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

Between

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.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 18:15-17 – Receiving The Kingdom As A Child

Grace For The Journey

If you are new to my blog, we are studying our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke.  One of the results of a life of studying and preaching God’s precious Word is to develop a deep cherishing of the Bible.  The best way to cherish the Word is to study it verse-by-verse.  We are in chapter 18, today, we pick up with verse 15.

Context is always important as we read a passage of Scripture.  In fact, context is the key principle to accurate biblical interpretation.  Context is more important than knowing the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  Context is king!  It has been said . . .

“A text without a context

Becomes a pretext

For a proof text.”

That means if I just take a passage or a verse out of the place in which is positioned for my proper understanding, if I just lift that verse out of its context without regard for its meaning, then I may use that text for my own purposes to prove whatever I wish.  Politicians are good at doing that.  I am not sure they mean to do that or even that they know they are doing that, but they do that all the time.  Frequently, you will hear some political candidate work some verse of Scripture into a political speech and, more often than not, he has taken a text out of context to make it “fit in” to his speech. 

Context is king.  What is the context of this small passage of Scripture–verses 15-17?  Maybe you read the verses earlier and you thought, “This is that wonderful passage where Jesus loves on the little children!  This is a sweet passage of Scripture.”  It is a sweet passage that highlights, among other things, our Lord’s love for children.  That is very evident.  I nearly always think of a childhood song I heard many, many years ago . . .

When parents brought children for Jesus to bless,

His followers noticed his need for rest.

And, knowing children, noisy at play,

They said to the parents, “Please take them away.”

But Jesus said, ‘Bring the children to me.

The kingdom of Heaven is theirs, you see.”

And holding them close, He blessed them and smiled.

“Whoever would enter must come as a child.”

The children I know are noisy, it’s true;

Inquisitive, open and loving too.

So maybe God’s kingdom is meant to be

A circle of love, filled with people like me.

That is not a bad song and it stresses the love of Jesus Christ and the openness of children to that love.  At the same time, however, it does not really get into the contextual issues of exactly why Luke places this account of Jesus in the exact position he does between two powerful teachings of Christ.

Remember that Jesus has just told the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. The pharisee you will remember was all about himself: “Lord, look at me, how self-righteous I am; I fast twice a week and give not just the expected tithe, 10% of my earnings, but I give a tithe on everything I possess.”  The tax collector on the other hand would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me – the sinner.”  That is the story that precedes our text that we are going to look at this morning . . . What follows this short is a story that is introduced by this small passage of verses 15-17.  The passage that follows, verses 18 and following, is the popular passage of the “rich young ruler” who asks Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  A lesson about a guy who needs to totally divest himself of everything to depend totally on Jesus Christ.

There are these two stories, one preceding our passage and one following this passage . . .

Both teaching about what a true disciple looks like,

Both teaching about the posture and position

Of one who enters the kingdom of God,

Both teaching about what true disciples look like.

It is important that we remember this as we study the passage together.  Otherwise . .

We may just think this is

A nice little story about

Jesus loving on babies.

I heard about the story of a wise sage who was meditating by a river.  He was approached by a young man who interrupted his meditations.  The young man says, “Master, I wish to become your disciple.”  The wise sage says, “Why?”  He says, “Because I want to find God.”  The wise master jumps up and grabs him by the scruff of the neck, drags him to the river and plunges him under water.  He holds him under the water for a minute, all the while the guy is kicking and struggling to free himself.  Finally, the wise master pulls the guy up out of the river.  He is coughing up water and grasping to get his breath.  Finally, he settles down and the wise master says, “Tell me what you wanted most when you were under water.”  The guy says, “Air!”  The master says, “Very well.  Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.”

I do not know whether that actually happened, but I do know that the story is . . .

A fairly accurate portrayal

Of the kind of dependence upon God

Necessary for followers of Christ. 

We are utterly and totally

Dependent upon God for everything

And therefore should desire Him

As much as we desire the very air we breathe.

Is that what this passage is all about?  I think it is.  Let’s go back through these three verses and we will talk about a number of things here, but I want you to remember this matter of our dependence upon God and let’s see if that is not what Luke is stressing for us. 

Verse 15 says, “Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”  Jesus has just taught the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector.  He has just finished talking about the problem of self-righteousness and then these parents approach him, holding little babies in their arms.  These are small children, many of them infants as verse 15 says.  These parents are approaching Jesus.  Verse 15 says, “they also brought infants to Him,” but it’s in the imperfect tense so the sense is, “They were bringing.”  That is, they were doing this often.  It happened a lot.  People were bringing to Jesus these infants that He might bless them.  This was not unusual.  It was customary for Jewish parents to bring infants and small children to Jewish rabbis for the purpose of their laying hands on them and saying a blessing over them.  It is a custom at least as old as the Book of Genesis.  You will remember when Jacob placed his hands upon Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:14) and pronounced a blessing upon his two boys.

There is just something about the physical touch and the word of blessing that affirms a child or a person at any age.  That is what was going on here in this passage.  These parents were bringing children to Jesus for the purpose of His placing His hands upon their head, and pronouncing a blessing upon them.  This is a good thing going on here in verse 15.

Unfortunately, the second part of the verse says, “but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”  They rebuked the parents for bringing the children to Him.  I do not know why.  Luke does not tell us why.  Maybe they thought Jesus was too busy to be bothered by these little children.  Maybe they thought He was “above” these children and it was beneath His dignity to spend any time with them, at all.  After all, children were regarded by many in Jesus’ day as little things that just got in the way of more important things.  Children were viewed often in the same way people in the Ancient Near East viewed lepers, tax collectors, and even women.  They were part of the “outcasts” of society.  That may seem odd to us.  We live in such a child-centered world here in the West.  We have gone to the other extreme.  We have got children ruling their parents and ruling their homes, telling mom what they “must have” as they stand in the checkout line at Walmart.  They will pitch a fit until mom gives in and buys the silly thing that was just on a hook a moment ago.  Yet their names are proudly displayed on the bumpers of many automobiles: “My Child is a Genius.”  Well, I’m not so sure.  When I drive past these minivans I see the little genius inside, finger up his nose, and I am not so sure!

Children in Jesus’ day were considered a nuisance.  The disciples are like, “Hey, get those kiddos outta here!”  But notice Jesus’ response in verse 16, “But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.’”  Jesus says, “Hey, wait a minute!  Do not forbid this! Let these parents bring these kiddos.  After all, the kingdom of God is for those who are ‘of such.’”  That is, “The kingdom of God belongs to ‘such as these.’”  Or put another way still, “One gets into the kingdom – one gets into heaven – by being as a child.”  This is not being “childish,” but being “childlike.”

That in itself was probably not enough for the disciples to understand what Jesus was getting at, so He says in verse 17, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  Some commentators say, “Well, here is what Jesus means in verse 17.  He has just said in verse 14, ‘Whoever humbles himself will be exalted,’ so Jesus is saying we must humble ourselves like a child.”  I think I know what they mean by that, but I have got a small problem with it.  Do you know any small children or better yet any infants who just naturally “humble themselves?”  Is an infant naturally disposed to humility?  Not too long after it is born that infant is all about himself or herself.  It cries and wails, demanding food, attention, or sleep.  “Give me, give me, give me!”  What mother does not wish her newborn would say one evening, “You know, I realize you haven’t been able to sleep in days now and so I thought I would just sort of humble myself and take care of myself, you know, and you go ahead and sleep through the night.  Do not worry about me.  No need to “make it all about me.  I will take care of myself.  You go get your sleep now!”  Infants and small children know nothing or very little about humbling themselves. 

On the other hand, if by humility we mean that one can do nothing to help himself or herself, now I think we are getting at what Jesus is teaching here.  An infant can do nothing to help himself, isn’t that right?  Nothing.  In light of the context here: the preceding passage about a guy who thinks he can do for himself, the self-righteous pharisee, “Look at me, God, what I have done” and then the following passage, a passage about a rich young ruler, a man of prominence and position, a man who asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life,” between these two passages we find a statement where Jesus says . . .

“If you really want to be My disciple,

Here is the deal: You can do

Nothing at all, but totally depend upon Me.”

I have an unusual Bible study outline this morning.  I cannot remember the last time I had an outline like this.  I have only one main point.  In preaching, the joke is that every sermon has three points – “three points and a poem,” the saying goes.  Actually, a sermon ought to have as many points as the text being preached has.  If the text makes three points, the sermon should have three points.  If the text has four, then four in the sermon.  If the text has two points, there should be two points in the sermon.  Every sermon ought to have “a” point.  So . . .  here is the point . . . Here is the main point that I believe we must get from this short passage that will be helpful to us again next week when we study the following passage . . .:

I Must Totally Depend on God for Absolutely Everything.

If that is all you remember from our study this morning, that is okay.  If someone asks you later, “What did you learn in the study this morning.”  I pray you answer, “I must totally depend on God for absolutely everything.”  As an infant or a very small child depends totally on its parent for absolutely everything, so must we depend upon God for absolutely everything. 

The kingdom of God “belongs to such as these,”

People who depend on God for absolutely everything. 

That is the one main point in this passage.

You want into the kingdom of God?  You are going to have to depend upon God for absolutely everything.  Jesus says, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  Put positively this means, “Whoever does receive the kingdom of God as a little child – NOT COUNTING ON ANYTHING WITHIN THEMSELVES – but totally depending on God for absolutely everything, these will enter the kingdom of God.”

Remember the great hymn, ‘Rock of Ages,” by Augustus Toplady?  That hymn includes these words . . .  

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to the cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress;

Helpless look to Thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die.

You want into the kingdom of God?  You are going to have to receive it as a little child, hopelessly, helplessly, wholly and totally dependent upon God for every bit of salvation.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” And in Titus 3:5-6, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved s, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.  Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Self-righteousness is the kind of thing that is impossible for a baby.  A baby does not crawl around talking to God like the self-righteous pharisee or like the rich young ruler.  A baby is wholly and utterly dependent upon the provision of another.

Trust God for your salvation and trust God for your provision.  Trust Him to meet your every need.

Some of you would protest, “But pastor, you don’t know what I’m going through!  You don’t know what I’m facing!”

I don’t know HOW I’m going to make it.

I don’t know WHERE it’s going to come from.

I don’t know IF I’m going get through it.

Listen to me: As a little baby is unable to clothe itself, feed itself, take care of itself, and as this baby totally depends upon someone else to meet its needs, SO YOU ARE TOTALLY DEPEND ON GOD FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!

Trust God to meet your every need.

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!

 Someone said, “We must not think a child cannot come to God until he is like a man, but a man cannot come until he is like a child.”

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 18:9-14 – What Is Your Attitude About Yourself – Righteous Or A Sinner?

Grace For The Journey

We looked at verses 1 through 8 Chapter 18 on Monday.  Today we are going to pick up at verse 9.  Contextually, in verse 8 Jesus has just asked, “When the Son of Man comes (that is, when Christ returns) will He really find faith on the earth?”  What we have in the next few verses is a parable of what that faith looks like.  We have a parable of two people . . .

One who will not be found with faith when the Son of Man returns

And

One who will be found with faith when the Son of Man returns. 

We get used to doing things a certain way, we become overly familiar with them.  It is like the first time we learned to drive a straight shift and back the car out of the driveway.  We were focused on everything we had learned: put your right foot on the brake, left foot on the clutch, put the gear in reverse, ease up off the clutch with the left foot, give it gas with the right foot, and look in the rearview mirror.  It seemed it required all of our focus and energy.  But now we do not even think about what we are doing; just hop in the car, cup in left hand, biscuit and gear shifter in the right hand, rolling the car quickly backwards while we chomp on our breakfast. Familiarity with what was once unfamiliar.

Christians face the danger of having heard the Gospel so many times that we hardly hear the words of Jesus anymore.  We’re so familiar with them.  If we hear Jesus speaking at all, we feel He must be speaking to someone else.  In the words of Kent Hughes, “We have heard the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector so often that it has become to us like a comfortable old slipper that other people wear.”  I pray we all we hear this parable in a fresh new way, not looking around to see whether other people are listening to it, but purposefully and actively listening ourselves.  This is God’s Word.  He is speaking to us.  If we have “ears to hear” He will speak directly to us in this study.

As we look to our Bibles open before us we find straightaway that we are left in no doubt as to why Jesus told this parable.  Verse 9 tells us, “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”  Why did Jesus tell this parable?  He was addressing a problem.  What was the problem?  Verse 9 tells us there were “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”  That is why Jesus told this parable, or short story. Jesus tolt this for two reasons: 1) To address: those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous; and, 2) to address those who despised others. 

Luke has just told us that Jesus is getting ready to tell a story – a story that will illustrate the problem of people trusting in their own goodness while, at the same time, hating others

Verse 10 introduces us to the story, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”  We must remember that when Jesus initially told this parable that people heard him differently than we do today.  We hear the word “pharisee” and we immediately think “bad guy.”  We have got to remember that Jesus’ first hearers would have heard the word “pharisee” and thought, “good guy.”  This was the religious one, the spiritual one, the good one.

There are two men in verse 10, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  Jesus says they both went up to the temple to pray.  Public, corporate prayer, would occur twice – at 9 AM (Acts 2:15) and 3 PM (Acts 3:1), but the temple was always open and folks who lived nearby were blessed to go pray whenever they wished. 

Let’s look now to the prayers of each one. First, the pharisee in verse 11, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’”  Let’s break this down.  First, verse 11 says, “The Pharisee stood.”  In Jesus’ day, standing was the normal posture for prayer.  There is nothing wrong with his standing to pray.  Verse 13 notes the tax collector stood also.  What is significant, however, is that verse 13 indicates that the tax collector stood “afar of.,”  We can reasonably infer that the pharisee stood at the front of the temple where he could be seen and heard.  We may imagine the pharisee facing people nearby, standing with outstretched hands so all could see the phylacteries on his wrists and forehead.  You will remember these phylacteries were boxes containing Scripture verses, boxes attached to the wrists and forehead.  Displayed in the context of a pompous and showy prayer, these phylacteries would be nothing more than flashy spiritual accessories to accompany his impressive religious clothing.

Jesus says the pharisee stood “and prayed thus with himself.”  He prayed with himself.  The NIV has “about” himself.  It is possible to translate it even as “to” himself.  This is a self-congratulatory, self-eulogy.  The pharisee stands and reads to God his spiritual resume.  In one breath he uses the personal pronoun five times: “I, I, I, I, I.”  Note how the pharisee compares himself with others.  He says in verse 11, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers,” – then he looks over at the far end of the temple, shakes his head in disgust and says, “or even this tax collector.”

Do you hear his attitude?  The message is clear: “God, You are very fortunate to have someone like me around.”  He knows nothing of the holiness of God and the feeling of unworthiness before Him.  He knows nothing of the penitential psalms like psalm 32 or psalm 51.  He has nothing to confess.

The problem is not in the pharisee’s thanking God for keeping him from being like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers – that is not the problem.  The problem is that the pharisee has accomplished this himself.  It is he who has done the good job of not being unjust, an adulterer, and so forth.  He is not praising God nor is he asking God for any help or anything.  It is remarkable that he is praying at all because clearly he does not even need God.

The spiritual soliloquy continues in verse 12, “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”  Admittedly, the pharisee’s discipline and charity are impressive.  Two days a week from sunrise to sunset he ate nothing.  He gave more money than the law demanded; he gave a tithe off not just his earnings, but a tithe off “all” that he possessed, a tithe off of everything that came into his possession.  If there were other pharisees standing around while Jesus told this parable we are right in imagining that they would be nodding their heads in approval.  This pharisee was a really good guy.   

Now the contrast, verse 13, “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’”  His prayer is the opening line of Psalm 51:1.  Here is a man who knew his place before God.  He knew he was a sinner.  He was, after all, a tax collector, a despised Jewish man who worked for the Romans, collecting money from others at an exorbitant rate, lining his own pockets with the profits.  He knew he was a sinner.  He felt his sins.  He could not even raise his eyes to heaven, but “beat his breast,” a sign of contrition when you cannot even express on the outside what you feel on the inside.  He knew he was a sinner.  The Greek actually uses the definite article.  It really should be translated, “God, be merciful to me THE sinner.”  Like Paul later in 1 Timothy 1:15, this tax collector would have considered himself the chief of sinners.

His prayer in verse 13 is, “God, be merciful to me.”  The original is literally, “God, propitiate me.”  It is the verb form of the noun used by Paul in Romans 3:25 where, writing of our salvation, he refers to Christ Jesus as the One “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.”  Jesus died to propitiate the wrath of God, to satisfy God’s wrath toward us for our sin.  Jesus propitiates God’s wrath so that God’s wrath is removed and our sins are covered by Christ’s righteousness.  If by faith we believe in the work of Christ, God justifies us, declares us righteous, and gives us a new standing before God (see also 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:10).

This tax collector wanted his sins covered and God’s wrath removed from him.  His plea in verse 13 is, “God, propitiate me!”  Now comes the zinger, verse 14, remember: Jesus’ original hearers – especially the pharisees – would have been shocked Christ’s conclusion in verse 14, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Not what most people in Jesus’ day would have expected.  The “bad guy” goes home from the temple justified while the “good guy” goes home from the temple not being justified.  By the way, do not miss the Christological jewel here: Jesus Christ knows the mind of God; He knows which man went down to his house justified.  How does Jesus know the mind of God?  He IS God.

The pharisee went home with God’s wrath still upon himself.  He was not saved.  He was condemned for sin, still under God’s wrath.  You ask, “How can you say that?!” Because Jesus says it.  He says it in verse 13, “I tell you, THIS man (the tax collector) went down to his house justified RATHER than the OTHER (the pharisee).”

The tax collector was justified by God – declared righteous – granted a new standing before God, a new relationship, a righteousness given to him by grace through faith.  Like Paul would say later, the tax collector is “found in Him, not having (his) own righteousness…but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).

The spiritual posture with which we pray

In our heart of hearts reveals whether

We have been made righteous by God.

With that in mind, let me ask: Who do you pray like – the tax collector or the Pharisee?  You say, “I want to pray like the tax collector.  I trust my heart is that of a changed heart.”  If so, pray this way . . .

God, Here is my Heart . . .

1) Keep Me From SELF Righteousness.

Salvation does not come by superior moral character.  In a moral character “matchup,” the pharisee wins over the tax collector.  He possessed a vastly superior moral character over the tax collector.  All his friends knew so.  All his worship buddies knew so.  All society knew so.  He was a good person … but he did not go home justified. Because he exalted himself, God humbled him.

Jesus had said this before in Luke 14:11, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  You cannot earn God’s favor by your goodness.  You cannot be saved by your self-righteousness.  You and I are sinners, and we stand in need of the righteousness of another.  Keep me from SELF righteousness. 

Number two . . .

2) Stop Me From COMPARATIVE Righteousness.

God, stop me from comparing my righteousness with the righteousness of another person.  Robert Stein writes, “Those who like the (tax collector) understand their sinful condition and know that they can only be saved by grace, find it difficult to despise others, for there is nothing of which they can boast.  Only those who possess a false confidence in their own righteousness look down at others.”

Are you ever guilty of looking down at others, comparing yourself to another person?  You look at them and you feel pretty good about yourself.  They sin in some big way and you think, “Well, at least I am not like that sorry scoundrel.”  Really think about this.  Are you guilty?  Did you look down your nose upon another brother or sister this week and tell yourself, “Well, I may not be perfect, but I didn’t do THAT!”   

As a pastor I do I great deal of counseling.  Just this past week I met with three different people, each of them dealing with what some of you might call “big time sins.”  Some might even be shocked to learn what happened in the lives of these persons.  My fear is that some of you may even say, “Well, I don’t want anything to do with someone like that, doing those kinds of things.”  But what about when you make a mistake?  You talk about the grace and mercy of God, but do you extend that same grace and mercy to others?  Honestly, sometimes I hear the kinds of judgmental comments people make and I think to myself, “Man, I know who NOT to go to when I fail.”  King David – a man after God’s own heart – with his moral failures culminating with adultery and murderous scheming would NEVER have been forgiven by some Christians.

Convicted by this unfortunate reaction of some Christians, Chuck Girard a number of years ago wrote the song, “Don’t Shoot The Wounded.”  That is – When a Christian brother or sister stumbles and sins in a big way, do not beat them while they are down.  That is acting like the pharisee in the parable.  Listen to the words of his song . . .

Don’t shoot the wounded, they need us more than ever

They need our love no matter what it is they’ve done

Sometimes we just condemn them,

And don’t take time to hear their story

Don’t shoot the wounded, someday you might be one

It’s easy to love the people who are standing hard and fast

Pressing on to meet that higher calling

But the ones who might be struggling, we tend to judge too harshly

And refuse to try and catch them when they’re falling

We put people into boxes and we draw our hard conclusions

And when they do the things we know they should not do

We sometimes write them off as hopeless

And we throw them to the dogs . . .

Don’t shoot the wounded,

Someday you might be one

One of the things that has made the church I pastor such a great church is our welcoming of people of all walks of life and our ability to be honest about our struggles, our trials, and temptations.  May we ever be a church full of saved, yet humble sinners.  May God spare us from the self-deluded, self-absorbed, self-congratulatory, and self-righteous, “good” Pharisee.

Number 3 . . .

3) Clothe Me In CHRIST’S Righteousness.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:14 that we are to put on the breastplate of righteousness, but I fear some of us would rather strap-on the breastplate of self-righteousness.  You cannot be saved by your own righteousness.  You need the righteousness 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 18:1-8 – Do Not Give Up!

Grace For The Journey

We have just come out of a passage of Scripture where Jesus speaks to His disciples (Luke 17:22) regarding the consummation of the kingdom of God.  Jesus is talking about that great day when the Son of Man returns (Luke 17:22-37) and God will avenge Christians and right all wrongs.  There is a sense in which the disciples very much want that day to come right now, just as many of us yearn for the return of Christ.  What Jesus says next in our passage is, in essence, a call to “hang in there” until Christ does return.  In fact, it is more than a “hang in there,” it is a “keep moving, keep praying, do not give up, trust Me to do what is right; trust Me and if you do not trust Me I wonder then whether “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth”  (verse 8).

Psalm 73 is a good parallel passage to run alongside our text this morning in Luke 18.  It was written by a guy named “Asaph” and Asaph is losing hope in God.  He is struggling in his faith.  He writes in the psalm that he could not understand why it is that the wicked seem to prosper while the godly people suffer harm.  He uses the phrase, “I almost slipped;” “I almost lost all hope.”  Asaph says he was this way, “until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (verse 17).  That was Asaph’s way of acknowledging that God knows what He is doing and that He will judge the wicked.  Asaph was reminded of this truth when he went to worship.  Because Asaph was a music man, assisting King David in the leading of music, we could title the psalm, “If You Do Not ‘See Sharp,’ You Will ‘Be Flat.’”

Jesus is addressing a similar concern of the disciples.  He has just told them in the end of chapter 17 that the kingdom of God is something to be understood in two senses.  There is a “now” of the kingdom and a “not yet” of the kingdom.  Those who have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior are “now” in the kingdom, but in another sense, they await the ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom when Christ returns and rights all wrongs.  When Christ dies on the cross, is raised, and ascends to heaven there is this period during which the disciples – and future disciples – await Christ’s glorious return to usher in the fulness of His kingdom.  That is the “not yet” of the kingdom.

There is this interval between Christ’s first Coming and His Second Coming.  Jesus foresaw this interval, and He prepared His disciples for it, it is an interval between His resurrection and glorious return.  You and I live in that interval.  That is why Jesus told this parable.  He is teaching us how to live in the interval.  The days will not always be easy, and Christ’s disciples will face hardships and difficulties.  How many of you known hardships and difficulties?  Most of the hardships will come as a result of Christian persecution, but all hardships and difficulties come as a result of living in a fallen world, a world in which we yearn for Christ’s return.  Jesus is teaching us what to do in the meantime and how to think of God during this interval time.

Verse one says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”  Jesus is teaching what to do as we live in the “not yet.”  In fact, you could write that in as a subtitle underneath the part of your Bible that tells us this is the parable of the persistent widow.  You could write, “How to live in the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom.”  That is why Jesus tells this parable.  This is not a text to be lifted from its context and used to teach a general message on prayer.  It is connected to what precedes, this teaching is about Christ’s return.  That is also clear in the last verse of the parable, verse 8, where Jesus talks about “when the Son of Man comes.” 

This passage is more specifically about

How to live until Christ returns,

How to live in the “not yet.”

The kind of prayer Jesus is talking about is a persistent prayer in light of the preceding passage.  This is not a general kind of praying nor is Jesus suggesting a non-stop continuous prayer, just praying over and over again the same things to God, but this is a call to be in a continual state of prayer, praying as we go about our days looking forward to Christ’s return.  The content of the prayer then, in essence is, “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2).  This is a state of prayer, regularly talking to God, not so much going into the prayer closet, but a regular talking with Him as we go about the events of the day.  Doing this will keep us from “losing heart.”  We will persevere in our faith.  We will not quit.  We will not give up.  When the going gets tough, we will keep going.  When we face hardships, we will persevere. 

Verse 2 says, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.”  There is a judge known for two things: He neither fears God nor regards man.  That is, he does not care about God and he does not care about you.  This judge does not keep the two basic commandments; Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself (cf Luke 10:27).  He neither feared God nor regarded man.

Verse 3 says, “Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’”  Widows and orphans were among the most vulnerable people in the ancient near east.  Someone has been bothering her and so she is going to the judge with it, asking him to take care of the situation.  Luke writes that “she came to him” with this plea.  The verb is in the imperfect tense, denoting continual activity; incomplete action, she “kept coming” before the judge over and over again. 

Jesus tells us in verses 4 and 5, “And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”  This woman is wearing out the judge with her persistence.  The word “weary” here in verse 5 translates a Greek word that means, “to hit under the eye” or, “to blacken the eye.”  This better expresses the judge’s frustration!  Today we would say, “She is driving me crazy!”

The judge is getting tired of this woman coming and asking him to avenge her.  So, he decides to hear her concern and judge the guy who is troubling her.    Jesus says in verse 6, “Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said.’”  Let what Jesus says sink in.  This is an unjust judge.  He is not a good judge.  He is unjust – but hear what Jesus said.  This unjust judge is going to avenge this woman, deal with her concern, and judge the wicked.  Notice verse 7 as Jesus makes the connection, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?”  See the contrast Jesus is making here?  If this is how the unjust judge acts, how will the just, the righteous Judge act?

This is like in Luke 15:1-13, with the parable of the unjust steward, where Jesus uses a scoundrel to draw people into an illustration that is ultimately about God.  It is definitely an attention-getter because people are like, “Where is Jesus going with this ‘unjust judge’ business?!”  And the point again is, “If the unjust judge listened to the request of this persistent widow, how much more will the just Judge, the Supreme Judge of the universe, listen to you and answer your request?”  Or as Jesus says in Luke 11:13, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your Father in heaven give to you?”

God is not like the unjust judge.  You do not have to badger Him.  You do not have to go to Him over and over again and beg Him to do stuff.  What is more, whereas the unjust judge does not regard man, does not care for people, God loves you and is concerned about you.  Unlike the relationship between the unjust judge and the persistent widow, God loves you no less than He loves His own Son.  He wants to hear from you. 

The lesson is not to , , ,

“Bug” Him like the persistent widow

Wore-out the unjust judge,

A lesson about praying

The same thing over and over

Again until finally God is like,

“Okay, already!  I’ll do what you want!”

That is not the lesson here! 

The lesson is . . .

To trust God

And

Lovingly talk to Him

Continually throughout

The day in prayer.

 Verse 7 is an encouragement.  Jesus says, “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?”  The implied answer is, “Of course He will.”  God will do this because He is not an unjust judge, He is a just Judge.  And you are not a marginalized widow, cast aside by a judge.  You are God’s child!  You are God’s “elect,” His chosen.  He loves you.  He loves you no less than He loves His Son Jesus.  God sees the depths of your heart and He loves you the same!  God is going to avenge you.  He is going to take care of you.  He is going to right all wrongs.  Believe Him! 

Jesus drives that truth home in verse 8, “I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”  God will avenge His children.  Trust Him to do so.  Jesus ends the teaching at the end of verse 8 with a question to all who profess to be His followers.  He asks, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”  That is – Will Jesus find folks who are truly people of faith, people in a continual state of prayer and trust, people who regularly commune with Him throughout the day and trust Him to do what is right or will He find folks who have lost heart and just plain given up?

The implication seems to be . . .

Prayer and faith

Stand and fall together.

If we lose heart and drift away from prayer, then the Son of Man will not find faith in us when he comes.  Faith is the furnace of our lives … and the shovel for feeding the (furnace) is prayer.  If you lose heart and lay down the shovel (of prayer), the fire (of faith) will go out, you will grow cold and hard.  The test will be whether you continued in prayer and did not lose heart. God’s elect will surely be saved; and, as verse 7 says, the sign of the elect is that they cry to God day and night.  Those who endure to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

Having gone through this passage of Scripture we are left with two straightforward action steps that rise from the text . . . 

1) Keep Talking To God Throughout Each Day.

This parable is a call for us to be in a continual state of conversation with God.  If you pray continually, talking to God not just in the morning or at mealtimes, but throughout the day, then you will persevere to the end and be ready when Christ comes.  You will not faint in times of trial and testing.  That is the idea Jesus is laying down here.

Do you regularly converse with God?  As you get up in the morning, as you get dressed, as you eat your breakfast, as you get in your car or walk down the street do you regularly converse with God?  As you go about your work or school, are you talking to God in your thoughts?  This may be new to some of you. Let me encourage you this week to think of God as though He were actually right there with you in your family room, at your kitchen table, in your car, in your cubicle, at your desk, on the assembly line.  Think of God as standing right there with you and talk with Him regularly throughout the day.

If you will do this . . .

You will be focused

On things that matter.

You will be living soundly in the “not yet” and you won’t be surprised by Christ’s return.  You will be prepared.  Your heart will not be bound up in the things of this world – money, possessions, fame, toys, recreation, self-centeredness – but your heart will be bound up in the things of God.  Why?  Because you have been talking to God throughout each day, talking to Him, focusing upon Him, and preparing for His return.  I guarantee you will have a greater sense of joy if you will focus on Christ throughout each day.  Keep talking to God throughout each day. 

2) Keep Trusting God Throughout Each Day.

Some of you need to live like God knows what He is doing in your life.  If the unjust judge avenges this unloved widow, how much more will the Just Judge avenge you, whom He loves no less than He loves His own Son?  Trust God!

Trust His timing.  Verse 7 indicates that some would question Christ’s delay in His Second Coming, “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them.”  This is similar to what the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:3-4, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’”

Some are like, “I’m not sure Christ will ever return and judge the wicked!  I mean He has not returned yet, has He?!”  Peter dealt with this in his day, and he said something that would be applicable however long Christ determines to delay His second coming.  Peter goes on to say in 2 Peer 3:8, “Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Trust God’s timing.  He will come when He is good and ready, and it will be at just the right moment.  In the meantime, trust Him.  See that Christ finds faith in you when He returns.  See that Christ finds you not fainting or giving up, but persevering, trusting throughout each day.  Persevere in your faith!  Bear fruit!

Be like the seed Christ talked about that fell on good ground in Luke 8:14 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”  Do not quit!  Keep talking to God and keep trusting God throughout each day.

God is not an unjust judge; God is a just Judge.  The Bible reminds us in Genesis 18:25, that the “Judge of all the earth always does what is right.”

Some of you need to hear that this morning. 

God knows what

He is doing in your life.

If He is delaying answering your prayers, it is because He knows better than you.  He is allowing time to work out His perfect will, allowing time for folks to believe the Gospel and be saved, allowing time to fulfill His perfect plan for your life, building character in you and through you, shaping you through your hardships.  Trust in Him. 

I’m gonna trust in God

I’m gonna trust in Jesus

Without shame and without fear

I’m gonna fix my eyes

On the hope of glory

For His day is drawing near

(And) when the cares of life

Seem overwhelming

And my heart is sinking down

I’m gonna lift my hands

To the One who’ll help me

To the One who holds my crown

Keep talking to God; keep trusting in God. 

Jesus is saying, “I’m telling you all this now so that when the going gets tough, you will hang in there and trust in Me and keep going and not fall apart.”

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 17:20-27 – Kingdom of God – Have Your Surrendered . . . Are You In The Kingdom?

Grace For The Journey

When you look at the first word of our text this morning as we pick up where we left off in chapter 17 and verse 20 you read that Jesus was asked “when the kingdom of God would come.”  We are going to be studying about that this morning.  We are in the Gospel of Luke, and we left off last time in chapter 17 at verse 19 so we will pick up this morning at verse 20 and go to the end of the chapter.   

God created man with an inherent sense that this world is not all there is.  This sense is intrinsically interwoven into our psyche.  The only creation of God created in His image, man is reflective, contemplative, and deeply spiritual.  We just have this sense that there is something bigger than our day-to-day lives.  We feel sure Shakespeare’s Macbeth wrongly concludes that life is nothing more than a “walking shadow” … “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  We feel sure there must be more here, that there is a purposeful future, and real meaning beyond this existence.  We want to know what the future holds.

This question was on the minds of the Pharisees in verse 20 when they asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come.  Jesus’ extensive answer indicates that this question was also on the minds of the disciples, as I suspect it is a question that is on the minds of disciples today.  We want to know, “What does the future hold?  What is this business about the ‘kingdom of God?’  What’s up with that?”

This phrase, “kingdom of God” occurs 27 times in the Gospel of Luke.  Because it occurs that many times in the Gospel than we can safely assume that this “kingdom of God” is important to God and man.  But what is it?  What is the kingdom of God and why does it matter?

We have said before that it is helpful to think of the “kingdom of God” in two ways, as something that has happened and as something that will happen.  In one sense the kingdom of God is present and in another sense the kingdom of God is future.  In one sense the kingdom of God is “Now,” and in another sense the kingdom of God is “Not yet.”  In one sense the kingdom of God has already begun: it has been inaugurated, and in another sense the kingdom of God awaits fulfillment: when it will be consummated

As we look into this lengthy passage from verse 20 to the end of the chapter and we may arrange the material under two main headings.  We could arrange the material under the “now” and the “not yet.” 

I. The “Now” Of The Kingdom (20-21)

Verses 20 to 21 teach us about the first sense of the kingdom of God, the “now” sense of the kingdom and in doing so we will gain a better sense of exactly what the kingdom is.  In verses 20-21, the Bible says, “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation;’ nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’  For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”   

The first thing Jesus does in answering the question in verse 20 about when the kingdom will come is to say that you will not be able to predict its arrival beforehand.  This is the meaning behind “the kingdom of God does not come with observation” or as one translation has, “it cannot be detected by visible signs.”  To be sure, there are signs preceding the kingdom, but the point is that one will not be able to map it all out, to determine the exact moment of the kingdom’s arrival by use of maps, charts, and diagrams.

This, of course, does not stop man from trying to do so.  Hardly a length of time goes by before another someone claims to know the exact moment the kingdom of God will come or the exact moment that Jesus Christ will return.  Jesus warns against these kinds of conclusions.  He says in verse 21, “Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’”  Do not listen to these people!  Period.  Do not listen to them; do not buy their books; do not waste your life.

Jesus explains what is the kingdom of God.  He explains first that the kingdom of God has already arrived.  The kingdom of God is “now.”  The kingdom of God is present and spiritual.  This is the meaning behind the phrase in the last part of verse 21, “the kingdom of God is within you.”  The literal translation here is, “the kingdom of God is among you or in your midst.”  Here is the point . . .

Jesus is the King

God’s kingdom

Has already begun. 

The kingdom is now. 

Since the king is

Standing before you,

God’s reign has begun.

The kingdom is not just some future, faraway notion.  The kingdom is right now.  Our initial thoughts of a kingdom usually consist of something in space and time with geographical boundaries.  But . . .

The kingdom is first spiritual

Before it is geographical.

It is “now” and awaits the “not yet.”  In one sense it has already arrived.  It has been inaugurated in the person and work of Christ.

It harkens back to Luke 4, verse 21, where Jesus, having read from Isaiah in the synagogue says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled.”  What was the Scripture?  “To proclaim liberty to the captives, to give sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  In sum, “To inaugurate the kingdom of God.”  The kingdom has come in Christ and the kingdom will come in its fullness when Christ returns.

When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you entered into the kingdom of God.  You entered into His reign.  You understood that the King was standing in your midst, among you, and you received Him by faith into your life.  If you are a Christian, you are living in the “now” of the kingdom awaiting the “not yet” of the kingdom.  That is what verses 22 to the end of the chapter teaches us.  Verses 22, to the end of the chapter, deal with Christ’s Second Coming.  The Scriptures speak of two comings of Christ.  The Bible notes this in Hebrews 9:27-28, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin (that is, “not to deal with our sins”), for (ultimate) salvation.”

The writer of Hebrews is talking about the consummation of the kingdom of God.  If the “now” of the kingdom is “present and spiritual,” the “not yet” of the kingdom is “future and glorious.”  We await this future, glorious aspect of the kingdom of God – the consummation of the kingdom when Christ returns and rights all the wrongs, judges the wicked, and establishes His universal reign on earth; wars will cease … man will experience real peace … pain will pass away; night is turned to day.  This world is not all there is!  Christ will come again and fix everything and it will be a glorious time. 

This is what Jesus talks about in verses 22 and following.  The teach us about three aspects of His Second Coming . . . 

1. It Will Be Universally Visible.

The Bible tells us in verse 22, “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.’”  That is, “You disciples will no longer be here when I return,” or, “My second coming will not happen in your lifetime.”  That is the idea.  Verse 23 says, “And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them.  Do not listen to these guys who tell you they have got it all figured out.  Do not go after them or follow them.”

Never forget how many people totally missed Christ’s first coming!  The Jews had the Scriptures and totally missed it.  This calls for deep humility regarding our prognostications, our careful mapping out of all the events of the second coming.  Verse 24 says, “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.”  Christ’s coming will be universally visible.  As lighting flashes from one part of the sky to the other part of the sky and all may see it, so will Christ’s return be as visible to all on earth.  They all will see His coming.

God will work out the physics of this.  Some wonder how He can come to one part of the world in such a way that His coming is visible on the other side of the world.  We can safely assume the Grand Physicist will work out the physics of His coming.  After all, He created everything, all matter, and knows how to manipulate natural phenomena for His glory.

The point is that Christ’s Second Coming will not be secretive, it will be observed by everyone.  It will be very public, very evident to all.  Notice a qualifier in verse 25, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”  Which is to say, the Second Coming will come sometime after Christ’s work of redemption on Calvary’s cross.  This is Christ’s immediate concern.  His first coming is about suffering and death.  He said in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man has come” … “To give His life as a ransom for many.”  He came to suffer and die.

The Bible tells us in Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” 

The first coming is about bearing the cross and

The second coming is about wearing the crown:.

Christ’s Second Coming will be universally visible.  All will see it.  Secondly . . .

2. It Will Occur Suddenly And Unexpectedly.

Jesus says in verses 26 and 27, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”  The point here is that Christ’s coming will occur suddenly and unexpectedly.   Many people will be surprised and unprepared.  People will be living their lives, living as though they would live forever.  The verbs at the beginning of verse 27 are all in the imperfect tense meaning uncompleted action; things will be continuing on without end, people are eating, drinking, marrying; it is business as usual.  They lived as though judgment would never come. 

Verses 28 through 30 tells us further, “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”  Here is the point . . .

Just as people in Noah’s day

And people in Lot’s day were

Just going on about their lives,

Eating, drinking, buying, selling,

Planting, building, so it is in our day

And so it is when Christ returns.

People live as though they are just going to get up again tomorrow and do the same thing they did yesterday.  They just go on about their lives as though judgment will never come – –eating, drinking, buying, selling, working, playing, watching TV, going to games, pursuing the degree.  Christ’s return will be sudden and unexpected.  It will catch people by surprise. 

Verse 31 states, “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away.  And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.”  New Testament scholar Robert Stein notes: “The picture is a well-known image of war describing the swiftness of an approaching enemy army, which does not permit time to prepare.  One can only flee.”  Christ’s return will be sudden and unexpected.  There will be no time to prepare.  He will be here, and it will be too late to do anything.

These verses also indicate that one of the reasons many will be unprepared for Christ’s return is because of their preoccupation with material things.  Many are more concerned with “goods in the house” or the “eating” and “drinking” and “buying” and “selling.”  Many are more concerned with “stuff” than are concerned with their own “souls.” 

Jesus says in verse 32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”  Here is a picture of a woman unprepared for judgment.  Judgment came to Lot’s wife suddenly and unexpectedly.  What happened to Lot’s wife?  She was turned into a pillar of salt.  Why?  Because she looked back.  Lot and his family were instructed to flee from the land of Sodom and Gomorrah because judgment was coming.  So severe would be this judgment that to look back would cause them to be pulled into that judgment.  Lot’s wife looked back.  Why?  Because her heart was bound up in the things of the world.  She was running on the outside, but staying on the inside.  She looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. 

Verse 33 tells us, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”  If we had more time, we would reflect on the fact that Jesus mentions here in this passage the historical persons Noah, Lot, and Lot’s wife.  He refers to them as real, historical people.  He refers to Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt without once calling into question the truthfulness of the account.  Our Lord believed in these Old Testament histories, never once questioning their authenticity.  If this is the view of Scripture held by our Lord it should be our view as well.  These things really happened.

We have said that Christ’s return and the coming kingdom will be 1) universally visible and 2) will occur suddenly and unexpectedly.  Thirdly . . . 

3. It Will Result In Separation.

Verse 34 says, “I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.”  The word “men” is not in the original and the idea seems to be two people from the same family, a married couple, for example.  There will be two people sleeping in bed and when Christ returns one will be taken and the other left. 

The idea is that one is

Taken away from judgment

And one is left for judgment. 

One is spared the judgment,

One will face the judgment.

This verse does not teach that people will “disappear.”  That is not the idea here.  The point is simply that Christ’s return brings separation between the saved and the lost.   The same point is made in verse 35, “Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.”  The point is that when the kingdom comes in its fullness, when Christ returns, His coming will result in separation, separation between believers and unbelievers, even in families and among coworkers.  The wheat and tares are separated from one another, the good fish and the bad fish separated, the sheep and the goats.  Verses 36 and 37 convey the same sense.

Husbands, you cannot get into heaven on the back of your wife’s faith.  Wives, you cannot be saved simply because your husband is saved.  Two are in one bed, one is taken and the other left.  You cannot get to heaven on the faith of a family member, the faith of a mother, a father, a coworker, or a friend.  You must yourself believe and be saved in order to be taken from judgment when the kingdom comes.

The real question is, “Where will this judgment take place?”  Our Lord does not say exactly where the judgment will take place.  He may simply mean, “Wherever there are dead bodies (spiritually dead), there will be judgment.”  The tone of these verses are that It will be clear to all that Christ has come, so clear that no one will need to ask, “Where?”

So . . . What Are We To Do?

1) We Must Prepare Ourselves.

Are you ready for judgment?  Are you ready for Christ’s second coming?  Or will you be among the many who are caught by surprise; Christ’s coming will be sudden and unexpected.  Prepare yourself. 

2) We Must Prepare Others.

It is a frightful thing to think of the way Christ’s coming will result in separation of families.   Is everyone in your household saved?  What of your friends and coworkers?  Do you talk about things that really matter?  Are you preparing others for the judgment to come?

The kingdom of God is still “among us.”  Are you in the kingdom?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 17:11-19 – Where True Faith Leads

Grace For The Journey

If we were going to make a video of this passage, the hymn, “Give Thanks With a A Grateful Heart” could be the theme song and musical score playing in the background of verses 11-19.  The passage tells us of ten lepers here who are all healed by Jesus Christ and only one of the ten returns to “Give thanks with a grateful heart.”  What does God want to show us from this passage?

Let’s take a walk back through this passage of Scripture and see what God wants to show us in this passage.  The greater context of these nine verses reaches back eight chapters ago to Luke, chapter 9 where Luke writes in Luke 9, verse 51, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  Jesus sets out – resolutely – for Jerusalem.  Why?  To die, and He says so again in Luke 13, verse 33, “Go tell that fox, Herod, I am on my way to Jerusalem, “for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”

That is why we read in the first part of verse 11, “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem.”  Jesus is on a mission to go to Jerusalem to die for our sins.  He is on a mission to save us from the penalty we deserve.  The Bible condemns every man guilty of sin and deserving of punishment for our sin.  Jesus takes the punishment we deserved upon Himself.  He dies in our place.  God charges Jesus with our sin and God credits us with Christ’s righteousness.

This phrase at the beginning of verse 11, “Now it happened as went to Jerusalem,” is not just a nice little way Luke thought he would begin a story about gratitude . . .

It is a reminder that God has visited us in

The person of Christ for the purpose of dying

And taking care of our sin problem.

This is the greater context of our passage and extremely important to us if we are going to see that this passage is more than a short story about being thankful. 

Verses11 and 12 tell us, “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.”  Most of you know why they “stood afar off.”  In fact, verse 12 says this all happened, “AS He entered a certain village.”  Jesus is not IN the village, it is AS He entered a certain village or AS HE WAS ENTERING a certain village.  These lepers were not allowed IN the village.  Lepers were expelled from the community.

If you have never heard that term “leper” before, just know that this was someone who had a terrible skin disease.  Lepers were expelled from the community and from local worship because they were considered “unclean” according to Jewish Law and custom.  These two passages, Leviticus 13:38-46 and Numbers 5:2-4, tell how Old Testament priests could determine whether someone had leprosy by looking at his skin and then pronounce the guy leprous if he was found to have leprosy.  Leviticus 13 and beginning in verse 44 says, “He is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean…Now the leper(‘s)…clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’…He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”  These were outside of the camp or outside of the village because if anyone should accidentally come into contact with one of these lepers then they too would be considered unclean.  The only way a leper could gain re-entry to the village was to be pronounced “clean” by a Jewish priest. The priest would examine him and make sure the leprosy or skin disease was in fact gone and if so, the priest would declare the guy clean and he was able to go back to his family, go back to work, go back to worship, and so forth.  That is the background of why these 10 lepers are standing off to the side just outside the entry point of the village Jesus was entering. 

Verse 13 tells us that from a distance they cry out to Jesus, “And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  They are wanting Jesus to heal them.  It is interesting that apparently word had gotten out about Jesus.  These 10 lepers had heard about Jesus’ healing folks who were sick.  Maybe they had heard about the guy back in Luke 5 when Jesus had entered a certain city and this guy “full of leprosy” saw Jesus and fell before Him and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Jesus put out HIs hand and touched him and said, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  I am sure they had heard how “immediately the leprosy left him.” (Luke 5:12-14).  In fact, the Bible says that right after that happened, “the report went around concerning Him all the more.” (Luke 15:15).

These 10 lepers likely had heard a great deal about Jesus’ ability to heal and they are crying out for help!  What is Jesus going to do?  Verse 14 says, “So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’  And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.”   Now this is awesome.  When Jesus saw them, He does not do like he had done back in chapter 5.  He does not reach out and touch the lepers here; Here He heals from a distance!  He simply calls out to them in verse 14, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  In other words, “You guys go and see the priest who will determine whether you are fit to re-enter society.  Just go ahead and go,” and it’s AS THEY WENT, “they were cleansed.”  The healing came as they went, as they obeyed, the Lord Jesus.  It is reminiscent of2 Kings 5:10-14 where Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman of Syria to go wash in the Jordan River seven times and he would be cleansed of his leprosy.  “Obey Me; trust Me.”

These guys are on their way to see the priest and AS they are on the way, they are like, “Hey, check me out! My fingers aren’t falling off, my skin is normal!”  Like Elisha’s God in 2 Kings, Jesus heals at a distance.  Or Luke may put it this way, “The God of 2 Kings is the God of Luke 17.”  Do not miss the weighty Christological emphasis here.  Never forget Luke set out to write his Gospel as he tells Theophilus in his introduction, in the prologue in Luke 1:1-5, “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed,” those things concerning Jesus ChristThis is not wishful thinking, Theophilus.  Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  He does what no earthly priest can do.  He heals from a distance.”

There were ten lepers healed, but verse 15 tells us, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God.”  I love this!  Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest, the one who was thought of as the “go-between” for men and God.  They are to go to the priest and this one guy when he sees that he is healed it seems he recognizes WHO the True Priest really is!  This one leper returns to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible says, “with a loud voice glorified God.”  The Greek for “loud voice” is from the word from which we get “phone” and “mega.”  From these words we get the word, “megaphone.”  Luke wants us to know that this leper was not quiet about giving thanks!  He shouted out his gratitude the way we would amplify it with a megaphone today! 

As the leper glorified God, verse 16 says he, “… fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.”  Note that this leper – when he saw he was healed – verses 15 and 16 say he did four things – he returned, he glorified, he fell down, and he gave thanks.

The Samaritan fell on his face at the feet of Jesus.  This is gratitude, praise, and worship directed at Jesus.  How would you feel if someone bowed down to you and worshiped you?  You’d feel funny.  Why?  Because you’re not God.  Why does the leper throw himself down at Jesus’ feet and worship Him?  Because He believes Jesus is worthy of worship.  Why does Jesus NOT rebuke the leper for worshiping a man?  Because Jesus is more than a man.  He is God. 

Verses 17 and 18 tell us, “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’”  Three questions Jesus asks here in verses 17 and 18: “Were not 10 cleansed?  Where are the others; the other nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner–this Samaritan?”  Apparently the other nine lepers were Jews and here is a leper who is a Samaritan.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews and Samaritans did not get along?  Jews had no dealings with Samaritans (John 4:9)?  Jews and Samaritans hated one another.  They avoided one another.  But here you have these Jews and a Samaritan hanging out with one another.  Why?  Because when you have a shared hardship and a shared suffering, the things that once seemed so important are no longer important.  Class distinction does not seem to matter anymore; tradition does not matter; race does not matter; wealth does not matter; popularity does not matter.  Everyone is in the same boat now.  By the way, this is a beautiful picture of the church!  Through Christ Jesus there is no longer a distinction between Jew and non-Jew, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, American and non-American.  All are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

Jesus EXPECTED all ten to return.  He had told all ten to show themselves to the priest, but the text makes clear here that Jesus expected every single one of them to come back.  All people are to be grateful for what God has done. 

  • Too many people are like the nine.  The nine were healed and then rushed to the priest to get reinstated to society, to go back to hanging out with their friends, and get back to their old way of life. 
  • Too many today are like the nine, “God, get me out of this fix so I can get back to my life.” 
  • Too many are like the nine; like the rich man in the previous chapter, living for this world only. 

To the Samaritan, there is something much more important than time, toys, and treasures. There is something bigger going on here, and His name is Jesus! 

Nothing is more important

Than worshiping Jesus Christ.

The leper returns to give glory to God at the feet of Jesus.  He sees something the other lepers do not see.  Verse 19 says, “And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’”  Literally, the Greek has, “Your faith has SAVED you.”  In other words, “I healed you of your leprosy, but because you see something the others do not see, because you see Me as someone ‘worthy of worship, worthy of praise, worthy of honor and glory,’ because you see something bigger going on here, it’s clear you are  a believer.  Your faith has saved you.”  You have experienced not only a healing of the BODY; you have experienced a healing of the SOUL.”

Some people get close to Jesus, but do not experience ultimate salvation.  The nine lepers got close to Jesus, they even experienced spiritual blessings that come as a result of God’s common grace – they were healed!  But you can be healed of leprosy and still go to hell.  The nine did not experience ultimate healing-spiritual healing, the healing of the soul.  This leper experienced both physical and spiritual healing.

As we close out study today, I want to give you two main principles and two main questions. 

First principle . . .

I. True Faith Leads To Gratitude.

One cannot be truly grateful to God apart from saving faith.  This leper had a faith in the One True God and he came and fell down at the feet of Jesus.  He was grateful because he possessed true faith.  The reason some people go throughout life ungrateful to God is because they have no faith.  They do not believe.  The Bible speaks about this in Romans 1.  This is our default position in life.  We are born sinners, sinners by nature and sinners by choice.  Of those who have not yet experienced saving faith in Christ, the Bible says in Romans 1:12, “Although they knew God (they knew “about” Him) they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful.”  Gratitude to God does not come apart from saving faith in Christ.

The reason some people go through life neither glorifying God nor thanking God, the reason some people go throughout their lives ungrateful to God, is because they have no faith.  They are not true believers.  True faith leads to gratitude. 

Principle number two . . .

II. Gratitude Leads To Glorifying God.

This leper knew God.  This leper knew that nothing was more important than glorifying God, thanking God, and spending time at the feet of Jesus Christ.  So here are two questions to leave you with. 

Number one, ask yourself . . .

1) Am I Truly Grateful For What God Has Done?

Do you thank God for your physical well-being?  Do you thank Him every day for your spiritual well-being?  Do you realize how much God has done for you?

  • Did the sun come up this morning?
  • Were you able to get out of bed?
  • Are you breathing on your own?
  • Does your heart beat work?
  • Are you able to hear, see, touch, smell?
  • Do you know the beauty of color and the brilliance of light?
  • Can you feel the warmth of another human being you are able to embrace?
  • Can you feel inside yourself love, joy, happiness, and peace?

 Then thank God for what the Lord has done!

Second question . . .

2) How Do I Regularly Show My Gratitude?

In other words, “Is it really clear and plain to everyone that I am a grateful person?”  What is my conversation like?  When people ask you how you doing or how it is going, how do you respond?  How do I regularly show my gratitude through my conversation and through my worship?  Am I truly grateful for what God has done and how do I show it?

Gratitude cannot come apart from faith.  Gratitude springs from faith.  Let me share this with you and we’ll close in prayer.  Many of you are familiar with Matthew Henry, the great puritan of an earlier generation.  Many of you have the Matthew Henry commentary set.  Matthew Henry was once robbed by a couple men while walking down the street.  He writes of his grateful response to God following his robbery.  Here is what he prayed: “I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my (wallet) they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.”

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.”