Luke 9:27-36 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Transfiguration

Luke 9:27-36

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Transfiguration

 

All right! Please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not own a Bible or have need of one, please let me know and we will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

. Many of the events or stories that are recorded in the Gospels here are somewhat famous. Many people know, at least in general terms, of some of the healings, or the feeding of the 5000. Many know of the calming of the storm and the walking on water. These, even if they are incredibly hard to believe, as they would be for those whose eyes God has not opened to the Truth, they are easy to picture.

They are easy to know, again, in general terms, what happened in those instances, even if the meanings and importance are not always understood. However, of the miracles, works and stories that are easily recognized, there is one especially that it seems as if nobody really knows what to do with. Some people can tell what the big picture meaning behind it is, or why it happened, but to really know and describe what happened, the transfiguration is one of the hardest to picture and communicate.

But it is arguably, one of the most important events in Jesus’ life and ministry to take place, one of the most important events in Jesus’ life and ministry for the disciples to witness.

How many of your Bibles have those little subheadings that give you an idea about what a section is about, or at least the different chapters? I will bet if you have this, many of your bibles will include verse 27 with the passage we look at last week. And the way Luke is going to phrase it, you can see why. But it fits really well the subject matter we are looking at today, with verses 28 through 36.

And so, I read it last week in that passage, but I didn’t expound on it. And I’m including it this week as we will expound on it, including it in the context of the rest of todays passage.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 27 through 36. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read along in whichever is your preferred translation.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

 

But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,[b] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One;[c] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

 

          May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

So, Jesus finished of last week by saying, But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.

There are a few opinions among theologians and bible scholars about what Jesus means here. What is it that will be seen as the kingdom of God coming with Power? Many, based on where this statement is, right before the transfiguration, believe that that is the event Jesus is talking about here.  Others say that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the event, and still others say the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given from Heaven unto all believers. There are good arguments to be made for each of those. And it might be one of those, but after doing research for this message, this passage, my view is that Jesus is talking about the temple being destroyed almost exactly 40 years after his death, after the time of him telling the disciples that some of them will see this.

RC Sproul explains the reasoning for this view: When these terrible events occurred in AD 70, the Christian Church was finally understood as an entity distinct from Judaism. It was no longer considered a subset or a sect within Judaism. The triumph of the Messiah’s church was made visible and manifest in power with the judgment of God on the Jews. And some of those present when Jesus prophesied the manifestation of the power of the kingdom, did in fact die between his announcement and the coming of the kingdom in power in 70 AD.

 

Sproul will continue on to say that he does know for sure that this is the correct answer, and I do not presume to know which one is correct, but I looked at a tiny bit of the evidence and decided I think this is the most likely. I encourage you to do the same, look up some of the evidence for the different views and see which one you think makes the most sense.

          8 days after telling the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer and die, and 8 days after he promised that the Son of Man will come in glory, Jesus leads Peter, John and James up onto a mountain alone. Peter and the brothers, the Sons of Zebedee, James and John are Jesus’ best friends, they are his inner core among the disciples, among the Apostles. They are his confidants. Often, scriptures shows that if it is not the whole group of Apostles with him, it is these three.

They go up on this mountain alone and Jesus is transfigured. It is interesting to me that Luke does not give any physical description of what happened to Jesus, not in a way that we can picture. His clothes turned dazzling white. His face was altered, but He doesn’t describe how his face was altered. Mathew tells us in his Gospel that his face shone like the sun. Pure light shone from him, not as a reflection like we see with the moon reflecting the sun, or with Moses’ face reflecting God’s glory in Exodus 34. This is one more piece of evidence to show that Jesus was who he said he was. But Luke doesn’t describe it specifically at all. I don’t think we were meant to know. This is, I think, one of the reasons that we have such a hard time with this story sometimes. We aren’t able to picture what happened very easily. As I mentioned at the beginning, those other stories, they are easy to picture, even if we don’t believe them. This, not so much. I think it would take too much focus away from the other things we are to take from this story if we had a clearer picture.

Now, one of the important things to notice is what words are used here. Mark says that Jesus was transfigured. The word in the Greek is metamorpho. Its where we get the word metamorphosis. It means to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. Now what makes this interesting is there is only one place this word occurs in the New Testament where it is not referring to Jesus’ transfiguration. In Romans 12, verse 2, Paul writes:

 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

 

Jesus was physically, visibly transformed up on that mountain, all those 2000 years ago. For a brief moment, his human body could no longer keep his glory hidden, but transformed into a preview of what we will see when he comes back in all his glory. Something happens to us, when we become disciples of Jesus Christ. We have a similar transformation inside of us.

Who we are before, who we are in the world is sin, is darkness? We live how we want to live. We do what we want to do and nobody else has any right to tell us anything differently. When we make the decision to follow Christ, to turn our life over to him, something has to change. We cannot expect to follow Jesus and have our lives stay the same. Something will change.

The Holy Spirit comes down brings with him a piece of the power of God. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot make ourselves better. We cannot, in the words of Pastor Alistair Begg, change our cosmic, spiritual grade from an F to an A. And we cannot change darkness into light. But God can. And Jesus can. To be sure, that’s what we see here, pure light coming off of Jesus.

We cannot change to darkness inside of us in light. Jesus does that for us, if we are willing to be used by him, to allow him. When he changes that, he expects things to change. He tells us to change things. Now, I say this often and I will continue to say it so that I will not be misunderstood. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Nothing we do can make us look better in Gods eyes than the darkness and sin he sees in us every time he looks at us.

But he changes us. He turns that light into darkness. And God no longer sees our unrighteousness. We are still just as unrighteous. Nothing about us has changed, nothing except that Jesus has covered us with his blood and the Holy Spirit has come and found a home inside of us.  Nothing we do from here on out makes us righteous. Nothing we do from here on out can maintain our right standing with God. We didn’t earn it and we can’t keep it.

But there is now a light inside of us, generated by the Holy Spirit. And Jesus says that this light is supposed to be reflected off of him and the Holy Spirit and be reflected in us to be shown to the world and the people around us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5, in his Sermon on The Mount, verses 14-16:

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

 

That light he is talking about is him. It is the hope of the world. It is the hope that even though we are undeserving sinners, who can nothing to change our selves, nothing good in and of ourselves, that there is a hope. That we can be transformed. Not that we will now be righteous, but that God will now see us as righteous.

          We have a question to ask ourselves right now. Are we reflecting the light of Jesus to those around us? I don’t mean are we talking about sin. I don’t mean are we reading our bibles. I don’t mean are we going to church every Sunday? I mean are we being a light, a beacon of hope for the people around us. Are we shining the true light of Jesus? Or are we hoarding it for ourselves?

Jesus was transfigured up on that mountain and who else do the disciples see with him? The Law and the Prophet. Moses and Elijah. They came as the two most revered men in the Old Testament. They came as symbols of the law that God gave to Israel and the prophets who told Israel about the coming Mighty Warrior King. They came to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of all this. The law was given to Israel to show the need for a savior, to show they could uphold the law all on their own. The prophecies were given to show that God had a plan all along and that none of it was an accident.

Jesus was the fulfillment of all of that. He was better than and above them. That’s why Peter wanting to build all three of them tents to stay in was a bad idea. Peter was putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus. He was putting the law and the prophets on the same level as grace and mercy.

Peter is once again like us today. Peter had an amazing spiritual experience. He got to see this moment, Jesus transfigured, Moses and Elijah. And he didn’t want it to end. He wanted to make camp up on the mount and have a permanent Bible Study with these three. He wanted to chase the feeling of the experience.

We often do that today. We don’t want to put in the work of studying the scriptures, praying without ceasing, dealing with the rough times, but still knowing that God is right there with us. We don’t always feel him, we don’t always see his hand at work, but we are told, and promised that he is with us til the end of the ages. We won’t have all our moments be mountain tops. We will have valleys. But our natural inclination is to avoid those valleys, avoid reality and seek out emotional highs, manufactured emotions that don’t last.

But God was quick to correct Peter. As the Glory of God as radiating from Jesus, heaven opened up and the Father said “This is my beloved Son;[c] listen to him.” God the Father was saying that Jesus was above Moses and above Elijah, he was God the Son. And we have the command to listen to him. What he says we are supposed to do. How he says we are supposed to live. And how we are to try to be like him as we spread the hope of Jesus to those around us.

Jesus gives us hope because he did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He paid the penalty for our sins. It cost him his broken body and his blood on the cross.

And today, being the first Sunday of the month, we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, which is the remembrance of his sacrifice, his act of pure true love for us. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Luke 9:10-17

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus feeds the 5000.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 8:1-15 Jesus is the Son of Man: Parable of the sower

Luke 8:1-15

Jesus is the Son of Man

Parable of the sower

          All right! Leets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. As always, if you don’t have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and I can get one to you as a gift from Bangor Community Church.

So, we have been walking through Luke’s Gospel over the last number of months. In chapter 6, Luke focused on Jesus teaching the right understanding of the Word of God. Jesus followed that up in Chapter 7 with his actions, showing that He was who he said He was. Jesus has showed us that he had the authority to say the things he said and to do the things he did.

Here in Chapter 8, we are going to see that some will believe and follow Jesus Christ.  But we will also see that not everyone will follow and believe.

We are going to read this morning’s passage in two parts. In total, we will read and look at Luke chapter 8, verses 1 through 15. And we will do it multiple parts. We are going to start with verses 1-3. As always, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation, reading for your yourself the Word of God.

So, starting with Luke 8:1-3, Luke writes:

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their means.

 

          So, we have seen throughout the Gospels, it is almost always the unexpected that are saved by Jesus and end up following him. Luke finished chapter 7 showing us the sinful woman whose sins were forgiven, as the most recent example.

And then Luke mentions these ladies here in verses 1 through 3. And this would be very scandalous, and it was put in very purposefully. Rabbis would not teach women during those days, so Jesus having these women as followers would have been unusual.

Luke is showing throughout his Gospel that Jesus’ teachings and his salvation were open to everyone. And He makes a very clear point that these ladies were an integral part of Jesus ministry and the Apostles as well. We see it throughout Luke’s Gospel and we also see it throughout the book of Acts as well.

Paul writes in Galatians 3:28,  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  We are all created with different roles, different functions, but with the same worth and same dignity, the same standing before God.

We will see in the parable that Jesus says that the only qualification one needs to become a follower of Christ, only one thing that is needed to become a child of God.

So, lets jump into that parable, reading Luke 8:4-8:

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

So, this is maybe one of the more famous parables that Jesus tells. It appears in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels and really kicks off a series of parables here in Marks Gospel. I want to make sure we really look at this and the explanation that Jesus will be giving because there is a lot going on here.

So, he starts off with the sower going out to sow some seed. When he does this, there are 4 results that Jesus shares. First, some of the seed was sown on a path, where the ground is hard. The seed is unable to get into the ground and just ends up sitting on top of the soil and being eaten by the birds.

Next, the seed falls on rocky ground. There is some soil there, the seed sprouts quickly, shoots up fast, but has very shallow roots, no foundation. So, when the sun comes out it gets scorched and withers and dries out very quickly.

Third, the seed falls among weeds and thorns. It starts to grow there, but the weeds do what weeds due and chokes out the good seed, so that it doesn’t produce any harvest or grain.

So, these were the first three of the four that Jesus told us about. Notice that, despite initial outward appearances, none of these three ends up yielding positive results. That’s going to end up in a pretty low success percentage. But Jesus is not done, and he gives one more example.

Fourthly, the seed is sown onto good soil. It produces grain and yields a harvest that increases its yield. It increases as much as 30 times, 60 times and 100 times.

Jesus lays out these 4 scenarios and then he says something odd. He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you?

When you are teaching someone, when you are talking to someone, do you usually say things like that? Don’t all ears hear? Shouldn’t all ears hear? Jesus is going to explain that and the meaning of the parable next.

Jesus continues on in verses 9-15:

 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 

When Jesus taught to the public, he taught in parables. He did this on purpose because once he was with his disciples, often when he was with the Twelve, he would then explain the parables and some of the disciples might even understand them.

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah here. The context of that passage in Isaiah is interesting. It’s in Isaiah 6, and God asks, whom should I send, who will go for us? Now the use of the word, “us” is a different point for a different time, but Isaiah responds and says, “Send me, I’ll go!”

Here is what God tells him his message to the people will be. Isaiah 6, verses 9&10:

Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,[c] but do not understand;
keep on seeing,[
d] but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[
e]

and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

I then read the study notes for this section and it helps connect what Jesus is saying and what God is saying to Isaiah.

My Bibles study notes say this: The proclamation of the Word is paradoxical in its effect. The prophetic word closes the way of God to those who are rebellious, proud and hypocritical, but opens it to the deaf, the blind, the humble and the poor.

That’s what we see the teachings of Jesus showing us. The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. We often see the disciples not understanding even after Jesus explains it to them.

But Jesus says here that they will make sense to those who are in the know. To those who are not in the know, no matter how clear you make it, they will not understand. To those who have hardened hearts, closed ears, the Gospel, the Word of God is foolishness. Paul tells us such in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 &19:

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

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

We will understand nothing that Jesus says, without Jesus or the Holy Spirit giving us understanding. Proverbs tells us this, James tells us this, we just saw Isaiah and Paul tell us this and Jesus tells us this.

 

So, Jesus addresses all four of the situations that he spoke of moments ago. For the most part, this addresses 4 different kinds of people and their responses. However, we could also look at it as four different stages of life or situations where we hear the Word and our responses to it.

So first, Jesus tells us what the seed is that is being sown. It is the Word; it is the Gospel.

The first place the seed is sown is along a well walk, well-worn path. Satan has done such a good job make this path wide and easy, that when the seed is sown, when the word is spoken, there is no hearing at all, no acknowledgment whatsoever. The seeds are sown and immediately it is taken away. Jesus uses a path here in this parable, and he uses a path again in one of the other Gospels. Matthew 7: 13&14, Jesus tells us about 2 different paths in the world.

For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Obviously, the path that these seeds were sown on was wide and easy.

The next situation is the seed sown on rocky ground, sprouting fast and withering quickly. I see this as someone who hears the word and starts to believe in their head, but has no heart change, no life change and as soon as troubles pop up, they bail. Practically, today, this could be someone who is walking along the path to, who is seeking, who is visiting church and interested in learning and seeking and something happens and turns them away.

The third is seeds sown among the thorns. I look at this and I see two specific instances that we see today. First is those who hear the word and may even intellectually believe, but at least acknowledge some validity to the Word. Yet, instead of changing their lives and handing it over to Christ, they refuse. They say, if I go ahead with this Bible stuff, with this Jesus stuff, I’ll have to give up all the things I like in my life. I’ll have to quit doing drugs and sleeping around, quit cheating, stealing, quit living for the world and I really don’t want to do that.  The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The second way I see this today is when someone is interested in hearing more, in seeing just what the Gospel is all about, but they are not willing or able to remove themselves from the people around them, friends, family, whatever, and they are so afraid of what those people around them will think that you can never get them into a one on one situation long enough to give them a chance to make a true, decision based on the Gospel.

I had one of these in my life a few years ago. He was mad at God and he would attack Christianity at any and all opportunity. I was able to live my life a way that allowed me to speak into his life IF and that is a big if, IF no one else was around. As soon as someone else was around, he felt, that to keep the image up and not open himself up to ridicule or whatever, he had to go on the offense.

Again, I want to point out that 3 of the 4 situations come away with a negative outcome. Again, see what Jesus said in Matthew, For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

One of the four, the last of the four is what Jesus desires. The seed sown on Good soil, hearing the word and accepting the Word and producing fruit. Now this section, this situation, this outcome includes all of us who are called children of God. If we are believers, we are in this 4th section here.

And there are a few things I want to point out now that Jesus is done explaining the parable.

First, when you are out there, sharing the seed, sharing the Word of God, most people will reject it in one of those three ways. Only one of the four ways is a positive outcome. I can’t stress this enough when it comes to us sharing the Word. Most people will not respond in genuine conversion, at least not right away. Our job as one sowing the seed is not to ensure the good fruit-growing from it. That is the Holy spirit’s job. Our job is to get the word out there, to get the seed sown.

Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3: verses 6-9:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

And here is the thing. We sowed seed this past week. You all here are well experienced with seed planting, helping out after the fire last year, the commodities food boxes each month, things like that. That seed has been and will be sown throughout Bangor and the surrounding communities. At that same time, the odds are against us seeing immediate, long term, genuine results. And whether it is there or not, is out of our control. God is the one to determine whether the seed sprouts and whether fruit grows or whether it doesn’t.

The seed that we have all and will all sow throughout the community, many of those seeds wont sprout. God says, “Don’t worry about that, I’ve got that.” Of the seeds that do sprout, not all are going to automatically come here. There are many reasons people will go to certain churches and not to others. Some of those are valid reasons, some of those are petty at best, but plain wrong in many instances.

My point is that God tells us to do what he has entrusted us to do, regardless of what the results are. He tells us to leave the anxiety, the worry, the stress behind and trust in gods goodness and his perfect knowledge, his perfect plan and his perfect will. If those who have heard the Gospel, if they respond, believe and repent, then getting them connected with a Gospel Preaching, Bible Teaching, Believer Discipling church is the number one thing. When we believe, we become part of Gods church, Gods family and so as long as we are committed to a local, discerning and orthodox church, orthodox, meaning right, historical, biblical beliefs. As long as new believers get hooked up with a church like that, they are good. My point in that is that we should not be discouraged if we are doing our job, doing what gods has called us to do and we don’t necessarily, especially early on and right away, see the numerical growth or the outward fruit of those works God calls us to do. The benefits of VBS, of commodities, of Fire outreach and relief, are not often or immediately seen. That doesn’t mean we stop doing it. We remember that God is in control of all of it.

Getting believers into God’s word is crucial. If there are no roots for the seed to grow and take hold, what is that root system? If there is an unrealistic expectation that there will be no troubles, that you become a Christian and you get rich and don’t get sick anymore, what is the foundation that shows us what god has and has not promised?

The Bible is where roots can take place. The Bible softens ground. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. One of the stories we shared and taught the kids this week, Matthew 7:24-27:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Bible, the Word of God, God’s revelation of himself and Jesus Christ is that foundation. With Gods word as our foundation, when those rains come, when the thorns try to choke us and when the lack of root system causes issues, we will persevere. God will bring us through. We will not avoid hard situations and we will have the rains come, but God brings us through that with our foundation, our faith, everything still standing.

The last thing I want to point out is the mystery that RC Sproul points out in this parable. I’m going to paraphrase him here. He says the mystery here is not moral teaching about human’s hardness of heart. But instead, the mystery of this parable is the paradox that God’s kingdom, God’s reign, Gods power, is identified here with a fragile seed.

His point is that true power shows up humbly. True leaders will walk with humility. Jesus Christ is God. He is all knowing, all powerful, all everything. He is the King!

And yet, he comes down to us here on Earth as a human baby. He comes down in the must humble way possible. He comes down and he makes himself one of us. He puts off till later his right to reign on earthly as a warrior king and instead he gives up his life to die the most humbling death. The death on the cross. He does this for the forgiveness of our sins.

That is the seed that gets sown, that gets thrown on the soil. That is the seed that was planted in each and every one of us. So, lastly, take a look and ask, question, look into yourself and see which one of these four results are you? Are you one sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Are you one sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Or, as I pray everyone here is, are you one sown on good soil, the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I ask that you take that question seriously, don’t just assume the answer, because those thorns, that rocky ground can trick us and be deceptive. They can look good and inviting and encouraging at first, but in them there is no true transformation, no true regeneration. If there is, if we have that transformation, if the seeds that are sown are sown on what God makes into Good soil, the fruit that comes out of it will be incredible and God will give the increase and fruit will be born thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

 

Lets PRay

Luke 6:46-49 Jesus is the Son of Man: What Wisdom Looks like

Luke 6:46-49

Jesus is the Son of Man

What Wisdom Looks like

 

All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 6. As always, if you don’t have a Bible or need to give one to someone, see me after the service and I will get one for you.

So, in the midst of this portion of teaching by Jesus, he has showed us a number of things.  He has shown us the need for right and biblical discernment. He has touched on the how to rightly and authentically love our enemies. He has shown us the right way to judge and confront sin.

All of the things that Jesus has been teaching us, they all have some things in common. They are all issues of the heart as opposed to issues of outward obedience. Most importantly, and tied to the rest, these are all issues of needing wisdom.

Jesus address wisdom much more blatantly and outright here at the end of his teaching passage, the passage we are looking at this morning. And it’s important to know that this is the undertone of all of Jesus teachings; wisdom, discernment, and making sure you have a right heart through all of it.

So, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this morning, the last few words that Jesus teaches on the Sermon on the Plain, Luke chapter 6, verses 46 through 49. I will, as usual, be reading out of the English Standard Version. I love that we have so many different translations here in the congregation, and I encourage you to read along with your preferred translation, so that you are reading for yourself what the Word of God says.

Luke 6:46-49, Luke records Jesus finishing his teaching, writing:

 

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[c] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

 

 

Jesus is nothing if not blunt and straightforward. When Jesus asks this question, he is calling out the blatant and complete hypocrisy that is in the crowd. He goes into greater detail and gives harsher warnings in the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to Matthews recording, chapter 7:21-23:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

See, Jesus is not talking to unbelievers. He is talking to those who claim to know him. And its in two parts really. See, we have an epidemic in this country. Not only in this country, but throughout the world, and it has been going on since the first century. Jesus is speaking to it right now. Why do you call me LORD, but not do what I say?

He is not talking about the type of thing that Paul talks about in Romans 7. Paul’s says that the things he wants to do, he doesn’t, and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does. Jesus isn’t referring to this here. Honest, faithful, honest to goodness Christians, who have been saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, will sin. That is an unfortunate fact of life. Jesus talks a lot about that, but right here and now he isn’t talking about that.

Jesus is addressing to groups of self-identified Christians here. First group are those who claim the name of Jesus, but that’s it. I’ve quoted these stats to you before, but 91 % of Americans believe in “a god.” 91% believer that there is something or someone out there that is bigger than us.

Something like 76% of Americans call themselves Christians. That’s a lot. And if that was true, that 76% of Americans actually were Christians, this country would look completely different. But we all know that number is not accurate. You can walk up and down the street and talk to everyone you meet, and most of them would say, Yes, I believe in Jesus. I believe I’m going to heaven. I’m a good person. Every president we have had in this country has called themselves a Christian. All I know is that the last number of them have not shown any fruit of that.

They say they believe in Jesus, but he is asking, why wont you do what I say? Because they don’t actually believe. They don’t believe that they need a savior. They don’t believe in anything supernatural. They don’t believe that Jesus is God clothed in flesh, they don’t believe that the Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God and they don’t believe thy have to live by what it says.  God is love and he has forgiven us all and I don’t need to let it affect my life in any way. And so, they don’t. There is no fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of wisdom.

But that’s not the only group Jesus is addressing here. RC Sproul points out that Jesus is also talking to those “who claim, not just a passing knowledge of Jesus, but a deep, intimate, sincere relationship with Christ.”

Not every gathering that calls themselves a church is actually a church. Not every leader who calls themselves a pastor is actually a pastor. Not everyone who says LORD, LORD knows the true and biblical Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake, the LORD will not be mocked. We see these so-called churches, and so-called pastors being exposed left and right. Churches that have been teaching false doctrines, and heresy for many years. Pastors who believe they are above Gods law and can do whatever they want to whomever they want. Sexual abuse, affairs, corruption, abuse of power, bullying, arrogance, and so much more.

People who are deceived by these churches and pastors into doing what they believe is the work of God, in Gods name. But in reality, they are being taught and fed and false God, a false Jesus, false teachings, false works and unfortunately, a false salvation.

It is so important for us to define our terms when teaching and talking and witnessing. Who is God? Is it who the Bible says he is? Or who we feel and thing he is? Who is Jesus Christ? Is he who the Bible says he is? God, Man, both. Incarnated, Perfect and sinless, crucified, resurrected, ascended. Or was he who humans say he is, a good teacher, God in heaven, but no on earth, an example that we can become, doing miracles and healings, just like he did? What is the Bible? Is it the Word of God himself? IS it, God breathed, profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness? Or is its good rule book for life? A parable for living.

IF your understanding of the Bible, its authority and its inerrancy, is different than what the Bible says about itself, Your wrong. Your wrong about the Bible and you are going to be wrong about what it says. If your definition and your description of God differ from what the Bible says, you’re following a false god. If your definition and description of who Jesus is is different from who and what the Bible says he is, you’re following a false Jesus. And there is no forgiveness in a false Jesus. No salvation in a false Jesus.

Jesus has made it clear throughout our walk-through Luke’s Gospel who he is, his authority, his power and his deity. And so, after he questions those who are following him, he lays it out. Here is what it looks like to follow me, to be an actual and true follower of Christ.

Scripture is clear on what it is to be a follower of Christ. IN the context of what he is saying here, James tells us to be doers of the word, not hearers only. Jesus says elsewhere, if you love me, follow my commands.

Kent Hughes recounts a story of knowledge and action being more important than simple book learning. He writes:

A young Korean man traveled a great distance to the home of the missionary who led him to Christ, then announce the reason for his visit: “I have been memorizing some verses of the Bible, and I want to quote them to you.”

          The missionary listened as the young man recited, without error, the entire Sermon on the Mount. He commended the young man for the remarkable feat of memory. Then, being a good missionary, he cautioned the young man to not only say the Scriptures, but to practice them. The man responded, “Oh, that is the way I learned them. I tried to memorize them, but they wouldn’t stick, so I made a plan. First, I would memorize a verse. Then I would do it to a neighbor. After that, I found that I could remember it.”

 

          One of the morals of that story and of what Jesus is telling us is that anyone can say anything, whatever they want. What we say matters, but its not just about what we say. Our actions matched with our words are what matters most.

He speaks of the wise man, the one who hears what Jesus says, really hears him and then, gasp, does what he says. He builds his house digging deep down to the rock, building a firm foundation. That house will stand against the storms that come.

We all have a foundation upon which our life and our eternity are built on. Wisdom determines the foundation. Wisdom dictates that we build our foundation upon the strongest rock that there is.

Many of our best hymns speak to the fact that Jesus himself is our foundation. One we sing here often; Jesus is our firm foundation. I know I can stand secure. Another of my favorites, On Christ the Sold Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus is the foundation we build our house upon. Specifically, we look at Ephesians 2:19-22, where Paul writes:

you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[e] the Spirit.

 

 

Scripture shows us that the foundation of the household of God is the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus being the most important piece the corner stone, the piece that makes sure the rest line up, stay straight and do what they are supposed to do. The cornerstone anchors the foundation. He makes the foundation firm and stable and secure.

Revelation 21 shows us that the New Jerusalem is built on 12 foundations named for the Apostles and the prophets. We looked previously that the Apostles and Prophets ministry, the foundation that they built is the very Word of God. They went out and they shared the Word of God. That is the foundation of the church, of the household of God, the Word of God. And we know from John 1, that Jesus is the Word of God. The Word made flesh. It is equally true to say that Jesus is our foundation, and the Bible is our foundation because the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Word.

 

I was talking to a former pastor this past week and one of the topics that came up was that the job of pastor can be incredibly discouraging at times. There are times, as one example, where pastors feel like what Jesus is saying here, you call him Lord, Lord but won’t do what he tells you to!

This week has been an especially powerful reminder of the times of discouragement and how the firm foundation of Christ will sustain you.

This week marks three years that Hope and I have been here in Bangor. Those three years have moved incredibly fast. The previous three years felt like a lifetime and were full of discouragement. At times, it felt like we were banging our heads against a brick wall. There were good times too and some great friends that we made and continue with, but the ministry where we were was a lot of discouragement.

The three years we have been here in Bangor have been the exact opposite. As with any ministry, and anytime time humans are involved, there are trials, there are disagreements, struggles, and so on. And don’t ask, because I’m not going to get into the specifics of any of those.

It hasn’t always been easy, but Jesus has been our firm foundation. God has confirmed time and time again that he has placed Hope and I here. This is where we are supposed to be, and we pray that it is permanent. That assurance, that foundation has allowed us to be content, to be settles, even through the storms that come.

With a firm foundation, with assurance, anything is bearable. Any storm is tolerable and able to be gotten through. No one, especially Jesus said that it is going to be easy and with out harm. But it is able to be gotten through. We know where our hope comes from, God above, the maker of Heaven and Earth, His Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ and his Gospel, it is the power of God to salvation, for all who believe.

Our hope is in Christ. It is not in the church, whether the gathering of believers or the building. It is not in, of course, our selves or our good works. It is not in pastors and preachers.

As I said earlier, many churches and pastors are falling, it is coming to light often, sometimes it feels like every day another one comes out, that churches and pastors who are keeping evil hidden and failing to follow the words of Christ are being revealed to the World. Hillsong, Bethel, Harvest, Willow Creek. Churches that either taught blatant false teachings, following a false Jesus, or covered up pastoral abuses and corruption, watering down the Word of God. Men like Bill Hybels, James McDonald, Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacarias. Men who took advantage of their position, let it go to their heads and covered up and hid sin, some incredibly heinous sins.

But Jesus tells us our hope, our foundation is not in them. But on the Gospel. Mark Driscoll was one who hit me hard. When I first started going o church, I listened to him a lot. I heard the true Gospel loud and clear. I heard great teaching and it helped me grow in my faith to the point where I can honestly say that I probably would not be a pastor if not for the influence his ministry had on me.

But when he was disqualified from ministry, that did not negate my salvation, it did not cause my growth to be erased. For my hope and my salvation is not based on him, but the firm foundation of the Gospel that I heard preached over and over again.

Our house in the kingdom of heaven is built upon foundation that cannot be shaken. It is not built on our power and righteousness, but on Christs. Even when the storms come, if a wall gets knocked down, if the wind rips the roof off, if windows get broken, because of our sin. Even then, our foundation is still built on solid rock. We can rebuild and repair the house because of that foundation.

Without that foundation of Christ, we will fall, our hope and our house will fall. Without Christ, we have no hope at all. With out that foundation, we have no hope for eternity. With no foundation we will continually try harder and lean more on ourselves trying to keep a sinking house above ground, something we cannot hope to accomplish. So, we trust in our behavior more and more, our ability to follow the rules, like the pharisees we read about, but our heart hasn’t changed and does not abide in Christ.  It’s a vicious cycle that can only end when Jesus saves us.

Bruce Larson writes:

Watchman Nee talks about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. “No matter how much I pray,” said the man, “no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my LORD. I think I’m losing my salvation.” And Nee said, “DO you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen, I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my Kingdom? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christs heir because it is for you that He died.” So, it is with us. We are Christs heirs, not through our perfection, but by means of his grace.

 

We are able to rest easy, to put all our burdens on Jesus Christ, for his yoke is easy, his burden is light. With Jesus as our foundation, we stake our hope on him, and rest easy, knowing that we are secure in his hands, by his grace.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 5:12-26 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Cleanses

Luke 5:12-26
Jesus is the Son of Man
Jesus Cleanses

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 5.
We are continuing through our series looking the Gospel of Dr Luke. He wrote this Gospel, as he says in the first few verses, so that, in regards to Jesus Christ, that we may have certainty in what we have been taught.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen Jesus start his earthly ministry. HE started preaching the Word in Nazareth. He started performing signs and wonders. He started healing.
And this morning, we are going to look at two specific and different healings that Jesus performs and the deeper meanings behind them and how people reacted to them.
And one of the first things to look at is that we often have inaccurate expectations of God. Even when he promises to fulfill certain things, he always does them differently than we expect, and if we look on a long enough timeline, he always fulfills and exceeds or expectations.
So lets go ahead and read our text for this week. We will be look, as I said, at two different healings, spanning from Luke chapter 5, verse 12 thorough verse 26. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. As always, most important is that you follow along in your rpeferred translation, reading the Word of God for yourself.
Luke 5:12-26, Dr Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, interviewing eyewitnesses, writes:
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy.[b] And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus[c] stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.[d] 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. 26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

Thus says the Word of the LORD.

So we look first at this first healing that Jesus does, and in that, we see that this is more than just a healing. We see a man that is leprous. Leprosy was a big deal and it was a catch all for a number of different skin diseases. The most common one, what is today known as Hansen’s Disease, cause the extremities to lose all feeling and sensation, meaning that they would accumulate injuries, and not heal, causing fingers, toes, noses and so on to die and rot off the body. I don’t mean to gross anybody out but this is what most people with leprosy would look like at this time.
The Old Testament had some very clear and specific methods on how to deal with leprosy, how to move from unclean to clean and what was needed for this to occur. Because of the Torahs clear directions on leprosy being unclean, people of that day equated leprosy with sin. If someone had leprosy, that meant that they had done something to offend God, they had sinned grievously.
Now, we see at this point, that people were already responding to Jesus. This man with Leprosy came to Jesus. He saw him and broke every rule by going up tp him. Because he had heard about this Jesus guy and he had heard what he could do. And he sees him, And he is so desperate from his disease that he falls on his face and he begs Jesus to cleanse him.
Remember that Luke is a doctor. So we can take his descriptions as accurate. And when he says that this man was “full of leprosy,” he did not just have a rash or a skin irritation. He was very likely near death and would have been living with this for many, many years, maybe as long as he could remember. His desperation was very, very real.
And look what he does. He appeals to Jesus’ will. In this, he acknowledges Jesus authority. He acknowledges his ability. Jesus is able to heal. And he is able to make us clean. But this man does not appeal to his ability. He appeals to Jesus will. HE says, “If you will…”
Jesus reaction also goes against everything that should be. First he touches the unclean, leprous man. This would make anyone else unclean. The Old Testament forbade the touching of unclean people. But Jesus is different. He touches the man, the first human contact he would have had in years. Not from a distance, but touches him.
And Jesus says, “I will, be clean.”
What Jesus touches becomes clean. All things. You and me included. We were unclean, until Jesus touches, makes us new, cleanses us. This man, he doesn’t just heal him. That would have been a miracle enough. But Jesus does more than that. Jesus does more than heal him. Jesus makes him clean.
Jesus says, “Be Clean.” We see here again that Jesus Words carry the very power of God. This starts from the very beginning of the Bible. The Word of God is all powerful. Genesis 1, all of Creation, starting with ‘Let there be light.” Shows us how powerful the Word of God. Jesus words carry this power. He speaks. It happens. Period. It is finished.
So we see Jesus say, Be Clean and it happens immediately. Immediately the leprosy leaves this man. This is very much like our salvation. We are saved by the grace of God, by faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit calls us and only whom he calls respond to him by faith. When we respond by faith in Christ and only by faith in Christ, we are saved, we are forgiven, we are made clean, our sins are wiped away. It is not a process, though our awareness of it may well be gradual. But one moment we are not forgiven and the next moment we are forgiven.
Now, as I said, Jesus did so much more than heal this man. But in that, we should not ignore the healing as well. Being healed necessarily comes before being cleansed. And there is a whole lot to being cleansed. Leviticus 14 details all that goes on in being declared clean. This would include blood sacrifices. These blood offerings were a foreshadowing of Christ offering his own blood to cleanse each of us from our sins. But the people weren’t ready to hear that yet.
Jesus tells the man to go to his priest and have him follow the law as laid out in scripture in order to declare you clean. See, some of the things Jesus was being accused of, breaking and ignoring the law, he was in fact, being very purposeful in not doing. IN fact, he was doing the exact opposite. He even says famously in Matthew 5:17 & 18:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Jesus did not break the law. One famous so called preacher a few years ago gained a lot of attention by equating God sending Jesus to die on the cross the same way we would speed and run red lights to get our kid to the hospital. He break the rules for love. He broke the law for love. And it was all very inspirational and nice sounding on the surface, except its complete and blatant heresy. God kept the law for love.
Blood needed to be shed for the forgiveness of sins. Death is the necessary result of sin. We are contaminated, “full of sin.” We don’t have ability to atone for our sins. Our blood is not worthy of being shed for the forgiveness of sins. And So, God the Father, in his eternal wisdom and love, sent his Son, eternally God, born a human, to live the perfect life, unstained and uncontaminated of sin. He shed his perfect blood for the forgiveness of all of our sins. That forgiveness, and act of perfect love, was all the grace of God. The vehicle that this grace is poured out on us by faith in Jesus Christ. His blood wipes us clean, clothes us in his righteousness and we get to stand before God the Father, healed, cleaned and forgiven.
Now, Jesus told this guy whom he had just cleansed of leprosy that he was to go to the priest, to go through all the law requirements and he was not to tell anyone what happened. But, somehow, they heard. And they gathered around Jesus, as the crowds were wont to do. Some were there for the right reasons, some where there for the wrong reasons. Some wanted to hear the teaching, some wanted to be healed. Jesus made sure that he would pull back when things could be getting to crowded and make sure to spend time with the Father and in prayer.

We see in verses 17-26, the second healing that Jesus does. Jesus was teaching and many were gathered. Luke tells us specifically that Pharisees and teachers had come from all over to hear what he had to say.
Scribes and Phairsees, Pharisees and teachers are terms that we see throughout the Gospels and we throw them around but we don’t always know what they mean. We just mean them as they are bad guys who hated Jesus. But real life is rarely that simple. RC Sproul gives an over simplified description of who they were. He writes: Pharisees saw them selves as God’s “separated ones” and sought to serve him well. Many were godly, but their emphasis on outward acts and ritual taboos made others hard and formal. Such men opposed Jesus vigorously.
And about the scribes, or teachers of the law, he says they were: Scribes whose work centered on interpreting the law of God. Many were Pharisees.

So these men had come to hear what Jesus was teaching in regards to the scripture, whether he was a false teacher, if he was interpreting things wrongly. There were probably no one in Israel who knew the Scriptures better than these groups. And they gathered from all over.
As Jesus was teaching, a group of friends brought a friend of theirs to get close to Jesus. He was unable to walk by himself, so he sat or laid on a mat. His friends carried him around and they were hoping that Jesus could heal him.
But because of the crowds, they were unable to get near him. The Pharisees and teachers and the rest of the crowds had formed an impenetrable barrier. Jesus was in a house as he was teaching, and so the friends climbed onto the roof, and lowered their friend down in front of Jesus.
The faith and dedication that these friends showed, going through all they did to bring their friend to Jesus, it impressed him. Verse 20 says that when Jesus saw their faith, he told the man on the mat that his sins were forgiven.
This was blasphemy! How dare he say that? He cant forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins!
Aha! The Pharisees and the teachers were mad because Jesus was calling himself God. He was putting himself on the same standing as God himself. This is the very definition of blasphemy. Putting yourself on the same level as God, or lowering him to your level. This is one of the worst sins you could commit at that point. It was and still is the quickest way to lose any credibility. Unless its true, as it is with Jesus.
Jesus would try to prove this to those who were there. He says, which is easier? TO say your sins are forgiven, or to heal this man of his infirmities? Jesus is saying, anyone can say that a persons sins are forgiven, but there is no physical outward signs to prove that their has been any thing actually happening.
But to show you that he had the very power of God, that it wsnt just blasphemy what he was saying, here is some physical proof. He tells the man, “Get up and walk. And guess what the man does… He gets right up and walks. No taking time to heal, no muscle atrophy, nothing. He gets up and he walks away glorifying God for what just happened to him.
All the crowds around them were amazed. They knew they had seen something incredible and were filled with Awe. Do we stand in awe of God often enough. In talking to you all, I know we give God credit and we thank him for his grace and his doings, both natural and miraculous, but do we take enough time to just sit in awe of him?
And do we really believe, like not just with our words, but with out actions, with our life and with our thanksgivings that the forgiveness of sins is greater and more awe inspiring than a miraculous healing?
We often pray that way. We pray for healing and we should, but sometimes we forget to pray for the forgiveness of sins, repentance and faith.

You know, the visual we are presented with of the man with leprosy in the first healing this morning, is a strong visual parable for our standing before God without Christ. We are born spiritually dead. Even our best deeds, our best works are nothing but filthy rags when we place them before God. Without Christ, we are unclean, rotting flesh, dead.
Jesus showed that no matter what has made you unclean. No matter how long, no matter what you need to be healed of, no matter what you need to be forgiven of, He is God and he offers cleansing of our souls. He offers the forgiveness of our sins. He alone offers salvation.
No matter who you are or were…
No matter what you have done…
No matter where you were…
Hope in him…
Repent…
Rest in him…
Cover yourselves in his blood, for it alone can cleanse us from our sins.
This is what we celebrate each month, 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 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 2:1-20 Jesus is the Son of Man: Birth of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-20

Jesus is the Son of Man

Birth of Jesus Christ

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 2! That’s right! We have made it through an entire chapter of Luke’s Gospel! If you do not have or own a Bible, we would love to give you one if you come see me after the service.

Luke is a historian. He is interested in the details. His purpose is so that we would believed what we have heard. And he knows some of the stories that we encounter in the Bible, and especially in the Gospels, might, to some, be hard to believe. And so, he often includes details to show that he knows what he is talking about and that these are real, historical, literal, physical events that actually happened.

We see that this morning as well. Luke has spent the first chapter of his Gospel building to this event. Now, he didn’t break it down in to chapters, that come later on in history, after the Bible was put together. But he has been building to this moment in history.

HE starts with the announcement of John the Baptist coming in a miraculous way. Nest we see the announcement of Jesus of Nazareth coming in a miraculous way. Then we see Mary sing a song of Praise. Then we see the birth of John the Baptist, the announcement fulfilled. After the birth, Zechariah let out a song of praise.

Today we see the birth of Jesus, the announcement fulfilled. And hosts of angels show up and sing songs of praise. And at the end, the Shepherds will also be giving praises to God as well.

That’s where we will pick up this morning.  We will be reading and looking at a big chunk of the beginning of Luke Chapter 2. Overall, we will be looking at verses 1 through 20 and like last week, we will read through them in two sections. First, we will read through verses 1-7. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I know we all have different translations and that’s great. They all come from the same God, One God, all the Word of God. What’s important is that we open that book up and not just depend on what I, a human being, tell you, but read for each and every one of ourselves, what the Word of God says.

So, without further ado, Luke, after interviewing, investigating and researching, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, in verses 1-7:

 

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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]

 

You know, we often read the Bible, and we get very focused on the specifics. We get focused solely on the people in the story we are reading, focused on the immediate, without the context of what’s come before or what’s coming afterwards. We look at the stories without looking at what was going on in the rest of the world at that time.

But what is going on in the world at the time of Jesus birth was important. Caesar Augustus was in charge of the Roman empire, which included Israel. This was the first Caser with the Augustus title, which, essentially is the title of God. Before Quirinius, this title was ONLY attributed to the deities. When he died, his followers consoled themselves by telling themselves that because he was a god, he would not stay dead.

God doesn’t just use Christians. God doesn’t just use churches in this world to bring about his will. God uses and, in fact, decrees all people, all governments and all institutions to do his will and to bring about his purposes.

God used the Roman Government occupying and ruling over Israel and the Caeser wanting to make sure he was getting as much in taxes as he was able to bring Mary and Joseph down from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This is important for a number of reasons.

Micah 5:2 prophecies:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

 

God used the people of this world, those who believed and those who didn’t believe to bring about his purposes. He did what he had been saying he was going to do for over four thousand years at that point. Israel was waiting. The world was waiting. And then, as Paul writes in Galatians 4:4, But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

          At the fullness of time. When God told Adam and Eve he was going to send a savior, when he told Isaiah, when he told Malachi when he told everyone he told that he was going to send a savior, the Messiah. He knew exactly when he was going to do so. He wasn’t looking for an opening. He wasn’t waiting for enough people to get their heads on straight. He already knew exactly when. In the fullness of time.

Caeser Augustus says that everyone in the Roman empire must go to their family’s hometown and register. Joseph was a descendant of David, not only filling prophecy of Jesus, of the Messiah being from the house of David. But it also meant that Joseph and his teenage expectant betrothed wife to be, Mary had to travel approximately 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And we are going to see that they would not get back to Nazareth for a number of years.

Now, the common picture is that Mary was pushing nine months pregnant as they were making this journey to Bethlehem. But scriptures never say anything about the timing of her pregnancy during the travels. We know that Mary was three months pregnant when John was born, and she was with Elizabeth until at least that point. So, she was more than three months pregnant, but its very likely she was not 8 or more months pregnant.

Now, Bethlehem would have been filled up with much of Josephs family. Some still living there, having homes and many travelling to the town and trying to stay with the aforementioned family. The town was small and out of the way. Not as small as Nazareth, but no one was going to visit it on purpose or go on vacation there. The town was not set up for housing that many people.

So, Mary and Joseph would have ended up staying in what is commonly understood as the animal room in or attached to one of the homes, or worst case, a cave where the animals were bedded down. While they were staying there, then, it became time for Mary to give birth.

Luke says it simply, humbly, quietly. she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, Jesus’ birth, his first coming, He came not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh. God became man. The Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the World. He finally arrived. The Light, the sun was finally breaking dawn on the world that had been in the darkness of night for over 400 years. And no one noticed. The King of Heaven and Earth. The LORD of all Creation.

Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

 

And no one noticed. He was born in a quiet, humble occasion. And this is of course, in direct contrast to his second and final coming. That will be no secret event. There will be no confusion, no misunderstanding. There will be no missing it. When he comes again, he will not come quietly or secretly or humbly.

We see, though in highly symbolic language, we see this in Revelation 19:11-16:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in[b] blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule[c] them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

 

But his first coming, the one where he was born, an actual human baby boy, the most vulnerable of all people, he came under the radar. He came not with fanfare, not with worldwide trumpets, but one quiet night, 200 years ago.

 

Now, we will see the first announcement, the first spreading of the news of the birth of Jesus Christ as we read verses 8-20. Luke writes:

 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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.

 

 

Presumably the night of the birth, in a field nearby, just outside Bethlehem, there were a group of shepherds. shepherds were the lowest of the low. They were not able to be ceremonially clean and so they were only above lepers in the societal view back then. They were out in the fields, watching someone else’s flocks, day after day, night after night.

Nothing much changed. This would have been the same as every other night. Maybe even quieter than most nights.

All of a sudden, an Angel of the LORD showed up to them. To THEM! The poor, the forgotten about, the out of the way, poor, manual labor, blue collar, dirty, last people ANYONE would have expected.

All of a sudden, bright shining light, the reflection of Gods glory, shining and lighting up the darkness of the night, an Angel appears to these Shepard’s. And, as happens with the appearance of angels, the shepherds were filled with fear.

The angel told them not to fear. This was not about punishment or judgment or anything like that. The angel was here to share the Good News! This was important, don’t overlook this. If Jesus was born, died and was resurrected, but there was no one to tell us, it would not benefit us. We need someone to tell us so that we can respond to the truth by faith. Faith comes by hearing.

The Angel tells them, I bring Good news of great joy! The Gospel literally means Good News. And the Good News is what it is. ! Corinthians 15:3 & 4:  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

          And Romans 5:8: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

          And John 3:16-18:

“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.

 

That the good news! And that good news should fill us with great joy. Have you ever met a crabby Christian? Not just at certain times, we wall have our moments. Have you have met a Christian who was just miserable all the time? IF so, they have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel. A true understanding of who God is and what he has done with us will fill us with joy.

And this is put out for all people to hear the Gospel and given an opportunity to respond by faith. Not all will respond, but our job is not to determine who will or wont. The free offer of grace is presented to all. Charles Spurgeon once said: If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.’

 

And God proved that very first night that no one was to be denied the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. OF all people, the angel came and presented this good news to some shepherds. OF all people, God chose to call Paul, the self-admitted chief of all sinners. Of all people he chose to present the Gospel and call to faith and repentance, me, the least deserving of Gods Grace.  The angel did not appear to Caesar. He did not appear to Herod. He came to the lowly and the poor.

The angel told them, “unto you is born.” Making it clear that the shepherds would be included in the Gospel. Isaiah said, as we read a little bit ago in the scripture reading, for to us a child is born, for to us a son is given. A baby that was born in the city of David, he is Christ the LORD.

It had been an angel speaking to the Shepard’s, but now, a multitude of heavenly host showed up. Can you image this as the shepherds? Sitting out in the middle of the fields, watching sheep, or whatever, night after night and then an angel shows up and tells you good news. But wait there’s more! A whole host of angels shows up and have a worship session.

We have seen Mary praise God. We have seen Zechariah praise God. And we see Angels now praise God.

“Glory to God in the highest,


and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

 

Peace, true, lasting, complete peace is only available by given Glory to God in the highest.

One commentator writes:

Even those who had outward peace in Roman times did not have rest for their souls. One stoic philosopher Epictetus-a contemporary of Luke- observed that “while the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief and envy. He can not give peace of heart, for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.”  Nor could the emperor offer peace with God, which is the most necessary peace of all. But now a new King was born, and with his birth the angels pronounced peace on earth- peace like the Hebrew shalom, total peace for the whole person.

 

          The angels came and worship God, announced the great news and then left. Now, I don’t know about you, but if something like that happened, and the angels said, “look, it happened right over there in Bethlehem and you can go see it for yourself. He is the baby in the manger.” I hear that and I’m going to do just what the shepherds did. Hey! Let’s go see it for ourselves!

 

So, they left their job, left the flocks they were attending, risked getting fired from the only job they could get and ran into the town to search for this baby boy who was the savior. They found Mary and Joseph, and more importantly, Jesus, exactly like the angel said they would. They angels’ story was confirmed and proven true. They told Mary and Joseph what happened.  And everyone was amazed.

 

As this passage ends, we see that both Mary and the shepherds very specifically were changed and affected by what happened here. The Shepherds went off praising God and telling everyone their experience and spreading the Good News. One of the earliest evangelists.

Mary was much more reflective. Remember that Luke very likely personally interview Mary before he wrote this. She told him that she treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  Now, this is what I hear in that. Mary knew what Gabriel told her. She knew what Elizabeth told her. She knew what the shepherds just told her. She very likely knew what Gabriel told Joseph as recorded in Matthew chapter 1. She knew all this, and we know from the scriptures that she had faith and believed what God has communicated to her. But that doesn’t mean that she understood it all.

Faith is like that sometimes. We don’t always understand what God is telling us. God speaks through this book right here, the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. This is Gods revelation to us. We don’t always understand it or how it applies to our situations or our lives. That does not mean that our faith should lack. We observe, we study, we pray and then we treasure up all these things and we ponder them in our hearts. As Philip Graham Rykien says, Mary had a faith that was seeking to understand. We should all hope and strive for that faith that seeks to understand.

Let’s Pray.

Luke 1:57-80 Jesus is the Son of Man: Birth of John the Baptist

Luke 1:57-80
Jesus is the Son of Man
Birth of John the Baptist

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 1. As usual, if you do not have a Bible or do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back or see me after the service so that we can get one to you.
We are picking back up in our series through the Gospel of Luke. We are in going through Luke’s Gospel verse by verse and I expect that we will be spending the next few years here in this book. This is sermon number 5 in our series, and we are just now finishing up the first chapter and Jesus is yet to be born.
Luke’s purpose of writing this book is that we may believe what we have heard. That our faith in Jesus Christ can be rooted in reality be set on a firm foundation. Luke would not have wanted us to have a blind, unthinking faith, just believing what someone else tells us. But faith in something real. Jesus was a real person, a real, historical person. Our faith is in Him. Hebrews 11:1, the author writes: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Luke’s pattern so far in the first chapter looks a little bit like this. First was the prophecy, the announcement of the coming birth of John the Baptist. Then that is paralleled with the prophecy, the announcement of the coming birth of Jesus Christ. After that announcement, Mary sings a song of praise. Today, we will see the birth of John the Baptist and then we will see Zechariah sing a song of praise. Coming up in Chapter 2, we see the parallels continue with the birth of Jesus and the Angels sing a song of praise as well. Luke is very organized and very methodical in his writing as we see here.
Now, Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant by God. Her young cousin, Mary was now miraculously pregnant by God. Mary went to visit Liz and stayed with her the last three months of Liz’s pregnancy. We pick up the story with Liz now due at any time.
Let’s go ahead and read the first part of this morning’s scriptures. We will be looking at it in two sections. Over all, we will look at Luke 1, chapters 57 through 80. The first chunk we will read and look at is verses 57 through 66. That’s what we will read first. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab your Bible, in your preferred translation and follow along, reading the very words of God.
Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

After an incredible 9 months, 9 months that Liz had likely come to expect that she would never experience, she gives birth and gives birth to a son! This was a specific answer to prophecy, as Gabriel told Zechariah that he would have a son, back in verse 13.
Now, especially in a small town, a birth is not something that you can easily keep quite. I remember when Malachi was born, it was not even the end of the day and the midwives were still with Hope, I ran down to the Bangor store to get some Ice. I get there and the one behind the counter already knew that Hope had given birth! News travels fast in a small town.
The same thing happened here. Once Elizabeth gave birth, E’er body in town knew. Now, some speculate, based on the reaction of the town and verse 24, where Elizabeth kept herself hidden for some of the months, that no body actually knew that Elizabeth was pregnant until she gave birth. They say this would explain the celebration and rejoicing that went on.
Either way, the neighbors heard about the birth and they came and gave Glory to God. They celebrated with Liz and Zechariah. They recognized the hand of God at work in this situation. This is again, a specific answer to prophecy. Back in verse 14, Gabriel told Zechariah, And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. And many did.
On the eighth day, they were circumcising John as was both the custom and in accordance with the law handed down to Moses, originally instituted with Abraham all the way back in Genesis 17. This was every family in every town for thousands of years. This is, however, the first biblical evidence for naming a child on the eighth day. However, this does read as if it was a normal custom at this point in time.
As was also the custom, everybody expected the baby boy to be named after his father, Zechariah. Elizabeth was adamant that he would not be named Zechariah, that he would be named John. John means “Gift of God.” One of the things we see there is that one of two things happened during Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Either Elizabeth also got direct revelation from God regarding the name of the son, or Zechariah was able to communicate somehow, someway with her to tell her that his name would be John.
Now, the friends and family didn’t understand this. Custom was that the firstborn son would be named after the father. If a son wasn’t named after his father, he would be named after another member of the family. John was neither his fathers name, nor a family name.
So, since Elizabeth wasn’t listening to common sense, the friends and family appealed to Zechariah himself. Now Zechariah was a priest, so he was educated. Whoever was preforming the circumcision would have been educated. Elizabeth may have been educated, if Zechariah was able to write to her during the pregnancy. SO, he wrote to this group of educated people, who knew how to read and write, he wrote to them, “John is his name.”
Zechariah believed God, believed the angel, Gabriel, and he acted on it. He believed what Gabriel had told him those 9 or so months ago and though he didn’t show faith at that point, he did now. His faith produced obedience. That’s the way it works, not the other way around.
Our obedience does not produce faith. I saw a great way of saying it yesterday, it said; Do not make a savior of your morality. Obedience is a fruit, not a root. The thing is, we cant obey God until we believe in him. We cannot obey God until we trust in Jesus. Back to Hebrews, Hebrews 11:6 reads: 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.
Zechariah lacked faith when Gabriel told him what was going to happen. For that lack of faith, he was struck mute for the entirety of the pregnancy plus an unexpected 8 days until the circumcision. Then he showed his faith, it produced obedience in what he would name his son, which went against all the traditions and customs. This obedience, birthed from faith was what ended his muteness.
All of a sudden, his tongue was loosed. He was able to speak and Zechariah immediately praised and blessed God. He will see the details of this in the next chunk of verses, verses 68-80. Zechariahs punishment, his muteness, left him with time to reflect, to focus and time to think about God and His Goodness and His Greatness. It did him a great spiritual good. It humbled him and allowed to grow closer to God than he had been before.
And maybe, just maybe… that was the point.
Maybe, just maybe… that’s the point when we are going through stuff. Maybe God is trying to give us the time and the opportunity to allow us to reflect, to repent, to grow in our faith and to praise and bless him.
The neighbors saw all that was going on. Event after event. Detail after detail. They saw that God was at work. They saw the hand of God in these events. God was at work in a way that no one could have expected. They were struck with fear and awe and reverence.
The circumstances around the birth, Zechariahs muteness, John being spirit filled in the womb. They knew there was something strange, something different about this boy.
God called John for a purpose. John was not called to be Zechariah JR. He was not called to be his cousin Jesus. He was not called to be anyone else but John. You and I are called by God for a purpose.
We are called to be us. We are not called to be Daniel. We are not called to be John the Baptist. Dave is not called to be Mike. Mike is not called to be Jim. Jim is not called to be me. I am not called to be Dave. We are called by God to be who he created us to be.
I am not called not be Billy Graham. I am not called to be RC Sproul. I am not called to be John MacArthur. I am called to be none other than Casey Holencik. I am not called to pastor to the world. I am not called to pastor RC Sproul’s church. I am not called to pastor John MacArthur’s church. I am called to pastor Bangor Community Church, and God willing, this is where I will be until God calls me home.
IF we spend time trying to be someone else, we waste time not being who God called us to be. We need to be careful we don’t fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. And we need to be carful not to compare those around us to others.
John was called to be the forerunner, to pave the way for the messiah. The people didn’t necessarily know this yet, but they knew he was called by God for some very special purposes.
From here we are going to read the song of praise that came out of Zechariahs mouth when he was unmuted. So next we will read verses 67-80.
Recorded by Luke, we read:
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us[h] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Zechariah had been silent for over 9 months and here we see the first words out of his mouth and they were worth the wait.
He starts with praising and blessing God and look at some of the things he says here. Many prophecies speak of things to happen in the future, but speak in past tense. This is no different.
Zechariah says that God has visited and Redeemed his people. He is a personal God. Jesus Christ, God become man, came down from heaven, to be born a man. This is the incarnation. We are going to see coming up in chapter 2 the birth of Christ take place.
And he came to Redeem his people. He saved his people by what’s called the Great Exchange. He exchanges our sins, takes them on himself, pays the penalty. He takes the wrath of God upon himself and in exchange, he gives us his perfect righteousness.
Like Mary’s song, Zechariah appeals to, alludes to and references the Old Testament throughout his song. He references the Davidic Covenant, saying that salvation is through the house of David. He saw how Jesus fulfilled that through his lineage.
HE will be the horn of salvation. The horn, we saw a little bit in the visions of Daniel, are a symbol of strength. Jesus is that horn here. One commentator says that the Horn, Jesus is where “all the power of God is focused.”
We see a lot of Old Testament Warrior language here too. We will be saved from our enemies. This is the Abrahamic Covenant. God promised to deliver him from the hands of his enemies. Then, that looked like nations and militaries. Here is what we know that does not mean, It does not mean that there will be not defeats, no giving in to temptation, no hard times. Zechariah just spent 9 plus months muted. There will be hard times.
But we know that in the end, the very end, Revelation 19 shows us that God does indeed finally and completely defeat and deliver us from our physical, earthly enemies. But even more important, we see the same promise but in New Testament Language.
Jesus is King and we are his bondservants. He has come to save us form our enemy, the enemy which causes death. The wages of sin are death. Sin is that enemy. HE has delivered us from the enemy with the Great exchange. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us about him defeating the final enemy; death.

Zechariah switches subjects of song from God to his son, John. He would be a prophet of the Most High. He was going to change the peoples understanding of salvation. The common understanding at the time was what was referenced in the Abrahamic Covenant. Israel was looking for a military savior. They were looking for a political savior. They were looking for any type of savior except a spiritual savior.
Many American Christians today, with their words, affirm looking for a spiritual savior. But with the very same mouth, their words and their actions show that they are indeed still looking for a military or a political savior. We see this especially during this next month more than ever, but in reality, it never stops.
John is here to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and he is to pave the way for the Messiah, his Cousin, Jesus. Preaching repentance is one of the ways that he does that. John reminds the people of Israel that their sins are a big deal and repentance is required. Jesus comes along and shows that through that repentance, grace is abounding.
But that was Jesus ministry. John was not responsible for Jesus ministry; he was responsible for his own. Each of us, we are responsible for what God has called us to do. We are not responsible for what God has called others to do. This is related to what we were saying earlier. We are responsible for our own obedience.
But, our ministries, our responsibilities, our calling supports, influences and paves the way for others and their ministries, responsibilities and calling. Just like theirs does for ours.
John is going to give the knowledge of salvation to the people. He is going to help people start to understand the Gospel. As one commentator points out, this is not “theoretical knowledge, but personal knowledge of the inward experience of salvation as the result of a divine gift.”
John was to show the people the knowledge of salvation, Gods Mercy. He was to show that light was starting to break through the darkness of the last 400 years in Israel. John was going to be a guide for the path that leads to Jesus.
Amazing words out of the mouth from a man who had been silent for over nine months. We finish off seeing a temporary end to Johns story. John grew in both physical strength and in spirit until it was time to start his public ministry and he would come out of the wilderness preaching repentance, forgiveness and salvation. This is a reminder that we need to prepare, we need to study, we need to be an active part in what God has called us to do.
Lastly, I want to read from Philip Graham Ryken as he lays out salvation and most importantly, the last bit about Gods purpose for it.
He writes:

This was Zechariahs Song- a song of salvation. Now everything he promised has been fulfilled for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the salvation that comes from God. God had to intervene. Unless he sent his Son to be our Savior, we never could have been saved. We needed someone to live a perfect life and die an atoning death in our place. This was the promised salvation, and it was a mighty deliverance, as salvation always is. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ have delivered us from sin, death, and Satan. We are no longer enslaved by our selfishness but are free to give our lives away in service to others. This is why God has saved us: he has given us grace so that we can live for his glory.

Let’s Pray.

Luke 1:26-38 Jesus is the Son of God: Mary, Mother of Jesus

Luke 1:26-38

Jesus is the Son of God

Mary, Mother of Jesus

 

          Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke Chapter 1. If you do not have a Bible or do not own one, please let us give one to you as a gift from Bangor Community Church. You can grab one off the back table or see me after the service.

We are continuing with our series through Luke’s Gospel here and I want us to remember why Luke wrote this. We saw the very first week that Luke wrote his Gospel so that Theophilus and others, ourselves included, so that he and we could trust what was heard and that he and we could have a well grounded faith in Christ.

And to do so, Luke goes and does a whole lot of thorough research. We see this as he starts off his Gospel before the birth of Christ. We looked last time at Gabriel announcing to Zechariah that he and his barren wife would give birth to a son, John, who would be great, and we know now, pave the way for the coming Messiah. This morning we are going to see Gabriel go to a young virgin, Mary, and tell her that she would give birth to a son, Jesus, who would be greater than great and would save his people.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will see Luke continue this parallel, showing, first the birth of John the Baptist and then afterwards, the birth of Jesus Christ.  And part of this is to show the similarities between the two, but even more so, to show the disparities of the two. That Jesus is the greater and that God is in charge of the timing and the details of all of his grand plan.

So, again, last time we saw Gabriel appear to Zachariah, and tell him that he and Elizabeth would finally have a son, John. Joh would do great things. Zechariah doubted what Gabriel had said, doubted what God could and would do. Because of this, Zechariah was struck mute until after John would be born. Elizabeth did indeed become pregnant and that’s where we left off.

Interesting to me, as we read this, is that Mary would have had no idea about the events that we already looked at. She had no idea about Gabriel appearing to Zechariah and the pregnancy of Elizabeth. And that’s where we pick up this morning.

We are going to read and look at Luke 1, verses 26 through 38. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab your Bible, read along with me in whatever your preferred translation is and see for yourself the very Words of God. Luke 1: 26-38, Luke writes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

 

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. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[f] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

So again, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and then, 6 months later, he appeared to Mary. And Mary and Zechariah could not have been more different. They could not have responded more different.

Mary was too young as opposed to too old. She was betrothed and not married. She was a virgin, not married. She was a woman, not a man. Mary could tell others what happened, Zechariah was struck mute. She asked out of not understanding, he asked out of unbelief and doubt.

Now, a couple of things that we pull out of who and where Mary is. First, she is betrothed. This is a hard concept for us to understand in the modern West. We tend to think of it like an engagement because its not quite married. Its being promised to your partner, but not finalizing the full covenant as of yet. But its so much more than an engagement. It was a legal agreement. This is why we see in the story that Joseph was able to give her a certificate of divorce. But a betrothal did not have all of the benefits, the partnerships of marriage. Mary and Joseph would not have known each other in any kind of relational or physical way.

Mary was from Nazareth. Nazareth was nowhere. It was nothing. It was a simple, small, rural town in the middle of nowhere in Israel. IT was, at most, a few hundred people. For sure smaller than Bangor here, which is saying something. It was likely less than 100 people. In John 1:46, Nathaniel sums up the prevailing view at the time of Nazareth, saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

          That’s what Nazareth was for them back then.

 

We also see that the House of David was mentioned. Joseph, legally Jesus father was shown to be from the kingly line of David. And Mary, being kin, being family, was shown to be from the priestly line of Aaron. I told you a while ago, we would be exploring the different titles, different offices of Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King. And Luke is going to show us a lot about the fulfillment by Jesus of those offices. Right here we see two ways that he will be able to fulfill them by his earthly ancestry.

 

 

And then we see Gabriel’s words to Mary, “Greetings oh favored one!” A clear misunderstanding of the words of Gabriel here can get us into a lot of trouble and can give us a very false impression of Mary.

This text can be and sometimes is used to elevate Mary to deity status. It is used to elevate Mary above who she is. She is not “full of Grace” in terms of being a source of grace for others. The term “full of grace” itself is an inaccurate translation.

Mary is not to be prayed to. Only God is to be prayed to. Mary is not more than a person. She is not a co-redemptrix along with Christ. She is a woman who is full of God’s grace poured out in her.

Despite some teachings out there, Mary was not virgin born. She was the result of an earthly mother and earthly father being married and having children in the way that God designed. Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus and gave birth to him. She did not stay a virgin after giving birth to Jesus. She and Joseph had more children after this, that scripture testifies to in numerous places.

Mary is not a part of the trinity, nor is she someone whom God just happened to decide “Hey, that girl right there will do.” God does not just work with what’s given to him. HE is not waiting for us to allow him to work. He is not standing outside our houses, our schools, our public buildings, or our country just waiting for us to invite him back in. God does what he decides to do, and he chose Mary before time began. He knew that Mary would be the one in Genesis 3:15 who would give birth to the offspring that crush the head of the serpent.  He had already chosen her and decided that she would be the mother of Jesus.

Mary is not to be deified. She is not to be worship. She is not to be prayed to. She is not on the level of angels. But, as Gabriel says right here, she is favored by God. She is looked upon with favor. She was chosen by God for one of the most important jobs in the history of the world.

And she did it believing. She did it with faith. She did it with dignity and honor. She did it with a heart for serving and obeying God. She did it because she was favored by God. IT show be clear as we look at the Gospels and see what Mary dealt with in her life that favored by God is not a life of unbroken happiness. IT is not a life without hardships, or a life without sickness. It is not a life with all the money, our all the possessions we want. But it means that we have God on our side.

Favored, the free bestowal of Gods grace. Undeserved. It was nothing about Mary that made God choose her. She didn’t earn it. She didn’t achieve it. God choose her because of his goodness and his grace. This is just like we don’t do anything to earn our salvation. We don’t do anything to achieve our salvation. Its not anything about us, but God choose us, because of his goodness and his grace to be saved from His wrath against our sins.

 

Now, Mary got this greeting from Gabriel and she was nervous. She didn’t know how to react to this. Gabriel tells her not to be afraid. Well that sounds familiar doesn’t it? Again, this is the normal reaction to an angel appearing before you. Not warm, fuzzy feelings, but awe, fear and trembling.

So, she is told not to be afraid, but she still doesn’t know why Gabriel has appeared before her. So, he proceeds to tell her. Here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to get pregnant while still remaining a virgin. You are going to have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be the Son of the Most High, he will reign over the house of Jacob. He will be given the throne of David. His kingdom will have no end.

What that all means is that Jesus is God. That he is and will be the fulfillment of and the King of Israel, the house of Jacob. He is and will be the king over all of creation for all time. Jesus is reigning. This is an important part to this. I want you to understand that we are not waiting for Jesus to reign. HE is doing that right here, right now.

Listen to how John Piper said this, albeit dated in its references because he said this in 1984, but really listen. He says:

Gabriel says, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Do you see what this promise means? It means that Jesus is alive and ruling over his people at 11:50 AM, Sunday, March 11, 1984. Do you believe that? Jesus, Savior, Son of God, King of the world, is governing just as realistically today as Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher or Helmut Kohl. If Gabriel has spoken the truth, THE ISSUE in 1984, no matter where you live on this planet, is: Will you bow before the kingship of Jesus and obey the rule of his kingdom?

 

Think about that. Today. Sunday, September 20, 2020. Jesus is reigning and governing just as realistically today as Donald Trump, as Vladimir Putin, as Justin Trudeau. They are ruling over America, Russia and Canada, but Jesus Christ rules over them all.

 

Now, free grace is hard to accept. We don’t understand how it works and it goes against all of our human instincts. And Mary doesn’t quite understand how this is all going to work. She asks that very question, How? She asks out if confusion, in a direct contrast to Zechariah, how asked “IF…” and did so out of disbelief. Mary says, how can this be, as I am a virgin. I believe you; I just don’t understand.

Now, a couple of good things come out of this question by Mary. First, you don’t have to have all the answers in order to believe. You don’t have to know all the nuances and the details and the theological intricacies in order to have faith. You don’t have to understand every aspect in order to become a Christian. Keep asking your questions. God will answer some of them.

Second, Gabriel answers her, saying that the Holy Spirit will conceive Jesus in Mary. The Holy Spirit is God. One third of the trinity. And each of the trinity fills a different role. The Holy Spirit is here to point to Jesus. The Holy Spirit only comes along with receiving and following Jesus.  We can’t have the Holy Spirit with out Jesus.

Pointing towards, building up and affirming Jesus Christ is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to point towards and glorify and build up Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ comes to save sinners, but to do so so that God the Father may be testified towards, and glorified.

John Piper makes the point that the Holy Spirit is not to be look for as an end in and of Himself. He says:

in seeking to be filled and empowered by the Spirit we must pursue him indirectly—we must look to the wonder of Christ. If we look away from Jesus and seek the Spirit and his power directly, we will end up in the mire of our own subjective emotions. The Spirit does not reveal himself. The Spirit reveals Christ.

 

And he continues:

Devote yourselves to seeing and feeling the grandeur of the love of God in Jesus Christ and you will be so in harmony with the Holy Spirit that his power will flow mightily in your life. Christian spiritual experience is not a vague religious emotion. It is an emotion with objective content, and the content is Jesus Christ. The shy member of the Trinity does mighty work, but he never puts himself in the limelight. You might say he is the limelight that puts the attributes of God the Father and the person of Christ into sharp relief.

 

Mary was not looking for the Holy Spirit. She was looking to serve and obey and honor God and what she received was the Holy Spirit.

Now, the fact that it was the Holy Spirit that would conceive Jesus is vitally important to Christianity. Why? Because it means that Jesus was not born of man. He had no original sin to corrupt his nature. He was born of a woman, the Son of God. Because of this, he would fulfill all the temple requirements of the Old Testament. HE was the fulfillment of the temple itself. It means that through Jesus, because of Jesus, there will be no more need of a temple and there will be no more need of sacrifices and the sacrificial system.

The fact that Mary was a virgin and the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus means that something supernatural happened. Something literally physically impossible. If you do not buy into the virgin birth of Jesus, there is no reason to believe any of the miracles, any of the works, any of the promises of Jesus.  Just like creation and nature and the beginning of everything start with Genesis 1 through 3, the beginning of Jesus and all that he is starts with the virgin birth.

Gabriel then, essentially says, you have not asked for a sign, but I am going to give you one anyway. Your cousin Elizabeth, who was old and barren, she is in her 6 months of pregnancy.

God can do it! What is impossible for man, with God it is possible. Again, what is physically impossible, what is the definition of impossible, God speaks and makes it happen.

 

Now, I think that Mary’s response in v 38 may just be the biggest takeaway of this whole passage. And it definitely puts her question in v 34 in proper context. Mary responds to all that Gabriel has told her by faith. Remember that Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

          Mary could not yet see what Gabriel had promised her, but she responded in faith. “I am the LORDs servant. May it be according to your Word.” What God says, what he wills, what he calls me too, that I will do. I will serve and obey him.

And so, we need to ask ourselves, will we respond, as Mary did, with absolute faith? Will we submit to Gods call on our life? Will you go where he wants you to go? Will you do what he wants you to be doing? Will you do it with who he wants you to? Will you do it for how long he wants you to do it?

In order to do so, in order to follow and serve God in the way he deserves to be served, we need to be willing to give up everything we know and love. God comes first, above all else. He wont always take away from us everything we know and love, but I guarantee that the tighter we hold on something and keep it way from or above God, the more he will rip it right out of our hands.

When we respond to Gods call through faith, we will approach him with open hands, giving all of us, and all we have to him, knowing that he is in control, knowing that he is reigning above right now, forever and ever, we will see that we too, by the grace and choice of God are also highly favored.

 

Let’s Pray.