Luke 11:33-54 Jesus is the Son of Man: Whitewashed Tombs

Luke 11:33-54

Jesus is the Son of Man

Whitewashed Tombs

All right, let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11. As most of you know, if you do not have a Bible, if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and I will make sure we can get one into your hands.

 

So, Jesus is continuing in the same setting, continuing to speak to the same crowd, the same gathering that we have seen him in the last few weeks. And his main message has been, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.

Jesus is emphasizing a combination of head knowledge, inner trust and outward action. There is an inner change first, and then, flowing from that, there is the outer, behavioral change.

Its important to remember that our works and our behavior flow from our faith and salvation, not the other way around. All of that, the points Jesus makes and the things that he says, all continue to flow into the passage we are looking at this morning.

We are going to be reading Luke chapter 11, verses 33-54, a bit of a longer passage to read. I’m going to be reading out of the English Standard Version, my preferred translation, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 11:33-54, the Holy spirit inspires Luke to write:

 

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.

37 While Jesus[e] was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

 

May God Bless the Reading of the Word

 

So, a lot to get into here. Starting with the first section here, Jesus is saying two different things in regard to light shining. First is, of course, that the light inside of us cannot and was never meant to be hidden. That inner change, that heart change is meant to be shown to those around us.

That light that shines from that heart change inside of us, what good is it if we hide it? Light is meant to shine, there is no point in being a lamp, if you are going to be covered up. When the light is lit inside of us, it will make itself known.

Secondly, Jesus’ work, the light of the Gospel, the signs and wonders he did, His death, burial and resurrection, they were down in plain sight, for all the world to see.

The scriptures, especially psalm 119 show us that the word of God is the light of the world. I especially like two verses from psalm 119, verse 130 says

The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.

 

          and verse 105:

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

 

Then Jesus also uses the analogy of our eyes being the lamp of our body. The correlation regarding blindness and sight, between lightness and dark. When your eyes see, when they are working correctly, when God has taken the blindness away form you, you can see the light that already exists, The light of the Gospel, even better.

We talked the last few weeks about the desire for more signs, more wonders, more evidence of who Jesus was. In the words of RC Sproul, Jesus here is saying, “The people seeking a sign did not need more light, but better receptiveness to the light they already had. What God was doing in Jesus was plain enough.”

          The light and the darkness are used biblically to describe our spiritual condition and our sin nature. When we are in the darkness, we desire the darkness. We want to stay in the darkness because that’s where we are comfortable. We are comfortable in and with our sins. We think we are good because we avoid or protest against certain sins, but we have our own secret pet sins that we keep in the dark.

But the light drives out the darkness. The light of the Gospel inside of us exposes us to our sins, exposes our sins to us. We desire to stop and quit those sins because the darkness cannot exist in the light.

In verse 37, the scene starts to shift. One Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. Now, many will tell you that this was a setup and that this pharisee was trying to trap Jesus from the beginning. That might be true, however, there is nothing in the text that indicates this.

Not all the individuals who were pharisees were Jesus enemies. Nicodemus was a pharisee. This unnamed pharisee invited Jesus to dinner and Luke does not tell us that there were ulterior motives.

Jesus knew what was going to happen. He knew how it was going to turn out and he still went. One commentator points out one principal from this is that we should always be looking for opportunities to build relationships, to build bridges and get to know people.

Jesus accepted the invitation and went to eat with the pharisee, seemingly at a big dinner party with lots of other pharisees and lawyers, or scribes.  And Jesus sat down with out ceremonially washing his hands before the meal.

THE SCANDAL!

The pharisees added so many man made traditions and rules and regulations to the law, to the rules that God gave down and this was one of them. The idea here was that our hands got dirty each and every day, some of it was ceremonially and ritually unclean. Since many of the meals in that day were eaten directly with the hands, this presented a problem to them.

The Mishna is major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. This is where all the man-made traditions of the pharisees and the rabbis throughout Jewish history to that point were written down. We have the records of what was a part of the pharisaical law of the time. In the Mishna it says that “tradition is the man-made fence around the law.”

          The noble idea being, the further away from the line we stay, the less likely chance we have at crossing it. We will return to that later.

 

          So, Jesus shocks His host and the pharisees by not ceremonially washing his hands. When they say something, Jesus comes back at them. He tells them outer physical cleanliness is not enough.

          In fact, outer cleanliness matters less than inner holiness, than inner righteousness. The condition of the heart is what God sees. It is not our outward behavior that makes us clean. Its why we sing and read in the Bible, “Create in me a clean heart.”

          Our outward behavior needs to flow from a clean heart that God gives us. This is the opposite of what our nature tries to do which is that we need to behave outwardly in order to cleanse ourselves.

          God tells the Israel through the prophets, throughout the Old Testament, in many different ways, I desire Mercy not sacrifice. This is, in essence, what Jesus is telling the group here. You misunderstand what it is that God desires from you.

          You are taking what is good, taking the law that God gave, taking what is right and you are taking it an extreme absurd. Your focus is more on your outward appearance and behavior than on the Heart of God.

          The pharisees were focused on confronting and avoiding sin, which is a good thing. They would have been protesting against same sex marriage and abortion and all sort of other sins. They would have been setting up boycotts of various companies and businesses because of their support of various things or their selling of stuff. Fighting sex trafficking and prostitution and pornography.

          The problem is not that they were fighting those causes or trying to eliminate those sins and that evil.  The problem was that they were more focused on all that instead of, or at the expense of loving God and loving neighbor and treating all people as image bearers of God.

          Jesus says, you are supposed to do both. You are supposed to fight against sin and evil as a way of loving God and loving your neighbor, not as a way to avoid loving God and loving your neighbor.

 

          But, like so many that we see in this world, and maybe like so many that we know, Jesus shows that they were more interested in people seeing them and their good works and their status’. They wanted to make sure people knew they were going to church, that they were pillars of the community, that they gave to the needy, that they volunteered, that they were a moral compass.

          Again, all of those are good things, except when that is the reason that you do them. Goods deeds done for the wrong reasons are not good. The right thing done for the wrong reasons are wrong.

          People see the outward signs and outer moral shell and they are tricked into not realizing that a person is spiritually dead on the inside.

          Jesus speaks of unmarked and hidden graves. Graves would make people ceremonially unclean. Hidden and unmarked graves would be a hidden source of spiritual impurity.

          The pharisees, because their outer behavior was not often accompanied with the inner heart change, they were hidden sources of spiritual impurity to those around them. They made people want to be like them, act as good as them, and that this was the key to earning favor with God.

         

          Jesus was not holding back any punches here. And the people in the room knew it. He was talking about them, and they were not happy. They were feeling convicted. One of the lawyers, one of the professional theologians, he says to Jesus, woah now, you are insulting us!

          The lawyer would have been at home here today. Jesus don’t say what your saying, even if its true, because we might be offended. And if we are offended then it must not be true, so there. As we know, there is no greater sin in today’s society than to offend somebody. It seems it wasn’t so dissimilar 2000 years ago.

          Now, it is very easy, when confronted with your sins, to respond by getting offended. The first thing we need to do, if someone says something that we get offended by, is to look deep in ourselves. We need to see if there is any truth or validity to what is being said. Often times getting offended is a defense mechanism for trying to avoid acknowledging the truth.

          That being said, we know that Jesus offends, that the Gospel offends, the light of the Gospel, as we mentioned earlier shines a lot on people’s sin and that makes people offended and defensive. However, nowhere in scripture does it allow for us to be offensive. As Paul says in Ephesians 4, we are to speak the truth in love.   Let Jesus and the Gospel do what they are going to do, we are to share it in love.

 

          This lawyer says Hey, you’re offending us. Jesus’ response, Woe to You!

 

          Woe to you putting extra burdens on the law. Jesus came to lift these burdens, burdens that God never designed us to be able to bear.

          Again, the original idea was to avoid getting close to sin, to avoid getting close to breaking Gods law. The pharisees had a great respect for the holiness of God and wanted to obey what they understood was the purpose of His laws.

          But what does this lead to? How far can I go without it being sin? How can I avoid breaking this law but still do whatever I want? This goes back to Eve in the Garden. God told Adam, don’t eat from the tree. When the serpent asked Eve, she said God said don’t even touch it. This extra level of fence around the law, as the Mishna out it, adds extra burden to us that is hard for us to bear.

          Even when the lawyers and pharisees were “honoring” the fallen prophets of the past, it was an outward honoring. They were still rejecting them. When the prophets were active, Israel, the kings, all the people, they refused to listen to the prophets, refused to hear the Word of God. They persecuted and killed them all.

          They were still refusing to listen to them. They were pretending to honor them but were really dishonoring them. If they wanted to honor the prophets of the past, they would live how the prophets described and to do what they said to do.

          This generation, the generation that Jesus was talking to, they were held even more responsible because they had Jesus right there in front of them, physically, literally right there, sitting with them and dining with them. And they rejected, persecuted and kill Him just as their fathers had done to the prophets, just as they and their children would do to the Apostles. There are clear allusions to verses 31 and 32 here as well, that Jesus is the greater prophet and the greater Apostle.

          In verse 52, Jesus rebukes the lawyers, saying, “you have taken away the key of knowledge.” The lawyers felt that their additions to the law should be even more held to than Gods laws because they were clearer and easier to understand. Jesus is telling them they are wrong. As one commentator points out that these traditions, these additions to the law, they made it impossible for the regular people to understand the meaning and purpose of the law.

 

          Instead, the lawyers used these additions and traditions to avoid the demands of the law itself. As I mentioned earlier, how can I technically keep the law but still do whatever I want?

          As Jesus leaves this scene, this crowd and especially the people who he was at dinner with, he leaves many of them mad and scheming. They would spend the rest of His life trying to get him to say something wrong, to answer questions, to teach something that would allow them to persecute and prosecute Him. Jesus, as of chapter 9 has set his eyes on his journey to Jerusalem. Here and know, the Pharisees and lawyers have set their eyes on Him. And not in the right way.

 

          Philip Ryken writes that the Christian faith is not a law to keep but is a Gospel to believe. Our morals, our values, our behavior they mean nothing in terms of us being saved.

          Now, of course, we will bear fruit once we are saved, but our works and our fruit are not what save us. Good works and fruit do not equal Christian. Being pro life does not equal Christian. Being anti sin does not equal Christian. Being pro Bible does not equal Christian. Believing that a God exists does not equal Christian. Reading and memorizing Scripture does not equal Christian. Voting for a particular party does not equal Christian. Church attendance does not equal Christian.

          Trust and faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross, his death, burial, resurrection. Trust and faith in his righteousness, not ours. Trust and faith in his sinlessness, not our sins. Trust and faith in his perfect obedience, not our attempts. Hearing the Word of God and keeping it. Complete and total dependence on Him and resting in his good work. That equals Christian.

 

Let’s Pray.  

            

Luke 11:1-13 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Shows Us How to Pray

Luke 11:1-13

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Shows Us How to Pray

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11. If you do not have a Bible, or are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help with that.

So, last week we saw Jesus staying with two sisters, Mary and Martha. As he was staying there, he not only helps a teaching session with some group of people that including Mary, who sat at Jesus feet to listen to his teachings. Jesus also held a private teaching session with Martha, loving her and comforting her in her anxiety and frustration.

Jesus and his disciples continued their travelling from town to town and from village to village. Jesus was making his was way slowly but surely towards Jerusalem, where he was to fulfill his purpose. Along the way, they were preaching the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven being here in the here and now. We have seen many signs and wonders by Jesus to confirm his deity and the truth of his claims.

As he and the disciples are travelling, Jesus is teaching the, mentoring them, preparing them for ministry after he leaves his earthly ministry. The wonderful thing for us, is that these teachings that Jesus shared with his disciples, many of them are recorded in the Gospels contain in the Bible, so we have access to them whenever we want. And this morning we see some very important and practical teachings from Jesus.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s text before we dive in to the teaching. Luke chapter 11, verses 1-13. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 11:1-13, Luke, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit records the following:

 

Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,[b]
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence[c] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

Its always interesting to me when God and when the Gospel writers include or omit certain details. In this case, Jesus was in a certain place. Where that place was, was not important. What was important was that Jesus was praying. We have seen him does this often and it emphasizes to the disciples and to us, if Jesus needs to spend time in prayer, how much more do we?

So, Jesus is praying, and as was common for teachers and disciples of the time, Jesus followers wanted their teacher to teach them how to pray. Every teacher had their own style and method and pattern of prayer. The disciples mention John the Baptist and though we don’t see his prayers recorded in scripture, the disciples had heard of them and wanted to hear Jesus’ versions of prayer.

The disciples looked at Jesus as a number of things but included in that would have been seeing Jesus as their spiritual mentor. They wanted to model their spiritual life off of his. They wanted to be just like him. They wanted to learn from him. He had a robust spiritual prayer life, and they wanted the same.

They were saying to Him, “Lord, you were praying, you have such a good prayer life, your so good at praying, we want to have that same prayer life.”

 

And Jesus was a great example of a good mentor. When Jesus does show the disciples how to pray, he doesn’t give them a list of rigid instructions. He doesn’t say, “First, do this…Second, say this…” Instead, he gives example. He teaches the principles. He explains the whys and such.

 

And in verses 2-4, Jesus gives them a model of prayer. We see here a truncated version of the Lord’s prayer that we see in Jesus teach in Matthew 6:9-13, the version we all know and have memorized.

I think that’s the first think for us to take away form Jesus’ teachings this morning. The length of the prayer does not affect how well or how much God the Father hears our prayers. He does not hear longer prayers any more than shorter prayers. For sure, pray as long as is needed in that specific situation, but there is no need to make it longer and to fill it with fluff words to try to make it more holy.

Now, there are a number of different acronyms and lists and different descriptions out there about what is included in making a good and complete prayer. You may have heard the acronym, ACTS. An ACTS prayer would include Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (or asking). A-C-T-S.

RC Sproul listed some attributes of this and other prayers in scripture as Adoration, petition, confession and intercession. For this passage here this morning, the most common descriptions I read over and over were vertical and horizontal.

This means first, you pray vertically, upwards, towards God. Prayers are directed at someone, and who they are directed at matters. We don’t send our prayers and thoughts out to the universe. We don’t send prayers to people. We don’t pray to a God we don’t believe in or to any God that might hear it. We are praying to the Creator God of the Universe. We are praying to God the Father. We are praying to the one True God. And we need to make sure that we recognize that.

Now of course, this is not to legislate that every prayer we say has to include an out loud, personalized greeting to God. When something happens, sometimes, we just throw prayers out there. God still hears those and responds to those as well. They are no less valid prayers than the more formal prayers we are addressing here this morning.

After praying vertically, we then pray horizontally. We pray for the things, situations and people around us. First, we look up to Heaven, to God, then we look around us. Love God, love your neighbor. Pray to God, pray for your neighbor.

 

Jesus starts the prayer addressing God as Abba Father. Personal, individual Father. We who have been saved by the grace of God through our faith in Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. God also tells us that we are to approach boldly the throne of grace. God is our Father, if we are children in the faith. And he wants to make sure that we know he is approachable. He wants us to know that we can go to him. Anytime, anywhere, about anything. Jesus will talk more about God as Father coming up.

Hallowed be God’s name. God’s name should always be spoken of with reverence, with awe. He is Holy Holy Holy as Isaiah declares. And so, we are to approach God boldly, as our children approach us as parents, but also humbly.

AS we approach God, as we approach our Father, we then ask for provisions. We ask for what he has already promised us. Now God will often overdeliver on those promises. What amazing that we don’t have only manna to eat each and every day, but we have a plethora of amazing foods, flavors, spices, and so much more. These are things that God knew about and put into our world and into our lives so that we could enjoy them. His promises are for our sustenance, to get us through the days. His delivery is often so much more, for our enjoyment, for our pleasure.

Jesus shows us in this model prayer that next we thank God for what he has done for us and what he is continuing to do for us. We also thank him for those very provisions and gifts that he has and will give us.

He also reminds us that what God has done for us, specifically forgiving us our sins, we are to make sure that we do to those around us. Forgiveness, like prayer, is a tricky thing to talk about sometimes.

God, of course, models forgiveness for us. Forgive us our trespasses as we then forgive those who trespass against us. Gods’ forgiveness of us is a once and for all deal. We come to faith in Christ and all our sins, past, present and future are instantly forgiven. And that’s good because we are in constant need of forgiveness.

The forgiveness we give out (and ask from others around us) is an ongoing and continual event. We need to have a continual spirit of forgiveness, always in the present tense. Our forgiveness of others and the forgiveness we ask of others is not a once and for all thing.  It reminds me of the Martin Luther quote that a believer’s entire life is one of repentance.

Jesus gives us a parable in verses 5-8 that shows a couple of things. First, persistence works. We are imperfect friends, sinners. There are times when even if our friends are asking for something that we are expected to give them, we don’t always want to do it. It can take them asking over and over. Eventually we will get up and do it.

Persistence often works. We will see this is the parable of the persistent widow and the point is don’t stop praying. Gods’ answers don’t always come quickly.  I don’t need a show of hands, but how many of us have been praying for years if not decades for certain or specific family members, friends, whoever, for them to come to know Christ. Some of you have seen results from those prayers. But it wasn’t quick or immediate.

Now, where we have to be careful with this story from Jesus is to take the parable too far. God is not annoyed with us for asking too often, or from praying too long (unless its full of hypocritical holy sounding fluff words and the like, but that’s for a different time) The parable is not that God is the friend that needs to be pestered. Instead, the point is that in opposition to how we fail to act and give as we are supposed to, God is happy and delighted to give us good gifts and to answer our prayers.

Now, persistence does not mean repeating the exact words of the prayer over and over. It does not mean ritual. It does not mean wrote repetition. It does not mean mindless repeating of a prayer we have memorized. Jesus warns against this very clearly.

Instead, we are to not give up. We are to stay faithful and steadfast. We are to trust God that he knows what he is doing and will answer our prayers. We trust in God’s definition of good and right and remember that his answer will fit into that category.

 

 

Verses 9 & 10, Jesus says, And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

First thing is let’s remember the context of this passage. The context is believers praying to God their father. These often get misapplied to unbelievers.

When Jesus says Seek and you shall find, this is not referring to those outside the church who are “seeking God.” Scripture makes it clear that we don’t seek God on our own.  Romans 3:10&11, Paul writes:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

 

I came across a great quote while reading RC Sproul’s commentary and he relayed a comment by Thomas Aquinas. Sproul wrote:

Now, it may appear to us that he’s seeking after God. Thomas Aquinas answered the question this way: “The reason we think people are seeking after God when they’re not is that they are desperately and earnestly seeking for those things that only God can give them—happiness, meaning, freedom from guilt, peace—all of these benefits that accrue to those who put their faith in Christ.”

Sproul continues: From our perspective as Christians, we say, “They’re seeking the benefits that only God can give, therefore they must be seeking after God.” Aquinas said: “No, they’re not seeking after God. They want the benefits of God without God.” That’s the dilemma.

 

People who don’t yet know God, do not seek after God. God draws us to him. Once we believe, then we pursue God and to know him as much and as closely as we can. Jonathon Edwards said that seeking after God is the central pursuit of the Christian life. Jesus tells those listening during the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33:  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We also see Jesus say, knock and it will be opened to you. This of course holds allusions to Revelation 3:20, where Paul tells the church at Laodicea, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me

 

These verses are often used in reference to evangelism, “Jesus is knocking in your heart, so let him in and be saved.” That’s absolutely NOT what these verses are talking about. In both these cases, Jesus is talking to people who already love him and are believers.

 

But here is what I think is important to know about these verses. The way they are written is literally Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. So, I see the purpose of these verses as two-fold. First, of course is that God will deliver and respond to our prayers, not always how we expect of course, but our prayers will be answered.

Second, the Christian life is on of action. Our salvation and forgiveness are not by our doing anything., They are solely by the grace of God. But our life after that is one that we are continually called to, maybe that’s not the right word, but we are compelled to action. Prayer, Loving God and Loving our neighbors. Learning from the Word of God. Serving in whatever capacity God has called us to and created us for.

We finish up with verses 11-14. We are imperfect sinners, even as parents. We want to give our kids good gifts, especially if they ask. But we fail and we fail often. Hebrews has a similar passage regarding our earthly fathers and how no matter how they are, God as our Father is so much better. No matter what kind of gifts we give as a father, God gives better and greater gifts. Paul writes in Romans 8:32:  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

And we see specifically one gift. The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift. God the Father desires to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him in Faith. How great the fathers love for us!

He has already given us these great gifts. Love, forgiveness, redemption, grace, eternal life and the like. He wants us to come to him. He wants us to talk to him, that’s what prayer is, talking to God. He wants us to get to know him. He wants us to trust him. He wants us to act like his children and to treat him like our father.

 

God, our Father is Holy, yet approachable. He is loving, yet just. He gives out perfect wrath, yet perfect mercy. He is our perfect Father. And the Son promises that the Father will give us the Holy Spirit.

Ill finish with Ezekiel 36:26&27:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a

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

Luke 10: 25-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

Good Samaritan

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“they may indeed see but not perceive,

                and may indeed hear but not understand,

        lest they should turn and be forgiven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 9:27-36 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 9:1-9 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Ministry Expands

Luke 9:1-9

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Ministry Expands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Thus, saith the Word of God.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastors, Elders Deacons.

Evangelists, Shepherds, Teachers.

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

 

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

 

First, we answer “Who is Jesus?”

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

Then we do it.

 

Lets  Pray

 

 

 

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

Luke 8:40-56

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus heals two women

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Luke 8:16-21

Jesus is the Son of God

Hear and Do.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

God Bless the Reading of the Word.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray

Passover Sermon Exodus 12 and Luke 22

Passover Sermon

Exodus 12 and Luke 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

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

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus is the Son of Man

How Forgiveness affects us

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thus, saith the Word of the LORD.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets Pray

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

Luke 6:37-45

Jesus is the Son of Man

Biblical Judgment

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

May God bless the reading of His holy Word.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Now, this is what this does NOT mean.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

What kind of bad fruit?  Here is one example.

 

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

 

 

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

Will we be blind, or have our eyes opened?

Will we be spiritually dead or spiritually alive?

Will we be goats or sheep?

Will we be and do wrong, or right?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray