Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 114:15-24 – How Is Your Spiritual Appetite?

Grace For The Journey

Few things seem more uncomfortable at a dinner party than the awkward silence that suddenly creeps over the guests and fills the room with an uneasy quiet.  Just a moment earlier there was noise of some kind or another, the clanging of plates or the moving of chairs, or the sustaining drone of amiable conversation, but suddenly – as if cued by a director – there is silence.  It is a strange phenomenon and sometimes the silence is simply broken by someone who smiles and says, “It sure got quiet all of the sudden!”  And everyone laughs.  But when the silence occurs among a dinner party whose guests are not at all comfortable with one another to begin with, the sudden stillness of the moment paralyzes the guests, causing them to look down at their plates, everyone waiting for somebody to say something–anything!

This may well have been the situation in which the Pharisees found themselves at the dinner table to which Jesus had been invited.  You will remember from last study that Jesus had politely insulted the guests of the dinner party as well as the host of the dinner party!  You will remember from verses 7-14 that Jesus had said first to the guests at dinner, “Do not sit down at the best places, choosing the first seats, but rather sit at the lowly place so that you might be exalted.”  Then Jesus turns to the host of the dinner party and says in verse 12, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends and the well-to-do, but rather invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and blind.”   

It did not take much looking around for these Pharisees and religious leaders to note that there was not a single one among them fitting the description of poor, maimed, lame, and blind.  The heavy silence must have slowed their movements considerably.  Finally, one of the guys blurts out in verse, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  Seems a strange thing to say.  And everyone peeks up from their plates to see how Jesus will respond to this man’s unanticipated benediction.

Jesus uses the man’s statement as an opportunity to teach about the kingdom of God.   By now we are seeing that the Pharisees and the religious elite of Israel rejected Christ as Messiah; they rejected His teachings like invited guests rejecting the invitation to the great banquet; the great banquet a metaphor for living in the kingdom of God in the final state; the great banquet a metaphor for final salvation and eternal life.

Today, we will go through and study closely these ten verses after which we will  consider a few things from this dinner conversation.  Look now at verse 15, “Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!’”  Sensing the awkward conviction resulting from Jesus’ challenge to invite outcasts to a dinner party, this unnamed guest attempts to turn the conversation to more pleasant thoughts.  He strikes me as the sort of fellow who probably paused dramatically after making this statement, himself nodding in agreement to what he had just said, looking around at others for their nods, too.  I am sure he took pleasure in how he heard the words come out of his own mouth.

But this is a sham.  The guy has no real interest in the kingdom of God because he rejects the king – King Jesus.  This is why Jesus tells this little parable here in verses 16 and 17, “Then He said to him, ‘A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’”  These verses illustrate what was common practice and custom in the ancient, near east.  When a person was invited to a dinner, two invitations were extended.  The first invitation was something of an RSVP.  A servant is sent out to invite folks to the future banquet meal.  After the invitees agreed to come, then a second invitation was given once the meal was prepared.  That is what you have in verse 17.  The servant goes out and says to those who were invited, “Come, for all things are now ready.”  That is a way of saying, “Soup’s on! The table is set, it is time to eat.”

To accept the first invitation – agreeing to come – and then to reject the second invitation – after the meal is already prepared and the table set – was not good; it was a breach of social etiquette that would cause “Ms. Manners” to become apoplectic!   Socially, it was about as low as one could go.  But these invitees had their reasons – were they reasons, or excuses? Verse 18 tells us, “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’”  Hard to imagine a guy back then buying a piece of land without first even looking at it, but that is this guy’s excuse.  The second excuse is in verse 19, “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’”  Here is a guy who buys some 20,000 pounds of livestock and says he has got to go and check it all out.  Then the last guy’s excuse is in verse 20, “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”  The guy who only a few days earlier says he can come suddenly gets married and now he can’t come?  Even if he really got married, he can’t bring his wife with him?  This is a parable and we are not supposed to press the details as Jesus is teaching a larger, greater point about the kingdom of God.  These three guys – who represent the Pharisees and religious elite – have rejected the invitation to the great banquet. 

Verse 21 says, “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’”  The food is ready!  The table is set!  The time is now!  The master of the banquet tells his servant to go out and invite others who will gladly come – the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind.  The servant does so and reports back in verses 22 through 24, where the Bible says, “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’  Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”

Jesus is teaching about more than some guy inviting people to a supper.  He is teaching about eternal salvation and the kingdom of God.  Remember it was a self-important Pharisee who got this conversation started with his silly platitude, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  The great banquet pictures the ultimate kingdom banquet, what the Bible calls “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).  This parable illustrates ultimate salvation in the kingdom of God.  We have said that the kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future reality.  People enter the kingdom of God now by receiving Jesus Christ into their lives.  They take a seat at the banquet to “feast” on the sumptuous blessings of Christ, the Lord Jesus, Himself the sum and substance of the wedding banquet.  As Jesus says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will never hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”  Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the wedding banquet.  We enter into the kingdom now by receiving Christ; it is a present realization.  But the kingdom of God is also a future expectation.  We await the final state when all that is ours through Christ Jesus is granted; the final and future consummation of the kingdom of God.

So here it is: the Pharisees and the religious elite leaders, here in Luke 14, sitting with Jesus at this dinner party are the Jews who claimed to live for the kingdom of God.  They claimed to be looking forward to their Messiah and the future fulfillment of the wedding banquet.  But when the invitation finally comes, when the invitation is extended, the invitation that says, “It’s here.  The table is set.  Everything is ready,” they will find themselves all making excuses – Why? –  Because they will not like this so-called “King” of the kingdom of God.  So the invitation is extended to others – people who will gladly come to the feast – people considered by the Jews to be “second class,” the poor, maimed, lame, and blind – the Gentiles (cf. Acts 13:46; Acts 18:6; Acts 28:23-28).

I am not sure all of that sunk-in at this meal 2,000 years ago.  It is always easier for us to see, living as we do this side of the cross.  But that is the main thrust of Jesus’ teaching: these Jews would reject their Messiah, like invitees rejecting the second invitation to feast with the food of eternal life.  So, in the words of Jesus – verse 24 – “none of those men who were invited shall taste (His) supper.”

It would be easy for us to close our Bibles and think, “How unfortunate for those unbelieving Jews, to forfeit their privilege of being first in the kingdom of God” . . . “And how fortunate for Gentiles like us to receive the invitation to eternal life.”  If that is the way we are going to leave this morning we are not better than the guy who pompously opined, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

So, let’s consider . . . Three Things To Glean From This Dinner Conversation . . .

1) Consider The Lengths To Which God Has Gone To Provide Salvation.

Jesus begins the parable in verse 16 with the phrase, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many.”  Here is the Gospel.  An invitation goes out from God to attend the banquet of all banquets; it is a banquet of feasting on the “food that endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27).  It is salvation full and free.

We are sinners separated from God because we are by nature sinful and He is by nature Holy.  Only someone who is both God and Man can bridge the gulf of separation.  What does God do?  God comes to us and takes on humanity; God comes to us in the Person of Jesus Christ to live a perfect life for which we get credit and He dies a death whereby He takes the punishment for sin that we deserved.  He is buried and rises the third day to indicate His power over sin, death, and hell.  We are saved from our sins by believing in Him and accepting what He has done, and living for His glory.

Jesus Christ is the “sum and substance” of the supper and He invites us to feast on the food of eternal life.  He says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will never hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”  Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the wedding banquet.

This is an invitation for everyone.  The banquet is NOW here; the table is NOW set; it is NOW ready.  Jesus says in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  All who come will be received!  God loves all and receives all who will come, The Bible tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His unique, one-of-a-kind Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  He loves all.  God loves all people regardless of ethnicity, accomplishment, or ability.  He seeks to save those who are lost – no matter how sinful.  This is why He has come to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

His love is so great for lost people that those who carry the message to them are told in verse 23 to “Compel them to come in from among the highways and the hedges.”

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,

Like the wideness of the sea

Number two . . .

2) Know That Religion Alone Does Not Guarantee Entrance Into The Kingdom.

The Jews and religious elite leaders sitting at the dinner table thought they were guaranteed a spot at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  Remember, it was the smug way in which one guy made the comment that got Jesus to tell the parable.  No doubt that man – and all those sitting with him – thought surely if anyone would sit at the ultimate marriage supper it would be they!  But they were wrong.  They were like the guys who made excuses for not attending.  They will reject the King of the kingdom; they will reject the Good News of the Gospel found in Jesus Christ.  And because they reject the invitation, the Gospel goes out to those who will receive it, people the Jews tended to avoid, the lame, maimed, blind, and poor–the Gentiles, the non-religious, non-Jews.

The Bible says in Luke 13:30 the first will be last and the last will be first.  It also says in Luke 14:1 those who exalt themselves would be humbled and those who humble themselves would be exalted.  Like the Jews in Jesus’ day, we may think we know who will be in the kingdom of God based on outward appearances.  But religion alone does not guarantee entrance into the kingdom of God.  It does not matter how religious you are and how religious-sounding you are . . . none of that matters if you are lost.

There is a warning here for us.  You can know spiritual truth, read the Bible, faithfully attend the worship services, and be lost.  Jesus warns in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Number three . . .

3) Honestly Assess Your Appetite For Spiritual Things.

It is painfully instructive that these who were invited to the greatest feast of the ages made excuses to not attend?  The truth is, they loved their religion and they loved the world more than they loved God.  They had a greater appetite for the things of the world than the things of God.  When you examine these three excuses you find that their excuses had to do either with possessions or affections.  Someone said, “Possessions and affections cover virtually every reason by which men and women give their regrets to the kingdom.”   

Would you put an invitation from your family ahead of an invitation from God to feast at His banquet?  Jesus will go on to say in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children…he cannot be My disciple.”  What does that mean?  Would you put your affections before God?  Is an earthly relationship to you more important than a heavenly relationship with God?

Would you put the fleeting desires of this world ahead of an invitation from God to feast at His heavenly banquet?  How much time do you spend at work, trying to acquire status, stuff, prestige, and power?  Are you guilty of putting possessions ahead of an invitation from God to feast at His heavenly banquet?

Honestly assess your appetite for spiritual things.  Understand that no excuse is valid when it comes to forfeiting one’s soul.

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 14:1-14 – Things God Does In Our Lives

Grace For The Journey

Our passage today centers upon a dinner invitation.  I like food and I like to read about food, so I am immediately drawn into this text as Jesus is invited to eat in the home of one of the rulers of the Pharisees.  There are other Pharisees there as we learn later and there are a number of scribes there, too.  There were a lot of religious people there, most of them opposed to the teachings of Christ.  But Jesus has been invited to dinner.  What the religious host and all of his friends do not know is that, while they have invited Jesus to eat with them, He has brought a meal of His own.  Jesus has brought spiritual food with Him and He is serving it up through what He says and does.  That is really what we have here in these verses.  Really, the dinner scene goes from verse 1 all the way to verse 24, but this morning we’re going to be looking at roughly the first half of this dinner scene, verses 1-14.

In keeping with the theme of food here, I want to treat this text as something of a sandwich.  Now do not get hungry on me!  There is a recipe here for Christian living and there are three main ingredients.  I want to study about these three ingredients of the sandwich and treat them like two pieces of bread with meat in the middle.  The main part of the sandwich is what is in the middle, everyone knows that.  All three parts are necessary, but it is what’s in the middle that really makes it, so I want to spend the greater portion of our time talking about the second ingredient.

If you will allow that imagery, I want to share these three ingredients for Christian living.  Every Christian, every person born twice – physically and then spiritually – by God’s grace will demonstrate these behaviors. 

First . . .

I. We Must Have Mercy: Verses 1-6.

Verse 1 says, “Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely.”  The fact that these religious people were watching Jesus closely suggests that the whole thing may have been a setup.  Some have referred to the scribes and Pharisees as “The Let’s Get Jesus Committee.”  Back in chapter 6 Jesus had healed a person on the Sabbath day and they did not like that; they said healing was “work” and you are not supposed to work on the Sabbath.  It looks like the perfect storm: you have got all these powerful religious leaders present, gathered together on the Sabbath day, and you have got Jesus there, now all you need is someone who needs to be healed. 

Verse 2 tells us, “And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy.”  Dropsy in the Greek is the word “hydropikob.”  The root “hydro” is the word we use to refer to water.  This condition was some kind of disease in which various parts of the body became very swollen with fluid.  It would have been obvious that this man was very sick, if not critically or terminally ill.  Jesus knows they are all watching, so, verse 3 says, “And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”  Note that it says, “And Jesus, answering.”  He “answered,” but they had not asked anything – or had they?  Jesus knows all things.  He is God.  He knows their thoughts; He answers their thoughts.  He asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” What is their answer?  Verse 4 tells us, “But they kept silent.”  By this point in Luke’s Gospel, they are learning that you cannot win an argument with the Master.   

Verse 4 goes on to say, “And He took him and healed him, and let him go.”  I would love to have witnessed that healing!  Then verse 5 tells us that Jesus, again knowing what they are thinking, says, “Then He answered them, saying, ‘Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?’”  If something you care about has fallen into a pit you would get them out as soon as possible. 

Verse 6 says, “And they could not answer Him regarding these things.”  They go from being silent in verse 4 to being unable to answer in verse 6.  They go from “would not” to “could not.”  Jesus is the Master of the conversation here.

The framework of the Old Testament Law; the Books of Moses, allowed for acts of mercy on the Sabbath day.  Jesus’ teaching here has less to do with whether it is right to heal on the Sabbath than the fact that true followers of the Lord should show mercy towards others.  That is really the takeaway point here.  We should have mercy. 

The scribes and Pharisees had allowed their concern

For ritual and religion to blind them to the

Need to show mercy towards others. 

The Law requires love that leads to action.

One of the best ways to honor the Sabbath then, is to heal someone!  How merciful is that?

Now this point is very similar to the latter point, the third point – or the other piece of bread in our sandwich – so I want to jump down to the last two verses of our text and look at point three before we address the meat in the middle.  I realize this is going to stress some of us out, those of us who are neat and orderly, to have to write down point three before we write down point two may get us thoroughly out of sorts.  Hang in there!

The third ingredient in the recipe for Christlike behavior is, point three . . .

III. We Must Have Charity: Verses 12-14.

We must have love, a love for all people.  Look at verses 12 through 14, “Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  Jesus tells his dinner guests, when you are having one of these feasts, rather than inviting the “easy” people: relatives, friends, rich people; rather than inviting them, invite the “not so easy” people: the poor, maimed, lame, and blind.  Now, of course, Jesus does not mean that one can NEVER invite his or her relatives or friends, and so forth, but that the blessing is found in inviting people who are in no position to reciprocate your kindness. 

Note verse 14 again, “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  The other people are in a position to repay you.  You invite your friends, relatives, and rich people to your parties, they will probably invite you to their parties.  In fact, that is the very reason why some people invite the rich to their homes, that they might be invited in to their home, to rub elbows with popular, friendly, rich, easy people.  If that is what you want to live for, then you will receive that earthly reward of social status, popularity, and reciprocal kindness.

But Jesus says if you want a heavenly reward, be in the habit of showing charity and love to the less fortunate, to the outcasts; poor, maimed, lame, and blind.  They will not be able to “repay” you, but, note the last part of verse 14, “you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  You will receive your heavenly reward on the day of judgment.

How natural does this come to you, showing love to the outcasts?  Showing love to the less fortunate co-workers, showing love to the less fortunate boy or girl at school?  Every true Christian will do this.  It is the worldly who have their own parties and seek to position themselves among the popular, the well-liked, and the rich and famous.  Those of the kingdom, however, true followers of Christ, will show love to all people.  Someone said that in God’s kingdom,

Service is

More important

Than status.”

But, wait!  Me must take care NOT to show love to the outcasts so that everyone can see how truly “spiritual” we are!  This would be the epitome of pride, the very thing we want to avoid. 

And this is what is the real root of the problem. 

Our failure to show mercy, our failure to show charity,

Comes most often because of a failure to have humility.

That is the second point.  So go back to the space you left for point two and let’s look at this middle ingredient in the recipe for Christlike behavior.

II. We Must Have Humility: Verses 7-11.

Humility really is the key ingredient, the main thing, the meat-in-the-middle of the bread.  Apparently after this man is healed of dropsy, there is something of an awkward silence and then the scribes and Pharisees make their way into the dining room to eat.  Jesus – ever a keen observer of human nature – watches how they hurry and scurry to get the best seats.  Verses seven to nine tells us, “So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: ‘When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place..”  The term “best places,” in verse 7 is literally “first seats.”  The image is one with which most of us can relate.  If you have ever been in a position to wait on a shuttle bus at a theme park or at the airport, there is a good bit of hurrying and scurrying when that shuttle makes its way to the curb and a crowd of 150 people start jockeying for 15 lousy seats.  It is something of an embarrassing trait of the human race, isn’t it?  And I am right there with the rest of you, getting on that shuttle seems like the most important act of our lives.  God save us from waiting another 20 minutes for the next shuttle!

That is a bit the way these scribes and Pharisees were scurrying to the seats for the dinner.  Jesus watched them jostling with one another for the best seats at the feast.  The setting suggests there may have been the arrangement of furniture like the Roman triclinium, three couches set around a central table.  These reclining couches were U-shaped and the best seat – the seat of honor – was the one right in the middle of the U.  Imagine rushing over to get the prime seat in the middle of the U and then other people getting in on the right and the left so that you are hemmed-in and then the host comes and tells you, “Uh, actually that seat is for Bob.”  How embarrassing!  Your face is flushed and you hang your head while everyone awkwardly and uncomfortably moves to one side so you can get out of the U and take your seat back in 59F! 

In verses 10 and 11, Jesus tells us, “But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place (sit in seat 59F first!), so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.”  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  When you are invited to a dinner, take a seat in the lowly places – not in false humility, acting all spiritual-like, you know, “Oh, I’m not worthy to sit in the best seats!”  That is being as prideful as sitting in the best seats.  Just sit down!  Make like you are a kid again at the family get-togethers on the holidays.  If you are family’s like mine, all the important people were in the fine, dining room with the gold silverware and plates used just once a year.  We kids sat at the rickety old card table in the rec-room with paper plates and plastic–sporks!  So what; we were happy.  Jesus says, “Humble yourself and you will be exalted.”  On the other hand, exalt yourself and you will be – what? – humbled . . . or even, humiliated.  Humiliation is not the same as humility.  Humiliation is what happens if you do not have humility.  That is a good anecdote, isn’t it?  Humiliation is what happens when you do not have humility.

If you like Greek grammar, you will find it significant that these verbal phrases in verse 11– “will be humbled” and “will be exalted” – are what scholars call “theological passives.”  In other words . . .

You do not do them yourself,

They are done to you by God.

You are passive in it.  If you don’t humble yourself, then God will see that you are humbled.  On the other hand, if you do humble yourself, then God will see that you are exalted.  Exaltation may happen in this life, but it may not happen until the life to come.  But the key is, show humility.  True followers of Christ are in the habit of humbling themselves.  It’s the meat-in-the-middle.  It’s the main thing.

Remember that humility is NOT the main thing in the world in which we live; humility is not natural in our world.  By default, we are not humble people.  We do not humble ourselves.  We exalt ourselves.  So, Jesus’ axiom here in verse 11 about humbling ourselves is actually at odds with what is believed to be popular, trendy, and right.  Pastor Kent Hughes observes:

“Jesus’ axiom (of having and showing humility) is equally penetrating and appropriate today–because it is not believed!  Washington, DC doesn’t believe it, despite its nods to the likes of Billy Graham and Mother Teresa.  The Democratic and Republican Parties do not believe it.  Listen to the campaign rhetoric.  Professional athletes do not believe it.  Business executives do not believe it.  Has Wall Street ever advertised executive positions as especially available to the humble and lowly of heart?”

It is true, isn’t it?  We are always tempted to exalt ourselves because that is the way our culture rolls.  Exalt yourself and then you will succeed.  Work hard, play tough and then you can write a book entitled, Humility and How I Attained It! There is something offensive about that kind of self-exalting attitude, isn’t there?  Something repulsive about pride to those who are striving to enter the narrow gate of the kingdom.

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 13:31-35 – The Unstoppable Jesus – His Love Never Fails

Grace For The Journey

This contains an image of:   Before we read this morning’s passage, I want to share with you again about this matter of “active listening.”  Yesterday morning in my quiet time I was encouraged by reading Andrew Murray’s book, Waiting on God.  Andrew Murray was a great missionary and pastor in South Africa. In one place he writes: “A minister has no more solemn duty than teaching people to wait upon God.”  Murray applies this to the matter of preaching.  Drawing from an incident in the Book of Acts, Murray asks, “Why was it that in the house of Cornelius, when ‘Peter spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell upon all that heard him?’  They had said: ‘We are all here before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.’”

Murray applies this truth to expecting to hear from God when we gather together for preaching.  He writes: “We may come together to give and to listen to the most earnest exposition of God’s truth with little spiritual profit if there be no waiting for God’s counsel.”   He adds, “And so in all our gatherings we need to believe in the Holy Spirit as the Guide and Teacher of God’s saints when they wait to be led by Him into the things which God hath prepared…”

After Jesus spoke about the narrow way, about entering into the Kingdom of God, verse 31 picks up with what happened “on that very day.”  In these few short verses of our text Jesus mentions Jerusalem three times and, in essence He says, “Jerusalem: You have become pretty well known for your criminal activity.  You need no introduction.  Your reputation precedes you; Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you; Jerusalem, you who have a monopoly on being the locale for killing God’s servants; Jerusalem – it cannot be that a prophet should die anywhere else, but in Jerusalem.”

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, on His way to die there; on His way to die on the cross for our sins.  Jesus has been on His way for quite some time now, on His way with determination and precision of timing.  Nothing will stop Him from His purposes. 

Today we will look at some wonderful truths about “The Unstoppable Jesus.”  First . . .

I. Consider His Divine Control.

The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus Christ is in absolute control of absolutely everything!  There is nothing that can hinder His purposes.  Look beginning at verse 31, “On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’”  Some Pharisees came to Jesus and warned Him to get out of town because Herod wanted to kill Him.  Most of us are struck by this because we usually think of the Pharisees as the bad guys.  But not all were bad.  Note closely there in verse 31 that Luke writes “some” Pharisees.  Some, not all.  Apparently, these Pharisees are sympathetic to Jesus’ call and mission.  We need not assume that these Pharisees were somehow lying to Jesus or trying to hurry Him toward Jerusalem so that He would die more quickly.

Some Pharisees were sympathetic toward Jesus:

  • A ruler of the Pharisees in Luke 14:1.
  • Nicodemus in John 3,
  • Gamaliel in Acts 5. 

A side note here: Jesus could have said, “Well, the majority of the Pharisees are a bunch of self-centered, religious crazies who reject Me.  Therefore, I reject them all!”  That is the way some of us might reason when somebody wrongs us.  “Well, I’m not going to talk to any of those people.  They hurt me, so I am writing them all off!”   Thank God for the loving, patient, and preserving example of our Lord Jesus. 

Verse 32 tells us, “And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’”  Jesus knew Herod Antipas to be a schemer, a deceptive man acting with cunning trickery like a fox.  The statement, “Today, tomorrow, and the third day” was an idiom or proverb that simply meant, “I’m going to continue my work.  Nothing will stop me until I am finished.”  The point is, “Tell Herod, He can’t stop me.  Nothing can stop me.  I act independently of that fox’s plots and schemes.  Tell Herod it will be ‘business as usual.’”

Jesus knew where He was going.  It is good to be with someone who knows where he is going, is not it?  On the other hand, it is very frustrating when you are driving behind someone who does not have a clue where he is going, right?  It is good to shop with people who know where they are going and how long they are going to be there, and when they are going to be leaving.  Jesus knew where He was going.  We see again the steadfast determination of our Lord to complete the task for which He came.  He came to die.  He says at the last part of verse 32, “And on the third day I shall be perfected.”   That is a way of saying, “The day will come – and not a moment too soon or too late – the day will come when My work will be complete.”  This is the redemptive work for which Jesus came.  He came to die.

He is in control of every event – everything will happen according to His divine plan.  He is moving inexorably through the day-by-day ministry of healing the sick and casting out demons, moving step-by-step closer to Jerusalem where He will die. 

He says in verse 33, “Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”  There is the phrase again: today, tomorrow, and the day following.  This was a popular way of saying, “It is business as usual.  I have got work to do and nothing will stop Me until I finish My work.  And My work will be finished when I die.”

The phrase, “It cannot be that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem” was a proverbial way of saying, “Given Jerusalem’s reputation for killing God’s servants, it would be highly unusual for a prophet would die anywhere else, anywhere else but in Jerusalem.  That’ is the place that has the monopoly on killing good guys.”  Jerusalem had a reputation that preceded her of killing the prophets and stoning those sent to her:

  • The people wanted to stone David in 1 Samuel 30:6.
  • They stoned Adoram in 1 Kings 12:18.
  • Naboth was stoned to death in 1 Kings 21:13. 
  • Zechariah was stoned to death in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 24:21. 

Jerusalem would live up to this bad reputation by killing Jesus not very long after He makes this statement.  Many of the leaders of the early church would be killed as well, Stephen, for example, in Acts 7.

But you see, Jesus came to die.  And we are reminded yet again that . . .

  • Jesus came not so much to be our moral example, though He is that. 
  • Jesus came not so much to heal the sick, though He did that. 
  • Jesus came not so much to tell stories, though He did that. 
  • Jesus came not so much to hold babies in His arms and bounce them on His knees, though He certainly must have done that.

But these were not the primary reasons our Lord left the glory of heaven and came to fallen creation.  No . . .

Jesus came primarily to die.

This is the theme of the Bible . . .  

Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

John 10:17-18, “My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”

Jesus knew He would die.  He lay His life down of His own to die for us.  He died on the cross to pay our sin debt.  This truth is what gripped Isaac Watts when he wrote . . .

Alas! and did my Savior bleed

  And did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head

  For such a worm as I?

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,

  And the burden of my heart rolled away,

It was there by faith I received my sight,

  And now I am happy all the day!

 He came to die … the Bible teaches that nothing will hinder His purposes . . .

Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 21:30, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”

  • Herod the Great tried to stop Jesus shortly after He was born by ordering the death of all children 2-years old and under.  Herod couldn’t stop Jesus. 
  • Satan tried to stop Jesus by tempting Him in the desert.  Satan couldn’t stop Jesus. 
  • The Scribes and Pharisees often tried to stop Jesus’ teaching.  The Scribes and Pharisees couldn’t stop Jesus. 
  • Herod Antipas tried to stop Jesus, but Herod Antipas couldn’t stop Jesus. 
  • The soldiers tried to stop Jesus, but the soldiers couldn’t stop Jesus. 
  • The cross couldn’t stop Him, the grave couldn’t stop Him. 
  • Death could not stop Him. 

He is the “Unstoppable Jesus!”

Consider His Divine Control.  Secondly . . .

II. Consider His Divine Compassion.

Listen to Christ’s His love in verse 34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”  He longs for the Jewish people to receive Him as their rightful Messiah, but they will not.  They are not willing.  He wishes to gather them together the way a loving hen gathers her chicks under her wings to shield them, to love them, to protect them, to care for them, to preserve their lives, but “they were not willing.”  Just as John says in John 1:11, “He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.”  They were not willing.

Jesus looks ahead forty years to the horrid destruction of the temple of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans; AD 70 when Jerusalem’s “house is left desolate.”  This is what He means when he says in verse 35, “See!  Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”  The barren fig tree (Luke 13:6=9) cannot forever remain unpunished.  Judgment is coming to Jerusalem.

Then Jesus makes this statement at the end of verse 35, “I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”  This statement could refer to a “forced” confession – a confession apart from conversion; apart from salvation – that will be made one day by every current unbeliever.  One day, Christ will return and, as Paul says later, every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).  Believers will confess freely and willingly, but the lost will be forced from hell, forced to admit at that point that Jesus Christ truly was and is the eternal Savior and King.

I read last week in my study a statement to this effect by JC Ryle.  He said, “Earth is the only place in God’s creation where there is any infidelity (or unbelief).  Hell itself is nothing but truth known too late.”  There are no second chances after death.  You must receive Jesus Christ as Lord.  If you do, you will be saved and you can say freely, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  He is my Lord, Jesus!  But if you will not receive Christ, you will remain separated from God and from hell you will be forced to confess and admit and acknowledge that He was and is and will always be Lord.

One may also interpret this phrase in verse 35 positively.  The Apostle Paul speaks of a future mass conversion of Jews.  In Romans 11:26-27, Paul writes of a time when the Jewish people – in the main – will embrace Christ as Lord and Savior, a time Paul seems to tie to the second coming of Christ.  When Christ returns a large number of Jews will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The picture we are left with here is a picture of the divine compassion of Jesus.  He loves the way a hen loves her chicks, arms stretched out over them, lovingly caring for them and protecting them.  This picture of God as a loving One who gathers His children under His wings is a frequent picture in the Book of Psalms.

In Psalm 17:8, the Bible says, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”

Psalm 36:7, the Bible says, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”

Psalm 57:1, the Bible says, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.”

In Psalm 61:4, the Bible says “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”

What wondrous love of God,

The One

Who shelters us in His wings!

From these two main considerations – Christ’s divine control of all things, and Christ’s divine compassion – we learn about two reasons every Christian can be encouraged today . . .  

1) God Knows What He Is Doing In My Life.

God knows what He is doing at your life, Christian.  Consider His divine control.   He is in control of everything.  He knows your struggles.  He is just doing Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  God is just working all things out in your life to conform you to the image of His Son, to make you like Jesus.  That is what you want, isn’t it?  Sure it is. 

  • God’s working in your school, He is working at your workplace.
  • He is working through your marriage.
  • He is working through your finances,
  • He is working through your ups and downs to make you like Jesus. 

He is in complete control and He knows what He’s doing in your life. 

Secondly . . .

2) God Loves Me and Covers Me With His Loving Arms.

The beautiful thing about the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is that God’s love for Christians is bound up in the Father’s love for His Son.  The Heavenly Father always sees us “in Christ Jesus,” so He will always love us because we are in His Son.  God will love us no more and no less.  We feel like failures sometimes when we sin.  But the joy of redemption and the glory of grace is that God loves us in Christ Jesus.  His love never changes.  The arms of Jesus are outstretched towards us.

The blind hymn-writer Fannie Crosby, while blind, could see Christ’s love.  She wrote these words . . .

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,

  A wonderful Savior to me;

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,

  Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

  That shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my life with the depths of His love,

  And covers me there with His hand,

And covers me there with His hand.

And this is a love we then should share with others.  We should share this love with our neighbors, with our classmates, with our co-workers, with retailers, with waiters, with strangers, with people of every tribe, nation, and tongue; every ethnicity, every people group throughout the world.  In the words of one missionary, “If the arms of God’s people do not reach around the whole world, their arms are too short.”

Christians love because

Christians are loved.

But what of the non-Christian?  In John 6:37, Jesus says to every lost person, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  Come to the One whose arms are stretched out for you.

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 13:22-30 – The Narrow Way

Grace For The Journey

We are continuing our series through the book of Luke called, “Certainty in Uncertain Times.”  Today we are looking together in God’s Word at a very important passage of Scripture.  In this passage, Jesus deals with a question that many of us may have asked at some time.  This section is clearly centered around salvation, more specifically, entrance into the kingdom of God.  We see this first of all by the people asking, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”  We see this also in the metaphor of a banquet or party at the Master’s house.  Throughout the Bible, the banquet dinner is a frequent symbol of the kingdom of God.

The people have heard Jesus speak of the Kingdom of God.  They are wondering how many will be there.  How many will be saved?  Of course, when we speak of “the Kingdom of God,” we are referring to those who are a part of God’s family, those who will share in eternity with Jesus, those who are saved. 

This question asked of Jesus is a likely one for His followers to ask.  Many thought that Jesus’ kingdom was to be an earthly kingdom, with Jesus conquering the enemies of the Jewish people and reigning on the earth.  Up to this point, Jesus had not made any sweeping movements toward establishing His earthly kingdom.  The people may have wondered, “What’s going on here?”  This question may also have come to the forefront of their minds because of the many other references Jesus made on this subject.  Jesus often spoke of the difficulty of following Him throughout the New Testament.  The people were hearing things from His teachings that they normally did not hear from their rabbis.  These teachings may have prompted His listeners to ask this question.

Indeed, the question is one that many of us ponder today.  How many people will really be in Heaven?  Jesus speaks of three different doors in reference to salvation.  We will examine those this morning . . .

 I. The Narrow Door. (Luke 13:22-24)

Verses 22 to 24 tells us, “And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.  Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’”  The first kind of door that Jesus speaks of is the narrow door, or narrow gate.  The idea here is that most people will not try to go through this door because it is more difficult. 

The gate that Jesus speaks of here is one in which many want what is on the other side, but few are willing to make the commitment to enter the gate.  Although this is indeed the gate that is harder to go through, it is also the one that leads to the kingdom of God.  This gate is the difficult gate, but it offers the greatest reward.

Jesus does not answer the question of how many will be saved, but He does tell everyone to strive to enter through the gate that leads to salvation.  Jesus’ answer is not the answer found in contemporary American culture.  When asked today, “What must someone do to enter heaven?”  You would get a variety of answers:

  • Some would say, “You must be a good person?”
  • Some would say, “Believe whatever you believe with all of your heart?”
  • Some would say, “All religions lead to heaven.”
  • Some would say, “There is no heaven.”

Jesus tells the individual to strive to enter through this gate.  We should not think of “strive” here as working for entrance into the kingdom, but more so of a commitment to enter the gate that leads into the kingdom.

This is for instance not what we speak of when we make a commitment to train for a marathon.  You must work hours upon hours for weeks and months.  This is not the kind of commitment needed to join the United States Marine Corp.  You must undergo strict discipline and grueling work.  This is not that kind of commitment. 

This commitment does not require you

To work to get into the kingdom, but

To give your very self and life to Jesus. 

You commit everything you are to Him,

Because He has already accomplished

The required work to get in.

This is a lesson for us not to focus on hypotheticals, or to try to figure out the mind of God, but to focus on what God has revealed to us.  He has revealed the means of salvation, He has revealed the method of salvation, He has revealed the rewards of salvation, and He has revealed the judgement to those that reject salvation.

 Jesus did not candy-coat His message throughout the Gospels.  He made it very clear what it took to enter the kingdom of God . . .


Jesus constantly warned His followers about the cost of following Him.  It seems at  times that He is trying to talk them out of following Him.

  • We must be willing to give up everything. 
  • We must be willing to turn away from our families if necessary. 
  • We must be willing to lose all material possessions. 
  • We must be willing to even lay down our lives if necessary.

Some of you may say, “Bro. Terry it is really not that hard for me to follow Jesus.  My life has not really changed that much since I have been a Christian.  My life looks about the same as my friends or coworkers.  I have not really given up much to follow Him.”

My encouragement to you is to make sure you know Who you are following. Has your “want to’ been changed?  Is your desire to live for Him or live for yourself.  Have you ever walked through the narrow door?

This leads us to the next door that Jesus discusses . . .

II. The Closed Door.

Verses 25-28 says, “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’  But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.”  Jesus next speaks of a different type of door.  This door is closed.  It is closed to those who are “workers of iniquity.”  The workers of iniquity are those who have rejected the gospel, the salvation that God provided to His people, and the entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  One thing we must remember is that we were all once workers of iniquity.  It is not until we enter through the door that we are friends of God.

It is very clear that the Master who is spoken of here is Jesus Himself.  We see this because the Master was in the presence of the people when they ate and drank, and most obvious is the statement that He taught in their streets.  Jesus makes it very clear that once this door is shut, it will not be opened.  There is a sure indication here that many people who expect to enter through the gate will not be able to.  This is a reference to people to whom Jesus is speaking, the Jewish people.

Jesus is the difference maker

Into whether or not you can

Gain access to the kingdom. 

You are not admitted based

On your status, your goodness,

Your nationality, or even

Your devotion to God. 

It does not matter if

You know the Master,

What matters is if

The Master knows you.

God’s grace is abundant and deep.  However, His period of grace will eventually end.  Remember the parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6-9.  The parable illustrates the Jewish people continually rejecting the Gospel, but Jesus asks for more time with them.  Make no mistake though, the tree will be cut down if it does not bear fruit.  At some point, God’s period of grace will end, and His period of judgement will begin.

When Jesus speaks of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob He is speaking of the patriarchs of the Jewish people, or the representatives of God’s favored people, Israel.  The people that Jesus is speaking of will long to be with these Jewish fathers, but they will be unable.  As a result, the punishment and agony they suffer will lead to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The time of Jesus’ offer of forgiveness will eventually come to an end.  Remember the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21.  The man tried to store up material possessions for himself, but was not concerned with the things of God.  Little did he know that very night, he would face death.  So it is with all of us.  Just as it was with the rich fool, just as it will be with the Jewish people, so it will be with all of us.  One day the door will be closed, and it can never again be opened.

Jesus was speaking to the people directly.  They must go through the door before it is closed.

Finally, we see the last door . . .

 III. The Open Door.

Verses 29 and 30 tell us, “They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.  And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”  In these final two verses Jesus explains not only that the door is open, but that it is open to all.  The reference to east, west, north, and south is a reference to the Gentiles.  Of course, when I say “Gentile” I mean everyone that is not Jewish.  God’s grace not only extends to the Jewish people, but to all corners of the globe.

This is obviously how we received God’s grace.  Most of us, if not all of us are Gentiles.  This is why we are so passionate about reaching the world, because God is passionate about reaching all stretches of the earth.

Jesus also speaks of the last being first and the first being last.  This is a reference to the free offer of the Gospel to all, no matter the notoriety, societal stature, financial means, or family heritage.  Jesus is pointing out that many people who think they will be the first into the kingdom, will indeed not be there at all.  Likewise, many who others would never expect to be in the kingdom will certainly be among those who are with Jesus.

Both of these statements would not have been received well by the Jewish people.  The last time Jesus spoke of the Gentiles receiving salvation while the Jewish people did not repent was in Luke 4.  That passage ends with the people trying to throw Jesus off of a cliff.  It was understood by the Jewish people that all of them would automatically be ushered into the kingdom of God, simply because they were God’s chosen people.  To hear now that non-Jewish people would be admitted, in addition to lowlifes like slaves, tax collectors, and prostitutes, was simply too much for them to handle.

This gate is not reserved only for special people.  It is open to all who are willing to go through it.  Jesus wanted to shake the self-confidence of His listeners.  He wanted to let them know that . . .

It was not their birthright to get into the kingdom. 

Rather, it required entrance through the narrow gate,

Repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord.

Let me conclude with some practical application of the truths we learned today . . .

1. Enter Through The Open Door, Before It Closes.

All of us will eventually face the moment when the door closes for us to enter into the kingdom.  When it does, we will hope that we already inside the door.

Many of you have probably heard of the death of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.  Steve Jobs lost his life to a battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer.  Jobs is responsible for the all of the black, white, or silver devices you see all over America with a little Apple logo on them.  He is responsible for the iPod, the iMac, the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac, the Macbook, the Macbook Pro, the Macbook Air, Apple TV, iTunes, and many other technological breakthroughs.  At his death he was estimated to have left behind a worth of over $8 billion.  I typed this study on a device created by Steve Jobs.  He was a very popular, innovative, wealthy, and extraordinarily gifted man.  However, the gate is now shut for Steve Jobs.  Wherever he stood with God before he died, is where he stands now.

2. Bring Others To The Open Door, Before It Closes.

 It does not take someone who takes the Bible seriously much time to figure out that Jesus’ method of reaching others with the Gospel is His followers.  We are the ones He intends to use to reach our neighbors and to reach the world.  We must have a sense of urgency in bringing people to the door, while it is still open.  Many people are dying everyday with no escape from the punishment of their sin, and we hold the solution.  TAKE THEM TO THE DOOR!  TAKE THEM TO JESUS!

2. Let Your Assurance Rest Only In Whether Or Not You Know Jesus And He  Knows You.

Friends, if your assurance rests in anything other than Jesus, you are utterly mistaken.  

  • It is not about being from a good family. 
  • It is not about being faithful Baptist. 
  • It is not about being baptized, giving money to the church, or teaching Sunday School.

Many will be sadly mistaken on that day.  They will say to Jesus, “I grew up in Sunday School.  I was married in a church.  I never did anything illegal.”  Jesus will say, “Depart from Me.  I do not know you.”  The only way you can get into the Kingdom of God is if Jesus says, “I know him.  I know her.”

He knows us when we admit to ourselves and God that we are sinners and that we cannot save ourselves, we turn from self and sin and turn to God in repentance, accept what Jesus did upon the cross and the empty tomb, and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior.  When we do that it put us on the right road and allows us to know life now and forever!

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 13:18-21 – The Transforming Power of the Gospel

Grace For The Journey

If you ever have the opportunity to watch a sketch artist at work, it really is something.  He or she begins with a small mark upon a piece of paper; just a small dot or line and draws just a line or two and moves back and looks at it and there is really nothing to see as far you can tell.  Just a small mark or a line, but to the artist it is the beginning of something big and wonderful.  We are going to see in this passage that something that begins so small and so seemingly insignificant will prove to have been the beginning of something mighty and powerful.

When we were last together, we studied the passage just preceding these verses (verses 10-17), the passage where Jesus heals a woman who had been bent over for 18 years.  We said that this healing was primarily an illustration of God’s kingdom coming, the kingdom of God breaking into this world through the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Gospel.  We reviewed Luke 4 when Jesus began His ministry in Jerusalem, reading in the temple from the scroll of Isaiah.  He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor” … “to heal the brokenhearted…to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18-19). Christ’s healing of this woman illustrates how the kingdom has broken into this world.  Jesus is preaching the Gospel and healing the brokenhearted and setting people free.  The kingdom of God has broken into this world.

I want to take some time to review what we mean by the “kingdom of God.”  The kingdom of God is something the Christian enjoys now and something to which the Christian looks forward.  The kingdom of God is both present and future.  The kingdom of God is both “now” and “not yet.”  When we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we enter into the kingdom of God, not as a place, but as a position.  We enter into the reign of Christ.  Jesus Christ rules over our lives and we live under that rule and reign as we surrender to Him daily.  The kingdom is something we enjoy now.  But we also look forward to the “not yet” of the kingdom of God.  When Christ returns, we will enjoy the fullness of the kingdom of God.  This part of the kingdom is “not yet.”  We are waiting for it, anticipating its coming, and looking forward to it.  We recognize that while it is great to be a Christian, this world is not completely fixed.  Sin and darkness are still present.  The light is shining, but there is still much that needs to be fixed.  We look forward to Christ’s coming to fix it.  That’s the “not yet” of the kingdom. 

This healing serves as an introduction to the two parables in verses 18-21, the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven.  You will note the connection between the two things in verse 18 by the use of the word “Then.”  There is a connection.  The English Standard Version captures the connection even better.  It reads, “He said therefore.”  That is, after healing this woman who had been bent over for 18 years, after healing her, Jesus said, “Okay, now that I have your attention, I have a couple of questions for you: “What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?”

Now these are rhetorical questions; Jesus does not really want an answer from them.  It is a bit like when a man dresses himself for church in the morning and his wife says to him, “Is THAT what you’re wearing?!”  That is not really a question.  She is not really wanting an answer.  She already has the answer.  Jesus asks a couple questions here and is prepared to answer the questions immediately.  He asks, “What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?”  Then He answers – He gives two illustrations or pictures of the kingdom of God . . .

I. An Illustration From The Garden.

Verses 18 and 19 tells us, Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”  This teaching is simple and straightforward.  Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, a tiny, seemingly insignificant seed that grows into a large tree, so large that birds come and nest in its branches.  That which seems like nothing proves to have been the beginning of something really powerful and mighty.

Here is an illustration from the garden.  The next illustration of the kingdom of God is . . .

II. An Illustration From The Kitchen.

Verse 20 says, “And again He said, To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?”  Again, Jesus is not looking for an answer here!  He says, “I will give you the answer; here it comes; wait for it!”  The answer is in verse 21, “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal (or, flour) till it was all leavened.”  Jesus says the kingdom of God is like that which you see happening when a woman bakes bread; she takes some leaven (today we would say, “yeast”) and she takes the yeast and mixes in some flour and works it through all the dough.  The yeast in the dough that has a transforming effect on all the dough.  This is what Jesus says the kingdom of God is like.

Here is the main point of these two parables or pictures or illustrations . . .

Something that begins so small

And seemingly so insignificant

Will prove to have been the beginning

Of something powerful and mighty.

There are at least two main “take away” points from this teaching on the kingdom.  First .. . .

1) Kingdom Power Works Outwardly Through The Church.

The growth of the mustard seed from a tiny seed to a large tree is an accurate picture of the outward work of the Gospel in and through the church.  If you think of this historically, you can see how this has been true.  In spite of persecution over 2,000 years the church has grown.  It has grown from something tiny into something huge.  Many scholars think that the imagery in verse 19 of “the birds of the air nesting in the branches” is a picture of the Gospel’s affect upon the entire world, that the kingdom of God will reach all nations.  There is some Old Testament imagery of nations being represented by birds and so it may well be that this imagery is in play here.  Certainly, this would be consistent with our Lord’s call for us to reach the nations with the transforming power of the Gospel.

We are a missional church because our Lord Jesus tells us to reach the nations.  He says in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”  Because churches have been obedient to our Lord’s commission the church has grown from a tiny mustard seed into a tree in which the “birds of the air” or the nations of the world are finding a home.  We must continue to be about the business of reaching the 4 areas of Acts 1:8: our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth or as someone has put it, “our Community, Commonwealth, Country, and Continents.”  This is our mission.  What is remarkably encouraging about this is that God does this work through us, through the church!  I mean, look around at each other!  Look at us!  God works through the church to demonstrate the transforming power of the Gospel – in us and through us – to reach others.

Paul writes to the congregation at Corinth, and he says to them in 1 Corinthians 1:26-27, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”  He says, “Look around, brothers and sisters.  You will note that there are not many in the congregation who are wise, not many of you are mighty or even powerful and popular. No,” he says, “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise.”  God delights in taking the tiny and seemingly insignificant and demonstrating the power of the Gospel by growing the tiny and seemingly insignificant into something powerful and mighty.  God does that. 

This is a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures.

The wise men came from the East and they came to a popular city and they came to a big temple and they stood before a big and mighty ruler and they asked, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?  We have seen His star.  We figure He must be a pretty big guy and that is why we came to this big city and this big temple and we’re standing before you, Herod, a big ruler because we figure surely you know what’s going on!”

Christ’s work does not begin the way man’s work would begin. 

  • The wise men find the kingdom of God beginning in a small, obscure town – the little town of Bethlehem – what a strange place for a king to begin a kingdom!  This king is born outside in a dirty feed trough!  How tiny and seemingly so insignificant.
  • This king grows and then He does not do things the way we would expect.  He does not call the popular and the princes to be His first followers . . . He calls the tax collector, the common fisherman, the unpopular, the outcast, and the overlooked.  There were a few popular and noble, but in the main, he chooses the seemingly tiny and insignificant.
  • He walks into a place of worship and He does not bring before the people the popular leader of the place, but He reaches to the back and calls forth an obscure woman, bent over for 18 years.
  • He does not build His church the way we talk about building a church in America today.  “Get your brand out there!  Get the color brochure and the billboard with a big attractive logo on the front!”  His logo is a tiny seed – The Word Of God!

Kingdom power works outwardly through the church.  Secondly . . .

2) Kingdom Power Works Inwardly Through The Christian.

Leaven or yeast is unseen and works silently within the dough.  You do not really see it, but you see the effect of it.  There is a transforming power at work within the Christian.  The woman bent over illustrates the working of this power from the inside out.  Christ comes and heals this woman who was bent over for 18 years.  Christ comes and touches her and kingdom power – like leaven mixed with flour – works on the inside and she is straightened out.

This is what God does for the Christian.  Through the power of the Gospel, the kingdom power of the Gospel, the work of grace within our hearts is that which works like leaven or yeast, working on the inside, transforming us, straightening us up, and healing us.  The small beginning of grace within our hearts works like leaven, gradually influencing every fiber of our being, transforming us into the likeness of Christ.  The kingdom of God is like that.  That which is small and seemingly so insignificant proves to have been the beginning of something powerful and mighty.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he or she is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”  While we are “new creations” in Christ we are still growing . . . We are still becoming more and more like Jesus.  The grace at work in our hearts is working through us as we grow.

Some of us are so impatient with ourselves!  We want to “be perfect” right now.  It does not happen all it once.  Forgiveness happens all at once.  But we are not perfect all at once.  We are growing.   He is still working on us, to make us what we ought to be.

Some of us are so impatient with others!  Gospel power is at work like yeast within dough.  You do not see it, but it is there, working in and through every Christian.  It takes time while it is doing the work.  It is transforming character and conforming Christians into the image of God’s Son (Romans 8:29).

Like that sketch artist we were talking about.  He starts with something so tiny and something seemingly so insignificant.  It looks like nothing.  To everyone except that artist, it is nothing; just an insignificant mark on a canvass.  In fact, to some people it may even look like a mistake.  But to the artist, that small dot or line, that seemingly insignificant mark will prove to have been the beginning of something beautiful, a remarkable demonstration of the power of the artist.

God is at work through the transforming power of the Gospel.  God is growing His church like a tiny mustard seed growing into a tree.  And God is growing His Christians, transforming them from the inside-out, like leaven working through all the dough.  Praise God for the transforming power 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 10 38-42 – At the Lord’s Feet – The Most Important Thing In Life

Grace For The Journey

As a reminder, Dr. Luke, the physician, is the writer of the portion of Scripture that is our current focus, the Gospel of Luke.  He is recounting for us an incident from the year 29 AD.  Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem, and they stop for a visit in the suburban town of Bethany, just 2 miles southeast of Jerusalem.

Animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions.  The traditional lion tamer has a whip and a pistol holstered at his side, but he also carries a stool when entering the lion cage and that stool is the most important to the lion tamer.  He holds the stool near the seat and thrusts the legs toward the face of the lion.  What happens is that the lion tries to focus on all four legs at once.  In the attempt to focus on all four legs, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the lion, and the lion becomes weak and disabled because its attention is divided and fragmented.

There’s a real sense in which that happens to many people today.  There are so many things thrust at us.  Each day you face a number of choices, options, problems, and challenges.  We have places to go and people to see, especially in our western world where we have all the modern conveniences of speed and technology to hurry us on from one appointment to the other.  Our time is divided between these appointments.   We rush from here to there, rushing off to work, rushing off to play, rushing kids and grandkids from one thing to another, rushing to the grocery store, rushing to the post office, rushing to church, the list gets exhausting!  We may feel, at times, a bit like a lion staring at a four-legged stool that is thrust in front of our faces, trying to focus in on one thing at a time, but being overwhelmed by what seems to be a thousand things vying for our attention.

This morning’s passage is a call to stop the madness and consider what is the most important thing to our existence.  Because Luke, the physician, is our writer this morning, we will study this passage as a prescription from Dr. Luke whereby we may be saved from our unhealthy malady.  Dr. Luke will help us administer something of a “self-examination” today morning.  I want to walk back through this small paragraph and encourage you to take this self-examination with me. 

First . . .

1) Examine Your Desire For Jesus – Verses 38-39.

We read here about two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Scripture tells us they lived together in Bethany along with their brother, Lazarus.  You will remember Lazarus as the one Jesus Christ raised from the dead.  Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus had been dead for four days and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” and Lazarus did come forth, miraculously raised from the dead.

Martha appears to be the older sister.  Her name in Aramaic means “mistress” and so she is likely the mistress in charge of the house.  She does most of the housework.   She is always busy, always working.  Mary, on the other hand, seems to be the quieter, introspective, and contemplative type.  Usually when we read this passage, we tend to compare and contrast the two sisters, casting Mary in the better light.  We tend to look up to Mary and look down upon Martha.  But before we come down too hardly upon Martha, I want you to notice something wonderful about her.

We see it back in the latter part of verse 38?  What does the Bible say that Martha did?  The Bible says that Martha, “welcomed (or, received) Him into her house.” Martha had a desire to be with Jesus.  Martha welcomed Him into her house.  This is a time long before cell phones, emails, and text messages.  Jesus did not pull out His iPhone and text, “omw; on-my-way.”  He just dropped in unexpectedly, just stopped by while He was in town.  No time to clean house.  Jesus is here.

I wonder whether Jesus would be welcome in your house this morning?  What if Jesus stopped by this afternoon?  What “cleaning up” would you wish you had done before He came?  What things in your home would you wish you had cleared away?  What things in your life would you wish you had cleaned up?  Is He welcome in your house today?

Martha had a desire for Jesus.  But so did Mary.  Look where she is found in verse 39, “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.”  Mary is found at the Master’s feet.  This is the position of a student before the teacher.  It was virtually unheard of for a woman to sit at the feet of a rabbi, but Mary knows that this particular Jewish rabbi is more than a Jewish rabbi.

Incidentally, it is a remarkable thing that, every time we read about Mary in the Bible, she seems to be found at the Master’s feet.  There is this passage here, where she sits at His feet listening to Him.  In John 11:32, before Lazarus is raised, she is found at His feet crying and calling out to Him.  Then in John 12:3 she is found again at the feet of Jesus, anointing Him and preparing Him for burial.  Every time we read of Mary, we find her at the Lord’s feet.  She had a desire to be with Jesus, a desire be at His feet where she “heard His word.”

That word there at the end of verse 39, “Heard,” is in the imperfect tense which means it is an action that is incomplete.  The action never ends.  It is continuous action.  This phrase conveys the idea of continual listening.  A better translation here would be, “Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and continually listened to Jesus; she hung on His every word.”

Context helps us understand the depth of her desire for Jesus Christ.  Remember the context?  Back in verse 25 an expert in the law tested Jesus by asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus helps the young man consider the great commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”  The man wanted to justify himself so he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” and you will remember that the Lord responds by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.  If the Good Samaritan is an example of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, then Mary is an example of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  She had a desire for Jesus.

Do you have a desire to be with Jesus?  Do you regard Jesus as your most important need?  He is not something to be “added” to our already packed schedule.  It is not that we “work Him in” to our routine, carefully scheduling time with Jesus around our already scheduled lives. 

He IS our life.

It is not, “Well, I have got this going on this week, I have got to rush the kids here and there, or we have got this social engagement and that business deal, I believe I can work in Jesus right around here.” 

Work Him in?

If you are a part of a local church family, you sit at the Lord’s feet every time you gather together.  We come together in big group (corporate worship) and small group (Bible Study) every week because we have a desire to be with Jesus.  We sit at His feet publicly, gathering together in corporate worship, hearing the Word of God preached.  Every Christian who has a desire to be with Jesus desires to be in a big group and a small group where he or she can study, share, and learn among a group of friends who have a like faith.

If worship and small group Bible Study

Reflect our sitting at the Lord’s feet publicly,

Then our personal daily devotion reflects

Our sitting at the Lord’s feet privately.

We must take time privately to get alone somewhere and read God’s Word every day.   We must be with Jesus as Mary was with Jesus, listening as she listened, and hanging on His every Word.  Read the Bible every day.

Why?  What is the motivation for our being with Jesus?  Why does a true Christian have a real desire to be with Jesus?  Why does the true Christian worship every Sunday?  Why does the true Christian not fill his schedule with umpteen activities that crowd out his life and keep him and his family from weekly worship and Bible Study?  Why does the true Christian open the Bible and read a chapter or more a day every day?  Why?  Out of legalistic compulsion, a sense of slavish duty, driven by guilt?   No. Because the pastor said we’re to do this?  No.  Why? 

The true Christian looks to the cross for his motivation.  He never forgets what happened there at Calvary’s cross.  We must humble ourselves and remember that none of us gets into heaven by our deeds of kindness or by giving our money to the poor.  We are all sinners.  The Bible tells us that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and by the deeds of the law shall no one be justified (Romans 3:20).  God says that all of our good deeds are to Him like filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).  We humble ourselves, remembering that God came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ that we could be saved.  He came as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  God came to us, we who were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) to save us from the penalty of our sin.  Through the power of the Gospel God opens up our blind eyes so that we may believe in Christ and be saved.  We did nothing to deserve it and still do nothing to deserve it.  If we are saved, we are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ alone.  God delivers us from hell.  God grants us eternal life in heaven.  It does not come automatically.  It comes only when we repent from our sin and believe in Christ Jesus alone as Savior.  When we believe in Christ, God makes Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

This is our motivation

For sitting at Jesus’

Feet every week.

The reason some of us are not motivated to sit at Jesus’ feet weekly through public worship and daily through private worship is, quite frankly, because we believe we had something to do with our salvation . . . We think somehow that we were worthy of it . . . We earned it . . . God needed us. 

  • Only when we realize our goodness is tainted with sin.
  • Only when we believe the Bible’s teaching that none of us is worthy, none of us can please Him.
  • Only when we believe that God opened-up our blind eyes will we ever be motivated rightly to sit at the Lord’s feet publically every week and privately every day.

Examine your desire for Jesus.  Are you truly saved?  Are you, in the words of Jesus in John 3, “born again?”  If so, you will have a desire to sit at the Lord’s feet, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  You will sit at the Lord’s feet at every opportunity, hanging on His every Word.  Examine your desire for Jesus.  Secondly:

2) Examine Your Distraction From Jesus – Verses 40-41.

Verse 40 tells us, But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’”  Do you see what happened to Martha?  She had a desire to be with Jesus, but she soon became “dragged about” with much serving.  While she had a desire for Jesus, she had now become distracted from Jesus.

We can see her working there in the kitchen, Mary probably helping her at first.  Martha throws the roast in the oven and sends Mary out to set the table.  But Mary does not make it back in.  Martha glances out into the living room and sees Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.  She goes back to her work.  She is working hard, scurrying about, wiping her hands on her apron, sweat on her brow, her hair beginning to frizz.  The microwave is beeping, the tea pot is whistling, the oven timer is buzzing.  All she can think about is her sister Mary in the other room, no longer helping, but just sitting there with Jesus.

Martha soon begins acting the way spouses act when they argue.  She begins to place things down on the kitchen counter with a little more force now, placing things down so they make a noise that can be heard in the other room.  She shuts the cabinets now with a little more force.  You couples know how this is.  Were someone to ask, “Is anything wrong?”  And you answer, “NO!”  How many of you know “No” doesn’t mean “No?!”

Finally, Martha can take it no longer.  She bursts out into the living room and cries out, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell here to help me!”  Ever feel that way?  You try to do all you can.  You work as hard as you can.  You live as best you can.  You do, do, do, do, and it just seems like life meanly trudges on. Finally, you cry out like Martha, “Lord, don’t You care?!” 

Look at Jesus’ reply in verse 41, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”  Hear the tender compassion in His voice: “Martha, Martha.”  He cares for her.  But there is also a mild rebuke there: “you are worried and troubled about many things.”  The Greek word for “worried” there conveys the idea of being divided.  It is the same word found in Matthew 6 where Jesus says to not worry about your food, clothing, your life.  That is, do not allow yourself to “be divided” by all those concerns.  Rather, seek first the kingdom of God.  Seek just one thing, and all these others will be added unto you.  Know your greatest need.  Sit at the feet of Jesus.  Do not be distracted.

I want you to examine your distraction from Jesus this morning.  What distracts you from the Lord?  Good things can distract us from Jesus, things that in and of themselves are not bad.  Martha illustrates the danger of living a performance-driven life.  Martha illustrates the danger of seeking approval and acceptance before God based on our works. 

We will never be more acceptable

To God than we are in Christ Jesus.

We do not earn God’s approval and acceptance by our works before becoming a Christian . . . and . . . we do not earn God’s approval and acceptance by our works after becoming a Christian. 

We are accepted by God

Not on the basis of

Our personal performance,

But on the basis of

The infinitely perfect


Of Jesus Christ.

Beware of living a performance-driven life. 

The Christian life is not

So much about

Achievement for Christ,

But surrender and

Yielding to Christ.

Examine your desire for Jesus.  Examine your distraction from Jesus.  Finally, the Bible says . . .

3) Examine Your Devotion To Jesus: Verse 42.

Hear the words of Jesus as He mildly rebukes those of us who are the “Marthas” of today, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Jesus says, “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part.”

The picture I have in my mind is this:  Martha is preparing a meal.  There will be all sorts of dishes; all different types and portions of wonderful things from which to choose.  Jesus says Mary has chosen the best “plate” there is.  There are many things she could have chosen, but she chose the best thing there in that dining room.  She chose to sit at the feet of Jesus.  The things that seemed so important to Martha will one day be gone.  Those things that clamored for her attention, all those things will one day expire.

But the choice Mary made – and everything bound up with that choice – Jesus says, will not be taken away from her.  She made the right choice.  She is devoted to Jesus.

Examine your devotion to Jesus.  Are you truly devoted to Him?  Is that reflected in the way you live your life?  If you’re really devoted to someone, you find a way to be with him.

Alvin Straight was 73-year-old man who lived in Laurens, Iowa.  He had an older brother, Henry, who was 80-years-old and lived to the east, 240 miles east in Blue River, Wisconsin.  Alvin’s brother suffered a stroke one summer and Alvin desperately wanted to go see him, but he had a transportation problem.  He did not have a driver’s license because his eyesight was poor and he apparently had an aversion to taking a plane, train, or bus.  But Alvin did not let that stop him.  He loved his brother, was devoted to his brother, and was determined to be with his brother.

Alvin Straight did something so unusual that they made a movie about him, a movie called “The Straight Story.”  Alvin Straight went down to the local hardware store and picked up a few items for his six-week journey and then went back to his house and put his items into a trailer and then slowly boarded his 1966 John Deere riding lawn mower and, at a top speed of 5 miles per hour, drove 240 miles from Laurens, Iowa to Blue River, Wisconsin.

When you’re devoted to someone, you find a way to be with him.

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.”

*** With Christmas Eve on Friday and taking some time off the following week … My blog will resume on January 5, 2022.  I am prayer that you all have a Christ-filled Christ and a Christ honoring New Year!

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 10:25-27 – When Compassion is Optional

Grace For The Journey

When we were last in Luke’s Gospel, we heard Jesus say back in verse 21, “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”  We talked about how it is that some “see” and understand spiritual truth and some do not see.  It is hidden from them, and the irony is that very frequently those who do not “see” are the very ones you would expect to see.  They are the so-called “wise and prudent.”  They have everything in place, but they are blind.If we needed a real-life example of a man who was spiritually blind, a man who had “everything in place,” but still could not see, then we have such a man in the passage before us this morning.  He approaches Jesus to ask Him a very important question.  I want to walk with you through these verses and the more familiar passage that follows, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and let’s learn from this dialogue between this “wise man” and Jesus. 

First . . .

1. Consider the Question of Eternity.

Verse 25 tells us that a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  It is a question of eternity.  What must I do to enter to the kingdom of God?  Again, context is helpful here.  In the previous verse Jesus had just told his disciples that many prophets and kings had desired to see what they had seen, but did not see it.  Here is a man who joins the many prophets and kings in the quest for spiritual truth.

It is a good question.  Maybe some of you find yourselves standing next to this man and, with him, looking to Jesus awaiting His response.  It is a good question.  A problem, however, is that this man is asking it, verse 25 says, in order to “test Him.”  It is the same word used earlier by Luke where Jesus says one should never “put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12).  This word suggests the man does not have the purest of motives.  He is testing Jesus.  Will Jesus pass the test?

This “certain lawyer” is literally translated as “an expert of the Jewish Law.”  He is the sort of man who made a life of studying the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.  He would have had memorized large portions of Genesis through Deuteronomy.  He knew the finest details of Jewish law and could quote passages at will.  He is the kind of man who would have been something of “a bore at parties,” because often when one specializes in a particular field of study, he cannot help but share the great depth of his knowledge with all who come within a few steps of him.

He asks Jesus the question and Jesus responds as He often does with sneaky people like this; He answers the question with a question of His own.  Verse 26 says, “He said to him, ‘What is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?’”  He may as well have said, “You’re the expert, aren’t you?  Tell Me!”

By the way, it is worth noting that Jesus answers this important life question with an answer that points His questioner to the Scriptures: “What is written in the law?”  What does the Bible say?  This prompts one commentator, JC Ryle to remind us, “It matters nothing who says a thing in religion, whether an ancient father, or a modern Bishop, or a learned (preacher). 

Is it in the Bible? 

Can it be proved

By the Bible? 

If not, it is

Not to be believed. 

It matters nothing how beautiful and clear sermons or religious books may appear.  Are they in the smallest degree contrary to Scripture?  If they are, they are rubbish and poison, and guides of no value.”

Listen how the man answers.  The expert in the law replies to Jesus in verse 27, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  His reply should sound relatively familiar to a number of us as we studied time the very passage from which the man quotes in part, Deuteronomy 6:4, the passage recited twice a day by the faithful Jew in his morning and evening prayers.

The man says, “I enter into heaven by loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving my neighbor as myself.”  That is his answer.  Now maybe some of us are not prepared for Jesus’ answer.  Maybe some of us who were trained to share the Gospel using a particular outline or method are surprised by what Jesus says next.  After all, we believe this man just gave something of a “works” answer.  So, we are prepared to hear Jesus say, “No.  Wrong answer.  You cannot be saved by what you do.”  But what do we read?  Jesus says in verse 28, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”  And Jesus is right on, as He always is.  I mean it is true, isn’t it?  Is not the way to eternal life attained by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength mind; and out of that relationship it leads us to loving our neighbor as ourselves?  Is not the very essence of faith bound up in a whole-hearted loving trust in God as King of our lives?  This is what faith is.  It is an expression of trust in the One who is the love of our lives.

The problem is, of course, that none of us actually loves the Lord perfectly.  The grammar here, present tense, imperative mood, suggests a translation like, “Keep doing this forever and you shall live.”  The opposite is: “Don’t keep doing this and you shall die.”  Galatians 3:10 says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  Is there a person reading this blog who has the audacity to say he or she always, consistently, and perfectly loves the Lord with every fiber of his or her being, totally devoted at every moment to the One True God?  The expert in the law, however, is blind to this. 

He is blind to it

Because He did not

Come to Jesus trusting

Him, but testing Him.

In fact, he apparently assumes he is doing just fine in these two matters, loving the Lord –  vertical relationship – and loving his neighbor as himself – horizontal relationships – but he wants to be sure, especially on this matter of loving his neighbor.  He might have thought, “Every Jew knows who the One True God is, but not everyone may know who their neighbor is,” and so, verse 29 says, “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

The very question illustrates that the man is clearly missing something here.  His question implies that, to him, some people qualified as neighbors, and some did not.  The prevailing opinion among the scribes and Pharisees was that there were certain ones to whom they were expected to show mercy and others to whom they were not expected to show mercy.  Compassion was required in some cases and optional in other cases.  It is as if the expert in the law asked Jesus, “Look, Jesus, I do not want to be wasting my time showing compassion to people who are not my neighbor.  Clearly compassion is optional in some cases, so what are – or who are – those cases?  Who is my neighbor?”

Remember . . .

The man did not

Come trusting Jesus,

But testing Jesus. 

Therefore the man

Does not require

Instruction as much

As he requires humility.

The same may be said for many of us.  It is not that we need more information to trust God.  We need to humble ourselves with the information we already possess.  As the hymn-writer puts it, “What more can He say than to you He hath said?”  We do not need instruction as much as we need humility.  We must see ourselves in our sin and bow before the One true holy, and infinitely wise God.  But the man wants to justify himself and so he asks, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus answers in verse 30 and following.  He answers by painting a picture of what compassion and mercy looks like.  He illustrates what it looks like to love one’s neighbor as oneself. 

Having considered the question of eternity we now consider the illustration of mercy.

2. Consider the Illustration of Mercy (30-37)

Verse 30 says, “Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.’”  I am sure the man perks up at this point just as some of you do when a preacher begins to tell a story.  The preacher may be quoting from this Scripture and that Scripture and bringing a solid exposition of a text, but heads soon begin to fill with doctrine, become heavy and begin to nod . . . but just wait till the preacher says, “A guy is walking down the street,” and the room comes alive!  Everyone rises and wakes the person next to him and says, “Cheer up, he’s going to tell a story now!”

The road to Jericho is still visible today.  It is an 18 mile stretch downhill some 3,000 feet from Jericho to Jerusalem.  The terrain is rocky and in Jesus’ day thieves were notorious for hiding along the Jericho road, known then as the “red and bloody way,” as these thieves frequently burglarized unsuspecting travelers.  This man walks along the Jericho road, and thieves jump him.  They strip him of his clothing, they beat him, and they leave him half dead. 

Jesus says in verses 31 to 32, “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.”  These two, the priest and the Levite, pass by the man without stopping to help him.  Maybe because they were involved in spiritual duties in the Jewish synagogue, they feared becoming spiritually and ceremonially unclean.  We do not know.  The point is that they did not stop to show mercy and compassion.  We would have expected such mercy to come from these two, they are after all the “spiritual people,” not unlike the expert in the law who was asking Jesus about eternity, but they both pass by. 

Where does the man’s help come from?  Verse 33 tells us, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.”  Maybe there was a gasp in the crowd at this point in Jesus’ story.  A Samaritan!  Who would have expected help to come from a Samaritan?  Some of you will remember John’s editorial comment in His Gospel, John 4:9, where he writes, “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”  Most Jews considered the Samaritans as “half-breeds,” and unworthy of any attention at all.  In John 8:48 some Jews use the term contemptuously in expression their hatred of Jesus.  They say, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?!”  Who would have expected this man to be helped by a Samaritan?

Verses 34 and 35 further tell us, “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”  The Samaritan, the “Kind Samaritan,” rubs soothing oil upon the man’s beaten body and pours wine as an antiseptic into the man’s wounds and he cares for him.  He interrupts his own schedule and takes the beaten man to a nearby inn where he cares for him through the evening, perhaps making sure he lives through the night.  The next day the Good Samaritan takes two denarii – the equivalent of two days wages – and gives the money to the innkeeper in case the man has any other needs.  And if this money is not enough the Good Samaritan will repay all at a future date.

Now Jesus takes the position of the questioner.  He asks the expert in the law in verses 36 and 37, “’So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’  And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’  Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”  Strictly speaking, Jesus never answers the man’s question.   Have you ever noticed that?  The lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” 

Jesus does not answer that question. 

He answers a different question. 

He answers the question,

“How can I be a loving neighbor?”

In essence Jesus says, “You did not ask me this, but you should have.  You really should have asked, ‘How can I be a neighbor?’”  That is the kind of question My true followers ask Me.” 

The man wanted to know

When compassion is optional

And Jesus, in essence, says “Never.”

Remember . . .

That Jesus is not teaching

A sort of salvation by works:

Do your best to love God

And love your neighbor

And you will get into heaven. 

None of can love God

And neighbor perfectly.

Remember . . .

That this man needed

To be humbled. 

He came not to

Jesus trusting Him,

But testing Him.

He didn’t need instruction, he needed humility.

The moral demands of the Old Testament are not set aside by the New Testament.  The moral demands of the Old Testament are fulfilled perfectly in Jesus Christ who said, “I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17).  As our substitute, Christ fulfills the law perfectly for us.  He takes our sin upon Himself so that our sin is paid for; and He fulfills the righteous demands of the law for us so that we may receive His righteousness.  Then, we who are Christians are saved from the penalty of sin will then live new lives in Christ, new lives that endeavor to live out the moral commands of the law – not because the law saves us, but because the law is good for us. 

We live it out

As an evidence

That we are

Truly born again.

So . . .

Acts of kindness flow from the Gospel,

But . . .

Acts of kindness are not themselves the Gospel. 

Acts of kindness are not the way to life

But . . .

For the Christian, they are the way of life.

Put another way . . .

Showing mercy to one’s neighbor is

Evidence of having received mercy.

With that in mind, let me share with you about five ways we can show mercy this week . . .

1) Allowing For Divine Interruptions.

This Samaritan no doubt had his own schedule as he was making his way down the Jericho Road.  If he were us today, he would have carried a day-timer, or a smart phone with his calendar in it and he periodically pulled it out of his pocket the way so many of us do, checking to see whether we have received another email, or text, or tweet.  But he was open to interruptions.  We need to allow for Divine interruptions.  Allow God to change your schedule one day this week and marvel at how God brings people into your lives that you may bless them.

The priest and the Levite missed their opportunity.  Whereas the priest and the Levite passed by the wounded man, verse 33 says that this certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, “came where he was.”  The problem with many of us is that “we are not where the man is.”   We are not where the man is because we are caught up in our own little worlds, and our own “Christian causes,” complete with petitions we pass out and signs we stick in our yards and stickers we put on our cars, but “we are not where the man is.”  We do not open our eyes to the needs all around us.

2) Taking Time To Really Listen To Others.

Husbands listening to wives, children listening to parents, supervisors listening to workers, co-workers listening to one another – really listening.  Listen like Jesus.  Take time to do that this week.  Really listen to others.

3) Meeting Needs Of Others (Physical, Economic, Social).

Does someone need money or help?  Are we too quick to explain away our need to give to that person or is our first inclination to go and help?  Do we really love all persons regardless of race, color, culture, social status, and education?

4) Sharing The Gospel. 

What greater way to show compassion and mercy than by caring for the soul of a person?  Some of you are fearful of knowing what to say.  Share your own story, or a tract with them, or read the Gospel verses to them.  The Holy Spirit use these to let them know what Jesus has done and what He can do in their lives as they receive Him as Savior and Lord. 

5) Being Missional (Pray/Give/Go To The 4Cs)

Every Christian is a missionary.  We show mercy by being missional, taking the Gospel to the 4Cs of our Community, the Commonwealth, the Country, and the Continents.  Every one of us is called by Jesus to pray, give, or go.

God, help us beware of thinking we can love You whom we have not seen when we do not love our brother whom we see at every opportunity.  Thank you, God, for showing the greatest mercy and compassion one could show by coming to us in the Person of Jesus Christ, coming to us “where we were,” like a beaten man on the side of the road, naked, wretched and poor.  Thank you for coming to us as the compassionate Good Shepherd who took care of us and paid the debt we owed, dying for our sins upon the cross that we might be healed, saved, and 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 10:21-24 – Blessed To See And Hear

Grace For The Journey

This morning we pick up where we left off in Luke’s Gospel, which is about midway through chapter 10.  We last studied verses 17 to 20 so we pick up at verse 21 and we will read through verse 24.  In these verses, Jesus says, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see.”  He is talking about what can happen to us spiritually.  We can have everything “in place” but still not see as God wants us to see. 

If we see at all,

If we understand

The things of God.

It will be because

God has graciously

Opened our eyes.

Through the power of the Gospel, He has revealed to us that the “old way” of seeing and understanding has replaced it with a “new way” of seeing and understanding.  This is a blessing to receive.  Not everyone has received this grace of spiritual sight.  Not everyone who sees really sees.  Let’s use our eyes and take a closer look at this passage and see what it teaches us this morning.

Verse 21 says, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.’”  It is impossible for us to rightly understand what Jesus is talking about here without backing up and reading what Jesus said immediately preceding.  Jesus had sent out 70 disciples to go and proclaim that the Kingdom has come.  It is a new day.  Christ Jesus is here to save the lost and to bring sight to the blind, more than just physical sight, but spiritual sight, too.

The disciples had gone out and shared that message, and when they came back to Jesus, they were all fired up about the fact that even the demons were subject to them.  Jesus makes this statement in verse 18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Every time a disciple casted out a demon, it evidenced the defeat of Satan that was occurring as quickly and as suddenly as lightning flashes.  The statement is a summary statement of the comprehensive, all-inclusive, wide-ranging defeat of the evil one.

This battle goes back as far as Genesis 3:15, where we read what is often called, “The First Gospel.”  After Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, God says to serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed (or, her offspring); He shall bruise your head (Eve’s offspring shall bruise your head) and you (serpent) shall bruise His heel.”  From that point in Genesis 3:15 forward we read in the Bible of this ongoing warfare between man and Satan.  As Satan is bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing his head.  This warfare culminates on the cross.  Satan strikes the heel of the ultimate offspring of the woman, Jesus Christ.  Jesus dies on the cross.  But when He rises on the third day, He crushes the head of the serpent.  God defeats Satan yet again.

When Jesus says in verse 21, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent,” the “these things” He is talking about is this sweeping nature of the comprehensive defeat of the Evil One that happens through the power of the Gospel, namely the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Verse 21 says this causes Jesus to “rejoice in the Spirit.”  Interestingly, it is the only statement on record we have of Jesus rejoicing.  Surely He rejoiced at other times, but this is the only time it is recorded.  We read of Jesus weeping three times, but rejoicing only once.

You also have the Trinity in verse 21.  You will never find a place in the Bible where it says, “And here is the doctrine of the Trinity,” but you see the Trinity at several points as you read through the Bible.  In verse 21, Jesus is talking.  Jesus is, of course, the Son of God.  The Son rejoiced “in the Spirit,” so you have God the Spirit.  And the Son is talking to the Father.  You have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit; one God in three Persons.

Jesus says in verse 21, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things (namely the presence of God’s Kingdom and Satan’s fall) from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”  God hides and God reveals.  Who can understand why God reveals spiritual truth to some and hides it from others?  Jesus acknowledges in the last part of verse 21, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”  Whatever reason God has for revealing spiritual truth to some and hiding it from others, He has good reason.

Yet, what God does is always consistent with man’s freedom and responsibility.  What Jesus says in verse 21 is a statement of fact.  The contrast between the “wise” and the “babes” is not a contrast between educated and uneducated.  It is a contrast between those who live for this world and those who live for God.  The “wisdom of this world” often makes men proud, doesn’t it?  Becoming proud and boastful, these men become resistant to spiritual truth.  Ben Stein’s interview of renowned atheist Richard Dawkins illustrates how the wisdom of this world can harden the heart of an otherwise gifted scientist.  It was striking to hear Richard Dawkins admit that it was possible some kind of intelligent being created the universe, but he would not allow for the possibility that this intelligent being was the God of the Bible.  This truth is hidden from him.  God reveals truth to “babes,” those whose hearts are humbled and softened to receive the truth of the Gospel.

In verse 22 Jesus says, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”   Verse 22 shows the unique relationship between the Father and the Son.  If all things have been given to the Son, then clearly the Son is on equal terms with the Father.  The authority of the Father is given to the Son because the Son is as much God as the Father is God.  So we see here the deity of Christ.  And then Jesus says, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  If anything, this verse teaches that the only way to know God is through the Son.  No one can know God apart from the Son.  When someone says, “I know God” but then does not live for Christ, we have to help them understand that no, in fact, they do not know God.  No one can know God apart from the Son.  This is why the Father says at the transfiguration of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him” (Luke 9:35)!

This was the essence of Peter’s statement in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no other name, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” but the name of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to Father except through the Son.”  The only way we can be know God and be saved from sin and have God’s forgiveness is through the Gospel, through Jesus Christ.  Only Christ has this unique relationship with the Father.

Verses 23 and 24 tell us, “Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see;’ for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”  What a blessing it is to see!  What a blessing to have spiritual sight and spiritual hearing!  Jesus says, “Many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it,” but you have.  Jesus may have asked, “Do you realize how privileged you are?!”

The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:10, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.”  Do you realize how blessed you are to see and hear?  Do you realize how blessed you are to share in God’s kingdom?  Not everyone sees.  Many walk around as though they had two pair of contacts in their eyes, neither pair helping them to see.  If we see at all it is only because God has opened our eyes.  If we hear at all it is only because God has opened our ears.  We have spiritual knowledge and understanding not because we are good or because we are educated or because we are church members.  If we see, we see because God has opened our eyes. 

I believe we can draw three truths regarding what we see and  hear when God opens our eyes and ears from these verses . . . 

1) God Reveals To Us His Triumph Over Evil.

Not everyone understands that God has already conquered evil.  This is the truth that caused Jesus to rejoice back in verse 21.  Satan was continually falling as quickly as sudden flashes of lighting.  In Christ Jesus is the comprehensive defeat and triumph over the Evil one.  Every time Satan bruises the heel of the seed of the woman, God crushes his head.  Satan is a defeated foe.  God triumphs over evil.  This is a spiritual truth that not everyone sees.

We pick up the newspaper and we read that over 80 have died now in the horrible twisters that swept through Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas recently and we wonder where is the triumph of evil in that?  It would seem that Satan is doing a pretty good job of striking the heel of the seed of the woman.  And surely, none of us can know fully the mind of our perfect God and His sovereign ways.  Tornadoes, disasters, and tragedies are reminders of just how small we are in this world, and just how absolutely dependent we are upon the One True God for everything we have.  God has made a way for us to be saved, eternally saved, even from the ravages of storms and utter destruction.  Jesus says in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”  While Satan is striking the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing his head.

God reveals to us His triumph over evil and this truth causes us to live in joy.  We know that God is there and He always does what is right.  Whether we are suffering in what seems to be a dead-end job, or a seemingly hopeless medical challenge, or a strained marriage – God is there, crushing the head of the Evil One.

David Wilkerson certainly understood this truth.  He had eyes to see and ears to hear. Some of you will have known David Wilkerson, who was pastor of the 5,000 member Time Square Church in one of New York City’s red-light districts and author of the famous book, The Cross and the Switchblade.  Wilkerson died tragically when his automobile struck a semi-truck.  In his last blog post earlier Wednesday morning, he wrote these words, “To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: weeping will last through some dark, awful nights and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, ‘I am with you.  I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan.  It was no accident.’”

When God opens our eyes to see, we understand that He has triumphed over all evil. 

Secondly, when God opens our eyes to see and our ears to hear, we understand that . . .

2) God Draws Us To Himself Through Christ.

Jesus says in verse 22, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal.”  We cannot know God until Jesus Christ reveals God to us.  Did you catch the glimpse of Good News at the end of this verse?  The Son “wills to reveal” this saving knowledge of God to certain ones.  Who can understand this fully?  It is only by God’s grace that Jesus Christ reveals saving knowledge of the Father to us.

Verse 22 is similar to John 6:44. where Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”  The Father draws souls to Himself through Christ, who chooses to reveal the Father to certain ones.  God draws us to Himself through Christ.

If anything, these verses remind us that no man just “decides” to become a Christian as though he made that decision on the basis of having weighed the evidence or thinking that becoming a Christian would be good for his reputation or for his family’s sake.  Many church members are lost because they believe they themselves have done the work of salvation.  This helps us understand the problem of why some professing Christians act like Christians and some do not.  Some are saved and some are not.  No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him or her to Christ.  We must ask ourselves whether we are truly saved.

  • Joining a church saves no one. 
  • Being baptized saves no one. 
  • Living the 10 commandments saves no one.  Being good saves no one. 

We are saved only when

God draws us to Himself

By way of the Holy Spirit

Through the Lord Jesus Christ

In the power of the Gospel.

Has there been a point in your life where you can trace the Hand of God working in such a way as to convict you overwhelmingly of your sin, humbling you to the dust, and you cried out in repentance, “God be merciful to me, a sinner?”  If not, you are lost and on the road to hell.  You need to be saved.  If there has been such a time, then you have, the basis of your joy.  Jesus says in verse 20, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  There is no greater gift than the certainty that when we die we will spend eternity in heaven because God has drawn us to Himself through Christ and our names are written down in heaven.  They are written there not because we were church members, deacons, pastors, and Sunday school teachers.  There are many lost church members, deacons, pastors, and Sunday school teachers.  Our names are written down only when we have humbly come to Christ, our hearts having been softened, His truth having been revealed to us and we receive that truth as a babe with child-like trust.

When God opens our eyes and ears, we understand that God triumphs over evil and He draws us to Himself through Christ. 

Thirdly, when God opens our spiritual eyes and ears, we understand that . . .

3) God Uses Us To Declare His Greatness.

Remember that the context of this paragraph is couched in the mission of the 70 disciples.  They were going around declaring the truth that God’s kingdom had come in Christ.  This is the truth that the disciples had seen and heard, and Jesus had said to them, “He who hears you hears Me” (Luke 10:16).  God uses us to declare His greatness and those who hear us, hear Him.

  • God uses us to declare His greatness through worship, through singing the wonderful truths of God. 
  • God uses us to declare His greatness through witness at home among our family and at work among our co-workers. 
  • God uses us to declare His greatness through sharing Jesus Christ to a neighbor, to a fellow student at school, through missional work from our neighborhood to the nations. 
  • God uses us to declare His greatness through our giving, our tithing, and our serving.

What is the motivation for our declaring His greatness through all of these means?  The motivation is joy.  Jesus told the disciples to “rejoice” that their names are written in heaven, the disciples’ joy.  We share in the joy of our Lord Jesus Christ who “rejoiced in the Spirit.”

When we come to terms with what it means to see and what it means to hear, we live every day in joy.  We live joyfully because we understand that there is meaning behind everything that happens, that God is in control, and He always does what is right.  We rejoice that our eyes and ears have been opened to see and hear this truth.  Thank God that thought, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”

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 10:17-20 – The Source of True Joy

Grace For The Journey

Jesus had sent out 70 people to go out on a mission.  They were to go out into the surrounding towns and proclaim the kingdom of God.  They were to tell people that the time had come when God would rule and reign and right all wrongs.  The 70 go out and proclaimed this message of the kingdom.  Now they return and we read how their mission journey went.

Some of you have seen the movie that was out a couple of years ago called, “Amazing Grace.”  It is based on the true story of William Wilberforce, the 18th century young man who changed Great Britain by arguing in Parliament against the slave trade.  The movie tells about his life, including his meetings with John Newton, author of the great hymn, Amazing Grace.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie occurs sometime after Wilberforce’s conversion to Christ, when he gets saved.   There is this scene where Wilberforce is out by himself in the back yard of his house, lying upon the grass, just laughing and talking to God.  His house butler comes out for something and finds Wilberforce in this state of joy.  At first Wilberforce is a little embarrassed, but then shares with his butler about his enjoying the presence of God.

Some of us can share a similar testimony.  We came to know God in a personal way and nothing else in all the world mattered to us.  We have been saved and we will trade our salvation for nothing.  Oh, the joy of knowing God!  Yet, today when one looks at the typical professing Christian in the typical American community he sees anything but joy.  There go the Christians, off they go to their churches on Sunday, drudgery to many of them, bickering to one another, and yelling at their kids.  During the week, they look very much like the people who are not Christians.  They seem to have the same interests and aspirations as lost people.  They seem – in the main – a very joyless group of people.

There may be a number of reasons for these things, but in today’s study I would like to suggest that where true conversion has taken place, that is, in the cases of those who are truly saved, these Christians who seem to have lost their joy have done so because they have located the source of their joy in the wrong places.  Does this describe any of you?  When you think of God and your salvation in Him through Christ does your heart flutter?  Do you frequently smile through the day when you pause to think of your salvation?  Or do you think at all about it?  Have you lost the joy of God’s salvation?  As we look at these verses more closely we will discover the source of true joy.

When the 70 return from their mission trip they are excited.  In verse 17 they say, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”  As the 70 had gone out into the various towns on the way to Jerusalem they find great success in their mission.  They even succeeded in casting out demons in the name of Jesus Christ and they are pretty fired up about that.  I suppose I would be, too, wouldn’t you?  I mean that is something, isn’t it?  And Jesus shares in their joy.  He makes this statement in verse 18, that is a bit puzzling at first, “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Every time the disciples succeeded in casting a demon out of someone, it was evidence of the defeat of Satan, a defeat occurring as swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash.  Whatever else this phrase means, it is, at its core, a summary statement of the comprehensive defeat of Satan.  The kingdom of God has come and the kingdom of Satan is being defeated.  Jesus says later in chapter 11, verse 20, “Bit if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

This phrase in verse 18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” is a summary statement of the comprehensive defeat of Satan.  It is very important that we understand this because it goes all the way back to Genesis 3.  Genesis 3:15 is sometimes called the “first Gospel,” proto-euengelion. In the Greek.  It just means “first Gospel.”  The context is Adam & Eve’s sin shortly after creation, their giving in to the temptation of Satan who speaks to them through the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  After they sin, God speaks a word of judgment to the serpent.  He says, “I will but enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  Here is a battle where the serpent will bruise the heel of the woman’s offspring (the entire human race) and the Seed of the woman (singular here, the one Seed), will Himself crush the head of the serpent.

This is why Sinclair Ferguson has rightly said that, “everything in the Bible is a footnote to Genesis 3:15.”  Everything we read in the Bible is somehow rooted in this ongoing battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.  We read time and again of Satan’s bruising the seed of the woman and God’s crushing the head of the serpent, whether it is the story of Cain and Abel or the Israelites and the Babylonians or Daniel and the lion’s den, or the Christians and the non-Christians.  The antagonism between good and evil is ongoing.

We must not think of this as dualism . . .

The philosophy that says good and evil

Are equal and they battle it out every day

And sometimes good wins and sometimes evil wins. 

Satan is a defeated foe.

This is why in the Book of Job we read that Satan must come and ask permission to tempt Job.  Why?  Because God is greater.  As Satan is bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing Satan’s head. 

Nowhere is this truth evidenced

More profoundly than upon the cross.

It would appear that Satan has won.  He has struck a fatal blow against the heel of the seed of the woman.  Jesus Christ is dead, but on the third day, the Bible tells us in Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  God Himself crushes the head of the serpent.  God will always win.  God is greater.  In verse 18 of our text we must understand it as a summary statement of the comprehensive, all-inclusive, wide-ranging defeat of the evil one.

This truth is further illustrated in Jesus’ giving authority to the disciples over the destructive efforts of Satan.  Jesus says in verse 19, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  It is His authority to give because He has authority over Satan and He has authority over Satan because He is God.  He Himself is crushing the head of the serpent.  Christ can give the disciples authority to trample on serpents and scorpions (symbols of evil), and over all the power of the enemy so that nothing shall by any means hurt them.

Serpents and scorpions are symbols of evil.  We are not to take this verse out of context and bring snakes to our worship services and handle them and pass them around.  Leave that to the people in West Virginia or wherever people do that.  This verse is Jesus’ way of saying He has authority over the destructive efforts of Satan and He will protect His disciples from Satan’s powers.  If, and I stress if, the disciples should find themselves in a situation where they encounter a literal snake or serpent then God will protect them just as He protected Paul when that viper came out of the fire on the island of Malta and fastened itself to his hand. Paul just shook it off into the fire.  That is the idea.  Paul did not bring the snake with him in box to be used in a worship service.  If anybody does that, all I can say is they deserve to be bit.

What is happening in these verses is a footnote to Genesis 3:15.  As Satan is bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing his head.  Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from the sky.”  As a result of Christ’s coming, Satan is defeated.  God Himself is crushing his head.

Now that is reason to rejoice, isn’t it?  But Jesus says in verse 20, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  However wonderful it would be to cast demons out of people, Jesus says there is something far greater.  Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written down in heaven.  Rejoice because you are saved.  In Philippians 4:3, Paul refers to those “whose names are in the Book of Life.”  In Revelation 3:5, Jesus speaks of those whose names “will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.”  At the Great White Throne Judgment the ones who were cast into the lake of fire were those whose names “were not written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15).”

When we are saved, God writes our names into a book called the Book of Life.  Our names are written in heaven.  It is a marvelous thing to think about.  When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He writes down our names in the Book of Life in heaven.

As we return to this question, “Where do we locate our joy?”  We may locate it in a number of places.   The first response is . . .

1)      Not In Our Possessions.

Remember that these 70 disciples were sent on a journey without a lot of stuff.  They were not to carry with them extra money, extra sandals, and so forth.  They were to be content with whatever they received and wherever they stayed.  We noted how this serves to illustrate that the Christian life is not about the amassing of great fortunes and possessions.

God never intended that we should joy first in stuff . . .

  • God never intended that we should love and enjoy in our house and all the stuff inside more than we should love and enjoy Him. 
  • God never intended for us to enjoy in our automobiles, toys, and clothes more than we enjoy Him. 
  • God never intended that our hearts beat more quickly for the latest technological gadgetry or game system more than our heart beats with joy at the thought of Him and our relationship with Him. 

We are not to locate the source of our joy in our possessions. 

Number two . . .

2) Not In Our Power.

The 70 were excited that they had power over the demons.  Jesus says, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you.”  It is not that your power over the enemy is not a big deal.  It is a big deal, but not the biggest deal.  It is not as big as your salvation.  Remember that these 70 disciples are unknown and rather unexceptional people called to a life of obscurity.   They were not to be enamored with power.  They are, as Jesus will say later, “little babes” among the “wise and prudent” (verse 21).

We are you to rejoice in your power or prestige.  We may have some degree of power or authority at work or among your peers.  We are not to rejoice in that.  We are not to let our powerful position be the driving force to motivate us.  We are not to allow our heart to be captured by desires to be powerful and influential as though nothing at all mattered.  Our work is not the most important thing in the world.

The source of our joy is not to be found in our possessions or our power. 

Thirdly . . .

3) Not In Our Performance.

I find this truth particularly interesting because these 70 disciples are doing a good thing.  They are going around and preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick, yet Jesus does not want them to joy primarily in this mission work.  Missional work is a great joy.  Evangelism is a great joy.  Church work is a great joy.  The use of our spiritual gifts for God’s glory is a great joy.  But none of these things are to be the primary joy of our lives.

The source of our joy is not to be found in our possessions, in our power, or in our performance. 

Rather the source of our joy is to be found . . .

4) In Our Position (Our Salvation).

Jesus says in verse 20, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 

This joy is the driving force

Behind every other joy. 

This joy is greater than the joy of

Possessions, power, and performance. 

 This joy has nothing to do with us

And everything to do with God.

What causes your heart to beat more quickly? 

  • A paycheck? 
  • A sudden rise in your investments? 
  • Winning the big game? 
  • A certain boy or girl? 
  • A job or career? 
  • Popularity? 
  • Success?

Our greatest joy should be that we rejoice because our name is written in heaven. 

There is nothing more important

Than making sure our

Names are written in heaven.

Nothing.  Your job may seem most important.  Your career, your family, your stuff.  But nothing is more important than making sure God has saved your soul from hell.

And when this has truly happened, you never tire of it.  Let me ask you a question, “When was the last time you laughed in joy at the thought of your salvation?”  I forget where I heard this but a man riding a cart to a town where he is going to receive all kinds of riches and treasure, maybe an inheritance.  He had been riding for hundreds of miles and he is just a few feet from the gate where he is going to get all this wonderful stuff and then the wheels come off the cart.  Rather than leaving the cart and sprinting joyfully the rest of the way through the city gate, he picks up the broken wheel and wanders off muttering about how his cart broke down.

This is a fitting illustration of what it is like to completely forget about the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). 

  • Because we have located the source of our joy in our possessions when we lose our stuff we lose our joy.
  • Because we have located the source of our joy in our power then, when we lose our power we lose our joy.

We are like the guy who has forgotten his inheritance, muttering about a broken wheel that came off a cart, forgetting about the surpassing riches of Jesus Christ and eternal salvation in Him.

Because we can rejoice that our names are written in heaven, we can say . . .

There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
And the white robed angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven,
Never more to roam.

Do you know for certain that God has written down your name?  Can you say . . .

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be 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 13:1-17 – Glorious Things Done By Jesus

Grace For The Journey

We have been talking in recent weeks about the matter of “active listening.”  We listen to the reading, preaching, and teaching of the Word intentionally, listening as though our lives depended upon it, as indeed they do.  Active listening is to be contrasted with passive listening, hearing of the Word, but not really being tuned-in to the Word.  People were certainly listening actively to Jesus.  In the passage before is today, Luke gives us Jesus’ last teaching in a synagogue.  The people are listening carefully to Jesus and verse 17, gives the response of the people to what Jesus had been saying and doing.  It says, “And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitudes rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”  Picking up on that last phrase, I want to look in our study today on the matter of the “Glorious Things Done by Jesus.”

This passage divides evenly into two main sections.  If you like outlines, perhaps this will help you to arrange the material for your thinking. 

  • We have Jesus healing a woman inverses 10 to 13;
  • And then in verses 14 to 17 we have Jesus dealing with someone who objects to the healing, a person Jesus calls out for his hypocrisy

Let’s look a little more closely at this passage before taking away some pointed principles that surface from our study. 

First . . . 

I. Consider The Healing. 

Verses 10 and 11 tells us, “Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.”

This woman’s condition did not keep her from being active in the synagogue.  She came to learn and worship, never once complaining of her plight.  She had been bent over for years and I am sure walked very slowly.  She was bent over like that all the time.  The Bible does not tell us what kind of condition she had.  Most scholars believe had some sort of arthritic problem that prevented her from standing up straight.

Verse 11says that the woman’s condition was caused originally by “a spirit of infirmity,” or an “evil spirit.”  This is not to say that the woman was demon-possessed, but that her condition was like every person’s condition in a fallen world.  This was a common way to refer to sickness, all sickness – spiritually and physically – stands in need of Christ’s redemptive work.  This woman needed healing. 

Verse 12 and 13 tell us, “But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity’ (Literally, “Set free from your sickness.”) And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Now the larger context – and we will see this more fully next time when we look at the two parables that follow; the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven – the larger context of this healing concerns Jesus and the arrival of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

The healing of this woman is about primarily the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God comes with Christ.  It is both “now” and “not yet.”  It is “now” for those who look to the redemptive work of Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior, those who believe Jesus to be the Son of God.  For these, the Kingdom of God has come “in part.”  When Christ returns, the Kingdom of God will come “in full.” 

This is the larger context as seen when you turn in your Bibles back a few chapters to chapter 4 of Luke’s Gospel and you recall how Jesus began His earthly ministry.  He was in another synagogue there and He had stood to read from the Old Testament and reading from Isaiah in Luke 4:18, He says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  This is what Jesus has been doing since leaving that synagogue in chapter 4, all through chapters 5 through 13.  He has been “preaching the gospel to the poor; healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and setting at liberty those who are oppressed.”  These works are evidence of the fact, He says in Luke 11:20 that, “The Kingdom of God has come upon you.” 

That is the healing.  It is followed by the hypocrisy . . .

II. Consider The Hypocrisy.

Verse 14 states, “But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.’”  This Jewish synagogue ruler took care of the facilities, coordinated meetings there, and oversaw the teaching.  He was a strict observer of the Law, but blind to the point of the Law.  He did not believe Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law.  He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and did not want the crowd getting caught up with Him, either.  So this man – intending his words for Jesus – speaks them to the crowd!  The synagogue ruler misses the point of the Sabbath entirely.  As Jesus says elsewhere, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).”   

Verse 15 tells us, “The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite!  Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?’”  Jewish law made allowances for acts of mercy and necessity on the Sabbath, including caring for the needs of animals.  Jesus says, “Look, if it’s permissible for you to “set free” a bound ox or a donkey in order to meet its needs, how much more should you desire to “set free” a bound woman in order to meet her needs?  Jesus continues in verse 16 by saying, “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham (a fellow Jew), whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”   

Jesus rightly calls the synagogue ruler out on his hypocrisy.  He was a hypocrite because he allowed his zeal for the Law to keep him from understanding the point of the Law.  His religiosity eclipsed necessary virtues like compassion, kindness, and mercy.  He cared more for animals than for humans!  If on the Sabbath “bound” animals may be given water to drink, how much more should “bound” souls be given to drink the Living Water?   Verse 17 concludes with, “And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” 

In the time remaining, let’s consider together a few of the “Glorious things done by Jesus.”  First, this passage teaches that . . .

1) Jesus Has Power Over My Sickness.

Here is a woman who has been sick for 18 years and Jesus heals her.  The healing happens instantaneously and without any act of faith required on her part.  Verses 12 and 13 simply say that Jesus saw the woman, called her to Himself, and healed her.  That is it.  It happens quickly and instantaneously.  And her response is natural – the last part of verse 13 says she “glorified God.”  That is what we do when we are healed!

Apparently, she was used to glorifying God.  After all, she is there in the synagogue for the purpose of glorifying God through corporate worship.  It is hardly possible to preach on, or study, this text without noting that here is a woman, physically-challenged, bent over, but she has made it to “church” to worship.  I am sure he did not always “feel” like coming to worship, but she came nonetheless.  I think it is helpful for those of us who are younger to realize and appreciate the great lengths to which some people go to be in worship every Sunday, especially some of our older, faithful members.  This is one of the benefits of a healthy church family where there are people from every generation.  Some go to great lengths just to be present for worship.

This woman was sick and Jesus healed her of her sickness.  Ultimately all healing comes by way of the Good Physician, our Lord Jesus, whether healing comes by His saying the word or through a medical doctor or medicine.  Jesus has power over all sickness.

At the same time, however, we must take care to note that it is not always God’s will to heal physically every person.  Remember that this woman had been sick for 18 years.  18 years is a long time.  She was not “out of God’s will,” nor can we conclude that she did anything to deserve her sickness.  Like the man born blind in John 9, this woman was sick so that “the works (and glory) of God should be revealed” in her (John 9:3).  This truth can be safely concluded about all of God’s children who are bound in sickness.  Though we may not understand fully all of God’s ways, we can be sure that He knows what He is doing with us and that we are sick not without the notice of His tender care.  We are what we are that “the works of God should be revealed” in us – however God so chooses to “work” His works.

Jesus has power over my sickness.  Secondly . . .

2) Jesus Has Power Over My Sorrow.

This passage also serves to remind us that Jesus cares for the outcast, the downtrodden, the looked-over, the despised, the unnoticed, and the rejected.  Can you picture this bent-over woman coming to the synagogue every Sabbath?  No doubt people pointed fingers at her and whispered about her.  Imagine how she slowly struggled to make her way to the synagogue and stumbled about trying to find a place to sit down.  Charles Spurgeon suggests she may have “walked about as if she were searching for a grave.”

What a sight she must have been – and what sorrow she must have felt.  Yet while she came sorrowing, she went home singing!  The Bible says she left “glorifying God.”  This is one of the joys of meeting Jesus in public worship.  How many times have we said, “You know, I did not feel like coming today, but I sure am glad I did.”   We come sorrowing and we go home singing.

Jesus has power over your sorrows.  He knows all things.  Verse 12 says, “But when Jesus saw her.”  Jesus saw her.  He sees you, too.  He knows you.  He knows the pain you feel, the hurt you have, and the trials you face.  He loves you and is there for you.

If you can believe that and trust Him, you too may go home singing today.  Jesus has power over our sickness and power over our sorrow.  And all this because, thirdly . . .

3) Jesus Has Power Over My Sin.

Every physical healing of Jesus is an illustration of spiritual healing.  Our need for spiritual healing is far greater than our need for physical healing.  We are all in need of spiritual healing.  The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We are all sinners, “bent over,” if you like, just as this woman, bent over in sin.  We are fallen.  And there is no one who can “straighten us up” but Jesus.  I really do not want to make too much of the imagery here, but it is true, isn’t it?  We are bent over in sin and Jesus comes to straighten us up.  He comes to us.  He takes the initiative and sets us free.

There is no evidence here that this woman comes to be healed.  She is just “there,” just like many of us today would say we are just “here.”  This woman asks for nothing.  She is just there, and Jesus sees her.  He takes the initiative.  We serve an Initiative-Taking God!  He comes to us in our sinful condition.  He sees us and He comes to us and He “sets us free.”  Here again is what makes Christianity different from every other major religion.  Salvation comes not in our attempts to “get up there to God,” but salvation comes as a result of God’s coming down to us, dying on a cross for our sins, and rising for our justification, so that we by faith, receiving Him into our lives may be saved.  He knows what we are going through, He sees us, and He comes to us in power to reclaim and restore!

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.”