Luke 8:40-56 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus heals two women

Luke 8:40-56

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus heals two women

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and open up our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. If you need a Bible, if you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one onto your hands as our gift to you.

 

Often times when God tells us to do something, if we actually hear him, we hear what he is telling us to do and we go full bore, full speed ahead, let nothing get in our way. One of the things we will see today is that God doesn’t always tell us to act that way. Sometimes he wants us to take the scenic route. Sometimes he tells us to take one step at a time. Sometimes he tells us what the end goal will be, but he still wants us to go through HIS process, not our way, but his path, his plan, his way.

The problem is that if we do what he wants us to do, and instead of doing it his way, we do it our own way, then our plan is a lost cause. We cannot achieve God Will, Gods Plans without doing it God’s way.

Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Mark includes the story we looked at last week and the story we will look at this week. Matthew, Mark and Luke share an incredible amount of the same stories in the Gospels.  Mark 5 has historically been called the St Jude chapter. St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. That is why we have St Jude s Children s Research Hospital, it is dedicated to incurable children s diseases, lost causes.

That’s what is seen in Mark Chapter 5, lost causes. Ns those are the stories Luke is sharing with us here in Luke chapter 8 as well.

We saw last week, the man who was possessed by many demons, who had been given up on as a lost cause by those around him. He lived in and spent his life in the tombs, exiled from everyone else. A Jesus made him new, made him right.

          This man was a lost cause to human effects. But Jesus showed that Lost causes in this world were not lost causes to the God the created the world with a word.

That brings us to this morning’s passage. This is a long section with three distinct parts so I’m going to take them a little at a time. Remember the setting. Jesus preaching all day on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, tired, he told the disciples to cross over the sea into the Gentile region. He got there, not the calmly, and was confronted by Legion, threw them out and the people in the area asked him to get back in the boat and go back. That’s where we pick up.

Overall, we will be reading Luke chapter 8, verses 40 through 56. But we will break it down into three sections, reading each one as we come to it. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and as always, I encourage you to read along and read for yourself in your preferred translation.

The first section we will be reading through is Luke 8:40-first half of v 42:

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

 

So Jesus crosses back over the Sea of Galilee and immediately is crowded up by a large group of people. We have seen throughout Luke’s Gospel that these people are following him and waiting to see his works, his miracles and whatever Jesus can do for them. Many of these are followers only in the literal sense of the word, not in the discipleship sense.

From the crowd, one man, named Jairus, comes up to him. Jairus, it says here was one of the rulers of the synagogue. Now, rule does not mean “in charge” in this case. This is more like an elder if we try to compare to current day churches.

It is likely that Jairus was one of these caretakers of the synagogue. He was a man that knew the Jewish religion, customs, all of that and he comes now and falls at Jesus feet. We see in Mark 5 that he tells Jesus, “My daughter is at the point of death, but if you lay your hands on her, she will be healed.”

The word eschatology means the study of last things, commonly we say the study of end times. The root word there, eschatos, means “last, utmost, or extreme.” This is the word that Jairus uses that is translated Point, when he says she is at the point of death. As RC Sproul puts it, “He was saying she was at her utmost extremity. She was at her very end. She was at Deaths door. She was breathing her very last. It was not that she was very sick and in intensive care; she was at the end of hospice care.”
          This daughter was not yet a lost cause, but if Jesus delayed at all, she would be dead. And death, in Jairus mind, and the mind of others, WAS a lost cause. And so, Jesus goes with Jairus and that’s where we pick up the second part of the story, with Jesus going with Jairus to heal Jairus’ daughter who is on her death bed, and they go with no time to lose.

So, we pick up in the second half of verse 42:

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians,[f] she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter[g] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

 

So as the crowd is all gathered around Jesus, bumping up against him, walking with him, jostling him, one lady makes her way towards him. Now this lady has been bleeding for 12 years at this point. She had spent all her money trying all different remedies. She went to every doctor she could. She tried everything humanly possible, and nothing helped. Nothing worked. Nothing relieved the bleeding. Her condition was a hopeless cause.

I know a guy who was a similar hopeless cause. He was in prime health and no medical problems. He came down with a case of what the Doctors are calling Fibra Maialgia. For the last 20 years, he has been to every Doctor, every specialist. He has tried every treatment, all that Western Medicine has, and many, many things that alternative medicine has. Some days are better than others, but overall, things have just gotten worse over the last 20 years. This is a man of incredible faith. He knows that God can heal him. But so far, he hasn’t. I picture him in a similar situation as this woman here, at least mentally and emotionally.

Now it’s not exactly the same. The bleeding this woman has been experiencing has made her unclean. She is not supposed to be in this crowd. She can’t sit in a chair in someone’s home. She can’t do anything related to the synagogues. This wasn’t unclean in the same extreme as leprosy, which we looked at earlier in Luke, but it was unclean.

She was desperate. She was willing to do anything. She had heard about Jesus and knew that he could heal her. She knew about the power he had been showing. She knew that he had healed, and why not her? But she knew that she was unclean and so couldn’t just go up to him like normal. So, she decided to just touch the edge of his robe. Surely if this man had been casting out unclean spirits, calming storms, healing other who had leprosy and other sicknesses, then if she could just touch his robe, there would be enough power to heal her…
And as soon as she touched his garment, she was. The blood stopped and the woman felt that she had been healed. Once again, complete and instantaneous.

Now comes the interesting part. Jesus did not consciously heal this woman. The power of God flowed out of him. Look at v. 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”

Jesus realized something happened, but he did not know what happened. He did not make the choice, yes woman, I heal you. See, If Jesus were only God, he would know. He would know the woman was coming up, he would know the woman was touching his garment, and he would say or thing, Yes, woman, I choose to heal you.

But Jesus is not just God. Jesus came down from Heaven and he became a man, a human man. When he did that, he voluntarily, temporarily set aside some of his divine powers. He did NOT set aside his divinity. He is 100% God and at the same time, 100% man. He was not pretending to be human. He was not pretending notto know. Much of the previous passages in Mark, are really trying to show us Jesus’ divinity. I believe one of the reasons this passage is here is to counter that by emphasizing his humanity.

Now, as a man, Jesus was more in tune with God the Father and the Holy spirit than any other human. And so, even though the disciples couldn’t believe that among all the hustle and bustle and bumping and jostling, that Jesus could tell that one specific person touched his garment, Jesus stopped, turned and asked who it was that touched him.

Now this lady was afraid! She had touched the edge of his garment and he felt it, he felt the power go out of him and into her, healing her. She didn’t know what he was going to do to her. She had been unclean and touch him. So, she goes and throws herself down at his mercy. Now most of you know the Gospels well enough to be able to predict Jesus move here. Does he rebuke her in any way? Does he tell how wrong she was, as an unclean woman to go up to him and secretly tough him? Does he tell her how she should have approach him and asked for the healing in person?

No, of course not. He says to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, Mark adds and be healed of your disease.” Jesus dd three things for the women with this statement. He publicly identified her. This is important because of the next two things he does. He commends her faith. She had the faith to go forward and reach out, to keep reaching out to God in as many different ways as possible. And finally, Jesus declared that she was healed. This made the healing complete; this made her clean. And it was public, so everyone saw.

Jesus took this lost cause, this woman who had this medical issue for a large chunk of her life.  He took this lost cause and he redeemed it. He showed his authority over it. And he showed his humanity.

Now, do you remember where we were in our story. Jesus had been on his way to see Jairus’ little girl, who was knocking on deaths door. They hadn’t a moment to lose. Jesus took a few moments with this lady and we pick the story back up with v 49:

 

 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.

 

So, the few moments Jesus took to interact with this woman came with a price.  The little girl had not been a lost cause. She had been deathly sick, but she had still been alive. Now, we get word, from someone in Jairus’ house, that the girl had died. This is where we wonder about the timing of Gods plans. In our heads, why would Jesus let himself to get “Sidetracked” from his mission to heal the letter girl.  We see afterward that Jesus was allowing the opportunity to show his authority of sickness and death. To show that he was who he said he was.

The person who came from Jairus’ house told Jairus, don’t waste Jesus’ time anymore. I can just picture Jairus’ reaction, just crest fallen, all the air let out of him, looking down and over at Jesus, saying, “I guess there is no reason for you to continue the trip to my house.”

But Jesus says to him, do not fear, but only believe. Jesus, Jairus, and Jesus’ inner three, Peter James and John, went on to Jairus’ house. When they got there, everyone was mourning the girl’s death, weeping and crying. Jesus Asked them why? The child is not dead, only sleeping.

This of course led them to mock him, and I can understand why. The girl was dead! These people didn’t know that Jesus was God. They knew him as a man. A powerful man, yes, but a man. So, Jesus was alone with the three disciples, the mother and Jairus and the dead girl and showed that his words had power. He took her by the hand and told her to get up.

What happened? “And the girl got up immediately. The key word here, once again, is immediately. Just like with the healing of Peters mother-in-law, she immediately got up and started moving about. Not just woke up but got up and started walking. And as any of us would be, they were amazed. Now there are two quick things I want to point out in the last few words of this passage.

The first thing I want to point out is that Jesus told them to get the girl something to eat. I believe he did this for two reasons. First, the girl was probably hungry. I’ve never been raised from the dead, but even though she didn’t do anything to cause it, it was all Jesus all the way, it had to be taxing on the body.

But I think it was also to show that, though this girl was raised by the supernatural power of God, this girl and her body was still a human body with human needs. Though she was miraculously healed, her body still needed food to continue living.

We forget that sometimes, don’t we? When God does a miracle in our lives, we often forget to follow up and take responsibility for going forward from that point.

Second, Jesus tells them not to tell anybody about this. This is in direct contrast to what he told the man who had Legion in him, that man he told to go tell all his friends what the LORD had done for him. This was not the first time either, that Jesus told people not to go around telling others about the miracles he did.

Why was this? Well, for the most part, his ministry was to the Jews. He was in Israel, and they were who were living there, He was the Messiah for God’s chosen people, and that was the Jews. But Jesus knew the grand plan, he knew what would happen when it came out that Jesus was proclaiming himself to be that very Messiah.

He knew that once the Jewish authorities realized what he was saying about himself, that it was only a matter of time before they killed him. He knew that now was not the time, so he told people not to publicize his work until he was ready. But in the Greek region, he was setting the groundwork for the Gospel coming to all nations, to all people. That’s why it was able to come to us.

John, early in his Gospel speaks to this, that Jesus came to the Jews first, to Israel first, and they did not receive him, Jesus them humbled himself even more, offering himself to the world. John 1:11-13 reads:

11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Jesus tells us that as God’s children, we are to humble ourselves, we are to remember to humility of Jesus and the sacrifice, the price that the forgiveness of our sins cost. And we are to celebrate the new life, the eternal life with Him that has been given to us and secured for us.

 

 

 

 

 

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 8:22-25 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Calms the Storm

Luke 8:22-25

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Calms the Storm

 

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. Luke Chapter 8, as we have seen and we will continue to see, has some of the most famous moments in Luke’s Gospel and in Jesus’ ministry overall. Today’s passage will be one of those as well.

 

Jesus has been going around, mostly in the region of Galilee, bringing the word of God, introducing the kingdom of God, and giving proofs that he is who he says he is. He is the Messiah that was promised throughout the Old Testament.

We just finished up, looking at some of Jesus parables. These parables lay the foundation for how to become a part of the Kingdom of God and what that should look like in our life. Jesus is going to return, over the next couple of passages to showing, once again, his authority over all of creation. Showing it in as many different manifestations as we could think of. We have seen and will continue to see that Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, does some teaching, then some practical, physical examples of his power and his authority. We just spent a few weeks looking at some teaching, some parables and whatnot and now we will spend a few weeks on some of his deeds and miracles.

So, let’s go ahead and read our passage for the week, Luke chapter 8, verses 22 through 25. As always, Ill be reading from the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation, whether that’s King James, NIV, NASB, New Living or any others. Ok, Luke chapter 8 verses 22-25, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So, they set out, 23 and as they sailed, he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, Jesus just finished up a long day of teaching and preaching. We know this from Marks Gospel, where, in Chapter 4, Mark records some of the same events as Luke chapter 8. Jesu told the parable of the soils and talked about not putting.

our light under a bushel. HE then says, At the end of that day, Jesus got into the boat…

 

So, he was tired. I can tell you from experience that preaching drains the energy from you. Jesus was tired. It was the end of the day, into the evening. Now instead of stopping, looking and finding a place to sleep and hunkering down for the night, he said, let’s go across to the other side of the lake.

On the other side of the lake from them, being in Galilee, was Garasenes in Decapolis, the Ten Cities. These cities were Gentile Roman instead of Jewish.

So, Jesus and the disciples were on their way over to Gerasenes and all of a sudden, a great storm came up. It came seemingly out of nowhere and the boat started to fill with water. This would not be a completely unexpected event in the Sea of Galilee. My Study bible notes: “The Sea of Galilee is 700 feet below sea level, thirteen miles long and eight miles wide. At its southern end is a deep, cliff lined valley. The wind tunneling through the surrounding hills and through this valley can whip the lake into sudden storms.”

          So, this would not have been completely unexpected on the disciple’s end. Storms came up and came through often. But we see from the disciple’s reaction, this storm was stronger, more violent than the normal storm. The waves were breaking the boat and the boat was filling with water. These men thought they were going to die.

Have you ever been in a near death experience? It can be terrifying. Now, again, some of you men have been soldiers, sailors, you have served in the military. Some of you have been in combat. That’s a near death situation. What happens? Your training kicks in and it helps get yourself out of that situation or survive it. For many of us, we have not gone through training like that for whatever our experience is. What happens for us? Any training we may have had, any faith in getting through it safely flies right out the window.

When we think we are about to die, without enough training, we freak out, we do illogical things, and we may do or say things we don’t really believe. What little training we do have abandons us. That’s what we see happen to the disciples here. They are freaking out and afraid they are going to die.

 

 

 

Where is Jesus during all this? He is sound asleep in the stern, snoring away. He is not worried about the storm. The disciples see this, and they lash out at Jesus, crying out, trying to wake him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Marks Gospel shows them angry and frustrated with Jesus, saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

 

We can really see a lot of ourselves in the disciples if we are just willing to look. And not just the good things we want to see. Something happens to us. We lose our job, we get bad news from the doctor, we lose someone close to us, whatever it is. We look around and we see people living it up, people who are not following God succeeding and we are struggling, and we ask Do you not care?

This did not start with the disciples either. We see the prophet Habakkuk crying out the same sentiment. In Habakkuk 1:2-4, he looks around and cries out to God:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.

 

Habakkuk looks around and to his human eyes, it looks like God is just letting stuff happen, that he doesn’t care about those whom he loves, those who are living for him, in Habakkuk s Old Testament context, his chosen people.

The “storms of our life” cause us to wonder, to doubt, to forget. Now this story is partly about the storms in our life and how God will calm those storms, and get us through them, I’ll talk about that in a bit. Much more than that, this story is about a literal physical storm that threatened to kill the disciples. They woke Jesus up and he responded quite differently than the disciples. And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 

We saw earlier that these storms could be whipped up out of nowhere, and I’m sure they could disappear quickly. But the wind doesn’t just cease. The waves don’t just stop rocking. They settle down, they wind down. That’s not what happens here. It says the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Jesus calmed this violent storm INSTANTLY. This is a bonafide, powerful, doesn’t happen in nature miracle.

So far, up to this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has shown he has authority to forgive sins. He has authority over the Sabbath. He has shown he has authority in his teaching in. He has shown his authority over demons. And now, Jesus shows his authority over nature itself. As one commentary stated, this was an example of Jesus binding the strong man and reclaiming his physical creation with his power.

Mark 4:39 says that Jesus said to the storm “Peace! Be still!” That translation helps show the calm and control that Jesus had in this situation. But a more accurate translation of those word in the original language would come out “Be Muzzled.” I like this translation a little bit better because it better shows the power and control over nature that Jesus exhibits here in this story.

Jesus turns and looks at the disciples and asks Why are you afraid, have you no faith? I picture Jesus here lying back down and going back to sleep, but it doesn’t tell us here. I don’t agree, but I like that one commentator said of this part, “Sometimes Jesus gets grumpy.” Sometimes people are grumpy when they are woken up from a nap.

Now most of the time, when this story gets told, we stop there, and we then apply it to our lives. We say things like, if we have enough faith, God will you get you through the storms of life.

While that is true, if we trust in God, he will bring us through our trials, our struggles and we will spend eternity at peace with him.

 

But that’s not what this story is showing.

The disciples did not have faith here. Looking at the text, they did not even ask Jesus to save them.

From their angle, they were trying to keep the boat from sinking and them drowning and Jesus is still asleep in the boat. They not only didn’t have faith in him saving them, but They also forgot how much he loved them, how much he cared for them. Their response was, don’t you care that we are going to die? The disciples forgot their faith and the forgot Jesus’ love for them. Maybe more accurately, they didn’t feel Jesus love at that moment.

That’s makes it a little more real, doesn’t it? A little more personal? Because we all go through these times. At times, Gods feels so close to us we can almost touch him. He speaks to us with crystal clear clarity. And other times we don’t feel that.  Sometimes, he has never felt further away. We are blinded and we see no evidence of his love for us, his mercy and his grace. We don’t feel him when we read his Word, we don’t feel him when we pray.

They key here is “feel”. We will have times when we don’t feel something that we know is true. Then, we can go back to God’s word and trust in that, what we know is true, as opposed to what we feel.

I did not have a moment of salvation where I fell on my knees and angles started singing and a light shone down on me. I didn’t have that one powerful moment. Because of that, as a new Christian, I often doubted my salvation. In fact, it didn’t end with just being a new Christian, this doubt followed through much of my growth and maturation as a believer. I FELT that because I didn’t have that Saul on the road to Damascus moment, that My salvation was not clear cut, or strong or as assured, or legit, or whatever. You name it and I felt it.

My Pastor and numerous other mature Christians counseled me on this and took me to the Bible. Did I believe that Jesus Christ was my LORD and my savior? Did I believe that he was God, and he was Man? Did I believe that he was born, died for my sins and rose again three days later?
One of the places they kept bringing me back to in the Bible was Romans 10 verses 9 & 10:

 

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

 

Since I believed that and I confessed that, my assurance was not in whether I felt saved, but rather the truth of the scriptures.

That is what we need to remember during the storms when it feels like Jesus is nowhere to be found. Scripture tells us differently. One of the scriptures I always go back to is Joshua 1:9. God is telling Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

          We see in the New Testament as well, in Matthew 28, the last words that Matthew records Jesus saying: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

          Even when we don’t feel him close, he is there. One of the most comforting attributes of God is that he is omnipresent. He is in all places, in all times, all at once. That means he can be with me right now; he can be with you right now. He can be with the underground church in China, right this very moment. He can be with Martin Luther while he is walking up to post his 95 theses on the door to strike the most blow in the reformation. He can be with Jesus and he is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. And he is in all those places and all those times at the same time.

He will never leave us; he will never be away from us. He will never not love us or not care what we are going through. In fact, Jesus knows what we are going through on a very real level. We saw earlier in Luke that Jesus was tempted by Satan out in the desert and that he was able to overcome that temptation. Hebrews 2 also tells us that Jesus was tempted and tells us why that was important. Hebrews 2:18 tells us:

 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing I want to show is that the Disciples didn’t respond to this miracle the way we tend to think they should have. Jesus calms the storm in an amazing miracle, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief and celebrates and maybe even worships him, right? Not quite…

V 25 says, and they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

They are still afraid, although now their fear has shifted. This man that they have been spending day and night with, for possibly up to two years, just stood up and yelled at the wind and the waves, and the wind and waves slinked away like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs.

And they ask, who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him! They have seen him, as we saw earlier, show his authority over all different areas and now, showing his authority over nature. The word for fear here is the one that is used often in the New Testament when Jesus is telling people around him to not be afraid. This is not the word we see talking about the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. That one is more of an awe-inspiring reverence. In this case, in the original language, fear means fear, or afraid.

But in that fear, the disciples ask a question. They ask Who is he? This is the question. If we take one think out of this story and this passage, it is for us to ask the question Who is this? Who is Jesus? Jesus himself would ask this question a few chapters down the line, asking the disciples, who do you say I am?

I don’t think it’s an over statement to say that this is the most important question we will ever ask. The most important question we will seek an answer too. A question that has eternal consequences.

See, if we look at the evidence, if we see who the bible says Jesus is. If we see the historical, the archeological, and the secular evidence of the reliability of scriptures, if we look at all that, we see a man who claimed to be God. We see a man who performed many, many miracles during his ministry. We see a man who was nailed to a cross and died. We see the Bible then tell us that this same man, a human being, rose from the dead three days later, proving that he was who he said he was: God.

We also see that the bible says that we have no ability or way to be in a right relationship with God, except through this Godman. If you accept the evidence, that Jesus Christ is fully man and that he is also fully God, then we are reconciled to Him and we get to spend eternity with him.

However, if our answer to that question, who is he? Is any other answer than that…? then we get to spend eternity separated from him, in what Matthew calls eternal punishment.

That is why this question, who is this? Who is Jesus Christ? That’s why this is the most important question you will answer in your life. It determines or fate for the rest of time.

Please, if you have not answered this question already, or if you have answered that he is not fully man and fully God, there is still time. Time to look at the evidence. Time to look at the world and what God has revealed to us. Time to believe and to say, Yes, Jesus Christ is the Messiah, is who the bible says he is and is who he says he is. Don’t dismiss the question. Seek an answer. Who is this? Who do you say he is?

 

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

Luke 8:1-15 Jesus is the Son of Man: Parable of the sower

Luke 8:1-15

Jesus is the Son of Man

Parable of the sower

          All right! Leets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. As always, if you don’t have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and I can get one to you as a gift from Bangor Community Church.

So, we have been walking through Luke’s Gospel over the last number of months. In chapter 6, Luke focused on Jesus teaching the right understanding of the Word of God. Jesus followed that up in Chapter 7 with his actions, showing that He was who he said He was. Jesus has showed us that he had the authority to say the things he said and to do the things he did.

Here in Chapter 8, we are going to see that some will believe and follow Jesus Christ.  But we will also see that not everyone will follow and believe.

We are going to read this morning’s passage in two parts. In total, we will read and look at Luke chapter 8, verses 1 through 15. And we will do it multiple parts. We are going to start with verses 1-3. As always, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation, reading for your yourself the Word of God.

So, starting with Luke 8:1-3, Luke writes:

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their means.

 

          So, we have seen throughout the Gospels, it is almost always the unexpected that are saved by Jesus and end up following him. Luke finished chapter 7 showing us the sinful woman whose sins were forgiven, as the most recent example.

And then Luke mentions these ladies here in verses 1 through 3. And this would be very scandalous, and it was put in very purposefully. Rabbis would not teach women during those days, so Jesus having these women as followers would have been unusual.

Luke is showing throughout his Gospel that Jesus’ teachings and his salvation were open to everyone. And He makes a very clear point that these ladies were an integral part of Jesus ministry and the Apostles as well. We see it throughout Luke’s Gospel and we also see it throughout the book of Acts as well.

Paul writes in Galatians 3:28,  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  We are all created with different roles, different functions, but with the same worth and same dignity, the same standing before God.

We will see in the parable that Jesus says that the only qualification one needs to become a follower of Christ, only one thing that is needed to become a child of God.

So, lets jump into that parable, reading Luke 8:4-8:

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

So, this is maybe one of the more famous parables that Jesus tells. It appears in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels and really kicks off a series of parables here in Marks Gospel. I want to make sure we really look at this and the explanation that Jesus will be giving because there is a lot going on here.

So, he starts off with the sower going out to sow some seed. When he does this, there are 4 results that Jesus shares. First, some of the seed was sown on a path, where the ground is hard. The seed is unable to get into the ground and just ends up sitting on top of the soil and being eaten by the birds.

Next, the seed falls on rocky ground. There is some soil there, the seed sprouts quickly, shoots up fast, but has very shallow roots, no foundation. So, when the sun comes out it gets scorched and withers and dries out very quickly.

Third, the seed falls among weeds and thorns. It starts to grow there, but the weeds do what weeds due and chokes out the good seed, so that it doesn’t produce any harvest or grain.

So, these were the first three of the four that Jesus told us about. Notice that, despite initial outward appearances, none of these three ends up yielding positive results. That’s going to end up in a pretty low success percentage. But Jesus is not done, and he gives one more example.

Fourthly, the seed is sown onto good soil. It produces grain and yields a harvest that increases its yield. It increases as much as 30 times, 60 times and 100 times.

Jesus lays out these 4 scenarios and then he says something odd. He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you?

When you are teaching someone, when you are talking to someone, do you usually say things like that? Don’t all ears hear? Shouldn’t all ears hear? Jesus is going to explain that and the meaning of the parable next.

Jesus continues on in verses 9-15:

 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 

When Jesus taught to the public, he taught in parables. He did this on purpose because once he was with his disciples, often when he was with the Twelve, he would then explain the parables and some of the disciples might even understand them.

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah here. The context of that passage in Isaiah is interesting. It’s in Isaiah 6, and God asks, whom should I send, who will go for us? Now the use of the word, “us” is a different point for a different time, but Isaiah responds and says, “Send me, I’ll go!”

Here is what God tells him his message to the people will be. Isaiah 6, verses 9&10:

Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,[c] but do not understand;
keep on seeing,[
d] but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[
e]

and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

I then read the study notes for this section and it helps connect what Jesus is saying and what God is saying to Isaiah.

My Bibles study notes say this: The proclamation of the Word is paradoxical in its effect. The prophetic word closes the way of God to those who are rebellious, proud and hypocritical, but opens it to the deaf, the blind, the humble and the poor.

That’s what we see the teachings of Jesus showing us. The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. We often see the disciples not understanding even after Jesus explains it to them.

But Jesus says here that they will make sense to those who are in the know. To those who are not in the know, no matter how clear you make it, they will not understand. To those who have hardened hearts, closed ears, the Gospel, the Word of God is foolishness. Paul tells us such in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 &19:

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.”

We will understand nothing that Jesus says, without Jesus or the Holy Spirit giving us understanding. Proverbs tells us this, James tells us this, we just saw Isaiah and Paul tell us this and Jesus tells us this.

 

So, Jesus addresses all four of the situations that he spoke of moments ago. For the most part, this addresses 4 different kinds of people and their responses. However, we could also look at it as four different stages of life or situations where we hear the Word and our responses to it.

So first, Jesus tells us what the seed is that is being sown. It is the Word; it is the Gospel.

The first place the seed is sown is along a well walk, well-worn path. Satan has done such a good job make this path wide and easy, that when the seed is sown, when the word is spoken, there is no hearing at all, no acknowledgment whatsoever. The seeds are sown and immediately it is taken away. Jesus uses a path here in this parable, and he uses a path again in one of the other Gospels. Matthew 7: 13&14, Jesus tells us about 2 different paths in the world.

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.

Obviously, the path that these seeds were sown on was wide and easy.

The next situation is the seed sown on rocky ground, sprouting fast and withering quickly. I see this as someone who hears the word and starts to believe in their head, but has no heart change, no life change and as soon as troubles pop up, they bail. Practically, today, this could be someone who is walking along the path to, who is seeking, who is visiting church and interested in learning and seeking and something happens and turns them away.

The third is seeds sown among the thorns. I look at this and I see two specific instances that we see today. First is those who hear the word and may even intellectually believe, but at least acknowledge some validity to the Word. Yet, instead of changing their lives and handing it over to Christ, they refuse. They say, if I go ahead with this Bible stuff, with this Jesus stuff, I’ll have to give up all the things I like in my life. I’ll have to quit doing drugs and sleeping around, quit cheating, stealing, quit living for the world and I really don’t want to do that.  The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The second way I see this today is when someone is interested in hearing more, in seeing just what the Gospel is all about, but they are not willing or able to remove themselves from the people around them, friends, family, whatever, and they are so afraid of what those people around them will think that you can never get them into a one on one situation long enough to give them a chance to make a true, decision based on the Gospel.

I had one of these in my life a few years ago. He was mad at God and he would attack Christianity at any and all opportunity. I was able to live my life a way that allowed me to speak into his life IF and that is a big if, IF no one else was around. As soon as someone else was around, he felt, that to keep the image up and not open himself up to ridicule or whatever, he had to go on the offense.

Again, I want to point out that 3 of the 4 situations come away with a negative outcome. Again, see what Jesus said in Matthew, 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.

One of the four, the last of the four is what Jesus desires. The seed sown on Good soil, hearing the word and accepting the Word and producing fruit. Now this section, this situation, this outcome includes all of us who are called children of God. If we are believers, we are in this 4th section here.

And there are a few things I want to point out now that Jesus is done explaining the parable.

First, when you are out there, sharing the seed, sharing the Word of God, most people will reject it in one of those three ways. Only one of the four ways is a positive outcome. I can’t stress this enough when it comes to us sharing the Word. Most people will not respond in genuine conversion, at least not right away. Our job as one sowing the seed is not to ensure the good fruit-growing from it. That is the Holy spirit’s job. Our job is to get the word out there, to get the seed sown.

Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3: verses 6-9:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

And here is the thing. We sowed seed this past week. You all here are well experienced with seed planting, helping out after the fire last year, the commodities food boxes each month, things like that. That seed has been and will be sown throughout Bangor and the surrounding communities. At that same time, the odds are against us seeing immediate, long term, genuine results. And whether it is there or not, is out of our control. God is the one to determine whether the seed sprouts and whether fruit grows or whether it doesn’t.

The seed that we have all and will all sow throughout the community, many of those seeds wont sprout. God says, “Don’t worry about that, I’ve got that.” Of the seeds that do sprout, not all are going to automatically come here. There are many reasons people will go to certain churches and not to others. Some of those are valid reasons, some of those are petty at best, but plain wrong in many instances.

My point is that God tells us to do what he has entrusted us to do, regardless of what the results are. He tells us to leave the anxiety, the worry, the stress behind and trust in gods goodness and his perfect knowledge, his perfect plan and his perfect will. If those who have heard the Gospel, if they respond, believe and repent, then getting them connected with a Gospel Preaching, Bible Teaching, Believer Discipling church is the number one thing. When we believe, we become part of Gods church, Gods family and so as long as we are committed to a local, discerning and orthodox church, orthodox, meaning right, historical, biblical beliefs. As long as new believers get hooked up with a church like that, they are good. My point in that is that we should not be discouraged if we are doing our job, doing what gods has called us to do and we don’t necessarily, especially early on and right away, see the numerical growth or the outward fruit of those works God calls us to do. The benefits of VBS, of commodities, of Fire outreach and relief, are not often or immediately seen. That doesn’t mean we stop doing it. We remember that God is in control of all of it.

Getting believers into God’s word is crucial. If there are no roots for the seed to grow and take hold, what is that root system? If there is an unrealistic expectation that there will be no troubles, that you become a Christian and you get rich and don’t get sick anymore, what is the foundation that shows us what god has and has not promised?

The Bible is where roots can take place. The Bible softens ground. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. One of the stories we shared and taught the kids this week, Matthew 7:24-27:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Bible, the Word of God, God’s revelation of himself and Jesus Christ is that foundation. With Gods word as our foundation, when those rains come, when the thorns try to choke us and when the lack of root system causes issues, we will persevere. God will bring us through. We will not avoid hard situations and we will have the rains come, but God brings us through that with our foundation, our faith, everything still standing.

The last thing I want to point out is the mystery that RC Sproul points out in this parable. I’m going to paraphrase him here. He says the mystery here is not moral teaching about human’s hardness of heart. But instead, the mystery of this parable is the paradox that God’s kingdom, God’s reign, Gods power, is identified here with a fragile seed.

His point is that true power shows up humbly. True leaders will walk with humility. Jesus Christ is God. He is all knowing, all powerful, all everything. He is the King!

And yet, he comes down to us here on Earth as a human baby. He comes down in the must humble way possible. He comes down and he makes himself one of us. He puts off till later his right to reign on earthly as a warrior king and instead he gives up his life to die the most humbling death. The death on the cross. He does this for the forgiveness of our sins.

That is the seed that gets sown, that gets thrown on the soil. That is the seed that was planted in each and every one of us. So, lastly, take a look and ask, question, look into yourself and see which one of these four results are you? Are you one sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Are you one sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Or, as I pray everyone here is, are you one sown on good soil, the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I ask that you take that question seriously, don’t just assume the answer, because those thorns, that rocky ground can trick us and be deceptive. They can look good and inviting and encouraging at first, but in them there is no true transformation, no true regeneration. If there is, if we have that transformation, if the seeds that are sown are sown on what God makes into Good soil, the fruit that comes out of it will be incredible and God will give the increase and fruit will be born thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

 

Lets PRay

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

Easter 2021

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus raises the dead.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

          Thus, says the Holy Word of God.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And he did!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

Let’s Pray.

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 7:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Faith and Authority

Luke 7:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Faith and Authority

 

All right, please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. We are continuing through our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Each of the Gospels, as you read through them have a bunch of little subsections that we go through. They are each the life and more accurately the ministry of Jesus and so each section and subsection have a different setting or a different focus or whatever.

We just finished a section of Jesus teachings called the Sermon on the Plain. In this teaching, Jesus focused on showing us that our hearts need to be turned to love, whether our friends, our enemies, those who treat us well or those who treat us like dirt. To do this, w must use our wisdom and discernment that comes along with having our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit and living a life of Faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus finished off by telling us that if we do the things that he taught, it will show up in our actions. Jesus talked, he taught, and he used words. Now, he will be showing those things, teaching us with his actions.

Words and actions go hand in hand. If they don’t, there is a disconnect, there is an inaccuracy between what we say we believe and what we actually believe. And as we touched on last week, this is not talking about a single event, or a moment in time. All Christians will sin. We all fall short of the standard that God has set for us.  But this is talking about looking at the totality of someone’s life, or more importantly, our own life. And that disconnect is a huge sign that we need to pay attention to.

So, with hat thought in mind, that our actions need to match our words, lets look at some words. This week’s passage is Luke chapter 7, verses 1-10. As usual, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation as we read what the Word of God has to say.

Luke 7:1-10, Luke records the works of Jesus, writing:

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant[a] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion[b] heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

So, WE see Jesus spent chapter 6 teaching his disciples and followers. Here, as he finished up his teachings, he went into town. In this town, Capernaum, there was a Roman Centurion there who had a problem.

Centurions were military officers at that time. I’ve heard them compared as an equivalent rank of Captain. He would have been in charge of 100 or so men, hence the name Centurion, as in Century, as in 100. Now, it was rarely exactly 100, but that was the idea.

RC Sproul points out that every time we see a Centurion mentioned in the New Testament, they are men of good character. We see this in here in Luke 7:4. In Luke 23:47, in Acts 10:2 and in Acts 27:43.

 

This Centurion had a servant who was very sick. How sick? Well, lets remember that Luke was a physician. And he confirms that the servant was sick to the point of death. He was dying. There was nothing left to try, nothing left to do besides wait.

And we see that this was not just a slave to the Centurion. This was not some whipping boy or an errand runner. This was not just a servant. This reads to me like the Centurion and the servant were close friends. He would have meant a great deal to the Centurion, not as a commodity, but as a person.

This Centurion had heard of Jesus. He had heard of the healings. He had heard of the teachings of Jesus. He had heard of the sings and wonders that Jesus had performed. He knew that Jesus could heal his servant.

And what we are going to see next is three different perspectives. We are going to see the Jewish perspective. We are going to see the Centurions perspective and we are going to see Jesus perspective.

The Centurion sent some Jewish elders to speak to Jesus. That they would, speaks, again, to the character of the Centurion. And they did. The Jewish elders went to Jesus and pleaded the case of the Centurion. They tried to show how he was worthy. This is the Jewish perspective. They are applying merit to him, trying to show that he should have right standing before God based on merit, based on his good works.

They said, this man is worthy! He is a good man! He loves the Jewish Nation! We see that he did help build the Synagogue, presumably the one in Capernaum.  This perspective is one we see through society today. I’m good enough. I’ve done enough. I’ve given enough. That will earn my place in heaven.

Now, we know of course, that this isn’t true. This perspective is wrong. None of us can ever be good enough, do enough, give enough or anything to be worthy of the grace and mercy of God.

During this time, there were folks known by the Jewish people as “God Fearers.” These were Gentiles who believed in and seemed to worship the True God, but who did not convert to Judaism.

Was he saved by Grace? Was he that we would call a Christian in the way that we would call Abraham or Noah for example? IT appears at this point possible, if not likely.

Jesus obviously saw something, so he headed to this Centurion. Before Jesus got there, the Centurion sent some friends to intercept him. The Centurion, either had a change of mind and heart, was embarrassed because he didn’t know that the Jewish elders would promote his supposed worthiness. His message to Jesus started with “I’m not worthy.”

Then the Centurion recognizes, acknowledges and defers to Jesus authority. He knew Jesus was able to not only heal, but that he could heal from a distance, with just his word.

As a Roman military officer, the centurion would have had a great deal of power and authority at that time. Rome was occupying and ruling over Israel at that time and would have had absolute authority over any Jews that he wanted to order around any Roman soldier underneath him. He says this, “I know authority, I command someone and the do it. Period.” This centurion didn’t have to defer to anyone or show respect to Jesus, but he did.

HE recognized the authority within Jesus because he had authority himself. This is the centurion’s perspective. His authority was less than Jesus. He knew that all authority was handed down and given by God.  He was not worthy for Jesus to come all the way to his house.

This Centurion understood grace better than most of Israel did. He understood grace better than most of the church today does. He knew that anything Jesus would do was not because he was worthy in any way, not because he deserved it, but because the LORD is merciful and full of Grace.

Jesus was marveled at the Centurion. Scripture only shows us two times that Jesus was marveled. The first was in Mark 6:6, where Jesus marveled at unbelief in Nazareth. This is the second time, in the faith of a foreigner.

Every religion in the world, including the so called no religions, every religion in the world says do good, be good. They all have their own definition on what being and doing good looks like, but they all have the same call. Be good, do good and you will be accepted, by a god, by society, by friends and family, by who and whatever. Be and do good and be accepted.

Except we can’t be good enough. And that might sound like bad news. Except it is actually good news. We don’t have to be good enough. Jesus flips the script on this line of thinking. He says you are accepted, therefore, be and do good.

The Centurions faith here becomes the focal point. This is Jesus perspective. And he especially contrasts it with general Israel. One of the big points that Jesus makes in his Gospels, one of the biggest beliefs that Israel held that Jesus refutes is that, As Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring.

Not all who play the part, are a part of the family of God. Not everyone who is an Israelite is a child of Abraham. Not everyone who is a member of a church is a member of THE Church. Not everyone who says LORD LORD will be saved. This puts into action what we saw Jesus talk about last week.

The faith of the Centurion marvels Jesus. IT should marvel us as well, because it shows that faith, true faith can save anyone. We should not presume our salvation, but Paul writes in Philippians 2, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

We should not presume, but we can have assurance. John writes in his letter, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

It is by the grace of God alone that he gives faith. It is that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that offers us salvation. Part of what we read this morning, Hebrews 11:1 & 6: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Jesus calls on us to repent and believe the Gospel. Belief is required, but belief is only a part of faith. Faith is that deeper, that heart knowledge, the words paired with actions.

The scripture uses faith and belief interchangeably. John also famously writes, 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.”

The centurion had faith that Jesus was able to do what he had heard he could do. It appears that the centurion had faith that Jesus was who he said he was and had true saving faith. His salvation would come as a gift from God, not as a reward for something he did, or who he was, but because of who Jesus was.

David Gooding says this about salvation: salvation is not granted on the basis of man’s good works, worth or merit. It is given on the grounds of faith. And faith according to this story, is not confidence that we have done the best we could, that God will assess our merits generously; faith is abandoning trust in our works and merit and any thought of deserving salvation and relying totally and without reserve on the Person of Christ and the authority of his Word.

 

It is out faith in Christ and our faith in his word that drives us to bey and to follow.  Jesus says that our faith, the faith that saves is faith in His work on the cross, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now, each month we remember Jesus sacrifice, his shed blood and his death on the cross. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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