Luke 19:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Repentance is more than saying I’m sorry

Luke 19:1-10
Jesus is the Son of Man
Repentance is more than saying I’m sorry

Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Luke chapter 19.
So, we took a brief break from Luke’s Gospel last week as we looked to Marks Gospel to see how the same stories in the Gospel are told and what some of the different angles and emphases are.
That story we looked at two weeks in a row was the story of the Blind Beggar, Bartimaeus on the Road outside of Jericho. And this is important because of what Jericho signifies in the narrative of Jesus earthly life and ministry. Jericho is where travelers would stage and prepare for the last leg of their journey to Jerusalem.
And Jesus and his follower, especially the Twelve, were heading to Jerusalem. They were going for two reasons. The immediate reason is the same as why Jerusalem was so overcrowded at that moment. The Passover was coming up. This yearly celebration was one where Jews from all over Israel come to Jerusalem. So, Jerusalem was overcrowded, and by extension, beforehand, so was Jericho.
The second reason they were going to Jerusalem was because Jesus knew that’s where he needed to go to fulfill his mission. He came, as we are going to see today, to seek and save the lost. He came to restore our relationship with God the Father. He was the long prophesied and promised messiah, the Christ. And that meant, as he has told the disciples numerous times, that he needed to die and be buried before he would rise again.
As Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem, he was continuing to teach, continuing to heal, continuing to call sinners to repentance, and continuing to turn peoples’ assumptions and expectations upside down.
So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 19, verses 1 through 10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage to follow along in your translation.
Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records:

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “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.”

Thus says the Word of God.

Now, one of the things we saw, especially the last two weeks, is that Jesus was known far and wide within Israel. People knew who he was. They had heard stories about what he had done, and what he was claiming. The Blind Beggar outside Jericho, likely never having travelled anywhere, knew who Jesus of Nazareth was and knew that He was the Son of David, the Messiah.
And we see that a man named Zacchaeus in Jericho, he knew who Jesus was too. People knew Jesus was passing through. They wanted to see him, they wanted to encounter him, hear him if there was any teaching that was going to happen. And Zacchaeus did too.
Now, Zacchaeus was not a beloved person. He was a tax collector. We have talked about the tax collectors before. Rome was a massive juggernaut at the time, the rulers of the known world. Their empire and their military took money to keep running smoothly and to keep the peace in their occupied territories. So, they hired locals to collect taxes for them. In that regard, especially among the Jewish people, tax collectors were looked at as traitors, working for the enemy against their own people.
On top of that, tax collectors “earned” their income by collecting above and beyond what Rome was ordering to be collected. They go to keep the additional amount. Now, Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. This is the only time we see this title in the Bible so what we know are all educated guesses. It appears that he would be a regional manager type. He would have likely been skimming from the amount the tax collectors brought in, of course, making sure that Rome got their cut and that He got his cut. I believe that the regional breakdowns wouldn’t work, but it is possible that Zacchaeus would have been Matthew’s boss, known then as Levi before Jesus called Him. Or at least Matthew would have worked for a Zacchaeus type.
No body would have liked Zacchaeus. And maybe that’s why he was having trouble getting a spot along the road to see Jesus as he and his disciples are passing by. He wasn’t the only one of course, the crowds were thick. Jericho was overfilled and many people wanted to see Jesus. And so, Zacchaeus couldn’t push through the crowd to get a view. It didn’t help that Zacchaeus was a wee little man either. He couldn’t see over the crowd.
So, Zacchaeus did what any normal person would do, he ran ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so that he could see Jesus. That is how driven, how desperate he was to see Jesus.
Something was compelling him. GO, see this Jesus guy. See what He is all about. Do it now because there might not be another chance, and there wouldn’t.
The Holy Spirit was telling Zacchaeus that the time is now. This is what’s known Effectual Calling, maybe better known, Irresistible Grace, the I in TULIP, which is an acronym for 5 tenets of Reformed theology.
One source describes it this way:
Irresistible grace” is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of sinners. Simply put, the doctrine of irresistible grace refers to the biblical truth that whatever God decrees to happen will inevitably come to pass, even in the salvation of individuals. The Holy Spirit will work in the lives of the elect so that they inevitably will come to faith in Christ. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit never fails to bring to salvation those sinners whom He personally calls to Christ

I don’t think there is any way to deny that this is what is going on in Zacchaeus at this point in time. Famed theologian Matthew Henry says: Jesus brings his own welcome. He opens the heart and inclines it to receive him.

So, the Holy Spirit is drawing Zacchaeus to Christ. He compels him to go and see him while Jesus is in Jericho. And the only way that he can see Jesus is by climbing a sycamore tree. These trees are known to be very tall, but with very low limbs, great for climbing. They are also very full, which would make it very hard to be seen if you were in the tree.
And yet, Jesus “just happens,” to look up and see Zacchaeus up in the tree. What a coincidence! We know that coincidences are God working behind the scenes. Things like this. Luck, coincidence, Gods invisible providence, all at work to bring a sinner to Himself.
Jesus happens to pass by under the tree, happens to look up, happens to see Zacchaeus, and happens to know his name. “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
TO me, I hear him saying, C’mon on down here Zacchaeus. I can’t talk to you up there! We are going to your place now.

This was an incredibly joyful moments for Zacchaeus. Not all conversions are instantaneous, clouds open up, angels singing style conversions. Some are and praise God for them. But not all are. Some are subtle and gradual, a process that takes time. I believe this is the case for Zacchaeus and sometime in here, sometime during this story is when the gradual process came to its fulfillment. There is no way of knowing when, but we do know that he received Jesus joyfully.
Notice too, along with what we said earlier. Zacchaeus didn’t invite Jesus over. He didn’t do anything to earn Jesus’ attention. All Zacchaeus did was receive Jesus joyfully. And even that, the Holy Spirit had already done everything He had to do inside of Zacchaeus in order to prepare him so that He could receive Jesus. Even Zacchaeus receiving Jesus was not because of Zacchaeus.
Now, not everyone was happy that Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully. First of all, Jesus, why would you be caught spending time with that guy. Don’t you know who he is? Don’t you know what he has done. No body wants to spend time with him. Your reputation will be ruined by spending time with him!
Also, Zacchaeus is too much of a sinner to be saved. He’s not worthy of grace, of forgiveness and of recognition. How could he ever be saved?
And that’s the good news, isn’t it? Not that salvation exists. That would be great news if we were worthy of it, if we could earn it, if we in any way deserved it. But we aren’t, we can’t, and we don’t. So, salvation in and of itself is not good news.
But that Jesus came to offer and grant salvation, more accurately to procure salvation for those who could not do so on their own. Not only couldn’t do it on their own but could have no part in it whatsoever. In other words, you, me, and everyone else who believes. Its good news because he procures it for us who can’t do it ourselves. Like Zacchaeus.
That’s the good news. We can’t earn it. We can’t do anything, be good enough. Our works are like filthy rags to him. But we see the other side here.
Zacchaeus was saved. He was forgiven. He received Gods grace. His heart of stone was change by the Holy Spirit into a Heart of flesh. And now, he is showing outwardly what that change looks like.
Zacchaeus was convicted of his sins. He was able to see how grievous they were. His greed, his extortion, his manipulation, his bullying and so much more. He wanted to change, and he wanted to make it right.
But it’s not just as easy as realizing that what you did was wrong and saying your sorry. That’s the minimum and sometimes that’s all you are able to do for a variety of possible reasons.
But Zacchaeus was able to do more. And he wanted to do more. He wasn’t trying to buy forgiveness of those whom he wronged. He wanted to make it right. He was convicted of sin, so he stood and publicly confessed and made it right.
Through faith comes repentance.
Now, this is not an exact formula for all of us on how to repent. Zacchaeus made his wealth and his money by stealing, defrauding, extorting and bullying. And now, to show that money and possessions and wealth are no longer his gods, no longer his purpose, this is what he was to do.
His formula was to, first, give half of his wealth away to the poor and needy. Second, anyone he defrauded; he was going to pay them back four times what he took. This was going above and beyond what the Torah commanded of the Jewish people.
Our formula for repentance and restitution is, first, to be open handed in our generosity. We confess our sins, not only to God, but to the people we sinned against. We are to ask forgiveness, but also, we are to go beyond that, and we are to attempt to make things right, to make restitution and, if possible, to reconcile those relationships.
In verse 9, Jesus makes a joyous proclamation. We shouldn’t need to parse this too deep or try to find the nuances of the statement. Jesus says that salvation has come to Zacchaeus house, and he is a Son of Abraham. What grace! What joy!
What Jesus is not saying is that because of what Zacchaeus did, because he repented, because he gave away a bunch of money and possessions, because of those things, now he is saved.
But that, of course is wrong. That’s earning or buying salvation. Trying to be good enough. That’s work based salvation. And, Ill say this also, if that were the case, it would fit right in with what others were thinking, that Zacchaeus was unworthy if salvation, that he wasn’t worth saving.
Instead, Jesus is proclaiming that the repentance that Zacchaeus was showing was genuine. The repentance and actions being taken are genuine signs of salvation and the fruit of the Spirit show that he is a new creation.
Jesus also show that these things show that Zacchaeus is a true Son of Abraham. In this, with his salvation, he is adopted into the family of God and is now a part of True Israel. Paul wrote sin Galatians 3, And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
And Jesus tells us why he came. To seek and save the lost. To reconcile us to God. To make us children of God, co heirs with Christ.
Our natural born state is lost, and it is spiritually and eternally dead. We can’t and we won’t seek God, not the true, biblical God.
So, instead, because of his eternal love, he seeks us.
He saves us.
He calls us.
He helps us find our way.
He gives us the gift of faith.
He leads us to repentance.
He grants forgiveness and salvation.
He gives us eternal life.

We see often in the Gospels two stories put right next to each other in order for us to get the bigger picture. Before Zacchaeus we see the blind beggar and a main point was that he called out to Jesus. Here, Zacchaeus receives Jesus joyfully. Both true. Both accurate. Both showing a change in their lives in literally and spiritually following Jesus. Bartimaeus jumped up and literally followed Jesus, he probably saw all this play out. And Zacchaeus show publicly the change that occurs inside when we joyfully receive Jesus.
IF you have not called out to Jesus or joyfully received him, that’s step one, don’t get the steps out of order. IF you have, its time to show the world the joy and change in us that Jesus creates, asking forgiveness, making restitution, reconciling and following Jesus, both literally and spiritually.
Let’s Pray.

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

Luke 7:18-35

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist Doubts

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Luke 3:1-20 Jesus is the Son of Man: John the Baptist

Luke 3:1-20

Jesus is the Son of Man

John the Baptist

Good Morning. Please grab your bibles with me and turn to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3. As always, if you do not have or own a Bible, please see me after the service and we will get a Bible into your hands.

 

Now we have been going through the Gospel of Luke. Luke is a historian, a researcher, and prolific organizer and a physician. He has done an incredible amount of research, getting eyewitness testimony, interviewing as many people as possible.

Luke has been paralleling and contrasting John the Baptist with his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth. Both of their miraculous births were foretold ahead of time by an Angel, they were born and named ahead of time. John was sent to be the forerunner, to pave the way for the Messiah, who just happened to be his younger cousin.

The last time we saw John was in Luke 1:80, where Luke notes: And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

         

          So, we drop off John as a kid and we come back and we will see him come out from the wilderness and start his true, God given ministry. That’s what we are going to read on this morning, Luke, chapter 3, verses 1 through 20.

I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to grab your Bible and follow along in your preferred translation. Always, always Always! Read for yourself what the Word of God says.

Luke 3:1-20, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to write:

 

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a]
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics[b] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation and be content with your wages.”

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

So, we start with Luke being Luke and proving that he can and will be trusted. Luke, ever the historian, ever the researcher, spends some time and establishes some details, names some names, so that we can know exactly when this takes place.

Herod was the ruler during the time of Johns birth and Jesus birth. When he died, rule passed on to his sons. Well, they did such a bad job that Romans took power away from them and appointed their own governors.

Pontius Pilate was the 5th such governor and he ruled from 26 AD-36 AD. This, of course, also sets the stage for Jesus trial and crucifixion that would take place about three years from this.  Johns ministry took place somewhere around 27-29 AD.

 

The other thing we see with Luke’s list of names here is that there were no good rulers during this time. Israel was locked in a pattern of ungodly, immoral and evil leaders. And in the midst of this, under terrible, corrupt, anti-God authority, God is doing his greatest work. That might be something that this nation needs to remember. One side of the aisle for the next four years, the other side of the aisle for the previous four years. No matter how bad it is, Gods got this.

I like how Ligon Duncan says it: The good news for us is that means no matter how dark our times, our circumstances, or our contexts, God can overrule it all. He begins the ministry of the Messiah through the ministry of John in a dark, dark point of Israel’s history. Don’t ever judge God’s power and ability by your present circumstances. In the very darkest night, He can prepare to do His brightest work.

 

During this time, the Word of God came upon John. He went out and he was not sharing his own words or his own message. He was not sharing his own opinion or his own thoughts. He was sharing the Word of and the message of God.

John went out, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This was an incredibly offensive message that John was preaching. We will get to the repentance aspect in a moment. But first, even the baptism part was deeply offensive to the crowds.

John Piper explains:

In the context in which John lived baptism had one main significance among the Jews: it was the symbolic rite that proselytes had to go through to become Jewish. This made John’s baptism very offensive. It implied that unless the Jews were willing to repent, they were not really Jews and could not count on the promised blessings God had made to his chosen people. Or to put it another way, in calling Jews to accept a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, John was telling them that they cannot rely on their Jewishness for salvation; they have to be changed in their heart toward God.

 

Again, we will get to the second half of that momentarily. But what Piper was pointing out was that only Gentiles had to go through baptism until this point. In order to be converted, they had to be washed clean in order to be brought into the family of Abraham. TO say that everyone had to be washed clean, that no one was inherently worthy, just because of who they were, that was offensive.

Our society tells kids that they are special and that they are deserving of everything they want. Our culture is one of never saying no to our kids. And they grow thinking that they deserve to have the world handed to them on a silver platter. Its offensive to them when we tell them no, or when we tell them to repent.

It’s the same way what John was telling the crowds. Of course, we know that baptism doesn’t save in and of itself. Baptism doesn’t regenerate our heart. Baptism doesn’t wash our soul clean. And of course, baptism doesn’t grant forgiveness or repentance. Baptism, instead, is a sign of those things already being granted to us by the Holy Spirit.

The math is simple. Without a regenerate heart, there can be no repentance. Repentance plus atonement equals forgiveness. But any atonement that we could offer would never be near enough. So, it is only Christs atonement that, his shed blood on the cross that can take the part in that equation and provide the forgiveness of our sins.

Luke quotes the prophecy in Isaiah40, showing that it refers to John, that he is the fulfillment of that prophecy. In fact, all four Gospel quote Isaiah 40, verse 3 in regard to John the Baptist. Only Luke, however, also quotes verses 4 & 5. The general consensus is that Luke, as we see throughout his Gospel, is emphasizing that salvation by Christ is for “all flesh.”

John looks out at the people coming to see him and to hear the message from God and he has strong words for them. He calls them a brood of vipers. The Jewish people of the day would have understood the reference and the insult contained in that phrase. It was a reference to the serpent in the garden in Genesis 3. John was calling them Sons of the Devil. Jesus made this very same comment in his ministry as well.

The truth is that this is one of our two only options. We are either a son of the devil or we are a son of God. There is no in between. And there are many who think they are children of God who are going to be eternally disappointed and eternally covered in the wrath of God when the judgment comes.

John has strong and harsh words for the religious establishment. In modern parlance, he was talking to those who knew their Bible. He was talking to those who lived morally and voted exclusively Republican. He was talking to those who showed up to church every Sunday. HE was talking to deacons, elders, pastors and their families. He was talking to those who lived the life, had the appearance of living for God, but did not have the grace of God.

Who John was talking to usually holds to an us vs them mentality. WE are good because we are Christians, and they are bad because they are not. We deserve salvation because look at all we have done and look at where we were born and the life we have lived. They don’t deserve it because they are sinners. This is the group of religious people of the day that John was addressing.

John makes clear that we are to bear fruit keeping with repentance. We can have an outward moral shell, but with no grace and no repentance, we will no bear good fruit. Paul, of course, lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 & 23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

Repentance and faith. Those are the two things required of us. Faith and the repentance that follows are the only things that can offer us forgiveness and salvation. Nothing else matters.

Your pedigree doesn’t matter.

Your nationality doesn’t matter.

Your race doesn’t matter.

Your gender doesn’t matter.

Your morals don’t matter.

The only thing that matters is who you say Christ is.

Baptism and their Jewishness couldn’t save the Pharisees.

Indulgences and money couldn’t save people during the time that Martin Luther started the Reformation.

The Social Gospel or legalistic moralism can’t save people today.

Instead, as the scriptures say in multiple places, “The just shall live by faith.”

John continues the tree analogy, as does Paul later in Romans. The trees that think they are good, but have no faith, those trees are cut down. And in their place, other trees which are bearing good fruit will be grafted in. Once a tree is grafted together, there are no longer two trees. There is no difference, between the two. They are the same identity, the same tree.

One tree, one people of God. One plan of salvation. There never has been and there never will be two means, two paths to salvation.

Gospel has bad news necessarily in it. The wrath of God is coming. We all deserve it. God, in order to be perfect and holy must punish sin with his wrath. But it also has good News, that’s what makes it the Gospel. That good news is Christs substitutionary Atonement. He took our place, took the wrath of God up there on the cross that was meant for us. He took it and didn’t deserve any of it because he lived a perfect life. He offered up the forgiveness of sins and the atonement for our sins.   John knew this and shared both. He was not afraid to share the bad news, to speak strongly to those who needed to hear it.

Some who heard did indeed become convicted of their sins. And so, they essentially asked John, “So, what should we do?” And John tells them to fundamentally change the way they treat their fellow human beings.

You all remember Zacchaeus? HE was a wee little man? Jesus met him and told him what he needed to do in order to show that he was truly repentant. He told Zacchaeus to pay back those he took advantage of by giving them back 4 times what he took. That’s the same principal that John uses here as he gives three examples of how to live.

First, to the general public, he says to be generous, caring, sympathetic. If you have enough and someone has none, give them some of what you have. Be generous. The motto that Hope and I live by, taught by her parents, “You can’t out give God.”

Second, don’t cheat people. Don’t be greedy. Take only what you are owed. Don’t take more than that. Don’t overcharge. Pay what you owe.

Thirdly, Do your job. Work hard. Obey your bosses and the authorities over you. Don’t abuse any authority you may have.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Johns point in this is to live your faith. Live with fruit bearing with repentance. Repentance is important. Johns ministry starts here with a call to repent. Jesus ministry starts with a call to repent. Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation with a call to repent. The very first of his 95 theses states, when our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘repent’, he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

The Westminster Catechism, one of the best of the historical Question and answer teaching tools about faith and doctrine, asks with question 87: What is repentance unto life?”

Then it answers:

“Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a
true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ,
doth with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full
purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.”

 

This is incredibly important as a true sign of new life, a new heart and saving grace given by God.

As John was talking about these things, its peaked people’s interest and it made them wonder about the promised messiah. They were wondering, they were questioning, they asked, Could John be that promised messiah? Could he be the Christ? Even here, Johns actions and preaching were pointing people to the Christ.

In verses 16 & 17, Johns words point them to the Christ who was still to come. He must increase and we must decrease. None of us, are even worthy to unstrap the sandals of the Christ.

He said this baptism is symbolic, but the baptism that Jesus brings, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is the baptism that saves us from the judgment to come.

The Good News of the Gospel doesn’t exist with out the knowledge of the bad news. John shared the bad, the coming judgment and all that. But John preached the good news to all who would come to hear him. He preached repentance. He preached holiness. He preached bearing fruit in keeping with that repentance.

Not everyone appreciated this message, however. John would call out behavior when he saw it that went against Gods standard. This included Herod and his divorce and remarriage. This was not appreciated by Herod and John got locked up for speaking the truth, for speaking the word from God.

Philip Graham Ryken shares a story. He writes:

John wasn’t trying to win friends and influence people; he was trying to get them to repent. Therefore, he spoke with holy boldness, bluntly confronting their sin. I am reminded of the nineteenth century Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright, who once preached to President Andrew Jackson. Before the service he was warned not to say anything out of line. So, when Cartwright got up to preach, he said, “I understand Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to Hell if he doesn’t repent.” The congregation was shocked, but afterwards the president shook Cartwright’s hand and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.”

John the Baptist was not so lucky. He preached the word of God and he was arrest for it. We see in Johns Gospel, chapter 6 that he was eventually put to death because of it.

 

One of the things that Luke wants to make clear is that is only through Christ and him alone that our salvation takes place. John points towards the way. As a messenger in the mold of the Old Testament prophets, he shows types and shadows of what Christ will fulfill in full. John fulfills his mission by pointing directly to the Word of God and Jesus Christ himself. As such, we should see through John the Baptist, as an example and look directly to Jesus Christ and the Word of God itself.

Let’s Pray.

 

Make an Angel rejoice

“Just so, I tell you, there more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” Luke 15:7

 

“Just so, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

 

When some one gives there heart to the LORD, turns there back on sin and becomes one of Gods redeemed, the angels in heaven rejoice. This event is of vital importance to those in heaven; the redeemed who are already there, the angels and created beings, Jesus,the Holy Spirit and God the Father.

 

Have you made angels rejoice?

 

We would love to hear your story below

Casey

Luke 15:1-10

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: