Jesus is the Son of Man
Pride disrupts Unity.
All right let’s grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.
So, we have been looking at some of Jesus’ teachings over the past couple weeks. And while they have greatly varied on their details and their subjects, the themes underneath them has remained remarkably consistent. Pride, disunity, and the link between them, And Jesus as the source of everything; our salvation, our unity, our humility, our righteousness.
Jesus is going to double down on those themes in our passage this week. We warned, especially last week, of the sin of prideful exclusion; the idea that because I am saved, because I am a Christian, even because God saved me, that I am better than those around me who aren’t.
We are going to see two examples this morning of Jesus addressing the disciples doing exactly this. They fell into the trap that only my way of following Jesus is the right and acceptable way. Only my way of doing baptism, doing communion, the style of music, only my way of doing those is the right way.
Jesus shows us that this could not be further from the truth.
Let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 49-56. As usual Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though it doesn’t matter if you have ESV, New American Standard, King James, New King James, NIV, New Living or whatever else, all pf them Are the Word of God.
Luke 9:49-56, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following:
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[e] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[f] 56 And they went on to another village.
God Bless the reading of his Word.
Now, the first incident here, the first few verses are in direct response to the last few verses, which we looked at last week. Jesus heard the disciples arguing about which among them was the greatest. They were competing because they were traveling with and therefore associated with Jesus. IN those days, much like today, of you are associated with someone great, someone with great power and influence, then you too will be considered great and will have some power and some influence.
Jesus makes it clear that there is no “greatest.” In his kingdom. All who are the least of them in this life, on this world will be great in his Kingdom. All who receive and call on the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, will be great.
Jesus lets them know this and John steps in and speaks to Jesus. Many commentators attribute many different tones to John’s question here. Confusion, anger, dismissiveness, arrogance. We do know that John during the time of Jesus earthly ministry, as we see in both these stories today, was just as impulsive and wild with his tongue as Peter.
He says, Master, someone else, not from our group, not from our church were doing things in your name. We tried to stop them because they are NOT part of our group, not part of our circle right here.
Here’s the thing. There are boundaries and borders that we have to defend. Not everyone who says the word God or says the name Jesus knows the true and biblical Jesus. And Jesus is the only way to salvation. So, we have to make sure we understand biblically, what we fight for, what we defend against, and what we accept, and we agree to disagree.
One pastor I listened to used this analogy that I will paraphrase and probably misquote to the point he wouldn’t even recognize. But he said, your local church is like your city. Your city is a group of somewhat or mostly likeminded people who gather together within the state. Now, with rural community churches, the amount of the like mindedness might be less that other types of churches, but still.
Now, denominations and groupings of churches are like the state. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and so on. These are all different states. There are distinctions, there are differences, they do certain things different ways, and they believe different things about some of the secondary issues. If you live in an area with options, you will study with the differences are in these different denominations, or different associations and so on, and choose which state you align more with.
Every one of these states is within the confines of the country. Everyone of these states holds to an orthodox view of Christianity, Jesus and the Bible. We would not agree about everything with each different state, but we would stand together with them against other countries.
The country is true Christianity. The country is a right view of Jesus and who he is. Fully God, fully man. God himself. The Son of God. Virgin Birth. Sinless life. Put to death on the cross. Paid for our sins. Took the wrath from God that we deserved. Rose from the dead, defeating death and sin. Ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father until he returns to judge all of humanity and recreated the heavens and the Earth.
The country is a right view of Gods Word. That it is inspired. That it is inerrant. That it means what it says and that it says what it means. God is all knowing, all powerful, all times. He is the creator of all that exists. He is Holy and just and good. He is Holy and punishes sin. He so loved the world that he sent his Son, Jesus. And Jesus shows us love, in that while we were yet, sinners, he died for us.
Those are the National borders of Christianity. Those are the things we will rally around and those are the things that we will defend. Opposing views on those are other countries and are outside historical, biblical, true Christianity.
The idea that Jesus was God but not man. The idea that Jesus was man and not God. The idea that Jesus was an angel or any sort of created being. The idea that he didn’t die on the cross. The idea that he didn’t rise from the dead. The idea that we don’t need him to die for our sins. The idea that the Bible is a bunch of good moral lessons. The idea that the Bible is a parable for life.
These are things that are not Christianity and that we do have to fight against.
But within those borders, we band together. With those borders, we stand united, and we allow those who are following Jesus differently than we understand to continue to do so and praise God that we are not Stepford Christians.
Jesus tells John here, do not stop them. One who is not against you is for you. The disciples seem to be protective and jealous of what they were empowered to do by Jesus. They didn’t want anyone else to be able to do it, because that would take away from them, from their ministry, from their influence and their greatness.
I love how Kent Hughes writes about Jesus’ response to John. He says:
Jesus desires his followers to have an open heart, not an exclusive heart. Let’s be like Jesus.!
He then lists examples from the Bible itself, writing:
When Joshua rushed to Moses to warn him that some elders named Eldad and Medad were preaching and thus stealing some of Moses prominence, Moses gave the big-hearted reply, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29)
While in “the slammer” in Rome, Paul learned that rival preachers were seizing the opportunity for self-promotion. His noble response? “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) Or consider Jonathon, next in line to be king according to human reason, but who “made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4) Or John the Baptist who responded to Jesus’ ascendance by saying, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heave…He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)
Do you see the point that he is making here? It is not about us. At all. Its all about Jesus. And there are simply two options. With Jesus or against Jesus. And Jesus makes clear in Matthew 7, that some who think they are with Jesus are wrong. They are actually against Jesus.
But that’s getting slightly off topic. Jesus points here. With him or against him. Those who are not against him are for him. And we should support and not limit or restrict those who are for him, no matter what group or city or state they are in, because we are all within the same country. The Jesus States of Heaven.
Now, Luke pivots and makes a brief mention that changes the trajectory of the next 10 chapters of his Gospel. When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Luke does, of course, take his time, be he shows that Jesus knows what’s coming and has turned his focus on going towards Jerusalem and fulfilling his reason for descending from Heaven, and becoming a man. From here on out, he was perpetually traveling, no time to dawdle. He is always on the move.
Now, those who were traveling with Jesus were many. And they would overwhelm a village if they showed up out of nowhere. Most villages would not have the resources or the lodging to support such a large travelling caravan.
So, messengers were sent out ahead. They were to visit the towns ahead of time, let people know he was coming and prepare food, lodging, etc. In this instance, they came to a Samaritan village. This village did not offer hospitality to Jesus and his entourage, who were Jewish. This is obviously a part of the whole Jewish/Samaritan hatred that run deep, deeper than small town family feuds. We will get into all that in a few weeks. Suffice it to say, you will have to trust me that there was no love lost between the Samaritans and the Jews.
Most commentators will take this moment to point out another theme we see in Luke’s Gospel specifically and in the Gospels of Jesus life in General. As RC Sproul writes:
Where was he received? He was thrown out of Galilee. They wouldn’t accept him in Judea. The Samaritans rejected Him. The Geresenes expelled him. Everywhere he went, he was unwelcome.
As Peter writes in his first letter, The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
James and John, the Sons of Zebedee were also nicknamed the Sons of Thunder and we see why here. When the Samaritan village rejected Jesus, they wanted to go Ballistic. LORD, should we reign fire down on them?
There are obvious allusions here to 1 Kings chapter 18, where Elijah reigns down fire on the prophets of Baal. And this reaction by James and John can be somewhat understandable, sort of, maybe?
This village rejected Jesus. They rejected the Messiah. Plus, or maybe even worse in the eyes of the disciples, they weren’t Jewish. They were in another country, to use the analogy we used earlier. And countries go to war with other countries.
Now, yes, we are to go nuclear on the sin in our lives. Jesus tells us that its better to cut off our hands or gouge out our eyes instead of letting sin run wild through our bodies and our lives. His point is to show how contagious and quick spreading sin is. It really is a cancer, and it will grow unimpeded, often times without us even knowing it’s there, if we do not cut it out of our bodies.
But in society, there is a call for a more nuanced approach. Yes, we are called to stand against it and to preach the truth. However, Paul makes it clear that we are to speak the truth in love and that ultimately, Jesus is the judge who will determine guilt and innocence. He is the one who will suss out the righteous and the unrighteous. And he is the one who will dole out perfect and final justice. And there will be final and eternal punishment for those who reject Christ. But that is for him to deal with, not us.
And so, Jesus rebukes James and John. This is not who we deal with people. Christians are called to love, not retaliate, and certainly not to preemptively strike. The disciples thought that since they were a part of Jesus followers, that they had the right, the authority and the responsibility to dole out punishment and justice wherever they saw fit, especially to those who were not followers of Jesus.
There is that prideful exclusivity we were talking about. First, if someone else is doing good work, but not part of our group, they are not really true Christians, or they are not as good as us. Leave the hard work, leave the real work to us. Second, if they are going to reject us and therefore, reject Christ, then we need to blow everything up and go scorched earth, playing Judge, jury and in this example, literally, executioner.
Notice what Jesus does about the Samaritan village. He doesn’t say, No don’t reign fire down on them, that’s my job. He doesn’t take it upon himself to punish the village. He passes it by and moves on to another village.
See, in case there is any misunderstanding, Jesus is not condoning and approving of the village rejecting him when he tells the disciples to not reign down fire. Sometimes, we fight, sometimes we preach, sometimes… sometimes we shake off the dust from our feet, wash our hands of the situation and move on.
We can’t fight every battle of every single sin and every single approval and support of sin that we see. We just finished “Pride month.” Pride, in any and all forms is a very destructive sin. Pride in our personal sins, especially when we don’t see them as sins, is the most destructive of all.
Pride creates disunity. Pride made the disciples want to stop the other group of people from doing work in Jesus’ name. Pride makes us want to reign fire on unbelievers and sinners. Pride makes us unforgiving. It makes us not forget slights and insults. It makes us hold on to grudges and to think negatively about others. It causes us to forget that all human beings, both Gods children and those who reject him are created in God’s image. It makes us forget that we are to love one another and others, and what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Though it fits, the context here is not romantic love. Instead, the word used here is Agape, pure love. The love we are called to love one another. Pride blocks this love. Pride gets in the way of love. Pride gets in the way of unity.
And we are called to unity. We don’t have to all agree on every single point on the checklist of theological beliefs and traditions. We don’t have to agree on all points. But if, as we established earlier, we are all citizens of the same country, in this case, the kingdom of God, then we are all one in Christ. Ephesians 4:4-6, There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
One, one one. We are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. And today, being the first Sunday of the month, we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.
Now, I ask that if you are not a Christian, if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, please just pass the elements along. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing special about it for those who do not believe that Jesus Christ gave his broken body and his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There will be no pressure and no judgment.
stemming from that, Communion does not save us, it does not cleanse us, it does not do anything along those lines. It has no power to keep us clean or to restore our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. This was given to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering. Remembering who Jesus was. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering how much he loved us and remembering just how big of a deal our sin really is. It is meant to be sobering and somber, but at the same time it is meant to be a celebration.
Thirdly, we are told that we need to come and participate with the right heart. As I said, we do this in remembrance of what he gave up for us, the sacrifice he made. We do this because we remember how big of a deal our sin is, that he died on the cross for it. We need to make sure that our hearts and minds have their hearts set on what’s important and that we seek God’s forgiveness and make our relationships are right with him. In addition to a tradition becoming too important and placed above the word of God, tradition can become bad is by it losing its meaning and becoming simply a ritual. Please take some of this time to reflect on what this tradition means and to make sure that you are prepared to receive. There will never be any judgment if you choose not to participate, and just pass the plate.
Paul recounts to the church in Corinth what I now tell you as well, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.
First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.