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. It is not cleaned up yet (lots of spaces, poor right margins, etc) but all the material is here.
- An Introduction to the Gospel of Luke Luke 1:1-4
- The Annunciation of John the Baptist Luke 1:5-25
- The Arrival of John the Baptist Luke 1:57-66, 76-77, 80
- Gabriel's Conversation with Mary Luke 1:26-38
- Marveling at Bethlehem Luke 2:1-20
- A Heavenly Birth Announcement Luke 2:1-20
- Simeon: The Man Who Died Satisfied Luke 2:21-35
- Journey Without Jesus Luke 2:41-52
- John the Baptist: The Man, His Mission, and His Message Luke 3:1-20
- The Baptism of Jesus Luke 3:21-22
- Overcoming Temptation Luke 4:1-13
- Homecoming at Jesus' Church Job Description of Messiah Luke 4:14-30
- The Great Physician Is In Luke 4:31-44
- Fishing With Jesus Luke 5:1-11
- “Lord, If You Want To, You Can …” Luke 5:12-16
- The Forgiveness of Sin Luke 5:17-26
- Matthew's Salvation Party Luke 5:27-32
- New Wineskins Luke 5:33-39
- Lord of the Sabbath Luke 6:1-11
- The Selection of the Twelve Apostles Luke 6:12-19
- Jesus' Plain Sermon Luke 6:20-26
- The Most Difficult Command God Ever Gave Us Luke 6:27-36
- The Golden Rule Luke 6:31
- Are You a Faultfinder? Luke 6:37
- The Humor of Jesus Luke 6:39-49
- Amazing Faith Luke 7:1-10
- The Drier of All Tears Luke 7:11-17
- The Forgotten Beatitude Luke 7:18-23
- A Tribute to John the Baptist Luke 7:24-30
- O, How I Love Jesus Luke 7:36-50
- How to Cultivate a Teachable Heart Luke 8:1-15
- Faith in the Midst of the Storm Luke 8:22-25
- Jesus and the Wild Man Luke 8:26-40
- She Touched Me! Luke 8:41-48
- When They Laughed at Jesus Luke 8:41-42, 49-56
- On Mission For the Master Luke 9:1-11
- Jesus On the Mountain Luke 9:27-36
- Jesus In the Valley Luke 9:37-42
- What I've Learned Walking with Jesus Luke 9:43-62
- America Makes Sodom Look Good Luke 10:1-24
- And Like A Good Neighbor Luke 10:25-37
- A Tale of Two Sisters Luke 10:38-42
- Lord, Teach Us To Pray Luke 11:1-4
- Don't Stop Praying Luke 11:5-13
- A House Divided Luke 11:14-26
- Jesus: The Greater Luke 11:29-32
- This Little Light of Mine Luke 11:33-36; Matt.5:14-16
- Religion or Relationship Luke 11:37-54
- Warning Signs on the Road to Hell Luke 12:1-12
- The Biography of a Fool Luke 12:13-21
- First Things First Luke 12:22-34
- Ready or Not – He's Coming Luke 12:35-40
- What God Requires of You Luke 12:41-48
- Unless You Repent Luke 13:1-9
- ”Loosed” Luke 13:10-17
- ”What Is the Kingdom of God Like?” Luke 13:19-21
- Are There Few That Be Saved? Luke 13:22-30
- Have a Slice of Humble Pie Luke 14:1-4
- Excuse Me Luke 14:15-24
- The Cost of Discipleship Luke 14:25-35
- The Lost Sheep: A Parable of Salvation Luke 15:1-7
- The Lost Silver: A Parable of Celebration Luke 15:8-10
- The Lost Son: A Parable of Restoration Luke 15:11-24
- The Prodigal Father Luke 15:11-24
- A Loving Father Luke 15:11-12, 25-32
- The Lost Sibling: The Other Prodigal Luke 15:25-32
- When the World Outsmarts the Church Luke 16:1-13
- The Place Called Hell Luke 16:19-31
- Causing Others to Sin Luke 17:1-2
- Forever Forgiving Luke 17:3-4
- Mountain Moving Faith Luke 17:5-6
- Servant-hood Luke 17:7-10
- Servant-hood Amplified Luke 17:1-10
- An Attitude of Gratitude Luke 17:11-19
- The Present and Future Kingdom Luke 17:20-37
- Pray Until Something Happens Luke 18:1-8
- The Man Who Stopped by Church On His Way to Hell Luke 18:9-14
- Jesus Loves the Little Children Luke 18:15-17
- Who Then Can Be Saved Luke 18:18-30
- The Road to the Cross Luke 18:31-34
- What the Blind Man Saw Before He Could See Luke 18:35-43
- A Little Man Who Did a Big Thing Luke 19:1-10
- The Parable of the Pounds Luke 19:11-27
- When Cheers Turn to Tears Luke 19:28-44
- Cleansing the Temple Luke 19:45-48
- Questioning the Authority of Jesus Luke 20:1-8
- Caesar's or God's Luke 20:20-26
- One Bride With Seven Husbands Luke 20:27-40
- The Widow's Mites Luke 21:1-4
- What's Coming Before Jesus Comes Again? Luke 21:5-36
- The Signs Jesus Gave Concerning His Return Luke 21:6-28
- Israel: God's Miracle Nation Luke 21:29-33
- Be Patient Luke 21:19, 34-36
- The Conspiracy of Judas Luke 22:1-6
- Come to the Table Luke 22:7-20
- The Traitor's Hand Luke 22:21-23
- The Conversion of the Converted Luke 22:31-34
- Gethsemane Luke 22:39-46
- Sour Kisses and Silly Swords Luke 22:47-53
- Simon Peter's Darkest Hour Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
- Jesus before Pilate Luke 23:1 – 7
- Christ Before Herod Luke 23:8 – 12
- Christ Before Pilate Again Luke 23:13 – 25
- Bearing His Cross Luke 23:26
- A Sermon on the Way to the Cross Luke 23:27-31
- The Malefactors Luke 23:32, 39 – 43
- There They Crucified Him Luke 23:33
- Jesus' Dying Plea Luke 23:34
- Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross Luke 23:34b – 37
- The King of the Jews Luke 23:38
- Holy Spirit Conviction Luke 23:39 – 42
- Paradise Luke 23:43
- Midnight at Noonday Luke 23:44 – 45
- The Rent Veil Luke 23:45
- Father, Into Thy Hands Luke 23:46
- The Man Who Preached Christ's Funeral Luke 23:47 – 49
- And He Was Buried Luke 23:50 – 56
- Good News! Christ Jesus Is Alive! Luke 23:55 – 24:17
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.
- 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; 20:5-21; 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
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
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:
Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Martha, Zacchaeus, Cleopas, the woman who anointed Jesus' feet.
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.
- Babies and children
Luke give us the stories of the infancy of John the Baptist and Jesus.
- 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; 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 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.
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.
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.
- 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!
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.
John was a miracle baby. He was born to parents past the years of childbearing.
His birth took away a very bitter trial for his parents by removing the very painful reproach of barrenness.
His birth was preceded by some unusual experiences for his father.
(Zacharias had seen a vision in the Temple and had suddenly been mute.)
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:
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.
The Dispute About the Child Luke 1:59-67
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.
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 Lue 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!”
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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.'”
- 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; 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.
- 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
- Jeremiah 32:27: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard
- 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.”
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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:
- 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
C. The Isaiah Promise Isaiah 7:14; 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 Isaiah 9:7 God promised His Son would rule on the throne of David. God will keep
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
- 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 hear 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.
- 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
(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).
- 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 Verses 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”
- 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.”
- 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. 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.
- 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
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:
- 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?
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.
The eighty day was the best day medically to prevent bleeding and infection.
Jewish custom was to give the baby its official name on the eighty day after
being circumcised (Luke 2:21).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.”
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
(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.
- 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
- These verses record for us the first words spoken from the mouth of our Lord.
- 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
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.
- 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:
- Mary, what was it like listening to Jesus pray?
- When Jesus saw a rainbow, did He ever mention the flood?
- Did you ever feel awkward teaching Him about how He created the world?
- When Jesus saw a lamb being lead to slaughter, did He act any differently?
- Did you ever scold Him?
- Did He have any friends named “Judas”?
- How did He act at a funeral?
Those are just seven questions Mary may have been asked.
- 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 give 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:
- Instruction: They are Taught what to do.
- 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:
- 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.”
- 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
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 Verse 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 Verse 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
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 camp 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.
- 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.
- 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 any one 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 Verse 8 John said, “I will no longer baptize anyone unless they bring forth fruits showing they have repented of their sins.”
In Verse 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” (Verse 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.
- 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 any more.
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.
- 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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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
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
A JOB DESCRIPTION OF THE MESSIAH
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:
- 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?
- 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!
- He was a Gospel preacher – Luke 4:18.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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:
- 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.
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
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:
- 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:
- God never gives foolish commands – though they may look foolish at the time.
- God intends to bless those who obey Him without hesitation.
- 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.
- The Argument 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.
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!
- 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 ti.
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 want us to be fishers of men. We catch them; He cleans them.
“LORD, IF YOU WANT TO, YOU CAN …”
As I begin the message, let me ask you a couple of questions:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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; 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:
- Both leprosy and sin starts inwardly and expresses itself outwardly. Sin doesn't begin
on the surface. It is a personal matter of the heart.
- Both leprosy and sin starts 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.
- 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.
- Both leprosy and sin disfigures.
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.
- 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
- Both leprosy and sin lead to death.
The wages of sin is death. Without Christ, we are walking, talking, breathing dead men.
But now I want us to look at this miracle:
- The Request Made to the Master Luke 5:12
“Lord, if You are willing … (if You want to,) You can make me clean.”
- 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.
- 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; another says he worships Jesus.
- 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.
- 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 was as smooth and soft as a baby's!
- 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
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:
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.
- 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
- 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
- The third word means not only to pardon one's sin, but to restore as well.
- The fourth word relates to the scapegoat and means “to cancel a debt held and to
remember it no more.
- The fifth word means to put away so that one is no longer held responsible for the
- 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!
- 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,
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
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 furtherest 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.
- 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 Verses 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!
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
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.
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 thought concerning this matter of fasting.
- Fasting is nowhere commanded in the Bible. But, it is not forbidden either.
- 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.
- Fasting does not impress God and it does not persuade God.
- Fasting only has merit if it is being used to seek God's face for a time or personal spiritual
Getting back to Verse 33. Why doesn't the disciples of Jesus fast? Jesus answers the question in
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.”
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
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.
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
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
- God doesn't have to create any more men or women because in creation He created
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?
- God gave Israel the Sabbath as a gift and as a distinctive mark and sign for Israel.
Exodus 17:29: “For the Lord have Given you the Sabbath.”
Exodus 17:30: “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.
- 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 use 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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 command-
ments to kill a man.
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 Verse 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.
- 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 form 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
I see three things in these verses that are important to us:
- 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 Verse 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; some-
times 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
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!
- 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:
- 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.
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
- James the Great
This James was a member of our Lord's inner circle and was the first apostle to die
for his faith.
- 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.
Phillip is the one who lead Nathaniel to the Lord and they were best friends.
- Nathaniel is also called Bartholomew.
Matthew was also called Levi and he was a tax collector. He also wrote the Gospel
Thomas is also known as Didymus, which means “twin.” Thomas gets a bad rap by those
who call him “Doubting Thomas.”
- 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
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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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 to-
day 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 Verse 24. Jesus says, “confidence in wealth leads
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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 Verse 23 when He said: “Great is your reward in heaven.”
THE MOST DIFFICULT COMMAND GOD EVER GAVE US
“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 any more.” 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:
- You can inflict pain on them – hopefully it will never go that far and you can find
- 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 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
- 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.” Verse 27
- “Do good to those who hate you.” Verse 27
- “Bless those who curse you.” Verse 28
- “Pray for those who abuse you.” Verse 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.” Verse 29
- “If they take your shirt, give them your jacket too.” Verse 29
- “If a beggar comes to you, give him something.” Verse 30
- “If someone steals your money, do not demand it back.” Verse 30
Then Jesus gives Luke's version of the Golden Rule – Verse 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:
- 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.
- We are not to follow these directions to EARN salvation – but to DEMONSTRATE
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.
- It is impossible to obey these directives without the Power of the Holy Spirit.
How do we love our enemies? I have a few suggestions:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pray for Them.
As you pray for them, God may change them and He will surely change you.
- 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”
Our enemies humble us. They keep us on our knees. They reveal our weaknesses. They expose our total need for God.
- 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
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!
- The Meaning of the Golden Rule
You and I live on one of three levels:
- “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.
- “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!”
- “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!
- 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 Verse 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 an 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 fiance 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!
- 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?
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 faultfinders “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 form 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:
- 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
- I John 4:1: We are to judge between true teachers of the Word of God and those who are
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Criticism of others makes us feel that our own lives are better than the person who failed.
- 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.
- The Reasons Against Faultfinding
Only Luke and Matthew records 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
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
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
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 men; 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 now 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!
- 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. Verse 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
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 of 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.
- 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 Verse 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 lead 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.
- 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 hep 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 Verse 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 Verse 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 Verse 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 Verse 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.
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.
There He healed the nobleman's son, a demoniac in the synagogue, Peter's mother-in-law, and
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.
- 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
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
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!
- 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.”
- 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. Not 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 DIRIER OF ALL TEARS
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 Verse 11: “And it came to pass that day that Jesus went INTO the city.” Now notice Verse 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 lead 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 woman, 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:
- 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.
Verse 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.
- 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.
- 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
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:
- 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!
- The Quest of John the Baptist Luke 7:19-20
Don't overlook or gloss over Verse 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?”
- The Quieting of John the Baptist Luke 7:21-23
Jesus continued His healing which was fulfilling Messianic prophecies given in Isaiah. Note Verse 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
Look at Verses 29 and 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.
Verse 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:
- 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.
- 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?
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 in 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:
Four groups are mentioned.
- 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.
- Simon, a Pharisee
Pharisees were usually rich and considered themselves holier-than-thou kind of people.
- A women 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.
- The other guest, probably more Pharisees.
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 offend 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 brand new 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 brand new 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 any more. 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.
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 Verse 48 He says, “Oh, yes, lady. Your sins are forgiven.”
- 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!
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. When-
ever 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:
- A Hard Heart: No Reception so the Word is Stolen Luke 8:12
This person hears the Word, but it goes I 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.
- 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.
- 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
“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.
- 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
B. Hear the Word Aggressively
At this moment, some of you are aggressively listening, and others are only passively
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
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
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.
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.
- 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:
- Luke tells us that they landed in the country of “the Gadarenes,” which is over against
Galilee (Luke 8:26).
- 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 Verse 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.
- 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 Verse 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 any way 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.
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!
- 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
- 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!
- He wants to Prove His love to us.
If He doesn't calm the storm Around us, He will calm the storm Within us!
- 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!
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 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.
- 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.
- 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 Verse 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.
- 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 no where 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 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.
- 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?
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:
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 it's 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.
- 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!
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 every-
thing 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?
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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; 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 (Verse 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 were 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.
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; 5:14
– 2. “And the number of the disciples multiplied” – Acts 6:7; 9:31
When the Apostles preached, the Lord “Added.” When the disciples made disciples,
That is the key to church growth: making disciples.
C. The Partnership in Making Disciples Luke 9:1-5; 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,”
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
He simply did what Jesus taught and trained His disciples to do! Go back and look at
what Jesus did.
- 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.
- He Commissioned the Disciples
Jesus called all the disciples together to commission them and send them out together.
- 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 Verse 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 lightening storm. He was near the top of a tree, peeking
away, when lightening 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
round, 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.”
- 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).
- 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:
The Lord wanted to know if the disciples realized who He was (Luke 9:18-22).
Jesus IS “The Christ of God.”
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 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; 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
- 2 Peter 1:16 says, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Three things I want you to see from this passage.
- 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.
- 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?
- Encouragement: Both for the Lord and for the disciples.
When Jesus goes to the cross, His face will be covered with shame, spittal, 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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?
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
- The Lack of Spiritual Power Luke 9:37-40
Notice Verse 40 again, “I besought your disciples to cast him out, and they could not.”
Now notice Verse 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
Verse 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!
- 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.
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 your sorry when you hurt someone.
- 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.
- 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 Verse 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.
- 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 Verse 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 is 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.
- 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.”
- 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” (Verse 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 Verses 59 and 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 Verse 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!
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:
- God will judge individuals.
- 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 or 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.
- 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.
- 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
Verse 20, Jesus said their greatest rejoining 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
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?
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.
- The first question this lawyer asked Jesus (Verse 25), “What shall I do to inherit eternal
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
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!
- 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:
- 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
- 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. Am 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 suppose to see the hurting and get involved, but not us!
- 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:
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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.