Luke 9:37-43 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Does what He does

Luke 9:37-43

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Does what He does

 

All right, please turn with me to Luke chapter 9. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

We are in the middle of this chapter of Luke’s Gospel and Jesus is the midst of changing his direction and focus from ministering to the region of Galilee to heading down towards Jerusalem. But in that change, Jesus doesn’t take his eyes off of what he has been focusing on, which is the people. Individuals. The negative affects that sin has had in this world.

Jesus and the inner three disciples, James, John and Peter, went up on the mount and they saw the transfiguration, the majesty of God reflect from and out of Jesus, the Son of God. They saw Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah, the embodiments of the Law and the Prophets, THE most import people (aside from Maybe Abraham) in the Jewish culture and religion. And they saw Jesus as greater than and the fulfillment of both.

So, we are going to pick up right where we left off as we always do. This morning we are going to read Luke chapter 9, verses 37 through 43. Ill be reading, as always, from the English Standard Version, though the important thing is for you to read for yourself in your Bible, whichever translation you prefer.

Luke 9:37-43, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

So, the very next day. Luke will sometimes be very specific with the timeline in his Gospels. Sometimes he will be very nonspecific as to the timeline as well. This is one of those very specific times. The very next day from James, Peter and John seeing the glory of God, the very next day, the descend down the mount.

I want you to think of a major happy moment in your life. More specifically, a moment in your spiritual life where you felt closest to God, where you witness an event or a moment of clarity where God was as real as he has ever been, where Jesus is as real as he has ever been to you.

That’s where Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ 3 closest friend, were after the passage we looked at last week. They were up on a mountain alone with Jesus, they saw an amazing preview of Gods glory peeking out of Jesus during his transfiguration. They heard God the Father speak audibly, confirming the Jesus was God the Son, and that they needed to listen to him. They had some private teaching with Jesus, and they started down the mountain. They were on top of the spiritual world, confused about some things to be sure, but on top of the spiritual world.

And as they descend, there is a great crowd awaiting them. More accurately, there is a great crowd awaiting Jesus. Mark tells us that there was an argument going on, but that doesn’t concern Luke.

Instead, we see that Luke records that a man, a dad, calls out to Jesus. Please, look at my boy. My only Son. Please see him. Don’t let him go unseen, uncared for, unhealed.

He tells Jesus what’s wrong with his son and it’s a heart-breaking scene for a father to see, especially over and over. One commentator describes the boys’ issues thusly:

When we piece the Gospel descriptions together, we get a heartbreaking picture. When the demon seizes the boy (Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39), the child screams (Luke 9:39). The spirit throws him to the ground in convulsions so that he foams at the mouth (Luke 9:39). He grinds his teeth and becomes stiff as a board (Mark 9:18). Many times, he had been cast into fire and or water by the evil spirit (Mathew 17:15), and he is covered with scars. Even worse, the spirit has made him deaf and dumb (Mark 9:25). The poor boy lives an aquarium like existence. He can see what is going on around his pathetic body, but he cannot hear or speak. His father concludes here in Luke, “It…shatters him, and will hardly leave him.” (v. 39) – literally, “it is crushing him.”

 

As a father, especially to think about that on Father’s Day, it had to tear this dad up. HE tells Jesus, I asked your disciples to heal him, but they couldn’t. This would appear to be the other 9 Apostles while the inner three were up with Jesus. Some things we know and some things we don’t. The Apostles were given authority to cast out unclean spirits back at the beginning of Luke chapter 9. So why couldn’t they help this dad and his boy? It appears, as most commentators agree, that the Apostles were forgetting that it was Jesus who was casting out the unclean spirits through them. They were trying to do it by there own power, through there own methods. They were trusting the methods and the process as opposed to trusting Jesus. That’s what appears to have happened here. Scripture doesn’t spell it our for us, BUT scripture is clear that the Apostles were not able to do this because they lacked faith.

Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Jesus shows us all what appears to be frustration. If so, we know its righteous frustration of course. Jesus is without sin, so we know that anything he did and anything he said was righteous and sinless. I don’t know a better word for it, so I’m going to use frustration even though it doesn’t feel quite right. But who was he frustrated with? Again, it appears that it is the Apostles specifically and the generation around him generally. He knows that once he is gone, which is what he and Elijah and Moses were discussing by the way, that some of these healing’s won’t happen. He knows that his Apostles are very imperfect people and all his followers, us included will have moments where we lack the faith that Jesus is referring to here.

The faithless and twisted generation that Jesus references here goes all the way back to Moses and the Israelites. And it fits all the way to today as well. There will be no faithful generations until the LORD comes back.

Each generation fulfills and upholds beliefs and values that go against what God has clearly told us he desires. RC Sproul writes:

The culture into which Jesus came was twisted. It was distorted. The values they held dear were things that were noxious to the LORD God, and what was precious in the sight of God was despised in their culture. Theirs was a twisted culture because it was a faithless culture.

When human beings fail to trust God, they twist their lives into all kinds of crazy shapes.

Sound familiar? It sounds quite a bit like today. IT is the same with every single generation that has come about since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is no perfect generation. There is no “Christian” culture or nation.

Sproul continues:

Consider our own age. The sanctity of life has been twisted; the sanctity of marriage has been distorted. We are twisted. We’re distorted and therefore faithless.

The world we are living in is in terrible shape. I know it seems as if it’s worse than it’s ever been. But it’s been in terrible shape since the time of Jesus, and thousands of years before. During the first century we see atrocities such as King Herod killing all the boys aged two years or younger. We see an occupied people try to come up at revolt for their freedom and end up crucified, lined up along the road for miles upon miles as a deterrent to others who might thing that silly word, “Freedom.” We see Jesus, according to the ruling authorities at the time, a crazy man claiming to be God, be crucified. We see the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Compare that to today, and roll the White House, the Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell, The Statue of Liberty, and whatever else you want to throw in there. Roll them all into one and let some other country take over and destroy it. Completely destroy it, Leaving not even one stone on top of another. We see the Jews organized almost a genocidal search for “heretical” Christians, stoning them to death if they would not renounce Jesus as LORD.

The world was terrible then and its terrible now.  World Wars 1 and 2, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Japanese Internment camps here in America. Vietnam, 9/11, Taliban, Isis. Turn on the news. People were looking for a savior then and they are looking for a savior now. Even after we know Jesus is our Savior, we look for saviors within the world as well. Even as the First Century Jews were looking for a Warrior King to free them from Roman Occupation, we look to flesh and blood people to save us.

I have bad news. They can’t. Donald trump can’t save us. Joe Biden can’t save us. Barrack Obama can’t save us. George W Bush couldn’t save us. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, FDR, Lincoln and Washington couldn’t save us. And yet we keep expecting them too. Sometimes we do so consciously and sometimes we do so practically.

 

 

But Jesus is not going to let the lack of faith around him prevent him from pouring out grace and mercy on those who need it. He tells the dad to bring the boy to him.

Dr Luke describes what we see as the boy is brought to Jesus. The unclean spirit, the demon messes with the boy one last time. He knew the boy was going to Jesus. He knew he was going to be healed and the spirit was going to be cast out. So, he gave the boy another episode. TO me, this story reads as if the boy had legitimate medical conditions that the unclean spirit was triggering, as opposed to the boy being possessed or the symptoms being caused purely by the spirit, but that is just conjecture.

What we do see is the demon trying to do as much damage as possible while he can. As one commentator notes and many of us can attest, especially those of us who came to Christ later in life than childhood:

The demon made one last desperate attempt to keep him away from Jesus. Stan never gives up any of his victims without a fight, and often it is right before someone comes to Christ (whether literally or spiritually) that he makes his most violent assault.

 

That’s what we see happen here. But when Christ calls someone to Him, he will never be denied. When Christ calls someone to Himself, that person is already secured, in the long-term perspective. It’s called the Effectual Call of God, or Irresistible Grace. In short, the effectual call is understood as God’s sovereign drawing of a sinner to salvation. The effectual call to a sinner so overwhelms his natural inclination to rebel that he willingly places faith in Jesus Christ. 

(https://www.gotquestions.org/effectual-calling-call.html)

 

          Jesus sees what is happening to the boy and rebukes the unclean spirit. He sends him away and then heals the boy, fully and completely. No more convulsions. No more foaming at the mouth. No more deafness and dumbness.

 

And Jesus reunites father and son. Now, I don’t know if this was intended to be THE point, but it fits. Jesus unites and reunites his true spiritual family. The Father, God and his sons and daughters, the children of God will be united through THE Son, Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit.

This unity is despite our differences. This unity is not uniformity. He has purposely made us different, as scripture points out, different parts of the body, different spiritual gifts, different callings. This unity is also, and maybe most especially, despite whether we like each other or get along.

This unity occurs when we eliminate gossip, slander, anger, unforgiveness from our church body, from within each other. This unity only occurs when we make the conscious decision to act loving towards each other regardless of anything else, because this is what Christ calls us to.

At conference, one of the speakers gave this illustration that has struck me and stuck with me. We know that the church, which is all believing individuals, is the bride of Christ. How would you feel if someone was talking to you, telling you how much they loved you, liked you, respected you, wanted to be your friend, but, they said, I just can’t stand your spouse?

That’s what it is like when we complain about a fellow Christian, even if its just in private with God. I love you but hate your spouse. That’s what its like when we fight with each other and refuse to love and respect each other. How long would you let that go on, if someone was saying how much they didn’t like your spouse? How long can we expect Jesus to let us continue to talk bad about his spouse?

 

Spiritual warfare is all over this story. And its all around us today. Just as it is shown trying to separate father and son, it is working hard today to divide the body of Christ. It is not solely a battle between unbelievers and believers either, unfortunately. Even we, as family, as followers of Christ, even we can act in the enemy’s interest. Even we can do things that go against the same Jesus that we claim to and attempt to follow.

We remember just a few weeks ago, we saw that Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ. In Matthews recording of that story, when Peter heard Jesus say that He, as the Messiah, must go to Jerusalem and die on the cross, Peter tried to convince Jesus not to go, that he didn’t have to go and die. Jesus’ response, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter was doing the work of the enemy in trying to support and save Jesus.

When we fight, when we argue, when we complain about fellow Christians, we are doing the work of the enemy, creating division and disunity within the body of Christ.

 

Now, Luke ends this section beautifully and with a bow on the top of both of the last two sections we have looked at. Verse 43, And all were astonished at the majesty of God. God revealed his majesty up on the mount at the transfiguration to the inner three Apostles. Here, he shows his majesty through Christ to the rest of the Apostles and the crowds and especially the father and son in this story.

It is revealed to all who will see it. His majesty shines on the mountain top and it shines down in the valley. God won’t let us not see his majesty. In our lives, it will be easy to see God’s glory and majesty, his grace and his mercy when we are spiritually up on the mountain tops. But it is harder to see when we are down in the valleys of life. But its still there. All we have to do is see it.

We will see when God shows it to us. And we will see it easier and more often the more that we have seen it in the past. The more we see God’s majesty, the closer we will grow to him, being conformed to the image of his Son. And the closer we grow to him, the more we will see God’s majesty. I’ll end with 2 Corinthians 3:17-19:

Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[e] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

 

 

                            

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 9:18-27 Jesus is the Son of Man: Who Do you Say He Is?  

Luke 9:18-27

Jesus is the Son of Man

Who Do you Say He Is?

 

 

          All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

Earlier in the chapter, in verse 9, Herod, the puppet ruler of Galilee heard about many of the miracles and much of the teachings of this Jesus fellow. And he asks, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?”

Jesus was becoming well known. The stories of him have been spreading far and wide. He was becoming bona fide famous. Luke has been sharing these stories because, as he said in chapter 1, verse 4, “That you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

So, Luke has been recording & teaching the signs and wonders that Jesus is preforming. He is recording and sharing the teachings that Jesus is speaking. And these signs and wonders and these teachings were causing people to pay attention and they were asking just what Herod asked, “Who is this?”

SO, with that question on our mind, we will go ahead and read our passage for this morning, Luke chapter 9, verses 18 through 27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow and read along in your preferred translation. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records the following words of Jesus. Luke 9:18-27, he writes:

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Thus says the Word of God.

So, as we have mention previously, including last week, The Apostles are not always the brightest bunch of light bulbs. They are very much like you and me. They miss the points that Jesus is trying to tell them. They miss what Jesus is able to do and who he is.

Jesus finally just asks them, and he starts with “Who do people say I am?” And we see some of the same answers, the same thoughts and suggestions we saw when Herod was wondering who Jesus was.

Some say John the Baptist. Not everyone saw John and saw Jesus and especially not everyone saw them at the same time. They both had ministries around the same time and they both called people to repentance and taught on and spoke of the Kingdom of God. But Some also knew that Herod had John the Baptist put to death. So, it couldn’t be him, unless he came back from the dead, which, of course, Jesus would end up doing but John didn’t.

Some thought Jesus was Elijah come back. God prophesied in Malachi 4:5, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. Many thought that Jesus, because of him appearing to be a prophet to many of them, must be Elijah coming back, paving the way for the great and awesome day of the LORD. Jesus says elsewhere in the scriptures that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy, that John came in the spirit of Elijah. So, Jesus was not he.

So, who was Jesus? I think the Apostles got to the point where, to quote Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

We see the Apostles start to finally get it. Then Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Peter could see enough to now know that Jesus was the Christ, but he wouldn’t have a full grasp, a full view of what that actually meant, until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Peter was beginning to see. Peter was where we all start in our Christian walk.  Before we come to Christ, before he opens our eyes to who he is, we are all blinded. Sin invaded this world, and invaded humanity way back in Genesis 3, when the serpent deceived Adam and Eve. His lies and deceit blinded them to the reality around them. It blinded them to the fact that they were wandering around a perfect garden, naked and unashamed, with unprecedented access to the God who created them, created the garden they were walking around in, created the world and the entire universe. They had access to God that we can only hope for.

The enemy’s lies and sin invaded this world, and we are all blinded by it. What are we blinded to? Everything. Truth. We are blinded to who God is. We are blinded to the fact that there is but one God and only one pathway, Jesus Christ, to God. We are blinded to the fact that we are sinners. We are blinded to the affect that our sin has on us.

We are blinded to who Jesus Christ truly is, despite all the powers, works and miracles he did and still does. Despite the evidence in our lives, in the world around us. We are blinded to who he is and what he can do for us. He came to save us from our sins.

As we see with Adam and Eve, sin separates us from God and blinds us to the truth. Jesus came to reunite us to God and to open our eyes, heal our blindness. Just as he did with Peter and the disciples.

In Marks Gospel, Jesus preforms a healing right before the records Jesus question to Peter. This healing was different. It was not the instant healing that Jesus normally did. He healed a blind man, but at first, the man could see, but could not see clearly. He saw men walking around but he saw them as trees walking around. Jesus then finished the healing, completely and totally fixing the man’s eyes and allowing him to finally see clearly.

 

Now, it’s important to see that the healing of the blind man is not just another healing. It’s not even just a healing that parallels physical blindness with spiritual blindness. We see that, although Jesus could have instantly and completely healed the blind man, he chose not to. I believe he chose not to heal the physical blindness instantly because he wanted show us a Truth. I believe he wanted to make clear that our spiritual blindness does not get lifted instantly, but gradually, in stages.

We start by seeing some of the evidence of God around us. We start by seeing parts, bits and pieces. We see that we are sinners. We see that we cannot do anything to open our own eyes. And we cannot do anything to reconcile ourselves with God.

The single biggest moment of our eyes being opened is when we, just like Peter did here, recognize that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Messiah. That he is our savior and the only way to reconciliation with God.  When our eyes are opened to this point, we have a choice.

We all have a choice to make. You have a choice to make. When your eyes are open to the fat that Jesus is who he says he is, will you choose to acknowledge the truth that you now see? Romans 10:9 says, “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.”

Or you could ignore the truth and go on with your life. See, even when our eyes start to be opened, sin still has a powerful grip on us. It sits deep within us. It is us and it allows ourselves to be blissfully unaware, we can see the Truth, and ignore it, stamp it down and not allow ourselves to be confronted with it. The problem with that, is that if we never acknowledge the truth, if we never take the step and make the choice to confess Jesus as LORD, then we never get reconciled to God. If we never get reconciled to God, while that may lead to superficial, worldly fun, it means eternity separated from God. In layman’s terms, that means Hell.

But once we are confronted with the truth, once our eyes are opened to that point and we have a choice to make. A choice to open our eyes. A choice to make the confession of Jesus as LORD, to know that after we physically die, we will spend eternity with him in heave, Eternity with the kind of access to God that Adam and Eve had before the fall.

I say we have at that point a choice to open our eyes, because Jesus makes it clear that it is our responsibility to continue to have our eyes opened more and more.

Peter didn’t stop at this point. He didn’t see that Jesus was the Christ and sit back and wait for eternity in Heaven to begin. He continued to press forward. He continued to have his eyes opened more and more. He continued to grow spiritually. He screwed up. We will see an instance next week. We will see many more instances after that. But he went on to be the leader of the roman church. He went on to right two of the books of the Bible. He went on to preach at Pentecost and bring thousands upon thousands to Christ in the book of Acts.

We are not called to make a decision for Christ and go on living our lives the same. But our eyes are to continue to open, little bit by little bit. Jesus heals our spiritual blindness, and it will be healed completely when we get up to heaven, but our time on earth, it is a partial healing that heals more and more over time.

Paul talks in 1 Corinthians about our spiritual growth. The church in Corinth were believers, Jesus opened their eyes to who he was, but that was it. They didn’t do anything with their faith. In Ch 3, verses 1 & 2, he writes to them: But I, brothers,[a] could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,

Hebrews 6:1 says “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

          We are to continue to grow in and mature in our walk with Jesus. The more we run after him, the more we walk beside him, abide in him, in biblical language, the more we study his word, what he has for us, the more he will open our eyes to new and better things.

I know many of you here have been Christians for a long while. You have been reading your Bibles for many, many years. Some of you have a lot of it memorized. But if you are reading it still consistently, back me up on this, how often are you reading some passage you have read, no exaggeration, hundreds, if not thousands of times before and God shows you something completely new in that passage. Something that you have never noticed before in there. Jesus opening your eyes again, just a bit more. It never stops in our life.

We also need to remember the bit by bit that we start with. Paul talks about starting as spiritual infants, being fed with milk. Just like a growing child, after a long period of being fed milk, then we can move on to solid spiritual food. Remember that baby steps are still steps. And baby steps grow into big kid steps which grow into grown up steps.

Out of our growth, our walk and our maturing in Jesus comes works, comes fruit of the Spirit.

          We will give an account to God when we see him face to face. Paul assures us that if we get to the point where our eyes are opened by Jesus enough to make a decision to confess him as LORD, we will be saved from Hell. Period. But what we do after those matters and we will have to give an account of it. And yet, we will get to spend eternity in perfect heaven with him in perfect relationship.

I want to share two points of application I got from one of the resources I read for this passage.
First, we should never assume that, because we can see some truth, we know all truth. We need to be humble enough to realize that “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The time will come when we will see Jesus as He is, and then we will be like Him (1 John 3:1-3). Until then, let’s be humble enough to recognize there are things we do not yet see and understand.

 

And second, If we – and even apostles – do not fully understand the implications of what we see in the Scriptures or in Jesus, we need to be patient with others who do not understand what we think we understand. Sincere believers in Jesus who are seeking to follow Him as closely as possible will sometimes understand various things differently. We need to be patient with one another, always seeking better understanding ourselves and seeking to learn even from those who disagree with us. If we love only those who love us, what do we do more than others? If we are willing to learn only from those who agree with us, how will we ever correct our misunderstandings? Further, if we refuse actually to listen to them, why should we expect them to listen to us as well?

So, peter sees, his eyes are opened to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. But Peter still doesn’t understand what the Messiah would be. Jesus starts to teach them some of the things that they don’t understand. He knows that Israel does not have a full understanding of what the Messiah will look like, what some of the roles he would fulfill.

The rabbis, the religious leaders, would look at what we have as the Old Testament, and they saw the promise of the Messiah that God would send. The saw this conglomerate of what God was promising. They saw that the Messiah would be a King. And he is. They saw that the messiah would be a warrior. And he is. What they did not see was that he would suffer. And he would.

Now it’s very easy for us to look at the scriptures today and say, “How could they not see it?” We look at Isaiah, chapters 52 & 53, we see Psalm 22. I highly recommend you go and look at these passages if you haven’t recently. We look at them and we see such a clear view of who God told the Jews that the Messiah would be. He told the world hundreds of years before Jesus was born, how he would be born, how he would live and how he would die, and how he would not stay dead.

How did the Jewish Rabbis not see this? Well, in my research, it seems that instead of attributing these passages to the Messiah to come, the attributed them to Israel as a whole, symbolically, as them suffering in their wait for the coming Messiah.

So, Jesus starts to teach them. He starts to teach them as their eyes are now partially open. He teaches them that the Messiah MUST suffer. The Messiah MUST be rejected by the scribes, elders and the chief priests. The Messiah MUST be killed. The Messiah MUST rise again after three days.

These aren’t just things that Jesus was going to do, but these were things that the Messiah MUST do in order to be the Messiah, our savior. The study note in my Bible says about the word “must”: Behind this small word is all the weight of scriptural prophecy and divinely ordained necessity (9:31, Luke 22:37, 24:7, 26, 44) Jesus’ predictions concerning his death and resurrection come out of his understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.”

          And Jesus spoke this clearly. He did not speak in riddles, he did not speak in allusions or veiled references, he did not speak in parables. Here, talking to his disciples, who are now seeing him as the Messiah, he is teaching the things clearly, that the rest of the people around him, those who do not recognize him as the messiah, those who are challenging him, those who are hanging around because he is famous, teaching clearly to his disciples what others are not ready to hear.

So, Peter hears what Jesus is saying. He hears Jesus say that he is going to need to die. So, Peter, being a good Jew, and not fathoming that the Messiah would suffer such indignities, pulls Jesus aside.

Mark records in Chapter 8, verse 32 & 33:

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Mark says that Peter starts to rebuke Jesus. I don’t think I can adequately explain how strong the language is here.

The term rebuke here is usually saved for instances in the scripture of Jesus rebuking demons or unclean spirits…This was not as simple as Peter telling Jesus that he was wrong. Peter evidently was talking to Jesus, how Jesus spoke to demons. Peter still had a wrong image of who the Messiah would be. He expected a Political King. He expected a Military Warrior. He did not expect a Suffering Servant.

See, Peters eyes were open to Jesus being the Messiah, but his eyes, because of sin, were still subject to some blindness. Peter believed. Even when we believe, when we have the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to who Jesus is, we can still have some blindness. We can still be deceived. We can still get things wrong. The enemy can and will still trick us.

Peter was deceived, he was blinded to the truth of the situation. What Jesus said he MUST do, as the Messiah, Peter thought he knew better. He couldn’t conceive of it. He knew better. This conversation is recounted in Matthew 16 as well. In the NIV, it reads, ““Never, Lord!””This shall never happen to you!”

Peter would do whatever it took to stop Jesus from dying on the cross. He knew better than God what should or should not happen. Jesus recognized what this was and where it came from. He recognized that Peter was deceived by Satan, still blind in this area. See, Peter was tempting Jesus. He was saying, “You don’t really have to suffer, to be humiliated and scorned, You’re the Messiah, you should reign in Power instead…”

He was tempting Jesus the same way that Satan tempted him in the desert after his fasting. The temptation that Jesus could be the all-powerful, king of this world, if he just doesn’t submit to Gods will. If he would bow down to Satan. If he would refuse to be crucified and die for our sins. If he would refuse to follow the will of God, things would go so much better and be so much easier on him…That’s what Peter was tempting him with, and Jesus recognize it.

So, Jesus rebukes Peter. Again, this word is used very specifically in the Gospels. It has the connotation of control and having power over the person you are rebuking. That’s why it was such an issue that Peter was trying to rebuke Jesus. That’s why the demons that Jesus rebuked listened to him. And that’s why Jesus rebuked Peter here. And he rebukes Peter by rebuking Satan, who was the one driving the temptation.

Jesus showed Peter that he had his mind on the things of man, not on the things of God. In other words, he was looking at what made sense from man’s perspective, using mans, or the worlds wisdom, instead of trusting in the wisdom of God.

At this point, Jesus changes who he is addressing. He doesn’t turn away from his disciples or stop addressing them. But he had been addressing them privately. Now he turns to the crowds and starts to teach all who would think themselves followers of him.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, this passage is directly talking to you. If you are thinking about being a follower of Jesus Christ, this passage is directly talking to you. If you are not at all interested in following Jesus Christ, pay attention, this passage is directly talking to you.

Reread what Luke records:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

 

There are only two teams. There is Gods team and there is Satan’s team. There is no in between. So first, you have to make a choice. Which team are you on?

Now, if you choose Gods team, you win, and Satan loses. But Satan is not a good loser, he is a sore loser, and he will do whatever it takes to negate your part on the winning team. And the thing is, he doesn’t have to do much. Jesus is telling Peter to set his eyes on the things of God instead of the things of man.

If you are focused on yourself and your life. If you are focused on having your best life now, you will not have your best life then. When your mind is on the things of man, your mind is not on the things of God. You live a life based on what the world tells you is the best life. You live a life based on the wisdom of man, the wisdom of the world. You live a life that bears the wrong kind of fruit.

We are not told to take up anyone else’s cross except our own. God has given us each different gift. He has given us each different passions and different ministries and missions to focus on. He has given us all a different cross.

And we can lie to ourselves and tell ourselves things like, “I’m focusing on being the best me I can be for God.” or “God loves me, so he is OK with what I’m doing,” or “I’m just following my dream.” As Todd Akin says, God never said ‘follow your dreams’ He simply said ‘Follow Me.’”

In order for us to be focused 100 % on God, we have to trust him Jesus has promised, not that this life here and now will be wonderful and perfect and easy and without trouble. Jesus has promised us that if we believe in him, if we trust in him, if we confess his as LORD and savior and believe it in our heart, that we will have eternal life with him in perfect heaven.

Jesus continues and contrasts the two choices by asking, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life. What he is asking us is this. If we have a good life now, a great life now, our best life now, according to man’s thinking, according to the worlds thinking, but we give up eternity with Jesus in heaven, what have we gained?

Nothing. Everything we have here on this earth is perishable, but eternity is imperishable. Man, us, you and I, we think in the here and now. As much as we might fight against, and often we don’t, we cannot help but be drawn to instant gratification. CS Lewis says, ““You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”

          The way of the world, the fun that the world is having, the draw of everything we are being tempted with, it sucks us in. Jesus is that strongest spell that CS Lewis mentions. He will open our eyes to the blindness we have. and he will be the spell that allows us to wake from the evil enchantment of worldliness. Jesus finishes his teaching in this passage with a warning and a promise. He warns us that whoever is ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of in front of the Father on that day we come face to face with him.

But his promise is this. That the Son of Man will come in the glory of his father and with the Holy Angels. He starts his teachings in private with the disciples, warning & promising that the Son of Man must suffer. He ends it by publicly announcing and promising that the Son of Man will come in Glory.

Revelation 1:7, part of this morning’s scripture reading and part of the verse that was put on the reader board this week:

 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[b] on account of him. Even so. Amen.

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

Luke 9:10-17

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus feeds the 5000.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Let’s Pray

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

Luke 9:1-9

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Ministry Expands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Thus, saith the Word of God.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastors, Elders Deacons.

Evangelists, Shepherds, Teachers.

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

 

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

 

First, we answer “Who is Jesus?”

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

Then we do it.

 

Lets  Pray

 

 

 

Easter 2021 Luke 7:11-17 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus raises the dead.

Easter 2021

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus raises the dead.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and open up our Bibles to Luke chapter 7! As I say on an almost weekly basis, if you do not have a Bible, if you need one, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.

So, we have been walking the Gospel of Luke the last few months and seeing who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish. Luke gives his reason for writing this Gospel in Chapter 1, verses 3 & 4, writing: it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

          So, Luke has been investigation, interviewing witnesses and generally verifying the life and stories of Jesus as true and passing them along so that we may know that they are true.

We got to Chapter 7 a few weeks ago and we kind of took Chapter 7 out of order so that we could look at this morning’s story here in Easter Morning.

Leading up to this point, Jesus was putting his words into action. As he was teaching, preaching truth; grace, mercy, holiness, repentance, he was basically being asked, “Who are you to tell us…” This is a reaction we all have, when people tell us things we don’t want to hear or things that are hard to hear, our first inclination is to reject it and usually that is done by discrediting the one telling us the hard thing.

Jesus essentially responds, “Who am I to say? Ill show you who I am…” He says this is who I am, and this is the evidence of my power and authority. He showed so far in Luke’s Gospel that He had authority over sin by forgiving sins. He showed he had authority over sickness and disease by healing people. He showed his authority over weather and nature by calming storms and the wind. He showed his authority over the Scriptures by teaching and preaching a right understanding of the Word of God. And finally, as we see this morning, he shows his authority over life and death itself, by raising the dead.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 11-17. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, buy please read along for yourself in your preferred translation. We look at Luke’s account, inspired by the Holy Spirit as he records:

Soon afterward[c] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[d] gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

 

          Thus, says the Holy Word of God.

 

So, at the beginning of Luke 7, we saw that Jesus was in Capernaum. He and his followers went down to a town called Nain. Nain was about 25 miles from Nain, or about a day’s journey. As usual, he had great crowds and followers going with him. They had heard stories; they had heard his teachings and they wanted to see and hear more.

As the came to Nain, they “just so happened,” they “coincidently,” came upon a funeral procession. Remember, this was directly after he healed the Roman centurion’s servant who was, according to Luke, who was a Dr, “sick unto death.”

The man who died, the man whose funeral this was, was the only son of his mother. His mother had already lost her husband, she was a widow. This son of hers was all she had. In that time and in that culture, there was no retirement funds, there was no social security, there were no safety nets at all. There was your family and there was charity that was, by human nature, undependable.

So, this woman, had already lost her husband at some point, now lost her son, her only family and had nothing left, no on to help take care of her. She was grieving and the whole town it seems was there grieving with her.

Jesus comes across this woman and sees what’s happening. He tells here, “Do not weep.” He does not say this to rebuke her. He doesn’t sit as in, “Why are you weeping?” He says this not as a command, but because he had compassion on her. He saw her grieving and had compassion on this lady.

He went to the boy’s body. Touching a dead body would, of course, make him unclean. It was not something that was done. But Jesus was willing to do anything, he was willing to sacrifice for the sake of mercy. He touches the coffin and tells the son, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”

 

And he did!

 

Jesus gives the son to his mother. A gift she did not ask for. But out of grace, mercy, respect and compassion. This points us directly towards Jesus own death and resurrection.

Interestingly we see a similar story & miracle with Elijah back in 1 Kings 17. We are not going to read the whole thing but, in that story, we have a widowed mom who lost her son, and with mercy and compassion, Elijah, through God raised the son from the dead. The language between the two stories is very similar.

One commentator grabs on to that and points out that both the language and the results are similar. The mom in 1 Kings saw the Elijah was a man of God, a prophet. The people in Luke who saw this son raised form the dead recognized that Jesus was a man of God, they called him a great prophet. The commentator says: Jesus was much more than a great prophet. But ascribing such a title to him was the best the townspeople could do without further revelation. It was a spontaneous chorus of realization that messianic times had fallen on them.

          They were recognizing that Jesus was more than a man. Many would have recognized the allusions to the story or Elijah. But Jesus was more than a prophet. He was the fulfillment of prophets; he was the more perfect prophet.

People recognized Gods power at work through Jesus of Nazareth. They cried out in fear and worship, and this is key, they said, “God has visited his people.”

This is who Jesus is. Immanuel. God with us. God become man to save sinners. Immanuel, the name that Isaiah gave to the long awaited and prophesied Messiah. Immanuel, the name the Matthew showed us was fulfilled in Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is Immanuel. God with us.

Why is this important? It is because Jesus has the power over life and death.

Yes, Jesus came as an example to us, an example of how to live. But, thankfully, that’s not all. IF we think that, we fall into one of two mistakes. First, some so called churches teach that because Jesus came as our example that means we can do all the things that Jesus did hear on earth. This passage for example. They say that, because Jesus was our example, that through God, we can raise the dead. They are wrong.

They other mistake we fall into is that when Jesus came to be our example, as long as we try to live by that example, as long as we try to be good people, then that’s all that matters. If Jesus is our example, then all that’s required of us is to try to live up to that example of love and peace and goodness. This is what most of the world thinks. They are wrong.

There have been a lot of Good Examples through out history. Billy Graham, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, John the Baptist, David, Joshua and Caleb, Abraham. Some of our friends, family, my dad was a great example. But these people and their examples cannot save us, and Jesus’ example couldn’t save us either.

What the Bible clearly teaches, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, essentially, what we talked about last week, that our sins require the shedding of blood in order to receive forgiveness, is being rejected by may churches today. They say that Jesus didn’t actually need to die to save us. Instead, they say, we, as in humanity, killed him and his death on the cross was instead, an act of obedience. That obedience was an example to us. It wasn’t that Jesus died for our sins, but instead that our sins put him up on the cross.

Now, there is truth in that, but Jesus did not just come to be our example. He came to die for our sins. He came to give up himself, so that we might have life. All humanity has sinned. All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. This sin separates us from God. Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden to walk in perfect relationship with God. But their sinned separated them form God and we inherited their sin, meaning we are sinful and separated from God. The wages of sin is death. Sin cannot be allowed to continue unabated. It couldn’t just go as is.

Sin needed to be atoned for. All sin is sin against God himself. RC Sproul calls all sin Cosmic Treason. Sin created debt to God that needed to be paid for. When Adam and Eve sinned, God instituted a sacrificial system. Blood offering offered the temporary forgiveness of sins. This, and especially the Passover that we looked at last week, were types and foreshadowing to what Jesus came for and accomplished in the cross. The sin offering, the sacrificial system called for a lamb without blemish.

Jesus of Nazareth, truly man, truly God, was born and was, as John the Baptist pointed out, the “lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”  He lived the perfect life. He had no sin to separate him from God. He and the Father were one. He had no sin to atone for.

And so, his death, his shed blood on the cross was able and did atone for all of our sins. Big enough for all the sins of the world. Effective for those who, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. Your sins are forgiven only through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

But the forgiveness of sins is not the only thing. God’s power of death is not the only thing. In fact, we celebrate Easter, not celebrating the death of Jesus Christ, but his resurrection. God has power of death and life.

Jesus literally physically died in the cross all those 2000 years ago. And if that was the end of the story, Paul says we are to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15 is an incredible chapter. Not always easily understandable, but the point is this. We serve a risen God. We serve a living God.

We have the promise of life after death. We have the promise of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus is the proof of this. He is the fulfillment of this. Without that promise, none of this means anything. As Paul’s says, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Without the resurrection our faith is in vain. What faith could we have if there is nothing after this?

God rose Jesus Christ from the dead, showing that there is indeed a resurrection, that there is life after death. That there is something after this life. He shows us that through Christ and in Christ, with our sins forgiven that we will also be resurrected. We will have life and life abundantly. We stand before God and give an account for our sins and our life.  Only through the grace of God and his righteousness, Christ’s righteousness covering us because of his finished work on the cross, will we gain entry into the Kingdom of God. We will receive our heavenly bodies. We will spend eternity with Christ in eternal worship and glorifying the all Holy God if the universe for ever more.

Without the resurrection, all we have is a good, moral example of how to live life. With the resurrection we have eternal life and forgiveness. Death has lost its power. It has lost its victory and it will lose its sting. All of this is available, if you chose to follow Christ and trust him alone.

Some will say that Chris is one of the ways we can get to God. Some will say that we don’t need to be reconciled to God. I say that a plain and simple look in the mirror and at the world around us says otherwise.

Joshua led the Israelites after Moses died. Moses was leading them out of slavery in Egypt and bringing them to the land the God promised. As with human nature, the Israelites doubted and wanted to go back to slavery, where at least they were comfortable. They knew that life and so they would complain to go back. In Joshua 24:14 & 15, he challenges them, saying, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

          Today is the day to choose. Do you believe that you can be good enough? Do you believe that you don’t need to be reconciled to God? Do you believe that your good outweighs your bad on the cosmic scales? DO believe that there are plenty of ways back to God, that Christ is but one?

Or, to quote RC Sproul, “OR are you convinced that Jesus Christ is Gods only so, the only one to provide atonement for our sins, the One whom God raised for our justification, the One whom God has appointed as judge of the whole world? Jesus will judge- not Muhammed, not Confucius, not the Buddha. Muhammed is dead. Confucius is dead. The Buddha is dead. Only Jesus has been raised and elevated to the right hand of God the Father, where he sits now as the King of kings and the LORD of Lords.

 

 

 

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

Let’s Pray.

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

Luke 7:18-35

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist Doubts

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

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

Luke 4:14-30

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus rejected in Nazareth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Thus, ends the reading of Gods Holy Word.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

“Prove it.”

“Show me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Let’s Pray.

Luke 1:1-4 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Purpose of Luke’s Gospel

Luke 1:1-4

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Purpose of Luke’s Gospel

 

Good Morning Bangor! Let’s grab our Bibles and turn in them to the Gospel of Luke. If you don’t have a Bible, or don’t own a Bible, please grab one off our back table or come see me after the service so that you can have one as our gift to you.

We are starting a new Series this week through Luke’s Gospel. We finished up through Daniel last week and there is an interesting connection between Luke and Daniel. One of the ways that Daniel identifies the coming Christ, the coming Messiah is to call him the Son of Man. One of the most common ways that Luke refers to Jesus is as the Son of Man.

Today we are going to be introduced to both Luke himself and to his Gospel. We are going to answer at least three questions about this Gospel, Who, when and why. Who wrote it? When Did he write it? And Why did he write it?

The Gospel of Luke is an interesting book. It is, by far, the longest of the Gospels. It has stories, parables, teachings that none of the other Gospels have. It is also one of the synoptic Gospels. What that means is that it is paired with Matthew and Mark and the three of them all seem to share a common source, as some describe it, the share much of the same stories and content. So, we will look at many of the parable passages as we go through Luke.

This series will take us quite a long time to go through, and I do encourage you to read and study it for yourself as well as we go through it.

We are going to start with the introduction of Luke, the first four verse of the book. We will read those and then answer the Who When and Why questions w just mentioned. Luke chapter 1, verses 1 through 4. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Let’s read the text. Luke 1:1-4, Luke writes:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

What a beautiful sentence. All one sentence by the way, and it’s the same in the Greek. It is also a classic literary introduction, showing us that Luke was a learned man, a well-educated man. And that makes sense, as we find out in Colossians 4:14, Paul refers to him as a physician, a doctor. So, you may, on occasion, or more than on occasion, refer to him as Doctor Luke.

We know that he was a close friend of Paul’s and very loyal. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul is imprisoned and getting close to being put to death. Paul writes that everyone has left his side, that he is alone, except for Luke.

Doctor Luke traveled with Paul for much of Paul’s travels. Some believe he also was Paul’s personal doctor. In Acts, which Luke wrote, we see many passages where it is written that “we” went and did this or went there. That “we” refers to Luke, the author being with Paul during this time, not just writing what Paul told him.

Luke was very thorough in his investigations, in his research. He held accuracy in detail very high. All of his material was well documented. Many of the commentators I’ve been reading have made bid deals out of Luke’s accuracy, pointing out that if we can not trust some of the minor details or historical details, then how can we trust the actual Gospel that Luke is presenting. Every commentator I’ve read has included a quote from Sir William Ramsey where he says: Luke was a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rules in the evolution of history; and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident

 

          Luke was a prolific writer. Luke wrote this Gospel and Luke wrote the book of Acts. He wrote more of the New Testament than anyone. He wrote more than Paul did. When you count the words, when you look at the volume, Luke’s writing is more than Paul’s, even if you include Hebrews in with Paul’s writings, which is unclear at best.

Lastly, Luke was humble. He doesn’t mention himself or bring attention to himself as he writes through Acts. He just says “we.” The only reason we know many of these things about him is because of what Paul says. Some come to the conclusion that Luke started out as a hard-core skeptic. They say that this is why he is so thorough in his research and presentation, trying to eliminate any doubt from the mind of the readers.

So, that who Luke is, that’s what we know about him. Next, we ask, when did he write this. Now, its very likely that The Gospel and Acts were written at the same time. Rabbit trail moment: I have always wondered why the Gospels are not laid out Matthew, Mark, John and Luke. Then Luke would end and flow right into Acts… I know it’s because Matthew, Mark and Luke are the synoptics and John is the outlier, but still, c’mon!

So, there tend to be a few different ideas and thoughts about when Luke and Acts was written. I’m really only going to focus on the only one that makes sense to me. The book of Acts ends with Paul being imprisoned in Rome in about 62 AD. Now we know that Paul was released from this imprisonment and was arrested at least one more time, and ultimately was put to death as the result of one of his later imprisonments. If Acts was written later on, it would make sense that Luke would have included more of Paul’s story. So, I believe that it was written very shortly after the book of Acts ends, likely around 63 AD or so.

 

And now we get to the big question; Why did Luke write this book, the Gospel according to Luke?

Well known atheist, Sam Harris has said, “I don’t want to pretend to be certain about anything I’m not certain about.” To me, this sounds like exactly the person that Luke was writing for.

Now, Luke was not an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He is the only Gospel writer who wasn’t. But Luke did his researched. He spoke to many eyewitnesses who were still around and were willing to testify to the truth and life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

There were still many eyewitnesses around, this was less than 30 years after the death of Christ. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:5 & 6, after Christ rose from the dead: that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 

Paul even testifies that many were still alive, and he is telling people, “Go ask them for yourself if you don’t believe, or if you have doubts or if you’re not sure.” And that’s just what Luke did. And What he heard form them is what he is relaying to us in this Gospel.

Again, Luke is a historian. And Christianity is not irrational. Christianity is not illogical. It is not without evidence and historical legitimacy.  It is in fact, rooted in and grounded in history. IT is rational and it is reasonable and there is lots of evidence for the truth that is right here in our hands.

I was having an online conversation this week with someone, and they made the comment that the Gospel has everything to offer to any who are willing to consider it honestly.

Most of you know at least part of the story of Lee Strobel. He was a courtroom journalist. He knew the importance of eyewitnesses and their testimony. His wife came to know Christ and he saw a change in her. He went out to use his investigative talents that he developed as a journalist and he went out to prove Christianity false. Over the course of his investigations, talking to scholars and theologians, hearing about the eyewitness testimony of the Bible, how the Apostles personally witnessed these things and wrote them down, even under the threat of death. In the end, it was too much and instead of proving Christianity false, he turned in faith to Jesus Christ, being certain in what he was taught.

Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, wrote, what I think is truer than even he knew when he wrote: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

And that’s what Luke did. He eliminated the impossible. He eliminated the questions, the doubts. He researched and opened himself up to the truth and went where it led him. What remained, what he wrote down in this Gospel, was the truth.

Known truth, not blind faith, but learned faith are the foundation of Christianity. Faith is the evidence of things unseen. I’m not saying that there isn’t a leap of faith. I’m not saying that you have to intellectually know all the details, all the nuances of the faith before you can trust in Christ. But I am saying that you can know that your faith is grounded in reality. Its not arbitrary. It is something that has a firm foundation and the trust that you put in Christ, the faith that you have will not disappoint, it will not crumble and I will not be proven wrong.

 

Now, Luke was writing this to the most excellent Theophilus. Theophilus is either a name or a title given to this person. Theophilus means “friend of God.” Most likely, based on Luke’s other uses of the term “most excellent,” he was a fairly prominent member of the Roman government.

And someone, sometime had a chance to share the truth of Jesus Christ with Theophilus. Maybe Luke, maybe not. To be honest, we can’t even be sure that Luke was a Christian at the time he started this mission. But Luke was sent out and was going to make sure that Theophilus could be certain about what he had been taught. My guess is that he was, but again, there is no indication about whether Theophilus was a Christian at this point, or was a curious person, looking to learn more about what had been shared with him. Luke was going to make sure he received the complete and total truth.

Something that I share with you guys often, don’t take everything you were taught as Gospel fact. I remember being taught that Luke worked for Theophilus. Maybe he was Theophilus’ doctor. But I was taught that Luke was commissioned by Theophilus to go out and investigate and research and verify the Gospel. Yet, there is nothing in the text that indicates this. We can read a lot into the text, and some or much of it may be true, but we need to discern what the text says from what we read into the text.

Let us also notice as we read and study this book that Luke is a storyteller. Luke investigates, learns the details, and tells the story. This is opposed to Johns spirituality and philosophy. This is opposed to Marks action packed Gospel. This is opposed to Matthews focus on prophecy fulfillment. Luke researches and tells the stories with details.

Luke is writing to a universal audience. He is writing so that all may hear. Again, this is opposed to Matthews Jewish audience. This is opposed to Marks specifically Roman audience and this is opposed to Johns church audience.

One of the key messages of Luke’s Gospel is that the offer of salvation, brought by the Son of Man, is an offer to all. Every person has the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. I read this and I am reminded of something Charles Spurgeon said, He said:

If God would have painted a yellow stripe on the backs of the elect, I would go around lifting shirts. But since He didn’t, I must preach “whosoever will” and when “whatsoever” believes I know that he is one of the elects.

 

Luke is writing this to a universal audience, but he is also writing it personally to Theophilus. Relationships play a big role in Luke’s stories. And in his stories, we see where Luke’s heart lies. We will see his heart for the lonely, the poor, the beaten down, the oppressed, and, as a doctor, his heart for the sick and the suffering.

Jesus came to save even them. Jesus came to say even us. Jesus came to offer salvation to all, not just the powerful. Not just the popular. Not just the put together. Not the sinless. It is in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 5, verse 31 that Jesus says: It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

          The last thing that Luke says in this introduction, V4:  that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

          Luke wants you to believe. And he wants you to know what you believe. That Jesus Christ is the Son of Man. That Jesus Christ is the Messiah. That we are sinful, broken, spiritually dead. Jesus Christ came and offered his life in place of ours, to give us the forgiveness of sins. By Gods Grace, poured out through our faith in Jesus Christ. All of this done to glorify God and God alone. Jesus first words in Marks Gospel, he says repent and believe the Gospel. In order to have eternal life with Christ, eternal citizenship in the kingdom of God we must believe. Not just intellectually, though that is important, but to believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Christ is LORD.

If you haven’t, today is the day. Salvation belongs to the LORD and today is the day of salvation. There are no second chances and life on this earth can end in a flash. Jesus Christ is the means to salvation and eternal life.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Daniel 10 God of All Nations: A Glimpse of Gods Glory

Daniel 10

God of All Nations

A Glimpse of Gods Glory

 

          Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel chapter 10. IF you do not have a Bible, if you do not own a Bible, please grab one from our table in the back as our gift to you.

Well, we have entered the endgame now. Chapter 10 through the end of chapter 12, which is the end of the book, are all telling about one vision that Daniel would receive.

As we get into this mornings text, we wont actually be getting into the vision yet, that will start next week as we get into chapter 11. This week we will set the scene and we will be introduced to some angels and possibly more. We will see a lot of behind the scenes ideas and revelations regarding spiritual warfare and prayer. One commentator says that this chapter shows that life is hard, and it shows why it is hard, and it shows us that we are not alone in this battle.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, “As we shall see, chapter 10 contains vital biblical insight into the nature of reality. It emphasizes that human causes and effects are not the only forces or influences operative in the history of the world.

 

          So, with that being said, lets go ahead and take a look at the start of our scripture this morning. WE will be looking at all of Daniel chapter 10, but we will be starting with verses 1-9. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to read along in your Bible, whether that’s the same translation, or another one that you prefer.

Daniel 10:1-9, Daniel records:

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict.[a] And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,[b] and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

So, we see from the beginning that this chapter and the rest of the book takes place two years after the events of Chapter 9. I don’t know if it has any theological or practical application, but one thing I did find interesting is the pattern with the visions over the last few chapters. We had visions taking place in the first and the third year of Belshazzar, and now we see the visions taking place in the first and third years of King Cyrus.

Now, we do know that the timing of this does have some importance. See, in Ezra 1, taking place in the same year as Daniel chapter 9, we see this in verses 1-3:

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.

 

So, some had already made their way back to Jerusalem from Babylon. They would have gone and been back in their home city and their home country. Now, we also see that they would have troubles back home as they attempted to rebuild the temple.

But Daniel didn’t go back to Jerusalem. There is no indication as to why. Likely he was too old. Certainly, God still had work for him to do here in Babylon. As we see through this chapter, God needed someone, Daniel, who would do, as one commentator says, “The hidden and strategic work of prayer for the defense AND the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

Daniel knew about the troubles that they were having in Jerusalem. He had, at this time, dedicated himself to three weeks of mourning and prayer and fasting. The way that he says it, it seems Daniel is adhering to the same diet he spoke of and held to in Chapter 1. My guess is that he didn’t just randomly remember this event from 70 years ago, but this was a regular or semi-regular thing, too fast in this way.

Ezra 4:4 tells us:  Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.

 

          We know that in this world, in our spiritual walk, we will have ups and downs. We will have spiritual highs and lows. Daniel was excited to see the fulfillment of Gods promise. He would have been overjoyed to see those in Exile return to their homeland. And he would have likely been heartbroken and for sure disappointed to see and hear about the struggles going on in Jerusalem.

But what Daniel took from all of this was not a lose of faith, or to doubt God, but all of what happened, highs and lows, good and bad, all of it drove him to prayer. And Daniel knew a truth that St John of Chrysostom put into words about 8 centuries later when he said, “God is everywhere. You decide whether you are close to him or not.”

          Daniel knew that God was still at work. He knew that God would continue and finish keeping his promises.  He knew a spiritual principle that one commentator says this way: Knowledge of Gods work of grace in the past encourages us to trust Him and seek His blessing in the present and for the future.

 

          V4 gives us the exact location and date of Daniel when all this happens. He was on the banks of the Tigris river, possibly only 20 miles from Babylon. Still well within the Persian empire. We can figure out through the date that the three weeks that Daniels was fasting and praying included the Passover. That’s how serious he was, that he did not observe and celebrate the Passover. Again, the Passover was to celebrate God leading his people out of slavery and a foreign land and leading them back to their homeland, the promised land.

 

As Daniel is there by the river, he lifted his eyes up and saw an appearance. He looks up and sees one described like we saw in the scripture reading this morning in Ezekiel 1 and like described in Revelation 2.

Did he see Jesus?

Did he see Gabriel?

Did he see Michael?

Did he see someone else entirely?

None of the answers are satisfactory, they all have reasons why not. Michael is mentioned separately in v 13. Gabriel has been mentioned before and not described like that. I lean towards it being Jesus. The reasons being, the description Daniel gives, the clothing and the appearances, give the impression of Jesus threefold office of prophet, priest and king. We haven’t talked much about this before and we don’t have much time today, but we see each of these offices from God in the Old Testament and Jesus is the fulfillment of these offices. He is the better prophet, the better priest and the better King. Also, the type of reverence, the reaction to seeing the person that Daniel saw is usually reserved for an appearance of Jesus.

Ferguson says about this, “More important than identifying the figure- it was, aside from that indefinable reality, a vision- is recognizing the impression the vision is intended to create. Even if the figure is not divine, Daniels vision is still essentially theophonic in nature because it communicated to him a sense of the omnipotence and all-gloriousness of God.

          And Daniel was the only one who could see him. This is very similar to Acts chapter 9, where Saul was on his way to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him. Those who were with Paul heard and knew something was going on, but only Paul could see Him. Daniel was the only one who could see this vision, this appearance. The rest of those with Him turned and ran away.

 

We see in scripture that the typical response to seeing an appearance by an angel or a heavenly body is usually the same. We see fear and trembling. We see Awe and shock. Daniel says here that he had no strength and that his appearance was fearfully changed. And he heard the sound of words, which along with what we will read in verse 11, seems to imply that he was not understanding the words being spoken at that point.

 

Let’s go ahead and read the rest of the chapter and continue our journey through the text. Daniel 10:10-21, he continues:

 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.

 

          The touch makes Daniel fall to his knees and tremble. But he tells Daniel, you are greatly loved, now understand the words that I am saying. Your prayers have been heard from the very beginning. He is saying, your prayers worked, they were heard. I am here because of your prayers.

I’ve always lived what EM Bounds has to say about prayer:

What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

 

And from this, we see the curtain pulled back a little bit. We get a glimpse of the spiritual warfare going on between angels and demons. We see behind the scenes, into the unseen world that is not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

This is why it took three weeks for this appearance, for this vision to come to Daniel. OITs not that Heaven is three weeks from Earth, but rather that there were obstacles and diversions that needed to be dealt with.

We know, from scripture, Job 1, etc., that fallen angels, demons, have real power, but their power is limited by God. They could not stop Gods plans or his message, all they could do is delay it a bit. And even that is because God, in his complete sovereignty, allowed it to be so. We don’t know why, we probably never will, but we know it to be so.

There is a lot that we see from scripture that we know to be true, even when we don’t have any idea how it works or why it works. How our prayer affects this unseen spiritual battle is one of those things. But we are told it does. Daniel has been praying. HE is a prayer warrior. He knows and has seen time and time again the evidence of Gods Sovereignty and control over everything. But I don’t think even he could have had any notion of the reality of angles and demons locked in perpetual battle and the role prayer would play in it.

Listen to Abraham Kuyper speak on these things:

If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there- that is where the real conflict is waged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.

 

          This is not something we often like to think about. That Satan and his fallen angles are real, and they are active. Our two reflexes are to either credit him too much power or to not give him not enough. HE either give him too much credit by blaming him for everything that goes wrong in this world.

“The Devil made me do it.” That’s the common refrain. The reality is that we are sinful people. We did it because we wanted to. We did it because we did not resist temptation. We did it because of our sinful nature. He does not have the power to make us sin. Especially if we have been set free from sin, we are not bound to sin, we are not bound to give in to temptation. We still, in our earthly, fleshly bodies, still have our sin nature, but we are not bound by that sin.

On the other side, there is a great quote, from somewhere earlier, but I know it from a movie. The Greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  People today don’t believe. If they can’t see it, touch it, feel it, study it, test it, they don’t believe it. And if they don’t believe, then they are not on guard against it and they definitely won’t pray against it.

When Paul writes in Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare and putting on the spiritual armor, He ends with two things. First is to wield the only offensive weapon listed, the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Knowing the Word of God and using it. Second, to pray at all times, in the Spirit.

Sinclair Ferguson gives us one warning about how we think of the power of prayer, saying: The power does not belong to the praying or to the prayer, but to God. Prayer has no power in and of itself; prayer is wholehearted dependence on God. It is a confession that we can do nothing, and that God alone can work.

IF we forget this, scripture is clear. God alone has the power. Again, as I said before, sometimes it can be hard to see how the truths of scripture work our mechanically or practically, but the truth of Scripture is that prayer matters and makes a difference and, at the same time, without contradicting, that God and God alone has the power to do anything.

After getting a glimpse of the spiritual world, Daniel again says that he has no strength in him. The vision and message have drained him of his strength. But he was told to be strengthened and he was.

Once we encounter the glory of God, we cannot be unchanged by it. Once we have encountered Jesus Christ, He will change us. And that’s a good thing. That encounter, Gods grace poured out on us, delivered to us by the faith that is given to us in Jesus Christ is what changes us from sinners deserving of Hell, to saints, given mercy and forgiveness by God.

As the messenger gets ready to tell Daniel the vision, he also lets him know that he will have to return soon to continue the battle, first against the prince of Persia, then later against the prince of Greece.

Now, of course we know these are spiritual opponents primarily, but I believe also, based on the vision coming up, a hint as to what’s to come at this point in history. We have already seen numerous visions referring to the kingdom of Greece coming up, and that’s what we will see in the vision that Daniel is about to get.

But the messenger ends by telling Daniel that he is going to tell him truth. Only Michael is by his side as he fights these enemies. This is two angels, or something like that. Two entities doing Gods will, fighting against a whole host of Gods enemies and they are enough. One of the would be enough if God wanted it done, truth be told. But again, God is allowing some power, for a time and for a purpose that we don’t ultimately know. We also don’t know the affect our prayers have on these battles, only that they do have an effect.

And so, prayer is the biggest takeaway today. Praying as if the future and Gods Kingdom depend on it. IT doesn’t, not quite. But God gave us a mission. Going back to the beginning of this sermon. God needs someone to do ““The hidden and strategic work of prayer for the defense AND the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

If this is scary or overwhelming, I get it. Prayer is not my spiritual gift. But it doesn’t have to be. Be encouraged by Romans 8:26:  Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words

 

          It doesn’t matter where you start, just start. Let God do the work, you be faithful to him. Pray what you see in scriptures. Pray for his will to be done. Pray for those spiritual battles going on that we have no idea about. Just pray. With the right heart, the right motivation, God will hear, and God will answer.

Speaking of, let’s go ahead and end in prayer.