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.

 

 

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

Luke 7:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Faith and Authority

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

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

 

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

Luke 6:37-45

Jesus is the Son of Man

Biblical Judgment

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

May God bless the reading of His holy Word.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Now, this is what this does NOT mean.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

What kind of bad fruit?  Here is one example.

 

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

 

 

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

Will we be blind, or have our eyes opened?

Will we be spiritually dead or spiritually alive?

Will we be goats or sheep?

Will we be and do wrong, or right?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray

Christmas 2020: Luke 2:1-20 How and Why Jesus Came

Christmas 2020
Luke 2:1-20
How and Why Jesus Came

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with and turn to Luke chapter 2. Yes, we are travelling backwards in time to October, which is when we recently looked at this text. Go ahead if your able and put your finger or a bookmark or whatever into Matthew chapter 1 as well.
You know, most pastors love doing their Christmas and Easter Sermons because its easy for them. It’s the same source material for each year, and its material they know intimately well. There are no more important days to Christianity than Christmas and Easter.
The stories and the verses in the Bible about Christmas are some of the most well know stories in the Bible by people in the congregation. We get so familiar with the texts and the themes.
But I’m going to be honest with you. These are the sermons that are really tough for me. Partly because we ARE so familiar with the stories of Christmas and Easter. Part of it is because these are the stories that you hear the most. We bring aspects of Jesus birth and incarnation and Jesus death and resurrection into, most if not all of the sermons we do on a weekly basis.
In this particular case, we add in that we just went through Luke chapter 2, and the birth of Jesus in October and this was a tough sermon to plan and prepare. So, here’s my thought, we are going to go back and camp in Luke chapter 2, reviewing his birth, with an emphasis on why Jesus came, for what purpose he was born.
We will bounce around into a lot of scriptures and let the Bible speak for itself in a lot of places. Because of this, and so that you’re not frantically trying to keep up and wasting time turning to pages that I am already moving on from, I’ve included in the bulletin a list of most, if not all of the scriptures that we will be reading during the sermon this morning, so please feel free to refer to that and turn ahead if needed.
So, let’s start first with the Christmas story itself, reading from Luke chapter 2, verse 1-20. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, please follow along in your Bible, with your preferred translation. The Word of God is inspired and inerrant and we believe in letting it speak for itself, so its absolutely important for you to read it for yourself and not just take anyone’s word for it.
Luke 2:1-20, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to write:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.[c
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

That’s the story we all know. That’s the story we all grew up hearing. This is the Christmas story. This is where we see Jesus born and brought into this world, and the effects are immediate.
Jesus, from Nazareth, born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, under the humblest and the lowliest of circumstances. This was all foretold, both in the recent past, to Mary and Joseph, and in the distant past, starting all the way back in Genesis 3.
And where I want to start is touching on just a few of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that God gave to the people of Israel that would lead to them waiting for the Messiah to arrive and that Jesus would fulfill.
Genesis 3 is where it starts. Setting the context, Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden, perfect, sinless and walking in perfect communion with God. The Serpent, or the devil, comes along and tempts Eve to go against the one command the God had given them. Adam, right there with Eve allows her to give in and gives in as well. Sin enters the world. Death enters the world. Sin has now infected mankind. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that if he would eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that he would surely die.
And so, now what? Adam and Eve are doomed, right? And so are any offspring coming from them. Except God. Except God already knew all about this> God knows and ordains the future and so he already had a plan for this before he even created Adam and Eve. So, after they sinned, God talks to Adam, Eve and the Serpent and says in Genesis 3:14 & 15:
The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
God the Father knew before then and told us that he was going to send a solution, a savior to rescue us from our sins, to restore our broken relationship with him and to grant us forgiveness and everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And so, throughout the Old Testament, through Genesis with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph. Through Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch with Moses and Joshua. Through the historical books with the judges, Ruth, King Saul, David, Solomon and the rest of the Kings. And through the prophets, God continued to foreshadow, to prophecy and to remind all people that there was one coming who was going to make everything right again, who was going to restore the peace and the rhythm of the world of which he created.
Real quick, two of the most famous prophecies we read in the Old Testament, two of those that are most common attached and used in the Christmas story; first, Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
One of the greatest Christmas songs there is is Oh Come, oh Come Immanuel. Read the Lyrics, seriously. Goosebumps. Immanuel means God with Us. That’s exactly what the messiah, the promised savior would be, God with us.
Second, Isaiah 9:6 & 7:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

This is who Jesus is and would be. This is what he would accomplish in many ways. He will reign from the throne of David, and his kingdom will be everlasting. It will be perfect, justice and righteous. We see the trinity hinted at in that passage as well. Counselor, Holy Spirit, Father, Son and Prince, Jesus Christ. All God.
So, everyone was waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. They were waiting for a few thousand years. We see God speaking to the prophet Malachi and then, nothing. Silence. For over 400 years. Not until we see the angel Gabriel show up to Zachariah and to Mary and Joseph prophesying the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah.
Luke records Gabriel showing up and speaking to Mary in Luke 1:26-35:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[d]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.

A virgin birth. The throne of David. Son of the Most High God. A Kingdom with no end. All things we saw prophesied about in the passages we just read. What they had been waiting for. And then, Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4&5: when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
God became man. God clothed in flesh. God with us. That’s How Jesus came to earth. How he was sent, by God the Father on a mission. That’s the how, now we let scripture tell us the why.
First, back to what the angels told the shepherds in the field the night that Jesus was born. Luke 2:10-14:
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

The Glory of God. Good News. Peace among Gods people. These are some of the reasons that Jesus Christ condescended from heaven, incarnated truly Go and truly man.
He came and he started preaching Good News, preaching the Word of God. He preached at the synagogue in Nazareth, recorded in Luke 4:17-21:
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Spiritual healing. Setting the captives free. Free from our bondage to that very sin we looked at moments ago that Adam cause to enter the world. Good news to those who are poor in spirit. Jesus says in Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And very importantly, Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the scriptures.
Now, Jesus is the cure for the disease that is sin. Sin is what separated us from God and what keeps us from pursuing him and reconciling with him. Because of sin, we are in rebellion, open war with God. Jesus brings peace.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

If this passage is ever used to pit people against each other, its being used wrongly and out of context. This is not the second group is better than the first group. The point of this is Jesus, the grace of God and the work that he did on our behalf. We are all born sinners and all live as sinners until God intervenes on our behalf. Jesus came into this world, intervening into history, on our behalf.
Why? Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus being born a human man was not enough. Remember that that wages of sin is death? Death is the consequence of sin. It is required to atone for sin. To make things right from sin. Jesus, living a life free from sin had no sin to atone for. He did not need to die because of sin. But he did so on our behalf. Paying the price, we could not pay. Atoning for our sin. Bringing forgiveness where we deserved none. Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection are the whole of his mission, to bring us back to God.
Paul sums up this Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Jesus fulfills the scriptures, the promises that were made thousands of years before hand. He fulfills a plan that was made before the creation of the world. Jesus is God become man. Jesus came to save sinners, one mediator between God and man.
Salvation, freedom from sin. Forgiveness. Eternal life with God. Citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Christs righteousness. All these things are available to us because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago. Available to us by the grace of God alone. Gods grace poured out on us, the vehicle for which is faith alone, no works, no deeds, no nothing on our end. The object of that faith shall be Christ alone. Jesus and only Jesus saves. There is one path to God the Father, and it is Jesus. And all of this as we have seen is for Gods Glory alone.
Ephesians 2:1-10 speaks to this, with Paul writing:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

This gift of God is free, though it is not what some would call Free Grace. Jesus doesn’t just save us so that we can stay as we are. Instead, he calls us to repent, to turn away from our sins, from our previous lives. The passage in 1 Corinthians 6 showed us that as well. There is a change in us if we meet Jesus and accept his gift by faith.

Lastly, God didn’t do any of this because he needs anything from us. He is trinity. Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Co eternal, Co-existence, One God. He wasn’t lonely or anything like that. But he does love us, his creations. And so that calm, starry night, 200 years, Jesus came down, in the fullness of time, to fulfill all prophecy and scripture to do something for us that we couldn’t do. That is what we celebrate at Christmas. That is what forget when we focus on anything other than the entire life and work and mission of Christ. Jesus born, but it didn’t end there, he lived and died and rose again and he is right now sitting on the throne of David, reigning and ruling over all of his creation.
So, we end with the most simple answer to the question: Why did Jesus come? WE let scripture answer, John 3:16-21:
“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Let’s Pray

Luke 5:1-11 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus First Disciples

Luke 5:1-11

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus First Disciples

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 5. As we really start to get into Jesus ministry here on earth, we get to see how people respond to him and how people today respond to him in those very same ways.

So, a brief overview of where we have been, of Jesus public ministry so far in the Gospel of Luke. We started in Nazareth where Jesus preached the Word of God, announced that he was the fulfillment of the Word and was rejected out of hand by his hometown. They wanted to kill him, and he was run out of town.

He then went down to the region around the Sea of Galilee, to the town of Capernaum. Now, they reacted exactly the opposite of how Nazareth did. They propped him up and wanted him to stay there. Jesus continued to preach the Word and seemingly because of their willingness to listen and believe, Jesus also performed many healings and cast out many demons during his time in Capernaum.

Stories about Jesus spread throughout the region and he gained many followers, people listening to his teachings and wanting to see him perform more miracles. But today is going to be the first time we see committed followers, actual disciples of Jesus the Messiah.

This morning we are going to read from Luke chapter 5, verses 1-11. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to read along in your preferred translation, always making sure to read for your self what the Word of God says.

Luke 5:1-11, Luke based off meticulous research and firsthand eyewitness interviews and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

 

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

 

 

Now, we see that the events of this passage take place during his time around Galilee. The lake of Gennesaret is another name for the Sea of Galilee. So, this week’s events take place during the time of the events we looked at last week. We know that it for sure takes place before v 39 when Jesus went into Simon, who was Peter’s house.

And that’s the first thing we will look at this morning. We know that each of the four Gospels are not written or put together strictly chronologically. So, we ask, why did Luke put both sections of chapter 4 before the events of chapter 5, some of which take place before some of the events of Chapter 4?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. The Gospel writes in general, and Luke here specifically will often group stories together because together, they make a point, or show a truth. It emphasizes something about Jesus that the Gospel writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit wants us to see and wants us to know.  In this case, Luke is showing the two different reactions and responses to Jesus and his teachings. One rejecting him completely and one accepting and continuing to listen to and follow his teachings.

 

Now, we see that on one occasion during his time in Capernaum, there were large crowds pushing up on Jesus. They were treating him like we see today with rock stars and celebrities. The crowds were pushing up on him like he was the Beatles or Elvis, and we know, despite John Lennon’s famous claim, that He is bigger than they are.

And they were doing so for good reasons actually. These people wanted to hear the Word of God preached by him. Scriptures says that. They were by the Sea of Galilee and pushing Jesus towards the sea.

There just happened to be two boats right by where he was being pushed up against the water. Of course, we know that nothing just happens, there is no “luckily,” God is sovereign over it all and he makes all things happen. These two boats were there for a reason. And we will see that reason.

There were two fishing boats there, they were in for the day. Fishermen would take their boats out during the night, bring them back in the morning, have breakfast and then work on whatever the boats needed, including washing and mending the nets they used. That’s what Peter and his partners were doing on the beach that morning.

Jesus commandeered Peters boat and had him push off the land into the water. Here he was able to sit, which again, was the custom when teaching in those days. The water also allowed there to be much better natural acoustics, not the last time we will see this be the case in Israel in Bible times. But remember this was a big crowd coming to listen to Jesus and he just made it so that they could all hear Him.

Now, we don’t get a report on what Jesus taught that morning. Sometimes we do because that’s the point of the passage that we are reading. This mornings passage is not about what Jesus was teaching but in the responses of people to the teachings of Jesus and therefore to Jesus himself.

So, after he was done teaching for the morning, he decides to show Simon, who was Peter, something. He tells him, go over here and put your nets out. Peter is often, if we are honest with ourselves, an example of how we all react, saying things that we all want to say, or that we all think but don’t say out loud.

What he says is that there is no reason to go put the nets down over there. They had been fishing all night and it was one of those nights where they just didn’t catch anything. Peters implication is “Jesus, your great at that preaching stuff! But now you’re encroaching on my turf. I’m the fisherman, I’m the expert here.”

And we do that often with Jesus. We come Sunday and whenever else and we give that time to him and we think we are doing such a good job. Then we get to wherever we go to, our job, our family, our school, our hobbies, whatever, and we act out “ok Jesus, I’ve got this now, I don’t need your help with this.”

But, to Peters credit, he does say, “Since you say so, Ill do it.” There is still obedience there. And he does this, in the middle of the day, when fish were known to avoid the waters where the nets might be, after being up all night on the boats, tossing the nets out, dragging them back in and being frustrated at them not catching anything, he still obeys.

And what Simon finds is that, quite simply, the LORD provides. The nets that Simon threw out there caught more fish than he could handle. It was going to break the nets. He had to call for his partners to help pull the fish in.

RC Sproul says that the record catch was a “Reward for obedience, not the result of skill or technique.” He was responding to the false idea that the fish were a result of anything that Simon did. It was a bona fide miracle from   Jesus. All Him, nothing of us. So, the second boat comes over and helps with the fish, but again, there are so many that the second boat begins to sink.

Now, notice the switch that happens with Simon at this point. Luke had been referring to him as Simon. Now he is listed as Simon Peter. This switch happens when Peter acknowledges and confess Jesus as LORD.

See when that happens, when we do that, our identity changes. We see it often in the Bible. We see it in this case with Simon, would have his name changed by Jesus to Peter.           His identity is changed, and Jesus gives name to that.

Now, we don’t have our names changed in these cases, but our identity still changes.

Our identity changes from sinner to saint.

Our identity changes from goat to sheep.

Our identity changes from child of the devil to a child of God.

Our identity changes from unrighteous to clothed in His righteousness.

Our identity changes from condemned to redeemed.

 

A prerequisite for our identity changing is what we see happen with Simon Peter. He recognizes his sinfulness. He recognizes that he is unworthy. He knows that God cannot be in the presence of sin. He was astonished at this fish miracle.

Simon Peter recognized and acknowledged who Jesus was. He was LORD. This was not just some great teacher they were listening to. He was so much more than that. He was God.

CS Lewis made a famous argument that Jesus, with all He said, had only three options. He was a Liar, making it all up to fool the people. Or he could have been a lunatic, truly believing that he was who he said he was but deluded in that belief. The last option was that he was in fact who he said he was. That he was God. That he was LORD. He was either a Liar, a Lunatic or LORD.

Simon Peter recognized which one he was. And not only he, but his partners as well. We know from Marks Gospel that Simons brother Andrew was there too and a part of this. We also see Luke specify here brothers James and John, the sons of Zebedee and they have probably the best nicknames in all of the Bible, the Sons of Thunder!

Faith is often contagious. It could have stopped with Simon Peter, but all four of them responded by faith. When one person comes to faith, often more people around them will as well, sometimes friends, sometimes family, whoever.

And we see no hesitation among those who consciously recognize Jesus as God. As soon as they knew, it was time to act. It was time to follow. This also shows that there is no time to hesitate in our decision to follow Christ. Death bed conversions do happen, but if you are banking on one, then you should be worried. You can’t bank on tomorrow; you never know if you will have tomorrow. But Jesus does promise eternity. Today is the day of salvation and salvation belongs to the LORD. Don’t out it off because you may not get another chance.

Jesus makes it clear to Simon Peter what he expects from him.   He was no longer going to be catching fish, but he would now be a fisher of men. He literally says that he will catch alive men, as if to rescue them from danger. In this case from eternal danger of Hellfire and brimstone.

As Philip Ryken relates, “People often say, ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for the day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ But Jesus shows us that if you teach a man to fish for men, the people he catches will live forever.”

Jesus gave them a call, a mission. He said to follow me. And they did. They dropped everything and left it all immediately. They left their businesses. They left comfort and knowledge of what tomorrow would bring. They left their livelihoods. You know I wonder if that might have had something to do with Simons mother-in-law being sick, wondering how this guy was going to take care of her daughter now that he was following this Jesus teacher guy…

Life in the church, a life of true faith is not a sectator sport. It is a life of action. It is a life of going and being fishers of men, casting our nets and letting God provide the catch. It is a life of actively pursuing God. It is a life of actively seeking to serve and obey him, of actively repenting of our sins. A life of faith is a life of action.

We see in this passage this morning the things that Jesus calls us to as disciples. He calls us to listen to his Word. He calls us t repent and grieve our sins. He calls us to tell others about Christ and who he is.
One commentator tells us about being fishers of men, writing: A fisherman never knows what he is going to catch. The catch is up to the sovereignty of God, as any fisherman can tell you.  But if a fisherman refuses to drag his net, he will never catch anything at all. The same is true in Christian evangelism. WE are called to cast a wide net by inviting our neighbors to Bible Study, bringing our friends to church, speaking to family members about spiritual things, supporting Christian broadcasting, sending out foreign missionaries, and sharing the Gospel in every way we can. This is our calling both as the church and as individual Christians.

As disciples of Christ, as disciples of Jesus, we are to show everyone we can who exactly Jesus is. He is the Messiah. He is God, the second member of the trinity. He is our savior. He is the one who died on the cross, shed his perfect blood, rose form the dead and is living and reigning right now in heaven. He is the King of Kings and the LORD of LORDs. He is the ultimate object of our love, affection and worship. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the creator of the universe.

When CS Lewis was setting out the three options, we have for our response to who Jesus claims to be, he ends it with this quote, which Ill close with us and then Ill pray. He sums up that section, writing:

You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 4:31-44 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Preaches the Word

Luke 4:31-44

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Preaches the Word

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Philip Ryken elaborates on this point, writing:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Let’s Pray.

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

Luke 4:14-30

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus rejected in Nazareth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Thus, ends the reading of Gods Holy Word.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

“Prove it.”

“Show me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Let’s Pray.

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

Luke 2:39-52

Jesus is the Son of Man

Young Jesus at the Temple

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

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

 

 

Luke 1:39-56 Jesus is the Son of God: Mary and Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-56

Jesus is the Son of God

Mary and Elizabeth

 

          Good Morning! Please grab with me, if you will, your Bibles and turn to Luke Chapter 1. So, as we are going through Luke, you can see that we are going to be taking awhile to get through. We are in the fourth sermon and still in Chapter 1, with at least a little longer as we move forward. Now, as I always mention, if you do not have or own a Bible, please grab one from the back or see me after the service for a Bible that is our gift to you.

Now, we have seen a lot in the previous three sermons as we start the Gospel of Luke. Remember First, we saw the purpose. Luke wrote this Gospel so that we may be convinced and assured of the things we have heard about Jesus who is the Christ. To ensure this, Luke did massive amounts of research, interviews with the main characters and eyewitnesses and went to the places these things happened.

And as he recounts this story, this truth of who Jesus is and what he has done, he spends a lot of time leading up to the birth of Jesus. And we are not there yet. First, the angel, Gabriel visited Zechariah, whose wife is Elizabeth. They were old, barren and righteous before the LORD. By the Word of the LORD, they would become pregnant. Their son would become John the Baptist.

6 months later, Gabriel would appear to Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph. She was young, a virgin, unmarried and childless. She was a cousin of Elizabeth she too would become pregnant. Her son would be Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the World.

When she didn’t understand how this would take place, Gabriel gave her a sign by telling her that her older, barren cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. With God, anything is possible. And in that, Mary submitted her will to Gods will.

And we are going to pick up right there, starting in verse 39. This morning we will read Luke chapter 1, verse 39-56. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version. I exhort you to read for yourself, in your preferred translation as I read the passage out loud. Luke 1:39-56.

Luke, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit records:

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be[g] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

So, after Gabriel left Mary, she likely wasn’t sure what to do next. Gabriel had told her that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. So, Mary hightailed it to Elizabeth’s. She likely left within a few days, at most. All the commentators I’ve seen estimate this journey at around 100 miles, a trip that would have taken her 3-4 days.

Mary would have been so excited for Elizabeth and she knew that Liz would be excited for her. I mean, this is big, this is physically impossible. Liz is really pregnant? After how long she has been waiting and trying and praying? Mary had to go see for herself. So, she went to another small, out of the way, nowhere, rural town.

And while Mary wanted to see and be excited for Liz, she also wanted to share with someone what had just happened to her. She wanted to tell others of her experience with God. Because those experiences change us. They will have an effect and they will make us want to spread it around.

And when God does something great in out lives, we want to share it, not just with everyone, but especially with those who will understand. We want to share it with those who will be genuinely happy and excited for us. For those who will support. In other words, with our church family.

Mary knew that Elizabeth was a righteous woman, that she believed in and worshiped the one, true God. The joy and encouragement that Elizabeth would be sharing with Mary would help confirm what just happened. It would give Mary the encouragement and strength to stay faithful and strong during those weak moments that always seem to pop up.

I know, for me, this last month has had some tough moment. During and around Daniels birth, I wasn’t down here as much. Two weeks ago, we didn’t have service due to the smoke and evacuations and those weeks, I felt it. I missed being around you all. I felt like I wasn’t doing my job as well. And then last week and this week, is getting together and worshipping, meeting Wednesday mornings. Talking to some of you throughout the week, I feel that weightlifting off my shoulders as we move forward. The need to be around and to share with other believers who will hold us accountable, yes, but to build us up and to encourage us and to genuinely pray for us, it is absolutely vital for our Christian walk in this world.

You know, especially during this pandemic, these last 6 months, Christians have been quick to point out that the church is the people not the building. And that’s very true. But it leaves something out. The word in the New Testament for the church, ecclesia, literally means gathering. So, we can’t be the church, the people are not the church without gathering as the church.

Kent Hughes writes:

Like Mary, we must fly to the church because we find people like Zechariah and Elizabeth who share a mutual faith, believing the same things. Mary’s faith, as great as it was, would very likely have faltered had it not been for the fellowship of Elizabeth. Therefore, we must purposely place ourselves deep within the fellowship of those who also believe God’s Word. Christians will naturally experience a mutual elevation of faith in the credo, the “I believes,” of the Church.

Like Mary, we must make a priority of being with those who share the mutual experience of miraculous new life within. The resonance of soul that comes from such mutually experience universally empowers all believers.

And like Mary, we must hurry to the community of faith because there we experience elevation through our mutual hope in the ultimate fulfillment our own new birth, as the Apostle John so memorably explained: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

 

You know, one of my favorite scriptures speak to this very same thing as well. Paul, when writing to the Romans, explained early on, one of his goals and desires for wanting to go and see them in person. He says in chapter 1, verses 11 & 12: For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

 

 

          So, Mary gets to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and what a meet up it was! One commentator makes the point that this was even more of a meeting that we see on the surface. John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He was there to pave the way and to announce the coming of the messiah, the coming of Jesus Christ, the son of God, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And Jesus was and is the Christ. He is the LORD of the covenant, instituting the New Covenant. This is was literally the meeting of the two covenants. And it was John beginning the fulfillment of his calling.

 

 

 

We see here that Mary, who would have left Nazareth almost immediately, was already pregnant when she got to Elizabeth. She already had fruit in her womb. When she showed up to Elizabeth, John leapt in her womb. Moms, you know this feeling. Dads, we can know a fraction of this, but Moms, you know exactly what Liz felt here. Luke already told us that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even in the womb.

And again, John, in the womb, a fetus, was already a person here. He was reacting to who was around him and he was being influenced by the Holy Spirit. Person hood exists before birth occurs.

And Liz was of course, super happy for Mary and what was happening. And this is key. It would be easy for Liz to focus on herself or to demand preferential treatment. But we see that both Mary and Elizabeth can be happy for each other, can encourage each other, can build each other up without it taking away from the other. It reminds me of Paul in Philippians 2:3, writing: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

 

          Elizabeth says to Mary that she is blessed. Again, as we emphasized last week, we are not lifting Mary up too high to a position of worship or to be prayed to. But we are careful no to swing the pendulum too far the other way and diminish the call and the faith of Mary. Mary is blessed by God, to be chosen for this honor to give birth to the second member of the trinity, God the Son, Jesus Christ.

Liz was also blessed because she gets to see Mary, the Mother of her LORD and gets to worship Christ before he is even born. We remember too that Mary is blessed because of her faith. She believed what the Angel Gabriel told her and submitted her will to the Gods Will.

One commentator brings up a great question. Elizabeth says in verse 45,  And blessed is she who believed that there would be[g] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And the question becomes, was Zechariah standing there hearing this. If so, did he take it as a rebuke? Remember his problem was that he did not believe what Gabriel said that God was going to do. But Mary was blessed because she did believe what Gabriel said God was going to do.

Now, Mary had a number of reasons to be worried. She was away from home. She was super young. She was a pregnant virgin whose reputation was going to be dragged through the mud in the next 9 months, let alone for the rest of her life. Even the pregnancy itself. She had never been pregnant. This was going to be all new to her. Moms, how much do you worry about the pregnancy and about the baby’s health as you go through those 9 months? And to do it for the first time, so young? And carrying the son of God? Fuhgeddaboudit.

And so, with so much to worry about, to stress over, Mary instead chooses to worship. And she lays out this song, it is widely held up as one of the greatest songs of worship ever. Its is called the Magnificat.

Song is such an important part of worship. We worship in all we do. Worship is more than singing, but Singin is one of the ways that God instructs us to worship.

Some people may ask why, a few months ago, we never stopped singing when the Governor told us we shouldn’t. It would be easy to answer and for it to be true that we sang in protest, or to prove a point. However, if we weren’t singing for the sole purpose of praising and worshipping God, then our hearts were wrong.

Mary here, pours out her heart and lifts it up to God. There’s a lot here that we don’t have time to get into this morning, but we will touch on some of the main themes and points. Alistair Begg says that this song announces that God is Mindful, He is Mighty, and He is Merciful.

HE is mindful of us all as individuals. He does not save or condemn nations or groups, but each individual has the opportunity to put our faith and trust in Christ, to repent of our sins and to worship and follow God. When God made a promise to bless the world through the seed of Abraham, that individual seed would come through the individual of Mary giving birth to the individual who was Jesus, the Savior. He saves us individually. We can not be saved because of our parents, or our children or our friends or whoever. We cannot save our children, our parents or anyone else. God saves each of us, is mindful of us individually.

God is mighty. He keeps his promises. He blesses the humble, the contrite. He takes down and he humbles the proud. This point is also a common refrain throughout the Gospel of Luke. A right heart and a right spirit are required for us to submit and turn our lives over to God.

IT takes a Mighty God to make that change in someone. Alistair Begg points out that nobody except someone who has had their heart changed by the Holy Spirit would want to know a Jesus who humbles you, who casts you down, who shows you you are blind before he opens your eyes.    A Mighty God changes those who encounter him and only God can change us that way.

A Mighty God is also a Merciful God. Because God is the one that changes us, it is his mercy through which he decides to change us. Gods mercy is powerful, it is mighty, it is worthy of our praise.

We are all recipients of that Mercy. Some people choose only to receive mercy in this world and this life. For them, Gods mercy runs out when the die and is not extended into eternity.

But, for everyone who enters in Jesus eternal kingdom, for everyone who worships God forever and ever, the story will be the same. Everyone who responds through faith, everyone we will meet in heaven every Christian, then, now, forever, we will all have the same story. Gods mercy was extended to me.

That’s what makes Christianity so different. It is Gods mercy, God’s grace that grants us salvation. Nothing we do. We live in a world full of pride, full of hubris. Look at all the politicians we see in the news on every side.  Look at the world leaders today and throughout history. All of them believe that either they don’t need any salvation, or that they can provide salvation. The truth is that God is Mightier that the Mighty and Greater than the Great.

Martin Lloyd Jones writes:

When the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords came into this world, he came into a stable. If you do not feel a sense of holy laughter within you, I do not see that you have the right to think that you are a Christian. Thank God, this is the Gospel, this is salvation. God turning upside down, reversing everything we have ever thought, everything we have taken pride in. The mighty? Why, he will pull them down from their seats. He has been doing so. He is still doing so. Let many arise and say he is going to govern, to be the god of the whole world; you need not be afraid- he will be put down. Every dictator has gone down; they all do. Finally, the devil and all that belongs to him will go down to the lake of fire and will be destroyed forever. The son of God has come into the world to do that.

 

 

It is easy to see the mercies and the grace of God when things are going smooth and easy. Its harder in times like we have seen in this country over the last 9 months or so. But his mercies are new every morning. And when we gather together for mutual edification, for the building up of each other’s faith, for God ordained fellowship, we are to sing those mercies.

 

I will sing of the mercy of the Lord forever.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

With my mouth will I make known,

thy faithfulness, thy faithfulness.

With my mouth will I make known,

thy faithfulness through all generations.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever,

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.[20]

 

 

Let’s Pray.