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

Luke 10: 25-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

Good Samaritan

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“they may indeed see but not perceive,

                and may indeed hear but not understand,

        lest they should turn and be forgiven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 9:37-43 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 9:10-17 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 9:1-9 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Ministry Expands

Luke 9:1-9

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Ministry Expands

          All right, lets turn in out Bibles to Luke chapter 9. We are continuing our walk-through Luke’s Gospel as he shows us that we can trust as true what we have heard about Jesus Christ. As always, if you do not have a Bible or you know someone who needs a Bible, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

So far, we have seen Jesus traveling around the region of Galilee and a brief foray across the Sea of Galilee into the Gentile region of the Gerasenes. We have seen Jesus heal; we have seen him resurrect people from the dead.

We have seen him travel, minister and heal both the Jewish people and the Gentiles as well. And we have seen him give them to different commands after he was finished. To the Gentiles, specifically the man who was demon possessed, he told him to go back to his family and tell them what God had done for him.  TO the Jews, specifically to the parents of the girl he resurrected in the passage we looked at last week, he says not to tell anyone what just happened.

But most importantly, we see that Gods healing and life-giving power are on display to both groups of people and are available to both groups of people.

We also see, that despite Jesus telling people not to tell anyone about some of the things that he did, word was getting out, word was spreading. He was becoming more and more know and people were flocking to hear him and see him. We are going to see these crowds in the upcoming stories that Luke will share in chapter 9.

But here today, we are going to read and look at Luke chapter 9, verses 1 through 9. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 9:1-9, Luke records, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

 

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.[a] And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

 

Thus, saith the Word of God.

 

Ok, so we see a couple of things here as we start off. First, it appears that the disciples in general and the Apostles specifically were not with Jesus 24/7/365 for the entire three years of Jesus earthly ministry. They had families, some still had jobs, they were not with him every second of every day.

We see that Jesus called the 12 to him. This is very likely when they went from being disciples to Apostles. And he gave them power and authority and he sends them out. He sends them out to preach the kingdom of God.

This reminds me of, among other places, Acts chapter 13. There, the church at Antioch knew that God had called Paul and Barnabas to His service. So, they fasted, prayed, laid hands on them and sent them out. This has that same feel. Jesus was calling the 12 to his service and he equipped them with power and authority and sent them out.

 

So, Ecclesiology is the study of the doctrine of the church.  How its set up, what it is, and who it is and who has authority. See, church leadership is no for whoever wants to be or whoever is popular or has the loudest voice or anything else. But it is a specific calling by God, calling by Jesus who is himself the head of the church.

Jesus chose these specific 12 to be the Apostles, plus Paul. It is their testimony upon which the church is built. And their testimony, starting with this assignment here is the testimony of who Jesus Christ is.

We see through the letters and through the book of Acts, we see the church being established. We see the church being put together and what it is designed to be and who is designed to play different roles. Different translations and different letters use different words, elders, bishops, but is all the same things. And Jesus gave us specific qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and in Titus chapter 1. The Bible is very clear on this. IF you think you are supposed to be in church leadership and you don’t meet these qualifications, your wrong.

Christ calls, Christ gives the qualifications, and the Bible is Christs Word.

 

Now, practically, it is not only the qualifications that you need, but training as well. That starts with Bible knowledge of course. Read your Bible, study your Bible, know your Bible. Study about your Bible, read about your Bible, know about your Bible. I went to school to learn about the Bible for a number of years, culminating in a master’s degree in the Bible.

And yet, my first sermon was a disaster. My first wedding, I forgot to tell everyone to sit down. My first funeral, not good. It took training. It took experience. It took practice. That’s what the Apostles are getting here from Jesus.

In a little while, In Luke’s Gospel, we are going to see Jesus leave Galilee and start his journey to Jerusalem and towards the cross. After his death and resurrection, he is going to tell the Apostles to take the Gospel to the ends of the world, teaching them all that Jesus command.

And so, they are to go out and proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And, like Jesus, their miracles, the healing and their authority over demons was to confirm that their testimony was true. And it was to show that Jesus had indeed sent them. They were like Ambassadors on a way. They were going out and speaking the words of their leaders, showing their power and authority that pointed back to their leader because it was given to them by their leader.

There was and has been no one like these 12 men. They were given very specific authority and very specific power at a very specific point in time to do a very specific job, to establish and build the church. There are no additional, modern day Apostles. Period.

Now, we get pieces of this job, pieces of this authority here today. We definitely get the same assignment, to proclaim the kingdom of God. But we fulfill our job, to build the church, in very different ways.

Philip Ryken, a Bible commentator writes, “We also, are called to heal- in other words, to minister to people’s material as well as spiritual needs. At certain times and in some places, this ministry may be miraculous, especially when the Gospel first penetrates a culture. In order to confirm the truth of his word, God certainly can and sometimes may heal people in miraculous ways. But whenever and wherever the church gets established, the church itself becomes the confirmation of the Gospel. How did people know that the Apostles were telling the truth about God’s kingdom? In part, because their miracles proved it. How do people know we are telling the truth about salvation, especially when they cannot see Jesus in person? People do not know this by our miracles, ordinarily, but as a community of Gods people we confirm the truth by our love, our suffering, and the sacrificial way we care for people’s needs.

 

          So, the purpose of the Apostles being sent out is to preach the Kingdom of God and to confirm the Gospel with their miraculous sings. When Jesus sends them out, he tells them to go without packing a lot of stuff or taking a lot of time to prepare. Just go.

 

He sent them out with the orders not to bring any supplies with them. Bring no staff, no money, no food, no extras. A question we have to ask here is “Is this passage prescriptive or descriptive?” What I mean by that is is this passage telling us what happened there? Or is it telling us something that we need to apply to ourselves as well.

In my opinion, in this case, it’s a little bit of both. I don’t believe that Jesus is literally telling us to not make provisions, plans and preparations. The scriptures clearly tell us often to take care, to plan ahead, to be responsible with our lives.

But Jesus also tells us clearly that to follow him means that we need to hold into things with an open hand, not with a firm grip. Jesus wants access to every part of our life. He wants us to not hold anything back from him.  When we surrender to him completely, leaving our bread, bag and money, leaving our job, our hometown, our pets, our country, holding them out to him in an open hand, he will take care of us.

 

Jesus told the Apostles to depend on the generosity of their fellow countrymen. Enter one house in town, stay there and then leave town. Don’t go from house to house within town. Part of the hospitality in Israel was making sure that you don’t overstay your welcome. So, this was also a way of Jesus telling them not to stay in anyone town for too long. Go in, share the Gospel, and move along.

 

So again, this is Jesus giving instructions for this mission specifically, not necessarily to all believers in general. Context matters. Jesus says the opposite in Luke 22. Paul spends a lot of time in his letters telling believers that they need to prepare and to live responsibly, to earn a living and to earn your keep.

Some people tend to experience paralysis by planning. Others tend to act without thinking or planning. Scripture shows us that both sides on this scale have their place and we need to use wisdom and discernment to read the situation and the context.

The Apostles go out and the sow seed, they preach the Gospel, and they move on. And for those who don’t receive the Gospel the Apostles are sharing Jesus tells them to symbolically shake the dust off their feet and move on.

This was a saying and a tradition that was well known in Israel. Some took this Idiom very literally. When they would travel out of Israel, and they came back, they would stop as they were going to come back into Israel and shake the pagan dust and dirt off their sandals so as not to contaminate the Holy Land.

The point was, go and share the Gospel, and move on. People will either accept it or reject it. There might be a progression that takes time, but there is no middle ground. The Apostles were to go and give everyone a chance to respond to the Gospel and then move on to the next. They went from village to village.

These, I think was a part of the basis for some of the mindset that was prevalent in Village Missions early on. The idea was that a missionary pastor would come to town and share the Gospel with everyone in town. After sharing it with everyone, it would be time to move to a different town and start over. Another missionary would come to town and do the same thing. Times have change and the so has the ministry philosophy for Village Missions. Now, the idea is to have a Missionary pastor become a part of the community, build roots and relationships, show the people that we really do love and care for the church and the community and limit that amount of turnover that happens. Again, showing that context and the situation determine what scripture demands of us in some cases.

As the Apostles did this, word was getting about this Jesus guy. Not about the Apostles, but about who they were testifying about. Who they received their power from.

Verses 7-9, show us that Herod started hearing about this Jesus guy and became curious. HE started asking that all important question, “Who is this Jesus guy?” Some said Jesus was an Old Testament Prophet come back. Some say he was Elijah, based on Old Testament prophecy. Some said it was John the Baptist, but Herod had John the Baptist beheaded, so that idea really spooked him.

Herod doesn’t get an answer just yet. But he sought to see him. He wanted to speak to Jesus, to see him in front of him and see for himself. WE are going to see Jesus ask this very question of his disciples in a few weeks’ time. Who do you say I am?

That’s the question that each and everyone of us must answer. Who do we say he is? This is literally the most important question we will answer in our lives. Either he is God, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ, or he is not.

If we know who he is, then and only then can we answer his call for us, whatever it is. We are all called to proclaim the kingdom of God. We are all called to do it with different gifts or different callings. Apostles then.

Pastors, Elders Deacons.

Evangelists, Shepherds, Teachers.

Gifts of Administration, Discernment, Exhortation, Faith, Giving, Healing, Helps, Hospitality, Knowledge, Leadership, Mercy, Wisdom and more.

 

These are the things that he equips us with and grants us power to do.

 

First, we answer “Who is Jesus?”

Then we answer, “What has he called me to do?”

Then we do it.

 

Lets  Pray

 

 

 

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

Luke 8:22-25

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Calms the Storm

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

But that’s not what this story is showing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Luke 8:16-21 Jesus is the Son of God Hear and Do.

Luke 8:16-21

Jesus is the Son of God

Hear and Do.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. IF you need a Bible, or if you know someone who needs a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Last week we looked at the parable of the 4 soils. And in that, we saw the four responses to the sowing the seeds of the Gospel. Once the Gospel is sown on good soil, once it is received and the hearer repents and believes in the Gospel, then a new life spring up. We see the scriptures say that with a life in Christ, good fruit will be produced.

The passage we are going to look at this morning, Jesus is going to look at some of the things that flow from that new heart. We are gong to see what it looks like in this new life in Christ.

Its important to know that this passage, the two briefs things that Luke is going to mention, they are immediately following what we looked at last week. Luke puts this immediately following the parable of the 4 soils and we have to make sure we don’t remove it form that context.  Jesus says during the parable last week, He who has ears, let him hear. And this week we will see that we are to both listen well, to rightly hear, and to put that into action, to obey what we hear.

So, with out further ado, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage. We will be reading Luke chapter 8 verses 16 through 21. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read out of your preferred translation. Luke 8:16-21.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following:

 

 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.

19 Then his mother and his brothers[b] came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

 

God Bless the Reading of the Word.

 

So, after we have received the seed of the Gospel on good soil, we are changed.  We are new creations, as Paul puts it. The Holy Spirit sparks a light inside of us.

I love the way God describes this process in Ezekiel 36:26 & 27, where he says: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

 

                God changes us from the inside out and he helps us to reflect Christ and his saving grace and forgiveness to the world around. Christ is the light of the world and we are to show that to all who come around us.

The lamps that are common in those days would be little more than long lasting candles, using oil instead of wax, but giving off not much more light than that. So, inside the houses, in order to get the most light, the most practical use out of it, people would make sure they were not covered or blocked in any way and elevate them, putting them high up so that the light that was given off would illuminate as much of the darkness as possible.

If we are to reflect the light of Christ, it would negate everything if we were to cover it up, or if we were to place it down, low to the ground. The purpose of light is both to be seen and to make everything else seen as well.

When we link this to the parable of the soils, we see that we have a clear and direct responsibility to sow good seed. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. There is no other way to be saved than to hear the word of od and respond to it. But we have a responsibility to share it in a way that people are able and willing to hear it. Sharing the Gospel, sharing Jesus Christ, sharing the good news of salvation always requires words. It always requires us to articulate the gospel. But our actions affect how people listen to us.

Paul Washer has a great quote I saw this week, he says: There is no way to preach the Gospel with your life. You can affirm the Gospel with your life, but you cannot preach the Gospel with your life. You can only preach the Gospel by opening up your mouth and speaking forth the Word of God.

 

          We are to live our lives according to the Word of God, loving the people and preaching the Word. In this we live our lives, shining light around us, living in a way that people are able to see, are willing to listen and have their hearts prepared to hear the Word of God. We are to make sure we make Jesus know and seen to all. Kent Hughes says that we are to shine the light in a way that those who hear it will be prepared for judgment day when all will be revealed.

Jesus says in verse 17, that all things that are hidden, all secrets that are held, all of it will be revealed in time. This has many layers of meaning to it. First, of course, is what we try to hide from each other, from ourselves and from God.

All that we hold inside of us, our sins, the state of our heart, the light inside us, and so much more, we may be able to temporarily, even temporally, succeed at keeping things hidden. But in the end, at the judgment, all things will be made known.

One of the keys to this as well, is that we can fool ourselves, hiding the truth from ourselves. Paul says in Romans that we suppress the truth in our unrighteousness.  We fool ourselves in regard to our standing in relation to the Gospel. I’ve shared this number many times but over 75% Of Americans consider themselves Christians. Many are wrong, thinking that their goodness or their lives will be good enough, or earn them enough favor with God to make it to heaven. Because we lie to ourselves, refuse to see our own sins. We tuck them away in the dark recesses of our hearts. We refuse to see them, until Christ shines his light on them.

This natural tendency and desire to cover up our sins goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Their sin had massive implications and repercussions for us even today and they immediately tried to hide from God and cover themselves. But we also see how long they were able to hide. Not very. God knew where they were. What is done in the dark will be brought to the light.

 

RC Sproul also points out another way that the truth will be brought to the light. In addition to our heart, our deeds and our sins, the truth of Gods Word will be brought to the light. The truth of Gods Word is denigrated, laughed out, hated, disbelieved and critiqued away as unreliable truth at best.

But as scriptures says, in the end, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD. The truth of Gods Word will be made known to every single person and every single soul. There will be no more unbelief, no more suppressing the truth. Unfortunately, too many will not have come to that realization in time. Too many will not know that there is grace, mercy and forgiveness even for their darkest moments, their darkest sins, their darkest actions and deeds, and will reach into the darkest corners of their heart.

 

Discernment is so important. So very important in many ways. This ties into our own standing before God but also how to have a right understanding of the teaching of God.

We, as followers of Christ, as believers, we are entrusted with the Gospel and all that that entails. This is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But this is also the teachings and the commands of Jesus as well.

IF we don’t rightly understand his teachings and his commands, then I don’t think we can rightly understand his Gospel. IF we don’t rightly understand his Gospel, then we have to wonder if we rightly understand or even have salvation.

Jesus says in verse 18, Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

 

          If we say we believe, it will be evidenced by our hearing correctly the teachings of Jesus and obeying them, bearing fruit, shining light in the darkness of the world around us. The more we do this, the more God will continue to grow us in him. Proverbs 9:9 says: Give instruction[b] to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

 

If we think that we believe, but don’t shine that light, don’t hear correctly, then even what we think we have, in the end, will not be ours. The consequences for not being truthful with our selves and with the Word of God is that we will not receive the things that we thought we had, namely the gift of salvation.

 

Jesus Mother and brothers came to see him. It is not without importance to note that this text shows us that Jesus had brothers, he had siblings and Mary was not a virgin her whole life and her whole marriage.

 

 

We don’t know why or what was going on. We don’t know if there was something major going on with the family and they needed to get ahold if him immediately or if they were just looking to see him and spend time with him.

But what we do know from this text is that they wanted to see and speak to Jesus, but the crowd was too big, and he was too busy. But someone came and told Jesus that they were there, looking for him.

Jesus says my mother and my brothers are those who hear my Words and do them. Jesus tells his disciples “If you love me, follow my commands.” The point of it is this, if you hear and do Jesus Word, you are Jesus family.

 

Here is what this does not mean. This does not mean that you have to disassociate with any and all of your unbelieving family and friends. This does not mean that you can or should only associate with your church family. This does not mean that physical, blood family doesn’t matter.

What it means is that Gods call comes above everything else in this world.

What it means is that we, as a church family, we have a connection that binds us together, sometimes, even closer and even tighter than blood relation.

We can share and understand certain things, things like baptism, like certain spiritual growth and milestones, we can understand those better and deeper than unbelieving physical family.

To be a part of the Kingdom of God is to be a part of His family. Adopted. Loved.

And in that, our physical, blood relation family should see the light of the Kingdom of God shining off of us, shining out of us. They should be able to see the work of Christ, in our lives.

RC Sproul says: The Point that Jesus is making is simple. He was saying that the light that comes from the Word of God is truth, the truth that must never be hidden. We’re not to take the Word of God, as we understand it and it takes root in our hearts and put it under a cover or hide it under the bed. Rather, we are to put it in a place of prominence where it can be made manifest and where it can be seen clearly by all who are present.

 

          The Word of God needs to take preeminence in our lives. The Word of God needs to be front and foremost. This is the very Word of God. These are the Words of Jesus. These are how we learn more about him and how we learn how to live according to his will.

Psalm 1 and Joshua chapter 1, among other places all exhort us to meditate on his Word day and night. Hearing the Word, believing in it, thinking on it, doing it. Do all things as unto the LORD.

I will finish with the words of one preacher who tells us, like James that we are to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. He says:

But hearing is worthless if it does not result in doing. Attention to Gods Word must be coupled with a willingness to do it, or the truth of it will fade.

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must forgive? Then do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must confess a wrongdoing? Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must apologize? So, Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must speak the truth regardless of the consequences? Then do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must discontinue a certain practice? Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must make a gift? Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must bear witness to an acquaintance? Do it today if you can!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must leave all to serve him? Do it!

          Or if you realize that you are a soil other than the good soil, repent and believe without delay! Ask God to put eternal life in your soul today and to produce the fruit of the spirit abundantly in your life.

 

Let’s Pray

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

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus is the Son of Man

How Forgiveness affects us

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thus, saith the Word of the LORD.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets Pray

Luke 7:18-35 Jesus is the Son of Man: John the Baptist Doubts

Luke 7:18-35

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist Doubts

 

 

          All right. Please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. IF you do not have a Bible, if you need one, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

Now, you might notice that we are going just a bit out of order today and for the next few weeks. Normally, our next passage would be Luke 7:11-17. However, we are going to skip over that passage temporarily and come back to that section on Easter Sunday.

So, we are looking at this next passage here this morning. Luke has been recording a number of signs, teachings, and evidence of Jesus’ power and authority. The Jewish nation had been waiting for this Messiah, this Christ, for thousands of years.

God the Father sent him, in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, second member of the trinity. But Jesus was not like what they expected. And this caused even his most ardent followers to wonder at times, Is this really the one?

So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 18 through 35. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke writes:

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[e] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus[f] began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,[g] having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

 

 

John was imprisoned at this point because he was publicly critiquing and calling out the King Herod  and his abhorrent morality. Even in prison, he and his disciples heard all about Jesus and his teachings, his miracles, his signs and wonders. His disciples came back and reported them to John.

John knew the message preached in the Sermon in the Plain. He had heard of the various healings that Jesus performed. He knew of Jesus raising the bot from the dead, which is what he temporarily skipped over this week.

John knew what he said when Jesus came to be baptized, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World.” He knew what he saw after Jesus he was baptized; The Holy Spirit descending like a dove, the Father’s words spoken loud and clear, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.”

John knew all this and had seen some of this with his own eyes… And yet…

And yet, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask the question, Are you the One? Or should we keep waiting?

John had some expectations regarding Jesus that he did not see being fulfilled. John knew has was the forerunner to the Messiah. And John was called to be a very specific person. He preached hell fire and brimstone, calling the Jewish leaders of the day a brood of vipers, calling them to baptism and repentance. We looked at why it would have been insulting to the Jewish leaders to be told they had to get baptized when we look at Johns ministry earlier in Luke’s Gospel. Only Gentiles who were converting to Judaism were supposed to be baptized, to wash, essentially, the gentile off of them. But John told them they had to do it too. John lived alone in the desert, ate locusts and honey, was one strange looking dude. And he was imprisoned. It would be safe to assume that John would have expected the Messiah to carry on his ministry, since he was the forerunner.

But Jesus ministry was vastly different than Johns. Jesus preached holiness and repentance and he preached on Hell, but he did so while preaching mercy, grace and compassion.

So, John was confused. It seems Hes thinking to himself, Did I get this wrong? Is he really the one? Or is he another forerunner like me? So, he sent the messengers to Jesus to ask him directly.

Now, part of our human nature is that we like to think the best of the people we like. We don’t like to acknowledge their faults or their weaknesses. This is a trap we can fall into with people characters as well. There are some who think that John didn’t actually have any doubts about Jesus. Instead, it was the disciples who passed the stories of Jesus along to John who were having doubts and that John sent them to ask in order to confirm their faith instead of his.

The problem is that this is nowhere in the text. When we prop people up, and ignore the fact that they are not perfect, when we put people up on a pedestal, especially Bible people, then we have to read into the text what isn’t there in order to justify our beliefs.

John was having doubts, he was confused and wondering. And he sends this question to Jesus. Jesus, when he receives this question, we see how he responds. He responds first with signs and wonders. He heals disease. He restores sight. He casts out demons and unclean spirits.

Jesus tells Johns to Disciples, “Go tell that to John.” Then he quotes scripture to them, Old Testament prophets who describe the ministry of the long-awaited Christ. Isaiah specifically, as Jesus quotes Isaiah 35:5 & 6, and Isaiah 61:1, which he also read during his first sermon in Nazareth, opening his public ministry. I think it’s important to notice how Jesus responds to John, he does so with dignity and patience. And he sends the disciples of John back to John with this affirmation of who He is, encouraging John in his faith, encouraging him through his doubts.

Notice what and when Jesus does next. It would be easy to dump on John for doubting. TO get frustrated at him for not understanding and for questioning. But Jesus doesn’t do that. Instead, he praises John.

John rejected luxury and riches. He didn’t tell people what they wanted to hear. He was indeed a genuine prophet. In fact, he was more than a prophet, he was also prophesied about. Verse 28, Jesus famously says that, “Among those born of a woman, none is greater than John.”

Luke writes parenthetically that God saves sinners, no matter who they are. No matter the outer appearance, those who trust in God, have faith in His son, will be justified. Those who, no matter what their appearance is, no matter who moral they act, no matter how conservatively they vote, if you reject God and his purposes, then you will be rejected as well.

Jesus then speaks to this generation. Its important to note that generation is not a limited generation. Often in the Bible, and the New Testament especially, generation is often used for the time between Jesus 1st coming and his upcoming 2nd coming. This is absolutely important when it comes to accurately understanding the context of the words of Jesus.

So, he is talking to those around him then and he is talking to us now, all a part of the same generation. And he says that this generation is like petty children. Each one trying to come up with a game for them to play, but nobody agreeing on anything. RC Sprouls describes it as children playing and some rejecting every suggestion or every game that another one suggests. It’s a no-win situation in which some are never satisfied, no matter what.

Jesus points out to the religious leaders, John came, didn’t drink, didn’t eat, and they rejected him and criticized him for it. And then Jesus comes along, eating and drinking, and they criticize him, saying, Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

          The religious leaders were not willing to hear anyone that God actually sent to speak to them. Because even if Jesus and John had different styles and focuses, they were both speaking the Words of God, and that challenged people. It challenged their view of self. It challenged their view that they were good enough, that they earned their good standing with God. Sure, they were looking forward to the promised Messiah, but they didn’t really feel like they needed him. We see this often today. A lot of people are looking forward to Jesus coming back, but they don’t really believe, live or act like it matters.

IF we don’t feel a need for Jesus and his saving grace, his saving work on the cross, then we won’t listen to anything that God has to say. We won’t feel the need to read his Word and to obey his commands. We won’t feel the need to confess our sins and to repent. We won’t realize that the right way is to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. And we wont trust in Christ alone for our salvation, thinking consciously or not that we can earn good and right standing before God.

But, as we know, Jonathon Edwards said, you don’t contribute anything to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul’s writes, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” If we reject that mediator, we reject God.

John the Baptist was the greatest born of women, but as Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3, that’s not enough. We need to be born of the Spirit. John obviously was this as well. It is simply through the grace of God alone that allows us to be born of the spirit. Ephesians 2 tells us that our faith is a gift from God, that’s through his grace. That faith, is the vehicle through which he pours out his salvation and through which the Holy Spirit changes our hearts from a dead heart of stone to a heart of flesh, born in the spirit. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

And that faith that he gives, we see this morning, through this example of John, this faith is big enough for the occasional doubts. Mark 9 tells the story of a man whose son is having trouble with an unclean spirit. He asks Jesus to heal the boy, Jesus responds that, “All things are possible to one who believes.” The father blurts out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

I think if we are all honest, we all have those times in our walk. John knew, probably stronger and more true than any of us could know, that Jesus was the one. That he was the Christ, the Messiah. I don’t know if anyone could have been as sure as John was. Leaping in the womb, seeing him as the Lamb of God, seeing the trinity after the Baptism. And then, through the circumstances of life in this fallen, broken world, he questioned, he doubted, he wondered. Then he knew again, Jesus walked through that time with him.

Our walk, our growth, our sanctification is not linear. Its is not a straight line up. IT is much more of a jumbled mess. Ups downs, lefts, rights, all over the place. The bigger the picture, the more we will see our walk improve, but if we narrow it in too much, we will see moments in our life that show up as dips or doubts or struggles.

Jesus ends this section saying that Yet wisdom is justified by all her children. Essentially this is another way of saying that we will know a tree by its fruit. Words mean nothing if not accompanied by actions. IF you have wisdom, that wisdom will bear many children. The effects of that wisdom will show up in a number of different ways. The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

If you are going through one of these times. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself. Jesus is still right there walking with you, bringing you through this season. HE uses his works his grace poured out on this world, and he uses his Word to testify to who he is. I don’t have all the answers, but I can point you to them. God is clear that the answers are contained in him and his Word.

Jesus is the Word incarnate. When you feel furthest from him, when you are having questions or doubts, that is the time to cling to Jesus the tightest. He has promised to never leave or forsake us. Cling to him, to that old Rugged Cross and he will bring you through the other side.

 

Let’s Pray.