Sermons on Luke-Lowell Johnson

Luke Sermons
byLowell Johnson

118 Sermons Began 2014 Includes the Cross Examination Series

These sermons that make a great starting point for preaching or teaching Luke and are all on one page.

  1. An Introduction to the Gospel of Luke Luke 1:1-4
  2. The Annunciation of John the Baptist Luke 1:5-25
  3. The Arrival of John the Baptist Luke 1:57-66,76-77,80
  4. Gabriel's Conversation with Mary Luke 1:26-38
  5. Marveling at Bethlehem Luke 2:1-20
  6. A Heavenly Birth Announcement Luke 2:1-20
  7. Simeon: The Man Who Died Satisfied Luke 2:21-35
  8. Journey Without Jesus Luke 2:41-52
  9. John the Baptist: The Man, His Mission, and His Message Luke 3:1-20
  10. The Baptism of Jesus Luke 3:21-22
  11. Overcoming Temptation Luke 4:1-13
  12. Homecoming at Jesus' Church Job Description of Messiah Luke 4:14-30
  13. The Great Physician Is In Luke 4:31-44
  14. Fishing With Jesus Luke 5:1-11
  15. “Lord, If You Want To, You Can …” Luke 5:12-16
  16. The Forgiveness of Sin Luke 5:17-26
  17. Matthew's Salvation Party Luke 5:27-32
  18. New Wineskins Luke 5:33-39
  19. Lord of the Sabbath Luke 6:1-11
  20. The Selection of the Twelve Apostles Luke 6:12-19
  21. Jesus' Plain Sermon Luke 6:20-26
  22. The Most Difficult Command God Ever Gave Us Luke 6:27-36
  23. The Golden Rule Luke 6:31
  24. Are You a Faultfinder? Luke 6:37
  25. The Humor of Jesus Luke 6:39-49
  26. Amazing Faith Luke 7:1-10
  27. The Drier of All Tears Luke 7:11-17
  28. The Forgotten Beatitude Luke 7:18-23
  29. A Tribute to John the Baptist Luke 7:24-30
  30. O, How I Love Jesus Luke 7:36-50
  31. How to Cultivate a Teachable Heart Luke 8:1-15
  32. Faith in the Midst of the Storm Luke 8:22-25
  33. Jesus and the Wild Man Luke 8:26-40
  34. She Touched Me! Luke 8:41-48
  35. When They Laughed at Jesus Luke 8:41-42,49-56
  36. On Mission For the Master Luke 9:1-11
  37. Jesus On the Mountain Luke 9:27-36
  38. Jesus In the Valley Luke 9:37-42
  39. What I've Learned Walking with Jesus Luke 9:43-62
  40. America Makes Sodom Look Good Luke 10:1-24
  41. And Like A Good Neighbor Luke 10:25-37
  42. A Tale of Two Sisters Luke 10:38-42
  43. Lord, Teach Us To Pray Luke 11:1-4
  44. Don't Stop Praying Luke 11:5-13
  45. A House Divided Luke 11:14-26
  46. Jesus: The Greater Luke 11:29-32
  47. This Little Light of Mine Luke 11:33-36;Matt.5:14-16
  48. Religion or Relationship Luke 11:37-54
  49. Warning Signs on the Road to Hell Luke 12:1-12
  50. The Biography of a Fool Luke 12:13-21
  51. First Things First Luke 12:22-34
  52. Ready or Not – He's Coming Luke 12:35-40
  53. What God Requires of You Luke 12:41-48
  54. Unless You Repent Luke 13:1-9
  55. ”Loosed”Luke 13:10-17
  56. ”What Is the Kingdom of God Like?” Luke 13:19-21
  57. Are There Few That Be Saved? Luke 13:22-30
  58. Have a Slice of Humble Pie Luke 14:1-4
  59. Excuse Me Luke 14:15-24
  60. The Cost of Discipleship Luke 14:25-35
  61. The Lost Sheep: A Parable of Salvation Luke 15:1-7
  62. The Lost Silver: A Parable of Celebration Luke 15:8-10
  63. The Lost Son: A Parable of Restoration Luke 15:11-24
  64. The Prodigal Father Luke 15:11-24
  65. A Loving Father Luke 15:11-12,25-32
  66. The Lost Sibling: The Other Prodigal Luke 15:25-32
  67. When the World Outsmarts the Church Luke 16:1-13
  68. The Place Called Hell Luke 16:19-31
  69. Causing Others to Sin Luke 17:1-2
  70. Forever Forgiving Luke 17:3-4
  71. Mountain Moving Faith Luke 17:5-6
  72. Servant-hood Luke 17:7-10
  73. Servant-hood Amplified Luke 17:1-10
  74. An Attitude of Gratitude Luke 17:11-19
  75. The Present and Future Kingdom Luke 17:20-37
  76. Pray Until Something Happens Luke 18:1-8
  77. The Man Who Stopped by Church On His Way to Hell Luke 18:9-14
  78. Jesus Loves the Little Children Luke 18:15-17
  79. Who Then Can Be Saved Luke 18:18-30
  80. The Road to the Cross Luke 18:31-34
  81. What the Blind Man Saw Before He Could See Luke 18:35-43
  82. A Little Man Who Did a Big Thing Luke 19:1-10
  83. The Parable of the Pounds Luke 19:11-27
  84. When Cheers Turn to Tears Luke 19:28-44
  85. Cleansing the Temple Luke 19:45-48
  86. Questioning the Authority of Jesus Luke 20:1-8
  87. Caesar's or God's Luke 20:20-26
  88. One Bride With Seven Husbands Luke 20:27-40
  89. The Widow's Mites Luke 21:1-4
  90. What's Coming Before Jesus Comes Again? Luke 21:5-36
  91. The Signs Jesus Gave Concerning His Return Luke 21:6-28
  92. Israel: God's Miracle Nation Luke 21:29-33
  93. Be Patient Luke 21:19,34-36
  94. The Conspiracy of Judas Luke 22:1-6
  95. Come to the Table Luke 22:7-20
  96. The Traitor's Hand Luke 22:21-23
  97. The Conversion of the Converted Luke 22:31-34
  98. Gethsemane Luke 22:39-46
  99. Sour Kisses and Silly Swords Luke 22:47-53
  100. Simon Peter's Darkest Hour Luke 22:31-34,54-62
  101. Jesus before Pilate Luke 23:1 – 7
  102. Christ Before Herod Luke 23:8 – 12
  103. Christ Before Pilate Again Luke 23:13 – 25
  104. Bearing His Cross Luke 23:26
  105. A Sermon on the Way to the Cross Luke 23:27-31
  106. The Malefactors Luke 23:32,39 – 43
  107. There They Crucified Him Luke 23:33
  108. Jesus' Dying Plea Luke 23:34
  109. Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross Luke 23:34b – 37
  110. The King of the Jews Luke 23:38
  111. Holy Spirit Conviction Luke 23:39 – 42
  112. Paradise Luke 23:43
  113. Midnight at Noonday Luke 23:44 – 45
  114. The Rent Veil Luke 23:45
  115. Father, Into Thy Hands Luke 23:46
  116. The Man Who Preached Christ's Funeral Luke 23:47 – 49
  117. And He Was Buried Luke 23:50 – 56
  118. Good News! Christ Jesus Is Alive! Luke 23:55 – 24:17

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL OF LUKE Luke 1:1-4

God has given us four Gospels that covers the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. Each Gospel writer shows us a different side or angle of the Lord Jesus.

It is like someone taking your picture. If one picture was of your face (straight on), another from your back, another from your left side, and another from your right side, you would get a fuller view than if you only had one view.

The same is true of the four Gospels. With four Gospels, we have a better view of the Lord Jesus.

• Matthew presents Jesus as the King of the Jews and writes primarily to the Jews. He was an eyewitness of what he wrote.

• Mark presents Jesus as the Suffering Servant and writes primarily to the Romans. He got much of his information from Simon Peter.

• John presents Jesus as the Son of God and writes to Every man. He, too, was an eyewitness to what he wrote.

• Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man and writes primarily to the Gentiles. He gets much of his information from Paul.

I. Luke, The Author

A. Luke: An Author

Luke is the only Gentile who wrote books in the Bible. He wrote two volumes: the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts.

If you take Luke and Acts together, you discover that Luke wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, even Paul.

Notice Acts 1:1-3. In the Gospel of Luke, Luke wrote of things “that Jesus Began both to do and teach.” Then, in writing the Book of Acts, Luke tells us of the Progress of the Gospel through two main servants: Peter and Paul.

No where do you find Luke's name in the Gospel of Luke, but his name does appear in three of Paul's writings:


– Colossians 4:14 – Paul writes, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.”

– Philemon 24 – Paul refers to Luke as “my fellow laborer.”

– 2 Timothy 4:11 – “Only Luke is with” Paul just before he is put to death.

He was a faithful friend.

Luke is also seen with Paul in the “we” sections in the Book of Acts on Paul's second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-21; Acts 27:1-28; 16).

Luke may very well have been the man that Paul saw in a night vision saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help US … WE endeavored to go to Macedonia … the Lord had called US for to preach the Gospel to them” (Acts 15:9-10).

B. Luke: The Scholar

Luke was a man of great learning. The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts is written in the most classical Greek. It may have been Paul who led Luke to faith in Christ.

He was a man of education, breeding, and unusual talent.

C. Luke: The Physician

Luke was a medical doctor and he was called “the beloved physician,” not because he excelled in the healing arts, but rather because he was a lover of people and his desire was to the service to others.

It seems that Luke was funded, not by his medical practice, for he was devoted to Paul and could not practice in one place, but by Theophilus.

Luke became Paul's personal physician. Paul was not a physically strong man. He had problems with his eyes, and stomach. He also had a thorn in the flesh, whatever that was.

Paul was not physically strong – and yet, we see him crossing the mountain ranges, thrown in prison after prison, beaten with rods, whipped with the whip, stoned with stones, so there were many, many times when Paul needed the care of a physician.

Luke spent his life taking care of the man of God. More than likely Paul would have died years earlier had it not been for the personal care that was given to him by Dr. Luke.

But as Luke ministered to Paul's physical body, Paul was ministering to the spiritual needs of Luke.

D. Luke: The Historian

Luke strived for one thing in his writings: Accuracy.

1. He set out to write In Order the truths of Christ. That is, he wanted to give a chronological study of the life and times of Jesus (Luke 1:1). It is a systematic arrangement.

2. He interviewed as many eyewitnesses as he could find (Luke 1:2). The word “eyewitness” literally means “an autopsy.” What does it mean when someone does an autopsy on a body?
It means that someone is going to go in and look for himself. He is not going to just take someone else's word for it. He is going to dissect the body, look into the organs, the tissues, the bones, and see for themselves what caused that person's death.

Luke did extensive, through research. He carefully investigated everything from the beginning. He spent time tracking down each detail. He crossed all his “t's” and dotted his “i's”, down to the smallest detail.

3. Then he used the writings of other people.

4. Finally, he relied on the Holy Spirit to guide him.

E. Luke: The Musician

Luke's Gospel is a singing Gospel. It resounds with praise. In the first two chapters of Luke that deal with John the Baptist and Jesus, we find the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32), and the Gloria (Luke 2:14).

The word “Rejoice” is found in Luke more than in any other book in the New Testament.

II. Luke's Appeal

Luke includes stories and truths that appeal to the underdog.

He delights to mention:

1. Individuals

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Martha, Zacchaeus, Cleopas, the woman who anointed Jesus' feet.

2. Women

The first century neglected woman, but we hear more names of women in Luke's Gospel than in any other Gospel. Mary, Anna, Joanna, Susanna, the widow of Nain, the widow who gave her all, her mite.

3. Babies and children

Luke give us the stories of the infancy of John the Baptist and Jesus.

4. The Poor

Shepherds, Jesus blessing the poor, he warns about the danger of riches. Also, the parables: the rich fool, the unjust steward, the rich young ruler, the widow's mite.

Luke was a tender doctor of souls.

Theophilus was the name a Gentile nobleman chose for himself at his conversion to Christianity. The name means “lover of God.”

“Most excellent” indicates a Roman official. The term is used also of Felix and Festus (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3).

The term “most excellent” is dropped in Acts 1:1, indicating he may have lost his official position when he became a Christian.

THE ANNUNCIATION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST Luke 1:5-25

The Annunciation of John the Baptist is really just a scriptural way of saying that the birth of John the Baptist was announced to an old man named Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth.

Only Luke records the Announcement of John the Baptist's birth and, although Luke is the only writer of the Gospels to give us this record, this passage is largely ignored, but it is very important.

Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law.” That verse means that in God's timetable, when the exact religious, cultural, and political conditions demanded by His perfect plan were in place, Jesus came into the world.

Since the timing had to be just right for God's Son to be born on this earth, that means that the timing
for our Lord's forerunner had to be just right as well.

God had not spoken to Israel for four hundred years through a prophet. The last thing God had said to man was found in the last chapter of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi 4:5-6: God said, “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a cure.”

That's the way God closed the Old Testament. The Old Testament closed with God saying, “Somebody is coming.” But this is not anything new for the Old Testament because all through the Old Testament God had been telling His people, “Somebody is coming.” But that “Somebody” was the Messiah, and this “somebody” is going to be Elijah, the forerunner of the Messiah, the one who is going to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

So, as a result, the children of Israel were looking for two outstanding personalities. They were looking first for that one who would come in the spirit of Elijah and the one who would be like Elijah, but not Elijah himself. That one who would be the forerunner was John the Baptist.

Three things I would point out to you.

I. The Conditions

The political conditions were corrupt, the moral and emotional conditions were dark, and the spiritual condition was at an all-time low.

In Luke 1:5 Luke mentions two men who were complete opposites: Herod, the king of Judea, and a certain priest named Zacharias.


Herod was a monster of Iniquity; Zacharias was a man of Integrity.
Herod was a Vicious prince; Zacharias was a Virtuous priest.
Herod hated God; Zacharias loved God.

Herod was a moral cesspool. He was terribly brutal and bloody. He didn't hesitate to kill whenever it served his purpose. He killed his competitors. He killed his enemies. He killed a number of wealthy Jews and confiscated their wealth for his own coffers. He had nine wives, but if any of his wives got in his way or threatened his rule, they and their relatives were executed. A popular saying of the day was that it was safer to be Herod's pig than his son.

He killed through stabbing, forced drowning, strangulation, poisoning and other violent means. His most famous brutal act is recorded in Scripture. This act was his ordering the killing of all the children two years and under in Bethlehem after the wise men had visited the Christ Child (Matthew 2:16-18).

What the Jews hated most about Herod was the fact that he was an Edomite and he set on the throne of a Jewish nation. Few things were more repugnant and disgraceful to the nation of Israel as to be ruled by an Edomite. It was all contrary to the Word of God. It was a reverse of the plan of God. Jacob should rule, not Esau. But Israel had forsaken God, and this was part of their judgment.

It was one of Herod's sons, Herod Antipas, that ordered the beheading of John the Baptist some years later.


II. The Choice Luke 1:5-17


In the midst of all the darkness and corruption of that day, there were two radiant lights. God always has a remnant. No matter how dark it becomes, no matter how ungodly it becomes, no matter how wicked people become, God always has His people who really love Him. Two of these were a priest named Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. Both of them were descendants of Aaron. To be, not only a priest, but also married to the daughter of a priest was considered a great honor.

In Verse 6 Luke tells us that “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances blameless.” Both were old and lived a peaceable and quiet life.

Among the Jews, “the commencement of old age” occurred when a person became 65.

At 70, he was said to have reached “hoary” or gray-headed age.”

After 80, he was said to be “well strickened in age” or “well advanced in age.”

Note Luke 1:7. The one thing that saddened this godly old couple was that they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, she could have no children.

They had loved the Lord and served the Lord and prayed for a child – both of them. Not having children doesn't mean a lot in our culture. If a woman can't have children or chooses not to have
children, that's okay. But in the day of the Bible, if a Jewish woman couldn't have children, everyone thought it was a sign of God's curse on her life; maybe she was a great sinner and God was punishing her. But Elizabeth knew better than that and so did Zacharias. Many women prayed that they would be chosen of God to be the mother of the Messiah. That's why both Elizabeth and Zacharias both prayed, “God, give us a son.” Although they remembered Abraham and Sarah, and Manoah and his wife (Samson's mother), and Hannah (Samuel's mother), they knew it would take a miracle of God.

In King David's day there were so many priests in Israel that in I Chronicles 24, David divided the priests into twenty-four groups. By the time of Jesus, there were more than 24,000 priests. Many never got to serve in the Temple and those who did only served eight days, from Sabbath to Sabbath.

Most of the priests served out in the courts. Only a very few got to go inside the Temple itself. They cast lots to see who would minister inside the Temple and Verse 9 says the lot fell on Zacharias. It was a once in a lifetime honor. Zacharias would bring a prayer for the people and a prayer for himself. While Zacharias was praying on the inside while burning incense before the Lord, the people were praying on the outside.

As the old priest stood beside the golden altar, suddenly, an angel was standing on the other side of the altar with a message from God. The angel spoke: “Fear not.” (He was looking into the face of an angel. Of course, he was afraid. Was the angel there to deliver a judgment or a blessing?)

The angel said, “Your prayer is answered.” Which prayer? The prayer for the nation or his personal prayer? Both of them.

“You and your wife are going to experience the miracle of rejuvenated bodies and you're going to produce a son and his name will be John. He will bring great joy to you both as well as to many people. From the point of conception, he will be full of the Holy Spirit. He will be the Elijah who is to come. He will prepare the way for the coming Messiah.”

All seems to be well until we come to Verse 18.

III. The Calamity Luke 1:18-25

The old priest is dumbfounded by both the messenger and the message. Finally, he speaks, “How shall I know this (is true)?” “We are both old, my wife and I.” Literally, “Give me a sign that this is true.”

Now the angel was astonished. “I am Gabriel that stands in the presence of God. No one has ever doubted my word before. You want a sign, do you? Well, a sign you shall have. Because of your unbelief, you will be dumb (mute) – unable to speak – until your son is born.”

Meanwhile the worshipers waiting outside grew uneasy at the delay. How long does it take to sprinkle a handful of incense on the altar?

Suddenly, Zacharias appeared. Now he must give the priestly benediction – Numbers 6:24-26. Instead of performing these normal functions, however, he stood before the people dumb and silent. Gradually, the crowd melted away, and the stricken Zacharias headed for home. When he arrived home, all he could do was scribble on a writing tablet the joyful news. Elizabeth totally secluded herself for five months. Somehow, Mary heard about Elizabeth's joyful news. Note Luke 1:36-47.

Zacharias' last words were words of doubt; his first words now were of delight. He had wanted a sign. Now, he wanted to sing!

THE ARRIVAL OF JOHN THE BAPTIST Luke 1:57-66, 76, 77, 80

When John the Baptist was born neighbors and relatives came from everywhere to see – not only John, but I think Elizabeth as well. It's not every day that an eighty-year-old woman gives birth to a bouncing baby boy! There was gladness, rejoicing, and celebration.

What an unusual birth this was.

1. John was a miracle baby. He was born to parents past the years of childbearing.

2. His birth took away a very bitter trial for his parents by removing the very painful reproach of barrenness.

3. His birth was preceded by some unusual experiences for his father. (Zacharias had seen a vision in the Temple and had suddenly been mute.)

4. In celebrating the birth of John at the time of his circumcision, some things occurred (the confirmation of the unexpected name for the child, the sudden healing of Zacharias' dumbness, and the prophecy Zacharias spoke with his restored tongue).

We will consider three things:

I. The Delivering of the Child Luke 1:57-58

Notice the phrase: “Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered.”

I think both Zacharias and Elizabeth wished for the days to pass more swiftly. But it was not rushed. Both Mom and Dad needed time to prepare to receive their blessing.

II. The Dispute About the Child Luke 1:59-67

A Jewish male was given his name eight days after his birth at the time of his circumcision. If the Jewish child was a female, they had up to thirty days to give her a name.

It was the Jewish custom to name the first son after the father. All the relatives were in agreement that he would be called Zacharias. When the people began calling him Zacharias, immediately Elizabeth “answered and said, not so; but he shall be called 'John'” (“God is gracious” or “Jehovah shows favor.”)

Elizabeth got the name “John” from the angel, Gabriel. Elizabeth's word was not good enough for the friends and relatives. So, they appealed to Zacharias about his name. Zacharias asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.”

The way Zacharias responded is significant. He said, “His name is John.” He did not say “his name shall be called John,” or “we have decided to call him John.” No, the name had already been settled. “His name IS John.” It was not open for discussion, for the name had already been chosen in Heaven.

III. The Declaration About the Child Luke 1:67-80

There are two songs of faith and praise in Luke 1. The first is the Song of Mary; the second, the
Prophetic Song of Zacharias concerning John.

A. The Song of Mary: Mary's Magnificat

Notice Luke 1:41-42. Notice that Elizabeth didn't say, “Blessed are you ABOVE women,” but “blessed are you AMONG women.”

In Luke 1:48 Mary confesses that she is a sinner like all of us and that she too is in need of a Savior. She knew that she needed divine grace.

B. The Song of Zacharias: The Benedictus Luke 1:67-80

You can almost see Zacharias stooped down to the cradle to raise the precious bundle in his arms as he speaks directly to the infant: Luke 1:76a. A prophet! Not a priest! Israel had too many priests. He was of the priestly line, but it had already been written in Heaven that he would be a prophet. John would be the forerunner of the Messiah. Isaiah 40:3-5. The nation of Israel was then plagued with the cold, dead formalism of the Pharisees, the skepticism of the Sadducees, the traditionalism of the rabbis, and the compromise of the Herodians. John had to cut through all of this distraction to reach the conscience of the nation.

His work would be – Luke 1:77, 79.

Luke 1:80 tells of John's development. John disappeared into the wilderness to receive his spiritual gifts in meditation, fasting, praying, waiting for the day of his showing to Israel.

He emerged with one rousing word that shaped his soul – Repent! With this battle cry on his lips, he launched his one-man crusade. “REPENT!”

GABRIEL'S CONVERSATION WITH MARY Luke 1:26-38

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Divine Son of God, is the most awesome, mysterious, and miraculous thing that has ever happened on earth.

Here's the question: How do you get God out of Heaven and on earth in the body of a man? God is omnipresent. That means that God is so great that He is present everywhere at all times. So, how do you get God Who is so great and contain Him into a 200 pound man? More than that, how do you get God embodied in a body?

Why did the Son of God have to come to earth in the form of a man in the first place? The Bible gives us three reasons:

1. Jesus was born on earth to reveal the God of Heaven to man.

If you want to know what God is like, you can find out by looking at Jesus. Jesus is God explaining Himself in a language that humans can understand.

2. The second reason for Jesus' birth on earth was that He might redeem mankind.

Galatians 4:4-5 says that “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law.”

3. The third reason for Jesus' birth was to ruin Satan.

First John 3:8 tells us that Jesus came “that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Then, Jesus came to this world as a baby that He might experience what it is like to be a man, but without a sinful nature.

Two men were sitting on the side of a swimming pool when they saw a black beetle in the water, desperately trying to get out of the water and on to solid ground. The two men watched the beetle struggle for a while and then one of the men said, “I wonder what that beetle feels like in his desperate attempt to get on solid ground. He must know he can only live so long unless he can get out of the water and on to solid land.”

The other man said, “The only way you will ever really know what that beetle is feeling is for you to become a beetle and find yourself in a similar situation.”

The Son of God knows what it's like to be a man, because he became one of us. He became like us so that we could become like Him!

Three things I want to share with you about Gabriel's conversation with Mary.

I. The Appearance of the Angel Luke 1:26-27

Six months after Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in Jerusalem to tell him that he and Elizabeth would be the parents of John the Baptist, Gabriel is once again summoned to the throne of God. This time he is to make his way to earth to talk to a teen-aged girl in Nazareth named Mary.

Don't miss the one fact we are told about Joseph in Luke's introductory account – he was a descendant of David.

We are also told something about Mary – twice: She is a Virgin, about fifteen or sixteen.

The Virgin Birth is a MUST for the Son of God to be born on earth so He can redeem man from his sins; and yet, it surprised me to learn how seldom the Bible really talks about it; and I'm really not sure why. It is sort of like the subject of the existence of God. The Bible doesn't try to prove that God
exists; it just states it as a matter of fact and assumes it true. That's the way with the Virgin Birth. There are really only three primary passages dealing with that in the Bible.

1. In Isaiah 7:14 we have a powerful prophecy about the coming Messiah: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. The virgin shall conceive and bear (give birth to) a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

These words were spoken seven hundred years before Christ was born.

2. Then in Matthew 1:20-24 we read: “But while he (Joseph) thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name, Immanuel, which is translated, God with us.'”

3. The third and final great passage on the Virgin Birth of Christ is in Luke 1:26-31.

There are four overwhelmingly important implications to this truth:

a. Jesus is Timeless.

That is, He existed before His birth. That can be said of no other person in human history. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I am … I have come down from Heaven” (John 8:58; John 6:58).
Micah 5:3; John 1:1-3, 14

b. Jesus is Peerless.

No other person in human history has entered the world in such a miraculous and mysterious way. This is a one-time miracle. It was the virgin conception that fused together humanity and deity, so that Jesus Christ could be called the God-man – both fully God and fully man.

c. Jesus is Sinless.

Jesus is the One and only person in human history who lived on earth and yet remained absolutely free from sin.

d. Jesus is Selfless.

God Himself became man, the God-man, in order to shed His blood and die on the cross, providing for man a basis for total forgiveness, total reconciliation with the Almighty, and total life both now and forever.

II. The Announcement of the Angel Luke 1:28-38a

Notice Luke 1:34 and 27.

The six words of Luke 1:37 is the declaration on which the Christian faith rest. It is an affirmation
of the omnipotence – the All-Powerfulness – of the Lord God Almighty. It is one of the most powerful sentences in the Bible.

Are you facing something that seems to have no solution? Let me give you some verses that will bolster and confirm the words of Luke 1:37.

• Isaiah 26:3-4: “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

• Genesis 18:14: Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

• 2 Chronicles 25:9: The Lord is able.”

• Jeremiah 32:17: Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”

• Jeremiah 32:27: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

• Mark 14:36: And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.'”

• Job 42:2: I know that You can do anything.”

• Luke 18:27: The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
13
• Mark 10:27: Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible.”

• Mark 9:23: Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who
believers.'”

• Matthew 17:20: “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.”

• Luke 1:37: For with God nothing is impossible.”

Notice Luke 1:28, 30-34:

• The KJV – “How shall this be?”
• The NKJV – “How can this be?”
• The English Standard Version – “How will this be?”

Mary was saying “I don't have any doubt God CAN do this, but I'd sure like to know a little more about HOW He is going to accomplish it.”

“How, Lord? How can I cooperate with You to see Your power released? How are You going to do this so that You will get the greatest glory?”

Luke 1:35: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” The Greek word for “come upon you” means “to invade; resting upon and operating in a person.

The word “overshadow” is beautiful. It pictures exactly what it says, a shadow moving over a person. You can't really touch or feel a shadow, but you know when you are in the shade.

In Genesis 1:2-3 when God created the universe, it says that the “Spirit of God was hovering,” almost like a dove, over-shadowing the lifeless void. Then God said, “Light Be,” and light became. Much the same thing was going on with Mary. The Spirit of God would “hover” over her and God would gently say, “Life Be.” And deep within Mary's reproductive system came life. I think every conception and birth is a miracle, but this was to be a mega-miracle.

Notice this: Only one woman in all humanity would be chosen to bear the Son of God, yet each one of us who are believers have been invaded by Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and now we carry His life within us.

Dr. M. R. DeHaan points out the must of the Virgin Birth. One important reason for the Virgin Birth was the blood. If the conception of Christ was to be pure and holy, the blood could not be contaminated with sin. The life is in the blood and because all of men have been contaminated with sin, all men have corrupt blood.

Christ, therefore, needed pure, holy, uncorrupted blood if He was to be our Savior. The Bible says, Jesus has this kind of blood. Matthew 27:4 says His blood is “innocent blood.” His blood is not tainted in any way.

First Peter 1:18-19: “You are not redeemed with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ (the one-of-a-kind blood of Christ) as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

How did Christ have uncorrupted blood? The virgin birth is the answer. From the time of conception to the time of birth of the infant, not one single drop of blood ever passes from mother to child. All the blood which is in that child is produced within the child itself as a result of the introduction of the male sperm. The mother contributes no blood at all. How wonderfully God prepared for the virgin birth of His Son. When God created woman, He made her so that no blood would be able to pass from her to her offspring. That blood is the result of the male.


The blood of Jesus was Pure blood … Precious blood … one-of-a-kind blood that can take away the sins of the world.

III. The Absence of the Angel Luke 1:38

“Mary said, 'Let it be to me according to your word.'”

Good news! Mary said “Yes” to God's plan for her. What about you? God has a wonderful plan for your life. Do you believe that? Have you ever said, “I'm Your servant, Lord, may it be to me as You have said.”?

Three elements are involved in our Personal Salvation:

1. The Word of God

God spoke to Mary and God has spoken to us – not through an angel, but through His written Word. What is He saying? He is telling us that He loves us, but He knows you are a sinner – but He still loves you and because He is a holy God, He must punish sin. He loves you so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price of your sin on the cross, and if you will trust Him, He will totally forgive you and save you.

2. The Work of the Spirit

“Mary said, 'How can this be?'” God told Mary the Holy Spirit would invade her life and by the supernatural work of the Spirit, Jesus would come alive in her.

The supernatural work of the Spirit can transform a lost person into a saved person.

3. The Will of the Person

God won't save you without your permission. God will not force you to be saved. That's your choice.

Will you say “Yes” to Him?

MARVELING AT BETHLEHEM Luke 2:1-20

Luke 2:1-20 is a passage that invites us – as it were – to take a trip back to Bethlehem to that first Christmas long ago, and to consider afresh the wonderful story of our Savior's birth, and to marvel at some of the things that we are told there.

Look at the humble circumstances of His Birth – Luke 2:1-7.

Luke is the great “historian” of the New Testament. Here Luke gives us some facts surrounding our Lord's birth. The first thing is:

I. The Time of our Lord's Birth Luke 2:1-5

Luke 2:1 says “A decree from Caesar Augustus.” The first emperor of Rome. He was the great nephew of Julius Caesar. Caesar Augustus was not his real name. His real name was Gaius Octavius, but when he became the first emperor of the Roman empire, he decided he wanted to be greater than a king, so he took part of his uncle's name, “Caesar,” as part of his title. Then he thought the emperor of Rome ought to be enough god for anybody, so he settled on the name, Augustus, which means “celebrated one” or “holy one” or sacred one.” So, Caesar Augustus is his title; not his name.

Caesar Augustus demanded a census be taken. The KJV says, “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.” Actually, it was a census, not a taxing, though taxing generally followed and was based on the census.

Rome took a census every fourteen years for both military and tax purposes, and each Jewish male had to return to the city of his fathers to record his name, occupation, property, and family.

Caesar Augustus thought he was in control, but God Almighty was the real prompter of this decree. You see, God had promised that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth.

Remember that Mary was in her ninth month of pregnancy and the time of her delivery was near and it was 75 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Let me point out right here that God always keeps His Word and His promises. Titus 1:2 says that God cannot lie. The angel, Gabriel had told Mary, and later Joseph, that she was carrying the Christ child; the Messiah; the Son of God. I wonder if Mary or Joseph remembered that God had prophesied where the Messiah would be born. If they knew that, why were they in Nazareth in her ninth month?

Let me say it again: God Always Keeps His Word; His Promises.

When was the first time God promised He would send His Son into the world to redeem man and destroy Satan?

A. The Genesis Promise Genesis 3:15 (Read Genesis 3:14-17)

Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of the gospel, the good news.
Notice that God spoke of the “seed” of woman. A woman does not possess “seed,” so this statement implied something unusual and supernatural about the One who was to bruise the head of Satan.

There are three ways a man may be able to live on this earth:

1. A man may have life without the assistance of a man or a woman. It was God who created man and then brought woman from man.

2. A man may be born with the assistance of a man and a woman. This is the usual way it is done.

3. Then a man may be born with the assistance of a woman without a man. That is how Christ is Virgin Born.

Only one woman had a child without knowing a man, and that was the virgin Mary who gave birth to our Lord in Bethlehem. After all those years between Genesis to the Gospel of Luke, the Lord kept His Word.

Then in Genesis 49:10 God said the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. The Lord kept His word.

B. The David Promise 2 Samuel 7:12-16

God promised the Messiah would come through the family of King David and God kept His Word.

C. The Isaiah Promise Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7

God promised the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

In Isaiah 9:6-7 seven hundred years before Christ was born, the Lord promised that a Son would be given and that He would be born in this world.

God had the option to send Jesus as a fully-developed man, but for a number of reasons, God declared that His Son would be BORN. God kept His Word when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

In Isaiah 9:7 God promised His Son would rule on the throne of David. God will keep His Word.

D. The Micah Promise Micah 5:2

There is only One who came forth into this world from “everlasting” and was born in Bethlehem, and that was Jesus. It wasn't by chance that Jesus was born in the City of David; and when He was born in Bethlehem, God was saying, “I keep My word.”

I wonder if Joseph and Mary ever thought of the words of Micah 5:2! It was 75 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Mary was nine months pregnant. Anyone could tell by looking at her that the baby wasn't going to wait much longer. She was at that stage where you can't get comfortable no matter what you do. Walking hurts, standing hurts, sitting hurts, lying down hurts, and just breathing isn't much better. So now in the ninth month, she rides a donkey for 75 miles and it's some 2300 feet above sea level,
so it was rugged up-hill traveling. It must have been difficult and tiring. The journey took at least three days.

Don't forget that Satan knows what is going on and he will cause as much mischief as possible.

II. The Tension of our Lord's Birth Luke 2:6

I wonder how many times Mary had pictured this moment in her mind!? She is going to give birth to the Son of God. God had sent an angel to tell her that she would be the mother of the Son of God. Surely God would arrange for His Son to arrive in the best of places – maybe a palace!

During the nine months Mary carried the baby Jesus, she must have planned out everything. She would make the place where she would give birth as warm and comfortable as possible. Joseph was a carpenter so he could build a cute bassinet for the baby. She would get the nicest blankets she could afford to wrap the newborn in. Family and friends would be there to give support and there would be a wonderful celebration when He was born.

But now they are in Bethlehem. It's crowded. People are rushing everywhere. Mary knows it's about time for her to deliver. What are they going to do? Remember, they are in the will of God – obeying Him!

Joseph goes to the one inn in the town and it's full. There are two words in the New Testament translated “inn.” One means a hotel or motel, a place with a host and provisions. But the word in our text is another word (Kataluma) which was merely an enclosure, just walls into which travelers might drive their cattle for the night and sometimes a room in which they might rest, but no traveler could obtain food there. There was water, but no food and no host.

Joseph and Mary were probably not the only ones who could find no room in the inn, but Scripture only reports on them since they are the main subject of our text.

There was no choice but to settle in a small, rock cave manger with a small feeding trough hewn from a rock. Most Nativity Scenes today are made out of wood. The trough is made out of wood as well, but the manger where Jesus was born was most likely stone.

If you believe in the sovereignty of God, then we must believe that God did not simply “allow” His Son to be born in a stable, He ordained it. There was no room in the inn because God wanted it that way and ordained it so. If God had wanted it some other way, then it would have happened that “other way.”

Second Corinthians 8:9 may help us to see what was in God's mind: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye though His poverty might be rich.”

Joseph hears them say, “No room.”

Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him (have fellowship with him), and he with Me.”

John 1:11-13: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor to the will of man, but of God.”

Less than a mile from Bethlehem sitting on top of the tallest hill was a massive palace that Herod the Great had built for himself, called the Herodium. It had 200 polished marble steps leading to a series of towers and arches. It contained a swimming pool twice as large as an Olympic pool. It would have been clearly in sight that night, blazing away with its torches and candles.

III. The Travail in the Lord's Birth Luke 2:7

Remember that Mary and Joseph were already husband and wife, but since they did not consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born, she is still called his “espoused wife” (Matthew 1:18-25).

In the manger there is no hot water, no sanitation, and no midwife other than Joseph. And she brought forth her firstborn son.

The first sound from God's Son on earth was a cry. How Mary and Joseph must have rejoiced.

And she wrapped Him in “swaddling cloths.” These are strips of cloth that she would bind each arm and each leg to keep them stiff for a while as an infant. Even so, in the midst of newborn life is a hint of His death.

The old spiritual tells the story:

Sweet little Jesus Boy – They made You be born in a manger.
Sweet little Holy Child – Didn't know Who You was.
Didn't know You'd come to save us, Lord; to take our sins away.
Our eyes was blind, we could not see, We didn't know who You was.

Long time ago, You was born. Born in a manger low,
Sweet little Jesus Boy.
The world treat You mean, Lord, treat me mean too,
But that's how things is down here, we don't know who You is.

You done told us how, we is a tryin'! Master, You done showed us how,
even when You was dyin'.
Just seem like we can't do right, Look how we treated You.
But please, Sir, forgive us, Lord – we didn't know 'twas You.

Sweet little Jesus Boy, born long time ago.
Sweet little Holy Child,
And we didn't know who You was.


But now we do! It is clear and plain now who Jesus is. So, will you open the door of your heart as He stands and knocks at your heart's door. If you will, He has promised to come into your heart and give you everlasting life. The Lord keeps His word.

A HEAVENLY BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT Luke 2:1-20

(Before reading the Passage.)

I have an announcement to make: It's A Boy! In fact: It's God!

And I'm glad to tell you that both mother and Child are in stable condition!

The time of His birth was when the fullness of time had come.

Birth announcements are exciting times in the physical realm, especially if the birth you are announcing is your baby boy or girl. The excited parents may announce the birth of their child through birth cards or E-mails. They may even plant blue or pink signs in the front yard. Or they may tie blue or pink balloons to the mailbox or the front door of their house. If the dad is a non-smoking Christian, he may even hand out blue or pink bubblegum cigars!

In Israel, the birth of a child was an occasion of great joy. When the mother went into labor friends and local musicians would gather near the house. When the birth was announced, if it was a boy baby, the musicians would break out in music and song. The crowd would celebrate with congratulations and rejoicing. If the baby was a girl, the musicians would leave silently (sorry, ladies).

When God's Son was born incarnate, His heart was filled with delight, joy, and anticipation. When God's Son was born and took on human flesh, God would announce the birth of His Son AND God did it up right!

(Read the Passage)

God announced the birth of His Son, the Lord Jesus, in two magnificent ways: with angels and with a star.

The Wise Men, who were most likely from Persia, saw His star in the sky and began making their way to Bethlehem. It would be over a year and Mary and Joseph were already in a house before the Wise Men would present their gifts to Him (Matthew 2:11).


I. The Miracle Luke 2:6-12

It's important to remember that the real miracle took place nine months earlier when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary with the result that although she was a virgin, she became pregnant. That was an enormous miracle which has never been repeated in the history of the world. However, from that point on Mary's pregnancy followed the normal course of all human pregnancies leading to the momentous night in Bethlehem when she gave birth to the Lord Jesus in a stable.

But another miracle took place the night of our Lord's birth – Luke 2:8-10.
It's obvious Luke conducted a personal interview with Mary many years later or how else could he have been able to write what he did in Luke 2:8-19.

If you're like me, then you've tried to imagine what it would have been like for these shepherds out in the fields of Bethlehem that night. It was probably quiet and still as the shepherds took turns watching the flock of sheep that night. They had to watch to make sure no sheep wondered off, and watch for wolves or other animals that would attack the sheep, and to make sure no thieves would steal the sheep. Most commentaries will say that these were sheep that was raised for sacrifice at the Temple and they were to be spotless sheep.

Don't miss the splendor of it all! Remember that all of this took place at night. Even if the stars were shinning and there was a full moon, this was a great sight.

Luke 2:9 says suddenly AN angel of the Lord – one angel – appeared and “came upon them” (KJV) or “stood by them.”

The presence of the angel must have been a glorious sight. But Wait!

“The glory of the Lord shone round about them.” You need to remember that the glory of the Lord had not appeared on earth for centuries. This was the shekinah glory of God; the visible presence of God!

The presence of angels was glorious, but the glory of the Lord out shined the angels.

This was just one angel. Minutes later “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared before them. The word “multitude” means “fullness.” The area around the shepherds was full of angels. May I tell you, every angel in glory wanted to be there to praise God.

What kind of angels were there? It may surprise you to know that these were not special choir angels. In fact, some “great Bible teachers” tell us that angels never sing; that we have no biblical evidence of angels singing. I don't believe that. The Bible says that Lucifer could not only play the organ, he was the pipes and timbrels (Ezekiel 28:13) that praised God. He was the “band leader.”

The words “heavenly host” do not refer to choir angels, but God's military angels. The word “host” is a military term for a band of soldiers.

The multitude of angels came and stood before the shepherds, very possibly in ranks on the hills of the field.

When folks think of the angels attending the birth of Christ, they usually think of the angels hovering in the sky above the shepherds. Maybe the reason for that is because most Christmas cards with pictures of angels in them have the angels hovering in the sky, but the word means “to stand before.”

What a wonderful way for God to announce the birth of His Son.

Many Bible students talk about how and why God would announce the birth of His Son to low-class, uneducated, smelly, dirty shepherds. They were not the folks you would think that God would announce the birth of His Son to!

But I think it is significant that God's birth announcement of His Son would come to shepherds. What do shepherds do? They care for their sheep. God calls those who have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord, His sheep.

Jesus called Himself a Shepherd:

• John 10:11 – “I am the Good Shepherd”
• Hebrews 13:20 – Jesus is called “the Great Shepherd”
• I Peter 5:4 – Jesus is called “the Chief Shepherd”
• Psalm 23:1 – “The Lord is MY Shepherd”

II. The Message Luke 2:10-14

Did you notice those little two-word sermonettes?
• “Fear not” – Luke 2:10
• “Good Tidings” – Luke 2:10
• “Great Joy” – Luke 2:10
• “All people” – Luke 2:10

It was A Good Message; A Glad Message; A Global Message.

What is the message? “Unto you is born this day:” (Verse 11)

A. A Savior – speaks of His purpose.

Why did He come? He came to save. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Our greatest need is a Savior, to save us from our sins.

– If our greatest need had been for Information, God would have sent an Educator.

– If our greatest need had been Technology, God would have sent a Scientist.

– If our greatest need had been Money, God would have sent us an Economist.

– If our greatest need had been Pleasure, God would have sent us an Entertainer.

Out greatest need was for Forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

Man did not need an Analyst or an Advisor or a Government Representative. Man needed a Savior and that's why Jesus came – to give His life on a cross as a ransom for our sin.

Good Christian Men, rejoice, With heart and soul and voice.
Jesus Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save.

Calls you one and calls you all, To gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save. Christ was born to save.

B. Christ: Speaks of His Person.

He is the Old Testament fulfillment of the Messiah.

C. Lord: Speaks of His Power.

Jesus said, “All power is given to Me in heaven, in earth, and under the earth.”

III. The Marvel Luke 2:12-16

“And this shall be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Who but God would have thought of such a sign?

“And they came with haste to find the Babe.” This was the First Christmas Rush.

“And they found Mary, Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.” That word “found” is the word “Eureka!” “We have found it! That for which we have been looking for and longing for, and hoping for; we have found it!”

Notice Luke 2:17-18. Once you see Emmanuel, “God with us,” who came to die so our sins can be forgiven, you can't help but do what these shepherds did. They worshiped and they witnessed.

They did what all Christians should do. They told others what they had seen and heard. They “spread the word” about Jesus. When you get down to it, that's all evangelism is. It's telling the Good News about Jesus Christ to someone else.

What the shepherds did, we all can do. You need no authority, no permission, and no special training to witness for Christ. Simply tell what you know to be true. Talk about Jesus. Tell who He is and what He has done for you. Share your story and then invite others to come to Christ just like you did.

Good News is for sharing. That's what the shepherds did. That's what all of us are called to do. This is the first way we can all celebrate Christmas.

IV. The Meditation Luke 2:19

The word “pondered” means to keep events that have happened to you in your mind and to turn them over and over in your mind, determined to remember each detail.

It has the idea of counting things up, almost like making a list so that you will not forget anything. It means to take the event and then to go beneath the surface to try to understand what it all means and why it happened the way it did.

I think Mary pondered: What Gabriel said to her and how Joseph responded when she told him she was pregnant; she must have pondered the long, hard trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem; she must have pondered all the events of the birth itself and what Jesus looked like when He was born. I wonder if she though He would look different than other baby boys since He was the Son of God? I think she wondered why God had chosen her of all women to bring His Son into the world.

I think Mark Lowery and Buddy Green gave us some more things she must have pondered:


“Mary, Did You Know?”

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? …
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? Mary did you know? …

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the Lamb!


Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you're holding is the great I Am.

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? …
Mary, did you know?

Note Luke 2:20. The shepherds returned to their sheep and their occupation of being a shepherd, but they were profoundly changed by what they had experienced.

The day before Christ was born, they were in the fields tending their sheep. The day after they met the Christ Child, they went back to their fields again, but this time their hearts were filled with praise to God.

The word “glory” means to have a good opinion and to estimate the true worth of something. They recognized the true value of the Christ in the manger and they were overwhelmed by God's power, His grace, His goodness, His wisdom and the amazing miracle of the Incarnation. And they simply could not stop talking about what they had seen and heard.

May we do and be the same!

SIMEON: THE MAN WHO DIED SATISFIED Luke 2:21-35

If Jesus were born today, would it be any different than it was two thousand years ago? We like to think the answer is “Yes,” that we would be ready, that we wouldn't make the mistake of turning the Son of God away. There Would Be Room in the Inn, we confidently say. We'd find room or make room or maybe we'd throw somebody out of their room, but in any case, we'd be ready if Jesus were born in America.

But is that the truth? Are we any more prepared for the coming of Christ than they were in Bethlehem? That really is the crucial question.

It seems as you read the Bible that most people weren't prepared for His coming.

• Herod certainly wasn't.
• Nor were the scribes (even though they knew where He was to be born).
• The rich and powerful of Bethlehem – if there were any – didn't seem to have paid any attention to the young couple from Nazareth.

By the standards of the world, His birth was only a slight blip on the radar of history. He came in the same way all babies come, and most of the world paid no attention.

The Apostle John put it this way: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11).

But that's not the whole story. While it is true that the nation as a whole was not ready for His birth, there were some who were ready.

The Magi or the Wise Men are a good example. They came all the way from Persia to greet the infant King. They represent a great number of Gentiles who were ready to receive the Lord Jesus with joy, honor, and reverence.

And even in Israel, there were those who believed the time was drawing near for God to at last keep His promise and send Messiah to the earth. Just as there are those today who believe the time is drawing nigh for Jesus to come again.

Simeon, for example, had been waiting for years to see the Messiah, and when he meets the baby Jesus, he knows his long wait is finally over.

Look back at Luke 2:21-24.

Three different aspects of the Old Testament Law are intertwined in these verses:

1. The Law required that all Jewish male babies be circumcised on the eighth day after birth (Luke 2:21).
Before Christ could be taken to the Temple where He was going to receive great adoration He must be circumcised according to the Law given by God for the Jews. (Genesis 17:12)

Why did God choose the eighth day for this deed?

a. Symbolism.
Eight is the number of New Beginning. An uncircumcised Jew could not be an official part of the family of God (Israel). The rite of circumcision brought every Hebrew boy into covenant relationship with the people of God.

b. Safety.
The eighth day was the best day medically to prevent bleeding and infection. Jewish custom was to give the baby its official name on the eighth day after being circumcised (Luke 2:21).

2. The Law required that women wait forty days after the birth of a son (eighty days if the child
was a female) before presenting themselves in the Temple for their purification (Luke 2:22).

3. The Law required that the mother and father present their firstborn son before the
Lord for dedication by offering a sacrifice.

Luke 2:23 tells us something of the financial situation of Mary and Joseph. The offering of two doves or two pigeons instead of a lamb shows that the couple was very poor.

Now enter Simeon. Forty days have now passed since the birth of Jesus, and at this point Simeon enters the story.

Three things I want us to see concerning Simeon.

I. Simeon's Description Luke 2:25

What a biography of a man! How short and yet how complete.

Notice the word, “Behold.” The word “Behold” means to turn aside here, for the sight is so rare, you may never see such a thing as long as you live. “Behold” – there was one man in Jerusalem we need to examine.

A. His Walk Luke 2:25

Simeon's daily walk and way of life is found in two words: “Just” and “Devout” “Just” speaks of Simeon's relationship with man and means “right conduct.” In his dealings with man, Simeon was righteous. He treated his fellowman with integrity and uprightness. He was not dishonest, deceptive, selfish, and cruel. “Devout” speaks of Simeon's relationship with God. He was very careful in every
detail to obey God and give God His due honor and respect.

B. His Waiting Luke 2:25

The “Consolation of Israel” refers a general expectation about the coming of Messiah.

C. His Wisdom Luke 2:25-27

The Spirit informed Simeon that he would see Christ before he died.
D. His Worship Luke 2:27-28

II. Simeon's Desire Luke 2:26-32

Here comes Mary, here come Joseph, here comes Jesus with them, and here comes Simeon. He has never seen them before, they had never seen him before, but by a divinely-planned encounter they are about to meet.

Simeon is now an old man. He has been waiting in the Temple for many years. Day by day he had prayed for the Lord's Christ to finally appear. Year after year his prayers were to no avail. As he grew older, his anticipation grew stronger because he knew he couldn't live forever. Perhaps he is now 70 or 75 or even 80 years old. Perhaps he has a long gray beard, stooped shoulders, wrinkled face, bushy eyebrows, and trembling hands. If so, then he knows it can't be long. The Lord's Christ must be coming at any moment.

Day by day he kept watch over the throngs coming into the Temple. Each time a young couple came in with a baby, he whispered, “Is that the one?” If he saw a fine looking teenager, he would say, “Is that the one, Lord, or is it someone else?” Each day he watched, and looked, and questioned. Each day the answer came back, time and time again, “No, that's not the one. Keep looking. Keep watching. Keep waiting.” You see, the Spirit of the Lord had promised him that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Messiah (Luke 2:26).

Here comes Mary holding the baby in her arms with Joseph by her side. Jesus is only forty days old. Never was there a more unlikely couple. He is a poor carpenter from Nazareth, she is a peasant girl carrying a little baby boy. They are obviously from the country. They obviously don't have much money. If you were people watching, you wouldn't give them a second glance.

When Simeon sees them, he asks his question for the 10,000th time, “Is this the one?” And the Holy Spirit says, “Yes.”

Suddenly Simon's heart leaps within him. The long days of waiting are finally over. The Lord's Christ is before him. Here is the One for whom the nation has been waiting. He walks over, introduces himself, and says, “Do you mind if I hold your child?” As Mary gives the infant Jesus to Simeon, the thought hits him, “I am holding the Salvation of the world in my arms.”

Some Jews thought the Messiah would be a great political leader who would overthrow Rome and restore Israel to its rightful place in the world.

Edersheim says that by the time Christ was born, one question above all others was on the lips of every expectant Jew: “Why does Messiah delay His coming?”

Now after all these years, all God's promises are coming true. That's what Simeon means when he calls Jesus “the glory of Israel.”

III. Simeon's Delight Luke 2:33-35

After all these years, all God's promises are coming true and Simeon had the privilege of dedicating the Messiah as a child to the Lord.

Simeon calls Jesus “a light of revelation for the Gentiles.” Simeon explicitly says that this baby will not only be the glory of His own people Israel; He will also be the light of revelation for the Gentiles as well. He's not just for Israel. He didn't come just for their benefit. He came to shine a light of the revelation of God into every nation, every tribe, every kindred and every tongue. The Jews couldn't say, “He belongs to us and you can't have Him.” Nor could they say, “You have to become a Jew to enjoy Messiah's benefits.”

He is the Savior of the whole world. Rich and poor, young and old, black and white, Jew and Gentile. All people are included in this coming. That means everyone!

Look at Luke 2:34-35.

One last thing Simeon says about Jesus: He is the Great Divider of men.

He will cause many to fall. He will cause many to rise. And many will speak against Him, and in speaking against Him, the hidden thoughts of the heart will be revealed.

What a thing to say about a tiny baby. “Mary, I know you are happy now, but you will weep later. Today your heart is filled with joy. Later it will be filled with sorrow. Rejoice and enjoy this time, because dark days are coming.”

Simeon is saying, “Mary, they are going to hurt this Child, and you won't be able to do anything about it. They are going to Hate Him, Lie about Him, Spread Rumors about you and Joseph, they will Smear His name with malicious lies. And you will have to stand by helplessly and watch it happen.”

Down the road it all came true. Eventually they not only questioned His parentage, but also His mental ability. They snickered and said, “He thinks He's the Son of God, but He's just filled with demons.”

“And Mary it will be like a sword piercing through your own soul also.” And in the end hatred took full control and they arrested Jesus and put Him on trial as a seditious blasphemer. They beat Him within an inch of His life then hung Him on the cross.

Mary stood by the cross and watched her Son die an agonizing, brutal, bloody death. Mary watched her Son die, and a sword pierced her soul.

But, as God prepared the heart of Simeon to long for and receive Christ as the Messiah, He prepares our hearts to receive Him as our Savior.

What is Christ to you? Who is He to you? Is He life or is He death.

Once you trust Him, death is no longer an enemy.

Has Christ been revealed to you?



JOURNEY WITHOUT JESUS

Luke 2:41-52

(Before reading the Scripture)

Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus leave Bethlehem and go back to Nazareth. This passage of Scripture is important for several reasons.

1. These verses are the only inspired biblical record of the youthful years of our Lord and they are given to us only by Luke. We know no more about Him until He reaches age thirty.

2. These verses record for us the first words spoken from the mouth of our Lord.

3. This is the last time Joseph is ever mentioned in the life of our Lord. It is commonly felt that Joseph must have died sometime after this incident, before our Lord began His public ministry.

This story is really very simple. Mary and Joseph go up to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Passover, just as they had done every year. Jesus by this time is twelve years of age. It is a special time for Jesus, for Jesus is no longer Mary's little boy. At age twelve He stepped across the threshold that separated His childhood from His adulthood. He was “Bar Mitzvah,” a “Son of the Law.” In Jewish eyes He had reached manhood. It was a week-long celebration.

Listen as I read the account.

Let me give you some words that tell the story of these verses.

I. Development Luke 2:39-40, 52

What these verses tell us is that Jesus began to develop physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially.

Here is a question I want you to ponder: When did Jesus know Who He was? When did He know He was God Incarnate?

Well, it is obvious that by age twelve Jesus knew He was The Son of God. Notice Luke 2:48-50. Jesus knew who His Father was! But did He know before this that He was the Son of God?

There are two interesting verses in Psalm 22. This is a messianic Psalm. The New Testament contains fifteen messianic quotations or allusions to this Psalm.

Notice Psalm 22:1, 6-8, 14, 17-18.

But now look at Psalm 22:9-10. The indication is that Jesus knew the connection from the time He came from the womb.

Max Lucado, in his book, God Came Near, has twenty-five questions for Mary. Let me give you a few:
1. Mary, what was it like listening to Jesus pray?
2. When Jesus saw a rainbow, did He ever mention the flood?
3. Did you ever feel awkward teaching Him about how He created the world?
4. When Jesus saw a lamb being led to slaughter, did He act any differently?
5. Did you ever scold Him?
6. Did He have any friends named “Judas”?
7. How did He act at a funeral?

Those are just seven questions Mary may have been asked.


II. Devotion Luke 2:41-42

We are not told a lot about His childhood in these verses, but we are told of the family's faithfulness to God and to His house.

We are told that Jesus had four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters (Mark 6:3). In that twelve year period, some or all of them may have been born and made the 80-mile trip as well. But the thing I want you to see is that it was the normal habit of this family to go up regularly to the Feast of Passover and to the house of God.

This Scripture gives us the picture of the family structure faithfully attending the house of God. They didn't just SEND Jesus to church, they TOOK Him to church.

Children learn in two ways:

1. Instruction: They are Taught what to do.
2. Inspiration: The way of life is Caught by example.

Jesus learned by what He was Taught and by what He Caught.

I am so grateful that God let me be born to parents who not only took me to church, but was there with me. I never had to ask, “Are we going to church Sunday?”

Sometimes folks say, “I know we need to be in church because the kids need to be there;” as if they didn't need to be there. Grown folks need Jesus just as much as kids.

One reason the church loses so many young people from church after high school is that church was never a priority for their parents.

There are some reasons why the earthly parents of Jesus should not have gone to church:

1. They were poor and may not have had good Sunday clothes. Where does it say you have to wear the finest, up-to-date clothes to come to church? You are coming to church to worship God and God looks at the heart – the inside; not the outside. Yet, I've heard that excuse all my life: “We just don't have clothes to wear to church.”

2. They could have said, “It's so inconvenient.” It's a long way to church for them – about
a three week journey for the big Passover Feast. “Do you know how hard it is to get seven kids ready for church?!” Listen, when you don't really want to go to church, next door is too far!

3. They could have used the excuse, “The folks down at the church hurt my feelings. They talked about Mary having a baby before she was married. They are just a bunch of gossips down there at the church.”

If folks walk around with feelings on their shoulders, you will most likely get hurt feelings. God is bigger than feelings if you want Him to be.

Think about this: Jesus went to church regularly.

• Jesus knew God better than any preacher or priest there; yet, He was there.

• Most of the times the sermon was dull and full of errors. The religious leaders were talking about Him and didn't even know it.

• They didn't even want Him there when He attended.

• He went there because it was God's House and God's Word was read there.


III. Departure Luke 2:43-47

There's an important principle in this scene. What we see here is that there is a great difference between relationship and fellowship.

Though they are separated by distance, Jesus was still Mary's son. The relationship was intact.
However, she couldn't speak to Him. She couldn't hear His Voice. She couldn't touch Him. Was there a relationship? Yes. Was there fellowship? No.

In much the same way, we as believers can set out in the journey of life, assuming the Lord Jesus is with us, only to find out that somewhere we have left Him. He is still our Savior. We are still Christians. The relationship has not changed. However, we cannot communicate with Him as we once did. We don't hear His Voice or sense His touch as we did when we were close to Him.

Is that your story? There was a time when you walked with the Lord every day. You read His Word and talked to Him every day in prayer. Now it has been weeks or months since you were truly close to Him. There is separation. You have a relationship with Christ, but no fellowship.

By the way, did you notice where they left Him. The sense of the passage is that Jesus was in the Temple all three days Mary and Joseph was gone.

The problem with too many Christians is that they leave Jesus in the church house while they take their journey out into the world. How often we come to church, sing praises to the Lord, study His Word, fellowship with the saints, but instead of making sure we take Jesus with us, we leave Him in church until the next Sunday. We go the whole week long with no contact with Him.

How did they manage to forget Jesus? Note Luke 2:44 – they “supposed” He was with them. They THOUGHT He was with them, but He was not.

I think of Samson – that great strong man of the Book of Judges. Samson had made a vow with God. God had told him that if he would not cut his hair, the power of the Holy Spirit would be upon him and power would be available when he needed it.

But Samson became a “playboy.” He was a weak-he-man because he yielded to the carnal flesh. He began to flirt with sin. Before, when he needed power from God, he would go out, shake himself, and the power of God would fall on him. But when he got his haircut in Delilah's barber shop, Delilah
cried out, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson.” He got up, shook himself as before, and the sad words: “But he knew not that the Lord had departed from him.” are recorded in Judges 16:20.

He supposed the Lord was with him, but the Lord had departed from him.

What a scary thing for Mary and Joseph – to lose the precious Son of God – by neglect! They didn't intend to leave without the Lord Jesus.

Can you hear Mary and Joseph? Jews would go to Jerusalem and leave from Jerusalem in the traditional way. All the men would gather together and lead out. The women would gather together and bring up the rear. The children would run and play together between the two groups. They go a day's journey. Mary can't find Jesus. She thinks He's with Joseph; after all, it's His Bar Mitzvah. He's a man now! Joseph thinks He's still a boy. Mary watched Him going to Jerusalem, she'll take care of Him going back.

What panic when they could not find Him!


IV. Discovery Luke 2:48-52

I would love to have been there when they found Jesus and when their eyes met. The first thing Mary did was to blame Jesus for her and Joseph's negligence. Did you notice: They found Him where they had left Him. Now He is in the Temple, doing His Father's business.

Don't miss Luke 2:51. “Jesus was subject to them.” Jesus was doing what the Father wanted Him to do. Jesus knew more than His earthly parents knew. They were wrong; He was right. Yet, He was subject to them.

You want to be like Jesus? Be subject to your parents! Oh, I know – you're smarter than they are. They cramp your style. They're wrong most of the time.

And Jesus was subject to them.

Notice the last part of Luke 2:51: “But His mother kept all these things in her heart.” This is the second time we read that phrase.

Here's some good advice: “Don't leave church without Jesus!”


JOHN THE BAPTIST:
THE MAN, HIS MISSION, AND HIS MESSAGE

Luke 3:1-20

Before reading the Passage

There is a man that I would dearly love to have come and preach for us here at New Hope Baptist Church, but I know that we would never be able to have him here. He is a spirit-filled preacher. His preaching grabs the attention of all who hear him. Multitudes have responded to his preaching. He is a fearless preacher who loves the Lord Jesus. He always exalts the Lord Jesus.

But if he came, I don't know that he would be accepted by most of our congregation. He wears leather made with camel's hair. He wears sandals and no socks. He has long flowing hair. His appearance is different from ours.

His diet is different, too. He has a little bucket of honey and he dips grasshoppers in the honey and eats them. He says, “I like mine crunchy, how do you like yours?”

He was thrown into prison for denouncing the sins of a governor and later, he was beheaded. He was always calling men to repentance and baptism. His name was John the Baptist.

Let's look at John the Baptist for a moment.

Read the Passage.

Luke was not only a medical doctor; he was also a historian. As such, he gives us information that the other Gospel writers do not give us. Matthew, Mark and John would never give us information that tied the date of the happening with the people in power at the time of the incident.

John, the Man

In Luke 1, he tells us that Jesus and John were kin in that John's mother, Elisabeth, was kin to our Lord's mother, Mary. Both of John's parents, Zacharias and Elisabeth, were of priestly descent. When Elisabeth was well past child-bearing age, she conceived John the Baptist. When she was six months into her pregnancy, Mary, who was just told that she was with child of the Holy Spirit, visited Elisabeth. When Mary spoke, the child in Elisabeth's womb, John leaped inside of her at the sound of Mary's voice. So, John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus in the flesh.

Luke tells us (Luke 1:15) that there was a prenatal filling of John by the Holy Spirit – even while he was still in the womb.

Luke even gives us seven historical figures to establish the date and political and religious condition of the world at that time.

• Five political leaders:

Tiberius – Pilate – Herod – Philip – Lysanias (Luke 3:1)

• Two religious leaders:

Annas – Caiaphas (Luke 3:2) (We see them at the crucifixion of Jesus.)

Remember that both Zacharias and Elisabeth were very old when John was born. Remember also that both Zacharias and Elisabeth were in the priestly line. Zacharias was a priest and the priesthood was by descent. John was supposed to have been in training for some five years, and when he turned age thirty, he was to begin serving in the Temple. But God's call to John was to be a different ministry.

John's parents must have died when he was young and John went into the desert alone. Notice Luke 1:80.

What was John doing out there in the desert? He was waiting on God. Notice the last part of Luke 3:2: “The Word of God came unto John in the wilderness.” Literally it means, “the Word of God came upon John.” It means there was a heavenly invasion upon his life. It was not something he could take or leave. It was from heaven and he must do something with it.

It was a very specific word. God called John – not to preach the whole counsel of God, but God had given him a specific word, and everywhere he went he preached that specific word.

Here is that specific word: Man is lost. Man needs God. Man is a sinner. Man needs to repent. Man is away from God. Man is separated from God. Man needs to repent because men needs God.

II. John: His Mission Luke 3:3-6

The Messiah has come! The Savior is here! It is the most tremendous message that could come from God.

It was a widespread custom that when a king or an eminent ruler was about to visit a city, the citizens would construct a smooth, broad road so he could enter the city, not only with ease, but with due pomp and dignity.

Make ready! The Messiah is coming. Make it easy for folks to see Him and meet Him, and be changed by Him! Remove every obstacle and every hindrance so folks can come to Him! That is what John was to do as the Forerunner; as the one who was to Prepare the Way for the Lord.

Prepare, make His paths straight. The crooked thief and businessman, the crooked husband and wife – all the crooked sinners of the earth who are bent out of shape – all who repent shall be made straight by the Messiah.

Prepare the way of the Lord – for the humble shall be exalted. Every valley (the humble believers of the earth) shall be filled, that is, received, enriched, raised up, and exalted.

Prepare the way of the Lord – for the proud shall be abased. Every mountain and hill shall be brought low. The mountains and hills would be the great, the self-sufficient, the self-confident, the prideful, the boastful, the conceited and the arrogant. They shall lose everything they have and be brought low. They shall be made as the dust of the earth if they do not repent.

Prepare, make the rough ways smooth. All the rough ways of the earth – the ways of hopelessness, helplessness, loneliness, emptiness, guilt, shame, sin, and empty worship – all shall be made smooth. The way to life and peace shall be planned, made level, and easy to reach.

When the way is prepared, the Savior will appear.

III. John: His Message Luke 3:3

Understand that the baptism of John is not Christian baptism. John was trying to prepare the way for the Lord; to remove anything that would hinder someone from coming to the Messiah. John wanted them to get rid of anything in their lives that would hinder them from coming to the Messiah.

In other words, if anyone had repented of their sins – that is, if anyone had turned from their sins and turned to God – if they made their decision public, John would baptize them, showing others that they had made the decision to turn from their sins and turned to God. Multitudes did this to show that they had turned from their sins and were now open to accepting the Messiah who would soon come. John's baptism was a sign that they had turned from their sins.

This does not mean that baptism brings forgiveness of sins. Rather, John called his people to repent of their sins and then accept his baptism as indication that they had done so. There was no power in his baptism.

But John was not entirely pleased with what he saw happening. He sensed that some were insincere, and some were even hardened hypocrites. Some had simply come to see the show or to even become part of the show. Some were being baptized out of wrong motives: so that others would think well of them, because of business connections, to fit in with certain groups.

So, in Luke 3:8 John said, “I will no longer baptize anyone unless they bring forth fruits showing they have repented of their sins.”

In 10 the people asked, “What shall we do then? How can we show the fruits of our repentance?”

Notice Luke 3:7-9. John said that his hearers were as “vipers;” they were like snakes fleeing a brush fire, trying to escape, but having no intention of allowing their evil natures to be changed.

John's advice: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3: 8)

See Matthew 7:16-21.

True repentance first produces the fruit of Character (Galatians 5:22-23). Then it produces the fruit of Action.

Some thought just because they were Jews, they would surely enjoy the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. They rested on the merits of godly Abraham whose blood coursed through their veins.

Thousands in every age have believed that association with the godly will make them acceptable with God. “My parents were great Christians. They founded this church.
I'll go to heaven because of them.” “My daddy was a preacher. Surely, I'll go to heaven.” No, salvation is a personal matter. Each one must be saved for themselves.

Notice Verse 9. Why do we cut trees down? You cut down dead trees. You cut unproductive trees down – those that bear no fruit.

1. One tree that needs to be cut down is the tree of Repentance without Fruit. Some join
the church, you see them for a while, and then you don't see them anymore.

I John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

They had Religion without a Relationship with Jesus.

See Luke 3:10-14.

2. Another tree that needs to be cut down: Faith without works is a dead tree. There was no evidence of compassion in their lives. They did not care about those around them.

See Luke 3:12-13 – to the tax collectors. Treat folks fairly, respectfully, and justly; express love and care.

Luke 3:14 – to the soldiers. Stop terrifying people. Don't falsely charge anyone. Be content with your wages.

Then they asked, “John, are you the Messiah?” In just a little while, Jesus is going to come for John to baptize Him and John will point to Jesus and say, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”

Let me ask you: Do you bear evidence of fruit in your life that yours is a life of true repentance? What is there in your life that shows you have truly repented of your sins?



THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

Luke 3:21-22

Luke, who usually gives us great details about an event, gives the shortest account of our Lord's baptism – only two verses. Why? Well, both Matthew and Mark give long accounts of His baptism. Luke really adds only one thing: That Jesus was praying while He was being baptized. Prayer is one of Luke's themes.

Let me begin by saying something about the method of baptism. The Bible gives a clear picture of the method used in the New Testament.

• It required water.

• It required much water.

• It required both persons going into the water. Acts 8:38: “And they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

• Baptism required being placed under the water. Romans 6:4: “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death.”

• Baptism requires coming up out of the water.

You cannot find one occasion in the New Testament where any person was ever baptized in any other way than this.

Now let's look at our Lord's baptism for a moment. His baptism was:

An Act of Affirmation

What was John preaching? Baptism as a sign or evidence of repentance. Baptism had no power to forgive sin, but baptism was the evidence that one had repented of his sin.

Jesus was sinless and didn't need to repent, so I'll deal with this in a moment.

I. An Act of Identification

Jesus was identifying with mankind. Jesus came from heaven, but as the son of Mary He took on human nature and was a genuine human being with the rest of mankind.

John the Baptist told Jesus that he needed to be baptized of Jesus. But Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so
now … to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus said, “It's the right thing to do.”

In order to save mankind, Jesus had to be a true man, and His baptism was a sign of His identity with us.


II. An Act of Anticipation

Baptism illustrates our Lord's death, burial, and resurrection. When I was baptized, I identified myself with His death and resurrection in payment for my sin.


III. An Act of Consecration

Luke says that when Jesus was baptized, He was praying. It was an act of consecration to the will of the Father. Jesus came to save lost people by doing the will of the Father.

IV. An Act of Authentication

When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were open, and a Voice from heaven said, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Spirit descended upon Him – not in the form of a dove – “as a dove.” Why a dove? Doves are pure and gentle birds. They are one of few birds that has no gall – the source of bitterness. The dove could also be used as a sacrifice. And have you ever watched a dove land? It flutters around for a moment before it lands on its object. We, as God's children, are told to be as harmless as doves.

V. An Act of Inauguration

At the age of 30, Jesus is going to begin His public ministry.

I read of a little boy who got saved in Sunday School because a godly teacher shared Jesus with the class. When the invitation came at the close of the Worship Service, the little boy came forward and said, “Preacher, I got saved this morning in Sunday School and now I want to get advertised.”

Baptism is an advertisement, a testimony, that declares: “Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again for me.” “I believe it and I belong to Him.”

Have you come to the point in your life where you have placed your faith in Jesus? Do you personally believe in His death, burial, resurrection for you? If not, would you personally receive Jesus as Lord of your life, trust Him as your Savior right now?

If you know Him, have you followed Him in obedience in baptism? Let your love for Him lead you today.


OVERCOMING TEMPTATION

Luke 4:1-13


You and I will never be the Christian we ought to be until we learn to overcome temptation; to get the victory over temptation.

The Bible is very clear on the subject of temptation: trials and temptations are going to come!

John 16:33: “In this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”

2 Timothy 3:12: “Yea, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Alexander the Great had a high-ranking officer who was very close to him and who was very honest with him. One day he told Alexander, “Oh, Alexander, you can conquer everything, except temptation.” Well, that's true of all of us as well. We may be able to conquer a lot of things, but temptation often conquers us.

In Luke 3 and 4 Jesus begins His public ministry. He had been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The Father speaks from heaven to affirm His Son as He says, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Then the Holy Spirit descends upon Him as a dove. Shortly afterwards, Jesus is led BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Why? Why now? Three things I would point out to you concerning temptation.


I. The Meaning of Temptation


Webster says that temptation is a seduction or an enticement to do evil. Temptation is a situation that you face in which you must make a decision to do that which is right or to do that which is wrong.

So, was Jesus really tempted? Yes! But understand there is no sin in being tempted to sin. Sometimes folks think they are a terrible sinner because they are always being tempted to sin. Well, you are not a sinner because you're tempted. You are only a sinner if you yield to the temptation.

Then folks want to know: Could Jesus have sinned in the temptations? I know He didn't sin, but COULD He have sinned?

We know deity cannot sin. James 1:13 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any man.”

Notice Luke 4:1: Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Now notice Luke 4:2; “Being forty days tempted OF the Devil.” The Holy “Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness,” but He “was tempted of the devil.”

Again, the question: Could Jesus – the God-man – have sinned? No! Let me put it this way: As the GOD-man, He could not sin; as the God-MAN, He would not sin.

Then why was He tempted? To prove that He could not and would not sin. Here is a crew who has just built a bridge. They want to prove the bridge is strong enough to withstand any-weight vehicle. So, they get the biggest, heaviest truck they can find and run it over the bridge several times. Did they do that to see if it would hold the weight of the truck or to prove that it would hold the weight of the truck? Every temptation was thrown at Jesus to Prove that He would not yield to temptation.

Jesus was about to begin His public ministry. He would be tested over and over again. Everything was riding on the character of Jesus. He would be tempted to evade the cross. While going through the Passion Week, He would suffer physically as no man had. He would suffer emotionally and spiritually. He would become sin for us and His Father would turn His back on His Son and forsake Him for a time. Would He remain true? The temptations proved He would.

Now look at James 1:2-3 and James 1:13-16. The word “temptation” is found in Verse 2 and in Verse 13, but the words mean something different.

• The first time the word is used it means “to test or to try.” The second time the word is used it means “to entice to do evil.”

• Trials come to help us stand and to make us strong. Trials come from God.

• Temptations come to cause us to stumble and fall. Temptations come from Satan.

Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days. What was He doing there? He went to the wilderness full of the Holy Spirit. As He was in the wilderness, He was communing with His Father and being strengthened by His Father. From the context it seems that Satan tempted Jesus at the ending of the forty days. All that time He was being strengthened by His Father.


II. The Method of Temptation

James 1:14 says that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” So, we are tempted.

• From within: By our own sinful nature and evil desires.
• From without: “enticed,” by temptations from outside our sin nature, or by Satan.

Jesus had no sin nature so His temptation came directly from Satan.

A. The First Temptation: Luke 4:2-4. Satan tempted Jesus to misuse His power and ability. Jesus had been fasting for 40 days. He was weak and hungry. Satan said, “Gratify your physical needs by using your divine power.”

Could Jesus have turned the stones, which was about the size and shape of bread, could He have turned the stones into bread? Of course, He could have! But remember that Jesus had laid aside the divine attribute of being All-Powerful and He would not use His divine power for Himself. That was not in
His Father's will.

Satan wanted Jesus to prove His Messiah-ship by using His power for Himself.

Jesus' answer was that spiritual food was more important than physical food. God always makes a way to escape Satan's temptations.

B. The Second Temptation: Luke 4:5-8

“Worship me.” Compromise your loyalty to your Father. Take a shortcut to glory. You can have all these things now – and without the suffering.

“Jesus, you know what's awaiting you – an agonizing, tortuous death on the cross. Avoid the cross and it's pain.”

Compromise! Get what you want the wrong way. What do you want? Houses? Wealth? Success? Position? You can have it now! Why wait? Just compromise a little. Do it Satan's way; not God's way.

Many a young couple want all the benefits and blessings of the married life – NOW! Why wait? We are going to be married anyway. Why do it God's way? Just compromise a little.

But following Satan's “now plan” is yielding to Satan; not God.

Jesus said, “No, we are to worship and serve only God!”


C. The Third Temptation: Luke 4:9-12

Do something sensational. Your Father will take care of You. Forget self-denial, discipline, and self-control.

“Thou shall not tempt the Lord your God.” There's no other right way than God's way.


III. The Message in the Temptations Luke 4:13-14

Notice: Satan departed from Jesus “FOR A SEASON.” Satan doesn't give up. Even though you gain the victory over temptation, don't think temptation is over – It's not. Satan always returns.

But did you notice: Jesus Entered the wilderness of Temptation “FULL” of the Holy Spirit, and He left in the power of the Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 10:13



HOMECOMING AT JESUS' CHURCH
OR
A JOB DESCRIPTION OF THE MESSIAH

Luke 4:14-30

Approximately a year transpires between the temptation experience of Jesus and the event we are about to study. Jesus has spent time in Jerusalem and has been busy with His ministry there. He has not been back in His home town of Nazareth for some time and He now returns.

Jesus spent most of the first thirty years of His life in Nazareth. That's why He's called Jesus of Nazareth. That was really His hometown.

Jesus experienced a lot of things while in Nazareth. He learned what it was to work in a business there in Nazareth. He learned the carpenter business while working with His adopted father, Joseph, in his carpenter shop.

He experienced earthly family life there. He learned from Joseph and Mary what it means for a man and his wife to love each other. He also learned about home life, for He had at least four half-brothers and two half-sisters.

He also experienced the thrill of regular worship with other believers. The Bible says, “As was His custom, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.”

Now that Jesus is back in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus is attending a worship service in the synagogue there. Jesus had attended that synagogue regularly all His life. He had been gone from Nazareth for about a year, ministering in Jerusalem and “news about Him spread throughout all the surrounding district” (Luke 4:14).

Here we have a sort of order of service for the synagogue service.

First, He stood. He received the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2. He opened the scroll and read the passage. After the reading, He closed the scroll back up and gave the scroll back to the minister. Then He sits down. Then He explains the passage.

The reading of Scripture was done standing up, but the exposition or the teaching of the Word of God was done sitting down.

Basically, Jesus reads and explains A Job Description of the Messiah.

In this passage we see how Jesus viewed Himself and then we see how others viewed Him.

May I tell you how the Lord Jesus saw Himself? He saw Himself as:


I. A Preacher Luke 4:18-19, 21


Isaiah wrote his passage some 700 years before Jesus was born, and Jesus said, “He was writing about Me.”

Hundreds had read that passage over the hundreds of years since Isaiah wrote those words, and every one of them would say, “One day God is going to send His Messiah and he is going to be anointed with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news and to heal the broken hearted and to set at liberty those who are captive. One day He is coming. One day He is coming.” And the people would respond, “Yes, one day He is coming. One day He is coming.”

But on this day, Jesus said, “Today He is here and I'm He!”

And those who were not sitting down, sat down. And those mouths that were closed, dropped open. And if their eyes were not focused on Him before, they were now focused on Him.

He said, “These verses are about Me” and those in the pews said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” (Luke 4:22).

The first thing Jesus did was that He declared Himself to be a preacher. What kind of preacher was He?

1. He was an Anointed Preacher

Notice how many times He said He was full of the Spirit, saturated by the Spirit, totally surrendered to the Spirit in this chapter.

– Luke 4:1 – Jesus was full of the Spirit.
– Luke 4:1 – He was led by the Spirit.
– Luke 4:14 – He was empowered by the Spirit.
– Luke 4:18 – He was Anointed by the Spirit.

If Jesus so desperately needed the Holy Spirit, how much more do we!

2. He was a Gospel preacher – Luke 4:18.

3. He was a Deliverance preacher – Luke 4:18.

a. He came to deliver the captives from Bondage. He can deliver those in bondage of sin.

b. And He came to deliver from Blindness – spiritual blindness.

4. He is an Urgent Preacher – Luke 4:19.

What does “the acceptable year of the Lord” mean? It means right now. Not tomorrow or next week. Right now! Now is the time.

II. A Healer Luke 4:18

To heal the brokenhearted. He has come to heal and repair shattered lives.

III. A Forgiver of Sins Luke 4:18

“To set at liberty” means to forgive. To forgive those who are bruised. The word “bruised” means those whose lives have been crushed and shattered by sin. The downtrodden.

IV. A Lover

There are five kinds of people found in Verse 18: Poor. Brokenhearted. Captive. Blind. Bruised.

At first, they were Impressed with Jesus.
Then they began to Question Jesus.
Then they demanded Proof.
Then they rejected Him.

Notice Luke 4:14, 18. This is Luke's first mention of hostile opposition to Christ's ministry.

Look at Luke 4:29-30. They turned on Jesus; so Jesus rejected them. This is the last time Jesus will visit Nazareth, His hometown.

Notice Luke 4:30. This was a miraculous escape in which He escaped a premature death at the hands of His hometown people.

What a warning that is for us. If we reject Him once and for all – He may reject us.


THE GREAT PHYSICIAN IS IN

Luke 4:31-44

Doctors in rural areas use to make house calls. Many of those doctors had a sign on their door with a message on each side. One message said, “The doctor is in.” Or if he was not in, he would turn the sign around and the sign would read, “The doctor is out.” A sick person either had to wait or go away disappointed.

Jesus is often called The Great Physician and He is always available – no waiting! And you don't have to go away today disappointed. In this passage we see the Great Physician in action.

Three things I would point out to you from these verses:


I. The Place of Ministry Luke 4:31

Jesus has just left His hometown of Nazareth. After His baptism and His temptations in the wilderness, Jesus went to the area of Jerusalem and ministered there for about a year. He had not been back to His hometown of Nazareth. He decides to go back to Nazareth now.

Luke says that news of Jesus and what He was doing and preaching was spreading everywhere. When He went back to Nazareth the people were excited. As His custom was, He went to the synagogue. Now was their opportunity to hear from the famous rabbi from Nazareth.

When he went to the synagogue, they ask Him to speak. He stands, receives the scroll of Isaiah and reads from Isaiah 61 about the coming Messiah. The people had read from that passage for some 700 years. The rabbis had read from this passage for hundreds of years and they would say, “The Messiah is coming!”

But when Jesus read the passage, He said, “Yes, the Messiah is coming. In fact, He is here and I am He!”

Notice Luke 4:29-30.

Jesus left Nazareth, never to return, because they rejected Him and in return, He rejected them.
Now Jesus goes to Capernaum and He is going to spend the next eighteen months there. Capernaum is going to become His headquarters for His Great Galilean ministry. Some wonderful things are going to happen there. It is in Capernaum that some of His greatest preaching and miracles take place.


II. The Power of the Master

When Jesus was in Nazareth, we saw that He was a powerful Preacher. He took a 700 year old prophecy and said, “Isaiah is talking about the Messiah and I am He.”

Now Luke tells us something else about His preaching. Notice Verse 32: “They (the ones in the synagogue) were Astonished at His doctrine; for His word was with Power (Authority).”
In Jesus' day the scribes didn't teach with authority, they quoted other rabbis or teachers. They spoke ABOUT God.

If the prophets spoke FOR God and the scribes spoke ABOUT God, the thing that made Jesus totally unique was that He spoke AS God. Jesus spoke as the AUTHOR of Scripture. That's why the Bible says the people were Amazed! Jesus took the deep truth of God and made it easy for everyday people to comprehend.

Jesus had the ability to hear the Father's Voice and share it with the people. Jesus never studied in the rabbis' schools, so how could He speak as He did?

John 7:15-16: “And the Jews marveled, saying, 'How does this Man know letters (how did He get such learning), having never studied?' Jesus answered them and said, 'My doctrine is not Mine, but His Who sent Me.'”

Look again at Luke 4:36. “Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, 'What a word this is! For with Authority and Power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out (they obey Him).”

Notice: Jesus had both Power and Authority. The Greek word for “Power” is where we get our word dynamite. The word for “Authority” means having the right to use power correctly. Jesus had both. One without the other is useless.

It's possible to have power but no authority. You're sitting at a traffic light waiting for the light to change. On your left is a Dodge Viper, with about a zillion horsepower, just waiting to streak away like a bullet. That's power! But just before the light begins to change, you see a policeman parked across the road. He is at a school crossing. He walks to the center of the street and holds up his hand. All the traffic comes to a stop. Then the policeman motions to a little girl wearing a backpack to walk across the street. The car has much more power, but the little is under the authority of the policeman.

But it's also possible to have authority without having power. I heard about a federal geologist who had the authority by the U.S. Government to go around and conduct seismographic test at certain locations. He approached a farmer and said, “I need to go out into your pasture and take some readings.”

The farmer looked at the man and said, “You can't go out in my field.” The worker said to the farmer, “This piece of paper says I can go anywhere I need to and conduct the test. The farmer said, “I don't care what the paper says, you can't go out into my field.”

The federal worker just ignored the farmer and climbed over the fence. He was in the middle of the field with his equipment set up when the ground began to shake. The worker thought it was a minor earthquake, until he saw a large angry bull charging right at him. The bull's head was lowered and was
zeroed in on the poor geologist. The man forgot his equipment and started running toward the fence. The farmer who was leaning against the fence yelled, “Show him your papers!”

You see, Jesus had both Power and Authority.

There was a confrontation in the synagogue. A demon spirit who was in a man cried out, “What do You want with us. Have You come to destroy us? I know Who you are – the Holy One of God!”

Notice: The demon knew who Jesus was – the Son of God. He knew he was going to be judged and destroyed. Jesus refused to answer his question. He just said, “Be quiet and come out of the man” and he obeyed.

First John 3:8 says that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus is Lord over demons and He is also Lord over Disease.

See Luke 4:38-39. Jesus rebuked the disease just like He rebuked the demon.


III. The Priority of the Master Luke 4:40-44


Did you notice that Jesus dealt with each sick person one at a time? Jesus could have just spoken one word – “Heal” – and all would have been healed in a second – instantaneously! But He didn't do that. He laid hands on each one, because each one was important.

Notice our Lord's Passion. He needed to get alone with His Father. Jesus knew that the time He spent alone with His Father in Private would determine what He would do in Public with the people the next day.

The same is true of us!



FISHING WITH JESUS

Luke 5:1-11


Before reading the Scriptures.

Fishermen have a reputation for being notorious liars.

In a barber shop there is a plaque that reads, “The only time a fisherman tells the truth is when he calls another fisherman a liar.”

That may not be an exaggeration. One fisherman says he caught a fish so big that when he took a picture of it, the picture itself weighed eleven pounds!

I must confess, I'm not much of a fisherman. Most of the time when I go fishing, I just drown a bunch of worms, donate blood to the mosquitoes and come home empty handed.

True fish tale: Peter, fishing with Jesus, let his net down one time and caught almost four tons of fish.

I want you to remember an important Bible principle: There is a parable in every miracle Jesus performed, and there is a miracle in every parable Jesus tells.

In this miracle, Jesus calls Peter to be a fisher of men.

Read the Passage.


This is the first of five miracles that is recorded which Christ performed which involved the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is called by three names in the New Testament. It is called the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1), and the Sea of Galilee. This sea is about 13 miles by 7 miles and the Jordan River flows through it.

Peter and his fishing companions – probably James, John, and Andrew – had fished all night and the KJV says they had “taken nothing.” The words mean, “not even one.” They did not have even one fish to show for their whole night of fishing.

The fishermen were tired, exhausted, dejected, and probably in a foul mood. Luke points out that the men were now “washing their nets.” After a fishing trip they would bring their 100-foot nets to shore, wash them, mend them, fold them, and put them back into the boat so they would dry and they could use them the next day.

Jesus had been teaching the people. The crowd continues to grow and Luke says, “pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God.” That means that the people keep getting closer and closer to Jesus until He finds Himself backed up to the edge of the water.



It is then that Jesus sees two boats that Peter and his company own. He asks Peter if He can borrow his boat and use it as a floating pulpit. The lake acted as a sound system or sounding board. All could hear without Jesus raising His voice very much.

Now Jesus has finished teaching the crowd, but instead of going back to shore, Jesus tells Peter to head out for the deep water.

Jesus has finished His teaching to the crowd; now He is about to deal with Peter personally.

I want you to see first of all:


I. The Assignment Luke 5:4-5


Remember that Peter and his friends had fished all night and had caught nothing. Now the Lord was sending him back to the same place – the place of his failure and fruitlessness. Sometimes God sends us back to the place of our failure and fruitlessness to teach us the lessons He wants us to learn.

There's an important truth here: God often prepares us for His call by allowing us to endure personal failure. Until we sense our need for Him, we will not be ready to follow Him.

Why did Peter fail? Why didn't the Lord allow Peter to catch fish the night before? There were plenty of fish in the sea as we'll see in a moment.

Peter failed because the Lord wanted to teach him a much needed lesson: “Without Him you can do nothing.”

• John 15:5. There's another important verse.

• Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”

The words of Jesus to Peter contain both a command and a promise.

• “Launch out into the deep” – the command.
• “Let down your nets for a drought (a good catch of fish, a huge haul) – the promise.

It's not as if Jesus is saying, “Let's go out into the deep water, put down the nets, and we'll see what happens.” Jesus is promising that if Peter will obey, he will catch fish.

We can learn some useful lessons from this:

1. God never gives foolish commands – though they may look foolish at the time.

2. God intends to bless those who obey Him without hesitation.

3. God's greatest miracles usually require our cooperation.


Have you ever had to do something that you didn't want to do – maybe a dirty job nobody wanted to do? You may have done it out of a sense of obligation or duty or respect.

I've heard folks say, “If your heart isn't in it, then you might as well not do it.” That's wrong thinking. Sometimes you can't trust your heart. Jeremiah 17:9

God will reward your obedience if you will go ahead and do what He told you to do.

We should serve God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6), but when the heart doesn't cooperate, obey God anyway.


II. The Argument Luke 5:5-9

I've heard a lot of sermons on these verses that made Peter out to be the hero. “Lord, we've fished all night and caught nothing, but at Your word, – just because You told me to – I'm going to be faithful and do what you asked me to do.” But that's not what's happening here, and Simon is no hero – anything but.

Look back at what Jesus told Peter to do: “Let down your nets” (plural). Peter said, “I will let down THE NET.”

Peter said this with disgust and a little sarcasm: “I'll do it, but I don't want to. I'm going to obey, but I'm going to do it the cheapest, easiest way I can. Don't think I'm going to unfold all these nets I've just washed. I'm not because nothing is going to happen anyway.”

The word “master” in Verse 5 is not the usual word for Master used to address Jesus as the Master Teacher; the One with authority. It is the word for “ship's captain” and again it is said with a hint of disgust.

Peter is saying: “Listen, I'm the expert in boats and fishing. You are a carpenter. What does a carpenter know about fishing? About as much as a fisherman knows about carpentry!”

• It's the wrong Time – it's best to fish at night.

• It's the wrong Place – you don't fish in deep water, you fish in shallow water.

Here's the saddest point of all: Peter is going to let down just one net to prove to Jesus He's wrong.

• “Just to make my point, I'll let down a SINGLE net.”
• “Just to humor You, Lord, I'll let down A net.”
• “Sorry, Lord, but it's not worth all the trouble to let down all the nets.”

What will Peter do?

Notice Luke 5:6-9.

By the way, God can work in the midst of our doubts, if we will obey Him anyway.

Peter began to pull the net back into the boat as he had done all night long. Suddenly the net stopped. Maybe his first thought was, “O, great! Now I'm hung on some rock!”

But then he felt the movement of the fish transferred through the net into his hands. There's always a sense of expectation involved in fishing. Even if you're fishing with a hook, there is usually a time between when you catch the fish and when you see the fish.

How big is it? What kind is it? There's always the element of surprise.

Peter kept pulling until he could see fish – hundreds of them – thousands! His net was under such strain until it began to break. He needed help. Quickly he called for James and John and Andrew. Together they hauled the huge catch into two boats and the boats were about to sink.

The average fishing boat of that day was seven and a half feet wide and twenty-seven feet long. Each could hold more than two tons of fish. That would mean the catch was about four tons – with one drop of one net!

Peter's response is surprising. I would have expected Peter to say something like, “Wow, Lord, this is great. Look at all these fish! I want you in my boat every time I go fishing.”

Instead, Peter falls to his knees in the slimy pile of fish and says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

In Luke 5:5 Peter calls Jesus a ship's captain. In Luke 5:8 he calls Jesus “Lord”, which means “boss.”

Peter repents! Why? He did what Jesus asked him to do and the results were greater than he could have imagined – except that Peter knew that his heart was not right and he knew that Jesus knew it too.

He did what Jesus asked him to do, but he did it with the wrong motive and the wrong heart.

Peter said, “Depart from me, Lord.” But I can tell you that Peter was grateful that Jesus didn't depart from him. It would have crushed Peter if the Lord had departed from him.

III. The Analogy Luke 5:9-10


Peter had been catching live fish and watching them die. Now, he would catch spiritually dead men and watch them come alive!

The verse really reads, “You will catch men alive!”

On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter threw the Gospel net out and pulled in 3,000 men of all races and languages.

In Acts 10, Peter goes to the house of Cornelius and introduced the Gentiles to Christ. What a fisher of
men he became!


IV. The Allegiance Luke 5:11


Notice: “They forsook all and followed Jesus.” That means Peter and the others abandoned the record catch of fish. What price would they have brought down at the fish market?

He left his boats, his nets, his livelihood, and followed Jesus into an unknown future.

For Peter it meant leaving behind the old life. Letting go of all that would hinder his walk with Christ.

And he followed Jesus. The word “follow” means “to walk the same road.” That's what a disciple does – he walks the same road as Jesus.

He gets on the “Jesus Road” and follows it wherever it may lead. No guarantees, no deals, no special promises. He simply walks that road every day, following in his Lord's steps.

Don't be afraid to follow Jesus. You'll only regret that you waited so long to do it.

If you'll just let yourself get caught by Jesus, you'll never regret it.

Satan is a fisherman, too. He's got his nets out everywhere.

When we are hooked by Jesus, we live and become more alive than ever.

If you are hooked by Satan, there is pain, suffering, death eternal.

Jesus wants to rescue you from Satan's net. 2 Timothy 2:26.

When we hook a fish, they struggle to get loose. I've seen that when the Lord tries to hook us. Don't struggle. Let Him catch you.

He wants us to be fishers of men. We catch them; He cleans them.



“LORD, IF YOU WANT TO, YOU CAN …”

Luke 5:12-16


As I begin the message, let me ask you a couple of questions:

1. What do you think would be the Number One cause of death in the United States? You may say, “Well it must be old age.” No, the Number One cause of death is heart attacks and heart related problems.

2. What would you think would be the most feared disease by most of the people in United States? According to the data, it is Alzheimer's disease or dementia. It is that disease that would rob you of your mind; even to the point that you don't really know who you are, or who your spouse is, or not knowing who your children are.

3. What is the most dreaded diagnosis one could receive? For most people it is hearing that they have the Big “C” – Cancer. The word “cancer” brings with it the idea of pain and suffering. Then the treatments and all that goes with them.

But in Jesus' day, the most dreaded disease was Leprosy. To have leprosy was a death sentence. There was no cure for leprosy. It was incurable apart from a miracle of God. The Bible even gives instructions and regulations to those who had leprosy.

Leviticus 13:45-46. He must wear torn clothes, he must wear nothing upon his head, he must put a covering over his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, Unclean!” when he got within 50 feet of anyone. If it was a windy day; the rule changed to 200 feet. And he must dwell alone or with other lepers.

There are nine cases of leprosy recorded in Scripture (Exodus 4:6; Numbers 12:10, 2 Kings 5:1, 17;
7:3; 15:5; 2 Chronicles 26:20; Matthew 8:21; Matt. 26:6; Luke 5:12-15). Simon the leper, who had Jesus for a meal when Mary anointed Jesus for His burial, is believed to have been one of the ten lepers Jesus cured. Seven of these cases are in the Old Testament, and two are in the New Testament.

Interestingly, the first leper mentioned in the Bible was Moses and the second was his sister, Miriam. Other outstanding lepers were Naaman, King Uzziah, and Gehazia.

But, here is what I want you to see: Leprosy in the Bible is a picture of sin.

Listen to Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean (leprous) thing …” (All men do sin and all men are sinners,) and all our righteousness are as filthy rags (the filthy, defiled rags of a leper).”

Let me show you why leprosy is a picture of sin:

1. Both leprosy and sin start inwardly and expresses itself outwardly. Sin doesn't begin on the surface. It is a personal matter of the heart.

2. Both leprosy and sin start out small and then spreads. Leprosy spreads until it covers and controls the whole body. So does sin. Sin begins in our heart and mind and then it spreads until it affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we make decisions, and the way we see things.

3. Both leprosy and sin defiles everything it touches.

Ask the alcoholic, the druggy, the prostitute. How many lives and relationships have been defiled and destroyed because of sin? And once you yield to sin, you cannot un-yield to sin.

4. Both leprosy and sin disfigure.

Leprosy disfigures as it eats away at the nose, the lips, the fingers. Sin disfigures inner beauty.
Sometimes you can actually see the ravages of sin on a person's face.

5. Both leprosy and sin separates.

The leper is forced to live alone. He feels alone, despised and rejected. Sin does the same. It separates us from friends and from God. Isaiah 59:1-2

6. Both leprosy and sin lead to death.

The wages of sin are death. Without Christ, we are walking, talking, breathing dead men.

But now I want us to look at this miracle:


I. The Request Made to the Master Luke 5:12


“Lord, if You are willing … (if You want to,) You can make me clean.”

1. He came to Jesus with an Awareness of his need.

He knew his condition. He knew he was unclean. He knew there was nothing he could do for himself. He knew he was hopeless and helpless without Jesus.

2. He came in Humility.

He falls on his face before the Lord. One Gospel writer says he begs Jesus; another says he kneels before Jesus; nother says he worships Jesus.

3. He came in Faith.

He doesn't come to Jesus and say, “Lord, if you CAN.” He says, “Lord, if You are willing – if You want to.” He believed Jesus had the Power to heal him, if only it were in His will to do so. None of us here today have leprosy, but do you remember what leprosy is a picture of in the Bible? Sin! This man's problem was leprosy and he brought his problem to Jesus. We may have a problem with some sin and we need to bring that problem to Jesus, because you cannot deal with it without Jesus.
A. Your problem area may be with your Temper.

All of us have a temper, but the question is: “Do you keep your temper in control?”

I read something about anger that makes a lot of sense. A study was done on anger and it was concluded that when someone loses his temper or when one does not control his temper, it results in temporary insanity.

Why does someone say things or do things that they later regret? When someone loses it, as we say, why do they lose it?

How do you handle your anger? Some folk clam-up while others blow-up. Some express their anger with words of cursing with a loud voice – tearing someone down or threatening someone, while others express their anger by holding it in and carrying around within them a spirit of ill-will or revenge.

If anger is your problem, you need to go to the Lord in humility and say to the Lord, “Lord, if You want to, You can; You have the power to deal with this in my life.”

B. You problem may be in the area of your Thought-Life.

If your thought life is impure, you need to be honest with the Lord about it and say, “Lord, if You want to, You can; You have the power to clean up my thought-life.”

Sadly, many church folks and staff members feed their impure thought-life with pornography. A couple of years ago Lifeway conducted a survey among staff members and church goers, asking them to be honest; no names attached, as to how many viewed pornography and the reason they did so was because there seemed to be a rash of staff members who were terminated from their church because
it was discovered that they were addicted to porn. The numbers to admit to being addicted to porn was shocking. “Lord, if You want to, You can deliver folks from that if they bring their problem to You.”

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true – honest – just – pure – lovely – think (meditate) on these things.”

C. Your problem may be in the area of your Talk; your Tongue.

Do you speak the language of the world or do you speak with sanctified language?

D. Your problem may be in the area of Tale-bearing.

Do you enjoy spreading bad things of others; things that you would not say to the face of the one you are talking about; things that you do not know if they are true or not, but you speak them to others as if they were true?

There may be other things we could list that are eating you up as leprosy eats up the leper, but I think you get the meaning here.

II. The Response of the Master Luke 5:13


Did you notice, before Jesus told the leper that He was willing to cleanse him of his leprosy, Jesus “put forth His hand and touched him.”?

Jesus touched the untouchable! I wonder how long it had been since anyone had touched him. Most folks ran from him or threw rocks at him if he got too close.

The word for “touch” means “to lay hold of.” It would be like embracing someone or putting your arm around one's shoulder.

By the way, there are many who don't have leprosy that are treated by society as though they are untouchable. Sometimes folks treat folks who are destitute or different or down and out as though they are untouchable. I'm so glad that Jesus is no respecter of persons.

Listen to what Jesus said,“ 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately the leprosy left him.”

Can you imagine the joy of that man when he saw what Jesus had done for him!? His skin and his flesh were as smooth and soft as a baby's!


III. The Reaction to the Master Luke 5:14-15

Jesus told him to tell no one and he told everyone; He tells us to tell everyone and we tell no one.

Why would Jesus tell him not to tell anyone?

• Because people would follow Him for the miracles rather than for His Message. It was true. Because He told many of the folks He healed not to tell anyone and they told anyway, Jesus often had to move away from the city where many could be reached to a desert place where there were fewer people. On other occasions, like when He fed the 5,000, the people wanted to make Him king, but His mission was not to feed them but to redeem them.

• A second reason not to tell was that it angered the religious leaders and they would try to do away with Him before His time.

Then Jesus tells him to go show himself to the priest and to make an offering for his cleansing. Why?

For Affirmation that Jesus was the Messiah and for Evangelization, that people might believe He was Who He said that He was.

Is there some problem that you need to bring to Jesus? He is always willing to bring cleansing to those who desire it.



THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN

Luke 5:17-26

The usual way of looking at this passage of Scripture is to first look at the cripple, the paralyzed man who was brought to Jesus on a cot by his four friends.

Doctor Luke says that the man was “taken with a palsy.” The word “palsy” means “to be loosed on one side.” One side of his body was without strength. He was paralyzed on one side. He was disabled.

The word indicates that this man was not born that way; nor was it caused by an accident. It was most likely the result of a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side.

This man's physical paralysis is a picture of man's spiritual paralysis, for man without God has no strength of his own. In fact, his body will not respond to anything. There is no feeling whatsoever. The members of his body are still there, but they will not respond.

Man without God is dead. There is no response to spiritual things. He may want to do right things, but he doesn't have the ability to do so.

The second thing most folks look at in this passage is the four men who brought this man to Jesus.

Jesus is most likely at the home of Peter. Our Lord stayed at Peter's home when He was in Capernaum. These four men had faith that Jesus could heal their friend. Since the man could not walk, they decided to take him to Jesus on his own bed or cot. Each man took a corner. When they got to the house the place was full and they could not get in. They went to the roof, made a hole in the roof and let their friend down next to Jesus.

Verse 20 says, “When (Jesus) saw their faith, He said to the man, 'Man, your sins are forgiven you.'”
Most commentaries say that Jesus is referring to the faith of the four friends, and I use to think that as well, but the more I study this, the more I believe Jesus is referring to all five men.

The four helpers, I believe, had trusted Jesus for themselves. But I also think these four men told this man about Jesus and that they believed He was the Messiah, and something stirred in his heart and by the time he was let down before Jesus, he too became a believer.

Jesus saw the persistence and creativity and the sacrifice of all five of these men and Scripture says, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, 'Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Jesus saw the man's greatest need was forgiveness. Jesus would later heal his physical body, but He did the spiritual healing first.

“Son, your sins are forgiven you.” That was his greatest need, and that is the greatest need of every man.

Let me ask and answer four questions:

I. Why Do We Need Forgiveness?

Because there is something wrong with us. God has set the standards we are to live by and we don't; nor can we live up to those standards.

God made the rules and His rules don't change. We can't do away with His rules. When God made the rules, He didn't ask for our opinion. God has spoken – and He did not stutter.

“Thou shalt not” still means “Thou shalt not.” If we disobey God's rules, we sin, and to be right with God, He must forgive us of our sins.

II. What Is Forgiveness?

Do you know why we feel guilty when we fail to obey God's standards? We feel guilty because we ARE guilty. Romans 3:23.

Yet, the Bible says that we can be forgiven of our sins. Completely and totally. Jesus made a way – the only way – for our sins to be forgiven.

The punishment for our sins against God is death – spiritual death. Separation from God and eternal punishment in an eternal hell.

But Praise God, our God is a God of compassion and grace and mercy and love. God wanted to allow us to be forgiven of every wrong and sin. The only way He could do that was to let His Son die as our substitute on the cross.

So, God paid a debt He did not owe to pay the debt we could not pay.

God gives us three Hebrew words and four Greek words to tell us what forgiveness is. The three
Hebrew words are found in the Old Testament and the four Greek words are found in the New Testament.

1. In Psalm 32:1 the word “forgiveness” means “to cover.”

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

In the Old Testament the people's sin were covered until that day when the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross. Then all of the sins of all of the ages were rolled upon Him and He literally became the sin bearer of all the sins of the world.

In other words, in the Old Testament God forgave sin by covering that sin, by blotting it out of His sight. Old Testament sins were covered on the basis of a promissory note that one day Christ would take all the sin upon Himself and the sin debt would be paid in full.

2. The word “Nasa” means “sins taken away by God.” It means to release one from the burden and weight of sin so God can carry them away, never to be seen or heard of again.

3. The third word means not only to pardon one's sin, but to restore as well.

4. The fourth word relates to the scapegoat and means “to cancel a debt held and to remember it no more.

5. The fifth word means to put away so that one is no longer held responsible for the sin debt.

6. The last word means “cleansed because of the grace of God.”

Matthew's Gospel adds the words, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” It is something that only God can do for us!


III. What Happens When Our Sins Are Forgiven?


The Bible uses a number of images to describe how God deals with our sins:

A. Isaiah 44:22: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions and as a cloud, thy sins.”

God blots out our sins as a thick cloud. As a person cannot see what is ahead because it is blocked by a thick cloud, so God obliterated the sins of those He has redeemed. It's like trying to drive in heavy, thick fog. You can't see what is ahead of you.

B. Jeremiah 31:34: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

God forgets our sins and remembers them no more. God, Who is all-knowing, chooses not to remember my sins that He has forgiven any more. He never brings them up any more.

C. Isaiah 38:17: “For Thou has cast all my sins behind Thy back.”

D. Micah 7:19. God buries our sins in the depths of the sea.

E. Psalm 103:12. God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.

A lot of folks imagine that in Heaven when we give account of ourselves before the Lord, that God is going to put all our sins on a large screen so everyone can see them. “Oh, my wife/husband is going to find out what I did.”

Listen, when God forgives our sins, He clears the record, He erases the tape so that when He pushes the button, nothing shows up on the big screen in Heaven. Our sins are forgiven, forgotten, removed,
buried, and blotted out. They can never condemn us again. Glorious thought! Let that grip your soul, and you will never be the same.

But how could it be this way? How could God forgive us? Why doesn't He look at our sins? Here's the answer: A long time ago God fixed His gaze on the cross of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are honest enough to admit that we are wicked and evil, a stream of mercy flows out from the cross of Christ and our sins are covered by His blood. With God there is forgiveness. There is nothing more important than our sins being forgiven by God.

IV. How Can We Know Jesus Can Forgive our Sins? Luke 5:21-24

When Jesus saw the men's faith, He said to the man on the bed, “Your sins are forgiven you.”

The scribes said, “This man blasphemes. Who can forgive sin but God alone?” That would have been true if Jesus were just a man; but He was and is the God-Man!

Jesus proved He was more than mere man when He read their thoughts.

Jesus then asked, “Which is easier to say, 'Your sins be forgiven you' or to say 'Arise and walk?' Well, it's easier to say, 'Your sins be forgiven you' because no man could see in this man's heart.' Then Jesus said, 'To prove that I have power on earth to forgive sins', He said to the paralytic, 'Arise and walk.' And He did. And the people glorified God.”

Jesus still forgives sins today. He promised that “Whosoever calls on the Name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved and his sins forgiven.”

The last verse of the hymn “Softly and Tenderly” says this:

Oh! for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me.

Tho' we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Come home, Come home.
Ye who are weary, come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home.

 

MATTHEW'S SALVATION PARTY

Luke 5:27-32

At the time of our passage, Jesus has been in His public ministry for about a year and a half. He began His public ministry around Jerusalem. Then He decided to go back to His hometown of Nazareth. He had only been there less than a month when He was invited to speak in the synagogue which He most likely grew up in. On that Sabbath He read from Isaiah 61 which said that the Messiah was coming. Jesus said, “I am that Messiah.” The people rejected Him and even tried to kill Him by pushing Him off of a cliff. Jesus escaped and left Nazareth, never to return again.

Jesus then went to the region of Galilee and He will be there for about a year and a half. To be more specific, Jesus went to Capernaum, the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. He spent much of His time there in Simon Peter's home.

One day as He and His disciples were walking the shores of Galilee in Capernaum, Jesus saw a man sitting at the receipt of custom or the tax office. His name was Levi.

The Jewish people of Jesus' time had no misgivings about paying the taxes that God had required of them in the Old Testament law, but Levi wasn't collecting those kind of taxes. Levi was collecting customs taxes or tribute taxes of toll taxes. That means that he collected taxes on the fishing trade since Capernaum was right there at the Sea of Galilee. That means that Levi had probable collected taxes from Peter, James, John, and Andrew on their fishing business.

Jesus is going to confront this man, Levi. Four things I want you to see from this passage:


I. Jesus and the Publican Luke 5:27-28

This man was known by two names. His Jewish name was Levi; his Christian name was Matthew.

His Jewish name was “Levi,” which means “priest or servant of God.” His Christian name, Matthew, means “gift of God.” Levi is evidently of the tribe of Levi, the tribe set apart by God to minister to the other tribes in sacred things. By the time of Christ, many of the Levites were the nation's lawyers. It must have been a bitter disappointment to his parents when young Matthew turned his back on the legal profession to get rich quickly by becoming a publican.

The collectors in that day were called “publicans” because they collected “Public Revenues.” A tax collector was doubly hated by his fellow Jews. He not only collected the required revenue appointed by the hated enemies of the Jews, the Roman government, but he made a lucrative living by also over charging his own brethren, the Jews, more and that he put in his own pocket. A tax collector was considered by the ancient Jewish people to be two things: a covenant breaker and a legal thief. They were considered traitors and turncoats because they worked for the hated Romans. Tax collectors were considered on the same level as swine.

Publicans were barred from public worship. They were barred from being a witness at a trial because publicans were known for their lying. You couldn't trust them. They were considered the spiritual lepers of society. No one cared about them and they were very lonely.

A tax office is a most unlikely place to be converted. For one to be converted in a Temple or synagogue would not be surprising, but to be converted at a hated and despised tax office shows the great power of Christ in converting sinners. Jesus can save you anywhere.

When we are told that Jesus “saw” Matthew, it means that He “saw through” Matthew. He saw what was in Matthew. He saw what no one else could see. He saw the hidden potential in his life. It's impossible for us to know what is happening in an individual's heart, but Jesus sees and knows. Matthew had no doubt heard Jesus preach and had seen some of the Lord's miracles and his heart had already been stirred and touched. He was ready when the Lord called.

Jesus said to Levi, “Follow Me,” and Luke tells us that “he left all, rose up, and followed Him.” It was a call for Levi to leave his old life behind and to begin a new life of following Jesus. Without a moment's hesitation, he began to follow Christ.

I hope you appreciate what a decisive decision this was for Matthew to make. He gave up more to follow Jesus than the rest of the disciples. The other disciples could go back to their jobs if they wanted to or needed to; but Levi made a clean, permanent break with his past.

Matthew knew that if he arose and followed Jesus, there would be no turning back. If he left the tax office to follow Jesus and then changed his mind and later tried to return to his old business, he wouldn't be accepted back. His tax office would have been given to someone else. People who yearned to “get rich quick” would be standing in line to take his place. If he tried to get another job later, who among his people would hire a former hated tax collector? When Matthew chose to follow Christ, he burned all his bridges behind him.

Someone said that when Luke said that Matthew left all to follow Jesus, that Matthew left all except his pen and paper behind, and he would use that to tell the wonderful Gospel of Christ.


II. Jesus and the Party Luke 5:29

Look at this picture! Jesus, and I would think His disciples as well, were invited to Levi's house for dinner. On the one hand you have Jesus and His followers. On the other hand, you have Levi and his friends and associates. Some were other tax collectors, and others, Matthew says in his Gospel, are called “sinners.” The word is used to refer to prostitutes and to those who did not observe the strict religious rules of the scribes and Pharisees. These were the only folks who would have anything to do with Matthew.

Jesus had become the center of Matthew's life and he wanted his friends to meet Jesus too! That's a great mark that you are truly a disciple of Christ, if you have a burden to introduce Jesus to all your friends.

Matthew hosted this party as an opportunity to say farewell to his old life and as an opportunity to introduce his friends to Jesus.


III. Jesus and the Problem Luke 5:30-31


Not everyone was thrilled by our Lord's decision to have dinner with a bunch of sinners. The religious leaders used this as an opportunity to attack the Lord Jesus.

Guess who the hardest person to bring to Christ is. Not the murderer. Not the liar. Not the adulterer. Not the thief. The hardest person to convert is the “good” person who is self-satisfied and he or she feels insulted when called a sinner.

The Pharisees were like that. They were respected as men of God, biblical scholars, and teachers in the synagogues. They had the furthest to fall by confessing their need of a Savior. When a prostitute admitted, “I'm a sinner,” it was an act of coming to her senses. But if a Pharisee said, “I'm a lost sinner; I need Jesus to be my personal Savior,” he would have to swallow his pride. And pride is hard to swallow. It's about as easy to swallow as an elephant.

Their idea of a holy man could be summarized in the word separation. A good man would not want to be contaminated by associating himself with publicans and sinners! A holy man's task is to Denounce such people, not to Dine with them.

We are in trouble spiritually when we think we have reached a place where we are better and more righteous than others. The scribes and Pharisees attacked Jesus for spending time with sinners. Their criticism was really a compliment! I thank God Jesus is a Friend of sinners and that He came to seek and to save the lost.


IV. Jesus and the Pronouncement Luke 5:32

When Jesus heard their criticism, He did not allow them to go unchallenged. In fact, Jesus makes a bold pronouncement that will define His approach to reaching the world.

We must understand the “righteous” people Jesus referred to were the Pharisees who considered themselves righteous. The “sinners” were the outcast such as Matthew and his kind. We can paraphrase Jesus' words in Luke 5: 31-32 as follows: “It is not those who THINK they are healthy who call for the doctor, but those who KNOW they are sick. My invitation to salvation is not for the self-
righteous, but for those who admit they are lost sinners.”

With sarcasm in His voice, Jesus was telling the Pharisees, “If you are righteous, I know others who aren't. If you are spiritually healthy, there are still plenty of sick folks around. So if you don't mind, I would like to tend to my patients.” Jesus was addressing the Pharisees on their own terms. He admitted that tax collectors, harlots, and drunks were spiritually sick, but that only made them perfect
candidates for a doctor, and Jesus was that doctor.

If the Gaithers had written this song while Matthew was on earth, I think it would have been his favorite song:

Something beautiful, Something good;
All my confusion, He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife;
But He made something beautiful of my life.
And He can do the same in your life!


NEW WINESKINS

Luke 5:33-39


The parable of the cloth and the wineskins is the first of 24 parables contained in Luke's gospel. A parable is a profound teaching tool that Jesus utilized frequently. The word “parable” comes from two Greek words that means “to throw alongside” So, a parable is when someone offers a story that can be thrown down alongside another story that gives the story a deeper meaning or additional truth.

In Luke 5, Luke is already preparing his readers for the rejection of Jesus by the religious leadership of the nation. If the multitudes welcome Jesus, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law quickly begin to be suspicious, and then critical, and then become outright opponents, who seek occasion to accuse Him and also a means of destroying Him.

The Pharisees were first introduced in Luke 5, at the healing of the paralytic, who was lowered through the roof of the house, in which Jesus was teaching. When Jesus informed the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, the Pharisees reacted, rightly reasoning that only God can forgive sins. They could not deny the healing of the paralytic, but they were unwilling to receive Jesus as God.

Then when Matthew was saved and he made a banquet at which Jesus and “sinners” intermingled, the gap between Jesus and the Pharisees widened significantly. Here is Jesus eating and drinking with sinners and the rules of the Pharisees says that the righteous and the sinner are to remain separate. There is to be no fellowship with the sinner.

The Pharisees ask the disciples of Jesus, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30)

Now the Pharisees ask another question – “Why do the disciples of John the Baptist as well as the Pharisees fast often and make prayers, but Jesus and His disciples do not?”

Both questions have to do with eating and drinking:

• Why does Jesus eat with sinners?
• Why does Jesus feast while we fast?

Note the contrast in the attitude of the Pharisees with that of the sinners.

• “Why are Your disciples able to enjoy life, while we merely endure it?”
• The sinners are celebrating; the Pharisees are grumbling.
• The sinners are happy; the Pharisees are sad.
• The sinners are enjoying life; the Pharisees only endure it.

Jesus gives an extensive answer and a number of factors are involved:

First, fasting was a sign of repentance, which was inappropriate action for the Pharisees, who thought themselves righteous, and thus did not feel the need to repent.
Second, John the Baptist referred to himself as the friend of the Bridegroom and the Messiah as the Bridegroom (John 3:29). Jesus picks up on this and points out that the friends of the Bridegroom do not fast while He is present with them, but only fast in His absence. Jesus, the Bridegroom, is present with His friends and followers; thus, it is only appropriate for them to rejoice and not fast. There was coming a time when it would be proper for His disciples to fast – at the time of His arrest and death to the time the Holy Spirit was given.

In Psalm 16:11David wrote: “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures
forever.”

For the Pharisees, who did not know God, being in Jesus' presence was not joy, but agony.

In the Old Testament God gave His people some rules, regulations, and special days to observe. Since Jesus came to die for our sins, the old system is obsolete and needs to be replaced with something new and different.

Did He come to IMPROVE the old life or to REPLACE it with new life? Does His coming to earth REFORM us or TRANSFORM us? Did He come to ADD something or to BRING us something brand new?

Jesus is going to deal with three things in this passage: Parties, Patches, and Wineskins.


I. Parties Luke 5:33-35

We are introduced to some strange bedfellows. The Pharisees, as a group, rejected the ministry of John the Baptist. John, in turn, denounced the Pharisees as “a generation of vipers” (Matthew 3:7). But here the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees, who are at odds about most things, find that they have something in common – fasting. The disciples of John fasted evidently because they thought it to be proof of their repentance; the Pharisees fasted because they considered it part of their religion.

To the surprise of the Pharisees and the followers of John, the disciples of Jesus didn't fast at all. In fact, the disciples of Jesus partied at Matthew's Salvation Party.

Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees were fasting for the wrong reason. They were doing it simply as an outward display of their goodness and to be seen of men. The Pharisees would put limestone dust or ashes on their face and in their hair when they fasted. They wore sackcloth (burlap) and sucked their cheeks so as to appear emancipated or “holy.” They “fasted” to show off how good they were and they expected the same kind of behavior from Jesus and His disciples.

Fasting itself is a wonderful spiritual discipline to prepare yourself for some task or trial. Jesus fasted and prayed often, but it wasn't a ritual designed for others to see.

While we are on the subject, let me give you a few thoughts concerning this matter of fasting.

1. Fasting is nowhere commanded in the Bible. But, it is not forbidden either.

2. Fasting is taking time that would normally be spent eating, sleeping, or enjoying some other physical pleasure, and using that time for prayer, Bible study, and meditation.
3. Fasting does not impress God and it does not persuade God.

4. Fasting only has merit if it is being used to seek God's face for a time or personal spiritual
growth.

Getting back to Verse 33. Why doesn't the disciples of Jesus fast? Jesus answers the question in
Luke 5:34-35.

Jesus is the Bridegroom. Believers are the wedding guest, not funeral mourners. Fasting during a wedding feast would be most inappropriate. The Bridegroom has come. It was a time for laughter, not lamentation; a time to feast, not to fast. The Lord of glory has come. It's time to rejoice and be glad.

Psalm 16:11: “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.”

Jesus went on to describe a time when fasting would be fitting for His disciples. “The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.”

Between our Lord's death and resurrection, the disciples were alone. Their Groom had been taken away, and they were filled with grief (John 16:20). That would be a fitting occasion for fasting, but not while He was with them.

How about now? Has Christ been “taken away” from us? Is He absent? Today, He is with us by His Holy Spirit. His last promise in the Gospel of Matthew was, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, joy, not sorrow, should be our hallmark.

A young girl said about her Sunday School teacher, “She's always so happy, she must go to Heaven every night.” “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”


II. Patchwork Luke 5:36


Jesus gives us new life, not patchwork on our old life.

Today we have developed all kinds of synthetic fabrics that don't shrink when washed. In Jesus' time, new cloth would always shrink after the first few times it was washed. A person wearing a new garment had to make sure it was a couple of sizes too large so over time, the garment would shrink down to the right size. If you had an old robe with a hole in it, it would be foolish to sew a new patch of cloth on it. Obviously, when it was washed, the new patch would shrink, but the old would stay the same. And then RIP! It would have ruined the new patch and the old garment.

Jesus didn't come to “patch up” the old covenant, what we call the Law. He didn't come to Improve the old covenant; He came to Replace it with something totally new.

The Old Age of the Law is replaced with the New Age of Grace – John 1:17.

He has not come to Reform us, but to Transform us. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians
5:17).


III. Wineskins Luke 5:37-39


We use bottles to put wine in today, but in Jesus' time, wine was most often stored in goatskins. These skins were removed, scraped clean on the inside, then tanned over a fire. Then the skin was stitched back together, with the neck of the goatskin becoming the neck of the wineskin. A fresh wineskin was soft and supple. When new wine (non-fermented) was poured into it, gas was released from the process of fermentation. The new wineskin would stretch to accommodate this expansion.

When the skin stopped expanding it became rigid. If you put more new or non-fermented wine in it, the skin would pop.

The old cannot be blended with the new.

The wine is the Holy Spirit. The wineskin represents the believer. Christ came to make us new, fit vessel for the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus, all begins now with a New Birth, with a New Man, with New Life in Christ. The Holy Spirit cannot be poured into the Old Life.

God provided us with a new nature capable of handling the baptism, indwelling, filling, and anointing of the mighty Spirit of God.

Beginning with our conversion, the Christian life is all about change. We grow from spiritual infants to spiritual maturity.

The world hates change. Yet, it is the only thing that has brought progress.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Are there some old garments and wineskins the Lord wants you to discard? Some habits and attitudes?

Notice again Luke 5:39. Some, like the Pharisees, had acquired a taste for the old wine – the sacrificial system, the legalistic rules of “Thy shalt” and “Thy shalt not.” They were not even willing to taste of the New Wine of Jesus. But the old system will not save. We are saved “by grace through faith;” not of our trying to keep rules.

Have you tasted the new, sweet wine of God's grace?

 

LORD OF THE SABBATH

Luke 6:1-11


The one thing that kept Jesus in trouble with the religious leaders of His day was over the matter of the Sabbath Day, and it was not God's Law concerning the Sabbath, but the traditional laws of men that He broke.

Have you ever wondered why there are seven days in a week? Why not five? Why not ten? Why are there seven days in a week?

Well, you have to go back to Genesis One to find the answer. The reason there are seven days in a week is because that's the way God set it up. There is no other explanation for that. If you rule God out of the equation, there is no explanation.

The Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and then on the seventh day God rested. Why did God rest? He wasn't tired, because He is God and God doesn't get tired. No, God rested because He was through with His work of creation.

• God doesn't have to create any more birds because in creation He created procreation.
• God didn't have to create any more whales or sharks because in creation He created
procreation.
• God doesn't have to create any more men or women because in creation He created procreation.

And so, God rested, not because He was tired, but because He was through with creation. It was over.

Later on, God did something unusual for His people. He gave His people a day of rest.

Let me ask you this: What does “Sabbath” mean? Don't say “seven” because Sabbath doesn't mean “seven.” Sabbath means “rest;” it means “to cease.”

Notice that God gave the Sabbath only to His people, the Jews, and not to the other nations. Why?

1. God gave Israel the Sabbath as a gift and as a distinctive mark and sign for Israel.

Exodus 16:29: “For the Lord have Given you the Sabbath.”

Exodus 16:30: “So the people rested on the seventh day.”

This day of rest was a gift from God to man. God rested on the seventh day, not because He was tired, God doesn't get tired. He rested because He was through. But God gave man a day of rest for an entirely different reason. It wasn't because man was through. It was because man does get tired.

The people who die the quickest in America or anywhere in the world are people who work seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. God understands the body we have. He made it. He designed it; and He knew that it needed rest.

The Sabbath was God's gift to His people. Remember that the people of God had lived in forced servitude in Egypt for over 400 years.

2. God set aside the Sabbath as the Lord's Day; no work was to be done, but man was to worship the Lord, for the Lord “hallowed it.”

Understand that the word “work” – “thou shalt not do any work” – the people of Israel were forbidden from labor that brought them a profit on that day.

Well what about today? Times have changed. We do not worship on the Sabbath; we worship on Sunday. But I remind you that Sunday for us is the Lord's Day and we are to honor Him on His day.

I remember, and some of you can remember, when we treated the Lord's Day with much more honor and respect than we do today. I can remember when all the stores were closed on Sunday. There was no place to eat out on Sundays. (That within itself would cause a lot of folks to go hungry on Sundays.) Working on Sunday keep the workers out of church and the owners are making a profit. And we had a lot more folks in church then than we do now.

Well, is it wrong to work on Sunday or eat out on Sunday? Romans 14:23 says we are not to judge our brother, but “whatsoever is not of faith is sin;” that is, if there is a conflict with your conscience, for you, it is wrong.

The bottom line is this: Sunday is the Lord's Day and anything that keeps you from honoring the Lord on His day is wrong. I do know this, the world is in the lap of Satan, according to the Bible, and the world will do whatever it can to keep you from church. It used to be that things like sports, especially for our young people, was not scheduled on Sundays or Wednesday nights, but now if you are on the team and don't show up, it comes with a threat of being put off the team. I just remind you, it was
the Lord's Day first!

But now go back to the text. It was not the Law of God that Jesus or His disciples broke, it was the law of man that they broke. The scribes began to add their interpretation to the Law and their beliefs as to what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. The supposedly wisest and smartest of the rabbis got together and created a Book of Laws called the Mishnah. In the Mishnah they had thirty-nine major headings of what a person could do and what they could not do on the Sabbath. They had taken God's gift as a day of rest for man and had perverted it into being hundreds and hundreds of rules and regulations. Instead of the Sabbath being a day that people looked forward to, it had become the most hated and the most dreaded day of the week. Instead of a blessing, the Sabbath had become a burden.

J. C. Ryle said 150 years ago, “It is only a few steps down from No Sabbath to No God.”

Let me give you some examples:

• You couldn't take a bath on the Sabbath least some water splashed on the floor, thus you'd be washing the floor.

• A Jew could not carry an object that weighed more than a dried fig.

• No one could eat anything larger than an olive on the Sabbath.

• False teeth could not be worn because they exceeded the weight limits.

• A woman could not look into a looking glass because she might see a gray hair and be tempted to pull it out.

Three things I want you to see from this passage:


I. Jesus and the Irritation Luke 6:1-3, 6-7


Let me say up front that it was not the Law of God that Jesus broke. It was the laws of men that He broke. They accused Jesus and His disciples – not of doing something unlawful, but of doing something unlawful ON the Sabbath. That is, WHAT they were doing was not unlawful, but they were saying that WHEN they were doing it was unlawful.

We need to ask and answer two questions:

1. God's Law said that no work was to be done on the Sabbath. Was what they were doing considered work in the Law of God? The answer is no!

“Word” refers to business or that which brings one profit. The disciples were not working; they were simply meeting a need. They were hungry. They had been ministering all day with nothing to eat and now they were hungry. They were simply doing what the Law gave them permission to do.

Notice Deuteronomy 23:24-25. As long as you didn't put grapes in a container or use a sickle in the grain field, it was not work according to God's Law. All that you could carry in your hand was fine and violated no Law.

They said picking grain was reaping; rubbing the grain together was threshing, blowing the husk away was winnowing, eating it was preparing a meal.

2. A second question: Were they guilty of stealing? No, they were not.

Now, we probably would not like it if someone passed by our garden and just helped themselves. But they lived in an agricultural society and this was common practice in those days. But there were paths that ran alongside, and though the fields of that time and as the travelers passed by, the grain would be within easy reach.

Well, what about the man Jesus healed on the Sabbath? Again, it was not What Jesus did, but When Jesus did it. Their man-made laws had a law for healing on the Sabbath Day too. The only healing their law allowed on the Sabbath was in the case of saving someone's life and since the man with the withered hand was not dying, they said Jesus broke the law. But it was man's law; not God's.

It's amazing that these men were all wrapped up in keeping the Sabbath, but it didn't cause them the slightest tinge of conscience that they were trying to use God's commandments to kill a man.


II. Jesus And the Illustration


Notice Luke 6:3-4.

Jesus uses a little sarcasm to get these men to understand that their argument was not based on what God said about the matter but on their misinterpretation of God's Law.

These men prided themselves on their knowledge of the Word, and Jesus asked: “Have ye not read ?” Well, of course they had read it. So well did the Pharisees know the Scriptures that they boasted that they could tell you how many letters were in the Old Testament, how many times each letter was found in the Old Testament, and where the middle letter in the Old Testament was located. Of course, they had read what David did – but that's the point, for although they had read it repeatedly, they had missed the meaning totally.

God made the Sabbath for man; not man for the Sabbath. God's Laws were made FOR US – NOT AGAINST US.

First Samuel 21 tells us that David and his men had been fleeing from Saul, and he and his men were hungry and asked the priest for food. The priest tells David there is no food there but the shewbread.

The shewbread was twelve loaves of bread that were baked fresh every Sabbath Day and placed on a table in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle. The twelve loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel and reminded Israel of the Lord's presence among His people and their dependence upon Him for their physical needs.

This bread was not to be eaten by non-priests, according to the Law, but it was given to David and his men. The clear teaching here is that there are times when human needs are more important than legalistic keeping of the Law.

Notice Luke 6:7-10.

The word “watched” in Luke 6:7 means they were spying on Jesus, hoping to catch Him in some wrong.

Did you notice that Jesus did not touch the man with the withered hand? As he stretched out his hand, it was restored as whole as the other.


III. Jesus and the Illumination Luke 6:5, 11


Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. It is the Lord's Day. Whatever else we do on Sunday should not keep us from worshiping Him.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together … And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

THE SELECTION OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES

Luke 6:12-19

I see three things in these verses that are important to us:


I. Jesus Praying Luke 6:12

Let me ask a couple of questions about Jesus' prayer life:

A. Why Did Jesus Pray?

Why He is the Son of God! More than that, He is God! Since He is God, why did He see the need to pray? I know I need to pray, but why did Jesus see the need to pray?

First of all, Jesus prayed because He wanted to pray. It was His nature to pray. Praying was natural for Jesus. No one had to coerce Him to pray. He loved to pray.

Praying for Jesus meant fellowship with His Father. The only time that fellowship was broken between Jesus and His Father was when Jesus hung on the cross and He took my sin upon Himself and paid our sin debt. And Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Second, He prayed because He needed to.

You say, “Now wait a minute, Preacher. I have a hard time swallowing that.” Remember that Jesus is the God-Man – fully God and fully man. As man He was totally dependent upon His Father. And so, He needed to pray.

Notice Luke 6:12: “In those days.” What kind of days were those days that drove Jesus to pray? They were days of danger, for Jesus is already facing opposition from the religious leaders. But they were also days of decision for Jesus would choose twelve men from the disciples to be His Apostles – those who would serve with Him and learn from Him, and carry on His ministry for Him after He ascended back to Heaven.

Listen. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do you and I need to pray?

B. Where Did He Pray?

Well, He went out into a mountain to pray. “Does that mean I need to go to a mountain to pray?” No. Sometimes we are told that He went to a desert place to pray; sometimes He withdrew to the wilderness to pray. He retreated to be alone with God. The place is not that important. It is important that you go somewhere where you can be alone with God.

Praying in church is important, praying with your family is important, but the greatest praying you will ever do is when you get alone with God.

C. How Did Jesus Pray?

He prayed all night. This is the only time in the Bible that we are told that Jesus prayed all night. It speaks of earnestness, sincerity, intensity, passionately, and persistently.

Prayer is work. Set your clock for ten minutes and start praying earnestly, sincerely, and intently, and you'll find that prayer is work.

I'm sometimes asked what the best position to pray is. I heard about three preachers who were talking about the most effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One preacher said he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together pointing them upward to symbolize worship.

The second man suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong. Real praying happens while stretched out flat on your face.

By this time the phone man couldn't stay out of the conversation any longer. He said, “I must tell you: I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended forty feet above the ground!” Beloved, don't worry about your position, just pray!

II. Jesus Picking Luke 6:13-16

If I were to ask you to take a sheet of paper and write down the names of the twelve apostles, could you do it? Most of us know the Lord's inner circle and maybe Thomas, Matthew, and Judas Iscariot – that's half of them, but that's about all the average church member knows.

These men were called both “disciples” and “apostles.” Do you know the difference?

• “Disciple” means “follower, learner, or student.” Jesus had hundreds of disciples besides the twelve. Later Jesus is going to send out 70 disciples.

• “Apostle” means “one sent out.”
These are the special group of 12 men who came out of all of our Lord's disciples.

Why twelve? Why not eight or ten or twenty? Twelve is the number of government, twelve being the number of tribes in Israel in the Old Testament. In choosing twelve apostles, Jesus establishes the new government of His kingdom.

Let's look at the twelve:

1. Simon Peter
There are four listings of the Apostles in the New Testament and Simon Peter is always the one listed first. Actually, we know him by three names: Simon, Peter, and Cephas.

Peter is listed first – not because he is the smartest or the best educated, but because he was the natural leader. Out Lord stayed at Peter's house much of the time for the year-and-a-half when our Lord ministered in Capernaum. God greatly used Peter, especially on the Day of Pentecost and in the writing of two epistles in the New Testament.

2. Andrew
Andrew is the brother of Peter and it was Andrew who brought his brother, Peter, to the Lord. We see Andrew three times in the Gospels and each time he is bringing someone to Jesus.

3. James the Great
This James was a member of our Lord's inner circle and was the first apostle to die for his faith.

4. John, the brother of James
John calls himself the “beloved disciple.” He and his brother, James, were given the nickname, “sons of thunder.” God so worked in his life that he became known as the “Apostle of Love.” He wrote five of the New Testament books: Revelation, the Gospel of John, and First, Second, and Third John. He is the only Apostle to die a natural death.

5. Phillip
Phillip is the one who lead Nathaniel to the Lord and they were best friends.

6. Nathaniel is also called Bartholomew.

7. Matthew
Matthew was also called Levi and he was a tax collector. He also wrote the Gospel of Matthew.

8. Thomas
Thomas is also known as Didymus, which means “twin.” Thomas gets a bad rap by those who call him “Doubting Thomas.”

9. and 10 James and Judas
James, the Son of Alphaeus or James the Less, along with Judas, also called Thadaeus. Very little is known of these two men.

11. Simon the Zealot
Simon was a political hothead who took a vow to assassinate every traitor and every Roman they could.

12. Judas Iscariot
Judas, the traitor, is always listed last among the twelve. Jesus called Judas “the son of perdition which means “ruin, waste, destruction.” He is the only man Jesus ever referred to as “devil.”


III. Jesus' Physical Healing Luke 6:17-19


People came from everywhere – many from great distances to be touched and healed by the Lord. Jesus can do what no other can do for you.

He can work the greatest miracle of all in your life if you will trust Him – the miracle of the New Birth.


JESUS' PLAIN SERMON

Luke 6:20-26


Most of you are familiar with the Sermon on the Mount which is recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Luke 6:20-23 sounds very similar to Matthew 5, but they are different.

I am convinced that Jesus often repeated His sermons and at other times He would use the same
material, but emphasize another point.

I do not believe Luke 6 is just a shorter version of the Sermon on the Mount for several reasons:

1. The two are preached at different times and at different locations.

In Matthew 5:1 the Bible says, “And seeing the multitudes, (Jesus) went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him.”

Now, notice Luke 6:17: “And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people.”

2. In Matthew 5-7 Jesus deals with the lost as well as growth for the child of God. In Luke 6, Jesus tells His disciples what to expect because they are serving Christ.

3. In Matthew 5:3 we have the first Beatitudes: “Blessed are the POOR IN SPIRIT: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is saying that first step to salvation is to see yourself as spiritually bankrupt before God and to realize that salvation is all of God.

In Luke 6:20 Jesus says, “Blessed are the POOR, for yours is the kingdom of God.

The Jews of our Lord's day believed that those of the Lord who were highly favored and experienced the greatest happiness were the ones who had great possessions, or those holding an exalted position, or the ones enjoying the pleasures and popularity that money can buy.

Jesus says in Luke 6 that real happiness is right the opposite of that. Jesus tells His disciples that each one of them in the world will experience being poor and being hungry and being hated. But they would be blessed – happy in the world to come, rich and filled, and laughing.

Literally, what Jesus is doing is mocking the world's values. The world says you can be happy and substitute a personal relationship with God with things like wealth, position, pleasures, and popularity –
all the things money can buy – and still be happy.

Jesus says that you are happy when you realize that I am your true treasure; when you realize that all you have left in this world is ME and that I am all that you need. That all of your confidence should be in me and not in the things the world offers.


Look at the contrast between our Lord's Blessed and His Woes.

1. In Luke 6:20: Blessed are the Disadvantaged – the poor. But Woe to the Prosperous in this life – Luke 6:24.

Jesus is saying, “You don't have to be rich to be happy. The attitude in America today is, your level of happiness is directly proportional to your net worth. America's motto is: “Money can't buy happiness – but it sure allows you to choose your misery.”

There are a lot of people today who have plenty of money, but they aren't truly happy. Then there are widows on a fixed income who know the joy of the Lord.

Now, skip over to the first “woe” in Luke 6:24. Jesus says, “confidence in wealth leads to
disappointment.”

Many people have placed their confidence in their material wealth or in their intelligence or their ability to make money, but Jesus says any satisfaction you get from that kind of attitude will only last during this lifetime. You might be comforted now, but for eternity you will be disappointed.

Don't put your confidence in the stock market or your job or your bank account or your retirement fund. Put your confidence in Christ.

2. Luke 6:21: “Blessed are the Distressed (hungry now); Luke 6:25, but Woe to those who are pleased with this life.”

On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

People who live for this world only hunger for the wrong things. They hunger for happiness, for pleasure, for success, for fame, for money. Jesus said the only way to be truly happy is to hunger for righteousness; that actively seeks the face of God.

Only Jesus brings true satisfaction when you hunger after Him.

3. Luke 6:22: “Blessed are the Detested; when men hate you and want nothing to do with you now;” Luke 6:25: “Woe to those who are Popular with this life; you laugh now; then you will mourn and weep. There is coming a day when you won't be popular.”

Living for the Praise of people is a wasted life.

It all boils down to this question: Are you trying to please God or people in this life? If you live only to please other people, chances are you will displease God.

To me the greatest thing Jesus said in this entire sermon is found in the middle part of Luke 6: 23 when He said: “Great is your reward in heaven.”

 


THE MOST DIFFICULT COMMAND GOD EVER GAVE US

Luke 6:27-36


“Love your enemies.”

This may be the most difficult thing Jesus ever said. Even when we hear it in church, it is extremely difficult that Jesus really means what He says.

Is Jesus talking to you? Well, let's see:

Do you have any enemies? Are you anyone else's enemy? Who are my enemies?

In the broadest sense, an enemy is anyone who turns against me. The dictionary defines an enemy as “one who feels hatred toward another;” “one who intends injury or wishes injury upon another;” or “one who opposes the interest of another.”

It's interesting to note that Jesus is not talking about “far away” enemies. He is not speaking of national enemies, like North Korea or Iraq. Most of us will never visit those countries. Jesus is speaking about personal enemies that tend to be much closer to home. In fact, home is the first place to look for your enemies. Jesus Himself said, “A man's enemies will be the members of his own household” (Matthew 10:36). In that very passage He specified three very close relationships that go sour:

• A father and his son.
• A mother and her daughter.
• A mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.

You can enlarge that list to other close relationships to include parent-child, husband-wife, grand-
parents, aunts, uncles, and distant relatives. Maybe it's people you work with, or it may be people you go to church with.

Whoever is our enemy, God is calling me to forgive this person.

Enemies can show up at an early age. When my son was in the first grade, he came home one day and said, “Daddy, I want you to teach me to fight.” I said, “Why, son?” He said, “Because I want to whip a fellow.” (I thought to myself, “Oh, he's inherited the temperament of his mother!” You know I'm kidding. His mother had the sweetest disposition of anyone I know.)

So, I asked him what happened. He had just gotten his first baseball uniform and he was so proud of it. He had worn his baseball cap to school and some third graders had snatched it from his head and were playing keep-away with it, and he was going to whip them. I said, “Son, if they do it again and they act like they are going to hurt you, aim for the nose and hit him in the nose as hard as you can – with a sweet spirit, of course.” I said, Now, son, don't start anything, but if they start anything, you end it.”



The next day he came home, all smiles. I thought, “Oh, no! He has whipped that boy.” I said, “Son, what happened?” He said, “Daddy, I learned if you make friends with folks, they won't treat you bad anymore.” I thought to myself, “I want him to preach that to the church folks next week.”

Well, how do you deal with your enemies? Let me mention three possibilities:

1. You can inflict pain on them – hopefully it will never go that far and you can find another solution.

2. You can just do nothing; just keep it all inside you. But, that could be a problem too. Some folks say, “I'm so mad at him and I'd like to …, but I'm not going to do anything.”

The problem with that is, that you do something whether you realize it or not. You build up resentment and bitterness inside and your anger and hatred deepens.

I heard about a pastor who was preaching one Sunday on “Forgiving Your Enemies.” After the sermon he asked, “How many of you are willing to forgive your enemies?” About half of the people raised their hands. Not satisfied with the response, he preached another fifteen minutes and repeated his question: “How many of you are willing to forgive your enemies now?” About eighty percent raised their hands. Still not satisfied, he preached ten more minutes and asked the same question.

With the thought of Sunday lunch in mind, all responded except one old gentleman in the back. “Mr. Jones, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” Mr. Jones replied, “I don't have any.” “Mr. Jones, that's very unusual. How old are you?” He replied, “I'm eighty-six years of age.” “Mr. Jones, please come to the front and tell this congregation how a man can live eighty-six years and not have an enemy in the world.”
The old man made his way to the front, turned around, and with a smile said, “It's easy, Preacher. I just outlived all of them.”

The only problem with that is, I know folks that still hate folks even though they are dead.

3. The third possibility is to follow our Lord's command: “Love our enemies.” The word for love is “agape” – not touchy-feely love, but love in action. It has to do with the way you treat others.

Three things I want to share with you from these verses.


I. The Observation Luke 6:27-28


Like a good preacher, Jesus breaks it down for us to make sure we get His message:

• “Love your enemies.” Luke 6:27
• “Do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27


• “Bless those who curse you.” Luke 6:28
• “Pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:28

But if that is not enough, Jesus gives us some examples so we can't weasel our way out of the truth. We can ignore what He says if we want to, but we can't deny that He said it.

Remember Jesus is still talking about our enemies.

• “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other cheek.” Luke 6:29
• “If they take your shirt, give them your jacket too.” Luke 6:29
• “If a beggar comes to you, give him something.” Luke 6:30
• “If someone steals your money, do not demand it back.” Luke 6:30

Then Jesus gives Luke's version of the Golden Rule –Luke 6:31.

Then like any good preacher, Jesus repeats His main points just in case we haven't gotten it yet. See Luke 6:35.

Now let me call your attention to several things:

1. These are personal directives; not corporate or national.

How long would a bank stay in business if they followed Jesus' command to lend to people without expecting a return?

How would it be for a nation to “turn the other check” if it was attacked? What would we say to Japan when it bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941? “Hit us again!” Of course not. These are personal principles for individual behavior.

2. We are not to follow these directions to EARN salvation – but to DEMONSTRATE salvation.

Many folks believe you go to heaven by obeying the directions in the Sermon on the Mount. But these are not the requirements for salvation. It is possible to perform random acts of kindness and not be a Christian.

3. It is impossible to obey these directives without the Power of the Holy Spirit.


II. The Obligation

How do we love our enemies? I have a few suggestions:

1. Greet Them.

Greet your enemies. This is a simple step we often overlook. One part of loving our enemies is to greet them graciously when we see them; instead of avoiding them. Don't look the other way or duck into a room or try to hide from them. Greet them.

2. Disarm Them.

That's what you do when you turn the other cheek or go the second mile. You disarm them by doing the very thing they least expect.

3. Do Good to Them.

It's interesting that both times in this passage when Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” He follows it immediately by saying, “Do good to them.” The idea is, you make the first move.

4. Refuse to Speak Evil of Them.

That's what Jesus meant when He said, “Bless those who curse you.” It means you refuse to think evil thoughts and you refuse to speak evil words against those who have wronged you.

Every time you tell someone what wrong someone has done to you, it's like driving another nail into the coffin of your unforgiveness. The more you talk about the hurt, the more it's going to hurt and the harder it will be for you to forgive.

5. Thank God for Them.

If you believe in the sovereignty of God, you must believe that God allowed your enemy to be sent to you by God's design and with his approval. Your enemy could not torment you apart from God's permission and God would not permit it if He did not intend to bring something good out of it.

6. Pray for Them.

As you pray for them, God may change them and He will surely change you.

7. Ask God to Bless Them.

Though you may not know it, your enemy is a gift from God to you. To say that is not to excuse evil or condone mistreatment. That's what Joseph meant when he said to his brothers, “You meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

Our enemies humble us. They keep us on our knees. They reveal our weaknesses. They expose our total need for God.

III. The Objective Luke 6:35-36


Your reward – here and there – will be great and you will demonstrate that you are a true child of God.

God specializes in being kind and showing mercy. He makes it to rain upon the just and the unjust.

Forgiveness always helps us because it sets us free from fear and guilt, anger and bitterness, so we can get on with life. It is a transforming gift from God. May we walk in forgiveness!




THE GOLDEN RULE

Luke 6:31


This is one of the most famous statements that Jesus ever made. We call it the Golden Rule. It is golden. When the English word “golden” is used, it is referring to something excellent or precious. So, the Golden Rule is a precious truth, a principle of ethics that is of unmeasureable worth. It is the principle of conduct that all of God's children are to live by.

The so-called “Golden Rule” is not unique to Christianity! But there is something very unique about the Golden Rule as Jesus stated it, and the way Jesus put it makes His version of it above all others.

For example, this Golden Rule is found in Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The difference between Jesus' version of the Golden Rule and that of other religions is that all others is stated in the negative instead of the positive, as Jesus stated it.

Confucius, for example, is credited as having said, “Do not to others what you would not wish done to yourself.” The Old Testament Apocrypha states, “Do not do to anyone what you yourself would hate.” Rabbi Hillel said, “What is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else.”

The difference between the negative and the positive form might seem on the surface to be insignificant, but there is a major difference:

• The negative form is the Appeal of Law for Control!
• The positive form is the Appeal of Love for Growth!

Jesus' teaching on the “Golden Rule” goes far beyond any other religion's teaching on the same subject because instead of trying to control negative behavior, it encourages behavior motivated by love.

Jesus spoke of doing to others proactively – that is, He said we should seek ways to do good toward others. That's a whole new way of looking at an ancient truth. And the rule or principle as Jesus gave it will apply to everything!


I. The Meaning of the Golden Rule


You and I live on one of three levels:

1. “Do unto others BEFORE they do it unto you.”

Again, this is a negative approach. We think someone is going to do us wrong, so we figure out some way of getting them before they get us. I know folks like that.

2. “Do unto others AS THEY do unto you.”


It's kind of an eye for an eye deal. If someone treats you kindly, then treat them kindly. But, if someone treats you badly, you treat them badly. “Do unto them as they do unto you!”

3. “Do unto others AS you would have them do unto you.”

This is actually applying the Great Commandment – Matthew 22:36-40.

Treat people the same way you want them to treat you. Jesus is commanding positive action toward others. Kingdom saints are to go on the offensive by treating people in the way that they want to be treated. With the same graciousness, kindness, integrity in relationships, generosity, gentleness that you want to be treated, you treat others that way.

Think what would happen overnight if everyone faithfully obeyed this one verse: There would be no more fighting between relatives, spouses, or nations. It would lead to the end of all wars. It would lead to the transformation of this world into a paradise of peace and harmony.

The problem is that our hearts are still in darkness. We are self-centered and bent on following our own desires. We are basically selfish. We sin because we are so preoccupied with self.

Why do we lie? Because we think we can gain greater benefit from it.
Why do we cheat? To appear smarter than we really are.
Why do we steal? To have something that we don't have.
Why do we commit adultery? To gain some pleasure for self.

The Golden Rule means that grace is to operate through our lives in every way possible. Grace puts “us” at risk rather than the “object” of our grace.

After the USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans, the 82 surviving crew members were thrown into a brutal captivity. Thirteen men were taken into a room and were made to sit in a rigid manner around the table for hours. Hours later, the door was slung open and a North Korean guard walked in and savagely beat the man in the first chair, but no one else.

The next day the same thing happened. They were each assigned the same seats, so the same man was beaten again. The third day the same thing happened. These Americans knew now that the same thing would happen each day. They knew their fellow sailor could not survive another beating. As they sat down on the fourth day in the same chairs, one American sailor got up and changed seats with his beaten friend.

The guard came in and beat the man in the first chair and left. So, each day, they all took turns sitting in the first chair and continued to rotate each day so someone different was beaten up every day. Only one man had to be beaten, the one assigned to the first chair, but love moved them to accept being beaten in order to save one another. This is grace at work! Finally, the North Koreans gave up the beatings. Instead of breaking the men, it united them to become even stronger. Love and grace won against Law!

II. The Motive for the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule ought to be our lifestyle. We ought to treat others as we want to be treated. Notice again Luke 6:31.

• Would you want someone to lie to you? Then do not lie to them.
• Would you want someone stealing from you? Then do not steal from them.
• Would you want someone to gossip about you; to spread unkind or untrue things
about you? Then you should not gossip or say unkind or untrue things about them.

Will Rogers said, “Everybody likes to hear gossip, unless it is about them.”

Be careful how you treat others.

An elderly man had to go live with his son and daughter-in-law and young grandson. The daughter-in-law didn't want the elderly man living there and did everything she could to make life miserable for him. He was weak and shakey. One night, when he was trying to feed himself, he dropped a bowl of food and it went all over the table. In anger the daughter-in-law got up, put a wooden bowl in front of him, took away his fork and spoon and said, “If you're going to act like a pig, you can eat out of a trough like a pig” and dumped some food in the wooden bowl.

Later that night the dad found his son in the back yard, whittling on some wood. He asked his son what he was making. The little boy replied, “Oh, I'm making a bowl to feed you and mommy in when you get old like Granddaddy.”

The Golden Rule is not just a wise saying, it must be a regular practice. God's word makes the greatest impact on others when it is seen in our lives. In fact, the Golden Rule has to be seen to be believed.

A young lady was going to be married. She was shopping for fabric in order to make her wedding dress. She asked the owner for a very unusual type of fabric, the kind that would make the most noise when she walked. She wanted fabric that would rustle and make as much noise as possible. The owner found two bolts of material that would meet the request, but was puzzled at the lady's motives for such material.

Finally, he just asked, “Why would anyone want several yards of noisy material for a wedding dress?” Her answer revealed her expression of love she had for her young man. “You see,” she said, “my fiancé is blind, so when I walk down the aisle, I want him to know when I've arrived at the altar so he won't be embarrassed.” Love found a way to express itself to meet the need.

It's nice to know God's Word. It's even better to practice it!


III. The Manner of the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule lived out in our lives is a demonstration of the Grace of God in our lives as Christ lives through us to others. Grace creates excellence in our lifestyle so that others are drawn to Jesus Christ. We can sum up the Golden Rule as giving grace to others in the name of Jesus.

A young teacher volunteered to teach at an inner-city grade school. She wanted to make an impact on the lives of underprivileged children. After only one month she was disappointed because she felt that she had failed. She was thinking about leaving because she was sure she was having no influence in the lives of those kids.

At Thanksgiving, she asked the children to draw pictures of the things they were thankful for. Most of them drew pictures of pilgrims and turkeys and tables of food. But she was puzzled by what one boy had drawn. It was a drawing of a hand. The child who did the drawing was small for his age and very shy. The other kids made fun of him on the playground and it was not uncommon for the teacher to have to go over and help him up when he had been knocked down.

As the other children left school that day, she asked this boy to stay for a moment. She asked him what the drawing represented. “That is your hand, Ma'am. I'm thankful for your hand. Your hand is always there to lift me up when I get knocked down.”

God has no hands but our hands to do His work today;
God has no feet but our feet to lead others in His way;
God has no voice but our voice to tell others how He died;
And God has no help but our help to lead them to His side.


ARE YOU A FAULTFINDER?

Luke 6:37

Are you a faultfinder? When Jesus talks about judging here, He is really talking about and rebuking faultfinding.

A faultfinder is one who finds much to criticize or complain about. Synonyms for a faultfinder are nag, critic, grouch, grumbler, and belly-acher. They are mean-spirited slanderers. They always look for the worse in folks instead of the best.

One commentator calls fault finders “spiritual vultures.” Like the vultures of the air that live off dead, rotting flesh, these sad individuals thrive on the mistakes and sins of others. They fly across the land-scape, keeping a close eye out for the failures of others. Then they swoop in for their daily feast.

You always see what you're looking for. Send a botanist into the woods and he'll find beautiful flowers, leaves, and trees. Send a buzzard into the woods and he'll find a dead animal with maggots covering it. Why? That's what he's looking for.

It's almost impossible to please some folks. I'm reminded of the bachelor who wanted to get married, but every time he brought a prospective wife home, his mother criticized her unmercifully. Well, he didn't know what to do and he was talking to a friend one day and his friend said, “Why don't you find someone who is just like your mother?” He said, “That's a good idea.”

So, he looked and he looked until he found what was in essence a clone of his mother. She looked like his mother; she walked like his mother. She talked like his mother; she even thought like his mother. He called his friend and said, “Well, I'm going to take her home today. I'll let you know how it goes.”

The next day his friend called him up and said, “How did it go?” The bachelor said, “Terrible.” The friend asked, “Why?” He said, “Well, my mother loved her, but my father couldn't stand her.”

Someone said, “It takes no size to criticize.” Whether we admit it or not, we all engage in judging from time to time. Few things grieve the Holy Spirit more than a critical, judgmental, faultfinding spirit.

Three things I want to share with you from this passage:

 
I. The Rebuke Against Faultfinding Luke 6:37


Few portions in the Bible are so misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misapplied as this section of Scripture.

Some say that a Christian should never, under any circumstances, judge anything. If Christians speak against homosexuality or abortion or immorality, or other sins, the world says, “Shame on you. You
know better than that. The Bible says, “Judge not.” Listen: the things God has already condemned have already been judged – by Him! Christians are not judgmental about those things; God has already judged them.

If these verses are commanding us to never judge, they contradict Scripture in many places. As Matthew 7:6, 15.

• I Corinthians 2:15: “But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”

• I Corinthians 6:2: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?”

• I Corinthians 6:3: “Do you know know that we shall judge angels?” (The Lord Himself will judge fallen angels, but we will have some rule in eternity over holy angels.)

• I John 4:1: We are to judge between true teachers of the Word of God and those who are
false teachers.

Jesus says, “Do not judge.” Literally, the Greek puts the “not” first in the sentence; so, it will read “not judge or stop judging.” Jesus is saying to stop doing what is already in progress. Stop condemning and stop criticizing others. In other words, Jesus condemns condemnation of others.

The intention of the faultfinder is to be malicious toward others. What he says may be true, but he speaks without any desire to build up or to instill discernment. He only wants to make himself look good, to enhance his own reputation, or to demean the person about whom he is speaking.

Why do people tend to judge and criticize others?

1. Criticism of others boosts our own self-image.

Pointing out someone else's failure and tearing him down makes us seem a little bit better, at least in our own eyes. It adds to our pride and self-image.

2. Criticism of others is often enjoyable.

There is a tendency in human nature to take pleasure in hearing and sharing bad news and reveling in the shortcomings of others.

3. Criticism of others makes us feel that our own lives are better than the person who failed.

4. Criticism of others is an outlet to hurt and revenge.

We think, “He hurt me so I will hurt him by exposing his sins and faults and failures.” So, we blow things about others all out of proportion. Even if what we are telling is true, we tell the truth in order to hurt others.

Here is a guide to help guide our speech. Ask yourself: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
Will it encourage? Will it edify?” If not, remain silent.


II. The Reasons Against Faultfinding


Only Luke and Matthew record this admonition from the Lord, but Matthew adds something that is familiar to all of us. See Matthew 7:1-5.

Notice the word “Why” in Matthew 7:3. Jesus is asking, “What right do you have to judge your brother?”

A. We all fail God and sin. I John 1:8-10

Notice the word “beam.” The word denotes a huge piece of wood, like a two-by-four -maybe a rafter in a house.

Now notice the word “mote.” The word denotes a small piece of sawdust. What I want you to notice is that they are both of the same substance – both are wood. One is just larger than the other.

Here's the problem: The one who is judging has the same sin in his life as the man that he is judging, but he is blind to his own sin, though the sin is greater in his own life. A self-righteous person looks at himself, even with his great sin, and still sees only goodness.

An Old Testament example of the mote and the beam is found in the life of King David. David is at the lowest point morally in his life. He took Uriah's wife and committed adultery with her. When Bathsheba revealed to David that she was pregnant, David schemed to have Uriah murdered, thinking that he could hide his sin and take Bathsheba for his own.

Nathan the prophet found out what David did and confronted him by telling him a story about a rich man with huge flocks of sheep who lived next door to a poor man. The poor man had only one little ewe lamb that he loved like a daughter, but the rich man, not wanting to take a lamb out of his own herds to feed some guest, took that little lamb and slaughtered it.

David was furious. David's response was; “That man deserves to die. He must repay everything fourfold.” Nathan pointed a prophetic finger at David and said, “You are the man.” David had a beam in his eye that needed to be removed.

Romans 2:1. Jesus wants us to get our focus off the weaknesses of others and consider our own faults first, for a reason. The purpose of self-judgment is to prepare us to serve others. If we do not get the beam out of our own eye, we blind ourselves to ourselves and then cannot see clearly enough to help others.

The judgmental person who looks at the tiny speck in someone else's eye must get close enough to peer into the other person's eye. That means that he is spending far too much time and attention looking at others, and far too little considering his own life.

Here's the sad thing. The person with the beam in his eye thinks he can see clearly enough to do the delicate work of helping remove a speck from someone else's eye.

It is only when we prayerfully and humbly ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and turn His divine gaze upon us and expose our own sin, that we begin to notice the beam that has blinded our own sight.


Do you regularly ask the Lord to expose your sin so that you might confess and repent of it? Psalm 139:23-24.

B. We never have all the facts.

We judge on the basis of what we see, but the problem is, we can't see everything and we don't know everything.

Before the x-ray machine, doctors made decisions based only on what they could see and touch outwardly. And they made many mistakes because of it. You and I cannot see the heart or motive of a person and what we seem to see is not always the true facts. We have all jumped to a hasty conclusion about someone, only to find out later we were dead wrong.

Jerry Vines was in a revival and all the time he was preaching a lady was making faces at him. He became so irritated … he talked to the pastor. The pastor said, “Oh, she is deaf. She is trying to read your lips and sometimes she gets so into the sermon and that's the only way she can express herself.”

In I Samuel 1 Eli saw Hannah in the Temple. Her eyes were wet and her lips were moving, but no sound was coming. Eli said, “How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you.” She said, “I am not drunk, but a woman of sorrow. I want a child so badly.”

In Acts 2 we find the account of the Day of Pentecost. Those folks were supposedly drunk. Peter said, “No, they are filled with the Spirit.”

When we judge without all the facts, it can do such harm.

Listen to this true story about a girl named Gloria. One morning at seven o'clock, Gloria arrived home and was observed by a neighbor woman. Gloria came home is a car driven by a strange man. Her clothes were rumpled and disarrayed, and she staggered when she walked to the front door of her house.

The neighbor woman knew that Gloria had gone to a party on a college campus in a nearby community the evening before. The woman began to tell about Gloria and the party in the nearby community; how it went into the wee hours; how the boys and the girls began to pair off – and you do not need anyone to add the details to that. So, Gloria was observed arriving home at seven o'clock the next morning; getting out of an automobile driven by a strange man; her clothes not in the best condition;
staggering somewhat as she walked to the front door of her house.

In time Gloria heard the talk in town. She would walk down the street and people would not speak to her. She got icy stares, and she became aware of the whispering behind her back when she was in a group. Gloria was a very sensitive person and was crushed by such treatment. She wrote in her diary: “I did not do what they say I did; I wish I were dead.”

Gloria took an overdose of sleeping pills and, uncalled by God she rushed to eternity. But here are the true facts. Gloria had gone with some girlfriends to a party on a college campus in a nearby community. Through no fault of their own, they missed the last bus back home. They spent the night in the girls' dormitory with the knowledge and consent of the parents. The next morning one of the fathers drove to the nearby community to pick up the girls and deliver each one to her house.

And so, it was that at seven o'clock in the morning, Gloria got out of the car driven by a strange man; her clothes in disarray because she had slept in them; staggering somewhat because she had not slept that much.

You be careful before you open your mouth. You never know what the end result will be. Injury is done to the person judged.

If you are going to judge, begin with yourself.

Faults in others I can see,
But praise the Lord, there's none in me!

III. The Reaping of Faultfinders Luke 6:37


Our Lord reminds us of a cardinal truth of Scripture. We reap what we sow and with what measure we
mete, it shall be measured to us again. The warning is that if we judge in the wrong manner, we will be judged in the same way by the same standard.

The question is, “Who will be doing the judging?” I think the passive voice is probably referring to divine judgment rather than human judgment, though it is obvious that it will happen on the human level as well. The reason I believe this to be true is that the overall theme of Luke 6 is dealing with judgment.

So the question that each of us has to face in the light of this passage is this: “Am I willing to be judged by the same standard that I judge others? If I question another's behavior, is my behavior exemplary and approved by God?”

We cannot ignore how God will deal with us if we improperly judge others. Psalm 18:25-26. Ps.18:26 says “With the devious you will show yourself shrewd.” God will permit us to reap what we have sown.

We set the standard and tone for our own final judgment by our judgmental conduct in this life. If we judge others harshly, we condemn ourselves by standards we have set.

Let me remind you that this verse also teaches that when we are kind, patient, and fair with others, we will reap the same kind of treatment.

If we sow blessing, we will reap blessing.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.”



THE HUMOR OF JESUS

Luke 6:39-49

Have you ever wondered what Jesus looked like? Or what His personality was like? I'm convinced one reason we don't have any photographs of Jesus is because some folks would make an idol out of the picture and instead of worshiping the real Son of God, they would just worship the picture.

Having said that I don't believe the drawings of Jesus that most of us have seen are accurate either.

Most of you have seen the drawing or the picture of Jesus with His mother, Mary. Jesus is just an infant, but both Mary and Jesus had a halo above their heads. I'll tell you this, though Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, He didn't walk around for 33 years on this earth with a halo over His head.

Then, most pictures of the man Jesus, makes Him look effeminate; almost like a sissy. No, Jesus was a man's man. He did hard work in the carpenter shop beside Joseph until He was about thirty years of age and I believe He had calluses on His hands. And what about our Lord's personality? Though you never see Him smiling in the pictures men drew to Him, I think Jesus had a quick wit about Him.

In Matthew 23:24 Jesus said the Pharisees picked gnats out of their soup but missed the big camel swimming around. They had all the little details down, but missed the big picture of love, faith, and mercy.

Here Jesus tells about a man who has a log in his eye trying to take a speck of sawdust out of someone's eye.

Jewish humor is much different from what we think is humor. For us, humor has a punch-line. Like a knock-knock joke. “Knock-knock.” “Who's there?” “Adore.” “A door is between us. Would you open it please?” (I know, kinda corny!)

Or the dumb blonde jokes.

A guy took his blond girlfriend to her first football game. They had great seats right behind their team's bench. After the game, he asked her how she liked the experience. “Oh, I really liked it,” she replied, “especially the tight pants and all the big muscles, but I just couldn't understand why they were killing each other over 25 cents.”

Dumbfounded, her date asked, “What do you mean?” “Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it, and then for the rest of the game, all they kept screaming was, 'Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!'
I'm like, hello? It's only 25 cents!”

To appreciate Jewish humor, you must have a sharp wit. Jewish humor usually involved describing a ridiculous picture. Any kind of absurd description that taught a lesson was considered humorous.

Proverbs 11:22 reflects Jewish humor: “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”

Gold rings in the nose of a Jewish woman was thought to make the beautiful woman more beautiful. But if a beautiful woman has no character, she is like a pig with a gold ring in her nose. The pig is just going to root the ring in the mire.

Now look at the humor of Jesus. Let me give you the central truth and then we'll look at the passage.


I. Those Without Jesus in Their Life Have No Spiritual Vision Luke 6:39-40


Jesus poses a question: “Can a blind man lead a blind man and they get to where they are going safely? No! They will both fall into a ditch.”

Who are the blind leaders? Jesus was talking primarily to the Pharisees who were blind to the things of God because they were not saved. They had never had their spiritual eyes open by the Holy Spirit through salvation. If they had never experienced spiritual truth and spiritual light, how could they lead anyone to it?

Today the leaders would be the preachers, teachers, parents or anyone who has the responsibility of leading anyone to salvation.

But notice: Both the leaders and those they are leading are blind. Now look at Luke 6:40: “You are going to become just like the one you are following.” Jesus is warning His audience about the danger of following the wrong leader.

History is full of false teachers who have led others into the ditch. Jim Jones led almost a thousand people into the ditch in Guyana when he led them to drink poisoned Kool-Aid. David Koresh led an innocent group of people to a fiery death because they choose to follow his teachings. The Heaven's Gate cult resulted in dozens of gullible people committing suicide to go meet a spacecraft that would take them to heaven.

Most people aren't gullible enough to follow those teachers. But many unsuspecting Americans are following another teaching equally as dangerous: the popular teaching of our immoral culture.

From every direction – movies, music, television, magazines – we are bombarded with teaching that disagrees with what the Bible teaches.

It's not a new teaching. It's been around since the Garden of Eden when Satan asked Eve, “Can you really believe the word of God? God is trying to keep so many good things from you!”

Ephesians 4:18-19 describes the people who are still influenced by this teaching and it is a precise description of our American culture. (Read from Living Bible.)

Jesus said that we become exactly like your primary teacher. When we follow our “anything goes” culture, we will become just like the world.

Jesus will never lead you into a ditch. He will lead you to eternal life.

II. Those Without Christ in Their Life Have No Moral Perception Luke 6:41-42

Jesus uses these verses in Luke in a different way than He did in Matthew.

Let me point out that both of these men have a need to clean the dirt out of their eyes. Neither one of them are free from that which would hinder them. The truth is, there is at least a speck in everyone's eye.

Don't miss the point here. Jesus is not saying “ignore the speck” in your brother's eye. If there is something wrong in a brother or sister that you care about, you are doing him or her a favor to point out the speck. Don't ever stay silent with the cop-out attitude, “Who am I to judge?” Just make sure your eye is clear enough to get the speck out of my eye.

Have you ever had something in your eye and it's irritating you? You think if you blink enough your tear ducts will handle it, but they don't. You even take your finger and try to get it out, but it's no use. Finally, you ask someone to help you get it out. He gets some water, pulls up your eyelid and flushes your eye out with water until it is clear.

Look at Galatians 6:1-2. The whole point is that we must be available and willing to help our brothers and sisters who have specks in their eyes, but we must do it gently and carefully. And we must do it only after we have dealt with the log in our own eye.


III. Those Without Christ Have No Practical Ambition Luke 6:43-45


The word “corrupt” in Luke 6:43 means “worthless” or “useless.” It doesn't mean something that is ruined or decayed or rotting away. It just means worthless.

Now look at Luke 6:44: “For every tree is known by its fruit;” what it produces. How do you know a tree is an apple tree? By looking at its leaves? Most of us couldn't tell just by looking at its leaves. You know it's an apple tree because there are apples on it. How do you know a tree is a peach tree? There are peaches on it. How do I know a tree is a watermelon tree? (Just wanted to see if you were listening.)

Have you ever stopped to consider what fruit is? Fruit doesn't grow by itself; it has to have a tree or vine. Fruit is actually the outward expression of the inner nature. It's true of both plants and people. In this parable Jesus talks about two kinds of trees – good and bad. He is also talking about two kinds of people – good and bad.

A person who is a Christian will produce Christ-like fruit. A person who is not a Christian will not produce Christ-like fruit. Jesus has just told us not to judge others; that is, don't sit ourselves up as someone's judge – but He does say that we should be “Fruit Inspectors.” You have a right to expect a Christian to produce Christ-like fruit.

Notice Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart” – the store-center of the heart – your mind or your personality – “brings forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil” that is stored up in his store-center of his mind and personality – “bring forth evil: For Out of the Abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

You can tell what a person's real nature is my listening to his speech. Think about it. Every time you hear someone speak, they are revealing what is filling their heart. What is down in the well will come up in the bucket! Your speech; your words just reveal what is stored up in your heart.

Have you ever heard this statement: “You are full of it?” Well, everyone is full of something. You tell people what you are full of when they hear what you talk about.

Most of us underestimate the awesome importance of the words we speak. (Matthew 12:36-37 – judged by every careless word.)

Jesus spoke about goodness that is “stored up” in a person's heart. He also spoke of evil stored up in a human heart. If you feed your mind sinful, filthy input, that's exactly what will come out. It's the old computer axiom that says, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

If you feed your mind and heart good things like the Word of God, Bible teaching, and praise music, good things will be reflected in your speech and actions. But if you feed your mind the wrong thing, your actions and speech will be polluted.

Paul speaks of the two conflicting natures living within a Christian. Even when Jesus comes into your heart in the Person of the Holy Spirit, your old sinful, selfish nature is still present and will continually try to reclaim the throne of your heart. That's why we must continuously feed our new, godly nature.

Two natures beat within my breast,
One is foul, one is blessed.
The one I love, the one I hate,
The one I feed will dominate.


IV. Those Without Christ Have No Eternal Expectation Luke 6:46-49

Jesus concludes by telling us that we are building our life each day. And building our life is much like building a house. You must start with the right foundation if you want it to stand when the storms of life come.

Two men build his own house and they look exactly the same, but there is only one difference between the two. The wise man obeys Jesus and does what He says; the foolish man chooses not to obey Jesus.

The wise man “dug deep” until he hit rock and built his house upon the foundation of the Rock. The foolish man built his house upon the sand.

And the storm came; the rain poured; the flood waters rose and beat upon the house, but it stood because it was built upon the foundation of the rock.

And the storms came on the foolish man's house; the rain poured; the flood waters rose, and beat upon the house and it fell. “And the ruin of the house was great!”

The time to build upon the Rock is BEFORE the storms come, because it will be too late to do so after the storms come.

And the storms will come! There will be storms from the outside, like family crisis, a financial crisis, or a relationship crisis. Or it may be on the inside, when you struggle with discouragement or depression.

Bad things do happen to good people and good things do happen to bad people. Jesus said, “God makes it to rain on the just and the unjust.” God is not singling out people because they deserve them; all of us face them at many times in life. Just expect them.

It is in the storms that we reveal which foundation we have built our house upon. That's why the wise man “dug deep.”

Look again at Luke 6:46. “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?”

You may have already faced many storms, but you have not faced your biggest storm yet. Listen to Matthew 7:21-23.

The biggest storm is facing God after death so, may I ask you, “Is your life built upon the solid Rock, Jesus Christ?”

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ, the solid Rock I stand –
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

 

AMAZING FAITH

Luke 7:1-10


This passage of Scripture tells us of the compassion of this centurion, but this text is not about compassion.

This passage tells about a dying servant, but this passage is not about death.

In this passage we find some obedient messengers, but this passage is not about obedience.

This passage of Scripture is about Faith – but not just faith, but Great Faith – and not just Great Faith, but Great Faith that Amazed Jesus.

It isn't surprising that people were amazed at Jesus, because Jesus is God. But it is shocking that Jesus was amazed by a mere man – but He was!

Frankly, when you think about it, it's amazing that Jesus would be amazed at anything. But Jesus was amazed at this man's faith.

Would your faith amaze Jesus?

Several times Jesus said to those He had healed from some sickness, “Your faith has made you whole,” but He never describes any other person as having “so great faith.”

Three times He rebuked His disciples and said, “O, ye of little faith.”

On one occasion the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, but several times Jesus had to say to them, “O, faithless and perverse generation.”

Only twice did Jesus say He was “amazed” in relation to faith. Once in His own hometown of Nazareth, Jesus was going to teach and heal there, but He could not do any mighty acts there and Mark 6:6 said that He marveled – was amazed – at their unbelief; there faithlessness; their LACK of faith. But He is amazed at the LARGENESS of this man's faith.

Four things I want you to see in this passage:


The Setting Luke 7:1


Jesus had completed His Sermon on the Plain and He left there and entered Capernaum.

Jesus would make Capernaum His new hometown since His hometown of Nazareth rejected Him. It would be the base for His ministry. Our Lord would perform many of His miracles in Capernaum.

108
There He healed the nobleman's son, a demoniac in the synagogue, Peter's mother-in-law, and
numerous others.

Capernaum was close to the Sea of Galilee where sudden storms would arise. You could almost see the twelve-mile length of the Lake as well as the six miles across the Sea – where the feeding of the five thousand took place.

Both a Roman garrison and a synagogue were located there.


II. The Soldier Luke 7:2-8


In the Gospels and the Book of Acts, we meet a number of centurions, all of them honorable mentioned.

Why was this centurion so highly respected?

A. He was an Honest Man

These Jews were under no obligation to help the centurion, and would not have if they had not trusted and respected him. The Bible says he had a good reputation among the Jews that he was an honest man and he was always fair with people of other races and religions.

He was not a Jew, but a Gentile. He was a “centurion.” The word “centurion” comes from the word “century,” which means one hundred. He was a military officer with one hundred men under him in the Roman military.

Roman centurions were considered to be some of the best men in Rome. They were really the backbone of the Roman army. They were often older, hardened soldiers who had been involved in much bloodshed and cruelty.

B. He was a Kind and Generous Man

Although he was a Roman, he loved the Jews and backed up his love for the Jewish people in Capernaum by building them a synagogue there. Not that he paid for it himself, but he commanded his soldiers to work to build it. Jesus Himself had taught there.

C. He was a Burdened Man

Although he was a slave owner, he was a man of tender compassion and was concerned for his sick slaves. In fact, the servant was approaching death.

Where does a burdened heart come from? It comes from love. If this centurion had not been burdened for his slave, the slave would have died.
The centurion decided to appeal to Jesus, but because he was a Gentile, he decided he needed a mediator. He approached the local Jewish leaders and they were willing to take his case to Jesus. When they went to Jesus they begged Him saying that He should do this for the centurion because he “was deserving and he loved their nation and he built their synagogue.”

When Jesus went with the Jewish elders, he was not far from the centurion's house, and the centurion sent Jesus a message. See Luke 7:6-8.

The first thing this centurion does is call Jesus “Lord.” He believed that Jesus was Lord – Boss – The One with authority.

The Jews said, “Jesus, help him. He is worthy.” The first thing he did was to send some friends to
Jesus to tell Him, “I am not worthy.” The Jews said, “He is worthy.” He said, “I am not worthy, either to go to Jesus myself or to have Him come under my roof.”

What humility! What is humility? It is the absence of vanity and arrogance. This man measured his worth against the absolute standard of Jesus and he said, “I am not worthy.”

Though he was a man of authority, his authority was nothing compared to the authority of Jesus.

And notice: while Jesus was on earth, He voluntarily humbled Himself and submitted Himself to the Father, although, before He came to earth in the incarnation, He and the Father were co-equal and co-eternal.

Then he demonstrated his faith to Jesus. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1-3 says faith is believing God even if we see no evidence. It is being sure and certain about that for which we have no evidence.

The world says, “seeing is believing.” Faith is believing what we have not seen, just because God said it.

Unbelief says, “I'll believe it when I see it.” Amazing faith says, “I believe it whether I see it or not.”

This centurion believed Jesus could heal his servant at a distance, whether Jesus came into his house or not; whether He touched him and prayed over him or not. “Just say the word and he will be healed.” Luke doesn't even give us the word Jesus spoke!


III. The Savior Luke 7:9

We have three estimates of this centurion:

• The Jewish authorities Said, “He is worthy.”
• The centurion said, “I am not worthy.”
• Jesus said, “I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”


IV. The Sequel Luke 7:10

The word “whole” is Luke's medical term that means “to be in good health.” Moments ago this servant was at death's door. Now, he is the picture of good health.

Let me remind you again of the power of the Lord to heal at a distance. The Lord is in Heaven. We are on earth. Yet, He can save at a distance if we have faith in His authoritative, saving power.


THE DRYER OF ALL TEARS

Luke 7:11-17


What gets the attention of Jesus? What is it that grips the heart of our Lord? What is it in a person's life that can move Jesus to action?

In our passage, Jesus has left the city of Capernaum and is going to a small town called Nain, which is about twenty miles from Capernaum. Jesus is not alone on this journey. His disciples are with Him as well as a large multitude of people, probably in the hundreds. It was quite a procession as they made their way into Nain. It was a procession of life. You can only imagine the joy and the laughter and the singing that must have been taking place. These people who were following Jesus had seen Him perform miracles and had experienced the power of His grace. These were saved and happy folks who loved the Lord. They were possessors of everlasting life and as they came into the city, they were joyous and laughing and singing. That's the kind of procession Jesus leads.

Then, all of a sudden, Jesus and those who were following Him, met another procession. They were leaving Nain as Jesus and His followers were coming into Nain.

Notice Luke 7:11 “And it came to pass that day that Jesus went INTO the city.” Now notice
Luke 7:12 “Now when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried OUT, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” And notice again, “Much people of the city was with her.”

So, here are those two processions that meet head on at the gate of the city. One was a procession of life with their joyful laughter and singing; the other was the procession of death, and no one was singing or laughing or smiling.

This procession would have been led by a group of women, all dressed in black from head to toe. And instead of singing, they would be groaning out a funeral dirge. Following those women, would be an open casket or bier – which was an open casket, no lid on it, just a box with this young dead man lying in it. And then following that would have been the mother of this boy and the rest of the family, and then all of the townspeople that were a part of this funeral procession.

And so here are these two processions and they meet head on, one against the other.

So, what is Jesus going to do? Look with me at:


I. Our Lord's Compassion Luke 7:11-13a


Out of respect for the dead, Jesus and His followers stop and yield to the funeral procession. That's what we do in the South. We will usually pull over when we see a funeral procession coming. We may not know who the person is, but we know it's a funeral procession, and so out of honor and respect for the dead and out of respect for the family of the deceased, we pull over.

Twice the icy fingers of death has reached into this lady's family and wrenched loved ones from her. First, her husband and now her son – her only son. Now she faces an uncertain future alone.

Luke 7:13 says, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her.” That word “saw” means more than just seeing that she was there. He saw with the eyes of sovereignty. He saw that she was a widow, so she had been robbed of her life companion. Now death has taken away her son, and she is without hope for her future. She had hoped that her son could help provide for her, but that hope was gone. Her tears and broken heart moved the heart of Jesus.

I think what stopped Jesus was that He saw that this woman was full with despair. Despairing people always have and always will get the attention of Jesus. People in despair moves Jesus to action. Despair is that point where people are about ready to give up.


II. Our Lord's Command Luke 7:13-14

This woman is weeping over the death of her son, and Jesus steps up, touches the open casket, and says, “Stop crying.”

If anyone else had said that to this weeping mother, it would have been highly insensitive and unkind. If I were to go to someone standing before a casket of a loved one and said, “Weep not” or “Stop crying,” that would be cold, harsh, and callous on my part. Weeping is an important part of the grief process. Tears are good. They are given by God as a means of release and relief.

When Jesus said, “Weep not,” He said it from a heart that was touched with the feelings of her infirmity. He knew and felt her heart and pain. When Jesus saw Mary weeping at the tomb of her brother, Lazarus, the Bible says that “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33). Then we are told that “Jesus wept!” (John 11:35).

What happens to our tears? We wipe them away with tissue. We assume that they evaporate some-where into the great universe.

The Bible tells us what happens to the tears of believers. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God “takes our tears and puts them in His bottle.” I'm not sure what that means and I don't know how He does it, but God takes all of our tears and puts them in His bottle. A bottle is a place of storing or keeping. Why? I don't know. I can fancifully imagine one day standing in the presence of the Lord. Maybe at the beginning of eternity to come, He will hold up our bottle of tears and say, “Children, do you see this bottle? In this bottle are all the tears that you shed in your life. The tears of disappointment are all here. All the tears of distress and shattered dreams are here. Now children, look what I'm going to do.” And I think God will take that bottle of tears and throw it as far as God can throw something. Bye, bye tears. They are gone forever. There will be no more tears up there. No more death, disappointment, shattered dreams. He dried up the tears.

Then Jesus brought the whole funeral procession to a halt by walking up and touching the bier (now, I'm talking about the wicker bier. Jesus would never touch a beer and those who love Jesus shouldn't either.).


The Old Testament clearly states that it was a ceremonially defiling thing to come in contact with a dead body (Leviticus 21:10-11; Numbers 19:14-22). It was something that only a family member would do if it was absolutely necessary. But Jesus reached out and touched the bier.

What a picture this is! The glorious Lord of life, reaching out to touch the dead in a gracious way, so as to bring the dead to life! There is a spiritual lesson for us in this. The holy Son of God did not shrink back from making contact with the dreadful consequence of sin – that is, our death. Instead, He condescended to touch us where we were – in all our sinfulness and lostness and neediness – and save us from sin's horrible consequence. He is willing to touch those of us who are dead in trespasses and sin and give to us life eternal.

Jesus gives a beautiful picture in John 5:24-20. Jesus is speaking of two kinds of death. The ones who are dead spiritually will hear His voice – hear Him speaking to them – and be raised out of spiritual death to spiritual life. The second kind of death has to do with physical death. Both the saved and lost will hear His voice telling them to come up from the grave. Some will be raised to the resurrection of life and others to the resurrection to condemnation.

“Young man, I say to you, get up.” Two words to the bereaved, eight to the deceased.

Jesus raises this young man from the dead. The young man could not hear the cries of his mother or the others who grieved for him. But he heard the voice of Jesus!

This mother had not asked for a miracle. She had not demonstrated great faith. In fact, she didn't demonstrate any faith at all. There was no human prompting. But then, Jesus doesn't ask anyone's permission. He just walks over, puts His hands on the bier, and says, “Young man, I say to you, get up.” And he got up. It is a miracle drawn solely from the well of divine compassion.


III. Our Lord's Conquering Luke 7:15-16


The young man could not hear the voice of his weeping mother, but he heard the Voice of the Prince of Life. Luke says, “And he that was dead sat up and began to speak” (proof that he was in possession of his senses). What did he say? I don't know, but I think one of his first words was “Mother.”

“And He presented him to his mother.” There was a family reunion. Many of us have said “good-bye” to loved ones, but there will be a family reunion that I look forward to.

Look at the result of the miracle: “There came a fear on all.” Awe and reverence came upon those who were there. Then fear gave way to praise. “They glorified God.” The word “glorified” comes from the word we get our word “doxology” from.

Fear gave way to Praise and Praise gave way to Witnessing.

This same Christ of compassion has compassion on those who are spiritually dead and wants to give them spiritual life.



THE FORGOTTEN BEATITUDE

Luke 7:18-23


Have you ever been puzzled or confused because of some things God did or didn't do? Have you ever wondered why God allowed certain things to happen in your life? Have you ever wondered, “Where is God and why isn't He doing something about what's going on?” Have you ever wondered about why things that have happened have taken place? If God is the All-powerful, Sovereign God and something bad happened, couldn't He have stopped it?

Let me say up front that there is nothing wrong with asking God honest questions. Just remember that there is a big difference in asking God questions and questioning God.

There is also a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a matter of the mind: We cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will: We refuse to believe God's Word and obey what He tells us to do.

When we come to our passage today, John the Baptist seems to be disappointed with Jesus. It's as if he's saying, “Jesus let me down when I needed Him the most.” Have you ever felt that way?

Three things I want to point out to you:


I. The Questioning of John the Baptist Luke 7:17-18


About eighteen months – a year and a half – had passed since John the Baptist had presented Jesus to Israel as the promised Messiah. John was a fireball of a preacher. He was a fearless straight-shooter.
His message was one of repentance and he was bold in proclaiming that all sinners needed to repent. His message was “Turn or Burn”; Justification or Judgment.

And he did not go out to the people to preach to them – they came to him! We think we must have a good location for people to come to or they will not come. We try to dress in a certain way as preachers because people expect the preacher to wear their preaching suit. We talk about the importance of being “seeker friendly.” Location – Style – Friendly and, of course, make folks feel good about themselves. That's the way to grow a church! But John the Baptist didn't follow the rules. Read Matthew 3:1-8.

One day when John was baptizing, he looked up and there stood Jesus and with holy eloquence he announced the arrival of the Messiah as he pointed to Him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

John would say, “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

John said, “Even now the ax is laid to the root of the tree. Every tree that does not bear good fruit, He will be cut down and cast it into the fire.” “Judgment will come on all who reject Him.”

Here's the way John saw Jesus as the Messiah who was to come: He would be All-powerful and do good to His people: heal the sick, bind up the brokenhearted, set free the captives, bring vengeance to all who were against Him and His people. That means overthrowing all of Israel's foes. For John in his day it meant destroying Rome. That's what all of Israel thought.

But now John is in prison. He has been there for weeks and maybe months. And he is there because of his bold preaching. He had the courage to confront Herod who had stolen his half-brother's wife and say to him over and over, “It is not lawful for you to have her, (Herodias) as your wife.”

Herod throws a party. There is much drinking and dancing. Herod's wife, Herodias, gets her daughter to do a sensual dance before Herod. He tells her to continue to dance before him in such a way and he will give her whatever she asks, up to half his kingdom. She asked for the head of John the Baptist. John had been put in prison.

Prison does strange things to people. If you talk to men who have been in prison, they call it the worse place in the world. It sucks the life and hope out of even the best of men. Even John was not immune to bouts of discouragement and depression.

Remember that John was a wilderness evangelist, but now he was confined and with a death sentence. His head would soon be cut off. John had said of Jesus, “He must increase and I must decrease,” but he never thought he would decrease this much.

What John thought would happen quickly when the Messiah came, did not. In fact, nothing had changed as far as he could see. The Romans still held the country. Corruption in the court and Temple remained. The hypocritical scribes and Pharisees still sought the chief seats.

Worse of all, Jesus didn't fulfill John's expectations. John had introduced Jesus as the Messiah, but Jesus was so different from what John expected.

• John had Denounced sinners; Jesus Dined with them.

• John expected Jesus to ride into Israel on a white stallion, instead He seemed to stroll
across the land with a first-aid kit.

• He remembered Isaiah 61:1-2 saying that He would bring deliverance to the captives.
Didn't he have a right to expect Jesus to open his prison doors? Where was He? What
was He doing? To my knowledge, Jesus never visited John in prison, nor did He keep
him from being beheaded!


II. The Quest of John the Baptist Luke 7:19-20


Don't overlook or gloss over Luke 7:19. I want you to note the faithfulness of John's friends. Apparently, John's disciples were allowed to visit him. They told John of our Lord's wonderful teachings and miracles.



However, their report included nothing about eliminating the injustices of men or removing Roman's rule over the Jews. There was nothing about Jesus taking over the world in righteousness.

What John heard puzzled him, for Jesus seemed to be fulfilling only half of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, the half dealing with ministry. The prophecies dealing with righteousness and judgment were not being fulfilled. Where was the fire and wrath and judgment?

Could John have been mistaken about Jesus being the Messiah? John had announced judgment, but Jesus was doing deeds of love and mercy. John had promised that the kingdom was at hand, but there was no evidence so far. What John expected from Jesus was not taking place. Jesus' ministry was taking a different direction from what John expected.

John sent two of his own loyal disciples to put the question to Jesus as bluntly as possible – “Are you the one that is to come? Or are we to look for someone else?”


III. The Quieting of John the Baptist Luke 7:21-23


Jesus continued His healing which was fulfilling Messianic prophecies given in Isaiah. Note Luke 7:22 There's the evidence.

Luke 7:23 is the “Forgotten Beatitude.” Here is the sense: “John, you and anyone like you will be blessed if you do not fall away because of your disappointment with the way I choose to work. Focus on what I am doing; not on what I'm not doing. John, I want you to know that everything is running on My schedule. Everything is under My control. If you want to be happy, don't look at the prison bars. Don't even listen to the grinding of the ax that may cut off your head. John, just trust Me. It's alright. Everything is running right on schedule.”

Where is God when the unexpected happens? He's in my heart and He's still on His throne. That's where He is!

Have faith in God. He's on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o'er His own.
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, have faith in God.



A TRIBUTE TO JOHN THE BAPTIST

Luke 7:24-30


Look at Luke 7:29-30. If you have a red-letter edition the words are written in black. I'm convinced they should be red because Jesus is continuing to speak. The Bible is inspired of God, but the red letters are not. They were printed in red by men who wanted to help us to see which were the words of Jesus. Most of the time they are right on, but in these verses, when you realize Jesus is speaking these words, it makes an entirely different application.

Luke 7:29 – “And all the people that heard John …”


In the verses preceding these, John the Baptist was in prison because of his boldness to confront Herod about his living in sin with his brother's wife.

John had the power of God resting on him and when he preached repentance from sin, literally thousands of people responded to his preaching, repented of their sins, got right with God, and were baptized by John.

But time had passed. John had been in prison for several weeks; maybe months. John was discouraged and depressed, so he sent two men to Jesus to ask Him if He were the Messiah, or should they continue to wait for Him. Jesus explained that He was the Messiah and that John's problem was in his time schedule.

Jesus is going to tell the people there not to think unworthy or unkindly toward John and then Jesus asked them three questions:


I. The Departure of John's Disciples Luke 7:24


Did you notice that Jesus waited until after John's disciples left before He gave his tribute to John? Why?

• Because Jesus had them on assignment: “Go back and tell John everything that you have seen and heard and assure him that everything is running right on schedule.”

• But a second reason: If John had been told what Jesus was about to say about John, John
may have been tempted to pride.


II. The Defense of John by Jesus Luke 7:24-28



You must understand that Jesus was reading the thoughts of the people standing around.

• Some of them were thinking, “We thought John was really somebody, but if he is somebody, why is he in prison?”

• And why did he ask those two men to ask Jesus if He were the Messiah or should they look for another?

• Some were having second thoughts about John and some of what they were thinking was unworthy and unkind.

So, Jesus begins to defend John the Baptist by asking three questions, but those three questions are the same question, “What did you go out to see?”

You see, John the Baptist was not only a voice to be heard, but he was also a sight to be seen.

A. “What did you go out to see? A reed shaking with the wind?”

Two possible applications:

1. “Did you just go out to see just a common, ordinary fellow?”

A reed shaking in the wind was a common sight in the Jordan Valley, because the Valley was filled with thousands of those reeds, standing up in the air with the wind blowing them back and forth.

2. More likely: Weeds blown by the wind are not dependable. They are affected by circumstances. Some folks are like politicians and other leaders who watch carefully to see which way the wind of popularity might blow and then act to increase their popularity.

John wasn't like that. John looked at the religious leaders of his day who had come to him for baptism. But John knew that they were not repenting. They just wanted the people to think well of them.

John called them a bunch of snakes and vipers. “Go back home and really repent. I will not baptize you until you show the fruit of repentance in your life.”

John was more like a tree than a reed: solid and strong. “Did you expect to see an old, common, compromising fellow?”

B. “Did you go out to see a man dressed in soft garments?”

He's not someone who would serve in kings' palaces. If you went out to hear some pretty-faced, sissy, sermonizer in a silk suit, you were going in the wrong direction when you went to hear John. He wore camel's hair, a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).


By the way, I heard about a Texan who went to Australia and he thought he would make fun of the outback. His driver took him to one of their large lakes and the Texan said, “It's about the size of the mud-puddle in my backyard. A little later they crossed a long bridge and the Texan said, “Looks like one of the toys my kids play with.
A little later a kangaroo jumped out in front of their jeep and the quick-thinking Australian said, “I see we're coming into grasshopper country!”

C. “Did you go to see a prophet?”

John was more than a prophet. He was the greatest prophet, the last of the Old Testament prophet and the only prophet who saw Jesus. He was also the prophet who introduced Jesus to the world. Look at Luke 7:28: Our Lord's estimation was, “Among those born of woman, none is greater than John the Baptist.”

But don't stop! John died before the kingdom of heaven was brought in. What is the kingdom of heaven? It is the rule and reign of Christ in our heart by the Holy Spirit. All believers after the cross are greater still, because they participate in the full understanding and experience of something John saw only in shadowy form – the actual atoning work of Christ.

Today we know of the atoning work of Christ. We know that Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross. We know the will of God for us is to come to Jesus by faith.

Have you done that?



O, HOW I LOVE JESUS

Luke 7:36-50


Before reading the Passage.

Twice in the Gospels we are told that a woman anointed the feet of Jesus, but we must understand that these were two different incidents.

This first anointing is found only in Luke and took place early in His ministry.

The second anointing of Jesus' feet took place just days before His crucifixion, and is found in Matthew 21; Mark 14; John 12.

This first incident took place in Nain, while the other took place in Bethany.

The woman who anointed our Lord's feet in Luke is unnamed and unknown. We are told that the woman who anointed Jesus the second time was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Mary was a believer who loved Jesus with all her heart. The first woman was a sinner, a prostitute.

The woman who anointed Jesus the first time had not been invited to the supper. Mary was a guest.

First one hosted by Simon, a Pharisee; second by Simon the leper.

Keep this in mind as I read the Scripture.

This is one of the great short stories of the Bible. A Hollywood producer could turn it into a terrific one-hour drama on television. You might call it, “The Preacher and the Prostitute,” or you could call it “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.”

It helps to have two bits of background information.

The first is that this story takes place at a formal dinner party in ancient Israel. That's important to know because in those days, formal dinner parties, especially of the rich, often took place in an open courtyard. They were public events in that the neighbors felt free to stand around the sides of the courtyard to observe the dinner party as it took place. They were not considered guest, but they weren't intruders either. They were self-invited observers or spectators.

A second bit of information is that it was customary for the host to greet his invited guest with three things: A Kiss of welcome, Water for their feet, and Oil to anoint their head. The kiss was a mark of affection, the water allowed the guest to wash the dirt from their feet, and the oil was rubbed on the
forehead as a kind of aromatic perfume. The parallel in our day would be shaking hands (or offering a hug), taking someone's coat, offering them food and drink, and finding them a place to sit. These were just common courtesies. To omit them was a breach of etiquette and an act of unkindness.

Four things I would point out from this passage:


I. The Personalities

Four groups are mentioned.

1. There is Jesus Himself, the Honored Guest

When the Son of God walks into a room, the room becomes a Holy of Holies. When He walks into a room, the presence of God has arrived.

2. Simon, a Pharisee

Pharisees were usually rich and considered themselves holier-than-thou kind of people.

3. A woman who was identified as a sinner.

“Publicans and sinners” were usually grouped together. Someone called a “sinner” refers to a prostitute, one who sold her body to men.

4. The other guest, probably more Pharisees.

II. The Plot

Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. Why would he do that? Most likely he wanted to watch Jesus to see if he could find something whereby to condemn Jesus.

While Simon invited Jesus to eat at his house, it was not with any desire to hear Jesus teach. He was already satisfied with his knowledge of the Law.

Nor did Simon have any desire to honor Jesus, because in His rebuke of Simon, Jesus reminded Simon that he had neglected the common Jewish acts of kindness when receiving a guest. Simon had offended Jesus – no kiss, no water, and no oil.

Jesus was the Invited one, but there was also an Intruder, an uninvited woman, a sinner. This woman comes in and she begins to do some things there at the feet of Jesus.

You can almost see every eye on this woman as she comes in and moves toward the Lord Jesus. It is known immediately that she is a sinner, a woman of the street, a prostitute! “Why is SHE here?” “What does SHE want?”

You must understand, this is not the first time this woman has encountered Jesus. This passage of Scripture makes absolutely no sense if this is the first time she has encountered Jesus. Because you see, lost people don't come to the feet of Jesus on their own. Lost people don't come to the feet of Jesus
and bathe His feet with tears and anoint His feet with perfume. No, this was not her first encounter with Jesus.

Note Luke 7:35: “But wisdom is justified by all of her children.” That same verse is found in Matthew 11:19. In Luke's Gospel you read that verse and Luke goes immediately into the passage about Jesus going to the Pharisee's house. But Matthew's Gospel deals with what Jesus said about judgment: Judgment because if some of the wicked cities that God had judged had seen the mighty acts Jesus had done in Capernaum, they would have believed. But the day of judgment was coming for them.

Jesus goes on to say that God had hidden these things from the wise, but revealed them to babes. Jesus goes on to talk about repentance and hell and how He reveals the true meaning of those things to whom He wills, and then He gives the invitation: “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest unto your souls.”

I believe that standing there, listening to that, was this woman. The spiritual light is turned on in her soul. She understands. She begins to prepare for her night's work of selling her body on the street. She bathes herself and then looks at herself, and she says, “I still feel so dirty and unclean.” She bathes herself again, but she says again: “I'm so dirty. I'm so filthy. I'm so unclean.” Then she reaches to get the bottle of perfume that she always sprinkled herself with every night to attract the attention of men, but again she looks at herself and says, “I'm so dirty.”

But I heard Jesus say to me, “Come to Me. Trust Me. Learn of Me. Believe in Me and I'll give you rest.” And I see this little woman with the attire of a harlot and the bottle of perfume in her hand, sink to her knees. She says, “I heard Jesus say that if I would trust Him, He would save me, wash me inside
out and cleanse me. Oh, God, please forgive me and save me by Your grace and mercy.” And instantaneously that woman was born again. Her sin was lifted and she stood up a brandnew child of God.

She went on her knees a child of hell, but she got up a child of Heaven. And she said, “I've got to find that man!” She runs out of the house with the perfume bottle still in her hand. She runs through the streets to find Jesus. She sees Him go into a house she'd never been before. It was the house of a respected, religious man, nobody would have ever let her in a house like that, but you see, this woman has been born again, and the new birth gives you a brandnew courage.

She goes in, sees Jesus reclining on the floor and she just kneels at His feet. Tears pour on His feet. Her heart is both broken over sin – and the tears come – and her new heart is rejoicing – again with tears of joy flowing. And she just pours the perfume on His feet.

I think for two reasons: number one, because she loves Him. And number two, because she's saying, “I'm pouring out my old life. I won't need this stuff anymore. You, Lord, are the only Man I want in my heart.” That's what she went there to do. Not to eat!

Now that she has washed His feet and dried them with her hair and poured perfume on them, she kisses them and kisses them and kisses them again!

Simon, sitting there, watches all of this. He comes to the conclusion that this woman is nothing but a worthless prostitute and Jesus is no prophet. If He were a prophet, he would not let this woman fondle his feet. Oh, he didn't say it out loud. He's too much of a coward for that.

III. The Parable Luke 7:40-48

Here is the parable. The master had loaned two men money. One of them would have to work 50 days and it would take every penny he made just to repay the man. The other man would have to work almost two years to repay what he owed. The master knew neither of them could repay the loan, so he forgave both of them their debts. He canceled it out. Forgave all.
“Go on about your business and have a good life.”

“Now Simon, which one of the two men do you think would love the master most? The one who he forgave 50 days wages or the one he forgave 500 days wages?” Simon didn't want to answer that question. So, he said, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the greatest debt loved most.”

Here's the lesson: The depth and expression of your love for Jesus is in direct proportion to how desperately you know you need forgiveness. Simon didn't think he was a real bad sinner, so it didn't take much forgiveness to forgive him. But Simon thought it would take a lot of forgiveness to forgive that woman.

Jesus tells Simon, “Your love for me is zero. You gave me no kiss, no water, no oil. But this woman – do you see her? Simon, do you see this woman?” “Oh, yes, I see her.” “Oh, no. You do not see her. You only see her as she used to be. You can't see her as she is now because you are blind. If you could really see her, you would see that she is white as snow. She is a 500 pence sinner. See this woman?

• You gave Me no kiss on the cheek. She has not stopped kissing My feet.

• You didn't bring Me any water for My feet, but she bathed My feet with her tears.

• You didn't bring Me any cheap oil for My head. She brought expensive perfume and poured it on My feet.

Note Luke 7:47. Now Jesus turns to the woman and in Luke 7:48 He says, “Oh, yes, lady. Your sins are forgiven.”


IV. The Perplexity Luke 7:49-50


Note: “Your FAITH has saved you. Go in peace.”

It was not her expression of love that saved her. It was her faith that saved her and she felt such deep and total forgiveness she had to express her love for the Lord in such a gracious way.

How deep is your love for Jesus? If you are saved, do you realize your sin is great and His forgiveness toward you is great?

There is a Name I love to hear, I love to sing its worth.
It sounds like music in my ear, The sweetest Name on earth.

It tells me of a Savior's love, who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood, The sinner's perfect plea.

It tells of one whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe,
Who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below.

O, how I love Jesus, O, how I love Jesus,
O, how I love Jesus – Because He first loved me!


HOW TO CULTIVATE A TEACHABLE HEART

Luke 8:1-15


The first three verses tell of “certain women” who supported the ministry of our Lord and His disciples. What a blessing these women were to our Lord. It seems that these women supported His ministry to the end. Matthew 27:55 seems to indicate that these ladies supported Him until He died on the cross. Some of these same women were in the Upper Room praying for ten days before the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost.

These verses are all about how well we listen to the Word of God. Some in this room come to the service with their Bibles open, pen and paper in hand, almost sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for a word from God.

However, there are others who are yawning already. They might not have even brought a Bible. Their biggest concern at this very moment is “When is this going to be over?” This parable is all about how well we listen to the Word of God.

We know from Jesus' explanation the point of the parable is not seeds and dirt. It's all about the heart-attitudes of people who hear the Word.

Dr. Ray Stedman has helped me in my understanding of this parable and I want to share with you what he said:

“I used to read this story as though these various soils were four different kinds of people, who remain the same all through their lifetime. Some were permanently hard-hearted, like the first example given; some were impulsive, some were full of concerns. But I have come to see that what our Lord is describing here is not four types of persons, so much, but conditions of our heart at any given moment. Whenever the Word is being taught, people are in one condition or another, just as they are described to us here. We have all been callous, at times. We have all been overly concerned about other matters. And we have all had times of being open and responsive to the Word.”

So, as we study this parable, don't try to figure out who is saved or lost. Instead, examine your own heart and see which of these four attitudes or heart conditions characterizes your life RIGHT NOW.

Jesus speaks about:


I. A Hard Heart: No Reception so the Word is Stolen Luke 8:12

This person hears the Word, but it goes in one ear and out the other. God's Word rolls off this hearer like water off a duck's back. You really aren't interested in the Word of God. The Word may enter your EAR, but it doesn't enter your HEART.

There is something going on right now that you can't see with the human eye, and it makes it harder to receive the Word of God. Jesus says Satan tries to “steal” the Word from you.

It was common in Israel to see a flock of birds swarming around a farmer as he tossed his seed. The birds knew some of the seed would fall on hard, packed soil and they would swoop down and eat it. In the same way, the devil stands ready to try to steal the Word away from people as soon as they hear it.

Don't ever be surprised if you have trouble concentrating when you are reading the Bible or when you are hearing the Bible being taught. One of the enemy's most effective strategies is distraction. At this moment, Satan would love nothing better than for you to be distracted by some movement in the building, or by something that is dropped, or someone getting up and going to the restroom. Satan is actively attempting to steal the Word away from you.


II. A Shallow Heart: No Root so the Word is Starved Luke 8:13

It's very easy to slip into this a category. Jesus said these people receive the Word with Joy. They react with an emotional acceptance of the Word. They hear the Word with Joy on Sunday, but by Tuesday morning they are cast-down and defeated. The emotion is gone and so is the commitment.

This is a real warning to us about the danger of basing our Christian faith on our emotions. Some people think the reason they come to church is to get happy and they hope they can get enough joy to last them through the week so they can come back the next week and get a refill.

“What's wrong with an emotional faith? I want to feel good about God!” Let's let Jesus tell us what's wrong with this kind of attitude: It doesn't stand up under the heat. Trouble and testings come into our lives and an emotionally based faith won't pass the test.

In the parable, the plant had no root, so when the heat came, there was no depth so it withered and died. We need deep roots. We need to be rooted in the Word of God.


III. A Crowded Heart: No Room so the Word is Strangled Luke 8:14

I believe more are in this category than are in the first two combined. This represents the kind of attitude that hears the Word. Receives it. It is watered and nurtured and the person begins to really grow as a Christian. I believe this person has a genuine desire to be a deeply rooted, maturing Christian. But somewhere along the way their growth process is interrupted. They simply allow their lives to become so crowded with other interest that the impact of the Word gets choked out.

Jesus is warning us there are some things in our lives that compete with the Word of God. What are some of these things?

A. Strangled by Worries

Our English word “worry” comes from a German word that means “to choke.” I'm convinced the most prevalent sin among Christians is worry. There are two kinds of trouble in life: Those you can't do anything about and those that you can do something about.

“For every evil under the sun; either there's a cure, or there is none.
If there be one – seek 'till you find it. If there's none – never mind it.”

B. Strangled by Wealth

“The deceitfulness of riches.” There is nothing inherently evil in wealth, but wealth can fool you. It can give you a false sense of security and worth. It can deceive you into thinking you can buy your way into and out of any situation.

C. Strangled by Wants

Jesus called these “pleasures.” It meant loving the things the world has to offer. One of the biggest enemies you'll ever face is spiritual warfare is busyness. It's easy in our day to get over-extended. Our plate gets over-loaded.


IV. A Teachable Heart: The Word is Successful Luke 8:15


This is the goal for which every believer strives.

Would you like to have an open, teachable heart? It doesn't come automatically. It must be cultivated.

How do you cultivate a teachable heart? There are four practical ways to cultivate this kind of attitude.

A. Hunger for the Word Psalm 119:103

Do you have a good appetite to read and hear God's Word? The French have an interesting phrase. When they sit down to eat a meal they say, “Bon Appetite.” Why don't they say, “Good Food?” Because they understand your enjoyment of a meal is directly related to the intensity of your appetite, not necessarily the quality of the food. If you haven't eaten in two days, a bowl of soup tastes heavenly. On the other hand, you can sit down to the finest mean prepared by the most talented chef, but if you've just eaten three Big Macs, you won't really enjoy that fine mean. Why? Obviously, because you are already full.

You may not be hungry for the Word of God because you are already full of something else.

B. Hear the Word Aggressively

At this moment, some of you are aggressively listening, and others are only passively hearing.

For years the RCA logo was a dog sitting in front of a gramophone with one ear cocked. The motto was “Listening for his master's voice.” Is that true of you? Do you read the Word or come to church and cock your ear heavenward to listen for the Voice of your Master?

Sadly, some people come to church, cross their arms and put a mental sign around their necks saying, “Do Not Disturb.” Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Chuck Swindall tells the story of an Indian walking downtown New York City alongside a friend who was a resident of the city. Right in the center of Manhattan the Indian took his friend's arm and said, “Wait a minute! I hear a cricket.”

His friend said, “Come on! This is downtown New York. You can't hear a cricket! There are taxis going by with their horns honking. The subway is roaring beneath us. You can't possibly hear a cricket!”

The Indian insisted, “Wait a minute!” They stopped. The Indian walked over to a large cement planter where a tree was growing, dug into the mulch and found the cricket. “See!” he yelled as he held the cricket high above his head. His friend said, “How in the world could you hear a cricket in the middle of downtown Manhattan?”

The Indian said, “Well, it simply depends on what you're listening for. Here, let me show you.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a hand full of change, and said, “Now watch.” He held the change waist high and dropped them on the sidewalk. Every head within a block turned and looked in that direction. It all depends on what you're listening for.

There may be two of you hearing the Bible taught. One says, “Yes, Lord, I'm hearing You.” The other is looking at his watch thinking, “When will this be over?” Are you really listening?

C. Hang on to the Word Psalm 119:11

A good listener not only Hears the Word, he also Retains the Word. One way is to take notes. Studies have shown that 24 hours after you hear something, you only remember ten percent of it. But if you take notes you will be able to recall forty percent of what you hear. That's why I give handouts.

Einstein was correct when he said, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.”

D. Help others Hear the Word

Jesus said a teachable heart is like fertile soil that reproduces itself a hundred-fold.
Hear the Word and teach it to others.

The seed of the Word is so powerful, all you have to do is plant it. God will do the rest.

 

FAITH IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM

Luke 8:22-25


This is the first of four miracles in Luke 8 that magnifies the absolute sovereignty of the Lord Jesus.

• In this passage of Scripture, we see that Jesus is sovereign Lord over natural disasters – He calms a storm on a lake.
• Then we see that Jesus is sovereign over demons as He cast out 6,000 demons from a man.
• Next, we see that Jesus is sovereign over disease as a woman just touched His garment in faith and she was healed after twelve years of an issue of blood.
• Finally, Jesus is sovereign over death as He brings a twelve year old girl back to life after she had died.

In this passage Jesus calms a storm as He and His disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.

Four thing I want to point out to you as we examine this passage.


I. The Prelude to the Storm


This miracle is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but none tell what body of water they were on. But we know nonetheless. We know because of the location of where the boat landed. We know because Luke tells us two things:

1. Luke tells us that they landed in the country of “the Gadarenes,” which is over against Galilee (Luke 8:26).

2. Then Luke tells us that the storm of wind “came down” on the Lake (Luke 8:23).

With those two details, we know that it had to be the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is actually a relatively small fresh-water lake. It is some fourteen miles long, seven miles wide, and about 150 feet deep. The shoreline is 680 feet below sea level and is shaped like a harp. The Sea is surrounded by mountain gouges with deep ravines that act like a wind tunnel that funnels great whirling winds down onto the Sea without notice.

Most of the storms on the Sea came suddenly. At one moment it might be peaceful and the next minute a storm would suddenly arise, with driving rain and gale-force winds. Many boats at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee bear testimony to the power of a raging storm. The water stirs into violent 20-foot waves. Boats look like small bobbing corks on the stormy water.

That's the way it is with life too! Things can be fine one moment and the next, the bottom falls out. One minute you can be enjoying fair weather and the next, you find yourself in the middle of a terrible
storm. One phone call, one 24-hour period of time, one doctor visit, one tick of the clock, and there you are, in the storm of your life.
Nobody has a life of all sunshine and no pain. Into every life some rain must fall, and I might add, thunder and lightening often comes with it.

In Luke 8:22 Jesus said, “Men, let's cross over to the other side of the lake.” There was no argument from His disciples. It had been a hard day. The people had been pressing on Him most of the day, demanding and needing help. The pressure and physical strain had worn Jesus down. He needed time away from the crowds. He needed rest … and so did His disciples.

Mark 4:36 inserts a little phrase that Luke does not. Mark says, “they took Him even as He was in the ship.” We see here the dual nature of the Lord Jesus – the God-man. Jesus is 100 percent God and 100 percent man. Not half God and half man; but 100 percent God and 100 percent man. As man He was totally exhausted after His busy day. He was weary and worn both mentally and physically. You can almost see Him as He throws Himself upon a pillow and falls into a deep sleep.

That was Jesus as 100 percent man. But in a little while, as 100 percent God, He would rebuke the wind and it and the Sea would be calm.

By the way, whose idea was it to get into a boat and sail to the other side in the first place? Wasn't it Jesus Himself who said, “Let us go across to the other side”?

We need to learn something here: Storms come in our lives even when Jesus is with us. Some
Christians make the mistake of thinking that just because they have the Lord in their life and because they are obedient to Him and in His will, they will be exempt from storms, problems, and troubles.

If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything to be smooth on our journey to Heaven. We must not think it a strange thing if we have to endure sickness, looses, disappointments, just like other men.

Jesus never promised us we would have no affliction. He loves us too much for that. He teaches us many lessons through the hard times; lessons we could learn no other way. Affliction teaches us about our weaknesses, it draws us to the throne of God, it purifies us, it weans us from the world, and it makes us long for Heaven. One day we will thank God for every storm.


II. The Power of Storms

Where did this storm come from? You say, “Well, it came from where most storms on the Sea of
Galilee come from. It was formed from the wind tunnel down from the mountains.”

Notice the word “rebuked” in Luke 8:24. He “rebuked the wind.” To rebuke the wind for blowing is ludicrous. That's what the wind was designed to do – blow! To scold an inanimate object for something doesn't make sense. You can't blame the wind for blowing!

The word “rebuke” is the same word that Jesus used to rebuke the demonic spirits that had possessed a person. It is a command: Hush! Be quiet! Cease!

It's as if Jesus was saying, “This storm had come because of the forces of evil. It was the handiwork of His greatest enemy, Satan. Satan was attempting to prevent God's plan of salvation from being accomplished by Jesus dying on the cross. Satan wanted Jesus to die anyway but God's way.
Satan had already tried to take the life of Jesus in other ways. He had Herod kill all the boy babies under the age of two with a sword around the time of Jesus' birth, but God delivered Jesus.

Satan had incited the religious leaders in Nazareth to stone Jesus, but God delivered Him.

Since Satan could not stop God's plan through sword or stones, he now attempts to stop it by the storm and the sea.

Why do personal storms come in our lives?

Some storms are our own fault. We do it to our self. We make foolish choices.

Some storms come from God – not to destroy you, but to develop us. He may send storms our way to discipline us or to draw us closer to Him.

But some storms are satanic in nature. Satan wants to defeat us.

Notice that the storms brought the disciples great FEAR. The biggest storm was not around them, but within them. Fear can kill a person faster than a storm.

When you are in the midst of a personal storm, fear will cause you to think the very worst is going to happen. Fear of the storm is usually worse than the storm itself.

When Germany started bombing England, Churchill said, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself.” He knew fear could do more damage than Nazi bombs.

Paul Harvey told the story of a Arkansas farmer who kept losing hens to a night-time predator. He suspected it was a fox, so one evening the farmer left his loaded shotgun beside his bed. When he heard a commotion in the hen house, he grabbed his shotgun and ran toward the hen house wearing only his nightshirt.

He forgot his flashlight, so as he approached the dark hen house, fear began to take over. He began to worry, “What if this fox is rabid and it bites me before I can kill it?” “Or, what if it's not a fox , but a bobcat?” He was literally shaking with fear as he approached the hen house. He paused to listen.

At that very moment, his trusty old hound dog, Blue, who had crept up silently on his master, decided to show his affection. Old Blue stuck his cold nose under the nightshirt of the farmer from behind. The farmer's finger was on the trigger and “KABLAM!” Thirty hens lost their lives that night. But it wasn't the fox – or bobcat – that killed them, it was fear.

As long as you are focused on the storm and the worse that could happen to you, fear will control you.

III. The Purpose of the Storm


Why does God permit storms to come in our lives? Does God have a purpose in permitting storms to come our way? Yes, He does!

1. He wants to Develop our Faith

This may be the supreme reason. When He had stilled the storm, He gently rebuked them, saying, “Where is your faith?” God sends trials to see if we will react in faith to Him.

2. He wants to Reveal His Power

God wants to show us His power. He may not calm the storm as soon as we want Him to, but He is an on-time God!

3. He wants to Prove His love to us.

If He doesn't calm the storm Around us, He will calm the storm Within us!


IV. The Peace After the Storm Luke 8:24-25


I wonder what Jesus did after He calmed the storm? I think I know. I think He laid back down on the pillow, but before He went back to sleep, I think He looked up at His disciples and with a smile said, “Boys, do you think you can get us to the other side now?”

Andre Crouch used to sing:

I thank God for the mountains;
And I thank Him for the valleys;
I thank Him for the storms He's brought me through.
For if I'd never had a problem;
I would never know that my God could solve them;
I would never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all;
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all;
I've learned to depend upon the Lord.



Look back at Luke 8:22. Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” May I tell you, Jesus has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. And He's promised to be with me all the way. What that means is, “Jesus is in my boat, so I know I'll get to the other side – safely!

There may be some storms along the way, but He is with me in the storms. Jesus and I are in the boat together, so I know I'll get to the other side.

There may be financial storms that may be impossible for me to pay right now, but Jesus is in my boat and we are going to the other side together where the streets are paved with gold and where He has prepared for me a mansion in the Father's house.

There may be emotional storms. Having Jesus in your life doesn't make you immune to the storms of life.

What if death comes? We fight so hard to stay as long as we can in this life – and I think Jesus wants us to – but I think when Jesus and I arrive together in my boat, we'll say, “If I knew it was going to be this wonderful up here, I may have been careless crossing the busy street.”

Is Jesus in your life's boat? I wouldn't make the journey without Him!


JESUS AND THE WILD MAN

Luke 8:26-40

In the previous verses (Luke 8:22-25) Jesus tells His disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The reason for that is that Jesus was physically worn out. He had been teaching and healing all day and the Bible says that the people were constantly pressing in on Him, so much so that He was about to suffocate. He was tired and needed to get away from the people.

In Luke 8:22 Jesus told His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” Do you remember what happened? Jesus fell asleep in the boat and as He was sleeping a storm suddenly came up. The disciples feared for their lives, so they woke Jesus and He rebuked the wind. The word “rebuked” is the same word that Jesus used to rebuke demons. In other words, Jesus knew the storm came from Satan. Satan was trying to kill Jesus before He had the opportunity to go to the cross to die God's way so He could save us from our sins.

When you come to Luke 8:26, Jesus and His disciples are on the other side of the lake. They are in the region of the Gaderenes on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. This is Gentile territory, the region called Decapolis, which means “Ten Cities.” He has come there hoping to rest.

They had no sooner gotten out of the boat when a demon-possessed man comes running from the stone tombs from the mountain, waving his arms. He was naked; he was screaming with a mournful howl and a high-pitched, shrieking cry. They may have actually heard him before they saw him. His hair was long and matted. He was bleeding from self-inflicted wounds made by sharp stones with which he had cut himself. On his ankles and wrists were signs where chains had bound him, but he had broken free. He had a vicious, wild look in his eyes. He was mad; out of his mind; living in the tombs.

This text reveals four different prayers or request made to Jesus. The demons make the first two, the townspeople make the third, and the liberated man makes the fourth.


I. Prayer Number One: “Do Not Torture Me!” Luke 8:26-31


Think for a moment how the disciples must have felt. They had just experienced the near-death experience on the Sea. They know Satan had caused the storm. Now they think they are safe from the storm when suddenly this demon-possessed man comes running toward them; waving his arms; his body cut up and bleeding; he is crying out with a shrieking cry; and he falls down before Jesus. Then he says with a loud voice, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” Matthew adds: “Are You come to torment us before our time?”

I wonder if the disciples thought, “Get back to the boat! It's safer in the storm!”

I remind you that demons were originally spirit beings or angels, created by God to serve Him. They were originally good angels, but they made their choice to follow Lucifer and rebel against God. They are now in Satan's army and they do his bidding and follow his evil purposes.

Did you notice: Demons are not atheists. They fear God even though they do not worship Him.
This demon called Jesus by His divine name – “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” James 2:19 says the “demons believe” and “tremble” before the Son of God.

This demon also knew that his doom was set and that Jesus would be the Judge who would consign them to their doom in the pit of torment (called “the Abyss”) forever. He asked that Jesus not send them there before their time. Liberal teachers may not believe in a literal hell, but the fallen angels do!

Jesus commanded the unclean spirits to come out of the man, and they obeyed. They had no choice but to obey Him!

Jesus asked the demon who spoke through the man, “What is your name?” This was more than a request for identification. It means something like this: “Do you know who you are?” The spokesman demon answers, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”

Evidently, one demon answers on behalf of all the evil spirits within the man. Notice the change from the singular to the plural: “My name is”, then, “because we are many.” The word “Legion” refers to a Roman military unit of 6,000 soldiers. The demon is likely not saying there are 6,000 demons inside the man, but that he is full of demons.


II. Prayer Number Two: “Send Us Into the Pigs” Luke 8:32-33


Before Christ cast the demons out, the many demons present a strange request of Jesus: “Permit us to enter into the pigs.” Mark tells us there were about 2,000 pigs.

Jesus command to the demons was one, two-letter word: “Go.” And that one word had the power to set the man free of the demons. Note Luke 8:33.

Now the demons that were once in the man are in the pigs. Notice what happened to the demons and to the pigs: They ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.

The pigs preferred suicide to demon possession. There they are; dead, floating in the Sea.

That brings up a question: Whose pigs were they? Who did the pigs belong to? Did Jesus have the right to destroy someone's personal property?

Most likely the pigs belonged to some Jewish farmer. Although the Jews would not eat pig's meat
because it was unclean according to the Old Testament Law, the Jewish farmers had no shame in providing pig's meat for the Romans, even though it was forbidden meat – for a profit.

The destruction of the swine was deserved punishment for those who violated God's Law.


III. Prayer Number Three: Leave Us Alone” Luke 8:34-37


The miracle is over. The demons have left the man, and entered the pigs; the pigs are floating in the water, dead; and the demons are nowhere to be found.

What happened to the demons after the pigs died? We don't know what happened to the demons because the text doesn't tell us. Jesus has proven that He is the absolute Master of the spirit world. Almost immediately word begins to spread about the remarkable goings-on with the former madman and the floating herd of pigs.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported what happened to the man and to the pigs.

The change in the man was evident. Instead of finding a wild, terrifying man, they find this man sitting at Jesus' feet. He was clothed and in his right mind. He is now Christ-possessed instead of demon-possessed. All of this illustrates the transformation Christ makes possible.

But what about the townspeople? Notice Luke 8:37.

Why were the people afraid? What or who were they afraid of? The man? No. He is free of his demons, clothed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Of what then? Of Jesus! They were afraid of anyone with that much power. Their real fear came because they thought more of their property and their profit than they did the soul of this man.

So, they asked Jesus to leave their area. He does. Jesus doesn't stay where He isn't wanted. As far as we know, He never went back again. That's something to think about. When Jesus knocks on the door of your heart, run quickly to let Him in. Do not think that He is obligated to come back again and again.


IV. Prayer Number Four: “Lord, Let Me Go with You.” Luke 8:38-40


Think of the four prayers:

• Jesus granted the request of the demons twice: “Do not torture us before our time”
and “Send us into the pigs.” He didn't send them to the pit and He sent the demons
into the pigs.

• Jesus granted the request of the townspeople – He went away.

• But Jesus refused the request of the new convert. He didn't allow the man to come with Him. Why? Because the Lord knew this man could be more useful to Him by telling what great things the Lord had done for him.

Notice: “Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you.” Jesus didn't say, “Go into the synagogues of the land and explain the miracle of your cure.” Instead He said, “Go home and tell.”

Often young converts, especially if saved from a wicked life-style of their past, are thrust into the limelight and given public prominence, but they often fail because they are not mature enough for the limelight.

A strong home testimony is the surest test, for if you cannot tell it to your home, you will not last.

Children love to play “Show and Tell.” Go to the people you know best and tell the thing you know best – what Christ has done for you. Start where you are and tell what you know.

That leads to a very simple question: What has Jesus ever done for you? Has He ever touched your life personally and changed you? If He has, go and tell.

If Jesus has never touched you personally in salvation, what will you ask the Lord to do for you – to depart from you OR to come into your heart?


SHE TOUCHED ME!

Luke 8:41-48


Bill Gaither wrote these words:

Shackled by a heavy burden, Neath a load of guilt and shame;
Then the hand of Jesus touched me, And now I am no longer the same.

He touched me, O, He touched me, And O, the joy that floods my soul;
Something happened, and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.

But wait! In this passage Jesus could sing: “She Touched Me ...And in that touch, I touched her, without touching her, and made her whole!”

You see, when we reach up to touch Jesus, He reaches down and touches us.

After Jesus cast the demon out of the man at Gadara, the people asked Him to leave their area and He does – never to return. Jesus and His disciples get into a boat again to go to the other side of the Sea. There they are met by a large crowd of folks. In that crowd was Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, who came running to Jesus and fell on his face before Jesus. He asked Jesus to please come to his house and heal his twelve-year-old daughter, for she was at the point of death.

As Jesus was on His way to Jairus' house, a woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years, comes up behind Him and touches the hem of His garment, hoping that by just touching His garment, she would be healed. And she was! She touched Jesus secretly, but Jesus draws her out of the crowd and she confesses that she touched Him, hoping to be healed.

What we have here is a miracle within a miracle. This miracle takes place within the context of Jesus going to raise Jairus' daughter from the dead.

It happened like this. As Jesus began walking to Jairus' house he was thronged, hundreds of people began to “press” in upon Him. The word “press” means “ to smother,” “to crush, like the crushing of grapes,” “to leave no breathing room.” Someone explained it like this: It was much like watching the pope walk through a crowd and people pressed in around him. Everyone wanted to touch him and everyone wanted a piece of him. That's the way it was with Jesus.

The streets in the Holy Land are narrow and crowded. In some places it seems that you can almost reach out and touch the building on both sides of the street. The scene must have been chaotic and confusing: Jairus on one side of Jesus tugging at His sleeve, saying, “Hurry, Lord, my daughter is dying,” the disciples trying to move the Lord through the crowd, and hundreds of eager people pushing, shouting, stretching out their arms to touch Him as He passed by.

Meanwhile, totally unnoticed, a frail, stooped, sickly woman pushes her way through the throng. Her face is partially covered so no one will recognize her. Her arms are thin, her hands shake as she
stretches them toward Jesus. Now she is only a few feet away. Now He is passing right by her. No
one notices as she reaches out to touch the blue and white tassel on the corner of His clock.

There's a tremendous truth I want you to see about God: God is attracted to weakness. He can't resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him.

I want us to focus on this woman who, by faith, touched His garment.

Someone had told this woman about Jesus. Who was it? When was it? How was it done? Never underestimate the power of an unconscious witness.

Three things I want you to see about this woman:


I. Her Condition Luke 8:46


For twelve years she had had the disease. I think it is interesting to note that she had suffered with the disease for as long as Jairus' daughter had been alive.

Twelve YEARS is a long time to suffer with a disease.. Twelve DAYS is a long time to suffer with some diseases. Twelve HOURS is a long time to suffer if you have an abscessed tooth. That will bring a man to his knees.

Not only had she been fighting the disease for twelve years, she was losing the fight. She was getting worse, not better.

The KJV says she had “an issue of blood” for twelve years. The modern translations speak of a hemorrhage of blood. In that day there was no cure for that condition.

But that wasn't the worst of it. Leviticus 15:25-27 contained certain regulations for women with an uncontrollable flow of blood. It basically says that such women are to be considered unclean, defiled, and an outcast as long as the flow of blood continued. Furthermore, anyone who touched such a woman would themselves become unclean and defiled.

Her disease affected her physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

Physically, the steady loss of blood for twelve years had taken its toll. There was the constant pain. She was anemic, pale, and tired. She felt drained all of the time.

Emotionally, there were tears, loneliness, and heartbreaks. She had to be careful to try to keep her condition a secret. She felt worthless and unaccepted.

Socially, she was cut off from society. She could not associate with others. She had to keep her distance. If she had been married, her husband could divorce her. She was shut out by her family. She could not hold her children, if she had any.

Spiritually, she was excommunicated from the Temple. She could not go to public worship. She suffered financial poverty and personal humiliation.

Notice Luke 8:43. This verse doesn't imply that the doctors back then were all quacks.
What it means is that they simply didn't have any effective treatments for this kind of chronic hemorrhaging. Without a miracle, there was no hope. She was desperate.


II. Her Cure Luke 8:44


This lady decided on a very different course of action than did Jairus. Jairus came very openly and publicly. He stretched himself out before Jesus, with his face on the ground. He began to plead or beg earnestly for Jesus to heal his daughter. He came before Jesus humbly and didn't care that people saw his humility. He begged for Jesus' help. He was not ashamed to beg openly.

But this woman's disease made her feel ashamed to ask Jesus to heal her sickness. She was too modest to tell Jesus her problem and then to ask Him to heal her. For one thing she didn't know how Jesus would react when He found out her problem. She was afraid that if she asked Him to heal her, He might have replied, “Don't touch Me! Get away! You're defiled!” That's how everyone else treated her. No doubt that's why she touched Him from behind.

She thought she could be healed without Jesus knowing it. She hoped to touch His garment secretly, steal her cure, and disappear back into the crowd. She thought Jesus wouldn't know, but He did!

What made her think of touching His garment to receive healing? Was it superstition that made her act in this way? Had she heard that sometimes the garments of holy men, or even their shadow could bring healing? Did she think she had nothing to lose in touching His cloak? Or did she do this because she felt herself an outcast? Or did she think, “Who am I to stop the Lord when He's on His way to Jairus' daughter?”

Or did she just have little faith? Remember this: A little faith is faith. A weak faith can lay hold of a strong Christ.

No one sees this poor woman off to the side, no one noticed as she elbows her way to the center, no one pays attention as she reaches out her hand, no one speaks to her and she speaks to no one. Here comes Jesus! Even He does not notice this woman. As He passed by, her hand brushes His tassel. In a moment the infusion of a mighty power reached her. Her weary arteries, her diseased organs, her withered muscles, her shattered nerves were filled with health and life and strength. The decay of twelve years is instantly halted and then reversed. She is well again! Healthy again! Whole again!

Notice Luke 8:48. It was a miracle and she knew it. She could feel it! What many doctors had not been able to do, the Great Physician had done!


III. Her Confession Luke 8:45-48


She turns to go; not because she is ungrateful, but she is respectful of the greater work Jesus must do concerning Jairus' daughter. With a smile on her face, she turns to go home.

But just at that moment, Jesus stops, turns and examines the crowd, and asked, “Who touched Me?”

Well, everybody was touching Him. There were so many people around Jesus it could have been anyone. Besides, what difference does it make? A touch is a touch is a touch.

But that is not true. There are different kinds of touches. There is the touch of hostility, like when Jesus was beaten at His trial. There is the touch of curiosity. Then there is the touch of faith.

This woman had touched Him in faith. The disciples couldn't tell the difference, but Jesus could. Jesus knew the difference between the touch of faith and the touch which simply made physical contact with Him. Someone had touched Him with the touch of faith and Jesus know it.

Jesus still knows the difference today. Have you ever gone to church, sat in the crowd, heard the sermon, sung a few hymns and left with an empty feeling? Someone else left the same service blessed. What was the difference? Some enter the service with no sense of their need and don't reach out in faith wanting God to do something in their life.

Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” Someone touched Him in faith and it made His heart sing. It stopped Him in His tracks! It brought gladness to His heart, but I think it also brought sadness. Everyone of them needed a touch from Him. Everyone of them could have claimed the privilege, but only one availed herself of the opportunity while the rest of them let the opportunity pass by.

Notice Luke 8:46. “And Jesus, IMMEDIATELY KNOWING IN HIMSELF” (He had not felt the touch of His cloak, but He knew that His power had been directed to someone for their transformation) “THAT VIRTUE HAD GONE OUT OF HIM.” The word “virtue” does not have a moral meaning. He is not talking about Purity, but Power. The word used here is the word we get our word dynamite and dynamo from.

Power had gone out of Him and He was conscious of it. Now, just because power went out from Him does not mean that He was any less powerful. Power went from Him, but He remained All-Powerful. Think of all the power it took to create this universe in six days, and, yet God lost none of His power. He was still All-Powerful at the end of the six days. He didn't have to recharge His batteries!

Jesus did not ask the question for His benefit. He knew before He turned around who had touched Him. After all, He is the Son of God. He asked not for HIS sake, but for her sake and for the sake of the crowd.

Here is the amazing thing: When He asked “Who touched Me?”, not one ADMITTED touching Him. Odd, isn't it? They were all pressing Him, but no one admitted doing so. They were like little children, afraid of getting into trouble if they admitted it.

A. Jesus asked the question for the woman's sake.

I think when Jesus asked the question, He looked around – I think several times at her – and she came fearing and trembling.

– Maybe she felt guilty by the way she had gained her healing.
– Maybe she thought Jesus might be upset and scold her for touching Him since she was unknown.

Jesus asked the question, NOT because He wanted her to reveal herself to Him, but He wanted to reveal Himself to her.

l. Jesus had cured her; Now, He wanted her to confess Him.

2. Jesus wanted to raise the level of her faith. If she had gone away without a further word, she might actually believe there was some magic power in His clothing. The Lord corrected her view of healing. It wasn't the garment or the touch or some kind of magic that healed her, but her faith in Him. It wasn't faith in the HEM, but faith in HIM that made her whole.

By the way, it is not walking down some church aisle, or putting your hand in some preacher's hand, or going through the waters of baptism that saves you, but it is your personal faith and trust in Him. He wanted to assure her that it was her faith in Him that made the difference.

3. Jesus wanted her to know that the healing would be permanent.

B. Jesus asked the question for the crowd's sake.

Jesus wanted the crowd to know that He wasn't ashamed to be touched by the untouchable.

This woman had taken a real chance by touching Jesus. According to the Law, her touch could make Jesus unclean. But because He was the Son of God, His power of healing overcame her uncleanness. But she didn't know that when she touched Him.

What a crucial point this is. Our Lord was not ashamed to be touched by the untouchable and He was not embarrassed to be publicly identified with the outcast of this world. He was at home with publicans and sinners, He ate supper with the fallen, He welcomed the prostitutes, He touched the lepers, and He was not ashamed to be touched by this woman.

In fact, I think He was glad and delighted to identify Himself with her. Delighted that she had the courage to reach out and touch Him. He didn't care who knew about it. He wanted the whole crowd to know what He had done.

Why is this so important? Because with our Lord there are no “untouchable” people.
In His eyes, everyone is touchable. He delights to touch the most sinful among us and
make us spiritually whole.

C. Jesus asked the question for Jairus' sake.

Put yourself in Jairus' shoes. He wanted to get Jesus to his daughter as quickly as possible because his daughter was about to die. And this woman interrupted everything for him. I can almost read Jairus' mind: “Woman, of all times for you to cause Jesus to stop. Of all times for you to interrupt Him. Get out of the way. We've got to get going! My daughter is dying! But Jesus stopped and asked the question, partly for Jairus. He wanted to encourage Jairus. He wanted Jairus to know what He had the power to do.

Notice Luke 8:47. Before his daughter was healed Jairus fell at Jesus's feet, but it was after the woman was healed that she fell at His feet. But both fell at His feet. At the feet of Jesus is where all of us belong, but sin keeps us from that place. One day every knee will bow before Him, and at His feet every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

She fell before the feet of Jesus, in fear and trembling, with trembling voice and told Him all. She kept nothing back.

That's what we must do. Oh, it's hard sometimes, but we must tell it all to the One who knows everything anyway. Why must we confess all to Him? Because “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

How did Jesus respond? There was no rebuke. Instead, He calls her “Daughter.” It is the only time in Scripture where we find the Lord Jesus calling someone by that title. She could have been older than Christ, but He uses an intimate, tender term to address her – “Daughter.” Some even translate it, “Sweetheart.”

Then He says, “Your faith has made you whole; go in peace.” “Go in MY peace. Live with my peace keeping you day by day. You have a new life of wholeness.”

Have you experienced His peace? Has He made you whole?


WHEN THEY LAUGHED AT JESUS

Luke 8:41-42, 49-56


In Luke 8:41-56, Luke records a miracle within a miracle. Jesus has agreed to heal a man's daughter, but as He is going to heal her, He stops to heal someone else first. As far as we know, this is the only time that this happened.

When Jesus stopped to heal the woman with the issue of blood, she knew that Jesus was on His way to heal the twelve-year-old daughter of one of the rulers of the synagogue. She was no doubt ashamed and embarrassed to tell Jesus her problem and need, so she thought if she could just touch the hem of His garment, maybe she could be healed and Jesus wouldn't even know that He had healed her. She could slip away unnoticed. But it was not to be, because Jesus knew that someone had touched Him in faith and He called her to come forth and confess it, and she did.

But today, I want us to focus on Jairus and his twelve-year-old daughter.


I. The Distress Luke 8:41-42


Notice the phrase, “there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name.”

The synagogues of that day could be compared to local churches of our day. Each city, town, or village would have its own synagogue. This synagogue was probably at Capernaum. This is the same synagogue that the Roman centurion built for the Jews. This is the same centurion whose faith amazed Jesus. The centurion's servant was sick and he asked Jesus to heal him, but then he said, “'Lord, I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof; just speak the word, for I know you can heal at a distance,' and Jesus said of him, 'I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.'” Since Jairus was a ruler in that synagogue, he must have known of that miracle and the power of Jesus.

A Jewish synagogue was controlled by a body of eight elders, we could call them staff members, presided over by the “ruler of the synagogue.” That would be Jairus. His functions were not priestly, but administrative. He would see to the supervision of the building and oversee the business of the synagogue.

Although he was not a priest, he would have a part in the services of the synagogue. He was responsible for making sure that everything was in order and ready at the synagogue. He would select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, examine the discourses of the public speakers, and make sure all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.

At this moment in his life, none of the things that usually seemed important felt that way. Sickness unto death had visited the home of Jairus and this broken-hearted father knows he needs help for his little daughter. When he hears that Jesus is near, he runs to Him and he humbles himself at Jesus' feet.



The name Jairus means “whom Jehovah enlightens” and God had given him enough insight to get to Jesus. This was his only child. He was at the point of despair and desperation.

Notice Verse 41. Jairus “besought Him greatly, saying, 'My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray Thee, come and lay your hands on her.'” It was the deep love of a parent for their child that brought Jairus to Jesus and, in humility, fell at our Lord's feet and begged Him to come and help his daughter. And faith won the answer. Immediately Jesus went with him.


II. The Delay Luke 8:43-48


I can imagine that a great hope sprang up in Jairus' heart when Jesus took those first steps toward his house. It was urgent that Jesus hurry. Every second counted.

Yet, instead of hurrying, Jesus stopped and gave His attention to a woman who had a hemorrhage. We don't know how long the incident with the woman took, but to Jairus, the minutes must have seemed like hours.

None of the Gospel writers record anything that Jairus said during this time of delay. But the delay must have gripped the heart of Jairus. No doubt, he is impatient and wants the Master to hurry. It must have confused him as to why Jesus would stop to deal with this issue, when his little daughter was lying at death's door.

We don't see Jairus pulling on the robes of Jesus to hurry Him along. He doesn't impatiently interrupt our Lord's dialog with the poor woman. His stomach must have been in knots but he patiently – or maybe impatiently – waits until Jesus is free and can continue on with him. This is the response of faith!

Our Lord's delays are puzzling oftentimes. We cry out to Him to hurry and instead He delays. We are like Mary and Martha who asked the Lord to hurry home because Lazarus was sick, but the Lord delayed. When the Lord did come they said to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, Lazarus would not have died.”

When it seems that God is moving slowly, don't give up, because while God is seldom early, He is never late.

Our Lord wanted to teach Jairus AND US some important lessons.

• Deity doesn't run on our schedule. God is not bound by constraints of time. It may
surprise you to know that God doesn't possess a clock or a calendar!

• The delays of life are designed to increase our faith.

• When God doesn't move as quickly as we might like, trust Him anyway.

 

III. The Disappointment Luke 8:49-50


Just as the Lord was giving His benediction to the woman, a messenger came from Jairus' house with the heart-breaking news that all was over, his little girl was dead, and there was no need to trouble the Master any further.

Did you notice the cold way the message was delivered to this poor father? “Your daughter is dead!” There is no compassion, no comfort, and no sympathy; there is nothing but cold, hard fact. The news is blunt and final.

Surely this news rocked Jairus to his foundations. The news attacked his faith and brought Jairus to the very edge of despair. He must have thought about the delay. I wonder if he became a little bitter at our Lord. The facts stare you in the face and each one of them cried, “No hope! No hope! No hope!”

Just when Jairus had lost all hope, the Lord commanded him to stop being afraid and to keep on believing. The messenger had stabbed Jairus' heart through and through with fear, but Christ commanded him not to abandon the faith that had driven him to seek His help and to only believe.

“Stop being afraid and keep on believing.” And He speaks the same words to us, in our dark and troubled days; in the days when sorrows threaten us, when all our hopes and dreams seem to be broken, when our prayers seem to go unanswered, and Heaven seems deaf to our appeals.


IV. The Deliverance Luke 8:50-56


Jesus overheard the bad news. But He didn't shake His head and slip away in silence. If He had not been the Son of God He would have, but He is God, so He spoke reassuring words to the grieving father. “Stop fearing, only believe.”

They told Jairus to stop troubling Jesus; stop bothering Jesus, stop pestering Jesus. He had not been Bothering Jesus – he had been Blessing Jesus with his faith. It blesses Jesus when we call on Him in our times of need. Jesus gave two parables about a man who woke up his neighbor at midnight and a woman who pestered a judge to hear her case, and both teach us to “pester” God in prayer (Luke 11:
5-8; Luke 18:1-8). Our LACK of prayer troubles Jesus, but never our persistence in prayer.

Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe.
Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe.

Jesus commanded the crowd not to follow Him to Jairus' house (Luke 8:50). Only Peter, James, and John, that inner circle of disciples, were permitted to go with Him. (This is the first of three instances the inner circle of disciples was permitted to go where the other disciples were not allowed to go. They were also at the Transfiguration and the “little further” in Gethsemane.)

But one crowd was soon replaced by another, for when they reached the house, they found the crowd of mourners literally making an uproar. These were professional mourners, flute players, and wailing
women. As Jesus watches the show, He knows there is no genuine grief involved. The mourners could have cared less about the pain of this family.

Then Jesus made an astounding statement: “The damsel (little girl) is not dead, but sleepeth.” “And they laughed Him to scorn.” “And they ridiculed Him.” “They began to laugh in His face.”

Christ permitted them to laugh at His statement that the girl was asleep so that there could be no doubt about the validity of the restoration that was about to happen. However, they would not be permitted to witness the raising itself, only its results.

Many people look at death as the end of all things. They see it as a time of absolute hopelessness. Jesus has a different opinion. He calls death “sleep.” He's not talking about so-called “soul-sleep.” When death claims a believer, the body lies down in sleep, but the soul flies away to be with the Lord. The believer's body goes into the ground, but their soul lives on in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus took charge of the situation. He clears the house except for six where the body lay: the three disciples, the parents, and the Lord. The Lord of Life entered into the room where death reigned for the moment. But it was only for a moment. For Jesus took the little girl by the hand and spoke to her. Though she was dead, Jesus knew that she would hear His Voice and live.

Jesus said to her, “Talitha cumi” (Mark 5:41). “Little girl, I say unto thee, arise.” And she responded immediately, rose up and walked. Jesus commanded them to give her something to eat.

This miracle is a prophecy of what is to come: John 5:24-25, 28-29.



ON MISSION FOR THE MASTER

Luke 9:1-11


In these verses the Lord is asking something of His disciples that He has not asked of them before. He has been with His twelve about two years now. He has spent countless hours training them and teaching them.

The disciples had heard Jesus preach and teach the people. They have watched Him perform miracles of healing as well as doing miracles that showed His power over nature. The disciples had watched Jesus as He handled the attacks of the religious leaders and how He had handled false accusations against Him.

The disciples had Been With Him and Watched Him, but Jesus knew the time was coming when He would not be with them and they must continue the ministry without His physical presence with them. Jesus must get them ready for that time.

It's a scary thing when you realize that it's time for you to go solo; to be on your own, so to speak. Jesus says, “Boys, I've trained you; I've discipled you. It's time for Me to send you out without Me to do what I've trained you to do.”

“Boys, I want you to be on mission for your Master.” What does that mean? I think that we often put a very limited definition on “being on mission for the Master.” To some being on mission for the Master means leaving our area, going to another area, to participate in some special project somewhere else. Did you know that it's possible to make “mission trips,” do the projects, perform the ministries, and never actually “be on mission?”

Jesus had called these twelve men to be His disciples. He makes disciples of His disciples and now He calls on them to go make disciples of others so they can make disciples of others.

A. There is a Priority in Disciple Making

Once the Lord makes disciples of His twelve, He pours His life into these twelve and prepares them for the ministry that is ahead. And now it's time to get the birds out of the nest to go do the work that He has actually called them to do.

Do you know who He used? Fishermen, carpenters, and tax collectors. Look who is NOT there: no seminary students. No PHDs in Biblical Theology who have studied for ten years. That's not who He's sending out, which means that most of us in this room are in good company. We're the kind of folks the Lord uses. Folks who are saved who want to see others saved.

B. The Pattern of Disciple Making

It's the pattern used throughout the New Testament: one wins one, one disciples one so that that one is equipped to win and disciples another.

There are two interesting phrases in the Book of Acts:

– 1. “And there were added to the church” or “to the Lord” – Acts 2, 441, 47; Acts 5:14
– 2. “And the number of the disciples multiplied” – Acts 6:7; Acts 9:31

When the Apostles preached, the Lord “Added.” When the disciples made disciples, they “Multiplied.”

That is the key to church growth: making disciples.

C. The Partnership in Making Disciples Luke 9:1-5; Luke 10:1-11

Why did Jesus send them two-by-two in Chapter 10? We need partnership. We need accountability. We need someone walking beside us, praying with us, encouraging us, weeping with us, rejoicing with us.

Most of you have heard of Dr. D. James Kennedy and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. He was the man that developed Evangelism Explosion that is now used by many denominations. Here is his testimony:

He said that he watched all his attempts to grow his first congregation go down the tubes. His church attendance steadily went down. He said at one point in his ministry there at his first church, he calculated that he had two-and-a-half months of ministry left before he was preaching only to his wife – and she was threatening to go to the Baptist Church down the street.

Jim said that this time was the lowest point of his ministry. He said it was then that a pastor friend invited him to assist him in, of all things, a series of evangelistic services in Scottsdale, Georgia. He said, “I who was in a dying church was being asked to join a successful pastor to share my techniques across state lines. “Have plague will travel,” said Jim.

Jim said that during those ten days of meetings, he went out with his friend and watched him engage people spiritually. By the end of the meeting 54 people made professions of faith in Christ. He utilized what he called on-the-job-training in his own church. In a brief twelve-year period, his church membership increased from seventeen to two thousand.

He simply did what Jesus taught and trained His disciples to do! Go back and look at what Jesus did.


I. He Called the Disciples Luke 9:1


Jesus first of all established a relationship with them, excluding Judas. He had said to them, “Follow Me” and each man responded.

No man can be on mission for the Master until he has answered the call placed on his life to enter a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Until one is saved, they can never become a true servant of the Lord Jesus.

II. He Commissioned the Disciples

Jesus called all the disciples together to commission them and send them out together.


III. He Empowered Them Luke 9:1-2

Jesus actually delegated His power to His apostles to have sovereignty over the physical and spiritual realm, as well as the efforts of Satan. This was an unheard of display of power, never before seen in all redemptive history.

Two things Jesus told them to do in Luke 9:2:

• To preach the kingdom of God
• To heal the sick

What is the Kingdom of God? Any time Jesus is King, ruling on the throne of your heart, witnesses to the Kingdom of God in your life. It is when you and I yield to Him as King and Lord of our life. When we submit to Him as our King, our Lord, our Master.

A. It demands a Declaration that Jesus is Lord of our life. Luke 9:23-26

John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan when, seeing Jesus, he pointed to Him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”

B. It demands Shrewdness and Purity (Innocence).

Matthew 10:16 says we are to be “as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We are to have integrity, humility, and honesty.

Someone said that Christians should have the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a lamb.

C. It demands Total Dependence on the Lord.

Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.”

We cannot do one thing in our own strength, intelligence, or ability; yet, we are often quick to take credit for anything good that we attempt.

We're like the woodpecker in a lightning storm. He was near the top of a tree, peeking away, when lightning struck the tree, split it in two, and laid both halves on the ground. It almost killed the woodpecker. When he finally came to, he looked at the tree on the ground, quickly flew off to get ten other woodpeckers, lead them to the tree, and said, “There it is boys. I told you I had a powerful beak.”

IV. His Instructions Luke 9:3-5

Jesus is saying, I will provide all you need. Trust Me. Depend on Me.”

I want you to realize that these instructions were just for the twelve at this time and for the seventy in Luke 10. Jesus is saying He will provide for them and protect them.

Later the disciples would have to protect themselves (Luke 22:35-36).


V. The Blessing Luke 9:10a


What tales the disciples must have told! How they must have rejoiced in all that the Lord had done through them.

But they had so much to learn.

Herod heard about all the disciples had done. Look at his response – Luke 9:7-9.

When the multitude was hungry and came to Jesus, look what they said in Luke 9:12. “Send them away.”

Jesus said, “Men, you told Me what great things you have just done, you give them something to eat.”

When they could not, Jesus told them to set the people in groups of fifty and He fed them (Luke 9:
13-17).

The Lord wanted to know if the disciples realized who He was (Luke 9:18-22).

Jesus IS “The Christ of God.”



JESUS ON THE MOUNTAIN

Luke 9:27-36


In Luke 9:28 Luke says, “Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that Jesus took Peter, John, and James” and went up the Mount of Transfiguration.

Both Matthew and Mark say “After SIX days Jesus” took Peter, James and John up into a high mountain.

All three Gospel writers tell us that Jesus said, “there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Kingdom of God.”

Both Matthew and Mark say it had been six days since Jesus made that statement.

Luke, on the other hand, goes back two days further and counts the time that Peter made his great confession of faith when he said that Jesus is “The Christ of God.” Two days after Peter's confession, Jesus said that there would be some standing there that would not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God. Luke just goes back two more days to include Peter's confession of faith.

Our Lord is standing before Mount Hermon with His twelve disciples. The Mountain is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi, some 9,200 feet about sea level. It is a beautiful mountain and even in the hottest months, the top of this high mountain is wrapped in bands of snow.

It takes most of a day to get to the top of this mountain. Jesus takes three of His disciples with Him – Peter, James, and John – and leaves the other nine disciples at the foot of the mountain. These three – Peter, James, and John – form the inner circle of the Lord Jesus. They got to experience things the other disciples did not get to experience with Jesus.

The first time Jesus singled these three men out was when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. Then Jesus singles them out again here at our Lord's transfiguration. Jesus would also take these men “a little deeper” with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He went to the cross (Mark 5:37; Mark 14:33).

We all know that God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). That is, God doesn't play favorites among His people. He doesn't love you more than He loves me and He doesn't love me more than He loves you. But, as Vance Havner so wisely said, “God does not have favorites, but He does have intimates.”

He may not love one of His children any more than any other of His children, but some are simply closer to Him than others are. And those who are closer to Him will see more of His glory and more of His power than those who stay farther away.

When the four of them get to the top the three disciples must have been tired because the other Gospel writers tell us that they went to sleep while Jesus went to pray. Apparently, our Lord's prayer meeting lasted for a while. While the disciples were asleep, suddenly Jesus changes. His face changes.

His garments change. He is transfigured and His glory shines forth. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, His humanity covered His deity. But at His transfiguration there was no hiding the glory of Christ. John would later say, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (John 1:5).

The three disciples never got over what they saw that day.

• John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

• 2 Peter 1:16 says, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

Three things I want you to see from this passage.


I. What the Disciples Saw Luke 9:29-31


It was when Jesus was praying that He was transformed. Matthew tells us that the Lord's face “shone like the sun.” Luke says, “His robe became white and glistened, and Moses and Elijah stood with Jesus and talked with Jesus” about His up-coming death.

I wonder what it was that woke the disciples up. Was it the brightness of the glory that radiated in that place? Or was it the voices of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah as they talked together about our Lord's death? Whatever it was that awoke them, can you imagine waking to such a glorious sight? I wonder if they had to hold their hands so as to shield their eyes from the brightness of the glory.

The Book of Exodus (Exodus 34:29) tells us that on Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments, he had been in the presence of God and that as he came down, his face shown as he talked with God and Moses didn't even know it. Aaron and the children of Israel saw it and they were afraid to approach Moses because of it. They asked Moses to wear a veil over his face until “the glory of his countenance” passed away (2 Corinthians 3:7).

Moses' face shown with the glory of God; but it faded away because it was only a “reflected” light. Moses, if I may put it this way, was like the moon. The light with which the moon shines is only a reflected light, borrowed from the sun. But here, we are told that Jesus' face radiated – not from being in the presence of God, but because He truly was God. His was not a mere reflected light, but was like the sun itself in its brightness and strength. Revelation 1:16 tells us of the resurrected Lord in Heaven, that “His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”

What happened to Jesus? The Bible says that Jesus was “transfigured” before them. The word “trans-
figured” comes from the Greek word that we get our English word “metamorphosis” from. It means a change from the inside that can be seen on the outside. It is not as if a spotlight shone on Jesus. Rather, this light came from inside Him.

The disciples are now seeing the glory of God be revealed in Jesus. They are witnessing the fact that Jesus is no ordinary man. They are catching a glimpse of His glory. Let me give you an example of metamorphosis. If you have watched The Incredible Hulk, you've seen metamorphosis. On the outside the star of the show looks like a normal man. But when he gets angry, this man turns into a huge, fierce, green man. Why? Because that's what's inside of him.

Not so with Jesus. Inside of Him is purity, light, and love.

As I thought about Peter, James, and John seeing the glorified Lord, I thought about Moses. Remember that he asked to see the glory of the Lord and the Lord said that no one could see His glory and live. When I get to Heaven, I want to ask the Lord about how these three disciples saw His glory and lived.

Then Luke says that Moses and Elijah were there with the Lord and they were talking together about the Lord's death; His exodus; His departure; His decease.

Why Moses and Elijah? Why not Noah and Jonah? Or, why not Abraham and David? Why Moses and Elijah? Both Moses and Elijah had unusual “departures” from this world.

• Moses was in good health when he died. The Bible says that he was still strong even at 120 years old. Because of his disobedience to God, God told him he could not lead the people of God into the Promised Land. Instead, at 120 God instructed Moses to go to the top of Mount Nebo and to the top of Pisgah that was next to Jericho. Although God would not allow Moses to lead the people into the land, He did show him the land from the top of the mount. God Himself buried Moses there (Deuteronomy 34:5-8).

• Elijah did not taste of death, but was caught up or taken away (same word that's used to describe the Rapture) in a whirlwind into Heaven.

Moses represented the Law; Elijah represented the prophets, and Jesus stood between them. Moses represented those who have died and will be raised from the dead to go to Heaven; Elijah represents those who will go to Heaven by way of the Rapture.

Jesus had talked to His disciples about His death, but they didn't get it. They didn't understand. Both Moses and Elijah could encourage Jesus concerning His up-coming death.


II. What the Disciples Heard Luke 9:33-35

Luke said that Peter didn't know what to say, so he said something, and what he said was wrong. Does that sound like us or what? We often don't know what to say, so we say something anyway, and it's usually wrong.

Then the Father speaks: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I'm well pleased. Hear Him.” (Don't listen to Peter!)

What was the purpose for the Transfiguration?

1. Encouragement: Both for the Lord and for the disciples.

When Jesus goes to the cross, His face will be covered with shame, spittle, blood, and His brow will be bleeding from the thorns. They can remember the glory on His face.

His garments will be ripped from Him, but they can remember that His garments were as white as the light.

2. The Transfiguration answers the question, “Will we know each other in Heaven?”

There were no name tags on Moses and Elijah; yet, the disciples didn't have to be introduced to them. They knew them.

3. The presence of Moses and Elijah teaches us that Jesus is the life of the living dead.

Those who are physically dead are still alive somewhere and will one day be united with Jesus. There is hope for the resurrection!


III. What the Disciples Took Away Luke 9:36


The other two Gospel writers tell us that as they were coming down from the mountain, that Jesus COMMANDED the three disciples not to tell what they had experienced on the mount until after His resurrection. Why?

1. If they had told the other nine disciples about the Transfiguration, they would have felt envious of the three and perhaps even bitter toward Jesus for not letting them witness it.

2. What they had witnessed was so unbelievable that, had they broadcasted the news of what had transpired on the mountain, their hearers would have considered them insane. Rather than enhancing the message, they would have invited criticism and brought discredit upon the work.

3. The silence was only temporary: “ … until the Son of Man be risen from the dead.”

We cannot be transfigured like our Lord, but He does want us to be transformed. Romans 12:1-2.

 



JESUS IN THE VALLEY

Luke 9:37-42


What a contrast these verses are to Luke 9:27-36 where we looked at the Mount of Transfiguration. Our Lord took Peter, James, and John with Him up the mountain. There appeared also Moses and Elijah with the Lord. When the whole experience was coming to a close, Peter said, “Lord, it's good for us to be here. Let's just stay and I'll make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Mountain top experiences are wonderful. I hope you have had many, but we can't always live on the mountain top. Not much serving goes on when you are on the mountain top. The needs are usually in the valleys. Ministry usually takes place in the valley.

Jesus knew that in the valley there was a father who needed His help with his epileptic, demon-possessed son. The father had come to the disciples to heal him, but they could not. Now when Jesus reaches the bottom of the mountain, He meets the other nine disciples, and He meets this father and the father tells him that His disciples could do nothing.

The other Gospel writers say that the father says, “Your disciples could do nothing.” Then Mark points out (Mark 9:22) that the father dad doubts if Jesus could do anything either, because the father says, “If You can do anything to help have compassion on him.”

Jesus says: “IF I Can do Anything!?” “If you believe, ALL things are possible to him who believes.” With tears the father said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

Now we come to one of those rare passages in which we find the Son of God - if I may say this with reverence – was frustrated with His followers.

I suspect that many of us provide our Lord with plenty of opportunities to express frustration with us if He wanted to. I know that I certainly do and I'm so grateful that He is abundantly patient. In this passage Jesus clearly let some of His followers know that He had run out of patience with them. He lets them know that He has about “had it” with them.

If the Holy Spirit has seen fit to include a story in the Bible about our Lord getting frustrated at some of His followers, it would be wise for us to pay careful attention and learn the reasons why.


I. The Lack of Spiritual Power Luke 9:37-40


Notice Luke 9:40 again, “I besought your disciples to cast him out, and they could not.”

Now notice Luke 9:41. The “O” in this verse is a word of deep anguish. It was usually reserved for a time of great burden in prayer. People would come before God and cry from their hearts and lift their “Os” to the Lord.

Jesus was expressing His displeasure toward everyone assembled there that day. No one there seemed to have faith: not the religious leaders, not the disciples, not even the boy's father. When Jesus sees this lack of faith He cries out, “How much longer am I going to have to put up with you?”

The saddest part of this whole scene is not the condition of the boy. The saddest part is the powerless-ness of the disciples. These men had seen Jesus perform countless amazing miracles and they them-selves had performed miracles, but now it is said of them – “and they could not.”

There is a theme in this passage. It centers on the word “ABILITY” – the ability to do something, or the lack of it.

It had not been long since the Lord had sent the twelve out with His power to preach and to heal all kinds of illness. When they returned they were so excited. They said, “Lord, it was wonderful! We saw folks healed, even lepers! And we cast out demons!”

Here is the point: Jesus had given His disciples His authority and power to heal in His name. Once they could heal, but now they could not. Why? Here they thought they could heal in their own power APART from a Dependent Faith In Jesus, and they were unable. They sought to do the work of Jesus without any dependent relationship by faith with Jesus.

Here is a tremendously important spiritual principle:

• John 15:4-5
• By contrast: Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:13

Here is the great lesson this passage is meant to teach us. We, as followers of Jesus, are unable to do anything FOR Jesus apart from an utterly dependent faith IN Jesus.


II. The Lord of Spiritual Power Luke 9:41-42


Luke 9:41: “Bring your son to Me.”

I think the father brought his son to Jesus with the faith in Jesus that he had. Let me remind you that weak faith is better than no faith. The father had said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Notice Verse 42. While the father was bringing his son to Jesus, the demon gave one parting shot. He threw the boy to the ground and the boy had another convulsion.

Mark (9-26-27) tells us that when Jesus cast the demon out, that as the demon came out, he “rent” the boy, that is, “the boy lay pale and motionless like a corpse, so that many of them said, he is dead.”

But Jesus took a strong grip of his hand and lifted him up. The child is free!


III. The Lessons of Spiritual Power Luke 9:43


Matthew 17:19-21 adds that when this episode is over and the disciples are alone with Jesus, the nine who failed to deliver the child asked Jesus why they failed. These men were concerned about their spiritual failure and they should have been.

The answer Jesus gave them is both simple and telling. His answer is that these men failed because they lacked spiritual discipline in their lives.

These disciples did not fail because they did not believe. They believed all right, or they would not have tried to cast the demon from this child. Their faith was partly in the Lord and partly in what they had done before.



WHAT I'VE LEARNED WALKING WITH JESUS

Luke 9:43-62


Several years ago, Robert Fulgum wrote a book entitled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Fulgum's thesis is that simpler is better – and if we would all just apply the things we learned in kindergarten; our society would be a better place to live. Here are some of the things he says we ought to do:

• Play fair.
• Share everything
• Clean up your own mess.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Don't hit others.
• Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.
• Flush.
• Hold hands and stay together.

I think every high school senior should have a refresher course on these eight things and be able to list them all before they graduate high school. It would help in their future marriage!

That's pretty good advice, but I thought of some things I've learned while walking with Jesus. In our passage of Scripture, the disciples are just walking along, talking to Jesus.

These verses contain what seems to be disjointed snapshots of the disciples as they are walking along, talking to Jesus; yet, Jesus is going to teach them some important lessons as they walk together. Four lessons our Lord will teach them.


I. Lesson One: Greatness Luke 9:43-48


Jesus has just said to His disciples, “Men, let this sink down in your heart: listen carefully! The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” Then the Scripture says, “They did not understand what He was saying; it was hidden from them, and they were afraid to ask Him about what He was talking about.

That's obvious when you read Luke 9:46: they debated among themselves about who was the greatest among them. Jesus takes a little child and set him beside Him and said, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me … For he who is least among you all will be great.”

I must tell you that most commentators miss what Jesus is saying here. Most commentators take off on, “to be saved, you must become like a little child.” Children are trusting and innocent and submissive, and respond when you call, and all of that is true. That's what Jesus said in Luke 18:15-17.


Notice that Jesus is talking about Receiving a child; not becoming as a child to receive salvation. Though loved and cherished, a child was the smallest and the most powerless individual in Hebrew culture. The Talmud regarded spending time with children to be a waste of time. Keeping company with children added nothing to a man, it was said. Later in that Luke 18:15 passage, we see that the disciples considered Jesus too important to receive children and attempted to send them away.

So, receiving a child in Jesus' name does not mean a little child, but one who was no better than a child in the eyes of most folks; the undesirable person, the unkept, dirty, even filthy person, the one who is disliked, rejected, and unacceptable to others. Jesus is talking about receiving those kind of folks in Jesus' name.

Sadly, some churches make it clear that they don't welcome some folks into their church. They don't want the poor or the uneducated or those who are not in a certain social class in their church – as though they did not have a soul that needed to be redeemed just as the well-to-do need redemption.

The greatest is not the one who says, “I'm the greatest!” The person who is truly great never has to talk about his greatness or try to prove it. Jesus says the great person is the one who is prepared to identify with the lowly, to receive them in Jesus' name, and to minister Christ's kindness to them.

Driving through our neighborhood you can see kids as well as adults out playing or working in the yard on Sunday. I wonder if they know Jesus. I wonder if they go to church anywhere. We have some great parents in our church that see to it that their children are here on Sunday, but what about those kids whose parents don't care about their children knowing the Lord. We've got to be a church that aggressively goes after those children to introduce them to Jesus.


II. Lesson Two: Acceptance Luke 9:49-50


John saw someone casting out demons in Jesus' name. “And he was not one of us – so I told him to stop it!” John probably expected Jesus to commend him for his action, but instead, Jesus used it to teach a lesson. Jesus said, “Don't stop him, because if he's not against us, he's for us.”

Notice that this man in Luke 9:49 is bearing good fruit. I don't think John had a problem with the man's results. He had a problem with his rivalry. John took issue with the fact that the man wasn't one of them. We make the outrageous assumption that if someone else is not like us or among us, he or she isn't one of us.

Do you know how the Body of Christ got more and more divided through the past twenty centuries? Every time a man or a group disagreed with another man or group about doctrine or practice, they walked away and formed new little groups. They built another wall between them and added a few more adjectives before the beautiful word “church.” Our temptation is to reject and to resent all those other people because they are not “one of us.” Like John, we almost feel like we are doing the right thing for God when we say, “Stop what you're doing! How dare you use the Name of Jesus in a different way than we do!” Jesus has all kinds of children in His family and most of them are NOT like us! But if we have repented of our sins, asked God to forgive our sins, and confessed Him as Lord in our life, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.


III. Lesson Three: Revenge Luke 9:51-56


When Jesus was going to minister in a certain place, He would send someone ahead to prepare the people for His coming. He is headed to Jerusalem and the shortest way is through Samaria. The rejection was not at all surprising because there was a mutual hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans.

Although this happened two thousand years ago, it's the same today in this region of the world. This area is now called the West Bank and it is still dangerous for a Jew to travel into the West Bank today.

The people in the village rejected Jesus and rejected the messengers of Jesus. How do we react when people reject our offer of telling them about Jesus?

Can't you just hear James and John? “How dare these dirty Samaritans refuse to show us hospitality? What an insult! We'll just call down fire from heaven and burn them to filthy ashes!” Now you know why Jesus called these two brothers “The sons of Thunder.”

Jesus rebuked their hateful, vengeful spirit. He informed them they have the wrong kind of spirit. It was a bitter, angry, hateful spirit, and it certainly wasn't the Holy Spirit! Jesus didn't come to destroy them; He came to save them!

James 1:19-20: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,
for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”


IV. Lesson Four: Priorities Luke 9:57-62


All three of these men had a problem with what was priority in their life; what was first place in their life. Notice this: All three said, “Lord, I will follow you – Later – but not now!”

Do you know what sends more people to hell than anything else? Procrastination. Putting off until later what you know to do now. “I'm going to trust Christ – Later.” “I'm going to make my decision for Christ – Later!”

The first man said, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus knew that following Him would be no stroll in the park, and that such a carefree declaration of commitment would never make it. So, He sharply countered, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Luke 9:58).

Jesus was saying that if you walk with Him, you will sense that the world is not your home. There will be discomfort, rejection, and even conflict.

The second man said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bury my father.” “Jesus said, “Let the (spiritually) dead bury the (physically) dead.”



Does that sound harsh? Doesn't the Ten Commandments say, “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12)? Doesn't that include showing your parents respect and acts of kindness, and making provisions for their welfare? Isn't burial of the dead included? Isn't that the duty of the son? So how could Jesus tell a would-be follower to neglect the burial of his dead father?

The answer is, the man did not say his father was dead, but only “let me go and bury my father.” If his father had indeed died, he would have been at home tending to details and the service, because in that day they buried the body on the day of death.

Apparently, the would-be disciple's father was getting elderly, and the man was asking Jesus' permission to delay following Him until his father died. So, he had no concept of the urgency and importance of the task of our Lord's calling.

The third man said, “I will follow you, but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.” This man could not follow now because he was looking back instead of ahead. He wanted to look back one more time at what he was leaving behind.

Note Luke 9:59,61 – “let me first,” “Lord, I'm willing to do anything You want me to do AS SOON AS I get through with the really important things in my life.”

• “Lord, let me get out of High School First.”
• “Lord, I'm going to sow some wild oats First, then I'll give You my life.”
• “Lord, after I'm married, I'll start following You.”

“When I get through with the important thing in my life, I'll start following you.” Well, what are the important things in your life? They are those things that you take care of first.

Most of us would say that God is the most important thing in our life, but our commitment doesn't reflect that.

Note Luke 9:62. This is a farming term. How do you plow a straight row? When folks plowed with a mule, they would often plant a white flag at the end of the row. If you kept your eyes focused on the white flag as you plowed, you could plow a straight row. The problem comes when you are distracted or when you look behind you to see how well or how poorly you are plowing. When you look back you begin to plow a crooked row.

The same is true of a runner. When a runner looks behind him when he is running – to see how far ahead he is – he cuts his speed as much as a third.

Hebrews 12:1-2. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus!


AMERICA MAKES SODOM LOOK GOOD

Luke 10:1-24


Read Luke 10:1-11. If these verses sound familiar, they should. Look back at Luke 9:1-6. In Luke 9:1-6 Jesus sent His twelve disciples out to preach the Kingdom message and to heal all manner of sickness. The twelve disciples speak of the twelve tribes of Israel. They are to go two-by-two.

Now in Luke 10:1-11 Jesus sends seventy out, two-by-two, to preach the Kingdom message and to heal all manner of sickness. What is the significance of seventy? In the Bible the number seventy speaks of nations. In Genesis 10-11 we read about the flood and the Tower of Babel. After the flood all of human life came from Noah's three sons. From those three sons, Noah had seventy grandsons. Each became the ancestor of a nation.

Then because of the sin of the people at the Tower of Babel, God “confused their language, that they may not understand one another's speech” (Genesis 11:7) and “scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:8). So now, each one of the seventy nations had a different language.

So, when God sends the seventy out two-by-two, it speaks of the Gospel of the Kingdom being sent to every tribe, every nation, and every tongue or nation.

I also want you to see that Luke 9 is a turning point in Luke's Gospel. Luke 9-19 is a slow journey to Jerusalem, a journey that will lead to the cross. Luke 9 and 10 are both about missions. Jesus is giving His disciples on-the-job-training in missions. Before long Jesus is going back to Heaven and the disciples will be without Him, but the Holy Spirit will be WITH them and IN them.

One of the first things that Jesus does is to speak words of condemnation and judgment on those who reject the Gospel of the kingdom. See Luke 10:10-16.

Let me point out two things here:

1. God will judge individuals.
2. God will judge people-groups on their collective response to accepting the Kingdom of God.

The seventy disciples were to announce, “The Kingdom of God is near.” That meant Jesus was near, because He is the King of the Kingdom. If a city rejected Jesus, they were also rejecting the moral demands of the Kingdom of God. God doesn't judge a community on SPIRITUALLY, because a city or a country doesn't really have a soul. But God does judge communities and countries according to our moral response to His demands.

In our passage Jesus mentions three cities in Galilee by name, Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernam, and
He compares their moral condition to three ancient evil cities, Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon. He says it will be “more tolerable” for Sodom than for Korazin and Bethsaida. Wait! Doesn't God judge all people and all nations equally? No.

Hear this: God judges on the basis of how much spiritual light or spiritual truth one has been given. Jesus said that if those wicked cities had been exposed to the amount of truth, He gave to those three Galilean communities, they would have repented.

Think about this: God not only knows who repents – He knows who would have repented had they been given the truth. God has the ability to know all the possible conditions, we don't.

Have you ever played the “What If” game? When something happens, we often look back and say, “What if …?” And then we try to predict the new outcome.

• “What if I had left home ten minutes earlier, I wouldn't have been broadsided by that truck.” Are you certain?

• “What if I had only called the doctor when I first felt the lump?”

• “What if I had not committed that sin?”

On and on we go. We torture ourselves with the “What If” game. But honestly, we don't know what would have happened. Only God can play the “What If” game.

“What If” Jesus had visited Tyre and Sidon and performed miracles there? What would have happened? Jesus said that they would have repented.

You see, Jesus will judge according to the amount of light we have received. Let me point you to two straight-forward verses: Luke 12:47-48. If you have repeatedly heard the Gospel and rejected it, your judgment before God will be greater than someone who has never heard the Gospel. Don't throw away your opportunity to put your faith in Christ.

What does Jesus mean when He says it will be more “tolerable” in that Day for Sodom than for that city? He means, “It will be better at the judgment for them than it will be for you.” Not to send the cities to hell, but to leave them in ruins. At one time all six places Jesus mentioned were thriving. Today, all six are in ruins or can't be found.

Many times, in his evangelistic crusades, Billy Graham made this statement: “If God doesn't bring judgment on America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

God's judgment on nations is not that He sends them to hell; they just become a barren wasteland, they become ruins. That's the danger America faces today. America makes Sodom Look Good.

America has been blessed with so much Bible truth and Gospel light.

• Sodom had no churches: There are more than 450,000 churches in America.

• Sodom had no Bibles: Most of us have three or four. Any one in America who wants a Bible can have one. America has so many Bibles, but they are seldom read.

• Sodom had no preachers: We have over a million “vocational ministers” in America.

• Sodom never heard the Gospel: America has over six hundred Christian radio stations that broadcast 24/7, plus dozens of Christian television networks.

We read in Genesis 19 that God decided to destroy Sodom because of its moral condition. Sexual perversion, homosexuality and wickedness was rampant. Abraham bargained with God and asked, “If I can find fifty righteous men in Sodom will you withhold judgment?” God agreed. Abraham couldn't find fifty righteous men in Sodom, so he lowered his demand to forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and finally ten – and God agreed. God is slow to anger and willing to show mercy. But Abraham couldn't even find ten righteous men in Sodom.

When the two angels went to warn Lot and his family to flee, they appeared as two young men. A mob
of men in Sodom demanded Lot to send the two angels out so they could have sexual relations with them. For many years, Sodomy was the term used to describe homosexual behavior, but it was such an ugly word our culture has replaced it with a word used to describe a cheerful person, “gay”.

There is nothing cheerful or gay about homosexuality. Rather, it is a perversion and an abomination to God. In our country we have even passed laws to protect the perverted homosexuals against normal, straight people. And if sexually normal Christians don't cater to the homosexuals, whether it's baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple or performing a wedding ceremony for them, it's the God-fearing Christian who is fined or put in prison.

America is making Sodom look good! At one time in America most states had laws against sodomy. Today, most of the states have repealed the Sodomy Laws and ruled the Sodomy Laws unconstitutional.
America has become the reincarnation of Sodom. The moral climate of Sodom made God sick so He destroyed it with fire and brimstone. When the homosexual who declared his “rights” in America and won, stands before God and hears God say, “bind him hand and foot and cast him into the lake of fire;
there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” there will be no appeal for God on his behalf.

How do you think God must feel toward America, whom He has blessed so richly and since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, America has legalized the murder of 67 million babies in the womb? One point five million every year since 1973!

“Woe” is a word of judgment and condemnation for those who would laugh in God's face and thumb their nose at Him. I wonder if God is not saying to us, “Woe to you America!”

God is calling America back to Himself, His Word, and His standards.

God is giving us some instructions.

1. Pray for laborers that will reap the harvest of souls – Luke 10:2-3.

It's not planting time, it's reaping time. The harvest is ready – NOW! Jesus is saying, “more are ready for the harvest than you think.” They are ready, just for someone to pluck them from the broad way which leads to hell, and bring them to Christ.

What happens to a harvest that is ready for reaping and no one reaps it? It rottens on the vine. How many folks will be in hell that were ripe for the picking and no one bothered to reach out to them?

Pray – not for Spectators – but Laborers. How often do you pray for the ripe harvest?

It's not going to be easy. Luke 10:3 says you will face hostility and spiritual danger.

2. Rejoice that your name is written in Heaven – Luke 10:17-20.

The God-man, Jesus, saw Satan rebel against God, tried to make himself god, and was kicked out of Heaven and he “fell like lightening from Heaven.”

Something else Jesus saw; Satan was powerless against the seventy who went out to serve in Jesus' name.

The seventy were rejoicing over what was accomplished and the victories won; but in Luke 10:20, Jesus said their greatest rejoicing should be that their names were written in
the Lamb's Book of Life.

Only those who are saved have their name written in God's Lamb Book of Life.

It is called the Lamb's Book of Life because every name in the Book represents a soul that has been bought and washed in the Blood of the Lamb of God, the Lord
Jesus.

When God the Father wrote my name in His Book, He said, “My Son paid sin's price to redeem your soul. You'll be in Heaven because of the Blood He shed for you.”

I love the song: “There's a new name written down in glory … And it's mine … O, yes, it's mine.”

Has He written your name in His Book?

Jesus said that on Judgment Day some lost folks will try to convince Jesus that He should let them into Heaven. But Jesus will open the Book to show them their name is not written in the Book. The Bible says when they are shown their name is not in His Book, there will be no more argument. They will know their doom is sealed.

Do you know your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life?


AND LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

Luke 10:25-37


Before reading the Passage:

We look today at the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I think it is interesting that Luke, the physician, is the only one of the four Gospel writers that records this parable.

Luke shows particular interest in the underdog and downtrodden.

Luke, like Jesus, was interested in the neglected. After all, Jesus wanted to rescue the very people most others despised.

This is one of the best known and best loved parables that Jesus ever told; second only to the Prodigal son.

The impact of this parable is seen in the fact many organizations, from hospitals to rescue missions, employ the name “Good Samaritan” for the name of their organization to show their charitable purpose.

• There is an assisted living home not far from us called “Samaritan Gardens.”
• Franklin Graham helps children through his “Samaritan's Purse.”

But to the first-century Jew, there was no such thing as a “Good Samaritan.”

• Samaritans were hated, half-breeds who were despised by the Jews
• Samaritans came into being eight hundred years before Jesus came to earth.
• The Jews were in exile to the Assyrians.. Some of the Jews intermarried with the
Assyrians, their captures, and the “pure Jews” hated them because they were half-breeds.

In this one parable Jesus lifted the name “Samaritan” from Despised to Dignified.

This same Jesus can lift a sinner from the condemnation of sin to the glorious standing of the Redeemed; from a sinner to a saint.

Read the Passage.

Jesus often used a parable to teach a spiritual truth.

Here a lawyer asks Jesus two questions. (This “lawyer” was not a lawyer in our use of the term today. Lawyers among the Jews in those days were professional teachers and expounders of the Mosaic Law.


Lawyers were sometimes call “scribes” as well as lawyers. These lawyers had “PhD. D's” in Old Testament law.)

1. The first question this lawyer asked Jesus (Luke 10:25), “What shall I do to inherit eternal
life?”

That was a good question. Nothing is more important or more needful for men than to
have eternal life. Having eternal life means that one is forgiven of their sins and will
spend eternity in Heaven. Failure to have eternal life means one is not forgiven of his
sins and will spend eternity in Hell.

It was a good question, but it was asked with the wrong motive. The lawyer wanted to
entrap Jesus. He didn't ask the question because he wanted to know the answer, but be-
cause he was gunning for Jesus – and Jesus knew it. He wanted to trick Jesus and trip
Him up so he could make Jesus look bad and more, make himself look good.

The reply of Jesus was very skillful. He used a method that lawyers of that day used
all the time. He answered the man's question with a question. It's the method that
lawyers of that day used with each other all the time. Jesus answered, “What is written
in the Law? How do you read it?” Jesus was saying, “You're the expert. You tell Me.”

The lawyer quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 … Love God and love your
neighbor.

Jesus said, “You're right. Do that and you'll have eternal life.” The problem is, no body,
except Jesus, has ever loved God with their total heart, soul, strength, and mind and no
one has ever loved his neighbor as he loves himself. And the lawyer knew that too!

2. Now the lawyer asks the second question – not honestly – but wanting to justify himself,
asked, “And who is my neighbor?”

The Jews had an evil practice. To limit their obligations and to make it easier for them
in keeping the Law, they would define the neighbor in the narrowest of terms.

Gentiles and especially Samaritans were not considered neighbors; therefore you didn't
have to be kind to them or perform neighborly deeds for these people. If only Christ
would confirm the Jewish interpretation of the Law, then the lawyer would feel better
about having eternal life.

He was saying: “Jesus, if you'll lower the standard, I could live up to it.”

Listen: Repenting of your sins; not defending your sins or trying to justify your sins,
brings eternal life. God will never come down to our standards, we must, through Him,
go up to meet His standards!

Jesus gives this parable to teach a great spiritual truth. Three things I want you to see:



I. The Harm to the Traveler Luke 10:30

His Motto: What's Yours is Mine and I'll Take It


The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was about seventeen miles long and descended three thousand feet,
so the man was literally going down. The road was very dangerous because it curved through rocky and desolate terrain, giving robbers perfect places to hide. Even today that road is known as “The Way of Blood.” You took your life in your hands when you traveled on this road.

These thieves were not petty thieves, but men of violence.

• They took his wealth – they robbed him. Surrounded and encompassed him.

• They stripped his wardrobe – ripping at him like wild beasts. The fact that they removed
his clothes created a problem. A person's cultural identity was revealed by how they dressed. Because he had no clothes on, the passerby couldn't determine if he were a Jew or Gentile.

• They hurt his well-being. The word “wounded” him is the word that we get our word
“trauma” from. They nearly killed him (half dead).

Then they cruelly left him to die. He was such a pitiful sight, lying there on the side of the road, that it would greatly condemn any and all who passed by without offering him help.


II. The Hardness Toward the Traveler Luke 10:31-32

Their Motto: What's Mine is Mine and I'll Keep It.


The poor man may not have been able to speak, but he may have been groaning. It's clear that he was not hidden from view even if he made no sound.

A priest came by, saw him, maybe heard him, and must have turned his face from his. So, he wouldn't have to see his pitiful condition, went to the other side of the road as if he didn't see him at all.

The Levite appeared to be more interested in the wounded traveler in that he “came and looked” before he passed by, while the priest “when he saw … passed by.”

But it seems that the Levite was only curious. Sometimes curiosity looks like compassion, but it is not.

I John 3:16-18

Love is not a noun; it's a verb. Christian love – godly love – requires a demonstration of love. It is love in action.

How many of us see the hurts around us and, yet, are not willing to get involved?


Evil is more than just doing bad deeds; it's neglecting to come to the aid of those who are hurting around us.

My neighbor's throat I've never cut,
His purse I've never stole.
But for all the things I've failed to do
Dear God, have mercy on my soul.

Catherine Marshall tells a chilling story about an episode which took place in a North Korean POW camp. It was February, 1951, and the temperature outside was thirty degrees below zero.

Forty-three American POW's were huddled in a hut. Two of the men had severe cases of diarrhea. An American Corporal threw the two sick soldiers out into the cold. Exposed to the cold, they were dead in minutes.

After the cease fire, the American Corporal was tried, convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to life in prison. But what about the forty witnesses who did nothing? All were interviewed by Army psychiatrists. The typical interview went like this:

• “Soldier, did you see that man throw the two sick men out of the hut?”

• “Oh, yes, sir.”

• “What were you doing at the time?”

• “Oh, I was just huddling together with the rest of the guys, trying to keep warm. That's the only way we could stay alive.”

• “Then you knew it would destroy those men to be exposed?”

• “Well, sure.”

• “So, what did you do about it?”

• “Sir, I was doing nothing except trying to keep warm.”

• “Why didn't you do something about it, soldier?”

• “Because it was none of my business, sir.”

One Sunday the Children's department in a rural church played out the story of the Good Samaritan. One of the boys who had been sitting on the front row, got up, walked across the stage, and the “thieves” who had been waiting behind the piano jumped out, grabbed him, pulled his coat off of him, beat him up, and left him half dead right there on the stage.

With dramatic unconcern the “priest” and “Levite” walked by him, pulled their robes around them-selves, and walked away. Everyone expected the Samaritan to come on stage, but nothing happened. A small boy on the front row punched his friend and said, “You're the Samaritan. Go help him.”

His friend said, “No, you're the Samaritan. You go help him.” While the boys argued, the little fellow just lay on the floor – and died. I wonder how many of us think God told somebody else to be the Good Samaritan? Somebody else is supposed to see the hurting and get involved, but not us!

Micah 6:8.

III. The Helper of the Traveler Luke 10:33-35

His Motto: What's Mine is Mine – But I'll Share It

The last person one would expect to help a Jew was a Samaritan.

Jesus deliberately shocked His audience when He said that it was a Samaritan that helped the man.

Four actions this Samaritan took:

1. He Had Compassion Luke 10:33

It all starts with compassion. If you lack compassion, you can justify all sorts of indifference and reasons not to get involved.

This Samaritan didn't see anything the others didn't see, but he feels something the others didn't feel – compassion.

Love and compassion doesn't Walk away or Look away; it gets involved.

Our willingness to get involved in the needs of others is the evidence of the love of God in our lives.

2. He Made Contact Luke 10:34

This Samaritan showed courage. What if the thieves were still there, hiding in the rocks? What if others saw a Samaritan standing over a Jew who had been robbed and beaten half to death and they mistakenly thought he had done the evil deed?

But this Samaritan himself was one of life's wounded. He was also one of life's despised.

He knew he might be misunderstood and he also knew this man could do nothing to repay his kindness.

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats those who can do nothing for him in return.

3. He Demonstrated Care Luke 10:34

He tenderly treated the man's wounds. The wine would sterilize and cleanse the wound. The oil would sooth and comfort the wound.

He would put the man on his own beast. That meant the Samaritan would have to walk, but he was not concerned about his own personal inconvenience.

4. He Bore the Cost Luke 10:35

This Samaritan was going to do a complete job. He didn't do just enough to get by.

Coming back to the inn would be an inconvenience, but he was not thinking about himself, but the man in need.

When Jesus finished the parable, He wanted to make application, so He probed the mind and conscience of the lawyer – Luke 10:36-37.

The correct question is: To whom may I be a neighbor?

 


A TALE OF TWO SISTERS

Luke 10:38-42


Follow the life of Jesus in the Gospels and you will discover that Jesus enjoyed being invited to different homes, for both food and fellowship.

We find Him in the home of Simon Peter and Matthew and Zacchacus and Simon the leper and others. But there was one home where Jesus seemed to especially enjoy the hospitality, and that was in the home of Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. Jesus seemed to have a special attachment to this little family. He always found a warm, welcome spirit there. He always felt at ease there, away from the tensions and pressures that surrounded Him.

It is always good for a preacher to find such a home where there is a warm, welcoming spirit and he is made to feel at ease.

Several years ago, a lady said to a preacher friend of mine, “You don't ever come to visit me …” He said, “May I ask you two questions: (1) “How many times have you invited me to your home?” (2) “How many times have you been to my home?”

Jesus always felt welcome in this home in Bethany.

I wonder if Jesus feels welcome in your house and mine. Have you opened the doors of your home and said, “Lord Jesus, You are welcome in this place.”?

This passage in Luke 10 teaches us the importance of coming often to the feet of Jesus – loving Him and listening to Him and learning from Him.

Someone said that these days we are so busy that if God wanted to speak to us, He'd have to leave a message on our answering machine!

Someone else said that we are living in a rat race, and it looks like the rats are winning.

We need to learn to slow the pace of life a bit.

You may remember the old Andy Griffith show where a visiting preacher came to town. He preached in a soft, monotone voice and said, “We need to slow down and learn not to rush so much. We rush through our breakfast. We gulp down our food. We rush to work. We rush to get back home. We need to slow down and enjoy life.”

About this time both Barney and Gubber are asleep. About that time the preacher says, “Slow down. Then with a loud voice he said, “What's your hurry?!” and Gubber almost fell off the pew, his eyes were wide open, and the preacher said, “What, indeed, is your hurry?”

There are four interesting dynamics in this story I want us to consider:


I. Martha's Diligence Luke 10:38-39


It was Martha who invited Jesus into her home and welcomed Him; not Mary. Martha had the wonderful gift of hospitality.

There were some very good qualities in Martha's life. She was gracious, full of energy and enthusiasm. She was certainly not lazy; in fact, she was a workaholic. And she must have been a good cook. And she truly loved Jesus and Jesus loved her. John 11:5 says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary).”

But we are going to see that Martha was also fussy at times. She was up-tight, anxious, and often over-extended herself which made her a bit pushy and at times critical of others and domineering.

Martha represents people who feel most comfortable expressing their love for Jesus by doing acts of service. Martha showed her love for the Lord by working in the kitchen preparing the meal. She was like a refined Southern woman.

Can't you see her slaving away in the kitchen, preparing the flour to make homemade rolls. She's cooking the meat and making the salad. She's almost a blur, but she's happy up to her elbows in flour. Southern women never sit, the hover. She will continue to cook all through the meal. When does she eat? That's one of the South's greatest mysteries! She keeps working, huffing around the table making sure everyone's plate is filled and no one lacks for anything. How could we do without the Martha's?


II. Mary's Devotion Luke 10:39


Did you catch the phrase? “Mary ALSO sat at Jesus' feet.” At first BOTH sisters sat at the feet of Jesus!

Mary was warm-hearted toward the Lord Jesus. She was like Paul in Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him” – Christ. Knowing Christ – better and better – was the passion of his heart. To “know” Christ is not simply to have an intellectual knowledge of Christ, but to know Him experimentally and personally. It is the equivalent to having a shared life with Christ.

Every time you see Mary in Scripture, she is at the feet of Jesus – in lowliness, loving and learning from Him.

• In Luke 10 Mary listens to His WORDS and receives His BLESSINGS.

• In John 11 Mary comes to Jesus' feet with her WOE and He lifts her BURDENS. (Her brother had died.)

• In John 12 Mary comes before her Lord in WORSHIP and presents to Him her BEST (as she anoints His head and feet).



I said that Martha opened her HOME to Jesus, but Mary opened her HEART!


III. Mary and Martha's Dispute Luke 10:40


Three people lived in that little house in Bethany. Mary and Martha were there; Lazarus is not mentioned and may have been gone somewhere else.

I've heard messages on this passage that leave the impression that Mary was somewhat lazy, just letting Martha do all the work in the kitchen while Mary just sat at the Lord's feet. But look at Luke 10:40: “My sister has left me to serve alone.” Mary had been working too. I think Mary had done her part and all that was needful had already been done. Mary had enjoyed working for the Lord and the task was done. Now she wants to worship the Lord.

I can see Mary as she makes her way to where the Lord is and sits at His feet.

Sitting at someone's feet was an activity of worship. It was an act whereby one recognized the superiority of the one at whose feet you sat. It was a position of reverence and worship. You would be at one's feet to learn. You honored the person when you sat at his feet.

As Jesus began to speak to Mary, I think Martha also listened. Martha wasn't stopping her ears up and refusing to listen. But then she got distracted with the pots and pans and she missed some of what was said. Then another distraction and she missed more. Now she began to get frustrated; then angry – at Mary. Then she could not hear the words of the Lord anymore – just noise, because of the words and the conversation she was having with herself because she was so upset with Mary.

How many times after a service have you gone to your car and realized that you heard only about half of the service because you were distracted or let your mind wander and you couldn't hear from God because you had something else on your mind?

Notice the words Jesus used to describe Martha:

• Luke 10:40 – “Cumbered” means to be distracted; to be all wrapped up in other things.

• Luke 10:41 – “Careful” means to be anxious, worried, fretful. It's the opposite of faith.

• Luke 10:41 – “Troubled” means to be disturbed in mind and emotion. She was angry at
her sister.

Watch Martha's outburst in Luke 10:40. Her complaint was toward both Jesus and Mary.

A. Her Complaint Dishonored the Lord Luke 10:40

“Lord, do You not care?” “Martha, you've forgotten to Whom you're speaking. Are you accusing Jesus of not caring? It was not Jesus who didn't care, but Martha who had the
caring problem.”

B. Her Complaint Disrupted the Family

Martha's accusation didn't stop with Jesus; she went on to criticize Mary. That kind of accusation would do anything but bond the family together in peace. It would only disrupt the family. She was doing service for the Lord, but her spirit and attitude was anxious, agitated, and frustrated.

Do you ever get agitated, frustrated, and anxious in the service of the Lord? If so, it may be that you are not spending enough time at the feet of the Lord.

Did you know it's possible to work for the Lord and serve the Lord and at the same time forget the Lord. We can engage in church work and lose fellowship with the Lord because we neglect to sit at Jesus' feet.

Do you realize that Martha could have done more for Jesus and helped herself too if she had done less work and more worship! The Lord didn't want Martha's cooking as much as He wanted her company.

C. Mary's Complaint Discredited Devotion

I wonder if Martha wasn't really angry at herself because she, like Mary, should have been at Jesus' feet, but she was distracted by other things.


IV. The Master's Declaration Luke 10:41-42


I wonder if Martha was waiting for Jesus to say, “You're right, Martha. Mary, get right up, get in the kitchen, and help your sister.” But that's not what Jesus said.

Someone said, “If Satan can't make us bad, he'll make us busy.” Actually, Satan can't “make” us any-
thing. Jesus said, “Only one thing is needful, and Mary has CHOSEN that good part.” You and I choose whether or not we will sit at the feet of Jesus.

Do you think Jesus enjoyed the meal? I think the meal lost much of its flavor when He saw the disharmony between the two sisters.

Do you think Mary enjoyed the meal? No. I think Martha's rebuke made her feel ill-at-ease and embarrassed.

Do you think Martha enjoyed the meal? No. I think she was ashamed because of her ill-spirit.

How did Martha respond to what the Lord said? Did she apologize for her words and wrong spirit, take off her apron, and join Mary at Jesus' feet? I hope so, because it is at Jesus' feet that He can change us into His likeness.

 

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

Luke 11:1-4


One day Jesus was praying. I don't know if they were just observing Him in prayer or if they were listening to Him as He prayed. One thing is for sure, they knew prayer was important to Jesus.

The Gospel writers noted that Jesus prayed often. The Gospels point out that before every significant event in His life, Jesus prayed. Luke, more than any Gospel writer points this out.

• Jesus prayed at His baptism – Luke 3:21
• Jesus prayed when He chose His twelve disciples – Luke 6:12-13
• Jesus prayed before Peter's confession of faith – Luke 9:18-20
• Jesus prayed at His Transfiguration – Luke 9:28-29
• Jesus prayed at Gethsemane – Luke 22:39-46
• Jesus prayed while He was on the cross – Luke 23:34

Jesus prayed often and He prayed intently. He prayed with Passion and with Power and with Purpose and with Perception. Look back at Luke 11:1 – “Lord, teach us to pray.”

I hope your desire today is to say the same thing the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” They never asked Jesus to teach them to Preach or to Witness or to Serve or to Give, but they did ask that He would teach them to pray.

How is your prayer life? Are you happy with your prayer life? Down through the years folks have said to me, “Pastor, I just don't feel like my prayers are getting past the ceiling.” In frustration, some people just quit praying.

If it seems that your prayers are ineffective, there are some things you can do to “fix” the problem. Prayer is not the problem. Prayer is real. There really is something to prayer. Jesus gives us the best advice on how to improve our prayer life.

If you walked into a room and flipped on the light switch and nothing happened, what would you do? Would you say, “Thomas Edison was a liar and Benjamin Franklin was a fraud. I've had it with electric lights!” No, you'd think, “Something is wrong, but it can be fixed. Either the bulb needs replacing, or a fuse is blown, or a braker is tripped, or the electricity is shut down in this area.”

The same can be said about prayer. If it seems your prayers are ineffective, there are some things you can do to “fix” your prayer problem. Jesus is the expert on prayer and He gives us the best advice on how to improve our prayer life.

Jesus gives us a Pattern of prayer and a Parable about prayer. We will look at the Pattern of Prayer first and later we will study the Parable.



Luke 11:1-4 is a shorter version of the Pattern Prayer and Matthew 6:9-13 is the longer version. This tells me that this Pattern Prayer was never intended to be a rote prayer, but it was intended to be a model prayer to teach us how to pray effectively. While it is not wrong to recite the prayer, it is more important to follow the Pattern that our Lord gives us.

When we pray, if we pray correctly, we need to be occupied with:


I. The Father's Person “Our Father”


Prayer is based upon a relationship. You see, God is not everybody's Father. If you are born again, then He is your Father. But if you are not born again, He is not your Father.

Jesus said to a group of Pharisees in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil.”

What you believe about God will determine how you pray. If you believe God is some uninterested, unapproachable tyrant on the other side of the universe, you will think praying is a waste of time.

Jesus taught that God is like a loving Father. That concept of God is unique to our faith. Other religions don't teach that Jesus' most revolutionary teaching was His claim that He came from Heaven and that He had a Heavenly Father. “Father” was His favorite designation for God. He referred to God as “Father” 117 times in the Gospel of John. The only time Jesus didn't use the term “Father” was when He was on the cross and He called out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

If you have trusted Jesus as your personal Savior, you can rejoice that God is your Father and that He relates to you as a loving father relates to his child.

Paul said that saints can relate to God as “Abba, Father.” It is a tender word of affection a little child would use. The word “Abba” is like our word, “Papa.”

Jesus teaches that we can talk to God the way a loving child talks to a loving father. That's why I don't care for the “flowery prayers.” I've never understood why a preacher talks normal until he gets in the pulpit or starts to pray and when he begins to pray, he sounds like he swallowed a communion table: “Deeear Gaaaad.”

Imagine this scenario: I drove up to a Dairy Queen when my son was small and he wanted some ice cream. How do you think he would speak to me? Would he say, “Hail, Thou Eminent and all wise Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. Wouldest thou grant to thy male offspring five crisp one-dollar bills so that I mightest purchase from yon rapid service establishment one savory frozen dairy concoction to tickle the taste-buds of my mouth?” That's the way some folks pray. No, my son would say, “Hey, old man, how about a five spot?!” (Not really)

By the way, I know some kids didn't have a loving father. They had a mean, drunk as a father. Thank God I was blessed with a loving Dad that I could respect. If your image of a father is not loving, approach God as a loving Father.



II. The Father's Place “Our Father which art in Heaven”

Heaven is a real place and it's God's home. Jesus came from Heaven and when His days on earth were done, He went back to Heaven.

III. The Father's Purity “Hollowed be Thy Name”

The word “hollowed” means “holy, separate, special.” In the Bible a person's name was always connected to their character. Our God is not only a Loving Father, He is a Holy God, worthy of praise.

Let God's name be treated differently from all other names. Let God's name be given a special position which is absolutely unique.

Jesus is teaching a Pattern here. It is good to begin your prayer with praise and adoration. Praise is bragging on God's character: Who He is and What He's done.

IV. The Father's Purpose
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so in earth”

The first request in the Pattern or Model prayer is for us to ask God to establish His Kingdom on earth. The phrase “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” is not an additional request, but a clarification of the first one. God's Kingdom is established whenever His will is done.

God is King of Heaven and His perfect will is always done there. God's Kingdom is established in your life when you are committed to living by His will and not your own.

God's will is always done in Heaven, but not on earth – so we must pray for it to be done – and then do His will!

Doing God's will is a choice. God's will is connected to His Word. God has written His will down in His Word, so we must study God's Word, then pray that His will be done, and be willing to do it ourselves.

V. The Father's Provision “Give us this day our daily bread”

God is the one who supplies our needs, even our most basic need.

Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your needs (not greed) according to His riches in glory
through Christ Jesus.”

Every time you pause to pray before a meal you acknowledge God supplied the food and money to buy the food. Dr. H. A. Ironside once ate in a restaurant that was so crowded, he had to sit at a table with a stranger. Before he ate, Dr. Ironside asked the stranger if he might pray. The stranger said, “Go ahead. But I don't ever pray before I eat. I just jump right in and eat.” With a smile, Dr. Ironside said, “You know, that’s exactly what my dog does. He jumps right in and eats, too.”

By the way, the significant phrase is “each day.”


IV. The Father's Pardon
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us”

One reason I seldom call this the “Lord's Prayer” is because I don't believe Jesus actually prayed this as a prayer. Jesus was and is sinless. He had no need to ask for forgiveness. Instead, it is a “Model Prayer” because each of us desperately needs God's forgiveness.

Matthew 6:14-15

Unconfessed sin short circuits our prayer life. Psalm 66:18

VII. The Father's Protection
“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil”

The literal rendering is “lead us, lest we fall into temptation and deliver us from the Evil one.”

God cannot lead you into temptation. James 1:13-14

God's pathway never leads to sin. It is our own evil desires that makes us want to leave God's pathway of purity and go off into some roadway of ruin. Prayer helps us remain on God's pathway.

The devil hates it when a Christian prays.

Samuel Chadwick wrote: “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil – mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “I would rather teach one man to pray than to teach ten men to preach.”

Stay on God's pathway. Where is God's pathway leading?

Psalm 23:2-3: “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name sake.”

 


DON'T STOP PRAYING

Luke 11:5-13


The twelve disciples watched the Lord pray often and on this day, after He had prayed, the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Jesus does two things: He gives them a Pattern of Prayer and a Parable of Prayer. Before I get into the parable about prayer, I want to mention four things about prayer that are absolutely true.

1. Prayer is the Christian's Greatest Privilege

The child of God has many privileges, but his greatest privilege is prayer – the privilege of talking with God. There is not one of us here who could get on the phone and speak to President Trump or Queen Elizabeth. But everyone of us who knows Jesus as our Lord and Savior can talk to God.

2. Prayer is the Christian's Greatest Responsibility

Jesus said that we ought to always pray. That's a command we ought not to take lightly. We need to pray for our children and our grandchildren. We need to pray for our president and our nation.

I Samuel 12:23: “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.”

3. Prayer is the Christian's Greatest Weapon

Ephesians 6 says that we as Christians constantly face spiritual warfare. We don't face spiritual warfare against Satan and his demons with clubs, knives, or guns. God has provided us with spiritual weapons: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth. The very last weapon is often the most neglected – “praying always.”

4. Prayer is the Christian's Greatest Neglect

You say, “How do you know prayer is the Christian's greatest neglect?” Look around. Most churches are absolutely powerless; so are most Christians.

Someone has said, “Where there is much prayer, there is much power. Where there is little prayer, there is little power. Where there is no prayer, there is no power.”

If you are a cold, indifferent, and apathetic Christian, you've neglected prayer. But if you have a warm, vibrant love affair with God, then your prayer closet is active.

In this parable on prayer Jesus teaches us to pray with Boldness and in doing so we are to be specific, persistent, and expectant. In this parable our Lord encourages steadfastness in prayer. Giving up in
our prayer life is one of the main problems in prayer.


Request Luke 11:5-6
The request was at a late hour – midnight. The one making the request was surprised and unprepared by a friend who was on a journey and came to his door at midnight.

This friend's arrival at midnight presented the host with a problem, in fact a crisis; for he was without any bread to give to the guest. In those days hospitality in this situation involved more than a bed at that hour. It also involved some food to eat. To fail in these requirements of hospitality was considered a great offense.

It was an unselfish request. The bread was not for himself, but for another. He needed the bread, not because he had neglected to prepare, but because it was unexpected.

It was an urgent request: “Lend me now.” It couldn't be put off until tomorrow. The guest needed something now.

It was a useful request. He didn't ask for luxuries, but for legitimate needs.

I. The Refusal Luke 11:7

This was sharp and biting language. It was a harsh response. This friend was not at all happy about being awakened in the middle of the night to be asked for some bread. So, he spoke roughly from his window to the man knocking at his door.

In Jesus' day, the middle and lower class house consisted of a single room in which one-third of the floor was elevated about eight inches above the rest and contained a small fire ring around which the family would sleep. The remaining two-thirds of the room housed the animals. Thus, it is easy to see why this man was reluctant to crawl over the kids and stumble over the animals to answer the door.

The man said, “Go away. I don't care about your problems. My family is asleep and I'm not interested in your problems at this hour.”

There were times when Jesus seemed to be rather harsh about refusing at first a petition. In Mark 7 a Gentile, Syro-Phoenician woman came to Jesus and asked Him to cast a demon out of her daughter. Jesus responded, “It is not right to take the (Jewish) children's bread, and cast it unto the dogs.” She answered, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs get to eat the crumbs from under the table.” Jesus said to her, “Go your way. The devil is gone out of her.”

The man in the parable gave two reasons why he would not get up and give him bread: (1) “The door is already shut.”, (2) “My family is in bed with me.” (In that day the whole family would sleep in the same room.)

Again, the man refused to give him bread. Notice: He repeated the refusal: “I cannot rise and give thee.” This repeating of the refusal to loan bread is given to show that persistent prayer is not going to be easy. Being refused again and again is the most difficult opposition of all to overcome. Folks can generally endure one refusal, but when it is repeated again and again – and with a great deal of force, it becomes very hard to keep praying.
That's why Jesus said in Luke 18:1 that “man ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

II. The Reconsidering Luke 11:8

The sleeping friend finally reconsidered his refusal and gave his friend some bread – not because he was his friend, but because of his shameless persistence.

Let me give you some examples of persistence in prayer:

• Genesis 18:23-32: Abraham pleaded for Sodom to be saved if some righteous people could be found there. Abraham went from fifty righteous to forty-five, then forty, then thirty, then twenty, then ten. When ten could not be found, Abraham stopped pleading and God destroyed the city.

• Matthew 15:21-28: The Syro-Phoenician, though met with a number of obstacles to the granting of her request, persisted and got the blessing.

• Genesis 32:24-29: In his wrestling with the angel at Penuel the angel said, “Let me go.” Jacob said, “I will not let you go, except you bless me.”

If the man in the parable had not persisted, he would not have gotten the bread. Oftentimes we are tempted to quit praying steadfastly because we run out of patience.

God cannot be accused of not wanting to bless His people; nor does He think we are a nuisance when we persist in prayer. Man might be displeased when we are persistent with them, but with God, He is pleased with it.

Notice Luke 11:8. The man asked for three loaves; he got as many as he needed (plenty).

• The Syro-Phoenician woman had her daughter healed and received a great compliment from the Lord – “great is your faith” ( Matthew 15:28).

• Although Sodom was destroyed, Abraham's nephew was delivered from the destruction of Sodom.

IV. The Reward Luke 11:9-13

Don't miss this: This is the heart of the whole passage. In fact, Jesus states the reward twice.

There are prayer promises with some stipulations:

1. We must pray Humbly – Luke 11:9: “Ask, and it will be given you.”

The word “ask” means “the asking of an inferior to a superior.” We come before God humbly recognizing we are needy and we come before the only One who is in the position to answer our request. Asking is the first and the most important step. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

2. We must pray Earnestly – Luke 11:9: “Seek, and you shall find.”

This promise is for those who earnestly, diligently seek God. You cannot expect God to get earnest about answering your prayer if you are not earnest in praying your prayer.

3. We must pray Believing – Luke 11:9: “Knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

The emphasis is on faith. One knocks and a door is closed. It is as though the earnest asker and diligent seeker is now confronted with a closed door. Do not be discouraged or dismayed, continue your quest – knock!

Pray because God commended us to pray and has promised to answer our prayers, and because God has the power to answer our prayer. God has the key to unlock any locked door.

4. We must prayer Reverently – Luke 11:9: “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

The word “knock” here means to rap politely; not to bang or pound discourteously. Don't try to kick in the door, come before God in reverence and respect. Do not demand or insist.

5. We must pray Persistently

Ask, seek, and knock are all in the present tense and means to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. God often requires us to ask persistently to test our sincerity.

The most fatal thing a Christian can do in life is to be content with passing desires. A fable tells of St. Peter showing a man around his mansion in Heaven. Peter quickly passed by one room. The man said, “St. Peter, wait. You didn't show me what's in that room.” Peter said, “Well, if you knew what was in there, it might sadden you.” The man said, “No, I want to see in there.” Peter opened the door
and the man saw the many blessings that he did not receive because he stopped asking too soon.

Did you ever ring someone's doorbell as a kid and then run away before they could answer the door? You hid somewhere so they couldn't see you and then you laughed when they opened the door and saw no one. How often do we ring God's prayer bell and then disappear before He answers our prayer?

Someone said God answers all prayers in one of three ways:

– “GO.” He answers immediately.
– “NO.” He says “No” to your request.
– “SLOW.” Sometimes He answers the prayer later or He may answer it differently.

6. We must ask Rightly – Luke 11:12-13

In praying for bread, fish, and eggs, God is saying, ask for the necessities of life, not the luxuries.

James 4:3 says, “You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss (wrongly) that you might consume it upon your lust.”

When you pray, pray In faith, In His Name, According to His Will.

Lord, Teach us to Pray – Always!

Psalm 84:11: “No good thing will the Lord withhold from them that love Him.”


A HOUSE DIVIDED

Luke 11:14-26


Notice again Luke 11:17. Jesus says, “No kingdom, no nation, no house, no army, no business, no movement can survive internal war. Impossible!”

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech known as “The House Divided Speech” in Springfield, Illinois. It was his acceptance speech as he accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination for United States Senator. He spoke of the division in the United States between the slave states and the free states.

There is another “house divided” problem. You may have noticed some car tags on the front of some cars that read: “House Divided,” and on one half of the tag is “Mississippi State” and on the other side, “Ole Miss Rebels.”

Well, Jesus spoke of a House Divided and He said that that house cannot stand. What is Jesus talking about?

Earlier in Luke 11 Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray.

In Luke 11:2 Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Father in Heaven, Your kingdom come.” Then in Luke 11:4 Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “and deliver us from the evil one.”

I want you to see that Jesus believed in spiritual warfare. Jesus believed in a kingdom of evil, and He believed in a kingdom of righteousness. Then Jesus said that it is absolutely impossible to remain neutral in spiritual warfare.

In this passage Jesus is going to unmask the face of evil and teach us some things about the way the devil and his demons operate.

This is the third time, now, that I have dealt with this incident in the life of Jesus. I dealt with it as we went through the Gospel of Matthew and again when we went through the Gospel of Mark. So, I have already given you the exposition of these verses. So, today I want to take you in a little different direction.

You know that in the ministry of Jesus, the religious crowd was always trying to find something wrong in His teaching so they could accuse Him. They hoped to find something in what He SAID that they could use to put Him to death.

But they went farther. They looked for evidence of wrong in what he SAID; but now they try to find something wrong in what He DID, so they could accuse Him.

In Luke 11:14 Jesus cast a demon out of a man who caused the man to be mute – he could not speak. We are told that when Jesus cast the demon out, the man who once was mute because of the demon, now spoke.
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There were at least three reactions to the once mute man now speaking:

1. The multitude wandered – Luke 11:14

They were amazed or astonished at what they saw. They marveled as they witnessed Jesus casting the demon out of the man. Everyone there knew this man and knew he could not speak. So, when Jesus cast the demon out, the great majority of the people just stood there spellbound.

2. A second response – Luke 11:15

Some attributed what Jesus did to the power of Beelzebub, which was an Old Testament term for the god of Baal, which means, “the lord of the flies.” It was a descriptive term of the devil. Lord of dung. Flies hang around dumps and garbage and trash and filthy stuff. So, some said that Jesus cast the demon out by the power of the devil.

Matthew's Gospel makes it plain that they attributed the work of Jesus to the work of the devil, and Jesus told them then that attributing the work of Jesus to the work and power of the devil was an unpardonable sin; a sin that could not be forgiven in this life or in the life to come.

Jesus basically said, “That's stupid!” Why would Satan work against his own kingdom? Jesus said, “There are two kingdoms. There is the Kingdom of Satan, or the kingdom of unrighteousness, and there is God's Kingdom – “My Kingdom” – the Kingdom of righteousness.

And here is what Jesus wants to make clear: EVERY ONE OF US ARE IN ONE OR THE OTHER OF THESE TWO KINGDOMS. The Kingdom of Satan or the Kingdom of God.

And FURTHER, you cannot be neutral, you are either FOR God or AGAINST God.

Every lost person is a part of Satan's kingdom; and every saved person is in the kingdom of God, but it is impossible to remain neutral.

Notice Luke 11:23: “He who is not with Me is against Me.”

There is no in-between. You are either for Jesus or you are against Jesus. You are either gathering for Me or you are scattering (Luke 11: 23). You are either Heaven bound or you are Hell bound. There is no third option!

“No, Preacher! I haven't given my life to Jesus, but I'm not against Him. I've just chosen to be neutral.”

To choose to be neutral is to choose to remain in the kingdom of darkness. It's not that you are trying to pick which one to go into. If you are not a Christian, you are already in the other. If you say, “I just won't decide either way.” Not to decide is to decide to be against Him. There is no middle ground.

“Well, Preacher, I'm going to wait until I'm better and then I'll trust Jesus.”

Notice Luke 11:23-26. Jesus gives a strange example of a demon that left a certain man and wondered for a while. When the demon left, the man tried to clean up his house. When the demon returned, he found the “house” (person) swept clean – but empty.
So, he summoned seven of his demon buddies and they entered the person's mind and threw a devilish party. Jesus observed in Luke 11:26, “the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” It's not enough to simply “clean up” your life if you don't replace the evil with the goodness of God.

Sometimes man attempts to just reform rather than giving Jesus full control. The person has some “junk sin” in their life that they know they need to get rid of. They have a desire to change; to reform their behavior.

And maybe they do change some – but sadly, unless they fill the emptiness with God, they find them-selves back in the same vicious cycle, only worse. It seems that seven more demons have come to torment them.

You see, the lost person has absolutely no restraining power against sin. And Satan loves to come back into a person's life that he has affected before. Now he has cleaned up a little, but he is still empty because he has not received Christ. The only thing that can stop Satan from coming back and coming back stronger than before is to receive Christ into their life.

It's not enough to just “turn over a new leaf” or to “clean up your act.” You must make sure Jesus lives in your heart. Once a very religious, but lost, man came to Jesus to discuss God's requirements for salvation and Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he will never experience salvation.”

If I were to ask you if you know you are saved, the key to your answer is, “I know Christ is dwelling in my heart by faith.”

Look at Luke 11:28.

Salvation is not just getting some sin out of your life, it is letting God's Spirit in.


JESUS: THE GREATER

Luke 11:29-32


[What a way to begin a sermon (Luke 11:1). Normally you would stand before your people and say, “This is a good-looking crowd here today. It's great to see you all here.” Jesus begins by saying, “You are really an evil bunch of folks.” That may not be the best way to win folks over.]


Go back to Luke 11:29. “This generation seeks a sign.” A sign for what? A sign that Jesus really is the Messiah – The Son of the living God.

Jesus said, “No sign will be given – except one – and it has to do with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What kind of sign were they looking for? Think of all the things Jesus had already done.

• They had to say, “No one ever spoke like this Man.”
• He lived a pure, sinless life. He asked, “Which of you can convict Me of sin.”
• He did miracles of healing and even of raising the dead.
• He testified of Himself, “I speak not Mine own word, but the Word of My Father who sent Me.”

“There will be no other sign – except the sign of the prophet, Jonah.”

“Jesus, if You really are who You say You are, perform a trick. Make this mountain get up and go to another place. Speak and make this wall collapse. Make the sun go out. Do some kind of a miracle so we'll know You are the Messiah.”

Why wouldn't Jesus produce some sign?

1. Because signs do not produce faith. Signs only produce a desire for greater signs.

“Well, how do you know that?” I'm glad you asked. Turn to Luke 16:19-31. “Let Lazarus rise up out of the grave and let him go to my brothers and testify to them, and they'll believe.” Jesus said, “They still would not repent. Unbelief is a moral problem, not an intellectual problem. No amount of evidence will ever turn unbelief to belief.

2. Jesus said, “I, Myself, am a sign. There is no one greater than I.”

3. They had already seen signs. They had just stood there and watched Him cast a demon out of a man who was mute and the mute man began to speak. But they wanted more.

Jesus said, “I won't give you a sign, but I'm Greater than Solomon and Jonah.”

A. Jesus is Greater than Solomon Luke 11:31

When you think of the name “Solomon”, what word do you think of? Wisdom.

People came from everywhere to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Turn to the Book of Proverbs and you read of the wisdom of Solomon. The Queen of Sheba came a thousand-mile journey to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and she left saying, “The half has not been told of his wisdom.” But Jesus is greater!

1. Jesus is greater than Solomon in Wisdom.

When Solomon became king in Israel after his father David, God allowed him to ask for anything – and he did not ask for power or riches. Solomon asked for wisdom. God was so pleased by this request that He granted him not only wisdom, but power and wealth as well.

– I Kings 4:30 says that Solomon was wiser than any other man. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered one thousand.

He described plant life … taught about animals and birds and reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom.

But a greater than Solomon had come: Jesus.

– Solomon wrote down many of the “words of God” – But Jesus IS the Word of God.

– Solomon studied creation – But Jesus IS the Creator. Colossians 1:16-17

– Solomon studied animal life – But Jesus created the animals.

– Jesus not only created this universe, He holds everything together.

2. Jesus is greater than Solomon in Construction.

Solomon built the great Temple for the Lord.

– Solomon had 183,000 workers and it took seven and one-half years to build the Temple.

– There were four thousand ushers and over four thousand members of the orchestra.

– Solomon could only build on earth, but Jesus is involved in a heavenly construction. John 14:2

– Our Lord has a place reserved for you if you trust Him as your Lord and Savior.

– Solomon's Temple has long since crumbled and turned to dusty ruins. But Jesus is building us an eternal home.

– Jesus is also building something marvelous right now as well. Matthew 16:11
Jesus says to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build My Church.”

– The Bible says our bodies are the Temple of the Lord.

A greater building than Solomon is Jesus.
3. Jesus is greater than Solomon in His Sacrifice.

Second Chronicles 7:5 says Solomon sacrificed 22,000 head of cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats when he and the people dedicated the Temple.

Someone said each bull would have been about the value of a Cadillac to us. That would be like you donating 22,000 Cadillacs in one day.

Can you imagine the space 120,000 sheep and goats occupied waiting to be sacrificed? A virtual river of blood flowed down from the Temple, then the flesh of the animals was burned.

But Jesus is greater than Solomon. When Jesus began His ministry, John cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.”
4. Jesus is greater than Solomon in wealth.

First Kings 10:23-27 says King Solomon had greater riches than all the other kings of the earth … he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses … “the king made silver (and gold) as common in Jerusalem as stones.” Think of it, people picked up nuggets of gold to throw at stray dogs!

B. Jesus is Greater than the Prophet Jonah Luke 11:32

Some would not call Jonah the greatest prophet, but he had the greatest thing happen to him that ever happened to any prophet. He had the greatest revival of any prophet in forty days.

You know the story of Jonah, but let me just give you a few truths related to his life.

1. You can run from God, but you can't hide.
2. Sometimes God uses adversity to get our attention.
3. God is willing to give us a second chance.
4. God can use you if you are obedient – even if you're imperfect.

The sign of Jonah is the Resurrection of Jesus.

Matthew 12:40: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Our relationship with God should be based on faith – not signs.


THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

Luke 11:33-36; Matthew 5:14-16

When I was a kid growing up in Sunday School, we used to sing a little song that went like this:

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Put it under a bushel – NO! I'm going to let it shine,
Put it under a bushel – NO! I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm going to let it shine,
Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine 'til Jesus comes, I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine 'til Jesus comes, I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

That's what Jesus wants us to do! As followers of Jesus, we live in a world that is morally corrupt and that is in spiritual darkness. We are not saved by God's grace for ourselves alone. God saved us in order to make us into something that this fallen world desperately needs – spiritual light. It is both an honor and an obligation that each child of God has – to be light no matter where we go.

In Matthew 5:14 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” You might translate it, “You and you alone are the light of the world.

That's interesting because in John 8:12 Jesus said, “I Am the light of the world.” The interesting thing is, this is the only time Jesus said we are something that He claimed for Himself.

Jesus speaks of Himself and says, “I am the Bread of Heaven,” but He never says of us, “You are the bread of Heaven.” Jesus said, “I Am the Good Shepherd,” but He never says, “You are the good shepherd.” Jesus said, “I Am the Door,” but He never says, “You are the door.” Jesus said, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life,” but He never said, “You are the resurrection and the life.” You and I can never be bread to the hungry or water to the thirsty or life to the dead, but you and I can be light to the world.

Being light in this world is something that Jesus has transferred to you and me. Jesus said in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I Am the Light of the world.” But Jesus is no longer physically in the world. Physically Jesus ascended into Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father. The only way the light of Jesus can be seen on this earth today is through the life of those who belong to Him.

Think of it this way: While Jesus walked on this earth, He was like the sun – SUN. He was the source of the light that lit up the whole world. But in the same way when the evening comes, the sun is gone from the sky, and the moon rises in its place to reflect the light of the sun into the world.
So now the Church is “the light of the world.” The moon has no light of its own; it only reflects the light of the sun. We as believers have no light of our own, we only reflect the light of the Lord Jesus Who lives within us. He shines upon us; and we shine upon the world.

FOR LIGHT TO BE VALUABLE, IT MUST BE VISABLE!

What does light do?

A. Light Dispels Darkness

For light to dispel darkness, two things must take place. (1) The light must be lit, and (2) the light must be well placed.

1. The light must be lit.

For Jesus to shine through you, He must be IN you. That happens at salvation. Jesus is the source of light. If He is not in your life, He cannot shine through you.

Notice Luke 11:35: “Make sure the light that is within you is not darkness.” Make sure you have the True light within you.”

What a strange thought. What does that mean? Jesus is saying, “make sure the light within you is the True light and not a false light.” Some people are spiritually blind because they are inhabited by false light – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, cults, even unsaved Baptist who trust something else besides Jesus for their salvation, like works.

Well, how do I know if my light is false or not? The only source of true light is Jesus Christ.

2. A second thing: Not only must the light be lit, it must be well placed. Note Luke 11:33.

The word “secret place” means “a crypt” or “a cellar.” If you want light in a room, you don't put the light in the cellar or under a basket or large bowl. For the light to do any good, it must be well-placed.

By the way, the Lord has placed you in the place you are – at work, at school, – so that you can shine for Jesus where you are.

Light dispels darkness.

If you go down into a cave, like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, when you go down so far, the guide may say, “I want you to see how dark darkness really is. Everybody back up and stand up so your back touches the wall and don't anyone move. I'm going to turn out the lights.” When he turns the lights out, you can see absolutely nothing. Then he turns the light back on, and the light dispels darkness.

There are some consequences of spiritual blindness. Note Luke 11:34.

Darkness distorts readily. Everything looks differently when you strain to see through darkness. You hear creaks in the darkness and see things with strange shapes. It's only when you turn on the light that you see things as they really are.

Darkness distorts reality. There's an interesting verse in Titus 1:15. Do you know someone turns everything to the dark side? No matter how innocent something may be, some folks can turn it to the dark side.

Titus 1:15: “Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and
unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

Another thing is that: When you live on the dark side, you tend to get use to the dark. Have you ever been outside on a bright sunny day and then come into the house and you cannot see anything – until you get use to the darkness? Your eyes adjust to the darkness and then you begin to see the things clearly again. Too often we get use to the darkness of sin and we don't see sin as it really is and the way God sees sin. Many Christians no longer call sin sin. From A-Z, man sees sin differently from the way God sees sin.

• Man sees sin as an Accident, God sees sin as Abomination;
• Man sees sin as a Blunder, God sees sin as Blindness;
• Man sees sin as a Chance, God sees sin as a Choice;
• Man sees sin as a Disease, God sees sin as Death;
• Man sees sin as Error, God sees sin as Enmity;
• Man sees sin as Fascination, God sees sin as Fatal;
• Man sees sin as Glamour, God sees sin as Gruesome.

We must see sin the way God sees sin!

• Man sees sin as Habit, God sees sin as Hellish;
• Man sees sin as Innocence, God sees sin as Immoral;
• Man sees sin as a Joke, God sees sin as Judgment;
• Man sees sin as Know-how, God sees sin as a Knock-out;
• Man sees sin as Looking, God sees sin as Lusting;
• Man sees sin as Mischievous, God sees sin as Misery;
• What man calls Natural, God sees as Naughty;
• Man sees sin as Opportunity, God sees sin as Opposition;
• Man sees sin as Performance, God sees sin as Pathetic.

We must see sin the way God sees sin!

• Man sees sin as a Quota, God sees sin as Quicksand;
• Man sees sin as Rational, God sees sin as Repulsive;
• Man sees sin as Safe, God calls sin a Scandal;
• Man calls sin a Treat, God calls sin Treason;
• Man calls sin Usual, God calls sin Ugly;
• Man calls sin Vogue, God calls sin Vulgar;
• Man calls sin Weakness, God calls sin Wickedness;
• Man calls sin as X-Ray, God calls sin X-Rated;
• Man calls sin Yummy, God calls sin Yucky;
• Man calls sin Zealous, God calls sin Zero.


From A to Z we must see sin as God calls sin. We will never hate and deplore sin in our lives until we stop calling it by the nice, pet-names. God hates sin; we must, too.

Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19).

We can get so use to the darkness until the darkness of sin doesn't bother us anymore.

Jeremiah 6:15: “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not ashamed, neither could they blush.” Things that once slipped down dark alleys now strut down Main Street. I can remember when we said the word, “homo-sexuality” with a hushed tone. Today they shout, “Gay Pride!”

B. Light Exposes

Some don't like the light. They love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. To some, light is troubling and frightening. Have you ever turned on a light and watch roaches or a mouse run for the cover of darkness? Did you ever turn over a rotten log in the woods and see creatures of the dark run to escape the light? If you could hear what they were saying or thinking, it would be, “Put out the light.”

C. Light Reveals

Light reveals and expresses danger. Darkness covers all kind of danger. If the light uncovered the dangers, there are a lot of things we wouldn't do and places we wouldn't go.

D. Light Influences Others

No lamp is ever lit just for its own benefit. It is lit to give light to others.

Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

We are the only Bible a careless world will ever read.
We are the sinner's Gospel. We are the scoffer's Creed.
We are the last message written in deed and word.
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?
What if our hands are busy with other work than His?
What if our feet are walking where sin's allurement is?
What if our lips are speaking of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him and hasten His return?

Perhaps you've heard this poem. It's called “The Living Sermon.” It drives the point home with crystal-clarity.

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I'd rather one would walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing but example's always clear.
The best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it, if you'll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, your tongue too fast may run.
The lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do,
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.



RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP?

Luke 11:37-54


Is Christianity a religion? Is Christianity a relationship?

Christianity is not us reaching up to God; it is God reaching down to us. Romans 3:11 says, “there is none that seek after God.” Sometimes folks say, “I found the Lord.” I know what most of them mean by that, but I want you to know, the Lord was not lost. You didn't find the Lord; the Lord found you. He is always on the right path; you and I have wondered from that right path and from Him.

Salvation is not about what you have DONE. Salvation has to do with what Jesus has done. You don't spell salvation DO; you spell salvation DONE. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.

This passage of Scripture, perhaps better than any other in the Bible, gives to us a clear picture of the difference between religion and a relationship with God.

The devil is the greatest counterfeiter of all. The devil's counterfeit for a relationship with God is not Atheism. The devil doesn't mind you being an atheist, but Satan's counterfeit for a relationship with God is religion.

Well, if a relationship with God is really that important, what is a relationship with God?

Let me tell you first what it does not mean. Simply mentally believing that God exist is not having a personal relationship with God. Just knowing facts about the Bible and affirming those facts is not having a personal relationship with God. Having a personal relationship with God is having a vital, living, personal, loving connection with God as your Father.

Well, who can have that kind of relationship with God? Anyone – no matter who you are or what sin you have committed. If you have a personal, total desire for God to be your Heavenly Father, you qualify.

Then how can a person have a personal relationship with God? It does not come by being baptized or joining a church or by taking the Lord's Supper.

Well, how does it come about? First of all, when the Holy Spirit convicts you that you are a sinner and separated from God, you admit that you are a sinner before God by agreeing with God the Holy Spirit and the Bible that you are a sinner, and that you fall short of God's divine standard of perfection, which is Jesus Christ.

Then after you admit you are a sinner, you repent of your sin. Repenting of sin is more than saying, “I'm sorry for my sin” or “I'll quit my sinning.” Repentance is a picture of someone walking in one direction and they turn around and begin walking in the other direction. It is a total change of heart, of mind, of attitude that leads to an outward and an inner change by receiving Jesus into your heart. You ask Him to forgive your sin and come into your heart to be Lord and Savior. All of this is your firm commitment to Jesus.

Now, in this passage Jesus addresses a dead religion that appears to be alive.

Now before we get into what Jesus said, notice the reaction His audience in Luke 11:53-54.

Let me remind you that Jesus didn't just come to comfort the afflicted, He came to afflict the comfortable.

Six times Jesus said, “Your religion is dead if”:

1. Your religion is dead if: Outward Appearance is more Important than Inner Purity –
Luke 11:37-41.

Understand that the Jewish practice of washing hands had nothing to do with
cleanliness – it was all about ceremony.

The Pharisees went through a washing ritual before every meal to show how religious they were. Their law said they had to use at least as much water as would fill one and one-half egg shells. They would pour from their fingertips downward, rubbing the fist of each hand into their palm, then they would pour the remaining water from their wrists downward letting the water drip from their fingertips. It was a ceremony. Many do the same thing in restaurants in Israel today.

When Jesus did not wash, His host was shocked. Jesus accused the Pharisee of being obsessed with outward appearance but he ignored inner purity. He compared them to shiny, clean cups on the outside, but filthy and corrupt on the inside.

One danger of religion is that it makes you feel you are superior or holier than others because one practices rituals and the others do not.

The question is: Are you more concerned about outward appearance – what others think of you – or your inner purity?

In I Samuel 16:7 when God was looking for a king of Israel, he looked at David and said, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart.”

For some people, the most spiritual thing they do in getting ready for church is when they dress up. They have not prepared the inward man to meet God, but they have prepared the outward man to meet man!

That describes the attitude of many who think dressing up the outside can hide an impure heart.

2. Your religion is dead if: Ritual Acts are more Important than a Personal Relationship with God – Luke 11:42.

The Pharisees liked to “pick and choose” what they were willing to do and omit the rest. They stressed the outward duties such as tithing, rituals, and works, but minimized the inward duties of the heart.

Here is now they made the small big in tithing: They would count the tiny seed of the dill of the spice plant: “One for God, nine for me; one for God, nine for me.” But they omitted such things of the heart like justice, love, mercy.

Justice was treating your neighbor as you should, showing him honor and respect, being fair with them. They didn't practice justice nor did they show God's love.

Jesus' statement dealt more with what they were not doing than what they were doing.

3. Your religion is dead if: Being Seen by Others is more Important than Serving God –
Luke 11:43-44.

In the synagogue, the front seats in the synagogue were reserved for the most respected Pharisees, and they were facing the congregation. To be asked to sit in one of these seats was an honor. Out in the marketplace, the most religious Pharisees were greeted with a loud voice and their position and title were announced.

Some folks go to church mainly to See and to be Seen. It's good for their standing in the community and it's good for business.

Jesus warned about performing religious acts just to be seen by others.

In Luke 11:44, Jesus mentioned “unmarked graves.” If a Jew walked on a grave, they were rendered unclean ceremonially and had to go through a ritual cleansing. An unmarked grave was as dangerous as a hidden mine, because they might be rendered ceremonially unclean if they accidentally stepped on that ground. Jesus said these religious Pharisees were like unmarked graves. Without knowing it, their attitude was causing others to become unclean. They were trying to make people religious, but they were actually driving them away from God.

4. Your religion is dead if: Rigid Rules are more Important than Liberating – Luke 11:45-46.

One of the experts in the law said, “Teacher, when You say these things, you insult us also.” And Jesus said, “O, I'm sorry. I would not have done that for the world.” No! Jesus said, “And woe unto you as well.”

Jesus said, “You don't practice what you preach. You are legalistic. You make long list of things for people to live up to and you don't live up to them yourselves.

They had reduced religion to a list of “thou-shall-not” – like the old cheer, “I don't drink, and I don't chew, and I don't go with the boys that do.”

Modern legalistic person would say, “Women can't wear make-up or cut their hair. No body piercing or tattoos of any kind.” (Wait! I kinda like that one!)

I heard about an old boy who didn't think you should gather anything from the garden on Sunday. But he wanted some fresh tomatoes so badly he went with his neighbor and pointed out the ones he wanted him to pick for him.

5. Your religion is dead if: Reliving the Past is more Important than Recognizing God's Present Activity – Luke 11:47-51.

Dead religion always looks back to the good old days when things use to be so good.
You've heard of honey bees, and even killer bees, but in the church we have a dangerous
species I call “used-to-bees.” We used-to attend, we use-to be faithful, we use-to be active.
Dead religion is always looking in the rear-view mirror and longing for the “good old
days.”

Their favorite sung is “Gimme That Old Time Religion.” I like that too, but I'm talking 2,000 years – not thirty.

Traditions are wonderful – except when they become sacred cows!

Someone said the seven last words of the Church are: “We've never done it that way before.”

6. Your religion is dead if: Preserving a Religion is more Important than Experiencing Life – Luke 11:52-54.

What did Jesus mean when He said, “You have taken away the key of knowledge – you do not enter in yourself – and you hinder those who want to enter in.”?

Jesus is talking about entering into eternal life. To enter in to eternal life, you must have the Key of Knowledge. What is it? The Key of Knowledge is ALL the Bible says about Jesus.

The Old Testament is not about rules and regulations. It's about Jesus. Luke 24:27 – walking the road to Emmaus, Jesus opened the Old Testament Scriptures and showed the two men that all Scripture was concerning Him. The Law, the Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the writings all pointed to Him.

If you miss the Key – Jesus – you miss it all.

The opposite of having dead religion is having a living relationship with God. Let me finish by turning the six marks of a dead religion into some positive statements of how to have a living relationship with God.

1. God values inner purity more than outward appearance!
2. God cherishes you more than He values your rituals!
3. Pleasing God should be more important than pleasing people!
4. When you know God, you experience liberty – not bondage!
5. God is at work right now; He wants you to join Him!
6. God wants you to enjoy life, not endure a religion!


WARNING SIGNS ON THE ROAD TO HELL

Luke 12:1-12


In the last verses of Luke 11, Jesus was addressing a hostile crowd of His enemies. He delivered some hard words about dead religion to them. In this setting, Jesus was surrounded by a huge crowd, including many of His opponents; but He is speaking these words to His disciples, His friends. If you are His disciple, He is speaking to you, too. (Read Luke 12:1-12)

(When you get to Verse 5:) Focus on the phrase, “has power to cast (or throw) you into hell.” Focus on that phrase for a moment until it grabs you.

People talk about hell all the time in our culture. One cold day a pastor stopped by a gas station. It was a bitterly cold morning and as he was pumping his gas, another car drove up on the other side of the pump and the guy got out and inserted the nozzle into his tank. As he stood there blowing on his hands, he looked over at the preacher and said, “Whew! It's cold as (hell) this morning, isn't it?” Now, how do you expect a preacher to respond to a question like that? The preacher smiled and said, “It sure is cold, but, friend, you must not know much about hell, because it is anything but cold there!”
The man looked at the preacher like he was a religious fanatic, and walked into the station without saying a word.

Matthew 7:13 says, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Sadly, there is a road leading to hell and MOST of the people are on it.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The Message paraphrase reads: “There is a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”

I once saw a Gospel tract and on the cover were written these words, “What to do to go to Hell.” When you opened the tract up, it was blank on the inside. The message was that because we are already sinners on the road to hell, we don't have to DO anything to get there.

Hell is on unpopular subject, but Jesus said there exist the possibility of each of us being cast or thrown into hell. People often ask, “How could a God of love send people to hell?” God never intended hell for human habitation. Jesus said hell was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). And God has gone to extraordinary lengths to warn us NOT to go to hell.

Suppose you were driving down a highway and you saw signs warning, “Danger, Bridge Out Ahead,” yet you refused to believe the signs and continued on. Even after you pass a couple of more warning signs, you see a couple who is coming toward you and you know them. They call on their cell phone and say, “Don't keep driving on this road. Turn around! There's a bridge out ahead!” The most heart-less thing that couple could do, would be to stay silent and to let you continue simply because they fear you might be offended by all that “bridge talk.”


In the same way, God has placed a multitude of warning signs on the road to hell. He loves you and He doesn't want you to go there.

Let's look at three of these signs.


I. The Awesome Power of God Luke 12:4-5


We don't have to fear men because the worst they can do is to kill our bodies. Instead of fearing man, we should fear God. Why? Because our existence doesn't end with death. This is the first warning sign on the road to hell.

A. Fear God, because He has the power to punish sin.

We should never forget the focus of Luke 12:5: God has the power to cast us (me) into hell.

We have all learned John 3:16 by heart. The scariest word in that verse is the word “perish.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not PERISH, but have eternal life.”

“Perish” means “to be thrown or cast into hell.

We talk about non-perishable food and perishable food. What's the difference? Perishable food spoils, it rots, it loses its quality. That's a pretty graphic picture of what happens to a person in hell, but the spoiling process is stretched out over eternity.

Some people accept Jesus out of love. They see how much Jesus loves them because He died for them and took their place on the cross. Love for us is the reason He GAVE Himself to die on the cross as a substitute for us. He died in our place on the cross. On the cross, Jesus is saying, “I Love You!”

But some do not respond to His love. Sometimes God has to show us that because we are sinners, a sin debt must be paid and that if we do not accept Jesus and what He did for us on the cross in paying our sin debt, the gruesome reality is that they will be cast into a place called hell where there is fire and brimstone, and they will suffer in that place forever. You see, some accept Jesus as Savior out of love; others out of fear. Whether you accept Jesus out of love or out of fear, you need to know that God has
power to throw you into hell. One man described hell as it being like a piece of bacon frying.

Sometimes folks say, “Preacher, you're trying to scare the h-e-l-l out of us – that's not right. I'm trying to scare you out of hell if you do not accept Him out of love.

God does not want any of us to perish. The Bible says clearly in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but that everyone would come to repentance.”

B. Trust God because He has power to save.

God has awesome power. He can throw you bound hand and foot into hell. And He can save you, too, from hell. Nobody else is strong enough to save you. And nobody is strong enough to save himself or herself.

Have you ever watched one of those body-building competitions where the men get on stage in a speed-o and flex all their muscles? Or maybe your favorite is “The World's Strongest Man Competition,” and the men do all kinds of strength tests. I'd like to suggest a new strength challenge. Let them put on a pair of boots and then see which one is strong enough to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. Watch them strain and pull. You can see, none of us is strong enough to lift ourselves out of our pit of sin. But I know Someone who is strong enough to lift us right out of the road to hell. His name is Jesus.

But God is not just Terrible in His power – He is Tender as well. That doesn't make me Tremble, it makes me Trust Him.

Isaiah 40:10-11. What a beautiful picture. God loves you so much. He longs to gather you in His strong arms and give you safety and security. He is a strong God. He's not just a mighty God, He is the Almighty God!

Kids sing this song:

“My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do.
My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do!

The mountains are His, the valleys are His,
The stars are His handiwork, too.
My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do – for you!”

There's a second hope warning sign on the Road to Hell.


II. The Amazing Love of God Luke 12:6-7


These verses show us God is not some disinterested tyrant who is uncaring and unloving. Instead, He is a God who cares for sparrows and for people. In the parallel passage in Matthew, Jesus points out God even notices when a single sparrow falls to the ground and He attends the funeral of every little sparrow that dies. Then He says, “You are worth so much more than many sparrows.” In God's eyes, no one is worthless. Everyone is of great worth to Him.

A. Could I tell you, God knows everything about you, and He still cherishes you!

He cares so much about us that every single hair on our head has a number. If God is concerned about something as insignificant as the number of hairs we have on our scalp, then He is certainly interested in the big issues in our lives. What a caring God!

Sometimes we are afraid to let people know us because we think, “If people really knew what I'm like, they wouldn't like me.” That's why we wear mask. Good news: God knows everything about you – and He still loves you.

B. May I tell you something else? God will never stop loving you!

God always Has and He always Will love you. From before the creation of the world, God loved you enough to plan for a way for you to spend eternity with Him.

He demonstrated His love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I'm about to make a statement that will surprise some of you, so pay attention. You can live your whole life rejecting God and refusing to love Him – and He will still love you.

You can walk out of this building today and shake your fist toward Heaven and shout, “I hate You, God!” And He will still love you and cherish you. And you can die without Jesus – and be thrown into hell – and He will love you even as it is happening. Listen: God loves you so much, and He doesn't want you to go to hell. He has given you a free will to choose Him. And if you are bound and determined to go to hell, God will let you, but He won't stop loving you.

One other warning sign:

1. The Active Spirit of God Luke 12:8-12


Before Jesus returned to Heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit. John's Gospel calls the Holy Spirit “the Paraclete” which literally means, “one called alongside.” This word is often translated comforter, counselor, or helper. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.

We all start out on the road to hell because we are all sinners. God sends His Holy Spirit to “arrest us” by giving us a sense of guilt and responsibility for our sin. I can stand up here all day and tell you you are a sinner, but it won't make a difference in your life. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction.

You need to listen to the Holy Spirit – that still, small Voice that nudges you inwardly, and impresses upon your heart that you are not right with God and you need to go to Him and let Him make it right.
He will impress upon your heart that you need to confess to God that you are a sinner and ask Him to
forgive you of your sin.

When you ask Him to forgive your sin, you will sense in your heart that a great heavy burden has been
lifted from your innermost being and you will feel clean inside.

Then He will impress upon your heart to make it public.

See John 14:16-17. “He will dwell WITH you and will be IN you.”

Then in John 14:18 he says, “I will come to you.” Now, will you come to Jesus?


THE BIOGRAPHY OF A FOOL

Luke 12:13-21


Before Reading the Passage.

There are five things that Jesus warns His disciples about in Luke 12.

1. Luke 12:1: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

The word “hypocrite” means “an actor,” “one who plays a part.” There are hypocrites in every walk of life, people who try to impress others in order to hide their real selves. In the Christian life, a hypocrite is somebody who tries to appear more spiritual than he or she really is. They are pretending and they hope they will not be found out. They “act the part” that others want to see.

2. Luke 12:15: Beware of covetousness, greed.

Covetousness is an unquenchable thirst for getting more and more of something that we think we need to be satisfied.

3. Luke 12:22: Do not worry about your life.

The word “worry” means “to be torn apart” or “to strangle” or “to choke.” Worry is both destructive and deceptive. Someone said worry is like a treadmill: It will wear you out, but it won't get you anywhere.

4. Luke 12:40: Beware of carelessness.

Be aware. Watch and wait. Be ready.

5. Luke 12:56: Beware of spiritual dullness.

Have discernment.

Read Passage.

This is a parable, warning against greed and covetousness. Both are subtle and serious sins. It's interesting that Jesus never gave a parable to warn against adultery or drunkenness, but He gave several warnings against greed.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

He said, “It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

Here, Jesus gives another parable on greed and covetousness.
Three things I want you to see as we look at these verses.
I. The Interruption Luke 12:13-14


Jesus had been teaching on some very weighty issues. Then, in the midst of Jesus' serious teaching, a man in the crowd interrupts Jesus and asked Him to settle a dispute between him and his brother about his father's inheritance.

While Jesus was teaching on those weighty matters, this man acted like he was listening to Jesus … he pretended he was hanging on Jesus' every word … but all the time this man's mind was on something else.

I've wondered what folks are really thinking about when I'm preaching. I'm not so foolish as to think that when some look so intent on the message, you are really thinking about something else.

• “I haven't got one thing for lunch. Maybe we can just go out today.”

• “That child of mine has talked through this whole service. Just wait until I get him home.”

• “I'll have to tell my husband what Mrs. So-and-so said about …”

Well, this dear man was thinking about what part of his father's inheritance he was going to get. He wasn't going to let his brother cheat him out of one dime.

Very wisely, Jesus would not allow Himself to get drawn into that dispute. It's amazing how folks who usually have level heads somehow go crazy when one person gets more than they do from the inheritance. And some of the family fight over the silliest things.

• “I wanted Daddy's ring.”
• “I wanted that bowl Mother cooked in.”
• “I wanted Daddy's gun.”
• “I wanted that part of the land and he got it. I'll never speak to him again.”

Folks, do yourself and your kids a favor. Spend everything you've got while you’re living. If the parents die owing a lot of bills, I've never seen the kid's fight over who is going to get to pay the bills! Jesus said, “Who made Me the one to settle this?”

Then Jesus gives a little discourse about life. He says that life can deceive us.

A. Life deceives us as to its Nature.

What is life all about anyway? Well, for some, life is about getting all you can and canning all you get. And he who dies with the most toys, wins!

Is that true? They equate material abundance with success.

Notice Luke 12:15.
Jesus went on to say, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul?”

B. Life deceives us concerning its Needs.

This man looked at his situation and decided that the greatest need in his life was a new barn to store his surplus in. He had accumulated so much stuff that he had no place to put it.

Some folks build new and bigger houses because they have accumulated so must stuff, they have no where to put it.

Americans have become obsessed with possessions.

– A woman looks in her closet that is filled with dresses and shoes and then say, “I don't have a thing to wear.”

– Men want more tools and more guns and more fishing rods and more golf clubs. You can only shoot one gun at a time, and you can't hit with the one you've got. You can only swing one golf club at a time or drive one tractor at a time.

You can have all that this world has to offer and still be poor in heart and soul.

C. Life deceives us concerning its Number of Days. Luke 12:19-20.

He miscalculated the length and meaning of life.


II. The Illustration Luke 12:16-20

The fact that the farmer was rich is not an indictment against him. He didn't get his riches unfairly. He was hard-working and self-motivated. He wasn't lazy or idle, waiting for a government handout.

The problem wasn't his riches; his problem was his Attitude toward his riches.

Notice Luke 12:17: “And he thought within himself.” The word “thought” is in the imperfect tense which means this farmer was continuously thinking about his wealth and his problem of surplus.

We think money will solve all of our problems. The truth is, instead of solving problems, wealth often creates problems. I'm convinced that one reason God doesn't allow His people to have more money than they do is because He knows that if He gave them more money, it would ruin them. They don't know how to handle the little that He allows them to have.

Here's the turning point of this whole story –

• He kept asking himself: “What shall I do?” (Luke 12:17)
• He kept answering himself: “This I will do.” (Luke 12:18)

In this dialogue with himself, there are 43 words. Eleven times he uses the personal pronouns “I” and
“my.” That means every fourth word is about himself. He is self-centered. The best way to guarantee you will live a miserable life is to focus on pleasing yourself.

The best way to guarantee you will have a miserable marriage is to focus on yourself and your own needs rather than focusing on the needs and desires of your mate.

Did you notice this man filtered God out completely, for he doesn't mention God once! He saw nothing that God had done in his life or in his fields. He saw only what he had done.

Therefore, God said, “Thou fool.” It was God who called this man a fool. It doesn't bother me too much if another person calls me a fool, because, like Paul, he said “I am a 'fool for Christ's sake.'”
(I Corinthians 4:10)

But it is a serious thing when one man calls another man “a fool.” In fact, Matthew 5:22 says that whosoever calls another man a fool, he is “in danger of hell fire.”

Why was this man a fool?

A. He Overvalued his Goods.

Things or goods will not satisfy.

Someone said, “Don't be had by what you have.” Most Americans think true success is measured by how much money you make, how much property and real-estate or business interest you possess. Then you can sit back and say, “Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry.”

Someone said, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” Someone revised that to say, “The one with the most toys – still dies!”

B. He Undervalued God.

“Some people are so poor they only have money.”

There are some things money won't buy – like satisfaction, contentment, peace of mind, and salvation.

R. G. Lee said: “A man may go to heaven without wealth, without health, without fame, without culture, without beauty, without friends, but he cannot go to heaven without Christ.

C. He Devalued Glory

Too many of us live on earth as if it were heaven and regard heaven as though it were earth. We treat time as eternity and view eternity as though it were time.


III. The Insanity Luke 12:20-21

This farmer had his life all planned out. He would build bigger barns so he could hoard what he had for his own use.

• No thought about those less fortunate or those in need.
• No sense of gratitude to God for the rain or sunshine.

He made preparation and provision for life on earth, but none for death and the life hereafter.

This man made a terrible miscalculation – Luke 12:19-21.

There is something else besides happiness money can't buy – and it's Time.

He thought he had plenty of time. God said to him, “This night …”

The word “required” in Luke 12:20 refers to a loan that has come due. It means “to ask back” or “to demand back.”

God gives us a soul, but when He so pleases, He can demand it back.

Then the penetrating question: “then who’s shall those things be which thou has provided?”

This farmer had a rich man's life, but a pauper's death. He had everything … But God!


Jeremiah 9:23-24.


FIRST THINGS FIRST

Luke 12:22-34


Notice again Luke 12:31. The parallel to Luke 12:31 is Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

I know this sounds simple, but if each of us would consciously, continuously, and consistently put first things first, it would absolutely transform our lives. The formula for how to do just that is found in this passage.

Here's a principle I want you to see: What you seek, you find.

Everyone seeks something.

We are by nature seeking people. Some people seek for money, others for fame, others for pleasure, others for power. We may seek a husband or a wife. Or we may seek children, or a new job, or a better education, or a new home, or new friends. The tragedy is that so many people are wasting their lives chasing after things that can never satisfy. In fact, nothing in this life satisfies forever.

Would you like to know what you are seeking for in your life? There's an easy test to find out what you are seeking for in your life. This test is absolutely foolproof. Tell me how you spend your time and your money, and what you think about all time, and I'll tell you what you are seeking.

Most of us are about as close to God now as we want to be. We have about as much joy as we want, about as much peace as we want. We are the way we are because that's the way we want to be.

• If you want it, you can have a closer walk with God.
• If you want it, you can have a better marriage.
• If you want to, you can do God's will.
• If you want to, you can witness for Christ.
• If you want to, you can break destructible patterns of behavior.

What we seek, we find. This is true in every area and realm of life. Unless we seek, we will not find. And what we seek, for good or for ill, we eventually find.

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”


I. Seek Proper Priorities


It's amazing how many times the Bible says “Seek and you will find the Lord.”

• Deuteronomy 4:29
• Psalm 27:8
• Jeremiah 29:13
• Luke 11:9-10
• Hebrews 11:6

Everything rises or falls right here. If your priorities are not in order, your life will not be in order. If your priorities are not right, you won't be right.

You just have to do it – “Seek the Lord.” The word “seek” means “to actively pursue” or “to go after.” Every day of your life you ought to “seek first the kingdom of God.”

In order to seek God's kingdom, you must first seek the King. The Christian life is more than just accepting the Lord, it is seeking the Lord. The Lord is not Someone you passively accept. He is Someone you actively seek.

Someone said that God doesn't have any favorites, but He does have intimates.

James 4:8: “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.”

Jeremiah 29:13: “And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye search for Me with all your heart.”

Do you know what faith is? Faith is putting the Father first. “Forsaking All I Trust Him.” Jesus doesn't want a Place in your life. Jesus doesn't even want Prominence in your life. Jesus want Preeminence in your life.

Jesus Christ is not interested in being runner-up in anything.

What is the Kingdom of God? The words “Kingdom of God” means the place where King Jesus rules and reigns. That means three things:

1. You are to Seek the Glory of the King.

Every part of your life, every minute of your life, every ounce of your strength ought to be given for the glory of God.

2. You are to Seek the Guidance of the King.

A loyal subject always wants to do whatever the King would have him do. Every morning we should ask the Lord Jesus what Paul asked on that Damascus Road when he asked, “Lord, what would you have me do?”

3. You are to Seek the Government of the King.

It ought to be our desire to be controlled by the King, to be governed by the King, and to be ruled by the King.

II. Seek Personal Purity


Listen again to the parallel passage in Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God AND His Righteousness.”

Not only are we to seek God's Control over us, we are also to seek His Character within us.

In the Beatitudes Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

“Righteousness” means “to be right with God, and in our personal lives,” it means “being and doing what is right.” It is our daily practice before God and man.

“Righteousness” means “that which is acceptable to God or approved of God”: Integrity, Virtue, Purity of Life, Correctness of Thinking, Feeling, and Acting. It is personal holiness that involves having a clear conscience with God and men. It is a desire to be free from sin in all forms.


III. Seek Promised Prosperity Luke 12:31b


“And all these things shall be added unto you.” What things? Well, if we don't put God first in our lives, rather than just trusting God for our provisions, we will not trust God, but begin to be anxious or worry.

You say, “Preacher, I didn't see the words “worry” or “anxious” in the verses we read.” Yet, the word “worry” or “anxious” is there four times, it's just translated by other words.

• Luke 12:22: “Take no thought for your life – what you eat or what you put on.” “Take no thought” means, “Don't worry about those things.” He speaks about Food and Fashion.

• Luke 12:25: “... with taking thought.” “Don't worry about fitness; adding height or length of time.” A cubit is eighteen inches in height, or adding time to your life.

• Luke 12:26: “Why take ye thought?” Why worry?

• Luke 12:29: “Neither be ye of a doubtful mind.” “Why do you worry?”

Worry is excessive concern over the affairs of life. It is an all-consuming feeling of uncertainty and fear.

Worry is sin. In fact, it's the only sin I know of that we brag about. “Oh, I stayed up all night worrying about so-and-so.” We brag about it. I've never heard anyone brag about cheating on a test or robbing someone or killing someone. Somehow, we think worry is one of those “acceptable” or “respectable” sins, so we acknowledge our sin.

How is worry a sin?

1. Worry disobeys God. God commanded us not to worry.

2. Worry says that we don't believe God can take care of our needs.

3. Worry is unproductive, unnecessary and accomplishes nothing.

4. Worry is foolish. It has never lifted a burden or solved a problem or made a car payment.

5. Worry is fruitless. Someone said that worrying is like shoveling smoke. You're not any better off when you're done than you were when you started.

6. Worry is faithless. Worry insults God. Rather than trusting God, we doubt Him.

So why worry about Food, Fashion, Finances, Fitness, or the Future?

No other created being worries, except man.

Consider the ravens – Luke 12:24.

The raven is the first bird mentioned in the Bible.

• Noah released it from the ark to check the condition of the earth.
• The ravens brought food to the prophet Elijah.

But ravens know nothing about farming. They don't sow or reap or gather into barns. They just trust that God will provide for them – and He does! Yet, God says we are much better than the birds.

“Said the robin to the sparrow:
'I should really like to know
Why the anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.'

Said the sparrow to the robin:
'Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.'”

Jesus said, “Become a bird watcher. If God takes care of the birds, He'll take care of us.” No farmer feeds his chickens and starves his children.

Consider the lilies – Luke 12:27.
What beautiful garments flowers wear. Jesus uses the word “arrayed” to describe them. Flowers don't have the advantages that birds have. Birds can at least hunt and peck, and build nests. Flowers just stand there, receiving their beauty and fragrance from God. You and I can trust God for all we need.

Learn four lessons:
1. We don't need everything we want.
2. We don't want everything we need (chastening).
3. God doesn't give us everything we want.
4. God always gives us what we need
 

READY OR NOT – HE'S COMING

Luke 12:35-40


In 1980, in the State of Washington, geologist intensely watched their seismographs as every indicator revealed that Mount Saint Helen's, a nearby volcanic mountain, was in danger of eruption. Some five miles north of Mount Saint Helen's, on the edge of Spirit Lake, lived a very crusty old character named Harry R. Truman, who had operated the Mount Saint Helen's lodge for 52 years. (This is not Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, who also lived during the same time.)

Rangers warned Harry R. Truman to leave the area, telling him that the volcano was about to erupt. He refused. His neighbors begged him to go with them. His sister even called and made her plea, but he ignored the warning saying, “You couldn't pull me out with a mule team. That Mountain is a part of Truman and Truman is part of that Mountain.”

On May 18, 1980, Harry Truman got up, prepared his breakfast, and fed his sixteen cats, as he did every morning. At 8:31 A.M., the mountain exploded with a force 500 times greater than the nuclear bomb that leveled Hiroshima! Everything was flattened within 150 square miles. A wall of mud and ash some 50 feet high, buried Harry's cabin, his cats, and his body. He was 84 years old.

That's the tragic story of a man who refused to listen to the warnings of what was to come.

I wonder how many here are like Harry. You have a different name, you live in a different place, you live in a different way, but you are ignoring the warnings for your soul. Something is going to happen that you need to be prepared for. The Lord Jesus is going to rapture or catch-away His saints. The indicators all point to an event that is going to take place soon.

It is an absolute fact that the Bible clearly teaches that our Lord is going to return. Some 380 time in the New Testament we are told that Jesus is coming again. That means that in the New Testament one out of every 25 verses deals with our Lord's return.

Luke tells us in Acts 1:11 that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven.”

• I Thessalonians 4:16
• We shall see the King some day!

In these six verses we have read together, three times it says, “When He will return,” – Luke 12:36; “when He cometh,” – Luke 12:36; “for the Son of Man cometh,” – Luke 12:40.

Note Luke 12:36: “Let your loins be girted about …” “and your light burning …” Luke 12:36, “Wait for the Lord;” Luke 12:37, “find watching;” Luke 12:40, “be ye ready.”

Four things I want to point out:

I. The Moment of His Coming


“When is Jesus coming?”

I don't know, (and neither do you); but look at Luke 12:38 “If He come in the second watch … or the third watch” of the night. The Jews divided their night into four watches of three hours each: 6:00 P.M. To 9:00 P.M.; 9:00 P.M. To 12 midnight; 12 midnight to 3:00 A.M.; and 3:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M.
This is Luke's way of telling us, the time of His coming is unknown to us, but I can tell you this, He's Coming!

But let me ask you a question, and I want you to be honest. I don't want a pre-wired or “churchy” answer: How many of you really, really, really believe Jesus is coming today! I didn't say how many of you think He Could come today or Might come today, but how many of you think Jesus IS coming today? The last part of Luke 12:40 says that it will be “at an hour when you think not.” So, this would be a good day for Him to come.

Jesus wanted His disciples to understand what God the Father had planned.

• Jesus had come into the world according to God's plan.

• He would soon go to Jerusalem and die according to God's plan.

• Jesus would be raised from the dead and ascend back to Heaven according to God's plan.

• According to God's plan, Jesus would save all who placed their faith in Him.

There is more. God plans to send His Son back to this earth one more time. This is known as the Second Coming. It is going to happen~


II. The Manner of His Coming


There is a wealth of truth here, but the bottom line is: Jesus is saying, “Be Rapture Ready.”

A. Stay Prepared and Ready and Faithful Luke 12:35

“Keep your loins girded and your lights burning.”

Men in Jesus' day would “gird up their loins.” They wore long robes and they would need to tuck the bottom of their robe in their belt so they would not trip over their robe when they worked or had to run. The long robe was a hindrance that would trip them up and slow them down.

“Your light burning” meant to always be prepared.

Notice in Luke 12:36 Jesus likened His return to a wedding – the Bridegroom receiving His Bride with great joy. For the Lord, receiving His Bride will be great joy. It will be the delight of His heart to receive His Bride unto Himself. The more ready we are for His return, the greater His joy.

2 Corinthians 7:1
Luke 12:39 says the Bride is to be as watchful and prepared for the Bridegroom as a homeowner would be for a thief who would break into the home. A thief comes unexpectedly and unannounced. Jesus is saying to be ready for His return at all times. So, Stay Prepared, Ready, and Faithful.

B. The Bible says His Coming will be Suddenly, Speedily, and Surprisingly.

First Corinthians 15:52 says His coming will be “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Not the blinking of an eye, but the twinkling of the eye – the amount of time it takes for the eye to respond to light – and that's one thousand times faster than the blinking of the eye. That's pretty fast, but it's going to be faster than that. He said, “IN A MOMENT OF THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE.”

Listen: It is our responsibility to keep ourselves ready for His return.

Hebrews 10:37 says, “He shall come, and will not tarry.”

John writes in Revelation 22:20: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

III. The Mystery of His Coming Luke 12:37

If that's not the most overwhelming thing in Scripture, it's certainly one of the most. “He shall gird Himself … and serve them.”

I've never seen anything in God's Word more amazing than that. If it had said, “When Jesus comes, WE shall gird ourselves and WE shall serve HIM,” that would have made absolute perfect sense. But that's not what it says. It says, “When He comes, HE shall gird Himself and serve US!” I don't even know what that means! But I know this, when Jesus comes again, as we love Him and honor Him, He is going to love and honor us back.

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean.


IV. The Mandate of His Coming

Jesus says we are to watch and be ready. To watch means to be ready so as not to be taken by surprise.

 

Well, how can I be ready?

First, You Need to be Saved.

Aren't you glad you're saved?!
Saved by His power divine.
Saved to new life sublime.
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,
For I'm Saved – Saved – Saved.

And if you’re not saved, you are not ready.

Second, Be Spirit Filled.

Being Spirit-filled means Jesus is in charge of your life.

Third, You Ought to be Serving Him.

Serve the Lord with gladness,
In all your works and ways.

 

WHAT GOD REQUIRES OF YOU

Luke 12:41-48


The parable in Luke 12:35-40 and this parable in Luke 12:41-48 both deal with being “Rapture Ready.”

Jesus says in Luke 12:35-40 that we are to be ready for His return by waiting and watching for His return. We are to live looking for our Lord's return.

Now in Luke 12:41-48 our Lord deals with working for the Lord until He returns. The old song says:

“We'll work till Jesus comes, We'll work till Jesus comes,
We'll work till Jesus comes, And we'll be gathered home.”

Jesus reminds them and us that there is going to be a day of reckoning. In fact, one of the key themes of Luke 12 is the matter of accountability. We are going to give an account of our lives of what we did and did not do for the Lord Jesus.

Jesus presents again the picture of servants or stewards whose master has gone away but is going to return. The key question is, what will the master find when He returns.

The last verse of the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil (worthless).” Ecclesiastes 12:14.

Peter asked in Verse 41: “Lord, do you speak these words to us, or to all the people?” Jesus is speaking to all.

Jesus speaks to the faithful servant and to the unfaithful servant.

The master of the house is leaving home for a while, though he is going to return. As he leaves, he gives an assignment to his servants. It is both a responsibility and an opportunity to serve the master in his absence.

He is to use all that the master has given to him: his resources, his time, his talents, and even his treasure. Can the master trust his servant to do his best with what he's got while the master is gone?

The servant knows that when the master returns, there will be a day of reckoning. The master will examine and evaluate everything. He will do an investigation, which could result in reward, greater responsibilities and more opportunities. He has the opportunity to please his master and hear him say, “Well done, faithful servant.” What the master is looking for from his servant is not first of all success, but faithfulness.

Listen to the words of the master when he returns home and examines the faithful servant: Luke 12:
42-44.



But what about that servant who is not faithful? How will the master address him? Luke 12:45-46.

Now the scene is the Judgment Seat of Christ. There are the Lord's servants. This parable follows the parables of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-29.

Revelation 22:12 says, “Behold I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”

We are not talking now about the Great White Throne Judgment where only the lost will stand as guilty and condemned because they refused to trust the Lord Jesus as personal Savior.

The verses are speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ where the saved will be judged according to his service to the Lord and his faithfulness to the Lord.

At the Judgment Seat the Lord will evaluate our actions, thoughts, words, our use of our talents, gifts, and time, as well as our treatment of others, hospitality to strangers, response to mistreatment, efforts to win other, and our motives – the “whys” of what we do.

The Bible says it is possible for Christians to “suffer loss” at the Judgment Seat. I Corinthians 3:11-15.

Luke 12:47-48 tells us that Heaven and Hell will not be the same for all people. There will be degrees of punishment for the lost and degrees of rewards in Heaven. What you and I do on this earth determines what our future life will be.

We can make changes now. After death comes, no change can be made.


UNLESS YOU REPENT

Luke 13:1-9


I heard about two brothers, John and Joe, who lived down in South Louisiana. They had a pretty rough up-bringing. They were just a year apart in age. Their father was a bootlegger and their mother ran a house of prostitution. These two boys had a pretty rough up-bringing and both of them were ruffians and thugs. They were in and out of bar-room fights all the time.

When their dad died, they took over his boot-legging business, and when their mother died, they took over her prostitution business and ran it. Both of the boys were married and divorced and married and
divorced; and while they were married, they were unfaithful all the time. They had been responsible for several deaths, but when they were arrested, they were able to bribe their way out and escape judgment. Everyone was afraid to confront them or to say anything against them.

One night Joe was shot dead in a bar room by the husband of the woman that Joe had at the bar. When Joe died, his brother John went to the new young preacher in town and said to the preacher, I want you to hold the funeral service for my brother, Joe. “The preacher thought about it for a moment, and thought, “Well, everyone ought to have the right to a decent funeral,” so he said, “I'll do it.”

John said, “And Preacher, when you do his funeral, I want you to tell the people that my brother, Joe, was a saint.” The preacher said, “John, I can't do that. Everybody in town knows what kind of man Joe was. Joe was rough and mean; he was a brawler and crook. He was a thief and an adulterer. I just can't do that.”

John said, Preacher, I'll give you $5,000 if you tell the people my brother was a saint.” The preacher thought a minute and then said, “Well, I do need the money. I'll do it.” Immediately, John took a roll of cash from his pocket and peeled off fifty one-hundred-dollar bills.

The next day at the funeral service the preacher said, “Now folks, everybody here knows the kind of man Joe was. We all know that he was a drunk; he cheated on all of his wives; he was worthless and low down. He also claimed to be an atheist. But I want to tell you something. Compared to his brother, John, Joe was a saint.”

May I tell you, a lot of folks believe themselves to be saints by comparison. When you live life that way, you can always find some who live a more worthless life than you do. You can find someone who cusses a little more than you cuss; and maybe someone who lies more than they lie; and cheat more than they cheat. And, so, by comparison to others who are worse than you, you are a saint!

That's what the Pharisees did. They had no problem saying “some” folks needed to repent. Most folks were worse than them – outwardly. Like the parable Jesus gave of the Pharisee and the publican. The publican went into the Temple to pray and he fell on his face before God and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The Pharisee then stood in the Temple and prayed “thus with himself: 'God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector …'”
“Lord, compared to him, I'm a saint!”


Folks want to be just good enough to get into heaven. “All I care about is getting inside Heaven's gates; and then shut the doors.”

Like the little girl who prayed: “Lord, make me good – not really good, but good enough so I don't get a whipping.”

Jesus said that we all need to repent.

Romans 3:23 doesn't say, “All have sinned and come short of Bob … Sue … Larry … Judy.” Don't compare yourself with them. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, – of Jesus. All of us come short of Him; so all of us need to repent.

Jesus was addressing a group of people who thought they were good enough to get by the judgment without repenting. Jesus told them they were not good enough and unless they repented, they would all perish.

Jesus reminds the people of two situations: an Incident and an Accident. Then He gives them a parable about a fig tree. The parable calls for the nation of Israel to repent.

A. The Incident Luke 13:1-3

Let me tell you what's going on here. Pontius Pilate was a Roman Governor who had been appointed to rule over Israel; and the Jews hated him. They hated him for two main reasons. They hated him for what he represented and they hated him for what he had done.

They hated him for what he represented to the Jews. Pilate represented the bondage that Rome had put the Jews in. The Jews were under the thumb of the Roman Empire and Pilate was Rome's personal representative and the Jews hated the Romans and their representative.

Then, the Jews hated him for what he had done. Pilate wanted to get on the good side of Caesar so he brought all kinds of images of Caesar into Jerusalem and told the Jews if they wanted to worship god and pray to god, worship and pray to Caesar.

The Jews rebelled against such a thing. Pilate said that if they didn't recant, they would die. They said, “Then we will die,” and there was such a rebellion that Pilate backed down and had all the images of Caesar removed. This time the Jews won.

But later Pilate was going to build an aqueduct. They needed a better water system and Pilate was going to use the Temple tax to build it. The Jews were going to rebel again, but this time Pilate was ready for them. He got some of his most ruthless soldiers, told them to take off their royal uniforms and dress in civilian garb and a robe around them. Hidden underneath the robes were daggers with which they were very skilled. While the Galilean Jews were sacrificing animals and the blood of the animals flowed on the ground, the soldiers pulled out their daggers and began to cut the throats of those who had cut the throats of the animals. So, the blood of the animals and the blood of the worshipers were mingled together.

The Galilean Jews said that the Jews who were slain were sinners or they would not have died. Jesus said, “No. They were not any more sinful than you, and unless you repent, you too shall perish.”

B. The Accident Luke 13:4-5

Some men were building a tower for the aqueduct at Siloam. The tower collapsed and
eighteen workers were killed. The Jews said, “They took the money to build the tower
out of the Temple tax. They deserved to die.” Jesus said, “Wrong boys. And unless
you repent, you too will perish.”

Then Jesus told them this story: Luke 13:6-9

It is a story of the Must of Repentance. What is repentance?

Repentance means a change of mind and a change of heart. It means to change and to turn, You are going in one direction, then you see you are going in the wrong directions, so you turn around and begin going in the right direction.

A change of Mind. A change of Heart. A change of your Will – to go in the right direction. It means to have Remorse for sin – it is more than remorse and more than making restitution for some wrong. It is a complete Revolution that takes place in your heart and life. It doesn't just make one Better; it makes one Different.

One changes his mind about sin and a change of direction toward God. It is being broken over your sin and hopelessness, and turning to God for forgiveness.

Jesus enlarges the scope in His call for the national repentance of Israel.

I. Design of the Proprietor Luke 13:6\

The fig tree – the nation of Israel.

The Owner (God) Prepared a place for the fig tree – removed the rocks, pulled the weeds, dug the hole in the ground, made everything right for the tree.

The Owner Planted the tree, tenderly placing it in the hole and pulling the dirt around it.

The Owner Provided for the tree, rain, sunshine. It had all it needed to be fruitful. It was a deliberate act of the Owner.

He does that for us as well.

II. The Disappointment of the Proprietor Luke 13:7

The Owner comes with expectation of finding fruit. It's a reasonable expectation. The tree is supposed to produce figs.

What did God expect from Israel? Love, honor, obedience.

For three years – Christ's public ministry – after all His love, sacrifice, teaching, miracles. He had every right to expect fruit.

It's fruitless: Cut it down! The ground is too valuable to waste on a fruitless tree. It must perish and its room given to another tree.

Not only did it produce noting, it took from the soil both minerals as nourishment and moisture as refreshment. It was harming the other plants in the vineyard.

The decision was made: Cut it down!

There is a line, I know not Where,
There is a time, I know not When,
Over which a soul can go, and never come back again.

III. The Delay Asked of the Proprietor Luke 13:8

This is an Intercession: Give the tree another chance. I will work it, fertilize it, try everything to make it produce.

That's what Jesus did for Israel.

• John 1:10-11

Jesus does that for individuals – Revelation 3:20.

IV. The Destruction Ordered by the Proprietor Luke 13:9

Sadly, Israel failed to bear fruit and in 70 AD God cut it down – for a while. Now God deals with Israel again.

But for the individual, God is patient – 2 Peter 3:9.

 


“LOOSED”

Luke 13:10-17

This miracle is peculiar to Luke. No other Gospel writer mentions this narrative.

On no day of the week was our Lord so closely watched by His adversaries as the Sabbath, in the hope that they might trap Him in some breach of the Law concerning it.

It's also interesting to note that this is the last time Jesus was ever in a synagogue as far as we know.

Here is the setting: Jesus goes to the synagogue to worship as was His custom on the Sabbath day. It must have been the custom of this bowed-over woman to regularly attend this particular synagogue. When Jesus saw this pitiful woman's condition, He called for her to come to Him and He “loosed” her from her bent-over condition and made her straight (Luke13:13).

Three times the word “loose” or “Loosed” is used in this passage (Luke 13:12,15,16). This is the only
time the word “loose” or “Loosed” is used in the Bible referring to a disease.

The word “loose” means “to be set free,” to be “set at liberty.” The issue in this passage is the crooked being made straight and God's people rejoicing when it happens.

There are three persons presented to us in this passage:

I. The Chained Woman Luke 13:11

The women sat in a separate section from the men in the synagogues. Among the women that was there that day was a woman that had been bent over for eighteen years. Luke said that she had “a spirit of infirmity.” The word “infirmity” means a “deformity.” She was a very pitiful woman, a woman greatly pitied. She had something like a severe curvature of the spine. She walked stooped. Every once in a while, even today, you see people who are stooped over because they cannot stand up straight.

She was bent double at the waist. Every day was a struggle for her. Her back muscles were knotted to help bear the weight of the severe curvature, and her nerves were pinched from the misaligned vertebrae. Her eyes were always looking at the ground. She couldn't see the blue of the sky or the brilliant white billows overhead. She saw only the brown of the street and the litter of the day.

Not only was this woman afflicted physically, she was also attacked spiritually. Luke 13:18 tells us that this woman was an Israelite and a believer – a daughter of Abraham.

Even saved people can be attacked by the devil. Now, we need to understand that no saint of God can be demon possessed. Jesus did not cast out any demons. He merely spoke to her condition. She was not demon possessed, but she was demon oppressed.

Believers can come under the attack of the enemy. He will seek for ways to bind our lives and to hinder us from being all that God wants us to be. He can bind us with sin. Bitterness. Temptation. Hatred. Unforgiveness. Guilt, Envy. Fear. Worry. Finances.

Because of her condition she was considered an oddity. Sometimes she was laughed at or imitated by children. She knew the pain of rejection.

But in spite of all of that, I want to point out something about this woman. To me, she is one of the most powerful pictures of faith and faithfulness in the New Testament. She had been sick for eighteen years, but Luke described her as a “daughter of Abraham.” That means that she was an avid worshiper of Jehovah God. This was not some woman who came to the synagogue on that day. This woman was a familiar sight at the synagogue. Every Sabbath day you would see this bent-over woman at worship.

That means she had attended almost 1,000 meetings there. No doubt, for eighteen years she had prayed for God to heal her: “O, God, please heal me. God, let me stand up straight again.” And God had not answered her prayer. Yet, I don't find here a note of bitterness or resentment or self-pity. Why God had not answered her prayer, we do not know.

I do know she came to worship when she didn't feel like it. It doesn't take much for some to forsake the house of God. She wasn't upset with God. She still worshiped Him! In spite of the inconvenience and the embarrassment, she went to the synagogue to hear what God might have to say to her.


II. The Compassionate Savior Luke 13:12-13

This woman wasn't the only one who came to worship that day. The Lord Jesus went to worship as
well. Worship is more than sitting in a pew, singing songs and listening to a sermon. Time spent in a worship service that doesn't move your heart and motivate your hands is not worship. It is just time spent in church.

Luke 12:12 says Jesus saw her. He always does. Jesus sees you. Sometimes we wonder, “Does Jesus really see me?” “Does He see the brokenness in my life? Does He see the hurt and pain of my heart? Does he see the sickness of my body?” God really does! No one around you may see the need in your life, but He really does.

Jesus not only saw her, He called to her to come to Him. “Come unto me all you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

He called her, “Woman.” What a word of compassion. Here was a woman whose beauty had long since faded. People didn't look at her as a woman, but as an object of pity and probably disgust. Yet Jesus saw her as a woman and loved her just as she was.

Then He spoke words that must have thrilled her soul, “Thou are loosed from thine infirmity.” Then “He laid His hands on her, and IMMEDIATELY she was made straight, and glorified God.”

I would have liked to have been there to see that. Can you imagine how the folks in the synagogue must have reacted when this lady who had been bent over for eighteen years straightened up that day?

This miracle that Jesus performed for this woman was speedy, perfect, public, and permanent. No longer was she bent over and deformed.

And the Bible says, and she “glorified God.” Her Pain was replaced with Praise!
The verb here indicates that her praise was ongoing in nature. She just kept on lifting her voice in praise to God.

Someone said that Jesus not only showed UP, He showed OUT!

Well, there's one other person I want us to see in this passage:


III. The Critical Man Luke 13:14-17


As this woman Credits God with the change in her life and the crowd Celebrates with praise, this man begins to Criticize.

Sounds like a Sunday morning church service. Some folks who come to church are so excited to be here. They're thanking God for what He is doing and they look forward to coming again soon. Then, some can't wait to get out of this place. The preacher preached too long, the choir was too loud, the building was too hot.

I heard about a family leaving church. The mother says, “I don't know if I'm coming back to this church again. The people were not friendly to me. It was just a cold church.” The dad said, “I didn't like it either. The preacher was too loud and long. It was just too emotional. I didn't like it.” Then they looked at their little boy and asked, “Well, what did you think of it?” He said, “I thought it was a pretty good show for a nickel.”

Well, here's this critical ruler. While everyone else seems excited and happy, this old boy is full if indignation. He's angry. He's not mad the woman had been healed. He's not even mad that Jesus straightened her up. What he's mad about is that Jesus did it on the Sabbath day. Healing is work and you're not supposed to work on the Sabbath day.

Notice that this man didn't speak directly to Jesus. He doesn't have enough guts to talk to Jesus. He speaks to the crowd. He said to the crowd, “Now listen here. There are six days of the week for some-
one to be healed on. That woman has been that way for eighteen years. Couldn't Jesus have healed her on some day other than the Sabbath?”

Jesus identifies him. He says, “Hypocrite.” You know, it's an awful thing to call someone a hypocrite.
Its offensive to call someone a hypocrite: to practice one thing and profess another.

Why was he a hypocrite? He claimed to care about people, but he wasn't concerned about people at all. As a matter of fact, he cared more about animals than he did about people.

Jesus said to him, “You tell people it's alright to untie a donkey or an ox and lead them to get a drink of water. Yet, you care more for your animals and your rules than you do about this woman and the power of God.


Listen: If you're broken, Jesus wants to fix you today.

Remember the old Humpty Dumpty rhyme?

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men;
Couldn't put Humpty back together again.”

We live in a world of broken people. Life is fragile and it should be handled with care. Jesus is the only Person who is able to heal broken hearts and broken lives.

I ran across a last stanza to Humpty Dumpty:

“Jesus Christ came to your wall;
And on the cross He died for your fall.
Regardless of death and in spite of your sin;
Through grace, He can put you together again.”

 


“WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE?”

Luke 13:19-21

While teaching in a synagogue, Jesus spies a bent-over woman in the back row, huddled off to herself. He calls her to come forward and awkwardly, self-consciously, she shuffles her way to the front.

When Jesus looses the burden she has been carrying around for the past eighteen years, a rush of youthful feelings comes over her. She straightens up and the synagogue is set ablaze with excitement and praise to God. But the synagogue leader is quick to pour water on her impassioned praise to keep it from spreading out of control.

When Jesus lashes out at the hypocritical leader, the rejoicing woman sits down and the crowd becomes suddenly subdued.

Jesus seizes that tense moment of silence to give an illustration about the Kingdom of God. Jesus asked the crowd a very important question, “What is the Kingdom of God like?” He wants His followers to understand some things about the Kingdom.


I. The Existence of the Kingdom Luke 13:18


The term “the Kingdom of God” is mentioned some 104 times in the New Testament. There is no doubt that there exist that which is called the Kingdom of God.

Well, what is it? It is not a Kingdom in the way that men understand Kingdoms. Men expect a Kingdom to be defined in terms of land, military might, and wealth. They expect to see it. The Kingdom Jesus spoke of cannot be seen by human eyes.

Romans 14:17: “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, and peace,
and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

It cannot be seen like other kingdoms can. At the present time, it is an invisible Kingdom. But because you do not see it, does not mean you cannot belong to it or that it does not exist.

There is a Kingdom and Jesus is its King.


II. The Excitement of the Kingdom Luke 13:19-21


Jesus uses two parables to show that the Kingdom is not some dull thing. It is living and exciting.

Jesus gives a parable of a Kitchen and a parable of a Garden.

A. The Parable of a Garden: A Mustard Seed Luke 13:18-19

This parable is about a Man who takes mustard seed – the smallest seed that farmers of that day used in cultivating crops. The mustard mentioned here is different from what we think of today. When we hear the words “mustard seed,” we think of producing “mustard greens” that some folks eat with cornbread and hot sauce.

The mustard mentioned here is a plant that would grow very large. It would be common for that mustard plant to grow tall enough for a horse and its rider to go under.

What Jesus was showing us was that the Kingdom began very small and grew to be very large.

Through the centuries, the Kingdom of God continued to grow larger and larger and one day it will be complete. It will reach its fullness.

What does God expect from His Kingdom? He expects it to grow.

B. The Parable of a Kitchen: Leaven Luke 13:20-21

This parable is about a Woman who took leaven and put it into dough to make bread. Leaven contains yeast and is used to make bread rise. A little piece of leaven could affect all the dough.

Leaven causes dough to expand. Its work is unseen as it works inwardly to expand the dough.

Take the two parables together and you will find both external and internal growth. God wants His Kingdom to grow.

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” It starts with a little lump of grace hidden within us. And it slowly and silently permeates our life – lifts it and transforms it.

Heart by heart, that's the way the Kingdom of God grows. The Kingdom of God is exciting in its growth and its influence. Nothing touched by it is ever the same again.


III. The Expectation Concerning the Kingdom


There is one common theme in both these parables. Each shows that there comes a time when the work is complete. The mustard seed grows to maturity. The leaven influences all the dough. Both reach the point they are intended to reach.

Scripture plainly teaches that God has a design for His Kingdom. It will not remain an invisible Kingdom forever. It will not remain personal within hearts forever. God intends for His Kingdom to be universal; His Kingdom will literally rule the earth.

Jesus taught us to pray for that to happen: “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hollowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” His Kingdom is coming and will one day exist visibly on this earth.

Right now, this world is in rebellion to the rule and reign of God. It does not want His Kingdom. One day, all rebellion will cease. One day, all rebels will be removed.
One day, Jesus will rule and reign on earth. His Kingdom IS coming completely.


IV. Entrance Into the Kingdom


Since His Kingdom exist and it will be here on earth someday, how does one gain entrance into the Kingdom?

Jesus answered that question in a conversation He had with a man named Nicodemus – John 3:3, 5-7.

John 14:6

The only way you can enter the Kingdom is to let Jesus enter your heart. The moment you do that, you will enter into His Kingdom and He will rule and reign in your life.


ARE THERE FEW THAT BE SAVED?

Luke 13:22-30


If Satan could corrupt one Bible doctrine above all others, which doctrine do you think he would choose?

Maybe the Doctrine of God. Maybe he could convince people that there is no God; that God doesn't exist. Well, Satan might get a few to believe that, but Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” The psalmist goes on to say that the creation of God has a language or speech all its own, letting people know as they look at God's creation. They know that some Superior Being – God – did the creative work. No, Satan couldn't make most folks believe there is no God.

If I were to pick one doctrine above all others that Satan would corrupt, it would be the doctrine of salvation. For two reasons:

1. To corrupt the Doctrine of Salvation would nullify the work of Christ for man.

Man sinned against God which brought separation between God and man. But God so loved man that He was willing to give His only Son to die on the cross that God and man might be reconciled and become at peace with one another again.

Satan knows what a tremendous price was paid by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross that made it possible for God to offer salvation to man. He also knows how it hurts the heart of God when man rejects and refuses God's offer of such love, mercy, and grace. Satan knows he can't get to God to hurt Him, but he knows it breaks the heart of God when one rejects God's offer of salvation and thereby nullifies the work of Christ on the cross as far as that person is concerned.

2. But there's a second reason Satan seeks to corrupt the Doctrine of Salvation: Satan knows
that every man has a bent to believe that they can bring about their own salvation.

Proverbs 14:12: There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death.” Man's way to salvation is his way: good works, good deeds, doing the best you can. But God says that man's way is the wrong way. God's way is through repentance and faith in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus on the cross.

Satan knows that because man already thinks his own way of salvation is right, God must show sinful man that his own way will not bring salvation; man must come to God, God's way.


This passage of Scripture speaks of four things as it relates to salvation.


I. The Stunning Question Luke 13:23


We don't know who this man was that asked this question. Nor do we know WHY he asked the question.

Did he ask out of Curiosity or out of Concern?

We do know that the Jews thought they were the only ones who were going to Heaven. The Jehovah's Witnesses read about the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-5 and they claim to be those 144,000. Their number is now more than 144,000 so now they say that it is only the 144,000 Jehovah's Witnesses who are busy getting folks in their group. I don't know how they deal with the fact that the 144,000 are all Jews and they appear during the Tribulation.

“Lord, are there few that be saved?” Are you ready for the answer? Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Yes.” There are few that will be saved when you compare the number of the saved with the number of the lost. Jesus said that there will be many more lost than there are saved. (Read the passage.)

Did you notice that Jesus didn't answer the man's question? Rather, Jesus says: “Sir, the important thing is not the number of the saved; the important thing is to make sure YOU ARAE SAVED!”


II. The Strait Gate Luke 13:24


Did you notice that word “strait”? It is not spelled STRAIGHT, meaning straight like an arrow; it is spelled STRAIT, which means “a narrow way; enough for only one person to pass through.”

Who or what is that Strait Gate? It is an EXCLUSIVE gate. There is only one way to enter that gate or door to salvation and Heaven.

In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”

In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

I Timothy 2:5-6: “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Jesus is not just A way to Heaven; He is not just the BEST way to Heaven; Jesus is THE ONLY WAY to Heaven. If you miss Jesus, you are going to miss Heaven! It doesn't matter how good you are, how kind you are, how sweet you are, how loving you are, how helpful you are, how gracious you are. If you miss Jesus, you are not going to Heaven.

Now there's a word here that may throw you off. It's the word, “strive.” The work means “agonize; diligently labor.” That sounds like a “works” salvation.

The word “strive” here means “whole-hearted dedication and effort” are required. But note a critical point: the idea is not that a person works for his salvation, but that he diligently seeks God.
He casts himself totally upon the belief that God is and that it is the total commitment of one's life to God for salvation.

Many will seek to enter the door of salvation but “shall not be able.” The reason is what Jesus said. One must “strive” to enter and few will pay the price of self-denial. Pride will not allow them to forsake ALL and trust Christ only and completely.


III. The Shut Door Luke 12:25-26


Jesus said there is a narrow door and a narrow door of opportunity, but one day the door of opportunity will be shut. God is good and gracious and loving. He stands with outstretched arms ready to receive the vilest sinner who will repent of their sin and receive Christ as Savior and Lord of their life. But I must tell you, while there is a door of opportunity in which anyone can walk through and receive Christ, there is a day when the door of opportunity is shut by the Lord Himself, and once the door is shut, no one can reopen the door. And whatever side you are on when the door is shut is the side you will be on forever and ever.

Why are they shut out? They made their decision to reject Christ. That means they are defiled. They are yet in their sins. Their sin has not been forgiven, and nothing can enter into Heaven which is defiled.

God did not want it to happen. He doesn't want it to happen now! He doesn't want anyone to be shut out.

What can cause the door to be shut?

1. Death

None of you listening to me now have had the door of death shut, but for some, that door may be shut much sooner than you think. Scripture says, “Man knows not his own time.” Once a man dies it will be too late.

2. Hard Heart

Proverbs 29:1; 1:24-28. God calls. Softly and Tenderly.

3. The Second Coming of Christ

There will be folks saved after the Rapture of the Church, but if you have heard the
Gospel with the ear and heart of understanding, it will be too late for you.


IV. The Sad Story Luke 13:25-30

Matthew 7:21-23. I thought how it must have been for Noah. For 120 years they laughed at him, made fun of him. Now the door is shut by God. Flood waters come. The water is waist deep. People begin to beg and cry and cry, but it is too late.
For those who don't want to open their lives to Him now, Jesus will not open His Kingdom to them then.

Matthew 13:25. Jesus reveals the awful fact, that men may see what is right when it is too late for them to be saved. There is a time coming when many will repent too late, and believe too late – sorry for sin too late, begin to pray too late, be concerned about their salvation too late, long for Heaven too late.

Many shall wake up in another world, and be convinced of truths which on earth they refused to believe.

Hell itself is nothing but truth known too late.

Notice Luke 13:28: “Ye shall see.” This expression seems to prove that the lost shall see afar off the glory and blessedness of the saved, and that the sight shall add to their misery.

What a sad thing it will be for some who THOUGHT they were saved and were not. To hear Him say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

They were Professors, but not Possessors.

Second Peter 1:10: “Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.”

Notice Luke 13:28.

“Weeping” is loud grief, mourning, groaning, wailing, floods and floods of tears.

“Gnashing of teeth” is grinding, biting in hostility, bitterness, indignation, despair.

“Lord, are there few that be saved?” Make sure you are saved!

 


HAVE A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE

Luke 14:1-14

Maybe you've seen Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck list. He says, “You know you're a Redneck if …”

1. “Directions to your house include, 'Turn off the paved road.'”
2. “You take your fishing pole to Sea World.”
3. “You have flowers planted in a commode in your front yard.”
4. “Your Dad walks you to school, 'cause you're both in the same grade.”

We aren't Rednecks, but we are country folks and I think of our church as a country church. I read a similar list the other day. It says, “You know you go to a country church if …”

1. “The church votes not to buy a chandelier because nobody knows how to play one.”
2. “The opening day of deer season is a church holiday.”
3. “A member request to be buried in his 4-wheel drive truck because 'It ain't never been
in a hole it can't get out of.'”
4. “Folks think the 'Rapture' is what you get from lifting something too heavy.”
5. “The pastor asks 'Bubba' to take up the offering and five guys and two women stand up.”

Our Lord knows human nature rather well and one thing the Lord rebukes in everyone of us is Pride –
Self-exaltation – or Conceit.

Luke 14:11 is a spiritual principle that is repeated in both the Old Testament and the New Testament:
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This is one of the wonderful paradoxes of Jesus that is totally contrary to the way the world thinks. The world says if you want to climb higher and be somebody you must push, fight, claw, and work your way to the top of the heap. The world says “the way up is up!” But Jesus says just the opposite. He says the way up is down. In other words, if you try to promote your prideful self, you'll end up humbled. And He also says the way up is down.

James 4:10: “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.”

Someone has said, “Conceit – self-exaltation – is a disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it.”

Four things I would point out to you from this passage:

The Setting Luke 14:1-3

The man identified as one of the “chief Pharisees,” simply means that he was a big shot. At least he thought he was. He was a big shot and all the other people there, except the man with the dropsy
and Jesus, thought they were big shots. Jesus has never been too impressed with big shots, did you know that?

Jesus was invited to this man's home. It was not a normal thing for a Pharisee to invite Jesus to his home for a meal. Jesus accepted his invitation, but He knew the hospitality would be hostile.

Why would Jesus accept an invitation when He knew He would be subjected to hostile hospitality?

If Jesus refused to accept the invitation, His action could be interpreted as an insult to the Pharisees. But if He accepted the invitation to go into a Pharisees' home some of the poor folks might accuse Him of fraternizing with the wealthy – eating and drinking in luxury.

So, what should He do? It was true then and it is true today, it is impossible to please everybody.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan gave a great illustration when he was teaching on Ephesians 5:15 … “See that you walk circumspectly.” He described a beautiful flower garden surrounded by a high wall. To keep intruders out, he placed hundreds of pieces of broken glass into the cement top of the wall. Then one day he saw an old cat carefully placing his feet between the broken glass as he walked across the top of the wall, always advancing, but never cutting his paws. Dr. Morgan said, “That's what it means to walk circumspectly in this sinful world.”

Jesus knew the motive of the Pharisee was not pure when he invited Him to his house, but he went anyway.

The Love of Jesus sent Jesus into the home of those who hated Him and the Courage of Jesus gave them a case against Him, but His Wisdom once again allowed Jesus to TRAP His TRAPPERS!


II. The Strategy Luke 14:1-4


Get the picture: In those days they ate their meals reclining around the table. The seating would be arranged in a U-shape, maybe with three tables, with the host seated in the middle of the center table and the main guest seated on either side of him. The farther away from the center you got, the lower the place of honor. Everyone wanted to sit next to the host at the center.

Luke 14:1 says they all “watched Jesus,” but I want you to know that Jesus was watching them too. Jesus saw two things:

A. Jesus saw a man there with dropsy.

No doubt this man was a “plant.” The Pharisees wanted to see if Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath day. Altogether there are seven instances in the Gospels where Christ healed on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:38; Luke 6:6; Luke 13:14; Luke 14:1; Mark 1:21; John 5:9; 9:4).

“Dropsy” was the general term for a number of diseases – mostly of the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain – that causes water to collect in the cavities of the body or in the limbs. Such swelling by the retention of body fluids often indicates organ failure. Jesus knew they were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. You can almost see all of them as they looked at the sick man and then looked at Jesus.


It's interesting to note that while the Lord realized His enemies would be watching His every movement, He did not hesitate to do good on the Sabbath even though He knew His actions would arouse violent opposition.

But Jesus is about to turn the tables on them. Note Luke 14:3.

B. Jesus saw they had no answer about doing good on the Sabbath – Luke 14:3-6.


III. The Story Luke 14:7-11


Today place cards are put on the tables at a banquet to tell people where to sit. But in those days, it was common practice for guest to seat themselves, so they would all scramble for the best seat.

How embarrassing for any man if he sits himself in a place of high honor, only to be asked by the host to give up his seat so another, more respected and more honorable man may sit in the seat he took for himself.

Jesus is going to give a lesson on humility as He talks about the problem of pride.

Pride is basically the attitude that says, “I'm the center of my universe.”

Let me mention two things that makes pride such a problem.

A. Pride is hard to recognize in yourself.

The Dutch painter, Bosh, painted a picture of each of the Seven Deadly Sins on the Catholic list. For the sin of Pride, he painted the picture of a woman looking at her face in a mirror held by the devil.

To help us to determine how much pride we are carrying, I ran across a test called the P. Q. (Pride Quotient) Test. If you want to see what your P. Q. is, just answer “Yes” or “No) if any of these statements applies to you:

1. I enjoy being the center of attention.
2. I think I deserve the best.
3. Much of my conversation is filled with “I”.
4. I find it difficult to admit that I'm wrong.
5. I seldom pass a mirror without looking at myself.
6. I'm stubborn – I don't like to be corrected or challenged.
7. My feelings are easily hurt.
8. I am impatient with other people's mistakes.
9. I don't get enough appreciation for all I do.
10. I'm offended if I render a service and don't receive a “Thank You.”
11. I seldom ask for help, because I can do the job better myself.

If you have one or more “Yes” answers, it reveals the presence of Pride in your life. If you don't have any “Yes” answers, it simply reveals you are lying to yourself about yourself. Pride is hard to see in ourselves, but we can easily see it in others.

Another problem with Pride is:

B. It leads to Ruin

Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The best way to guarantee you'll fall is to let pride take over your life.

I heard a funny story about a frog that wanted to go South with the birds for the winter. It was too far to hop and he couldn't fly, so he thought about it and came up with a solution.

He got a couple of his bird friends to hold each end of a stick in their beaks and then the little frog clamped down on the center of the stick with his mouth. The birds took off and the frog was hanging from the stick they were carrying in their mouths.

They flew over a couple of farmers who observed the scene. One farmer said to the other, “What a brilliant idea! Whoever came up with that idea is a genius. I guess it was one of those birds who had the idea!”

When the frog heard that, he just couldn't let the birds get the credit for his good idea, so he said, “I … I … I” as he fell to the ground. The moral of that story is: If someone else gets the credit for your good idea, just keep your mouth closed.

You don't find a lot of people who are asking the question, “How can I be more humble?”


IV. The Summary Luke 14:12-14


True humility is revealed by how we treat others.

It is the old formula for joy. JOY which is JESUS first, OTHERS second, and YOURSELF third.

It is pride that makes you want to rush to get the best seats at the table. It is pride that makes you rush to the front of the line so you can eat before anyone else.

Pride keeps “I” at the center of the universe and it's constantly looking out for No. 1. Humility has replaced “I” with “Christ,” and Jesus Christ was the most humble man who ever lived.

See Philippians 2:3-5.

The rest of the passage tells how far Jesus humbled Himself – even to die on the cross. And what did God the Father do?

See Philippians 2:5-11.

May God teach us to humble ourselves and treat others with kindness and respect.


EXCUSE ME!

Luke 14:15-24

Before reading the Passage.


Luke 14 has been dubbed, “Table Talks of our Lord” because our Lord teaches some great lessons around a table.

1. In Luke 14:1-6 the Table Talk deals with Hypocrisy.

A Pharisee invites the Lord to a meal. It was unusual for a Pharisee to invite the Lord to a meal in his home unless he did so with some ulterior motive; and it was true in this case. This Pharisee not only invited the Lord, he invited other Pharisees as well as a sick man who had dropsy – the swelling of his feet and legs which indicated heart problems. It was on the Sabbath day, so this whole invitation was a set-up to see if the Lord would heal on the Sabbath day. Our Lord took the wind out of their sails
by asking them, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Then Jesus asked the Pharisees, “If you had a donkey or an ox that fell into a pit, wouldn't you immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” The Pharisees remained silent and could not answer Him. Jesus revealed their hypocrisy.

2. The second Table Talk Concerns Humility in Luke 14:7-11.

Jesus told a parable about a man who had been invited to a wedding feast. The man, wanting to look important, went to the head table and seated himself next to the host. But one of greater honor came who deserved to be at the head table, so the man who seated himself was asked to go to a lower table. Jesus said, “Wouldn't it have been better if a man went to the lower table and for the host to ask him to come up higher rather than the man seating himself at the place of honor and being asked to leave the
high position and go down?”

3. The next Table Talk is in Luke 14:12-14 and deals with Hospitality.

Jesus says we are not to invite the rich to a meal, thinking they will repay us by inviting us to a meal in kind. Rather, invite those who cannot repay you in kind and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

4. This last Table Talk is found in Luke 14:15-24 and the lesson is on Hesitancy

Read the Passage.

Have you ever been insulted? Really insulted?

On an old Newlywed Game Show the ladies were asked a question for 10 points. Here's the question: “If you were to look up the word 'obnoxious,' you would find a picture of my wife's friend ________.
(Fill in the blank).

The first lady said, “I'm not going to answer that. That would be insulting.” Then the host said, “But you'll lose 10 points if you don't give me a name.” And, quickly, a name was given.
Was it worth 10 points to insult a friend?

There are other ways to insult folks.

Has anyone ever invited you to do something with them and you really didn't want to do it? So, instead of telling them the truth, that you didn't really want to do it, you made up an excuse why you couldn't do what they invited you to do? You didn't want to hurt their feelings, so you just made up an excuse why you couldn't do what they asked. After all, it would insult them if they knew you just didn't want to be with them.

Have you ever insulted God?

Has He ever asked you to do something for Him – maybe to serve Him in some way or to be faithful in a certain area – and you made up some excuses why you could not or would not do it?

We need to remember WHO we are dealing with. We are dealing with the All-knowing God! We may fool men into believing our excuses, but He is the Heart-Searching God and we cannot pull the wool over His eyes.

In this parable Jesus talks about a man who invites folks to a great supper. Some who are invited chose to come while others make excuses why they cannot come.

Someone has said that an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.

You can divide this parable this way:

1. The Invitation to Come to the Great Supper.
2. The Insult or the Excuse Why they Could not Come to the Supper.
3. The Instructions to Invite Others to the Supper.

Or, you could divide it this way: The Invitation, The Excuses, The Exclusion.

The picture is this parable is clear. The parable is about salvation. The Host is none other than God Himself. The feast is Salvation. The guests who are invited are us.

God is inviting everyone – All of us – to experience salvation! All the provisions have been made. Salvation is free to all of us. God wants all to come and for No One to be left out. Everything is Ready – Prepared for – Paid for! Come!

Three things I want you to see in this parable of Invitation:


I. How the Invitation was Extended Luke 14:16-17

Jesus likens His invitation to salvation as an invitation to a Great Supper.

This is no lunch! It's not hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries. This is a all-you-care-to-eat banquet. The Christian life is a banquet hall; not a concentration camp! The Christian life is all-you-care-to-eat of the Bread of Life, or free refills on the Living Water, or you can feed on the Meat of the Word.
The Blessing Buffet includes Saucers of Salvation, the Fruit of Forgiveness, Kegs of Kindness, Jugs of Joy, Platters of Peace, Layers of Love, Dishes of Devotion. It's a feast to enjoy! It's filling, but best of all – It's Free! And you are Invited!

The day of the supper arrives. The Host has spared no expense. The food is of the highest quality. The tables are attractively decorated; the cooks have worked overtime. All that remains is for the servants to be sent out, and with much excitement and anticipation shout out: “Come! All is ready! Don't hesitate! Come!”


II. How the Invitation was Evaded Luke 14:17-21a


You would think that every person invited would rush to the table. But not so. Instead, with one voice they began to make excuses why they could not come.

Jesus presents three excuses.

A. Excuse Number 1: Wealth Luke 14:18

Some make Possessions an excuse for not accepting God's invitation of salvation.

The Rich Young Ruler. “What must I do to have eternal life?” After saying he had kept all the Commandments, Jesus said, “One thing you lack. Go sell all you have and come follow Me.” The Bible says, “And he was sad and went away” because he loved his possessions.

Mark 8:36-37: “For what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose
his own soul. Or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Back to the excuse. Who would buy land without seeing it first? And, too, it was dark, for it was suppertime. You can't see the land in the dark. Also, the land would still be there in the morning.

B. Excuse Number 2: Work Luke 14:19

How many folks use their work – their jobs – for not being faithful to the Lord?

Again, who would buy oxen or horses without first trying them out? And, again, he could have tried them out the next day.

Bottom line: This man was more concerned with Occupation than with Opportunity to be saved.

C. Excuse Number 3: Wife Luke 14:20

This was not a “stag” supper. His new wife would have enjoyed a good meal and a good time.

Jesus said that if we love father, mother, brother, sister, or mate more than Him, he could not be His disciple.

Bottom line: Some do use their family or their family situations to get out of their obligations to God. How many times have I heard, “Sunday is my family time. The family is important to God. We work hard all week. We need some family time.”

Let me give you some excuses for not committing to God:

1. “It's too soon … I'm too young.”

“I'm only ___ (10, 12, 14). I've got a lot of living to do. There's much I want to experience and I can't do that if I'm saved. After I sow some wild oats, then I'll commit to Christ.

Proverbs 27:1.

2. “It's too late … I'm too old.”

“I've wasted my life. There's no chance for me now. What kind of person would I be if I lived my life sinning and then when I get old – just before I die – I give my life to Jesus. That wouldn't be right.”

3. “I'm too good.”

I'm not a bad guy. I'm better than most of those folks at the church. Religion is for bad sinners.

4. “I'm too bad.”

“Jesus wouldn't accept me after all I've done.”

5. “I'll do it later, but not today.”

This is one of the most often excuses Satan uses to get folks to use: LATER! Hell is filled with folks who said, “I'll do it later; not today.”

Proverbs 29:1

6. “I'm afraid I can't live the Christian life and I don't want to be one of those hypocrites.”

Jesus has promised He will live His life through you.

7. “There's too much to give up if I become a Christian. I like my sin.”

Too much to give up! Like what? The only thing Christ asks you to give up is those things that will hurt you.

8. “I just don't feel like it.”

What kind of feeling are you looking for? You are not saved by feelings. You are saved by grace through faith.

Whatever it is that is keeping you from coming to Christ is not worth losing your soul over!


Every excuse is a refusal. Not one excuse offered will be acceptable. You can present your reasons, but it is simply a rejection of His invitation to you.

What was Jesus' response to each of these excuses? Two-fold: Luke 14:21: Anger and Grace.


III. How the Invitation was Expanded Luke 14:21-24


All is ready. God will not let His Son's sacrifice go for naught. God is more interested in you and me being saved than we are.

Notice His words: “Come” (Luke 14:17); “Go out quickly … and bring them in” (Luke 14:21); “Compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23).

God's favorite word to man is “Come.”

Matthew 11:28: “COME unto Me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”

Isaiah 1:18: “COME now, let us reason together says the Lord.”

Revelation 22:17: The last invitation in the Bible: “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. Whoever is thirsty, let him COME.”

Revelation 3:20

You are cordially invited by the Lord Jesus: COME! What is your response?


“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine.”
You may feast at Jesus' table all the time;
He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”

 


THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

Luke 14:25-35


Salvation and discipleship are not the same thing. It is possible to be saved; and yet, not be a disciple of Christ. A disciple is a learner, a student, a follower, a committed one. Being a disciple takes time and commitment. There is no such thing as an instant disciple. Like the word discipleship, it takes discipline.

Again, I say, there is no such thing as an instant disciple., A Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff, talks about when he first moved to America, he was amazed at the variety of instant products he could buy at the store. There was powered milk: just add water and you have milk. There's powered orange juice (Tang): just add water and you have orange juice. There were powdered eggs: just add water and you have eggs. Then he saw Baby Powder and thought, “What a great country! If you want a baby, just add water!”

Some people think that's how discipleship works. You take a believer, add a little baptism water, and “poof” you have a fully-developed, fully-devoted follower of Jesus. But it takes more than water to make a disciple. Disciples are Made, not born.

Great crowds were following Jesus, but He knew that many in the crowd were not committed to Him. He looked beyond the surface to the depths of their hearts and knew the truth about each individual and the level of their commitment.

One word describes the kind of commitment Jesus expects: Absolute.

A hog and a hen shared the same barnyard. They heard their master talking about a church program to feed the hungry. So, the hog and the hen discussed how they could help. The hen said, “I've got it! We'll provide bacon and eggs for the church to feed the hungry. The hog thought about the suggestion and said, “There's only one thing wrong with your bacon and egg idea. For you, it only requires a contribution, but for me, it will mean total commitment.” That's the cost of discipleship.

As we think about discipleship, I want us to think about:


I. The Confrontation of Discipleship Luke 14:25


That expression, “And He turned” is a deliberate act of confrontation.

A lot of folks don't like to be confronted. A crowd is walking with Jesus and suddenly He turns in a definite, deliberate act of confrontation.

There are a lot of reasons why folks follow Jesus:



1. Some for Entertainment value.

After all, Jesus was a miracle worker. They saw Him walk on water, heal the sick, cast out demons. They wanted to see Him put on a show.

2. Some for the sake of personal Edification.

They wanted a blessing; maybe even a free meal as He fed the five thousand.

3. Some for Emancipation purposes.

They were under the yoke of Roman bondage. The Messiah was supposed to come and overthrow Roman bondage and set them free.

4. Some for Enlightenment.

That's what a disciple is: a pupil, a learner.

Why do you follow Jesus?


II. The Competition of Discipleship


Jesus mentions three things that compete with our loyalty.

A. Personal Relationships Luke 14:26

That word “hate” is a strong work. That's interesting because the Bible says the emblem of the Christian faith is love. Jesus said three times in the Gospel of John:

– “This is My commandment that you love one another.”
– “By this shall all men know you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
– “For God so loved the world.” If God loved them, we are to love them.

So, is Jesus telling us now to hate? Of course not. He is drawing a comparison. He is saying that He is to be our first love and our first loyalty. Our love for Him is to overrule all other loves. We don't love our families less. As His disciples, we just love Him more. And as we love Him more, it will enable us to love our family more.

Jesus has every right to ask us to leave father and mother, and give God our first loyalty. He left His Father and His Father's house when He came from Heaven to earth to buy our redemption. He gave Mary, His earthly mother, second place when He said that He must be about His Father's business. He counted the cost when He became a man so He could die for our sins.

B. Personal Goals and Desires Luke 14:27

What is the cross? Well, it is not His cross. Only He could bear that cross. Sometimes we say, “I have some sickness and that's my cross.”

No! The cross is the place of death. The cross is absolutely voluntary. Sickness couldn’t be your cross because you didn't volunteer for that disease.

The cross is a symbol of death. Jesus is saying we must put to death that part of us that resists Him – His Word, His Will, His Way – that part of us that wants to go our own way and pursue our own ambitions.

What does it mean to bear our cross? For the person on a cross:

– He has no other agenda.
– He is facing only one direction.
– He cannot turn back. His decision is final; his future is already determined.
– He is completely involved in what he is doing.

C. Personal Possessions Luke 14:33

Jesus is saying, “Forsake All.” We are to forsake all that would stand in our way of being His disciple. That's the key.

What God asked Abraham to do in Genesis 22 would stop the heart of any parent who loves their children. God asked Abraham to give up Isaac.

Isaac was Abraham's life, his future, his supreme joy. That old man stood there on that mount, with all that was dear to him on the altar, and was ready to give it all to God when God stayed his hand. For him, everything went on the altar for God. For him, it was all God's.

God wants our Isaac's too. All that is dear to us must be placed on the altar.


III. The Consideration of Discipleship Luke 14:28-32


Jesus talks about building and battling. Buildings started but not finished; battles started but lost because the cost was too high.

There are so many unfinished spiritual lives. Our world mocks anything that is Christian, but they especially like to mock and ridicule those who do not live consistently in their Christian experience.

The world can spot inconsistency and does not hesitate to point it out. What shame it brings to the cause of Christ.

I think of Demus and John Mark who failed to count the cost.

That's why Paul told Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier.

In a football locker room was a poster. On one side was an exhausted football player with grass stains, torn pants, and helmet in hand with the caption: “I Quit!” On the other side of the poster was a picture of a bloody cross and an empty tomb with Jesus standing there saying, “I Didn't!”


IV. The Caution to Discipleship Luke 14:34-35

The only way salt can lose it's saltiness is when it becomes diluted – when it is mixed with impurities.

Just as salt can lose its saltiness through being mixed with impurities, so commitment to Christ can deteriorate. The saint is not lost, but he loses his usefulness and fruitfulness.

 

THE LOST SHEEP: A PARABLE OF SALVATION

Luke 15:1-7


Luke 15 has been called, “God's Lost and Found Department.”

A careful reading of Luke 15 teaches us that this is ONE parable that Jesus gave in response to the charge that He received sinners. (See Luke 15:3)

Often, we view this parable as being three – the first dealing with a lost sheep, the second with a lost coin, and the third with a lost son.

But notice that the word “parable” is singular. It is one parable with three aspects or, if you like, it is one song with three stanzas.

• The shepherd of the first stanza speaks of the Son.
• The woman in the second stanza speaks of the work of the Spirit.
• The father in the final stanza speaks of the Father heart of God.

Although this chapter is about lost things, the main theme of this chapter is on the love, mercy, and grace of God.

What comes to your mind when you think about God? Nothing influences our lives like what we think about God.

8. Some picture God as a Judge, just waiting in Heaven to pass judgment on wrong doers so He can punish them.

• Others see God as a “killjoy” who sees man enjoying himself, so He says, “Stop it! Thou shalt not! I don't want you to have any fun!”

• Others see God as a grumpy old grandfather, sitting on a cloud somewhere watching all His children. But God is a caring, compassionate God who desires to forgive, redeem, cleanse, and save mankind. Every soul matters to God, including your soul.

While Jesus was on earth, He claimed for Himself the title of The Good Shepherd. Here in Luke 15 he SEEKS the lost sheep; in John 10, He DIES for His sheep; in Psalm 23 He RESCUES His sheep; again in John 10, He gives His sheep SECURITY.

Four verbs summarize for us the illustration of the sacrificial Shepherd: LOSE – SEEK – FOUND –
REJOICE.

This parable shows us the Horror of being Lost and the Happiness of being Found by Christ.

Three things I want to share with you from these verses:

I. The Congregation Around the Savior Luke 15:1-3


There were actually two congregations there that day. I call one the Rowdy crowd and the other the Rough crowd.

A. The Rowdy Crowd Luke 15:1

Publicans and Sinners

The “Publicans” were despised tax collectors who were Jews but who worked for Rome and who got rich by cheating their own people, the Jews.

“Sinners” were the “dregs” of the Jewish people. They were the outcast of society. The rejects. The castaways. These folks were considered as part of the problem in the nation. They were the crooks, the drunks, the prostitutes, the thieves, and the murderers. Nobody wanted to associate with this group of folks. These were looked down upon as the absolute worst representative of humanity.

B. The Rough Crowd Luke 15:2

These were the religious folks and; yet, I call them the rough crowd and I'll tell you why in just a
moment. In the eyes of Jesus, this crowd was worse than the Publicans and sinners.

These were self-righteous religionist, blue bloods of society, people who belonged to the upper crust. This group had enough degrees to stop up any thermometer, but they didn't have any spiritual temperature.

The key to understanding Luke 15 is found in Verses one and two.

The Publicans and sinners came “TO HEAR” Jesus. That word “hear” means they came to understand Jesus. These were not curiosity seekers. They didn't come to see a show or to witness a miracle. They came “to hear Jesus.” Their motive in coming was absolutely pure. You must “hear” Him if He is going to help you. And you can't hear Him if you do not “draw near” to Him (Luke 15:1), which is why so few people hear what God is saying through His Word.

These folks knew they needed help. They knew they needed what only God could do for them. God can only help those who know they need His help.

Now look at Luke 15:2. The Pharisees and scribes – who considered themselves to be uppermost in their relationship with God, but in reality, they didn't know the Lord at all – they did not come to “hear” Jesus at all. They came to murmur against Him.

Notice what they said in Luke 15:2: “This Man.” I believe there was a contemptuous sneer in their voice. They didn't call Him “Master” or “Lord,” but “this man.”

I said a moment ago, the Pharisees and scribes were the Rough Crowd; the worst crowd. Their self-righteous attitude, their contempt for the Lord was a much greater problem for the nation of Israel than the folks they called, “sinners.”

Here's their criticism of Jesus: “This man receiveth sinners.” The word “receiveth” means more than our English word is able to convey. The word “receiveth” is in present tense. The word means, “This man makes it a habit to receive sinners;” “He is continuously accepting sinners in His presence.”

They meant to deride Jesus, but my response to that is, “Thank God He welcomes sinners, or I would never have had a chance to know Him.” Their criticism was actually a compliment. When the Pharisees said that about Jesus, the angels in Heaven must have applauded Him.

“Christ receiveth sinful men, even me with all my sin,
Purged from every spot and stain, Heaven with Him I enter in.”

We talk about receiving Christ into our hearts, the amazing thing to me is not us receiving Him, but Him receiving us!


II. The Compassion of the Shepherd Luke 15:4-6

Some wonder about the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine sheep helpless and defenseless while he was seeking the lost sheep. In those days when night fell, shepherds would bring their flocks together into one area wherein all of the shepherds would watch the combined flock. The next day, they would take their individual flocks into separate feeding areas. How did they separate the sheep? Each shepherd had a different song, chant, or call that their own sheep recognized – even as Jesus alluded to in John 10:4 when it says the sheep knows the shepherd's voice.

Other Bible students see here a hint of our Lord's descent from Heaven, when He left behind the angelic host in Heaven who ceaselessly served God before His throne, and who, therefore, had no need of repentance. This world, a world of sinners lost and ruined by the fall, was the one sheep necessitating the incarnation and death of the Shepherd. Whichever the case, you can be sure the ninety-nine were in no danger of being lost.

One thing is for sure: Jesus wanted them and us to see the value of one lost soul.

The Shepherd takes a count of His sheep and knows one is missing. Those sheep are not just numbers to Him. He loves each one and knows them by name. One of them is missing – Lost!

What does it mean to be lost?

Most of us knows by experience what it means to lose something – our keys, our phone, even a child.

The word “lost” is really the kindest word God uses concerning unsaved people. Sometimes the Bible refers to unsaved persons as “wicked” or “evil” or “lawless.” The same words God uses to describe the devil identifies unsaved people. Lost people are the object of God's wrath.

What does it mean to be lost?

1. It means to be separated from God.
Isaiah 59:2: “Your sins have separated you from God and He hides His face from you that He will not hear you.”

2. It means to be under the condemnation of God.
John 3:18: “He who believeth not on the Son is condemned already.”

3. It means to be the object of God's wrath.
John 3:36: “The wrath of God …” The Anger of God – the boiling righteousness of God – “abideth on you; and you don't want to meet God like that when all His mercy forgiveness is turned against you.

4. It means to be out of place.
But look at the active love of our wonderful Shepherd. This passage may be more about our loving, merciful, concerned and committed Shepherd than about the lost sheep.

The shepherd goes after the sheep. Why does He do that?

1. Sheep are Dumb.
Do you know why most sheep get lost? Carelessness. Sheep cannot see very well. And they are easily distracted. A sheep begins to nibble grass, never raising its head, and before he knows it, he has nibbled his way away from both the shepherd and the flock. He keeps nibbling further and further until he cannot see sheep or shepherd. Isaiah 53:6.

2. Sheep are Directionless.
Homing pigeons can return home. Horses, dogs, and cats can find their way home, but not a sheep. He gets away from shepherd and sheep and he doesn't know what to do. He senses he's lost, but he cannot find his way home. He gets fearful and lonely and helpless, but he cannot help himself.

3. Sheep are Defenseless.
They have no defense mechanism. They are slow and heavy on their feet. They can't growl. They have no claws or sharp teeth.

Their only hope is for the shepherd to find them. Jesus said that He has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

May I tell you, the Shepherd's seeking and searching is all of grace. He does all He can to rescue the sheep. The sheep can do nothing to rescue himself. If the Shepherd doesn't find him, he's helpless.
Suddenly, the shepherd spots the sheep. He goes to the sheep, picks him up, puts him or his shoulder and makes him feel as safe and secure as he can. Now the sheep feels loved and safe and protected.

1. The Celebration of the Shepherd Luke 15:6-7

Did you notice that the shepherd didn't carry the sheep back to the pasture, but to his own house?
(Luke 15:6)

Joy! Jubilation! Rejoicing!

Did you notice the word “repentance” is found twice in Luke 15:7? Joy comes when repentance comes, but not until there is repentance. Unless repentance has taken place, heaven will remain silent regarding joy.

What makes Heaven rejoice ought to make the Church rejoice as well. Nothing brings greater joy to a church than to see one birthed into the Kingdom of God!


THE LOST SILVER: PARABLE OF CELEBRATION

Luke 15:8-10


Before reading the Passage.

Luke 15 has been called “God's Lost and Found Department.”

When you study this chapter, you will find that there were three things lost and three things found:

1. There is the Lost Sheep Found by the Shepherd.
2. There is the Lost Silver (coin) Found by the woman.
3. There is the Lost Son Found and Received by the Father.

Let me remind you that Jesus told these stories in response to the criticism leveled against Him by the
Pharisees and the scribes. They criticized Him because He received sinners … and I am so grateful that He still does or none of us would be saved.

Some look at these stories as repetitious, but although they all declare the same truth, the Lord Jesus is doing something that we do not often see Him do. He is showing us the ministry of all three Persons in the Godhead as it relates to the salvation of a soul.

1. In the first story the Shepherd who finds the lost sheep is the picture of the ministry of
the Lord Jesus as He is willing to lay down His life for the sheep. The Shepherd Redeems
the sheep.

2. In the third story we see the Father Receiving the lost child.

3. But what about this second story. Here, the woman is a picture of the Holy Spirit Restoring
that which was lost.

What a beautiful picture of the Trinity in the work of salvation: The Son Redeems us … The Spirit Restores us … and the Father Receives us!

Read the Passage.

In the first story of the lost sheep, Jesus began by saying, “What man of you.” He was wanting them to put themselves in the man's place. “If you were that Shepherd, wouldn't you do as that shepherd did?”

Now He says, “either what woman …” Again, put yourself in her place. Wouldn't you do what she did?

But there is another truth here that I want you to see. In the Greek language the ending of the noun or pronoun words may have one of three endings. They may have a male ending or a female ending or a
neuter ending which would indicate that it was not male or female. Usually, the neuter ending was used to describe something that did not have life – a shoe or a book or a house.

In referring to the shepherd searching for the lost sheep in the parable before this one, the Greek uses the male ending.

But in this parable, not only does the word “woman” have the female ending, but in Luke 15:9 the words “friends” and neighbors” also are in the feminine form. She invited only women to rejoice with her.

And there's something else implied. Not only is it the responsibility of men to go after that which is lost, but women also have the responsibility of going after the lost.

The ten pieces of silver spoken of in this parable do not represent just loose change lying around the house. To understand the significance of this story, you need to be familiar with the eastern customs of
that day.

Married women in that day did not wear wedding rings on their finger as ladies do today. Instead, married women in that day wore a headband that was made up of coins strung together. The coins were typically given to the bride by her father when she was married. This headband served several functions in the life of the married woman of that time.

1. It declared her status as a married woman.

It served the same purpose as our wedding ring. It told other men that she was unavailable.

2. The coins were there to bring honor and glory to the bride.

As long as that coin was missing, her beauty was marred and incomplete. It would be like someone missing a front tooth. You couldn't help but notice it.

3. It was used to identify sinful women.

This woman had been chosen by her husband. She belonged to her husband. But when a woman had been guilty of unfaithfulness, a coin was sometimes removed from her headband to tell everyone who saw her that she was an adulteress.

Now you can see why this one coin was so valuable to her. No wonder the woman was not content until she did all she could to find the coin. The woman's life could not be complete until she had found the coin that she had lost.

Three pictures I want you to see from this parable.


I. A Picture of the Sinner


The coin was lost because it fell from its intended place.

All of this speaks of the fall of man. When sin entered the human race, man fell from his exalted position in the Garden to a much lower position. Sin doesn't lift – sin lowers!

The coin had absolutely no value at all while it was lost. The silver was out of place and out of service.

Notice where the coin was lost:

A. It was lost in the Dwelling.

The sheep was lost on the outside because it wandered away on its own. The coin was lost on the inside because of carelessness.

People can be lost not only in dens of iniquity, but also in good homes and churches.

You don't have to go to bars and clubs and houses of sin to be lost, you can be raised in a Christian home and be lost.

Being raised in the best environment is no guarantee that a person will turn out to be saved. It was in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve fell into sin. A good and godly home certainly gives a person a far greater advantage in learning about the Gospel than in an ungodly home, but a person can still be lost in a godly home.

What determines the direction of a person is not the environment of the person but the heart of the person.

The worse thing is that the coin had no awareness of being lost.

Jesus was talking to religious folks as well as sinners when He gave the parable.

It is possible to be in the church and not really a true believer. Salvation is a personal matter and each of us must accept the Lord Jesus for ourselves.

B. It was lost in the Darkness.

A person may be brilliant intellectually speaking, but blind spiritually and in the black darkness of spiritual ignorance.

Most of the houses in that day had no windows.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – Satan blinds the minds.

John 12:40 – Satan clouds the understanding.

Ephesians 4:18 – Satan blinds the hearts.

C. It was lost in the Dirt.

The Jewish homes of that day had dirt floors, overlaid with straw. Jeremiah 17:9

When a coin was stamped, it was stamped with the image of the ruler. When a coin was lost in the dirt, the image of the ruler on the coin would be hidden and marred.

So it is with lost men. Man was made in the image of God, but that image has been marred and needs to be cleansed so that the image of the Lord might be restored.

Man needs someone to lift him up and clean him up and only God can do that.


II. A Picture of the Spirit

The lost coin, like the lost sheep, was not ignored. The woman lights a lamp and sweeps the floor carefully and continuously till she finds the coin.

Lighting the lamp and sweeping the floor is a beautiful picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

1. She lights a lamp – 2 Corinthians 4:6; Psalm 119:105; John 3:3.

2. She sweeps the floor.

Sweeping disturbs things. Sweeping refuses to let things stay as they are. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict and convince the lost person of his/her lostness.

I remember when the Holy Spirit convicted my heart of my sin. I remember how disturbed I was on the inside … the uneasiness of my heart … the burden and weight of my sin that I sensed the Spirit would not leave me along. I had to make a choice to accept Christ or reject Him.

The Holy Spirit is the great soul finder. Salvation rarely is received when the Holy Spirit first convicts the heart, but He does not give up. Like this woman who continues to sweep and disturb things, the Holy Spirit continues to come again and again to the heart of man, doing His work in our hearts.


III. A Picture of Salvation

Watch this woman. She looks carefully as she shines the light and sweeps. Suddenly, she catches a glimpse of the coin. She reaches down, lifts it up with great joy, cleans it up and tenderly puts it back in its place again. Now the value of the coin is great again because it is where it belongs. It was never meant to be in the dark or the dirt!

The word “salvation” means to make whole or complete. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit – to
Restore!

Notice: When the coin is found, it brings joy to the woman and gladdens her friends. How it gladdens the Holy Spirit and other believers when a lost one is saved.

Notice Luke 15:10: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
It doesn't say the angels rejoice – though I think they do – but that there is joy in the Presence of the angels. Who is in the presence of the angels? The Lord Jesus and the saints who have gone on to be with Him.

Has the Holy Spirit been doing His work in your heart? Has He brought conviction to your heart? Do you need to say “Yes” to Him? To yield to Him?

THE LOST SON: A PARABLE OF RESTORATION

Luke 15:11-24

Before reading the Passage.

As I read this passage on what we call the Prodigal Son, I want you to keep your attention on the main person in this parable. Don't take your eyes off him. Observe his actions and his reactions. Listen to his words; watch what he does; feel his heart break; sense the depth of his relentless love. He is the central character in Jesus' greatest parable.

The Father. The spotlight is never off him. He is at center stage the moment the curtain goes up. He dominates every scene even when he is offstage. Oh, I know we call this the parable of the Prodigal Son, but the hero of the parable is the father. We might call this the parable of the loving father.

Read the Passage.

This parable has been called the Pearl of the Parables. Why? Two reasons:

1. It perfectly depicts the nature of man.

a. Who was this prodigal? Why didn't Jesus give a name to him?

b. The truth is: This prodigal could be any one of us. Every one of us have the nature of this Prodigal.

c. Isaiah 53:6: Every one of us have gone astray: every one of us has turned his back on God.

2. It perfectly shows us the love, mercy and grace of God … for He is ever ready, standing
with open arms, waiting to receive us unto Himself.

Four things I want to share with you from this parable:


I. The Harsh Request Luke 15:11-12

This boy wanted two things:

A. He wanted his Inheritance.

Listen to his shocking request.

When the boy asked for his inheritance, he was in effect saying, “I can't wait for you to die. I wish you were dead now. I'm tired of you, I want to be free from you, and your control in my life.” This young man's request is a dagger in his father's heart. He doesn't want a loan, he wants his inheritance. “If you won't hurry up and die, give me what's coming now. I want it, and I won't wait for it.” The Lord wants us to feel the shock of that request.

I can't imagine that the father meekly followed his son's request. He knew his son's character, and he knew his intentions. Undoubtedly, he tried to dissuade him. But his son persisted. Heartsick, the father finally relented. Sometimes a parent is helpless to prevent a course of life leading to destruction. There comes a time to let the prodigal go. So, he divided the estate.

There is a horrible panic when an infant vanished; a different but real panic when a grown child
wanders morally or spiritually. The problem in the latter situation isn't that we don't know where they are or what they are doing, but that we do. We know they are in the far country, not wasting their money but wasting their lives. Perhaps it is only a parent in such pain who can enter fully into the mood of this story.

B. He wanted his Independence.

The boy not only wished his father was dead, but he wished his father was non-existent. He wanted none of the father's influence … restraint … control in his life.

1. He wanted his Freedom (with no restraints)

Here is how his rebellion and desire for freedom might sound in our day: “Nothing exciting ever happens around here. Everybody around here is so straight-laced. They have no idea what real living is. There is more to life than I've found around here and I'm not going to miss out on any more of it.
I'm only young once and I want to do my own thing. I want to cut those old-fashioned apron strings and get out on my own. There are so many things to see and so many things to do and so many places to go. I want to go out when please; come in when I want to; stay up as late as I want to; buy whatever I want; choose my own friends and not have to answer to anybody.

But, there is no real freedom without restraints:

a. Here is a train on its tracks. It says, “I don't like to be restricted to these tracks.” But you take away the tracks and the train will be destroyed.

b. Here is a kite held by a string. It says, “I wish I could be free of this string …it keeps holding me back” … but cut the string and the kite crashes to the ground.

c. When a person wants freedom without restraints, they may mean that they want to sin without having their sins pointed out.

2. He wanted his Fun.

You are only young once. Now is the time for fun … but without God, the world's fun always turns to tragedy.

3. He wanted Finances.

He wanted all the things that money could buy, but without God, money will leave you empty.

C. Listen to His Selfish Request

“Give me!” His life was wrapped up in himself and he cared for no one else, especially not the father.

This boy wanted what his father could give him, but he didn't want the father.

This is a picture of a lost person. The lost person doesn't want God in his life. His attitude toward God is “Give Me!”

Lost people want God's air, God's food, God's water, God's time, God's world, but they don't want God involved in their lives.


II. The Hard Reality Luke 15:13-16


This boy is about to find out that “all that glitters is not gold.”

He discovered:

A. The Reality of Sin's Pleasure

This boy took his father's grace and he squanders it by living a wicked, self-indulgent life.

The words “riotous living” refers to a life totally given over to sinfulness and wickedness. He lived to gratify every desire of the flesh.

Did he have a good time? Oh, yes! I would not be so foolish as to tell you that there is no pleasure in sin – for a season, and then sin brings pain.

That's where Satan deceives us. He tells us to go for it ALL – wine, women, and song – but he deceives us, for those things not only won't satisfy us, but will also destroy us.

Do you know how an Eskimo kills a wolf? He takes a sharp two-edged knife, anchors it in the ice with a blood pop-sickle covering the blade and the wolf licks it until he cuts his tongue and more blood comes and he doesn't realize he is licking his own blood until it’s too late and he becomes so weak till he dies there by the knife. The wolf does it to himself and so do we when we live in sin.

“This is the price I pay, just for one riotous day;
years of regret and grief and sorrow without relief.
Suffer it, I will my friend, suffer it until the end,
until the grave shall give release.”

But if a person dies in their sins, there will be no release, only more regret, grief, sorrow and never any release or relief.

B. The Reality of Sin's Price

Look at the words: “wasted” … “spent all” … “in want.”

Satan and sin had depleted him, he had nothing left. Sin always carries a high price tag.

He finds himself broke, alone, homeless, helpless in a far country.

What dividends can you expect to pay if you live for Satan and in sin? Broken lives, ruined marriages, shattered dreams, damaged trust, health problems, hopelessness, depression, defeat, death – all are a part of the pay package of sin.

Someone has rightly said, “Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

And don't be deceived, if you live in sin, you're going to pay. Galatians 6:7

C. The Reality of Sin's Pain

This boy learned some valuable lessons in the pig pen. That pig pen was a learning center for that boy. So, thank God for the pig pen.

1. He learned that sin brings Shame.

Here is a Jewish boy feeding pigs. For a Jew, he has stooped to reach the very bottom.

When Jesus got to this part of the story his hearers must have been shocked beyond belief!

Those who let sin have its way in their life always come to shame sooner of later.

It's a shame to waste your life … your youth … your opportunities. But is is a greater shame to waste your eternity … when, and this is the worse yet, when you don't have to.

2. He learned that sin brings Suffering.

This young man became a slave in the pig pen. He not only lives with the pigs, he eats with them. The pig food even looked good to him!

Proverbs 13:15: The way of the transgressor is hard.”

Not only in this life, but in the hell that follows for the lost man.

3. He learned that sin brings Sadness.

You might as well learn today that you will not go into the far country and come back happy.

No one ever wandered off into sin and came back glad that they did. They all return from the far country broken, defeated, and humbled. If you don't believe it, ask David and Samson.

Had the Lord stopped at that point, His critics would have risen up with enthusiastic approval. “That's right. That's what happens to a sinner. He ends up degraded with the stench of pigs on him. He's getting what he deserved.”

The Pharisees were content to leave sinners in the pig pen. The Savior wants them to find the way back to the Father's house.
III. The Humble Return Luke 15:17-20a

A. The Son's Realization – Luke 15:17

“When he came to himself.” That means that he was not himself.

The picture is of him pulling up a chair, sitting down with himself and reasoning with himself. He began to think.

He had not been thinking clearly. This boy's entire time in the far country had been a time of insanity. Satan has a way of blinding folks to the consequences of sin.

“Oh, I know everyone else gets caught when they sin, but you'll be the exception. You won't get caught.”

“Everyone else's sin finds them out, but it won't happen to you.”

“Everyone else suffers the consequences of sin, but you're smarter than everyone else.”

Listen: The first step of getting out of sin is to realize you are in sin.

You cannot repent too soon because you don't know how soon it may be too late!

B. The Son's Resolve

He asked himself, “What am I doing? I've made a total mess of my life.” And he makes up his mind to go home.

That was the turning point in that boy's life.

C. The Son's Return

He not only said, “I will arise and go to my father,” he did it. If he had not taken that first step, he would have rotted in that pig pen!

He didn't know what would happen when he got home. Would his father reject him? Humiliate him? Laugh at him? “You've made your bed, now sleep in it!”

But what a change when the boy repented of his sin.

1. His Attitude Changed – A Change of Mind

The far country was not so Appealing any more and the father's rules didn't seem so Annoying.

2. His Affection Changed – A Change of Heart

Before he wanted to leave his father; now, he wants to go to his father.

3. His Actions Changed – A Change of Will
He left in Pride. He returned Humbled.

He left Independent. He returned Dependent.

He left Arrogant (give me). He returned Submissive (make me).


IV. The Happy Reunion Luke 15:20b-24

A. He Found Reception

The father had been longing, looking, living for his son's return; and he found his father filled with love, compassion, and grace.

I asked you to keep your eyes on the main character in the story – the Father.

Matthew Henry says, “His father saw him, there were the eyes of mercy; he ran to meet him, there were the legs of mercy; he kissed him, there were the kisses of mercy; he said to him – there were the words of mercy, – bring hither the best robe, there were the deeds of mercy, wonders of mercy – all mercy. Oh, what a God of mercy He is!”

B. He Found Restoration Luke 15:22

l. The Robe – His Purity

Here he stands in rags and the smell of hogs. The father sends for the Best Robe - that would cover all the stains and dirt of the pig pen. The robe symbolized covering all the failures and filth of the past that are washed away.

2. The Ring – His Privileges

The ring symbolized son-ship and authority. The one with the ring could speak to the father and for the father and had access to all the father had.

3. The Shoes – His Position

Only slaves went barefoot, sons wore shoes.

C. He Found Rejoicing Luke 15:23-24

The fatted calf was kept for special occasions. The fatted calf was the father's way of sharing his joy with all those present.

Where are you today? Are you lost in the far country? Do you need to come home today?

Why did he wait so long to go back to his father? Why didn't he go sooner? Maybe because of pride. Maybe he was afraid his father wouldn't receive him back. Maybe because he was afraid he was too dirty and had done too much wrong. Maybe he was afraid of what others would say.

If you're in the far country, God longs for you to come home!


“I've wandered far away from God. Now I'm coming home.
The paths of sin too long I've trod. Lord I'm coming home.
I've wasted many precious years. Now I'm coming home.
I now repent with bitter tears. Lord, I'm coming home.
I'm tired of sin, My soul is sick. Now I'm coming home.
I'll trust thy love, believe thy Word. Lord, I'm coming home.
Coming home, coming home. Never more to roam.
Open wide thine arms of love, Lord, I'm coming home.”

 


THE PRODIGAL'S FATHER

Luke 15:11-24


Before reading the Passage

We have all heard messages on the prodigal son. It is one of the best known of all the parables that Jesus gave.

We know how the boy got his inheritance from his father before his father had ever died and how he wasted all he had on sinful pleasures and how he came back to his father.

We even know about the elder brother – and how he resented the fact that his brother had returned and resented even more that the father had forgiven him and received him back joyfully.

But I'm convinced that the Hero of the parable is the Father. This prodigal's father represents our Heavenly Father.

I have talked with folks who are troubled when we talk about God as our Father because of their relationship with their earthly father.

Maybe their earthly father abandoned them or abused them – or maybe their father was a hard man who was always on them about something or a man they couldn't please no matter how hard they tried. Because their father was that way, it's hard to relate to God as Father.

But God is a good, loving, tender, merciful, gracious Father – and that's the picture we see here in Luke 15.

Read the Passage.

Let me quickly tell the story and then focus on the father.


I. The Demand Luke 15:11-12


What a shocking request; tantamount to saying he wished his father were dead. He was not entitled to any inheritance while his father still lived. Yet the father gave him his full portion.

I think he did so with a broken heart. This selfish, self-centered boy didn't care how he hurt his father –
he just wanted away from his dad and the restrictions and responsibilities put upon him by the father.

I also think the father knew what the son had in mind when he got to the far country.


II. The Departure Luke 15:13


The picture here is of a wealthy father – servants in the field and servants in the house – his portion would have been great.

Using my sanctified imagination, I see him going to the bank and then the mall – buys some 505 jeans, shirts with alligators and polo men on them, cowboy boots, sports car. And he's gone – waves and says, “Good-bye, you won't see me again. I'm going to live my dream.”


III. The Degradation Luke 15:13-14


Look at the words: “wasted … spent all” means he squandered all he had; he blew his money on a wasted, wicked lifestyle.


IV. The Destitution Luke 15:14-16


Look at him now. He left home wanting his Freedom, his Fun, his Friends – now it's all gone.

In its place:

• Exclusion

When his money ran out, so did his friends and his good times. Now he's alone – no one cares about him now!

• Enslaved

Here's a Jewish boy in a pig sty!

• Empty

He's at rock bottom – willing to eat pig slop.


V. The Deliberation


Hope cracks the door open just a little. He comes to himself – which means that he was not at himself before. It is a word picture in the Greek. It pictures two chairs facing each other. In one chair sits this boy. He doesn't look sharp now like he did when he left home. Now he's not sharp – he's stripped, dirty, smelly, hungry. Sitting in the other chair facing this boy is another boy, thinking correctly, seeing where he is, how far down he's gone, but how he can make things right.


Notice Luke 15:17-20a. What made him want to go back to his father?

A. The Respect he had for his father.

He began to reflect on his father as a model and in his memories.

1. As a Model – Husband/father

Proverbs 31 for Husbands and A Careful Man

Proverbs for Husbands

Proverbs 31

Who can find a righteous man? For his price is
Far above purchase.
The heart of his wife does safely trust in him,
For she need not worry that he would be unfaithful.

He will do her good and not evil all the days of his life.
He seeketh good opportunity to work,
Willingly puts in long hours to provide for his family.

He rises early and works hard so that his wife and his children
Might be cared for and enjoy the blessing of life.
He invests wisely for the future;
He spends quality time with his family,
And his heart reaches out to the needy of this world.

His wife is his delight and she fills his soul with joy.
Courage and dignity characterizes his living.
And he shall rejoice as the days go by.
Many men have been outstanding, but dad
excels them all.

Wealth is deceitful and muscles are fleeting,
But a man who fears the Lord, he shall be praised.

A Careful Man

A careful man I ought to be;
A little fellow follows me;
I do not dare to go astray
For fear he'll go the self-same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,
Whate'er he sees me do he tries,
Like me he says he's going to be,
The little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see,
That little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go
Thru summer's sun and winter's snow,
I am building for the years to be;
That little chap who follows me.

2. As Building Memories

James Dobson – Average father spends less than 30 minutes a week with a given child. How can we invest values in a child spending no more time than that?

Strong father figures are all but gone. TV programs make dads look like a dunce.

Dad's, are you building memories with your children every day?

Abe Lincoln was down in the dirt playing marbles with his son. “Mr. President, what are you doing down there in the dirt?” “I'm building memories.”

What kind of memories are you building with your children?

Tim, my son, has heard me preach over 5,000 sermons. I doubt if he remembers a one of them. That's OK, you don't either. But he does have some memories:

Catfish pond – baseball/tennis practice – batting cage where he was saved.

Do something for me: Get the image of your father in your mind. What do you remember about your dad?

B. The Reception from his Dad Luke 15:20

It was not an easy trip back home. How he's humbled. It's painful for a man to go to someone he's offended. And think of the shame he must have felt!

But look at the compassion of this father. Four words describe it:

1. Looking

The reason he saw him a great way off is that he was looking for him.

2. Running

He didn't wait for his son to get home. He went out and met him. The only time in the Bible you see God running is to meet a sinner.

3. Embracing

This boy isn't very attractive – no shoes, dirty, smells of pig sty – but he was attractive to the father's heart. Sign of acceptance.

4. Kissing

Covered him with kisses, again and again.

A kiss was a sign of two things: Affection and Acquittal

C. The Response of the Dad Luke 15:21-23

When I was in Junior High I messed up big time – at least it was a big time mess up for a Junior High kid. As far as I knew only one other person besides me knew about it and I thought I had convinced him not to tell. About two weeks after that, I thought I had squeezed by and no one knew.

My dad confronted me. He didn't preach, didn't say, “I'm so ashamed of you” or “you'd better never do that again.” But he led me to right a wrong and assured me of his love and acceptance and that I could trust him that it would stay between him and me and the one other person who knew who told him. My respect for him went up 100 per cent.

Now if I told you what it was – I'm not – you'd say, “That's not a big deal.” It was to me.

Look at the prodigal's father's response.

1. The Robe

Literally – “a robe the first” is first in rank and value. In the far country he had only rags; now a new robe. A robe represents both purity and position (not a garment of a slave, but a son).

2. The Ring Speaks of Authority; Slaves didn't wear rings. Masters of the house, those in authority wore rings.

When Joseph in the Old Testament was promoted from prison to the palace, he was given a ring to help denote authority in Egypt.

Speaks of Affluence; Wearing expensive rings in this day says you have money. The father took away his poverty. He would now live in affluence.

3. The Shoes

Slaves didn't wear shoes: sons did.

I will arise and go to Jesus.


A LOVING FATHER

Luke 15:11-12, 25-32


This is Father's Day, but I must tell you, Men, we don't rate too high on the totem pole.

• Fathers were given a Father's Day 58 years after the first Mother's Day was celebrated.

• Labor Day was celebrated before Father's Day.

• Arbor Day was celebrated before Fathers Day. “Trees” are more important than Fathers.

• Men, did you know that Groundhog Day came before Father's Day?

No wonder men feel like Roger Dangerfield: “We don't get much respect!”

It's amazing how we go through different stages in our relationship with our fathers.

• Someone has observed that at age four we say, “My Dad can do anything.”

• At age seven we say, “My Dad knows a lot.”

• At age 12 we say, “Oh, well, we can't expect Dad to know everything.”

• At age 14 many of us have progressed to proclaim, “My Dad is hopelessly out of date and old fashioned.”

• By age 21 we say, “What should I expect? He just doesn't understand.”

• By age 25 we say, “Dad knows a little bit, but not too much.”

• Then, around age 30 we begin to say, “I need to find out what Dad thinks.”

• At age 40 we ask, “What would Dad have thought?”

• By age 50 we say, “My Dad knew everything.”

• Then at age 60 we say, “I wish I could talk it over with Dad just one more time!”

I had a father – a great father in my eyes. I was and am very thankful for him. Now that I'm a father and a grandfather, I wish I had been a better father and that I would be an even better grandfather. All that being said, let me give you three rapid-fire things that I do know.


1. There are no perfect fathers.

I've never met one. I'm not one and I didn't have one. There is only one perfect Father and He's the Heavenly Father.

2. Most of us as fathers are aware we could be better fathers.

We could give more time and attention to our role as a father.

3. This is a good time to start being a better father

We can all do it by getting closer to our Heavenly Father.

How can we do it? Let me mention four simple things that would help us be the father God wants us to be.

A. Be an Example

When God was going to choose a man to be the father of His people, the Jewish people, He chose a man by the name of Abraham. Abraham trusted God and loved God and wanted to serve God. The Bible describes him as “the friend of God.”

You remember the story. God told Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation.
God promised Abraham and his wife a child. But decades went by, and no child. But then the child came. Listen to what God said about Abraham in Genesis 18:19, “For I know him (Abraham), that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.”

God said, “I know him. I know what he will do.” And he became an example for the whole nation of Israel. There are two simple truths.

1. When there are things you want your children to do, you do them yourself. Your lectures, your demanding, and yelling are not as powerful as your example. You want your children to be law-abiding and good citizens? You do it yourself. You want them to be faithful to the church and reading their Bibles and prayer? You do it yourself. You want them to be respectful in the way they treat people and speak to people? You do it yourself.

2. If there are things you don't want your children to do, then you don't do them.You don't want them to cheat, lie, curse, drink? Then you don't do those things.

B. Be an Encourager

Encourage your kids to do their best in whatever they're doing: in the class, on the field, in the church activity. Do your best, and then teach them to do their best as well. Stay off their back and get on their team.

C. Be Exemplary

That is, be honest and truthful with them. If you are wrong in something and you admit to them that you were wrong, you will become a bigger person in their eyes.

I remember getting on to my son pretty heavy for something I thought he had done. I later found out that he was not the one who had done it. I went to him, apologized, and asked him to forgive me. There was something special about that reconciliation.

D. Be an Enlightener

An enlightener stays focused on the most important thing in all of life, which is to answer the question: “What have you done with Jesus?” When this life is over, the most important thing is, have our children come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Don't spend all of your time investing in children's games and activities and neglect those things that will enrich their lives.

Now for just a moment I want us to look at our Loving Heavenly Father in our passage of Scripture. Jesus begins by saying, “A certain man had TWO sons” (Luke 15:11).

We focus all our attention on the two boys. The one who Strayed and the one who Stayed; the younger son who was the prodigal and the elder brother who was angry at the celebration the father gave to his wayward son.

I do not think that is the major lesson. Instead of this passage being about the two boys, I believe the focus should be on the Love of the Father.

Both of these boys were rude and disrespectful to their father, who is a picture of God the Father.

The love the father showed toward both boys was no ordinary love and the love God shows toward us is no ordinary love. The love the father showed toward these two boys was Superior Love – Super-
natural Love – Sovereign Love – Surpassing Love. It is Agape love that is found in I Corinthians 13.

• This love is very patient and long-suffering.
• This love is always kind. That's the kind of love God shows toward us.
• This love is never jealous or boastful or rude.
• This love is not irritable or touchy; nor does it hold grudges.
• This love hardly ever notices when others do it wrong.
• This love is loyal, no matter what the cost.
• This love believes in the one loved and expects the best of him.
• This love will stand its ground in defending the one loved.
• This love will never fail, but will go on forever.

A. It is Forbearing Love Luke 15:12

This younger son was a Taker with no thought or concern of how he hurt his father's heart. He didn't respect his father, nor appreciate his father.

This dad was wise enough to know the way to keep his children was to open his hand and let them go. Many fathers have lost their kids by gripping them so tightly they never let them go on their own. He could have refused his son's request. He could have held back the inheritance. Some parents hold so tightly they lose their children.

Do you think the father didn't know what the younger boy would do with his money? The boy was in rebellion. He had to see the world and give himself to the things of the flesh.

No, he didn't give the boy the money without it breaking his heart to do so, but he knew the world would not satisfy. He also knew the boy would have to hit bottom before he came to his senses. But the father didn't send him a letter and say, “Here's fifty bucks to see you through a week or two.” He knew the boy had to hit bottom before he returned home.

He came to himself and started back home. On his way home he must have wondered what kind of reception he would receive. He even made a speech up to tell his father: “I'm not worthy to be your son; I'll come back as a servant.”

B. Forgiving Love

Look how redemptive the father was. The boy came Walking to his father; the father went Running to his son. The father didn't say, “I told you so! You deserved everything you suffered. No, you can't come back home!” No! The father's love had been big enough to release him with open hands; now he is ready to receive him with open arms.

We're not talking about a boy who came home with the same rebellious spirit, simply sorry that his sin caught up with him, but here was a boy truly repentant.

Love is long-suffering. It does not hold grudges. It stands its ground in defending the one it loves. It never fails.

C. Faithful Love Luke 15:25-28

The father went out to the elder son, just as he did to the younger son. This son did his father wrong, too. Faithful love invited him in, but we don't know if he went into the house or not. But faithful love invited him in as well.

After a few hymns, the pastor walked slowly to the pulpit. He said that in the service was a dear pastor friend and he wanted to give him a few moments to greet the church and to share what he felt would be appropriate. An elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.

“A father, his son, and his son's best friend were sailing off the Pacific coast. Suddenly a storm broke loose. The father could hardly keep the boat up-right. As the wind blew and the waves slammed against the boat, both of the young boys were thrown into the water.

“Grabbing a rescue line, the father saw both boys and the water was so rough he knew he could save only one of the boys. He had to make the decision of his life. He had only seconds to make his decision: Which boy to save. The father knew his son was a Christian and he also knew his son's best friend was not. In agony he made his decision. As the father yelled out to his son,” I love you, Son,” he threw the lifeline to his son's best friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back into the boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging waves of the night. His boy was never recovered.”

Two teenage boys near the front were sitting straight up in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come from the old pastor's mouth. The old preacher said, “The father knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and he couldn't bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into eternity without Jesus. So, he sacrificed his son to save his son's friend.”

With that the old preacher turned and sat down in his chair as silence filled the room.

With that one of the teenage boys politely stood and said, “That was a nice story, but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up on his own son in hope that the other boy would become a Christian.”

The old man replied, “Well, you've got a point there” as he glanced down at his worn Bible. “It sure isn't very realistic, is it. But I'm standing here today to tell you that story. The truth is, I was that father and your pastor is my son's friend.”



THE LOST SIBLING: THE OTHER PRODIGAL

Luke 15:25-32


When you hear Luke 15 preached, you hear a lot about the lost sheep, the lost silver and the lost son, or as he is often called, the Prodigal Son, but it is a rare day when you hear anything about the elder brother.

Why is that? I think we avoid this story because it hits too close to home!

The elder brother pictures one who is involved in the things of God, but who, sadly, has no real relationship with the Father. He might be in the Father's house, but he is still lost. He is still in the “far country” in his heart!

Let me remind you that in Luke 15:1-2 there are two groups of sinners that our Lord is speaking to:
The Publicans and sinners are there and then the Pharisees and scribes are there.

The difference was that the Publicans knew they were sinners and they were contrite over their sins, while the Pharisees were also sinners, but they were unaware of their sins.

Now, which group do you think were in the most dangerous position – the group who were sinners and knew it, or the group who were sinners and were not aware of it?

Much like the woman caught in the act of adultery. Clearly, she was a sinner and she knew it. But those religious folks who dragged her before the Lord were sinners too but were unaware of it until Jesus wrote something on the ground and then said, “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

I have known folks, and you have too, who want to talk about the sins of others, but not their own sin. They want to talk about someone involved in the sins of the flesh, and their very attitude toward that person who is sinning in the flesh indicates that they are just as guilty, only their sins are sins of the spirit, like pride or resentment or bitterness or being judgmental.

When a person wants to “deal” with folks who are in sin without being redemptive toward them, that dear soul, like these Pharisees, have sins of the spirit in their lives and are not even aware of it.

Does that mean we are to overlook sin? No. Jesus didn't. But like the woman who was dragged before Him, He dealt with her in mercy and grace redemptively.

The elder brother in this story is a perfect example of the Pharisees.

But now look at Luke 15:11. The man had two sons. Both were prodigals – one who strayed and one who stayed!

• One was a Playboy, the other was a Plow-boy.
• One committed hotblooded sins of the flesh, the other, cold-blooded sins of the spirit.

• One was a moral prodigal, the other was a mental prodigal.
• One was unrighteous, the other was self-righteous.

Dr. Earl Allen tells of a woman deeply troubled over one of her two boys. She came again and again to discuss her problems with the pastor. Finally, one day the pastor said to her, “I appreciate your interest in this boy, but neither of your boys comes to church; neither of your boys knows God as Savior. Why do you never mention the other boy?” She replied, “Well, my other son doesn't drink, so he's able to hold a job.”

Good virtues are important, but they are no substitute for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Three things I want you to see about this elder brother:


I. His Disturbance


When we first meet the elder brother, he is “in the field” (Luke15:25), busy doing the father's business, working for him.

That's where he should be. As long as he's working in the father's field, he can be productive. He's in a healthy environment.

So far, we don't know there's a problem in his life. From all outward appearances, he's in good fellow-ship with his father and all is well.

Remember that this elder brother is a picture of the Pharisees and scribes, the religious elite. Outwardly, they looked good, but theirs was a problem of the heart. They were lost and Jesus knew it.

You see, folks can fool us, but they can never fool Jesus.

This elder brother had never physically been in the far country. He had never physically sowed his wild oats. He had never wasted his substance with riotous living.

He looked fine, so far. Yet, the Lord did not have one good word to say about this elder brother. What's the matter with him? We're going to see our Lord condemns him because of his spirit.

You can almost see him as he comes in from the field where he's been working all day.

As he gets closer, he hears the sound of music. There is joy and laughter. The smell of steaks cooking on the grill.

He calls one of his servants and asked what was going on. The servant with joy and excitement says,
“Your father's prayers have been answered. His son – your brother has come home and your father has killed the fatted calf. Come on in and join in the celebration and welcome your brother back home.”
Everybody is happy, except the elder brother and the fatted calf.



The countenance of the elder brother shows his anger. With harsh, bitter words he says, “I'm not going in. What does that good-for-nothing boy think he's doing? Does he think he can just come back home and move back in? I'll have nothing to do with him or his party and you can tell my old man I said so!”

The more he sees and hears, the angrier he becomes. His spirit is offended.

Why was the elder brother angry? His brother did nothing to harm him.

His father did nothing to harm him nor slight him. In fact, look back at Luke 15:12. The father divided unto THEM his living. Being the oldest son, he would have gotten double what his brother got. So why was he so angry? Some think everything is about them!


II. His Disposition


The father came out to meet the elder brother just like he did the younger son. The only difference was that the father had to walk on egg shells and handle him with kid-gloves.

The father came out and “entreated” him to come in. That means he lovingly plead or begged him to come in.

But he would NOT! Look at the reactions of someone with an angry offended spirit.

A. He upbraids his Father Luke 15:28-30

You can almost see and hear this elder son. His face is red with anger. His voice is loud. He shakes his accusing finger in his father's face. He's proud, disrespectful, arrogant, defensive, and ANGRY!

You can almost hear him tell his father how he SHOULD HAVE handled his son: “He deserves a beating and you give him a banquet! The boy ought to PAY! He ought to SUFFER!”

Instead of rejoicing that the father in love, mercy, and grace received his lost son home again, he SCOLDS his father for forgiving the younger brother.

He even wants his father to give an account for killing the fatted calf for the boy. “After all I've done for you, you never killed a fatted calf for me so I could throw a party for my friends.”

He upbraids his father, Then –

B. He Browbeats his Brother Luke 15:30

Who told the elder brother that his brother wasted his substance on harlots? Not the brother, he couldn't even talk to him. Not his father, because even if it were true, the father had already forgiven him so he wouldn't have brought it up.

It was all the product of his filthy mind. That's probably what he would have done if he had gone to the far country.

The truth is, he's jealous! He may have stayed at home in his body, but in his heart, he was in the far country.

That's what was wrong with the Pharisees. They kept the letter of the Law outwardly, but in their hearts, they longed to sin!

Suddenly his secret thoughts were exposed openly. The truth is, he was a little envious of his brother's sin.

The elder brother doesn't stop to consider whether his brother might have changed. He wasn't interested in that. In his anger and resentment, he made no inquiries; nor would he let his father explain. He didn't want to listen. He had his mind made up!

Think about this: What if that younger brother had met the elder brother before he met his father?

C. He Brags About Himself Luke 15:29

Instead of putting his arm around his brother, he patted himself on the back.

“I've served you … I've worked for you … I've never disobeyed you … I've never left home.” But – he did not do what he did out of love or in honor for his father. It was not done gladly, but with a rotten spirit.

Though this elder son stayed home, he missed everything that makes son-ship beautiful and worthwhile.

Whose fault was it that the son had no closeness to the father, no likeness of the father, no joy in his presence?

This elder son had a FORM of son-ship, but no reality of it.

Like an artificial flower that might have the look and shape and color of the real flower, it lacks one thing: Life!

Let me give you three characteristics of a lost church member. They'll be:

1. Joyless

Resentment and Rejoicing cannot co-exist

If everybody is laughing and having a good time except you, guess who may have the problem.

An evangelist was sitting with the pastor, looking out over the crowd and he leaned over and said, “I've never been here before, never heard anything about this church, but I can point out the problem people in this church.” And he did so. The pastor said, “How did you know?” He said, “Because they don't participate; instead, they look around seeing if they can find somebody else like them, folks with no joy in their heart.”
Well, I'm not gonna sing, no matter how much they encourage me to.” The pastor tries to say something funny, “Well, I'm not going to smile and nobody can make me.”
Sometimes we all look a little gloomy and I'll say, “As we sing this next verse of 'Oh, How I Love Jesus,' smile and act like you really do love Jesus” and you just sit there and, if possible, look even more gloomy, you've just told on yourself. You've got a sad, joyless, offended spirit!

2. Jealous

“Why does she/he always get to sing the solo?” or whatever it is.

3. Judgmental

Beware of those folks who has to police everyone – who looks for faults in everyone and every thing.

“I just don't like it. It's too cool/hot … Preacher's too loud/soft … People aren't friendly/too friendly … Singing is too slow/fast.”

“Faults in others I can see, but praise the Lord, there's none in me.”

If you've got just enough religion to make you miserable, why not get rid of it and get the real thing!

It's hard to convince a self-righteous man he's wrong.

When you have an offended spirit toward someone, they can never say or do anything
right as far as your concerned.


III. His Decision Luke 15:28b, 31-32


Two statements:

1. Luke 15:31: “Son, all I have is yours.”

If God spared not His own Son, will He not give us all things richly to enjoy? Romans 8:32.

2. Luke 15:32: “It was meet”

It was right, necessary – that I should forgive, be glad, and rejoice.

Hear the father's plea: “Son, come in, join us, become part of us, rejoice with us.”

When the elder brother refused to go in and fellowship with his brother, he lost fellowship with the father. I John 4:20

Have you ever noticed that this is an open-ended story? We're not told if the elder brother went in or not. You see, each one of us must write our own ending to this story. Did he ever reconcile with his father? His brother? Or did he harbor his offended spirit?
What will you do?



WHEN THE WORLD OUTSMARTS THE CHURCH

Luke 16:1-13


Jesus surprised His hearers when He first gave this parable and He surprised those who read it today.

This is one of the most difficult parables that Jesus ever gave, and that is true for at least three reasons:

1. The language of the ole King James makes it unusually difficult.

2. Jesus seems to be praising a crooked scoundrel in this passage. How could Jesus commend something that is wrong?

3. J. C. Ryle, one of the finest Bible teachers who ever lived, in his commentary on Luke mentions 16 different interpretations of this parable.

Keep in mind that each of the parables of Jesus has only one major lesson; so with 16 suggested interpretations given, which one, if any of them, is correct?

Because of its difficulty, most commentaries just skip this one. But where angels fear to tread, Johnson stumbles through. So, I want us to look at this parable together.

Read the Passage.

Let me retell the story:

The owner of a large business found out that the CEO of his business has been embezzling funds from the company. No doubt, someone ratted on this man.

Notice that the steward – the CEO – didn't deny the charges. Maybe he was guilty of some shady practices; some kickbacks were involved or some high expense accounts.

His boss didn't waste any words: “What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your manage-ment, because you cannot be manager any longer.” In today's terms, “Give me all your records, and clean out your desk. You're outta here!”

The man begins to talk to himself: “What am I going to do now? I know he's not going to give me a good recommendation, so finding another job will be nearly impossible. I'm too weak or old or lazy for manual labor (I cannot dig), and I'm too proud to beg (but he wasn't too proud to steal).”

So, he comes up with a cleaver scheme to provide for his future. It's one of those “you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back” schemes.

He went to all who owed his employer. Two are mentioned. He falsifies their accounts and records with them.


• One man owed for 800 gallons of olive oil. He changed what he owed to 400 gallons.
• One man who owed 1,000 bushels of wheat had his bill changed to 800 bushels.

Here was the plan: When he would be out of work, he could go back to these people, using their
friendship and even a little blackmail if need be, and have food and lodging if he ever needed it. What a scheme! His master's debtors become debtor to him!

The boss found out what he had done. The disciples and all who heard the parable thought the next words out of our Lord's mouth would be that the boss lowered the boom on him. But Surprise! Look at Luke 16:8-9 – He commended the dirty, rotten scoundrel – NOT because he was dishonest, because it was going to cost the boss even more money – but he was impressed with his shrewdness.

The boss was not pleased, but he was impressed with his shrewd actions. This man sees his crisis and seizes the opportunity because his eye is on the future; not just the present.

Look back at Luke 16::8.

Don't miss the point: unbelievers often outsmart believers in their Foresight … Ingenuity … Creativity … and Risk taking … because they know an opportunity missed is an opportunity lost!

Let me say it again: To understand this parable, we must keep in mind that Jesus is commending shrewdness; not his dishonesty; his cleverness … ingenuity … common sense … and hard work to accomplish his goals.

Jesus wants His Church to do the same for the right reasons.

There is an old Proverb: “It is lawful to learn from your enemy.”

Jesus said that His people are to be “as wise as serpents.” He does not mean we are to sting and be poisonous like serpents, but in some respect we are to be “as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Let me draw some lessons from this parable:


I. A Lesson in Shrewdness


Shrewdness can be a virtue or a vice. The word “shrew” can mean discerning or it can mean tricky or cunning.

• We talk about a shrewd lawyer, because he knows all the loopholes.

• Or a shrewd businessman because he knows how to exploit his competitor's weakness.

• Or a shrewd politician, because he knows how to talk out of both sides of his mouth.

We think of someone who knows how to play the angels and work the system for their own benefit.

Yet, Jesus says that believers are to be shrewd.

If the Church gave as much thought and energy and effort to making the Church grow as they did making their business grow, the Church would be far greater than she is.

Two qualities we ought to have in the Church: Determination and Intelligence.

Some years ago, President Jimmy Carter addressed several thousand persons at a convention. When he was in the armed services, President Carter said, he was committed 100% to being a good officer. When he began his climb toward the presidency, he did it with the same enthusiastic commitment. He was 100% committed to winning the election, and so was every member of his family. After a brief pause, he added, “But I have not been 100% committed in the same way to God's work.”

Jimmy Carter's testimony is the testimony of most Christians. Few Christians are members of the 100% committed club. Jesus confronted His disciples with the question: “Why not?”

Why not be just an enthusiastic about the kingdom of God as we are about pleasures of this world.

Why not be willing to commit to spend time to accomplish something for God?

To succeed in business, we get up early and go to bed late, face every obstacle with optimism, burn the candle at both ends, and sometimes even ruin our health and destroy our family.

To produce a beautiful lawn or yard we spend hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours in sweat and toil.

To succeed in a sport, we buy all the right equipment, share no expense on extra gadgets.

Enthusiasm, persistence, determination – these words describe our actions as we pursue our goals in the world.

When we switch to the realm of Christianity, we display a different approach.

We don't want to appear too enthusiastic about the cause of Christ for fear someone will describe us as a fanatic.

We don't want to appear too definite about our beliefs for fear someone will call us dogmatic.

We don't want to show too much determination to win the lost for fear someone will call us pushy.

If we could revise the words of the old hymn, we would sing:

“Sit down, oh men of God
You cannot do a thing
When it is pleasing to God's will
His kingdom He will bring.”
This parable teaches: Strike while the iron is hot. You don't have much time to do what you intend to do. We are doing God's work! We are part of God's family! We are headed for God's eternity! We need to get excited about it! Show some enthusiasm! Some determination!


II. A Lesson in Sharing Luke 16:9


If we use our money on earth to minister to folks in the name of the Lord Jesus, we shall reap results when we arrive in glory as those whose lives were transformed because we shared in the Lord's work.

An old man use to say every time he put his offering in the plate, “I'll see ya later!” He was right!

Song: “Thank You” by Ray Boltz

“I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me.
We walked upon the streets of gold,
Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing.
Then someone called your name.
You turned and saw this young man
And he was smiling as he came.
And he said, 'Friend, you may not know me now'
And then he said, 'But wait.
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart.'”

(Chorus)
“'Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.'

Then another man stood before you,
And said, “Remember the time.
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry.
You didn't have much money
But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave,
And that's why I am here today.'”

(Chorus)
“One by one they came
Far as the eye could see,
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth,
In heaven now proclaimed.
And I know up in heaven
You're not supposed to cry.
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand
And stood before the Lord
He said, “My child, look around you.
Great is your reward.'”


III. A Lesson in Stewardship Luke 16:10-12


Some folks say, “If we had a lot of money, we would do a lot of good for others.” Jesus says for us to be faithful with what we have, for if we are faithful in little things, we can be trusted in larger things.

One reason God doesn't let us make more money is that we aren't faithful with what we have.

Perhaps you heard about the wealthy man who prayed at family devotions that God would meet the needs of missionary friends. After he had said “Amen,” his little son said, “Dad, I like to hear you pray for the missionaries.” The pleased father replied, “I'm glad you do, son.” Then the boy replied, “But do you know what I was thinking when you were praying? If I had your bank account, I would answer half of your prayers.”

Missionary Hudson Taylor said, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing.”

You cannot serve both God and money, but you can serve God with money.

The story is told of a man shipwrecked on a lonely unknown island. To his surprise, he found that he was not alone; a large tribe of people shared his island. To his pleasure, he discovered that they treated him very well. In fact, they placed him on a throne and catered to his every desire. He was delighted but perplexed. Why such royal treatment? As his ability to communicate increased, he discovered that the tribal custom was to choose a king for a year. Then, when his term was finished, he would be transported to a particular island and abandoned.

Delight was now replaced by distress. Then he hit on a shrewd plan. Over the next months he sent members of the tribe to clear and till the other island. He had them build a beautiful house, furnish it,
and plant crops. He sent some chosen friends to live there and wait for him. Then, when his time of
exile came, he was put in a place carefully prepared and full of friends delighted to receive him.

Disciples are not headed to a desert island but to the Father's home. Yet the preparations we make here follow us there. If we are shrewd, there will be eternal friends and eternal rewards to greet us. Fools serve money and leave it all behind. Shrewd believers serve God and invest in eternity.



THE PLACE CALLED HELL

Luke 16:19-31

“Preacher, do you believe the description of Hell given in the Bible is literal?” I do! And so does Jesus! Of the 162 references to Hell in the New Testament, 70 come from the Lord Jesus Himself.

Hell is the one doctrine man would change if they could.

• Some try to change the doctrine of Hell. They say that Hell means annihilation. That's
what the Jehovah Witnesses teach. That man will be cast into Hell, but death will soon come after they are cast into Hell.

• Mormonism teaches that all will eventually be released and not suffer eternal punishment.

• Christian Science teaches that Hell is just a state of mind.

Some say that what the Bible says about Hell is purely symbolic. My lost friend, you had better hope that is not true. When the Bible uses symbolic language, it does so to describe things that are indescribable to our human minds. In other words, the reality is far more intense than the symbol. If what the Bible says about Hell is symbolic, then Hell is far worse than even the Bible says it is.

Others just deny the existence of Hell. They say that Hell is cruel punishment and a loving God would not send anyone to Hell. But God does not send anyone to Hell. They send themselves to Hell when THEY choose to reject Christ as Savior and Lord.

Romans 3:4 says: “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

There are three Greek words and one Hebrew word that is translated “Hell” in the King James Version.

1. “Tartaros,” used only in 2 Peter 2:4 to describe the place where a special class of wicked angels have been sent because of a sin described in Jude 6.

2. The second word is “Hades” in the Greek and “Sheol” in the Hebrew. This is not the eternal state, but speaks of the temporary location of the unsaved dead as they await the final Great White Throne Judgment. The unsaved person received a temporary body as he is held in the temporary location awaiting the second resurrection of the lost at the Great White Throne Judgment.

3. “Gehenna” is the most common word used by Jesus (eleven times) to describe the eternal destiny of those who reject Christ. His own body, soul, and spirit will be rejoined to suffer eternal punishment.

One other thing I want to add before we dig into these verses. This is not a parable. It is a literal event that Jesus uses.

Notice Luke 16:19, “a certain rich man;” and in Luke 16:20, “a certain beggar.” Jesus never gave names in parables. Here He gives the name of the beggar – Lazarus, as well as Abraham and Moses.

Why didn't Jesus give the name of the rich man? Some say it was because his name was not written in The Book of Life and He didn't know his name. I think a better explanation is that it was a touch of grace on our Lord's part. If He had given the name of this rich, and no doubt, well-known man, someone might know him and it would bring them great sorrow, knowing their loved one or friend was in Hell.

By the way, only four men spoke with authority concerning the other side of death as it relates to a saved person: The Lord Jesus, Lazarus, The Apostle John, who was given the Revelation of Jesus, and Paul, who was caught up to the third Heaven and was shown things that he could not speak about –
2 Corinthians 12:2.

Luke 16:19-31 is the only view we are given of a lost person on the other side of death who experienced Hell.

What is the place of Hell like?


I. Hell is a Place of Uninterrupted Consciousness

When we meet the rich man, he is alive in this world, and is enjoying his wealth and power. After he experiences death and is buried in Luke 16:22, we see him in Hell. BUT, HE IS NOT DEAD; HE IS STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE! He is a conscious man who is very aware of his surroundings.

He is in some type of body and he can see folks around him. We know he can see Lazarus and Abraham.

He can hear the screams of those suffering as they wait and curse and gnash their teeth.

He can feel the pain there in Hell. He can reason: “send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch my tongue with one drop of water.”

He thirsts! He's in pain! He's in want!

Things are much different now than they were when he was on earth.

If you had lived in the town of these two men, you would have gotten the impression that poor Lazarus – dressed in his rags – didn't have much in the way of spiritual discernment or spiritual riches.

On the other hand, the rich man had several buildings named after him, perhaps a school or even a church. Folks catered to him because of his wealth and influence. People talked about how well he always ate and the fine clothes he wore.

Then the beggar died of want and neglect. The rich man could have fed him, but that would only have encouraged him to stay, and that was the last thing he wanted.

The rich man could have had him hauled off and dumped him somewhere else, but then some other beggar would probably have occupied the place. No! Best thing to do was to let him starve to death; then other beggars would get the message. “There are no handouts here!”
What an encouragement! The beggar died, but the angels accompanied him to Paradise. The beggar had no funeral. Someone took his old body and threw it on the town's garbage dump and the fire took his body. But while that was going on, angels became his pall-bearers and he was carried to Abraham's bosom.

The rich man also died; had an impressive funeral; and they buried his body in a rock-hewn tomb.
Dead! Buried! But he was not dead. He was still alive – very much alive.

The Rich Man became the beggar, while the Beggar is now the rich man.


II. Hell is a Place of Unsatisfied Desires


1. There is no Love in Hell. Everyone wants love, but there is none in Hell.

I've heard men joke, “I don't mind going to Hell; all my friends will be there,. Friend, when the torment of Hell bring such pain in your life, you won't be thinking about anyone but yourself. “How can I get relief from this pain?”

2. There is no Light in Hell Matthew 22:13

The word “outer darkness” describes the darkness farthest from the light.

“Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness.” What is implied is a sense of falling and falling with no foundation to stop your fall.

Add to that, there is a fear and uncertainty about the darkness.

Why darkness? In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Jesus is the Light … and He will not be in Hell.

3. There is no Life in Hell.

Existence, yes … Life, no! Revelation 20:14 says that Hell is the “second death” – wanting to die! Hoping to die! But unable to die. And with no hope of things getting better; only worse!

Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and Abundant Life.”

John 14:6 Jesus will not be in Hell.

Hell in a place of continued torments – forever! Four times in this passage we find the word “torment” or “tormented.”

Mark 9:44 says that Hell is a place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” What does that mean? The “worm” speaks of Internal torment and the “fire that is not quenched” speaks of External torment.

Hell is a place of conscious torment.


III. Hell is a Place of Unanswered Prayer

This rich man prayed for two things for himself – Luke 16:24.

• He prayed for Mercy; but it's too late to pray for mercy now! If one has not called on
God for mercy Before death, there will be none after death. He prayed too late! There is no mercy in Hell.

• He prayed for Water to cool his tongue. Think of how much water you can get on the tip
of your finger if you dip it in water. He did not ask for a glass of water, but for anything that would give him any relief.

In John 4:14 Jesus meets a woman at Jacob's well and He asked her to give Him a drink of water. Then Jesus tells her that He can give her living water. Jesus said, “Whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Both of his requests for himself were denied. There will be no water in Hell, because the Living Water will not be in Hell.

• Then he prayed that Lazarus would go testify to his five brothers, so they would not follow him to Hell. Again, his request was denied.

By the way, in a few days Jesus would raise another Lazarus from the dead and the people not only would not listen to him, they tried to kill him.

Then too, Jesus Himself would rise from the dead, and folks did not listen to Him.

By the way, this man didn't know much about prayer. He prayed to Abraham, who could do nothing for him, instead of praying to God.


IV. Hell is a Place of Unforgettable Memories Luke 16:25

Memory often causes us pain here in this life, but in Hell, memory may be one of the greatest torments. Memories of guilt, remorse, regret, sins, missed opportunities.


V. Hell is a Place of Unending Time

If every lost person (and saved person) could spend two minutes in Hell – to see and hear and feel what
Hell was like – it would transform us all!

The lost will experience a living death – forever. Dying, but unable to die – forever.

A pastor had preached on Hell. After the service a man asked him, “Do you really believe what you preached? If I believed that, I would crawl on my hands and knees, if needs be, to reach one soul for Christ.”


VI. Hell is a Place of Unchanging Doom


Hell is a one-way ticket. There is no escape.

The rich man learned the secret to missing Hell while he was in Hell – REPENT.

If you are lost today, realize this: You are alive today, but you will die someday and after you die, you will continue to live forever either in Heaven or Hell. That's why you need to come to the Lord while He's still giving you the opportunity.


WHEN JESUS RECOMMENDS SUICIDE
FOR
CAUSING OTHERS TO SIN

Luke 17:1-2


The very first funeral I ever did in my life was a suicide. I had been working with a young couple who had been having problems in their marriage. The young man was very receptive; in fact, I won him to the Lord.

He had been abusive to his young wife and she was determined to leave him. When he was saved, he did a complete turn around. He went all out trying to prove to her that he had truly changed, but she just thought the change would only last until they got back together again.

She continued to go to her drinking parties and then she found out that she was going to have another man's baby. When she told him the news, he went next door, borrowed his father-in-law's shotgun, went back to his house. He put the shotgun on his neck, and pulled the trigger. Blood was everywhere in that room.

For some reason they opened the casket and allowed folks to view the body. Although the funeral home had done a good job on the body, his neck was almost gone, but they put something around the neck that hid most of the damage.

The father-in-law was good friends with the young man as well as his hunting buddy. He did not know what his daughter had told him about the child. He thought the young man wanted the gun so he could go hunting.

During the viewing, the father-in-law lost it, grabbed the boy by the coat, started to shake him, and repeated over and over, “Why did you have to use my gun? Why did you have to use my gun?”

It took me and two other men to pull the father-in-law away from the casket.

I want you to know, there's something wrong about suicide. And yet, in our text, Jesus seems to be recommending suicide as an alternative to something else.

Now I want to ask you, “What is it that could possibly be worse than taking your own life?” What could possibly be worse than suicide?

Jesus said to take a millstone. There were two kinds of millstones. One was massive, maybe five or six feet high and weighing about a ton. This huge stone was moved by animals to crush wheat.

The other was a much smaller stone, still heavy in weight. It weighed about 300 pounds and could be moved by two women working together. That's the stone that's in view here.



Jesus said it would be better to take that smaller millstone, sail out in the middle of the sea, cast the stone overboard and you would automatically follow because it was tied to your neck. Jesus said it would be better to take your own life than to commit this sin. What sin?

Three things I want to share with your out of these verses:


I. The Analysis that Jesus Gives Concerning this Present World


Notice Luke 17:1: “It is impossible or unthinkable to think of going through this earthly life without the presence of offenses.”

What are offenses? The Greek word is “scandala,” from which we get our word “scandal.” It originally meant “a bait stick.” When hunters would try to trap an animal, they would build a trap that would ensnare the animal. But to get the animal inside the trap, they would have a bait stick or a trigger. On the bait stick they would have a large piece of meat that would attract the animal. When the animal would touch the meat on the bait stick, the bait stick would move and the trap would fall.

That's what an “Offense” is. It is a bait stick to draw in an unsuspecting animal and once the animal touches the stick, the animal is trapped or caught.

As the word evolved, the word came to mean “any kind of a stumbling block” that would be thrown in a person's way to get him off course or to ensnare him in some kind of device.

Today we would use the word “temptation.” What are temptations? Temptations are those things that come in our lives that carry us off course when we yield to them.

Wouldn't it be great if there were no temptations? I can't tell you how many people have sat in my office through the years who have said, “Preacher, I wish I had never met that temptation.” “I wish I had never been tempted to be unfaithful to my mate.” “I wish I had never been tempted to cheat on that exam.” “I wish I had never been tempted to be dishonest in my financial dealings.” Wouldn't it be great if we were never tempted?

Yet, Jesus says, it's unreasonable to think you can go through this earthly life without the presence of temptation.

Why would Jesus say that? Because the god of this world – Satan – hates us and he hates God. He wants to hurt God through us and he will devise schemes and ways to tempt us, knowing that when we yield it will hurt both us and God.


II. A Warning to Those Who Would Tempt Others Luke 17:1b


“But woe to him (or her) through whom temptations come.” Woe to the person who baits another person to get off course; to sin.


Now two people are involved. The victim of the trap sins and the one who sets the trap sins. Both the trapped and the trapper sins. Unfortunately, all too often I take the bait.

To live consistently outside the trap, I must realize that I have a responsibility to look for the bait and to ask God to help me to search my heart, soul, and mind for those weak areas in my life so I will not make foolish decisions.

Christ issued a “woe” to anyone who causes another person to sin. He pronounced a particular indictment against anyone who causes a little one to fall. He is talking about a little child, but it includes those who are childlike or to those who may be easy to take advantage of.

The “woe” is denouncing the trapper for their wicked heart; to those who are the source of the temp-
tation.

Jesus says, “No trapper gets away with trapping others.” It is a sharp warning. Be very careful what you encourage people to do.


III. The Seriousness of Leading Others to Sin Luke 17:2


When a person kills themselves, what is it they are doing? They are trying to escape something. They are trying to get out of this or out of that.

When people commit suicide, they have imposed judgment upon themselves.

What do you do when temptation comes? First Corinthians 10:13 says “Every time a temptation comes, if you look very closely, there's an exit sign. The sign says, 'This way out!' 'Run!' 'Hurry!' 'Flee.' 'Get out!'”

It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to yield to the temptation. So, here's the encouragement. God has prepared for us an escape route.

I read about an old man and he was dying. And he was obviously very troubled. He was … if you've ever stood at the bedside and seen somebody die, there are some people who die with great peace and calm. And there are some who die with great anguish and turmoil of soul. And this man was dying and he was obviously troubled.

His family and his friends kept trying to ask him, “What's the matter? What's the matter? You're dying and you're so troubled.” Finally, he said, “When I was a little boy, I lived out of town. Out in our community in the middle of those fields, there were two roads that came together and they crossed. One went this way and one went this way. I used to play around those crossroads. At the corner there was an old rickety sign with arrows pointing 'This way for this destination' and 'This way for this destination.' He said, “I remember as a little boy, I went to that old rickety sign and I turned it so that the arrows were pointing in the wrong way.” And he said, “I wonder how many people ended up on the wrong road because of me.”



That's a pretty sobering thought isn't it? Jesus said, “Oh, there's a way that leads to destruction and it's a broad way. A lot of people are on it.” I wonder how many people have taken the wrong road because of me. There's a lot to be said about those two little verses. God help us not to be the ones through whom temptations come.



FOREVER FORGIVING

Luke 17:3-4


Before reading the Passage.

Our Lord and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. Our Lord never wasted time nor opportunities to instruct His disciples. As they are walking together, Jesus gives four sermonettes in Luke 17:1-10.

In Luke 17:1-2 Jesus talks about Offensive Offenses. We have already looked at these verses. Jesus says that we are to never lead someone into sin or to be a stumbling block. In fact, Jesus said it would be better for a man if he were to hang a millstone around his neck and be thrown into the sea than to lead another into sin.

Then in Luke 17:3-4, Jesus talks to His men about Forever Forgiving.

In Luke 17:5-6 Jesus talks about Mountain Moving Faith.

And then in Luke 17:7-10 Jesus speaks about The Duty of Servants.

I want us to look at that second sermonette: Forever Forgiving.

Read the Passage.

In the first sermonette Jesus spoke about Offensive Offenses, or leading others into sin. So, He was talking about the Offender. Here in this passage He talks about the Offended: someone who is sinned against.

As we look at these two verses, there are three things I want to share with you.


I. A Directive From the Lord Luke 17:3

“Take heed to yourself.” That verb, “Take heed” is in the imperative mood which means it is a command. Jesus is not issuing a request or a recommendation here, He is issuing an order.

Well, what is He commanding us to do? He says, “Watch yourselves; judge every motive of your heart. He has just said that we are not to cause others to sin; now He says, “Be on your guard; be alert, some may be trying to lead you into sin. Don't be careless. Make sure you don't stumble yourself.

But the verb not only means to watch yourself, it means to watch out for your brother or your sister in the faith. Williams translated this verse, “Be always looking out for one another.”

We live in a day when people don't want to get involved in other people's lives. We hear on the news about people who are murdered on the streets, and other people looking out the window watching it and doing nothing to stop it.
And when they are questioned, “Why didn't you do something to help?” they say, “Oh, I didn't want to become involved.”

As Christians we don't have that option. As Christians, we are to watch out for one another.


II. The Description of the Lord Luke 17:3


“If thy brother trespass against thee.” Those last two words, “against thee” are not in the original text. They are supplied by the KJV translators to help explain what is said, and that is usually a good thing. But the idea is that we are to watch out for one another so that if we see a brother or a sister sin (and it doesn't just have to be a sin against me – it could be a sin against someone else or just a sin against the Lord) then we are called to take action.

Why? Because Jesus commanded us to watch out for one another. We are a family; brothers and sisters in Christ.


III. The Declaration From the Lord Luke 17:3b-4


What is to be our response if we see a brother sin? Rebuke.

Now I want to say a word to you about “rebuking others.” Rebuking should never become a lifestyle, and it should never be fun. There are some people, the greatest joy of their life is telling off somebody else.

We maintain good relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ by forgiving them, and to do so an unlimited number of times.

Can you think of an example right now of when another Christian sinned against you by doing or saying something that deeply hurt you? If you can't think of anyone right now – that's good, because it proves you have probably done a good job forgiving them. But others of you are thinking of people and occasions when you've been wounded. That may mean you have not fully forgiven.

Jesus gave a simple procedure to follow. Remember this procedure is for believers only; it won't work if the person who sinned against you is not a follower of Jesus. This procedure is for true believers to follow.

Step One in this procedure is SIN itself.

A Sunday School teacher was trying to teach her class about God's forgiveness. She was talking to them about what it means to confess your sins so you can be forgiven. As she concluded, she asked them, “Now, boys and girls, what must you do before you can be forgiven?” The right answer was

“Confess your sins,” but nobody answered the question, “What must you do before you can be forgiven?” One little boy figured it out and said, “Well, before you can be forgiven, first you've gotta sin!”

Before you initiate this procedure, make sure the other person has really sinned against you, and not just said something or done something you didn't like. There's a difference between being “sinned against” and just having your feelings hurt.

Step Two: You should rebuke them.

If that person is truly listening to the Voice of God, you may be able to skip this step, because the Holy Spirit may bring conviction to them without you rebuking them.

We think of the word “rebuke” as a loud powerful statement as in, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.”

What does it mean to rebuke? Well, interestingly enough, the word rebuke has the root meaning that means “to put honor upon” or “to show honor to.” Now that's interesting!

“Well, Preacher, when I rebuke someone, I'm not sure I'm putting honor on them or showing them honor.” Then you're not rebuking the way the Bible says to do it.

A rebuke is not an act of condemnation. A rebuke is an act of love upon someone I honor in the Lord, and I want to see them continue to walk honorably in Christ.

Rebuke is a tender word, helping a person to realize the wrongness of their actions. The word literally means “to place a weight upon;” placing the truth before a person in such a way that it becomes a weight upon their heart. It is to help them realize their wrong and to bring them to repentance.

It looks like this: Realizing brings Repentance. Repentance brings Reconciliation. Reconciliation brings Restoration – which is the ultimate goal.

Many a person would turn from sin if someone would rebuke them in love.

To ignore sin in others is to allow them to continue in the wrong direction.

All of this leads to forgiveness. “There ought to be a great reluctance to rebuke, but there ought to be a great eagerness to forgive. Rebuking should never bring joy, but forgiveness always brings joy.”

Why should we forgive? Because our old self dwells on slights and hurts and takes a perverse pleasure in self-pity.

Forgiveness should be a habit; not a battle. When you hear the word “forgive,” “GIVE” is at its root. So to forgive means to give someone a release from the wrong that was done. It means to give up any right of retaliation. When God forgives, He forgives completely.

Unforgiveness focuses on disrupted relationships between people that needs to be restored. For-giveness is a change of status from guilt to declared innocence.


Forgiveness is a command from Jesus. He says we are to forgive from the heart. That overrules one's feelings. No limits are to be placed on forgiveness.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Hebrews 12:14

 


MOUNTAIN MOVING FAITH

Luke 17:5-6


I remind you that there are four sermonettes in Luke 17:1-10:

• Luke 17:1-2 Offensive Offenses
• Luke 17:3-4 Forever Forgiving
• Luke 17:5-6 Mountain Moving Faith
• Luke 17:7-10 The Duty of Servants

Jesus had just told His disciples that they were to be stepping stones and not stumbling stones. That they were to forgive a brother seven times a day if he comes back seven times, repents, and asked to be forgiven.

The disciples recognized they needed divine help to fulfill such demands. And so they said in Verse 5:
“Lord, increase our faith. We are going to need divine help if we do what You're asking us to do.”

What would you think would be the most important commodity in Christianity?

Some would say, “I believe love is the most important thing in Christianity. Without love we don't have anything.”

Someone else would say, “Preacher, I believe grace is the most important commodity of the Christian faith. Apart from grace we wouldn't have access to God. It has to be grace.”

Another says, “I believe it's mercy. Man, I need the mercy of God. More than anything else in life, I need God's mercy.”

Well, love, mercy, and grace are certainly important. In fact, love is mentioned just over 200 times in the New Testament. That's a lot.

About 130 times Grace is mentioned in the New Testament.

Mercy is found just 59 times in the New Testament.

Faith and believe, which are the same Greek word in the New Testament, appears over 500 times in the New Testament. Faith is the most important commodity in the Christian faith. Let me share with you
three very simple reasons for that.

1. You cannot be saved without faith. Ephesians 2:8 says, For by grace you are saved through faith.”

2. You cannot please God without faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

3. You cannot have your prayers answered without faith. Notice James 1:5-8.

The Bible talks about Great Faith and Little Faith.

• Great Faith Matthew 8:5-10
• Little Faith In that same chapter in Matthew 8:23-26

Let me share three verses in the New Testament that I call the ABC's of faith.

1. What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (Living Bible): “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.”

If you ever say, “I'll believe it when I see it.” – that's not faith. Faith always says, “When I believe it, I'll see it.”

2. How do you get faith?

Romans 10:17:“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

The only way to get faith and to strengthen faith is from hearing and reading the Word of God.

3. How do you know when you really have faith?

James 2:17 (Living Bible): “So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn't show itself by good works is no faith at all – it is dead and useless.”

That is, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Faith opens the way for God to act out of His limitless resources.

How much faith do I need?

Faith does not come by the pound, like sugar. It is not the quantity of faith that is important, but the quality. The quality of your faith makes your faith great or small.

Faith is a response to the Word of God; a conviction based upon what you believe about the Word of God. It is a firm persuasion that Jesus is the Son of God and everything He says is true.

When Jesus talks about faith as a mustard seed, He is not talking about LITTLE faith, but LIVING faith. A mustard seed has life in it and it can accomplish amazing things.

Listen: Real faith is Alive; and it is Powerful. We can trust God, believe God, faith God when every-
thing around us tells us we can't.


“Lord, I trust You when the sun is shining; and Lord, I trust You when darkness is falling.”

“Lord, I trust You when my body is strong; and Lord, I trust You when my body is weak.”

“Lord, I trust You when the income is high; and Lord, I trust You when the income is low.”

Faith gives us calm about our past failures and mistakes, the courage to face the present with confidence, and the future with great confidence.


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

“Have faith in God when your prayers are unanswered.
Your earnest plea He will never forget.
Wait on the Lord, trust His word and be patient,
Have faith in God, He'll answer yet.

“Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow.
His heart is touched with your grief and despair;
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him,
And leave them there, oh, leave them there.”

“Have faith in God tho all else fail about;
Have faith in God, He provides for His own;
He cannot fail tho all kingdoms shall perish,
He rules, He reigns upon His throne.

“Have faith in God, He's on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o'er His own.
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.”


SERVANTHOOD

Luke 17:7-10


This is the fourth and last of the four “sermonettes” that Jesus gives in Luke 17:1-10. Actually, the theme of all four of these is “set a godly example.”

1. In Luke 17:1-2 Jesus teaches about Offensive Offenses. Don't lead others into sin.

2. In Luke 17:3-4 Jesus says to Forever Forgive. Be eager to forgive.

3. In Luke 17:5-6 Jesus teaches about Mountain Moving Faith. He is not talking about Little Faith, but Living Faith when He talks about faith as a grain of mustard seed.

4. And now, in Luke 17:5-10, Jesus talks about the Duty of Servants.

We as God's children are also His servants. We are duty-bound to obey Him. He created us. He provided us with Redemption. He sustains us day-by-day.

This parable is about the obligation of serving the Master without thought of Release or Reward.

Three things I want us to see in this brief parable:


I. The Mandate of Christian Servanthood Luke 17:9-10


Twice in these two verses we have the word “command.” The servant was commanded. The word “command” literally means “to be appointed,” or “to be ordered,” or “to be ordained.” In a very real sense, every Christian has been ordained by God to be a servant of the Lord.

Notice also the word “duty” in Luke 17:10. The word “duty” means “to be under obligation” or “to be under great debt.”

We are under obligation to the Lord to serve Him, and we are indebted to serve Him. Why? Because of the price He paid for our salvation. Jesus Christ died upon the cross to take away our sin and to impart to us everlasting life, and out of a debt we owe our service to Him. It's our mandate.


II. The Meaning of Christian Servanthood Luke 17:7


The word “servant” is the Greek word “dulos.”

There is a difference between a servant and a slave.


• A servant could choose to work for any master that would pay him the most money. A slave did not have that choice.

• A slave was a person who had been bought at a slave market by an individual and belonged to the person who bought him at all times.

• A servant could go on vacation. Slaves never had vacations.

• A servant could set his own hours. A slave had his hours set for him.

A “dulos” has no Right of his own.

A “dulos” has no Will of his own. A “dulos” is under obligation to do the will of his master whatever that will might be.

A bond slave has no Life of his own. His life is completely surrendered to the one who owns him.

A bond slave does not act independently of his master.

As Christians our Life belongs to the Lord. Our Will belongs to the Lord. We do not have the Right to live in a way that He doesn't deem proper for us. To do so would be rebellion. It would be an insult to all He has done for us.

But let me hasten to say: Most of the time we think of slavery as being forced labor. We think of slavery as being something that was hated or dreaded, or something that was a drudgery. But serving the Lord is not something to hate; nor is it forced labor.

Why? Because God has given us the ability to Voluntarily choose to Serve Him.

First Corinthians 9:19: “For I am free from all” (“men” is in italics) – that's what Jesus did for me. I was in bondage to the world, to the flesh, and to the devil, and Jesus came to set me free from all of that. I am no longer enslaved to this world's system, or to the lust of the flesh or to the devil. Look what Jesus did for me – He Set Me Free From ALL.

Now look at the next phrase: “Yet I have made myself servant to all.” That's what I have chosen to do for Jesus.

You see, the motive of Christian servanthood is not duty or obligation. The motive of Christian service
is Love. Because Jesus liberated me – set me free – I voluntarily make my life a servant unto Him.

Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, gladhearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calvary my sin and dis grace;


Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee;
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, My heart shall by Thy throne,
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ for Thee alone.

There's nothing forced about that.


III. The Marks of Christian Servanthood Luke 17:7-10


A. Flexibility

This servant that Jesus identifies in Luke 17 did everything. He's a Jack of all trades. He's out in the field plowing. He's in another part of the field feeding the cattle or tending sheep. And when he comes in, he prepares food. It didn't matter. He was willing to do anything and everything his master asked him to do. Nothing was beneath him.

B. Faithfulness

There's not a word of him grumbling or griping or bellyaching. He just did what needed to be done. Pick up paper, clean restrooms, care for crying babies – nothing was beneath him.

And it didn't matter what the reward was or if he would even get a reward – See Luke 17:9.

Does his master say, “Thank you?” No. But he's not interested in reward. He serves out of love.

One day God will reward us for faithfulness. But listen to me: Reward must never become the motive for service. We don't serve Jesus because of what we're going to get out of it. Jesus doesn't owe us anything for whatever we may do for Him. What we do for Him is nothing compared with what He has done and is doing for us!

C. Fulfillment Luke 17:10

That word “unprofitable” means “without need.” What does that mean?

It means, “Lord, you don't owe me anything. You've done so much for me. You don't owe me anything, but I owe you so much. I was lost and on my way to Hell, but you wooed me by your Holy Spirit. You broke the bondage of sin and saved me by your grace. You wrote my name in Your book and You promised me life with You in Heaven.

Some come to the end of life and have no idea why they were born. I can tell you something sadder than that. Some Christians come to the end of life and have no idea why they were ever born again. The old gospel song tells us: “For I was born to serve the Lord.”


SERVANTHOOD AMPLIFIED

Luke 17:1-10


Before reading the Passage.

This is probably the most unfamiliar parable that Jesus ever spoke. It's a parable about servant-hood.
Actually, “servanthood” is not a word according to the computer, but if I need a word I make one up.
Every word in the English language was made up by somebody else. I'm telling you, this parable is about servant-hood.

Those of us who are Christians are servants of the Lord.

• Jesus called Himself a servant. He said that He did not come to be served, but He came to serve.

• He is Master. He is Lord. He is King of kings. He is Savior. But He is also Servant.

• He is our example of servanthood.

Actually, the parable begins in Luke 17: 7, but before Jesus gets to the parable, He must deal with some attitudes of life.

A. The theme of Luke 17:1-2 is – Set a Godly Example Luke 17:1-2

Jesus gives an analysis concerning this present world in Luke 17:1. It is impossible to think of this earthly life without the presence of offenses – snares – temptations – enticements.

The word “offenses” literally means a bait stick.”

When hunters would try to trap animals, they would build a trap that would ensnare the animals. But to get the animals to go inside that trap, they would have a bait stick with what we would call today a trigger on it. They would put some kind of meat or food on the bait stick and when the animal would touch the bait stick, the trap would fall with them inside.

The bait stick was used to draw the unsuspecting animal into the box or trap and when the animal touches the stick, he is trapped.

The word “offense” came to mean any kind of stumbling-block or temptation that would carry us off course.

Now Jesus gives a strong warning to ANY who would cause another to stumble.


He uses the word, “Woe.” “Be very careful that you don't lead someone into sin or to encourage them to sin or to draw them into sin.” Don't be guilty of enticing someone into sin!

There is something very seriously wrong of robbing someone of their innocence.

– Think of someone who offers someone that first drink … or that first smoke … or that first drug.

– Be very careful young man what you encourage a girl to do on a date. Be careful young girls what you attempt to get a young man to do on a date.

– Be careful married folks when you encourage or entice someone else's mate to be intimate with you.

– Be careful business person with the figures on the books. Don't try to hide anything.

How serious is it when we draw someone into sin?

Jesus does a strange thing: He recommends suicide over causing others to sin – Luke 17:2.

Do you know what a person is doing when they commit suicide? They have imposed judgment upon themselves. They have tried themselves. They have found themselves guilty. They have sentenced themselves. Suicide is self-judgment.

The “woe” is the judgment of God on those who would lead others to sin. That's serious.

You see, what I do is not just my business. We ARE our brother's keeper. We have no right to ignore our brother. We have an influence for good or evil on others. We are not to become channels through which temptation comes to others.

B. The theme of Luke 17:3-4 is – Be Eager to Forgive. Not just ready to forgive, eager to forgive.

How do you avoid leading others into temptation and sin? By taking heed to yourself … watch yourself … investigate and evaluate everything you do … judge every motive of your heart.

Listen: We have a responsibility not to lead others into sin, but we also have a responsibility to help then when they fall.

What do you do when someone sins against you? Feel hurt down inside? Nurse a grudge? Tell others what happened to you?

1. Rebuke Him

I can hear some folks now: “God said when someone hurts me, I'm encouraged to rebuke them. I can't wait to put that into practice! I can't wait to tell them what I think about them and the way they treated me.”

Interestingly, the word translated “rebuke” means “to put honor upon; to show honor to.”

A rebuke according to Jesus is not an act of condemnation. A rebuke is an act of love upon someone whom I honor in the Lord, and I want to continue to see him walking honorably in Christ.

Let me say this: Rebuking should never become a lifestyle and it should never be fun.

The rebuke is to be serious and frank, but gentle and with love. Love your brother or sister enough to lovingly tell them that they had sinned. It is not an act of love to let our brothers or sisters continue to live a lifestyle where God cannot bless them. That's not love. That's unconcern.

2. Release Him

“If he repents, forgive.” We have as much responsibility to forgive as we do to rebuke.

Forgiven people are to be forgiving people. An unforgiving and quarrelsome spirit is a sure mark of an unregenerate heart.

The whole mission of our Lord Jesus has to do with Forgiveness – both Receiving it and Giving it.

The very first word from the cross was a word of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is easy to accept … and hard to give … but it is a must!

Matthew 6:14-15 says that God will forgive us of our sins on the basis of how we forgive those who have sinned against us.

We love the idea that God forgives our sins and forgets them (does not hold them against us or bring them up again.)

But it's another thing to forgive others their sin and not bring it up again.

Too often we find joy in rehearsing in our minds whatever has been done to us and nursing the hurt instead of letting it go.

Clara Barton was never known to hold resentment against anyone. One time a friend reminded her of a cruel thing that had happened to her years before, but Clara seemed not to remember the incident. “Don't you remember the wrong that was done to you,” the friend asked. Calmly Clara answered, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting that.”

If there is anger, resentment, bitterness or thoughts of revenge in your heart, it is a sure indication that you have not really forgiven.

When you forgive you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future.

Granting forgiveness to others is redemptive for both the forgiven and the forgiver. For the forgiver there will be:

– The freedom from anger

– The freedom from revenge

– The freedom to no longer hold grudges

– The freedom to move on toward the future without being stuck in the past.

What if you rebuke someone and they don't repent? Are you still to forgive them?

If you don't your heart becomes full of hate, anger, resentment, and bitterness that will eat you alive . But it doesn't affect them at all.

C. The theme of Luke 17:5-6 is – Exercise your Faith

The disciples thought, “Man, if that's what Jesus expects from us, He is going to have to do a special work in us. He's going to have to help us.”

Notice: They didn't say increase our love for others; they said, “Increase our faith.”

If a man is truly great in faith, he will be gentle and forgiving.

If we are having trouble forgiving, we need faith and we need our faith increased.

Their prayer was, “Lord, increase our faith.” God always answers that kind of prayer.

Notice how the Lord responded to their request – Luke 17:6.

The Bible speaks of little faith and great faith; about weak faith and strong faith; it talks about true faith.

But look at what Jesus says here. When Jesus says, “If you have faith as a mustard seed” – look closely. He didn't say if you have faith the size of a mustard seed. He said AS a mustard seed.

He was not talking about Little faith, but Living faith. There is life in a mustard seed.


Our Lord's image of the mustard seed conveys the idea of life and growth. The mustard seed is very small, but it has life in it and, therefore, it can g row and produce fruit.

Start with the faith you've got. Start where you are. Don't wait for more faith. Begin with what you possess, and it will begin to grow.

There are three prerequisites of being a servant. You'll never be a servant of the Lord:

• Without exercising your faith, because the Bible says, 'Without faith it is impossible to
please God.”

• If you're not ready, eager, and willing to forgive those who sin against you.

• If your life is leading other people into sin.

Following those three prerequisites of servanthood, Jesus then gives this little parable about being a servant.

Read the Passage.

Three things I want you to see in this parable.


I. The Mandate of Servanthood Luke 17:9-10


Notice the word “commanded” is used in Luke 17:9 and in Luke 17:10.

The word means “to be appointed” or “to be ordered” or “to be ordained.” God has appointed us the role of servant. Every Christian has been appointed by God to be a servant of the Lord.

Don't let the little phrase in Luke 17:10 throw you: “Does God say “Thank You” to us when we fulfill His appointed task for us? I think not.”

Why? The servants answer that question in Luke 17:10 – “we have done what was our duty.” The word “duty” means “to be under obligation” – “to be under great debt.”

We are under obligation to the Lord to serve Him and we are indebted to Him to serve Him. Why? Be-cause of the price He paid for our salvation. He died on the cross to take away our sin … and to impart to us everlasting life … and out of a debt that we owe to Him, we serve Him.

Masters don't thank their servants for just doing what they were asked to do. That is their duty. Only when he has done more than he was asked to do can a servant expect a reward.

Even the most devoted Christian is an unprofitable servant in that he has not loved God with his whole being nor trusted God with his whole heart nor done the best that he could do. As long as we are in these bodies, we will never be able to give our best or our all.

Our proper attitude in service:

• Ephesians 6:6: “Doing the will of God from the heart”

• John 14:15: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”

• I John 5:3: “His commandments are not grievous.”

• Psalm 40:8: “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.”

We are to serve faithfully whether we get words of thanks or not. Yet, how many quit serving in the church because they were not shown the appreciation they thought they should have received or they didn't get their names in the bulletin.

If you have to be praised constantly to keep you serving, you are not right with God and your service will not be acceptable to God.


II. The Meaning of Servanthood Luke 17:7
The word for servant is “dulos” and means “bond slave.” A bond slave has no will of his own. He does the will of his master. A bond-slave has no life of his own. He is completely surrendered to the one who owns him.

To rebel against our Lord would be an insult to all He has done for us.

Sometimes we think of slavery as being forced labor or drudgery or doing something we hate. God has given us the ability to voluntarily choose to serve Him.

Note I Corinthians 9:19. The word “men” is in italics and was not in the original text. He says, “I am free from all” because of what Jesus did for me. I was in bondage to the world … to the flesh … to the devil … to the world's system – and Jesus came and set me free.

The next phrase – “Yet have I made myself servant unto all.” I made myself a servant. That's what I choose to do for Him. The motive for Christian servanthood is not duty or obligation. My motive for service is love.

“Living for Jesus who died in my place,
Bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace.
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to thee.
For Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me.
I owe no other Master, My heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give henceforth to live, O Christ for Thee alone.”

There's not anything forced about that. Nothing to be hated about that. Nothing to dread about that.

It's just the excitement of voluntarily serving Jesus out of love.


III. The Marks of Christian Servanthood

A. Flexibility

This servant in Luke 17 did everything. He was a Jack-of-all-trades.

We see him in the field plowing … over in another part of the field tending the flocks, shepherding the sheep … he comes in and prepares the food. I didn't matter – he was willing to do anything and everything his master asked him to do.

Look back at I Corinthians 9:19-23. The kingdom of God is big and has many needs, so we must be flexible.

B. Faithfulness

This servant has worked hard all day doing many tasks, but there's not any word of him grumbling or griping or bellyaching or fussing or fuming of feuding. He just did it.

He had the same degree of commitment in the kitchen that he had in the barn and that he had in the field. And when the day was done the master didn't even say “Thank You” and it didn't bother him one bit.

One of these days God is going to reward His servants for their faithfulness, but reward must never be the motive for service.

C. Fulfillment Luke 17:10

That word “unprofitable” means “without need.” What does that mean?

When you finish all that God wants you to do in your life and you've done it is the right attitude and spirit, the greatest joy, satisfaction and fulfillment in life is that you've done what you were supposed to do.

So many come to the end of their life and have no idea why they were ever born.

I can tell you: You were born to serve the Lord. You'll never have any joy, satisfaction or sense of fulfillment until you do what God wants you to do.

Paul said, “I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith. I have finished the course.” With anticipation he waits to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good, faithful servant.”



AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Luke 17:11-19


Before reading the Passage.

It is a tribute to modern medicine that most of us know very little about the disease called leprosy. Most of us have never seen a leper. We only know what we read in the Bible.

If we had lived in those days, we would have known a great deal more. In Bible times it was the most feared disease in the world. It was deadly, incurable, and hopeless. Anyone who contracted this disease would become the walking dead. They died inch by inch. Life would essentially be over for them.

So much did the ancients fear leprosy that anyone suspected of having the disease was banished from society. In the rabbinic writings we find remedies for various diseases, but nothing is listed for leprosy. The rabbis said that curing leprosy was like raising the dead.

Today leprosy is called Hansen's Disease, after the Norwegian doctor who in 1873 discovered the bacterium that causes the disease. The worst kind of leprosy follows this general pattern:

1. A patch of skin is discolored. It might occur on the brow, nose, ear, cheek or chin.

2. The patch turns white or pink and begins to spread rapidly in all directions.

3. The disease spreads to various internal organs, often inside the throat that caused the voice to sound raspy. The eyebrows may disappear and spongy tumors appear on the body.

4. Tissue begins to disintegrate causing the hands and feet to become deformed.

5. The nerve endings of the body are destroyed. This is the most critical and dangerous stage of leprosy because it means that the affected person loses the ability to feel pain. Thus a rat might chew off a finger at night and that person would never feel it. Or they might touch a flame and feel no pain.

Add to this that the disease was contagious and could not be cured by man.

Leviticus 13-14 gives special instructions concerning the diagnosis and treatment of leprosy. It essentially says that any swelling or rash or skin infection must be immediately presented to the priest for his inspection. He is to examine the sore, the skin surrounding it, and the white of the hair within the infected area. White hair was considered to be a danger sign. The person inspected would then be quarantined for seven days. At the end of seven days, if the infection had disappeared, the person could be readmitted to society. If not, then the person diagnosed as having leprosy was banished from society during the time of his infection.



Leviticus 13:45-46 says, “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, Unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

With that background, we come to the text:

Read the Passage.

I want us to see first:


I. A Tragic Congregation Luke 17:11-13


It is no surprise that Jesus encounters these ten men between Galilee and Samaria. These were two separate regions and a border divided the two. But the border was not the only thing that divided these two regions. They were also divided by the hostilities and prejudices within the two regions that the people within held against each other.

On the Galilee side of the border lived the Jews; on the Samaria side of the border lived their Samaritan neighbors. Jesus and His disciples are headed for Jerusalem for the last time and He is going to die. But the Bible says, “When He entered a certain village.” The Jews and Samaritans so hated each other that neither would live close to the border. True blue Jews despised the Samaritans so that when the Jews wanted to insult Jesus, they said, “ … You are a Samaritan and have a demon” (John 8:48).

This “certain village” was really a desert place where Jews and Samaritans lived together only because they were lepers and no one wanted them or claimed them. So, their dying disease brought them together.

So, here is a colony of lepers joined by their common misfortune and misery. The only thing that united them was their foul disease that cast them out of society.

As Jesus enters the village, these men stand afar off crying out to Him for mercy. How did they know who He was? Remember that Jesus is in the last weeks of His life. His public ministry had been three years. No doubt they had heard the rumors across the barren countryside – “This man can heal lepers.”

But now the word spreads – “He's here! Jesus is passing our way. He has healed other lepers; maybe He can heal us!”

There they stand, the most ragged choir in Israel, ten lepers and their pitiful cry, “Have mercy on us! Have mercy on us!”, all from lips that had seen too little mercy and too much condemnation.


II. A Tremendous Compassion Luke 17:14


Theirs is a cry of Desperation and perhaps a cry of Anticipation.

“They lifted up their voice and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” They didn't call Him, “Lord;” nor did they say, “If You are willing, You can make us whole.” Instead, they called out to Him with a somewhat common title of honor. The word “Master” here refers to Jesus as “Your Honor.” These ten lepers recognized Jesus not for Who He was as much as for what He could do for them. They didn't seem to show much reverence.

What will Jesus do? Will He heal them right then and there? That was certainly within His power. Instead, Jesus said something that sounds surprising to us.

Jesus didn't touch them or speak a healing word to them, instead Jesus told them to do what Leviticus 14 told them to do once they had been cleansed from leprosy: “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”

But they were not healed yet! Notice Luke 17:14b.

They must have thought, “Why can't Jesus heal us before sending us to the priest? We're going to look like fools – going to the priest, showing ourselves to him as if cleansed, when we're still covered with leprosy. The priest will reject us.”

And yet they went. Do you think Jesus may have been testing their faith? We often say, “Seeing is believing.” Faith says, “Believing is seeing.”

Luke 17:14 says, “As they went they were cleansed.” They were healed “AS they went,” and not before.

That brings us to a tremendous insight. Our faith moves mountains when our faith moves us. When Jesus said, “Go show yourself to the priest,” He was really saying, “Act as if you are already healed.” When our faith moves us to action, God honors our faith. Faith is believing plus acting on our part.

I wonder how many steps they took after they turned to go to the priest before something unbelievable
and wonderful began to happen.

Instantly. Miraculously. All ten at once.

In the act of going they were cleansed! Trusting God does not equal doing nothing. “AS they went” – “they were cleansed.”

But that's not the end of the story.


III. A Thankful Convert Luke 17:15-19


All ten are cleansed. How they must have rejoiced! They were going to see the priest, get his witness that they are cleansed, and then go to their families!

Then it suddenly dawned on one of the ten – a Samaritan – who it was who cleansed him. I wonder if the Samaritan didn't say, “Hey, guys, let's go back and see Jesus again. He's going to Jerusalem, but we
haven't gone very far yet. We can catch Him and thank Him!”

“Why?” they ask. “We've already got our healing. He told us to go to the priest. Forget it!”

“Look,” said the Samaritan, “you guys go on ahead if you want to. I've got a feeling I'll always regret it if I don't go back. He deserves my thanks as well as my worship and praise.” So he runs back as fast as his renewed feet could carry him.

I'm sure if you had asked the nine if they were grateful and thankful for their healing, they would have said, “Well, of course, we are.”

What separated this one man from the others was that his gratitude was expressed. His thankfulness was put into words and action. And he expressed his thanks with a loud voice!

When these ten called out to Jesus for mercy, they did it with a loud voice. Now this one comes, falls on his face before the Lord, and with a loud voice gives Him thanks.

Luke doesn't say so directly, but I think he implies that the other nine were Jews. If that's so, then what this story is telling us is that those who should have been most grateful, weren't. And the one man who shouldn't have come back, did.

If you listen carefully, you can hear surprise, shock, and, most of all, sadness. Jesus wants to know about the others. Where are they? Weren't they healed? Why did they not come back and say, “Thank You”?

It's a good question. Why did they not come back?

Jesus didn't say to this one who came back: “Bless your heart. You came back. You didn't have to do that.” No! Jesus Expected him AND the others to express thanks – Gratitude for what He had done for them.

Jesus expected all of them to return to give glory to God.

Gratitude is the highest duty of the believer. Ingratitude is the leprosy of the soul. It eats away on the inside, destroys our joy, withers our compassion, paralyzes our praise and renders us numb to all the blessings of God.

Do you Spend time thanking God for what He's done for you?

James 1:17 says that “every – EVERY – good and Every perfect gift comes from the Father.”

Some don't even thank God for the food they are about to eat.

And what about the gift that only God can give: your salvation.

We use to teach our children to sing:

“Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul;
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole,
Thank you, Love, for giving to me,
Thou great salvation, so rich and free.”

We are more ready to Pray than to Praise. How sad many of us must make our Lord.

Psalm 95:2: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.”

I Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Ephesians 5:20: “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus
Christ.”

God Himself is blessed by our thanks.

Is there a debt of thanks that you owe Him, but you have left unpaid? Wouldn't this be a good day to begin paying that debt?

 

THE PRESENT AND FUTURE KINGDOM

Luke 17:20-37


Prophecy has always fascinated folks. “What can we expect to happen in the future?” “When can we expect so-and-so to happen?” But Bible prophecy is not given so we can sit around and speculate about what will happen in the future. It is always given so that we can apply it to how we live in the present in light of what God has promised to do I the future.

This passage of Scripture begins with a question that the Pharisees had for Jesus. In reality, it was not just a question. It was a demand. They demanded to know when the Kingdom of God was coming. Look again in Luke 17:20.

Understand that these Pharisees were not out for Information. They were out for Defamation. They were trying to defame the character of our Lord. They didn't ask this question seeking an answer. They asked this question to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people because they hated Him.

But their question brings before us one of the most intriguing concepts in the New Testament – the concept of the Kingdom of God. Most folks associate the Kingdom of God with future events like the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, or the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth. In other words, something somewhere in the future.

Actually, the Kingdom of God is presented in three ways in the New Testament.

1. There is the Ultimate Kingdom of God. That's Heaven.

One day every true believer is going to be in Heaven. It is a wonderful, beautiful place where there will be no sin, no suffering, no separation. Jesus Christ will be worshiped there. We will love Him, praise Him, and fellowship with Him and His saints forever and forever.

2. But there is also coming an Earthly Kingdom of God.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” One day the Rapture will take place and every believer will be “caught up to be with the Lord.” After the Rapture there will be seven years of utter bloodshed on the earth. Thank God, we as believers will not be a part of that. At the end of the seven years of Tribulation, Christ is going to establish a Millennial Kingdom on the earth where King Jesus will reign.

The ultimate Kingdom in Heaven, the Earthly Millennial Kingdom on earth, but then:

3. The Internal Kingdom of God inside of every Christian.

The Pharisees, along with most folks in that day, were looking for a political kingdom that would overthrow Roman imperialism and set the Jews free from the yoke of Roman bondage. They were looking for a political kingdom, but they knew absolutely nothing about a Spiritual kingdom of God.

They were looking for a visible kingdom; yet, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation” (Luke 17:20). It is not something you can see.
It's going to be an invisible kingdom. There will be no outward show. No marching armies. No great
white horses. No implements of war. You can't spot them by the clothes they wear or the style of their hair.

Look at Luke 17:21: “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” That Greek preposition translated “within you” in the KJV, can mean “within,” “among,” or “in the midst of” you. Jesus was saying, “Don't look for the kingdom 'out there' unless it is first in your heart.”

Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus was not saying that the kingdom of God was within them; rather, He was saying that the King of the Kingdom was in their midst and they didn't recognize Him.

The King was in their midst in Bethlehem and they didn't recognize Him. He was in their midst standing in the Jordan with John the Baptist and they didn't recognize Him. He was in their midst that day and they didn't recognize Him. If He is King of your heart and life today, He is within you.

Having answered the Pharisees, Jesus then turned to His disciples. In Luke 17:22-23 Jesus tells His disciples, “Men, one day you are going to long for the opportunity to just relive one of the days that you and I have spent together during our three years together.” What a time they must have had – sharing together, listening to Jesus teach, fellow-shipping together. But those days are coming to an end. He is going to die. But He is coming back again. Luke gives two great passages on our Lord's return, here in Luke 17, and again in Chapter 21.

Jesus speaks to His disciples about four things:


I. The Suddenness of His Coming Luke 17:24


His coming will be sudden, shocking, and unexpected.

Lighting strikes when there is a storm. When Jesus returns, He will come into a stormy world of political and economic chaos.

Lightning occurs suddenly and speedily. Lightning usually travels from cloud to ground and then flashes back upward at a speed of 1/10,000 of a second. First Corinthians 15 tells us that when Jesus comes to rapture His Church it will happen in a “twinkling of an eye.” There will be no time for one to repent, so you'd better be right with God Before He returns.

You never know exactly when lightning will strike – it is always unexpected. Paul tells us that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” – unexpectedly.


II. His Suffering Before His Coming Luke 17:25


He is referring to that event that would end the days of the Son of Man as they knew it. He must suffer.
Some of you know something about suffering, but none of us have ever suffered like Jesus suffered. He suffered every way a person can suffer.

• Physically

Oh, my – the beating, the scourge, the whipping, the pulling out of His beard, the crown of thorns implanted upon His forehead, the nails in His wrists and in His feet.

• The Emotional Suffering

Some who claimed to love Him denied Him. Peter cursed and said, “I've never heard of Him.”

Some who claimed to serve Him turned from Him.

One who spent three and a half years with Him sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver.

• He also suffered Spiritually.

On the cross He cried, “Why, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But you see, that was part of His suffering. He had never been separated from His Father, but because Jesus took my sin and your sin upon Himself, He had to pay the full consequence of our sin, and that is to be separated from God.

He said, “I must suffer,” and “I must be rejected,” and Oh, He was! They laughed at Him. They spat upon Him. They ridiculed Him. One of the thieves mocked Him. They called Him a liar and a fool. He suffered it all in our place.


III. The Signs of the Times Luke 17:26-30

Luke gives us two sings from the Old Testament:

1. The Days of Noah Luke 17:26-27

What's wrong with eating or drinking or marrying? Nothing! But Genesis 6 tells us that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually and the Lord was sorry that He had even made man and what man had become grieved the heart of God.

God sent Noah to preach for 120 years concerning the conditions and no one listened – none! The problem was that the people of Noah's day lived without regard to God and the warnings of the impending doom.

2. The Days of Lot

The Bible says Lot separated from Abraham, and despite knowing the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, “pitched his tent” toward Sodom. Then we read that Lot “sat at the gate of the city,” which means he was now an official in the city. He was not married when he left Abraham, but it seems he married once he got in Sodom and had two daughters at home.
There was extreme wickedness and immorality in the city, especially homosexuality. But Lot and the people there lived their lives as if nothing was wrong. They accepted that kind of behavior as normal. Instead of the public being alarmed or outraged at the wickedness, they condoned it by acting as if nothing was wrong.

When God sent two angels who looked like men to bring Lot and his family out of the city, the men of the city tried to knock the door of Lot's house down to get to the two angels for homosexual purposes. You won't believe what Lot did next! Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the men instead of the two angels, but they refused. The angels ended up pulling Lot's family out of Sodom.

Look at Luke 17:32. “Remember Lot's wife.” Genesis 19 said the whole family hesitated so the angels forcefully put their hands on them and dragged them out of the city. God strictly warned them not to look back while the city was being destroyed, but as they climbed the mountain, Lot's wife either didn't believe God or so loved the city and its wickedness that she turned back to look, and she was suddenly turned to a pillar of salt. Lot should have been salt and light in Sodom but was not. The angels got Mrs. Lot out of Sodom, but they couldn't get Sodom out of her.

Does that sound like America today? We have gotten so use to homosexuality, abortion, and pornography that such behavior has gained national acceptance. In fact, they say the Christians are wrong for objecting to such wickedness when they have the spiritual courage to do so. Like in the days of Noah and Lot, we are living in a day of complete spiritual indifference. It seems we could care less about the things of God.


IV. The Separation at His Coming Luke 17:34-36

Some will be caught up and some will be left behind.

The word for “eagles” in Luke 17:37 is actually “buzzards.” This verse speaks of the Battle of Armageddon when the Lord will defeat all His enemies with just a word. The buzzards will be summoned to feed on the corpses of those who will be slain.


“Jesus is coming to earth again. What if it were today?
Coming in power and love to reign. What if it were today?
Coming to claim His chosen Bride, All the redeemed and purified.
Over this whole earth scattered wide. What if it were today?

“Glory, glory! Joy to my heart 'twill bring;
Glory, glory! When we shall crown Him King;
Glory, glory! Haste to prepare the way;
Glory, glory! Jesus will come someday.”

PRAY UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS

Luke 18:1-8


On the surface prayer seems simple.

• Philippines 4:6: “Let your request be made known unto God.”

• I John 5:15: We have the petitions that we desire of Him. If we let our “request be made known unto God,” we will have the petitions that we desire of Him. Doesn't that sound simple?

• James 4:2: “You have not, because you ask not.” That's the reason most of us don't have our prayers answered. We don't pray. How can God answer our prayers if we don't pray?

The basic principles and doctrines of prayer are simple, but the execution and practice of those principles are far from simple and easy.

In fact, prayer is such a challenging endeavor that few of God's people actually pray regularly and consistently. Yet, prayer is the greatest resource the Christian has. It is also the greatest responsibility we have. We pray to express our total dependence on Him in every circumstance of life.

The attitude of too many believers is, “What's the use in praying? My prayers are never answered anyway.” The reality is that it is not that prayer doesn't work, but rather that we will not work at prayer.

Our Lord gives this parable on prayer to teach us persistence and perseverance in our prayer lives. We often quit praying too soon. We give up on praying too soon. We loose heart too soon. I wonder how many of us are just one prayer away from getting what we need from the Lord.

You don't have to wonder about the meaning of this parable because Jesus tells us what it is in Luke 18:1.

This parable on prayer fits into the context of the Second Coming of our Lord. The last seventeen verses of Luke 17 tell us of our Lord's return. We will need prayer to help get us through the last days just before Jesus comes again. See Luke 18:8.

Does that mean that the closer we get to the return of our Lord, fewer people will be praying and more will be neglecting prayer? I think that's exactly what Jesus is saying.

Again and again Jesus tells us that as we get closer to His return, His people ought to be waiting,
watching, and praying. This old world is headed for some dark days. We ought to pray that God would give us the grace to stand firm for Him in these days and to pray for the salvation of the lost.

Read the Passage.


Several things I would call to your attention.


I. The Plea to Pray Luke 18:1


May I remind you that for the child of God, prayer is not an option; it is a duty. Notice the word “ought.” The word means, “it is necessary; there is a need for it; it is right and proper.” It is our duty to pray.

Then notice the word “always.” “Always” does not mean we are to pray every single minute of the
day. It means we must be faithful to our regular times and seasons of prayer. We are to live in the attitude of prayer.

We need to cultivate the habit of prayer. A habit is something you do over and over. We are to commit ourselves to those times of prayer and let nothing rob us of our time alone with God.


II. The Problem in Prayer Luke 18:1


“Men ought always to pray AND NOT TO FAINT.” The word “faint” means “to lose heart, to grow weary, to give up, to quit.”

If you really want to humble me, ask me how my prayer-life is. I must confess that my prayer-life is not what it should be – is yours? If I prayed twice as much as I do or ten times more than I do, it would not be enough.

Someone said that what we need is not so much a prayer-life as a life of prayer!

The place where I “faint” the most is when it comes to prayer.

Robert Murray M'Cheyne said that “A man is what he is on his knees, and no more.”

Someone has well said, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Why do we find prayer so difficult? Because Satan himself is involved in a spiritual battle against us and he will bring as many hindrances as he can against us to keep us from praying.

Ephesians 6:12: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood … but against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

What are some of the hindrances Satan will put in our way when it comes to prayer? What causes us to faint? Why doesn't God always answer our prayers as we pray them?

1. Defilement

Sin will keep God from answering our prayers – Psalm 66:18; Matthew 6:14-15

Sin also kills our interest in prayer. Praying will keep us from sin or sin will keep us from praying.


2. Doubt

The Bible says that we must pray in faith – believing.

“Pray and believe and you shall receive; pray and doubt and you'll do without.”

Let me give you a warning here. Some “name-it-and-claim-it” preachers distort the meaning of praying in faith.

When my grandmother was in her 70's, her health began to fail. She had listened to Oral Roberts for years and watched his healing programs on TV. She wrote to him and asked him if he would pray for her that she might be healed. He wrote back and said if she would send “so much” money he would pray for her and she would be healed. She sent him the money but she grew worse. She wrote back to him and told him that she had gotten worse. She got a letter back that said something like this:

“The reason you got worse was not the fault of Rev. Roberts. He has the gift of healing, but you did not have the faith to believe. However, if you will send more money …”

It's interesting that Oral Roberts died Dec. 15, 2009. I guess he must have “fainted in his faith” or he would have escaped death!

Another preacher was speaking on healing and a man sent him fifty dollars. He wrote back and said, “I have no fifty-dollar healing, but I do have some hundred-dollar healings.”

Was my grandmother not healed because she didn't have enough faith?

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul said he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things that was not lawful for him to repeat. But lest he be exalted because of the revelation, he was given a thorn in the flesh by Satan to buffet him. He said that he prayed three times that God would remove it, but God did not. Instead, God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responded, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of God might rest upon me.”

Let me ask you: “Was Paul not healed from his thorn because his faith was not strong enough?”

In Matthew 26 Jesus prayed three times that “this cup” might pass from Him if it be the Father's will. It was not the Father's will and Jesus went to the cross, became sin for us, and the Father turned His face from His Son as He became our substitute. Did Jesus have to go to the cross and die because He lacked faith? Of course not!

God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He says, “Yes,” and we see the answers. Sometimes His answer is “No,” for the prayer was not asked according to His will. Sometimes God's answer is, “Yes, but you must wait a while. Don't stop praying.” Sometimes God answers our prayers differently than what we had in mind, but His answer is better, even though we cannot see it at the time.

Defilement. Doubt. And:

3. Distractions

The devil is a master at producing distractions during our prayer time to keep us from praying well. The phone rings, the baby cries, a car horn blows, and a thousand other things happen. How often have you been praying and your mind begins to wander off in every direction? Maybe you even fall asleep while praying!

4. Delays

How often have you said, “I'm too busy to pray right now. I'll pray later,” and you let one day slip by; then two; then a week!

Someone said, “Seven days without prayer makes one W E A K!”

The problem is if we “faint” in prayer and GIVE UP praying, we'll soon give IN to evil.”


III. The Parable on Prayer Luke 18:2-8a


You must see that this is NOT a parable of Comparison; rather, it is a parable of Contrast – Extreme Contrast.

Our God is the very opposite of this ungodly, harsh, uncaring judge.

Notice Luke 18:2. This judge did not fear God; nor did he care about man and his problems. Jesus described the judge as wicked and unjust. He also said he was unloving and without mercy.

Our God, to whom we go in prayer, loves and cares for each of His children. He delights to meet the needs of His children. He Asks us to bring our petitions before Him so He can help.

Notice Luke 18:3-5. Notice in Luke 18:5 the words “troubles” and “weary” me.

This wicked judge is worried about his reputation: “What is man going to think of me if I don't do something for her. And SHE keeps pestering me.”

God's reputation is well intact.

Here's what is happening. Some injustice has been done to this woman. Maybe she's about to lose her home. Women, especially widows, had very little standing in that day. Add to that, she was poor and had no advocate. The judge didn't care about her or her problem. She pleads with the judge for justice, but he ignores her.

There is only one thing to do. She decides she will persist in her pleas until the judge finally relents and grants justice for her.

She stays outside his quarters and continually pleads, “Give me legal protection from my adversary.” The judge refuses, but she continues to harass him. She comes back the next day and the next day with her petition. She sees him in the market place and at his home, day after day and she keeps bring up the injustice done to her and asking him to make it right.

Finally, the judge says, “Although I care nothing about God or this woman, I'll grant her request so she'll stop troubling me and making me weary.” The words “troubleth” and “weary me” literally come out of the boxing arena. The word means “to give one a black eye.” Here's a guy who keeps hitting someone around the eye until the eye begins to swell and turns black. The judge is saying, “She's hurting my reputation. She's giving my reputation a black eye. I'll give her what she wants just to get her off my back!”

Understand that God doesn't have to be pestered to give to His children. Sometimes He delays and wants us to keep coming to Him, because He wants to see if we really want what we ask for. Also, it strengthens us spiritually when we reaffirm our dependence on Him.


IV. The Principles of Prayer


Don't Worry – Pray! Don't Quit – Pray Persistently! Don't Doubt – Pray Positively in Faith! Expect God to answer your prayers.

1. God may not answer in the exact moment that you think He should. But remember: God is more concerned with Timing than with Time.

2. God may not answer in the WAY you think He should. When you pray, God first changes you, and then He changes the things around you. His answers are always right.

3. God is not out to accomplish your will, but His will.



THE MAN WHO STOPPED BY CHURCH
ON HIS WAY TO HELL

Luke 18:8-14


In the first eight verses of Luke 18, Jesus taught about the importance of praying persistently. Beginning in Verse 9, He tells another parable about prayer.

In this passage Jesus takes us into a worship service; but more than that, He takes us into the hearts of two worshipers. No doubt there were many more folks in the Temple that day, but Jesus focuses in on the hearts of two worshipers.

Let me ask you a question that you cannot answer, but I want you to think about: What is going on in the heart of the person sitting beside you? We have been here almost thirty minutes. We have prayed together, sung together, fellowshipped together; and yet, none of us knows what is going on in the hearts of others around us. But … Jesus knows what is going on in the hearts of each one of us. If Jesus wrote what was going on in your heart, as He did about these two worshipers, what would He write?

As we look at this parable, I want you to see:


I. The Vision from Heaven Luke 18:9


First of all, He saw two men: one was a Pharisee; the other a Publican. Pharisees were religious folks. In fact, they tried to live up to the Law of God, at least outwardly, as closely as they could. They were respected in that day as real men of God.

Publicans were the most hated and despised of all men in that day. They were Jews who had sold out to the hated Romans to be tax collectors of their own people. They had to collect a certain amount of taxes for the Romans, but all they collected over that amount went into their own pockets, and most of them were rich. It would be hard to find a greater contrast than this one between the Pharisee and the Publican.

Both men went into the Temple to pray at about the same time. Jesus says in Luke 18:9 that He told this parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” Of course, He was speaking of the Pharisees.

The words, “that they were righteous” means that they really didn't think they needed to go to the Temple or to church. They felt like they already were everything that God taught that a man could be. They went by the very letter of the Law. They were as moral as a man could be.

Jesus also said that they “despised” others. They considered themselves to be SOMBODY, but all the rest were NOBODIES. He was something; all the rest were nothing. Here's a fella who has a pretty high estimate of himself.

Luke 18:11, 12 gives us the Pharisee's prayer.

“He stood and prayed thus with himself.” The word “stood” literally means “he struck a pose.” There he stands, with his elaborate robe on with all of its colorful ribbons that acted like merit badges, showing his authority and distinction because of all he had done.

That word “stood” carries the idea of parading or posing – apart from others so they will notice him and hear him. His posture is erect! He was there to be seen and heard by other worshipers.

Listen to Jesus: Matthew 6:5.

Do you choose what you are going to wear to church based on what other people will think of you?

Obviously, this Pharisee was at the Temple for others to see how good he was. To him it was a public performance. He had given much thought about what he would wear, and where he would stand, and what he would say, because there was an audience. When he arrived, he walked up to the front and stood before the people in his flowing robe and prayer shawl. It was just all part of the religious show for him.

That's what God saw.


II. The Voices God Heard from Heaven Luke 18:11-13


God saw two men and He heard two voices. Both of them came to pray and both of them did pray. One prayed to impress others, and one prayed, seeking God.

1. The Prayer of the Pharisee Luke 18:11-12

Two totally different attitudes are displayed in worship. This Pharisee starts off with God, but he doesn't refer to God again.

Five times he says “I”. Did you notice: He mentioned all of his virtues, but none of his vices. Though this man went up to the Temple to pray, he never really prayed. He forgot the essential part of prayer: confession of sin and a plea for mercy! As he prays, he looks neither upward in worship nor downward in remorse. He confesses the publican's sins, but not his own.

What was he doing? He was giving a self-testimonial in the presence of God. God never wants that. God absolutely despises that. The Bible says that no flesh can glory in His presence. But here's a man who thought he could impress God with his self-righteousness.

Then, the Pharisee's was not only the voice of self-righteousness, his was also the voice of self-satisfaction. He saw no need in his life for anything. He didn't need a closer walk with God. He didn't need a personal relationship with Jesus. He didn't need anything spiritual. He was completely satisfied with his own life. His voice was also the voice from a deceived heart. He thought God was only interested in our religious show. God is interested in our heart. If your heart is a heart of arrogance and pride and deceit, God is not impressed with that. In his mind, this Pharisee thought he was the best of men. His attitude was, “God, You certainly are blessed to have someone like me on Your side.”

Pride is proud of its goodness. Pride loves to talk about “I”. Pride seldom admits a need. Pride sees only the faults of others.

2. But then, there was the Prayer of the Publican Luke 18:13

The Pharisee saw himself as “The Saint;” the Publican saw himself as “The Sinner.” In the KJV it reads, “God, be merciful to me 'A' sinner,” but actually, he said, “The Sinner.” The Publican saw himself as The Sinner. He was guilty before God and he knew it. If there were not another sinner in the world, he knew he was one.

The Publican enters the Temple with his eyes downcast, the body language of guilt, and he beats his breast in the well-known posture of grief and sorrow. Everything about him speaks of humility, brokenness, and repentance. He has no illusions about who he is or what he is like. His prayer is a prayer; a cry from his heart!

Paul called himself “the chief of sinners,” but this man said he was THE sinner – the worst man on earth. THAT'S WHAT CONVICTION OF SIN WILL DO!

Spurgeon said that he sent a “Holy Telegram to Heaven” saying, “Be merciful to me, the sinner!”

– No excuses: he owned up to his sinfulness.
– No promises of future goodness.


III. The Verdict of Heaven Luke 18:14

“I tell you this man.” Which man? The Publican who prayed the prayer of repentance!

The Publican went home Justified: washed clean in the blood of Jesus, Free from the bondage of sin, his heavy heart changed to a glad heart. What a great way to go home from church.

“This man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.” One man went home Dignified; the other went home Justified. One went home saved; the other one lost.

There is something very sobering here in this passage. This passage says many things to me, but the most sobering thing it says is, that it is possible to go to church, it is possible for a person to pray, it is possible for a person to fast, it is possible for a person to tithe, it is possible for a person to do all of that and still be lost.

Two things Jesus asks of us:

• Be honest with yourself.

• Humble yourself before God. You and I must approach God in humility. If you want
to receive forgiveness from God, you cannot strut into His presence, bragging about how
nice you are.

Rather, come to Him and say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN

Luke 18:15-17


In the late 1800's, a pastor in Chicago, Herbert Woolston, wrote a hymn that has been sung my millions of children. We all know the chorus, but the first verse goes:

“Jesus calls the children clear, come to Me and never fear.
For I love the little children of the world.
I will take you by the hand; lead you to a better land;
For I love the little children of the world.”

Then the familiar chorus says:

“Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight;
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Because Jesus loves the little children, we ought to love them, too.

Parents, the best thing you can do is to follow the example of the parents in this passage of Scripture – bring your children to Jesus so He can bless them. If you have children, you have the awesome responsibility to see your children learn about God. The very best thing you can give your child is the gift of knowing that they are loved by God.

Some of my earliest memories are of my family going to church. I can recall sitting in Sunday School and learning the songs and hearing Bible stories. Our church loved the old hymns – many that we don't sing any more – but I still love them and remember them and often incorporate them into my messages.

God has given me the wonderful privilege of leading many people to Christ, and I have forgotten many of those experiences. But I will never forget winning my son to the Lord.

I had promised to take him to the batting cage to practice his hitting. I left the church to pick him up at home so we could go to the field. My wife, Janice, had been talking to him about the Lord as she did every day. When Tim was coming to the car, Janice said, “Lowell, I believe Tim is ready to trust the Lord.”

When we got to the batting cage, I told Tim that I wanted to talk to him. I told him what Janice had told me. Within five minutes Tim asked Jesus into his heart and I watched God transform his young life. What thrills my soul was when I heard him share his personal testimony in church the next Sunday. I've heard him share his testimony at other times and it always brings joy to my heart. Now when I send him a card on his birthday or write him a note, I always sign my name along with 3 John 4,
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

I love the way Mark describes this same scene. He writes, “And Jesus took the children in His arms,
put His hands on them, and blessed them.”

Both Matthew and Mark use a word that means “younger children.” Only Luke uses the word for infant or baby. So, there were children of all ages there, but those parents come bringing their children to the Lord.

But the Scripture says, “but when His disciples saw it, THEY rebuked them. But Jesus called them (the
disciples) unto Him, and said, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me (permit little children to come unto Me) and (do not) forbid them (stop forbidding them), for of such is the kingdom of God.'”

Remember, Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to die, and the disciples didn't want Jesus bothered.

What a beautiful picture! Those rough hands of a Carpenter became soft and tender as Jesus uses them to hug and caress those children. Those hands that would soon be hammered to a cross were used to express affection to little toddlers and infants.

By way of introduction, let me mention four things that I know for sure:

1. The souls of all children are precious to Jesus.
2. Jesus loves ALL the little children.
3. Children can hear and understand the Gospel.
4. Boys and girls can be saved.

Now let me point out three or four things from this passage.


I. We See Here Some Wonderful Parents Luke 18:15


“THEY brought infants to Jesus.” Who are the “they?” They are the parents of these children.. And THEY were not just mothers.

The word “they” is masculine and when it says that the disciples rebuked “them,” the “them” is also a masculine pronoun. So, both men and women were in the crowd that day.

Maybe the greatest need we have in America is for parents to be committed to bringing their children to Christ.

Some of you sitting in front of me today are here as born again believers in Christ because of the faithful witness of a godly mother and a godly dad. Now you don't have to have Christian parents to become a Christian, but I want to tell you, the chances of a child becoming a Christian are much, much greater if their parents are faithful, committed children of God. Here we find some parents who were determined to bring their children to Christ.

It's amazing to me that many parents today are seemingly determined to keep their children FROM Christ. As a matter of fact, the name “Jesus” has become the most offensive name in the English language. There are many public schools today that are more at ease with a drug pusher coming on campus than they are with a born again believer coming on campus.


I heard about a teacher who saw a little group of children on their knees. She ran over to them, ready to rebuke them. She said, “Get up from there!” When they got up, she saw some money and some dice there on the floor, and she said, “Oh, go ahead. Go back to what you were doing. I thought you were praying.” That's the world in which we live.

There are a lot of parents today who are determined: “I want my child to succeed in sports.” “I want my child to succeed in business.” “I want my child to be rich.” “I want my child to do this … But I don't want them to become a religious fanatic.”

One of the Top 20 songs of the 1990's was a song by the Steels, entitled, “We Want America Back.”
It struck me that, while its message was quite true back then, its truth is even more relevant today. America has never, ever, been under such attack from the forces of evil as it has been recently. And the downward moral spiral is clearly accelerating. The cancer of immorality and ungodliness has been metastasizing through the nation's leadership at all levels at a truly alarming rate, in countless ways of which you are surely aware.

As Christians, are we doing enough to stand up against such ungodliness? Are we letting our voices be heard? Apparently, not nearly enough. Are we doing all we can to put people in positions of leadership
who fear God and use Godly precepts to inform their public actions? Apparently, we have failed miserably in this regard. Can we really make a difference? With God's help, yes. That's why He has us here. But if we remain passive it will only get worse.

So, with Jeff Steel's permission, I'd like to share with you his entire song, including the verse, the chorus, and Jeff's powerful recitation, all of which seems very timely.

“Something is wrong with America.
She once held the Bible as her conscience and guide.
But we've allowed those who hold nothing to be sacred
Like Sodom of old to push morals aside.
Where are the men who once stood for righteousness
And the women who championed their cause?
We must return to the values we left
Before this country we love is totally lost.

(Chorus)
“We want America back, we want America back.
From those who have no self-control
We want America back.
This nation is like a runaway train
Headed down the wrong track.
It's time for the army of God to arise and say
We want America back.

(Recitation)
“I love America, but I do not love what she has become. Scripture says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” and America has forgotten the godly foundation on which she was built.

“Something is wrong.

“Our children are asked to attend public schools that in many cases resemble war zones, without even the basic right of any soldier – the right to pray to the God of heaven. Many times, the wild-eyed, drug addicted, gun carrying teenager is allowed to stay in school, while the Supreme Court decided to expel God from the class room over thirty years ago.

“Something is wrong.

“Television daily bombards the senses of our nation with the idea that wrong is right, that abnormal is
normal, that the abhorrent is acceptable, and that things God calls abominations are nothing more than
lifestyle alternatives. And that's had an effect. Thirty years ago, the number one television program was “the Andy Griffith Show.” Look what we have today.

“Something is wrong.

“When our government can pass out contraceptives to children in schools without parental consent, yet the Gideons can no longer pass out the Bible on campus, something is wrong. When our leaders can say to your children that pre-marital sex is all right as long as it's safe, yes, something is wrong.

“I, for one, am ready for a change. I will say to my government, “I'm not raising dogs at my house, I'm raising children created in the image and likeness of Almighty God.” I'm going to teach them the Bible. If the Bible says it's right, it's right. And if the Bible says it's wrong, it's wrong.

“The only hope that America has is that godly men and women of character will stand together as one mighty army and declare to the immoral, impure, obscene and foul, 'Your days of unlimited access to the minds of America are over. The army of God that has been silent for too long is taking America back!'

(Chorus)
“It's time for the army of God to arise and say
We want America Back!”


II. We Find Some Mistaken Disciples Luke 18:15


The disciples didn't rebuke the children, but they did rebuke the parents. You would be amazed how
many writers of commentaries say, “Now don't be too hard on these disciples. Their motives were right.”

I don't know if their motives were right or not, but Mark's gospel says that when the disciples did this, that “Jesus was much displeased.” That means that He became filled with indignation. That is, He got angry. Jesus came to seek and to save and here the disciples were trying to keep people from Him.

The disciples were mistaken, and Jesus, gently and yet firmly, rebuked them. He called His disciples unto Himself and He said unto them, “Men stop forbidding people to come to Me, even these children. Let them come. Permit them to come.”



Through the years, I've known adults, even parents, who keep their children from coming to Jesus. I've known children who came to Vacation Bible School and learned about how Jesus loved them and died on the cross for their sins. These precious children accept Christ at VBS, and when we contact the parents about their child's decision for Christ, some parents get angry and completely refuse for their child to follow Christ in baptism. How tragic – to keep your own child from coming to Jesus. Sometimes they say that the child doesn't know what they are doing. How do they know? They may not know as much as an adult, but God accepts a child's childlike faith, forgives their sins, and gives to them eternal life.

Jesus said if you hinder a child from coming to Christ, you're in real trouble. It would be better to have a mill-stone tied around your neck and cast yourself in the midst if the sea than to hinder a little one from coming to Jesus. We have a great opportunity to influence children for Christ.


III. We Find a Very Loving Lord Jesus Luke 18:16


Mark's gospel says that Jesus “took the children in His arms and laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).

I wonder how many got His embrace. All who came to Him did. Jesus embraced them. He drew them to Himself and blessed them.

No, I'm not saying that all these children were saved; but I am telling you that they were all loved and all of them were blessed by the Master.


• We Find Here an Eternal Truth Luke 18:17


What characteristic, what trait is in a child that an adult has to have to be saved? Some say, “humility,” and children are basically humble. Some say it's “the ability of a child to trust.” Children are trusting by nature. Others say “dependence.” Children are totally dependent.

Well, I think it is all of these. As a child … like a child, you say, “Lord, I'm a sinner. I'm guilty and there is not anything I can do to erase that. I believe you died on the cross to save me from my sins. Lord, I'm coming to you and I open my heart to you now. Lord, I trust you to come into my heart right now. Thank you, Lord.



WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED?

Luke 18:18-30


I want to introduce you to a unique man. There's not anyone else like him in the Bible. Mark's Gospel tells us that this man came running to Jesus, fell at the feet of Jesus, and left the feet of Jesus in worse condition than when he had come. No other person in Scripture came to Jesus, knelt before Him, asked what he must do to have eternal life, and left in worse condition than when he came. The Bible says this man went away sad.

In Luke 18 two different kinds of people approach Jesus. Jesus welcomed a group of little children in Luke 18:15-17. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, for of such is the kingdom of God.” In fact, Jesus said, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as one of these little children will by no means enter into it.”

The little children stand in such contrast to this young man in Luke 18:18-30. The children have such a simple, refreshing approach to God. Jesus said we must receive the kingdom of God in the same simple, trusting fashion.

We know the young man in Luke 18:18-30 as the Rich Young Ruler. The Bible doesn't tell us his name, but we do know him pretty well by reputation. As a matter of fact, there are ten things that I can tell you about this man.

1. He was a Rich Man.

In fact, Luke18:23 tells us that he was not only rich, he was “very rich.” Matthew and Mark tell us he had “great possessions. He was the Bill Gates of his generation.

2. He was a Powerful Man.

Luke identifies him as a “certain ruler.” The word that is translated “ruler” means “commander” or “leader.” He was a man of great importance.

3. He was a Young Man.

The word “young” refers to someone who was under the age of forty … maybe in his twenties or thirties.

4. He was a Respectful Man.

In all three gospels, he addresses Jesus as “Good Master.” He was not using false flattery. He was very honest in his opinion of who Jesus is and was. He was being very respectful. Sometimes rich, young, powerful men can be somewhat disrespectful or arrogant, but not this fellow. He was very respectful concerning the Lord.



5. He was a Spiritually Hungry Man.

He wanted to know how he could have eternal life. A lot of rich people have no concept of life apart from this world. They are just worldly minded. But not this fellow. He was a spiritually minded young man who knew there was life after death, and he wanted to have a part in it. He had a spiritual hunger.

6. He was a Sincere Man.

He came running to Jesus and falling on his knees before Him. This was no outward show. There was something eager and earnest about him wanting to know Jesus and how to have eternal life.

7. He was a Law-keeping Man.

Jesus talked to him about keeping the Ten Commandments. Jesus presented to him five of the commandments. On the first tablet of the Ten Commandments are the commandments that deal with man's relationship with God; on the second tablet were the commandments that deal with man's relationship with man. He gave testimony that he had lived in obedience to these to the best of his ability, and Jesus didn't challenge that.

8. He was a Loved Man.

Mark points out that, “Jesus, beholding him, loved him.”

9. He was a Mistaken Man.

He thought that salvation and eternal life was a prize that could be earned. He said, “What good thing can I do to inherit eternal life?” He thought he could DO enough and EARN eternal life as a reward for his labors. He was a mistaken man.

10. He was a Sad Man.

He was sad when he came to Jesus. You know how I know that? I know that he was sad because, in spite of all of his wealth, in spite of all of power, in spite of all of his morality, he knew that his life was incomplete. There was no satisfaction in his life. Why? Because he was too much in love with his money and possessions to receive Jesus Christ into his life.

This passage of Scripture divides into two natural sections. In Luke 18:18-23 we find Jesus encountering the Rich Young Ruler. Then in Luke 18:24-30 we have Jesus encountering the disciples.


I. Jesus Examines the Young Man's Confession Luke 18:18-19

It was very common for Jews to refer to anyone who was skilled in the Law of God as Master or rabbi, but it was never common to refer to a rabbi, a teacher, or a Master, as “good.” Jews only attributed the title “good” to God Himself, and Jesus knew that. And so, when this man comes to Jesus, falls on his knees before Him, looks up and says to Him, “Good Master,” “Good Teacher,” Jesus asked this question: “Why do you call Me good? There is none good except God.”

Jesus was saying, “Do you believe I am God?” If that young man had said, “Yes, I believe You are God,” then nothing else in this text would be here. Nothing! But the young man in his silence said, “No, I don't believe You are God.” And so, Jesus goes on to the next thing.


II. Jesus Expounds the Law Luke 18:20-21


The Bible makes a very interesting statement in James 2:10: “If you keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, you are guilt of breaking all of it.” That means, if we break any one of the Ten Commandments, we are guilt of breaking all of them.

That doesn't mean if you dishonor your Mom and Dad that you somehow become a murderer or an adulterer or a thief. But from the standpoint of guilt, you are guilty of all.

Think of the Ten Commandments as ten links in a chain. The top link is bolted to Heaven. And here at the bottom is a handle and I'm hanging on for dear life. And under me is the fiery pit of Hell, and I'm
swinging on this ten link chain over the pit of Hell. If anyone of those links break, and it doesn't matter which one of those links break, it's the same result as if all ten of them broke at the same time.

So, Jesus says, “Okay. You want to go to Heaven by doing stuff, then you have to keep the Law – all of the Law.”

Jesus was not teaching that the way to have eternal life is to keep the commandments. Jesus knows the heart of every person, and He recognized this young man already had a god in his life – he loved his riches. Did you notice that Jesus omitted one of the Ten Commandments, the one which says, “Do not
covet?”

The man said, “I've kept all those commandments since my Bar Mitzvah.” Jesus said, “Great, but there is one thing you lack.” Jesus left out the commandment that says “Do not covet” because He knew it was the one thing preventing this man from experiencing eternal life.


III. Jesus Exposes the Man's Need Luke 18:22


“One thing you lack.” Now this man wasn't expecting to hear this. He was expecting Jesus to say, “Well, Man, if you've kept the Commandments since you were a boy, why, you'll go marching into Heaven! You'll have eternal life!”

But that's not what he heard. He heard Jesus say: “Well, there's just one more thing.” “Just one? Not ten? My soul, anybody ought to be able to do ONE thing! What is it?”

Jesus said, “Go, sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and come follow Me!” That was the one thing he was not willing to do.

This young man is an example of a person who did ALMOST everything right – but as you know, almost only counts in horseshoes and grenade throwing.

This man came at the right Time – when he was young.
He came to the right Source – Jesus.
He came with the right Attitude – running and kneeling in humility.
He came with the right Question – “What must I do?”

But his question had two flaws:

1. He called Jesus “good.” Jesus said only One is good. He wasn't denying Jesus was good, but he didn't realize Jesus is God! The cornerstone of our faith is that Jesus is not just some good teacher – He is God!

2. He even asked about the right thing: Eternal Life. Eternal life is not merely living forever. It means to enjoy a personal relationship with our Creator. In the New Testament there are two words for life.

– The word “bios,” from which we get our word biology, refers to physical life. Every person who is breathing at this moment is experiencing bios.

– But Jesus spoke of another kind of life. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and life more abundant” – life to the fullest. He used the word “Zoe” instead of bios. Zoe is a quality of life. You can have bios without having Zoe. You can be physically alive, and still be missing out on real life, eternal life.

Something else this man didn't understand about how to receive eternal life. He asked, “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” You can't DO anything to obtain eternal life.

There are only two ways people try to spell salvation. Some spell salvation “DO.” They believe salvation can be earned by doing things such as being baptized, attending church, praying, or some other religious acts. They believe you will go to Heaven if you do enough deeds.

The other way to spell salvation is “DONE.” In other words, God has already DONE everything necessary for us to be saved – we can only accept or reject His free offer.

Another mistake is seen in the word “inherit” – “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Eternal life cannot be inherited from our parents or grandparents. God has no grandchildren, only children.

The only way to experience eternal life is to receive Jesus. First John 5:11-12.

Romans 3:23. You can't earn it – it's a gift. Let's imagine this pen represents eternal life. Let my Bible represent Jesus Christ. Eternal life is IN Jesus. If I place this pen in the Bible and you want to receive this pen, you have to receive the Bible. The only way to receive eternal life is to receive Jesus.

Note Luke 18:23-30.

Not all stories end with, “and they lived happily ever after.” This is a tragic story of a young man who
committed spiritual suicide.

Mark says that Jesus looked at this young man and He loved him. He saw such wonderful potential in this man.

Notice what Jesus DIDN'T say, “Wait! Come back. I'll lower My standards.” Jesus sadly let him walk away. The Bible says the man walked away sad. Jesus was sorrowful as well because He knew how close this man was to salvation and eternal life, but he would miss it all.

“Who then can be saved?” Some try to explain the camel going through the eye of a needle as a small doorway into the city wall that was so small that the camel would have to get on its knees to enter in. Sounds good, but only one problem – it's wrong.

To try to explain it away as a doorway completely ruins the point. For a camel to go through the eye of a real needle is impossible. And it is impossible for any person to go to Heaven on his own merits. Salvation is only possible through the finished work of Christ.

Listen to Luke 18:28-29.

Sweet words. No one ever loses when they follow Jesus. You will receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come, live everlasting.

You can receive Christ today!

Who knows what might have been had this Rich Young Man followed Jesus!



THE ROAD TO THE CROSS

Luke 18:31-34


I want to build the message around three words:


Destination


During the last year of our Lord's public ministry, Jesus foretells His death and resurrection often. He brings it up again and again. But like Luke 18:34 says, the disciples did not understand what He was talking about, because the understanding of truth was hidden from them.

The main things Jesus would say was that He was going to Jerusalem to die and that He would be raised again.

Every Gospel writer leaves these little sign posts throughout their Gospel, foretelling His death and resurrection. We have come across them in Luke's Gospel already.

Notice Luke 9:22, 31, 44, 51; 13:22 (the destination); Luke 17:11 (destination); Luke 18:31.

Note Luke 18:31: “And all things that were written by the prophets …”

There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. Many of them predict the details of His death. If you aren't convinced the Bible is the supernatural Word of God, I invite you to consider the following ten Old Testament prophecies about the death of Jesus. Although they were written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, He clearly fulfilled each of them.

1. Betrayed by a friend.

“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared by bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). Mark 14:10 tells us that one of His disciples, Judas, went to the Jewish authorities to offer to betray Jesus. He led them to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and kissed Him on the cheek.

2. Sold for thirty pieces of silver.

“'If you think it best, give me my pay.' so they paid me thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12). Matthew 26:15 confirms Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus.

3. Silent when accused.

“He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Instead of trying to argue for His innocence, Matthew 26:63 tells us Jesus remained silent when He was given a chance to defend Himself.

4. Slapped and spit upon.

5. Hands and feet pierced.

“A band of evil men have surrounded me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16). When David wrote this Psalm in about 1000 B.C., crucifixion wouldn't be invented as a mode of execution for another 400 years, yet, John 20:27 confirms the sadistic Roman soldiers surrounded Jesus and drove massive nails into His hands and feet.

6. Mocked and insulted.

“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him!'” (Psalm 22:6-8). Matthew 27:39-40 informs us that the people watching the crucifixion yelled insults at Jesus. They sarcastically demanded that if He was really the Son of God to call on His Father to rescue Him.

7. Soldiers cast lots for His garment.

“They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (Psalm 22:18). Even this tiny detail was totally fulfilled! According to Mark 15:24, the Roman soldiers divided up His clothes. Because He had a seamless garment, they cast lots to see who would get this prize.

8. Not a bone broken.

“He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken” (Psalm 34:20). It was highly unusual for someone to suffer crucifixion without having some bones broken. In fact, John 19:33 records that the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves on either side, but when they came to Jesus, He was already dead, so they didn't break His legs. When the Jews killed the Passover Lamb, they had instructions that none of its bones were to be broken. As our Passover Lamb, none of Jesus' bones were broken.

9. Buried in a rich man's grave.

“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” (Isaiah 53:9). Jesus died between two criminals, but according to Matthew 27:57-60, a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, laid Jesus in his own, new, expensive tomb.

10. His resurrection!

“You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Psalm 16:10). Jesus died and was buried, but He wasn't abandoned to the grave, and His corpse didn't decay. According to Matthew 28:9, He came out of the grave, and He is alive forevermore!

Now if you are still skeptical about the Bible, how do you respond to these fulfilled prophesies?


II. Deity Luke 18:31

Notice: “All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.”

Be on the lookout for three things: The Necessity of His death, the Meaning of His death, and the Struggle to understand His death.

There is in this passage the divine necessity or the “mustness” of the events that are going to happen in Jerusalem.

Luke 18:31: We ARE going up to Jerusalem … WILL BE accomplished.

Luke 18:31: They WILL scourge Him and WILL kill Him and on the third day He WILL rise again.


III. Delivered


Notice Luke 18:32: “He will be DELIVERED over to the Gentiles.”

This is standard Gospel language. Jesus predicts – and the language He uses – He will be delivered over into the hands of His enemies.

The words “delivered up” or “delivered over” is technical language for one being transferred into the custody of someone else. It means to be put at the charge of His enemies or to be handed over to their command.

Both Peter and Paul used the word “delivered up” to describe what happened to Jesus: Acts 2:22-24; Romans 8:22.

What happened to Jesus in Jerusalem was not an accident, nor unexpected, it was NECESSARY for God's plan of redemption. Jesus was not a victim of chance: it was all in the plan of God.

Watch this:

John 1:11: “He came to His own (Jews) and His own (Jews) received Him not.”

Luke 18:32: “He shall be delivered to the Gentiles.” The Jews handed Him over to the Gentiles. They put Him to death.

The Jews are guilty of putting the Son of Man to death. The Gentiles are guilty of putting the Son of Man to death.

But don't stop there. Go back to Acts 2:22-24 (Luke 18:23 especially).

There it is. God had a part in this. It wasn't just the hatred of the Jews and the violence by the Gentiles. God was in all of this. God was overriding and God was superintending and God was the Lord in this.

Preacher, do you mean that God Himself delivered up His only Son to be beaten and spit upon and crucified? Do you mean God the Father did that to His Son?

Exactly. He did. Why? Because there is in the heart of God a kind of love that you and I will never know.

John 3:16.

God delivered Him up made Him to be sin for us. That's grace, beloved! God did not deliver up His Son to wicked hands to be crucified because WE earned it or because we deserved it. God did it out of grace.

“Marvelous grace. Infinite grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

Grace. Grace. Thank God for grace!


WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW
BEFORE HE COULD SEE

Luke 18:35-43


Try to picture this scene. Jesus is heading to Jerusalem with His disciples. A large throng of people are following with Him. Jesus is going to Jerusalem to die.

You know how it is when folks see a large crowd of folks and they seem to be walking toward some place. Folks begin to wonder: “Where are they going? What's going on? They must know something is happening up ahead.” Add to that, that it is Jesus who is leading the crowd. The crowd knows that something exciting always happens when Jesus is in the situation. Is He going to teach or instruct the people? Is He going to heal someone? They know of His healing power. Maybe He'll even raise one from the dead. He's done it before.

To go to Jerusalem, He must go through Jericho. The people of Jericho see Jesus and this crowd of people coming and they too want to know what's going on.

Sitting on the side of the road as you entered Jericho was a blind man, begging for something of those coming into the city. It was a common thing for beggars to be by the roadside in that day, asking people who were passing by to give them food or to give them money. It was also considered a pious thing for a godly Jew to give alms to the poor.

When someone loses one of their senses, like seeing or hearing, their other senses become keener to compensate for the loss of another sense. This man could not see, but his sense of hearing was intensified and he heard things others paid no attention to. He hears the people stirring and he senses that something unusual is happening. And so he asks, “What's going on? Why is there a large crowd coming into the city?” And they tell him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

When he heard the name, “Jesus of Nazareth,” no doubt he remembered hearing as others had told him of Jesus healing all kinds of diseases – even blindness. He also remembered hearing that the Old Testament prophets said that when the Messiah comes, He will do miracles, and one thing that stuck in his mind was that He would open the eyes of the blind.

He began to think of all that he had heard about Jesus. And with great INSIGHT, he knew in his heart, “Jesus is The Messiah!” You see, INSIGHT is a greater blessing than SIGHT. This blind man saw that Jesus was the Messiah, even before Jesus gave him his sight back. He was told, “Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.” He cried out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” That title, “Son of David,” is a
messianic title. He saw that Jesus was the Messiah even before Jesus opened his physical eyes!

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us of this account, but only Mark gives us this man's name. Mark tells us his name is Bartimaeus.


Really, even Mark didn't give us his name; he only gave us his father's name. “Bar” means “son of” – he was the son of Timaeus. It's like when Jesus said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for
flesh and blood did not reveal this to you.” Simon Peter was the son of a man named Jonas or Jonah.

So, what this man's name was, we are not told.

Three things I want us to see about this man.


I. The Condition of this Man Luke 18:35, 41


There's something interesting about this man that you would never know just by reading the English translation. In Luke 18:41 the word “receive” is a word that literally means “to recover” or “to regain.” You see, this man had not always been blind. We don't know when this man became blind, nor why. It may have been because of some disease or because of some accident or it may have been an assault by some mugger. But something had happened in the life of this man that had caused him to go blind.

I have an idea that it is much worse to have had sight and then lose it than to have never had sight at all. Because this man had known what it was to see the color red and know that it was red. He had known what it was to see the color blue and know that it was blue. He had known what it was to see the smiles on little freckled faced children. He had known what it was to see joy on the faces of some and sadness on the faces of others. But for some reason this man could no longer see. Many in that day believed that blindness was punishment from God for some secret sin.

For whatever reason, this man was blind and being blind, meant begging. In Jesus' day there were no
schools for the blind to teach them how to get along in society; no seeing-eye dogs to lead them. Braille had not been invented; no disability or welfare was available.

Folks in that day considered the blind to be parasites, since they could not work and had to live off the work of others. They were considered used-up, throw-away people, just a bit of human wreckage, among the discards of life.

Every day he sat in his same spot, wondering if there would be good or bad luck that day. You could hear him cry out, “Alms, alms for a poor blind man! Pity the blind man!”

May I remind you that there is more than one kind of blindness. There is physical blindness, but there is also spiritual blindness.

Second Corinthians 4:4 says Satan blinds the mind and heart to the horror of sin. The lost man is spiritually blind and cannot see where sin is leading him or what sin will do to him. He is unable to see the wrath of God to come. Nor is he able to see the beauty and loveliness of Jesus Christ.

Satan will blind your eyes by keeping you in the dark about your need for forgiveness and salvation. He will blind you to God's power and His provisions to meet your needs.

There is only one thing worse than being blind spiritually, and that is being spiritually blind and not knowing it.

But, someone told Bartimaeus about Jesus. Maybe some follower of Jesus had told him what Jesus had done for them and they shared their testimony with Bartimaeus. Never underestimate the power of your witness. Bartimaeus was a blind man, and a broken man, but he was also an informed man. I remind you of a great harvest principle – someone plants and someone waters, but God gives the increase.

II. The Cry for Mercy Luke 18:36-39


The streets were overly crowded that day and this man heard the name, “Jesus” repeatedly, and he says to himself, “I must get Jesus' attention; He must help me. This may be my last opportunity to get Him to hear me. I will forever be hopeless until I talk to Him.”

So, he begins to cry out! When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, the people surrounding him didn't say, “Good for you, Bartimaeus! Jesus can help you! Cry out louder!” Instead of helping him, they rebuked him and told him to shut up!

You'll find when you are bold enough to cry out to Jesus, not everyone is going to be excited for you. When you start getting serious about seeking Jesus, the voice of the crowd will “boo” you down.

Our popular culture wants to mold you and me into being a clone of everyone else – wear the right labels, listen to the right music, and speak the filthy language everyone else uses. It's okay to be a little religious, but if you become a radical follower of Christ, you won't fit in with what's happening now!

When you delight yourself in the Lord and diligently seek to follow Jesus, you'll face opposition and criticism.

But this man was determined. Notice Luke 18:39. The word “cried out” in Luke 18:38 is not the same word for “cried out” in Luke 18:39. The word in Verse 38 means “to shout;” the word in Luke 18:39 means “to scream” or “to shriek” like the “screeching of a raven.”


III. The Cure From the Master


A. Jesus called the Man Luke 18:40

Literally, “Jesus stopped and stood still.” The cry for mercy stopped Jesus in His tracks. It was the cry of faith and mercy. That impressed Jesus!

Jesus was on His way to the cross. On the one hand, nothing could stop Jesus from His mission of going to the cross – no opposition, no pleading from His loving but ignorant friends, no protest from Peter. – but the humble cry for mercy from a blind man stopped Him.

Jesus gave the command to bring the man to Him. Now, in my kind of twisted thinking, I like to think Jesus looked up there to the front and said, “Now you boys that told that fella he ought to just shut up, I want you to get him and bring him to Me.” Now I don't know if that's so, but if I had been Jesus, that's what I would have done. “Bring him to Me.” And I think Bartimaeus said, “Get out of the way, folks, I'm going to Jesus.”

B. Jesus Confronted the Man Luke 18:41

Does that sound like a dumb question? But Jesus never asks dumb questions. Jesus asked a similar question to the paralyzed man who lay everyday at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made whole? Do you want to get well?”

Bartimaeus had a pretty simple life. He had grown accustomed to sitting beside the road and accepting handouts. After all, some people like the attention they get from their suffering. It would be like asking someone today who is physically able to work, “Do you really want to get off welfare?”

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus couldn't help him until he was willing to admit his need.

God can't help you until you specifically admit your need.

– “Lord, I'm addicted to alcohol! I want to stay sober!”
– “Lord, I've got a pornography problem. I want to be pure.”
– “Lord, I've got a problem with anger, bitterness, or gossip and I want you to
change me!”

C. Jesus Cured the Man Luke 18:42-43

This man experienced transformation.

1. Physical Transformation:

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight.”

Without touching him, he received his sight: 20/20. I don't know what the last thing this man had seen before he went blind, but the first thing he saw upon being healed was Jesus. No surgery, no bandages, no glasses. BOOM! SIGHT!

2. Spiritual Transformation.

“Your faith has made you whole; your faith has saved you.”

“And he followed Jesus” – to Jerusalem? I wonder if he followed Jesus all the way to Jerusalem? Did he see Jesus crucified? If he did, I wonder if he wished he were blind again so he wouldn't have to witness his Savior's death.

Has Jesus ever opened your spiritual eyes? Do you see our Lord in all His loveliness and glory?

 



A LITTLE MAN WHO DID A BIG THING

Luke 19:1-10


I dare say most of us learned about Zacchaeus, not from the Scriptures, but from the little kid's song in Sunday School. If you had grown up in the church that I grew up in, you learned not only the words of the song, but the hand movements as well. If you know it, sing it along with me and do the hand movements.

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
A wee little man was he.
He climbed up in s sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see;

And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree,
And he said, “Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I'm going to your house today,
For I'm going to your house today.”

Sometimes when a child is a little different from the other children, children can be mean or cruel to the child who is different. Zacchaeus was the runt of the family and the runt of his school-age friends. The other kids probably pushed him around or made fun of him or called him names.

Often when a child is in that kind of situation, they do one of two things: they may become hurt or depressed or have a low self-esteem, or they may become determined to succeed and get back at the world. They will thirst for power in order to gain control of others or take revenge.

Zacchaeus had the opportunity to become a tax collector and even though tax collectors were hated, they had a certain power over people and they even had the Roman government behind them. And most of them were rich!

I want us to look at this man, Zacchaeus, for a moment and see that:


I. He was a Despised Man Luke 19:1-2


Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector, he was a “chief tax collector;” he was over other tax collectors. Taxes were collected at three places – Capernaum, Caesarea, and Jericho, and Zacchaeus was the head of the office at Jericho.

Zacchaeus must have had godly parents because they named him “Zacchaeus,” a Jewish name that means “pure,” or “innocent,” or “righteous.” How disappointed his parents must have been when he became a tax collector. He was anything but innocent and righteous. He was a cheat. In fact, he had a


license to cheat from the Roman government. For a Jew to get a job as a tax collector, he had to bribe his way into the position.

The great robbers in that day were not those who attacked while you were on the highway, like the thieves in the story of the Good Samaritan, but the tax collectors, known as publicans. Jewish tax collectors were considered as traitors because they worked for the Roman government.

The Roman government required a certain percent from the Jews – say 5 percent. That was the required tax. But the tax collectors would squeeze 10 or 20 percent out of the Jews – send 5 percent to Rome and pocket the rest. They were able to do this by extortion, threats, and blackmail.

Luke 19:2 says, “and Zacchaeus was rich.”


II. He Was a Desirous Man Luke 19:3-5


Although Zacchaeus was rich and successful, there was an emptiness in his life. His riches didn't bring him real satisfaction. There was a hunger and thirst in his heart for something he didn't have.

There was a stir in Jericho that day because Jesus was coming down the street. The crowd grew larger and larger. Zacchaeus closed his tax booth and ran toward the crowd, because he wanted to see Jesus.

He had heard of Jesus. In fact, one of his own, Matthew, had left his tax booth and had been following Jesus for about three years now. Luke 5 tells us when Matthew was saved, he made Jesus a feast and he invited sinners AND other publicans, tax collectors, to come. No doubt, Zacchaeus was there. I think he listened very intently as Matthew gave his testimony of how Jesus had changed his life. I think Zacchaeus could see the change in Matthew as well.

Notice Luke 19:3. Notice it doesn't just say he wanted to see Jesus. No! He wanted to see who Jesus was. He wanted to see if he could figure out what made Jesus different from everyone else. He was drawn to this Man who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and changed the lives of those who knew Him.

He wanted to see Jesus, but the crowd was huge and when folks saw who it was trying to get through the crowd, elbows started flying. He was too short to see Jesus.

Zacchaeus looked down the road Jesus was on and saw a sycamore tree ahead. A sycamore tree has bark like a pin oak but it has limbs low to the ground.

If this story is ever made into a movie, I think Danny Devito ought to play Zacchaeus. Danny Devito is not quite five feet tall. He is four feet, ten inches.

What a funny sight it must have been. Here's a middle-aged man, running around the crowd, and when he gets to the tree, he climbs up the tree, gets some branches to cover him from sight and waits for Jesus to pass by. He thinks he's so clever. He can see Jesus, but no one can see him. I can see him, like a bird, perched on a limb!


III. He Was a Discovered Man Luke 19:5-7

When Jesus got under the tree – he stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus. All eyes followed the eyes of Jesus as He looked up the tree and saw Zacchaeus, hiding on a limb. I can imagine the laughter as the people look up and see this little short man, trying to hide from everyone.

Then Jesus speaks to him and calls him by name. I don't think Zacchaeus could have been any more surprised if that sycamore tree itself had spoken to him. When Jesus spotted him, I think Zacchaeus braced himself for ridicule.

It was one of those turning point moments. Zacchaeus had been seeking Jesus, but from this point on, Jesus is seeking Zacchaeus.

Jesus looked up that tree as though He had been looking for him and said, “Make haste and come down.”

Jesus called for Zacchaeus to come down from that tree, but Jesus Himself would hang on a tree in just a few days. You see, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die on the cross. Zacchaeus would be one of the last men Jesus would call to Himself before His death.

Zacchaeus must have thought:

“He knows where I am.”

Did you know the Bible says that God's eyes are always upon us? David asked, “Where can I go from His presence?” The answer is, “Nowhere.”

Notice the word “lost” in Verse 10. The word “lost” does not mean “misplaced,” but “out of place” and because something is out of place it is useless; of no value.

The same is true of every lost person. God knows where they are, but they are not in the place they are intended to be.

“He knows who I am.”

How did Jesus know Zacchaeus' name? Maybe the same way He knew Nathaniel's name a few years earlier when he was sitting under a fig tree. Whether you are under a fig tree or up a sycamore tree or up a creek without a paddle, Jesus still knows where we are.

“He knows what I am – and He still wants me.”

Jesus cared for him in spite of his sorted and soiled past.


IV. He was a Delivered Man Luke 19:5, 8-9

Jesus was the first decent person who had been in Zacchaeus' house in years. By the way, this is the only time in the Gospels that Jesus invited Himself to someone's home.

Jesus said, “Make haste and come down” – and he did. Jesus is honored when we respond to Him quickly. When given the opportunity, he came to Jesus. He didn't delay a moment. What would he gain by delaying? He made haste and came down. I wish everyone would respond to God's invitation like that.

How do I know Zacchaeus was saved? Note Luke 19:18-19. The first thing Zacchaeus wanted to do was to right a wrong.

This little man never stood taller than when he bowed and gave his heart to Jesus.


THE PARABLE OF THE POUNDS

Luke 19:11-27


This is a unique parable and it is unique for several reasons:

This parable of the Pounds overlaps with the parable of the talents. They were given within a week of each other. They were both given less than two weeks before the crucifixion.

This parable on the Pounds in Luke was given first and was given in Jericho. The parable of the talents in Matthew was given to the twelve on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. Jericho is 1,300 feet below sea level. It follows a 20-mile road uphill and is a difficult and dangerous climb.

It is also unique in that it is the only parable recorded based upon a well-known historical event.

You remember that Herod the Great was king when Jesus was born. He wasn't really great. He gave himself that title. The only thing he was great at was murder. It was king Herod who had all the Jewish boy babies killed when the wise men failed to return to Herod. When Herod died, he was going to divide his kingdom between his three sons, Philip, Antipas, and Archelaus.

In Herod's will he gave Archelaus Judea, but he could not take over as ruler until it was confirmed by Caesar Augustus. Archelaus traveled to Rome to get everything confirmed. But the Jews sent an official delegation of 50 leading Jews to Rome to oppose Archelaus as ruler. There the 50 Jews were joined by 8,000 Jews living in Rome to oppose him. They said, “We will not have this man to rule over us.”

Caesar made Archelaus ruler over Judea anyway. When they got back to Judea, Archelaus had those who opposed him put to death.

Jesus used that historical incident to show how the Jewish people said of Him – King Jesus – “We will not have this man to rule over us.” Jesus would be the returning King. It is true: The King is coming … and He will judge all those who reject Him and will not allow Him to rule over them.

Four things I want you to see as we study this parable.


I. The Purpose of the Parable Luke 19:11


Let me remind you of the context of Luke 19. Jesus was in the house of Zacchaeus.


You remember that Jesus had called a “wee little man” named Zacchaeus to come down a sycamore tree that he had climbed to see Jesus. Jesus went to Zacchaeus' house and during the meal, Zacchaeus was saved. When he got saved, he said (Luke 19:8) “Lord, half of my good I'll give to the poor and if I've taken anything by false accusation, I'll restore him fourfold.”

Jesus said, “What a change has taken place in your life. That's evidence that salvation has come to your life.”

As Jesus was in conversation with Zacchaeus, He kept on speaking and what He spoke was this parable.

Jesus was going to Jerusalem and the messianic expectation was at a feverish pitch among His followers. His followers thought that the kingdom of God would appear at once and that Jesus was going to Jerusalem to set up the kingdom at that very time.

Jesus told this parable to teach them that that was not the way it was going to happen.

Instead, He would die on a cross, and after that He would go back to His Father. He would be gone for a long time and they were to work for Him while He was gone. They must be faithful, for He would return and judge them according to their faithfulness to Him.


II. The Personalities in the Parable


1. The Nobleman – Luke 19:12. The nobleman represents Jesus Himself.

2. The Ten Servants – Luke 19:13

These ten servants represented those who belong to the nobleman.

3. The Citizens of the Country – Luke 19:14

These in the broadest application refers to every unsaved person in all the earth.

Two things are said about them.

a. They hated Him
b. They said, “We will not have this man to rule over us.”


III. The Plot of the Parable


Every good story has a plot. What is the plot of this story or parable?

The nobleman has ten servants. He calls them all together and tells them that He's going away for a long time, but He's going away to receive a kingdom for Himself.

But He's going to return and when He returns after a long time, He wants to receive something from them also. He gives each of His servants the same amount of gold – one pound each or about three months wages.

He says to them – Luke 19:13 – “occupy till I come.”

Let me remind you again: He gave each servant the same amount, and said the same thing. The word “occupy” means “to do business, to put something to work, to carefully, but diligently invest what you are given, to be busy.”

In the parable of the talents, the servants were given DIFFERENT amounts of abilities and gifts. BUT in the parable of the pounds, all are given the same amount.

There are some things that we all have the same amount of:

Time

I'm not talking about the length of our lives, because that varies. But each of us has
the same amount of time each day – 24 hours. Even though we have the same amount
of time, wouldn't you agree that some of us do a better job of managing these 24 hours
in terms of doing business for God?

You see, this parable is about stewardship. Some of us use our time wisely and some
unwisely. Some accomplish much; some very little in the same amount of time. We
can't save up time or collect time. If we don't use our time as it is given to us, it's gone
forever. Never to be recovered.

Truth

We all have the same instruction manual – the Word of God. Every follower of Christ
is a steward of the Gospel. Over and over Paul speaks of being “entrusted with the
Gospel” (I Thessalonians 2:4; I Timothy 1:11; I Tim. 6:2).

Every one of us received the same amount of the Gospel as the Apostle Paul or Billy
Graham or Charles Stanley or David Jeremiah.

Jesus gives us all the same command – “occupy till I come” – “Be busy, do business, do
the work.” We must Invest the Investment Christ has made in us!


IV. The Points of the Parable

The King is going to return and when He does, He's going to settle accounts on the basis of their investments.

Three groups will be faced with accountability: Servants and Subjects.

The Servants are those who claim Jesus as their Master; their Lord; and there are two kinds of servants: the faithful and the unfaithful.

Then there are the Subjects: Those who have not surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.


A. The Faithful Servants Luke 19:15-19

Remember: This parable is about service, not salvation. These servants knew their Responsibility
The endowments were not given primarily for their own personal gain and glory, but were given to profit our Divine Master.

But they knew a time of accountability was coming and they wanted to be able to give a good accounting. The sad truth is that few in our day will be able to give a good accounting.

Another truth is that they did not know how long the Master would be gone, so they had to be busy and faithful at all times – from start to finish.

“We'll work till Jesus comes, we'll work till Jesus comes,
We'll work till Jesus comes, Then we'll be gathered home.”

These servants did their job Faithfully. When you read the parable, you can think of some reasons they MIGHT have given for NOT being faithful.

They could have said, “Why bother to do business? The investment will go to the Master; not to us. Most of what we get from our work will go to Him; not us.”

“We're working for someone that a lot of folks hate.” It would be easier to serve a popular Christ. But when He is hated and opposed, they may come after us for trying to serve Him.”

“How do we know He'll really come back. After all, a lot of folks say He's not coming back again.” But we KNOW as His servants that He's coming again, so we really have no excuse for neglecting our responsibility. “He never promised us anything for what we do for Him. He just said to get busy.”

They were rewarded for their Faithfulness.

Remember, no reward was promised. He doesn't have to reward us for serving Him faithfully.

But He does reward us because of His generous heart. You might think that the more faithful you are now the less work and less responsibility you'll have later; but not so. The work we do today prepares us for the work He has planned for us tomorrow. Faithfulness is the secret of growth! If we are faithful in the little, He will give us more!


B. The Unfaithful Servant Luke 19:20-26

He knew his job, but did not do it. He couldn't plead ignorance, for he heard the command. Unfaithfulness is sin. It's an insult to His Person! “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?”

In Luke 19:20 the word “napkin” means “a cloth for wiping off sweat.” It was a cloth used when a man was doing hard work. This man didn't intend to do any work. He took the cloth that was to be used when one was doing work and wrapped the endowment in it and hid it. He used the sweat cloth to hide his duty.

He was unfaithful because his heart was not right with his master.

The servant did not love his master – he feared him. There is a proper fear of the Lord, but it is not a fear that PARALYZES us. Rather it MOBILIZES us to serve him.

The word “austere man” (Luke 19:22) means “to be stern, harsh, severe.” It is used to describe sour, unripe fruit.

The unfaithful servant tried to excuse his disobedience. He spoke evil of his master. He accused the master of being very unfair and of demanding more than the servant could produce. That was untrue. People like to make excuses for their failure and their disobedience. Folks even blame God for their unfaithfulness.

He said, “I'm afraid of you.” That was another slanderous attack upon his master. If the master were so cruel and the servant was so afraid of him, why didn't he work harder to please him so he wouldn't be upset?

His unfaithfulness cost him his reward Luke 19:24

He lost his pound, he lost his opportunity, he lost his reward.

At the Judgment seat of Christ there will be:

Excellent Servants – gain 10 more

Efficient Servants – gain 5 more

Embarrassed Servants – I John 2:28


C. The Rebellious Citizens - Luke 19:14, 27

For those who reject Christ, the Lamb will become the Lion who will slaughter His enemies at His return.

Wait! There were ten servants in the parable who got a pound. Only three reported: Where are the other seven?

We are the other seven servants. The end of the story won't be written until we stand before the Lord and He judges us.

God has given each of us an equal amount. What are you doing with yours?


WHEN CHEERS TURN TO TEARS

Luke 19:28-44


This passage of Scripture is a “Bible Sign-Post.” We call it the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday. It is at this point that Jesus enters into His last week upon this earth before He ascends back to Heaven.

The traditional calendar for the events of our Lord's last week of ministry looks like this:

Sunday – Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Monday – Cleansing the Temple
Tuesday – Controversies with Jewish leadership
Wednesday – Apparently a day of restoration
Thursday – Preparation for Passover
Friday – Trial and crucifixion
Saturday – Jesus rests in the tomb
Sunday – Jesus risen from the dead

All four Gospel writers record the Triumphal Entry, but only Luke recorded the weeping of Jesus.

On at least two other occasions Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew how superficial the hearts of the people were. Although His weeping seemed to be at different times, He said basically the same thing. The other two times are found in Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:37.

I said this passage was a “Bible Sign-Post” because it fulfills two Old Testament prophecies.

• In Zechariah 9:9 we are told that the Messiah will come riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.

• In Daniel 9 we have the description of Daniel's 70 weeks. This prophecy is about the Jewish people. God's plan for the Jews has never been abated. God still has a plan for the Jews.

God's plan is to deal with the Jews and the Jewish nation for 70 weeks of years. Seventy weeks of years is 490 years. These 490 years do not run consecutively. It's as if God uses a “stop-watch” or a “time-out” as far as Israel is concerned.

Jesus came unto His own – the Jewish people – and His own received Him not. So, God set aside the Jewish nation for a time and began to deal with the Gentiles. But we are told, the time of the Gentiles will be fulfilled and God will again deal with the Jews.

God's prophetic clock began to tick when the Jews were released from their 70 years of captivity and the decree was given by Artaxerxes to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1-5).

According to history that was on March 14, 445 B.C. It took Nehemiah only 52 days to finish building the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15). The rebuilding of the entire city was a 49 year period. So, we go from 445 to 396 B.C.

The second division is 62 weeks of years or 434 years. It would run from 396 B.C. To A.D. 32. The last 33 of those years is when Jesus was on earth as Messiah. But they rejected Him as Messiah.

Daniel said the Jewish people would reject the Messiah at the end of the 483 years. If you begin counting forward from March 14, 445 B.C. and count 69 weeks of years or 483 years, you will run out of days on April 6, A.D. 32. I brought you through all that to tell you that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey and the Jewish people rejected Him for the final time. It was the exact day Daniel said Christ would be rejected by the Jews as their Messiah.

Amazing! Five centuries before the event – 173,880 days before the event, God drew an “X” on the exact day Jesus would appear and be rejected as the long-awaited Messiah – Son of David.

That leaves 7 years to be fulfilled on Daniel's prophecy. Seven years of Tribulation.

Now let's go back to the passage.

The disciples were so excited.

For three years when Jesus would do a miracle, He would say, “Don't tell anyone …”, “don't make it known;” Yet, here as folks were praising Jesus and when the Pharisees told Jesus to tell them to stop, Jesus said, “If they keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus was less than a week from the cross. It was Passover season. The religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus, but they wanted to do so after Passover. But Jesus didn't want His crucifixion to be done in secret. He wanted all to see and know that He would die for the sins of all man. Normally 30,000 were in Jerusalem – because it was Passover, the number of people may have been over 100,000.

This was Jesus' day, but look what He said in Luke 19:42 – “in this your day.” It was their day in the sense of would they accept Him or reject Him as their Messiah.

There was cheering but there was also tearing.

What a sight! This is what the disciples had been waiting for. They thought He was about to set up His kingdom. There Jesus was, riding a donkey into Jerusalem. A king rode a horse if he was going to make war, but he rode a donkey if he was coming in peace. Some commentaries say Jesus rode the donkey to show his humility. Not so! He rode a donkey to show He was bringing peace (Luke 19:38).

What a parade. Laying their clothes on the donkey and on the road before Him. Waving Palm branches before Him. Singing praises to Him. Lots of cheering!!

But Jesus was Tearing. He knew what their hearts were really like. He knew that the very ones saying,
“Hail Him!” would be saying, “Nail Him!”

They sounded like they were accepting Him as King and Messiah, but Jesus knew better. He knew that by A.D. 70 Jesus would be crucified and hung on trees as far as the eye could see. Their Temple would be destroyed with not one stone left on top of another.

Things are not always as they seem.

They were cheering, but Jesus was tearing!

I said that this passage of Scripture is a “Bible Sign-Post” and the Jews should have recognized it, but they did not. We are living in a special time as well, but many do not recognize it. Notice Luke 21:24, 29-33. The fig tree speaks of Israel and Israel becoming a nation again after 1900 years. On May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again for the first time since A.D. 70.

Listen to what Jesus said: “If you were born in 1948 or after, Jesus very well may come in your life-time.” Seventy years have passed since 1948. How close we must be!

Add to that the signs the Bible tells us to look for concerning the return of Christ:

• The Israel sign – becoming a nation again.
• The Intelligence sign – Daniel said knowledge will increase and we've never been
blessed with knowledge as we have since the computer.
• The Immorality sign.
• The Indifference sign.

Jesus is coming to earth again. What if it were Today?

“Jesus is coming to earth again – Satan's dominion will then be o'er –
What if it were today? O that it were today!
Coming in power and love to reign – Sorrow and sighing shall be no more –
What if it were today? O that it were today!
Coming to claim His chosen Bride, Then shall the dead in Christ arise,
All the redeemed and purified, Caught up to meet Him in the skies;
Over this whole earth scattered wide – When shall these glories meet our eyes?
What if it were today? What if it were today?

Faithful and true would He find us here Glory, glory!
If He should come today? Joy to my heart 'twill bring;
Watching in gladness and not in fear, Glory, glory!
If He should come today? When we shall crown Him King.
Signs of His coming multiply, Glory, glory!
Morning light breaks in eastern sky; Haste to prepare the way;
Watch, for the time is drawing nigh – Glory, Glory!
What if it were today? Jesus will come someday.

 


CLEANSING THE TEMPLE

Luke 19:45-48


Before reading the Passage:

We are going to read about Jesus cleansing the Temple. This is actually the second time in our Lord's three year public ministry that He cleansed the Temple.

After our Lord's first miracle of turning water into wine in Cana of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples went to Jerusalem. It was at the Passover and Jesus went to the Temple, but when He got there He saw something that stirred His righteous indignation. The religious leaders were taking advantage of those who had come to worship.

You see, Jews were required to come to the Temple in Jerusalem once a year for two reasons and the Jewish leaders were corrupting both reasons.

The first reason was to celebrate Passover. Passover celebrated the Jew's deliverance from Egyptian bondage. God had instructed His people to take a pure, spotless lamb and to slay the lamb, put its blood on the doorpost of each home, and when the death-angel went through Egypt on the night the Lord was to deliver His people, if the death-angel saw the blood on the doorpost of a home, he would pass over that home.

God asked His people to celebrate Passover every year to remember what the Lord had done for them. Jews were now scattered everywhere since leaving Egypt and some had to travel great distances back to Jerusalem. That meant a great hardship would be on those who lived far from Jerusalem. Think of traveling weeks with family and at the same time caring for lambs and other animals that were to be sacrificed. Then before the animal could be sacrificed, it had to be examined by the priest to make sure it was a proper or suitable sacrifice. If it were not suitable after bringing it from a long distance, they would have to buy another lamb after they got to Jerusalem.

The ex-priest, Annas, was corrupt. He offered a service of convenience. He provided animals for sale at the Temple, but at ten to twenty percent above market price. What was intended to be a blessing for God's people became a rip-off by the priest.

Here's what was happening: The Law required a perfect sacrifice be brought to offer to God. But no matter how perfect the animal was, the inspectors would “find” something wrong with the animal, take the animal as a “trade-in,” sell them a Temple animal for twice the normal cost of the animal and then take the rejected animal to a pen and later sell it for a perfect animal.

A second reason for Jewish worshipers to come to Jerusalem at Passover, was not just to celebrate Passover, but it was also the time for them to pay their Temple tax.

This tax that had to be paid was a half-shekel, which was about one-and-a-half day's wage. This money was used to pay for the daily sacrifices and operating expenses for the Temple year round.


Because it was given to the Lord, no foreign money was allowed because it was considered unclean. No image of an alien king was allowed to pollute the Temple because God was the Master to be worshiped and honored. Therefore, there was a need for money changers to change the foreign coins into Jewish coins. The changers were allowed by Law to exchange the money for a four percent fee, but again they were over charging the people.

Jesus made a whip of cords and used the whip to drive out those who sold the animals and overturned the tables of the money changers!

What a sight! And what a disturbance! Animals running everywhere! Doves flying everywhere! Coins rolling on the ground! People running everywhere!

Somebody said, “Jesus lost it! He lost His temper and became destructive!” Not so! What Jesus expressed was righteous indignation. Jesus would not tolerate irreverence toward God the Father in His house.

They asked Jesus, “What sign of authority can You slow us that gives You the authority to do what you have done?” Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”

Jesus' lesson didn't last long because three years later the corruption was back and Jesus had to clean house again.

Read the Scripture.

Remember that this is now the last week of our Lord's life before the crucifixion.

On Sunday Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people were cheering His entrance:
laying their outer garments before Him for the donkey to walk upon, waving palm branches before Him, singing praises to Him, shouting, laughing, celebrating Him as King, dancing before Him. But as the people were cheering, He was Tearing because He knew their words and actions were not sincere and in a week, those shouting, “Hail Him!” would be chanting, “Nail Him!”

After He entered into Jerusalem, He went to the Temple and saw what was going on there and it grieved Him, but it was late and He was weary.

On Monday He cleanses the Temple, but it was not until Tuesday that the people asked Him what authority He had, to first ride into Jerusalem, receiving praise, and then to cleanse the Temple. Notice
Luke 20:1-2.

Three things I want to share with you:


I. The Perversion Jesus Hated Luke 19:45


What made Jesus so angry? The perversion that had taken place in the Temple.



John tells us that the first time He cleansed the Temple, Jesus used a whip. By this time Jesus didn't need a whip. By this time everyone knew who He was and they knew His strength and power.

By the way, sometimes folks come and preach at a church and they have books to sell or CD's to sell and there are always some people who retreat to this passage of Scripture to try to prove that you should not do things like that. Well, that's not at all what's in view here. I think it's good to carry home with you the writings of godly men and it's good to carry home godly music. That's a good thing.

But what's going on here is what was going on in John 2 that we've already looked at. Jesus was talking about the vicious racket of Annas' Bazaars and booths that held all of those animals, along with the corrupt money changers.

God's means of supporting His work is by His people bringing their tithes into the storehouse and the giving of freewill offerings. You don't have to trick people or deceive people or to lie to people. If there's anything I hate it's for a preacher or someone on a church staff that tries to manipulate people. God doesn't honor that kind of thing.


II. The Purposes Jesus Honored Luke 19:46


“MY” house is possessive; the Temple is the Lord's; it belongs to Him.

Let me remind you that in the Old Testament God had a Temple for His people, but since our Lord's death, resurrection, and ascension, God has a People for His Temple.

If you are saved, God lives IN you. I Corinthians 3:16-17; I Cor. 6:19-20.

What does God expect of His Temple – our body? He wants it to be a house of prayer. What does that mean? It means that everything we do or say is to be done in the spirit of prayer.

The most important thing about you and me is our prayer life. Why? Because it speaks of our total dependence on God.

Why is a spirit of prayer so important? The song writers tell us:

Change my heart O God,
Make it ever true,
Change my heart O God.
May I be like You.

We ought to live constantly in the spirit of prayer.

I need Thee every hour, Most gracious Lord.
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour, Stay Thou near by;
Temptations lose their power when Thou are nigh.

I need Thee every hour, Teach me Thy will,
Thy promises so rich in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, Most Holy One
Make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

I need Thee every hour, In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, Or life is vain.

I need Thee, O, I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee!
O Bless me now, My Savior, I come to Thee.


1. The Perpetrators Jesus Haunted Luke 19:47-48


Why did the religious leaders hate Jesus so much? Why did they want to destroy Him? Because He proclaimed truth that was in direct opposition to the life they lived. They thought it was THEIR Temple; Jesus said it was His Temple.

But I want you to notice Luke 19:48: “But All the People” – those who were not the religious leaders like the Chief Priest, the scribes, and the other religious leaders – “were very attentive to hear Him – the people hung on every word of Jesus and stuck by Him.”

How “They” listened to His words, we ought to listen to His word. Well, how did they listen?

1. Expectantly

If I come to the Lord's Word without expecting to receive anything, I probably won't.

Some come to church with Bible, pen, and journal open. They come expecting to receive something from God's Word and they want to write it down so they can better retain the information. They always leave the service a richer man or woman.

On the other hand, if you come sleepy, apathetic, and not expecting to hear from the Lord, that's about what you'll get.

2. Obediently

The reason some don't receive any more from the Lord than they do is because they are not obeying that which they have already heard.

John 7:17 says, “If any man wills (desires) to know the will of God, God will reveal it to him.”

Why would God reveal more of Himself and more of His Word to you if you are not willing to obey what He's already given to you?

One man said, “It's not the part of the Bible that I do not know that bothers me. It's the part I do know.”

3. Consistently

Read the Word consistently and don't give up – even if you don't understand what you're reading. Because the Holy Spirit lives within you, even though you might not understand the majority of a given chapter, there will be a verse or a phrase that will impact your heart. Focus on what you do understand. Even what you don't understand will strengthen your inner man. God has promised that His “Word will not return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases and will prosper.”



QUESTIONING THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS

Luke 20:1-8


The events in these verses take place during the last week of our Lord's life here on earth. We call it the Passion Week.

Day One was on Sunday. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Riding into a city on a donkey as Jesus did was reserved for an anointed King. The people had spread their coats in His path, a gesture that was done for a member of royalty. Those activities of Jesus in Jerusalem were very disturbing to the religious leaders.

As His ride into Jerusalem came to an end, Jesus went on to the Temple or the Court of the Gentiles. What He saw there disturbed and angered Him, but it was late and He would deal with that situation the next day.

Day Two is Monday and He would go into the Temple area and cleanse the Temple. Jesus acted like a prophet in the way He cast out the money changers and how He dealt with those who sold the animals.

After cleansing the Temple. Jesus remained in the Temple and began to teach the people. Luke tells us that the people hung on His every word. Later the chief priest and scribes and elders would confront Him.

Tuesday – Day Three – would be a long day for the Lord. He would confront all the “Big Shots” of the religious leadership as well as do a great deal of teaching.

Notice again Luke 20:1.


I. The Challengers Luke 20:1


Three different groups are identified.

A. The Chief Priest

All of the chief priest, all of the high priest were Sadducees. No Pharisee was a chief priest. The Sadducees were the liberals among the religious leaders. They didn't believe in much of anything.

They didn't believe in angels. They didn't believe in the spirit world or miracles. They didn't believe in any kind of resurrection. They would only accept that which they could recognize by the five senses. Annas and Caiaphas were both Sadducees.

That's one reason they had a special hatred for Jesus. In John 11, Jesus and His disciples are not in the city of Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. When Lazarus got sick, it became obvious to Mary and Martha that Lazarus was going to die, so they sent for Jesus. But Jesus did not hurry back to Bethany. In fact, the Bible said He did not return for a few more days.

Finally, He gets to Bethany, but Lazarus is already dead and they buried him four days earlier. Somebody came through singing, “You're an on-time God,” but both sisters asked Him, “Lord, where have You been? You weren't on time. You're late. Lord, if only You had been here.”

Jesus said, “Don't you believe in the resurrection?” They said, “Oh, yeah. Somewhere out there in the future – somewhere; sometime, some place. But Lord, that's so far off.” Jesus said, “Ladies, I am the resurrection and the life.” He gave instructions to roll the stone away, and He cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” And Lazarus came forth!

Standing there watching all of this were the Sadducees – the very folks that said there was no resurrection from the dead. In that same chapter, John 11:47, John 11:53, the Sadducees plot to kill Lazarus. It's hard to prove no one rises from the dead when Lazarus is alive again!

But they hated Jesus for another reason. Not only did He Dispute their theology, He also Disputed their Authority.

It was the Sadducees who had set up the system of the money changers. They were the ones in charge of that.

B. Scribes

The Bible also says the scribes challenged His Authority. These were the lawyers and interpreters of the Law. They had not only studied the Law, they also studied all of the oral traditions of the rabbis and all of that had become a part of Judastic teaching. No one dared question the interpretations of the scribes. But on the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you.” In other words, “What you have heard may not be correct.” So, the scribes hated Him.

C. Elders

Then there were the elders, who made up the Sanhedrin, the enforcers of the Law. They are the ones who put teeth into the Law. They were made up of seventy men who were the Supreme Court of Israel. All three groups usually worked against each other, but they all hated Jesus so much that they would join together to put Jesus to death.


II. The Challenge Luke 20:2-8


They wanted to know where He got His Authority to do the things He was doing – riding into Jerusalem on a donkey like some King and cleansing the Temple.

They said, “Tell us” (Luke 20:2). It's a strong demand; a challenge.

Then there's the counter – Challenge of Jesus – Luke 20:3-4.

Jesus said, “Boys, I want to ask you just one question and you can answer it with one word and I'll tell you everything you want to know. John's baptism: Was it from Heaven or from man?”

Notice Luke 20:5: “And they reasoned among themselves.” That means they went into a close huddle.

It was John the Baptist who called them a bunch of rattlesnakes when they came to his revival. They said, “We don't know where John got his authority.” Jesus said, “Well, I'll not tell you where I get My authority.”

They were trying to discredit the Son of God, but Jesus discredited them.

I want to answer both questions. Where did John get his authority? Where did Jesus get His authority? The answer to both questions is, Heaven!

Jesus did what He did by His own Authority. He is God of very God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Most High God. The Great I AM. The Son of David.

Religious leaders: Who gave you your authority? Nobody.

Jesus is God! Jesus is Lord! Have you trusted Him as your Lord?


“CAESAR'S OR GOD'S?”

Luke 20:20-26


Things are heating up in Jerusalem because of Jesus. His enemies are out to get Jesus and they don't care how they accomplish their goal. They either want to discredit Him before the Jewish people or to have reason to accuse Him before Rome and put Him to death.

A conspiracy was formed against Jesus by all of the religious groups of that day to silence Him. The main religious groups usually were finding fault with each other, but when it came to getting rid of Jesus, they all joined forces and worked together to “get” Jesus.

But Jesus was in full control. His time had come. The events of this passage took place on Tuesday and He would die on the cross at three o'clock Friday after; at the very hour that the Passover lamb would be slain in the Temple. The Passover lamb would die at the same time as the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world. Although the religious leaders didn't know it, they were participating in God's plan.

Just two thoughts I want to share with you from this passage.


I. The Jews and Their Attacks


A. The Conspirators

Go back through the passage and mark with emphasis the number of times “they” and “them” is used ten times! Well, who are the “they” and the “them”? Well, you have to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see all who were there. Let me list them for you.

1. The chief priest, the Scribes, and the elders are there.

Jesus is going to be asked three questions by the religious leaders that would either discredit Him before the Jewish people or get Him in trouble with Rome.

Question One: “Where did You get Your authority?”

“You came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, and by doing so You wanted the people to think that You were fulfilling messianic prophecy. And then You went into the Temple, turning over money tables and freeing all the animals. Who gave You that authority?”

You remember that Jesus said, “I'll answer you if you'll answer one question from Me: Where did John the Baptist get his authority, from God or from man?” They would not answer.

Question Two:

They are going to ask Him in this passage, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

We'll see in a moment how He answered that question.

Question Three:

They asked Him about the resurrection in Luke 20: 27-38.

We'll get to that next week.

2. Then, the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to trip Him up and catch and trap Him in His words.

3. Then there were the Sadducees who also tried to trap Him by asking Him about the resurrection. Their attempt also failed.

So, the conspirators were the chief priest, the Scribes, the elders, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees.

B. The Conspiracy

Luke 20:19 They wanted “to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people.” The words, “lay hands on Him” means “to seize and arrest Him.”

Luke 20:20 “So they watched Him” means they “very closely scrutinized” everything He did. Every word He spoke, every move He made, every act He performed – they watched Him, they watched Him.

Luke 20:20 “they sent spies who pretended to be righteous.” The word “fain” means “to pretend,” “to play the part of.” They played the part of good, righteous men, but they were enemies of the Lord Jesus.

C. The Compliments Luke 20:21

These men used flattery. Everything they said about Jesus was true, but they didn't believe a word of it. Their flattery was designed to cause Jesus to drop His guard so He would say something they could use against Him.

They called Him, “Teacher” or “Master.” They said He had integrity, “You only say what is right and true,” “You are indifferent to public opinion” – “You care about no one.” “You do not regard the person of men,” “You are not the kind of man that can be manipulated,” “You teach the way of God in truth,” “You teach the way of God accurately.”

With their sarcastic flattery out of the way, they get to the real reason for their visit.


D. The Challenge Luke 20:22

It was a calculated question designed to entangle anyone who attempted to answer it. If our Lord had replied that it was NOT lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, they would have accused Him to Pilate as a rebel against Rome. If Jesus had replied that it WAS lawful to Caesar, He would have been discredited before the Jews.

They SEEMED to have Him trapped. No matter which way He answered, He couldn't win. If Jesus said “No,” they could label Him as an insurrectionist and have Him arrested for opposing Roman law. If He said “Yes,” He would lose face with the common people, who hated paying taxes to Rome.


II. Jesus and His Answer


Notice Luke 20:23 “Jesus perceived their craftiness” – their cunning, their unscrupulousness.

The word “craftiness” is the same word for “subtlety” used in Genesis 3, when the bible says, “The serpent was more subtle than any other beast.” What does that mean? It means the Lord Jesus can tell the work of the devil. No matter how you dress it up, Jesus always knows when the devil is at work.

Jesus said, “Show Me a penny.” Wait a minute: Where did that penny – that coin – come from? The coin came from the people who asked Him the question. And when they reached in their pocket and pulled out that coin, they condemned themselves, because the very fact that they had coins was a sign that they had already, in their own hearts, acknowledged the authority of the Roman government over them. You and I cannot be anti-America if we have dollar bills in our pockets because we're under the authority of the American government.

They were using Roman money to buy and to sell and to trade. It was a part of their life. So, Jesus already had them. By virtue of the fact that they had Roman coins, they had already answered their own question.

The “penny” Jesus held in His hand was called a denarius. It was equal to a laborer's average wage for one day's work. It was the amount fixed by Roman law for the payment of a tax upon every adult male in Israel.

Every denarius had an image inscribed upon it – the profile of Tiberius Caesar. The image on the coins identified the authority that stood behind it. These coins were issued by the Roman government and were distributed for use as currency.

The people did not own the coins, they only used them. They actually belonged to Rome. That's true of any currency. It's owner, the authority behind it, is identified by the inscription on it.

Rome had provided certain benefits for the Jewish people. There was a highway system that Rome had built. There was law and order which Rome kept. There was a water system which Rome provided. Many benefits came from Rome. Yes, “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.” You
have a duty to Rome for what they have provided for you. You ACCEPT the benefits they provide. You have a responsibility to Caesar. Give him what is rightfully due him.

But wait a minute. Jesus hasn't finished. He said, “And render unto God the things that are God's.”

Did you realize that you and I have an Image imprinted on our soul?

Genesis 1:26-27: “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, Male and female created He them.”

Jesus was present at the creation of Adam and He saw that the image of God was inscribed upon the soul of Adam. But the image of God on the soul of Adam was marred when he willfully chose to sin. Every person born this side of the Garden, has been born with a marred image. That's why Jesus had to die on the cross.

As Jesus looked at those about Him, He was not concerned about their silver coins. He was concerned about their eternal souls because each of them was marred by sin.

Sometimes you find a coin that is so worn, the inscription of the date is completely worn off. It's impossible to tell when it was minted. The image is so marred, you cannot identify it.

I understand coin collectors can buy a product called “Date Restorer.” Just place a drop on the old worn coin and the date begins to reappear. That image that was gone is visible again.

Jesus said, “I have come to seek and to save, restore, that which is lost.” Jesus has come to restore the image of God in the soul of man. Jesus is God's solution for the mess sin got us in.

“Render unto God the things that are God's.” Meet your obligations to God. Don't ignore Him in your life.

We enjoy the benefits He has provided to us. We live in His world, breath His air, eat His food, and drink His water. Everything we have came from Him.

What can we render to God? The psalmist addressed that question 3,000 years ago. See Psalm 116:
12-14.

Maybe the image of God on your soul is not as clear as it ought to be. Maybe you have let His Image become worn with sins of the flesh or neglect. You've drifted from Him. His Image once shown bright and clear in your life, but now His Image is dull. You can hardly make His Image out in your life.

God has plenty of Image Restorer and He desires to touch your life anew so you can shine once again. Will you let Him do a work on His Image in your life?

Render to God what is God's!



ONE BRIDE WITH SEVEN HUSBANDS

Luke 20:27-40


This is the third time in Luke 20 that our Lord has been attacked by the religious leaders of His day. They didn't attack Him physically, but verbally. Luke 20:19 says they wanted to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people, so they just “confronted” Him.

They confronted Him about His Authority: “Who gave You the authority to do the things You do?”

Then they questioned His politics: “Should we as Jews pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Now they are going to question His doctrine: “What about the resurrection?” The interesting thing is that it was the Sadducees who asked Him about the resurrection and they didn't even believe in the resurrection!

Let me tell you a little bit about the Sadducees:

• The Sadducees were the minority sect among the Jews. They may have been few, but they were the most powerful and the most influential of all the Jewish sects. The primary reason for this is that they were the aristocratic, wealthy group. They controlled all the buying and selling that went on at the Temple. They hated Jesus and were angry with Him because He had interrupted their business enterprises when He cleansed the Temple.

Most of the Sadducees were disliked by the common Jew. They had an air of superiority about them. They were often aloof, thinking they were better than everyone else. They were rude, insensitive, and very harsh in the judgments they handed down. They had nothing for the common man.

The Sadducees were mainly disliked for their theology and they would not budge on their beliefs.

• The Sadducees accepted only the first five books of Moses as authoritative, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They believed that one could not base doctrine on what the prophets or the other Old Testament writers said.

• The doctrine that caused the most trouble with the people was their denial of all things supernatural. They believed in the existence of God, but they rejected everything else that was of a supernatural nature.

• Acts 23:8 tells us that they did not believe in angels, or demons, or Heaven, or hell, or miracles, or the resurrection or the future judgment. They believed that when you die on this earth, that's all there is. Someone said, “They didn't believe in the resurrection of the dead; that's why they were Sad-u-see.”

Because they didn't believe in life after death or a future judgment, they tended to live for the moment. They lived their life for power and profit. Their philosophy of life was one of “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

The Sadducees have a lot of relatives in our day. They may not come out and say they don't believe in Heaven of hell or a day of accountability and judgment, but they live their life as if they will never have to answer to God.

Look back at Luke 20:28: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us …” They wanted Jesus to know that they excepted only the writing of Moses. Moses was their authority. They said, “The first five books of Moses are all the Bible there is; and nobody knows Moses like we know Moses.”

That also means that they didn't believe in a coming Messiah. While other Jews looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, they didn't want a coming Messiah.

The Sadducees had a pet question. They asked it of everyone who believed in the resurrection and no one could answer their question. But now here is the Intention of their question: They wanted to pit Jesus against Moses.

Now, that was the Intent of their question, but here is the Content. See Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

They make up a silly story. A man marries a woman but dies before a son is born. The next brother marries her and he dies before a son is born. All seven brothers marry her and none have a child with her. Now, whose wife will she be in the resurrection (in the resurrection they didn't believe in)?

By the way, some folks wonder the same things today. They marry more than one time on this earth. Their first spouse dies and they marry again. Maybe that spouse dies and they marry again. Some of these Hollywood marriages have eight “ex's.” Which one is going to be the husband or wife in Heaven?

Mark records this same event and he adds something Luke doesn't give us. The Sadducees asked,
“Now whose wife will she be?” Jesus said to them, “You do err, you are deceived, your theology is wrong. You don't know two things: You don't know the Scriptures and you don't know the power of God.”

Notice Luke 20:34-35. Jesus says that things in Heaven are not going to be as they are on earth. There will be but ONE marriage in Heaven. The Lord Jesus, the Heavenly Bridegroom, will marry His Bride, the Church.

Marriage on earth is temporary. It is only for this earth. Couples on earth will not continue to be married couples in Heaven.

Why did God give man marriage on earth? Two reasons.

1. Companionship.

Men and women need somebody to love, somebody to be with, somebody to care for, because man gets lonely. But in Heaven we won't need marriage because we'll never be lonely. There will never be an absence of love. We'll love everybody there.

2. Procreation.

On earth birth replaces death. In the newspaper there's a section that says “Obituary” and another section that says “Births.” One replaces the other. But no one dies in Heaven. There will be no births in Heaven. We won't need marriage for procreation.

So, your question” “Whose wife will she be?” Nobody, because there's not going to be any marriage in Heaven.

“And, by the way fellas, you claim to be such big shots on Moses. But if you remember, Moses said in Exodus 3 that God said, 'I AM the God of Abraham and of Isaac, and of Jacob.'” Now the problem is, at the time of Exodus 3, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead and had been dead for a long time. But God did not say, “I WAS the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” He said, “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

You know God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

Then Jesus said that we shall be LIKE the angels. We will not BE angels, but we will be LIKE the angels. You never find the birth or the death of an angel in Scripture. Angels do not procreate nor die. And we'll be like them.

Again, Jesus left them speechless! Look in Luke 20:39-40. Even the scribes, who hated Jesus, said,
“Master, You have spoken well.”

Go back and look in Luke 20:34: “The children of THIS world.” Now look in Luke 20:35: “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain THAT world.” THIS world and THAT world.

THIS world is this present world. THAT world is the world to come. Now where do you live? Interestingly enough, we live in both of them. We live in THIS world, but in THAT world, we're going to be the children of God. Hey! We already are. First John 3:2 says, “Now we are the children of God.” And so, we live in both worlds. We live in THIS world where folks still get married, but we already live in the other world. Our citizenship is there. Our name is written there. Our Savior lives there, and we are already children of God.

But here's the clue. Because we live between two worlds, that makes us unique. We are the representatives of that world to this world. It is our responsibility to get as many folks in this world as we possibly can to the next world.



THE WIDOW'S MITE

Luke 21:1-4


Remember that when we come to Luke 21, we are in the last week of our Lord's life on earth before His crucifixion. On Sunday our Lord makes His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. On Monday He goes to the Temple in the Court of the Gentiles, and in righteous indignation cleanses the Temple that had become nothing but a den of thieves.

Tuesday was one of the busiest days of our Lord. Jesus was verbally attacked by all of the religious leaders who were trying to trip Him up and to catch Him in something that would discredit Him before the people and that would get Him in trouble with Rome. But they could find nothing whereby to accuse Him.

It is still Tuesday as our Lord moves from the Court of the Gentiles to the Court of the Women in the Temple. It had been a stressful day for our Lord. As He moves into the Court of the Women, He finds a place to sit down and maybe put His face in His hands, because Luke 21:1 says that “He looked up.”

Several things I want us to see in these four verses:


I. The Observation of our Lord Luke 21:1


Worship was different in Jesus' day from our worship today. Worshipers in Jesus' day gave to the Lord when they first came into the Temple. The place of giving was in the Court of the Women.

In the Court of the Women was where the treasury boxes were located. The treasury room was a room about 200 square feet, and in this treasury there were thirteen offering boxes. Each one was shaped like a tall box with a trumpet coming out of it much like that of an old RCA phonograph.

Nine of those boxes were designated for specific items or ministries in the Temple. One box was designated for money to go toward oil for the golden Lampstand; another would be for bread for the Table of Shewbread. It was much like we do today. We might designate our offering for missions or for the youth or for the choir. Four of the thirteen boxes were for free-will offerings.

When a man cast money into the trumpet-like openings, it was possible to make the coins roll around in such a way as could be heard all over the courtyard. Some people brought all their tithe in copper coins, so they could walk up and throw it in, filling the courtyard with the sound of their gift. They gave so they could be noticed. Many authorities think this may be what Jesus meant when He talked about hypocrites that “sound a trumpet.” They knew how to get the most noise out of their money.

You may remember those old “Ma and Pa Kettle” movies. One movie shows the Kettle family in church. They didn't have any money, but Pa had trained the kids on what to do when the offering plate came by. When it was passed to them, they each thumped it on the bottom to make it sound like they had given something.

Isn't it interesting that one of the last public acts of our Lord's ministry was neither a sermon nor a miracle, but an evaluation: Jesus sat down by the treasury, and watched what people gave to God. In fact, Jesus observed WHO gave, HOW they gave, WHY they gave, and the AMOUNT they gave.

Why would Jesus watch what folks gave? Doesn't He know giving to the Lord is a private matter? Doesn't He know it's not anybody's business what folks give to the work of God? That's a personal matter! He just sits there and watches.


II. The Evaluation of our Lord Luke 21:2-4


Jesus watches as this widow approaches the trumpet-boxes. He calls His disciples to Him and says, “Men, watch as that dear widow gives. Look at what she gives. Watch how she gives.”

I wonder if there were some whispers and chuckles from some who gave their large amounts when this dear lady put in two razor thin coins. There would have been no sound as they rolled down. There was no “clink” as these tiny coins reached the bottom. Nobody would have heard her offering, but Jesus knew exactly what she had given and He honored it above all the rest.

Our Lord didn't call attention to her to EMBARRASS her, but to HONOR her. It was not the SIZE of her offering, but the SACRIFICE that got our Lord's attention.

Learn this lesson: Giving to the Lord is not a matter of money. It's a matter of the heart. There is nothing we do in the kingdom of God that greater demonstrates and reveals our heart more than our giving. It's never about money. It's about heart.

Jesus knows the financial condition of every person who approached those offering boxes that day. Some were very rich, but some, as was in the case of this widow woman, were very poor. In His sovereignty, God entrust more to some than to others. Jesus was aware of the abilities of everyone.

How did He know? “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

One's ability to give is determined by the sum of his resources. “Unto whom much is given, much shall be required” (Luke 12:48).

God knows the ability of each to give and He does not expect all to give the same because our abilities in giving are different.

He knows exactly what you and I are capable of giving. Giving that God honors is based upon not just what you give to Him, but what you keep for yourself.


III. The Appreciation of our Lord Luke 21:3-4


This widow's gift is an ENCOURAGEMENT to some, a REBUKE to many, and a CHALLENGE to all.

When Jesus said that she gave her “living,” it means “she gave her life.”

This widow had TWO mites. Why didn't she keep one for herself? Why didn't she just give one? She didn't have anything left …. except the Lord!

She gave all she had; not one mite to fall back on for the next day. Others had plenty to fall back on. They had something laid back for a rainy day. She had nothing left.

Her gift was great in its devotion. She gave because the love in her heart for God made it impossible for her to refrain from giving. Love is like that. Love will do the big thing if it can. If it cannot, it will do the little thing in a grand way.

Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Could it be that the reason God doesn't give us more is because He knows we can't handle it? If we don't give to Him from the little He gives to us, why should He give us more?

Luke 6:38.

I heard about one old saint who said every time he put his tithe in the offering plate, he said: “I'll see you later!”

If Jesus had stood behind you and watched you give this morning, would it have made any difference in the WAY you gave and WHAT you gave? He was watching! He always does!



WHAT'S COMING BEFORE JESUS COMES AGAIN?

Luke 21:5-36

What I have just read to you is what many call the “Olivet Discourse.” It is also found in Matthew 24 and 25; and it is also recorded in Mark 13.

There are no contradictions in the Word of God, but you must understand that each of these writers write from a different perspective and with a different purpose.

• Matthew writes to present Jesus as the King of the Jews.

• Mark seems to have targeted Roman believers.

• Luke writes to present Jesus as the Universal Savior. He writes more from a Gentile perspective.

This Olivet Discourse deals primarily with two things: The destruction of the Jewish Temple and the Coming of the Lord.

Jesus has already told His disciples that He would one day go away and then He would one day come back. But what they were not aware of was that there would be a long period of time between His departure and His return.

I want us to think first about the destruction of the Temple. This is not Solomon's Temple. That Temple was a beautiful and wonderful Temple.

David, Solomon's father, actually had the idea of building a permanent house for God to be worshiped in. They had worshiped God in a tent called the Tabernacle, which was a temporary place of worship while the people of God wandered in the wilderness.

But now they were in the Promised Land. Now they were in the City of Jerusalem, God's holy city, and David was the king. David began to think about it and he said it was time to build a permanent house for the Lord. So, he began to gather the material. He went far and wide gathering millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of gold and silver and the finest of wood and other building materials.

But When all the materials were gathered, God told David that he could not build the house to the Lord, for he had been a man of war and his hands were stained with blood. God then promised David that his son Solomon would build the Temple.

But Solomon's Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonians into Judea and he conquered all of the land and also destroyed the Temple. Before he left, he plundered the Temple and took all that was in the Temple back home with him.

After years of captivity, in the days of Zerubbabel, the Jewish people went back to their homeland and desired to rebuild the Temple. They began to rebuild in 536 B.C. and completed it in 21 years, in
515 B.C.
All the young men rejoiced when the Temple was completed, but all the old men who had seen the original Temple wept because it did not have the size or the grandeur of the original Temple.

When Herod the Great was appointed king of the Jews by the Roman government, he wanted to impress the Jews so he began to redo and refashion and add to the Temple. This began in 20 B.C. and lasted until A.D. 64. It took over 80 years. It was the very Temple Jesus worshiped in while He was on earth and construction was going on in the Temple during His 33 years on earth. Three walls were built around the Temple to protect it, because inside and out, gold and silver overlaid every part of it.

In Matthew 24:1 Matthew adds something Luke doesn't give us in Luke 21:5. Matthew tells us that Jesus went out of the Temple and was departing from the Temple. Why was He leaving?

Back in Matthew 23 we are told that Jesus had just made the most scathing attack on a group of people that He had ever brought on a group of people. And interestingly enough, He was not talking to the prostitutes or to the drunkards or to the thieves; He was talking to the religious leaders. Inside the Temple, hundreds were watching Him and listening to Him.

Jesus was with His disciples inside the Temple, teaching the people when all the religious leaders marched in. It was all pomp and circumstance when the religious crowd walked in. Their turbans were on their heads. They were wearing their long flowing robes with all those breastplates and those little tinkling bells. I mean, they walked in and looked like peacocks in full spread. And when Jesus saw them, it was just more than He could swallow, and He unleashed a verbal attack against those leaders. Seven times Jesus called those scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” – and that's the best thing He said about them!

He called them “children of hell” and “whited sepulchers.” He said that they were “murderers” be-cause they “killed the prophets that God had sent.” He called them thieves because they had stolen from widows.

The disciples had never heard Him talk like that before. It was almost like it was another Jesus had slipped in. It was out of character for Him and they were absolutely shocked!

And the people were speechless. No one had ever talked that way to those religious big shots. And you can almost see the religious leaders. They began to clench their fists and grit their teeth. Their blood pressure shot up and they were red in the face. They were so mad … ready to kill. Nobody talks to them that way. Why, they are men of God. How insulting! How humiliated they were in front of everybody.

Nobody moves. The disciples are absolutely terrified! They know that unless something miraculous
happens, they are going to have to fight their way out of that crowd and perhaps even give their life to protect Jesus.

When Jesus finishes with those religious leaders, He turns and walks out. And here come the disciples right behind Him, not saying a word. They're afraid to look back because trouble might be right be-
hind them.

So, when they get out of the Temple, one of the disciples says, “Uh, uh, uh, Lord, look at this building. Isn't it something?” Jesus said, “Oh, you want to talk about this building? Okay. It's coming down.”

Now understand. It wasn't even finished being built. But all of those massive stones overlaid with gold and silver were already in place. Jesus would not have shocked those disciples any more if He had slapped them in the face and spit in their eyes. They were absolutely dumbfounded.

But here's the amazing thing: They believed Him! Not one of them said, “Oh, I don't believe that.” They didn't ask HOW. They didn't ask WHY. They just asked, “WHEN?” Because they knew when Jesus said it, it was going to be so.

In Matthew 24:3 the disciples asked three questions:

1. “What shall be the sign of Your coming?”
2. “What is the sign of the end of the world?”
3. “When will the Temple be destroyed?”

When did this come about? The Temple was completed in A.D. 64. Jesus had already been dead over 30 years and back in Heaven. They had crucified Him and laid Him in the tomb. He rose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven. And they just kept building that building. Thirty-four years after He died, the building was finished. Six years after it was finished, in A.D. 70, General Titus led the Roman army into Jerusalem and absolutely destroyed, not just the Temple, but every building in Jerusalem.

That Temple building was unlike any building you and I know about. These disciples knew when that building was destroyed, the nation of Israel would cease to exist. We don't have a building like that in America. If this church were to burn this week, we'd meet somewhere next Sunday. We'd meet in a school house or some other empty building. There's not a building in America, if it were to burn tonight, that would cause America to go out of business. But that building was the very life of the nation. And when it was destroyed, Israel ceased to exist. Life as they knew it came to an end.

Jesus made several radical predictions about the near and distant future when Jesus spoke that day. Many of His predictions have already occurred, and we can verify them historically. Consider four of His predictions that have already happened.

A. (A. D. 40 – 300) The Followers of Jesus were Persecuted Luke 21:12

Jesus warned His disciples the time would soon come when they would undergo terrible persecution. Judas committed suicide, but Church history tells us of the eleven remaining disciples, ten died horrible deaths as martyrs for Christ. Some were crucified. Peter begged to be crucified up-side-down because he didn't feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner in which Jesus was crucified. Others
had their heads removed from their shoulders. Even the Apostle John, who was the only one of the twelve who died a natural death, was placed in boiling oil. They meant to kill him but he survived so they exiled him on the island of Patmos.

Among the first to die was Stephen, who was stoned to death because he preached the resurrection of Jesus. As they were killing him, he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

For the first 300 years of the Christian faith, thousands of believers were massacred because they refused to say, “Caesar is Lord.”

Polycarp, the pastor at the Church at Smyrna, was arrested and tried at the age of 86. He was tied to the stake to be burned, when he was given one final chance to curse and deny Christ. He replied, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” And they lit the fire.

The Roman Emperor Nero hated Christians. He ordered thousands to be thrown to the lions. He took Christians, dipped them in tar, tied them to trees in his garden and lit them on fire to illuminate his gardens as he rode his horse at night.

B. (A.D. 70) The Temple was Destroyed Luke 21:6

The disciples admired the stones of the Temple overlaid with gold and silver. Some of the stones were 45 feet long, 15 feet tall, and 22 feet wide. Just those stones would cost billions and billions of dollars. Yet we are told that not one stone was left upon another.

Josephus tells us that when Titus laid siege to the city there was widespread starvation and death. Josephus estimated over 100,000 people died in this battle. In Luke 21:22, Jesus called this the “time of vengeance or punishment” for Jerusalem.

C. (A.D. 73 – 163) The Jews were Scattered Luke 21:24a

Jesus predicted the Israelites would be taken prisoners to all the nations. History calls this “the diaspora” which means “the dispersal” or “scattering.” By A.D.163 almost all the Jews had been killed or deported to other nations. Josephus claimed 97,000 Jews were taken captive and relocated to other countries. The important thing about this “scattering” is that God promised He would bring His people back into the land of their forefathers.

D. (1967) The “Times of the Gentiles” would be Completed Luke 21:24b

Let me give you a quick history lesson about the Gentiles who controlled Jerusalem for almost 1,800 years.

From A.D.70 until about 637 the Romans controlled Jerusalem. The last 300 years is called the Byzantine period because of the influence of the Greek Orthodox faith based in Constantinople, who were Gentiles.

In A.D.637, the Muslim Arab armies attacked Jerusalem and took control. Jerusalem was under Muslim control until the crusaders from Europe came to “liberate” the Holy sites.

Beginning in 1099 for about 200 years, the Christian crusaders had a thin control of Jerusalem – they were Gentiles.

In 1244, the Egyptian Muslims pushed the last of the Crusaders back toward Europe. Then in 1517, the Ottoman Turks controlled the city.

In 1917, near the end of World War I the Turks lost control of Jerusalem. For 30 years the British controlled Jerusalem.

During the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, thousands of the Jews scattered around the globe started returning to the Holy Land.
The British left in 1948 when Israel became a nation, but none of the old city was under Jewish occupation. Jerusalem was part of the West Bank under Jordanian control (although the residents
of Jerusalem called themselves Palestinians) – they were Gentiles.

But on June 7, 1967, during the 6-Day War, Israel gained control of Jerusalem for the first time in almost 1,800 years! Do you know the first thing the Jews did? The soldiers went immediately to the Western Wall of the Temple, and began to weep and pray. That's why many people call it the “Wailing Wall.” For those who were alive in 1967, prophecy was fulfilled in our lifetime! The Jews returned to Jerusalem, and by the way, they ARE NOT Gentiles.

Jesus leaves us with three attitudes:

1. Don't be afraid Luke 21:9

The prophetic passages of the Bible are not intended to frighten us – but to encourage us.

2. Do not worry Luke 21:14

3. Stand firm in your faith Luke 21:18-19

By doing so, encourage others.



THE SIGNS JESUS GAVE CONCERNING HIS RETURN

Luke 21:6-28


Luke 21 is given in response to three questions the disciples asked Jesus just a few days before Jesus would die on Calvary. Jesus had told His disciples that the Temple would be destroyed and that “not one stone would be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

Question One: When would the Temple be destroyed? This prediction has already taken place. It
happened in A.D. 70 when Titus marched into Jerusalem and destroyed everything there, including the
Temple.

Question Two: What will be the sign of your coming? His “coming” doesn't refer to the Rapture when the saints will be caught up to be with the Lord; rather, the reference is to the Revelation of the Lord; His Second Coming.

Question Three: What is the sign of the end of the Age, or the end of the world as we know it?

In this message we will be looking at Question Two: “What is the sign of your coming?” Most of what we'll be looking at in this message will take place during the Tribulation. The Saints of God have already been taken up to glory to be with Jesus. But understand, some of the things we'll be looking at will begin before the Rapture.

We have already looked at the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, so we'll begin looking at the signs leading up to His Second Coming. These are the leading indicators of Jesus' Return.

A. The Sign of False Christ Luke 21:8

These are spiritual signs. In the last days, moral decay will continue to increase.

Second Timothy 3:1-2,5: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times (times of stress) will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving … having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

Luke says that many false christs will come and deceive many. How many false christs do you suppose there have been in the last fifty years? We know some by name: Jim Jones, who led 900 people to commit suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid; David Koresh, who had that group of people in Texas in that compound who were destroyed.

Over the last fifty years, how many false christs do you suppose have appeared on the scene of the world? Now I'm not talking about fruitcakes and the nuts and the mentally insane. I'm talking about men who had a significant following of people who profess to be the Messiah, the Christ, over the last fifty years.



History records over eleven hundred who claimed to be the Messiah and who had a significant number of people who followed them.

In Luke 21:8 Jesus warned: “Take heed that you not be deceived” by them. The words “take heed” means “Beware,” “Look out.” It's like a flashing sign warning that a bridge is out and if you continue on your journey you will end up in destruction.

The word “deceived” means “to be seduced,” “to be led astray,” “to be led into error.”

Another thing about these deceivers is that they claim to possess spiritual truth that others do not have, especially about the future.

Well, where do these people come from? How do they get into Christianity? See Jude 3. The words “crept in unawares” means “they have slipped in the side door.” They are usually nice, kind, gracious folks who slip in and somehow get in places of leadership, like teaching Sunday School, and they slip in their false teaching and they will always be wrong about Jesus; wrong about His identity or His Person – His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, His heavenly position, His return.

Where do these false prophets get their power? How are they able to gain control of the minds and hearts of the people? They are energized by the devil himself.

– See Galatians 3:1: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you (who has cast a spell over you) that you should not obey the truth?”

– See 2 Corinthians 4:4: “Whose mind the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

– See 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15.

How can you keep from being deceived? Learn everything you can learn about the true Christ. Spend time loving Him and talking to Him – then the Holy Spirit will alert you to false teaching.

B. The Sign of War Luke 21:9-10

Understand that this is not referring to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Notice that Jesus used the words “wars and commotions.” The word “commotions” means “instability,” “disorder and disarray,” “a time of mass confusion that will cause great fear.”

Then Jesus said, “Do not be terrified.” We knew very little in America about terrorism before 9/11, 2001, when the two airplanes flew into the buildings of the World Trade Centers.

Don't miss what Jesus says in relation to this sign: “for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Jesus is saying, “Don't let one great event like 9/11 cause you to believe the end is upon us.”

You see, signs were not given for man to predict the future; signs were given so that men might trust God. This sign is not simply a sign that our Lord will one day return as He said, but it does show that God has constant control and rule in this earth.

C. The Sign of Disasters Luke 21:11

Our Lord mentions four types of disasters: earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and great signs from heaven. Now all of these things have always been, but Jesus says there will be an increase in these before He comes again.

Any study of earthquakes will show the frequency and the magnitude of earthquakes have greatly increased since 1900.

Famines. There have always been people starving over the earth, but none more than today. Those of us in America know absolutely nothing about real famine. We only have to drive a few miles in order to get food.

Pestilence. Such things as malaria, cancer, and AIDS.

Signs in the heavens: I interpret that to mean things like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.

D. The Sign of Suffering Luke 21:12-19

Paul said that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” But don't think only of physical suffering, for our enemies are not just flesh and blood enemies. We are in a spiritual warfare, and the closer we come to the Coming of Christ the more Christians will suffer and be persecuted.

But notice what Jesus said in Luke 21:12: “For My name sake.” Christians will suffer for WHO they are and WHOSE they are. The world hates Jesus and they hate those who love Jesus.

But notice five blessings Jesus said would come from suffering:

1. Suffering gives you an opportunity to be identified with Christ (Luke 21:12).

2. Suffering provides us an opportunity to witness for Christ (Luke 21:13).

3. Suffering will provide us an opportunity to experience an unusual manifestation
of the presence of God (Luke 21:14-15).

4. Suffering provides you with an opportunity to be thankful for Heaven (Luke 21:16-18).

5. Suffering provides you an opportunity to experience victory in your Christian
life (Luke 21:19). The word “possess” means “you shall win.” What? Your soul.



ISRAEL: GOD'S MIRACLE NATION

Luke 21:29-33


Our God is a God of miracles. Do you believe that? God is a God of miracles. An old, old song says, “I believe in miracles, for I believe in God.” God is a God of miracles.

Now if I were to ask you to take a sheet of paper and make a list of the top miracles in the Bible, I wonder what you would put on your list. Well, it would be hard to pick the top five miracles, but I think my list might include:

1. The Miracle of Creation

God spoke, and out of His speaking came everything that exists. And He did it in six days. Really, He did it in six seconds, because He just worked a second a day. Creation was in His mind and He just spoke and it was. Someone said, “The invisible God stepped out of nowhere and stood on nothing and spoke and it was!”

2. Then I would put on my list the World-Wide Flood.

It was not a local flood. It covered the whole earth. The Bible says the windows of Heaven were open and massive sheets of water fell from the sky. The Bible also says that from beneath, the great reservoirs began to burst apart. So, water was coming from above and water was coming from beneath and covered the whole world. And every living creature on the earth except for Noah and his family and the animals in the ark were killed.

3. Third, I would put the children of Israel Crossing the Red Sea.

The Bible says God sent an east wind and the wind parted the waters of the Red Sea and all of the children of Israel walked through on dry ground. Think of how powerful that wind had to be. And once the children of Israel got on the other side, here came the Egyptians. God simply stopped the wind from blowing as the Egyptians pursued them and the Egyptian army drowned.

4. Number four would be the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus.

Jesus was born of a virgin. Mary conceived never having known a man. It was a miracle. Jesus was born the God-Man!

5. Number five would be the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

On the third day after His crucifixion and burial, Jesus was resurrected to live forevermore, never to die again.

Your list may not be like my list of miracles. You may have thought about Jonah and the whale or Daniel in the Lion's den, or the miracles of healing that our Lord performed, or the people He raised from the dead.

But let me give you a miracle that we almost always forget, and that's the miracle of the Nation of Israel. The Nation of Israel is one of the greatest miracles God ever performed. Let me tell you why.

A. God Created the Nation of Israel.

The nation of Israel exists because God brought it into existence. Genesis 12:1-3.

The nation God is talking about is not China or the United States of America. No other nation on earth can ever claim truthfully that they exist because God created them. God brought Israel into existence. Israel was born in the miraculous processes of God.

B. God Uniquely Blessed Israel

On July 4th and at other times we sing “God Bless America,” and we know God has truly blessed America. But no nation has been blessed like Israel.

In Romans 9:3, Paul speaks from a heavy heart because his nation, Israel, and his countrymen, the Jews, had rejected the Lord Jesus.

Paul is going to give a list of the blessings God has given the nation of Israel. Notice Romans 9:4-5.

1. God gave them Adoption. Romans 9:4

What does that mean? It means that God chose them to be His family. God adopted them; He chose one man to be the father of the nation, Abraham, and He made of him a mighty nation, and God adopted them.

2. God gave them His Glory. Romans 9:4

The word “glory” speaks of the Shekinah glory of God, that brilliant shining presence of God. It took on different manifestations.

When the children of Israel were making their way through the wilderness toward Canaan, the Bible says that this Shekinah glory manifest itself as a cloud by day and by a fire by night. Both the cloud and the fire would lead God's people.

When both the Tabernacle and the Temple were constructed, the Shekinah glory of God filled the Holy of Holies with smoke.

3. God gave them a Covenant or Contract. Romans 9:4

Not a covenant that man made with God, but a covenant God make with man. God initiated the covenant. God gave the covenant to Israel. Israel is the only nation on earth that God made a covenant with.

4. God gave Israel His Law, the Ten Commandments. Romans 9:4

With His very finger God etched in stone His Law and gave them to Israel.

5. God gave Israel “the Service of God,” or the Levitical system. Romans 9:4

Israel was to use this system in the Tabernacle, the Temple, the priesthood, and the sacrificial system.

6. God gave Israel the promises, the writings of the prophets. Romans 9:4

7. God gave Israel the fathers or the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Romans 9:5

8. God gave Israel, God who came in the flesh: Christ. Romans 9:5

Jesus was not born a Russian or an American, but a Jew.

C. God Destroyed the nation of Israel; He put it to Death Luke 21:5-7

When the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the nation of Israel would cease to exist. When General Titus led the Roman army into the city of Jerusalem, he completely destroyed the city. He cut down every tree, he completely destroyed the Temple, the only Jews he did not execute were those who ran fast enough to get away and they fled to the four corners of the earth.

God predicted it, God caused it to happen, and God even used the Roman army to bring it about. Why? Two reasons:

– His own people rejected Him. They said, “We will not have this Man to rule over us.” “He came to His own” – the Jews – “and His own received Him not.” You cannot disrespect the Son of God and escape judgment.

– First, judgment because the Jews rejected Him, but also to bring the Gentiles to faith in Him. God has set Israel aside in order to bring the Gentiles in.

D. God will Bring Israel Back to Life. Romans 11:25-26a

Now look at Luke 21:29-32.

The national symbol for America is the eagle. The national symbol for Russia is the bear. The national
symbol for Israel is figs or the fig tree.

The disciples knew Jesus was talking about the nation of Israel, that it would die. And it did die. But here is the miracle: Jesus would bring Israel back to life again. She will come alive again and grow!

When? See Luke 21:24b, 32.

The times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled when Israel is reborn. For over 1800 years God's people have been watching the fig tree – Israel. They knew that Jesus would not return for His own and call them up to glory until Israel came alive again. Israel would become alive again when Israel was re-
instated as a nation. And Jesus said, “When you see Israel become a nation again, those alive at that time have a good chance of being alive when Jesus comes again.”

Well, Israel came alive again – was born again, declared a sovereign state again May 15, 1948.

Then, after the Six-Day War in June of 1967, Israel gained control of Jerusalem.

On December 6, 2017, a prophetic fulfillment took place when President Trump declared Jerusalem the capital city of Israel.

That means that if you were born in or after 1948, you have a good chance of being in that generation when Jesus comes back again.

If you were born in or after 1967, you have a better chance of being alive when Jesus comes.

If you were alive in 2017, you have the best chance of being alive when Jesus comes.

“AMEN. EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS1” Revelation 22:20.


BE PATIENT

Luke 21:19, 34-36


Now, I ask you to turn to Matthew 13:16-17 and I want to show you two verses that is just for our generation.

“But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you
hear, and did not hear it.”

What is Jesus talking about? I believe He is talking about that generation of folks who will be alive when Jesus comes to take away His own out of this world – the Rapture. Do you realize that things are set up at this time for the coming of the Lord? Prophecy is being fulfilled right before our very eyes and many don't even realize it.

What prophecies? Jesus gives a final sign that will take place before He comes back again. Look at
Luke 21:29-32.

The fig tree is the symbol of Israel. Just like the eagle is the symbol of America and the bear is the symbol of Russia, the fig tree is the symbol of Israel.

Because the Jews rejected the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, Israel was set aside for a time, and God stopped His special dealings with the Jews and began to deal with the Gentiles.

Well, when did God begin to deal with the Gentiles and what happened to the Jews? In A.D. 70 when General Titus and his Roman army marched into Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple so that one stone was not left upon another, not only was the Temple destroyed, but the nation of Israel was destroyed as
well. Israel died when the Temple was destroyed.

What happened to the Jews? Most of them were killed. If Rome had gotten what it wanted, every Jew would have been killed. But some of the Jews escaped; they ran – some to the mountains and others to other nations. But the Jews who survived have been persecuted since that time.

Notice Luke 21:24-25. Notice: Israel will remain dead until Israel is reborn when the fig tree or Israel comes to life again.

Let me announce to you that the time of the Gentiles have been fulfilled and Israel has come alive again. When did that happen? May 15, 1948, when Israel was declared a sovereign state, shortly after World War II.

When that happened, God began to put things in place quickly, sitting the stage for our Lord's return. What else happened in 1948?

• Well, Israel declared her independence from the British administration.
• The World Council of Churches was formed. In the Tribulation there will be universal worship. The World Council of Churches is just the first step in making that possible.

• There was the forming of the European Union, the revival of the Roman Empire. These
are the ten nations represented by the ten toes of the beast in Daniel 2. The Antichrist will be in control of these in the Tribulation. They are already in place and have been since 1948.

• The transistor was developed. How is that important? Daniel says that in the last days
knowledge will increase. Without the transistor we would not have the computer. Computers also make it possible to design a chip that the Antichrist can implant into the forehead and the hand acting as the Mark of the Beast. Revelation 11 tells us that God will have His two witnesses who will preach the Gospel during the Tribulation and that everyone will see them. That is possible by way of computer and television.

• Another thing that will increase in the Tribulation is demonic activity and drugs. When
Jesus was on earth there was a great increase of demonic activity in relation to the Old Testament. When Jesus ascended to Heaven, demonic activity decreased. During the last days demonic activity will increase, especially through the use of drugs.

Another important date is June 7, 1967 – Israel's Six-Day War. Egypt attempted to stop all trade of Israel, blocking both the way into Israel and the way out of Israel. Israel's Defense Forces launched a preemptive air strike against Egypt. The morning of June 5, 1967, 200 aircraft took off from Israel in a surprise aerial attack on Egypt, assaulting 18 different airfields and eliminating 90 percent of Egypt's air-force as they sat on the ground. Israeli tanks and infantry then stormed across the border and into the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip then attacked air forces of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq.

In 1948 the Jews reclaimed Israel; in 1967 the Jews occupied Jerusalem, but somehow the Arabs still controlled the 40-acre Temple Mount.

Another important date is December 6, 2017. Another prophecy was fulfilled. United States of America president Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Clinton promised to do it when he was running for president, but he did not. Bush promised to do it when he ran for president, but he did not. Obama promised to do it when he was running for president, but he did not. Trump promised to do it when he ran for president – And he did it! Immediately, the United Nations voted 138 to 9 to condemn America for allowing Israel to choose Jerusalem as the place for it's capital.

But the prophecy doesn't stop there. Turn to Zechariah 12:2-3.

• “A cup of trembling” or drunkenness or reeling to all the people surrounding it
• “And a burdensome (heavy) stone.” Anyone coming against Jerusalem will pay the price.

Notice Psalm 102:13-16:

• Psalm 102:16 – “Stones and dust.” Israel's pass-time is archaeology. They are always digging
for old ruins.

• Notice Psalm 102:16 again. “The Lord shall build up Zion (Israel).” When Zion is built up,
Jesus will come.

Look at one more passage and we will be through: Isaiah 44:28 – 45:3.

These verses took place 150 years before Cyrus was born. He saw himself as the best of everything. He was always right. Folks who served under him had to walk on egg shells. But God used him for His purpose to get the Jews in the place He wanted them.

(Imagine reading a prophet's message 150 years before you are born and finding your name in his message.)

Now here is the strange thing: People in Israel are saying: “Is Trump the second Cyrus? Is he just a tool in God's hand?” I don't know if Trump is saved or not, but I do believe God is using him as His tool to prepare things for our Lord's return.

Look back at Luke 21:19. What is the bottom line of what Jesus is saying? Be steadfast and have patient endurance when you see things falling into place for the Lord's return. Know that the Lord is in control. All that we see happening around us is just getting ready for our Lord's return.

If you were born in or after 1948 or 1967 or 2017, you are in that generation that would not pass away before He comes again.

“Look up! Your redemption draws nigh!”



THE CONSPIRACY OF JUDAS

Luke 22:1-6


[Luke 22:1: For the benefit of his Gentile readers Luke adds the explanatory note that the feast of
Unleavened Bread “is called the Passover.”]

It was late on Tuesday of Passion Week and events were rapidly moving toward a climax. The first step in putting Christ to death was taken by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The very men who should have welcomed the Messiah were the men who conspired to kill Him. In Luke 22:2, we are told that the Jewish leaders “continued seeking (imperfect) how they might kill Jesus.” That means that they didn't let up. They were determined to put Him to death, but the problem was how to accomplish it. Luke tells us that they “kept on fearing the people.”

They had planned to seize Him upon His arrival into Jerusalem, but their plans failed when Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey in His Triumphal Entry. John 11:57 says the religious leaders “had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where He was, he should show it, that they might take Him.” But God had determined that Jesus would die at 3:00 P.M. on Passover at the same time the Passover lamb was slain in the Temple.

Help from an unexpected source came their way. In their fondest dreams the religious leaders did not anticipate help from within Jesus' twelve disciples. Luke tells us that Satan entered into Judas and he conspired to betray Him to them.

Mr. Webster in his dictionary defines conspiracy as “a planning and acting together secretly for a harm-
ful or unlawful purpose to plot evil.” We hear a lot today about conspiracies. Some on the political left like to talk about a “vast right wing conspiracy.” Many believe the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy was associated with a conspiracy.

I can't speak about those conspiracies because I don't know if they are true or imaginary. But the verses that I read for you reveal the beginning of one of the greatest conspiracies of all history. For we find here a combination of people who are plotting together to do evil to the Lord Jesus. So, I want us to think now about this conspiracy.


I. The Object of the Conspiracy


Note Luke 22:2, 4, 6, and the word “Him” in each verse. Well, who is the Him? Back up to the last verse of Luke 21:38; then to Luke 21:37; then to Luke 21:36. There, He is identified as the “Son of Man,” and that is the title of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a plot against Him – the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.


II. The Participants in the Conspiracy


Note Luke 22:2. The chief priest and the scribes are the first ones, the religious people. These people
who were supposedly the interpreters of God's Word and God's Way and God's Will. These were the men who supposedly knew God and walked with God and lived for God. Yet, we find them in a conspiracy against the Son of God.

Luke 22:4 adds another conspirator – “and captains.” Who are these people? These were the Temple guards or the religious people.

But look in Luke 21:3: “Then entered Satan...” He is the devil, the arch enemy of the universe, who hates God. God created an angel by the name of Lucifer. The Bible says he was a beautiful angel and a singing angel who led the courts of Heaven in the praises of God. But he was not content to be just a beautiful angel or a singing angel, He wanted to be Number One. He wanted to be God. So, he plotted to overthrow God and drew a third of all the angels of Heaven to side with him.

Satan hates the Bible and he hates the gospel and he hates Christians because he knows he can never be what he wants to be – God. He can never be God; nor can he ever be what he was. He'll never be restored or forgiven or reconciled to God. He is forever banished from all that is holy.

But there is another conspirator – the chief priest, the scribes, the Temple police, Satan – but there is another and he is the most unlikely of all of them – “Judas, who was numbered with the Twelve.”

What a privilege Judas had! He was one of only eleven other men who had the privilege of being chosen as one of the twelve to follow Jesus during His earthly ministry. Everything Jesus did, Judas saw. Everything Jesus said, Judas heard. And yet, here he is, a part of this evil conspiracy against the Son of God. Why?

Satan had been toying with Judas for a long time, and Jesus was aware of this at least one year before His death. In John 6:70-71 Jesus said, “Did I not choose you twelve, and one of you is a devil, and He spoke of Judas Iscariot, who would betray Him.”

Jesus knew all along that Judas was a phony. Judas was never a believer.

John 6 says that Jesus knew Judas was a devil and would betray Him, but again in John 13 when Jesus was washing the disciples' feet, Peter said, “'Lord, You will never wash my feet. ' Jesus said, 'If I don't wash you, you cannot follow Me.' Peter said, 'Well, Lord, just wash me all over.' Jesus, 'You are already clean,' but then He said, 'but not all of you are clean'” –cleaned by the blood of the Lord –
“and this spoke He of Judas, the one who would betray Him.”

John 12 says that Jesus said that Judas was a thief. Mark 14 tells us that Jesus called Judas the “son of perdition” or the son of hell. Matthew tells us that Jesus said of Judas, “It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”

If Jesus knew what Judas was and what he would do, why did Jesus choose him as one of the Twelve? I don't know all of the answers to that question, but this I know, it was an expression of the grace of God to allow Judas to be with His and to see and hear all that he did. He had an opportunity to repent and change his mind in making his decision to betray our Lord.


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Judas was very near the Lord and yet did not commit himself to Him. That is possible today. You can be among God's people and yet not belong to God's family. Judas' deception was that he pretended to be what he was not. He made a willful choice to go to those who were the enemies of Jesus. He made a willful decision and choice to accept money for the betrayal. You see, we are responsible for the decisions and choices we make in life.

Notice again Luke 22:3. “Then Satan entered Judas.” What was the result of Satan entering into Judas?

Luke 22:4: He “communed” or 'conferred” or “discussed” with the religious leaders how he might
betray Jesus.

Luke 22:6: He “promised” he would find a way to betray Jesus.

Luke 22:6: He sought “opportunity” to betray Jesus; he worked at it continually.

This is not the only time we are told that Satan entered into Judas. In John 13:27, in the Upper Room, when Jesus was administering the Lord's Supper, Jesus had told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. They all asked, “Lord, is it I?” Jesus said, “It is he to whom I give the sop.” Jesus dipped the bread in the sop and gave it to Judas. And then in Luke 22:27, after He gives the bread to Judas, the Bible says, “Satan entered Judas.” Jesus said to Judas, “What you do, do quickly.”

How does Satan enter into a person? We are told that Satan tempts people and that he sifts people (as he did with Peter), and that he buffets people (as he did with Paul when he gave him the thorn in the flesh) and that he can hold men captive (when he seeks to control his thoughts). But when Satan “enters into a man” and dwells in him, the man become a child of hell indeed.

Well, how does Satan enter into a man? A man must willingly open his heart and allow Satan to enter.

Do you remember when Jesus and His disciples were in the home of Simon the leper in John 12? After the meal Mary took a pound of very costly spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair. And Judas criticized Mary and said it was a waste and that the ointment should have been sold and the money should have been given so he could give it to the poor. Jesus rebuked Judas and told him to leave her alone, that she had kept this for the day of His burial. That rebuke caused an inner rage in Judas that opened the door to his life to Satan. You see, Judas was totally responsible for his act.

I am amazed at the number of people who feel sorry for Judas. They say that Judas didn't have a chance; that he was just a puppet in the hand of God and he was predestined to be lost. Folks, our God doesn't work that way. Jesus reached out to Judas on several occasions trying to get him turn from his evil intent.


III. The Severity of this Conspiracy Luke 22:2


They didn't just want to detain the Lord Jesus, or to discredit Him or to dishonor Him – they wanted to destroy Him, to kill Him. They wanted Him completely gone.

IV. The Reason for the Conspiracy Luke 22:2

They were afraid of the people. At that particular moment, Jesus was at an all time high popularity-wise. That would change drastically by the end of the week!


V. The Time of the Conspiracy Luke 22:1


It was Passover. It was the holiest time for the Jews. It was the time of Remembrance. They remembered the time God delivered them out of Egypt. Not only was it a time of remembrance, it was a time of Celebration. A time to Praise the Lord; to sing and shout and lift their hands and say, “Glory!”

So that's the conspiracy. In closing, let me give a word or two of Application. Judas ought to be a warning sign to us. He had religion, but he didn't have a relationship.

Religion is all external. It's all cosmetic. Relationship is internal; down deep in your heart.

Religion is based on Gain – what can I get out of it. Relationship is all about Glory – we do all for the glory of God.

Judas sold his soul for thirty pieces of silver. But I know folks who sell their soul for far less – for
popularity or pleasure.

Don't let Satan conspire in your heart to turn from Jesus!

Judas would be dead, doomed, and damned before Jesus ever died on the cross. Judas would be in torment before Jesus was nailed to the tree. As Jesus suffered on the cross, Judas suffered in hell. He had gone to his eternal destiny.

The tragic thing is, he went there by his own choice. The tragedy of hell is that all are there by their own choices.

Have you chosen Jesus as your Savior? Would you?

COME TO THE TABLE

Luke 22:7-20


It is Thursday, the 14th of Nisan, during the Passion Week of our Lord. The Passover itself was the 15th of Nisan which began at sunset on Thursday. We have no record as to what Jesus did on Wednesday of Passion Week. He probably remained in or near Bethany, resting and teaching His disciples.

Finally, “the day of Unleaven Bread” arrived, “when the Passover (lamb) must be killed” (Luke 22:7).

Passover commemorates an event that took place over 3500 years ago in the land of Egypt. Before Israel was a nation, they were the family of Jacob. God had called Abraham from Babylon the city of Ur to Moriah (Jerusalem). In the land of Moriah, where Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God promised to bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God renamed Jacob Israel, and so as an old man Jacob's family of 70 settled in Egypt. There in Egypt, his family grew from 70 souls to over one million over 400 years. Israel became a nation of slaves to the Egyptians and they cried out to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for deliverance. Passover is the story of Israel's deliverance from Egyptian captivity.

Through Moses, God delivered judgment on the land of Egypt in the form of ten plagues. The tenth plague was the death of the “First Born” in the land of Egypt, including animals, Egyptians and the Hebrews. The only escape from this death was the “blood of a lamb.” Exodus 12 tells the story of how each family was to take the blood of “their lamb” and apply it to the door post and lintel. Each family was then to roast the lamb, eat all of it, and prepare to leave in haste.

The Jews were to keep Passover each year to commemorate the “Passover” of death on the land of Egypt. The Passover meal consisted of the lamb roasted, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and wine.

Jesus would become our Great and Final Passover Lamb. Notice:


I. The Preparation Luke 22:7-8


Luke is the only Gospel writer that tells us the names of the two disciples chosen by Jesus to prepare for the Passover. These two Gospel writers speak more about Jesus as the Lamb of God than any of the other writers.

• I Peter 1:18-20

• John 1:29; Revelation 5:6, 12, 13b (John mentions the Lamb some 30 times inRevelation.)

Peter and John were to purchase the lamb for the meal. That means they must get a lamb approved by the priest as without blemish, then slain in the Courts of the Temple, then the lamb had to be roasted
and prepared for the table.

You can read about the original Passover in Exodus 12:1-14. The meal involved three symbolic foods to be eaten during every observance: meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

The bitter herbs symbolized the bitterness of suffering, the bitterness of slavery, the bitterness of death, and the bitterness of an innocent lamb's substitution. The herbs, eaten intermittently during the meal, would intentionally bring tears to their eyes as a reminder of the associated grief.

Most of the pictures we see of Jesus and His disciples observing the Lord's Supper is inaccurate. As they gathered around the table at sundown, Jesus took the father role as leader in the observance. He poured the first of the four cups of wine and asked everyone to rise from the table, lifted His cup upward to Heaven, and recited the prayer of sanctification, which would have included these words or something very close:

“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God who has chosen us for Thy service from among the nations … Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, who has preserved us, and hast enabled us to reach this season.”

Then they would observe a ceremonial washing and break the unleavened bread, immediately followed by an enactment of Exodus 12:26-27 when the children would ask questions about why the meal and what it meant.

Then they would recline again around the table, lying on a mat and propping up on the left elbow. They would drink the second cup of wine while eating the meal.

After the meal they would partake of the third cup after repeating the “I will” statements of Exodus
5:6-8.

• “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

• “I will rescue you from their bondage.”

• “I will redeem you, take you as My people, and be your God.”

• “I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham.”

Then they would drink the third cup; The Cup of Redemption.


II. The Explanation Luke 22:9-13


Why all the secrecy? Why all the intrigue? Two reasons:

1. To keep Judas from knowing what was going on.

Notice Luke 22:6. “Judas promised and sought opportunity to betray Jesus to them IN THE ABSENCE of the multitude.”

That's why Jesus sent Peter and John with sealed orders so the greedy ears of Judas the traitor would not inform the religious leaders until the appointed time. If Judas had known where the place of the Passover meal was going to be observed, he may have brought the guards there to arrest Jesus.

2. Secondly, Jesus was demonstrating for all who cared to see that He was in absolute charge of what was going on.


III. The Participation Luke 22:14-18


Jesus has eaten the Passover meal with His disciples. Now we have an overlapping sentence: “With Desire I have Desired to eat this Passover meal with you.” “With Fervent Desire.” He wants to inform them of what is going to happen.

Jesus predicts two things. Notice the word “UNTIL” is used twice:

• Luke 22:15-16. He predicts His suffering. He knows His body is going to be broken. He knows He is going to be scourged and spit upon and struck. He knows how He is going to suffer.

• Second, He knows what He will go through will bring in the Kingdom – Luke 22:17-18.

Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was
set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Look at Luke 22:19. Underline the words: Me … For you. Me … For you! What love and grace.
Everything He did was, “Me … For you.”

“Up Calvary's mountain one dreadful morn, walked Christ my Savior
Weary and worn; Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss.

Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer! Seems now I see Him on
Calvary's tree; Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading –
Blind and unheeding – dying for me!

O how I love Him, Savior and Friend, How can my praises
ever find end? Thro' years unnumbered on Heaven's shore,
My tongue shall praise Him for every more.


IV. The Anticipation Luke 22:19-20


Jesus would transform the Passover meal into the Lord's Supper; into the New Covenant.

Passover looked back to Egypt, to a time when thousands of little four-legged lambs were sacrificed, and the blood of the lambs were placed on the door post and God used all of that to provide an exodus from Egypt into the promised land for His people.

But the Lord's Supper doesn't look back to Egypt. The Lord's Supper looks back to the cross. The Lord's Supper is not talking about little four-footed lambs. The Lord's Supper talks about “the Lamb of God,” the Lord Jesus Himself.

I Corinthians 5:7: “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.”

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming the curse for us.”

2 Corinthians 5:21: “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Luke 22:19: “This do in Remembrance of Me.” Our Lord wants us to remember His suffering.
The price He paid for our redemption. Remember! Lest you forget!

In my office I have pictures of my wife and my son and my grandchildren. Do you know why I have them there? It's not because I'm afraid I 'll forget what they look like! I have them there so I can see any time I look up how blessed I am. So, I can rejoice in family.

As we come to the Lord's table, it reminds us of His love for us; His sacrifice for us; that He's coming again to receive us unto Himself.


THE TRAITOR'S HAND

Luke 22:21-23


There's something shameful about a traitor. When you just say the name, Benedict Arnold, there is a feeling of disgust. You and I have never met Benedict Arnold, but none of us like him. We probably wouldn't name our son Benedict. Most of us don't know the details of what he did, and we still have a negative response to him.

The same is true of Judas Iscariot. Most of us don't smile when we say his name. We can smile when we say the name Jesus. He is so loving and kind and good. But when we think of Judas, we think of Pretender. Fake. Loser. Devil.

No other person in all the Bible has provoked more questions than Judas. Questions like:

• Did Jesus really love Judas?
• Was Judas a saved person?
• Did Judas have to betray the Lord Jesus?
• Could Judas have chosen not to betray Jesus?
• Did Jesus know Judas would betray Him?
• If Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, then why did Jesus pick him to be one of Twelve?

In John 6:70-71 Jesus said early on in His ministry, “Have I not chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil ?

In this same chapter in Luke, we are told that Satan entered into Judas. Then we are told that Judas sought opportunity to betray Him. Then Jesus said, “One of you will betray Me.” The eleven had no idea it was Judas our Lord was talking about. In fact, they rather suspected themselves than Judas. They each asked, “Lord, is it I?”

Judas knew who Jesus was talking about and Jesus knew that he knew, for even when Jesus exposed Judas, the others still did not comprehend. When Judas left, some of them thought, “Well, he's going to
give a gift to the poor.”

Three things I want you to see in this text:


I. The Declaration of Jesus Luke 22:21

Jesus does three things in this declaration:

11. He Located the Traitor.

“His hand is on the table …” Cold shivers began to go up and down the body of these disciples. The truth is, all of them had their hands on the table. Jesus was saying, “His hand is with Me, but his heart doesn't belong to Me.”

1. Then He Affirms His Death Luke 22:22

“The Son of Man goes as it has been determined.” The word “goeth” is an interesting word. It literally means “to go away,” or “to remove,” or to depart.” It was an old word used commonly to speak of someone's death.

2. Jesus Testifies That all of This is the Will of God Luke 22:22

The word “determined” means “to ordain,” “to be on the agenda.” The death of Jesus was not an afterthought. Jesus Christ came to the earth to die. Not to perform miracles or heal the sick, or preach great sermons. He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. It was fore-ordained and determined the will of God.


II. The Condemnation of Judas Luke 22:22

A pronouncement of woe was always used in the New Testament by Jesus as an expression of
condemnation.

In Matthew 23 Jesus said seven times, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees.”

But not only do I see condemnation of Judas in the word “woe,” but I also see the love that Jesus had for Judas. The word “woe” is really the word “alas.” It’s a term of intense grief. Jesus is never gleeful or joyful when anyone is condemned to hell. There is no smile on God's face when a person is condemned to hell. Every person in hell went to hell walking over the tears of the Son of God. “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

If Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him, then how can Judas be held responsible? This is kind of theological, but don't lose what I'm about to tell you: The foreknowledge of God does not eliminate the responsibility of man.

If Judas had repented, someone else would have betrayed Jesus. But out of the love that Jesus had for Judas, Jesus has already washed his feet and kissed Judas on the cheek. Up to the very last minute the
the love of Jesus was in operation.


III. The Investigation of the Disciples Luke 22:23

The word “inquire” means “to investigate,” “to ask questions.” This was not an external investigation,
looking at each other and saying, “Is it you? Is it you?” Each of them said, “Lord, is it I? Am I the one?”

As we sit here, there may be some traitors among us. There may be some pretenders.

Judas looked like the rest of them. He acted like the rest of them. He talked like the rest of them. His hand was on the table with the rest of them, but his heart didn't belong to the Lord.

How about you? Does your heart belong to the Lord?
THE CONVERSION OF THE CONVERTED

Luke 22:31-34

The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, died four hundred years before Jesus Christ was born. One of the most famous and much quoted things Socrates said was, “Know thyself.” Most of us think we know ourselves pretty well. We know what we like and what we don't like. We know what makes us happy and what makes us sad. We pretty well think we know WHO we are and WHAT we're doing and WHERE we're headed. We think we know ourselves pretty well.

But did you know that Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves? We know what we've done in the past and what we are doing in the present, but He knows what we are going to do in the future. He knows that we are not always what we think we are, and He knows that we are not always what we profess to be. He knows us just like we are. He knows when our faith is genuine and He knows when our faith is counterfeit. Jesus really does know us better than we know ourselves, and that's what these verses are all about.

When we come to these verses it is the last night of Jesus' life. He is going to be crucified in the morning. He is in the Upper Room with His disciples. In that Upper Room He has already observed Passover for the last time, He has instituted and observed the Lord's Supper for the first time, He has exposed Judas as the traitor and expelled him from the room, and now He says to Peter, the leader of the disciples, that before the rooster crows at sunup in the morning, he would deny Him three times.

What do you think Peter thought and what do you think the other ten must have thought? Three things I want to point out to you.


I. The Request to Sift Peter Luke 22:31


“Simon, Simon.” Simon was Peter's name before Jesus changed it to Peter. Peter means “rock.” Simon means “shifting one,” “unstable one.” It was his fleshly name, if you will. Calling his name twice implies something serious and important is about to be made and it will be of deep concern on behalf of Simon's soul.

“Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.” Satan was near Christ's flock, though they didn't see him; nor did they know his desire.

Satan: the one who brought sin into the world at the beginning by tempting Eve. The one described in the Book of Job as “going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it;” the one Peter would later describe as a lion roaming the earth seeking whom he may devour. Our Lord called him “the prince of this world,” a “murderer,” and a “liar.” John speaks of him as “the accuser of the brethren.” Satan: the one who is active stirring up persecutions and causing division. There is no enemy so dangerous as that restless, invisible, experienced enemy, the devil. And we don't take him seriously enough.

Listen to me. If you are here today and you profess to be a Christian, Satan has a desire for you. His desire is, he wants to have you.

Here's an interesting thing. The word “you” in Luke 22:31 is not singular, but plural. And so, Jesus is addressing Simon Peter specifically, but He is speaking to all of those other disciples at the same time. “Simon, Satan desires to have all of you in this room.” They had just learned that Satan had Judas. Now, “Peter, I want you to know and I want these other men to know, that Satan desired to have all of you.”

Well, what does Satan want to do with Simon Peter – and with all of us as God's children? He wants to sift us as wheat. What does that mean? It means that Satan wanted to bring all of Peter's flaws and imperfections to the surface.

When wheat was gathered, it went through a process of sifting. The wheat would be placed on a winnowing fan. Picture a large piece of screen wire attached to boards. The wheat would be placed on the screen wire, tossed into the air, and the chaff would separate from the grain as the wind blew the useless chaff away. The grain would be tossed, agitated, shaken, and thrown up so the wind would blow the chaff away.

Here's the thing: The devil is convinced that every professing Christian is just like Judas – a fake, a phony, a hypocrite, and there's nothing to them. Satan thinks, “If I can just have you and sift you until there's nothing left, you'll all do just like Judas. You'll eventually show your true colors.”

He tried that with Job, remember? God gave Satan permission to take away his possessions, his family, his health. Yet, Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him.”

Did you notice that Satan had to get permission to sift Job and Peter, and the same is true of us. Why does God give Satan permission to sift some like that? I know some of the reasons but not all of them,
but I'll tell you, our God is sovereign and He knows what He's doing and He'll always do what's right for His glory and for our good.

I will tell you this: When Satan starts the process of sifting, Satan's purpose is to destroy you and expose you as a fraud, while at the same time, God's design is to perfect you and to make you strong.

Don't let Satan scare you. He is limited in what he can do to you and what he cannot do to you without God's permission.


II. The Reassurance in the Sifting Luke 22:32


Jesus was praying for Peter before and during the sifting that his FAITH would not fail. Peter would stumble, but his FAITH would not fail.

The word for “fail” in the Greek is our English word “eclipse.” The object of our Lord's intercession was that Peter's faith might not altogether die, though for a time it might be very weak.



Satan was Peter's Adversary, but Jesus was Peter's Intercessor!

I sure am glad Jesus prays for me when Satan sifts me!

Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through
Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

I John 2:1: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

How it ought to reassure our hearts and cause us to rejoice; Jesus is always praying for us!


III. The Recovery From the Sifting Luke 22:32-34

The purpose of sifting wheat was not to destroy the wheat, but rather to refine it, to clean it up, and to make it more useful.

Jesus knew that Peter would fail this time, but He also knew that Peter would come back from this and be even more useful. Jesus did not want to toss Peter to the side. He didn't want Peter to stay down.

Jesus had a message for Peter in Luke 22:32: “When you recover from you fall, strengthen your brothers who have also experienced a fall.”

I Corinthians 1:3-4.

Failure is not final: RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE! Once Peter realized his failure, repented of his sin, he could return to service for Jesus.

God doesn't scrap us when we stumble. God does not forsake us when we fail Him. God will restore you if you will let Him.

If you have failed in the past and Satan tries to hold that over your head and says, “You can no longer be of any use to God,” tell Satan he is a liar. God is in the forgiving and the reclaiming business. He wants to restore you, now!



GETHSEMANE

Luke 22:39-46

Our Lord has left the Upper Room with His disciples. The night was cold and the hour was late when Jesus left the Upper Room. He goes out to the Eastern Gate, descends the steep path to the dry bed of the Kidron, passes over in the moonlight, and goes up the ascent of Olivet to the gate of a garden.

Verse 39 says that it was our Lord's habit to go to the Mount of Olives at night to pray. Notice
Luke 21:37. There was one particular place on the Mount of Olives, to which our Lord was in the habit of going, which was well known to all the disciples, and to Judas Iscariot. That means that Judas was able, though it was night, to lead our Lord's enemies to the very spot where the Master was. It was the Garden of Gethsemane. The garden probably belonged to some wealthy friend of Jesus.

The name “Gethsemane” means “oil press.” The garden evidently contained many olive trees. If you went to the Holy Land today the guide would show you where the Garden of Gethsemane is and would point out that some of the olive trees are believed to be the same olive trees that were there when Jesus prayed in the garden, after 2,000 years. A church has been built there on that site and inside the church is a place called the Rock of Agony where Jesus is believed to have prayed.

Jesus went there to pray often with His disciples; that's how Judas was able to lead our Lord's enemies to Him, to the very spot, though it was dark.

Our Lord knew this would be the last night before His crucifixion. And He went there to pray. It is a private moment for our Lord. He is in agony; and He is going to pray. He is going to pray as He has never prayed before and He is going to let us enter in to His time of prayer. It is one of the deep, sacred moments of our Lord and we ought to approach with peculiar reverence. When Moses stood before the burning bush in Exodus 3:5 God told Moses, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; the place whereon thy standest is holy ground.”

This passage is an example of what believers ought to do in time of trouble. The great Head of the Church Himself supplies the pattern. We are told that when He came to the Mount of Olives, the night before He was crucified, “He kneeled down and prayed.”

Both the Old Testament and New Testament gives us the same recipe for bearing trouble.

• Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

• James 5:13 says, “Is any afflicted? Let him pray.”

• Prayer was the recipe Jacob used when he feared his brother Esau.

• Prayer is the recipe Job used when property and children were suddenly taken from him.

• Prayer is the recipe the Son of God Himself used in the days of His flesh the night
before He would die on the cross.

He sets the example and we ought to follow His example.

And what did He pray? He prayed, “Father, if it be Thou will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.”

Remember that Jesus is the God-man – totally God and totally man. He who spoke these words had two distinct natures in One Person. He had a human will as well as a divine will.

When He said, “Not My will be done,” He meant that will which He had as a man, with a body, flesh and blood, like our own.

The language used by our Lord in this place shows exactly what should be of a believer's prayer when we are in trouble. Like Jesus, the believer should let his desires be known openly to his Heavenly Father, and spread his wishes unreservedly before Him. But like Jesus, he should do it all with an entire submission of his will to the will of the Father.

We must never forget that there may be wise and good reasons for our affliction. We should carefully qualify every petition for the removal of crosses with the clause, “If Thou be willing.” We should wind up all with the meek confession, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Submission of our will like this is one of the Brightest Graces which can adorn the Christian character.

Three things I want you to see about Gethsemane:


I. The Agony in Gethsemane Luke 22:40-44

What was it in that cup that caused Jesus such agony? Why was Jesus under such pressure? Jesus had prayed many times before, but never with this intensity.

Only Luke tells us that “an angel from Heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.” We don't have a record of an angel from Heaven strengthening before when He was praying. So, what was this struggle within Jesus all about? Another thing, the angel didn't strengthen Him much, for the next verse says that He is in agony and He prayed more earnestly.

Again, only Luke tells us that “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” I don't think any of us have ever prayed with such intensity!

What was in the cup? Jesus spoke of this cup earlier when He asked His disciples, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink of and to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:30) He was speaking of the baptism of suffering and the cup of God's judgment.

Although Jesus was pure and sinless, He chose to drink of this cup of judgment for us.

By the way, the sufferings of Jesus didn't begin during His trials or on the cross. His sufferings began right here in Gethsemane. How can we account for the deep agony which our Lord underwent in the garden? There is only one satisfactory answer. It was caused by the burden of a world's imputed or ascribed sin, which then began to press upon Him in a peculiar manner.
He had undertaken to be “Sin for us,” – “to be made a curse for us” – to allow our iniquities to be laid on Him. Christ was “bearing our sins,” both in the garden and on the cross.

Listen to these verses:

• 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He (the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

• Galatians 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a cruse for us (for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree).”

• Isaiah 53:6: “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.”

• Hebrews 5:7: “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, was able to save Him from death.”

How did Jesus suffer?

A. Emotional Pain: Being Left Alone

To God one of the most important words in the human language is relationship.

The closer Jesus got to the cross, the more rejection He experienced.

– Early in His ministry multitude of people followed Him.

– Then when Jesus started talking about denying self, and carrying a cross, the crowds left Him. Then, there were 12.

– One left, then there were 11; then Jesus took three with Him to pray, and soon all of the disciples left Him.

– Then on the cross He cried: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Have you ever been rejected or forsaken? Ever felt lonely or isolated? He died all alone – for your sins and mine. That was the price for our forgiveness and salvation.

B. Physical Pain: The Crucifixion

As Jesus looked into the cup of suffering, His humanity recoiled at the extreme pain He would suffer.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed.”

When folks have painful surgeries, they are given pain-killing medication to take the raw edge off their pain. Jesus had none of that.

Luke tells us that in the garden, blood oozed from His head.
Can you imagine how He must have looked when they arrested Him. His face and His beard was caked with blood, but there would be plenty more blood shed before it was all over.

C. Spiritual Pain: Bearing the Sin of the World.

Jesus was the only sinless individual who ever lived. Tempted in every way, but He remained clean and pure.

Yet, He was made sin for us! He took the sins of every man upon Himself. Jesus looked into the cup and He was repulsed by what He saw. He was sinless, but as God, He understood sin. He had seen sin turn angels into demons. He had seen sin turn humans into animals. He had seen sin wreck paradise and destroy families. He was horrified at the prospect of taking on all that sin. He didn't just drink the cup; He was immersed into the entire sin of the world. Separated from the Father.

Just imagine you standing in front of a vile smelling vat of warm, thick ooze bubbling up with a foul stench. The fluid in the vat has been infected with anthrax, smallpox, the HIV virus, mad-cow disease, cancer as well as rotting human flesh and sewage. Now imagine yourself being submerged into that liquid, drinking it, tasting it, and smelling it. It fills your mouth, your nose, your eyes, your ears. Now multiply your revulsion by a factor of six billion and you may come close to understanding what it was like for the sinless Son of God to be submerged into the filth of our sin.


II. The Assistance in Gethsemane Luke 22:43


III. The Acceptance in Gethsemane Luke 22:42


Listen to the prayer of Jesus. Hear Him clearly confirming His acceptance of the Father's will. He surrenders Voluntarily, unconditionally to all the Father planned for Him. In those moments, Jesus settles, it. The cross is the only way to provide salvation; and He will go there. The Victory was won in the garden.

Jesus settled it for all eternity. He would do the will of the Father.

Have you settled it in your heart and life? Have you surrendered your will to the will of the Father?


SOUR KISSES AND SILLY SWORDS

Luke 22:47-53

When Judas left the Upper Room, he doubtlessly went straight to the house of Caiaphas. He was now ready to earn his pay. The arrest of Jesus would have to be done by the Temple police, since it was to be carried out under orders from the high priest.

Probably Judas lead the soldiers to the house where Jesus had eaten the Passover meal in the upper room of the house. Failing to find Him there, he surmised that Jesus would be in Gethsemane. Judas was familiar with this place because Jesus often prayed there. It must have been sometime after midnight when he and his armed band arrived at the Garden.

They arrived just as Jesus was speaking to the sleeping disciples (Luke 22:47). Judas was in the lead. By previous arrangement he was to point out Jesus by kissing Him. He probably kissed Jesus on the hand, since this was the customary way for a disciple to greet his teacher. Both Matthew and Mark say that he “kissed Him much.”

Throughout church history there have been many attempts to vindicate Judas.

• Some say that Judas was nothing more than a victim of fickle fate.
• Others say Judas was nothing more than just a pawn in the hand of a sovereign God.
• Still others say that Judas was just a misguided follower of Jesus who was trying to force Jesus into action.

But I tell you, all of those attempts are silly and a waste of time. Judas was a traitor. Judas was a devil. That's what Jesus said. Jesus said that “it would have been better if Judas had never been born.” Judas had never known the joy of being saved. He had never been born again. He never became a true Christian. He was a traitor.

In this passage of Scripture, we see Judas at his lowest hour, but in the eyes of Judas, this was his finest hour, at least for a few hours.

Let's look at this text as it unfolds.


I. The Multitude at the Betrayal Luke 22:47


The Gospel of John refers to this multitude as a “band” or a “cohort” of soldiers. A cohort would be 600 soldiers. These 600 soldiers were well armed. Later Jesus would say they have swords and “staves” or clubs. Six hundred fully armed soldiers come for one man.


422
But there are others with them in the multitude. In Luke 22:52, Jesus speaks to the chief priest, the captain of the guard of the Temple and the elders. The chief priest and the elders were members of the Sanhedrin, the religious big shots, who claimed to know God and to teach the people about God, and yet, they all hate Jesus. They have all been plotting for months how they can put Him to death.


II. The Means of Betrayal Luke 22:47

Judas “drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him.” We don't kiss as much in our culture as they do in other
parts of the world. In other parts of the world a kiss is a sign of friendship, a sign of affection, and a sign of honor. But I want to tell you, Judas did not love Jesus and his kiss did not come out of a loving heart. His kiss was a kiss of betrayal. His kiss was a sour kiss; a deceptive kiss.

When I see Judas kiss Jesus, I understand that Judas is trying to deceive somebody or trick somebody. Maybe he is trying to deceive Jesus, but I want to tell you, nobody can do that. You can't fool Jesus.

Or maybe Judas was trying to deceive the other eleven disciples. Or maybe Judas was trying to deceive himself. Sometimes we really do build up a defense mechanism for our own sinfulness. Sometimes we think that which is bad in another person's life is really not quite so bad if it's in our life. But I want to tell you, sin is sin. A deceptive kiss was a hypocritical kiss. It was no sign of affection, friendship, honor, or love.

It was a treacherous kiss. He was kissing for money. It was a sign of identification. For 30 pieces of silver Judas had agreed to identify Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss on the hand or perhaps on the cheek of Jesus. In that day, students would kiss the hand of their teacher. It was a custom of respect and honor.

But notice in Verse 48: Jesus rebuked Judas for it. The word “betrayest” means “to turn your back on everything to which you had once pledged loyalty.” It's an abandonment of belief. Everything that had been considered holy, now Judas turns his back on. It is a deliberate, willing, intentional abandonment.

“Judas, do you, such a blessed man, one of only eleven other chosen to be one of Christ's disciples, such a favored, honored man turn your back on Me?”

“Betrayest the Son of God with a kiss – not just a finger pointed at Me – but a kiss. Why a kiss – the symbol of friendship and respect?”


III. The Mistake of Peter at the Betrayal Luke 22:49


When they which were around Jesus asked, “Lord, what do You want us to do? Shall we smite with a sword?”

Just a few verses before we are told that they only had two swords among the twelve. Only two swords against 600 swords to stand up for the Lord. What courage! What bravery! “Lord, do you want us to
fight for You?” These were not Baptist men! If they had been Baptist men all you would have seen would be the bottom of their “PF Fliers,” running away!

Before Jesus could answer the question, Peter says, “Well, I'll just fight!” And he pulls out his sword and cuts off the right ear of Malchus. Why did he cut off his ear? Well, he didn't intend to. He meant to cut off his head. He was just a bad shot. He was a good fisherman, but he wasn't a very good swordsman. He knew how to pull the net in and how to clean fish, but he knew nothing about using a sword.

While we may have some admiration for Peter about doing that, I must tell you, it was still wrong. His attitude was wrong and he was fighting the wrong enemy, the wrong way.


IV. The Miracle at the Betrayal Luke 22:51


This is our Lord's last miracle before going to the cross. No fanfare. Nobody praises Him. As a matter of fact, probably very few even knew about it. Jesus just said, “Before binding Me, let Me do an act of kindness to right the wrong done by My hasty disciple to this poor man.”

To whom was Jesus speaking? Was He talking to the injured man? Was He speaking to the 600 soldiers? I believe Jesus was speaking to His disciples. I think He was saying, “Men, just cool it. You've already seen the mess one sword makes. Men, just settle down, I have already surrendered to the will of My Father. Don't pull out that other sword.”

And Jesus gets Malchus' ear, touches it, dries the blood, and places it back where it belongs. Nobody shouts. Nobody praises. Most of them don't even know it happened.

One last thing.


V. His Mission at the Betrayal Luke 22:52-53


Jesus looks at the multitude and asks, “What do you guys think I'm gonna do? All these swords. All these clubs. What did you men think I was going to do?” That was a bit of over-kill!

If He can make an ear grow back where it had been cut off, He could take care of the situation.

Matthew's Gospel said that He could have called 12,000 angels to rescue Him.

He says, “I was with you every day in the Temple.” “I made Myself available to you. I'm not going to resist. In complete surrender, Jesus allows Himself to be arrested and taken away. He will die on the cross to pay the price for my sins and yours.



SIMON PETER'S DARKEST HOUR

Luke 22:31-34, 54-62

Before Reading the Passage

Perhaps you heard about the scandal involving a preacher. He was at a public gathering and he cursed and used profanity – there was even a teenage girl present. Some of the deacons called a special meeting and said, “Did you hear what the preacher did? He publicly cursed – in front of a young person, too. The story spread from one person to the next. When people heard about it, most of them said, “Why, I don't want to have anything to do with a man like that! I'm through with him! He should be fired!”

The preacher's name was Reverend Simon Peter, and I'm glad the Lord Jesus didn't give up on him. And if you've ever blown it in a major way, I've got good news for you: Jesus hasn't given up on you either.

In the upper room Jesus even predicted that Simon Peter would deny Him. It was intended to be words of warning to Peter. Jesus even told him to watch and pray that he fall not into temptation, but Peter didn't take our Lord's words to heart.

Read the Passage

After Judas betrays our Lord with a kiss, and after Peter cuts the ear off of the servant of the high priest, and after Jesus performs His last miracle of healing the man's ear, the Bible says “they LED Him and brought Him into the high priest's house.” They LED Him; not they forced Him or they dragged Him; they LED Him. He went voluntarily with the band of soldiers.

When they arrest Jesus all of the disciples flee, but two of the disciple, John and Peter, muster a little courage and turn around and follow the soldiers with Jesus to Caiaphas' palace. John goes inside the gate as they are taking Jesus through the gate, but Peter stays on the outside of the gate.

John is as close as he can get to the proceeding when he realizes Peter didn't make it through the gate. John knew the girl who was the gatekeeper and asked her if his friend could come in. When Peter comes in, instead of staying with John, he goes into the courtyard and begins to mingle with the soldiers and slaves around the fire in the courtyard. It is there that Peter is going to deny his Lord.

All four Gospels record Peter's denial, each one giving additional details. I want us to look at Peter's denial under three headings:


I. The Reasons for the Denials


It seems almost impossible that Peter would deny his Lord. All of the disciples looked to him as their leader. He made the Great Confession about Jesus: “Thou are The Christ, the son of the living God!”
He was not only the Big Fisherman, he was a man of courage. Plus: He had vowed, “All others may deny You are The One, but I never will. I'm willing to die for You.”

But the truth is, Peter did deny his Lord. How did he deny his Lord? Why did he deny his Lord? The steps Peter took are the same steps we take when we deny our Lord by our words and deeds.

A. Overconfidence Luke 22:33-34

Peter thought he was strong enough to overcome any temptation when it came to letting folks know that Jesus was his Lord. He would share that fact with anyone at any time, but Peter just didn't know how weak he was.

Peter meant what he said, but Paul knew the danger of putting confidence in the flesh. Listen to Philippians 3:3: “I have NO confidence in the flesh … the arm of flesh will fail you, then when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Paul said, “I know me. I know I'm weak in the flesh. I don't trust myself around temptation. That's why I always ask God to give me His strength to overcome temptation.”

Strange, but Satan may not attack us at our weak areas. He often attacks us at our strengths and when we fail in what we think are our strong areas, Satan knows it will hurt us far more than if he causes us to fail in our weak areas.

I Corinthians 10:12: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.”

Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Here is a great Bible principle: “None of us are as strong spiritually as we think we are.” All of us are weaker than we think we are.

B. Peter followed the Lord “afar off,” at a distance Luke 22:54

The first step to backsliding is slack-abiding. One step from grace is disgrace.

Peter put himself in the Danger Zone. See Luke 22:54-56. Peter wanted to get a closer look at what was going on with Jesus, but to do that, he had to identify with the enemies of Jesus. We're told that Peter “sat among them” around the fire.

You and I can't change the world or have a positive influence with them if we join with them. There was Peter, sitting with the enemies of Christ. God's Word says, “Be separate from the world and the things of the world.”

How often we put ourselves in the Danger Zone – in the place we ought not to be and with the people we ought not to be with, and the Holy Spirit whispers to us and says, “Be careful … don't go there … you're in danger,” and we pay no attention to the Spirit; then wonder why we yield and fail.

Poor Peter! He wanted to be with Jesus, but he thought he had to be part of the crowd too! How often we think the same way!

I Corinthians 15:33: “ … bad company corrupts good character.”

Peter witnessed a terrible sight He heard the men mock Jesus and saw them beat Jesus
and spit in His face and slap His face. And said nothing.


II. The Record of the Denials


A. The First Denial Luke 22:56

This is the little servant girl who let Peter in the gate with John. The girl looked at Peter intently – she studied his face; then she said to Peter with contempt in her voice, “I know you.” Then she said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus!” Peter said, “Woman, I don't know Him!”

Why didn't Peter witness to her instead of lying to her? For the same reason we don't witness when with the wrong crowd. I think Peter had planned how he would answer a soldier and how he would defend himself against a soldier. But a young girl! He was totally unprepared. He was caught off guard.

B. Second Denial Luke 22:58

After a while, another says, “Yes, you are one of those who has been with Jesus.” Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

C. Third Denial Luke 22:59-60

John's gospel says, “You were with Him. You're a Galilean. Your speech, your accent betrays you.” Northerners and Southerners don't talk the same. Yankees and Rebels don't sound alike!

John's gospel says that Peter cursed and swore. He said, “May God's judgment fall on me now if what I'm saying is not true!” (I wonder if Peter didn't look up to the sky.) Peter reverted back to his old nature and cursed!


III. The Result of the Denial Luke 22:60b-62


Somewhere in the night a rooster stretches his neck, shakes his feathers, and crows an indictment. Most folks paid no attention to that rooster crowing. But for Peter, the crowing of the rooster was like a blast of a trumpet! I think every time Peter heard a rooster crow after that, he remembered that night.

The Bible says that Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Jesus was beaten, battered, and bloody. Jesus utters no words; nor does He shake His head in disgust or lower it in disappointment. It's not an “I-
told-you-so” look. It was a look of pain, but also pardon.

Remember: Grace was announced BEFORE Peter's fall. Jesus knew he would fall and told him so. But He made it easy for Peter to return. He said, “When you are restored, strengthen your brothers.”

Thank God the story of Peter doesn't end in failure – but in Repentance. Luke 22:61b-62

The true Peter is not seen in his denial, but in his repentance. He went out and wept bitterly. I wonder if he went back to the Garden of Gethsemane, where earlier he had felt no need to pray. Sin is a great provoker of tears. Tears tell us that sin only brings trouble and sorrow. In some private place he confesses his sin and God forgave him of his sin.

Peter is a smaller man now. He has been sifted by Satan, and now he is without all that thick husk that once surrounded his life. Now he is broken – and the real wheat is showing.

Truth is: There's a little rooster inside of all God's children. It is the Holy Spirit who comes to disturb us when we are not right with God. How will we respond when He alerts us to our sin?


JESUS BEFORE PILATE

Luke 23:1-7

Jesus had made a prophecy that He would be delivered up into the hands of the Gentiles. Luke 23 fulfills this prophecy. He is delivered up to the Gentiles (Matthew 20:18-19).

Now look at Luke 23:1-2. Jesus had just come from the Jewish trial where He had been found guilty of making two specific claims. He claimed to be The Christ or The Messiah, and He claimed to be The Son of God. Look at Luke 22:66-71.

If anyone else other than Jesus had made those claims, they would be guilty blasphemy. But Jesus was not guilty of blasphemy because He was who He claimed to be.

But the religious leaders hated Jesus and wanted to see Him dead! When I say the religious leaders, I mean all of the religious leaders wanted Him dead – the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees, and the entire Jewish supreme court, the Sanhedrin all wanted to see Him dead. Usually, each of these groups were in conflict with one another. The Pharisees and the Sadducees hated each other and couldn't agree on anything, except this one thing: They wanted to see Jesus dead. All they needed to do was to find a way to capture Jesus from the crowds. It had to be done at night, but He disappeared at night.

Their chance to capture Him came when Judas came to them and asked what they would give him if he would deliver Jesus unto them. Judas knew where Jesus disappeared to at night, because he had been with Him. He would go to the Mount of Olives among the thick olive trees to one of the gardens there. But which one? They needed someone to guide them to the right place. And that someone was Judas, the betrayer, the traitor.

So, for thirty pieces of silver, Judas agreed to lead them in the darkness of night to Jesus where they could arrest Him without commotion from the crowds.

It was after midnight following Thursday night's Passover celebration that Jesus had gone to a particular place on the Mount of Olives, to one of many gardens that were there called the Garden of Gethsemane, which means “olive press.” He had gone there often with His disciples.

No sooner had Jesus come back from His intense time of prayer, that armed soldiers and the religious leaders arrived led by Judas. They bound Jesus and took Him to the house of Annas, one of the most corrupt high priests who was forced to step down by the Romans.

Annas could not come up with one crime with which to bring an indictment against Jesus. So Annas sent Jesus across the courtyard to the house of Caiaphas, his son-in-law, who was convening with the 70 men of the Sanhedrin, who were the judges of the final court of appeals, the Supreme Court of Israel.

They could find no reason to kill Jesus, so they brought a parade of false witnesses that they had bribed, but they couldn't get the false witnesses to lie and tell the same lie. It was between one and three A.M., which was a violation of every law of justice known to them, because no trial could be held at night.

They waited until five A.M. until the sun came up to have a visible trial for Jesus to satisfy expected justice. During the time of darkness, for two hours, from three to five, Jesus is repeatedly mocked, spit on, and punched with first.

The sun was now beginning to rise, but they still had a problem: Jews had been stripped of their right to execute anyone (John 18:31 says, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death”). Israel had lost the power to exercise the death penalty. They could put a man in prison for life, but they couldn't put him to death. They wanted to kill Jesus. They would not settle for life in prison. They wanted Him dead. Therefore, the case had to go to Pilate.

We need to remember two things: The Jews hated Pilate and Pilate hated the Jews.

1. The Jews hated Pilate.

They hated Pilate because of what he represented. He was a symbol of their loss of freedom and of the Jews being under oppression of the Romans. Pilate was the Roman governor and they hated him.

But they hated him more for what he had done. He brought images of the emperor and put them in the Temple and commanded that the Jews worship the images. For the Jews that was blasphemy and they refused to obey. They even revolted and caused such an uproar that Pilate had to back off and remove the images, but they still hated him.

2. Pilate hated the Jews.

He hated them because they refused to obey him and when he backed down, it made him look bad before the king. But he hated them more because the Jews proclaimed to be God's special people and received special favor from God. They even claimed that God aided them throughout all their history.

If you look only at Luke 23, it seems that all this took place, just one, two, three. But John's gospel makes it clear that it took place in three stages.


I. The Events That Took Place Outside the Place


Luke 23:1 says, “And the whole multitude” led Jesus to Pilate. So they all rise, take Jesus bound, and march Him to Pilate not far away.

Now, before we get to Jesus and Pilate, there's somebody else that we have to find, somebody is missing here. Who is it? It's Judas. What happened to Judas?


Judas was dismissed on Thursday night. He left to work out the final aspects of his deal to betray Jesus and to lead the religious leaders, the temple police and the Romans as well into the Garden. The disciples have scattered. Peter had denied his Lord three times and is out weeping bitterly, but where is Judas?

Matthew 27 tells us. Judas had been close to the action. What he had done was beyond any other sin ever committed by any human being and he is drawn to the consequences of his deed. He can't leave. He is compelled to follow the proceeding of Jesus probably through the night. He's certainly there in the morning and sees Jesus being led out of the council chambers by the whole council to Pilate for the purpose of execution.

They have come up with some crimes against Jesus for Pilate. They can't go to Pilate and say, “Kill Him because of blasphemy.”

Pilate would have laughed them out of court. THEY charged Jesus with blasphemy, but they never mention blasphemy to Pilate. They come up with something new. THEY say, “We found Him perverting the nation, forbidding folks to pay taxes, and He claims to be a King.” They said that Jesus was anti-Roman and told folks to stop paying taxes and that He had declared Himself a King.

Matthew 27:3 says that when Judas saw that Jesus was condemned that he felt remorse and regret (The KJV uses the word “repented,” but that is not a good translation). Judas sees that Jesus is unjustly condemned and is going to be executed and Judas is hammered by his own conscience and guilt.

There's something else. If you lie in a capital case, the false witness received death as his punishment. His conscience is filled with guilt and regret so he takes the money back to the Jewish officials, and they respond, “What is that to us?” They don't have any interest in Judas or his money, nor did they have any interest in truth or justice.

“Judas departed, went away and hanged himself.” How bad is the guilt when death is the only relief? Think of what hell is. Hell is where your conscience is fully informed and fully released to accuse you forever. So, he hanged himself and it got worse eternally.

Look at Luke 23:2: “We found” is a legal term. Our court has already been in session and we found Him guilty.

“He perverted the nation.” The word “pervert” means to corrupt, to twist, to lead astray. He has twisted the minds of the whole notion. Jesus had not perverted anyone – morally or spiritually – but they had.

“He forbids the paying of taxes.” Rome existed on the taxes of its people, but Jesus didn't forbid the paying of taxes. In fact, He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God's.”

“He says that He Himself is a King.” Yes, but not in the sense that they used it. He is no political king.

John 18:29 says Pilate went out to them. Why did they meet outside of Pilate's palace? Because if you touched that place or went inside, according to their silly, ridiculous traditions, you had become
ceremonially unclean. You had been spiritually defiled and could not be a part of the celebration of the Passover. The Passover was everything to them.
If they had only been concerned about their moral defilement. They had just butchered justice. They had just determined to kill the Son of God, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Promised One.

So, all of them showed up with Jesus. Pilate was governor and I'm sure this is the only time all 70 or the Sanhedrin showed up at his door. Pilate knew the pressure was on.

Pilate went out to them and asked, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” “What's the accusation that you bring against this man?” By the way, this is the first legal act in all of the phases of Jesus' supposed trials. What crime has He committed?

They didn't have a case or an indictment, so they used the argument that Pilate was questioning their integrity. “If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” But Matthew 27:18 says that Pilate knew that it was for envy that they had brought Jesus to him. He knew Jesus was not guilty of anything.


II. The Events That Took Place Inside the Palace


Pilate now takes Jesus inside his palace and conducts a lengthy interrogation with Jesus. Finally, Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” In John 18:36 Jesus said, “Yes, but let me explain. My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my soldiers would fight.” Pilate said, “That's all I need to hear. This man is no threat to Caesar. In fact, He thinks He is a King in another world that's out of this world.”


III. The Decision That was Reached Outside the Palace Luke 23:4-7


Notice Luke 23:4 “So Pilate said to the chief priest and the crowd.” Now there is a large crowd that we have not seen before. The sun is up now and the people know something is going on at Pilate's palace and they make their way there. “Let's go see what's happening there!”

Notice: Pilate said, “I find.” In Luke 23:2 the religious leaders said, “We find.” Pilate's court is a higher court. “I FIND NO FAULT in this man. NOT GUILTY!”

In Luke 23:5 the people get loud and angry. Their faces are red and they double their fist and John says they taunt Pilate saying, “If you let this man go free, you are not Caesar's friend.” Pilate knew the people would not accept a “no fault” decision.

Then Pilate heard the people say that Jesus was from Galilee and he thought he had found a loophole. “I'll send Him to Herod. I won't have to decide.” Pilate thought he was so smart. He got out of making a decision about Jesus – but it was short lived. You don't get rid of Jesus that easily.

You will have to decide about Jesus, too. If you say you just won't decide about Him, you've decided against Him. You only have two choices when it comes to Jesus. You can accept Him or reject Him. There are no loopholes when it comes to deciding about Jesus.


CHRIST BEFORE HEROD

Luke 23:8-12

The arrest of Jesus took place in the Garden of Gethsemane sometime around midnight on Thursday. Judas would lead the elders, the Sanhedrin, the Temple police, and the scribes to the place where Jesus was. Judas would identify Jesus with a kiss. When they arrested Jesus, the disciples scattered. Jesus would undergo three trials of the Jews. He would stand before Annas, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. He would be found guilty of blasphemy by the Jewish courts because He claimed that He was the Messiah and that He was THE Son of God.

The Jews wanted to put Jesus to death, but they could not because Rome had taken away the right of the Jews to put anyone to death. They were illegal trials because it was unlawful to try anyone at night. So from 3 A.M. to 5 A.M., they would spit on Jesus, beat Him with their fists, slapped Him with the open hand. By 5 A.M. it was first light and they took Jesus bound to Pilate.

They knew Pilate would laugh them out of court if they brought Jesus before him on the charge of blasphemy, so they accused Him falsely of three things: He perverted the nation, He was forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and that He made Himself a King. It didn't take long for Pilate to declare Jesus “Not guilty ...no fault.” When Pilate said, “No fault,” the people went into a rage and demanded the more that Jesus be put to death.

Pilate was a crafty politician. He wanted nothing to do with Jesus because he realized that He was a political hot-potato, so when he heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent Him to Herod. He didn't have to send Him far because Herod was in town for the Passover.

There is another reason Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. Not only because Jesus was a hot-potato that he didn't want to deal with, but there had been some conflict between Herod and Pilate. Herod thought Pilate had been usurping his authority over him. To send Jesus to Herod would help ease the tension between them, and it worked according to Luke 23:12.

When Pilate saw Jesus and the religious crowd march off, he must have thought he was so smart. Now he has gotten rid of Jesus. But it will be short-lived. You can't get rid of Jesus without doing something with Jesus.

I want us to look at this man Herod and see four things about him:


I. The Identity of Herod


There are several “Herods” mentioned in the New Testament. Herod the Great was king when Jesus was born. It was Herod the Great that had the boy babies from two years old and younger put to death,


hoping to put Jesus to death because he was afraid that Jesus would take his throne. This Herod died in 4 B.C.

Before his death, Herod the Great planned that at his death Israel would be divided between his two sons – Herod Antipas and Phillip. It is this Herod that is most prominent in the New Testament.

We know Herod Antipas primarily because of his relationship with John the Baptist. Herod was a weak, wicked, vacillating, immoral, and ungodly man who spent his whole life trying to amuse himself and satisfy his own lust. That's the kind of man he was.

Herod was married, but when his half-brother Phillip got married, he went to Rome to visit Phillip and to meet his new wife. He had very little interest in his brother, but he became very interested in Phillip's wife. Her name was Herodias.

In fact, when he first met her, his blood ran hot with lust. He seduced her and had an affair with her. It was not only an adulterous relationship, it was also an incestuous relationship. It was strictly forbidden by the Levitical Law, but Herod didn't care anything about God or His law. He only cared about satisfying his own selfish lust. He was the king and you had better like it and say nothing against what he was doing.

But I'll tell you, there was one man who would confront the king and do so without fear. John the Baptist pointed his long, bony, prophetic finger in his face and said, “Herod, you are an ungodly, wicked, adulterous man and everybody knows it. You had better repent of your sin or face the judgment of God.”

Well, that didn't upset Herod too much because he didn't care what God said or thought about him. But it did upset Herodias, so Herod had John the Baptist put in prison. But that was not enough for Herodias. John had offended and embarrassed her, and everyone was listening to John. She wanted John dead.

Herod was actually fearful of John. In Mark 6:20 while John was in prison Herod called for John and the Bible says that Herod “heard him gladly.” That means that he came very close to salvation. Herod didn't want to kill John, but Herodias wouldn't let it go.

There is nothing better than a good woman and there is nothing worse than an ungodly woman. If a man tells you that he is going to kill you, you can forget about it; but if a woman says that she is going to kill you, you better start making some pre-arranged funeral plans!

Herodias plans a big birthday party for Herod. It's a big celebration with a lot of eating and a lot of drinking. Her real objective is to have John the Baptist killed. Herodias has a daughter by one of her many husbands, named Salome. She is beautiful and sensual. Herodias tells her daughter to dance before Herod when he has had plenty to drink and to expose herself before him. She had more uncovered than she did covered and her mother wants her to seduce him.

Salome says, “That's enough” and she stops dancing. Herod says, “More, more! I'll give you anything you want, even half my kingdom.” She said, “Let me go ask Mother.” “Mother, what do you want?” She said, “I want the head of John the Baptist.”


Herod was sad at that request, but he had already made the decree. They sliced the head of John the Baptist off and put it on a plate and she got it. That's who Herod was – an immoral, ungodly man always living in excess!


II. The Inquiry of Herod Luke 23:8


This is not the first time Herod was exposed to Jesus. He had heard of Jesus and the miracles He had done and he was curious. He wanted Jesus to put on a show. The Bible says that Herod “was exceeding glad” to see Jesus.

He really thought that Jesus was John the Baptist come back from the dead. He was fearful that it was John the Baptist, alive again. But he had gotten over that fear and when he told Jesus to do some signs, Jesus did nothing and said nothing. He thought Jesus was a buffoon; a joke!


III. The Interrogation by Herod Luke 23:9


Herod questioned Jesus at length. We don't know what the questions were, but whatever they were, they didn't satisfy the religious leaders. They began screaming His accusations from back in
Luke 23:2. Anybody who was a real judge would have said, “Order in the court,” slapped his gavel down and said, “Either you'll be quiet or you'll be exited out the door.” But they just screamed vehemently.

The most amazing thing is that Jesus says nothing! Jesus doesn't defend Himself or cry out that He is innocent. He just stands there in silence. “Like a lamb before the shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Herod asked Him questions and Jesus said not a word. Herod is the only man in the New Testament who Jesus refused to speak to. Why? Because Herod had crossed the line and sealed his doom, and Jesus said nothing and did nothing. The killing of John the Baptist signified the sealing of his doom.

Think about this: Herod was going to Hell and Jesus did nothing. Herod crossed the line and died in his sins and has been screaming in Hell for 2,000 years!


IV. The Insensitivity of Herod Luke 23:11


Look how cruel and cold-blooded Herod was. Herod has seen no evidence, heard no evidence, heard no testimony, had no proof of any criminal act on the part of Jesus. He's sure that Jesus is no threat to him or anyone else.

In fact, he counted Jesus as nothing. He treated Jesus with utter contempt. He rendered Jesus as nothing. Now, he'll play a little game with Jesus. Along with his soldiers, he takes the lead and treats Jesus with contempt.

They dress Jesus up in a gorgeous robe. The word “gorgeous” means brilliant, shinny, bright. Jewish kings very frequently wore white “gorgeous” robes, this must have been one of those white robes.

They mock Him, treat Him with scorn and ridicule. They blindfold Him and beat Him and want Him to prophecy who hit Him while He was blindfolded.

I can hear Herod, “John talked to me and I cut off his head. I talked to you and you said nothing. You're nothing but a joke ...a buffoon.”

Herod has had his fun with Jesus. As Jesus walks away Herod is smiling, but in just a few weeks Herod's throne will be taken from him.

And Jesus had nothing to say! Some treat Jesus like Herod did. They think He's a joke; a nothing.

Reject Him if you will, but there will come a day that the only word He'll have for you is, “Depart from me into eternal Hell.”

What if it's too late for me? If God is speaking to your heart, it is not too late. When a man crosses over that line, God will not bother you or speak to you anymore.

If you hear His voice today, turn Him not away!


CHRIST BEFORE PILATE AGAIN

Luke 23:13-25

There are some things that do not just go away. Sometimes we think that if we just ignore something or just put it behind us, it will just go away. But there are some things that will not just go away. Pilate learned that lesson with Jesus.

Pilate had already dealt with Jesus. The religious leaders had already brought Jesus before Pilate, and Pilate himself said that it was for envy that the religious rulers brought Jesus to him in the first place. And Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him.” But the people would not let it go at that because they wanted Jesus dead. The Jews could not put Jesus to death, but Rome could, and they would not let up. Instead they grew more fierce.

Then Pilate learned that Jesus was from Galilee and so he would send Jesus to Herod. He would pass the buck to Herod. The howling mob lead Jesus to Herod. Pilate sees the mob leave with Jesus and as they go out of sight, Pilate is sure the matter is out of his hands now.

Jesus does go before Herod, but He doesn't stay long. Herod also finds no fault in Him. Herod does treat Him with contempt, and he mocks Him by putting an old Jewish robe on Him, but he sends Jesus back to Pilate.

Pilate hears the howling mob again coming to his courtyard and they have Jesus bound with them. Pilate knows that he must deal with Jesus again!

This will be the sixth trial of Jesus from one A.M. to six A.M. He has gone before Annas, the former high priest, and then Caiaphas, and then before the Sanhedrin; and they all find Jesus guilty of blasphemy.

They then take Him before Pilate and then before Herod, and now, here He is again before Pilate. No one has gotten much sleep that night. Tempers were flaring and nerves were on end, and the mob was more vocal as they bring Jesus again to Pilate.

I want us to see four things from this passage.


I. Pilate's Congregation Luke 23:13


Pilate had already met with two of these groups. He has met with the chief priest and the rulers – the strongest voices of Judaism. These were supposed to be the best of the men of God, but they were fakes.


Now Pilate brings in the people. He thinks surely the people will stand with him. The people know Jesus is not guilty of any evil. They have heard Jesus teach and preach and watched Him do miracles and heal folks.

But these people had been bullied and threatened and intimidated by the religious leaders. They have told the people that if they go against them, they will pay a price. They will be excommunicated from the temple. They will be shunned by their family and friends. And they will have the wrath of God abiding on them. So instead of being the solution, they become part of the problem.


II. Pilate's Declaration Luke 23:14-15

This is the second time Pilate has rendered this verdict – “no fault in Him!” That could not be said about any other person who has ever lived. Abraham lied and said Sarah was his sister instead of his wife. Moses committed murder. David committed adultery and murder. Peter cursed and denied he even knew Jesus. Paul says that he is “the chief of sinners.”

If you look at any man long enough, you will find dirty pages in his life. Put any man under God's microscope and you will find unbelievable sin in his life. But not so with the sinless, holy Son of God!

Pilate said, “I have rendered my verdict – 'not guilty' – and Herod came to the same verdict.” Pilate was the governor of Judea and Herod was the king of Galilee. Both were official verdicts from the government – “Not guilty.”

Then Pilate does a strange thing. He makes an indecent proposal. He knows the religious leaders are out for blood, so he says, “I will therefore chastise Him and release Him.” The word “chastise” is just a sweet King James word for “beat Him,” and no one could beat a man like the Romans.

They would take a handle about 18 inches long and nine leather straps with bone, or glass, or sharp stones tied in the straps. Not only would the leather straps beat the man, but the knots of steel, bones, and stones would rip pieces of flesh from the body. “You want blood; I'll give you blood!” And there was blood and bits of flesh everywhere.

This is the first time Pilate had rendered a faulty decision. Up to this point he has judged with integrity and with his conscience. “I'll beat Him and that will satisfy them.” But it didn't.

Pilate came up with another scheme. The Jews had a custom that one prisoner would be released at the Passover Feast “of whom they wished.” Pilate told them he would release one prisoner, but not any prisoner. Pilate would give them a choice between two prisoners. It was not an all-inclusive choice. Would it be Jesus, who did only good in their midst – healed the cripple, caused the blind to see, and even raised the dead – or would it be Barabbas, who had already been convicted of causing rebellion and riots, plus murder.

Surely, no one would want Barabbas to walk the streets again. The religious leaders might accuse Jesus of stirring up the people, but not even the religious leaders would accuse Jesus of murder! Jesus never strangled anyone or stabbed anyone, or clubbed anyone. Now, you choose: Barabbas, whose names


means “a son of a father,” or Jesus, “The Son of The Father.” That was the choice they had. “Tell me your choice: The vile man who does wicked things or this innocent man who does only good things.” surely they won't choose Barabbas!


III. Pilate's Exasperation Luke 23:18


“And they ALL cried out at once.” Every ruler, every scribe, every man, every woman, every young person. Pilate couldn't believe it. Pilate must have said, “Be reasonable. This man is not guilty of anything and Barabbas has already been tried and found guilty.”

Pilate is exasperated! And he has lost control! “They say ...” They say give us Barabbas and crucify Jesus! Nail Him to the cross!

Notice Luke 23:23.


IV. Pilate's Humiliation Luke 23:24-25


He released unto them Barabbas, “as they requested.” The people are supposed to do what he, the governor, says; yet, he bows to the will of the people. Pilate has been out witted and out shouted and he bows to the people.

Pilate tried everything he could to get out of dealing with Jesus. Matthew says that Pilate called for a basin of water and as he washed his hands before the people, he said, “This man's blood be upon your hands.”

But Pilate cannot wash his hands of the blood of Jesus. Pilate refused to listen to his own conscience. He made a mockery of Roman justice. And he yielded to the decision of the crowd even though he knew they were wrong. He was more interested in his own political career than doing what he knew was right.

Not long after the death of Jesus, Pilate was called to appear before the Emperor of Rome. He went there thinking he was to receive a promotion, but he was stripped of his power and never heard of again.

Pilate is not the only man who tried to avoid making a decision about Jesus. Many have refused to listen to their conscience and listened to “the crowd” instead. Many have tried to ignore God's voice when He speaks to them. Many will be in hell who didn't intend to be there. Some have come so close to saying “Yes” to Jesus, only to let that moment of conviction pass by.

One painter pictured Pilate in Hell washing his hands over and over.

You can cast your lot with Pilate and go to Hell, or you can choose Jesus and He will give you eternal, everlasting life!


BEARING HIS CROSS

Luke 23:26

Throughout the Gospels Jesus repeats a phrase: “Mine hour is not yet come.” He was referring to the hour of His death. During His earthly life there were several times when folks tried to take His life, but they were not able to do so because Jesus was on a divine time schedule that His Father had set. No man took His life from Him, He lay it down. But while His earthly life was going on, there were those who thought that life or death for Him was in their hands. So they did everything they could to put Him to death, but He said, “Mine hour is not come.”

But as we come to Luke 23, His hour HAS come and things are moving rapidly now toward His death. Four things I want us to consider:


I. Simon and The Characters


“As THEY led Him away.” Who are the “THEY?” They are mentioned three times in this verse. This is not the first time we see the “THEY.” (Notice 23:2, 5, 8, 21, 23). “THEY” have been around, haven't they! Who are “THEY?”

I'll tell you who “THEY” are. “THEY” are the religious folks. No drunks in this crowd. No prostitutes in this crowd. No drug addicts in this crowd. “THEY” are the “professional” men of God, but these men had degenerated into a raging mob, thirsty for the blood of the Lord Jesus. That's who “THEY” are.

The second character is one Simon, a Cyrenian. This is not Simon Peter. Simon Peter had said, “Lord, I'll go with you all the way to death,” but he is no where to be found. He's hiding. He's running. He's scared. Probably, most of us would have done the same.

But this is another Simon. The Bible identifies him as a Cyrenian. That city doesn't exist today, but it is located on the North African coast as part of what is now called Libya. It is some 800 miles from Jerusalem. It was then a Greek city, but they had a large population of Jews.

In Acts 13:1 Simon is called “Niger,” which means “black.” Some believe that he was an Ethiopian, a black man, a proselyte to Judaism who had taken the Jewish name of Simon.

Although Cyrene was a Greek city, it was home to a large colony of Jews, wealthy and influential enough to have had a synagogue of their own in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9). He was so committed to Judaism that he would travel 800 miles to worship, at Passover. If you travel 800 miles to worship, that's pretty good!

The third character is Jesus Himself, the Son of God. The Savior of the world. He is leaving the house of Pilate and being led away in shackles.


He is being led away FROM something and lead TOWARD something. He has just been condemned to death by Pilate and He is going to Calvary. He is going to be put to death on the cross in just a few moments now.

Keep in mind what the Lord Jesus has already experienced. He and His disciples had gathered together in the upper room and He had washed their feet. They have observed the Passover for the last time together. During the Passover meal, Judas has been exposed as the traitor and expelled from the room.

Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper after Judas departed. They sing a hymn and leave the Upper Room, leading to the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He prays until about 1:00 A.M. when they are interrupted by Judas and the Temple Guards. They will arrest Him and He will go through six trials.

He has not slept all night; not one moment of rest has He had. They have slapped Him with the open hand and pounded Him with their fist. They have spat upon Him, pulled His beard out by the handfuls, and put a crown of thorns on His head. They have mocked Him and ridiculed Him and scourged Him with a cat-of-nine-tails. Chunks of flesh have been ripped from His body and His entire body is pouring blood. He is emotionally and physically drained.

Yet, they put the cross on Him to carry to the place of crucifixion. In the Roman system, part of the humiliation process against the criminal was to make him carry his own cross. The cross would weigh between one hundred and two hundred pounds. From the house of Pilate to the city gate He carried the cross. But that was as far as He could go. He was worn out. All of His energy was gone. The loss of blood and the lack of sleep and the emotional pressure has left Him weak and wounded and unable to carry His cross, so He collapsed with the cross bearing down on Him. That's why Simon of Cyrene figures into all this at all.

How they must have laughed and mocked Him. “T-h-i-s is your King! T-h-i-s is your Messiah!”

But it's hurry-up time. No more time for delay. He must die and He must die now!


II. Simon the Conscript (Drafted into forced labor)


The Bible says that Simon was cutting through a field, taking a short-cut to get into Jerusalem; but as he was going INTO the city, this procession was coming out of the city.

We don't know how long Simon had been standing there or how much he had seen. Someone probably filled him in that three men were going to be put to death on the cross. The streets were narrow and he couldn't get past the mob and maybe out of curiosity, he stood there watching. No amount of blows or cursing from the soldiers or ridicule from the mob could alter the fact that Jesus had reached the end of His strength and energy.

What would the soldiers do? It was evident Jesus could carry the heavy beam no further. Someone must carry it for Him. The soldiers, certainly, had no intention of carrying it.



The centurion eyed the crowd. Why not compel one of those detestable religious Jewish leaders to carry the cross, but no telling how the Jews would react to that.

Then the centurion saw this black man, and he was alone. It's not likely he has friends in high places. He would be safe enough to press into this distasteful service of bearing the weight of the cross.

The time was shortly before 9:00 A.M. Scripture says “they laid hold of” Simon. The words mean “to take possession of.” “Hey, you there. Pick up that cross!” A rough, strong hand took hold of his arm and he knew he had little choice. There was no room for debate.

How did Simon react to this unwelcomed experience? It must have stirred his hot anger and resentment. “Why me?” He was probably embarrassed. This was a humiliating experience. There was a terrible stigma attached to a Roman cross. Suppose someone he knew saw him carrying the cross.

And then there was the jibes and jeers of the mob that were directed toward him as he carried the cross. He had come 800 miles to worship, and look what he's doing now. Embarrassment turned to bitterness.

There is no record that Jesus ever spoke to Simon, but, somehow, I think He did. I think Jesus might have said to him, “I'm sorry you have to do this for Me. I know it must make you angry and I'm sure you're embarrassed. I really am the Son of God and I was going to the cross to die for man's sins. I was going to die for you! Thank you for lifting my burden and making it easier for Me.”

Remember, too, that the blood of Jesus had covered that cross and now the Savior's warm blood was on Simon.

As they reach Calvary, Jesus speaks to Simon again. “Thank you for lifting my load. We are almost there. I can manage the rest of the way.”

Little did Simon know that he was being identified with Christ in His death. I wonder, if by the time they got to Calvary, if Simon's hated task was transformed into a privilege. Maybe his shame became his supreme boast! Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.


III. Simon the Convert


When they reached that skull-shaped hill, it must have been with a sigh of relief when Simon put down the cross and melted into the crowd. But surely he waited to see what would happen next. Lingering at Calvary he would look and listen, wanting to know what would happen. I think his heart was touched because we know he was converted.

1. I Think Simon was Touched by the Suffering.

He watched as they pierced His hands and feet. He must have read the sign that Pilate had made that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Was this crucified man the Messiah, the Son of David?


He heard this man pray to One He called “Father,” begging forgiveness for those who were putting Him to death. He heard one thief rebuke his cursing companion and then address Jesus as Lord and begged Him to remember him when He came into His Kingdom. Was This the One that Isaiah spoke of who was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?”

2. I Think He was Also Troubled by the Signs.

Before long strange things began happening all about him. It was as though nature found a voice with which to protest the murder of its Maker! The rocks rent. There was a terrifying earthquake. The veil of the temple had been torn in two. Darkness descended at high noon.

Then there came a mighty shout, “It is finished!” He didn't die as a victim, but a conqueror!

Then later, the graves burst open and many bodies of the saints that slept arose and appeared to many in the city.

3. I Think He was Transformed by the Savior.

The centurion and the soldiers left there confessing Christ. Both Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took a bold stand and buried the body of Jesus. Then, or on resurrection morning, or a month later on the Day of Pentecost, Simon, the black man from Africa, was saved.


IV. Simon the Christian

We know from Scripture that Simon went home, told his family what he had experienced, and his wife and two sons, Alexander and Rufus were also saved and became a great influence for the cause of Christ (Mark 15:21; Acts 13:1; Romans 16:13).

I think Simon told his family, “I left home with Religion: I came back with Redemption! I left EMPTY; I came back FULL!

He carried the cross for Jesus and then the cross became a part of his own heart and life.

Usually, we see three crosses displayed; the two outside crosses where the criminals were hung. But I want you to know there is a fourth cross. That fourth cross is your cross and my cross. Jesus said that if a man is going to follow Him, he must deny himself and follow Him.

We must die to self so we can be alive in Christ. Galatians 2:20.

Have you been TO the cross? You cannot be saved without going to the cross!

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away.
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!


A SERMON ON THE WAY TO THE CROSS

Luke 23:27-31

Jesus is on His way to the cross. In just a matter of moments now, and He will be crucified.

Luke tells us there was a great crowd of people or a great multitude of people that followed Him. Some in that great multitude were rejoicing and laughing because they were glad that Jesus would soon die. Their hatred for Jesus was finally going to be rewarded. They were finally going to see His blood shed in death.

Then there were some who were just curious onlookers. Some of them had never seen a crucifixion and now, they were about to see, not just one, but three men executed that day on the cross.

Luke doesn't focus on those who were laughing or the curious, Luke focused on the weeping women. Only the Gospel of Luke records this episode. But while Luke is the only Gospel writer who records this episode in the last few moments of Jesus' earthly life, you need to understand that when you examine all four Gospels that not a single woman was ever hostile to Jesus, that no woman ever rebuked Jesus, and that no woman ever spoke evil of Jesus ...never! There were many men who cursed Him and abused Him and opposed Him and set themselves against Him, but not one woman ever did. No woman in the New Testament was the enemy of Jesus. And it is to these women that Jesus addresses this final sermon on the way to the cross.

There are two things I want to share with you: The sadness of the women and the sermon of the Savior.


I. The Sadness of the Women Luke 23:27-28


Three words describe the activity of the women:

1. They Bewailed Him

The word “bewailed” means to chop or to strike. It is a picture of them smiting their chest or beating themselves upon the chest. It is a sign or an act of great heartache and sorrow. They bewailed Him.

2. They Lamented Him

The word “lament” means to grieve, to mourn, or to hurt because of sorrow.

3. They were Weeping for Him

Jesus said, “Weep not for Me.” The word “weep” here means to sob loudly. When most of us think of crying, we think of a tear rolling down our cheek or maybe a quivering lip, but this was much more than that.
Perhaps there have been times in your life when you sobbed loudly; times when you were not able to hold back your grief and you sobbed loudly. That's the sorrow of these women. Beating their chest with both hands, deeply grieving, and loudly sobbing.


II. The Sermon of the Savior Luke 23:29-31


A sermon is not determined by its length; a sermon is determined by its content.

Three things I want to share with you about this sermon:

A. It was a Compassionate Sermon Luke 23:28

In all of the drama we've been looking at over the last few weeks, this is the first word of concern that comes out of the mouth of Jesus. He has responded to questions. He has spoken truth, but this is the first word of concern. And it's not concern for Himself.

He knows exactly what has happened to Him, and what is happening to Him now, and what is about to happen to Him. He knows the nails are coming. He knows the cross awaits Him. It's just moments away now. All the trials are over. There is no recourse. But the word of concern is not for Himself, but it's for those women.

Beloved, we have a compassionate Savior. We have a Savior who is touched by our grieves. He weeps when we weep. So this sermon is a compassionate sermon.

B. It was a Prophetic Sermon Luke 23:29

Jesus was able to stand there in that moment and look ahead. Most people are afraid of death because it seems so final. But Jesus knew there was more to come and He has two major prophecies.

He says, “Women, it's going to be tough for you in the days to come.” Look at what He says in Luke 23:29.

There is nothing more disgraceful or dishonorable for a Jewish woman than to be barren; than to have no children. In our culture there is no stigma attached to it, but in that culture, for a Jewish woman, not to be able to have children was the greatest disgrace that could befall her and it was even grounds for divorce in that culture.

No woman would ever have said, “Blessed are you because you have not been able to conceive and no child will ever nurse at your bosom.” No Jewish woman would say that. But Jesus said, “You're going to regret having children AND you're going to praise those who don't.”

And His words came true. When General Titus marched in in 70 A. D., one of his strategies was to starve the Jews, and he did it. He cut off all supplies. Nothing could go in without his direct permission. And the food supply rapidly diminished. Many of the Jewish men stole food from their own wives and their own children. And I'll tell something else, some of the Jewish men murdered their wives and murdered their children and ate their own flesh and blood.

Jesus said, “Hard times are ahead. Women, don't weep for me. Weep for yourselves.”

Now Jesus makes a prophecy to the nation. Luke 23:30

Men will pray to die. They will seek suicide. They had rather die at the hands of a natural calamity – an earthquake or a mudslide – than to die at the hands of the Roman government. The Romans were brutal, vicious, and mean, and they loved to torture men before they executed them.

Jesus said, “They are going to cry out for the rocks to fall on them and the mountains to cover them and crush the life out of them.” Jesus said, “Doom is coming to the nation of Israel.” A Prophetic Sermon.

C. It was His Final Sermon

We are going to see that Jesus speaks seven words from the cross, but this is His final discourse. In His final sermon, Jesus gives to them the reason why the Judgment of God is about to fall. See Luke 23:31.

Now, what is Luke 23:31 talking about? There are two possible explanations:

It could be that the green tree refers to the nation of Israel itself.

Israel is sometimes referred to as a green tree. If this green tree is Israel, here is what Jesus is saying: When I came to you, you were a green tree. Leaves everywhere. Full of opportunity. Full of potential to bear fruit. You were a green tree. And the only reason you were a green tree is because the Father in Heaven made you that way.

God could have chosen any other nation on earth for His own, but God chose Israel to be His chosen people. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the other descendants of Israel would have been nothing throughout history without God and they would be nothing today without God.

Jesus said, “You've been a green tree, but I want to tell you, you're about to become a dry tree. It's hard to burn a green tree, but it's nothing to burn a dry tree, and when God withdraws His hand, you will wither and die and become a dry tree.”

So, if Jesus is saying that Israel is a green tree, He is saying, “You have passed up the opportunity to receive His Messiah and to enter into the glory days. You are no longer a green tree, you are a dry tree, ready for judgment.”

Or, it could mean that Jesus is referring to Himself as a green tree.

It could be that Jesus is the green tree and He is saying to them who are the dry tree of Israel, “If the Romans do this to Me, a green tree, what are they going to do to you, a dry tree?”

The Romans were not even mad at Jesus. I remind you that both Pilate and Herod said about Jesus, “Not guilty!” Rome had nothing against Jesus, and had it been left up to the Romans, Jesus would have never been crucified. It was the hostility of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the hatred of the scribes and Chief Priest that got Him crucified.

Do you have any hatred in your heart today? If you do, you're a dry tree. Jesus said, “If the Romans do something like this to someone they are not even angry with, what do you think they are going to do to you, because they hate you. Ever since Rome conquered you, you've been nothing but a thorn in their side. You've rebelled and resisted and fought being oppressed. If they do this to me, what are they going to do to you?”

And that was His last sermon. A sermon of compassion, prophecy – begging for the mountains to fall on them. If they do this to a green tree, what will they do to you?

I would think there is something special about someone's last sermon. I don't know what I'd like to preach as my last sermon, but this is the last sermon Jesus would preach: A Compassionate Word. A Prophetic Word. A Final Word.

All of us are preaching a sermon as we live. I have never preached anybody's funeral sermon. I've shared remarks. I've stood with caskets in front of me time after time in the 40 years plus since I've been a pastor, but I've never preached anybody's funeral, because that's not my responsibility.

I cannot preach somebody else's funeral. You preach your own funeral. If a person has lived for Jesus, and served Jesus, I don't have to stand here and tell people that. They all know that. And if somebody has spent their whole life as an infidel and satisfied the lust of their own desires, I don't have to tell the people that. They already know that too.

What if today were your last day? What if death came to you today? What kind of sermon would your last sermon be? What would your children remember about the last sermon you preached?

This was our Lord's last sermon before His death. From a heart of love, He predicted judgment on those who have rejected His love. There is only one difference between a green tree and a dead tree: That's life, and the only source of life – eternal life – is Jesus Christ.


THE MALEFACTORS

Luke 13:32, 39-43

Some time ago an older couple came to Brother Bob Pittman and asked him to pray for them. That was not unusual because folks are always asking preachers to pray for them. So he said, “Okay, what do you want me to pray for you about?” They said, “Brother Bob, we have been married together for over fifty years and both of us are getting older by the minute.” They said, “We depend so on one another that we can hardly function without each other, and we want you to pray that we will die together.”

Brother Bob told them that he could not do that because that was God's business. Only a sovereign God could determine when a person would die. But he said that he did pray for them. He prayed that God would bless them and take care of them and provide for their needs as long as they lived.

You see, the truth is that most people die by themselves. There are some exceptions to that. Sometimes a number of people will die in a horrible accident in an automobile or in an airplane or on a sinking ship. Sometime a number of people might die together in a natural disaster like a flood or tornado or earthquake. Sometimes a number of people may die together on a battlefield during a war. And, so, there are times when people die in groups. But most people die by themselves. We look for companions in life, but we don't look for companions in death. That's just not a natural thing to do.

When you think about the companions of Jesus in death, if we had planned it, who would we have put on either side of Him? Maybe Matthew or Mark? Maybe Simon Peter and John the Beloved? But in our text today, we find the companions of Jesus in death.

This was not a spur of the moment thing. It was not a freak event. Over 600 years before Jesus was even born, the prophet Isaiah made an unusual prophecy about the death of our Lord. Isaiah said, “And He made His grave with the wicked” (Isaiah 53:9).

Six hundred years before Jesus was ever born, Isaiah was writing about His death and he said, “He made His grave with the wicked.” What unusual terminology! And here in the Gospel of Luke we find out a little more about what Isaiah meant when he referred to those wicked ones. Luke said, “And there were also two other malefactors, led with Him to be put to death.” So, what Isaiah calls “the wicked,” Luke refers to as the malefactors.

And that's what we will think about this morning: these malefactors. I want to share with you first of all:


I. The Definition of a Malefactor


What is a malefactor? The word really is a combination of two Greek words. The first word is a word that means “evil,” and the second word is a word that means “work” or “worker.” So a malefactor is an evil worker.

The word “evil” means “that which is most despicable and detestable in the sight of God.” It refers to the very base nature of man. It refers to the very worst thing a person could do. It refers to the worst words a person could speak and the worst thought a person could think. That's what a malefactor is. It is the worst evil worker and vile person you could think of.


II. The Deeds of the Malefactors


The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark identify these two men as thieves. The word that is used to describe thieves is robbers.

Well, what's the difference between a thief and a robber? In one culture it may be that there is not much difference, but back then there was a great deal of difference. You see, a thief can be someone who is nothing more than a pickpocket or shoplifter. A thief could be someone who steals a grape from a grocery store or someone who steals a watermelon from your patch or someone who steals a newspaper from your front lawn. That's a thief. They are more of a pest than they are someone to be afraid of.

But the word that both Matthew and Mark use is the word that means robber. It means a person who uses violence to take someone's property. And the use of violence can be as much as is needed to gain the property. These men were violent robbers. They had no respect for anyone's person or his property. If you had it and they wanted it, they would take it forcefully – out in the open. These were not men who would slip around in the hours of darkness. This word “robber” means to use force openly. These men were most likely murderers as well.


III. The Death Sentence Imposed on the Malefactors Luke 23:32


“To be put to death.” That's one reason I know that these were violent men. Simple stealing didn't require the death penalty, but these men had been so ruthless and so violent in the crimes they had committed that they were to be put to death.

I don't know how long they had been in prison. I can't help but believe they had been in prison a long time. You see, Pilate did not live in Jerusalem. Pilate lived somewhere else, and it was not on a regular bases that Pilate came to Jerusalem. Pilate was the governor of Judea and only Pilate could condemn someone to death. And so, these men had likely been in prison a long time.

I have a feeling they were probably the comrades of Barabbas. They were three crosses ready that day for crucifying criminals.


I cannot help but believe that these three men were a trio of violent criminals. They had committed crimes of robbery, murder, and insurrection. They had no respect for authority and no respect for anyone else. If they saw something and wanted it, they would have it regardless of the peril to anyone.

So, these men, rotting away in prison cells along with Barabbas, had probably been in prison for a while and were just waiting for Pilate to come and pronounce sentence, and he did. When he came to town and judged these two malefactors along with Barabbas, he pronounced the sentence: Death! They were guilty of capital crimes and they must die!


IV. The Derision of Both the Malefactors


If you read only the Gospel of Luke it would lead you to think that only one of these malefactors joined in on the ridicule of Jesus. But Matthew and Mark both tell us that both of these malefactors joined in. Both scorned Jesus. Both made fun of Him. Both mocked Him, and cursed Him. They both said, “If you are Who you say you are, save Yourself and us.”

But then something unusual happened. The Holy Spirit of God began to work in one of these two thieves. One of the two came under deep conviction.

Now I must tell you, I can't explain all that is involved in the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. How one man could come under conviction and make a complete turn around, and the other man be seemingly totally insensitive to any activity of the Holy Spirit in his life is something I don't understand. I don't understand how the sun that shines in the sky can melt wax and at the same time harden clay. I don't understand that. But it happens. And sometimes the same convicting work of the Holy Spirit that melts the hearts of some will harden the hearts of others.

But as these two men were jawing back and forth, back and forth, and both of them having to look at each other through the Lord Jesus. He was in the middle. They were on either side of Him. And they could not see each other without seeing Him. And the blood running down His face, they saw the wounds on His back and the nails in His hands, but they had nails in their hands too. They were covered with blood too.

But an unusual thing took place in one of them. One of them stopped cursing and began crying. One of them stopped shouting insults and started seeking divine help: “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.”

You see, one began to see something he had not seen before. Up to this time all he saw was another man dying on a cross, and he didn't know much about Him. Just another man. The nails in the hands of Jesus were not any sharper, not any more cruel, then the nails in his own hands. He suffered physically as Jesus suffered physically. And he would die the same death that Jesus would die.

And, yet, he began to see something he had not seen before. That's what the Holy Spirit does.

• He saw the Royalty of Jesus. He said, “Remember me when you come into YOUR kingdom.” He saw and understood for the first time that the ONE on the middle cross was a King.
A King who had never sat on a throne in Israel. He never wore a crown except for a crown of thorns pressed upon His brow. But he saw the Royalty of Jesus.

• He also saw the Resurrection of Jesus. Dead men do not sit on a throne. He said, “Remember me WHEN you come into your kingdom.” But Jesus was on the cross! That's supposed to be the end of it all. He wasn't going anywhere except the grave. That's what this thief believed while he was mocking Him, but somehow the Holy Spirit of God revealed to him that the cross is not the end for the Man on the middle cross. This Man was going to come into a kingdom.

• He saw the Royalty of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus, but he also saw the Righteousness of Jesus. Look at Luke 23:40-41. Somehow, he saw Jesus as the sinless Son of God who would take away the sin of the world.

• He also saw the Redemption of Jesus. He said, “Remember me.” “Don't remember the acts of robbery I've committed. Don't remember the murders I've committed. Don't remember those ugly words I shouted at You a moment ago. But, O Lord, Lord, remember me!”

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.

V. The Destiny of These Malefactors Luke 23:43

“Verily … Truly ...Assuredly ...No doubt about it, I say to you, today you will be with me.” That's all He had to say, but He added those words, “in paradise.” (And I'll talk more about paradise in a sermon in a few weeks.)

“Today you shall be with Me.” One of the malefactors will spend eternity with Jesus, but the other will spend eternity without Jesus. And that brings me to a few little conclusions I want to share with you.

1. We need to understand that Jesus can save the worst of sinners. Isn't that good news! Jesus can save the worst of sinners. It doesn't matter what you've done. It doesn't matter what you've said about Jesus. It doesn't matter how you've acted. Jesus can save the worst of sinners. Jesus said, “Today you will be with Me.”

2. Jesus is all you need to be saved. This thief never heard anyone sing “Just As I Am.” He never walked down anyone's isle. He was not baptized by anyone. He never took the Lord's Supper. All he had was Jesus. But that's enough. That's all you need to be saved!

3. All who are saved will spend eternity with Jesus.

4. All who are not saved will spend eternity without Jesus.

We are all malefactors. We are all evil workers. We are all criminals. You say, “Preacher, I never murdered anyone!” But you did. You murdered the Son of God. Your sin and my sin put Him there.

“God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

My sin and your sin nailed Him to the cross and He alone can save you. And He will if you will trust Him, turn to Him, and receive Him as the Lord of your life. No, you don't have to do that. You can try and make it on your own merit, but you'll spend eternity in Hell without Him.

THERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM

Luke 23:33

Jesus predicted that He would be crucified. In Luke 9:51 we read, “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.”

Along the way He preached some sermons and taught some lessons. He healed sick people and He even raised some from the dead. He had been received by some and He had been rejected by others. He had forgiven those who would let Him and He had condemned those who would not. He had manifested the love of God and He had proclaimed the judgment of God. He rebuked the self-righteous and He comforted and encouraged the faint hearted. He answered the questions of His disciples and He refused to answer the questions of His critics.

We have seen Him do all these things; yet, in spite of all He has done, He never wavered from the path as He sat His face to go to Jerusalem. And He knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem. He knew the mental anguish and the spiritual agony that awaited Him there.

He knew the blasphemies that awaited Him there. He knew the hostility and the brutality that awaited Him there. And He knew the horrible death that awaited Him there. Yet, He did not turn back and He did not try to escape it.

He had sat His face to go to Jerusalem and now, in one short sentence, Luke tells us of the moment for which Jesus left Heaven and came to earth. He says, “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.”

I want us to think about that little phrase: “There they crucified Him.”


I. The Place


Luke says, “THERE they crucified Him.” “When they came to the place called Calvary, THERE they crucified Him.”

“Calvary.” Why, that's not even a Greek word: Calvary. It's not a Hebrew word: Calvary. It's a Latin word: “Calvary.” The Greek word is the word “crania,” from which we get our word “cranium.” The Hebrew word is the word “Golgotha.”

In Matthew's Gospel he uses the word “Golgotha.” Luke's Gospel uses the word “crania.” The word in all three of those languages, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, mean “Skull.” Why did the translators translate this word, “Calvary?”

Well, no doubt, they were influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. No doubt they wanted to soften the roughness of the word. “And when they had come to the place which is called SKULL.” Maybe that was too harsh for them. They didn't translate the word, they substituted a Latin word for this word “crania,” skull. That's the place: The Skull!

Why was that place called, “The Skull?” Well, it was the place of public execution. It was outside the city wall of Jerusalem. It was the place where the worse, most vile criminals were executed. Crucifixion was a horrible, horrible and painful death.

Some say it was called “The Skull” because of the appearance of the place. If you were to go to Jerusalem today, one of the places you will be carried is a place known as “Gordon's Calvary” and if you stand in a certain spot and use a great deal of imagination, you can look at it and it does give the appearance of a skull: here is an eye hole and here is an eye hole and here is a mouth hole and here is a nose hole – but if you look at it long enough and hard enough, you can see some semblance of a skull. Maybe they call it “The Skull” because of it's appearance; but to be honest with you, there are many who do not believe that Gordon's Calvary is the real place of the crucifixion. I don't know. I wasn't there.

Maybe it is called the place of the skull because of all of the bones and skulls that would be lying around there. It was a place that was frequently used by the Roman government and often the bodies would hang on the cross until their flesh had been eaten away by maggots or birds, and the bones would just fall to the ground, and the bones and skulls were everywhere. Maybe that is the reason they call it “The Skull.” I don't know, but that was the place. “And when they were come to the place called SKULL, there they crucified Him.”


II. The Perpetrators


“There THEY crucified Him.” “THEY.” Who are THEY? Who crucified Jesus?

When Mel Gibson's movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” came out, there was a great up-rising within the Jewish community of charges of antisemitism and they pointed out that the Roman Vatican in one of their counsels had determined that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Christ, but here is this movie that seems to blame them for the death of the Son of God.

Who crucified Christ Jesus? Well, we have to be honest. The Jews did have a hand in the death of our Lord. It was a Jewish Sanhedrin that hated Him. It was a Jewish High Priest and Ex-High Priest who condemned Him. It was to the Jews that He came and they were His own and His own received Him not. It was the Jewish city of Jerusalem that Jesus was crucified. The Jews had a hand in the death of Jesus.

But you also have to say the Romans had a hand in crucifying Him. It was a Roman governor that allowed this to take place. It was a Roman cross on which He hung and died. It was a Roman soldier that scourged Him. It was a Roman soldier that nailed the nails in His hands and in His feet. It was a country under Roman rule that He died. The Romans had a hand in the death of Jesus.

But I tell you, you can't stop there. The Jews had a hand in it, the Romans had a hand in it, but you and I had a hand in it as well. The Bible says that “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It was our sin that nailed Him to the cross. The Jews nor the Romans could have done it without us. He died for us. The hatred that we harbor in our hearts; the judgmental mean spirit that we often manifest; the grudges we carry; the greed, the lust of our unbridled hearts; all of that and more caused Jesus to die on the cross. He died for us.

But even there, you cannot stop. If you stop with the Jews, and the Romans, and us, you miss the very heart of this Book. The Jews had a hand in it, the Romans had a hand in it, you and I had a hand in it, but I want to tell you, God the Father had a hand in it.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10). This was said of the Father 600 years before Jesus was born. Now what does the word “pleased” mean? Does it mean that it brought some sort of joy or delight to the Father to see His Son beaten and crucified? No, it doesn't mean that at all. The Word “pleased” means “to satisfy.” It satisfied the Father to bruise the Son. What does that mean? It means that God the Father “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

You think about that! Think about your sin. Think about the sin of everybody on the earth or everyone who has ever lived on the earth, and the sins of everybody who will ever live on the earth. All the sin, all the crime, all the murder, all the rape, all the adultery – all of it! To think that One Man could receive the punishment for all of those sins and for all of those sinners!

How could One Man receive the punishment that was due to all of us who have ever lived or who live now or who will ever live? I don't know! I can't explain it! But I know this: When God, Who is holy, looked at His Son, Who is just as holy, and all of our sins were put upon Him and Jesus died, God was satisfied with the price He paid. If you go to Hell, it's because you choose to go to Hell, because the Father was satisfied with what His Son did.


III. The Punishment


“There they CRUCIFIED Him.”

Crucifixion is the most horrible form of capital punishment ever devised by man. There is no electric chair, no gas chamber, no injection of poison that can compete with the horror of death by crucifixion. Today it would be called criminal and inhumane, but to the Roman government it was just punishment. And it was enjoyable to them! It was a primary source of fun and entertainment for Romans to see someone crucified on their cross.

Crucifixion was a slow, painful death. Hang a man, cut off his head, and in a moment he is dead, but not crucifixion. For hours men could hang in agony with nails in their hands and feet. For hours, as long as they could push themselves up and catch a breath. But when their legs gave way, their diaphragms would not push up and the breath could not be released or taken in. Hanging on the cross for all those hours with the blood flowing would cause a person's muscles to go into spasms and lock and the agony and pain of it was overwhelming.


Many times, men would scream and curse as they hung on the cross and their body fluids would be gone and their mucus membranes would dry up. What is a mucus membrane? Well, your mucus membranes allow you to swallow. If you don't have your mucus membranes working, when you try to swallow, it's like trying to swallow dry, hot sand. It is your mucus membranes that allow you to blink your eyes without pain. When your mucus membranes dry up, it is like taking sandpaper and dragging it across your eyes.
His muscles locked. His eyes were parched. There He was. That is crucifixion! And His heart burst; His heart was ruptured. When they pushed the spear in His side, blood and water both flowed out of Him. You can cut yourself and all you will see is blood. The evidence of blood and water is that His heart had ruptured within Him. The blood began to break down into its various components.

Up Calvary's mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn
Facing for sinners death on the cross
That He might save them from endless loss.

Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary's tree.
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me!


IV. The Person

“There they crucified HIM.” “HIM.” No, He was not one of the malefactors: One was crucified on His left and one was crucified on His right. They were like each other, but they were not like Him, and He was not like them.

He is sinless. The Bible makes three bold declarations about Him:

1. The Bible says He HAD no sin. That means He did not inherit a sin nature from His parents like you and I did.

2. The Bible says He DID no sin. He never committed one act of sin. He never spoke an evil word. He never thought an evil thought. He never did an evil thing.

3. The Bible says He KNEW no sin. That doesn't mean He doesn't know about sin. He knows all about sin. He knows about my sin and about your sin. The Psalmist says that He knows our secret sin. But it means He doesn't know by Experience any sin; and yet, all of the sin of the world was placed upon Him.

Now listen to me: When the Bible says that He became sin, it does not mean He became a sinner. It means He became sin; yet separate from sin.

• Holy, but He became sin!
• Eternal Christ, but He died!
• Son of God and Son of Man

It was the lovely Lord Jesus Who gave His life. Why? “When they came to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him.” Why? There is only one reason: Because of the love of Almighty God for men, women, boys, and girls. Jesus didn't die on the cross because we deserved for Him to do so. He died on the cross because He loved us and there was no other way for Him to redeem us and forgive our sin.
I was sinking deep in sin ...but love lifted me! God loves you and because He loves you, Christ died for you.

JESUS' DYING PLEA

Luke 23:34

We have recorded for us seven statements that Jesus spoke while hanging on the cross. Three of those statements are found only in the Gospel of Luke:

1. Luke 23:34: “Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

2. In Luke 23:42-43 one of the thieves who was crucified with Jesus said to Him, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

3. And then in Luke 23:46 we read, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit. Having said this, He breathed His last.”

I want us to look today at that first saying: “Then Jesus said, Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Three things I want to share with you from this first statement on the cross:


I. His Relationship With His Father


“Then said Jesus.”

“Then” refers to everything they had done to Him. He prays for them AFTER they had lied about Him and falsely accused Him. After they had mocked Him and spat on Him and pulled the beard out of His face. After they had scourged Him and forced Him to carry His cross. After they had driven huge nails through His hands and feet. “Then”: After all they had done to Him, He prayed for them.

It's not surprising that His first utterance from the cross would be a prayer. Often times when a person is facing death, he prays. There is nothing wrong with that. If I knew that I was facing death, I would want to pray as well.

But for Jesus, prayer was a part of His life. He often prayed to His Father. He would pray with His disciples. He would get up early in the morning and spend time alone with His Father. Once on a hillside, Jesus preached, “You have heard it said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you.” Another time Jesus told His followers to forgive, not once, or even seven times, but “until seventy times seven.” Forgive without limits. He practiced what He preached on that grim hill of Calvary.



“Then Jesus SAID.” The tense of the verb “said” means that He kept on saying over and over, “Father, forgive them for all they have done to Me.”

Notice the close intimate fellowship between the Son and His Father. I don't understand so much about the Trinity! Here is God the Son in communion with God the Father. They had had the same close, intimate fellowship and love between them, not only since He had been on earth, but throughout eternity past.

But now wait a minute, it was the Father who sent Jesus from Heaven to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross for the sins of man. Yet, there was no resentment or anger toward the Father. Isaiah 53:10 says that “it pleased (or satisfied) the Father to bruise Him and to put Him to grief.” But remember that the Son loved sinners just as much as the Father did and they were in agreement as to the price that must be paid to redeem men. Jesus was willing to do whatever it would take to redeem and forgive sinners like you and me. So, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for what they have done and for what they are doing to me.”

Then He calls God, “Father.” Our Lord's faith and love for His Father is unshaken by all He has endured. He still has an intimate love relationship of trust with His Father.

No one knows how many times Jesus prayed this prayer that day. He may not have prayed the prayer out loud, but under His breath and in His heart and mind, He was praying, “Father, forgive them...”

Father forgive them, thus did He pray,
E'en while His life's blood flowed fast away.
Praying for sinners, while in such woe,
No one but Jesus ever loved so.


II. The Request of His Father


What did Jesus ask of the Father? Notice what the crowd that day did NOT hear Him pray:

• He did not pray, “Father, forgive Me!” He needed no personal forgiveness. He had not sinned! He was and is the spotless, perfect, sinless Son of God! If there is one thing men want before they slip from this life to meet God, it is to be right with God. He didn't have to pray that.

• He did not pray, “Lord, help Me!” or “Deliver Me!” There is nothing wrong with praying that kind of prayer when we are in great need. Our Lord invites us to come before His throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

What did Jesus ask the Father to do? To forgive them of their sin against Him.

The word “forgive” means “to remove, to take away, to send away as far as the East is to the West, to completely delete.”

That's why we should never pray, “Father, forgive me.” We should pray, “Father, forgive my sins.” You don't want the Father to remove or take you away from Him.

You want Him to take YOUR SINS from you; to remove and take away your sins from you. God doesn't need to remove you; He needs to remove your sins.

Did you know that this is the only time that Jesus asked the Father to forgive someone's sin? Because Jesus WAS and IS God. He forgave sin!

Four men brought a man on a cot for Jesus to heal who was sick of the palsy, but there was no room to receive them, so these four men went to the roof and tore open a place in the roof and let the man down by Jesus so He could heal the man. But instead of healing the man physically, Jesus said to him, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

“The scribes began to reason in their hearts, 'He is speaking blasphemies. Who can forgive sin but God only?'

“Jesus perceived in His Spirit what they were thinking, so He said to them, 'Why reason ye these things in your hearts, whether it is easier to say to the sick of the palsy, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee;' or to say, 'Arise, and take up thy bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the sick of the palsy, 'I say to you, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.'” (Mark 2:1-12). Jesus forgave his sins and healed him.

A woman was caught in the act of adultery and was brought before Jesus. “The scribes and Pharisees wanted to find some reason to accuse Jesus, so they asked, “Moses in the Law says she should be stoned, but what do You say?”

“Jesus stooped down and wrote something on the ground and then looked at the religious leaders and said, 'He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.' He stooped back down and when He looked up again, no one was there but He and the lady.

“Jesus asked, 'Where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?' She said, 'No man, Lord.' Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.'” (John 8:3-11). He forgave her for her sins.

The point I'm making is that Jesus had already forgiven those who had sinned against Him. Now He asks the Father that He would forgive them as well.

Again, Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased (or satisfied) the Father as He gave His Son to die on the cross.” The Father was doing nothing wrong by allowing His Son to suffer and die as payment for sin, but it was a sin against The Father's Son for those who were putting Him to death.

Here is what Jesus was praying: “Father, forgive them, but condemn me; don't withhold Your mercy from them, withhold it from Me.”

It is possible for the Son to forgive, but the Father to fail to forgive. Suppose someone does something wrong and hurtful to my son. You know that if someone does something wrong to your child and it hurts him; it also hurts you. Now, maybe my son forgave that person, but I did not. He would need by son's forgiveness and my forgiveness for things to really be made right.



Folks who did you wrong may never know this side of eternity that you prayed for them and forgave them when they mistreated you, but God knows and that's the kind of praying that will do something to YOU!

As far as I know, no one that day asked Jesus to forgive them for what they were doing to Him; nor did they ask Jesus to pray to His Father that He would forgive them. No one said, “Thank You, Lord, for praying for me.”

I've heard people say about someone who hurt them, “Well, IF he apologies to me and ASKS me to forgive him, I will; but I won't forgive him unless he does!” What an example our Lord set for us. No one had to ask Him to forgive them for mistreating Him, He was so full of mercy and grace that He forgave them anyway.

Now don't misunderstand: Jesus' prayer didn't mean all the folks who sinned against Jesus that day was saved. They were sinners and still needed divine forgiveness. After all, Jesus was dying for their sins and it was their sins, not His, that put Him on the cross. Every person still must ask the Lord to save them and to forgive them of their sin.


III. The Reasoning With the Father


“Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Oh, they knew they were crucifying a man. They even knew what they were doing was wrong, but they didn't know the greatness of their sin and guilt. They did not realize that Jesus was the Son of God or that He was their Messiah.

First Corinthians 2:8: “For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

If they had known that Jesus was the Son of God and their Messiah, they would not have said, “Let His blood be on us and upon our children.” None of the folks deserved to be forgiven that day, but for the love, mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus. On the cross Jesus was dying to forgive their sin that day.

We are far more accountable today than were the folks around the cross that day. God has revealed to us that Jesus IS the Son of God, and the only Savior and Redeemer for man and his sin.

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified.
Knowing not it was for me He died
At Calvary.

Did the Father grant the request of His Son? Oh, yes!

• The first person to respond was the repentant thief.
• Then the Centurion said, “Surely, this was the Son of God.”


• In Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and said, “Jesus, who you by lawless hands have taken and crucified and put to death, Whom God has raised up and all of you are witnesses ...” and Peter continues and 3,000 are saved that day.

I wonder as Peter preached that day if one came to him and said, “I spat in His face that day. Is there any hope for me?” Another said, “I slapped His face. Can I be saved?” Another said, “I drove the nails into His hands. Will He forgive me?”

Peter says, “I have wonderful news. No sin is too great. He will forgive ALL sin! For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved and whosoever will may come to Him!”

Jesus prayed for you as well. Are you a part of the answer to our Lord's request? Have you trusted Him?


PLAYING GAMES AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

Luke 23:34b-37

The hymn writer said:

“See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”

There He is. He's been there for a while now. Blood is flowing profusely from His head, His hands, His feet, and His back as He hangs on the cross. Psalm 22:14 says that they have jerked all His bones out of joint before they ever nailed Him to the cross. Because of that His bones are twisting from inside of His body and His muscles are pulled and stretched to the maximum of their ability. The pain and agony is unbelievable. He is paying our sin debt.

And as He hangs there bleeding and dying, there are four groups of people there at the foot of the cross. And they are involved in meaningless activity. I want us to think about these four groups that are there and see them and then I'll bring a word of conclusion.


I. The Gamblers Luke 23:34b


These were the four Romans soldiers. These four would have been under the authority of another soldier, but these four were the four that marched Him with the cross on His back to the Place of the Skull.

Before a man was crucified, he would be stripped naked. People were crucified in their nudity to add to their shame – naked for the world to gaze upon.

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus had five pieces of garments or clothing on Him.

• There was the head piece; maybe a scarf, but something over His head.
• Then there was the girdle or the belt that tied the clothing to His body.
• Then there was the outer garment.
• Then there were the sandals.
• Then there was the inner garment; the tunic, the underwear.

And so these four soldiers e