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.

 

 

                            

2 Corinthians 2 Mans wisdom vs Gods Wisdom

 

Scripture Reading/ Call to Worship:

1 Corinthians 1:18-31:

 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 

Sermon Scripture:

 

And I, when I came to you, brothers,[a] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony[b] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men[c] but in the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.[d]

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Luke 8:26-39 Jesus is the Son of Man: Demon Possessed Man

Luke 8:26-39

Jesus is the Son of Man

Demon Possessed Man

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. IF you do not have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

It is interesting to me, when we read through the Bible, there are parts that are more difficult to believe, more difficult to imagine, and like this week, more difficult to explain. Most of the time, what sections these are for each of us depends on our spiritual background, what church or religion we grew up in. It also depends on where we were born. For example, the story we will look at today, will be harder for those of us born in Western society to come to grips with than those who were not.

In the Western world, I see two main things that define the way we look at scriptures. Both will be address in this passage. First is that we tend to go to one of two extremes when it comes to Satan, demons and the spirit world.

According to C.S. Lewis, There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist and magician with the same delight.

The first extreme is that we give them not enough power. We dismiss demons, we dismiss Satan as if he doesn’t exist, he isn’t real. One of the greatest quotes, this is by an old poet and I was unable to find his name again so forgive me, but in one of his poems, he said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Scripture shows us that Demons, Satan, angels are real, they are real, they were real then, and they are real now. They also have power. They can influence people and things of this world.

The other extreme is that we give them too much power. Anything and everything that happens is because to the devil. We end up putting him almost on par with God. We think of them as two sides to the same coin. That God is the good God and Satan is the evil God. But again, going to what the scriptures say, Satan is not even close to the same level as God. He is a created being, falling under the authority of God, the creator. He will be defeated, and Jesus won’t break a sweat doing it.

The second thing that we tend to do in Western society when reading the scriptures is to make them about us. They are not. First and foremost, the scriptures are about Jesus, his power, his authority, his love for us, his death for us, his manhood and his godhood. Now, often there are secondary features of the stories in scriptures that we can apply to ourselves and our lives. But the most important thing to remember is that we and any application to our lives is secondary.

 

Before we get to this story, lets catch up with where we are coming from. Jesus has spent the whole day preaching and teaching and was naturally exhausted. He told the disciples that they were going across the lake instead of finding some place to sleep. During the boat ride, Jesus did sleep, at least until a huge storm came out of nowhere. The disciples woke Jesus up and he told the storm, literally, Be muzzled, and the wind and the waves were instantly calm. The disciples were afraid and asked, “Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey his commands?”

So, we will go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 8, verses 26 through 39. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along and read in your preferred translation. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit records this passage:

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes,[c] which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus[d] had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed[e] man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

SO, I struggled with that while preparing this sermon this week. This story is easy to repeat, easy to recount. The story itself is pretty straightforward. But I’m not the only one who struggles with this passage. RC Sproul, in his commentary of Marks Gospel on this same passage, says this: “I cannot help but ask a speculative question: Why did the Holy Spirit choose to inspire the Gospel records of this event? In other words, what value is there in this text for us?”

 

We are going to try to answer that question this morning.

 

So, Jesus finishes up an exhausting day of preaching and teaching, sleeps for a little bit on the boat, the disciples wonder about him and fear him, but he gets to the other side of the sea and steps of the boat and is instantly confronted with this man.

Essentially, Jesus, a Jew, walks into, possibly, the most unclean situation possible. This man was demon possessed, he had unclean spirits inside of him. He was a wild man. The people had tried to contain him, but he had unnatural strength. He was breaking the chains and shackles that the town had tried to use to control him. He was aggressive and when he was exiled to the tombs, he would take that aggression out on himself; self-mutilating himself with rocks and stones. In a word, the man was chaotic. He was also helpless and hopeless.

The people of the surrounding area couldn’t control him or tame him, so they exiled him to the tombs, which added another layer of uncleanness. The Israelites were not allowed to touch dead bodies, based on God’s commandments. In an effort to not even get close to that and to be even more Holy, or more safe from the accidents or temptations, their tradition was if you touched anything related to death, be it coffins, tombs, etc. that meant you were unclean. This man was living in the tombs.

This man was also a gentile, not a Jew. He was unclean from birth. He did not know the true God, even before the demons got a hold of him. And yet, he saw Jesus from far away and knew instantly who he was. He ran up to him and fell down before him. How did he know?

He knew because of the unclean spirit inside of him. The spirit knew exactly who Jesus was, the Son of the most High God. See, demons, fallen angels, whatever you call them, they know the scriptures. Their theology is solid. Angels, demons and Satan know the scriptures from Genesis through Revelations. They know that God is God and Jesus is the Son of God. They know they can’t win.

They fight and they try to destroy as much of Gods kingdom as possible, but they know how things will turn out and they show that here. Jesus tells the spirit to come out of the man, and the spirits throw the man on the ground, and start begging for mercy.

Why would you beg someone for mercy? Because they had the power and the opportunity to do something to you that you don’t want done. The power and opportunity to destroy you.  That’s what the unclean spirit is doing here.

It knows that Jesus has ultimate authority over him/it/whatever. It knows that Jesus can order it out of the man, and it has no choice but to obey. He thinks Jesus is coming for it and he begs that Jesus not to torment of them. Jesus then asks the name of the spirit. The response is “My name is Legion, for we are many.” As I was looking at this this week, I found that a Roman Legion can be anywhere from 3000 to 5600 to 6000 troops depending on what commentator and historian you ask. Ultimately it means, “A lot.”

This man has a lot of demons inside of him. He was out of control. He was hopeless and he was chaotic. The demons knew they were not long for this body, but they also knew that it was not time for the final judgment, the final battle, the moment when their ultimate defeat would occur. So, they asked Jesus for something. Since it was not the time for their destruction, but they had to leave that body, how about sending them into that heard of pigs over there?

Now the herd of pigs is another unclean aspect of this story. As you likely know, the pig is one of the unclean animals that God command the Jews not to eat, to touch or to have anything to do with. One of the things this is showing is that this further shows that we are not in Jewish territory anymore. We are in Gentile territory. And this man and these demons recognize who Jesus is. And they would rather be sent into a herd of pigs than to deal with anything else Jesus could do to them.

Now Jesus does a couple of things here. Number 1, he once again demonstrates his authority over the spirit world. He gives Legion permission to go into the pigs. The 2000 pigs then run over the cliff and drown themselves in the Sea of Galilee. They couldn’t do this without Jesus’ permission. If he had said no, they wouldn’t be able to do this.

Jesus is also showing the proper order of dominion. He is showing how important each and every one of us are to him. Jesus put people above animals. The soul, the body, the well-being of this possessed man meant far more in the kingdom of God than the herd of pigs. It was more loving, more merciful and more just to send the unclean spirits into the pigs and have the pigs drown than to allow this unclean gentile to continue to suffer. His redemption was more important than animals. Every human soul matters. Every human soul is created in the image of God and deserves to be thought of and treated as such.

Now the death of these two thousand pigs had some repercussions. The men that were in charge of these pigs ran off and told everyone what happened. Crowds came from the country and the city to see what happened for themselves. And what do they see? Notice that it doesn’t say anything about the sight of 2000 dead pigs floating in the sea. It doesn’t say anything about the money that the dead pigs cost their owners. It doesn’t say anything about the effect on the water supply that 2000 dead pigs would have.

No, what it says is that they saw was this man, if they even still considered him a man. This man who was running wild. This man who was terrorizing everybody he would see. This man that was breaking chains and shackles and beating himself with stones. They saw this man calm. The saw him dressed. They saw him sane. And it terrified them.

Showing you how bad this man had been, the sight of him in this new, calm, sane state was way more shocking than the sight of 2000 dead pigs floating in the see. This scared them more than any emotion or reaction about the dead pigs.

Jesus’ power is scary. This is second story in a row that the scriptures show us this. Last week, the disciples saw Jesus calm the wind and the waves and they were frightened. They were afraid because of the power of Jesus. The demons, Legion were afraid of Jesus power and would rather be sent off into a herd of pigs that end up drowning than face the wrath of Jesus.  Now here, this community, this town or whatever. They see that Jesus has transformed this man from the out of control, chaotic, wild, demon possessed man into this calm, well dressed rational man. And they were afraid.

I said this last week, but I think it bears repeating. The word here for fear is not the same word used in situations like Proverbs 9:10 or Psalm 111:10, which both say, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;” That word is along the lines of awe or reverence. No, the word here for afraid, means afraid or fear, or frightened. These men were scared of the power of Jesus. His power is scary. We are going to come back to that in a moment.

But first I want to finish this story. The people of this area were so scared they told Jesus to get back in the boat and go back across the sea. The man that Jesus had rescued, saved, changed, whatever word you want to use, the man ran up to Jesus and wanted to go with him. He wanted to learn from him, serve him, travel with him and be one of his followers and disciples. Now, what would be better than being a new believer and having Jesus standing right there… A chance to learn from the man that just transformed your soul. A chance to follow him and serve him. What would be better, more noble, wiser than that?

Jesus said No. Instead, what he said to the man was this, ““Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  Jesus once again shows us that no matter how great our plans seem to be, no matter the motivations behind our plans to worship and serve the LORD, if that’s not what God has for us to do, it is wrong for us to do it. The same thing happened to Peter as well. At the transfiguration, Peter, James and John were with Jesus, and in addition to seeing the transfiguration, they also saw Moses and Elijah. In Matthew 17. Peter has an idea and says: And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We don’t see any rebuke here or even Jesus’ answer, but we know that it’s a no. There are other plans that God has for the besides hanging out with the Messiah and the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament.

Jesus has better plans for us than anything that we could come up. The problem is that his plans can be scary. They can be hard. What would have been easier for this man to do. Get in the boat with Jesus, follow him like the rest of the disciples, or to stay where he was, to go back home to his family for the first time in who knows how long? The go and be able to have simple conversations with people he growled at and chased away, let alone telling that what the LORD did for him. To live day after day, knowing what he did to these people, terrorizing them and knowing that many of them didn’t trust that he had truly changed. Jesus’s way is the harder way. Matthew 7:13 & 14 read “13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

          Jesus’ way is hard, and it can be scary. His power is amazing. We see the stories here, written on paper, but they were real events, happening to real people, real miracles. Jesus, while he was here on earth, voluntarily limited the power that he accessed. He was still God, and he was able to do anything, but he limited himself to what God the Father sent him to do. And even with that, look at his power, that scared these people.

Do you get scared when you see God’s power? I know what most people will say. Not all, but most will say, “I’ve never seen God’s power work in that way.” I say that you have. If you are a child of God, you have seen it. Jesus transformed the man in this story from a demon possessed, ravaged man and he transformed him into a man who could reflect the image and glory of God, who could go out and show his friends, his family and those around him the mercy that God showed on him.

That is the power that scared these people. That is the power that he exhibited in you. You may not have had legion in you. But you and I were in the same spiritual and eternal condition that this man was, before Jesus transformed him. You have seen that power take place inside of you. And if you have seen that power, Jesus says to testify to that power. God is calling you to do something difficult. It will be accomplished with the power of Jesus, not through us. It will not be done in our comfort zone. It will be scary. It will be what God has called us to do.

If you have not witnessed that power of Jesus in your own life, in your own heart. You have the opportunity to see it. My guess, and that’s all it is, a guess, is that you are not filled with legion. But, as I said, you are in the same eternal condition as this man was. Jesus can change that. But it’s going to be scary and fulfilling and rewarding and incredible. It will not be like you see on TV, where you become a Christian and everything bad in your life goes away and things all fall into place and life is good. No, it will be hard. There will be spiritual warfare going on all around you. It’s not going to be “safe.”

CS Lewis addressed this in his book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Aslan is the Christ character type in the book and one of the kids is going to be taken to him. The kid asks if Aslan, a lion, is safe. This is the response. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

          Jesus limited his own power as he was here on earth, now that he is ascended back into heaven, he has unlimited access to that power. If it was that scary then, how scary powerful is he know? If he is that powerful and that good, which side do you want to be on? The time to pick sides is now. It won’t be easy, but it will be right. It won’t be safe, but it will be good. Take this opportunity to see God’s power work in you for the first time, securing you eternal security. Take this opportunity to remind yourself of when God’s power worked in you, changing you what you were, to who you are now. And then listen to what God is telling you to do. And do it. He has you in his hands. Even if it’s scary and hard and dangerous, you are in his hands. If you are in his hands, you will be there for all eternity. He is not safe, but he is good.

I don’t know what specifically God has planned for you here and now in this life. I know that if you are Gods, I know what he has for you eternally, but I don’t know his specific plans for your life here and now. I do know that it will be scarry. It will push your boundaries. It will pull you out of your comfort zone. And it will be worth it.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

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

Luke 8:16-21

Jesus is the Son of God

Hear and Do.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

God Bless the Reading of the Word.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray

Passover Sermon Exodus 12 and Luke 22

Passover Sermon

Exodus 12 and Luke 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s Pray

 

 

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

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus is the Son of Man

How Forgiveness affects us

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thus, saith the Word of the LORD.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets Pray

Luke 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 6:46-49 Jesus is the Son of Man: What Wisdom Looks like

Luke 6:46-49

Jesus is the Son of Man

What Wisdom Looks like

 

All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 6. As always, if you don’t have a Bible or need to give one to someone, see me after the service and I will get one for you.

So, in the midst of this portion of teaching by Jesus, he has showed us a number of things.  He has shown us the need for right and biblical discernment. He has touched on the how to rightly and authentically love our enemies. He has shown us the right way to judge and confront sin.

All of the things that Jesus has been teaching us, they all have some things in common. They are all issues of the heart as opposed to issues of outward obedience. Most importantly, and tied to the rest, these are all issues of needing wisdom.

Jesus address wisdom much more blatantly and outright here at the end of his teaching passage, the passage we are looking at this morning. And it’s important to know that this is the undertone of all of Jesus teachings; wisdom, discernment, and making sure you have a right heart through all of it.

So, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this morning, the last few words that Jesus teaches on the Sermon on the Plain, Luke chapter 6, verses 46 through 49. I will, as usual, be reading out of the English Standard Version. I love that we have so many different translations here in the congregation, and I encourage you to read along with your preferred translation, so that you are reading for yourself what the Word of God says.

Luke 6:46-49, Luke records Jesus finishing his teaching, writing:

 

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[c] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

 

 

Jesus is nothing if not blunt and straightforward. When Jesus asks this question, he is calling out the blatant and complete hypocrisy that is in the crowd. He goes into greater detail and gives harsher warnings in the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to Matthews recording, chapter 7:21-23:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

See, Jesus is not talking to unbelievers. He is talking to those who claim to know him. And its in two parts really. See, we have an epidemic in this country. Not only in this country, but throughout the world, and it has been going on since the first century. Jesus is speaking to it right now. Why do you call me LORD, but not do what I say?

He is not talking about the type of thing that Paul talks about in Romans 7. Paul’s says that the things he wants to do, he doesn’t, and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does. Jesus isn’t referring to this here. Honest, faithful, honest to goodness Christians, who have been saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, will sin. That is an unfortunate fact of life. Jesus talks a lot about that, but right here and now he isn’t talking about that.

Jesus is addressing to groups of self-identified Christians here. First group are those who claim the name of Jesus, but that’s it. I’ve quoted these stats to you before, but 91 % of Americans believe in “a god.” 91% believer that there is something or someone out there that is bigger than us.

Something like 76% of Americans call themselves Christians. That’s a lot. And if that was true, that 76% of Americans actually were Christians, this country would look completely different. But we all know that number is not accurate. You can walk up and down the street and talk to everyone you meet, and most of them would say, Yes, I believe in Jesus. I believe I’m going to heaven. I’m a good person. Every president we have had in this country has called themselves a Christian. All I know is that the last number of them have not shown any fruit of that.

They say they believe in Jesus, but he is asking, why wont you do what I say? Because they don’t actually believe. They don’t believe that they need a savior. They don’t believe in anything supernatural. They don’t believe that Jesus is God clothed in flesh, they don’t believe that the Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God and they don’t believe thy have to live by what it says.  God is love and he has forgiven us all and I don’t need to let it affect my life in any way. And so, they don’t. There is no fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of wisdom.

But that’s not the only group Jesus is addressing here. RC Sproul points out that Jesus is also talking to those “who claim, not just a passing knowledge of Jesus, but a deep, intimate, sincere relationship with Christ.”

Not every gathering that calls themselves a church is actually a church. Not every leader who calls themselves a pastor is actually a pastor. Not everyone who says LORD, LORD knows the true and biblical Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake, the LORD will not be mocked. We see these so-called churches, and so-called pastors being exposed left and right. Churches that have been teaching false doctrines, and heresy for many years. Pastors who believe they are above Gods law and can do whatever they want to whomever they want. Sexual abuse, affairs, corruption, abuse of power, bullying, arrogance, and so much more.

People who are deceived by these churches and pastors into doing what they believe is the work of God, in Gods name. But in reality, they are being taught and fed and false God, a false Jesus, false teachings, false works and unfortunately, a false salvation.

It is so important for us to define our terms when teaching and talking and witnessing. Who is God? Is it who the Bible says he is? Or who we feel and thing he is? Who is Jesus Christ? Is he who the Bible says he is? God, Man, both. Incarnated, Perfect and sinless, crucified, resurrected, ascended. Or was he who humans say he is, a good teacher, God in heaven, but no on earth, an example that we can become, doing miracles and healings, just like he did? What is the Bible? Is it the Word of God himself? IS it, God breathed, profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness? Or is its good rule book for life? A parable for living.

IF your understanding of the Bible, its authority and its inerrancy, is different than what the Bible says about itself, Your wrong. Your wrong about the Bible and you are going to be wrong about what it says. If your definition and your description of God differ from what the Bible says, you’re following a false god. If your definition and description of who Jesus is is different from who and what the Bible says he is, you’re following a false Jesus. And there is no forgiveness in a false Jesus. No salvation in a false Jesus.

Jesus has made it clear throughout our walk-through Luke’s Gospel who he is, his authority, his power and his deity. And so, after he questions those who are following him, he lays it out. Here is what it looks like to follow me, to be an actual and true follower of Christ.

Scripture is clear on what it is to be a follower of Christ. IN the context of what he is saying here, James tells us to be doers of the word, not hearers only. Jesus says elsewhere, if you love me, follow my commands.

Kent Hughes recounts a story of knowledge and action being more important than simple book learning. He writes:

A young Korean man traveled a great distance to the home of the missionary who led him to Christ, then announce the reason for his visit: “I have been memorizing some verses of the Bible, and I want to quote them to you.”

          The missionary listened as the young man recited, without error, the entire Sermon on the Mount. He commended the young man for the remarkable feat of memory. Then, being a good missionary, he cautioned the young man to not only say the Scriptures, but to practice them. The man responded, “Oh, that is the way I learned them. I tried to memorize them, but they wouldn’t stick, so I made a plan. First, I would memorize a verse. Then I would do it to a neighbor. After that, I found that I could remember it.”

 

          One of the morals of that story and of what Jesus is telling us is that anyone can say anything, whatever they want. What we say matters, but its not just about what we say. Our actions matched with our words are what matters most.

He speaks of the wise man, the one who hears what Jesus says, really hears him and then, gasp, does what he says. He builds his house digging deep down to the rock, building a firm foundation. That house will stand against the storms that come.

We all have a foundation upon which our life and our eternity are built on. Wisdom determines the foundation. Wisdom dictates that we build our foundation upon the strongest rock that there is.

Many of our best hymns speak to the fact that Jesus himself is our foundation. One we sing here often; Jesus is our firm foundation. I know I can stand secure. Another of my favorites, On Christ the Sold Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus is the foundation we build our house upon. Specifically, we look at Ephesians 2:19-22, where Paul writes:

you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[e] the Spirit.

 

 

Scripture shows us that the foundation of the household of God is the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus being the most important piece the corner stone, the piece that makes sure the rest line up, stay straight and do what they are supposed to do. The cornerstone anchors the foundation. He makes the foundation firm and stable and secure.

Revelation 21 shows us that the New Jerusalem is built on 12 foundations named for the Apostles and the prophets. We looked previously that the Apostles and Prophets ministry, the foundation that they built is the very Word of God. They went out and they shared the Word of God. That is the foundation of the church, of the household of God, the Word of God. And we know from John 1, that Jesus is the Word of God. The Word made flesh. It is equally true to say that Jesus is our foundation, and the Bible is our foundation because the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Word.

 

I was talking to a former pastor this past week and one of the topics that came up was that the job of pastor can be incredibly discouraging at times. There are times, as one example, where pastors feel like what Jesus is saying here, you call him Lord, Lord but won’t do what he tells you to!

This week has been an especially powerful reminder of the times of discouragement and how the firm foundation of Christ will sustain you.

This week marks three years that Hope and I have been here in Bangor. Those three years have moved incredibly fast. The previous three years felt like a lifetime and were full of discouragement. At times, it felt like we were banging our heads against a brick wall. There were good times too and some great friends that we made and continue with, but the ministry where we were was a lot of discouragement.

The three years we have been here in Bangor have been the exact opposite. As with any ministry, and anytime time humans are involved, there are trials, there are disagreements, struggles, and so on. And don’t ask, because I’m not going to get into the specifics of any of those.

It hasn’t always been easy, but Jesus has been our firm foundation. God has confirmed time and time again that he has placed Hope and I here. This is where we are supposed to be, and we pray that it is permanent. That assurance, that foundation has allowed us to be content, to be settles, even through the storms that come.

With a firm foundation, with assurance, anything is bearable. Any storm is tolerable and able to be gotten through. No one, especially Jesus said that it is going to be easy and with out harm. But it is able to be gotten through. We know where our hope comes from, God above, the maker of Heaven and Earth, His Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ and his Gospel, it is the power of God to salvation, for all who believe.

Our hope is in Christ. It is not in the church, whether the gathering of believers or the building. It is not in, of course, our selves or our good works. It is not in pastors and preachers.

As I said earlier, many churches and pastors are falling, it is coming to light often, sometimes it feels like every day another one comes out, that churches and pastors who are keeping evil hidden and failing to follow the words of Christ are being revealed to the World. Hillsong, Bethel, Harvest, Willow Creek. Churches that either taught blatant false teachings, following a false Jesus, or covered up pastoral abuses and corruption, watering down the Word of God. Men like Bill Hybels, James McDonald, Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacarias. Men who took advantage of their position, let it go to their heads and covered up and hid sin, some incredibly heinous sins.

But Jesus tells us our hope, our foundation is not in them. But on the Gospel. Mark Driscoll was one who hit me hard. When I first started going o church, I listened to him a lot. I heard the true Gospel loud and clear. I heard great teaching and it helped me grow in my faith to the point where I can honestly say that I probably would not be a pastor if not for the influence his ministry had on me.

But when he was disqualified from ministry, that did not negate my salvation, it did not cause my growth to be erased. For my hope and my salvation is not based on him, but the firm foundation of the Gospel that I heard preached over and over again.

Our house in the kingdom of heaven is built upon foundation that cannot be shaken. It is not built on our power and righteousness, but on Christs. Even when the storms come, if a wall gets knocked down, if the wind rips the roof off, if windows get broken, because of our sin. Even then, our foundation is still built on solid rock. We can rebuild and repair the house because of that foundation.

Without that foundation of Christ, we will fall, our hope and our house will fall. Without Christ, we have no hope at all. With out that foundation, we have no hope for eternity. With no foundation we will continually try harder and lean more on ourselves trying to keep a sinking house above ground, something we cannot hope to accomplish. So, we trust in our behavior more and more, our ability to follow the rules, like the pharisees we read about, but our heart hasn’t changed and does not abide in Christ.  It’s a vicious cycle that can only end when Jesus saves us.

Bruce Larson writes:

Watchman Nee talks about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. “No matter how much I pray,” said the man, “no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my LORD. I think I’m losing my salvation.” And Nee said, “DO you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen, I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my Kingdom? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christs heir because it is for you that He died.” So, it is with us. We are Christs heirs, not through our perfection, but by means of his grace.

 

We are able to rest easy, to put all our burdens on Jesus Christ, for his yoke is easy, his burden is light. With Jesus as our foundation, we stake our hope on him, and rest easy, knowing that we are secure in his hands, by his grace.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 6:12-19 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus’ Followers

Luke 6:12-19

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus’ Followers

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 6. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one for you.

So, Luke has shown us the start of Jesus ministry, which so far has included, but has not been limited to healing and preaching the Word and calling a few new followers.

In this, Luke has been, since the start of Chapter 4, establishing Jesus authority for his readers. And his authority is All encompassing. We have seen his authority established over Satan, we have seen it over sickness and diseases, we have seen it over physical ailments. We have seen his authority established over sin, established with the ability to forgive those sins, authority established over the Sabbath and the authority to speak and interpret the Word of God.

This week we see some of his authority in who he then gives authority too. The first part is going to make official what had likely been know, at least in part, beforehand, who amongst his followers had authority. The second part is going to be an introduction to a section that will take up the rest of Chapter 6, a teaching section where Jesus shows us his authority to speak and interpret the scriptures and what they truly mean.

So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 6, verses 12 through 19. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I greatly encourage you to read along and follow along with your preferred translation so that you can read and see for yourself what the Word of God says, instead of just talking my word for it.

So, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following, Luke 6:12-19:

 

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

Now, we already know that Jesus was a prayer warrior, but we see that reaffirmed right here from the beginning. He often went off to desolate places, places to be alone and to focus and to spend a large amount of time in direct prayer with God the Father. This is the third such time that Luke has shown us this in as many chapters. He would sometimes us this time to rest, sometimes to recharge, but always to seek and confirm the will of the Father.

In this case, Jesus likely spent over 10 hours of intensely focused prayer. He was specifically meditating and praying on the choices he was making. In the Greek it says that “all night he continued.”

Of course, one of the big takeaways for us is that whenever we have a big decision, whenever we have something important to determine or decide, we should always take significant time in prayer. If Jesus, of all people, needed this time, how much more do we?

In one of his poems, Hartley Coleridge writes the following:

He sought the mountains and the loneliest height,

For he would meet his father all alone,

And there, with many a tear and many a groan,

He strove in prayer throughout the long, long night.

Why crave in prayer what was his own by might?

Vain is the question- Christ was man indeed,

And being man, his duty was to pray.

 

A reminder to us all that, as Paul tells us as well, we are to be in constant prayer.

And in the morning, when Jesus is done praying and comes down, he names 12 of his followers to be his Apostles.

So, some things that we see, and we know here in this. First, we see in the Gospels, there are three levels, or maybe categories would be a better term, of followers of Jesus. The first was just that, followers. Jesus had many of them. They would follow him around; they would listen to his teachings and they would want to see healings and miracles that Jesus was quickly becoming famous for. However, for the most part, they were not particularly committed to Jesus.

Next were his disciples. We don’t know how many of these he had, but we know they were many. We will see one instance later in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus sends out 72 of his disciples to spread the word. These disciples were committed to following Jesus and believing his teachings and trying to get others to believe it as well.

The final category was the 12 names that Jesus listed here in Luke chapter 6. The Apostles. These are not just followers, but the Apostle means sent ones. They would be given the authority to act and speak on His behalf. Their very words would carry authority. This is why, when the canon of the New Testament was being confirmed, one of the requirements was that the Gospel or letter had to be, either written by one of them (later to include Paul as well) or to be told by one of them and written by one of their closest acquaintances.

These 12, the Apostles, would become Jesus inner circle. They would be the ones he would confide in. They would get the extra teaching and explanation. They would become his family during the next few years, during his earthly ministry. And they would act just like our families do today. They would be the ones that would believe in Him, and he them. They would be praying with and for each other. They would be holding each other accountable. Just like our families, there would be those who would disappoint and betray him, and he knew that from the beginning.

Here is something that I think we need to hear. Jesus chose these men to be his Apostles, just like he chose each of us who are called to become the children of God, each and everyone if us who are saved by Gods grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus chose each and every one of us. And he knew everything that would happen before hand.

He knew they would act. He knew how they would sin. He knew their failings and he still called them and chose them, in spite of all that. HE knew before he chose us. He knew how we would act. He knew how we would sin. He knew how we would fall.  He knew it all. And he chose you anyway. He chose me anyway. He chose each of us, despite knowing that we would fall and sin. He knew and he died and rose again in order to purchase our salvation and to forgive us of our sins.

I heard one pastor say, years ago, and the way he said it really hit me. God is the only who can forgive sins. And if he has chosen to forgive us, who do we think we are if we say we can’t forgive ourselves? We think we are above God. Pair that with, If God says that he has forgiven us, but we don’t believe that he has or could forgive our specific sins, then what are saying about the Word of God? We are saying that it can’t be trusted.

The Bible is clear. Jesus is clear. God the Father is clear. The Holy Spirit is clear. If you are a child of God, if you are in Christ, by grace, through faith, then your sins have been forgiven. You have been cleansed. You have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. You have been clothed in Christs righteousness. You have been justified, are being sanctified and will be glorified. All of that is Promised by God and its all true, whether you feel like it or not. Take comfort in that. Rejoice in that. Let that light shine in the dark corners of shame that comes om naturally when we sin and don’t feel worthy of the forgiveness that he has already said is ours.

Now, we see the names of the twelve that Jesus called to be his Apostles. Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Now, every time we see a list of the twelve in scriptures, the middle is in different order, but each list starts with Simon Peter and ends with Judas Iscariot, the traitor. That’s not a coincidence. It’s obvious that because he is a traitor and will end up being replaced in the book of Acts by Matthias, that’s why he is listed last. Peter is listed first because he would end up becoming the de facto leader, the first among equals of the Twelve.

Now, some of these twelve, we know some about based on the scriptures. Names like Simon Peter, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Thomas, Matthew who was Levi, and of course, Judas Iscariot. These guys, there are things written about them in the scriptures so we can get a sense of who they are.

The others, Andrew, Simons brother, Philip, Bartholomew, the other James, Simon the Zealot and the other Judas, them we don’t know much about. I’ve included in the back, some of you have it already, a printout on the twelve. This is what we know from scriptures about each of them. This was compiled by RC Sproul and I copied it out of his commentary on Luke’s Gospel. I think its an excellent resource and a great way to get to know the Apostles maybe better than we do now. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, please do so on your way out.

These twelve, Jesus chose them. The ordinary, the mostly uneducated, the poor. The everyday man. Just like you and me. With the authority and the responsibility to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ after his ascension. We read in Ephesians 2 this morning, the Apostles are a part of the foundation that the Kingdom of God is built on, with Christ as the chief cornerstone. Revelation 21:14 tells us that the New Jerusalem that the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Now, whether we see that imagery as symbolic, metaphorical, literal or whatever, I think we can all agree that it shows how important and how vital to the kingdom of God, these men were.

They were chosen, not because of anything about themselves, but because of Gods sovereignty and his omniscience. Nearly all the commentaries I’ve read this week on this passage reference the same quote by Oswald Chambers. He says:

God can achieve his purpose either through the absence of human power and resources or the abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.

 

 

Next, we come to Jesus descended with the Apostles and getting ready for a lengthy teaching session. There are a lot of similarities to the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-7, but this is very clearly not on a mount, so some call this the Sermon on the Plain.

We see that there is a great crowd around him already, both his disciples, those committed to him and followers and curiosity seekers from all over the country.

Many came and looked to be healed. Those who had unclean spirits were cleaned. His power was on display as many were cured and healed. Jesus authority over the physical realm was established and his spiritual authority was about to be on display with the teaching that is coming.

In this, I think that Jesus is showing us a choice that we have to make. As I mentioned earlier, we see three categories of followers here and so, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, you have to look at which of these three that you fit into.

Are you partially committed? Looking for the healings and miracles, the emotional highs that can some with worship? Is your assurance in your church attendance and your moral life and is the church a social club where you here good teaching?

OR you could be fully committed to the worshipping and listening to Jesus. Knowing that he is Christ, that you saved by his grace and its not because you attend church and live right but that your worship and sanctification are fruit from that salvation. That’s great. I wish there were more that were that committed.

Lastly, are you completely and totally committed to doing and living the teachings of Jesus Christ. Listening and reading the Words of God. Putting them into practice in our every day lives. Committed to loving our neighbors and enemies with grace and forgiveness, making disciples, teaching them all that the LORD has commanded, not being perfect and sinless but walking in the fruit of the spirit, being that one that Oswald Chambers was speaking of, renouncing dependence on natural abilities and resources?

These are questions that we have to ask ourselves honestly and often.

 

Let’s Go ahead and pray.

Christmas 2020: Luke 2:1-20 How and Why Jesus Came

Christmas 2020
Luke 2:1-20
How and Why Jesus Came

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with and turn to Luke chapter 2. Yes, we are travelling backwards in time to October, which is when we recently looked at this text. Go ahead if your able and put your finger or a bookmark or whatever into Matthew chapter 1 as well.
You know, most pastors love doing their Christmas and Easter Sermons because its easy for them. It’s the same source material for each year, and its material they know intimately well. There are no more important days to Christianity than Christmas and Easter.
The stories and the verses in the Bible about Christmas are some of the most well know stories in the Bible by people in the congregation. We get so familiar with the texts and the themes.
But I’m going to be honest with you. These are the sermons that are really tough for me. Partly because we ARE so familiar with the stories of Christmas and Easter. Part of it is because these are the stories that you hear the most. We bring aspects of Jesus birth and incarnation and Jesus death and resurrection into, most if not all of the sermons we do on a weekly basis.
In this particular case, we add in that we just went through Luke chapter 2, and the birth of Jesus in October and this was a tough sermon to plan and prepare. So, here’s my thought, we are going to go back and camp in Luke chapter 2, reviewing his birth, with an emphasis on why Jesus came, for what purpose he was born.
We will bounce around into a lot of scriptures and let the Bible speak for itself in a lot of places. Because of this, and so that you’re not frantically trying to keep up and wasting time turning to pages that I am already moving on from, I’ve included in the bulletin a list of most, if not all of the scriptures that we will be reading during the sermon this morning, so please feel free to refer to that and turn ahead if needed.
So, let’s start first with the Christmas story itself, reading from Luke chapter 2, verse 1-20. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, please follow along in your Bible, with your preferred translation. The Word of God is inspired and inerrant and we believe in letting it speak for itself, so its absolutely important for you to read it for yourself and not just take anyone’s word for it.
Luke 2:1-20, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to write:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.[c
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

That’s the story we all know. That’s the story we all grew up hearing. This is the Christmas story. This is where we see Jesus born and brought into this world, and the effects are immediate.
Jesus, from Nazareth, born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, under the humblest and the lowliest of circumstances. This was all foretold, both in the recent past, to Mary and Joseph, and in the distant past, starting all the way back in Genesis 3.
And where I want to start is touching on just a few of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that God gave to the people of Israel that would lead to them waiting for the Messiah to arrive and that Jesus would fulfill.
Genesis 3 is where it starts. Setting the context, Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden, perfect, sinless and walking in perfect communion with God. The Serpent, or the devil, comes along and tempts Eve to go against the one command the God had given them. Adam, right there with Eve allows her to give in and gives in as well. Sin enters the world. Death enters the world. Sin has now infected mankind. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that if he would eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that he would surely die.
And so, now what? Adam and Eve are doomed, right? And so are any offspring coming from them. Except God. Except God already knew all about this> God knows and ordains the future and so he already had a plan for this before he even created Adam and Eve. So, after they sinned, God talks to Adam, Eve and the Serpent and says in Genesis 3:14 & 15:
The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
God the Father knew before then and told us that he was going to send a solution, a savior to rescue us from our sins, to restore our broken relationship with him and to grant us forgiveness and everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And so, throughout the Old Testament, through Genesis with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph. Through Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch with Moses and Joshua. Through the historical books with the judges, Ruth, King Saul, David, Solomon and the rest of the Kings. And through the prophets, God continued to foreshadow, to prophecy and to remind all people that there was one coming who was going to make everything right again, who was going to restore the peace and the rhythm of the world of which he created.
Real quick, two of the most famous prophecies we read in the Old Testament, two of those that are most common attached and used in the Christmas story; first, Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
One of the greatest Christmas songs there is is Oh Come, oh Come Immanuel. Read the Lyrics, seriously. Goosebumps. Immanuel means God with Us. That’s exactly what the messiah, the promised savior would be, God with us.
Second, Isaiah 9:6 & 7:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

This is who Jesus is and would be. This is what he would accomplish in many ways. He will reign from the throne of David, and his kingdom will be everlasting. It will be perfect, justice and righteous. We see the trinity hinted at in that passage as well. Counselor, Holy Spirit, Father, Son and Prince, Jesus Christ. All God.
So, everyone was waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. They were waiting for a few thousand years. We see God speaking to the prophet Malachi and then, nothing. Silence. For over 400 years. Not until we see the angel Gabriel show up to Zachariah and to Mary and Joseph prophesying the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah.
Luke records Gabriel showing up and speaking to Mary in Luke 1:26-35:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[d]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.

A virgin birth. The throne of David. Son of the Most High God. A Kingdom with no end. All things we saw prophesied about in the passages we just read. What they had been waiting for. And then, Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4&5: when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
God became man. God clothed in flesh. God with us. That’s How Jesus came to earth. How he was sent, by God the Father on a mission. That’s the how, now we let scripture tell us the why.
First, back to what the angels told the shepherds in the field the night that Jesus was born. Luke 2:10-14:
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

The Glory of God. Good News. Peace among Gods people. These are some of the reasons that Jesus Christ condescended from heaven, incarnated truly Go and truly man.
He came and he started preaching Good News, preaching the Word of God. He preached at the synagogue in Nazareth, recorded in Luke 4:17-21:
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Spiritual healing. Setting the captives free. Free from our bondage to that very sin we looked at moments ago that Adam cause to enter the world. Good news to those who are poor in spirit. Jesus says in Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And very importantly, Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the scriptures.
Now, Jesus is the cure for the disease that is sin. Sin is what separated us from God and what keeps us from pursuing him and reconciling with him. Because of sin, we are in rebellion, open war with God. Jesus brings peace.
Paul writes in 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.

If this passage is ever used to pit people against each other, its being used wrongly and out of context. This is not the second group is better than the first group. The point of this is Jesus, the grace of God and the work that he did on our behalf. We are all born sinners and all live as sinners until God intervenes on our behalf. Jesus came into this world, intervening into history, on our behalf.
Why? Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus being born a human man was not enough. Remember that that wages of sin is death? Death is the consequence of sin. It is required to atone for sin. To make things right from sin. Jesus, living a life free from sin had no sin to atone for. He did not need to die because of sin. But he did so on our behalf. Paying the price, we could not pay. Atoning for our sin. Bringing forgiveness where we deserved none. Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection are the whole of his mission, to bring us back to God.
Paul sums up this Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Jesus fulfills the scriptures, the promises that were made thousands of years before hand. He fulfills a plan that was made before the creation of the world. Jesus is God become man. Jesus came to save sinners, one mediator between God and man.
Salvation, freedom from sin. Forgiveness. Eternal life with God. Citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Christs righteousness. All these things are available to us because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago. Available to us by the grace of God alone. Gods grace poured out on us, the vehicle for which is faith alone, no works, no deeds, no nothing on our end. The object of that faith shall be Christ alone. Jesus and only Jesus saves. There is one path to God the Father, and it is Jesus. And all of this as we have seen is for Gods Glory alone.
Ephesians 2:1-10 speaks to this, with Paul writing:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

This gift of God is free, though it is not what some would call Free Grace. Jesus doesn’t just save us so that we can stay as we are. Instead, he calls us to repent, to turn away from our sins, from our previous lives. The passage in 1 Corinthians 6 showed us that as well. There is a change in us if we meet Jesus and accept his gift by faith.

Lastly, God didn’t do any of this because he needs anything from us. He is trinity. Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Co eternal, Co-existence, One God. He wasn’t lonely or anything like that. But he does love us, his creations. And so that calm, starry night, 200 years, Jesus came down, in the fullness of time, to fulfill all prophecy and scripture to do something for us that we couldn’t do. That is what we celebrate at Christmas. That is what forget when we focus on anything other than the entire life and work and mission of Christ. Jesus born, but it didn’t end there, he lived and died and rose again and he is right now sitting on the throne of David, reigning and ruling over all of his creation.
So, we end with the most simple answer to the question: Why did Jesus come? WE let scripture answer, John 3:16-21:
“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Let’s Pray