Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:18-20 – Accepting Jesus As The Messiah

We are continuing our series in Luke, entitled “Certainty In Uncertain Times.”  We will discover this morning why we can have certainty in uncertain times.  Thank you for the opportunity to share God’s Word with you.  There are few things that I love to do more, than preach God’s Word.Before we go any further, let’s do some review from the book of Luke.  We know that Luke is writing this account of Good News about Jesus to a recipient named Theophilus.  In writing this account, Luke sought to tell an accurate and orderly account so that Theophilus and others could be certain of the things that were heard concerning Jesus.  As we read through Luke, we see that he intended to point out that God intervened into our world and provided to promised Messiah that would bring good news to all the world.

So far, as we have studied we have seen key elements presented.  In particular, we have seen . . .

God’s preparation for

The coming of His Son,

God’s power at work,

God’s prophesies fulfilled,

God’s provision for

The problem of sin.

In case you are interested in additional study on this passage, we see this same account in Matthew 16:13-20 and Mark 8:27-30.  In addition to this account in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there is a similar event in John 6:67-71.

One fact to be mentioned here is that Luke places this story directly after the feeding of the 5,000.  If you read the other Gospel accounts, you will see that there was actually quite some time between these two events.  Luke left a lot out on purpose.  The purpose of Luke placing this event where he did was probably to show the significance of the disciples finally professing Jesus as the Christ after seeing numerous miraculous works by Jesus, including one of His greatest, the feeding of the 5,000.  It seems that Jesus’ purpose in asking this question to the disciples was to solidify in the minds of the disciples who He truly was.

We see that the important question in this passage is, “Who is Jesus?”  The popular Christmas song asks, “What child is this?”  However, here the people ask the question, “What man is this?”

The first thing we will see is that . . .

I. Jesus Is Not Just A Man.

There is no doubt that Jesus was in fact a man.  He was born just as you and I were.  He lived a life just as you and I did.  He was tempted.  He cried.  He had friends.  He became angry.  He became hungry.  He had to sleep.  The point in this passage is not to say that Jesus was not a man, but he was not just a man.  More than likely, the people that were predicting that Jesus was John the Baptist, or one of the prophets were not the people that hated Jesus.  They were probably just the normal people of the area surrounding Jerusalem.  This was probably the overwhelming public opinion of Jesus.

At that time, it was far-fetched to believe that a man could be the Son of God.  Although, the people of Israel did expect the Messiah to come, they did not expect Him to come in the manner that Jesus came.  They did not expect Him to live a life the way Jesus lived His life.  Make no mistake, there was no doubt in the minds of the people that something was different about Jesus, and so they discussed among them who He may be.  They came up with the best solutions that they could using their human minds.  However, we know that the things of God are not easily understood by the minds of men.

These questions about who Jesus was were already circulating before this time, and rightly so.  Surely the news of Jesus was spreading quickly.  Just think about all that Jesus had done in His short time of ministry so far.  We saw in chapter 9, verses 7-9, that Herod wanted to know who Jesus was and some had offered the same suggestions given in our passage as to who Jesus was.  In fact, John the Baptist himself wanted clarification as to the true person of Jesus.  He sent some of his disciple to Jesus to ask Him if He in fact was the Messiah that the Israelites were expecting.

The idea that Jesus was more than a man is still far-fetched in our time.  Nearly everyone acknowledges that Jesus existed, as the historical record clearly reveals.   However, many people simply label Jesus as a good man who lived a good life and taught good things.  A good man that taught good things and lived a selfless life may be a similar label that people would put on John the Baptist.  They would say something like, “He was a man that was in touch with God and tried to lead others closer to God.”

We see clearly, though, from the words of His disciples that Jesus was not just a man.

Next, we must recognize that . . .

II. Jesus Is Not Just A Prophet.

The people of Israel certainly believed in prophets, and there were many in the history of Israel.  However, it had been a long time since they had heard from any prophets, until the arrival of John the Baptist.  The people knew that Jesus appeared to be in touch with God.  He not only knew the Scriptures, but He proclaimed the Word of the Lord boldly, unapologetically, and with precision.  This was all very much in line with the behavior of a prophet.  Luke’s point here is not to say that Jesus was not a prophet.  Let’s be clear, Jesus was a prophet.  He did proclaim the Word of the Lord and the message that was sent to Him by the Father.

However, Jesus was much more than just a prophet.  Robert Stein, Senior Professor in the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says, “It is not an incorrect description, but an inadequate one by itself [to describe Jesus as a prophet].”  Jesus was greater than the other prophets, and all the other Old Testament heroes.  In fact, we see elsewhere in John 8:58 that Jesus was so bold as to say that He was even greater than Abraham, the greatest Old Testament hero.

Nearly everyone gives credit to Jesus as being a man, and many give Him credit as being a great prophet.  In fact, nearly every other religion in the world acknowledges Jesus a prophet.  Saying that Jesus was just a prophet is more of an injustice than saying Michael Jordan was just an athlete, or that Bill Gates is just a computer technician, or that Beethoven was just a guy who knew how to play an instrument.  Although the people supposed that Jesus was a prophet of some sort, they were way short of knowing who he truly was.

III. He Is The Christ.

We see from the declaration from Peter in verse 20, as spokesman for all the apostles, that Jesus was the Christ of God!  I am presuming that all of you know this, but Christ is actually not Jesus’ last name.  The term “Christ” is the English translation of the Greek word, “Khristós,” which is the Greek translation for the Hebrew word that means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”  Just as a matter of note, the Greek letter Chi was sometimes used as short to refer to Christ.  This is why in English you sometimes see the letter X as an abbreviation for Christ.  All that to say, that the word, “Christ,” that Peter used here was to refer to the Messiah, that was promised to the Israelites long ago.

The Jewish people were very familiar with the concept of a Coming One, that would be the Anointed of God.  This was prophesied and promised since the beginning of creation.

Peter’s confession is very short, but there is so much contained in those words.  The title “Christ” was not a title that you would just flippantly label someone with.  When Peter used this term, He ascribed to Jesus all the glory and honor that came with that title.  He was acknowledging that Jesus was indeed the One sent by God to this world.

 Luke places emphasis on the phrase “of God” after the word “Christ,” in order to keep with His emphasis of God’s intervention with His people.    Luke is making it clear that the apostles recognized that this was a result of God’s working.  It seems from this passage that something finally clicked in the understanding of the apostles about who Jesus was.  Although they had seen numerous miracles and heard much of Jesus’ teaching, it seems they previously did not understand who Jesus was.

Let’s look back at some of the miracles, as recorded by Luke, that Jesus had already performed up to this point . . .

• Jesus casts out an unclean spirit (4:31-37)

• Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (4:38-39)

• Jesus heals many and casts out demons (4:40-41)

• Jesus cleanses lepers (5:12-16)

• Jesus heals a paralytic (5:17-26)

• Jesus heals a man with a withered hand (6:6-11)

• Jesus heals a great multitude (6:17-19)

• Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (7:1-10)

• Jesus raises the son of a widow from the dead (7:11-17)

• Jesus calms the winds and the waves (8:22-25)

• Jesus heals a demon possessed (8:26-39)

• Jesus brings a dead girl back to life (8:40-56)

• Jesus heals a woman’s bleeding (8:40-56)

• Jesus feeds the five thousand (9:10-17)

Remember what the disciples said after Jesus calmed the storm, “Who can this be?  For He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him!” (Luke 8:25b).  It is clear, that they finally acknowledge that He is the Christ.

The apostles were not the only ones to name Jesus as the Christ.  Let’s do a little review . . .

• In Luke 1:26-28, an angel declared to Mary that Jesus would be the Son of God.

• In Luke 2:8-12, an angel declared to the shepherds that Jesus would be the Christ.

• In Luke 2:25-32, Simeon declared the baby Jesus as the Christ.

• In Luke 4:31-35, an unclean spirit declares that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

• In Luke 4:40-41, multiple demons declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

Luke is making it very clear, and bringing everything together, to show that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed Son of God.

Jesus was not just a man, He was not just a prophet, He was, and is, the One   True Son of God, the Christ.

How Does This Change My Life?

1. Embrace Jesus As The Christ.

Jesus was not just a man, a prophet, a good teacher, or a guru of sorts.  He is the Christ.  Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the prophecies made concerning Him.  He was sent by God, but not only for the redemption of the Jewish people, but for anyone in the world who will embrace Him as the Christ.

  • Realize the real reason that Jesus came

As mentioned earlier, many people give Jesus some sort of credit as a good man, that sought to bring peace and good teaching (or something like that).  However, this falls short of the true identity of who Jesus is, and of the true meaning of the Gospel.

Let’s be very clear . . .

* Jesus did not come to make you a better person. 

Although, He will make you a better person. 

* Jesus did not come to bring world peace. 

Although, one day He will bring perfect peace to His creation. 

* Jesus did not come to bless you. 

Although, no one can bless you greater than He can. 

* Jesus did not come to teach you good morals. 

Although, there is no better teacher than Him.

The reason Jesus came

Was to rescue us

From the curse of sin!

The Bible says it well in Luke 19:10, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

There is no greater message that the world needs to hear.  The famous British born, Canadian theologian J.I. Packer said, “The message of the Christ is that there is hope for a ruined humanity.”   When we celebrate that wonderful truth that God sent a Redeemer to rescue us from the curse of sin in our hearts, in our lives, and in our world.  There is nothing greater to celebrate.

  • Live Your Life As A Christ Follower.

For those of you that have a relationship with Jesus, do you live your life as if He is truly the Christ the Lord?  What I mean is, do you live your life knowing that you owe everything to Him because He has bought you with His life and rescued you from the death brought by sin?  Because, if Jesus is really the Christ, if He really is God, then that changes everything.  If He really is the Christ, then every day we live should be lived for Him.  Everything thing we possess should be used for His purposes.  Everything we do, should be done for His glory.

If He is not the Christ, then that changes everything.  If Jesus is not the Messiah, then all of this is a waste of time.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that if Jesus was not sent by God, then we are to be pitied more than all men.  If you do not live your life as if Jesus is Lord, why are you wasting your time?  The fact of the matter is, Jesus is Lord!   Jesus is the Messiah!  None of this is a waste, because we are devoted to Him because He given us new life, when we were dead in our sins.

Let me ask you, “Who do you say Jesus is?”  I beg you to answer that question in your own mind and in your own heart.  Let me close with this quote from one of my favorite books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When one of the characters, Lucy, stumbles upon a secret wardrobe that opens to the magical world of Narnia, she excitingly tells her siblings.  Not believing in magical worlds, her siblings dismiss it as false.  Upon discussing this with the professor that owns the house, he questions them as to whether they think Lucy is not telling the truth.  The siblings respond that she is not.  He then asks them if they think she is mad; they again respond that she is not.  Next, the Professor says, “There are only three possibilities.  Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth.  You know she doesn’t tell lies, and it is obvious that she is not mad.  For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

 This is the same logic that the author of that book, C.S. Lewis used to formulate the idea that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was Lord.  Not only did the apostles, and many others, profess Jesus as the Christ, but He Himself claimed to be God.   Either He was lying, He was crazy, or He was telling the truth.  My hope and prayer is that God will reveal to you that Jesus is fact the Christ, the Son of God.  He is fact, God Himself.  He is the only solution to the curse of sin.

The Bible tells us that because we have sinned, we are separated from God.  We are destined to an eternity in Hell in eternal punishment.  We cannot be in the presence of God because He is holy and we are not.  But God, because of His love for us, sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin.  He died in our place.  He lived a perfect life, was put to death in on a cross, was buried in the ground, rose from the dead, and ascended back into Heaven.

That is the Good News.  If you have never asked God to forgive you of your sins, and you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord, as the Christ, the Bible tells you how to do that.    Romans 10:9-10 says that 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.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:10-17 – Christ Meets our Every Need

We are continuing our study of the Gospel of Luke, a series we are entitling “Certainty in Uncertain Times.”  This series title comes from the opening verses of the Book, where Luke states the purpose of his Gospel as he is writing to a Christian named Theophilus.  Luke writes in Luke 1:4, “That you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”  What is true for Theophilus is true for you and me.  This Gospel is given to us that we may have certainty concerning the things of God, certainty in uncertain times.With our Bibles open to Luke 9, I want us to see the context in which we find today’s passage in verses 10-17.  You will recall from our last study in verses 1-9, that after the twelve Disciples go out in the surrounding villages preaching the Kingdom of God that Herod, verse 9, asks the question, “Who is this of whom I hear such things?”  Then, if you jump down to verse 18, you see Jesus asking the same question of the disciples.  He asks, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  They give various replies in verse 19 and then verse 20, “But who do you say that I am?”

On both ends of our passage today, you have this question, “Who is this Jesus?”  You have the question to introduce the passage and the question follows the conclusion of the passage.  And the passage itself, verses 10-17, answers the question.  Jesus is the Christ who meets our every need.  As God, Christ meets our every physical and spiritual need. 

One of the great hymns of the faith is a hymn that speaks of the God who will take care of us.  It goes . . .

 Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath His wings of love abide,

God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,

Through every day, o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,

When dangers fierce your path assail,

All you may need He will provide,

Nothing you ask will be denied,

No matter what may be the test,

Lean, weary one, upon His breast,

God will take care of you.

One of the encouragements I receive from studying God’s Word together with you is that the Bible reminds me continually of the God who will take care of me.  When we read the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – we are reading the historical events of Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was more than a man, a man who was also God.  Christ’s teachings, His miracles, and the whole of Scripture points to Jesus Christ as being God in the flesh.  What we learn of God is true of Christ – God meets our every need, Christ meets our every need.

I want us to look and learn about that truth this morning: Christ meets our every need.  Christ will take care of you this morning and learn how Christ will take care of us this week.  We will go back through this small passage of Scripture, verse-by-verse, and then afterwards I want to give you three reminders to take with you throughout the rest of your life that will encourage and sustain you.  Before we get to those reminders, let’s walk back through this passage of Scripture together to make sure we are interpreting the Bible correctly. 

Verse 10 tells us, “And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.”  The twelve Disciples return from their preaching circuit, having traveled to the small villages and towns around Galilee, preaching the Kingdom of God which is, in essence, the Gospel.  They return and they tell Jesus all that happened.  Jesus decides to take them away to a deserted place in Bethsaida, a small town, Northeast of where the Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus plans some quality time with the twelve, but He is then interrupted by the crowds. 

Verse 11 says, “But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.”  As I studied verse 11 this week, I was immediately reminded again about our Lord’s willingness to be interrupted.  Most of us hate interruptions.  We have got a goal, a task, a plan, or an agenda, and someone calls or knocks on the door and our plans are interrupted.  Jesus planned to have some one-on-one time with this smaller group of twelve, but the multitudes, several thousand men and women, track Him down.  Rather than getting upset about it, Jesus “received them and spoke to them.”

In our efforts to be like Christ, we should endeavor to be as kind when we are interrupted this week.  It is nearly always helpful to think of our interruptions as divine appointments.  God sent that person to knock on your office door for a reason.  God led that person to call or come by for a reason.  Embrace the opportunity when others interrupt you and see what God is up to.  We are also encouraged to know that our Lord does not mind our interrupting Him.  As often as we need Him we can come to Him.  Christ says, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) and, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).  To quote another hymn:”

 Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.

Are you grieving over joys departed?

Tell it to Jesus alone.

Jesus delights in our interrupting Him.  You cannot go to Him too much in prayer.  Just get alone somewhere quiet and tell it to Jesus.  You will often find that in just the telling of it to Him that He grants you a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Tell it this week to the God who is never too busy to be interrupted. 

Verse 12 say, “When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, ‘Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.’”   The Disciples are concerned for this group of over 5,000 people.  Luke tells us later that there about 5,000 men.  Matthew in his Gospel tells us that this number did not include the women and children (Matthew 14:21), so this number may be as large as 20,000 people.  The Disciples are watching the sun begin to go down and they get concerned about these people not having anything to eat.

Verse 13 tells us, “But He said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’  And they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.’”  It’ seems odd that Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.”  What He asks them to do is impossible!  They even reply, “Look, we have taken an inventory and all we have are about 5 loaves of bread and two fish.  We could go ourselves and buy food for all these people, but the whole thing seems crazy.” 

Verses 14 to 16 say, “For there were about five thousand men (again, add the women and children and perhaps as many as 20,000.  Luke provides the more conservative number).  Then He said to His disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of fifty.’  And they did so, and made them all sit down.  Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.”  Verse 16 sounds a bit like what Christ does in the Lord’s Supper.  He “looked up to heaven” in prayer, blessed and broke the bread, giving the bread to the disciples to set before the people.  Then verse 17 tells us, “So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.”

Somewhere there in verses 16 and 17 you have this incredible power of Jesus Christ in His multiplying the bread and fish from 5 loaves and 2 fish to enough food to feed perhaps as many as 20,000 people.  It is a miracle.  We cannot understand how it happened.  There is no natural explanation.  It is supernatural.  How does one get enough food to feed several thousand people from one picnic basket? 

Alexander Maclaren accentuates the power of Christ by writing, “The pieces grew under (Christ’s) touch, and the disciples always found His hands full when they came back with their own empty.”  Of course, the point is unmistakable – Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  Just as God provided in a similarly miraculous way through the Prophets Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:16, 2 Kings 4:42-44), so God – in Christ – provides because the Son of God was with the Heavenly Father in the creation of all things.  As the Bible says in Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible’ … “all things were created by Him and for Him…”

Now let me give you these reminders that surface from our study of this passage. 

First . . .

1) Remember What Christ Has Already Done For You.

It is a bit puzzling in verse 12 that the disciples insist on Jesus’ dismissing the crowds in order that they might find food and lodging in the surrounding towns.  I say it is puzzling because, if you will remember, one of the points Luke has been making from as far back as verse 22 of the previous chapter, in Luke 8:22 and following, is that Jesus Christ has all authority and power over everything.  There is nothing He cannot do and no need He cannot meet.  He calms the storm, demonstrating His Lordship over nature.  He is Lord over danger, Lord over demons, Lord over disease, and even Lord over death.  There is nothing He cannot do and no need He cannot meet.

Now we have these crowds of people who need to eat, and it is as though the twelve Disciples forgot about Christ’s power and authority over everything.  You almost sense of this from Jesus in His reply in verse 13 when He says, “You give them something to eat.”  Such a gentle reminder of their inability to take care of this problem and His absolute ability to take care of this situation.  How soon they forgot about the stilling of the storm; how soon they forgot about Christ’s power over demons, disease, and even death!  Did they not think that He could take of the physical hunger of a few thousand people

But really, we are not so different they were.  Jesus may say the same thing to you and me.  We cry out to Him, “Help Lord!  Get me out of this problem!”  Or worse, we do not even think of Jesus’ helping us.  Yet . . . He has gotten us through so much.  Look back over just the past few months and remember how much He has done for you.  Has He not met your every need?  I did not say your every desire.  We often say, “Jesus will meet our every need, not our every greed.”  There are some things Christ does not give us because He knows best.  But when you and are really walking in the Lord and trusting Him, our desires are His desires.  The Bible tells us in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Remember how He has met your needs yesterday and you will be encouraged that He will continue to meet your needs tomorrow.  He will meet every need you have in this life.  He is your Savior from sin, but also from anxiety, worry, anger, loneliness, and depression.

So . . . Remember what Christ has already done for you. 

Number two . . .

2) Remember Our Lord Often Tests Us To Teach Us To Depend Upon Him.

Once the disciples tell Jesus to dismiss the crowds, Jesus makes this statement in verse 13, “You give them something to eat.”  He may as well have said, “You calm the sea.  You heal this bleeding woman.  You raise this girl from the dead.”  That was an impossible task.  How in the world are the disciples going to get enough food to feed some 20,000 people?  Their befuddlement is sensed in the reply, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish!”

But . . .

Our Lord Jesus means to show that

What is impossible with man

Is possible with God. 

Jesus Christ makes

Possible the impossible. 

This is a test to teach them

To depend upon Him.

You see this even more clearly in John’s Gospel.  And, incidentally, this miracle is the only miracle occurring in all four Gospels.  In John’s Gospel, chapter 6, John adds a detail.  In verses 5 to 6 Jesus, turns to Philip and says, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”  Then John adds, “But this He said to test him, for He himself knew what He would do.” 

Our Lord often tests us to teach us to depend upon Him. 

  • He will put you into situations this week at work to teach you to depend upon Him. 
  • He will put you into situations at school this week to teach you to depend upon Him. 
  • He will put you into situations in your home and family and marriage to teach you to depend upon Him. 

So . . . Depend upon Him!

What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Nowhere is this any truer than in our need for salvation.  We cannot save ourselves.  It is impossible.  So, Jesus Christ meets our need for salvation, dying on the cross for our sins, taking our punishment upon Himself and rising from the dead.  What is impossible with man is possible with God.

Remember what Christ has already done for you.  Remember our Lord often tests us to teach us to depend on Him. 

And thirdly . . .  

3) Remember To Obey Jesus Even When It Does Not Seem To Make Sense.

You have to credit the disciples here.  Jesus implies that He is going to feed the crowd of some 20,000 people.  He tells the disciples in verse 14, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.”  And verse 15 says, “And they did so, and made them all sit down.”  Now, they had to be thinking, “What in the world is He going to do?!  I will do this, but it doesn’t make sense.”

There are times you and I come to the Word of God and we read things that do not seem to make sense. 

  • Tithe.  Return to the Lord 10% of all He has given you.  
  • Love Jesus more than your mother or father, husband, or wife. 
  • Sell all you have and give to the poor. 
  • Let the dead bury their dead. 
  • Come and follow Me. 
  • Walk by faith and not by sight. 

The words of the old hymn sums it up so beautifully . . .

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath His wings of love abide,

God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,

Through every day, o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you.

Trust Christ to meet your every need.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:1-9 – Living For Jesus

Grace For The Journey

It is popular to speak of our Christian life as a journey.  If we are followers of Christ, then we are on a journey of following Him.  We use terms like my “walk” in the Lord.   Paul frequently used the term “race” for the journey.  He said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have finished the race.”  Today’s study will give us two very practical helps this week for the journey; two encouraging challenges as you and I continue to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).  These challenges surface from our study of the nine verses in the beginning of Luke 9.   First, I have developed a very simple descriptive outline of this passage.  These three words will help us understand the flow of this text.  The first word is . . .

I. Authority – Verses 1-2.

We have been reading about the authority and power of Jesus ever since verse 22 of Luke, chapter 8.  We read of Christ’s authority over danger, demons, disease, and death.  Beginning in Chapter 9 we have Jesus delegating that authority to His disciples.  You see that in verse 1, “Then Jesus called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.”  This power and authority of Jesus is now given to the disciples to use on their journey.  What is their journey?   Verse 2 tells us, “He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”  If you jump down to verse 6 you will see that they do this, “So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”

There are three verbs used to describe the actions of Jesus in verses 1-2: The Bible says Jesus “called,” that He “gave,” and that He “sent” the disciples.  Do you see that in verses one and two?  He called, gave, and sent.  This is how God operates in the Old Testament, calling His people out of the land of Egypt, giving them the power of His presence and provision, and then sending them into the Promised Land.  God calls, gives, and sends.  Jesus is God and so we are not surprised to read here of His calling, giving, and sending.  The journey that Christ sends His disciples on here is a missionary journey.  He gives them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal the sick and to preach the Kingdom of God to the people of the surrounding towns there in Galilee. 

The Kingdom of God is not a place.  It is not so much identified as a place as it is a Person.  The Kingdom of God refers to the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.  This is why Jesus will say in the next chapter, in Luke 10:11, “The Kingdom of God has come near you.”  We enter the Kingdom of God by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.   When Christ returns, He will set up His literal Kingdom on earth.  That is why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 11:2).  Until then we must understand the phrase “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven,” as Matthew calls it, as largely the rule and reign of Christ.

Now it is helpful to think of this particular journey in Luke 9 as a “Dress Rehearsal” for a later journey.  The empowerment Christ gives here to His disciples is for only the duration of this particular mission.  The disciples are getting a taste of what Christ will call them to do globally in Luke 24 and Acts 1.  The power and authority they receive now for this limited, present journey will be given completely at a later time as Jesus says in Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.”  These directives to the disciples were applicable only to them for this journey, but of course, there are wider principles universally true and applicable to us today as we will see in a moment.  For now, the word “Authority.” 

The second word is . . .

II. Dependence – Verses 3-6.

The disciples were not to take much with them for this journey.  They were told in verse 3, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag (like a knapsack with extra food and stuff), nor bread, not money; and do not have two tunics apiece (as in a spare jacket).”  One mission team had a member who packed simply for the journey.  He put  everything he needed for their 12 day mission trip journey packed into one single backpack!  Not that is simplicity!  In Verse 4 Jesus states, “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.”  The point here is that the disciples were not to be moving about, seeking to better their situation by moving from one house to the next, seeking better housing if it became available later.  They were not to upgrade!  All of this speaks to the matter of simplicity.  But do not think that is the main teaching about what Jesus is teaching His disciples.

Among other things, Jesus is surely teaching about the disciples’ trust in Him to meet their needs.  It is very significant that Jesus later brings this up in Luke 22:35, where He asks the disciples, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?  And they said, ‘Nothing.’”  Jesus is teaching them to trust in Him to meet their needs, just as Jesus wants us to trust Him to meet our needs.  What are you worried about right now?  Trust Jesus to provide for you.  He will take care of your every need.

Verse 5 describes what the disciples were to do when they encountered opposition.  Some would be inhospitable and would not want to receive the disciples into their homes nor would they be interested in the message, the preaching of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  So, Jesus says, “When you leave that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”  This was a symbolic statement that said, “We do not even want the dirt from your town to remain with us when we leave.”  Paul and Barnabas did this later in Acts 13:51 when they were leaving Antioch.

This verse reminds us that many people will not want to hear our message about Christ.  We should not be surprised by opposition nor discouraged by it.  Remember that when you are teaching Sunday school or sharing your testimony or making visits.   JC Ryle says, “Christ does not despise His laborers [if] little of the seed they sow bears fruit.  The harvest may be small, but every laborer shall be rewarded according to his work.”  They are simply to go through all the towns preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere (verse 6).  This leads to the final word I wrote down. 

We go from authority to simplicity to . . .

III. Perplexity – Verses 7-9.

These verses describe the impact of the disciples’ preaching upon one particular person – King Herod.  The preaching of the disciples in the preceding verses, their going throughout the towns of Galilee and talking about Jesus and the Kingdom of God, gets to Herod and verse 7 describes Herod as “perplexed.”  You will remember that Herod had ordered the death of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, the one who was preparing the way for the Messiah.  You can read about it later in Matthew 14.  The reason we recall Herod’s killing John the Baptist is because of what we read in verse 7 and following.  Verse 7 says, “Now Herod the tetrarch (tetrarch is a phrase that means one of four rulers) heard of all that was done by Him.”    He heard about all that was done by Jesus and, “he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead.”  That is what some were saying.  What were others saying?  Verse 8 tells us, “And by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again.”  There was all of this talk about Jesus.  They wondered Who He was and rather or not He was the promised Messiah.  The people of God were looking for the Messiah and they knew that the forerunner would come first.  In Malachi 4:5 Elijah is prophesied to come again and make way for Christ.  Some believed Christ was Elijah.  Others believed John the Baptist had come back in the person of Christ.  Herod is perplexed.  This is why he says in verse 9, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?”  Herod is like, “I know John is dead.  I ordered his death so I know this person cannot be John the Baptist, but who is He?”  That really is the question each of us needs to answer – “Who is Jesus?”  Jesus Himself will ask that question of His own disciples a little later in Luke 9:20, “Who do you say that I am?”

The latter part of verse 9 says that Herod “sought to see Him.”  He sought to see Christ not because he was interested in following Christ, but either to see him perform some miracle (Luke 23:8) or to kill Him (Luke 13:31).  Herod himself was a king and he was threatened by this message of the Kingdom “of God.”

I said earlier that these instructions to Jesus’ disciples were applicable only to them for this particular journey.  And I said that there are some wider principles that are universally true and applicable to us today.  So let me give you two of these principles, two very practical helps this week for the journey; two encouraging challenges as you and I continue to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

First . . .

1) Live Every Day In The Power Of Christ.

The power that Christ gives His disciples in verse 1 is that same power that Christ gives to you and me today.  This is what Jesus refers to in Acts 1:8 when He said, “You shall receive power.”  Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 that, “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  We must live every day in the power of Christ.  You want to have strength in the journey?   Live every day in the power of Christ.  It is not your power.  It is His power working through you.  Jesus Christ has all power and authority over everything.  He says to us, His followers, “I’m giving you this power.  You live every day in this power derived from Me.  It is a power that works in you and through you.”

In the immediate context, this is a power to proclaim the Good News, to share the Gospel with others.  This is how we are able to talk to other people about Jesus.  You can witness.  Do not ever say you cannot.  It is not, “I can’t.”  It is, “I won’t.”  We won’t or we don’t often for fear, fear of what others will think or say or do.  But Jesus says, “I’m giving you power to witness, so use it!”  You can talk to your neighbor this week about your faith in Jesus Christ.  How?  By the power of Christ.  You can tell that person you work with about Jesus?  How?  By the power of Christ.  You can talk to your friend about Jesus.  How?  By the power of Christ.  Live every day in the power of Christ.

This power of Christ equips us not only to witness, but to do mission work, to teach others, to encourage and bless others, and to build up the kingdom.  This power equips us to battle temptation and sin.  But you and I need to avail ourselves to the power.  The reason most of us do not live every day in the power of Christ is because we choose not to.  Think of the power of Christ like an electric appliance.  The only way to run a refrigerator, for example, is to plug it in to the power source.  If you unplug it, power or no power?  No power.  And many Christians say, “Man, I want to defeat this temptation, but I just keep losing.”  We need to understand that every time we sin we make a conscious choice to unplug ourselves from the power of Christ.  You want to have power for daily living, you have got to be continually filled with Christ power.

That is why growing in our faith and knowledge of Christ matters.  We should have the desire that the Bible talks about in Ephesians 3:10 where it says, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection . . .”  That is why worship is important, the regular reading of the Bible is important, and daily prayer and sharing of the Word is important.  These things make us strong for daily living. They keep us empowered to run the race on the journey for Jesus.  Live every day in the power of Christ. 

Number two . . .

2) Love Nothing More Than The Person Of Christ.

 Jesus was teaching the disciples about simplicity on this journey.  He says in verse 3, “Take nothing for the journey.”  We noted earlier in our study that one of the reasons was to teach them to trust in Him to meet their needs.  But there is also here a warning against worldliness, a warning against accumulating a lot of clutter and things and stuff along the journey.  We must take care to not fill our lives with things that become more important to us than Jesus Christ.  We must love nothing more than we love the person of Jesus Christ.

These disciples were going around proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  That is, they were telling others about the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.  To live for the Kingdom of God is to say, “Jesus Christ is my everything!”  If you are going to go around telling people that Jesus is your everything then you had better look like you believe it.  You need to show that you love nothing more than you love Jesus.  So “take nothing for the journey.”  Someone has well said, “If you are in this thing for what you can get out of it, people will not believe you really love the Lord.” 

You need to show that you love Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God more than you love your family, your house, your clothing, and your things.  You need to show that you love Jesus Christ and the advancement of the Kingdom of God on the mission field more than you love the comforts of ease and luxury.  Like disciples shaking the dust from their feet we need to say, “I regard this present world as nothing but dust and dirt and I don’t want any of it clinging to me!”  Herod was a king who loved his kingdom.  I wonder whether we love the kingdom of this world more than we love the Kingdom of God.

Preaching is to be about Kingdom of God, living under the Lordship of Christ, about living for our King Jesus.  Preaching is not to be primarily about how our lives can improve in this world, how things can be made better, how we can become a better employee, have a better job, how to be happy, how to have a better love life, or whatever.  The message is not “the kingdom of this world,” but, the “Kingdom of God.”

I read this the other day in my quiet time: Jerry Bridges, “We need to get beyond the ‘how-tos’ of Scripture – how to raise children, manage finances, witness to unbelievers – and all other such utilitarian approaches to Scripture.  Such practical instruction is indeed valuable, but we need to go beyond that.  Our practical age has come to disparage a firm doctrinal understanding of Scripture as being of no practical value.  But there’s nothing more practical for our daily lives than knowing God.  Only in Scripture has God revealed to us the truth about His person and His character.”  Love nothing more than the Person of Christ.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 8:40-56 – There Is Power In Christ To Save And Make Whole

Grace For The Journey

We are continuing our verse-by-verse study of Luke’s Gospel and today we are concluding chapter 8.  In chapter 8 from verses 22 and following we have been reading about our Lord’s power and authority over everything. 

  • We read first of Christ’s stilling of the storm which demonstrates His power over danger. 
  • We then read of Christ’s healing the demon-possessed man, demonstrating Christ’s power over demons. 

This morning we will read of Jesus’ encounters with two different people which will show us Christ’s power over disease and death.  One could conduct a study of chapter 8, verses 22 to the end of the chapter and read about Christ’s supreme authority over danger, demons, disease, and death.

We will be studying today about Christ’s authority over disease and death.  Luke writes about two different people who meet Jesus after He and the disciples return from their journey to the other side of the lake.  You will remember from last time what happened on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus had healed the man possessed by a legion of demons, but the people of the area there, the Gadarenes, wanting nothing to do with Jesus, told Him to go away.  Jesus and the disciples get into the boat and they sail back West to the Galilean shore.  It is back on this Galilean side that these two different persons encounter Jesus and both of them meet Christ in their despair.  You could put a heading over these verses in your Bible and write out: “When Despair Meets Christ,” because that is precisely what is happening. 

I read this week about a frequently used phrase on most short-term mission trips – “Live In A Kid Mode.”  Most people who have been on a team going overseas for a short period of time will have heard this phrase at some point or another.  “Kid Mode” refers to “the recurring need for missional team members to not worry about all the details or to insist on having all the answers.  Just as a child needs to trust his parents to take care of the details so must team members trust their leader to take care of the details.”

I learned this on my very first overseas mission trip, but it wasn’t easy.  I am a planner for our team, and I like to know everything up front and how long we are going to do this and when will we do that, and so forth.  But most missional activity on the field changes moment-by-moment and frequently much of the planning beforehand is altered significantly later.  Every member of the mission team follows the leader, the leader on the team, who receives instruction from the leader on the ground, usually the person from the host country who will be there long after the team flies back home.  I had to go into “Kid Mode” when I did not know all the details about where we were going to be doing in the next day or what we were going to do.

 All analogies about our following Christ breakdown at some point and I do not mean for a minute to suggest that following Christ is exactly like going into “Kid Mode,” or that we are to never ask questions of Him or receive answers from Him but, in a very real  sense, our Lord expects us to trust Him when we do not know all the details or have all the answers.  This is the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith; not by sight.”  There is tremendous liberty in this, tremendous liberty in going into “Kid Mode” before our Lord!  We cannot always see everything up front.  We walk by faith, not a blind faith, but a faith that rests wholly in the perfect character and competent leadership of another, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is Jesus who says in this passage to a man whose daughter has died, “Do Not Fear; Only Believe,” and it is Jesus who says the same thing to you and me today, “Do Not Fear; Only Believe.”

Some of you are weighed-down by worries, troubles, and particular anxieties.  Some of you wonder how you are going to get through another day when the alarm clock goes off in the morning.  Our Lord has a word for us today: “Do Not Fear; Only Believe.”

Let’s study this passage together.  Is your Bible still open?  We are in Luke, chapter 8.  I want to go through this passage and then, after we have studied it, I want to give you three relevant truths that surface from this text.

In verse 40 Luke tells us that in contrast to the crowd on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee who told Jesus to go away, the crowd of people back on the western side “welcomed Him” and that “they were all waiting for Him.”  There are some who were being drawn more to Jesus than others.  But there was one man desperate to see Jesus.  Verse 41 tells us that his name is Jairus.  He is a synagogue ruler.  This means he presided over the affairs of the local Jewish synagogue.  He himself was probably a Pharisee and had the responsibility of coordinating the regular teaching services of the synagogue.  It was a position of relative prestige and power, but none of those things could help him at his moment of despair.  He falls down at the feet of Jesus and begs Him to come quickly as his only daughter, a 12-year-old is very near the point of death.   We read next that Jesus is on His way to the home of Jairus and we are waiting to read about His healing this little girl, but then there is an interruption on the way.

As the crowd are pushing and shoving and Jesus and the father of this 12-year-old-girl are making their way to the house, verse 43 tells us that a woman reaches out to touch Christ.  She is a woman who has an unusual condition; she has been bleeding 12 years.  Most scholars think that her condition was uterine, but we really do not know.  The point is that she has been bleeding for a very long time. 

When you compare these two encounters

It is interesting that this woman has been bleeding

For as long as Jairus’ daughter had been living, 12 years.

Luke himself a doctor wants us to know that this woman had sought medical treatment.  He writes in verse 43 that “she had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any.”  I find it a bit humorous that Luke omits a statement of fact that Mark includes in his Gospel.  Like Luke, Mark records that this woman had seen a number of physicians, but he puts it this way in Mark 5:26, “She suffered many things from many physicians.  She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.”  Dr. Luke omits all that negative information, perhaps in an effort to protect the medical community and defend his profession, but the point is this woman remains unhealed.

She comes up to Jesus from behind (verse 44) and touches the hem of His garment.   Jesus may well have been wearing the traditional garment worn by rabbis, a long robe with tassels at the very end of it.  This woman obviously had heard about Christ’s supernatural power and may have thought to herself that if she could just touch the very hem of His garment that this same power she had heard about would bring to her the healing of her bleeding.  She is right.  Verse 44 says that as soon as she touched the border of Jesus’ garment “her flow of blood stopped.”

Verses 45 and following tell us then that Jesus stops and asks, “Who touched Me?”  It is a remarkable question as pointed out even by Peter who seems to always be the spokesman for the group.  Peter is like, “Jesus, there are hundreds of people pushing and shoving and pressing up against us, what do you mean, ‘Who touched Me?’  It could be anyone?!”  But Jesus is not talking about those who are pushing and shoving.   He is talking about someone who reached out consciously and willfully to touch Him with the touch of faith.  He says, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”  Our spiritual imagination can see the disciples and some in the crowd asking, “Did you touch Him?  Did you?   Did you,” and all denied it.

This poor woman, whom verse 47 says was hiding, comes “trembling and falling down before Him.”  The Bible tells us that “she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.”  Now this is an interesting description of the event.  Why was this woman hiding?  The immediate reason seems obvious: Jesus is God in the flesh and appearing before this Holy One had to cause a bit of anxiety and then further to have been put on the spot must have been alarming to her.  She is scared.  But as a woman who was bleeding she also would have been considered ritually unclean according to Leviticus 15:19-27.  Anything this woman touches, then, also would have been considered unclean.  I suppose this may have motivated her to hide what she had done.  But Jesus is God in the flesh and nothing can make Him unclean!  When the woman finally comes forward and tells her story, the tender, loving response of Jesus is predictable, as we see in verse 48, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.”

 It is hard not to notice the importance of public profession here.  Our Lord wants no secret followers.  He wants no private disciples.  When we speak of the Christian faith as a personal faith, we do not mean private.  We mean that we personally, as an individual person, we are to place our faith in the person of Jesus Christ.  But the Christian faith is a public faith.  Everyone Jesus calls to follow Him is called to follow Him publicly.  We are not to be ashamed of Christ.  Luke will record the very words of Christ in the next chapter, Luke 9:26, where Jesus says, “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”  If we are ashamed of Christ, we are not a follower of Christ. 

Jesus lovingly tells this woman her faith has made her well and verse 49 tells us that while He is still speaking, someone comes from Jairus’ house and reports the bad news.  He just blurts out while Jesus is still speaking – we do not know who this guy is, but he would not make a very good hospital chaplain – He just blurts out, “Your daughter is dead.  Do not bother Jesus anymore.”  It is an interesting statement because the suggestion is that, while Jesus can take care of things like stopping a woman from bleeding, but this is something beyond the limits of His power.  He can do this much, but that is all.  He can do this, but He cannot do that.  He can heal sickness, but He cannot raise the dead.  Well . . . Luke shows us the power and ability of Jesus!

Jesus says to Jairus in verse 50, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.”  If this is the first time you have ever read the narrative, I am sure you are reading faster at this moment because you cannot wait to see how this turns out!  They eventually get to the house and before they go in, Jesus selects three of His disciples.   He cannot have everyone in there, but it is important that He have some of them there.  He is always teaching, always discipling.  He takes Peter, James, and John – the inner core of disciples – with Him inside to witness the miracle.  Also going inside the house are the mother and father of the girl.  When they open the door, they are met with the weeping and mourning of people on the inside, mourning because of the death of this little girl.  Our Lord says to the mourners in verse 52, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.”  The mourners then begin to ridicule Him as though He does not know what He is talking about.  But of course, our Lord is speaking pastorally and metaphorically.  He is God.  He is in control.  This girl’s soul has left her body.  Her eyes are closed, but in a moment, He will restore her soul to its body and open her eyes like one rises from sleep.  The Bible tells us that He takes the little girl’s hand into His own and says, “Little girl, arise.”  Verse 55 declares, “Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.”  Of course!  Jesus Christ has power over danger, demons, disease – and even death.  Proof positive the little girl is alive is her rising up immediately and then eating something.  Her eating something shows that not only has her spirit returned, but that the physical part of her being is also working properly, she is eating; a miracle confirmed.

We are not surprised by the first half of verse 56, which says, “Her parents were astonished.”  No doubt!  But we may be surprised by the second half of verse 56, which says, “He charged them to tell no one what had happened.”  Quite the opposite of what most of us would expect.  In fact, you may recall from last time that Jesus told the formerly demon-possessed man to go tell everyone what great things God had done for him (8:39).  He tells the man there to go tell everyone, but he tells the parents here to tell no one.  We can reasonably infer why this is from the geographical context.  When Jesus was on the other side of the Sea of Galilee He was largely in Gentile territory.  No fear there of anyone misunderstanding His role as Messiah.  But here, on the western side, here in Galilee; largely a Jewish territory, there were a number of people expecting the Messiah to be a political savior rather than a suffering Savior.  They would not understand and He is not yet ready to die on the cross.  He tells the parents to tell no one what had happened, a seemingly impossible task in light of the present miracle with their daughter.

Now if one main theme concerns the unlimited power and authority of Christ over all things, then the other main theme concerns our faith in this Christ.  In the remainder of our time, I want to build on this statement of our Lord’s to Jairus: “Do Not Fear; Only Believe.” 

What does it really mean to believe Jesus Christ? 

Number one . . .

I.  Believing Christ Is To Reach Out Consciously And Willfully To Him.

This woman who was bleeding for 12 years does something no one else near Jesus does: she reaches out consciously and willfully to touch Jesus Christ with the touch of faith.  Think about it: there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people pressing against one another.  Many are bumping into the disciples and bumping into Jesus as they go along.  This fact is substantiated by Peter’s protest.  He says, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You” (Verse 45).  In other words, “How can you ask who touched You?  Thousands have touched You!”  These people were just there, close to Jesus; some of them bumping into Him unconsciously or unwillingly, but only one person reached out with the unmistakable intention of touching Him with the touch of faith.

This is why Jesus stops and asks, “Who touched Me?”  There was something different about this touch.  Power went out from Him because a woman touched Him in faith.  She believed she would be made well just by reaching out and touching Him and she was right.  Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”  The Greek reads literally, “Your faith has saved you.”  This was salvation, both physical and spiritual.  Why?  Because it was the touch of faith.  This woman believed in Christ.  She may not have been able to score highly on a test of theology and doctrine at this point, she did not know everything about the needed process, but she fully trusted Jesus Christ as the Savior of her life.  She rested in Christ.

This reminds us of a point we discussed first some weeks ago concerning “great faith.”  Do you remember?  We said “great faith” is not, “If I just try really hard and grit my teeth and close my eyes and really, really, really, really believe then I will have great faith.”  That is not great faith.  That is just great self-effort and energy!  Great faith is not faith inside me, but faith outside me.  Great faith is faith in the objective reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is not the size of your faith that matters;

What matters is the power and ability

Of the One in whom your faith rests.

That is why this woman touched Jesus.  There was nothing special about her.  She just went to the right person.  She did what some of you need to do today.  She went to Jesus.

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Not everyone in the crowd was looking in Jesus.  Some came very close to Him and some even touched Him, but we read of only one person in the entire crowd who touched Him with the touch of surrendered faith.  Many thronged Him, but only one touched Him.  Only one reached out consciously and willfully and touched Him with the touch of faith.  Think of it!  Many come very close to Jesus Christ, but never touch Him with the touch of faith.

Many people get near Christ, but being near Christ does not, in and of itself, save a soul.  You can get really close to Christ and still be lost because you do not reach out to Him in surrendered faith.  Many people all over the world on a Sunday morning come near Christ.  Many listen to sermons about Christ, sermons in a church building or sermons on the radio, but not all touch Christ.

Touching Christ with the touch of faith is something only the Holy Spirit can do you yourself can do by reaching out consciously and willfully to Christ Jesus.  We must touch Him with the touch of faith. 

Secondly . . .

II.  Believing Christ Is To Move Ahead Without All The Answers From Him.

Jairus has just heard that his daughter is dead.  Remember what the messenger said?  “Your daughter is dead.  Do not trouble the Teacher” (Verse 49), and Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not fear; only believe” (Verse 50).  What range of emotions must have gone through Jairus’ mind!  He has just learned his daughter has died and he is at once grief-stricken, but then Jesus says, “Never mind what you have heard.  Do not fear; only believe.”  Does Jairus believe?  He does.  We know this because he continues walking with Jesus and they make their way to Jairus’ house.

Imagine now what is going through the mind of Jairus!  A trusted friend from the synagogue has just passed along reliable information concerning the death of his daughter.  He must be thinking, “How can Jesus say, ‘Do not fear; only believe?’ Believe what?!  Believe she is not really dead?  Believe she’s better off now because she is dead and no longer sick?  Believe at the resurrection I will see her once again?  Believe what?!  How in the world can I not be afraid?  How in the world can I just believe?!’”  But, nevertheless, Jairus does believe.  He keeps moving ahead even though he does not have all the answers.

There is an encouraging life-changing message here for us.  Believing Christ is to move ahead without knowing all the answers from Him.  We do not insist on having our Lord map out everything for us.  We do not insist on His giving us all the details.  There is great liberty in going into “Kid Mode” before our Lord.  We just trust Him as the loving God who is in complete control of all things; the God Who always does what is right and never fails to meet our needs.

Believing Christ means we move ahead without all the answers from Him.  That is how Daniel and his three friends stepped into the fiery furnace without knowing how it was all going to turn out.  They just moved on without having all their questions answered.   Read about it in Daniel, chapter 3.  They just went on without having all the answers.  That is how Peter slept soundly in prison the night before Herod intended to cut off his head.  Read about it in Acts, chapter 12.  Peter just went to bed without having all his questions answered.  That is how many of you will go on this week if you will but walk by faith and not by sight.  Believing Christ means you will move ahead without all the answers from Him.

Faith keeps us moving forward when we feel like we are moving backward.  Faith keeps us looking upward when we fell like falling downward.  Faith puts a smile on a frown, shines a light in the dark, and promises that all will be well because the Lord says, “Do not fear; only believe!”

Believing Christ is to reach out consciously and willfully to Him.  Believing Christ is to move ahead without all the answers from Him.  Thirdly . . .

III.  Believing Christ Is To Benefit From All The Power Of God In Him.

Only God has absolute power over the two effects of the Fall of Man: disease and death.  How many physicians had this bleeding woman seen?  We are not told, but Luke suggests she had seen many over a period of 12 years and spent every dime on medical treatment.  Here is a reminder to us that God alone is the ultimate Healer of all that ails us.  We do not always think of God’s healing us when we pop the Advil into our mouth and swallow it with some water, but if our head stops throbbing it is only because the Great Physician has healed through the means of medicine.  He chooses to heal or He allows the sickness.  It is up to Him.  He knows best.  We thank God for skilled doctors, expert surgeons, and helpful drugs, but it is God who chooses to work through the doctors and it is God who works through the dosages.  He alone has absolute power over disease.

And He alone has absolute power over death.  He says to the dead, “Arise” and the dead rise.  Only He can grant life after death.  He alone holds the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).  Have you reached out and touched Him with the touch of faith?  No one can do this for you; you must do it yourself, boldly, unashamedly, and publicly. 

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertainty Times: Luke 8:26-39 – He Has Done Great Things

Grace For The Journey

As we look at Luke, chapter 8 we read the first verse of the passage, where the first words if verse 26 are, “Then they sailed,” and we are reminded of where we left Jesus and the disciples last time.  They were in a fishing boat making their way East across the Sea of Galilee.  You will remember that a windstorm came suddenly upon the waters and the disciples began to fear for their lives.  They called upon the Lord Jesus and Jesus calmed the waters in an instant.  They were left wondering, as the last part of verse 25 stated, “Who can this be?  For He commands even the winds and water and they obey Him!”  Praise the Lord, the boat is still sailing, but now on calmer waters.  But as we are going to see in today’ tudy, while the waters are now calm, things are not so calm on the land where they will disembark.  

Our study this morning comes from the statement Jesus makes to this newly cleansed and demon-free man there in verse 39, “‘Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.’  And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.”  God has done great things.  I wonder whether we would be able to tell others what great things God has done for us?  We sing of this phrase enough as we gather together for worship . . .

“Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,

And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;”

Or . . .

“He has done great things

He has done great things

He has done great things

Bless His holy name.”

But imagine if a friend of yours asks this afternoon, “I was wondering could you tell me some of the great things Jesus has done in the Bible.  And then I was wondering if you could tell me some of the great things that Jesus has done recently in your life just this week, because I assume that if you sing about the great things He has done then surely you are prepared to enumerate a few of them.”  What would you say?

Our passage this morning helps us consider the great things our Lord has done.  We will go through the verses and learn four truths that help come to understand this passage.  Afterwards, when we have gone through the passage together, I want to give you some practical things to do in light of what the text teaches us. 

This first word is . . .

I.  Troubled And Bound – Verses 26-27.

We are introduced to a man in verse 27 who is alienated from society.  He is demonized and marginalized by the people in the nearby town.  They had kicked him out because of his being demon possessed.  He wears no clothes, apparently because he cannot keep them on himself, forever running, forever falling, and forever being tortured by a number of demons that had possession of him.  Verse 27 ends by telling us that this man did not live in a house but among the tombs in a graveyard outside of the town – he was homeless, hurtful to society, and helpless to change his life.

In our last study we saw that every one of us at any point of our lives is either in a storm, or we have recently come out of a storm, or we are getting ready to head back into another storm.  That is certainly the case here as the disciples, still reeling from the horrible storm in the preceding verses have to be like, “Whew!  Glad we got out of that,” but no sooner do they cross the now calmer waters of the Sea of Galilee than they are met by this crazy demon possessed man in verse 27.  Fortunately, the Jesus who was “in the boat” with them in the storm remains right there with them now in the country of the Gadarenes.  This man was experiencing alienation. 

Word two . . .

II.  Touched By Jesus – Verses 28-34,

The demon possessed man and Jesus now meet.  Verse 28 says, “When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg You, do not torment me!’”  It is really interesting to me of how the disciples’ question of the preceding passage, “Who can this be,” is answered now by the demon possessed man, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.”  I am not sure the disciples were even prepared to confess as much about Jesus.   Yet, this true statement about Jesus comes from the mouth of a demon possessed man, reminding us of James 2:19, “Even the demons believe and tremble.”  

The demons believe what the natural man does not,

That Jesus Christ is the Son of the Most High God.

Demons are real.  There is an ongoing battle between light and darkness, between God’s heavenly host of angelic beings and the Devil’s demonic host of angelic beings.  This does not mean that we need to be worried and forever looking for demons in our living rooms or automobiles or coffee pots.  Nor does it mean we should have an over-fascination with demons.

Recently, the Catholic Church drew a lot of attention when Roman Catholic bishops hosted a meeting on exorcism in Baltimore, Maryland.  50 bishops and 60 priests gathered together to learn how to discern whether a person was genuinely demon possessed and what to do if, in fact, they determined the person was.  According to the Catholic Church only priests and those in the hierarchy of the church are capable of performing what they call the “rite of exorcism.”  The Bible mentions no such rite, ritual, or sacrament of exorcism.  Demons tremble at the name of Jesus Christ and His glorious presence.  We must respect the power of demons, but we must also remember that James 4:7-8 says, “Submit to God.   Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

It is always important to remember that a Christian can never be possessed by a demon.  When we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God literally indwells us by way of the Holy Spirit.  This is why John can say in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  Christians can be tempted and oppressed, but they can never by possessed by a demon. 

In verse 29 we read that Jesus had commanded the demon to come out of the man and then we read a little bit more about this poor man’s condition.  Verse 29 says that the demons had often seized him so that, apparently, people of the nearby village would try to protect the man from harming himself, placing him in chains.  But the man would break the chains and the demons would drive him into the wilderness.  It really is quite a sight.

Verse 30 says that Jesus asked him his name.  He answers, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.  This helps us understand why sometimes the man speaks and sometimes the demon speaks and sometimes the demons speak as one voice and sometimes as many voices.  The word “legion” is a word from the Roman Army, referring to 6,000 soldiers.  And the point is that this man had a lot of demons taking over his body.

The Bible teaches us here that these demons know the power of Jesus Christ.  They know He is more powerful than they so they beg Him, in verse 31, that Jesus would not command them to go out into the abyss.  The abyss is the final destination of Satan and his angels.  You can read about it later in Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:1-3.  There is a herd of swine, a herd of pigs, nearby, revealing to us that the place where Jesus and His disciples are is a place largely populated by Gentiles.  Pigs were off-limit to Jews (Leviticus 11:7).  The demons know Jesus will succeed in delivering them out of this man.  They do not want to remain disembodied spirits so they ask Jesus to send them into the pigs.  Jesus concedes and verse 33 tells us that “the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned” and then, verse 34 tells us, “When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.”  That would have been quite a sight, a large of herd of pigs squealing and running off the cliff and into the water.

There are many questions left unanswered in this passage and I am not going to attempt to answer them, nor will I pretend to know all the answers to them.  Luke’s main point in recording this event is to . . .

Demonstrate that this Jesus

Who has authority over the storm

In the preceding passage has authority

Over the spirit world in this passage.

That’s Luke’s main point.  Jesus has authority and power over the demonic. 

The third word is . . .

 III.  Transformed By The Power Of Christ – Verses 35-37.

The man has been transformed, cleansed from the demons that possessed his body.  Verse 35 says, “Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.”  This is a different man.  He has been transformed from a demon-possessed man to a normal human being.  The word of Jesus Christ accomplished this. 

But the people from the nearby town do not like what they see.  The last part of verse 35 says that these folks “were afraid,” and then verse 37, “Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.”  This is not the kind of fear that leads to following the Lord, it is a fear of the unknown, a fear of something you cannot control.  It may even have been a fear of losing financial gain or property.  A number of these people valued pigs more than people. 

JC Ryle tells us about this verse, “It has been remarked by many commentators, that these Gadarenes are an exact type of the men of this world.  They saw the miraculous deliverance of a fellow creature from Satan’s power, and took no interest in it.  But they saw the loss of their swine with deep concern.  In a word, they cared more for the loss of swine, than the saving of a soul.  There are thousands like them.  Tell them of the successes of missionaries, and the conversion of souls at home or abroad, they hear it with indifference, if not with a sneer.  But if you tell them of the loss of property, or a change in the value of money, they are filled with anxiety or excitement.  Truly the generation of the Gadarenes is not yet extinct.”

The last part of verse 37 tells us that Jesus leaves them, “And He got into the boat and returned.”  That should alarm us somewhat.  If we refuse to follow Christ one day, there is no guarantee the Holy Spirit will draw us to Him the next day.  Jesus got into the boat and left these people in their sins.  They were disinterested.  They lost their chance to be as transformed as this man.  Do not resist the Spirit of God Who tugs at your heartstrings to draw you savingly to His side.  Do not tell Him, “No.”  There is no guarantee your heart will be warmed again by the Holy Spirit.  This man was troubled, touched by Jesus, and transformed.

There is a fourth word . . .

IV.  Testimony About Christ’s Power – Verses 38-39.

Verse 38 states, “Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him.”  That is understandable, isn’t it?  This man has been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.  He wants to stay with Him!  Verse 39 tells us, “But Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.’  And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.”

This guy, who was bound and burdened by sin and Satan, goes on an evangelistic crusade, proclaiming what great things Jesus had done for Him.  This is what all true followers of Christ do.  Following Jesus Christ includes the responsibility of telling others about Him.

By the way, do not miss what Jesus says in verse 39, “Tell what great things God has done for you.”  Then we read, “He went his way and proclaimed what great things Jesus had done for him.”  See the connection?  Jesus has the same status as God.  To speak of Jesus is to speak of God, God who became man, coming to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Never let anyone try to tell you the Bible nowhere teaches the full deity of Christ.  He is God.

Let me give you a few actions to take in light of the passage.  Think of these actions as tools for your toolbox this week.  When you go through life this week you carry this toolbox with you and when you get in a bind, you open it up to help you fix the various things you face. 

Here is the first truth this passage asks us to live by . . .

 1) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Struggles.

If you are an honest follower of the Lord Jesus Christ then you will admit to struggling in your spiritual growth.  The unbeliever knows no such struggle.  Many people can come and listen to the preaching of the Word and feel smugly that they are okay.  They think in their heart, “This preaching seems to be for everyone else.  I’m okay; I’m a good person, no worries here.”  This is how the unbeliever talks.  He thinks he is good enough to get into heaven.  He thinks the preaching of the Word is for everyone except her.

We must always come to worship prepared to hear a Word from God.  The spirit of our heart should always be, “It’s not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord standing in need of prayer” . . . “Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening.”  If we come to worship this way, God will, indeed, speak to us.  We come humbly and broken.  We admit we are weak and in need of God’s Word.  We need the instructive and correcting power of the Word of God because we all – each of us – struggle in our spiritual growth.

The Good News is that the same power that frees the man of demons can free you from whatever binds you.  Whatever your struggle, know that the same power that frees the man of demons can free you.  Jesus is bigger than your struggles.

We said earlier that no Christian can be possessed by a demon, but a Christian most certainly can be oppressed by a demon.  An unhealthy attitude, an addiction, a mental or emotional preoccupation – all of these are ways in which the prince of this world seeks to rob us of our joy in Christ.  He wants us to feel defeated, demoralized, and in despair.  He endeavors to make us feel we are of no use to the Lord, that because of our continual struggle against the flesh we are unspiritual and ungodly.  But we need to remember that one little word from our Lord Jesus Christ will defeat the enemy’s hold on us.  God loves us and will deliver us from that which binds us.  The Bible says in Romans 8:37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

I do not know what each of us battles, but I know that if we have a pulse that every one of us battles something or other.  Remember that Jesus is bigger than your struggles.  Be encouraged by the words of James we noted earlier, James 4:7-8, “Submit to God.   Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  Continually draw near to God and ask for the aid of His power to defeat the things that war against you.  Remember that Jesus is bigger than your struggles. 

Number two . . .

2) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Sorrows.

Apart from the power of Jesus Christ, this man was marginalized by society, alienated from others, living a life full of nothing but sorrow and darkness.  But Jesus has a divine appointment with this man.  He crosses the storm-tossed sea to come to this man to deliver him from his sorrows.   Then Jesus sends the man on his way.  He tells him in verse 39, “Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you.”  The man went home changed.  I imagine how his wife must have reacted when her husband who had been dramatically changed entered the door.  I wonder what it was like for the children when a new daddy, changed by Jesus, stepped inside.  Jesus changes us and delivers us from our sorrows.

Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  Many of us today may feel a sorrow we are sure no one else will understand.  We have a battle on the inside known only to our Lord.  This same Jesus, who traveled across the Sea of Galilee to heal a man tormented by alienation and separation, comes to you today to deliver you from the same plight.  Trust in Him this morning to deliver you from your sorrows.

Remember Jesus is bigger than your struggles and bigger than your sorrows. 

Number three . . .

3) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Sin.

This man pictures what conversion looks like.  The man pictures what it looks like to be saved from our sins.  Before he meets Jesus, he is running around all over creation.  But after he meets Jesus, he is sitting at his feet.   Before he meets Jesus, he is naked, lost, and his mind, filled with the ways of the world.  But after he meets Jesus, he is at peace, clothed, and in his right mind.  This is a changed man.

Has our Lord Jesus Christ changed you?  Of all the “great things that He has done” can you say that He has saved your soul?  Are you clothed in the righteousness of Christ today?  Are you in your right mind today, living in accordance with Romans 12:2 which says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind?”

If Jesus has crossed the Sea to come to you today, do not turn him away.   Do not push Him back into the boat and watch Him sail away, never to return.  Come to the One who comes to you first.  Come to Christ and be saved.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 8:22-25 – The Miraculous Present And Power Of Jesus

Grace For The Journey

We are studying our way through the Book of Luke, verse-by-verse, allowing the Bible to determine our topic each week.  Verse-by-verse biblical studying and preaching through books of the Bible safeguards us from deciding what we want to talk about and then looking for verses to back it up.  Rather, biblical studying and preaching through books of the Bible allows the text to speak for itself.  It allows God to select the topic and allows God to do the talking.  Rather than placing ourselves above the Bible, we place ourselves below the Bible, submitting ourselves to its teaching, listening carefully to what God is saying to us.

Last time, we left off at verse 21 in chapter 8, so we pick up in verse 22 and go through to verse 25.  The text today is a small one.  Many of us are familiar with this passage of Scripture.  It concerns our Lord Jesus’ mastery over the wind and the waves.  Jesus miraculously calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee.  

In 1986, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries was made on the Sea of Galilee.  On the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee a fishing boat was discovered that dated back to New Testament times.  Radiocarbon analysis, as well as a pottery cooking pot and a lamp found with the boat, dated the boat to 2,000 years, the time of Jesus.  The boat, now on display in a museum in Israel, is approximately 26 ½ feet long, 7 ½ feet wide, and could hold about 15 people.  It would have been a boat very much like this one that Jesus and His disciples were traveling in as they crossed the Sea of Galilee.

As they attempted to cross the Sea of Galilee, the sea is actually a freshwater lake, the largest freshwater lake in Israel, also known as Lake Gennesaret, something happened that happened frequently.  In fact, it continues to happen even today.  This lake lies very low, nearly 700 feet below sea level.  It is also surrounded on nearly every side by tall mountains that make for a powerful chute or tunnel when the winds blow at certain times. In one moment, the Sea may be relatively calm, but suddenly the wind comes whistling down those mountains and hits the water, often causing unsuspecting storms in an instant.

That the way your life works.  Things are relatively calm and then suddenly: Storm! Years ago, I heard someone say the Christian life was like this: at any given point every Christian is either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or getting ready to head back into another storm.  Where are you this morning?  Are you in a storm?  Or are you coming out of a storm?  You are like, “Praise the Lord, I got through that!”  Or, without even realizing it, you are heading back into another storm this week, a storm at work, a storm in your family, or some other storm you could have never anticipated.

This small passage contains big encouragement for us today!  Luke’s main concern in the passage is to stress the greatness and power of Jesus Christ.  After Jesus calms the storm, the question on the disciples’ lips there in verse 25 is the question, “Who can this be? For He commands the winds and water, and they obey Him!”  Luke wants every one of us to ask that same question. He wants us to seriously consider, “Who is this Jesus?  Who can this be?  He speaks and calms the violent storm!  Who is this guy?!”  Some of you may already be asking questions of Jesus, ”Who is Jesus?  Is He merely a prophet according to the teaching of Islam?  Is He merely a wonderful teacher showing us how we can be wonderful people, too?  Or is He more than a prophet?  Is He, in fact, God Himself?”

I want us to look at that question, the question of the disciples in verse 25, “Who can this be” with the question that precedes it, the question of our Lord in verse 25, “Where is your faith?”  I would like each of us to consider the answer to that question of our Lord’s, “Where is your faith?”  Really look at what do you believe about Jesus and how does it make a difference in your life?  As we journey through these four verses, I want to suggest three actions that surface from the text. The first action requires our being honest about our fears. The truth is, storms often cause fear and all of us are susceptible to the reality of fear.

I. Be Honest: Storms Often Cause Fear.

We may be tempted to think that there is something wrong with us when we become fearful.  We think we are not as spiritual as we ought to be; that we are an inferior Christian!  We should be encouraged to know that no less a disciple than the great Apostle Peter was fearful when this storm hit.  In the boat with Peter are the two disciples known as the “Sons of Thunder,” James and John.  Their names sound like a couple of guys who would never be fearful.  Yet, they too cry out in verse 24 with the others, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” They, too, were afraid.

We need to be honest and admit that storms often cause fear and fear hits anyone. Saved people fear.  Spiritual people fear.  We are emotional beings and fear can hit any of us.  It is often noted that there are at least 365 occurrences in the Bible of the phrase, “Fear not.”  365 times our Lord says to us, “Fear not.”  That is one for every day of the year.

But Jesus asks the disciples, “Where is your faith,” and maybe they began to wonder whether they have any faith, at all.  Were they like those in the preceding parable with hearts of rocky soil?  Were they those “who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but having no root, believe only for awhile and in time of trial and affliction and storm, fall away” (8:13).  No, the good news is that Jesus does not say to them, “Hey!  You guys do not have any faith!”  That is not what He said.  He did not rebuke them for never having faith.  He asked, “Where is your faith?”  It is as if Jesus says, “I know you have faith, but you seem to have misplaced it.” Where is it?!  Find it! 

It is not that they did not have faith.  They did.  They had faith.  They believed in Jesus. They had seen Jesus cast out demons from people and heal the sick.  They had seen Jesus raise the widow’s son from the dead.  They believed.  But it seems they had forgotten. The sights and sounds of the storm and the wind and the waves have paralyzed them.  They seem to have forgotten what Jesus has done in the past and that they were going to be alright.

This question is one that Jesus asks of us, “Where is your faith?”  He wants us to know that we have faith, but you seem to have misplaced it.  He wants us to remember what He had done for us.  He wants us to remember how He has met our every need?  He wants us to remember that He has saved us by grace through accepting His redemptive work on the cross and through the empty tomb you, and stand upon His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us!

The second action illustrates something positive that the disciples did. They went to Jesus  . . .  

II. Be Wise: Let The Storm Drive You To Jesus.

Rather than running around fearful, wringing your hands, and worrying ourselves to death, let the crisis of your storm drive you to Jesus.  Credit the disciples for doing the right thing here.  They went to Jesus.  Of course, they went to Him in fear, not seeming to realize that He need only speak a word to calm the storm, but they ran to Him, nonetheless.  He is asleep in the boat, and they come and wake Him up crying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

When the crisis of your personal storm hits you, where do you run?  It is okay to run to others for support and counsel, but we must make sure that their support and counsel agrees with God’s Word and His revealed will.  If you are going through a marital storm, you do not run to a non-Christian storm counselor.  You run to a storm counselor who loves Jesus, knows His Word, and one whose counsel agrees with the Bible.  Let the storm drive you to Jesus.

If you are going through a storm at work or school, go to Jesus in prayer and trust Him to guide you through it.  He is not going to always rescue you from the storm right away nor is He going to allow us to presume upon His storm-calming abilities.  By that I mean,  if you have not studied all week for that science test do not come running to Jesus and pray, “Dear Lord, get me out of this storm!  Help me pass this test!”  No, but He is there for you to help you through the consequences of your having not studied. That’s how it works.

But be wise and let the storm drive you to Jesus.  He will help you through it.  These disciples would have been relatively familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures, and I  wonder when this thing took place did they recall Psalm 107:23-30 which says, “Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.  For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea.  They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.  Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.  He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.  Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.” 

That is what our Lord does for us.  He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.  And Jesus can do this because He is more than a prophet; He is more than a man; He is the God-Man, fully God and fully man, two natures forever joined together in one person. This is Luke’s main point.  The question, “Who can this be” is answered with, “He is more than a man. He is God.”

So be wise and let the storm drive you to Jesus who will calm the storm for you.

This brings us to our final action.  We have noted that we should be honest – storms often cause fear; be wise – let the storm drive us to Jesus; and number three . . .

III. Be Encouraged: Jesus Is In The Storm With You.

This passage of Scripture tells us that Jesus is in the boat!  If you remember nothing else from this study today, remember that Jesus is in the boat.  He is in the boat with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  He is in the boat.

He says to the disciples in verse 22, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” He already told them where they were going.  He says, “We’re going to cross over to the other side of the lake. We will get there. We will get there no matter what should happen between here and there.”  And Jesus says to you and me who know Him as Savior and Lor, “I am with you always. I will never leave you. I will get you from here to there.”  God says to His people through the prophet in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” You will cross over with Him to the other side. He will get you from here to there.  He is with you in the boat.  He is with you in the storm.  Because of that, it is going to be okay.

I was encouraged to read about men and women who are believers in Thailand and Laos.  The mission team shared the testimonies of the faith of men and women who had been through numerous storms.  Pastors and leaders had undergone persecution for their faith.  One man shared that he had been arrested four different times simply for being a Christian.  Imprisonment was not something new to this man as he had spent 13 years in a concentration camp.  His last imprisonment for his faith occurred during his wife’s pregnancy.  Because he was not allowed food in prison, his pregnant wife sold her jewelry to buy him food.  He remained faithful to the Lord and the Lord granted the salvation of many others during his imprisonment.

Another man shared that he had been imprisoned for 3 years and 1 day.  And during his imprisonment, many people had come to know Jesus Christ as Savior.  One of the most stirring testimonies came from a woman whose husband was murdered for his faith in Christ.  I listened as she tearfully recounted the story of his death and how she is now carrying on the work of ministry and how many more have come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Where is your faith?  What are you worried about?  And why are you worried about it? Do you not know know that Jesus is in the boat with you?  He is in the storm with you and He is going to guide you safely from here to there.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 8:1-21 – How Is The Word Of God Impacting Your Life?

Grace For The Journey

We are studying our way, verse-by-verse, through the Book of Luke, believing this is the best way to learn the Word of God.  I believe the most important thing we do in private and corporate worship is to hear the Word of God.  In fact, our passage this morning is about this topic: hearing the Word of God.  Before I read the passage I want you to see how many times the word “hear,” or “hearing,” or “hearing the Word” is used in this passage.  It is first mentioned in verse 8, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Then it is mentioned in verses 12, 13, 14, and 15 where we read about four different kinds of people who “hear” the Word.  The word “hear” or “heard” occurs once in each of those four verses.  In verse 18 is mentioned again, “Therefore take heed how you hear.”  And it is mentioned another time in the last verse of our passage, verse 21, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”It is obvious that these verses are about hearing the Word of God.  I want to encourage each of us to be especially careful as we study God Word to hear the Word.  I want to encourage you to hear as if your life depended upon it.  Why?  This passage teaches that our lives really do depend upon our hearing and living by the Word. 

Few of us are unfamiliar with the Verizon commercial promoting the vast wireless coverage of their cell phone signal.  Nearly all of us have seen the ads with the guy walking around with his phone, seeming to enjoy testing the wide-reaching signal, repeatedly asking the guy he is talking to, “Can you hear me now?  Most of us know what it is like to talk on a cell phone and hit what carriers refer to as a “Dead Zone.”  A dead zone is a spot where the signal fails.  You are talking to someone and you begin to get the impression that the guy on the other end is no longer on the other end.  You ask, “Are you there?”  Silence.  So you call back and figure out when you lost each other and you start over.  It is really not fun when that happens like four or five times while you are talking!

If you will allow the metaphor, God is continually talking to us in His Word.  His Word is preached, taught, explained, read, and heard.  There is never a problem on God’s end of the line.  The signal is always clear.  The coverage is perfect.  The problem is on our end of the line.  The problem is that when God’s Word goes out, people do not always hear it as they should.  We have created “Dead Zones,” that cause us to lose the signal of God’s Word.  And at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, the consequence of these dead zones is death itself.  The Good News this morning is that if we will listen, God’s Word will correct us and grant to us life and save us from death.  But we must have “ears to hear,” we must listen as though our lives depended upon it.

Our passage begins with Luke’s telling us that Jesus is going through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.  Not only are the twelve disciples with Him, but also certain women and “many others who provided for Him from their substance.” (Verse 3).  Luke mentions women more than any other Gospel writer and he demonstrates that Jesus’ ministry reaches all kinds of people: male and female, rich and poor, powerless, and powerful.

Luke seems anxious to get on with what happens next.  In verse 4 and following, we read about our Lord’s teaching to “a great multitude.”  Verse 4 says people “had come to Him from every city.”  There is this huge crowd, perhaps thousands of people, including the 12, the group within the group, and many others. 

  • Some had come because they wanted to follow Christ. 
  • Some had come because they had heard about his healings, the miracles, the teachings, and they were curious. 
  • There were no doubt many who had gathered because someone else dragged them along.

A large crowd is not by itself evidence that everyone in the crowed agrees with Jesus.  The parable Jesus teaches next demonstrates this.  A large crowd is no certain indicator that everyone is on-board with what Jesus is teaching. 

  • Some are present because they want to follow Christ. 
  • Some are here because they are curious. 
  • Some are here because a spouse or a friend insisted that they come. 
  • But not everyone present is on the same page.

Jesus tells this parable in verses 5-8, an earthly story that illustrates a heavenly truth.  He says there is a certain sower, and the sower sows some seed, and some of it falls on the wayside and is trampled down and the birds of the air devour it.  That is simply enough to understand.  Anyone who has ever sowed seed knows that some of the seed never makes it into the soil.  Especially if the soil is hard, the seed just bounces off it and the birds come and eat it.  Then he says some of the seed falls on rock and so as soon as the seed springs up it withers away because there is no moisture.  Again, pretty easy to understand.  Then the sower sows some seed and it falls among the thorns.  As the seed grows so do the thorns grow and the thorns choke out the seed.  But some of the seed falls among good ground and the seed springs up and yields a crop a hundredfold.  That makes sense, too.  There was good ground, good soil.  Jesus completes His teaching in verse 8 with the words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Now that is it.  That is all he says to the crowd.  He does not explain it to the crowd.  He just tells them this parable.  And the assumption is that those who have ears to hear will hear.  That is, they will get it.  They will understand that Jesus is not teaching merely about gardening or about crop production.  They will understand that Jesus is teaching something far more significant.

Perhaps the disciples thought they understood what Jesus was teaching, but they ask Him, because He is standing right there, and they want to be sure.  Verses 9-10 tell us, “Then His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘What does this parable mean?’  And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’”  In essence, Jesus says, “I will share with you what these parables mean because you are the twelve and I have chosen you and you will be blessed with the secrets of the kingdom of God.  But I am speaking in parables in order that the true believers will stand out from the unbelievers.”

 Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6:9 where the Bible mentions those in Isaiah’s day who have turned their backs upon God and hardened their hearts.  They are those who though seeing, do not really see and though hearing, do not really hear.  That is, they have hardened their hearts to the Word of God.  And Jesus says the same is true during His day.  There are those who have hardened their hearts and are not really interested in what God has to say.  They have made up their minds.  They have chosen to do their own thing.  They are not really interested in the Word of God.  God speaks, but they do not really hear.  It is like they are in a “dead zone.”  But the true believers will hear, understand, and follow God in His Word.  When Jesus teaches in parables, the teaching causes true believers to stand out from unbelievers.  Then Jesus explains to the disciples in verses 11 through 15, “Now the parable is this: ‘The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.  Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.’”

There are four kinds of soil that represent four kinds of hearts or ways in which people respond to the Word of God.  The first is what we may call . . .

  • The Calloused Heart – Verse 12.

The seed that fell on the wayside is the seed that fell on hard ground, infertile soil.  The birds came and ate the seed.  This represents the ones who hear the Word, but the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  And that happens when a sower goes out to sow seed.  When a preacher preaches the Gospel, when he scatters the seed of the Word of God, there will be some who will hear the Word, but their hearts are hard and so the seed just lies on top of their hearts, it never gets down deep.  They are no sooner out the door and into the parking lot before Satan comes and takes away what little they have heard.

Now that is an alarming thought if you really think about it.  Every time the Word of God goes forth like seed from a sower there is a spiritual battle that is occurring at the same time.  Satan works against what is taking place right now from the pulpit or classroom.  Too often our concerns lie with the sound, lighting, the heating or air, and so forth, but the greatest hindrance to hearing from God is Satan.  He battles against us every time we gather together.  He is at work, trying his level best to rob us from hearing the life-giving, life-changing Word of God.  The Bible warns in Hebrews3:15, “Today, if you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts.” 

Secondly . . .

  • The Counterfeit Heart – Verse 13.

Jesus says that the seed that falls among the rock represents those who “when they hear, receive the word with joy, but have no root, (so) they believe for a while but in time of temptation or trial, they fall away.”  Initially, they look like true believers, but they are not.  Their hearts are not changed eternally.  Their faith is shallow.  While they look like the real deal, they are but counterfeit Christians.

This helps us understand these cases where someone makes a profession of faith and before long they go off in a different faith life.  They get baptized and they begin to lecture everyone else about how to be a Christian, but before long they fall away.  You do not see them in church anymore.  They have dropped out of Bible Study.  They were merely a flash in the pan.  They were a shooting star, they looked brilliant at first but fell at last.  Adrian Rogers says, “If your faith is faulty at the finish, it was faulty at the first.”  The Bible tells us why.  They had merely made an emotional response.  They received the word “with joy,” a great emotion, but it was not accompanied by a proper understanding of the Gospel and there was no root to their faith.  When “time of temptation comes,” and that can also be translated “time of trials, or times of affliction,” when difficult days come, they just fall away.  Why?  Because they were never truly saved to begin with.  Their response was based solely on emotion.  They were happy so long as life was easy.  So long as there was no difficulty, they were good with God.  But the reality is, as the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “those who wish to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”  Or as Jesus teaches in John John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation.”

You run into this person at the gas station or at Wal-Mart and you say, “Hey, where have you been?  We have missed you” and they say, “Oh, you know, I thought God loved me.  Since I got baptized I broke my leg, lost my job, and lost my friends.  Look, I tried it, but it didn’t do anything for me.”  It is at times like these we must lovingly and compassionately listen, but also warn our friend that they may, in fact, not be saved.   We must share the full Gospel message with them, so they understand that we do not become Christians in order “to get something out of it.”  We become Christians because we are lost and undone and all of our righteousness before God is like filthy rags and we need our sin forgiven and our hearts made pure.  The counterfeit heart. 

Thirdly . . .

  • The Carnal Heart – Verse 14.

I am using the word “carnal” here to represent the things of the flesh or of the world, worldy cares and concerns that are opposite to heavenly cares and concerns.  Jesus said some of the seed sown fell among thorns and the thorns sprang up and choked it.  In verse 14 Jesus explains that this seed represents “those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and (so) bring no fruit to maturity.”  Like the counterfeit heart, this person is not a true believer.  True believers bring fruit to maturity.  True believers in the words of John the Baptist, “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).  Jesus says these people of verse 14 do not bring fruit to maturity.

Why?  Because after they have heard the Word, they go out and are “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life.”  Now, maybe at this point some of us are sitting up a little more in our seats because we say, “Well, I know I am not in the first category, the calloused heart, and I know I am not in the second category, but now wait a minute here, this third category; the carnal heart, the worldly heart.  Is my faith “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life?”

Many a pastor has heard these reasons why some members are not faithful in Bible Study and worship, “I have got to work more so that we take care of our financial situation.  We are not really interested in being a fanatic, you know.  The kids have got their ballgames every weekend and we have got to have time for self and our fun too. We have just purchased a home on the lake and we are going to go enjoy the good life for awhile.  Jesus speaks of thorns that choke out the Word; He calls them “cares, riches, and pleasures of life.”  The carnal heart. 

Fourthly . . .

  • The Converted Heart – Verse 15.

Jesus says that the seed that fell on good ground “are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience, or perseverance.”  This is the true believer.  This is the one whose heart is changed.  His is the converted heart.  He or she is a Christian.  You can tell this person is a Christian because they both hear and do the Word.  They have a hunger for the Word and a desire to honor God.  There is a change.  There is the bearing of fruit. 

Now it is both intriguing and encouraging to me that the emphasis in this parable is not on the sower, but on the seed.  The fertility of the soil does not depend upon the giftedness of the sower.  The issue is not the sower.  It really matters little who the sower is.  It really matters little who the preacher and teacher of the Word is.  The power for life-change does not rest with the speaker, but with the seed.  Jesus says, “the seed is the Word of God” (Verse 11).  Do we really believe that?  If we do, then the Word of God will dominate your worship time and it really will not matter who is sowing the seed.

Jesus continues His teaching about the Word of God in verses 16 through 18, “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.  For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.  Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”  Jesus is stressing here the missional mandate of Christians.  If we have received the light of God’s Word we will declare it to others.  We will not hide it, but we will declare it that all may see the light as we have seen the light. 

The emphasis is “take heed how you hear.”  We are talking here about life and death.  If you really have received the Word, then you understand the grace and riches of Christ and you will be given more understanding.  If, however, you are a careless listener, even what you thought you understood will be taken away, like birds snatching up seed on the wayside.

Then to drive home the personal blessing of hearing the Word of God we have verses 19 to 21, “Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd.   And it was told Him by some, who said, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.’  But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.’”  Jesus teaches that intimacy with Him comes with hearing His Word.  We are His family if we hear and heed the Word of God.

Let’s make specific application now by asking ourselves these three questions.  First . . .

1) Am I Saved? (Do I Love The Word; Do I Have A Desire To Hear and Obey It?)

Not all who hear the word are actually saved.  A crowd is no indicator that everyone in the crowd is actually saved.  Jesus knew this.  He did not flatter Himself that a large crowd gathered to hear the Word.  He knew that much of the Word would fall upon infertile soil.  Much of it would be tuned out.  It is like the stewardess on the airplane going over the safety rules and hardly anyone is listening to her.  Heads are buried in magazines, people are talking, and some are listening to music on their iPods.  They have tuned her out.  Many gather together in worship services, but not all hear the Word of God.  Many have hardened their hearts or are in love with the world and have come to church merely because it seems like the right thing to do.

 In his commentary on Luke, Kent Hughes writes about the crowd that came to hear Jesus, “It was an impressive scene.  But, as we have come to expect, Jesus was not impressed.  Today too, large crowds do not mean that God’s work is being done.  Virtually any church in our country could be packed out every Sunday night if “worship” ended with a raffle for a luxury car; Mustang and Corvette Nights would always be well-attended, especially by the under thirty-five crowd; and Jaguar Nights would be standing room only, with the over-fifty group filling the front rows.  People of the world love a gospel that is “good news” as they define it.”

We must ask ourselves whether we really love the Word of God.  You can tell by talking to people whether they love the Word of God.  One of the most saddening things in ministry is the discovery of so many church members who know virtually nothing of the Word of God.  You talk to them about spiritual things and there is nothing there.  They can talk to you about “church life.”  They can tell you about how they used to teach the little boys or girls or how they loved the Wednesday night meals or what fun they had together when church was over and they went out to eat, and so forth.  But the Word of God?  Do they know it?  Do they love it?  Do they read it?  Are they really saved?  Are you saved?  If so, you will love the Word of God.  You will want to hear it and you will listen as if your life depended upon it.

In Southeast Asia there is was a leper colony.  Some were unable to meet for worship and so they depended upon someone else to go and then come back and tell them the sermon.  How much better would you listen to the Word of God if you knew you had to repeat the sermon to others who were unable to come?  Do you really listen to the Word?  

Question Two . . .

2) Do I Really Believe That “The Seed Is The Word Of God?”

That is the issue in verse 11.  The seed is the Word of God.  The issue is not the sower, the preacher, or the teacher.  The seed is the Word of God because the Word of God is what changes lives.  If we really believe that the seed is the Word of God, then it will be reflected in our worship.  We will spend the greater balance of our time not on so many other things, but upon the exposition of God’s Word.  It is not about social ministry and it is not about political activism, or even musical style or preference.  The seed is the Word of God. 

Question number three . . .

3) Am I Being Missional, Declaring To Others The Word I Have Heard?

How will anyone turn from darkness to light and receive forgiveness of sin if I am not letting my light shine in the community this week, or across our country, and to the continents?  Am I being missional, declaring to others the Word I have heard?  Thankfully, the fertility of the soil does not lie with our giftedness.  We are all just people with a bag of seeds, sowing the seed of the Gospel.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 7:36-50 – Your Sins Can Be Forgiven!

Grace For The Journey

Everyone owes God a debt he cannot pay.  This debt has been incurred through our repeated acts of sin.  Unless this debt is paid, you cannot have fellowship with God, and you cannot go to heaven when you die.  Our debts may not be equal, but the consequences are very similar.  Forgiveness is the merciful act of God by which He cancels the debt we cannot pay.

Before us. in our passage today, we have two sinners.  One of them was publicly known as a sinner, while the other was recognized as being extremely religious.  The woman was probably a prostitute and had worked her trade on the back streets of this community.  The Pharisee was known for his unusual religious dedication.  He invited Jesus into his home because he was curious, but the woman had invited Jesus into her life because she was sinful.  Jesus said to the outcast woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Evidently Simon is still under the weight of his sins when the story closes.  He was not ready to admit that he had incurred any debt that he could not pay.

With which of these two people can you most readily identify?  I hope that every person present can identify with this poor rejected woman.  By studying how Jesus dealt with this woman, we can learn much about forgiveness.  Who knows, you might hear the Lord say to you this very day, “Your sins are forgiven!”  Would that not be good news?


At the close of this discourse Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”  This is very helpful.  It gives us a much needed insight into the manner in which God bestows forgiveness upon us.

A. This Means That Forgiveness Is At God’s Expense.

Faith in God pays the debt you owe Him.  When this woman put her faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness, she did not present anything to Him.  All she had was a life that was badly soiled with sin.  She had nothing to offer to Him.  Yet, because Jesus was ready to accept the responsibility for her sin, to bear the cost Himself, He could say, “Your sins
are forgiven.

This is the message of the Cross.  He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”  

Since He bore them,

He can cancel our debt.

“Jesus paid it all,

  All to Him I owe,

Sin had left

  Its crimson stain,

He washed it

  White as snow.”

B. This Makes Forgiveness Available To All.

When the Pharisee became critical of Jesus for allowing the woman to bestow such devotion upon Him, Jesus gave the little parable about the two men in debt.  

There was a considerable difference

In the debt of the two men,

Nut they were alike in their

Inability to pay the debt.

One man owed his creditor five hundred denarii.  A man would labor for a whole day for one denarii.  You can see the size of his debt.  The other owed the creditor fifty denarii.  This would take his wages for fifty whole days of work.  But neither of them was in a position to pay what he owed.  Because of the generosity of the creditor, his willingness to absorb the cost of their unpaid debt, both were forgiven their debt.  All they had to do was accept the generosity of their creditor.  This was the only thing that gave this woman any hope.  Unless God was willing to absorb the cost of this woman’s debt, she was without any hope.  The same was true for Simon even though he did not realize it.  Making forgiveness available to those who come to God in faith makes it available to all.

Some of you have given up hope of ever being right with God.  You are painfully aware of the debt that you owe.  You know that you cannot do anything about it.  In spite of your best efforts, the debt keeps growing day by day.  The Good News is that God’s forgiveness comes to those who will receive it by faith.

But the wonderful truth does not stop there . . . 


This is a beautiful story of love that is understood only when you see that love is the fruit of forgiveness.  Two responses to Jesus stand in bold contrast in this text.  This woman whose reputation was bad in the community demonstrated a great love for the Lord Jesus.  Jesus explained her action as being an expression of the love that comes from forgiveness.  In verses 40- 47, Jesus said to Simon of the woman, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house, you gave me not water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore I say to you her sins which many are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”  

Jesus did not mean that the woman

Was forgiven because she loved Him,

But rather her love is the sure evidence

That she had already been forgiven.

Three important truths are brought out here . . .

A.        Forgiveness Produces A Grateful Love.

The woman was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. As she stood at the feet of our Lord in the house of Simon, and considered who He was and what He had done, it was almost too much for her.  Her own sense of unworthiness and gratitude for His goodness brought a stream of tears to her eyes. These tears began to fall on the feet of the Lord that Simon had neglected to wash.  She was so grateful that she was ready to do anything for her Lord.

The actions of Simon indicate that he was curious about Jesus, but had no real love or devotion for Him.  He would entertain Him in his home, but he would not bow before Jesus in worship.  The difference between these two responses is forgiveness.  One had been forgiven, while the other felt no need of forgiveness.

B.        Forgiveness Produces A Sacrificial Love.

The gesture of the sinful woman was sacrificial.  She brought with her a “flask of fragrant oil.” It would have been proper for the host to have anointed the head of Jesus with olive oil which was plentiful and cheap.  Simon did not even bestow this courtesy upon the Lord.  But this woman brought something of great worth to her. The flask was made of alabaster which was expensive.  The flask was filled with perfumed oil that was also expensive. It was doubtlessly representative of the very best that this woman had. She broke the neck on the flask and began to pour it on the feet of Jesus.  She did not think that her best was too good to go on His head.  This is the way love reacts.  It gives sacrificially.

This love must be explained by the forgiveness that she had received.  How much love do you have for Jesus our Lord?  According to this parable and incident, this is determined by your awareness of God’s forgiveness.  Those who feel that they have been forgiven little love little.  All of us who have been forgiven have been forgiven much so we should love much.  We should have such a sacrificial love.

C.        Forgiveness Produces A Selfless Love.

It is obvious that this woman forgot about herself.  Her love for her Lord caused her to do things that shocked the proper religious folks like Simon.  When she took down her hair and began to wipe the feet of Jesus, it was a thing which a proper woman just did not do in public.  A woman did not take her hair down in this way.  When she began to
kiss the feet of Jesus, it was the kind of gesture that was reserved for unusual circumstances.  You kissed the feet only of those from whom you had received a great favor, or to whom you were making a great surrender.  

It was her way

Of publicly declaring,

“You are supreme

In my life.”

Evidently the woman said nothing through the whole encounter, but she did not need to. Her actions said everything that needed to be said.

Simon could not take this in.  Religious people who seek to live life by the rules still have difficulty with this kind of action, but not the forgiven.  

Forgiveness will produce a quality

Of love that will shock the world.


The last word of Jesus to this woman is very significant.  In verse 50 Jesus said to her, ‘Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”  He could say this only to one to whom He had already said, “your sins are forgiven.”

Only the forgiven

Can know this peace.

A. Forgiveness Precedes Peace With God.

This was a word that sent the woman away with the favor of God upon her life.  When she had sinned, she had brought the wrath of God upon her life.  But when God forgave her, his wrath was removed, and replaced with His peace.  He began to bless the life with prosperity and spiritual fullness.  You may have been looking for this.  It comes
when you know that your sins are forgiven.

B. Forgiveness precedes peace with oneself.

When you begin to be aware of your sin, you begin to hate that sin.  Sin is so destructive to one’s self-image, and sense of self -orth.  Unless you can know that your sins have been forgiven, you will never begin to be at peace with yourself, to wish for yourself prosperity.  Some of you walk under such a load of guilt that you unconsciously set yourself up for hurtful failures.  You cannot let yourself prosper as you are because of what you have done.  Jesus sent this poor woman home rich in peace.

You cannot change the order.  It will always be forgiveness and then peace.  If you are trying to find peace without finding forgiveness for your sins, you are wasting your time. Peace comes to the forgiven.

As we bring our study to a close, let me ask you, “Where do you find yourself in this story?”  Are your more like the woman or like Simon?   I pray that you can identify
with this woman.  You do not have to have been a prostitute or thief to identify with her. If he could only have seen it . . .

Simon’s religious pride

Was just as offensive

To God as her immorality.

Simon’s attitude toward women like her was just as bad as her sin.  If you can identify with her at the point of need, you can know that you have been forgiven.

The blessing of forgiveness comes to those who come to God in faith.  Do not make this too hard. This simply means that you come to Him just like you are, confessing your inability to pay your debt and pleading for mercy.  You receive His forgiveness as a free gift.  Won’t you do that right now?  Come to Jesus and be forgiven!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 7:18-35 – When Faith Has More Questions Than Answers

Grace For The Journey

The danger which faces us as we come to the account of the question which John the Baptist relayed to Jesus is that we will not take it as seriously as we should.  Several major factors could hinder our grasp of the gravity of this situation.

  • We Have A General Problem with what someone has called “the PIOUS BIAS.”.

We are inclined to think that because John the Baptist was a prophet, he must have always been pious.  We hold this erroneous viewpoint in spite of the fact that most of the heroes of the Bible are described as mere mortals, with the same sinful tendencies and temptations as the rest of us, and with unbecoming behavior at times.

  • We Tend To Think Of John Only In Positive Terms Because Of His Past Piety.

He is the one who identified Jesus as the Messiah.  He is the one who said that Jesus must increase, while he must decrease.  He is the one who encouraged some of his disciples to become Jesus’ disciples instead.

  • We Tend To Think Of John Positively Because Of The Good Things Which Our Lord Had To Say About Him.
  • John Died A Hero’s Death, And Thus We Do Not Want To Speak Of Him In Any Way Which Would Tarnish His Reputation.

While John the Baptist was a great man, he was not a perfect man.  This was the worst moment of John’s life, so far as the biblical record is concerned.  

We will not appreciate

This passage of Scripture

And its relevance to our lives

Unless we begin by understanding

The seriousness of the error

Which is depicted here.

Set aside your pre-conceived opinions of what happens here for a moment and consider exactly what is taking place when John sends two of his disciples to Jesus with this question in verses 19-20, “Are You the One who is coming, or do we look for someone else?”

(1) The Question Which John Asked Was John’s Question.

Initially I wondered whether or not John’s disciples might have embellished John’s question, but Luke’s account repeats the question.  The first time the question is spoken by John to his two disciples.  The second time the question is spoken by the disciples. The wording of the two questions is the same.  The question which John’s disciples asked Jesus is precisely the question John instructed them to ask.

(2) John’s Question Was The Result Of His Unhappiness With What Jesus Was Saying And Doing.The section begins with these words: “And the disciples of John reported to him about all these things” (Luke 7:18).

The two miracles recorded in the previous verses of chapter seven – the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the raising of the widow’s son from the dead – would surely have been included in the report which was given to John.  Clearly, John was not altogether pleased with the reports he was receiving as to what Jesus had been saying and doing.  The question which John sent to Jesus via his two disciples reflected John’s displeasure.

(3) John Is Questioning Christ, The Messiah.

John does not here openly question God, nor does he question himself or his ministry. John does not question the fact that Messiah will come.  John questions that Jesus is the coming Messiah.  And this is in light of his own words to the contrary in the past recorded in John 1:32-34, “And John bore witness saying, ‘I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and He remained upon Him. And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’”

(4) John’s “Question” Is Not Really A Question – It Is A Public Challenge.

The question, once again, is this: “Are You the One who is coming, or do we look for someone else?” (Luke7:19, 20).  The “we,” given the context of this account, would seem to include not only John and his followers, but the crowd which I believe was present at the time the question was put to Jesus.  The “we” thus is nearly equivalent to “Israel.”  The response of Jesus to the crowd about John also suggests that the question was put to Jesus publicly.  Given all the miracles which Jesus was doing at the time, He could hardly have been alone, so that this question could not have been put to Jesus privately, even if the two had wanted to do so.

The biggest difficulty with the question, however, is with the inference of the last statement, “… or do we look for someone else?”  There is a clearly implied threat here. If you fail to answer our questions satisfactorily, we will look for someone else to be the Messiah.

(5) John Is Forcing, Not Following, Jesus.  Rather than following Jesus, as John has done in the past, John is attempting to force Jesus into declaring Himself as Messiah and acting as John has predicted.  This is not as clearly stated in Luke’s account here, as it is by Matthew 11 verses 12-13, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”

If the forcefulness began with the time of John the Baptist and was present at the time of Jesus’ words, it is not unlikely that John and/or some of his followers were trying to “push the program,” to forcefully help things along.  I believe that it is evident from our text that John is being pushy, overly forceful.

(6) John Was Challenging Jesus To Do What He Had Purposed Not To Do.  

John was pressing Jesus for a public announcement, a public commitment to be the Messiah.  He was demanding that Jesus proclaim Himself as Messiah or John and the others would reject Him and turn to another.  It is obvious that Jesus did not intend to bear witness to Himself in this fashion.  Jesus did not want men to accept Him as the Messiah because He claimed to be Messiah, but because the evidence was compelling that He was Messiah.

The so-called “great confession” of Peter will come later in the Gospel accounts, but when Peter does finally conclude that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah, it is not because Jesus has told him so.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 16:15-17, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”

The reason why Jesus refused to publicly claim to be Israel’s Messiah was so that flesh and blood would not reveal His identity, but that the Spirit of God would do so, based upon the Old Testament prophecies concerning Messiah, and the works and words which Jesus did, proving Him to be Messiah.

Luke’s account of the “great confession” of Peter goes even further – showing the reader that even after Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Christ Jesus did not want His disciples to proclaim His messiahship: “And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?”  And Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’  But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone …” (Luke 9:20-21).

John’s question, or rather John’s challenge, was wrong for various reasons, but one of these was that it was Christ’s purpose not to publicly identify Himself as Messiah, the very thing John demanded, or else he and others would find themselves another “messiah.”

Put in its crassest form, John was saying to Jesus, “Put up or shut up!  Enough of the way You have been functioning.  Either you identify Yourself as Messiah (and get on with the program of judgment and of arranging for my release) or else we will find ourselves another Messiah.”

Given this perspective of John’s words here, conveyed by two of his disciples, we can see that John has fallen far from what he once was.  

  • He who gladly accepted his role at one time, is now threatening to change things.  
  • He who was given the great privilege of identifying Jesus as Messiah, now challenges Messiah to prove Himself, not altogether unlike the challenge of Satan during our Lord’s temptation.  
  • He who once encouraged his disciples to follow after Jesus now sends two of his disciples after Jesus, not to follow Him wherever He would go, but to change His course.

In this study, we will seek to understand some of the reasons for John’s spiritual decline.  We will then focus on Luke’s emphasis in this section, which is to show how our Lord responded to the challenge.  Finally, we shall seek to discover how John’s failure is like our own, and how, given our Lord’s teaching here, we can avoid falling into the same trap.

I. The Reason John Asks His Question.

It is important to begin by pointing out that in neither Luke nor Matthew’s account is there an emphasis on explaining why John went astray, at this point in time.  I believe there are inferences in the Gospels, but no clear statements nor emphasis on the reasons for John’s questions here.  It may be of help to us to briefly consider some of the factors which contributed to John’s attitudes and actions.

1) John Had Very Little Contact With Jesus.  

From what Luke tells us in his Gospel, we would have to conclude that Jesus and John were virtual strangers.  There was the contact between Mary and Elizabeth, at which time John leaped in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41), but early in his life, John began to live a secluded life in the wilderness.  The only way that John recognized Jesus as the Messiah was by means of the Spirit’s descent upon Him (John 1:29-34).  Jesus avoided contact with John and his disciples to minimize competition and friction between them (John 4:1-3).  It was not until John’s arrest that Jesus’ public ministry officially commenced (Matthew 4:12, 17).  The point here is that John did not have a close relationship with Jesus which might have assured him of Jesus’ identity and of His ultimate fulfillment of the messianic prophecies, especially those John had emphasized.

2) Jesus Had Not Publicly Identified Himself As Messiah.

It was not from the mouth of Jesus that John learned He was the Messiah, but from the revelation of God to John and the witness of the Holy Spirit, in the form of the dove, which descended upon Him at His baptism.  John seems to be seeking from Jesus what he had never heard, our Lord’s own testimony to the fact that He was Messiah.

(3) John Had Been Israel’s Great Prophet, But It Appeared That Jesus Was Taking His Place.  

John did not seem to mind having an inferior role to that of our Lord, but it might have been an irritation for John to learn that Jesus was being received as a great prophet.  This is what we see in the immediately preceding context, in the crowd’s response to the raising of the widow’s dead son in verse 16, “And fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us! and, God, has visited His people!”

(4) There Were Great Differences Between John’s Ministry And Message And The Ministry And Message Of Our Lord.

John and Jesus were very different men. Jesus was gentle and soft-spoken.  John, it would appear, was rough-hewn and outspoken.  Jesus was very much in contact with people, frequently found in the cities, and often in contact with sinners.  John was a man who lived a very secluded life.  He lived in the desert, so that the people had to come out to hear him preach, if they would hear him and be baptized.  His seclusion was extended by his imprisonment.  John did not eat many foods, but ate a kind of desert “C Rations.”  Jesus, on the contrary, drank wine and ate foods that John did not and would not (cf. Luke 7:33).  John’s disciples fasted, and Jesus’ disciples did not (Luke 5:33).

John’s ministry, so far as the Gospel record informs us, did not include miracles, healings, and wonders.  It is possible, perhaps even likely, that John may have performed wonders, but we are never told of any.  Jesus, on the other hand, frequently worked miracles.  The two which are mentioned in the immediate context (the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the raising of the widow’s son from the dead) are but a sampling.  It would not be difficult to see why Jesus’ healing ministry would trouble John if he had no healing ministry himself.  Jesus’ ministry was, at the moment, very popular, while John had little or no public ministry while in prison.

The major difference between John and Jesus, and the one which best explains John’s unhappiness with Jesus, is the difference in the emphasis of the message of each.  John’s emphasis was on sin, judgment, and condemnation, while Jesus’ emphasis was on healing and salvation.  Both emphases were biblical and important, but they were very different in tone and in their outworking.  The Old Testament prophets contained an emphasis on both areas, but in practical outworking John focused on the judgment side of Messiah’s coming and Jesus focused on the salvation side.

John’s task was to condemn Israel’s sins and to warm of the impending judgment of God.  It was also to call on men and women to repent for their sin to avoid the wrath of God.  John’s problem was that he did not understand that there were two comings of Messiah, the second of which was for the purpose of judgment, the first of which was to become a provision for man’s salvation by dying for the sins of the world.  

Jesus’ first coming was to bear

The judgment of God, not to bring it.

John’s message was true, and it served the purpose of preparing men for Christ’s first coming by calling many to repentance.  Those who acknowledged themselves to be sinners found grace and forgiveness.  John was perplexed by our Lord’s mercy and healing, for He expected Him to inaugurate the kingdom in a very different way.

John’s challenge was thus his attempt to force the Lord’s hand, to press Jesus to announce that He was the Messiah, and to cause Him to begin to bring judgment to the earth.  John had warned men that Messiah would come with fire, and John thought it was high time for Jesus to get with it, and to do as he had warned Messiah would do. John’s failure to fully grasp the prophecies of the Old Testament and thus the two-fold coming of Christ, led him to conclude that Jesus was in need of some straightening out. That is what John set out to do, but as we shall see, this is not what happened.  Let us now move on to consider the way in which Jesus dealt with this crisis, which John precipitated.

II. The Response Of Jesus To John’s Question.

I cannot help but wonder how we might diagnose John’s problem today.  Some would undoubtedly see this as a “self-image problem.”  It seems to me that nearly every problem today is related to low self-esteem.  I wonder which of the plethora of books on the shelves of the Christian bookstores we would have sent to John.  Jesus’ actions and words would not have conformed to much of what we would say or do.  Let us begin, then, by taking note of what Jesus did not do, but what we might have been inclined to do in His place.

Jesus did not do what John demanded.  Jesus did not make a declaration that He was (or that He was not) the Messiah.  John may have given an ultimatum, but Jesus did not take the bait.  Jesus did not give John His personal attention.  Some would have felt that John was merely lonely and depressed and that he needed some “quality time” spent with him.  Jesus did not think so.  Jesus did not tell John the answers to his problems, which would have put his mind at ease.  John’s grasp of the messianic prophecies was incomplete and distorted.  Jesus could have straightened John out.  He could have laid out the whole “plan of the ages,” but He did not.  Jesus, I might add, did not inform John that he was soon to die at the hand of Herod.

Jesus’ response to John was very simple.  He simply told John’s emissaries to tell John what they had witnessed, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22).  In effect . . .

Jesus is suggesting to John the solution to his problem.  

He is simply telling John to do what every saint must do,

Compare the prophecies of the Old Testament

With the deeds and declarations of Jesus Christ.  

If Jesus fulfills these prophecies, then the Bible

Bears witness to the fact that He is the Messiah.

Note how the words and works of Jesus do compare with these Old Testament messianic prophecies in Isaiah:

Luke 7:22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.Isaiah 29:18 And on that day the deaf shall hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.Isaiah 35:5-6 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah.

John’s assurance that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah

Should come from the knowledge that

The deeds and declarations of Jesus fulfilled

The Old Testament prophecies which spoke of

His healing ministry and of His preaching

Good News to the poor and the oppressed.

John needed to get back to the Word,

The Word which He had proclaimed.

Unfortunately, John had tended to divide what God had joined together.  John had filtered out the salvation and healing texts and focused only on the judgment texts.  And yet, when we look at the Scriptures, we find the two themes welded together.  

Look, for example, at the broader context of this text we just cited from the prophecy of Isaiah 29:18-21, “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.  Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down — those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.”

Perhaps because of the tendency of men to compartmentalize truth, God has in this prophecy and others joined together the two themes of mercy and justice, of salvation and judgment.  While it will take two comings for these promises to be fulfilled, God wants His people to understand that Messiah will achieve both.  He will accomplish salvation for those who trust in Him; and He will accomplish divine justice on those who persist in their sin.  

John, like many of us,

Seems to have emphasized

One aspect of prophecy to

The exclusion of the other.

Thus, when Jesus’ first coming was characterized by mercy and grace, John was inclined to think he had designated the wrong Messiah, and that led him to question his thinking and theology.  

Jesus’ words take

John back to the Bible,

Which is the only standard

For our thinking and theology.

Jesus’ ministry was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and thus it is John who must stand corrected.  It was not Jesus who needed to change, but John.

Jesus had become, as it were, a stumbling block to John.  Our Lord’s final message to John is one which encourages him not to stumble over our Lord: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me” (Luke 7:23).

There are many lessons for us to learn from John’s failure and Jesus’ words of encouragement and correction.  Let me suggest a few . . .

1. This Incident Teaches Us That The Only Valid Test For Determining Whether Or

    Not Jesus Is The Promised Savior Of The World Is The Test Of Scripture.

Does Jesus and Jesus only fulfill those promises and prophecies of the Bible which speak of the coming Savior of the world?  If the deeds and words of Jesus, as reported by the Gospel accounts, fulfill the Old Testament prophecies (which every Gospel writer assures us that they do), then Jesus is the Messiah.  

The test of who is God’s Savior is

The test of the Scriptures themselves.

Everyone who claims to be Messiah must measure up to the standards which God has set for Him.  

Only Jesus meets these standards.

Jesus does not give John a direct claim for many other men have made the same claim. Jesus does not attempt to use His personal magnetism or charisma, but rather points to the deeds which He has done and to the Scriptures which speak of these deeds.

Let me ask you very candidly, my friend – Have you looked carefully at the evidence? Are you seeking God’s salvation?  Do you wish to have your sins forgiven?  Do you wish to experience the grace of God, rather than His judgment?  Then you can only do so by trusting in God’s provision, God’s Messiah.  

Who Jesus Christ is,

Is the most important

Question in the

World to you.

Have you read the Old Testament prophecies?  Have you studied the words and deeds of Jesus.  If you conclude that Jesus was an impostor then you cannot look to Him for salvation, but if you conclude that He alone fulfills the Scriptures, then you must turn to Him, trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection for your salvation.

2. For Christians There Are A Number Of Principles Which Are Relevant To Our

    Own Experience.

I will mention just a few . . .

  • Prophets Are Not Perfect.

John was a prophet, in fact the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, but John was not perfect, as our text makes clear.  Many of the great Christian leaders of present and past times have been known (at least by those close to them) to be men with some strange ideas or practices.  Great Christians have not necessarily been good husbands or fathers. They may not have been able to get along well with others.  Men who are great in one area, might not be great in another.

More than this, men who are great in one area may have major problems in that very area of their greatness.  John was a prophet, and thus we must say that his specialty was prophecy, but this was precisely where his great error arose, too.  John failed to grasp the fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.  John was trying to straighten Jesus out, when John needed to straighten out his grasp of prophecy.

John was not alone in this, for Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:10-12 that all of the Old Testament prophets struggled to grasp the meaning of biblical prophecy.  Indeed, they even struggled to grasp the meaning of their own prophecies, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Even angels long to look into these things.”

  • Our Difficulties In Understanding The Bible Can Be Found In Several Areas . . .

First, there is the limitation of the “natural man,” unsaved, and unaided by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).  

Then, there is the limitation of our finiteness.  Even saved people have limits as to what they can grasp now.

Third, there is the limitation of our sinfulness, our waywardness, and of our warped past. A child abused by his father will find it difficult to read those passages which speak of God as Father, without reading into the text those ideas which are rooted in their experience, but are not true to the Word.

Finally, we have difficulties in fully grasping God’s truth because of our limitations in the area of our spiritual gifts and ministry.  Each Christian has a particular form of “giftedness,” which God has given to equip them for a certain kind of ministry.  Since we do not possess all of the gifts, we approach the Scriptures only through the gifts which we have.  For example, when Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed about taking Mark on their next missionary journey (cf. Acts 15:36-41), each had a perspective based on his own gifts and calling.  As a front-line apostle, Paul refused to take along a man who had failed under pressure, and rightly so.  As an encourager, Barnabas refused to give up on a man who had failed, and rightly so.  Each viewed Mark through the grid of his own gifts and calling.  I am suggesting that we approach the Scriptures in the same way, with our own strengths and corresponding weaknesses.

If the Old Testament prophets – those through whom the Scriptures were given – did not fully understand the Scriptures (1 Peter 1:10-12), how can we suppose that we understand them completely, either?  The apostle Paul tells us that the Scriptures do not tell us all we would like to know.  The Scriptures enable us to “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12), only to know fully in eternity.

  • Our Limitations In Understanding The Scriptures Suggest A Couple Of Areas Of Application . . .

1) We Should Be Very Careful Not To Become Overly Dogmatic About Those Things Which Are Not Crystal Clear In The Scriptures.

I notice, for example, that some Christians tend to be very dogmatic about certain views about prophecy (eschatology).  Whether you are “pre, mid, or post trib,” for example, is something about which one can be absolutely convinced.  If John could be so wrong about the Messiah, let us be very cautious about eschatology, and any other area of biblical truth, too, if it is not emphatically and clearly taught in the Bible.

Knowing our own limitations in understanding the Scriptures, let us learn the dangers of isolationism and autonomy in Bible study and Christian living.  Part of John’s problem, in my opinion, was his isolation from other believers.  He had no one to challenge his thinking, and even his biblical interpretation.  You and I need one another for many reasons, but one good reason we need others is to balance off our own limitations and distortions.  Any Bible teacher who does not listen to and learn from other Bible teachers, is suspect, in my opinion.  Any Christian who thinks they need only their Bible and the Holy Spirit is likely to become extreme in some view of what the Bible teaches. Let us learn to lean on one another to help balance out our grasp of biblical truth.

Knowing that our grasp of the Scriptures is imperfect, we need to learn to live by holding truth in tension.  John, like the other prophets, could not harmonize the seemingly contradictory truths of Christ’s suffering and His triumph, of Messiah’s judgment and His salvation.  And yet what John could not reconcile, God does.  No prophet could reconcile these truths in tension until they had been fulfilled.  Jesus did not solve John’s problem by informing of how all of the Messianic prophecies would be fulfilled in the future, by one Messiah and by two comings.  Jesus encouraged John to study the Scriptures and to believe them, even though certain truths seem to be in tension.

I believe that we need to do likewise.  We must, for example, hold the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in tension with the equally true doctrine of man and his responsibility.  We do not do justice to the Word of God by holding to one truth and excluding the other, only for the sake of clarity, simplicity, or preference.  Let us learn, like John, to hold seemingly opposing truths in tension, until God reveals their unity and harmony in the future.

2) There Is A Great Danger Posed By Unrealistic Expectations.

The bottom line is that John had unrealistic, inaccurate expectations of God.  His expectations with regard to the Messiah and His ministry were wrong, and thus they came into conflict with the ministry and message of Christ.  John tried to change Christ to conform to his expectations, rather than to change his expectations.

We put ourselves in a very vulnerable position when we allow ourselves to hold unrealistic expectations, either of God, or of our mate, or of our children, or of our church, or of our ministry.  Let us be on guard to keep from having expectations which surpass the Scriptures.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 7:11-17 – Hope for a Hurting World

Grace For The Journey

We have been making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke, learning about the power and person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This morning we read a miraculous account of Jesus’ raising a dead person to life.  There are only three accounts in the Gospels where we read of Jesus’ raising a dead person to life.  We read of His raising a little girl, the daughter of a man named Jairus.  We read of Lazarus, another person miraculously raised from the dead.  Then we read of this account here in chapter 7.  In fact, this miracle is recorded only here in the entire New Testament, just here in verses 11-17. Picture with me what is taking place here in these seven verses.  The passage describes the coming together of two crowds.  Verse 11 tells us one crowd and verse 12 tells of another.  In verse 11 Jesus is entering into a city called Nain and along with Him are many of His disciples “and a large crowd.”  These are people who had heard Jesus teaching that wonderful sermon on the plain in chapter 6 and people who had witnessed Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s servant.  They are impressed with Jesus and so they are following Him to this city called Nain.  That is one crowd.

Then verse 12 tells us of another crowd.  It tells us that when Jesus came near the gate of the city, the one crowd meets another crowd.  Verse 12 tells us that “when Jesus came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.  And a large crowd from the city was with her.”  This is a crowd of people heading out of the city and going to a cemetery to bury a loved one who had died.

We are reading of the converging of these two crowds:

One crowd is moving out of the city –

A crowd of people mourning

For one who had died;

The other crowd is moving into the city –

A crowd of people following

One who brings life.

Death and life converge at the city gate of Nain.  Death meets life.  Sorrow meets joy.  Hopelessness meets Hope.

We will draw forth some truths from this passage that tells of an event that occurred in real space and time 2,000 years ago in a town about 20 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.  The first truth is not a popular truth and is often avoided by those who wish to stress only the positive truths in Scripture.  But we cannot appreciate the positive truths without appreciating the negative truths. 

The first truth is . . .

I.  We Live In An Imperfect World: Verses 11-12.

Verses 11 and 12 remind us that we live in a world of hurt.  We live in an imperfect world.  Things are not as they were meant to be.  God created the world perfectly.  After the six days of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 we are told that God called everything “good.”  But Genesis 3 tells us that man sinned and brought death and sin into the world.  We refer to this as the Fall.  Fomans 5:12 tells us Adam fell by bringing sin into the world, “… Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

This is the reality of our situation.  We live in a fallen world, an imperfect world, a hurting world.  We all inherit the sin of Adam.  As Adam was the representative of the human race, we can say that when he sinned, we sinned right along with him. This is why we are born sinners and why we face all the effects of the fall, including death.  Death will come to each and every one of us.

We are like the second crowd moving out of the city.  We all are on an inexorable march toward death.  We are in a procession towards death.  Unless Christ returns first, every single one of us will die.  It is often said that “the old must die; the young may die.”

Death can come at any age.  We often think of it as coming only to those who are elderly and infirm, but death can come to a young person.  That is the case here in the text.  We learn later that this one who has died is a “young man.”  And if we are wise we will pause long enough to consider whether we are prepared for that moment when we will leave this world, whether we are ninety or nineteen.  Young person, have you been saved?  Little boy, little girl, young man, young lady, have you surrendered your soul to the Lord Jesus Christ?  The only way to avoid the penalty of our sin and an eternity of hell is to surrender to Christ.  Death can come at any age.

We live in an imperfect world, a world of hurt.  Verse 12 tells us that this young man being carried out in an open coffin is “the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.”  There is so much hurt there in those phrases.  She had been through similar suffering before when her husband died and now she is suffering again with the loss of her only son.  I am not sure any of us can fully understand what it would have been like in Jesus’ day to be left without a provider and a protector.  She has no one.

We imagine her getting up that morning to prepare for her son’s funeral.  Many of you have done similarly.  A loved one dies and you grieve as you have never grieved before.  You cry as you have never cried before.  And this crowd is mourning and crying.  We can only imagine the looks and the sounds of this crowd proceeding out of the city to the cemetery.  But here the crowd of hopelessness converges with the crowd of hope. 

We live in an imperfect world . . . number 2 . . .

II.  We Serve A Perfect Lord: Verses 13-17.

That which is imperfect meets that which is perfect.  The two crowds come together.   Hopelessness intersects Hope.  The Bible says in verse 13, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”  In the midst of great sorrow Jesus has a word of hope.

There are two realities about Jesus Christ that bring hope for a hurting world.  Let’s consider them together.  First . . .

A) Consider Christ’s Sympathy Toward Us – Verse 13.

Verse 13 states, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Nobody said anything to Jesus.  He just “saw her,” He saw the woman and reached out to her.  Why?  Because He cares for us.  He sympathizes with us.  He loves us.  He knows what we are going through.

The Bible says Hebrews 4:15, “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses…”  He sympathizes with us.  He loves us.  He cares for us.  The Bible also says in Lamentations 3:22-23, “His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning.”  He is a compassionate Savior.

I am so encouraged that Luke tells us “the Lord saw her.”  Jesus Christ sees you.  He sees what you are going through.  He knows when you cry and no one else knows.  He knows your deepest hurts.  He loves you.   He is going to care for you.  His heart goes out to you this morning.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  He is the same Lord today as He was in the city of Nain 2,000 years ago.  He loves you and His heart goes out to you today.  I don’t know what many of you are facing, but our Lord knows.  He sees you and He says, “Do not weep.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world. 

  • He may not raise your loved one from their sickbed or bring to life a dead child from a funeral procession.  There were countless hundreds and thousands who had died during the ministry of Christ, and He only raised three of them from the dead. 
  • He may not raise your loved one from sickness or death, but He promises to be with you and His heart goes out to you in the depth of your sorrow. 

But our Lord loves you.  He cares for you.  His heart goes out to you.  This is why He has given us so many precious promises.  He says in . . .

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.”

John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Luke 6:20-23, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!  For indeed your reward is great in heaven.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world.

It was Christ’s hope that kept those 33 Chilean miners alive for more than two months in the darkness of a coal mine.  So many of them are changed men because of that experience.  Miner Mario Sepulveda said, “We 33 miners are walking hand in hand with God.”  I read where early on the men said they had set aside time each day to pray.  And when people began to gather there at the mine, Christians ministered to many of the families sending small Bibles and magnifying glasses down to the miners.  They also sent down an audio version of “The Jesus Film” on 33 MP3 players.  Local ministers said that two of the miners surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  While still struggling to overcome the ordeal, the youngest miner of the 33 miners, 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez wrote in a letter from the mine, “There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.”  Several of the rescued miners were wearing T-shirts given to them by Campus Crusade for Christ.  The shirts read on the front, “Thank You, Lord!”  On the back is a reference to Psalm 95:4, which says, “In His hand are the deep places of the earth.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world.  Consider Christ’s sympathy toward us.

Secondly . . .

B) Consider Christ’s Authority Over Us – Verses 14-17.

The larger theme in this historic incident is Christ’s authority over everything, including death and the grave.  Because He is God, Jesus Christ holds the keys of death in His hand. 

He has authority over death and if

He has authority over death,

He has authority over life.  And

If He has authority over life,

He has authority over every living thing.

Verse 14 teaches us that Christ speaks to the dead and the dead listen.  Verse 15 declares, “So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.”  The young man sat up and began to speak, offering proof that he was, indeed, alive.  Then Jesus presents the young man to his mother.  Little wonder verse 16 says, “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us;’ and, ‘God has visited His people.’”

A great prophet has risen up among the people, yet a person who is more than a prophet.  God had indeed visited His people in the person of Jesus Christ, second person of the Holy Trinity, fully God and fully man.

It is remarkable that Jesus speaks to the dead and the dead listen.  This is a demonstration of the truth that while the body physically dies, the spirit lives on.  Jesus talks to the living spirit of the young man.  He speaks to the young man’s soul.  When we die our soul will live on in one of two locations, either in heaven or in hell.  The body dies, but the soul lives on.

Jesus has authority over death, hell, and the grave.  He is all-powerful.  Something is very different about this healing compared to the healing we studied about last Monday.  In this healing there is no mention whatsoever of anyone’s faith which shows, that Jesus’ healings ultimately were not dependent on the faith of the person being healed but on His own power and might.

I stressed in Monday’s study that when we talk about great faith it is not defined by the size of our faith, but the size of the One in Whom our faith rests.  Great faith is not, “This will happen if I really, really, really, believe.”  Great faith is not determined by the size of our faith, but by the enormity and power of the One in Whom our faith rests, Jesus Christ.  That truth is illustrated here in that we read nothing about anyone’s faith.  Without being asked and in His own power and might Jesus approaches the open coffin, speaks the word, and the dead is raised.

I am reminded of the verse in the hymn, “In The Garden,” He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.”  At the sound of the all-powerful, all-authoritative voice of God, the young man’s lungs fill with oxygen.  His heart begins to beat, his arteries and veins fill with blood.  There is activity in the brain.  His eyes open.  His body raises up and his mouth speaks.  He’s alive!  He’s alive!  Somebody tell those grave diggers they are not needed anymore.  He’s alive!  Somebody tell those flute players to stop playing that depressing music.  He’s alive!

And this young man is alive because He who raised him from the dead would one day Himself be raised for the dead.  He who is perfect has come to rescue those in an imperfect world.  That is what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 2 when he writes that we are all dead, spiritually dead, in trespasses and sins.  There is no way out of our predicament, except through God.

Ephesians 2:4-6 declares, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

In the words of Charles Wesley, in “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing:”

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,

New life the dead receive,

The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,

The humble poor believe.

This is hope for a hurting world.  This is the great missional hope we carry to our community and to the continents.  This is what we proclaim – This is the hope of the Gospel that we proclaim to Jerusalem, Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth:

We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to every land, climb the mountains, cross the waves;

Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

This is why we share the Gospel with our loved ones.  This is why we must tell the Good News to our family.  So that if God should call one of our loved ones home early through the tragedy of  death we can say, “My son knew Jesus Christ and he is now with our Lord in heaven.”  He lives.

And if Christ returns before we die, we had better be ready.  One day our Lord is going to come again and when He comes, He comes with the words, “I say to you, arise.”  As the Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

We are all in a procession of death.  We are all in a crowd of spiritual death, marching inexorably toward an eternal cemetery of hell.  We all stand in need of someone to come interrupt the procession.  Jesus Christ came to interrupt our march toward death.  Have you been saved?  Have you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ?  If so, you know something of our Lord’s sympathy and our Lord’s authority.  One day you will join all of God’s faithful, all Christians, and enter into that beautiful place called heaven, a place where, according to Revelation 21:4, “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”