 theses on the door to strike the most blow in the reformation. He can be with Jesus and he is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. And he is in all those places and all those times at the same time.

He will never leave us; he will never be away from us. He will never not love us or not care what we are going through. In fact, Jesus knows what we are going through on a very real level. We saw earlier in Luke that Jesus was tempted by Satan out in the desert and that he was able to overcome that temptation. Hebrews 2 also tells us that Jesus was tempted and tells us why that was important. Hebrews 2:18 tells us:

 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing I want to show is that the Disciples didn’t respond to this miracle the way we tend to think they should have. Jesus calms the storm in an amazing miracle, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief and celebrates and maybe even worships him, right? Not quite…

V 25 says, and they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

They are still afraid, although now their fear has shifted. This man that they have been spending day and night with, for possibly up to two years, just stood up and yelled at the wind and the waves, and the wind and waves slinked away like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs.

And they ask, who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him! They have seen him, as we saw earlier, show his authority over all different areas and now, showing his authority over nature. The word for fear here is the one that is used often in the New Testament when Jesus is telling people around him to not be afraid. This is not the word we see talking about the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. That one is more of an awe-inspiring reverence. In this case, in the original language, fear means fear, or afraid.

But in that fear, the disciples ask a question. They ask Who is he? This is the question. If we take one think out of this story and this passage, it is for us to ask the question Who is this? Who is Jesus? Jesus himself would ask this question a few chapters down the line, asking the disciples, who do you say I am?

I don’t think it’s an over statement to say that this is the most important question we will ever ask. The most important question we will seek an answer too. A question that has eternal consequences.

See, if we look at the evidence, if we see who the bible says Jesus is. If we see the historical, the archeological, and the secular evidence of the reliability of scriptures, if we look at all that, we see a man who claimed to be God. We see a man who performed many, many miracles during his ministry. We see a man who was nailed to a cross and died. We see the Bible then tell us that this same man, a human being, rose from the dead three days later, proving that he was who he said he was: God.

We also see that the bible says that we have no ability or way to be in a right relationship with God, except through this Godman. If you accept the evidence, that Jesus Christ is fully man and that he is also fully God, then we are reconciled to Him and we get to spend eternity with him.

However, if our answer to that question, who is he? Is any other answer than that…? then we get to spend eternity separated from him, in what Matthew calls eternal punishment.

That is why this question, who is this? Who is Jesus Christ? That’s why this is the most important question you will answer in your life. It determines or fate for the rest of time.

Please, if you have not answered this question already, or if you have answered that he is not fully man and fully God, there is still time. Time to look at the evidence. Time to look at the world and what God has revealed to us. Time to believe and to say, Yes, Jesus Christ is the Messiah, is who the bible says he is and is who he says he is. Don’t dismiss the question. Seek an answer. Who is this? Who do you say he is?

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Passover Sermon Exodus 12 and Luke 22

Passover Sermon

Exodus 12 and Luke 22

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me as we open up Gods Word. This is a special week for Christians. Today, the Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday. This is when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and many bystanders laid down palm branches as a way of honoring Jesus. This would kick off the week known as Holy Week. Much of the Gospel stories take place during this week. We are going to especially focus on one of the nights of this week.

Jesus and his disciples met in an upper room on a Thursday night for a dinner celebration. The twelve that were with Jesus did not have any idea that this would be there last meal together. They had no idea that one of them was about to betray Jesus, that he would be illegally tried three times that night. They had no idea that he would die the next day and they had no idea the things that he would reveal to them that night.  This was not an overly special week to them, with one exception.  All they knew was that it was Passover, and they were there to celebrate.

If you look at your calendars, you will see that Passover started at Sundown last night. Today we will take a look at the Passover we will look at a number of different texts, but if you want to open up your Bible, we will be starting in Exodus 12, and then moving over to Luke 22. When I read the scriptures, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read along in which ever is your preferred translation.

To know about the Passover, to see why it was a celebration and how important it was to the Jews in that time, we need to start in Exodus 12. The setting of Exodus 12 is that the people of Israel were slaves to the Egyptians. God was done with that and was ready to free his people and bring them to the land that he had promised Abram 400 years ago. So, He told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let the Israelite go. Pharaoh would not so God sent a number of plagues on Egypt to show his power and might and Pharaoh would still not let them go.

So, God decided to send one final plague. A plague that was so harsh, so brutal, that Pharaoh would not be able to stop the Israelite s from leaving. God was going to kill all the first-born males in Egypt. This included all the first-born Egyptian sons. This included Pharaohs first born son. This even included the first-born male cattle. And this was going to so complete and so total that it would have included the first-born male Israelite s, except that God gave them a way out.

Exodus 12 lays out the way out of this plague. Starting in verse 3, God tells Moses and Aaron,

“Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers house, a lamb for the household….” V.5, “Your lamb shall be without blemish…”, and picking up in v 7 & 8, “Then they shall take some of the blood (from killing the lamb) and put it on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.”

OK, so God told them how to eat a very specific meal and to wipe the blood of the lamb on the doors. But it doesn’t yet tell us that God will spare the Israelite s from this plague. But God then goes on to spell it out for them and us.

Starting at the end of v11, “It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and I will strike all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”

God told them to sacrifice a lamb without blemish, and that the blood of that lamb would protect them from the wrath of God that would be poured out on the nation. More on that in just a little bit.

The LORD also went on to describe to the Israelites how they were to continue to celebrate this Passover celebration every year for all the future generations to learn as well.

We pick right back up in v 14, “ This day shall be for you a memorial day and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” and later in v 25, when Moses is telling Israel what the LORD told him about Passover, he shared this with them for the future, “And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” you shall say, “It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” (v25-27)

God told the people that this was a joyous occasion, that he had spared them from this wrath and that they needed to celebrate it and teach their kids what had happened. Sometimes, in the church, we forget that our kids don’t know as much as we do about some of these things. We forget that they have not had the experiences that we have. In this case, the children would not have seen Gods wrath passing over the nation of Israel and sparing them. To this day, in the Jewish Passover celebration, the youngest child asks the question and the father then tells the Passover story.

I heard a quote a couple years ago. I don’t remember who it was that said it and I couldn’t find it this week, but they said, “What the first generation knows, the second generation forgets, and the third generation never knew.” What this is saying is that we need to constantly remember to teach our kids, not just church, but the gospel. This was one of Israel’s big problems throughout the Old Testament. Israel would turn to God and experience a revival, but within one or two generations, they were back to worshiping false idols and, as God puts it in numerous places, committing spiritual adultery on him.

God knows all this ahead of time and told the Israelite s that part of this yearly ritual and celebration was to pass the story on to the younger generation.

I also saw a quote recently that reminds just how smart our kids can be. It said, “As soon as we assumed that children were too stupid to figure out what the pastor was talking about, they were” Our kids are much smarter than we ever give them credit for and if we teach them and talk to them as if they are smart enough to get it, they will.

But this is also a reminder to ourselves. How many times, how often do we receive an answer to prayer, a miracle from God and we forget about it shortly after it happened? I know it happens to me all the time. And with big things even. Right after Hope and I got married, I lost my job and was out of work for 6 months. I happened to get placed in a company through a temp agency, and through circumstances that could only be brought about by God, I got hired on full time. Not only was this a job, but this was a job that paid well, and had great benefits. To be completely honest I would have taken a decent pay cut just to have had those benefits. But I would often forget how God arranged all this and I would take it for granted and I would look for other jobs and I would get frustrated there. Then something would remind me.

This is why the disciples were celebrating the Passover with Jesus on this Thursday night. To Remember. They didn’t know that the Jewish leadership was planning on arresting Jesus. Well, one did.

Luke tells is right at the beginning of Chapter 22 that the Jews were afraid of the people and that was why they were looking to put him to death. They were afraid of the people because Jerusalem was packed full of Jews traveling there to celebrate the Passover. Luke tells us earlier in his book, that the religious leaders had trouble coming up with ways to kill him because the people were hanging on every word to come out of his mouth. There was no way that all those people would stand for the arrest of Jesus. They would be whipped into a frenzy. It would become a mob mentality and there would be no predicting what would happen. So, to protect themselves, they would wait until they could encounter Jesus away from the crowds.

Even with the evil in their hearts, their preference was to not do this during Passover. They did it because the opportunity came up and they did it because they could not see who Jesus was.

Jesus revealed himself to be THE Passover Lamb. The New Testament shows us this in many places. John the Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him in John 1:29 and recognized Jesus for who and what he was. He said to himself, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” It wasn’t just that John called him that that made it so. There were many reasons the scriptures point out. Exodus calls for the Passover lamb to be one without blemish. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, Peter says “You were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

The lambs that were chosen for sacrifice in the Old Testament times were very purposefully to be without blemish. We are blemished, we are sinful and full of defects. We are told that “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) In the Old Testament, we would offer blood sacrifices to atone for our sins. But that was just temporary, we could not stay perfect, no matter how hard we tried. We needed someone who was perfect, who had no sin, no blame. The only person that could accomplish this was a perfect man. The sacrificial lambs were sacrificed in place of us to pay the temporary payment of our sins. Jesus was the Lamb that was sacrificed for our sins permanently.

While the blood on the door for the Israelites signaled for Gods wrath to Passover that household, so does the blood of Jesus on our hearts signals the wrath of God to Passover us when stand before him in judgment.

The Passover ended up being the final plague on Egypt. After the death of all the firstborns, Pharaoh wanted them to get out and they left. They were now freed from slavery. In the same way, we are slaves to sin. The New Testament is very clear on this. In the same way the Passover freed the Israelites from slavery of Egypt, Jesus freed us from the slavery of sin.

Now, as I said, the Israelites were commanded to pass along the tradition and celebration of the Passover. We are no longer under the law. On the night of the last supper, Jesus replaced the Passover celebration, and the Abrahamic Covenant was fulfilled in the New Covenant. But Jesus orchestrated the Passover to be the time when he was going to be crucified. In Luke 22:15-16, Jesus tells his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

What he is saying is that while Jesus is THE fulfillment of the Passover lamb and he secured freedom for us from Gods wrath, that freedom will not become totally seen until we are with God in Heaven.

He replaced the Passover meal with communion. Instead of eating of the Passover lamb, sacrificed and drained of blood, we are to partake in eating the bread, symbolizing the body of Christ, who was THE Passover Lamb and drink the wine which was the Blood of Jesus who was THE Passover lamb.

Instead of celebrating the freedom from slavery every year, we are to celebrate the freedom from sin and the freedom from eternal torment whenever we gather together. But that doesn’t mean that we are to forget. Hope and I enjoy celebrating Passover and Hanukah, some of the Jewish holidays. Of course, it is not required as it was previously, but, for me it helps make the Bible more real. It helps us to remember that Jesus is our Passover lamb. It helps us to remember that his blood allows Gods wrath to pass over us.

We forget that sometimes. If not intellectually than definitely practically. We all have things that become our practical Passover lamb, our idols, our practical saviors. For some of us, it’s that we are a good person. We think that is enough to save us. That was what mine was. For most of my life I figured I was a good enough person and that’s all that was needed. That is one that I still find myself struggling with at times.

For some of us, it’s our good works. If we do, do, do, if we help the poor, if we protest against abortion or homosexuality, the we can outweigh whatever bad we may do on the scales at the end. I’ve heard one pastor describe this as trying to wear the same set of white clothes for eighty years and trying to keep them pure and spotless. And I think that’s a good illustration, but it doesn’t go far enough. Because, even if we were to physically keep the outfit pure and spotless from our environment, we could not keep our sweat, tears, that sort of thing, just as our mind, our heart, our sinful nature has already ruined the outfit. We all have these things that come between us and Jesus.

And the Passover, and communion remind us that Jesus closes that gap. Between us and him. It is not through anything that we do, but through his blood, his love and his grace that are out white outfits stay pure and spotless.

Finally, the Passover is an intrinsically important part of our history. It’s not just world history, or Jewish history or American history. But it’s your history and it’s my history. Its believer’s history. If you are a follower of Jesus, who was Jesus?

Jesus was not a Christian, not in the sense that we understand it. He was not American; he was not white. He was not gorgeous. He was not anything like we picture. He was a plain looking, brown skinned, middle eastern Jewish man.

Most of us spend our time in the Bible in the Gospels and Paul’s letters… We might go through the Old Testament for our daily reading plan, but how often do we spend intentional, studious time in Numbers, or Deuteronomy, or Lamentations, or Joel? Joel is one of the Old Testament prophets by the way…

But what Scriptures did Jesus know? The Gospels weren’t written when he was alive. Neither were Paul’s letters. Jesus had the Old Testament. He had the writings of Moses, the first 5 books of the Old Testament. He had the historical books, starting with Joshua and going through Esther. He had the wisdom books, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and the like, and he had the Prophets, Isaiah through Malachi.

These are the scriptures that Jesus had, and the Jews had, and they were vital for understanding God, his story and his redemption plan. Now, most of us are not Jewish, ethnically speaking. But Once Jesus came, he followed the Old Testament, and he came as a Jew, to the Jews, and offered them salvation. Then he turned to all the rest of us and we were allowed to receive the gift of salvation as well.

For us to know Jesus better, we need to know who he was, when he grew up, what the culture was. That’s one of the things that The Old Testament does for us. Jesus celebrated the Passover, for us to know Jesus better, to have a better relationship with him, we don’t have to celebrate the Passover, but you have to understand it and why Jesus celebrated it.

My challenge to you, to me, to us, is, are you, are we utilizing all of the resources available to us to understand Jesus better, to grow closer to him.

We have our Bible, are we reading it? All of it? Or just our favorite parts? Are we only skimming it because it’s in our daily reading plan or are we actually reading it? Both Testaments?

Are we praying? This hits a couple of areas. Are we praying for those around us? In our congregation and in our family? Are we praying the list of prayer requests that come in the bulletin each week? What about prayer requests that come in Bible Studies? Or even just your everyday conversation with friends, family, coworkers, and the trials and troubles that come up in their lives. What about personal time in prayer just for you and God. Time to pray, meaning talk to him, listen to him and just be with him.

Are you talking to the people in your life that you can learn from? If you’re not sure who that might be. My phone is always on and my office door is always open. Are you reading or listening to things that bring you closer to God? This could include things on TV, music on the radio, but it includes books about Jesus, in includes sermons online, podcasts, things like that. I’m not saying you have to do all, or even any of these things. If you belong to God, you belong to God, but these are resources that you have, that can help you know Jesus Christ better, help you grow closer to him.

 

 

 

As I referenced at the beginning of the sermon this morning, this week is what is called Passion Week, or Holy Week. Today is Palm Sunday. The day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. He was there this week specifically because it was the Passover. Thursday night is when he had the Last Supper with the disciples, the Passover meal, the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Thursday was the night the Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and turned him over to the Romans and Jewish leaders. He was illegally tried through the night, with false witnesses on trumped up charges, the loudest of which was blasphemy.

Friday he was beaten to within an inch of his life. The beating the Romans doled out was called the half death, because half of the prisoners who received it, died from it. He was then forced to carry his own cross and then crucified on it.

The details are horrendous, and I won’t go into them today, but there was a reason that the Passion of the Christ was Rated R. Jesus died on that cross. He died for me, he died for you, he died for all of us.

And on Sunday morning, he accomplished all he came here to do, by being raised back up from the dead by God the Father and proclaiming victory over death and sin.

This is the most important week in Jesus life. We today tend to celebrate Christmas as the most important date in Christianity. And don’t get me wrong, the birth of Jesus Christ was a monumental moment in history. It was world changing, to say the least.

But then, 30 plus years later, Jesus would have yet another, greater world changing moment. This week is designed by God to be one of reflection. Do you understand what Jesus went through this week? Do you see that what he went through allowed you and I to be passed over in our sin? That his life, and his death, were a fulfillment of the Passover, and that his resurrection made that Passover permanent? Take some time this week, think about it. Reflect on that. How serious are we about our relationship with God? And what are we doing to bring ourselves closer to him?

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 7:36-50 Jesus is the Son of Man: Your sins are forgiven

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus is the Son of Man

How Forgiveness affects us

 

          All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 7. As always, if you do not own a Bible or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

We have been walking with Luke through his Gospel as he has been telling the story of Jesus ministry here on earth. What Luke has been showing us is that Jesus was both exceeding expectations of who people thought he was and completely subverting and undermining expectations of who people thought the Messiah was going to be.

To be clear, as Luke has shown us in his Gospel, Jesus was the Son of Man. He was the Son of God. He was the promised Messiah. He was Christ. But he wasn’t acting like it. At least not according to what the people of Israel were expecting. As we saw last week, even John the Baptist didn’t understand Jesus’ ministry and had some moments of doubt as to whether or not he was the Messiah.

We have seen Luke show us that Jesus, during his ministry did many signs and wonders. He healed people, people with infirmities, diseases and leprosy. He cast out unclean spirits. He even raised people from the dead. But in addition to those signs and wonders, Jesus ministered and taught with compassion, mercy and grace. He extended this compassion to outsiders, those whom the religious leaders of the day would not have even bothered given a second look at. We saw the Centurion’s servant healed, we saw the widowed mom’s son raised up, well we will actually look at the story on Easter Sunday, but Luke already put forth that story in his Gospel.  And Jesus taught as one having a true and right understanding of the law and the Word of God.

And as we saw in the scripture reading this morning and the story we are about the read; Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins. This last one really made the religious leaders mad and genuinely confused them. When he did this, Jesus claimed to be God, for only God had the authority to forgive sins.

So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I greatly encourage you to read along in your preferred translation so you can read for yourself what the Word of God says. Luke is recording the ministry and life of Jesus under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he writes the following.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[h] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Thus, saith the Word of the LORD.

 

 

So, after all we have seen Jesus do so far, we now see that one Pharisee, whom we later see is named Simon, one Pharisee wants to have Jesus over to his house for dinner. Now, there are many, many theories and opinions as to why Simon invited Jesus over. Everything from wanting to trip Jesus up, to embarrass him, to Simon being curious about Jesus, some even think that Simon didn’t really want anything to do with Jesus, but there was a status, an esteem that people would have for him for hosting a traveling teaching rabbi in his home, which was what Jesus was.

But we have to be clear that Scripture does not give us any indications, no clues as to the motivation or the goals of Simon. So, we have to be very, very careful if we choose to speculate.

And let’s review who the Pharisees were in this time. They were they ones who tried to hold as closely to Gods law as possible. They were the ultra-conservative, moral majority. They were the right wing political/religious party. They were so worried about being a sinner, that they added many layers onto Gods law and made sure outward, moral behavior was important but had not heart, no mercy and no grace.

Jesus received the invitation that Simon extended, for whatever reason he did, and he accepted. IT made me laugh when I read one commentator say that Jesus “was willing to eat with anyone, even Pharisees.”

Some commentators talk about the open floor plan and that a dinner like this, at a well-off persons home would have been kind of in a open air credenza type setting. Somewhere that could have people coming and going, watching like it was a spectator event.

This is used to explain how the women in this story get into the dinner and was able to get up to Jesus. Another commentator suggests that any Pharisee throwing a party like that would have had a doorman or a guard, and this lady, because of her alabaster flask would have looked the part and gained entrance that way.

The reason I tell you some of these alternate theories for what happens or how things happen is not to toss out idle speculation, but to point out that there is so much that scripture doesn’t tell us and that if scripture doesn’t tell us, we need to remember that it is only theory, and not as certain as scripture. We all assume things into the scripture, but as long as we recognize that, we can make sure that we hold to the authority of scripture and scripture alone.

However, this woman gained entrance to the dinner party, a “woman of the city,”, a sinner was there. Many speculate on her sinfulness, often speculating that she was a prostitute, but again, scripture doesn’t say. What we do know is that whatever her sin, it was publicly and well know. She would never have been invited. The Pharisees believed in salvation by isolation. They thought just knowing a sinful person, let alone spending any sort of time with them would rub off on them and wipe away much of their own righteousness.

This woman just knew that Jesus was there, and she needed to see him. She gained entrance and she brought with her an alabaster flask of ointment. It would have been an expensive possession to have. She approached Jesus and she was so overwhelmed by the grace, love and mercy of Jesus Christ that she can’t hold back her tears. She cried all over his feet, soaking them. He would have been sitting on the floor, with his feet out behind him, leaning n his left hand, eating with his right hand. She came up behind him and cried tears onto his feet and them tried to dry his feet with her hair. Showing her hair like this in public, would have also been, in that society, an indecent showing, further cementing her status as someone not worthy of being around proper company.

She further humbled herself before Jesus and kept kissing his feet. She anointed him her ointment and she literally humbled herself as low as she could possibly physically go.

Simon saw all this happen and knew that Jesus was not a prophet. Again, we get no indication of whether he was surprised or if his thought was confirmed. But he had proof in his mind that Jesus was now no prophet. Maybe Jesus didn’t know who she was, what kind of sinner she was. If not, he was no prophet of God. OR maybe he knew and worse yet, didn’t care. IF that was the case, he certainly could not be a man of God. This is exactly one of the kinds of judgments that Jesus warns against in Matthew 7 and back at the beginning of Luke 6.

The mindset was that a man of God, a prophet would never have let a sinful woman do what she was doing to Him. And so, it was time to reject Jesus as prophet, let alone more than that. Jesus told them, when we looked at last weeks passage, that they had a history of rejecting all the prophets that God had sent to them, no matter who they were or what they spoke to Israel. Scripture is clear that time and time again, God sent prophets to Israel, to speak the Word of the LORD, and they were rejected, often beaten or killed for the messages they relayed.

Simon didn’t say any of this out load, to anyone around him. He said it all to himself, inside his mind. We have to be really careful of this attitude regarding our interaction with sinners and sinful people. First of all, this should need to be a disclaimer, but lest we think more highly of ourselves than we ought, all of us are still sinners, all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. So, it is not sinless people against sinful people. It is sinners saved by grace and sinners who think they don’t need a savior.

We need to be careful if those who we spend time around lead us into temptation and lead us into sin. If that’s the case, we need to remove our selves from those situations. The answer is not to shoot people who cause our temptations. But to acknowledge our own responsibility in putting the sin inside of us to death. John Owen famously said, “Be killing sin or it be killing you.”

However, we are called to be a part of this world that we are living in as we wait for the consummation of the Kingdom of God. We are called to extend love, mercy and grace, just as Jesus did, to those around us. Those of you who were here Thursday evening, you heard our Village Missions district Rep, Richard Hayes talks about his. The idea of showing love and building connections and relationships with those around us, those who are perishing, those who are lost, as we seek to gain an audience with them in order to share the good, life saving news of the gospel.

We are not to simply be a “inviting church,” be we are to be inviting people to come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of people out there are open to hearing the gospel, and many are willing to attend church if there are invited. But few will go out of there way to actively seek the Gospel or a church if their heart is not already change by the Holy Spirit, if god is not already calling them. So, this salvation by isolation that I mentioned earlier that was how the Pharisees lived and thought, though I should point out that they would not see it this way, and so many other Christians and Churches think and live this way is not just wrong biblically but also strategically. We can’t plant seeds from in here. We must go out and invite. Go out and share. Not bunker down and close our selves off but go and make ourselves vulnerable and plant the seeds Christ has called us to plant and to make disciples.

Back to Simon and Jesus. Simon had these thoughts in hi head about who Jesus was, or more accurately, who he was not. He didn’t speak them out loud, but Jesus knew them anyway.

And he responded with one of the simplest, clearest parables in the Gospels. The story of the money lender and two debtors.  There were two guys who owed money. One was 2 months wages, the other, about two years’ worth of wages. Neither of them could pay their debt. The man that they owed the money to cancelled both of their debts. No conditions, no strings, just a simple act of mercy bestowed on two men who didn’t deserve it. They did nothing to earn it and they certainly couldn’t repay it.

Jesus asks Simon, “Which of these men appreciated it more?” Now, of course, in that situation, both men would have been grateful. But which one more? Simple question.

Simon didn’t want it to be a simple question. He knew what Jesus was saying. Simon does not come across as a dumb guy. He knows what point Jesus is making and he doesn’t like it. So he answer Jesus. Which one was more grateful? He says, “I suppose the one who had the greater debt.”

I suppose… That answer makes me think of the parable of the good Samaritan. We will get to that later on in Luke, but at the end, Jesus asks the group he is talking to, Which of these men proved to be a neighbor to the man who was beaten? When the scribe answered, The one who showed him mercy. You can hear the disgust and the contempt falling off of his lips. I feel the same here from Simon. He doesn’t want to give the right answer, so he says dismissively, I suppose…

 

Despite his reticence, Simon gives the right answer. Jesus affirms it! He says, You have judged righty! RC Sproul comments that this is probably one of the very few times that the Pharisee made a judgment that was right.

Jesus continues to talk to Simon, rebuking him. He says, all the things you were supposed to do for me, as a guest, all the tenets of hospitality that our society demands of you, you didn’t. No water to wash my feet. No kiss of greeting. No anointing my head with oil. Instead this woman that you are judging and looking down on, she did them all for me instead. She washed my feet with her tears and her hair. She kissed my feet and she anointed my with her ointment. He tells Simon, Yeah she has a lot of sins. Her sins are many. But through her faith, her sins are forgiven.

We see that this woman, through her actions, shows that she understands how big that forgiveness is, what a big deal it is to have her sins forgiveness. One who has few sins, does not think their sins are a big deal.

See its not that having fewer sins is a bad thing. Its that people who live what they consider to be less sinful lives tend to justify their few sins and not think they those few sins need forgiveness.

The Pharisees, to their credit, strove to be holy. This is what we are all called to do. Both Peter and Jesus in Matthews Gospel tells us that we are supposed to be perfect and holy like God is. That is Gods standard. And the Pharisees tried to live up to that standard of Holiness. However, they left out grace, mercy, compassion and love, which are integral to true, pure holiness. One commentator notes, “A life of love is a grateful response of a sinner who has found true forgiveness in Jesus Christ.”

Jesus then turns to the woman and authoritatively declares to her that her sins are forgiven. Now, she already knew this and he already said it to Simon. Why say it again here? Well the short answer is, “I don’t know.” But here is what I know. We all need to be reassured at times. We all need to be told time and again that our sins actually are forgiven. We all sometimes have trouble believing Gods grace, mercy and forgiveness. We can intellectually memorize and remember 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can know that and still forget it practically sometimes.

Now, of course, after Jesus said this to her, everyone else was question who he thought he was. Why would he think he had the authority to forgive sins? Only God can do that.

Jesus turns to the woman, knowing the thoughts of the rest of the people in the room and finishes by telling her that he faith has saved her and to go in peace. See, our salvation is by faith alone. Not faith and love. Not faith and works. Nor faith and anything. Just faith alone.

Ephesians 2:8 & 9:  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The woman was saved by her faith, but she cant boast about her faith. The faith that saved her was a gift from God.

In the end, there are only two groups of people in this world. RC Sproul lays them out. He writes: “There are two kinds of people in the world: people whose sins have been forgiven and those whose sins have not been forgiven. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who repent of their sins and those who remain steadfast in their impenitence. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who heap lavish praise and adoration on Jesus and those who refuse to submit to Him.

And he is right. Those are our only two options. Salvation by grace through faith in Christ, or eternal hellfire and suffering. By grace through faith, we get to hear “Your sins are forgiven.” How great indeed is that?

The debt of our sins forgiven. It is completely wiped out. No conditions, no strings, just a simple act of mercy bestowed on us who didn’t deserve it. We did nothing to earn it and we certainly couldn’t repay it. How sweet the sound, how amazing the grace.

Lets finish with the lyrics to Amazing Grace then Ill pray:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within 
the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Lets Pray

Luke 6:37-45 Jesus is the Son of Man: Biblical Judgment

Luke 6:37-45

Jesus is the Son of Man

Biblical Judgment

 

          All right! Let’s grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 6. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

So, we left off last week looking at Jesus’ teaching that we are to love our enemies. Specifically, we looked at what it meant for us practically as we live our lives as followers of Christ. We are to do good to those who hate us. Bless those who curse us. Pray for those who abuse us. And how looked at how difficult how hard this is.

What we didn’t look as much at what this is not. What loving our enemies is not, it is not never confronting anyone in their sin. It is not affirming sin and the lifestyles that the Bible denounces. It is not being a doormat. It is not being a pacifist.

As we look ahead to the passage this morning that we are going to look at is that there is a balance between last weeks passage and this week’s passage. There is a context that we need to see this week to properly understand last week and vice versa.

 

So, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage and jump on in, Luke chapter 6, verses 37-45. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 6:37-45, Luke records the teachings of Jesus, writing:

 

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure, you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

May God bless the reading of His holy Word.

 

 

Judge Not. Sometimes, Judge not lest ye be judged. That is all that many people know and can quote regarding the Bible. And they love to use that against us when we express anything related to sin or false teaching or whatever. Many will even say, “Only God will judge me…” to which I want to respond, “And that should scare you!”

But there is a lot more to this passage than those two words, Judge Not…

This passage, in context and along with the rest of Jesus teachings, is clearly not telling us not to make judgments, full stop, end of statement. Instead, it’s telling us how and why to judge, what to judge and how to do so in context of Love your enemies. He is also reminding us, not so gently that we also will be judged.

RC Sproul writes on this passage: Jesus elsewhere teaches that his disciples must sometimes judge what others do (Matt 18:15-17) and that the character  of a persons heart can be recognized from the actions that flow from it (vv.43-45; Matt 7:15, 16) What he warns against here is the hypocrisy of those who condemn others for what they themselves are guilty of (vv. 41-42) and the failure to show mercy. (v. 36)

 

Its all a heart issue. With Jesus, its always a heart issue. We are not to judge with the wrong intentions. We are not to judge hypocritically. And we are not to judge by our own standards, making up our own rules, laws or traditions.

 

Most sin is black and white. People often ask, By What Standard? The Bible is clear. Some sins it is crystal clear about. Many sins it is crystal clear about. However, sometimes, individuals are called to, what is usually a stricter standard, called, usually to abstain from things that are not sins for other people to partake in. Because of these occasions, we cannot judge if someone is living up to our standard, because our standard is not what they are called for. Gods standard is what we will all be judged by. Not our own personal standard.

When we make judgments based on our own standard instead of on Gods standard, we fall into judgmentalism. Kent Hughes describes it this way: Judgmentalism is an unwitting revelation of one’s own soul, because people rush to condemn their own sin in others.

          Instead of a heart and a disposition of judgmentalism, we are to have a heart and disposition of forgiveness. The two are diametrically opposed. You can’t have both. That forgiveness, both that Jesus tells us we have received and that we are to give, is what allows us and requires us to rightly judge.

We are not to judge someone’s heart. We are not to judge someone’s spiritual status. We are not to judge someone’s eternal destiny. Those judgments are left to the one who can see the heart. The one who determines the eternal destiny.

Just like love, as we looked at last week, judge is an action word, a verb. We are not the judge or the jury regarding those around us. We do not make a decision on where someone’s heart is. We do not make a decision on whether one is saved or not. We’ll get to a bit later how we can look at the evidence, the fruit produce and ask questions based on that, but we do not make a decision as to where they will go.

One of the aspects that Jesus touches on here is the idea of weights and measures. With the measures and judgments, we use, so will be used on us. Don’t us false measures or inaccurate accounting of people’s sins, or of their heart, or even their motivations and intents. Because that opens the door for them to do the same thing right back.

 

Now, there is something that is very hard for us to remember and some people would argue with me on this. But I believe the Bible is very clear that we cannot hold unbelievers to the same standard, the same expectation as we hold ourselves to, or as the Bible holds us to. As I said last week, we are held to higher standards than the world holds for itself.

It’s because we know and believe the Bible. We know and believe the standards it has set for us. We know and believe that Gods standard is right and pure and true.  The world doesn’t know this. They trust in themselves. They don’t believe in Gods standards, instead they lean on their own understanding, looking for the way that seems right to man, but leads to death.

But because of that, because there is no acknowledgement of Gods standards of right and wrong and because, as Jesus is making it clear, all of these things boil down to a heart issue, there is no way to legislate morality. WE can make all the laws we want, and we should. Make no mistake that this not an excuse for the world, for non-believers to do whatever they want. There is universal right and wrong and we should make laws establishing that. But we should not fall into the mistake that if someone follows all the rules, keeps all the laws that their heart is right. We are easily tricked and if we judge by that standard, we will be wrong more often than not.

As we saw earlier, Jesus is also telling us that we are not to judge hypocritically. We are to make sure that we are looking at ourselves, concerned with our own holiness, pursuing our own righteousness, instead of accruing self-righteousness.

Jesus reminds us that we are the disciples, and he is the teacher. We are not above him. But we strive to be like him. WE defer all authority to him, especially in regard to judgment, all while we strive to emulate him as much as possible.

We are led, first by Jesus, but of course after Jesus, below Jesus, there are others whom we follow as well. Jesus tells us not to follow those who are not following him. They are spiritually blind. They have no authority to lead us spiritually. So, don’t follow them because they will lead us into the pit.  Follow those whoa re following Jesus, those whose eyes have been opened, who are no longer spiritually blind.

 

Jesus used parables here to teach us this, but he also uses the absurd, he uses humor to make his point as well. He talks about us having to deal with the plank in our own eye before dealing with the speck in others. This visual this idea is the height of foolish, and absurdity. This is the same point that he makes with the Golden Rule. This is the same point he makes 1 Peter 4:8,   where Peter writes Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

The biggest point in this section is that we need to protect and watch out for hypocrisy. Nothing shines so bright to unbelievers and to the world out there as a Christian living as a hypocrite. From National leaders claiming to be Christians in order to get our vote, to ministry leaders, pastors and the anybody walking through those doors and sitting in the pews every Sunday morning. The World is watching, and nothing turns them off quicker than hypocrisy.

A major way for us to ensure this is repentance. Constant repentance. Martin Luther famously said: When our Lord and master Jesus Christ said, “Repent,” he willed that the whole life of believers should be one of repentance.

          Repentance gives humility, grants us humbleness, reminds us of the plank in our own eye. We focus on ourselves and our sins before we nitpick every little sin in those around us. Paul calls himself the chief of all sinners. That is how each and everyone of us should see ourselves.

Because our natural tendency is exactly what we are warned about here. We always tend to think that we have the splinter and those around us have the plank.

Now, this is what this does NOT mean.

This does not mean that we have to be perfect in order to recognize in in others.

This does not mean that we have to be sinless to confront others on their sin when needed.

This does not mean that we don’t discern right from wrong.

There is a time, a place, a method for confronting sin, and most importantly, a heart. With the wrong heart, the time, place and method will automatically be wrong. With the right heart, we need to discern when the right time is, where the right place is and what the right method will be when we lovingly confront people in their sin.

Now, while we should not judge hypocritically, unlovingly or with a wrong heart, we can and should judge the fruit that we see produced in the lives of those around us. And even them carefully, and usually without using the word judge…

 

If we truly are humble, repentant, and discerning. If we are truly saved, if we are following our teacher Jesus, as his disciples, we will produce good fruit. Conveniently, Paul gives us a list of spiritual fruit we should be bearing in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

          Now, again, we will not have perfect fruit. But over the course of our spiritual walk with Christ, we will produce good fruit. Notice too, that good fruit does not always come from the prettiest trees, or the most polished, put together and manicured trees. But it comes from good trees. Good trees, trees grafted into the people of God, produce good fruit, the fruit of the spirit.

 

`On the flip side, if we are unrepentant. If we are full of self-pride and self-interest and self-righteousness, if we are not saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we will produce bad fruit, evil fruit, anti-fruit, as we read the parallel passage in Galatians 5, the fruit of the flesh, or as I sometimes call them, the vegetables of the flesh.

 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

 

          Remember that not all bad fruit comes from a tree that look like it produces evil fruit. Sometimes it’s the prettiest trees that produce the worst fruit. Those who are outwardly moral with good old-fashioned values but no love for Christ, those are the ones who produce the worst fruit.

There is in this of course, the obvious connection that we can’t judge a book by its cover. It is especially those individuals, those communities and those nations that have a crisp, hard moral outward shell, that will be rotten on the inside, producing bad fruit.

What kind of bad fruit?  Here is one example.

 

Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached

 

 

          Any fruit that is not rooted in Christ is bad fruit. That’s what it all comes down to. In Christ or out. Those are our two options and only two options.

Will we be blind, or have our eyes opened?

Will we be spiritually dead or spiritually alive?

Will we be goats or sheep?

Will we be and do wrong, or right?

Will we be bad trees producing bad fruit or good trees producing good fruit?

There is no middle ground. No partial Christianity. No mediocre fruit.

We are not justified; we are not saved by our fruit. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We do nothing and can do nothing to in anyway earn our salvation.

You al know my favorite Jonathon Edwards quote: You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary. So, the fruit does not earn us any good will towards God or earn our way through the pearly gates. Instead, the fruit we bear is an outwards sign of our spiritual standing. Good fruit is Christs work through us. Bad fruit is the absence of Christs work in our lives.

Jesus underlying message throughout all these teachings so far is Check your heart. Outward obedience is not enough without a heart of flesh, a heart changed by the Holy Spirit. Don’t judged where someone else’s heart is and don’t judge others on things we haven’t fixed within ourselves yet. We may not be where we are going, we may not be where we want to go, but thanks to the grace of God, and the work of Christ in our lives, we are no longer where we were.

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 6:27-36 Jesus is the Son of Man: Love your Enemies!

Luke 6:27-36
Jesus is the Son of Man
Love your Enemies!

All right! Let’s turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 6. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, or if you know someone who needs a Bible, please see me after the service and we will get a Bible into your hands.
So, we are looking at Luke’s Gospel, we started this past fall. We are in a section now of Jesus teachings that is referred to as the Sermon on the Plain. There is a lot of crossover in content between this section and the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew chapters 5-7.
Luke has spent a lot of time establishing the authority that Jesus had, including but not limited to his Authority over the scriptures. He has the authority to interpret scripture correctly and the authority to show us the correct understanding of what the scripture means.
Now this is not usually in doubt, not usually contested, at least with in the church. But there are some you may come across who think that only the words in red are Jesus words. Therefore, in that line of thinking, the rest of the Bible, usually speaking of Paul’s letters and the Old Testament, these are not inspired, there are contradictions and only what Jesus said in the Gospels counts. We know of course the this is a gross heresy. All scripture is God breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16 and Jesus is the word of God, John 1.
In the passage we are going to read and look at this morning, we are going to see Jesus, not add to the commandments, not contradicting what the Old Testament says, but instead explaining the full and complete intent of them.
So, lets go ahead and read this mornings scripture, Luke chapter 6, verses 27 through 36. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to go ahead and read, follow along in your preferred translation reading for yourself.
Luke 6:27-36, Luke records the teachings of Jesus, writing:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[b] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Thus, saith the LORD.

Ok, so when Jesus delivers similar content in the Sermon on the Mount, he repeatedly tells the crowd, “You have heard it said one way, but I say to you, this is the true meaning.” And one of the ones he addresses is the one we are looking at this morning. He says in Matthew 5:43, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
And here in Luke, Jesus tells the crowd, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Now, some of the things that Jesus is telling them that they heard wrong are misunderstandings of things found in scriptures. However, this is one where this statement is not found in scripture. Nor, if read in context, is anything that can be misconstrued as that.
But it was. It was a misunderstanding, possibly purposefully, at least at first, of who is my neighbor. The Jewish people thought that it was only those in the Abrahamic covenant, circumcised Jews. The ones who had the most open view, thought that it pertained to all of Israel, but no further. It was a very limited view. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but Jesus makes it quite clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our definition of neighbor is not to be limited.
But it sounds so inviting, doesn’t it? Love your neighbor but hate your enemy. It just makes sense. It’s easy to see, to feel and to understand. It’s what we all want to do. There is nothing else that makes sense to do except hate your enemies. It’s hard enough sometimes to love those close to us. Why should we have to do it to those that hate us, fear us, sin against us, those that don’t love us? We deserve to be able to hate those people. And we limit our definition of neighbor is limited because it’s easier to live life with a limited definition. It limits who we have to love.
Jesus says NO. We don’t get to take the easy way out. We don’t get to live the easy life, our best life now. We don’t get to hate our enemies. We don’t get to just feel animosity to those who hate us. But we are to love our enemies. Whether or not they love us. And we are to pray for those who persecute us. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who do you harm. That’s the definition of the hard way. That is Jesus raising the bar well above, both what we thought it was and what we are comfortable living.
This is not optional; this is a necessary result of being called a child of God. And if we are saved, if we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our LORD, as our Savior, if we have been transformed by the Holy Spirit, then we are told that we need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Now, of course, just listening to this so far, we know that this is one of the hardest passages of scripture to obey. This calls us to obedience not only in our physical acts, but even more than that, in our heart. This requires a change in heart, from worldly and sinful, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. This is something that no one but Christ can change.
RC Sproul says that this is one of the most radical teachings that ever came to us from Jesus lips. We are called to love our enemies as Christ loved us when we were his enemies. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.
Now, of course it doesn’t say that the kind of love we are talking about here is the warm, fuzzy feeling love. Nor is it of course, romantic love. This love is a verb. Its s action. As Jesus said, do good to those who do you harm. Act loving to them and it will change the situation.
We may never change the people who curse, who want to do us harm. We may never change the way they treat us or think about us. But we are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are called to be better than the standards of the world. We are called to fight hate with love. We are called to expel darkness with the light of the Gospel. We are called to higher standards than the world has set for itself.
Its hard. It doesn’t seem fair. But if things were fair, we would have no grace, no salvation. WE can’t control fair. We can’t control other people. WE can only control ourselves.
If we can control ourselves, we take power away from those wish us harm. The pleasure they can get from treating us poorly is greatly diminished when they see that it doesn’t bother us.
Any one with multiple kids can tell you, at some point, one or all of them will provoke their siblings just for the fun of it. And of course, the siblings fall for it and lash out at the sibling. How many times have I had to tell them, don’t react, don’t give them the attention they are looking for? The same goes for adults. Don’t give them the attention they are looking for. There’s the old saying, don’t wrestle with a pig in the mud, it just makes you dirty and the pig likes it.

A couple of scriptures to consider:

Proverbs 25:21-22: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.

Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In fact, leading up to that, Romans 12:14-21:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And part of what we had Frank read this morning, 1 Peter 3:9:
9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

In verse31, Jesus shares with us a version of the Golden Rule, And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Every example of this concept we have recorded in history before Jesus was worded negatively. Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you. Jesus, as he is wont to do, and is really good at, turns everything on its head. Actively do good to others as you would want them to do good to you. Not as they are doing to you. Not as they promised to do to you. But as you would want them to do to you. This has huge and radical, relevant implications for every conceivable situation you could ever be in. (That’s not too big of a statement, is it?)
As I talk with Pastor friends of mine, we often discuss things we agree on and disagree on. One of them, his name is Ryan, put into words better than I could some thoughts on this passage, starting with the Golden Rule that I want to share with you:

Those who use wrong B to avoid the implications of wrong A are seeking to do unto others as has been done to them. This is a corruption of Christ’s teaching. An inversion. It is a form of returning reviling for reviling- something condemned from stem to stern in scripture. It is a form of avoiding accountability and is the opposite of a heart of humility and repentance. If a wrong is papered over because of a) it’s comparison to another wrong, or b) because of the good that the offender(s) have done, we pervert righteousness in Christ alone, and are measuring righteousness by works (either of others or of the one/s being addressed).

So many papered over his grotesque sins because of perceived benefit to the Kingdom. The kingdom is not advanced by our actions- but through our actions by the hand of God. More souls are saved as a result of proper humility before the Lord than through the smooth words of a gross hypocrite.

Think of all the examples in the OT of those who would corrupt their means to achieve the perceived righteous ends. And those who didn’t. (Gideon, for one example.) God *can* work through the evil that is done under the sun. However, we who are believers are called to live lives of holiness, lives of not returning reviling for reviling, but trusting that the Lord will require justice for the evil done in the world. We are to be holy, as He is holy. This means that we are to have tongues, hand, and feet which rush to acts of righteousness, not tongues, hands, and feet that rush to acts of sin. James’s sections on the tongue are a HUGE part of this. How can both bitter and sweet come from the same spring?

Those are wise words we would be wise to consider and meditate on.

And it touches on the last part of what Jesus said that we are looking at this morning. Verses 32-36, Luke records:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

How easy is it to fall into the easy way? I’m the same as those I disagree with and make fun of. They do it, so why can’t we? Social Media especially makes it really easy to fall into this. Memes and pictures with quotes that are sometimes true and in context, but more often, out of context or just completely made up. And we see these, and they are designed to paint the subject in the most negative light possible. And we share these with glee, laughing at the person and the people that agree with them and not giving it a moments thought on how these actions line up with Gods commands.
Even if we are on the receiving end of this sort of treatment, we are not to respond to it. We are not to give back what we are receiving. WE are called to suffer humiliation over and over again on behalf of Christ. WE look to him as our example, When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly, 1 Peter 2:23.

Within that however, it can be easy to get beaten down, cynical, frustrated. But we can not let their hatred break our spirit, our love, and our generosity. WE also need to remember that being right is only half the battle. (I really want to say that knowing is the other half of the battle, Yo Joe!) But we are to not only speak the truth, we are commanded to speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4.
We are to give generously, without conditions or expectations. We can’t outgive God. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we are not to be responsible, but that we are to trust God and give cheerfully and sacrificially. One practical example, I don’t lend out books that I couldn’t live with not getting back. Now, of course, I want to get them back, unless I specify otherwise. But If it would be a big deal to not get them back, I just won’t lend them out.
We are to be kind to ungrateful, unjust, and unmerciful people. We are to show grace, just as God showed us grace.
God’s grace is by definition, undeserved. When we think of God’s grace, we mainly think of his saving grace. We think of his forgiveness, his mercy, the promise of eternity in Heaven with him. Those things that we cannot even begin to deserve. The truth is we deserve the exact opposite, but God has given us his saving grace through faith alone in Christ to His glory alone.
And that is an accurate and right thing to think of when we think of his grace. But there is another grace that he pours out. It’s called common grace. His saving grace is poured out on those who are called his children, those who are covered in Christs righteousness. Those who are followers of him. Common grace is poured out on all people indiscriminately.
The sun rises and sets on both the good and the evil. The rain falls on both the just and the unjust. We see things like doctors and medicine that all people are able to benefit from, jobs and income that all are able to use to provide for their families, music, sports, art, food, all given to all people to enjoy. Even nature itself, given for us to enjoy and for us to see God revealing himself in. Given to all people.
As the saying goes, this is the closest to heaven that unbelievers will ever get. They get glimpses. They get signs, they get common grace designed to point them to who God is and to His Son Jesus Christ. But without believing in him, this is as close as they will get. On the other side, if you are a believer, if you are a follower of Christ, a disciple. This is the closest to Hell that we will ever get.
But, again, we don’t get to take the easy road. Jesus makes sure that we understand that he is raising the bar. He wants us to have no mistake that we are expected to be better, to live up to a higher standard. He says it’s easy to love those who love us. Everyone does that.
He has raised the bar. The standard that God has is perfection. What the scriptures do, what Jesus does, what we are to do is to show, both, the impossible standard that that is to live up to, and the wholly undeserved grace that is poured out on all who believe and follow Christ.
And how we treat others is one of the ways that we show that. We show the love of Christ by the way we love others. The parallel, the correlation is clear. The way we treat others is not dependent on how they treat us. Just as, the way that God treats us, the love that he shows us, the grace he pours out in us is not dependent on how we treat him. Because if it were, we would all be in hell. Not destined for hell, but upon our first sin, we would be immediately sent there. We are in constant rebellion against Gods sovereign reign over his creation. God says, I love you anyway, here is grace.
The choice we have to make is whether we settle for common grace, and often if we choose this, we will raise the things that God has graced us with, we will raise them up as idols. We can settle for common grace or we can accept his true loving, sacrificial saving grace. And when we choose that path, Gods saving grace, we need to remember that it was while we were unlovable, while we were yet sinners, that Christ dies for us.

Let’s Pray.