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

Luke 11:14-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus is the Strongest Man

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 11:14-26:

 

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

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

 

 

May God Bless the reading of his word…

 

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

 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence…

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

and sweet for bitter!

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-15:

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Now, we are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. His work changes us. His work defeated Satan.  And today we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus is the Son of Man

Mary & Martha

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

God Bless the Reading of His Word

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Philippians4:4-9, which Mike read earlier:

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

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

 

Matthew 11:28-30:

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

 

1 Peter 5:6-11:

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

 

And lastly, Ephesians 3:14-21:

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

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

Lets Pray

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

Luke 10: 25-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

Good Samaritan

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“they may indeed see but not perceive,

                and may indeed hear but not understand,

        lest they should turn and be forgiven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 10:1-16 Jesus is the Son of Man Accept or reject Jesus Christ!

Luke 10:1-16

Jesus is the Son of Man

Accept or reject Jesus Christ!

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn on our Bibles to Luke chapter 10. Caleb is so happy that we are out of Chapter 9! As always, if you do not have a Bible or need one, please see me after the service and I will get one to you.

As we continue past chapter 9 and into chapter 10, we see a renewed focus on Jesus’ purpose. First is his overall, number one purpose. This is the crucifixion that is going to take place in Jerusalem. This is the reason Jesus left heaven and came down to earth. This is his number one purpose and now that he was focused on getting there, nothing else was going to get in his way.

Second, as he was focused on and making his way to Jerusalem, Jesus was focused on training and teaching the Disciples to continue the ministry of preaching the Kingdom of God after Jesus left them.

Over the next number of chapters, we will see some miracles and sign and wonders, but much fewer. Even when we see those miracles, Jesus’ focus is going to be on using them to teach and prepare.

We have already seen this as Jesus has been calling people to follow him and at the same time, warning them about the obstacles and difficulties that it will entail. Following Christ, following him the way that he calls for us to follow him will require sacrifice, repentance and complete and total commitment.

 

Let’s go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 10, verses 1 through 16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab whichever version you prefer and follow along in your own Bible. Luke 10:1-16, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

 

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

We start off with, After this… Last week, the last few verses of Chapter 9, we saw Jesus calling people to follow him and three different instances where they don’t follow him.

This week we see Jesus sending out those who are following him, 72, or 70 depending on your translation, disciples, sent out 2 by 2. The number is significant for a few reasons.

First, we see that number back in Exodus 24 and Numbers 11 referring to Moses and other elders among the Israelites.  Two by Two is a biblical principle that goes all the way back as well. The Disciples and the Jewish leaders of that day would have known that instantly.

The number is also significant because it matches the number of nations of the world that came about that we see listed in Genesis 10, from the sons of Noah. So, following biblical patterns, first, we see Jesus send the 12 out to villages and towns of Israel. 12 disciples for 12 tribes of Israel.

Then he sends out 72, or 70 disciples out to every town and place He was going to go. 72 Disciples sent out for the 72 nations of the world. Jesus came first to Israel, and then to the Gentiles and that is the same pattern we see with these disciples and its what we see the Apostles do after Jesus’ ascension. They went first to the Jews, first to Israel, then to the Gentiles, to the nations of the world.

The Good News, the Gospel, Salvation is for all people and all nations. Whosoever believes. All who repent and trust in Christ by grace through faith. IT is not a different message or different standings for the Jews first and then the Gentiles. IT was the same message, Salvation through Christ, first to the Jews then the Gentiles, first to Israel then equally to the nations of the world.  And now there is no distinction. There is not Jew or Gentile, in terms of standing and salvation, no male or female, no slave or free. All are one in Christ. One people of God.

SO, Jesus sends these 72 out, the number symbolic but the mission literal. The missions were the same only expanded as what we saw in Luke 9:51-56. They were going ahead to the towns and villages that Jesus was going to, to prepare the way, make sure food and lodging were available.

The other thing these 72 show us is that the job of preparing the way for Jesus is not just up to the Apostles but was assigned to all of Jesus followers. And the job today of preparing the way for Jesus’ return is assigned to all of us followers of Jesus.

And Jesus then tells them something we have all heard, but often don’t think about too much. The Harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

You know, sometimes our instinct is the unknowingly think the opposite of this. Often, backed up with Matthew 7, where Jesus tells us the about the narrow path and the wide path, we assume that the laborers are plenty, but the harvest is few. He thinks that Heaven won’t be too crowded. We think that most people are really believers, and most people don’t know Christ.

We look at the world around us and its understandable why we think this, and we even have Bible verses to back us up, the aforementioned Matthew 7:13 & 14 for example. But as with many things that the Bible tells us, there is a balance, a middle ground, as if it were dependent on the context, when it comes to things like this.

Of course, this is not to say that all things in the Bible require a middle ground or compromise. Who Jesus is, for instance, is not up for negotiations. But when we see the Bible say too things that could possibly seem contradictory, it just might mean that both are true, depending on the context in which they are said. SO, when we try to look at who we think is in, and who we think is out, and we try to use the Bible to say, See? Only a few people will make it! Or see? Everyone or nearly everyone will make it! Well, we need to remember balance and context.

 

One of the keys to remember is that it is Jesus who is LORD of the Harvest. He is the only one who knows. In Johns Gospel, chapter 6, Jesus says that the Father is the one who sends them to Jesus, and all that come to him will not be reject. Jesus is the one who does the Harvesting, but he uses laborers.

So, pray that he would send out the laborers. And guess what, YOU ARE ONE OF THE LABORERS. 1 Corinthians 3 reminds us that we plant, we water but it is God that brings the increase.

God could save people however he wanted to. God could do it all. But he has revealed in his Word how we choose to bring salvation. People are saved by responding to the Word of God by the grace of God with faith in Christ.

Romans 10:13-17, Paul writes:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Christ sends us out to spread the message, to spread the word of God, so that those who are ready to respond, can hear the Word of God and respond to the offer of salvation.

But its not always that easy. Society is opposed to the Gospel message. And it will actively oppose our broadcasting and spreading of that message. So, Jesus sends us out as lambs among wolves. The Bible uses a lot of imagery about us being lambs, including the need for a shepherd, the Good Shepard being needed to keep the lambs safe and protected.

But here’s the other thing. We are not sent out as Wolves among Wolves. We are not to respond in kind. We are to make sure our tone and demeanor are appropriate for the call that God has calls us to. WE are not “allowed” to respond with the same negativity, the same name calling, the same underhanded tactics as those who oppose us. The Bible is clear that the Gospel message of salvation by Christ alone is offensive to those who don’t believe, it is a stumbling block to the world. But it is just as clear that we are not to be offensive, we are not to be stumbling blocks to the world around us.

V 4 shows Jesus giving instruction to the disciples before sending them out. And he is specifically speaking to our reliance on Christ alone for protection and provision. He is not literally telling all of us to go out barefoot.

Once the disciples get to the towns or villages, they are to be a blessing and to bring peace to all they come across. He says, and again we saw this before, when he sent out the 12, at the beginning of Luke 9, that they are to stay in just one home in town. Don’t move form house to house within the community. But accept the hospitality and generosity of those who are giving it. Don’t keep looking to move up whatever ladder it is and improve your own lot. Accept what is provided to you and be content with what God has provided.

 

Jesus tells them to go in and heal and do miracles and proclaim the Gospel. He assures the disciples and informs them so they can pass along the message that the Kingdom of God has come near you. This is not just some ethereal hope for the distant future, but it is here and now and now is the time to respond. The disciples are to lay this offer out to all they encounter.

Many will hear and many will respond in faith. But Jesus tells them, many will reject you, and by doing so, reject him. Rejection hurts. Not only personally, but also, when we know the value of what is being offered and the importance of it, it hurts that the people rejecting it don’t want any part of it.

Jesus recognizes that they disciples will want to call down fire on those who reject. Again, just like we saw with the Apostles and the Samarian village in Luke 9:54. He says, don’t…

Shake the dust off your sandals and move on. This was a symbolic gesture done by the Jews when they came from a place that was not of the People of God. So, Jesus is saying that those who reject Christ and his messengers, specifically his message, they are not a part of the People of God.

Nevertheless, even if the message is rejected, the Kingdom of God has still drawn near. Rejecting it, disbelieving it does not make it not true. Christ is still in control. He is still sovereign. You don’t have to believe it for it to be true. People rejecting God does not make him not God. It does not limit his power. It does not affect his plans or thwart his will.

The Bible makes it clear in multiple places that in the end, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. And for those who accept Christ now, who become a part of his Kingdom now, it will be great for them, for us.

The greatest, the biggest, the worst, the sin that will incur the greatest wrath from God, the worst judgment from God is the continual, unrepentant, unbelief and rejection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

For those who reject him, they will acknowledge him in the end, but it will not be good for them. Jesus says it will have been better for Sodom that for those who reject Christ.

Jesus is saying this while focusing on his upcoming crucifixion and bearing the wrath of God, feeling all Gods wrath for our sins. And I think part of the point is to make sure we don’t underestimate how deep and how complete the wrath of God is. His judgment and his justice will be perfect, and they will be complete. Sin will not receive a slap on the wrist. Sin will be dealt with and will be dealt with harshly.

Jesus continues, Woe! Woe to those who reject Christ. Woe to those who continue in their unrepentant sins, their worldly ways and their lifestyles.

In verse 16, Jesus tells them, to reject the message of Gods messengers is to reject Christ himself. And to reject Christ, to reject the scriptures, to reject the Word of God, to reject the Living Word, the Word incarnate, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to reject God himself.

The key to all of this is that the Kingdom of God has come near. Again, not some distant hope. But here and now. We live today, saved by faith, committed to Christ, repented of our sins, empowered by the Holy Spirit to grow, to be sanctified, to produce fruit. We are commissioned, all believers are commissioned to go and make disciples and share the coming of the Kingdom of God, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. We pray that God will send us and others out as laborers because the Harvest is plenty.

Ezekiel 33: 2-6:

If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

 

We are watchmen. We are laborers. We are disciple sent out to prepare the way, prepare the coming of the LORD. We share the good news, bringing peace and blessings to all we encounter. We go out as lambs among wolves. And offer the Word of God, which teaches that salvation from punishment for our sins is exclusively through the blood of Jesus Christ. We plant, we water.

But after that, we shake the dust from our hands. After we do what God has called us to do, then it’s in God’s hands. He brings the increase. Salvation belongs to the LORD.

I’ve shared them both before but I’m going to leave you with two Charles Spurgeon quotes about sharing the Gospel with all. He says:

“If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.'”

And then:

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

Let’s Pray

 

 

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

Luke 9:37-43

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Does what He does

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sproul continues:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

                            

2 Corinthians 2 Mans wisdom vs Gods Wisdom

 

Scripture Reading/ Call to Worship:

1 Corinthians 1:18-31:

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

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

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

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

 

Sermon Scripture:

 

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 9:18-27 Jesus is the Son of Man: Who Do you Say He Is?  

Luke 9:18-27

Jesus is the Son of Man

Who Do you Say He Is?

 

 

          All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

Earlier in the chapter, in verse 9, Herod, the puppet ruler of Galilee heard about many of the miracles and much of the teachings of this Jesus fellow. And he asks, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?”

Jesus was becoming well known. The stories of him have been spreading far and wide. He was becoming bona fide famous. Luke has been sharing these stories because, as he said in chapter 1, verse 4, “That you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

So, Luke has been recording & teaching the signs and wonders that Jesus is preforming. He is recording and sharing the teachings that Jesus is speaking. And these signs and wonders and these teachings were causing people to pay attention and they were asking just what Herod asked, “Who is this?”

SO, with that question on our mind, we will go ahead and read our passage for this morning, Luke chapter 9, verses 18 through 27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow and read along in your preferred translation. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records the following words of Jesus. Luke 9:18-27, he writes:

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Thus says the Word of God.

So, as we have mention previously, including last week, The Apostles are not always the brightest bunch of light bulbs. They are very much like you and me. They miss the points that Jesus is trying to tell them. They miss what Jesus is able to do and who he is.

Jesus finally just asks them, and he starts with “Who do people say I am?” And we see some of the same answers, the same thoughts and suggestions we saw when Herod was wondering who Jesus was.

Some say John the Baptist. Not everyone saw John and saw Jesus and especially not everyone saw them at the same time. They both had ministries around the same time and they both called people to repentance and taught on and spoke of the Kingdom of God. But Some also knew that Herod had John the Baptist put to death. So, it couldn’t be him, unless he came back from the dead, which, of course, Jesus would end up doing but John didn’t.

Some thought Jesus was Elijah come back. God prophesied in Malachi 4:5, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. Many thought that Jesus, because of him appearing to be a prophet to many of them, must be Elijah coming back, paving the way for the great and awesome day of the LORD. Jesus says elsewhere in the scriptures that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy, that John came in the spirit of Elijah. So, Jesus was not he.

So, who was Jesus? I think the Apostles got to the point where, to quote Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

We see the Apostles start to finally get it. Then Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Peter could see enough to now know that Jesus was the Christ, but he wouldn’t have a full grasp, a full view of what that actually meant, until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Peter was beginning to see. Peter was where we all start in our Christian walk.  Before we come to Christ, before he opens our eyes to who he is, we are all blinded. Sin invaded this world, and invaded humanity way back in Genesis 3, when the serpent deceived Adam and Eve. His lies and deceit blinded them to the reality around them. It blinded them to the fact that they were wandering around a perfect garden, naked and unashamed, with unprecedented access to the God who created them, created the garden they were walking around in, created the world and the entire universe. They had access to God that we can only hope for.

The enemy’s lies and sin invaded this world, and we are all blinded by it. What are we blinded to? Everything. Truth. We are blinded to who God is. We are blinded to the fact that there is but one God and only one pathway, Jesus Christ, to God. We are blinded to the fact that we are sinners. We are blinded to the affect that our sin has on us.

We are blinded to who Jesus Christ truly is, despite all the powers, works and miracles he did and still does. Despite the evidence in our lives, in the world around us. We are blinded to who he is and what he can do for us. He came to save us from our sins.

As we see with Adam and Eve, sin separates us from God and blinds us to the truth. Jesus came to reunite us to God and to open our eyes, heal our blindness. Just as he did with Peter and the disciples.

In Marks Gospel, Jesus preforms a healing right before the records Jesus question to Peter. This healing was different. It was not the instant healing that Jesus normally did. He healed a blind man, but at first, the man could see, but could not see clearly. He saw men walking around but he saw them as trees walking around. Jesus then finished the healing, completely and totally fixing the man’s eyes and allowing him to finally see clearly.

 

Now, it’s important to see that the healing of the blind man is not just another healing. It’s not even just a healing that parallels physical blindness with spiritual blindness. We see that, although Jesus could have instantly and completely healed the blind man, he chose not to. I believe he chose not to heal the physical blindness instantly because he wanted show us a Truth. I believe he wanted to make clear that our spiritual blindness does not get lifted instantly, but gradually, in stages.

We start by seeing some of the evidence of God around us. We start by seeing parts, bits and pieces. We see that we are sinners. We see that we cannot do anything to open our own eyes. And we cannot do anything to reconcile ourselves with God.

The single biggest moment of our eyes being opened is when we, just like Peter did here, recognize that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Messiah. That he is our savior and the only way to reconciliation with God.  When our eyes are opened to this point, we have a choice.

We all have a choice to make. You have a choice to make. When your eyes are open to the fat that Jesus is who he says he is, will you choose to acknowledge the truth that you now see? Romans 10:9 says, “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.”

Or you could ignore the truth and go on with your life. See, even when our eyes start to be opened, sin still has a powerful grip on us. It sits deep within us. It is us and it allows ourselves to be blissfully unaware, we can see the Truth, and ignore it, stamp it down and not allow ourselves to be confronted with it. The problem with that, is that if we never acknowledge the truth, if we never take the step and make the choice to confess Jesus as LORD, then we never get reconciled to God. If we never get reconciled to God, while that may lead to superficial, worldly fun, it means eternity separated from God. In layman’s terms, that means Hell.

But once we are confronted with the truth, once our eyes are opened to that point and we have a choice to make. A choice to open our eyes. A choice to make the confession of Jesus as LORD, to know that after we physically die, we will spend eternity with him in heave, Eternity with the kind of access to God that Adam and Eve had before the fall.

I say we have at that point a choice to open our eyes, because Jesus makes it clear that it is our responsibility to continue to have our eyes opened more and more.

Peter didn’t stop at this point. He didn’t see that Jesus was the Christ and sit back and wait for eternity in Heaven to begin. He continued to press forward. He continued to have his eyes opened more and more. He continued to grow spiritually. He screwed up. We will see an instance next week. We will see many more instances after that. But he went on to be the leader of the roman church. He went on to right two of the books of the Bible. He went on to preach at Pentecost and bring thousands upon thousands to Christ in the book of Acts.

We are not called to make a decision for Christ and go on living our lives the same. But our eyes are to continue to open, little bit by little bit. Jesus heals our spiritual blindness, and it will be healed completely when we get up to heaven, but our time on earth, it is a partial healing that heals more and more over time.

Paul talks in 1 Corinthians about our spiritual growth. The church in Corinth were believers, Jesus opened their eyes to who he was, but that was it. They didn’t do anything with their faith. In Ch 3, verses 1 & 2, he writes to them: But I, brothers,[a] could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,

Hebrews 6:1 says “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

          We are to continue to grow in and mature in our walk with Jesus. The more we run after him, the more we walk beside him, abide in him, in biblical language, the more we study his word, what he has for us, the more he will open our eyes to new and better things.

I know many of you here have been Christians for a long while. You have been reading your Bibles for many, many years. Some of you have a lot of it memorized. But if you are reading it still consistently, back me up on this, how often are you reading some passage you have read, no exaggeration, hundreds, if not thousands of times before and God shows you something completely new in that passage. Something that you have never noticed before in there. Jesus opening your eyes again, just a bit more. It never stops in our life.

We also need to remember the bit by bit that we start with. Paul talks about starting as spiritual infants, being fed with milk. Just like a growing child, after a long period of being fed milk, then we can move on to solid spiritual food. Remember that baby steps are still steps. And baby steps grow into big kid steps which grow into grown up steps.

Out of our growth, our walk and our maturing in Jesus comes works, comes fruit of the Spirit.

          We will give an account to God when we see him face to face. Paul assures us that if we get to the point where our eyes are opened by Jesus enough to make a decision to confess him as LORD, we will be saved from Hell. Period. But what we do after those matters and we will have to give an account of it. And yet, we will get to spend eternity in perfect heaven with him in perfect relationship.

I want to share two points of application I got from one of the resources I read for this passage.
First, we should never assume that, because we can see some truth, we know all truth. We need to be humble enough to realize that “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The time will come when we will see Jesus as He is, and then we will be like Him (1 John 3:1-3). Until then, let’s be humble enough to recognize there are things we do not yet see and understand.

 

And second, If we – and even apostles – do not fully understand the implications of what we see in the Scriptures or in Jesus, we need to be patient with others who do not understand what we think we understand. Sincere believers in Jesus who are seeking to follow Him as closely as possible will sometimes understand various things differently. We need to be patient with one another, always seeking better understanding ourselves and seeking to learn even from those who disagree with us. If we love only those who love us, what do we do more than others? If we are willing to learn only from those who agree with us, how will we ever correct our misunderstandings? Further, if we refuse actually to listen to them, why should we expect them to listen to us as well?

So, peter sees, his eyes are opened to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. But Peter still doesn’t understand what the Messiah would be. Jesus starts to teach them some of the things that they don’t understand. He knows that Israel does not have a full understanding of what the Messiah will look like, what some of the roles he would fulfill.

The rabbis, the religious leaders, would look at what we have as the Old Testament, and they saw the promise of the Messiah that God would send. The saw this conglomerate of what God was promising. They saw that the Messiah would be a King. And he is. They saw that the messiah would be a warrior. And he is. What they did not see was that he would suffer. And he would.

Now it’s very easy for us to look at the scriptures today and say, “How could they not see it?” We look at Isaiah, chapters 52 & 53, we see Psalm 22. I highly recommend you go and look at these passages if you haven’t recently. We look at them and we see such a clear view of who God told the Jews that the Messiah would be. He told the world hundreds of years before Jesus was born, how he would be born, how he would live and how he would die, and how he would not stay dead.

How did the Jewish Rabbis not see this? Well, in my research, it seems that instead of attributing these passages to the Messiah to come, the attributed them to Israel as a whole, symbolically, as them suffering in their wait for the coming Messiah.

So, Jesus starts to teach them. He starts to teach them as their eyes are now partially open. He teaches them that the Messiah MUST suffer. The Messiah MUST be rejected by the scribes, elders and the chief priests. The Messiah MUST be killed. The Messiah MUST rise again after three days.

These aren’t just things that Jesus was going to do, but these were things that the Messiah MUST do in order to be the Messiah, our savior. The study note in my Bible says about the word “must”: Behind this small word is all the weight of scriptural prophecy and divinely ordained necessity (9:31, Luke 22:37, 24:7, 26, 44) Jesus’ predictions concerning his death and resurrection come out of his understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.”

          And Jesus spoke this clearly. He did not speak in riddles, he did not speak in allusions or veiled references, he did not speak in parables. Here, talking to his disciples, who are now seeing him as the Messiah, he is teaching the things clearly, that the rest of the people around him, those who do not recognize him as the messiah, those who are challenging him, those who are hanging around because he is famous, teaching clearly to his disciples what others are not ready to hear.

So, Peter hears what Jesus is saying. He hears Jesus say that he is going to need to die. So, Peter, being a good Jew, and not fathoming that the Messiah would suffer such indignities, pulls Jesus aside.

Mark records in Chapter 8, verse 32 & 33:

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Mark says that Peter starts to rebuke Jesus. I don’t think I can adequately explain how strong the language is here.

The term rebuke here is usually saved for instances in the scripture of Jesus rebuking demons or unclean spirits…This was not as simple as Peter telling Jesus that he was wrong. Peter evidently was talking to Jesus, how Jesus spoke to demons. Peter still had a wrong image of who the Messiah would be. He expected a Political King. He expected a Military Warrior. He did not expect a Suffering Servant.

See, Peters eyes were open to Jesus being the Messiah, but his eyes, because of sin, were still subject to some blindness. Peter believed. Even when we believe, when we have the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to who Jesus is, we can still have some blindness. We can still be deceived. We can still get things wrong. The enemy can and will still trick us.

Peter was deceived, he was blinded to the truth of the situation. What Jesus said he MUST do, as the Messiah, Peter thought he knew better. He couldn’t conceive of it. He knew better. This conversation is recounted in Matthew 16 as well. In the NIV, it reads, ““Never, Lord!””This shall never happen to you!”

Peter would do whatever it took to stop Jesus from dying on the cross. He knew better than God what should or should not happen. Jesus recognized what this was and where it came from. He recognized that Peter was deceived by Satan, still blind in this area. See, Peter was tempting Jesus. He was saying, “You don’t really have to suffer, to be humiliated and scorned, You’re the Messiah, you should reign in Power instead…”

He was tempting Jesus the same way that Satan tempted him in the desert after his fasting. The temptation that Jesus could be the all-powerful, king of this world, if he just doesn’t submit to Gods will. If he would bow down to Satan. If he would refuse to be crucified and die for our sins. If he would refuse to follow the will of God, things would go so much better and be so much easier on him…That’s what Peter was tempting him with, and Jesus recognize it.

So, Jesus rebukes Peter. Again, this word is used very specifically in the Gospels. It has the connotation of control and having power over the person you are rebuking. That’s why it was such an issue that Peter was trying to rebuke Jesus. That’s why the demons that Jesus rebuked listened to him. And that’s why Jesus rebuked Peter here. And he rebukes Peter by rebuking Satan, who was the one driving the temptation.

Jesus showed Peter that he had his mind on the things of man, not on the things of God. In other words, he was looking at what made sense from man’s perspective, using mans, or the worlds wisdom, instead of trusting in the wisdom of God.

At this point, Jesus changes who he is addressing. He doesn’t turn away from his disciples or stop addressing them. But he had been addressing them privately. Now he turns to the crowds and starts to teach all who would think themselves followers of him.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, this passage is directly talking to you. If you are thinking about being a follower of Jesus Christ, this passage is directly talking to you. If you are not at all interested in following Jesus Christ, pay attention, this passage is directly talking to you.

Reread what Luke records:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

 

There are only two teams. There is Gods team and there is Satan’s team. There is no in between. So first, you have to make a choice. Which team are you on?

Now, if you choose Gods team, you win, and Satan loses. But Satan is not a good loser, he is a sore loser, and he will do whatever it takes to negate your part on the winning team. And the thing is, he doesn’t have to do much. Jesus is telling Peter to set his eyes on the things of God instead of the things of man.

If you are focused on yourself and your life. If you are focused on having your best life now, you will not have your best life then. When your mind is on the things of man, your mind is not on the things of God. You live a life based on what the world tells you is the best life. You live a life based on the wisdom of man, the wisdom of the world. You live a life that bears the wrong kind of fruit.

We are not told to take up anyone else’s cross except our own. God has given us each different gift. He has given us each different passions and different ministries and missions to focus on. He has given us all a different cross.

And we can lie to ourselves and tell ourselves things like, “I’m focusing on being the best me I can be for God.” or “God loves me, so he is OK with what I’m doing,” or “I’m just following my dream.” As Todd Akin says, God never said ‘follow your dreams’ He simply said ‘Follow Me.’”

In order for us to be focused 100 % on God, we have to trust him Jesus has promised, not that this life here and now will be wonderful and perfect and easy and without trouble. Jesus has promised us that if we believe in him, if we trust in him, if we confess his as LORD and savior and believe it in our heart, that we will have eternal life with him in perfect heaven.

Jesus continues and contrasts the two choices by asking, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life. What he is asking us is this. If we have a good life now, a great life now, our best life now, according to man’s thinking, according to the worlds thinking, but we give up eternity with Jesus in heaven, what have we gained?

Nothing. Everything we have here on this earth is perishable, but eternity is imperishable. Man, us, you and I, we think in the here and now. As much as we might fight against, and often we don’t, we cannot help but be drawn to instant gratification. CS Lewis says, ““You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”

          The way of the world, the fun that the world is having, the draw of everything we are being tempted with, it sucks us in. Jesus is that strongest spell that CS Lewis mentions. He will open our eyes to the blindness we have. and he will be the spell that allows us to wake from the evil enchantment of worldliness. Jesus finishes his teaching in this passage with a warning and a promise. He warns us that whoever is ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of in front of the Father on that day we come face to face with him.

But his promise is this. That the Son of Man will come in the glory of his father and with the Holy Angels. He starts his teachings in private with the disciples, warning & promising that the Son of Man must suffer. He ends it by publicly announcing and promising that the Son of Man will come in Glory.

Revelation 1:7, part of this morning’s scripture reading and part of the verse that was put on the reader board this week:

 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[b] on account of him. Even so. Amen.

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 8:40-56 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus heals two women

Luke 8:40-56

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus heals two women

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and open up our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. If you need a Bible, if you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one onto your hands as our gift to you.

 

Often times when God tells us to do something, if we actually hear him, we hear what he is telling us to do and we go full bore, full speed ahead, let nothing get in our way. One of the things we will see today is that God doesn’t always tell us to act that way. Sometimes he wants us to take the scenic route. Sometimes he tells us to take one step at a time. Sometimes he tells us what the end goal will be, but he still wants us to go through HIS process, not our way, but his path, his plan, his way.

The problem is that if we do what he wants us to do, and instead of doing it his way, we do it our own way, then our plan is a lost cause. We cannot achieve God Will, Gods Plans without doing it God’s way.

Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Mark includes the story we looked at last week and the story we will look at this week. Matthew, Mark and Luke share an incredible amount of the same stories in the Gospels.  Mark 5 has historically been called the St Jude chapter. St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. That is why we have St Jude s Children s Research Hospital, it is dedicated to incurable children s diseases, lost causes.

That’s what is seen in Mark Chapter 5, lost causes. Ns those are the stories Luke is sharing with us here in Luke chapter 8 as well.

We saw last week, the man who was possessed by many demons, who had been given up on as a lost cause by those around him. He lived in and spent his life in the tombs, exiled from everyone else. A Jesus made him new, made him right.

          This man was a lost cause to human effects. But Jesus showed that Lost causes in this world were not lost causes to the God the created the world with a word.

That brings us to this morning’s passage. This is a long section with three distinct parts so I’m going to take them a little at a time. Remember the setting. Jesus preaching all day on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, tired, he told the disciples to cross over the sea into the Gentile region. He got there, not the calmly, and was confronted by Legion, threw them out and the people in the area asked him to get back in the boat and go back. That’s where we pick up.

Overall, we will be reading Luke chapter 8, verses 40 through 56. But we will break it down into three sections, reading each one as we come to it. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and as always, I encourage you to read along and read for yourself in your preferred translation.

The first section we will be reading through is Luke 8:40-first half of v 42:

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

 

So Jesus crosses back over the Sea of Galilee and immediately is crowded up by a large group of people. We have seen throughout Luke’s Gospel that these people are following him and waiting to see his works, his miracles and whatever Jesus can do for them. Many of these are followers only in the literal sense of the word, not in the discipleship sense.

From the crowd, one man, named Jairus, comes up to him. Jairus, it says here was one of the rulers of the synagogue. Now, rule does not mean “in charge” in this case. This is more like an elder if we try to compare to current day churches.

It is likely that Jairus was one of these caretakers of the synagogue. He was a man that knew the Jewish religion, customs, all of that and he comes now and falls at Jesus feet. We see in Mark 5 that he tells Jesus, “My daughter is at the point of death, but if you lay your hands on her, she will be healed.”

The word eschatology means the study of last things, commonly we say the study of end times. The root word there, eschatos, means “last, utmost, or extreme.” This is the word that Jairus uses that is translated Point, when he says she is at the point of death. As RC Sproul puts it, “He was saying she was at her utmost extremity. She was at her very end. She was at Deaths door. She was breathing her very last. It was not that she was very sick and in intensive care; she was at the end of hospice care.”
          This daughter was not yet a lost cause, but if Jesus delayed at all, she would be dead. And death, in Jairus mind, and the mind of others, WAS a lost cause. And so, Jesus goes with Jairus and that’s where we pick up the second part of the story, with Jesus going with Jairus to heal Jairus’ daughter who is on her death bed, and they go with no time to lose.

So, we pick up in the second half of verse 42:

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians,[f] she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter[g] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

 

So as the crowd is all gathered around Jesus, bumping up against him, walking with him, jostling him, one lady makes her way towards him. Now this lady has been bleeding for 12 years at this point. She had spent all her money trying all different remedies. She went to every doctor she could. She tried everything humanly possible, and nothing helped. Nothing worked. Nothing relieved the bleeding. Her condition was a hopeless cause.

I know a guy who was a similar hopeless cause. He was in prime health and no medical problems. He came down with a case of what the Doctors are calling Fibra Maialgia. For the last 20 years, he has been to every Doctor, every specialist. He has tried every treatment, all that Western Medicine has, and many, many things that alternative medicine has. Some days are better than others, but overall, things have just gotten worse over the last 20 years. This is a man of incredible faith. He knows that God can heal him. But so far, he hasn’t. I picture him in a similar situation as this woman here, at least mentally and emotionally.

Now it’s not exactly the same. The bleeding this woman has been experiencing has made her unclean. She is not supposed to be in this crowd. She can’t sit in a chair in someone’s home. She can’t do anything related to the synagogues. This wasn’t unclean in the same extreme as leprosy, which we looked at earlier in Luke, but it was unclean.

She was desperate. She was willing to do anything. She had heard about Jesus and knew that he could heal her. She knew about the power he had been showing. She knew that he had healed, and why not her? But she knew that she was unclean and so couldn’t just go up to him like normal. So, she decided to just touch the edge of his robe. Surely if this man had been casting out unclean spirits, calming storms, healing other who had leprosy and other sicknesses, then if she could just touch his robe, there would be enough power to heal her…
And as soon as she touched his garment, she was. The blood stopped and the woman felt that she had been healed. Once again, complete and instantaneous.

Now comes the interesting part. Jesus did not consciously heal this woman. The power of God flowed out of him. Look at v. 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”

Jesus realized something happened, but he did not know what happened. He did not make the choice, yes woman, I heal you. See, If Jesus were only God, he would know. He would know the woman was coming up, he would know the woman was touching his garment, and he would say or thing, Yes, woman, I choose to heal you.

But Jesus is not just God. Jesus came down from Heaven and he became a man, a human man. When he did that, he voluntarily, temporarily set aside some of his divine powers. He did NOT set aside his divinity. He is 100% God and at the same time, 100% man. He was not pretending to be human. He was not pretending notto know. Much of the previous passages in Mark, are really trying to show us Jesus’ divinity. I believe one of the reasons this passage is here is to counter that by emphasizing his humanity.

Now, as a man, Jesus was more in tune with God the Father and the Holy spirit than any other human. And so, even though the disciples couldn’t believe that among all the hustle and bustle and bumping and jostling, that Jesus could tell that one specific person touched his garment, Jesus stopped, turned and asked who it was that touched him.

Now this lady was afraid! She had touched the edge of his garment and he felt it, he felt the power go out of him and into her, healing her. She didn’t know what he was going to do to her. She had been unclean and touch him. So, she goes and throws herself down at his mercy. Now most of you know the Gospels well enough to be able to predict Jesus move here. Does he rebuke her in any way? Does he tell how wrong she was, as an unclean woman to go up to him and secretly tough him? Does he tell her how she should have approach him and asked for the healing in person?

No, of course not. He says to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, Mark adds and be healed of your disease.” Jesus dd three things for the women with this statement. He publicly identified her. This is important because of the next two things he does. He commends her faith. She had the faith to go forward and reach out, to keep reaching out to God in as many different ways as possible. And finally, Jesus declared that she was healed. This made the healing complete; this made her clean. And it was public, so everyone saw.

Jesus took this lost cause, this woman who had this medical issue for a large chunk of her life.  He took this lost cause and he redeemed it. He showed his authority over it. And he showed his humanity.

Now, do you remember where we were in our story. Jesus had been on his way to see Jairus’ little girl, who was knocking on deaths door. They hadn’t a moment to lose. Jesus took a few moments with this lady and we pick the story back up with v 49:

 

 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.

 

So, the few moments Jesus took to interact with this woman came with a price.  The little girl had not been a lost cause. She had been deathly sick, but she had still been alive. Now, we get word, from someone in Jairus’ house, that the girl had died. This is where we wonder about the timing of Gods plans. In our heads, why would Jesus let himself to get “Sidetracked” from his mission to heal the letter girl.  We see afterward that Jesus was allowing the opportunity to show his authority of sickness and death. To show that he was who he said he was.

The person who came from Jairus’ house told Jairus, don’t waste Jesus’ time anymore. I can just picture Jairus’ reaction, just crest fallen, all the air let out of him, looking down and over at Jesus, saying, “I guess there is no reason for you to continue the trip to my house.”

But Jesus says to him, do not fear, but only believe. Jesus, Jairus, and Jesus’ inner three, Peter James and John, went on to Jairus’ house. When they got there, everyone was mourning the girl’s death, weeping and crying. Jesus Asked them why? The child is not dead, only sleeping.

This of course led them to mock him, and I can understand why. The girl was dead! These people didn’t know that Jesus was God. They knew him as a man. A powerful man, yes, but a man. So, Jesus was alone with the three disciples, the mother and Jairus and the dead girl and showed that his words had power. He took her by the hand and told her to get up.

What happened? “And the girl got up immediately. The key word here, once again, is immediately. Just like with the healing of Peters mother-in-law, she immediately got up and started moving about. Not just woke up but got up and started walking. And as any of us would be, they were amazed. Now there are two quick things I want to point out in the last few words of this passage.

The first thing I want to point out is that Jesus told them to get the girl something to eat. I believe he did this for two reasons. First, the girl was probably hungry. I’ve never been raised from the dead, but even though she didn’t do anything to cause it, it was all Jesus all the way, it had to be taxing on the body.

But I think it was also to show that, though this girl was raised by the supernatural power of God, this girl and her body was still a human body with human needs. Though she was miraculously healed, her body still needed food to continue living.

We forget that sometimes, don’t we? When God does a miracle in our lives, we often forget to follow up and take responsibility for going forward from that point.

Second, Jesus tells them not to tell anybody about this. This is in direct contrast to what he told the man who had Legion in him, that man he told to go tell all his friends what the LORD had done for him. This was not the first time either, that Jesus told people not to go around telling others about the miracles he did.

Why was this? Well, for the most part, his ministry was to the Jews. He was in Israel, and they were who were living there, He was the Messiah for God’s chosen people, and that was the Jews. But Jesus knew the grand plan, he knew what would happen when it came out that Jesus was proclaiming himself to be that very Messiah.

He knew that once the Jewish authorities realized what he was saying about himself, that it was only a matter of time before they killed him. He knew that now was not the time, so he told people not to publicize his work until he was ready. But in the Greek region, he was setting the groundwork for the Gospel coming to all nations, to all people. That’s why it was able to come to us.

John, early in his Gospel speaks to this, that Jesus came to the Jews first, to Israel first, and they did not receive him, Jesus them humbled himself even more, offering himself to the world. John 1:11-13 reads:

11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Jesus tells us that as God’s children, we are to humble ourselves, we are to remember to humility of Jesus and the sacrifice, the price that the forgiveness of our sins cost. And we are to celebrate the new life, the eternal life with Him that has been given to us and secured for us.

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 8:26-39 Jesus is the Son of Man: Demon Possessed Man

Luke 8:26-39

Jesus is the Son of Man

Demon Possessed Man

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray.