Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:57-62 – Give Your Heart To Christ

Grace For The Journey

We have been studying through the book of Luke as is my practice here at the church where I am privileged to minister God’s Word.  I preach through books of the Bible, believing this is the best way to learn the Word of God, and we are at a point in chapter 9 that is like a hinge or a turning point.  We can say that roughly the first 8 chapters of Luke concern who Jesus is.  Several times we have read the question, “Who is this Jesus” or Jesus asks, “Who do men say that I am?”  Following Peter’s confession in chapter 9 verse 20, “You are the Christ,” Jesus resolutely sets out for Jerusalem in order to die.  The focus of chapters 9-19 is on what it means to follow Christ.  Luke presents the reader with true questions in his Gospel.  In chapters 1-8, he answers the question, “Who is Christ?”  In chapters 9-19, he answers the question, “What does it look like to follow this Christ?”  Think of that as we read in today’s text about three different people, all of them unnamed, who are faced with following Christ.  Note that the word “follow” occurring three times in today’s passage, verses 57, 59, and 61.

I heard someone illustrate receiving Christ into one’s life like this: My name is Terry Davis.  If you invite me into your home and you say, “Terry, you may come in, but Davis, you may not,” it is impossible for me to come in because Terry and Davis go together.  You cannot have part of me without the other.  You must have all of me.  To receive Jesus Christ into one’s life is no different.  We must receive all of Him into our lives which means that all of our hearts – our whole hearts – are given over to Him.

The way some people think of following Christ reminds me of a comedian popular when I was in college.  He had a strange way of observing the world and I remember one time he said he wanted to get a dog and name it, “Stay.”  Just think about that for a moment.   He would call the dog and it would be like, “Come here, Stay.  Come here, Stay.”  And the dog would be like, “Do you want me or not?”  I think this is the kind of relationship with Christ some people have who think of themselves as His followers.  But Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and be with him.”  The reality is that you either get all of Jesus or none of Him because you cannot divide Him into halves or quarters or bits and pieces.  You get all of Him and He wants all of us.  He wants our whole heart.  He says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.”  He wants our heart.  He wants our whole heart.  Our passion should be like David when he proclaimed in Psalm 86:11-12, “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.  I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart.”

As I read this passage and it seemed to me that this was the sum application of these six verses.  It is like Jesus is saying, “Give Me Your Heart.  I will not be satisfied with anything less than your whole heart.”  Let me say also that you will not be satisfied, either, until you give your whole heart to Jesus Christ.  I do not mean that we come to Christ to see what we can get out of it.  I do not mean satisfaction in that sense.  That is precisely the problem for many today.  Some come to Christ to see what they can get out of it: Get me out of this problem . . . Make me feel good . . . Heal my marriage . . .  Even, “Get me into heaven.”  These are all selfish, self-centered reasons that end ultimately in emptiness because we come to Christ with only part of our hearts.  We want this part of our life, but we want Him to fix that part.  But coming to Christ with our whole hearts means He is number one.  We surrender to Him.  He is Lord.  He determines everything.  We live as His servants.  He speaks, we listen.  He teaches, we learn.  He calls, we follow.  What does it mean to follow Christ? 

First, it means . . .

 I. We Must Share In His Difficulties – Verses 57-58.

Verses 57-58 says, “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’”  Now that sounds good, doesn’t it? Let’s give credit to this unnamed person for saying what thousands do not say.  At least he is interested in Jesus.  At least he wants to be a disciple.  I do not, know what stirred his heart.  Maybe he was inspired by the teachings or intrigued by the healings, but he says to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go.”  But Jesus sees something lacking in this person’s desire to follow so He replies to him in verse 58, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’” 

This statement is not so much about Jesus’ not having a house in which to live as it is about enduring hardships and facing difficulties along the way.  Animals often seek refuge in the comfort of their earthly shelters, but such is not the case for followers of Christ.  That is, there will be difficulties along the way.  There will be hard days.  There will be times you wish you could retreat like a fox to his den or a bird to its nest.

Paul said to Timothy in 2 timothy 2:3, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  Endure hardship.  Share in Christ’s difficulties.  We are helped by remembering a previous call to discipleship earlier in chapter 9.  In 9:22 Jesus tells His followers, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed …”  Jesus suffered for us, so we must be willing to suffer for Him.  He says in the next verse, 9:23 and following, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  Jesus faced difficulties for us so we – as His followers – must share in His difficulties.  He has our whole heart when we are willing to share in His difficulties.

When it comes to the reality of our difficulties and reiterating the fallen state of mankind and the effects of sin everywhere we need never fear overstating the point.  Too many professing Christians think that when they undergo difficulties and suffering that it is because God is angry with them and or they have done something to deserve it.  Jesus tells us at the outset to be prepared to endure hardships and trials and difficulties as we run the race known as the Christian life.

And let me say that we do well to learn from the Master when we speak to someone about being a follower of Christ.  How quick we are to tell them to bow their head and repeat a prayer!  I mean, think of it: How many of us would not be pleased to meet this guy in verse 57?  Imagine someone coming up to us at work or at school and saying to us, “I am ready to follow Jesus Christ wherever He leads!”  We might be quick to say, “Awesome!  Bow your head and repeat these words,” instead of pausing thoughtfully and asking, “Are you sure?  Following Christ requires a full-on 100% unqualified commitment.  Are you absolutely certain the Holy Spirit is leading you to surrender?”

The first person in our text shows us that following Christ means we must share in His difficulties. 

The next two persons in our text show us that following Christ means . . .

 II. We Must Shift Our Priorities.

Verses 59-62 tell us, “Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’  But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’”  Underline that word “first.”  In fact, you will see not only here with this second man in verse 59, but also in verse 61 with the third man, you will see four words, “But, let me first.”  These two men have their own priorities.  They each wish to follow Christ, but only according to their own system of ranking priorities.

This helps us understand the relative harshness of what Jesus says to both of them.  The second guy says in verse 59, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” and Jesus says in verse 60, “Let the dead bury their own dead.”  Let the dead – the spiritually dead – bury their own dead – the physical dead.  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:1 that apart from Christ, we are “dead in trespasses and sins.”  Jesus knew that this man’s heart was bound up more with his family than with Him.  This man wants to follow Christ, but only according to his schedule and agenda.  He wants to follow Jesus but he has some other matters he has got to take care of.

Some of you have helpful study Bibles that tell you about Jewish burial and how it could take as long as a year for a Jewish man to bury his mother or father.  Some believe that seems to soften Jesus’ statement somewhat as if the man could perhaps get someone else to take care of his affairs during that time.  There are even others who believe that the man’s father was not yet dead and again, they believe this softens the apparent harshness of Jesus’ statement here, but I really think Jesus wants these words to stand on their own.  Jesus is saying that there is nothing more important than following Christ.  Honoring one’s parents is biblical, and while burying his father was perhaps the most important duty of a Jewish son, the duty to follow Jesus Christ was even greater.

I have about this in my own life – What greater way for my wife or daughters to honor me than that them to follow Jesus Christ?  Their response to the urgent call to follow Jesus Christ would be more important to me than whether they took care of all the details of my funeral.

It is a matter of priorities.  Jesus is not telling this man to not bury his father.  He is not telling him to just forget about his father and not see to it that he is buried properly.  He is speaking to this particular man at the point of his greatest weakness.  This man’s heart was bound up with his family more than with Christ.  He wanted to put family first and Jesus is saying, “I’m more important than your family.”  Give me your heart.”  Jesus wants our whole heart.

This is why marriage is the closest illustration of what it means to follow Christ.  A marriage is not a 50/50 commitment but a 100/100 commitment.  I remember Tony Evans saying, “If my wife’s giving only 50, I want to know who’s getting the other half!”

I’ve shared this illustration with you before.  If I came home one day with some other woman and Michele asked, “Who is this?”  I say, “Well, it’s just this other woman.  She’s going to live with us and I’ll spend some time with her, but don’t worry: you’ve got 90% of my heart.  She’s just got 10%.”  That’s crazy, right?  Nod your head this way.  Yes, that’s crazy.  But that’s the way many people try to treat the Lord.  “Lord, I’ll give you part of my heart, but I can’t give You this part.  I’ll follow you this far, but no further.  I want to follow You, but first let me do this.  First, let me do that.  First, I’ve got to take care of this.  Jesus says, “No, I want all of you.  Give Me your heart.  All of it.”

The same is true in the third man, where verses 61 and 62 tell us, “And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’  But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”  In our day Jesus would say it differently, “No man driving his car forward and looking the whole time in his rearview mirror, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  It is an image of someone who says he wants to follow Christ but his heart stays behind.  His heart is bound up more with what he will have to leave behind.  Jesus knows this third man’s heart.  The guy says he wants to follow Christ, but Jesus knows better.  For the third time now, Jesus speaks to a man at the point of his greatest weakness.  This man’s heart is bound up with all he will have to leave behind to follow Christ – family, friends, comfort, ease, and security.  Jesus says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Do not look back.  Give Him your whole heart.  All of it.

Have you given Jesus your whole heart?  The Bible is clear on what that looks like in a life that is surrendered to Him. 

The word “surrender” is defined as: to yield, give up or over, submit, abandon, relinquish, cede, waive, or capitulate.  In some translations, the word “surrender” is not found, but the concepts of “yielding” (Romans 6:16-19) or submitting (James 4:7) are used instead.  In order to surrender your heart, body, and soul to God, one must be willing to yield to the sovereign claim of a righteous God.  What is that claim?  We need to understand that man is separated from a Holy God by sin and there must be reconciliation.  The Good News is that God has made a provision for man to be reconciled to Himself and that provision is found in the once-for-all sacrifice made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

To surrender body, soul , and spirit to God (1 Thessalonians 5:23), one must understand that as humans we are triune beings.  We are made up of our soul (heart/mind), body, and spirit. Yielding one part of ourselves without yielding the other is impossible.  If we try to separate ourselves, we become “double minded” and therefore unstable (James 1:8).

Life is filled with overwhelming emotions, unexpected challenges, and unpredictable relationships which can all cause our hearts to become selfish in an effort to survive.  So many people and things compete for our hearts and attention that it can seem impossible to be whole-hearted for anything, let alone God.  However, it is possible to be whole-heartedly surrendered to God and His love paves the way to give our hearts completely to Him if we follow his Word.

The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Our hearts determine how we handle everything that life throws our way.  The Bible says to be careful about what we allow into our hearts and what we allow our hearts to be devoted to.

The Bible shows us how this is possible in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”  Jesus set the ultimate example of what it means to show love to people by dying on the cross for sins He never committed.  In response, we have a choice to let His love compel us to surrender and let Him live through us, or to ignore him and live for ourselves.

Jesus says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  That statement has a number of implications, but is summarily defined as allowing our heart to be captured by the things of this world instead of being captured for Christ, like Lot’s wife who looked back to the things she had left in Sodom and so was turned into a pillar of salt.

Jesus wants our whole heart.  We sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus.  No turning back, no turning back.”  And I want to encourage you this morning to never turn back.  Guard your heart. 

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:4, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”  This means we live a life of complete, unreserved, unqualified commitment to Jesus Christ, and we never compromise.

Let me share with you an illustration of what happens when we begin to compromise our commitment to Jesus Christ.  Clayton Christensen is a business professor at Harvard Business School at Harvard University.  On the last day of the class, he gives an inspiring talk to students about what he calls “the bottom line on happiness.”  One of the things he asks his students is what they will do to keep their families strong.  Another thing he asks is, “What will you do to be sure you stay out of jail?”  He is serious.  Two of the 32 students in his Rhodes Scholar class spent time in prison, one of them was Jeff Skilling of Enron fame.  Christensen is a Christian and so he understands the importance of our purpose to not being shaped by the secular world.  The lecture was subsequently published in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review.  Christen speaks of “Management tools that can be used to help you lead a purposeful life.”  Some of these “tools” include: Create a culture of family, Remember to be Humble, and Avoid “Just this Once.” 

He says, “I’d like to share a story about how I came to understand the potential damage of “just this once” in my own life.  I played on the Oxford University varsity basketball team.  We worked our tails off and finished the season undefeated.  The guys on the team were the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.  We got to the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament, and made it to the final four.  It turned out the championship game was scheduled for a Sunday.  I had made a personal commitment to God at age 16 that I would never play ball on Sunday.  I went to the coach and explained my problem.  He was incredulous.  My teammates were, too, because I was the starting center.  Every one of the guys on the team came to me and said, ‘You’ve got to play.  Can’t you break the rule just this one time?’  I’m a deeply religious man, so I went away and prayed about what I should do.  I got a very clear feeling that I shouldn’t break my commitment, so I didn’t play in the championship game.  In many ways that was a small decision, involving one of several thousand Sundays in my life.  In theory, I could have crossed the line just that one time and then never done it again.   But looking back, I can see that resisting the temptation of “just this once” was one of the most important decisions I have ever made.   My life has been an unending stream of extenuating circumstances.  Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.  The lesson I learned is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time.  If you give in to ‘just this once,’ based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates did, you’ll regret where you end up.  You’ve got to decide for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.”

Jesus says, “Give Me your heart – your whole heart – 100% of the time.  Follow Me.”  It is interesting: we don’t know how these three unnamed persons in the text ultimately responded to Christ’s call.  He warns all three, but we never read what happens to them.  While we do not know how they responded, we do know how we will respond this morning.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:46-56 – What Living By God’s Grace And Mercy Looks Like

Grace For The Journey

We are studying our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke.  Luke is such a practical book in the New Testament and our study of it continues to yield much practical application for our lives today. 

Our text this morning goes from verse 46 to verse 56.  The situation and context of this passage revolves around a statement made by our Lord Jesus in verse 44 where Jesus says, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”  Jesus has begun to tell the disciples that He is going to Jerusalem to die.  He has made this statement before in verse 22 and He makes it again in verse 44.  He wants these 12 disciples to really get this point.  He has even said, “Let these words sink down into your ears,” (44), but they do not understand Him and, the passage following that statement illustrates that they are totally clueless as to its meaning.  In fact, the disciples give us a tutorial on “How To Miss The Point.”  And that is what we encounter as we read these verses before us today.

Most of you know that Winston Churchill was not just a great Prime Minister for the United Kingdom during World War II and the years following, but he was a number of other things, including a gifted writer and public speaker.   In 1949 he acquired a personal valet, or personal assistant, by the name of Norman McGowan.  McGowan, who was just 25 years old when he became Churchill’s assistant, later wrote about his experiences in a book entitled, My Years with Churchill.  In one particular experience, McGowan writes of Churchill’s speaking abilities and his attracting huge crowds.  He was asked a question and his answer reflects something of Churchill’s humility.   McGowan writes: “Winston Churchill was once asked, ‘Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?’  ‘It’s quite flattering,’ replied Sir Winston. ‘But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.’”

In that statement we see a man who was by all rights clearly a man of great political stature and superiority and yet a man keenly aware of the need for simple humility also. Humility is not a popular topic.  Think of it: How many book titles can you name that promise you the benefits of humility?  On the other hand, there have been many best-sellers on the matter of superiority: Keys to Success, Think and Grow Rich, Good to Great.  There is a lot of good advice in those books, but they illustrate that we are far more likely to read a book on how we can achieve personal success rather than how we can celebrate the success of others.

I said earlier the disciples give us a tutorial on “How To Miss The Point.”  Jesus has just shared with them about His own humility in laying down His life for sinners.  He has just said that He is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  He is going to suffer and die.  Our text begins in verse 46 with, “Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest.”  Now what does that have to do with what Jesus had just said?!  It comes immediately on the heels of Jesus’ statement that He was going to suffer and die for the world.  Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest.  They were jostling for positions of superiority while their Teacher was teaching them about humility.

This is always the choice before us, isn’t it?  We can either live as the world or live as followers of Christ.  We can seek what unbelievers seek or we can seek what followers of Christ seek.  The unbeliever is his own master.  His life is captured by the words to the famous poem, “Invictus” – “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”  The follower of Christ, however, says, “Jesus, You are my Master.  You are the Captain of my soul.”

The disciples then are not unlike many disciples today.  It is wrong to think of these guys as though they had halos over their heads and always did what was right.  They are arguing among themselves about who would be the greatest!  Such self-promotion and conceit!  I do not know what brought this about, maybe the fact that Jesus had taken only Peter, James, and John with Him on top of the Mount of Transfiguration and the others were jealous.  Maybe as the nine below were unable to cast out the demon in the previous verses (39-40) this caused the others to scornfully smile at their inability.  In any case, we can picture them pushing their chests out and asserting their greatness before others, as many of us remember boxing champ Mohammed Ali doing for years, looking straight into the camera saying, “I’m the greatest!”

Verse 47 says, “And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.  For he who is least among you all will be great.’”  Jesus knows what they are thinking.  What a teacher!  He turns and finds a little child and takes the child by the hand.  I imagine the child’s parents immediately swell with the same pride as the disciples.  How easy it is for us to be proud.  We even advertise our pride on our vehicles.  How many bumper stickers have we read on the backs of family vans and SUVs, “Proud parent of an honor student.”

In Jesus’ day, a child was not considered a person of honor.  In many ways, children were placed in the same category as outcasts.  In the Jewish Talmud, one rabbi muses about four things that “destroy a man.”  The four things are sleeping in, drinking wine at mid-day, hanging out in places where men of common people assemble, and chatting with children [(Ab. 3,10:R.  Dosa b. Archinos), as cited by Kent Hughes, p.365].  Talking with children was considered something that kept a man down, a waste of time.

The same was true in Roman culture.  In Roman culture you extended hospitality only to someone who was your equal or your better.  Children were not your equal or your better.  You never honored a child.  Incidentally, the same is true in most cultures today.  In Thailand, mission leaders there tell us about bowing to others.  In Asian cultures it is customary to bow before people who are your equal or older than you.  But you never bow to a child.  This would totally freak-out the child because they are taught to honor their elders.  It used to be the same in America.  While we do not typically bow, children used to be raised to honor their elders.  Now parents are bowing before their children, literally and metaphorically, allowing their children to rule the house, and so forth.  That is another message for another day.

Jesus’ point is: Do you want to know what it is to be great?  Greatness is found among those willing to serve the lowliest of people.  Greatness is found among those who serve without any public recognition whatsoever.  This is why Jesus places the child before them.  Even today, we can understand this.  If I told you that some famous athlete was going to be in your city for a couple days this week and that we needed a few volunteers to help them out for an hour or two, attend to their needs, feed them and so forth, we would have people paying for the opportunity.  But if your preschool director said she needed a volunteer to work in the baby class, how many of us would jump at the opportunity?  You see?  The sinful desire for greatness and superiority is still with us.  Jesus is talking to all His disciples, including you and me. 

Verses 49 to 50 state, “Now John answered and said, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.’  But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.’”  It really is ironic.  John says that he and the others saw somebody succeeding at something at which they had failed!  Remember back in verse 40 that the disciples were unable to cast out a demon from a boy.  Here is a guy who succeeds at doing something at which they had failed and, rather than celebrating the man’s success, they forbade him to do it again.  And Jesus says, “Do not forbid him.”  Just because he does not look like us and talk like us does not mean he’s against us.

Here is a message for all of us who think “our way” is the “only way.”  I thought of the Bible passage in Philippians 1:15-16, that says, “Some preach Christ out of envy and strife” and of.”  Their motivation was impure and wrong and yet in verse 18 Paul says, “It is okay.  I just rejoice that Christ is preached.”  That is the attitude of a guy who is humble.  That is the attitude of a guy who is not about himself.  He is not the captain of his soul.

Recently, I listened to a friend describe how someone on his ministerial staff left his ministry and started another ministry in a nearby location.  Not only was the man spreading a bad report about this minister, but he was also recruiting people from his ministry and offering them positions with his new start.  The minister shared how it brought hurt and division to his ministry and even strife within his own family as the man who left was married to the minister’s sister-in-law.  How do you deal with that?  Well, you pray a lot, and you hope for reconciliation, but in the end all you can do is say, “Some preach Christ out of selfish ambition.  It is not my place to be judgmental.  I rejoice that Christ is preached.”

Verse 51 says, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up (a reference to His return to Heaven), that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  This verse begins the longest section in the Book of Luke.  Jesus now resolutely makes His way to Jerusalem to die.  Of course, it will be awhile still before He ends His teaching ministry and lays down His life in Jerusalem, but the sun is beginning to set on His earthly ministry.  He is on His way to Jerusalem to die.  As He is on His way, in verses 52 to 53 the Bible tells us Jesus sends an “advance team” to make preparations,.  Verses 52-53 state, “And sent messengers before His face.  And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.  But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.”   

The Samaritans and the Jews had a long history of not getting along with one another.  I will leave that to you to discover why that was.  You might consider studying John 4 for helpful background.  For time’s sake, just know that this bitterness toward one another was deeply rooted, such that the Samaritans wanted no part in hosting this Jew from Galilee.  This causes James and John to offer an unusual solution.  We read in verse 54, “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’”  But Jesus rebukes them and they go to another village.  They just do not get it.  Jesus has been talking about humility and they are pushing each other, arguing about who is the greatest, keeping other people out of their club, and wanting to torch cities.  And Jesus just shakes His head and says, “Come on, guys.  Let’s just go to another village.”

Let me leave you with two summary actions that are motivated by God’s grace.  First, by God’s grace . . .

1) I Am Motivated To Be Humble.

A politician described one of his peers by saying, “He was a humble man, and he had every reason to be.”  That was not a compliment!  He was a humble man and had every reason to be.  In other words, if you knew the guy, you would know he had no reason to be proud.  Let me just say the same is true for us.  We have every reason to be humble. We have great motivation to be humble.  And what motivates us?  Our sin and our need for the Gospel.  We acknowledge that we are sinners.  Our hearts are wicked.  We thank God that Romans 4:5 teaches that God justifies the wicked, God declares us righteous, not guilty because of Christ Jesus.  We thank God that Jesus bore the sins we have committed in His body on the cross.  He suffered the punishment we deserved so that we might experience the blessings He deserved.  We are humble and have great gratitude for the fact that, according to Romans 8:1, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus – that is our supreme motivation.  We are motivated to be humble.

There are some 40 references to “humility” in the New Testament.  Why?  Because we have every reason to be humble.  If we forget that we are sinners in need of the Gospel every single day of our lives, then we will lose our motivation to be humble.  If we focus on our external performance, we will begin to feel proud like the disciples or proud like the Pharisees.  We will descend to a state of spiritual superiority, thinking we have earned God’s blessing through our self-righteous behavior.  We must always see ourselves as sinners.

This is what Isaac Watts hand in mind when he wrote those words:

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

William Carey is considered the “Father of modern missions movement.”  He was a faithful missionary to India, serving there for many years, translating the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and numerous other languages and dialects.  He was the first one who said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”  But Carey was a humble man.  On his 70th birthday, he wrote these words to one of his sons.  Listen to the humility in the letter: “I am this day seventy years old, a monument of Divine mercy and goodness, though on a review of my life I find much, very much, for which I ought to be humbled in the dust; my direct and positive sins are innumerable, my negligence in the Lord’s work has been great, I have not promoted his cause, nor sought his glory and honor as I ought, notwithstanding all this, I am spared till now, and am still retained in his Work, and I trust I am received into the divine favour through him.” 

He never forgot his motivation.  The awareness of his sinful nature and acknowledging the need for the Gospel kept Carey humble.  And it will keep you humble, too.  It will keep you humble when your pride tells you that someone should have recognized your recent achievement, or someone should have patted you on the back, or someone should have called you to ask how you care doing.  By God’s grace we are motivated to be humble. 

And number two, by God’s grace . . .

2)      I Am Motivated To Be Merciful.

The disciples did not understand Christ’s need to suffer and die.  Nor did they yet grasp the ethical teachings of Christ.  In their desire to torch the city of Samaria, it is clear that the disciples had forgotten Christ’s teachings back in chapter 6, verse 17, where He had said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” or, in verse 18, “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you,” and many other sayings, all of which could be summed up in Luke 6:36, “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

As sinners we deserve nothing but God’s wrath.  Remember that the definition of grace is “God’s unmerited favor to those who deserve only His wrath.”  Do not call for fire to come down upon your enemies.  Be merciful as your heavenly Father also is merciful.  Love your enemies.  What does love look like?  The Bible shows us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.”

I read recently how one man used these two verses from 1 Corinthians 13 to formulate a list of practical reminders of the day-to-day practice of love.  As you read these thoughts, ask yourself how you are doing in your day-to-day practice of love.  Is there any room for self-righteousness in the light of this practical standard of love?”

  • I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.
  • I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
  • I do not envy your possessions or your gifts because I love you and want you to have the best.
  • I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.
  • I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
  • I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
  • I am not self-seeking because I love you and want to meet your needs.
  • I am not easily angered by you because I love you and want to overlook your offenses.
  • I do not keep a record of your wrongs because I love you, and “love covers a multitude of sins.” (Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace, page 39).

By God’s grace, we are motivated to be humble and by God’s grace we are motivated to be merciful.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:37-45 – Awed By The Sovereignty of God

Grace For The Journey

If you are new to this blog post, I am glad we have got connected.  The purpose of my blog is to study through Books of the Bible.  I have a high view of Scripture and I believe the best way to learn the Bible is to preach or study through it, Book by Book, paragraph by paragraph, and verse by verse.  I believe this approach best honors the Word of God.  Our series of studies is in the Gospel of Luke and is entitled “Certainty in Uncertain Times.”  I have titled it that because Luke says in the very beginning that his intention in writing his Gospel is so that we may be certain of the things concerning Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-4).

We left off on Wednesday in chapter 9, having read the wonderful account of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.  Jesus and three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, are up on the mountain.  Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and Jesus’ appearance is transfigured before them – the disciples saw the light of His glory shining from within.  That happens on the mountain.  It truly was a “mountain top” experience in every way!  Now it is time to come down from the mountain.  And that is where we pick up in verse 37.

 If you are a Christian, then I am sure you take tremendous comfort in what we commonly call “the sovereignty of God.”  The sovereignty of God simply means that God is, in fact, sovereign.  He is ruling and reigning and therefore in absolute control of all things.  God says through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’”  God is bigger than our problems and He is in absolute control of everything. 

When I studied the text this week a song kept playing in my head.  It has been awhile since I have heard it because my girls are grown up now, but when they were small we had these videos we used to watch called “Veggie Tales.”  There is one song sung by Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato called, “God is bigger.”  The chorus goes . . .

God is bigger than the boogie man.
He’s bigger than Godzilla and the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man,
And he’s watching out for you and me.

I also learned that in seminary.  But it is true, right?  God is bigger than the boogie man.   He is bigger than our problems.  And that encourages us because we live in a world of problems.  We live in a world of hurt.

Luke illustrates the reality of this truth in the transition from what has just happened on the top of the mountain, with the splendor and glory of Christ, to what is now happening at the bottom of the mountain and the harsh, cruel reality of it all.  Jesus and the three disciples are at once basking in the glory of God and all His goodness and then, having made their way down the mountain, they are submerged into a world of hurt and a world of problems, a crying man with a son demon-possessed, and the failure of Christ’s followers to do anything about it.

Most of us live at the bottom of the mountain.  Do you know what I mean?  We live in an imperfect world, a fallen world.  Problems are the norm in our world, not the exception.   When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden he fell and thus brought sin into this fallen world.  It is because of sin we live most of our lives at the bottom of the mountain.   Problems are the norm, not the exception.  The exception is the “mountain top” experience.  One of the challenges of living in a country as blessed as ours and doing ministry in a country as blessed as ours is that we may think “mountain top” experiences are the norm.  We enjoy freedom and pleasures and recreation and sports and food and fun.  When something bad happens we cry out, “Why is God doing this to me!”  But we need to remember that problems are the norm, not the exception.  The majority of the world lives in the reality of just trying to find enough food to live for another day, or burying yet another relative who has just died for lack of medical care.  But the reality is that we live in a fallen world and if we enjoy “mountain top” experiences at all, it is only because God in His grace has permitted them.  We should expect problems and then be surprised by the experiences of the mountain top.

Jesus, Peter, James and John make their way down the mountain and immediately encounter a problem.  Verse 37 tells us, “Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him.”  Picture a crowd at the foot of the mountain.  They are loud and there is pushing and shoving and even someone running.  And Jesus and the three disciples with Him no doubt see all of this as they make their way down the mountain and get closer to the crowd.  Verse 38 and 39 say, “Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, ‘Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child.  And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.’” 

Here is the reality of living

In an imperfect world,

A world full of hurt and problems.

We are not surprised by this.  It is the norm, not the exception.  Demon possession was a reality in Jesus’ day, and it remains a reality in our day, especially as witnessed by missionaries in third-world countries.  We do have demon possession in our country, but not to the same degree largely, I think, because Satan gets at us more through our prosperity and love for pleasure.  Why work through demon possession if Satan keeps us from Christ through our money and material things?

Now, while it is not the main point of this text, we have to pause and appreciate the love of a father who brings his son to Jesus.  Here is a dad heart-broken for his son and he cries out to Jesus for help.  Many of you have cried out to Jesus for help for your son or your daughter.  It is the right thing to do.  Never stop bringing your children to Jesus.   Never stop praying for their salvation.  Some of you have been praying for years for your wayward children.  You are clinging to Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,” and you are praying that your son or daughter will turn back to the truth.  Keep praying.  J. C. Ryle says, “God’s time of conversion may not be ours” … “But so long as a child lives, and a parent prays, we have no right to despair about that child’s soul.”

The man brings his son to Jesus.  He cries out to Jesus for help.  The man explains that while Jesus was up on the mountain, he had asked for help from Jesus’ disciples.  He says in verse 40, “So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”   The disciples could not cast the demon out of this man’s son.  We picture them each taking turns trying, but failing.  This is what prompts this statement of our Lord Jesus in verse 41, “Then Jesus answered and said, ‘O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’” 

Who is Jesus addressing when He says, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you?”  Literally He is saying, “How long shall I put up with you?!”  He is not addressing the father, of course.  The father is doing what he could; he is bringing his son to Jesus.  He is not faithless.  He believes Jesus is going to take care of this situation.  Jesus could hardly have the crowd in mind.  They were not talking with Him, they were just watching everything. 

I picture Jesus shaking His head at the disciples as He then asks the man to bring his son to Him.  Verse 42 says, “And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him.  Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.”  Why were the disciples unable to cast out the unclean spirit?   After all, Jesus had given them this authority.  Look back to the first verse of chapter 9 and verse 1 where the Bible says, “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.”

The answer lies in the rebuke of Jesus.  In verse 41, Jesus calls the disciples “faithless,” literally, “unbelieving,” or “untrusting.”  These disciples had replaced their trust in God with a trust in something else, whether it was a trust in their ability, or a trust in the process, or a trust in themselves.  It was a recurring problem.  Jesus had asked them as far back as after He had calmed the sea and He asked them, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25).

They had replaced their faith and trust in God with something else.  This happens as a result of our sin nature, which helps us understand the other word Jesus uses to describe the faithless disciples.  He says they are also “perverse,” a word meaning “warped,”” crooked,” or “twisted.”  In a word: “sinful.”  It is because of their sin that the disciples stop trusting in God and start trusting in something else.  It is because of their sin that the disciples stop trusting in God and become powerless.

 Right there we see an implication from this text.  It goes like this . . .

 I. Trust In God To Live In His Power.

This incident teaches us about the peril of unbelief.  Do you really believe that God is in control of your problems?  Do you really believe that this sovereign God who rules and reigns over everything knows what He is doing in your life?  Do you?  Do you believe that God is bigger than your problems?  Or might you hear the rebuke of the Lord Jesus who says to you, “O faithless one!  O man or woman with that twisted sin nature that leads you away from total trust in Me!”  Trust in God to live in His power.

It is trust in God that gives you power to live when all else is against you.  It is trust in God that gives you power to live when you are not sure how the next bill will be paid.  It is trust in God that gives you power to live when you receive the terrible diagnosis.  Trust in God and live in His power when the marriage is on the rocks.  He will get you through it.  Trust God and live in His power when you face that challenge at work.  He’ll get you through it.  Trust God and live in His power when you’re having trouble at school.  He will get you through it.

Most of us feel like we’re on the mountain top on Sunday, but Monday is coming!  I’m telling you to move from the Sunday of the mountain top to the Monday of the valley by trusting in God.  In the words of the hymn-writer . . .

Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely.
He sees and knows all the way you have trod;
Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

Trust in God to live in His power.

Now we might think that that would be the end of the text, but it is not.  Luke keeps going and makes a connection with the incident here with what Jesus says next.  Verse 43 says, “And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, ‘Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.’” 

Everyone is amazed at what they had just seen: Jesus casts the demon out of this boy and heals him and everyone is praising God and jumping up and down and high-fiving one another and then Jesus turns to His disciples and makes this rather puzzling statement in verse 44, “Let these words sink down into your ears.”  Literally, “You set into your ears these words.”  What words?  Jesus says, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”

 Again, we see that the impending death of the Lord Jesus Christ is part of a divine plan.  Jesus’ crucifixion and death to save all who would believe in Him is part of God’s sovereign plan.  Moses and Elijah were talking about it on the mountain top.  The Bible says in verse 31 that they, “spoke of His decease (His exodus) which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.”

The death of Christ was not an accident.  Jesus tells His disciples that it is going to happen.  The Son of Man is going to be turned over to the hands of men.  He is going to die and, as Jesus said earlier (Luke 9:22), He will rise the third day.  And in making the connection to Jesus’ casting out the demon that the disciples were unable to cast out because of their lack of faith and trust in God, it is as though Jesus is saying, “You think you have got problems trusting Me and believing Me in this smaller problem of trying to cast out a demon, you’ve got bigger problems ahead.  You’ve got problems ahead trusting Me and believing Me with the problem of my crucifixion and death.  So set into your ears these words: I am going to die.” 

Verse 45 tells us, “But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.”  Why did they not understand what Jesus had said?  They would understand it later.  They would understand it after the resurrection, but why not now?  The answer is the same as before, without the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and teaching us the truth in God’s Word they simply could not believe that this would be so.

The idea of a suffering and dying Christ, Messiah, was more than they could bear.  Peter does not even get it in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he cuts off the ear of the soldier to keep him from taking Jesus away to the cross.  How in the world could a dying Messiah be in harmony with the sovereign purposes of God?  How could God be in control of that?!

And they were afraid to reveal their ignorance.  They could have asked Jesus about it, but they didn’t.  It says in the latter part of verse 45, “and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying,” probably for the same reason we were afraid to raise our hand in school when we did not understand something!  We think, “I do not understand that pi equals 3.14 and I have no idea how it will help me balance my checkbook, but I am not raising my hand.  That teacher is going to think I am an idiot!”  But Jesus does not treat us that way.  He is a great teacher.  He wants us to understand and has the ability to lead us to understand (James 1:5).

But the disciples are afraid to ask Him about the saying so they live in ignorance and fear.  They cannot reconcile the idea of a suffering and dying Messiah with the sovereign purposes of God, they cannot imagine how God could possibly be in control of that, so they live in fear without peace.  Here is the second of two implications that surface from this event.  Trust God to live in His power and . . .

II. Trust In God To Live In His Peace.

There are many things we will not understand, but God tells us to believe in Him.  Trust in Him.  You want peace in life?  Stop trying so hard to figure everything out.  There is much we will never understand this side of heaven.  We will understand it later.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

  • I cannot explain why you suffered that tragedy.  But God is in control and one day you will see how your tragedy fit within God’s perfect purposes.
  • I cannot explain why you lost your job, but God is in control and one day you will see how your job loss fit within God’s perfect plan.
  • I cannot explain why you suffered such pain and rejection, but God is in control and one day you will see how your pain and rejection fit within God’s perfect purposes.

And Jesus would say, “You may not understand why I am going to die, but one day you will see how My death fits within God’s perfect purposes.”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

Certainty In UnCertain Times: Luke 9:27-36 – Seeing Christ’s Glory

Grace For The Journey

We are studying our way carefully, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke because we really want to understand this Gospel, not selectively lifting a verse here and a verse there, but studying through it, paragraph-by-paragraph, verse by verse.  We come to a text today that is known as the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.   Jesus’ appearance is transfigured so that the glory of God shines from within and that glory is seen by some of the twelve disciples.

We left off Monday at verse 26 and so we pick up at verse 27.  Verse 27 is a hinge verse.  It goes equally with what precedes it as it goes with what follows it.  You remember what precedes it: Jesus is talking about following Him.  He says, “Deny yourself, lose your life, take up your cross, and do not be ashamed of Me.”  He ends in verse 26 with, “Whoever is ashamed of Me” … “of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory …”  You see that phrase in verse 26, “when He comes in His own glory.”  Then, in verse 27, Jesus speaks in anticipation of that coming glory.   What Jesus says in verse 27 is that there are some of them, some of the twelve disciples, who will get a foretaste of that coming glory.  He says in verse 27, “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death (shall not die) till they see the kingdom of God,” till they catch a glimpse of the fullness of the kingdom of God, a preview of that coming glory, and this sets up this event known to us as the transfiguration.

Verse 32 says that while all this gloriously wonderful and deeply spiritual stuff is going on that “Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep!”  That happens to some of us when spiritual things are going on.  Others are experiencing the glory of God and we are so tired we are doing well just to stay awake.  This actually happens more than once with the disciples.  They will do this again in the Garden of Gethsemane, falling asleep while Jesus is praying. 

Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; then the Bible tells us, “and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory.”  I want us to look today about seeing the glory of Jesus Christ.  Theology should lead to practical application, and I want to share with you from this text how we see Christ’s glory today, but first I want to go back through the verses and study them more closely.  Let’s look together at verse 28 and we will walk back through this text.

Luke begins by telling us that about a week after Jesus taught about following Him that He takes these three guys of the 12: Peter, John, and James, and He takes them up on the mountain to pray.  Nothing unusual about that; what is unusual, is what follows.  Verse 29 tells us, “As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.”

Remember what happened to Moses when he went up on a mountain?  He was up on the mountain and in the presence of God and when he came down from the mountain what did everybody notice was different about him?  His face shone with the glory of God (Exodus 34:29-35).  It was a reflected glory.  It was also partial glory and it faded with time.  What we are reading about in verse 29 is very different.  The glory of God seen upon Moses shone from the outside.  The glory of God seen upon Christ shines from the inside.  Think of the moon; it reflects light; that is Moses.  And think of the sun; it is light; that is Jesus. What we are seeing here is the intrinsic nature of God is shining from within the Son of God, Jesus Christ. 

Now there are two men who appear with Jesus.  Who are they?  Verse 30 says, “And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah.”  I said in our last study that Jesus Christ is the point of our existence and the center of our universe.  The Bible says in Colossians 1:16, “All things were made through Him and for Him.”  All of the Bible points to Christ.  Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets.  The Law points to Christ.  The prophets point to Christ.  The work of Christ, namely His atoning death for the sins of man, is the culminating plan of God for our redemption.  And this is precisely what Moses and Elijah are talking to Christ about.  Verse 31 says, they “appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”  That word “decease” is literally the Greek word “exodus.”  It is interesting that Moses, who led the exodus of God’s people from the wilderness, is speaking to Christ Jesus of His exodus.  Moses leads God’s people out of bondage to slavery.   Jesus leads God’s people out of bondage to sin.

These verses encourage us about the recognition of our loved ones in heaven.  I am sometimes asked, “Will we recognize one another in heaven?”  Logically speaking we cannot imagine how we could not recognize our loved ones in heaven.  It would be odd if we had less sense in heaven than we now have on earth.  This passage is one of a few biblical texts that encourage us to know that, not only will we recognize loved ones, but we will know those we have never met!  Peter has never met Moses and Elijah, but he seems to have no difficulty at all in knowing who they are.  And there is also great encouragement in the security of this wonderful place called heaven.  Moses had been there 1,500 years.  Elijah had been there 900 years.  They are safe and secure in heaven, the same place our loved ones in the Lord are at right now.  And the same place you and I will go if we trust Christ as Lord and Savior.  Our soul will live on in one of two locations, either hell for our sin, which is what we all deserve, or heaven if we have repented and surrendered to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.

In verse 32. Peter, James, and John awake to see Christ’s glory and the two with Him.  In verse 33, as Moses and Elijah are parting from Christ, Peter speaks up.   Nobody asked Peter for his opinion!  He just speaks up as is his custom, his mouth always running before his brain finishes processing thoughts.  He speaks up in verse 33 and says, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  Luke adds at the end of verse 33 that Peter did not realize what he was saying: “not knowing what he said.”

Luke’s statement, that Peter didn’t know what he was saying, indicates that his suggestion was not a good idea. 

Moses and Elijah are not to be placed

On equal footing with the Lord Jesus.

Moses and Elijah do not deserve

Equal honor with Christ. 

Moses and Elijah point to Christ.

This truth is stressed in the Father’s voice from heaven as read in verse 34, “While (Peter) was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them (or enveloped them); and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.”

This heavenly cloud envelopes all of them and the disciples are fearful.  They are fearful because in the Old Testament the Bible frequently uses a cloud to represent the glory of God (Exodus 13:21).  To be near the cloud was to be near God and He is holy, and we are not.  So, they are fearful.  They no doubt were increasingly fearful when they heard the voice of God.  Verse 35 says, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him!’”  That sounds a bit like what we heard the Father say at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:22).  Remember the greater context here . . .

The question, “Who is this Jesus?”

Asked by the disciples

When Jesus calmed the sea (Luke 8:20)

And asked by Herod

When he sought to see Him (Luke 9:9)

And answered by Peter in

His confession (Luke 9:20)

Is now answered by the Father

In the transfiguration, verse 35,

“This is My beloved Son.”

The Heavenly Father says, “Hear Him.”  The Law and the Prophets were not an end in themselves.  They existed for the purpose of pointing to Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27).

Jesus interprets and fulfills

The Law and the Prophets.

This truth is stressed again in the way the event here ends in verse 36, “When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found – how? – alone.”  Moses and Elijah appear.  They talk to Christ about His supreme, sacrificial death on the cross, a plan of God, a divine purpose of God, and then they disappear from the scene.  It is as if their appearance says . . .

We have done our job. 

You are now doing Yours. 

We are decreasing. 

You are increasing. 

We have pointed to You

And from now on

It is all You, Jesus.

They are gone and the Bible tells us, “Jesus was found alone.” 

Salvation does not come by Jesus plus. 

Jesus plus the Old Testament Law. 

Jesus plus works or Jesus plus anything. 

It is Jesus alone.  Saved by grace alone,

Through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.,

That gives God glory alone!

We have made application throughout our journey through these verses, but let’s take a few moments now to bring a laser-focus on this matter of seeing Christ’s glory.  If we ask the question, “How do we see Christ’s glory today?” this text suggests at least three things. 

First . . .

 I. We See Christ’s Glory Through Prayer.

It is not insignificant that prayer precedes Christ’s transfiguration.  Verses 28 and 29 say that Jesus and these three disciples went up on the mountain to pray.  Verse 29, “As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered.”  The glory follows prayer.  Prayer precedes glory.  Peter, John, and James entered into this witnessing of Christ’s glory through prayer.

Have you ever wondered what Jesus prays for when He goes off somewhere to pray? 

  • He really has few needs. 

As God, He is self-sufficient.  The Son of God submits to the Father and asks the Father for some things, but He really has few needs, there are few things for which He asks. 

  • He never once confesses any sin. 

He is sinless. He never once confesses sin or expresses remorse. 

If Jesus Christ followed our example and in prayer, He would be finished within 5 seconds because there would be nothing for Him to say!  We pray, “Oh, God!   Have disobeyed, displeased, and dishonored You again.  I am so sorry.  I cannot believe I have done sinned again.  God, help me.  Keep me from this temptation, keep me from saying things I should not say, thinking things I should not think, behaving in ways I should not behave.”  If Jesus followed that model, He would be like – Silence.  Nothing to say.  No sin to confess.  We ask for stuff all the time.  For Jesus it would be like, (Silence; “I have nowhere to lay my head and I am cool with that; Your will be done.)”

What is Jesus saying in prayer?  I am not sure.  I marvel at the thought of the three Persons of the Trinity communing with one another!  That blows away my mind just trying to understand that.  What does that look like?  Father, Son, Spirit all talking to one another.

But that is it – it is communion.  Prayer is preeminently communing with God.  Prayer is entering into the presence of God.  Prayer precedes glory.  When you enter into God’s presence, you really need not say much at all.  Of course, there are times you ask for things.  When His disciples asked Jesus for pointers on prayer, Jesus taught them to praise God for Who He is and what He has done, to ask for their daily bread and to pray for protection, to pray for forgiveness, etc. (Luke 11:2-4).  Do not overlook the fact that we are to enter into our prayer time acknowledging the holiness of God and marveling before the weight of His glory.

The glory of God is hard to define, but it is inherently the weight and significance of God.  To see Christ’s glory is to feel the weight and significance of Who He is.  When I commune with God through prayer, I am intentionally thinking about the character of God.  When I do this, I am energized by His power and His presence.  One reason so many of us feel no power from God is because we take no time to praise God.  We do not sense His power and presence because we do not get away somewhere regularly and close our eyes and encounter His power and presence.  Do that this week.  See Christ’s glory through prayer.  See how it changes you and makes you a more energized worker, a nicer supervisor, a better student, a stronger Christian.  See Christ’s glory through prayer. 

Secondly . . .

II. We See Christ’s Glory With People.

We have just learned about getting alone with God in prayer, but the Christian life is not to be lived in exclusion of all other people.  The Christian life is deeply relational.  Jesus chooses the twelve.  From the twelve He often selects a smaller group.  He had previously taken Peter, John, and James with Him when He healed the daughter of Jairus back in chapter 8 and now He takes these three with Him up on the mountain.  There may be a host of reasons why Jesus selects these three in particular, but we see how important people are to us in the living out of our Christian faith.  Jesus is making disciples and He commissions us to make disciples, too.  We are all to be in the disciple-making business.  This occurs most profoundly in one-on-one occasions as well as in small group settings.

This is one of the reasons we stress the importance of joining a Bible Study class.   There are things you learn in a small group Bible Study that you cannot learn in corporate worship.  You have the benefit of other people in the group from whom you hear and to whom you speak.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has a unique background and set of skills and vocational abilities.  You learn so much when you get into a small group.

Stay faithful to your small group Bible Study class.  Teacher, continue to grow your class.  Train others up to start their own small group so that they, too, can use their teaching gifts and begin another group in which others will benefit from sharing with one another. 

 We see Christ’s glory through prayer; we see Christ’s glory with people;

Thirdly . . .

III. We See Christ’s Glory By Personal Encounter.

This truth builds on the culminating force of this event as the voice of the Heavenly Father says, “This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him!”  Moses and the Prophets point to Jesus Christ.  He is the reason for our existence. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).  This is stressed in the disappearing of Moses and Elijah and Jesus’ being “found alone.” 

His is the reason for our existence.

We come to know Him by personal encounter.  It is not enough to know about Jesus, to simply know of Him in an intellectual sense.  We must also know Him in a deeply personal sense – We must know Him with both head and heart.

I heard Tim Keller talk about this distinction recently.  He said he has a brother-in-law,  and this brother-in-law would never wear his seat belt.  Tim would get behind the wheel to drive and his brother-in-law would get in, but he would never buckle up.  Tim would tell him to put on his seatbelt, talking about the safety of it and everything, but the guy just refused to wear one.  Some months later, Tim visited him and they were going somewhere and Tim’s brother-in-law got in the car and buckled up!   Tim was taken back and said, “What is going on with you?  Why are you suddenly the poster boy for auto safety?!”  His brother-in-law said that a friend of his had gotten in an accident and he had just visited him recently in the hospital.  He saw the 120 stitches in his head and now he puts on his seatbelt.

If you think about it, his brother-in-law didn’t suddenly receive some new information about auto safety.  He already knew the facts, but what he had known to be true with his head he was now acting upon with his heart.  This was now a personal, experiential truth for him.  Knowing Christ is like this.  We see Christ’s glory by personal encounter.   Most of people have all the information they need to surrender to Christ as Lord of their lives.  They know who He is.  But they are not saved merely on the basis of factual information.  We see His glory when we come to Him by personal encounter.  We believe with our head and our heart.  God says, “This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him!”  Have you?  Have you had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 9:21-26 – Total Commitment Or No Commitment

Grace For The Journey

We are studying our way through the Gospel of Luke.  This is what I am committed to at the church I pastor.  I preach or lead studies through books of the Bible, believing it is the best way to learn the Word of God.  Rather than our selecting a topic we wish to talk about and then trying to find verses to back it up – which might lead to our placing ourselves above the text – we submit ourselves to the Bible, reading through it paragraph by paragraph, allowing the Bible to dictate our study – placing ourselves in submission to the text. 

Our goal is to be God-centered

In our worship and daily walk,

And expository preaching and teaching

Through Books of the Bible

Helps us achieve that goal.

When we were last in the Gospel of Luke, we studied the great confession of Peter.  In response to Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”  We now come Christ’s response to Peter and the disciples.

Perhaps the greatest concern of the modern church in America today is that church buildings all over our country are filled with a great number of people, many of them very good people, who are not followers of Jesus Christ.  And the terrible heartbreak of the matter is that so many of these people do not even know it.  If you asked them, they would say, “Yes, I am a Christian,” or, “Yes, I am a follower of Christ.”  If we then asked, “How do you know you are a Christian?”  or, “On what basis are you a follower of Christ?”  And then we find them saying, “Well you see, a person visited my home and quoted the Bible, and I bowed my head and said, ‘Yes,’” or, “I went forward in a service,” or, “I raised my hand in a revival meeting.”  We then would ask, “Is that all?  Is this the thing upon which you base the eternity of your soul?  Is there nothing else?  Is this all you can say?”  And too often, this is all they can say.

On the one hand, becoming a Christian requires . . .

No more than the exercising of

Simple faith and repentance.

We come to Christ broken and we believe He is who the Bible says He is.  We surrender to Him as Lord.  It happens at a point in time, but . . .

Becoming a Christian is not just

Some decision that is made

In the past as though nothing

Else were required.

If what we did at a certain point in time – whether we bowed our heads or came forward in a service –

If what we did was really

The exercising of simple

Faith and repentance,

Then our lives change.

We begin a journey that is observably different to all who are around us.  We are changed.  We are different.  We have new desires.  We love Jesus Christ and His church and we live for Him.  He is Lord.

Not all who say they are Christians are actually truly Christians.  Preaching and teaching the Word of God is often about taking us back to the Word to correct this problem in order to save souls from everlasting destruction and hell.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

I agree with John MacArthur, Jr., who says, “I am really convinced that most popular evangelism today lures people into deception.  It promises a wonderful, comfortable plan for everybody’s life.  It says nothing of a small gate, or narrow way.  Its subject is the love of God, there’s no mention of the wrath of God.  It tends to see people as deprived rather than depraved.  It’s full of compassion and understanding without mention of sin and wrath and judgment.  No summons to repentance, no warning of judgment, no call for brokenness, no expectation of a contrite heart, no desire for sorrow over sin.  It just calls for a moment, a hasty decision, a few words and then some promises of health and happiness and blessing.”

Of course, the irony of this is that  . . .

You and I read the verses of our text

And we see that following Christ is a

Matter of total commitment and surrender.

It is a life decision.  There is nothing in these verses that says anything like, “Just sit in the comfort of your home, bow your head, repeat some words, become a Christian, and then spend the rest of your days doing what you want to do. You do not need to go to church.  You do not need to be baptized.  You do not need to tell anyone else.  You do not need to study and live by the Bible.  That is for the ‘real religious’ people.  You are in.  You are okay.  Just enjoy the wonderful life.”  There is nothing here in these verses that says anything like that.

Rather Jesus says, “You want to follow Me?  See people carrying their cross to their Roman crucifixion?  See the trials and difficulties that await them?  Pick up your cross every single day and follow Me.  You want to follow Me?  You want to save your life?  Forget it.  Lose your life for My sake and you will live.  You want the world?  You want all the pleasantries and niceties and comforts that the world offers?  Fine.  Take them, but you will lose your soul.  Whoever desires to save his life will lose it.  What profit is it if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?  Are you ashamed of Me?  Then I will be ashamed of you.  Following Me is not easy.  It will get tough.  It is a battle.  It’s ‘Total Commitment or No Commitment.’  End of lesson.”

There is nothing in verses 21-26 that says anything about any kind of “easy believeism.” No where do we see Jesus teach that all we need to do is bow our head and repeat some words and nothing else is required.  It is “Total Commitment or No Commitment.” 

Two main truths are taught in this passage.  Let’s look at them together . . .

I. Jesus Christ Was Totally Committed To Our Salvation – Verses 21-22.

Right after Peter’s confession in verse 20, “You are the Christ of God,” Jesus strictly warns the disciples in verse 21 not to tell this to anyone.  Why?  Because at this point to proclaim publicly that Jesus Christ was the Messiah was certain to bring conflict between the Jews and Rome.  Jewish conceptions of Messiah were almost entirely nationalistic and political.  The Jews looked for a messiah the way many voters look for a president.  They looked for someone to save them politically.  As a whole, the Jews – as well as everyone – completely misunderstood the first coming of Christ.  He was not coming to be a political savior, but a spiritual Savior.  So, He tells them what is going to happen in verse 22, “…The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”  Jesus Christ is speaking of Himself.  The designation, “Son of Man,” is Christ’s preferred way of referring to Himself.  He says, “I will suffer many things, be rejected by the three groups of the Sanhedrin, and then I will be killed, and raised the third day.”

One of the truths that surfaces from this statement is . . .

That the cross was no accident.

The cross was part of Jesus’ divine plan.

The grammar even suggests this.  Jesus says, “The Son of Man must suffer.”  It is a divine necessity.  It is in fulfillment of a divine plan.  The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”  That is why Christ came.  He came to die.

This leads to the other truth that surfaces from verse 22.  Jesus Christ was totally committed to our salvation.  He came to die for us.  The Bible says in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  Jesus came to lay down His life for us.  He died on the cross for our sins.  Jesus Christ was totally committed to our salvation. 

This means, secondly . . .

II. Our Salvation Requires Total Commitment To Jesus Christ – Verses 23-26.

See how these two truths go together? 

Jesus Christ was totally committed to our salvation;

Our salvation requires total commitment to Jesus Christ. 

He died for us (Verses 21-22); we die to Him (Verses 23-26).

What does total commitment look like?  Four things . . .  

1) We Must Deny Ourselves.

 Jesus Christ says in verse 23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself.”  What does this mean?  It means we no longer live a self-focused, self-centered life.  Our focus is upward and outward.  Jesus Christ is the center of our lives.

My mom used to say to me, especially when I was a teenager, “Contrary to what you may think, the world does not revolve around you!”  She was right.  That statement could be made about everyone in the universe except Jesus Christ.  Because everything does revolves around Jesus Christ.  This whole book, the Bible, points to Jesus Christ.  This world points to Jesus Christ.  He came to redeem us from sin.

Just look around and you will see our need to be saved from the effects of sin.  This is not a perfect world.  It once was, but Adam brought sin into the world, and we are living in the fallout until Christ returns.  This is why we have natural tragedies, suffering, and death.  Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin.   

We must deny ourselves.  Denying ourselves means ourselves and our things do not belong solely to us.  We are quick to give ourselves credit.  But Jesus asks us in Luke 10:27, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”  “What does it profit a man if he lives for this world?   

Secondly . . .

2) We Must Take Up Our Cross Daily.

Jesus says in verse 23, “Take up your cross daily.”  In Jesus’ day, people did not have to look around too long before they saw people carrying their crosses to a Roman crucifixion.  It was not an uncommon sight.  Consequently, this is a good metaphor for following Christ which is – Live a life of self-denial, giving your life up for Jesus Christ, being willing even to die for Him.  Jesus says, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”  Total commitment or no commitment.

One of the most moving letters I’ve ever read about someone totally committed to Jesus Christ was written by a man named Christopher Love.  Christopher Love was a Welsh, Protestant preacher who was beheaded for an alleged conspiracy against Oliver Cromwell in London, England.  He was beheaded on Tower Hill, the Tower of London, in August of 1651.  During his imprisonment, he wrote many letters to his wife, but perhaps the most moving letter he wrote is the one he wrote to her the day before he was executed.  What would you write the day before you were executed?  Christopher Love’s letter reflects a life of total commitment to Jesus Christ.  Listen as I read a few small excerpts from it:

My most gracious Beloved,

I am now going from a prison to a palace: I have finished my work, and am now going to receive my wages.  I am going to heaven, where are two of my children, and leaving you on earth, where there are three of my babies.  These two above, need not my care; but the three below need thine.  It comforts me to think, two of my children are in the bosom of Abraham, and three of them will be in the arms and care of such a tender and godly mother.  I know you are a woman of sorrowful spirit, yet be comforted, though you sorrows be great for your husband going out of the world, yet your pains shall be the less in bringing your child into the world; you shall be a joyful mother, though you be a sad widow; God hath many mercies in store for you; the prayer of a dying husband for you, will not be lost.  To my shame I speak it, I never prayed for you at liberty, as I have done in prison.  I can write much, but I have few practical counsels to leave with you, namely:

1. Keep under a sound, orthodox, soul searching ministry. Oh! There are many deceivers gone out into the world, but Christ’s sheep know His voice, and a stranger they will not follow.  Attend any minister that teacheth the way of God in truth; and follow Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 19:27.

2. Bring up your children in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord.  The mother ought to be a teacher in the father’s absence, Proverbs 31:1, “The words that his mother taught him…”  And Timothy was instructed by his grandmother, 1 Timothy 1:5.

3. Pray in your family daily, that yours may be in the number of the families who call upon God.

9. Study the covenant of grace, and merits of Christ, and be troubled if you can; you are interested in such a covenant that accepts purposes for performances, desires for deeds, sincerity for perfection, the righteousness of another, namely that of Jesus Christ, as it were your own alone.  Oh! My love! Rest thou in the love of God, the bosom of Christ.

10. Swallow up your will in the will of God.  It is a bitter cup we are to drink, but it is the cup of our Father which has been put into our hands.  When Paul was to suffer at Jerusalem, the Christians said, ‘The will of the Lord be done!’  Oh! Say ye so, when I go to the Tower-Hill,’ The will of the Lord be done!’

11. Rejoice in my joy.  To mourn for me inordinately argues, that you either envy or suspect my happiness.  The joy of the Lord is my strength; Oh! Let it be yours also!

Dear wife, farewell: I will call thee wife no more: I shall see thy face no more: yet I am not much troubled, for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, to whom I shall be eternally married.

Farewell dear love, and again I say farewell.  The Lord Jesus be with your spirit, the Maker of heaven and earth be a husband to you; and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ be a father to your children – so prays your dying, your most affectionate friend till death,  Christopher Love, written the day of my glorification, from the Tower of London, August 22, 1651.” 

Do you hear the commitment to Jesus Christ in that letter?  Total commitment or no commitment. 

Thirdly . . .

3) We Must Follow Christ Continually.

Jesus says in verse 23, “Follow Me.”  The verb is in the imperative mood.  Following Christ is not an option.  It is a necessity.  We cannot just “believe Christ” and not “Follow Him.”  The two go together.

There is a false teaching that goes like this, “There are two types of Christians: those who believe Christ and then those who have surrendered to His Lordship.”  No, that is not true.  There is only one Christian . . .

The one who has believed Christ

And surrendered to His Lordship.

Jesus gives us no other option.  He says, “Follow Me.”  It is an imperative.  And the verb is in the present tense.  It suggests continued activity.  Following Christ is a continual endeavor.  True followers continue to follow Christ.  They do not stop.  This truth is accentuated by Christ’s using the phrase, “Take up your cross daily.”

If we are true followers of Christ, then we will seek to follow Him every moment of every day.  It is not just a weekly thing or even twice-weekly thing: go to church Sunday, go Wednesday. 

Following Christ is a life-change that

Results in moment-by-moment following.

This is why we have to question the guy who says, “Sure, I was saved way back in 1975.  Bowed my head and did what the preacher said.  But, I do not go to church.  I do not witness.  I do not read my Bible.”  We want to say, “Then how can you be saved?!”   Christ says “Follow Me.”  Total commitment or no commitment – the difference that Jesus makes as Savior and Lord affects my love for Him and my living with Him. 

Number four . . .

4) We Must Not be Ashamed.

Are you ashamed of Christ?  Do you speak for Christ at work or at school?  Are you ashamed to let others know you are a follower?  If you are ashamed of Christ, verse 26 speaks specifically to you, “of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”  Can the truly saved be ashamed of Christ?

He was totally committed to our salvation;

Our salvation requires total commitment to Him.

Last year I read John Bunyan’s Christian classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, through for a second time.  The book is an allegory that describes the life of a Christian, the journey from start to finish, from salvation to glorification.  In an early scene, the main character of the book, whose name is Christian, is learning from another person, whose name is Interpreter.  And the two are watching a scene where people are becoming followers of Christ.  Christian sees heaven and he sees people beginning the journey and he sees some who hold back, afraid to begin the journey.  Then Christian sees one valiant man enter the door to become a Christian.  It is a picture of total commitment, a picture of what true followers of Christ look like and what they will receive in the end.  Listen to it as I read.  Bunyan writes . . .

“I saw also that the Interpreter again took Christian by the hand and led him into a pleasant place, where there was a stately palace, beautiful to behold, and Christian was delighted at the sight.  He saw also, upon the top thereof, a certain person walking, clothed all in gold.  Then Christian said, ‘May we go in there?’  Then the Interpreter led him up toward the door of the palace.  At the door stood a great company of men who desired to go in, but dared not; while at a little distance from the door, at a table, with a book and his pen before him, sat a man taking down the name of any who should enter there.  He saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armor to protect it, ready to do what hurt and mischief they could to the men that would enter.  Now Christian was amazed.

At last, when every man stayed back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a strong and determined-looking man come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, ‘Set down my name, sir.’  And when he had done this, the man drew his sword and put a helmet upon his head and rushed toward the armed men, who attacked him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, cut and hacked fiercely.   After he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those who walked upon the top of the palace, saying: ‘Come in, come in; Eternal glory thou shalt win.’  So he went in and was clothed with garments like theirs.”  (John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress)

It is a picture of what true followers look like and what they will receive in the end.  Jesus Christ wants men and women who will say to the one writing down names in the Book of Life, “Set down my name, sir.”  Put me down.  I am willing to enter into a lifelong battle by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  I know it will not be easy.  I know it is a matter of total commitment or no commitment.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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

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

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

God’s preparation for

The coming of His Son,

God’s power at work,

God’s prophesies fulfilled,

God’s provision for

The problem of sin.

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

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

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

The first thing we will see is that . . .

I. Jesus Is Not Just A Man.

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

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

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

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

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

Next, we must recognize that . . .

II. Jesus Is Not Just A Prophet.

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

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

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

III. He Is The Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Jesus cleanses lepers (5:12-16)

• Jesus heals a paralytic (5:17-26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Does This Change My Life?

1. Embrace Jesus As The Christ.

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

  • Realize the real reason that Jesus came

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

Let’s be very clear . . .

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

Although, He will make you a better person. 

* Jesus did not come to bring world peace. 

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

* Jesus did not come to bless you. 

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

* Jesus did not come to teach you good morals. 

Although, there is no better teacher than Him.

The reason Jesus came

Was to rescue us

From the curse of sin!

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

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

  • Live Your Life As A Christ Follower.

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

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

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

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

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

That is the Good News.  If you have never asked God to forgive you of your sins, and you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord, as the Christ, the Bible tells you how to do that.    Romans 10:9-10 says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath His wings of love abide,

God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,

Through every day, o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,

When dangers fierce your path assail,

All you may need He will provide,

Nothing you ask will be denied,

No matter what may be the test,

Lean, weary one, upon His breast,

God will take care of you.

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

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

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

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

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

 Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.

Are you grieving over joys departed?

Tell it to Jesus alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First . . .

1) Remember What Christ Has Already Done For You.

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

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

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

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

Number two . . .

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

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

But . . .

Our Lord Jesus means to show that

What is impossible with man

Is possible with God. 

Jesus Christ makes

Possible the impossible. 

This is a test to teach them

To depend upon Him.

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

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

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

So . . . Depend upon Him!

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

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

And thirdly . . .  

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

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

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

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

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

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath His wings of love abide,

God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,

Through every day, o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you.

Trust Christ to meet your every need.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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

Grace For The Journey

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

I. Authority – Verses 1-2.

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

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

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

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

The second word is . . .

II. Dependence – Verses 3-6.

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

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

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

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

We go from authority to simplicity to . . .

III. Perplexity – Verses 7-9.

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

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

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

First . . .

1) Live Every Day In The Power Of Christ.

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

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

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

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

Number two . . .

2) Love Nothing More Than The Person Of Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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

Grace For The Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you compare these two encounters

It is interesting that this woman has been bleeding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does it really mean to believe Jesus Christ? 

Number one . . .

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

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

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

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

It is not the size of your faith that matters;

What matters is the power and ability

Of the One in whom your faith rests.

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

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

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

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

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

Secondly . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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

Grace For The Journey

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

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

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

And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;”

Or . . .

“He has done great things

He has done great things

He has done great things

Bless His holy name.”

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

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

This first word is . . .

I.  Troubled And Bound – Verses 26-27.

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

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

Word two . . .

II.  Touched By Jesus – Verses 28-34,

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

The demons believe what the natural man does not,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonstrate that this Jesus

Who has authority over the storm

In the preceding passage has authority

Over the spirit world in this passage.

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

The third word is . . .

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

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

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

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

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

There is a fourth word . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Struggles.

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

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

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

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

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

Number two . . .

2) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Sorrows.

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

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

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

Number three . . .

3) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Sin.

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

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

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

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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