Jesus is the Son of Man
IN Christ Alone
All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 12. Right around the halfway point as we go through the Gospel of Luke.
Over the last few chapters, Jesus has been giving a lot of application to the knowledge of the two greatest laws; Love God and Love your Neighbor. Jesus has been showing the disciples, the Pharisees and anyone else who ill listen that to Love God IS to Love you Neighbor. You can’t have one without the other.
Last week, the passage we looked at showed Jesus addressing and confronting the Pharisees and their wrong understanding resulting in their wrong attempts at Loving God. They were portraying outward holiness and moral righteousness but doing so without Loving their neighbors. They were attempting to obey the rules without any love, grace or mercy.
After that, we read of the Pharisees, in Luke 11:53 & 54:
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.
They were mad at Jesus and wanted to trap him and end his public teaching and ministry. That leads immediately into this morning’s passage that we are going to read and look. This morning we are looking at Luke chapter 12, verses 1-12. I will be reading out of my preferred translation, the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.
Luke 12:1-12, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following:
In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b] And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
May God Bless the Reading of His Word.
So, many, many thousands of people are crowding around Jesus and wanting to hear what he has to say. The way this reads, this appears to be as and immediately after Jesus leaves the meal he was having with the Pharisees and lawyers at the end of Chapter 11. And the big crowds had been gathering and following and waiting.
As a result of what he witnessed and what he shared in the dinner, Jesus starts speaking to the disciples, purposely where the rest of the crowd can here as well. Sometimes Jesus would wait until he had just the 12 around him to share teachings and warning. Others, just the larger group of disciples. This time, he wanted as many people as possible to hear and to heed these warnings.
He tells them to Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees. Specifically, he is referring to the hypocrisy that Jesus just exposed in them. He pointed it out to them at the dinner and now he was warning the people in public. He is warning them about when our words and actions don’t match and when our words and hearts don’t match.
He uses this phrase, beware the leaven of the pharisees. He uses it specifically. A little bit of their influence can go a long way. Paul writes in numerous places, but especially Galatians 5:9, A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company ruins good morals.” The negative influence, the hypocrisy of the pharisees can spread without us even seeing it. Sin generally and some sins specifically, like hypocrisy, spread like cancer. They start little by little; we don’t even notice they are there. But then it starts spreading, slowly and unnoticed. Eventually, if left unchecked, it grows and takes over and eventually it kills us.
The idea of leaven can be good too. We see coming up in Luke 13:21, that Jesus uses it to explain the spread of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is here and now, but it is not fully realized yet. It is spreading through this world, through history like leaven through dough.
As the pharisees negative influence spreads through, a little going a long way, so does a Christians positive influence, Christianity’s influence, a little can go a long way in the lives of people around us. It might seem to be just a little, it may be just a little, but it can go a long, long way and it is a part of something much, much bigger, the work of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus reassures and warns us that all will be revealed in the end. All of our sins will be exposed. Especially when the disciples would see the hypocrisy of the pharisees, when we see the sins of those around us seeming to go unnoticed and unpunished, we can be reassured that God sees and they will be exposed in the end.
But it is also a warning. All those moments, all those stray thoughts, all those things that we do and say and think and hide that nobody else knows about. All of it will be exposed and put on display at the end when we stand before the Great Throne in judgment.
Its important to note that it is not just non-Christians who will stand in judgment at the end. We all will. RC Sproul writes it well:
Many Christians have the misguided idea that Christians don’t have to worry about this disclosure on judgment day. They assume its only the pagan or the corrupt person or the Pharisee who has to fear. After all, we have passed from the judgment to life, and we know that one of the benefits of our justification is that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to worry about being condemned by God on the last day. On the last day, your judge and your defense attorney will be Jesus Christ. However, even though our entrance to Heaven is not based in any way on our good works, and though our good works contribute nothing to our salvation, every one of us will be evaluated on that day according to our works. The truth about our obedience, our sanctification, and our profession of faith will be made manifest.
What we do and what we say and all of our actions and works do nothing to affect our eternal destination. However, our deeds and our actions will be made known and will be see both the good that we have done and the evil that we have done.
There is a purpose, I presume to us seeing all the evil we have done at the last judgment. When we see all the sins we have committed, all the evil we have been a part of, the cosmic treason that we have committed against God, we will see how great his grace and how undeserving we are of said grace.
Now, in the context of this passage, what Jesus is saying, he is speaking of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees being exposed. They will not be able to hide their sins and their hypocrisy from God. Our natural tendency is to try to hide our sins, even from God. This goes all the way back to Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and sinned, bringing sin and death into the world, they tried to hide form God. They recognized that they were standing before him naked and unashamed. They made coverings from fig leaves, and we have been trying to cover up our sins ever since.
Now, to be clear. Sin does not automatically equal hypocrisy. We all sin. We all fail. That is something that we will be struggling with and fighting against for the rest of our physical and natural lives. But pretending that we don’t sin, Not acknowledging our sins, acting like our sins aren’t as bad as anyone else’s sins, only pointing out other people’s sins, that’s hypocrisy.
The hypocrisy of the Pharisees stemmed from them fearing the opinions of men and their fellow Pharisees more than fearing God. They wanted the people to fear their opinions and judgments and to submit to them. Jesus says, don’t fear those who can kill the body only.
The Pharisees those days had the ability and some authority to kill the body. We see this through the book of Acts, Paul specifically was tasked with tracking down early Christians, and he watched over and approved of the killing and stoning of Stephen. Certain sins were punished by stoning. The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was going to be stoned until Jesus said what he said.
Governments, which God says he puts in place, sometimes specifically with this purpose in mind according to Romans 13, have the ability to kill the body. OF course, criminals have that ability as well.
God doesn’t ever promise to spare our physical natural lives in every situation. History is full of martyrs who have given up their lives for their faith, to stand for Jesus. The Bible shows many of them, history shows that every one of the Apostles was martyred except John who survived attempts to martyr him. Read Fox’s Book of Martyrs for many more examples. The Reformation was chock full of examples. Many, many Christians around the world today are dying right now for the faith that many American Christians take for granted.
But as Jesus points out, if they do punish you or kill your body, that is the end of their ability to influence you or affect you. They can’t do anything more to you at that point. They have no authority over eternity. Instead of fearing men, fear the one who has authority over eternity.
There are different types of fear. The easiest way to describe this fear, the fear of the LORD that Jesus is calling us to, is the type of fear that involves awe and reverence. In certain contexts, this is all that is needed. But it involves more than this. And especially in what Jesus is saying, it also involves fear, being afraid. We should be afraid of a God who has the power and authority to determine our eternal destiny.
Proverbs says in multiple places that the Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 36 says that the wicked have no fear of God before their eyes. But there is a right kind of fear. This is the fear we see in Moses in Exodus 3 when he was afraid to look upon God. We see it in Isaiah 6, when he was set down before the LORD and professed that he was a man of unclean lips. This is the fear that we should have of Him.
He is the Judge who will welcome us to Heaven or the one who will damn us to Hell. One commentator reminds us that Hell is not Satan’s dominion but instead his prison. He is not the one who has authority in Hell, God is sovereign over all of His creation, and this includes Hell.
But there is a balance to that fear for those who are in Christ. We are to fear God instead of Man and we are to have this healthy fear of God. But we are also to remember that the place he has prepared for us is secured and he will not forget us or forsake us.
Sparrows are the cheapest animals that you could buy at that time. Almost literally a dime a dozen. And God remembers them all. We are infinitely more valuable than sparrows. God knows and never forgets the numbers of hairs on your head. Even as that number changes as we age, God still knows.
We fear him and all that it entails; awe, reverence, and fear itself. But we also remember that he loves us, he remembers us, and he cares for us. Paraphrasing RC Sproul, we fear Him on one hand, and on the other, we have no fear.
God does not send people to Hell because he forgets about them, or he forsakes them. He doesn’t send people to because he wants to or because it makes him happy.
So, what does determine whether we are welcomed into eternal glory in Heaven or if we are damned to Hell?
Jesus says, acknowledge me, trust in me, believe in me and you’re in. By Gods grace our hearts are changed and our eyes are opened. We see the truth and put our faith in the work of Jesus Christ.
We can’t believe and then tell people we don’t believe. Romans 10:9, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Of course, words by themselves, just like actions or works by themselves are nothing, they are not enough to save us or to damn us. The issue is our heart. And what flows out of us is usually a pretty good indication of what’s in our heart.
Verse 9, if you reject or deny Christ, you will be denied heaven and you will be rejected from spending eternity with Christ. This is true no matter what our words say. Not everyone who prayers a prayer or makes a public confession of Christ has been legitimately changed by the Holy Spirit. Not everyone who is physically in the church is spiritually in the church. Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended form Israel belong to Israel and the meaning of that is a sermon or discussion for a different time, but it is the same with he churches today. Not all who are in the church belong to the church.
Not everyone who publicly identifies as a Christian is truly saved or has been truly changed by the Holy Spirit. If we reject Christ in our hearts, if we reject Christ and his works, he will reject us.
Now, he does say that we are able to have all our sins forgiven. We could blaspheme Jesus and that is able to be forgiven. Which is good because before Christ, we all speak against God, and we all blaspheme Christ. And if that was unforgiveable, we would all be out of luck.
Jesus says something that has been the source of controversy, of confusion and of despair for Christians for 2000 years. The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
There have been many different ideas, many different beliefs, many different interpretations on what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We are not going to argue over or let it divide us.
Before we look at this, I want to remind us all of the first two rules of understanding the Bible. First, we let the Bible interpret the Bible. Let scripture interpret scripture. IF we don’t know what something means, we look at what scripture says in other places on the same subject or in other places that can speak to the same thing. Second, we let the clear scripture interpret the unclear scripture. That’s the key to what we are looking at hear.
So, what do we know that the scriptures say clearly?
1 John 1:9, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We know that Christ died on the cross or the forgiveness of sins. Verses 8 & 9 here in this passage in Luke show that even speaking against Jesus can be forgiven. John 3:36 says Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
According to one commentator, The Blood of Christ is sufficient for any sinner who truly repents- even a sinner who has on occasion denied the name of Christ.
We have seen in scriptures such a wide variety of sins, even and especially serious, crazy sins be forgiven. Adultery, lying, eating from the forbidden tree, murder, false teachings and prophecy. So much more.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
All those sins were forgiven. Peter says in Acts 2:38: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So, Jesus died for the sins of the world. All sin can be forgiven except this, what can it mean? I think the key to understanding this is right here in the passage we are looking at this morning, all the information we need is right here.
Verse 8 & 9: “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God
How I read this, the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is dying while still rejecting Christ, denying Christ. It is dying without the Holy Spirit doing his regenerating work on us. IF you die without having placed your trust and faith in Christ, you are not able to be forgiven. There is no forgiveness outside of Christ Jesus. In context, to me, that’s the only thing this could mean.
The key to what we are reading this morning is the idea of fear of man vs the fear of God. And Jesus reiterates that as we finish up in verses 11 & 12. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
We see immediate proof of this throughout the book of acts. In context, the takeaway, application is that if you are worried about denying Christ in the face of opposition, in the face of true persecution, trust in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can not be unafraid or unashamed in our own strength and in our own power. We can only do it through His power, through the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit.
I am going to leave you with a story about Martin Luther showing the fear of God overcoming the fear of Man. This is relayed from Kent Hughes in his commentary on Luke.
When Martin Luther first stood before the Diet of Worms, John Eck, the archbishop of Trier, asked him, “Martin Luther, do you recant of the heresies in your writings?…Do you defend them all or do you care to reject a part?” Luther gave the quiet answer, “This touches God and His word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this, Christ said, He who denies me before men, him I will deny before the Father. To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think it over.”
Luther asked for 24 hours to consider the situation. Eck and the whole assembly were amazed. How could the supreme intellectual leader of this movement ask for more time to think? Was he succumbing to fear?
That night, Luther and his colleagues passionately called out to God in now-celebrated prayers. With the rising of the sun another, larger hall was chosen, and it was so crowded that scarcely anyone except the emperor could sit. Eck, spoke long and eloquently in the flickering candlelight, concluding, “I ask you Martin- answer candidly and without horns- do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?”
Luther contra mundum spoke, and his voice rang. He spoke first in German and then in Latin:
“Since then your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reason- I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”