Luke 19:11-27 Jesus is the Son of Man Investing the Gospel

Luke 19:11-27

Jesus is the Son of Man

Investing the Gospel

 

Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Luke chapter 19. As I continue to say, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own a Bible, please see me after the service and we can get one onto your hands.

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel this morning, we are at the conclusion of Jesus journey to Jerusalem. Next Week in our series, he rides onto Jerusalem for the last week of his life. This was a journey that started way back towards the end of Luke chapter 9.

And through that journey, Jesus entire focus has been on the Kingdom of God. Everything, his teachings, his healings, his miracles, all of it. All designed to focus his followers on the coming kingdom of Heaven.

We have seen on this journey, many who have become citizens of the kingdom of Heaven, including just last week as we looked at Zacchaeus and his becoming a new creation. As we finished up with Zacchaeus last week, listen to the words of Jesus in verses 9 & 10. “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

 

          This declaration leads directly into our passage this week, Jesus last teaching before entering Jerusalem. We are going to read Luke chapter 19, verses 11 through 27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 19:11-27, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit writes:

 

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants,[a] he gave them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant![c] Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

 

Thus says the Word of God

Jesus tells those around him one more parable before they leave Jericho and go on up to Jerusalem. And I love these parables in Luke’s Gospel where Luke tells us the why and the purpose of the parable before he shares the parable. It takes a lot of the guess work and confusion out of trying to understand it.

The people who were watching Jesus, following Jesus and hearing Jesus had a great misunderstanding. They thought the kingdom that Jesus was teaching them about and pointing to was appearing immediately. IT appears that they assumed that upon His arrival in Jerusalem, they expected him to be established and inaugurated as King and would free Israel from Roman occupation.

And so, to dispel some of those expectations, Jesus tells them a parable. Do you know in TV shows, especially police procedurals, sometimes they claim that a particular show or plotline is based on true events? Ripped form the Headlines! They sometimes say. It doesn’t mean that they are telling the true story, but that they were inspired to use the true events as a basis for the story they wanted to tell.

That’s kind of what Jesus did here with this parable. We are not going to get into the history too much this morning, but the outline of the parable would have been immediately recognizable to the Jewish crowd as an event that happened almost 30 years prior, when King Herod the Great died and part of his kingdom was left to one of his sons.

But the details were slightly different as this story was about Jesus himself. A man was taking over authority and ownership as a King over that territory. However, to do so, he had to leave that territory for a time. As he was getting ready to do so, he left it in the hands of some of his most trusted servants.

We see this not only in the historical situation that I mentioned, but we see that this is going to be fulfilled in Jesus as well.  In Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection he is taking ownership and being granted authority over his Kingdom. Then he ascended into heaven, leaving his earthly kingdom. As he was about to ascend, he gave us the Great Commission, leaving the responsibility of his Kingdom in the hands of his servants. So, in very real ways, this parable is about us, believers in Jesus Christ, his servants as we wait for his return.

In the parable, the king gives his servants resources so that they could go about continuing his business while he is gone. And he gives them each the same resource, each servant gets 1 mina. This is one of the things that makes this story different than the well-known parable of the talents that we find in Matthew 24. They have some similarities and some similar phrasings, but the ultimate point and the set up are different.

In the parable of the talents, the servants are given different amounts of gifts and talents based on what they will do with them. One was given 10, one 5, etc. It is to show that we all have different spiritual gifts, talents and abilities that we can use for God, and that we are to use what he has given us, not compare us to what he has given to others.

In this parable, each servant is given 1 mina, about three months’ worth of wages. Each servant is given the same thing. The point of this is not to do more or less based on what we are given, but to be faithful. This parable is not that he has given us each different gifts and abilities, but that he has given us all the same mission, all the same resource, the Gospel.

Our job, until he returns is to be faithful and to invest what he has given us. Now, before we get into whether the servants invest their resources well, we see that not everyone was a faithful servant. There were many who were living in the kingdom of the parable, who hated the king.

Now, some of the phrasing can get a little confusing… The kingdom mentioned in this parable is not the kingdom of heaven in that citizens of the kingdom are believers who will be in heaven. Instead, the kingdom is this world, our earthly home where Jesus is still the king and all who live on earth are citizens of it. Jesus is King, he is creator, he has all authority over earth. But not all here today on this earth accept his authority. Some, maybe many hate that He claims to be their King. They reject his authority, and they rebel against Him. The good news is that he reigns whether they accept him or not. The good news is that He reigns whether they like it or not.

Jesus will deal with them later on…

TO make this simple, we are living between verses 14 & 15. Verse 15 shows that when the master returns, he will call his servants to give an account for how well they invested their resources while he was gone. At the Second Coming, Jesus will return, and he will have his servants stand and give an account.

As believers, we will still stand before him and give an account for our actions, for our sins, and for our faithfulness. Now, to be clear, and I’ll say it many different times in many different ways, e will not give an account in order to see whether we get into heaven or whether we deserve to get into heaven or if we have earned entrance into heaven. But we will give an account as to whether we have been faithful to what he has called us to and what he has enabled us to.

Again, all believers will have perfect eternal life in communion with God in Heaven. That is not at question in this parable. That is not a point the parable is trying to make or to undercut.

But there is one thing that we don’t talk a lot about, because I don’t think a lot of us understand it. I know I don’t understand it very well. But the Bible says it in enough different places that we have to look at it. Not all believers, when they enter heaven, will hear, “Well done, Good and faithful servant…” All believers enter heaven, but there will be different levels of rewards and responsibilities and things like that. Not less perfect, because its all-in eternal heaven, in perfect paradise. But things will be different based on our earthly service and faithfulness. The Bible speaks in it numerous times; Matthew 6:20, 1 Cor 3, specifically verses 8, 14 & 15, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, just to name a few and to show I’m not making this up. Again, I don’t fully understand it, but we can’t just ignore something the Bible speaks on, especially that often.

We see with the three servants that Jesus points out here in this parable an example of that. Remember that all servants were given the same amount, the same resource, one mina. And the first servant, he says, your mina has grown into 10 minas. He invested it well and it was almost as if it took over and did all the work on its own. Almost like we plant the seed, but the LORD brings the increase. The Gospel does all the work all by itself, if we are faithful to spread it and invest in it and live it and share it. He is both praised and rewarded by Jesus.

The second is close to the first. He is faithful. The 1 mina he received grew to 5 minas, again, almost as if on its own. Jesus rewarded this servant as well, though not quite to the same level as the first. But the principal is the same, those who were faithful with little, will be entrusted with a lot.

Now Jesus comes to the third servant. And he comes to Jesus and gives him his 1 Mina back to him. He tells Jesus, I dint want to waste your resources. I didn’t want to lose what you gave me. I kept it to myself so that I could give it right back to you since it was yours. He kept it under a bushel! He didn’t labor, he didn’t conduct business. He didn’t let the money multiply itself.

The Master rips into him. He uses his words back at him. Jesus will use our own words, our own attitudes, our own actions when confronting us and condemning us from our sins. And Jesus tells him, you could have done something minimal, requiring almost no effort on your part. IN that context, you could have put it in the bank so it could have at least made interest. In our context. At least live your life as a Christian, don’t give in and live just like the rest of the world and society. Even if you weren’t going to go out and invest in the Gospel, you don’t have to actively hide the fact that you are a believer. At least do the absolute minimum so that the work of the Gospel would still have a chance to replicate. Instead of burying it or hiding it.

And so, Jesus rebukes him and tells him that even what he had will be taken from him. Rewards will be withheld from you. Those rewards that would have gone to you will be reallocated to those who were faithful and were mentioned earlier. IF you are unfaithful with a little, you will lose what little you had.

Now, some see this third servant as an unbeliever, or as someone who was playing church. Someone who knew the role to play but was never really a believer. And that is possible. But to me, the way it reads, this man is saved. He is a servant of Christ. But he is saved with no reward. Salvation is not based on our faithfulness. Salvation is based solely on the grace of God alone. We are sinful. We are unfaithful. We are prone to wander. And yet, Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:13: if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

In my eyes, these three servants and their interaction with the Master, this is all an in-house discussion if you will, amongst believers in the church. Another part of that reason is that there is another group of people that the Master will know deal with. The third servant is not lumped in with this next group.

In verse 27, The Master turns his attention to those mentioned back in verse 14. Those who were the enemies of the King. They were the ones who rebelled against him. Who rejected his authority? They are those who chose not to be a part of His Kingdom. He says bring them to me. They will be slaughtered.

God is a God of Love. We do not deny that. In fact, we embrace that, and we bank on that. But he is not only a God of love. He is a God of Justice. He is a God of Holiness. He is a God of wrath. All perfectly and all balanced with each other.

WE are all born as those who reject the King and rebel against him. All of us, in our own nature are these men. By Gods grace, through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, his death, burial and resurrection, he has purchased our forgiveness and offers it and salvation to any who believe, who turn to him, trust him and repent of their sins. He offers free for all who believe.

Bu those who choose to continue to reject Him. Those who continue to rebel against his authority, they will not receive eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. They will not receive the peace of God. Instead, they will face eternal judgment. They will face the deserved and earned punishment for their sins. They will receive the full wrath of God.

Jesus shows this to John who describes it in Revelation 14:9-11:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

OF course, it is plain to see that eternity in Heaven, even with no extra rewards, is infinitely better that eternal wrath and judgment.

 

As Jesus is telling this parable to those who are around him, at this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus time on this earth is close to an end. The people around him needed to make a decision. They had heard all that Jesus had said, all that he taught. They had seen or heard of all the miracles and the healings. They were presented with all the information. They needed to make a decision.

Now, Jesus’ time away is close to end. No one knows the day except the father, but it’s close to coming to an end. We have been presented with all the information needed. Now it is time for us to make a decision.

First, if you have not, receive Christ Joyfully, like we saw last week with Zacchaeus. Call out to Jesus, the Son of David, like we saw the week before with Bartimaeus.

Second, and only after the first, because with out the first, the second has no point, it has no effect. Second, work towards being a good and faithful servant.

Kent Hughes is the one who calls this “investing in the Gospel.”

He writes:

Are we investing in the Gospel? Are we investing what he has done for us? Are we investing what he can do for others? This is not a question of giftedness but of faithfulness. Are we using what we have to invest in the ministry of the gospel? There are many specific applications of this question. Are we using our money to invest the good news? Jesus minced no words about this: “I tell you, make friends for yourself by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). Your money personally given to aid people in need or to promote evangelism and missions will win souls, eternal friends who will welcome you into Heaven! How do you spend your time? Your personal calendar tells all. Everyone can make massive investments in the matter of prayer, but few do. Do your mouths, the things we say, invest testimony and witness? There can never be such a thing as a passive investment. Gospel investment requires action.

 

Number 1, above, determines our eternal destination, our salvation. Receive Christ, cry out to him. Trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins.

Number 2 above affects what it looks like in our already determined eternal destination. I will finish up with a quote from JC Ryle who summed it up best: Our title to heaven is all of Grace. Our degree of Glory in heaven will be proportioned to our works.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Mark 10:46-52 (Part of our series through Luke) Eyes will be opened

Mark 10:46-52

Jesus is the Son of Man

Part of our series through Luke

Eyes will be opened

                     Good morning. Let’s go ahead and open up our Bibles to Mark chapter 10.

No, I’m not confused, we are going to take a brief detour in our series through Luke. Last wee we looked at Luke 18: 35-43, the story of Jesus healing the Blind Beggar. I mentioned that this story was recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels and Mark told us the beggars name, Bartimaeus.

Now, we had a great discussion about this passage on Wednesday morning at Prayer meeting and I’ve have numerous good discussions bout it throughout the week with some of you. So, I wanted to go back and reread the same story in the other Gospels.

As I did, I remember that I also preached through the Gospel of Mark previously, so I took out my notes from preparing for that sermon. It was fascinating to see what was so similar and what was different in the two telling’s of the story. So, I decided to go ahead and preach on the same story as we did last week, but from a different Gospel, from Marks Gospel.

 

So first, a brief overview of where this story takes place in Marks Gospel.

Recently, James and John went to Jesus, and they want him to give them a place of honor and glory in heaven next to him. Jesus sets them straight with some uncomfortable truths about the way things will work, telling them that however would be first among them, must be a slave to all. What we are going to see here this morning is that put into practice.

 

Interesting that, in Marks Gospel, just like we have been seeing Luke, Jesus is turning assumptions, beliefs and preconceived notions on their heads.

 

Now, Mark has been recording Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is a few years into his ministry here, the disciples and large crowds had been following him pretty much since the beginning. He started with some teaching and a lot of signs and miracles to show people that he is who he is saying he is, proving that he has authority from heaven, that he is the long-awaited Messiah. Once the disciples realized that he was who he said he was, Jesus’ ministry changed. There would still be some miracles, we will see one today. But his focus was on teaching and preparing the disciples for the time when he would leave them with the Holy Spirit, and they would build the church on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ. During this time of teaching and preparing, Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem for the last time and was telling his disciples that he was going there to be killed, to fulfill his purpose, to suffer and die and rise again. And they just couldn’t quite grasp what he was saying.

I think that about catches us up, so let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Mark 10, verses 46. As usual, I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you all to grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read the Word of God.

Mark, inspired of by the Holy spirit writes:

 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

 

         

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word

 

So, the first thing we see here is that Jesus is in Jericho at this point. He is getting ready to start the very last leg of his journey into Jerusalem. Jericho was roughly 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem and was often a staging area for the last part of people’s journeys into Jerusalem. It was a busy city, lots of people coming and going. Lots of traffic. At this point there would have been even more travelers than normal because they would have been on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the upcoming Passover.

We see that, looking to take advantage of the amount of people and, hopefully the amount of grace and mercy that amount of people bring with them, Bartimaeus, a blind man, was begging to make enough money to eat and live. This man was in the very lowest caste of the Jewish culture. Now, he might not have been as unclean as a leper for example, but no one in Jewish society would listen to him or take any notice other than to possibly throw a few coins to him.

He was a man that was 100% dependent on those around him. Now this man is sitting on the side of the road, listening to the hustle and bustle, hearing the crowds, the constant buzz in the air. The he hears something extra, some extra excitement, something different. I’m sure he was asking those around, “What? What’s going on?” And then he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was walking by.

This blind man, sitting on the side of the road, every day of his life, listening to the people walk by, hearing them talk. He knew who Jesus was. He had to have heard people talking about him. Recounting his miracles, his healings, his teachings. He knows who Jesus was.

And what we see is that he doesn’t only know who Jesus is as a man going around, doing miracles and such, but he sees who Jesus is. We see him cry out, ““Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus had a correct view of who Jesus was. He calls him the Son of David. This is a messianic term from the Old Testament prophets. One website explains the term this way:

 

 

 

 When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that He was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

Jesus was addressed as “Lord, thou son of David” several times by people who, by faith, were seeking mercy or healing. The woman whose daughter was being tormented by a demon (Matthew 15:22) and the two blind men by the wayside (Matthew 20:30) all cried out to the Son of David for help. The titles of honor they gave Him declared their faith in Him. Calling Him “Lord” expressed their sense of His deity, dominion, and power, and calling Him “Son of David,” expressed their faith that He was the Messiah.

 

 

 

 

This blind man on the side of the road had more sight, more vision than even the disciples did. They heard him calling out to Jesus and they tried to stop him, to quiet him. We see in Marks Gospel, just a few paragraphs earlier, when the parents were bringing their kids to Jesus. The disciples tried to stop them, thinking they were freeing Jesus to do the important work. Jesus told them to let the children come to him.

Here is a similar happening. This blind is calling out for the Messiah to have mercy on him, and the disciples are trying to quiet him, presumably to free Jesus up for his journey to Jerusalem, to once again do his Messiah-y stuff. Jesus hears the man calling out, and then calling again to him, calling him the Messiah, the son of David and asking for nothing more than mercy.

So, Jesus stops and tells the disciples to have the blind man come to him. The disciples go to the man and tell him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” Notice that they very people who were trying to hinder Bartimaeus from calling out to Jesus, were the very ones Jesus used to bring Bartimaeus to him.  

And what does the man do? Does he slowly get up and make his way cautiously to Jesus? No, he throws off his cloak and sprang up and came to him. He was invited by Jesus, and he didn’t wade into the pool, one step at a time, but jumped right in with both feet.

Jesus asked him a familiar question. He asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now that question should sound familiar. In the previous section of Marks Gospel, right before this, James and John came to Jesus and said they wanted Jesus to do something for them. Jesus asked, in verse 36, “What do you want me to do for you?” We saw the Sons of Thunder answer very poorly last week. We see Bartimaeus give a much different answer here. Verse 51 shows that he responds to Jesus, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”

          We have seen people in the Gospels call Jesus Rabbi, or Teacher before. The rich young man a few weeks ago, he called Jesus Good Teacher. But Bartimaeus goes a step further here. The word he uses, in Aramaic, is Rabboni. We only see it in one other spot in the Gospels and that is in John’s Gospel, after Jesus raises from the dead and appears to Mary. There she calls him Rabboni. This is like Rabbi but with mass amounts of extra respect and honor. It means “My LORD and My Master.”

And Bartimaeus doesn’t ask for honor. He doesn’t ask for privilege or power or anything like that. He simply asks to see. He asks for mercy. He hears Jesus, he is talking to Jesus. He wants to see Jesus. He wants to see the crowds walking in and out of Jericho. He wants to see the sights of the smells and sounds he has been experiencing. He wants to see.

And what is the first thing he sees? I know I used this last week too, but it just fits so perfectly, I think. Fannie Crosby was a prolific hymn writer that was blind. She wrote many, many hymns. Most people saw her blindness as something that held her back or something she needed to overcome.

One well-meaning preacher once told her, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,”

Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

          She knew that all of creation pales before the face of Christ. The face of Christ is the first thing that Bartimaeus saw. He saw the man that gave him sight, that gave him life, that saved him. Jesus told Bartimaeus, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”

          Bartimaeus knew that, in spite of all his troubles, all his problems, all his hardships, Jesus could take care of him. We get in this story, once again, that blending of physical blindness and sight being literal in its own right, but also standing in for spiritual blindness and sight. He was saw that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, without being able to see.

Jesus had already opened the eyes to his heart, his soul. The Holy Spirit had already healed him from his eternal affliction and given him the gift of faith. And Jesus commends him, saying that it is his faith that made him well.   With this point, we want to be clear. We want to be specific and true to the Word. Jesus said Bartimaeus faith made him well.

One commentator exposits this way:

Faith can make us well. This is not magic, or superstition, or some simple fix of course. It seems clear, to me at least, that when Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well” he is not saying that these people somehow believed their way into wellness. Rather he is pronouncing their wellness, declaring it, making it happen for them. It is Jesus who heals, and faith that receives that healing. And so it is, or can be, for those who hear this story and this good news. Faith can make us well. Faith can open our ears, unstop our ears — even raise us from death. This is the power of the promise wherein faith and forgiveness, faith and wellness, meet; this is the power of Jesus’ word for salvation.

To be clear, Jesus and only Jesus heals. Jesus will heal our broken faith if we ask. He will not always heal our broken bodies, not when we ask. But our broken bodies will be healed when, because of our broken faith being healed, we are together with him for eternity in heaven.

See, we find what we are looking for. If we are looking for the Christ, the God of the Universe to reveal himself to us, he will. If we are looking for a god that we pick and choose what he is like, that’s what we will find, no real God at all.

Many of us can acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, that he is God, and yet we are still blinded to what that means. We say we acknowledge Jesus as our LORD and Savior, but often, practically, we only see him as one or the other.

We may act as though he is our savior. We are forgiven of our sins, we are saved from hell, we are redeemed. But how do we act. We don’t act like Jesus is our LORD. We don’t do what he tells us. We don’t follow his commands, turn away from sin, love your neighbors. We don’t allow him to be the LORD of our lives.

Our we go the opposite side. We live with Jesus being our LORD, our king, our authority. We follow the rules, we obey. We live good, moralistic lives continually trying to live up to some impossible standard that we cannot meet. Trying to live up to that standard because, if we do, we might just be good enough, we might just be better than out neighbor enough to get ourselves into heaven.

The truth is not that Jesus is our LORD or he is our savior. The truth is both. We see Bartimaeus practically living, knowing that Jesus is both. After he gets his sight ack, what does Bartimaeus do? He followed Jesus. This is the same thing we see Peter, Andrew, James, John, Levi all do when Jesus calls them. They follow him. This is what we see the Rich Young Man called to do and then walk away sadly, to follow Jesus.

Bartimaeus sees and acts like Jesus is his LORD and Savior. He saw this spiritually before getting his physical sight back and he saw this physically after being healed. Bartimaeus asked to see and what he saw was Jesus’ face. The face of his LORD and savior and he followed him. He was following him at what ended up being the hardest time in Jesus’ life to follow him.

Jesus was getting ready to enter Jerusalem to live the last week of his life. Knowing he was going to suffer horribly and die, he finished teaching his disciples, saying goodbye and spending time with them, his friends. He would be praying so hard, under so much stress that he would sweat blood. And then he would go and fulfill his purpose, to give his life as a ransom for many. He would prove that he is not only our LORD but our savior as well.

Are you living, knowing the full Jesus, the Whole Jesus? Is he just your LORD? Is he just your savior? Or is he both? Have you asked him to heal your broken faith? So that you can know the full Jesus? Or do you know the Jesus that you created? The Jesus that fits who you think Jesus should be.

Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 7 & 8:

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

We will find what we are looking for, and we will find the Jesus we are looking for. Are you looking for the Jesus that fits your mold? Or are you searching, seeking, asking to see the real, true, biblical, historical Jesus. The Jesus that transcends our expectation, which transcended his friend’s expectations. The Jesus that was and is who he said he was. The Jesus that is both LORD and savior? Which Jesus are you finding, which one are you looking for?

The only right answer is for Jesus to be our Rabboni, our LORD and our Master. RC Sproul points out: Jesus had just taught his disciples to about the importance of being servants. To be a servant is to serve a master.” The way you serve a master is by doing, not what you think you should do, but instead by doing what he tells you to do.

Bartimaeus gained his sight and the first thing he did, the only thing it says he did, was that he followed Jesus into Jerusalem. He left everything he had, which was little, but he was so excited to be a servant of Jesus and that he followed him. That’s what Jesus expects from us, what he demands from us. Be aware of the gift he gives us, the gift of spiritual sight. From there, acknowledge him as both LORD and Savior and jump at any and every opportunity he presents to you to serve him.

The gift is free and clear. The responsibility after wards is clear. Which Jesus are you willing to see? The one you created in your mind, in the mind of society. Or the Jesus who is your LORD, your, your Master?

Jesus tells us what to do if we believe in the true, biblical Jesus. We are to recognize who we are and who God is and not mixing them up. And that’s what we recognize right now with communion. We recognize and remember what Christ has done and what he has accomplished for us.

And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Luke 17:20-37 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Kingdom of God

All right, lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 17. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please come see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Jesus, as he has been teaching over the course of the last number of chapters, has been talking a lot about the future, about salvation, about making sure that our soul is right. He has been talking a lot about our eternal destination.

Now, this got people thinking, which was a part of Jesus intent. We can all here Jim saying, AMEN! And of course, everyone had their own preconceived notions regarding these things. They had their thoughts about how the things that Jesus was talking about would manifest, how it would all play out. They all had their own view on what it would look like.

The kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, used interchangeably throughout the scriptures, is one of the most mentioned subjects that Jesus talks about.  Many commentators and theologians will start with a basic definition of what the Kingdom of God is. Simply put, they say Gods Kingdom is Gods People, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Let’s pick up from there reading this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 20-37. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read from your preferred translation. The key is to read for yourself what the Word of God says instead of depending on someone else to read it for you.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes chapter 17, 20-37:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

When we look out at the world and we see tragic events happen, personally, locally, nationally, globally, we cry out. And so often, as Christians, our cry out when we see these things is “LORD, come quickly!”

Because we know that he is going to come back. We know that he is going to make all things right and all things new. We know what John saw and wrote down in Revelation 21:3 & 4:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

We know that ultimately, the bad things will go away, and God will make this world perfect and sinless, without pain and death and tragedy. But until that time, we are called to live holy and fruitful lives here in Earth, as strangers and aliens, as Ambassadors, as those looking forward to what will be coming, without ignoring what we have and are called to right here and now.

And we all have our ideas on what the end will look like and even what it will look like as it gets closer. Many of us have very specific ideas of what will take place and whit it will look like. And the Pharisees did too.

They in particular had a very specific vision of what the Kingdom of God would look like, and more specifically what the promised Messiah would accomplish.

They knew all the prophecies and the promises of God about what the Messiah would do and who he would be. And they did what we all do as well. They looked at those prophecies and scriptures through the lens of their culture, their society and their times.

Because of the Roman occupation of Israel and before that, Greek military might, the Babylonians, the Persians, The Meads, the Assyrians and so forth, they were looking for the Messiah to be a mighty military leader who would lead the Jews out of oppression and occupation and overthrow the ones who were ruling over them and Make Israel Great Again.

The Kingdom in their mind would be an earthly Kingdom, with an earthly messiah sitting on an earthly throne, a literal return to David sitting on the throne of Israel, though with some disagreement on whether it would literally be David or not.

And so, Jesus was talking and teaching about this eternal Kingdom. Right from the very beginning of his ministry. The first words of his ministry that we have recorded in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[e] repent and believe in the gospel.”

          And this kingdom that Jesus was talking about didn’t sound like what they were envisioning. IT didn’t sound like what they were expecting. For once, it seems they weren’t trying to trick Jesus. Like us, they were confused, curious and oh so impatient.

Again, this is like we tend to do today as well. We look at the prophecies of the Bible, we look at the scriptures. We see the words of Jesus and we mostly subconsciously decide that the words must have been said with our specific locality or country in our specific time in mind. In our case, Jesus was speaking directly about The United States in the 20th and 21st Century. And so, we put Russia into prophecies that have nothing to do with them. WE read America into the Bible when there is no mention of it anywhere. We decide that, after 2000 years of people thinking the same thing of their own time, now is the time that Jesus is going to come back.

And I want to be clear. This is something, when we disagree that we can discuss and even challenge each other on. But this is in no way a subject to divide over. These are not viewpoints to get angry about. Most of us, despite us having different views of the end times, can all point to scripture to back up what we think and what we expect.

 

Now, Jesus is going to show, coming up in a moment that there are some things to disagree and stand firm on. There are things to separate over. But our interpretation of when the end will come and what it will look like is not one of them.

So, the Pharisees are curious, confused and impatient and so they ask Jesus, “Ok, so this kingdom of God you are talking about, when is it going to arrive? We don’t see it…”

They are looking for miraculous and spectacular signs. They are looking for the things that will point the way of the kingdoms coming so that they can be sure that they don’t miss it. They want to observe it. They want to be a part of it.

 

Jesus says, nope.

Jesus says you are not able to observe the Kingdom coming and he shows a couple of reasons. For one, they won’t see it coming because its already here. Jesus coming the first time brought the kingdom of God with him and it was now there on earth. Second, he says, that he is standing right in front of them, and they don’t recognize him. He is the manifestation of the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that the kingdom in not a real, literal, physical place as well. But Jesus presence is what shows us the kingdom. The pharisees especially were looking, desperately seeking this kingdom, and it was right in front of them the entire time.

With Jesus and his arrival, the Kingdom has arrived on Earth. It has started its infiltration. At the birth of Jesus, at the incarnation of God, God became man, the Word became Flesh, and the manifestation of the Kingdom began.

Jesus says that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is in your midst. It is within you. It is among you. All those depending on your translation. And it is here among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Many will say that this text is saying that the Kingdom is here in our hearts, that Jesus lives in our hearts so that the Kingdom comes from within us. But at best, that’s just a partial answer. Jesus is not just alive in our hearts. If that’s all then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, we have no hope and we are to be pitied.  But Jesus is physically alive as well. And so, the Kingdom is real, and it is here. And it is among us, within us, in the midst of us in two ways. Jesus right here with us, Gad made man. Second, the Kingdom is shown and is made evident by the change in peoples lives who become citizens of the Kingdom.

Paul writes in Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Its not an accident that Paul is referring to the fruit of the Spirit that he writes in Galatians 5. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, you are actively living in it, or you are not.

The church is supposed to be a representation of the Kingdom. We as Christians are ambassadors for the Kingdom. And we have a different kingdom than most. The Kingdom of God is both already and not yet.

It is already in how we just looked at it. Its already started its infiltration. It is manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. IT is here and is shown by how we live and the change in our lives. Jesus already taught, back in Luke 13: 18-21 that the Kingdom is like yeast spread through dough, eventually causing the whole loaf to rise. And so, the Kingdom is here, and spreads throughout the whole predestined, elect people of God, through the whole of world history until one day, the whole, full kingdom of Heaven rises, or comes down as it were.

 

And after Jesus answered the Pharisees, he turned to the disciples. He tells them that there will be a day that they long for the day that Jesus has already come back and that He is with them again. He tells them, your desire to see me and your inability to see me will leave you susceptible to people who will claim that Jesus has already returned.

One study note I read, says that it is good and natural that Christians long for the coming of Christ and for the peace and justice that the Second Coming will bring.

The problem, Jesus says here, is that there are many who will try to take advantage of that desire. Here he is! There He is! People claiming to now, claiming to have seen, claiming to be in some cases, the returning Jesus Christ.

One commentator rightly notes that rumors and speculation will only lead us away from the truth. Jesus affirms this as he tells us, when we see these people, Mark and Avoid them! Do not follow them! They don’t know what they are talking about, and they are being destructively deceptive, whether they realize it or not. They are false teachers and false prophets, and we are to remove ourselves from their influence.

Jesus shows in verse 24 that there will be no secret or subtle return. He says, when I come back, EVERYONE will know. His return will be as bright and unmistakable and as sudden as lightning. All will see. Jesus, when he returns, will come back inaugurating, consummating and fully and finally initiating his Kingdom. It will be dramatic and visible to all, and you won’t have to wonder or worry that you have missed it.

 

 

However, …

Before that happens… after verse 24, we see verse 25.

Before we worry about Jesus coming back, he is going to have to leave. First, he must suffer and be rejected. As one commentary notes: “The consummation of the kingdom requires the obligation that Jesus must first die according to Gods plan to redeem a people for himself.”

          In order to manifest his kingdom, he must first have a people for his Kingdom. The unfortunate part is that people will be rejecting him right up until the point of his return. No matter what the warning signs, no matter what the sins of the day. People will reject salvation through Christ until they have no more opportunity. Just like the days of Noah and Lot.

Now, it would be easy to read this and start talking all about how sinful and depraved the society and culture was in the says of Noah or in Sodom and Gomorrah during Lots time. And that would not be factually incorrect, but it would instead have nothing to do with what Jesus is saying here in this text. Jesus does not mention the righteousness of Noah or Lot, nor does he mention the sinfulness of the people or the culture.

What he points out is that in the Days of Noah and in the Days of Lot, while there was great sin occurring, people were going about their normal everyday business. They weren’t worrying about the coming judgment. They had many warnings, many signs, but despite that, the day that judgment came caught everyone by surprise, including Lot and Noah. Believers will be caught by surprise as well at the coming of the LORD.

Just as the Days of Noah and the days of Lot, we are heavily warned, just as they were. Then out of nowhere, the rains came, and the flood came, and it destroyed them all except those who accepted the LORDS salvation on the Ark. Then, out of nowhere, the rain of sulfur and fire and brimstone came and destroyed all of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah except the few who listened to the angels and left and didn’t look back. Then out of nowhere, the Son of Man will return, sudden and unexpected as a thief in the night, but sudden and visible as a streak of lightening.  And all who are not saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will be brought to judgment and eternal torment.

Just as it was in the days of Noah. Just as it was in the days of Lot. So, it will be when Jesus comes back. There is, was and will be plenty of warning, but it will still come completely out of nowhere. Today, people know that it is coming, and they ither ignore it and suppress it or they know it’s come and don’t care enough to do anything but live and go about their normal, everyday life.

When Jesus comes, judgment will come. Many will be judged and found guilty. But the righteous, (only through Christ, His righteousness) will be redeemed and restored. All will be burned away and reborn.

We will have a New Heaven, New Earth, New Bodies. Their will be one glorious people. All who trust in Christ and only those who trust in Christ. The church. True Israel. The adopted children of God. Co heirs with Christ. One Glorious People of God. One Glorious Kingdom of God. New Jerusalem. And One Glorious King, God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.  Forever and ever.

 

 

And on that day, that glorious day. That singular, public, every eye will see day that the LORD comes back, when he separates the sheep from the goats. When we stand before him in judgment. When we enter, either eternal judgment and wrath, or eternal glory and worship. On that day…

On that day, some will enter his kingdom, and some will not. The Day of the Lord will not create division. Division in where we are going to go already exists. But the day of the LORD will expose that division. It will bring it to light. Many who expect to be with the LORD will not be. Many whom we expect not to be with the LORD will be.

Just as suffering does not create character but reveals character. Just as children do not create patience with in us, but reveals patience or lack thereof, The Day of the LORD will reveal who the true people of God are.

Even if they think they will be together in eternity, husband and wife wont necessarily both be with the LORD.  Brother and Sister. Parent and Child. Best Friends. None will be both brought to be with the LORD because of their relationship and expectations.

Jesus tells his disciples that they need to remember Lots wife. JC Ryle has a great book on holiness that I’m reading, and he has an entire chapter on Lots wife and why Jesus tells his followers to remember her. What seems to be his biggest point is that her proximity to Lot and his God, her likely proximity to Abraham and his household faithfully and unashamedly worshipping God, her going along for the ride right next to Lot, none of it meant anything because she never had her heart changed by the Holy Spirit. She never committed herself to the LORD. She never let go of her sins and her old beliefs and way of life. She never trusted in Christ for her salvation. And so, her being married to Lot, was not enough to save her. She, undoubtedly, expected to be right there with him in the eternal kingdom, but she was trusting in the wrong things, not letting go and she turned back desiring her old things.

 

Of course, this makes the disciples nervous, and they ask, “Where, LORD?” Where will all this take place? Where should we be looking?

 

Jesus answers, “where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” A few translations have Eagles instead. The point is true regardless. Just as dead bodies invite birds of prey and scavengers, so also will the spiritually dead invite judgment.

 

There are a lot of things we can read into this text, and we can pull out. A lot of details about the second coming and the return of Jesus that we can use these texts to affirm, may correctly, probably not though.

Heres what we all need to remember, regardless of our similarities or differences in the details.

 

Jesus had to come the first time and did. Son of God. God himself. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law in the way that we couldn’t. He died for us. He resurrected, rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and he will come again.

This must happen in order to redeem his people.

He will return to judge the living and the dead. The redeemed and the condemned.

And he will come back once and for all. Though no one knows when except the father. He will come as a thief in the night, not in secret, but in suddenness and unexpectedness.

He will come back like a flash of lightning. Visible to all. Light chasing darkness. Sudden, unexpected, flashing across the sky.

And that return ill bring with him the full, complete, inaugurated, consummated, eternal, glorious, perfect Kingdom of God. Which brings with it peace, justice, glory, eternal life, worship. The eternal wedding banquet between our King and his bride, the church, made up of all believers of all times. People from all tribes and tongues, but one united, combined one people of God. His redeemed people. His bride.

 

We are to be absorbed with being ready for the return of Christ. The act of Jesus coming back WILL happen. But don’t get absorbed by the timing.

Life on this earth will end. TO dust we shall return. But the end is already written. One theologian reminds us, “We can enter the Kingdom now and live in it forever more by saying yes to the King.”

Focus on what Christ tells us to focus on. Remember what he tells us to remember. Don’t focus on what he doesn’t tell us to focus on.

Christ has died.

Christ has risen.

Christ will come again.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 17:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Sin, Temptation & Faith

Luke 17:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Sin, Temptation & Faith

All Right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 17. As I say often, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help get one into your hands.

So, in the section of Luke that we have been looking through, Jesus has been talking about the eternal consequences of our earthly decisions. And of course, the key to it all is that we are saved by the grace of God alone. WE are not and cannot be saved or be kept saved or earn any amount of favor in Gods eyes, through our own righteousness. It can only be through and from Christ’s righteousness.

We are called to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given us. Money, gifts, time, talents, even faith. WE are to use what he has given us for his benefit, for his glory and for his profit.

But he is the one who saves, not us. He is the one in control, not us. That does not absolve us of our responsibility to live right, to be good stewards and to strive for holiness, but He is the one who is sovereign and who is on the throne.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 1-10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. We read, as the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write, Luke 17:1-10:

 

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Will any one of you who has a servant[c] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,[d] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”

 

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

So, Jesus here is back to speaking to his disciples. He had been speaking to the Pharisees and now has turned back to the disciples. If you are Disciples, that means you are followers of Jesus. Disciples want what He wants. They want to do what He wants them to do. They want to please Him.

So, want that means is that they don’t want to sin. They want to be holy. They want to follow the words of Jesus, who said be Holy as I am Holy. Be prefect as your father is perfect.

Disciples recognize how horrible, how crushing, how devastating their sin, is and how it affects both Jesus and ourselves. The wages of sin is death. This is true both spiritually and physically. Physical death was brought into this world because of sin. And we are dead spiritually because of our sin, in fact we are physically born spiritually dead and thus the need to be born again as Jesus tells Nicodemus.

A disciple has a changed heart, a dead heart changed from stone to a living heart of flesh. A Disciple has been reborn, born again, brought from death to life by the Holy Spirit. And because of this, a disciple hates his sin.

The flesh, default human nature loves and craves sin. The unconverted, the unsaved love their sin, desire their sin. And there is some of that that sticks around in the flesh of a believer, in the flesh of the disciple. For more insight into this, Romans 7 is very clear. WE will continue to fight against our sin nature as long as we are alive on this earth.

Romans 8 tells us that we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh, or sin. Because if we don’t, that sin will be the death of us.

And Jesus starts here, and he says that temptations will come. The opportunity to sin will be there. The desire to sin will be there. The inclination to sin will be there. That battle will be a part of this life. You must be aware of these temptations; you must notice them in order to be able to resist them and to fight against them.

And so, Jesus tells us that the temptations will take place in this life. But the fact that these temptations are there and will take place is not an excuse to give in to them. Temptations existing are no excuse to sin.

But Woe to you who the temptations come through. 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 both tell us that causing a fellow brother or sister in Christ to stumble then we are in Sin. Temptations exist but you can’t be the cause of that temptation.

Now, to be clear, you are not responsible for other persons sins. Period. Full Stop. End of Sentence.

But also true is that you are in sin, you are wrong if you are the temptation or if you put the temptation in front of someone. You are in sin if you are a stumbling block to others.

I’m reminded of Romans 1:32, where Paul writes, at the end of a long list of sins, Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Jesus says if you are a stumbling block, if you are the temptation that causes someone to sin, it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and drowned. A Millstone was big enough and heavy enough that it was not able to be moved be a person, with the sole exception of Samson, and Oxen were usually used instead. Suffice it to say that if one were around, one’s neck it would not be good.

Jesus’ point is that it would be better to receive the worst punishment in this world than to receive the eternal punishment, like the rich man in Hades we looked at last week, which awaits you if you cause one of Jesus followers to stumble in sin.

When Jesus uses the term Little Ones, we often thing of this where Jesus talks about children being the little ones. But it also applies more generally to all believers and followers of Christ, especially young, immature followers. In the context here, this longer passage of Jesus teaching starts in Luke 15, where sinners and tax collectors were gathering around and trying to follow Jesus.

 

Jesus says in verse 3 that we are to pay attention to ourselves. We are to worry less about other sins than our own. Yes, we are to rebuke sin when we see it, specifically in our follow brothers and sisters. Matthew 18 lays out some of the clearest principles in that.

But it doesn’t end there. If a fellow Christians repents, we are to forgive them. The two statements here are connected. Galatians 6:1 & 2, Paul writes: Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

One commentator writes, “The duty to rebuke is attached to the responsibility to forgive.” The reason we rebuke sin, the reasons we confront it is to bring about forgiveness and repentance.

And Jesus doesn’t just say to forgive, but if one comes to and says, I repent, you forgive over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. He says that if one comes to us 7 times in one day, we are to forgive them each time. & of course, being a symbolic number representing heavenly perfection, representing God himself.

In 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul writes about what Love is, says that Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Now, one of my first questions is why would we have to forgive someone so many times? And IM sure many of you had the same question.

Think about you and God. Think what happens if and when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin. 1 John tells us that if we confess our sins then God is faithful to forgive them.

As a Christian, if and when you sin, God will forgive you as many times as you repent and go back to him. IF you are a Christian, a disciple, you will repent every time you give in to the temptation of sin. That’s why Martin Luther said that a Christians life is one of repentance. We will be continually repenting through out this life. So, we will repent. And God has already forgiven us.

When Jesus died on the cross, his blood, his death bought the forgiveness of all sins, past, present and future of all who will believe by faith in Jesus Christ our LORD.

We are to follow that principle in all that we do. Our innate desire, our natural tendency is to repay evil for evil, to do to others what they do to us. We want to change the Golden rule from Do unto others as you would have them do unto to, and make it instead Do unto others before they do unto you. Some of the hardest words to believe in the Bible is, Vengeance is Mine says the LORD.

A couple of things I want to say about forgiveness. First, we need to remember to forgive ourselves. Think of it this way. If we are sorry and we are repentant, but we don’t forgive ourselves, we are putting ourselves above God. We are putting our opinion above Gods. We are saying that his forgiveness isn’t enough. His forgiveness is secondary to out own.

Second, a few things about what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not Forgive and Forget. Forgiveness is not no consequences from your actions. Forgiveness is not letting them continue to hurt you.    Forgiveness is not letting someone back into the very same spot in your life as before, not automatically at least. That’s reconciliation, which takes two. Forgiveness just takes one.

 

Now, the disciples heard what Jesus was saying and they cried out, “LORD, increase our faith!” This is right in line with Mark chapter 9, where the dad says, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

Things that we should all be praying and crying out each and every day.

All those things that Jesus has been telling them, all the things he just said; resist temptation, repent, forgive, forgive over and over. None of those things are things we can do without faith. None of those are things we can do without the Holy Spirit. None of those are things we can do without the strength of God.

Remember we are to pay attention to ourselves. And faith is not of our own doing, but our faith is a gift from and of God. We need faith in order to do the things God has told us to do.

And Jesus talks about faith. And when he speaks this way about faith, it is often misunderstood. First, it is not the size of our faith that matters, but the fact that we have any faith. One commentary says that the issue is not the size of faith but its presence.

Second, Jesus’ point is not for us to be able to uproot mulberry trees or to literally move mountains, or any other physical supernatural thing like that. But instead, his point is that our small faith, if it is genuine faith can be enough for us to be able to forgive others over and over again.

And then he starts talking in a mini parable in verses 7-10. His main point is that we are unworthy servants of God. He doesn’t owe us anything. The master is not going to serve the servant. The servant still has more work to do.

We owe him everything. Including and especially our lives. We are to be faithful to our duties as a servant of God no matter what the demands may be.

Jesus says that the Master will not serve the servant, at least not here in this world. And yet, in eternity we see what will happen. At the kingdom feast, at the eternal wedding feast, all the servants of Christ will be seated and served. As we saw back in Luke 12:35-37:

“Stay dressed for action[f] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants[g] whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them

So, we get to celebrate eternity with the King at the eternal wedding feast thanks to the grace of God and his forgiveness of our sins. We have our heart changed by the Holy Spirit and we repent of our sins and by faith we are saved.

Jesus reminds us constantly that we have been forgiven and that it is he that accomplished it. HE tells us to remember.

And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Luke 15:11-32 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Prodigal Son

 

All right! Turn with me in your Bibles, if you will, to Luke chapter 15. As I say every week, if you do not have a Bible or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help get one into your hands.

Well, last week, we introduced the setting of this passage. Tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus, drawn to him, wanting to hear his teaching and to be on the receiving end of his grace. And as they saw this, the Scribes and Pharisees grumbled about it.

Whether they recognized it or not, they were grumbling at Gods grace. We see what had been happening in Jesus’ ministry. Sinners were welcomed. People were getting healed on the Sabbath. Jesus is claiming the power to forgive sins. Heaven was open to those who would repent and submit themselves to God. But those who think they had no need to repent, those who were self-righteous, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

“That’s not fair! I did everything right! Why does HE get to get in!” That’s the mindset that Jesus is addressing in these three parables that he tells here. The first two we looked at last week, the lost coin and the lost sheep. And Jesus point was we don’t save us. We don’t even help Jesus save us. Jesus chooses to save us and its all grace, no merit involved at all.

The third parable is the one we will look at this morning as well, the parable of the prodigal Son. Again, Jesus showing that the themes of grace are at complete odds with self-righteousness and pride.

Let’s go ahead and read the passage, Luke chapter 15, verses 11 through 32. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 15:11-32, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the Words of Jesus:

 

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

 

Thus says the Word of God.

This is one of those well know Bible stories that we have been talking about. We think we know what the story is and what the story is telling us, and we do, partly, mostly, sort of. There are many lessons that we can learn from the prodigal son, the character of the son himself. And that who we tend to focus on. We can learn lessons from the how he deals with his father, his attitude, his heart, how he lives apart from his family and from God. So many of those lessons are right and good lessons, but not a single one of them are ultimately the point of this story.

We start out seeing that this man, this older man, had two sons. And in those days, in that society, using this example of two sons, when the dad dies, each son gets a portion of the dad’s estate, property, animals, etc. The older son, the first born would get a double share. This means that he would get 66% and the younger son would get 33%.

Now, in this case, the son doesn’t want to wait for his dad to die in order to get his share. So, he goes to the dad and says, “Give me my share of your estate now.”

Now we don’t know the exact thoughts going through the sons’ head at that moment. He could have been thinking “Why should I continue working in this apparent dead-end job? I’m not the one who is going to get it.” OR he could have been thinking, “This is too stifling, I have to be true to who I am and follow my bliss, follow my heart and my dreams.” The result is the same, not willing to step up and take responsibility for his life, his work or anything else.

So, he goes to the father and says, Give me what’s my mine! Now, this was not exactly unheard of, but it was pretty close. At the least in was incredibly uncouth for the son to do this. And the father did it. He separated his estate in two sections, 1/3 and 2/3s. He gave his youngest son his third of the inheritance and as one commentator said, and I know a lot of you can identify with this, “the father allowed him to make his own choice to go his own way.” As a parent, especially as the kids get older, that’s the only thing we can do. They need to live their life and unfortunately, make their own mistakes and bad decisions.

Verse 13 indicates that someone liquidated the inheritance. Either the father to make the division cleaner or the son so he could just get going and whoop it up. Either way the son took of a long way away, away from the eyes of family and people that would have known him. He goes far away, like leaving here and headed to Redding or Sacramento or even San Francisco. And he proceeds to spend his money foolishly. He squandered it with reckless living.

Sometimes we see in the Bible, things can be overstated, over emphasis used, telling us to go through the eye of a needle in order to make the point how hard it is to save ourselves. (Spoiler; its literally, physically impossible.)

But I think that here we are seeing the opposite. I think we are seeing some very serious understatement here. The son squandered his money in reckless living. It reads to me like those lottery winners that we all see the stories for. Winning millions and hundreds of millions of dollars and being bankrupt within just a few years.

Just in case things are unclear, especially with the ultimate point of these three parables we are looking at last week and this week, our decisions absolutely have consequences. Just because we cannot save or help save ourselves, that it is 100% God in every way shape and form, just because he is sovereign and predestined all things and controls all things from the grand universe to the tiniest of Atoms, and decrees all things, does not mean that we are puppets, that our decisions don’t matter. We make our decisions day by day, moment by moment how we live, how we act, how we respond to what’s going on around us and inside of us.

And this younger son, he made his decisions. He was willfully defiant. He was a lost cause who wanted to be lost. And he lost all his money. He spent it all. It was all gone. He had nothing. And then, after he had lost all his money, a famine hit hard. So, he had no food. Not things were tight. Not he had to go to the local food pantry. He had no food.

And so, he did the only thing he was able to do. He, a Jewish man, hired himself out to a gentile pig farmer. The pig, of course, being the symbol, the epitome of unclean animals. IT seemed like the lowest of lows.

His self-made circumstances, no money, no food, combined with Gods sovereign circumstances, the famine and so on, both combined to bring this main to what seemed like it was the lowest point that the man could ever get to.

He sacrificed his dignity. He sacrificed his respect. He sacrificed his religious convictions. And then it got so bad, that he was looking at the slop he was feeding the pigs and was jealous of how well they were eating. He wanted to eat as well as them, which was not well, make no mistake.

 

And then, what could be said next in the text, what is true and based on the context of the parables, I believe is implied, is “But God…”

The text says that he came to himself. He “came to” as if awakening from a spiritual coma. He woke up as “awoken from God, by the Power of the Holy Spirit.” He was at his lowest point, but God wouldn’t let him stay there. God brought him to his senses.

He thought, I remember the people that worked for my dad. I remember the servants. Even the servants! And they were eating good! They got everything they needed and more. I will go back to my dad; I will repent, and I will beg his forgiveness.

I will tell him, I’m not worthy to be forgiven. I’m not worthy to be called your son. I’m not worthy to be even a lowly servant. I have sinned against you and heaven. I can imagine God bringing a little piece if the scriptures to his mind and heart at that moment, maybe PS 51:4 where David says that all sin is against God.

So, he gets up and starts making his way back to his father’s home. But before he gets there, we see something else. We see that the father, since the son has been gone, he has been actively looking, actively searching for him, actively waiting for him to come back home.

He saw his son while he was still a far way off, just as God sees us when we are still spiritually a far way off. The father saw his son in the distance and ran to him. He embraced him, and grabbed hold of him, again, just as God does to us, to every sinner who repents.

As we established last week at the end, we are loved and received by God before we ever make that decision to repent and trust in him. The son hadn’t even gotten there and hadn’t even said anything, but the father already loved him and received him back.  We always have a home with God if and when we are willing to repent and turn ourselves our to his grace and mercy.

The son, of course, started to recite his spiel that he had rehearsed. But his father wouldn’t have any of it. He sent for his best robe, for a ring, and some shoes. The son didn’t even have any shoes… But he was reconciled back and welcomed back a s a full member of the family.  He was welcomed, he was loved, and he was forgiven by the father. He was also rejoiced over.

The father tells his servants, go prepare the fattened calf for a partay! And to be clear, just in case it needs to be said, the party and the celebration, were in thanksgiving to God, not a godless, self-indulgence party. Just as verses 7 & 10 tell us that there is much rejoicing in Heaven over a sinner who repents.

The son was dead, now he is alive again! Just as Adam sinned and brought spiritual death to the human condition, so too did Jesus, the Second Adam, makes us spiritually alive, bringing us a new heart and a new spirit through the Holy Spirit.

We then are born again. Was dead, now alive. Was lost, now found. Time to celebrate.

 

 

But not everyone was happy.

 

The older son, remember him? He was out in the field working, as he always was. He was dutiful, he was responsible, he was hardworking. He heard the singing and dancing and asked what was going on. What’s the big hullaballoo?

“Your brother is back, and your dad is throwing a party because he is all the way back! He is safe and sound and back a part of the family!”

 

Well, make no mistake, the brother was angry! Just like the Pharisees grumbling about the tax collectors and sinners. The brother wouldn’t take part in the celebration. He couldn’t bring himself to be happy for the brother. The Father came out and tried to bring him in to join. Tried to get him to be happy for his father and his brother.

The brother lashed out: “It’s not fair! He left. He hurt my father. He squandered his opportunity. Not me! I never left. I have been loyal and steadfast. I followed the rules. I have been responsible.” “It’s not fair! You never threw me a party. You never slaughtered the fattened calf for me!”

But the fathers love and forgiveness were great and unconditional. He was brought back in the fold like nothing ever happened.

Now, when we look at application of some of these parables, one of the biggest things we need to remember is that we are not Jesus. We can’t and shouldn’t automatically do the exact and complete things that Jesus does in these stories.

Is this story an example of how we should always run a business? No.

Is this an example of how we should, without exception, run our family and personal relationships? No.

There are times and places to draw lines. There are times to remember that we are called to forgive, but not forget. There are times to reward loyalty and dedication and steadfastness.

 

But that’s not how God’s grace works in relation to salvation. God’s grace is scandalous. It is undeserved. It is unfair from the world’s perspective.

It reminds me of the parable of the workers in Matthew 20. In Sinclair Fergusons book, The Whole Christ, he talks about this parable and the scandalous Ness of God’s grace. He points out that its not until the workers who showed up early and worked all day long, not until they saw the workers at the end of the day get the same pay, they did, it was only then that they got upset. It was Gods grace that revealed hidden legalism in their hearts.

That mindset, “I deserve it! Especially because they didn’t deserve it and they got it. So, I should especially get it because I deserve it.” This subtle form of Legalism is heading in all of our hearts.

We see in verses 30 that the older brother won’t even calls him his brother, he just spits it out in disgust, “That son of yours…”

The Father responds, the grace I show him has nothing to do with you. It doesn’t affect you one bit. It doesn’t take away anything from you. Other people being saved doesn’t take away anything from your salvation. Them receiving grace does not take away from grace you already received.

We see in this part of the story that Jesus is still and will continue to call the Pharisees to repent and join him in the kingdom of Heaven. The offer never stops being presented. The plea never stops being made.

The father tells the older brother, it is right and proper to rejoice. It is right and proper to rejoice over your brother coming back home. It is right and proper to rejoice in each and every one of us who was lost and is now found. Each and every one of us who was dead and is now alive.

The father is telling the son, I believe, that if you repent and come to me, we will rejoice for you as well. For then you will have been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life and will be brought home.

God often will bring us through the far country in order to wake us up and bring us home. And we see this, and we see How Great the fathers love for us. That we will always be welcome home. That he will never stop actively looking for us, searching for us and waiting for us.

We also need to remember that as often as we put ourselves in the younger brothers’ shoes, more often Id says, we are actually in the older brothers’ shoes. God, I’m doing this work for you. I’m loving you and serving you and being loyal and steadfast. Why don’t I get more grace, more mercy, more whatever?

That heart of ours is an idol factory and that is one of them. That’s one of the reasons that Jesus tells us we need to remember. He is constantly reminding us of his grace and mercy and that it is freely given, as Mike read this morning, so that no man may boast.

And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Luke 12:13-34 Jesus is the Son of Man Earthly Worries produce Anxiety

Luke 12:13-34

Jesus is the Son of Man

Earthly Worries produce Anxiety

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 12.

 

As we continue through our Journey through Luke’s Gospel, we are seeing Jesus continue to teach and train his disciples, preparing them for ministry after he leaves. He is traveling to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission, his ministry and then he will leave them to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

In this section we are looking at and have been looking Jesus has a bigger theme that transcends the individual sections that our Bible is broken up into. Jesus is making sure that his disciples and followers are focused on eternity.

This life will pass, this body will decay, this world will burn up and be recreated. IT is all temporary. Eternity is forever. Jesus challenges and asks the question, which one will you focus on? The earthly physical, or the eternal? The one who has some authority, a little authority here on earth? Or the one who has full, eternal authority?

Jesus is going to continue that emphasis in the passage we are looking at this morning. WE are going to read Luke chapter 12, verses 13-34, a bit of a longer passage. Ill be reading, as always, out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along, reading for yourself the word of God.

The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the Words of Jesus, writing:

 

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[c] 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[d] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Word.

 

Jesus was a great teacher. He was able to continue to make his points even when people interrupted and tried to change the subject or even redirect the subject to their benefit. We see this often in the Gospels. Jesus is talking and teaching, and some guy, often a scribe or a pharisee, though unidentified this time, interrupts to talk about their own thing. Jesus takes that, usually doesn’t answer the question, or at least not what the person interrupted wanted him to answer, and Jesus then uses it to continue making his points, usually regarding the Kingdom of God.

That’s what happens here as Jesus is teaching and talking and this guy comes up and wants Jesus to arbitrate in a dispute between two brothers. This guy recognized Jesus as a type of Authority. He saw Jesus as a good teacher who had wisdom. He saw a man that people listened to. He saw that Jesus could speak into the lives of people who were there listening. And He recognized Jesus as a rabbi. One of the issues is that he recognizes Jesus as an authority only in the categories of life where he wants Jesus to be an authority.

Rabbis were given authority in the books of Moses to settle disputes of inheritance. This wasn’t necessarily uncommon. A few issues are here though. Jesus was not an official, trained rabbi. And it appears that this was not a legitimate dispute. It seems this was purely covetousness, greed on the part of the brother asking for Jesus to judge in his favor.

Jesus, for his part, knew why this guy was appealing to him, including his view of him as a Rabbi. But Jesus knew what his mission was. He knew why he was here on Earth. Jesus knew that he was not here to settle our disputes with each other, though his teachings and the Bible will help us if we have a dispute.

His purpose instead was to save sinners, not to settle disputes. We will see coming up later in this chapter that he says he does not bring peace, but division. Now, that’s one of the most important verses to make sure we know the context for, but my point is that Jesus was not here to settle all of our arguments. He is not here to focus on earthly material possessions, but on the eternal Kingdom of God.

And Jesus says to this guy, essentially, “You’re not making me The authority over all your life, why should I play the authority over this one little section? Jesus was refusing to play the arbitrator, refusing to be the judge over the brother’s dispute.

Warren Weirsbe sums up: Jesus refused to get involved. Why? Because he knew that no answer would solve the real problem, which was covetousness in the hearts of the two brothers.”

          Jesus showed that this guy was putting earthly material goods higher than God. This was a direct violation of Exodus 20:17, Thou shall not covet. RC Sproul shows why coveting is that serious. He writes: Have you ever wondered why God in his infinite wisdom included a law against coveting in his top 10 commandments? Perhaps God knows something about what leads to stealing, about what leads to jealousy, about what leads to murder and to war. Covetousness is the cause of a persons wanting for himself what God in his beneficence has graciously bestowed upon someone else. The sin of covetousness reveals something about the darkest part of our fallen humanity.”

          Despite what our culture, our society and our own selfish human nature try to instill in us, coveting is not a lesser sin. It leads us into so many other sins in addition to itself.

Jesus saw that the greatest need in these two brothers, arguing over their inheritance was not conflict resolution, but was a true heart change. It is that heart change that will ensure the focus of this man will change from this life, these earthly goods, onto the eternal, heavenly focus.

To emphasis his point, Jesus tells the crowd a parable called the Rich young Fool. In this parable, the rich man’s fields and crops started producing even more abundantly. So much so that the man had nowhere to store his goods.

He was spending all his time and focus trying to hoard these new possessions. Storing and acquiring more goods and building more storage to accommodate said belongings.

Now, I think all of us in this room would agree that the man was entitled to the profits and abundance of what was produced by what he owned. I don’t think there is anything in scripture that disagrees with that. But there is a bigger point that Jesus is making here. This man gives no thought to his neighbor and helping those who had less, and he gave no thought to thanking God for the abundance or to give to God in worship.

The man cared nothing other than continuing to accumulate more goods until he had enough. He was the epitome of the new version of the same old American Dream. Eat, Drink, Be Merry for tomorrow we may die. He thought about nobody else other than himself. Many commentaries point out the that even the language is filled with selfishness. One of them points out that: The language in verses 17-19 reveals an ingrained selfishness. In the Greek the personal pronoun “my” occurs 4 times and the “I” 8 times.

          This man was of course under no obligation to give away all his belongings, sell everything and give it all away, but as Jesus is making clear, he was under the obligation to be thankful to God and to give with a generous heart. Paul writes 2 Corinthians 8:15:  As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

We also see that these possessions do nothing to help our soul and eternal destination. Jesus says in Matthew 16:26,  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? 

          This man thought he had it all. He was focused on getting enough and living the good life. Comfort and security are among the biggest idols of today. And they are so tempting because we convince ourselves that they are Gods highest calling for ourselves. This man was ready to retire and trust in his riches to take care of him.

Jesus points out that this man couldn’t take any of it with him. HE had sent his life trying to accumulate enough. Enough to enjoy the rest of life. And yet, when he does, his life was to end that very night. What benefit were those extra-large storehouses and what benefit was all the goods stored in them.

 

 

One commentator sees the language of this and says that the man’s loan of mortal existence was called due.

You know, one recent study suggests that Christians in America give an average of less than 4% of their income to Gospel work. And so, the question that Jesus makes us ponder, Are we being rich to God? Are we being generous and thankful? Or are we concerned with keeping and accumulating and getting our fair share?

 

Kent Hughes remarks on this passage and this may sound awful familiar to us today: The domestic concern that elicited the parable suggests a particular warning regarding an overweening demand to get “our fair share.” It is so much better to take less than our fair share or to give it away. Squabbling over an inheritance is not worth it. Many, in retrospect, would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to forgo the miseries that came as a result of insisting on their rightful portion. As Christians,

He says, we can and should avoid such deadly errors.

 

Jesus then moves on from the parable and the challenge and moves into a teaching monologue. The summation is, essentially that anxiety comes from concerns of worldly goods and not trusting that God himself will provide what is needed.

Corrie Ten Boom has said, Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

          George MacDonald once put it: No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrows burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.

          Earthly, physical goods that rust and decay, these are not worth the effort and worry that most put into them. There is more to this life than the physical. We forget or discount the spiritual.

As a way to justify discounting the spiritual, some have a saying, you may have heard. They say that some are too heavenly minded to do earthly good. The truth is, in fact, the opposite. The more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will do.

Don’t get me wrong, and more importantly, don’t get Jesus wrong and misunderstand what he is saying. Here and now do matter. We do need things in order to live and go through life. But here and now do not matter as much as the then and forever. And Jesus makes clear in this section that God loves us enough that he will make sure the bare necessities are covered.

 

He uses two examples, one for food and one for clothing. The Ravens and the lilies of the field do not work for their food and to be clothed in wonderful colors. They do not do good works in order to receive God’s blessings and Guess What? Neither do we!

We are more important to God the Father than ravens. We are more important to God the Father than lilies and the fields and grass.

When we worry and get anxious, then we don’t trust that our daily needs will be met. That’s when we get our selves in trouble. Worry and anxiety get in the way of us working for the kingdom of God. Instead, we have to work for ourselves and our needs before we can even consider working for what God wants.

That’s why Jesus says to seek first His Kingdom. Focus on the important, the everlasting, the Holy. Jesus says, focus on this and everything else will take care of itself.

As one commentator puts it: TO seek is to set your heart on something; to make it your main objective. What you seek is what you think about; it is what you pursue; it is what you live for.

seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

          Jesus speaks on these topics in a basically parallel passage in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. There he adds a key word, Seek first the kingdom of God And His Righteousness.

          Its interesting that every commentator I read on this passage pointed out that seeking the Kingdom of God was specifically an act of the already converted. Unbelievers cannot seek the Kingdom of God. But believers, followers of Christ, we can, and we should. For it is getting more and more of the Kingdom, getting closer and closer to Christ, seeking him more and more, this is how we are sanctified and transformed.

Romans 12:1&2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 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]

 

          The will of God is his Kingdom manifest.

Little Flock, Jesus says, do not fear. You already have the kingdom. It is Gods good pleasure and desire to give it to his children. RC Sproul says that since we already have the Kingdom of God, we should therefore concentrate our energies on the interests of the Kingdom.

We can’t do kingdom work until we have the kingdom. Now that we have the kingdom, go do kingdom work.

 

This is of course not laying down legal laws from God. At least not in the sense that every one of us are called to sell everything we own and hit the road with no possessions and no savings and that’s the only way to be holy and righteous.

That’s called poverty theology and it’s just as much a false gospel as the prosperity theology, or the Health and Wellness Gospel or Name it and claim it or whatever version of it you have heard.

The point that Jesus is making is twofold. Trust God. Trust that he loves and if he loves you, he will provide for you. Second, if we hold to that trust, our heart will show it by us being generous. I love how Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians , saying  The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[d] will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

Be generous. This is being rich to God. Hold your possessions with an open hand and an open heart. Be willing to give it up if and when you are called to. As Hope and I often say, “You can’t outgive God.”

For where your treasure, there your heart is also.

 

When our heart is on the Kingdom of God, we will not worry about the here and now. We will not focus on our worries and anxiety. Jesus wants us to have our priorities on the right things. When we focus on our anxiety and our worries, we take our focus off of God. We blow up our perception of what might happen into raging rivers and massive mountains.

 

I’m going to leave you with a story about Abraham Lincoln as recounted by Kent Hughes:

In his circuit riding days Lincoln and his companions, riding to the next session of court, had crossed many swollen rivers on one particular journey, but the formidable Fox River was still ahead of them. They said to one another, “IF these streams give us so much trouble, how shall we get over the Fox River?” When Darkness fell, they stopped for the night at a log tavern, where they fell in with the Methodist presiding elder of the district who rode through the country in all kinds of weather and knew all about the Fox River. They gathered about him and asked him about the present state of the river. “Oh, yes,” replied the circuit rider, “I know all about the Fox River. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regard to the Fox River—I never cross it till I reach it.”

 

Phillipians 4:6&7: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Lets Pray.

Luke 12:1-12 Jesus is the Son of Man IN Christ Alone

Luke 12:1-12

Jesus is the Son of Man

IN Christ Alone

          All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 12. Right around the halfway point as we go through the Gospel of Luke.

Over the last few chapters, Jesus has been giving a lot of application to the knowledge of the two greatest laws; Love God and Love your Neighbor.  Jesus has been showing the disciples, the Pharisees and anyone else who ill listen that to Love God IS to Love you Neighbor. You can’t have one without the other.

Last week, the passage we looked at showed Jesus addressing and confronting the Pharisees and their wrong understanding resulting in their wrong attempts at Loving God. They were portraying outward holiness and moral righteousness but doing so without Loving their neighbors. They were attempting to obey the rules without any love, grace or mercy.

After that, we read of the Pharisees, in Luke 11:53 & 54:

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

 

They were mad at Jesus and wanted to trap him and end his public teaching and ministry. That leads immediately into this morning’s passage that we are going to read and look. This morning we are looking at Luke chapter 12, verses 1-12. I will be reading out of my preferred translation, the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 12:1-12, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following:

 

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b] And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Word.

 

So, many, many thousands of people are crowding around Jesus and wanting to hear what he has to say. The way this reads, this appears to be as and immediately after Jesus leaves the meal he was having with the Pharisees and lawyers at the end of Chapter 11. And the big crowds had been gathering and following and waiting.

As a result of what he witnessed and what he shared in the dinner, Jesus starts speaking to the disciples, purposely where the rest of the crowd can here as well. Sometimes Jesus would wait until he had just the 12 around him to share teachings and warning. Others, just the larger group of disciples. This time, he wanted as many people as possible to hear and to heed these warnings.

He tells them to Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees. Specifically, he is referring to the hypocrisy that Jesus just exposed in them. He pointed it out to them at the dinner and now he was warning the people in public. He is warning them about when our words and actions don’t match and when our words and hearts don’t match.

He uses this phrase, beware the leaven of the pharisees. He uses it specifically. A little bit of their influence can go a long way. Paul writes in numerous places, but especially Galatians 5:9, A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company ruins good morals.” The negative influence, the hypocrisy of the pharisees can spread without us even seeing it. Sin generally and some sins specifically, like hypocrisy, spread like cancer. They start little by little; we don’t even notice they are there. But then it starts spreading, slowly and unnoticed. Eventually, if left unchecked, it grows and takes over and eventually it kills us.

The idea of leaven can be good too. We see coming up in Luke 13:21, that Jesus uses it to explain the spread of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is here and now, but it is not fully realized yet. It is spreading through  this world, through history like leaven through dough.

As the pharisees negative influence spreads through, a little going a long way, so does a Christians positive influence, Christianity’s influence, a little can go a long way in the lives of people around us. It might seem to be just a little, it may be just a little, but it can go a long, long way and it is a part of something much, much bigger, the work of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus reassures and warns us that all will be revealed in the end. All of our sins will be exposed. Especially when the disciples would see the hypocrisy of the pharisees, when we see the sins of those around us seeming to go unnoticed and unpunished, we can be reassured that God sees and they will be exposed in the end.

But it is also a warning. All those moments, all those stray thoughts, all those things that we do and say and think and hide that nobody else knows about. All of it will be exposed and put on display at the end when we stand before the Great Throne in judgment.

Its important to note that it is not just non-Christians who will stand in judgment at the end. We all will. RC Sproul writes it well:

Many Christians have the misguided idea that Christians don’t have to worry about this disclosure on judgment day. They assume its only the pagan or the corrupt person or the Pharisee who has to fear. After all, we have passed from the judgment to life, and we know that one of the benefits of our justification is that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to worry about being condemned by God on the last day. On the last day, your judge and your defense attorney will be Jesus Christ. However, even though our entrance to Heaven is not based in any way on our good works, and though our good works contribute nothing to our salvation, every one of us will be evaluated on that day according to our works. The truth about our obedience, our sanctification, and our profession of faith will be made manifest.

 

What we do and what we say and all of our actions and works do nothing to affect our eternal destination. However, our deeds and our actions will be made known and will be see both the good that we have done and the evil that we have done.

There is a purpose, I presume to us seeing all the evil we have done at the last judgment. When we see all the sins we have committed, all the evil we have been a part of, the cosmic treason that we have committed against God, we will see how great his grace and how undeserving we are of said grace.

 

Now, in the context of this passage, what Jesus is saying, he is speaking of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees being exposed. They will not be able to hide their sins and their hypocrisy from God. Our natural tendency is to try to hide our sins, even from God. This goes all the way back to Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and sinned, bringing sin and death into the world, they tried to hide form God. They recognized that they were standing before him naked and unashamed. They made coverings from fig leaves, and we have been trying to cover up our sins ever since.

 

Now, to be clear. Sin does not automatically equal hypocrisy. We all sin. We all fail. That is something that we will be struggling with and fighting against for the rest of our physical and natural lives. But pretending that we don’t sin, Not acknowledging our sins, acting like our sins aren’t as bad as anyone else’s sins, only pointing out other people’s sins, that’s hypocrisy.

 

The hypocrisy of the Pharisees stemmed from them fearing the opinions of men and their fellow Pharisees more than fearing God. They wanted the people to fear their opinions and judgments and to submit to them. Jesus says, don’t fear those who can kill the body only.

The Pharisees those days had the ability and some authority to kill the body. We see this through the book of Acts, Paul specifically was tasked with tracking down early Christians, and he watched over and approved of the killing and stoning of Stephen.  Certain sins were punished by stoning. The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was going to be stoned until Jesus said what he said.

Governments, which God says he puts in place, sometimes specifically with this purpose in mind according to Romans 13, have the ability to kill the body. OF course, criminals have that ability as well.

God doesn’t ever promise to spare our physical natural lives in every situation. History is full of martyrs who have given up their lives for their faith, to stand for Jesus. The Bible shows many of them, history shows that every one of the Apostles was martyred except John who survived attempts to martyr him. Read Fox’s Book of Martyrs for many more examples. The Reformation was chock full of examples. Many, many Christians around the world today are dying right now for the faith that many American Christians take for granted.

But as Jesus points out, if they do punish you or kill your body, that is the end of their ability to influence you or affect you. They can’t do anything more to you at that point. They have no authority over eternity. Instead of fearing men, fear the one who has authority over eternity.

There are different types of fear. The easiest way to describe this fear, the fear of the LORD that Jesus is calling us to, is the type of fear that involves awe and reverence. In certain contexts, this is all that is needed. But it involves more than this. And especially in what Jesus is saying, it also involves fear, being afraid. We should be afraid of a God who has the power and authority to determine our eternal destiny.

Proverbs says in multiple places that the Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 36 says that the wicked have no fear of God before their eyes. But there is a right kind of fear. This is the fear we see in Moses in Exodus 3 when he was afraid to look upon God. We see it in Isaiah 6, when he was set down before the LORD and professed that he was a man of unclean lips. This is the fear that we should have of Him.

He is the Judge who will welcome us to Heaven or the one who will damn us to Hell. One commentator reminds us that Hell is not Satan’s dominion but instead his prison. He is not the one who has authority in Hell, God is sovereign over all of His creation, and this includes Hell.

But there is a balance to that fear for those who are in Christ. We are to fear God instead of Man and we are to have this healthy fear of God. But we are also to remember that the place he has prepared for us is secured and he will not forget us or forsake us.

Sparrows are the cheapest animals that you could buy at that time. Almost literally a dime a dozen. And God remembers them all. We are infinitely more valuable than sparrows. God knows and never forgets the numbers of hairs on your head. Even as that number changes as we age, God still knows.

We fear him and all that it entails; awe, reverence, and fear itself. But we also remember that he loves us, he remembers us, and he cares for us. Paraphrasing RC Sproul, we fear Him on one hand, and on the other, we have no fear.

God does not send people to Hell because he forgets about them, or he forsakes them. He doesn’t send people to because he wants to or because it makes him happy.

So, what does determine whether we are welcomed into eternal glory in Heaven or if we are damned to Hell?

Jesus says, acknowledge me, trust in me, believe in me and you’re in. By Gods grace our hearts are changed and our eyes are opened. We see the truth and put our faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

We can’t believe and then tell people we don’t believe. Romans 10:9, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Of course, words by themselves, just like actions or works by themselves are nothing, they are not enough to save us or to damn us. The issue is our heart. And what flows out of us is usually a pretty good indication of what’s in our heart.

Verse 9, if you reject or deny Christ, you will be denied heaven and you will be rejected from spending eternity with Christ. This is true no matter what our words say. Not everyone who prayers a prayer or makes a public confession of Christ has been legitimately changed by the Holy Spirit. Not everyone who is physically in the church is spiritually in the church. Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended form Israel belong to Israel and the meaning of that is a sermon or discussion for a different time, but it is the same with he churches today. Not all who are in the church belong to the church.

Not everyone who publicly identifies as a Christian is truly saved or has been truly changed by the Holy Spirit. If we reject Christ in our hearts, if we reject Christ and his works, he will reject us.

Now, he does say that we are able to have all our sins forgiven. We could blaspheme Jesus and that is able to be forgiven. Which is good because before Christ, we all speak against God, and we all blaspheme Christ. And if that was unforgiveable, we would all be out of luck.

 

Jesus says something that has been the source of controversy, of confusion and of despair for Christians for 2000 years. The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

There have been many different ideas, many different beliefs, many different interpretations on what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We are not going to argue over or let it divide us.

Before we look at this, I want to remind us all of the first two rules of understanding the Bible. First, we let the Bible interpret the Bible. Let scripture interpret scripture. IF we don’t know what something means, we look at what scripture says in other places on the same subject or in other places that can speak to the same thing. Second, we let the clear scripture interpret the unclear scripture. That’s the key to what we are looking at hear.

So, what do we know that the scriptures say clearly?

1 John 1:9, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We know that Christ died on the cross or the forgiveness of sins. Verses 8 & 9 here in this passage in Luke show that even speaking against Jesus can be forgiven. John 3:36 says Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

According to one commentator, The Blood of Christ is sufficient for any sinner who truly repents- even a sinner who has on occasion denied the name of Christ.

We have seen in scriptures such a wide variety of sins, even and especially serious, crazy sins be forgiven. Adultery, lying, eating from the forbidden tree, murder, false teachings and prophecy. So much more.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

All those sins were forgiven. Peter says in Acts 2:38: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, Jesus died for the sins of the world. All sin can be forgiven except this, what can it mean? I think the key to understanding this is right here in the passage we are looking at this morning, all the information we need is right here.

Verse 8 & 9: And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God

 

How I read this, the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is dying while still rejecting Christ, denying Christ. It is dying without the Holy Spirit doing his regenerating work on us. IF you die without having placed your trust and faith in Christ, you are not able to be forgiven. There is no forgiveness outside of Christ Jesus. In context, to me, that’s the only thing this could mean.

The key to what we are reading this morning is the idea of fear of man vs the fear of God. And Jesus reiterates that as we finish up in verses 11 & 12. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

We see immediate proof of this throughout the book of acts. In context, the takeaway, application is that if you are worried about denying Christ in the face of opposition, in the face of true persecution, trust in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We can not be unafraid or unashamed in our own strength and in our own power. We can only do it through His power, through the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit.

 

I am going to leave you with a story about Martin Luther showing the fear of God overcoming the fear of Man. This is relayed from Kent Hughes in his commentary on Luke.

When Martin Luther first stood before the Diet of Worms, John Eck, the archbishop of Trier, asked him, “Martin Luther, do you recant of the heresies in your writings?…Do you defend them all or do you care to reject a part?” Luther gave the quiet answer, “This touches God and His word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this, Christ said, He who denies me before men, him I will deny before the Father. To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think it over.”

Luther asked for 24 hours to consider the situation. Eck and the whole assembly were amazed. How could the supreme intellectual leader of this movement ask for more time to think? Was he succumbing to fear?

Hughes continues:

That night, Luther and his colleagues passionately called out to God in now-celebrated prayers. With the rising of the sun another, larger hall was chosen, and it was so crowded that scarcely anyone except the emperor could sit. Eck, spoke long and eloquently in the flickering candlelight, concluding, “I ask you Martin- answer candidly and without horns- do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?”

Luther contra mundum spoke, and his voice rang. He spoke first in German and then in Latin:

“Since then your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reason- I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other.  God help me. Amen.”

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 11:14-26 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus is the Strongest Man

Luke 11:14-26

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus is the Strongest Man

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 11.

 

We are continuing our series, our journey through the Gospel of Luke. And in this Gospel, Jesus is continuing his travels, making his way towards Jerusalem. His followers, his disciples are travelling with him and being taught by Jesus, being trained by him, mentored in order to continue after Jesus leaves to preach the Kingdom of Heaven is here, it is at hand.

Jesus has been teaching and showing his disciples the two greatest commands; Love God and Love your Neighbor. He has shown them things that can pull them away from loving God; among which include distractedness, anxiety and troubledness over many things.

When this happens, we can often let our preconceived notions about, people, about God, about the Bible, we can let them take over and further get in the way. These preconceived notions can further separate and divide us from God and from those around us.

Jesus is going to deal with some people who have entrenched themselves in their preconceived notions in the passage we look at this morning. It is going to cause these people to ignore all indications of the truth, no matter how clearly it is presented to them.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke 11, verses 14 through 26. I encourage you all to grab your Bibles and follow along, whatever your preferred translation. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Luke 11:14-26:

 

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

 

 

May God Bless the reading of his word…

 

So, Jesus is casting out demon, doing what he does. And in this instance, he was casting out a mute demon. This is not meaning that the demon itself could not speak, but that it caused the person it was tormenting to not be able to speak. I think its quite curious that this story about a man not being able to speak because of a demon comes right after the passage about praying and lifting our voices up to God.

 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence…

 

Anyway, so this mute man was delivered from this demon, and he spoke. What a feeling this must have been! What emotions this guy must have had! The scriptures don’t say how long he was mute, whether from birth or not, but we know it was long enough that he was known as the mute guy. He was known not to be able to speak. And so, when he spoke and the crowd heard it, there were amazed! People marveled.

And this reaction from the crowd, this astonishment from the mute man, this bona fide miracle that all acknowledged, this is the first step in the point of why Jesus did these types of miracles. Yes, of course, there was the compassion. Jesus had a heart for those who were suffering. He had a heart for those who needed healing.

But the main reason he did the miracles and the healings and the signs and wonders that he did was to testify to his message. It was to testify to his deity. And his message was the kingdom of heaven and salvation from sin. The miracles and healings were down to show that he had the authority to make the claims he was making and the power to back them up.

 

The people saw the miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, and they were astonished. They marveled! And then they gave credit to Satan.

 

Some attributed his power and abilities to Beelzebub. This was a name referencing the Canaanite god, Baal from the Old Testament and was often a stand in for Satan himself as well.

So, the crowd saw what Jesus was doing, casting out a demon, and they decided that, instead of seeing that this was through the Power of God, they decided that Jesus was getting his powers and abilities from Satan himself.

Isaiah 5:20 could be written about these people in the crowd, as it is written,

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

 

To see the good being done and to attribute that good to the devil instead of to God, woe, woe to them.

 

WE see another group in the crowd though too. Luke tells us that some in the crowd kept seeking signs to test him. They weren’t willing to give credit of what Jesus was doing to Satan, but neither were they ready to give the credit to God. They were the definition of neutrality that we see towards the end of this passage.

This group reminds me of an episode of MASH that I saw recently. One of the injured soldiers came in and thought he was Jesus Christ. The medics of course don’t believe him and try to get him to tell them who he really is.

He says, “What can I do to convince you?”

Their response, “Well, a miracle would be a good start…”

 

Except that even if the guy really had been Jesus, and if he had been able to do a miracle for them, they still wouldn’t believe. Jesus says this very thing of in Johns Gospel, paraphrasing here, but basically, you are not believing my words, you are not believing my signs and you are not believing what Moses said about me so long ago. You are looking for reasons and finding them to not believe.

 

Jesus of course knew the hearts and the minds and the words of all those in the crowd. And he told them, “Y’all are making no sense whatsoever…”

Why would you fight against yourself? IT makes no tactical sense. Its stupid to fight against yourself. And Satan is many things, but stupid is not one of them.

Satan is smart. He provides and communicates just enough truth wrapped up in his lies. Jesus says in Matthew 24:24 that he can lead astray even the elect. He has power, limited by God, created by God, but he does have some power to do some signs and wonders. To a point. That’s important.

Because the signs and wonders, the power that he posses and shows are not true, against the laws of nature miracles. He can only do so much. We see the magicians in Pharaoh’s court, back in Exodus 7 as an example.

Moses came in proclaiming the name of God, telling Pharoah to let the Israelites go. TO back up his claims and to show the power of God, Moses did signs and wonders. The first couple the magicians in Pharaoh’s court were able to mimic, as if they had the same power that Moses had received from God. But Gods power overwhelmed and defeated the power of the magicians and showed that any signs and wonders done in the power pf Satan are pale imitations of the true miraculous work of God.

 

Jesus then turns to the people and says, “Oh by the way, some of your own people are casting out demons as well. If I’m doing it through the devil, who are they doing it through?”

 

Jesus said, it is by the power of God that I do the things that I do. It is to confirm my words to you that the kingdom of God is here. Most of the pharisees did not believe where Jesus got his power and authority from. Though one did. IN John 3 we see Nicodemus, a pharisee, come to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Nicodemus says to Jesus in verse 1, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.

Nicodemus was able to set aside his preconceived notions and see what was really in front of him. Many in this crowd were not. The people of that day, like ours, had their own ideas of who God was and who Jesus was. Some of it was a misunderstanding of scripture. Some of it was just purely made up in their own minds. Whichever was the case, they were blinded to the truth.

They were attributing the good works of Jesus to a pagan god, to Satan, instead of to the true God. Because they were unwilling to see the good in Jesus. Because they were unwilling to believe that God would work in this way that they were not expecting.

 

This view of God, that he is Love and he wouldn’t let bad things happen. He wouldn’t punish people for messing up. He allows many paths to himself. Sin is not a big deal and there is no judgment or hell.

This view of the Bible, that it is just a book, not the inspired Word of God. That it’s a book of morals, teachings and life lessons, but holds no authority.

This view that Jesus is not God, or that he is not man. That he was not sinless. That he never died, or that he never rose from the dead. That he never spoke on numerous subjects that the Bible is crystal clear on. That he is not the Word incarnate, that he is not the Alpha and Omega, and that he is not the one who will come to judge.

These preconceived notions are what we need to overcome in order to see the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what he has said. Those things that we are born with, and we naturally hold in ourselves. In our hearts and in our minds. We all have them, and the first key is to recognize them. Because when we see Jesus at work, when we read the Bible, we will read it through the lenses of our preconceived notions.

What you look for, you will find. This is true throughout life but is especially true with the Bible. IF you decide you believe one way about a subject, then you will find validation for it in the Bible.

It could be your view on a specific sin. It could be looking for which political party you want to vote for. It could be any theological issue. What you are looking for, you will find. It doesn’t mean its right, but you will find it. That’s how our hearts and minds work. So, we need the God to raise the cover from our eyes. We need the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. We need Jesus to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Without them, we are slaves to our preconceived notions.

 

 

Jesus then gives, kind if a parable to the crowd. We see the strong man in his home or fortress. Satan is the strong man in this example. He is the god of this world (little g). God has allowed him to have some power and some authority here for a certain amount of time.

Jesus comes into the earth as the stronger man. He destroys the strong mans kingdom and takes over as the authority in that house. We know from scripture that Jesus defeated Satan, sin and death with his death, burial and resurrection.

Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-15:

 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[c]

 

              Its not just that Jesus defeats him in a battle that they just get into, but Jesus is defeating Satan in order to win our souls. He is defeating Satan so that we may be freed from our sins by our faith in Jesus Christ.

RC Sproul writes that yes, we do have to respect and acknowledge the power that Satan has and holds in this world, but not overly so. Jesus already won. He has already shown he is the strongest man. He has already removed Satan’s attempt at a kingdom with the Kingdom of God. Its already finished and The Kingdom of God has already been established.

 

Jesus makes it clear in verse 23, there is no neutrality. You are with Jesus, or you are not. You are a citizen of the kingdom of God, or you are not. There is no dual citizenship. The scriptures make it clear that you cannot serve two masters. You are a follower of Christ or an enemy of Christ. And nothing, not your works, not your attendance, not your knowledge determines which side you are on, only the grace of God giving us faith in Christ.

 

And he who does not gather, scatters. Those who are not a part of the body of Christ, will work at dividing the body of Christ. They will create division and sow disunity among the family of God.

 

We finish this passage in verses 24-26, where Jesus shows us that we cannot do it on our own. The example that Jesus gives here, an unclean spirit, for whatever reasons, boredom, finished job, or exorcism, prayer, sheer will, leaves a body, it goes looking for a new one. But without the Holy Spirit occupying the original host, the unclean spirit just comes right back and is even stronger and does more damage.

That’s not a problem we can solve with good old American ingenuity. We can’t pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. We can’t clean up our life by sheer force of will. We need Jesus.

Jesus gives us this example using an unclean spirit, but I see it working practically in our day to day lives if we think about our habitual sins. Some are easy to leave behind when we become new creations in Christ. But others continue to pick at us, nag us, tempt us, sometimes feeling like they own us.

We can make a little bit of outer progress on our own. There are people who change, who quit addictions, we stop cheating, we change quite a bit about their lives and their behavior without turning to Christ. But if they do, they often replace one sin for another, one addiction for another and none of it helps our souls, our hearts or our eternal destination.

That’s all Jesus. He offers salvation. He offers forgiveness of sins. HE is the only way to change who we are deep down inside. The salvation and forgiveness come instantly. But he also changes our heart and our desires. Though not all those desires change instantly. Some happen over time. Some never completely change until we are face to face with God himself.

I had someone make, what I think was a brilliant point to me this week. While we are here on earth, those temptations will not be permanently eliminated completely. But as we dive into Gods Word, and our relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be more equipped to deal with those temptations. The temptations might even grow stronger as we grow in Christ. The spiritual sure get fiercer, but our equippedness will also grow stronger, therefore our ability to resist that temptation will grow stronger. And of course, we say our, as if we are the ones doing, but knowing that all the ability, equipment, desire and strength comes directly from the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, we are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. His work changes us. His work defeated Satan.  And today we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. 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 10: 25-37 Jesus is the Son of Man Good Samaritan

Luke 10: 25-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

Good Samaritan

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“they may indeed see but not perceive,

                and may indeed hear but not understand,

        lest they should turn and be forgiven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 9:37-43 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.

 

 

                            

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