Certainty In Uncertain Times – Luke 19:28-48 – Surrendered To King Jesus

Grace For The Journey

Since Luke 9:51 Jesus has been on His way steadfastly to Jerusalem.  We have read of His travels from that point in chapter 9 and now up to this point today in chapter 19 as Jesus enters into Jerusalem.  Jesus has just told a parable about His kingdom.  Jesus has come once as king and will return as king.  In the interim, Christ’s followers have entered into that kingdom.  We live during the “dash” between the first and second coming of King Jesus.  Now Luke tells us in verse 28, “When He had said this,” and what He had just said of course is in verse 27, the picture part of the parable; He has just said that there are some who did not want Christ to reign over Him.  He says in verse 27, “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them.”  It is significant to note that this statement precedes Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.  This passage is often referred to as Christ’s “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, His entry into Jerusalem as king. 

I do not know many fathers who have not wrestled with their boys as they are growing up in the house.  It seems a sort of manly ritual that nearly every dad and his boys find themselves doing from time to time – that is of course until those boys reach the age where they are not exactly boys anymore, at which point dad learns that he would rather be healthy and have a strong back than to pull any more muscles.  I have memories of my brother and I wrestling on the floor, and I would pin them down and give him the phrase he had to repeat in order to “tap out” and be free from my domination.  The phrase they had to repeat to show their submission was, “You are king!”  If he did not say, “You are king,” he could not get up. 

There is something about that title, “King,” that conveys absolute sovereign, power, reverence, rule, and reign.  While there are earthly kings, earthly rulers, leaders, and even fatherly king “wanna bees,” they are nothing like the supernal and supernatural “King Jesus.”  More and more I find this title – King – for Jesus to be perhaps the most helpful.  We speak most frequently of Jesus as “Lord,” and rightly so.  If He is not Lord “of all” He is not Lord “at all.”  If that is what Christians mean by addressing Christ as “Lord” then let us continue using this title.  I wonder, however, whether “Lord” is beginning to lose its meaning for many, whether it has just become a “part” of Christ’s name.  For this reason it is helpful when we come across biblical passages such as our text this morning that remind us that Jesus Christ is KING.  This is what Lordship means.  When we think of Christ as King, we separate real Christians from mere professors of Christ because it means we live under the reign and rule of Jesus Christ.  He is “Number One” of our lives.  He comes first, everything else is second.

This passage at the end of Luke 19, where Jesus enters into Jerusalem now as king reminds us of the importance of living under His rule and reign.  I want us to look at that this morning and give to you two main headings under which to arrange the material.  This is a descriptive outline, simply describing the first and second half of the text.  First, let us . . .

I. Consider The Majesty Of His Coming.

In verses 28-40 Luke describes the majestic and triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.  Jesus sends two of His disciples on ahead to “find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat” (verse 30).  He says to bring it back. if anyone asks, “Why are you loosing it,” they are to say, “The Lord has need of it” (verse 31).  We read that this is exactly what happens.  

Now because Jesus Christ is both human and divine it could well be that this whole arrangement was foreseen by the supernatural foreknowledge of God-in-the-flesh.  It certainly would not be the first time.  We read only a week or so ago of Christ’s knowing Zacchaeus by name and arranging the whole up-in-the-sycamore tree encounter.  At the same time, however, this securing of the colt could simply have been a prearrangement on the part of Jesus so that a colt was ready ahead of time for the two disciples to pick up and so that they would know the phrase to utter in order to receive it, “The Lord has need of Him.”

In either case, verse 35 says they brought the colt to Jesus and the disciples threw their clothes on it and set Jesus on the colt.  And as He went, verse 36 tells us, many spread their clothes on the road, all of this a way of welcoming a person of importance into the city.

The colt upon which Jesus rides into the city is significant for at least two reasons.  First, Luke tells us in verse 30 that it is a colt upon which “no one has ever sat.”  This description is especially significant in that it speaks of the kind of purity required in the Old Testament sacrificing of animals for worship.  Numbers 19:2, for example, speaks of the importance of securing an animal “in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.”  The colt upon which Jesus rides into the city is also significant in that it is a fulfillment of an earlier prophecy – given around 650 years before Christ – by the Prophet Zechariah who foretells the coming of the Messiah-King, the Messianic King, into the holy city of Jerusalem.  The prophet foretells in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey.”  Here is yet another fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the majesty of the coming of King Jesus – predicted in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament. 

Verses 37 and 38 tell us, “Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’”  Here also is a reference to the Old Testament.  The phrase, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” is a paraphrase of Psalm 118:26, a benediction pronounced upon festive worshipers entering into the city to worship at the temple.

When the people say, “Blessed is the King who comes,” they are welcoming the majesty of King Jesus.  Of course, we have noted that many in Jesus’ day, failed to understand His first coming.  The people thought of the Messiah as a coming national leader who would come to restore the nation of Israel to her former days of glory.  They were thinking only an “earthly king,” they were not thinking a “heavenly king.”  Remember this is why Jesus told the parable of the minas we looked at last in the passage we look at on Wednesday.  They had the wrong idea of the kingdom and Christ’s role as king.

It is easier for us to look back and understand Christ’s first coming.  We understand Christ came the first time to save and He will return to reign in His fulness, but He came first to suffer and to die as foretold in the Old Testament.  The old song says it best . . .

By faith the prophets saw a day

When the longed-for Messiah would appear

With the power to break the chains of sin and death

And rise triumphant from the grave

This is why Jesus came the first time.  He came to reign as king over sin and death.  He came to offer Himself a supreme, unblemished sacrifice to take away the guilt and punishment of your sin.  He will come again.  He will return as King to reign forever on earth.  In the meantime, we live between “the dash” of His first and second comings.

The people are cheering because, while they may not know all of this now, they certainly know that Jesus is King and they worship Him with loud cheering and praising, so much so, verse 39 says that “some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  Verse 40 tells us that Jesus answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”  These religious leaders, the Pharisees, they are the people Jesus illustrated back in the parable of the minas from last time, back up in verse 14?  These are the people who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”  The religious leaders are not interested in Jesus Christ as King.  They cry out to Jesus for Him to silence His disciples. 

But Jesus says, “If they should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”  I love that statement!  It is a reminder that Jesus Christ is King not only over all people of the earth, but over the entire earth itself.  He is Lord over every person, animal, horse, tree, blade of grass, drop of rain, and every rock.  The Bible says in Romans 8:19-22 that all creation “eagerly waits” for the consummation of King Jesus, “creation itself being delivered from the bondage of corruption,” looking forward to Christ’s eternal reign.  “Silence, My disciples,” says Jesus, “And I will see that these rocks cry out in praise!”  Imagine a bunch of rocks singing, “Rock of Ages!” 

We go now from “cheers” to “tears.”  Verse 41 says, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.”  This account occurs only in Luke’s Gospel as Luke challenges us now to . . .

II.  Consider The Measure Of His Compassion. 

We have read before of Christ’s compassion for the lost of Jerusalem back in Chapter 13.  Jesus had lamented earlier in Luke 13:34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”  Here He is now again, this time weeping as He enters the lost city of Jerusalem.  He says in verse 42, “Saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’”  Jesus laments that if only these lost people of the city knew “the things that make for their peace.”  But they do not know peace.  How ironic that they should live in “Jerusalem,” the city whose very name means, “Foundation of Peace.”  The word “Shalom” means “Peace,” and “Jeru” means “foundation of.”

They used this word “Shalom” all the time as a blessing of peace: “Shalom, Benjamin!”  “Shalom, Levi!”  The idea of shalom was more than just a sort of absence of conflict, the way we commonly use it.  In Hebrew, the word carries a positive blessing upon the one who receives it, including a blessing of right relationship with God.  Jesus laments that these inhabitants of the city do not know “the things that make for their peace.”  He says, “it has been hidden from their eyes.”  How ironic that people like the “blind” man of Luke 18:35-43 could see so clearly “the things that made for his peace,” while the religious elite could see nothing.

Then Jesus foretells the coming destruction of Jerusalem, a judgment upon them from Almighty God for their refusal to submit to the rule and reign of King Jesus.  Jesus says in verses 42  and 44, “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”  In AD 70, six hundred thousand Jews were killed under Roman Emperor Titus’ onslaught.  All that remains today of the biblical city of 2,000 years ago is the famous western “Wailing Wall” you often see on TV where the Jews stand before the wall, face it, and pray towards it.  That is all that remains today of the ancient city of Jerusalem, the foundation of peace.  Jesus said this would happen and so it did happen some 40 years after He was crucified.

I am all for peace in Israel, and we should, as the psalmist enjoins in Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” but we need to understand that true peace will not come to Israel by political means.  These so-called “Peace Treaties” we rightly draw up are at best temporary and superficial.  No peace treaty will last in Israel because the peace necessary is a “peace in heaven” (verse 38).  Jesus said, “If only you had known the things that make for your peace.” 

The “things that make for our peace,”

Lasting peace are the things of Christ Jesus,

Submitting to His eternal reign as King of our lives!

Luke ends this chapter with Christ’s rightful re-entry into the Jewish Temple, the center of worship, the place where we would expect to find the Messiah-King.  We know this material well in verses 45-48, “Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, ‘It is written, My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’  And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.”  You remember all the way back in Chapter 2, Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus back in the city of Jerusalem during the Passover.  They return and make a search of the city and find Him in the temple.  Luke 2:48-49 says, “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’  And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’”

 The whole life of Jesus was to be about “His Father’s business.”  He returns to the temple again, again to do His “Father’s business,” coming to fulfill the Father’s plan to save us from sin and shame.  He has come to die for our sins and to reign over our lives – to reign as King.

Consider these points of application . . .  

1) Does My Heart Frequently Fill With Praise For King Jesus?

Followers of Jesus Christ cannot help but praise Him.  I do not mean just singing, though singing is one great way to praise Jesus.  Do you sing to Jesus as you walk to school or ride in the bus?  Do you sing to Jesus in your car as you drive down the road?  Keep your eyes open and keep one hand on the wheel!

Do you praise Him regularly as “King?”  I want to encourage you this week to address Jesus as King.  Call Him King in your prayers.  Try it.  See if it does not help you consider whether you are truly submitting to His reign over your live – over your finances, your job, your worries, your sickness, your stuff, and your relationships.  Is He really King?  Is He “Number One?”

You cannot really have praise for Christ if you do not have the peace of Christ.  The reason some professing Christians have difficulty showing praise for Christ is because they do not really have the peace of Christ.  You need to be saved from your sin to have true praise for God.

2) Do I Fully Realize The Measure Of Christ’s Compassion For Me?

Jesus laments and weeps for the lost people of the city He is entering.  Such compassion!  Do you realize the full measure of Christ’s compassion for lost souls?  Remember after Zacchaeus is saved what does Jesus say?  Back in verse 10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Christ came to save the lost.  He came to show the depth of His compassion for lost souls – souls in the city of Jerusalem and souls in the city in which you live. 

  • King Jesus has compassion for stay-at-home moms up to their elbows in dishes, for divorced and abandoned men and women,
  • King Jesus has compassion for the eager businessman who cannot see beyond the bottom-line of his profits. 
  • King Jesus has compassion for the young child, the teenager, the senior adult, and the ex-convict. 

He says, “If only you had known the things that make for your peace.”

The Son of God in tears

The wondering angels see.

Be thou astonished, O my soul,

He shed those tears for thee.  (G. Campell Morgan)

3)  How Can I Mirror That Same Compassion For The Lost People In My City? 

     From City?  From The “Community To The Continents?”

What are you doing missionally for the kingdom?  Will you tell someone about King Jesus today?  Will you show the compassion to others Jesus has shown to you?  Will you mirror that beautiful character of Christ?  Ask God to show you how to live under the reign and rule of King Jesus this week.  Where are you going this year for Jesus?  Where is your family going this year for Jesus? 

If we are true subjects of the King, then we will do as He says in Acts 1:8, “And you shall be My witnesses, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” – from the community to the continents. This is God’s Word …

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 19:11-27 – Gospel Investment Until Christ Returns

Grace For The Journey

We have been making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke and we are in Luke 19 today.  We will be studying verses 11-27.  I invite you to see this passage as it is intended to be seen . . .

Not as a parable about money and

About being good stewards of our money,

but as a parable about how to live

Our lives until Jesus Christ returns. 

That is what this parable is about.

Jesus has spoken about this matter of His Second Coming more than once in the Gospel of Luke.  He has told us to be prepared for that Day.  Just to jog our memory, all we need to do it look In Luke 12:35-40, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching” … “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  And in Luke 17:22-30, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it (in other words, My second coming will not happen during the lifetime of the twelve disciples.  It will occur much later).  And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation …”

Jesus has already said that His second coming will occur not during the lifetime of the twelve Disciples and, in fact, it will occur much later.  He makes the same point today in this parable in verses 11-27, a parable often referred to as the “Parable of the Minas.” A mina was a form of currency.  One mina equaled 3 months wages.  As we look at this parable about the Lord’s Second Coming note what Jesus teaches about how we are to live until Christ returns.

In my devotional reading this week, one morning this text spoke to me from 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”  I invite you to hear the Word of God the way the Thessalonians heard the Word of God.  They received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

It is often said that the most important thing in our lives is what we do with the “dash.”  The dash is a reference to the line on many tombstones, the line between birth and death.  We read a tombstone and it says something like, “John Smith; Born 1925 – (dash) – Died 1999.”  The dash on that tombstone represents the years John Smith lived.  So . . . “What are you doing with your ‘dash?’”

I think that is a helpful question, but I want to expand it so that we think in a bigger, more biblically-focused way.  Because . . .

Far more important than the dash

Of our own individual lives,

Is the greater dash that stands

Between Christ’s first coming

And His second coming.

This is the greater, bigger, more significant dash that affects every person in all of humanity in all of time.  Every dash of a human life is part of the greater dash of God’s redemptive work and perfect purposes in the life and death of Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to think this morning, as you think about the dash of your own life between birth and death, that you think about how your life fits into the greater dash between Christ’s first and second comings.  Because this passage is about living during that dash.  In fact, I really think that is the heading that would be best to place across the top of this parable in our Bibles.  You may have something like, “The Parable of the Minas” or something like that.  This is a parable of . . .

How we are to live during this delay


Christ’s first and second comings.

It is not a parable primarily about money or even Christian giving.  To be sure, there are implications here about giving, but the parable is primarily about Christian living.  Maybe that is a useful thing to write across the top of the parable: “Not about Giving, but really about Living.”  How to live during the delay between Christ’s first and second comings.

Verse 11 says, “Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.”  The phrase “as they heard these things” refers to Jesus’ conversation with Zacchaeus in verses 9-10.  Jesus’ audience likely thought that as Jesus made His way the remaining 17 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem that the Kingdom of God would be set up in all its fullness.  Many of them knew the Old Testament prophecies and perhaps they were even thinking, “Wow, we are getting closer and closer to Jerusalem.  Jesus is going to rule, reign, and defeat all our enemies at Jerusalem!”  Perhaps they were even reviewing some of the Old Testament prophecies like Zechariah 14:4, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west,” and Zechariah 14:3, “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.”  We are not left to wonder why Jesus told this parable.  Verses 11 and 12 tells us why: “He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.  Therefore He said: ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’”  Herod the Great in 40 BC, as well as his son Archelaus in 4 BC, went to Rome to receive confirmation of their roles as king.  While his son Archelaus was not granted the rule and reign he sought, Herod was granted the title king, king over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.

Jesus continues in verse 13, “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’”  A mina equaled about 3 month’s wages.  Verse 14 says, “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’”  We noted earlier that history tells us Herod’s son was not granted by Rome the kingship he desired.  This was in part because, historian Josephus tells us, a delegation had been sent opposing his rule.

Let’s pause for just a moment and address what is clear when we read the parable and understand the context in which Jesus tells the story.  Jesus is telling a parable about Himself.  Jesus is the “certain nobleman” of verse 12.  He is the One who will be going away soon “into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return.”  Jesus will go to Jerusalem to die for our sins, to rise from the dead, and to ascend to Heaven – having gone “into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom” and “to return.”  He will come again.  Second coming.  That is illustrated in verse 15 and following: “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.”  That is, “What did you do while I was away?”  What did you do during the “dash?”

Verses 16 and 17 says, “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’   And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’”  Unless I am mistaken this is a 1,000 % return!  This first servant made the most of his life during the time the king was away.  For this reason, he is rewarded in a big way.  Verse 18 tells us, “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  This servant gets a 500% return! 

Verses 19 through 21 say, “Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’  Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’”  The third servant makes excuses for the pitiful way he lived while the king was away.  He took what was entrusted to him and basically did – Nothing!  He makes excuses, trying to lay the blame on the king: “I was afraid because I respect your no-nonsense ways!”

Verse 22 and 23 tell us, “And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’”  This servant wraps up the mina in a handkerchief, keeps it nicely tucked inside, safely preserved. 

The Christian life for many today is just that – conservative, taking care of me and mine, comfortable.  I will attend worship Sunday mornings, I will either bring my children or send them along with others, I will be morally upright, I will have a biblical worldview.  I may even get a little radical, listening to Christian radio and put a bumper sticker on my car.  That is really nothing.  That is just taking what is yours and tucking it away in a napkin, preserving it, etc.

Verses 24 through 27 say, “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’  (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)  For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”  If you reject the king you will have no place in the kingdom.

From these passage we learn about three Imperatives For Living During ‘The Dash’:

1) Be Devoted!

The first two servants are commended for being devoted to the king during the time he is away.  When the king returns, he commends them for their utter devotion.  Utter devotion, like Zacchaeus, true conversion changes everything – his giving, his witness, his life.

What are you living for?  What are you doing with the “dash” of your life?  Are you utterly devoted to the cause of Christ.  Have you ever taken stock of your life and asked yourself, What am I living for?  What do I really care about?  What is my life about?  If I put it all down and I was forced to put it on one sheet of 8.5 x 11, what would the sum of my life be about?  What is the legacy that I am leaving? Where do I think my satisfaction is going to come from?  The next time you’re in the stands during a game and you look around and there are thousands around you, or you are at the beach or you are at a condominium, or you are at a ski resort and there are hundreds and hundreds of people around you, if you are a Christian, one of the things that you ought to be every once in a while thinking about is – all of these people cheering around me, all of these people swimming around me, all of these people playing around me, all of these people skiing around me, those are not my people.  The people of God are my people.  And where they are getting satisfaction, their meaning met in life, is not where I get my meaning and my satisfaction met in life.  I am living for a different reason than so many of the people that are around me right now.  They have a different goal. They have a different purpose.  They have a different basis in their lives.  I am different.  I am not encouraging you to look around and sort of look down your nose at other people because we are all sinners, but I am asking you to say, “I am servant to a different King than so many of the people around me are servant to.  And does that show in how I live my life?”

2) Be Encouraged!

Christ’s Second Coming is providentially delayed.  It is not some accident that He has not returned for 2,000 years.  This parable encourages us to know that Christ has a plan.  He is “gone away” for a long time.  He will come again.  In the meantime, we can be devoted and be encouraged.  We can be encouraged because the Christian life can be difficult.  It is not a sprint it is a marathon.  It requires perseverance, endurance, and faithfulness.  Hang in there and persevere and God will reward your faithfulness.

Just as the returning king in the parable awards those who were faithful while he was away, so will Christ reward those of you who are faithful while He is away.  Sometimes it gets tough and rocky.  Some of you are going through tough and rocky times in your Christian life, hang in there and remember, as the Bible says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

3) Be Warned!

There is a warning here for both believer and unbeliever.  For the believer first: What are you doing with the Gospel?  We will be judged by our stewardship of this Good News.  It is not meant to be received only, but shared.  No excuses: “I was afraid” (verse 21).  Won’t work.  Afraid to give your life to Christ missionally, etc.?  Jesus is warning us not to be like wicked servants, keeping the Gospel to ourselves, sitting here in the comfort of our sanctuary, etc.

1 Corinthians 3:15, works tested through fire, works burnt up, he himself “…saved, yet so as through fire.”

For the unbeliever:  Verse 14 is a picture of how Jesus is rejected today.  Those who would not accept the king said in verse 14, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”  Refusing Christ is never entirely a matter of the head, it is a matter of the heart.  It is a matter of the will.  We “will not.”

There is a judgment day you will face.  Jesus says in verse 27, “Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.”  That is a picture of judgment.

A judgment day awaits us all.  There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His people, and give to every one according to his works. The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin, shall not always cover the face of the earth.  The great white throne shall be set up.  The Judge of all shall sit upon it.  The dead shall be raised from their graves. The living shall all be summoned to the bar.  The books shall be opened.  High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, all shall at length give account to God, and shall all receive an eternal sentence.

Missionary CT Studd in his book, Only One Life, wrote: “Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; (this is like the guy who tucks one mina away in a handkerchief) I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell” (This is like those who invested their minas wisely).

 “Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,

If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

Take a look at your calendars on your iPhone, computer, day-timer, or fridge; take a look at your checkbook, take a look at how you are using your time and your treasure.  Are you making good investment of the Gospel during the dash of your life?

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 19:1-10 – Seeking Christ Who Seeks Us

Grace For The Journey

We have been studying our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke and we find ourselves this morning at the first ten verses of chapter 19.  I suppose most of us will be familiar with this passage, the account of a short man named Zacchaeus who climbs a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.  How many of you have read or heard the story at least once?  Many of you know the children’s song . . .

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,

A wee little man was he,

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see

This happened as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the purpose of dying a sacrificial death on the cross so that those who believed in Him might be saved from their sins.  Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the purpose of accomplishing our salvation when Luke tells us about this man named Zacchaeus who is seeking Jesus.   But as we study these familiar verses, let me invite you to look at them with this question: “Who is seeking Whom?”

We do not usually think of heart surgery when we read the story of Zacchaeus.  It is not the first thing that enters our minds.  We read of a little guy climbing a tree and Jesus’ calling him down from the tree, salvation, and a happy ending.  We do not usually think of a guy lying on an operating table having his heart repaired or replaced.

In recent weeks we have been drawing comparisons and contrasts between the physical and the spiritual realm.  Last time we were studying Luke, we talked about the difference between seeing Jesus physically and seeing Jesus spiritually.  You can have good physical eyesight like the rich young ruler, but fail to be saved because of a love for riches that blinds you and keeps you from seeing Christ for Who He is.  On the other hand, you can be blind physically like the man at the end of chapter 18 last week and see Christ–really see Christ spiritually–believe in Him and be saved.

Think now about heart surgery.  If I have a physically bad heart and I need a new heart, I cannot fix myself.  I go to a doctor, and he puts me on a table and he cuts into my body, removes the bad heart and puts in a good heart; heart surgery.  And again, before the surgery, I can do nothing to fix my situation.  I may be able to do some temporary things to make myself feel better; take some medication or rest, but I cannot fix my bigger problem of needing a new heart.  I need someone else to do that for me.  I need a medical intervention.

Now, in the spiritual realm: when we are born into this world – a world plagued by darkness and depravity – a world whose sin originates in Genesis 3.  We are born into this fallen world with a nature bent to sin.  Our hearts – are they naturally good or naturally bad?  How many of you think, “Good?”  The Bibles says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”  Because of sin, we have a bad heart.  Because of sin, we need a new heart.  Because of sin, we need someone from the outside to perform surgery on the inside.  We need what the Bible refers to in Ezekiel 36:26 as a “heart of stone,” a dead heart, a heart unresponsive to the promptings of God and His Word.  We need this “heart of stone” to be replaced with a “heart of flesh,” a heart that is soft and responsive to the things of God.  And only when we get this new heart are we able to respond appropriately to the Word of God and the will of God.

Now what is extremely interesting to me is that God – in His love – sets His affection upon certain ones who themselves are dead in sin, possessing stony hearts, lost and undone – God comes along and sets His loving affection upon such as these.  There is nothing noteworthy about these certain ones, there is nothing really special about them, they are sinners.  But God takes the initiative and out of His electing love alone   performs His spiritual operation of heart surgery and gives and grants new hearts that are responsive to His Word and His ways.  This is why some of you reading this lesson right now would say, “You know, I have one of those hearts.  It is a new heart.  It is a heart that is soft and responsive to the things of God.  I did not get it myself.  It was given to me by God.”

We must not assume that everyone has this spiritual heart.  We look around and we are certain everyone we see has a physical heart.  Most of us know we have physical hearts and yet we dare not assume that everyone has a spiritual heart.

But this is important . . .

If we have one of these hearts, granted to us by God

Through the Gift of what is called regeneration

– If we have one of these hearts,

Soft & responsive to the things of God

– It is not because we did something to deserve it,

Not because we were worthy to receive it,

But only because God loved us and delighted to give it to us.

What does all this have to do with Zacchaeus?  Well, let’s see.  Why don’t we just make our way back through the verses together.  Verses one and two say, “Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.”  We are introduced to this guy, a tax collector, and not just a common everyday tax collector, but a “Chief tax collector.” That is a phrase found nowhere else in the entire New Testament.  The Roman Government, to support their vast and powerful empire, had to levy huge taxes upon the people.  A Jewish man could get a job as a tax collector for Rome, but he would be considered a traitor by his people.  What is more, tax collectors were despised because of the way in which they skimmed from the profits, pocketing sizable percentages for themselves.  As Jericho was a major toll collection point for commerce traveling east and west, we may imagine Zacchaeus had a very lucrative business operation.  The title, “Chief” tax collector suggests he had people working underneath him.

Verse three tells us, “And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”  I like the phrase at the beginning of the verse, “He sought to see who Jesus was.”  Zacchaeus was curious.  Zacchaeus was inquisitive.  Zacchaeus was on an investigative journey into the spiritual realm.  In my study this week I found it helpful to trace the steps of Zacchaeus under three main headings.  First . . .

I. Consider His Investigation.

Zacchaeus is seeking Christ.  There can be no doubt about that.  It is precisely what Luke records here in verse 3, “And he sought to see who Jesus was.”  Zacchaeus is seeking Christ.  Zacchaeus is on an investigative journey into the spiritual realm.  He had heard about Jesus and now he is investigating the person Himself.  We may wonder what drew Zacchaeus to Jesus.  Why was he interested?  He had much in his life, did not he?  He had what so many of you want – riches, power, and influence.  What on earth does Zacchaeus want with a poor, Jewish messiah?  It is certainly not the main point of this encounter, but worthy of slowing our pace long enough to remind ourselves that all the money in the world is powerless to provide a sense of real meaning and purpose.  Zacchaeus was rich, but he was only rich.

He sought to see who Jesus was, but he had a problem.  What was his problem?  Luke tells us in verse 3 that Zacchaeus “could not (see Him) because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”  The Greek word is mikros, from which we get “micro.”  He was a very small man!  What does Zacchaeus do that he might be able to see Jesus?  Verse 4 says, “So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.”  He climbs a tree that he might look down upon the crowd and see the approaching Jesus.  Picture this shrewd, wealthy, and well-dressed businessman running down Jericho’s Main Street and shimmying up a tree on the square to see this Jesus about Whom he had apparently heard much. 

Second . . .

II. Consider His Celebration.

Verse 5 tells us, “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’”  I wrote in my notes this week, “How did Jesus know Zacchaeus’ name?”  Think of it!  Jesus comes through Jericho and He stops right there at the tree and He looks up right there at Zacchaeus and then He calls Zacchaeus by name.  The whole encounter is guided by God’s hand.  He even says to Zacchaeus, “Today I must stay at your house.”  This is “Divine Necessity,” this is not an option.  I Must!

The encounter reminds us of Jesus’ seeing Nathaniel in John 1, verses 47-48, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’”  The encounter is guided by God’s hand.

Verse 6 says, “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.”  This is now the eighth time Luke has used this verb usually translated “joyfully” or “rejoicing” in his Gospel (Luke 1:14; Luke 8:13; Luke 10:17; Luke 13:17; Luke 15:5, Luke 15:9, Luke 15:32; Luke 19:6).  Joy accompanies the response faith and repentance.

It is very likely that Zacchaeus has already at this point placed his faith in Christ.  The text does not tell us the exact moment Zacchaeus becomes a believer.  If he is not saved at this moment, he is very close as true joy is that which accompanies true salvation.  Zacchaeus “received Him joyfully.”

Jesus is interested in Zacchaeus!  Maybe this is the first time someone has taken an interest in him.  Others had shunned him, avoided him, and cursed him.  But here is this miracle-working mystery Man, a person Zacchaeus had heard was the promised Messiah, the One who opened the eyes of the blind and set the captives free.  Here is Jesus, Savior, Lord who says, “I must stay at your house.”

This is for Zacchaeus quite a celebration.  But as is frequently the case in Luke’s Gospel, we see that not all are celebrating.  Verse 7 says, “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’”  Zacchaeus had a reputation.  They knew him.  They knew he was a sinner.  Greek Scholar, A. T. Robertson, notes that the word translated, “complained” is an onomatopoetic word, a word that sounds like what it means.  These self-righteous religious folks did not want to defile themselves with sinners, but Jesus always drew these sinners to Himself for the purpose of revealing to them the Good News.

Thirdly . . .

III. Consider His Transformation.

Verse 8 tells us, “Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’”  Zacchaeus is a changed man, a transformed man.  He had previously ripped people off, skimmed the profits of his tax-collecting business, and made himself filthy rich.  Having encountered Christ, he is different now.  Money does not mean as much as it once did, proving the truth of what Jesus had said in an earlier chapter 15 and verse 15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  Zacchaeus gives half his goods, not just his salary.  He has liquidated his clothing, furniture, collectibles, and jewelry.  He is willing to do what the rich young ruler was unwilling to do in Luke 18:22, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Jesus had said in Luke 18:24, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”  Hard, but not impossible!  Though “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” (Luke 18:25), God can make possible the impossible as illustrated here with the changed heart of Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus has a changed heart.  He is willing now to make restitution according to Old Testament Law (Exodus 22:1; 2 Samuel 12:6).  He says in verse 8, “I give,” and, “I restore.”  These verbs are in the present tense, indicating something Zacchaeus is now doing this.  He is now a changed man, doing things differently with his possessions from this point on.  Zacchaeus has traded out an old, worldly and temporary joy in riches for a new, eternal joy in Christ Jesus.

Verse 9 says, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.”  The idea Jesus is conveying here is that Zacchaeus has shown himself to be a true Jew in every way.  He is a true believer who has embraced his Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zacchaeus’ actions reveal that his faith and repentance are genuine.  If there has been a change on the inside, it will lead to a change on the outside.  Outside behavior indicates inside change.

As we apply this passage to our lives, lets consider these three questions . . . 

1) Do I Continue To Possess A Childlike Curiosity About Christ?

Zacchaeus did not care what people thought of his climbing a tree to find out more about Jesus.  He was naturally curious and was willing to do whatever it took to find out more about Jesus.  How about you?  Do you continue to possess a childlike curiosity about Christ?  Are you learning new things about Jesus?  Growing day by day in your study of the Word and your attendance in worship and Sunday school?

2) Do I Really Joy In The Things Of The Lord?

Zacchaeus proved that one’s life does not consist in the things that he possesses.  What causes your heart to flutter?  What do you joy in?  Seriously.  Do you find it more natural to joy in sports, recreation, ball games, parties, things, than Jesus Christ Himself?

3) Do I Live With Greater Commitment To Christ Each Day?

Zacchaeus was ready to give away half his stuff.  Here is a guy who has truly encountered Christ and is committed to trusting Him with all of His heart.  Do you trust God through your giving?  Do you tithe?  Do you live with greater commitment to Christ each day?

Zacchaeus had a change on the inside.  Zacchaeus had a heart-change.  Who changed Zacchaeus’ heart?  Look at verse 10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Think of it now: who is seeking whom?  Verse 13 says Zacchaeus sought Jesus, but verse says Jesus has come to seek Zacchaeus.  The very reason Jesus comes through Jericho and stops at that very tree, looks up, and calls Zacchaeus by name and says to Zacchaeus, “I MUST stay at your house,” is because Jesus has “come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

What was it that drew Zacchaeus to Jesus?  In a word: God.  God drew Zacchaeus to Jesus.  Jesus says in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”  In His infinite love God comes to men and women like Zacchaeus and performs spiritual “heart surgery” upon them and draws them to Himself through the saving power of the Gospel.  He comes to us.  He surgically removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.  He changes us on the inside, and we begin to live differently on the outside.

If you have come to Christ it is because He first came to you.  The Bible says in 1 John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us.”  We never cease to marvel and be utterly amazed at this divine, electing love of God. 

 I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

  He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

  No, I was found of Thee.

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 18:31-43 – How Is Your Spiritual Eyesight?

Grace For The Journey

I am going have to hold off on the extra study on the goodness of God.  Today we are going to look at a passage where Jesus again foretells the coming of His suffering, death, and crucifixion.  The third time that Jesus has foretold the coming of his suffering, death, and crucifixion (see Luke 9:22 and Luke 9:43-45).  This is sometimes called “the passion announcements” or “passion predictions.”  Our English term “passion” is derived from a Latin term, passiō, that means “to suffer.”  After Jesus makes the encouraging statement we looked at last time in verses 29-30 – about the blessing of what we receive in following Christ despite what some must leave behind to follow Him–families, homes – we then read that Jesus takes the 12 disciples aside and speaks privately to them about His soon coming suffering, death, and crucifixion.

Most of us can relate to the idea of “seeing without really seeing.”  Recently I looked for some item in the refrigerator, and I looked up and down and side to side, but I could not seem to find the ketchup.  I know it must be in there; I am fairly sure we used it just yesterday.  I look again, move some things around, and still nothing.  Finally I called my wife, Kay, “Hey, Babe, where is the ketchup?”  She hollers back, “In the fridge.”  “No, it’s not.”  “Yes, it is.”  “Well, you come find it.”  She comes over, open the door, looks to the right, bends down, picks it up and puts it on the counter and walks away, shaking their head.  It was there all along, I just did not see it.

So often the seemingly small and trivial things in this material world mirror something of the much larger and more important things of the spiritual world.  God is at work all around us, He is always and forever sustaining the universe He has created, forever guiding, upholding, and providing.  He is there, and yet, we do not always see Him.  We often wonder what it would have been like to have lived during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  I have often wondered about that.  How beautiful that would have been to be right there with Him, seeing the miracles and listening to His teaching.  Then  again, we find this surprising truth time and again during the 3 1/2 years of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels . . .

Few people seem to

Really see Jesus

For who He is.

They are looking at Him, through Him, and are right there with Him, yet do not really see Him.

In our study today God is repeatedly pointing out this truth. We talked last time about “blind spots,” how we may not “see” things that lurk in our “spiritual side-view mirrors,” unidentified idols we allow to capture our love and we do not even realize this, we have given our hearts to something or someone other than Christ.  Such was the case in our last passage with the rich, young, ruler.  Here was a man who “saw” Jesus, but at the same time, did not really see Jesus because he was blinded by his riches.  He saw, but He did not really see.

Then we turn to these verses in verse 31 to the end of the chapter and we read of two more examples of “seeing without really seeing.”  My prayer today is simple: “God, give us eyes to see.”  Physical eyesight is a blessing and very important to us, but what is more important is spiritual eyesight.  Some can see and hear only physically.   May God grant to us the benefit of spiritual awareness and spiritual life, and help us then to see better with each passing day, improve our spiritual sight.

The material in our text – verses 31-43 – divides itself into two sections. 

I. Consider Christ’s Commitment – Verses 31-34.

In view here is Christ’s commitment to God’s eternal plan to accomplish our salvation.  Jesus is committed to the task.  We read nine chapters earlier His first passion prediction.  He says in Luke 9:22, “(I) must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be raised the third day.”  He said this again later to them and then Luke 9:51 says the time had now come for Him to die and so he “set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  That speaks of His determination, His steadfastness, and His commitment.  Nothing could stop Jesus from Calvary.

You will remember, for example, . . .

  • When He spoke of His suffering in terms like a baptism and He says in Luke 12:50, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” 
  • Or later when He was warned that Herod was out to get Him, He said in Luke 13:33, “Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” 
  • And when we were studying recently about the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus said in Luke 17:25, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

From the very beginning God has this plan to redeem lost souls through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is constantly reminding His followers of this truth.  His death on Calvary’s cross is not a mistake, a blunder, a fumble, or an accident.  Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross is the fulfillment of a plan to which Jesus Christ was utterly, totally, and completely committed.  He reminds them now for the third time in verse 31, “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.’”  The phrase “will be accomplished” is a divine passive.  That is, “God will bring this about.”  God has this plan . . . He will see it through.  It will happen.  It does not “just” happen.  God will fulfill His plan to redeem humanity through the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

For reasons known ultimately only to God Himself, God permitted what we refer to as “the fall.”  God allowed Adam and Eve to fall, to sin, and thereby bring sin into the world.     Because of the sin of our first parents, we too are sinners.  We are culpable.  We are spiritually separated from God.  But God also planned a means by which man could be saved from the fall and the effects of the fall – namely spiritual death – and that means by which man may be saved is through the work of Christ upon the cross.  Jesus comes as God-in-the-flesh to bear our sins upon Himself, to take the punishment we deserved and to grant to us the righteousness that belongs to Him – thereby being our substitute, the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for us.  This is that work to which Jesus Christ is committed and He tells His disciples this now for the third time.

Jesus says in verse 31 that “all the things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man) will be accomplished.”  The word “prophets” here in verse 31 is a reference to the entirety of the Old Testament.

I recall two of those prophetic passages in the Old Testament.  Remember that Jesus fulfills prophetic predictions of His coming.  These two passages are written anywhere from 700 years to 1,000 years before He came . . . Psalm 22:16-18, “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” and Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  When Jesus says in verse 31 that “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished” He has in mind Scriptures such as these. 

Jesus continues in verse 32, “For He will be delivered (again, another divine passive, i.e., this is all part of God’s perfect plan so He will see it to fulfillment) to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.  They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”  Now look at verse 34, “But they understood (how much?) none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.”  It is a lot easier for us to understand what Jesus was telling them.  We have the benefit of 2,000 years of Christian history and teaching.  Most of us have grown up in Christian homes or we have at least heard the story of Jesus’ coming as a suffering Messiah.  For the 12, however, and for the Jews in the main, the idea of a suffering Messiah was foreign to them.  They were thinking of the coming Savior as more of a political or earthly Savior, one who would come and reign on an elevated throne in a splendid palace and straighten everything out.  When Jesus goes to talking about being turned over to the Gentiles and being beaten and killed and rising on the third day, it is not that they could not repeat what Jesus had just said, it is that they simply did not understand what He meant.  I can see that if we put ourselves in their shoes and I think probably the most of us can see that, too.  Little wonder Jesus told them this three times!  I am certain later on they were like, “Oh, I get it now” (Luke 24:6-8)!

But . . .

We must also remember that if we are saved

It is only because we have been granted

The eyes of faith to see. 

If we see Christ for Who He really is,

It is because we see Him not with

Physical eyes, but with spiritual eyes.

There was a time when the meaning of His suffering, death, and resurrection was also hidden from us, hidden the same way it is hidden from your unbelieving family members, hidden from your neighbors, hidden from your friends.  Yet, this is the Gospel truth.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,” a Gospel that remains a stumbling block and foolishness to many spiritually blind today until God grants them the ability to see with eyes of faith.

Then by the working of God’s providence, the very next passage of Scripture tells us about a man who – though blind physically – can see quite well spiritually.  Verses 35-38 tell us, “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.  And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.  So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.  And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Here is a blind man who knows Jesus as “Son of David,” a reference to His Messiahship.  The Messiah, the promised Savior in the Old Testament, was to come from the lineage of King David.  This blind man knows this.  Though blind physically, he sees well spiritually.

 I will expound more on this later in my blog.  More about that in a moment.  Right now, let’s look at the second main consideration in our passage . . .   

II. Consider Christ’s Compassion – Verses 35-43.

We read here of the compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal this blind man.  Incidentally, the Gospel Writer Mark identifies this “certain blind man” by what name? His name is Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46).  He is sitting by the road begging, sitting there in hopes of receiving the mercy of a few coins now and again.  A blind man in Jesus’ day could do nothing more than beg for food and help.  He hears a crowd, a multitude, and he asks, “What’s going on?!”  Someone answers, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth passing by.”  The blind man had heard of Jesus.  That is unmistakably clear.  He knows Him as more than Jesus of Nazareth.  He knows Him as “Son of David,” the promised coming Messiah, Savior, Deliverer, and Healer.  Word about Jesus had gotten out.  It most likely began back in the synagogue in Nazareth – recorded in Luke 4 – where Jesus began His earthly ministry.  He stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah and read the words, “The spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18).”  Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and is probably thinking, “If this Jesus of Nazareth, if this Jesus, Son of David, if this Messiah, Lord, God, ever comes to Jericho no one will be able to hold me down!”  And such is the case.  Verses 38 says, “He cried out!  ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

Bartimaeus is a believer.  He cries out because he believes.  He sees already!  He is persistent in his crying out to Christ because he has eyes of faith. The very phrase, “Son of David,” is a confession of faith, much as our today referring to Jesus as “Lord.”  He could not be silenced.  I suppose the disciples and others were embarrassed by his outbursts, but “he cried out all the more.”  When you see Jesus for who He really is, you really do not care what others think of you.  You are not embarrassed, you are not intimidated, you are not insecure.  You love the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, and you live for Him no matter what anyone else says, thinks, or does to you.

Now watch the compassion of Jesus in verses 40 and 41, “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’  He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’”  Jesus is on a mission, He is deliberately, purposefully, heading toward Jerusalem to die for the sins of humanity.  Nothing will stop Him from keeping that commitment, but He pauses for a moment in a demonstration of loving, caring, and compassion.

Just 17 miles to Jerusalem and Christ will lay down His life on Calvary’s cross.  Just 17 miles to go, but wait!  The compassion of Jesus causes Him to pause, turn aside, and minister.  He pours out such love and compassion to demonstrate yet again the wonder-working power of a loving God who is not so big as to not take time to minister, a God who cares for you, who knows your every hurt, who meets your every need, and who loves you to the core of your being.  Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  Bartimaeus replies, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”  I think Bartimaeus is like, “O, that you would open my physical eyes that I may lovingly gaze upon the One I already see with my spiritual eyes!”

Consider Christ’s compassion.  He says in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  Are you in need of a touch from the Master?  Will you cry out to Him in prayer?  He may be busy, but He is never to busy to stop and minister His compassion to you. 

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

The compassion of Christ!

Verse 42 says, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’”  The phrase “Receive your sight” is just one word in the Greek, literally, “See!”  Such power of Christ!  He simply says, “See!” and the man sees.  Then Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.”  Literally again, “Your faith has saved you.”  He had saving faith.

Bartimaeus’ spiritual sight was the means by which he received the cure of physical sight.  He could already see in a way many of us who do see are really blind.  Some of us see Jesus, but do not see Jesus.  This blind man could not see Jesus, but could see Jesus.  Because the man already had spiritual eyes to see, he was able to trust Christ to give him physical eyes to see. 

Verse 43 tells us, “And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”  What a contrast to the rich young ruler in our last study.  The wealthy young ruler decided not to follow Christ.  He would rather have his money and his morality.  He was blinded by his riches!  But here is a blind beggar.  He has nothing really of any means.  He is saved and he gladly follows Christ, glorifying God.  The rich young ruler walks away spiritually blind while Bartimaeus walks after Christ seeing both physically and spiritually.

We end out study today by asking two questions as we apply these truths to where we are in our relationship with Christ . . .

1) Do I Presently Have Both Physical AND Spiritual Sight?

Spiritual is always more important than physical.  It means nothing at all if you can see physically, but you cannot see spiritually.  I read where Helen Keller was once asked about her being blind and how terrible it must have been for her.  She replied, “Better to be blind and see with your heart, than to have two good eyes and see nothing.”

Do you see Christ for who He is?  What of your neighbors, co-workers, and friends in school?  How many are right next to you and blind, waiting for you to shine the light of Christ upon them that they may see and be saved from the wrath to come?

What of the millions groping in spiritual darkness throughout the 10/40 window from Southeast Asia, into the Middle East and across North Africa?  Who will tell the unreached people groups dying in those areas of the world, who will tell them about the God who is committed to their eternal salvation if they will be receive Christ as Lord and King?

2) Is My Spiritual Sight Improving Daily?

It is not enough to have your eyes opened.  If our eyes are opened spiritually, if we have spiritual eyes of faith, then we will grow in our faith, our spiritual eyesight will improve with the passing of each day.  Examine yourself!  Are you truly saved?  If so . . .

Unlike your physical eyesight

Which weakens with age,

Your spiritual eyesight

Improves with age.

If you have been granted eyes to see you will, “follow Him” and “Glorify Him.”  You will grow in your faith.  You will follow Christ in obedience.  Do follow Christ the way this formerly blind man followed Christ?  Has God given you eyes to see?  If so, you will follow Him.  If not, you will not.  It is just that simple.

J. C. Ryle said it best: “Grateful love is the true spring of real obedience to Christ.  Men will never take up the cross and confess Jesus before the world, and live to Him, until they feel that they are indebted to Him for pardon, peace, and hope.  The ungodly are what they are, because they have no sense of sin, and no consciousness of being under any special obligation to Christ.  The godly are what they are, because they love Him who first loved them, and washed them from sin in His own blood.  Christ has healed them, and therefore they follow 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 18:18-30 – So Rich, Yet So Poor

Grace For The Journey

We are making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke.  As a church we believe that God wants His people to “Cherish the Word.”  We believe the best way to learn God’s Word is through verse-by-verse expository preaching and teaching.  We are in Luke 18 and we will be starting today’s study at verse 18.  I have spent some time as we have gone through this study noting the importance of context when going through Scripture.  When it comes to understanding a passage of Scripture, context is king. 

So . . . it is important to remember what precedes this passage.  Jesus teaches in verse 9-14 the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and in verses 15-17, the He teaches about entering the kingdom of God as a little child.  It is important that we keep both of those passages in our mind if we are going to rightly understand our passage this morning about the rich, young ruler.

The pharisee back in verses 9-14 thought he was good enough to have eternal life; whereas the tax collector knew he was not good enough.  Jesus then talks about how we must be as infants and small children if we hope to enter the kingdom of God – that is, we must regard ourselves as totally helpless, wholly dependent upon another to save us.  Now maybe this “certain ruler” heard Jesus say these words in verses 16 and 17 and had seen Jesus blessing the little children and he knows that he is not a child anymore, but surely there is something he can do to inherit eternal life, and that is his question in verse 18.

When I was in high school, I took a driver’s education course in the summer.  I learned a lot that semester.  Part of the class involved getting in the car and the instructor would run through various scenarios that were important in driving.  One exercise I recall as particularly helpful was a time when he instructed each of us to position our cars in such a way that the cars were staggered left and right behind one another.  He then instructed each of us to turn and look in our left and right side-view mirrors.  I looked and saw nothing.  Then he said, “The cars behind you to your left and right are in what is called your ‘blind spot.’”  I looked again in the mirrors and this time leaned forward and also turned around and, sure enough, there was a car in my blind spot!  The lesson was extremely valuable in teaching us to remember that what you see in your mirrors is not necessarily all that is there.  There may be something hiding in your blind spot that you do not see nor even realize is there.

In our passage this morning is a rich young man with a blind spot.  There is something that he cannot see.  He thinks he sees well enough.  In fact, he is prepared to talk to Jesus about what he can see and probably expects Jesus to agree that everything looks good and is in proper order.  But Jesus points out there is something there that this young man is missing, something lurking in his blind spot

I want to provide a very basic, simple outline and we will go through the text and then we will give some thought to specific principles to live by. 

Number one . . .

I. Consider The Nature Of The Lord.

Verse 18 tells us, “Now a certain ruler (Matthew’s Gospel tells us he is young (Matthew 19:20) asked Him, saying, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”

I think the young religious ruler is trying to be kind and respectful in his addressing Jesus with the title, “Good Teacher.”  At the same time, however, he creates something of a breach of social and religious etiquette in addressing Jesus this way.  In the Jewish Talmud, for example, there is not a single instance where a Jewish rabbi is addressed as “Good Teacher.”  This seems to be that which is pointed out by Jesus in His reply in verse 19, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’”  It is as though Jesus is saying, “I want you to think about what you just said!  You call Me good, but no one is good, but God.”  And this is true, just scan the psalms and read . . .

 Psalm 25:8, “Good and upright is the Lord…”

Psalm 34:8, “…Taste and see that the Lord is good…”

Psalm 86:5, “For You, Lord, are good…”

Psalm 106:1, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

No one is good but One, that is, God.  I want to dig into this truth much deeper in tomorrow’s blog.  God is good; God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is good because Jesus Christ is God. 

Jesus gets right to the young man’s question.  He had asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life.”  Jesus answers the question by getting the man to consider how he was doing in keeping the Old Testament Law.  Jesus says in verse 20, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ Do not murder . . .’”

I want to look at the goodness of God in more depth in my next blog. Now let’s look at our second consideration.  Number one was “Consider the Nature of the Lord,” Number two . . .

II. Consider the Nature of the Law.

At first reading we may wonder why Jesus directs the man to the 10 Commandments here.  Most of us know that New Testament teaching tells us we are not saved by keeping the law, not saved by our works, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Then why does Jesus direct the rich young ruler to the law?

Maybe it is because Jesus – as God in the flesh – knows the young man’s heart.  He can see the young man’s blind spot and He is trying to get the young man to see it himself.  Jesus is wanting the young man to face his blind spots.  Jesus quotes from the “second table” or the “second half” of the commandments as they are given in Exodus 20.  He says in verse 20, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.”  Jesus uses the law to reveal the man’s inability to keep it perfectly.  But what is the young man’s reply?  Verse 21 tells us, “And he said, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth.’”  Here we see the young man’s blind spot?  Does he truly understand the nature of the law?  The Bible says Romans 3:20 that, “By the law comes the knowledge of sin.”  If we read the law rightly, we will read the law say, “Man, I am such a sinner.  I cannot keep the law as I should.”

It is as though Jesus is saying, “You are asking me what you must ‘Do’ to inherit eternal life and I have just been teaching you can’t really ‘Do’ anything.  You have got to come to me as a baby, helpless, and depending upon God alone to save you.”  There is nothing you can do because you cannot do it perfectly.  You cannot merit your salvation.  You cannot “measure up” to the perfect standard of righteousness required.  Jesus may have said, “That was my point with the story of the pharisee and the tax collector.  The pharisee thought he could do something to inherit eternal life and actually believed he was worthy to receive it.”

To help understand what Jesus is doing here with the rich, young ruler, imagine how the conversation might have gone were He talking with the tax collector back in the preceding passage.  Imagine the tax collector from the earlier parable having this discussion with Jesus.  Unlike the self-righteous pharisee who prayed in a braggadocios manner, boasting of all his accomplishments, the tax collector in his prayer would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  Imagine it is the tax collector approaching Jesus here in the place of the rich young ruler.  I think the conversation would have gone a little differently.  It probably would have gone something like this: The tax collector would not so much as raise his head to talk to Jesus, but asked him quietly, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus says, “You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness.”  The tax collector replies, “O, Teacher!  May God have mercy upon me.  I have broken every single one of those commands and will likely do so again before the sun sets this evening.  Is there any hope for my sin-sick, soul?!”  And we imagine Jesus saying, “My friend, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as yourself, those who regard themselves as helpless children.  Yes, you may have eternal life, resting your faith and your life wholly upon Me and My work on your behalf.”  But of course, the rich, young ruler does not talk to Jesus as we might imagine the tax collector talking to Jesus.  He says, “I have kept the law.  I have done what is necessary to do.” 

What is the response of Jesus?  We see it in verse 22, “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  This is Jesus’ way of putting his finger directly upon the very thing that would keep this man from becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.  Jesus identified the one thing that would get in the way of this man’s being a committed disciple.  It was the one thing hiding in the man’s blind spot.  

We have considered the nature of the Lord and the nature of the Law.  Thirdly, let’s consider . . .

III. Consider the Nature of Your Lack.

What is the “one thing” lacking, the one thing that keeps people from following Christ?  For the rich young ruler, it was his riches.  Jesus knows this.  That is why He says to Him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, give away all your stuff to the poor, come follow Me, I will give you treasure in heaven,” a metaphor for eternal life.  Is this a universal commend?  Does Jesus mean that every person must sell everything he or she has and give it all to the poor in order to be saved?  No, riches themselves are never the problem.  There were several rich people in the Bible who truly loved God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Riches were not their problem . . . But riches are this young ruler’s problem.

Remember that Jesus is the Good Physician.  He is the Good Doctor prescribing according to the disease before Him.  As the Master Physician He has diagnosed this young man’s problem and He prescribes the cure.  The rich, young ruler loved his riches more than he loved anything else.  That is why verse 23 reads as it does, “But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”  His riches stood in the way of eternal life.  While he was proud of his self-righteousness, he has just learned that he does not have enough righteousness.  What is worse, where he comes up short in righteousness, he has just learned that he cannot make up for by purchasing what is lacking because it is money itself that stands in the way.  For the first time in his life, he cannot buy his way in.  He is so rich yet so poor.  He wanders away never to be heard from again. 

Verses 24 and 30 say, “And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  And those who heard it said, ‘Who then can be saved?’  But He said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’  Then Peter said, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’  So He said to them, ‘Verily, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.’”

Now let us conclude with a few practical principles.  These are principles that surface from our study of this passage.  I call these: Rich Thoughts for Poor Sinners:

1) Not Everyone Who Looks Like Disciple-Material Is Disciple-Material.

I get the impression the 12 were watching this rich young ruler with a sense of great expectation.  They probably thought this guy was going to be a tremendous asset to the cause of spreading the Good News of the Kingdom.  But such was not the case.  The guy leaves spiritually lost.  We are tempted to look at the finely dressed businessman or woman who visits our church and we think to ourselves, “Now here is a real winner!”  People are tripping over themselves to go say hello.  A real winner, we say. On what basis?  Their money?  Their morality?

On the other hand, we look at the shabbily dressed man who enters the sanctuary with nothing to commend and we are tempted to ignore him.  “Oh, he could’t possibly be of any use to the advancement of the kingdom.” Something we see time and again in the Gospel of Luke is this “Great Reversal.”  Jesus has said more than once that “The first shall be last and the last first.”  Things are not always as they seem.  Not everyone who looks like disciple-material is disciple-material.  You never know.

You and I had need remember that everyone stands equally before God.  No on stands any taller than the next guy, nor any shorter than the next guy.  As we are found of saying, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” 

2) Salvation Is Not Something I Earn, but Something I Receive.

May I never forget this truth!  What can I “Do” to inherit eternal life?  Answer: NOTHING. All the major religions focus on what man must “Do” to be right with God.  Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, all of them focus on what man must “Do.”  Christianity is focus upon what Christ has “Done.” 

Jesus did what you could not do yourself.

 The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any should boast.”  Jesus lived the perfect life you could not live.  He died as your substitute, taking your place on the cross, taking the punishment you deserved.  Salvation is not something I earn, but something I receive. 

3) If I Am Saved, I Can Thank God For Making Possible The Impossible.

When the disciples hear Jesus talking about how difficult it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, they are flabbergasted.  Jesus says in verse 25 that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” and in verse 26 the disciples wonder, “Well, then WHO in the world can be saved?”

In Jesus’ day, a person’s wealth was considered a sign of God’s blessing.  The Jews regarded wealth and possessions as the smile of God upon one’s life and so what Jesus has just said sent them reeling in wonder as to WHO then can be saved?  Jesus teaches, “It is impossible.”  You cannot do anything to earn it, you cannot buy your way in.  You can do nothing.  It is impossible.  Jesus says in verse 27 says, “The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.”  If I am saved, I can thank God for making possible the impossible.  It is all owing to God’s grace.  I hope when you sing, “Amazing Grace” that you really feel the joy of God’s making possible what was impossible.

4) What Do I Love More Than God (What Is My Idol)?

In verse 28, Peter says, “We have left everything and followed You!”  Jesus responds to him in verse 29 and 30, “So He said to them, ‘Verily, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”  Few of us know what it is like to leave house, family, and possessions for the sake of the kingdom of God.  It speaks to the kind of commitment required to follow Christ.  It speaks to the matter of where our heart is.  Jesus says, “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be.”  Put another way . . . What do you love more than God?  Whatever that thing is, is your idol.

Would you be willing to give up house, parents, wife, or children for the sake of the kingdom of God?  Perhaps this thought may be used as a test to authenticate genuine salvation.  Do we love God and the things of God more than we love house, family, possessions?  If we love anything or anyone more than we love God, we are guilty of idolatry.

What is your “one thing?”  What is the one thing “you lack?”  What is your “Blind Spot?” What is the thing that will cause you to crash on your spiritual journey?  For the rich, young ruler, it was money.  It makes sense.  When you have a lot of money, it is easier to trust what you have than to trust God.  It is easier to love what you have than to love God.  Does your money lurk in the side-view mirror?

It is important to realize that Jesus is talking to you and me, as we as the rich young ruler.  Where is your blind spot?  Money?  Stuff?  A relationship that is not good for us?  Work?  A hobby?  A sport?  Health?  Need help identifying your blind spot?  What stands in the way of your love for God and the things of God?  That is where you will find your blind spot, your idol. 

May God help us each identify our blind spots.

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.”