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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Loud Time

Years ago, I heard David Powlison make the comment that we shouldn't have "quiet times," biblically speaking, we should have "loud times!"

That was extremely helpful to me (a noisy person), and now DP has made that argument in this post.   Read it and get loud with God!

Jack Brooks

One of the reasons I like to read EFCA Pastor Jack Brook's blogs is that he isn't afraid to be himself and to venture an opinion (that is an understatement).

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two"

“Jesus’ Followers Are Different: Part Two”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 29, 2009
Luke 6:27-36


Last week, we started to listen in on Jesus’ message to His disciples, often called the “The Sermon on the Plain.”

The Lord Jesus has hand picked 12 disciples to be His apostles, His authorized representatives, and has brought them down to a level place (6:17) and is preaching to them a message about what His disciples are to be and not to be.

We said last week that you could sum up the entire sermon in this phrase: “Jesus’ Followers Are Different.”

They act differently.
They believe differently.
They value things differently than others do.
They do different things.

Jesus’ followers belong to a different kingdom.  His kingdom.

And His kingdom is different from the kingdom of this world.

Jesus’ Followers Are Different.

They should be.
They must be.

Jesus demands that His followers be different.

We saw that last week in the 4 beatitudes and 4 woes that Jesus pronounced.

You are blessed if you suffer for Jesus.

But woe to you if you do not!

Now in verse 27, Jesus returns to describing what His followers are like.

And it’s very different from how the rest of the world operates.

Jesus’ Followers LOVE Differently.

At the top of my notes on this passage for preparing this sermon, I wrote this down, “More crazy teaching from Jesus!”

These are some of the strongest and hardest to apply words in the whole Bible.

Because Jesus demands that His followers LOVE differently than the rest of the world.

Now, remember who Jesus is talking to.  Who is Jesus talking to?

Verse 17 says that he is talking to His disciples and a great number of other listeners. But verse 20 says specifically that Jesus was looking at whom?  His disciples.

These are commands, demands, that Jesus puts on those who believe in Him and follow Him.

Jesus demands that His followers LOVE differently than the rest of the world.

Number one.  Jesus’ followers are different.

#1.  THEY LOVE LIKE THEIR ENEMIES ARE THEIR FRIENDS.  V.27 again.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Is that different from the rest of the world?
It sure is!

That doesn’t come naturally, I’ll tell you that!

Jesus’ Followers, by His own command, love their enemies.

Now, you might not think that you have many enemies.  I’m sure that most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as having enemies.

I don’t.  I don’t want to have any enemies!

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are my enemies!

An enemy is an opponent.

It’s someone who is against me.

An enemy is someone that I’m in some kind of relationship with who is NOT choosing to show love to me.

Are there people in your life that are choosing to NOT show love to you?

Those are your enemies whether you like it or not.

They are those on the other side of your conflict.
They are those who are sinning against you.
They are those whom you are unreconciled with right now.

An enemy is someone that I’m in some kind of relationship with who is NOT choosing to show love to me.

Some people may not be our enemies in any legal sense but at the moment they are acting like our enemies.

When I was working on this sermon this week, I had a fight with my wife.

It was at the lunch table, and I was complaining about Jesus’ difficult words here.  And she very graciously tried to help me understand what Jesus was saying.

But would I listen?

No, sir.

I was hot to convince her that these words here were really hard to understand.

And I began to oppose her at the table.  Enough that I almost drove her to tears in front of our kids.

I have apologized to her. And she has forgiven me.

And I am not her enemy.  But I was sure acting like it at that moment.

What should Heather have done with me who was being brutal to her at that moment?

Jesus says that she should love her enemy. And she did.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Jesus gives some examples of what htat might look like in verses 29 and 30.

“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

Now, these are very extreme examples of this kind of love for enemies.

If they insult you with a slap, don’t retaliate.  Be open to being hurt again.
If they steal from you?  Don’t seek revenge.  Be open to being hurt again.

Love your enemies.

A bunch of our adults have been studying forgiveness this Fall.  We just finished our class last week.

It’s been one of the best and the toughest adult classes we’ve had together in years.

We’ve learned that forgiveness, not being bitter, not seeking revenge, not getting ours back is one of the hardest kinds of love that there is.

Being generous is fairly easy unless it’s being generous our enemies.  That’s hard.

Because they don’t deserve it.  They don’t deserve it!

If someone steals from you or insults you or borrows and doesn’t repay, they don’t deserve more!  They don’t!

And Jesus doesn’t say that they deserve it.  He just says to give it.

Jesus’ followers love differently!

They love their enemies like they love their friends!

They are generous with them.

They love their enemies.

Now, if you are at all like me, you have a bunch of questions that all begin with, “But what about....”

Right?

What about self defense?
What about when someone is trying to take advantage of you?

What about when it wouldn’t be loving to let someone steal from you?
What about taking care of your family?

I have all of those questions for Jesus, too.

And here’s the answer.

Yes, there are lots of biblical qualifications that probably need to be brought in to balance these words out.

Biblical passage where cursing enemies is the right thing to do–like the impreccatory psalms of the Old Testament and the impreccatory prayers of Paul in the New.

Biblical passages that talk about wisdom with money and how to interact with foolish people especially the Proverbs.

A Biblical passages that would show that Jesus is not talking here about how a government should operate or even how parents to should treat their children.

There are a lot of passages in the Bible that rightly qualify Jesus’ statements here.

But the real question is whether these statements speak to our hearts...or not!

Why do we ask our “what about” questions?

Is it because we want wisdom and want to grow in love for our enemies?

Or is it, secretly, because we don’t really want to love our enemies at all?

And we only want to know what we have to do to get by Jesus?

That’s one of the key reasons why Jesus speaks so starkly here.

He wants us to expose us.  He wants us to wriggle under the spotlight of His gaze.

He wants us to see that we don’t naturally love our enemies and wants to expose the passive hate we have for those we’d rather disdain.

And He wants us to rise above that and begin to truly love those who are against us.

Do you love your enemies?

Remember what we learned about love last year?

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered...”

We memorized the whole thing, right?

Do you act that way towards your enemies?

Jesus’ Followers are Different.

Do you want to know if you are a follower of Christ?

Look no further than how you treat those who are against you.

Do you seek revenge?
Do you retaliate?
Do you grow bitter, hateful, spiteful?
Do you return evil for evil?

Or do you love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you?

Jesus’ Followers Love Like Their Enemies Are Their Friends.

#2.  THEY LOVE LIKE THEY WOULD WANT TO BE LOVED.  V.31

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

This is Jesus’ Golden Rule of Thumb.

Do you ever have trouble knowing how to love someone?

I often do.

I ask myself, “What does love do in this situation?”

Paul has a prayer for smart love in Philippians 1.  He says, “[I pray] that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best...”

Because it’s not always obvious.

But here is a very simple principle laid down by our Lord that gives us a rule of thumb to follow when we don’t know what to do.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Now, that sounds natural, but it isn’t.

We naturally love others like we feel like loving others.

This requires thought.
This requires thinking about what someone else would want.

It requires putting ourselves in their situation and feeling what we would feel if we were there.

And then it requires doing something unnatural–loving someone.

Very simple rule of thumb, golden!  But not necessarily easy to do.

Jesus’ Followers Love differently.

They even think about what their enemies would feel before they try to love them.

Do you see how different we are to be than the world?

Jesus presses that home in verses 31 through 34.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full [or perhaps ‘expecting to get a loan from them some day’].”

Christ followers are different from the world.

The world has a kind of love.
Families who love each other.
Friends who love each other.
People in the community who love those in the community who are helping them back.

But that’s not good enough for Jesus’ followers.

Jesus’s followers are different.

Are you different?

The rest of the world operates on a quid pro quo basis.

Quid pro quo is a Latin for: What for What. Or This for That.

It means “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

That’s, by and large, how the world loves.

But Jesus’ followers, by His demand, love differently.

We are to love without expecting others to repay that love.

And that means that we can love, even our enemies.  V.35

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

How?

How can Jesus’ disciples do this?

How can I do this?

It’s one thing for Heather to do it for me or me to do it for Heather in the moment–because we know that we’re really, in the long run, for each other.

But how do I do it to someone who has perpetually been against me?
I have often counseled people through divorces.

And I remind them, “Jesus says that you should love your enemy.  And that man you married or that woman you married and has now left you is acting like your enemy.  But you can still love them.  In fact, you have to.”

How can they do that?

How do Christ followers love differently?

#3.  THEY LOVE LIKE THEIR HEAVENLY FATHER LOVED THEM.  V.35 AGAIN.

“Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Here is the gospel.

Jesus is not saying that if you love your enemies, you will become a son of the Most High.  He’s saying that you will show yourself to be a son of the Most Hight because you will be taking on the family resemblance!

This is how God treated you!

God is merciful.  God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

God sent His son, not to this friends but to His what?

His enemies!

He wasn’t even our Father!

He became our Father by showing us His mercy in Christ.

God is the perfect example of love.

And His love empowers our love.

John said it this way, “We love because He first loved us.”

The good news is that we were unlovable, but that didn’t stop God!

We were ungrateful and wicked. 
We were rebels.
We were sinners.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s the greatest news in the world, and if you believe it, if you put your faith in Christ’s sacrificial death, then you are beloved of God and He is your Father!

And if He has loved you and me like that?  Then we can love anybody.

Anybody!

Anybody!!!

Even our worst enemies.

And when we do, we can expect reward.  Did you see that in verse 35?  It reminds us  of what we learned last week about how everything is going to change and it will all be worth it.

Will it be worth it to be cheated out of something because we belong to Jesus?
Will it be worth it to give to someone who won’t appreciate the gift?
Will it be worth it to be insulted and not to have gotten back at them?
Will it be worth it to be generous and never be personally repayed?

We will be repayed.  Just not by them!

V.35, “Then your reward will be great[!] And you will be sons of the Most High.”

Jesus’ followers love like their Heavenly Father loved them.

Is your love different?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One"

“Jesus’ Followers Are Different: Part One”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 22, 2009
Luke 6:12-26



Our series is titled, “Certain of Jesus” which was Luke’s purpose in compiling his history of the life, teaching, and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We’ve been at it about 9 weeks so far.  We have a long way to go!

Starting today, we are going to go into a sub-series within the Book of Luke that looks at Jesus’ teaching in an extended message often called the “Sermon on the Plain.”  This sermon, located in chapter 6 verses 17 through 45, is often compared with the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5 through 7.  In fact, it may be the same sermon being reported on by two different writers with different parts of it being brought out and emphasized.  I’m not sure.

I am sure that this is Jesus’ teaching, and that Luke has preserved it for us in this form to teach us some things that Jesus really really wanted us to know.

If I had to summarize the entire Sermon on the Plain, I would give it this title: “Jesus’ Followers Are Different.”  And so, that’s going to be the title of the next 3 or 4 messages, we’ll just divide it up into parts. Part One is going to be verses 12 through 26.

Jesus’ Followers Are Different.

They act differently.
They believe differently.
They value things differently than others do.

Jesus’ followers belong to a different kingdom.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll learn what Jesus’ followers are like–what Jesus requires from those who believe in Him and how it plays out in their life.

Jesus requires that His disciples be different from the rest of the world.

In verses 12 through 16, Jesus hand picks His apostles.

He has a bunch of disciples that are at varying levels of interest in following Him.

Now, He decides that it’s time to gather a core group around Him that will be endowed with special authority. They will become His authorized representatives–that’s really what “apostle” means–authorized representative.

And before He does that, the Son of God, what does He do first?

He prays.

He prays all night!  V.12

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”

10 to 12 hours of solid prayer because He had a very big decision to make.

Now, if the Son of God needs to pray like that for His decisions...

Let this reminds us how much more we need prayer when we have to make a decision!

And here was His choice: 12 very ordinary men.  All nobodies.  None of these guys had ever been apostles before.  They weren’t from the high levels of society–they were fishermen, tax-collectors, zealots (which means former revolutionaries), and so on.  Here are their names.  V.13

“When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter [The Rock]), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

We’ll learn more about Judas as the book goes on.

Now these men were ordinary, but the number of them was not.  How many were there?  12. Why?

Jesus is forming a new community, a new covenant people. And He’s signaling that by choosing 12 apostles like the 12 tribes of Israel.

And then He brings this group down to a level place and meets with and ministers to a bigger group of people–mostly disciples but also others.  V.17

“He went down with them and stood on a level place [The King James says, “The Plain.”]. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?  What it must have been like to be with Jesus at that time!

It’s from this place, this plain, this level place that Jesus brings His message.

And it’s directed at His disciples.  A disciple is a follower, a learner, someone who is becoming like His teacher.  A disciple is a follower.

And verse 20 says that Jesus specifically looked at His disciples and gave them this teaching.  I never noticed that detail before, but I think it’s important.  This sermon is about what Jesus’ followers/disciples are really like.  Jesus’ followers are different.

And it contrasts that with what Jesus’ followers are NOT like.  What they are different from.

Jesus begins His message with 4 beatitudes and 4 woes.  And they directly contrast with one another.

A beatitude is a blessings statement.  It says who is blessed and why.  Who has God’s blessing and why.

And Jesus has 4 that He says here.  V.20

“Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. [That’s one.]  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. [Two.]  Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. [Three.]  Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. [That’s Four.]  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Then, Jesus has 4 woes that He utters.  Notice how they correspond to each blessing:

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. [Rich vs. Poor] Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. [Well fed vs. Hungry]  Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. [Laughing vs. Weeping]  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets [Being spoken well of vs. being hated.].”  Do you see the correspondence?

This are some of the strangest words in the Bible.

Jesus turns everything we think we know upside down and backwards.

Jesus’ Followers Are Different

#1.  JESUS’ FOLLOWERS KNOW THAT THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM.

It has to be that way if we accept Jesus’ teaching here.

I mean, who would call the poor, blessed?

Who would call the hungry, blessed?

Who would call the weeping, happy?

Who would call the hated, loved by God?

It sounds so wrong!

I almost called this sermon, “Jesus Counts Our Blessings...Very Strangely.”

I thought it went with the Thanksgiving theme.

I would have guessed that those who have money are blessed.
Those who have a big Thanksgiving Dinner planned for Thursday are blessed!
Those whose life is a continual party are blessed.
Those who are popular are blessed.

But Jesus says the opposite.

Who are His woes for?

The rich, the well-fed, the well-entertained, and the popular.

Woe to them. [Careful that it’s not woe to us.]

Things must not be like they seem.

Do you need to hear that this morning?

Are you tempted to be jealous of the world and the things that come with the world?

Riches, delicacies, godless entertainment, popularity?

It seems, sometimes, like the wicked get away with everything.

And like Jesus’ own followers just suffer for it and get nothing.

But that’s just how it seems.  It’s not the way it really is.

Jesus gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what is really going on.

The poor are blessed. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The hungry are blessed.  They will be satisfied.
The weeping are blessed, they will laugh.
The hated are blessed. They will have great reward in heaven.

That’s the way it really is.

Things are not always as they seem.

And it’s true for you, too.  Does it seem like nothing ever goes your way?

Does it seem like you’re following Jesus, and yet you’re getting pounded for it?

Does it seem like it’s not worth it to follow Jesus?

Things are not always as they seem.

Watch out for teachers on television that tell you that Jesus’ followers are always experiencing blessing in this life.  Health, wealth, prosperity.

That’s not what Jesus says we can expect.

He says that we can expect trouble. Lots of it.

But that trouble is not all that there is.  Behind the scenes, there is blessing.

Now, why do I say, “following Jesus?”

I think that all 4 of these beatitudes are descriptions of what it means to follow Jesus.

This is a description of a disciple, at least what a disciple can expect.

V.20, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

It doesn’t say, “Poor in spirit” like it does in Matthew, but I think it’s pointing there.

The poor are those who have nothing to lean on.

They know that they are needy.

And often, those who are poor financially have a better sense that they are poor spiritually.  Poverty itself isn’t a blessing, but those who use it depend upon God get a blessing.  They know that they are needy for God.

V.21, “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.”  Again, I see a spiritual hunger here, but also a physical one.

Someone who has tasted true hunger knows that they are dependent creatures. Dependent on their next meal for life.

And someone who knows that knows that God is satisfying.

V.21 again, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

This is not calling for perpetual gloom in Jesus’ disciples!  What did we learn last week?  Jesus brings real joy!  He the Bridegroom. He is new wine!

But this is weeping over sin, over suffering, over evil in the world–even evil in our own hearts.  There is blessing in this kind of mourning.

V.22, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil [this is important] because of the Son of Man.”

Notice why these bad things happen.  Because of Jesus.  Because of a disciple’s relationship with Jesus Christ they are persecuted.

And that seems bad.  (And it is.)

But there is more going on here than it seems.  It is also good.  V.23

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”  You are in good company.

Things are not always as they seem.

There is blessing hidden in these sufferings–for Christ.

I think that all four of these are sufferings for Christ.

Poor because of following Jesus.
Hungry because of following Jesus.
Weeping in Jesus’ name.
Hated because of a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

The opposite is also true.

It seems like being rich is where it’s at.  But verse 24, “Woe.”

It seems like being well fed is terrific!  But verse 25.  “Woe to you...”

It seems like laughing away the day is great–but if that laughing is divorced from Jesus–if it is the laughing of the world, verse 25, “Woe to you...”

I seems like I would want people to like me.  But if they like me for all the wrong reasons (v.26), “Woe to you.”  That’s how they treated the false prophets.

Things are not always what they seem.

Why? Because things are not going to stay this way forever.

Jesus’ Followers Are Different.

#2.  JESUS’ FOLLOWERS KNOW THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE.

They are not going to stay the same.

That’s what Jesus is saying here.

The suffering for His name will only last for a time.  And then the blessing will come in.

And the opposite is true.  The worldly pleasure will only last for a time and then the woes will come crashing down.

Things are going to change–drastically!

If you are poor, then you have the kingdom of God.  Now.  But not like it’s going to be!

If you are poor in Jesus’ name now, you will be amazed at the Kingdom that you will inherit then.

On the other side, if you are rich towards the world now and not toward God, you have gotten everything good that’s coming to you.  Enjoy it while you can.

If you are hungry for Jesus’ sake now, you will be satisfied.  I love that word!

But if you are well-fed for the world’s sake now, hell will be a place of hunger.

If you are weeping over sin for Jesus’ sake now, then you will have the fullness of the Bridegroom’s joy!  V.21, “you will laugh!”

But if you are laughing now, then you will mourn and weep.

When I was youth pastor, my youth group was very into basketball–it was the Michael Jordan years in Chicago. And they were enamored with Dennis Rodman. Remember him?

I used to pray for him every week in youth Sunday School.  And I would pray these verses for him.  I was concerned for him. I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.  He seemed to have everything–and laugh at the world!  But what was coming for him?

You could do that with just about any group of celebrities today.

Our young people would love to change places with Kristen Stewart or Robert Patterson or Taylor Swift or whomever.  But woe to them if they have it good now but they are outside of Jesus!

Things are going to change.

If you are hated now because you belong to Jesus.  Are you?

Do you get any flack for being a Christ-follower?  Big or small?

If you are hated for belonging to Jesus, rejoice!  Because great is your reward in Heaven!  (V.23)

Last week was the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

Just yesterday, I saw a video of a group of Vietnamese Christians that were being raided in their worship service by the police.

Their things taken. Their leaders being arrested and banned from meeting with them.

Jesus says, “Jump for joy!”

It’s not going to be that way forever.

Things are going to change.

But if everyone speaks well of you (v.26), then watch out.

If no one gives you trouble because you belong to Jesus, then maybe you don’t belong to Jesus.

Jesus’ followers are different.

And they know that things are going to change.

And change, catch this, for the BETTER.


#3.  JESUS’ FOLLOWERS KNOW THAT THINGS SUFFERED FOR HIS SAKE WILL BE WORTH IT!

Listen to these words.  “Yours is the kingdom of God.” It belongs to you!

“You will be satisfied!”

“You will laugh!”

“Great is your reward in heaven!”

Doesn’t that sound awesome?!

It’s worth it, friends.  It’s worth it!

It’s worth being poor. I know that we’re not poor in this room by world standards.

But we can be generous now and live simple war-time lifestyle lives now because it will be worth it then!

I know that we’re not hungry now by world standards in this room.

But we can fast now with a hunger for God!  It will be worth it then!

We can weep now over sin, suffering, sickness, loss, pain because we belong to Jesus.

It will be worth it all!

We can be hated.  We can be excluded. We can insulted.

We don’t have to call in the lawyers when those things happen.

“I demand my rights!”  No.

We can leap for joy when that happens. Because it will be worth it when we get to heaven.

Christian, have you been thinking about chucking the whole thing?

Maybe you wouldn’t say it that way, but maybe you’ve been thinking about just drifting off away from church, away from righteousness, away from Christ.

It seems too hard.

Don’t do it.  It’s worth it to continue!


Lean into the wind!

It’s worth it!  He’s worth it!

Maybe you aren’t a Christian yet.

Maybe you aren’t yet a follower of Jesus.  I understand.  The world seems much more exciting sometimes.

But it’s going to change.  And for those outside of Jesus, it will not change for the better.

“You have already received your comfort.”
“You will go hungry.”
“You will mourn and weep.”
You will have no reward in heaven.

Woe.

“Consider the vanishing nature of wealth, food, entertainment and popularity” [Mark Dever, “Jesus’ Claims” - Luke 6, April 8, 2007].

Repent now while you still can.

Because everything is going to change when Jesus brings His kingdom in full.

Do you see how different we have to be?

Christians are going to look different, talk different, value different things, and undergo suffering for being different.

Are you ready to suffer for Jesus?  Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?

Are you happy to suffer for Jesus?  “Blessed are you.”

He promises that it will all be worth it.  Let’s trust Him and His faithfulness and follow Him.
Messages So Far in Certain of Jesus:
Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Robin's Joke Book #1

Robin is getting into the act now, too.

Q.  What did the train say when he had to put on his sneakers?

A.  Shoe-Shoe! 

Get it?!

Peter's Joke Book #2

Q.  What is a Steeler's favorite thing to do?

A.  Steal things!

[No offense intended to the Pittsburgh team!  Peter is actually a fan.]

Calvin's Institutes


Finished.

I just completed reading John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, which was 1521 pages in English. Whew!

I read about 6-10 pages almost each day this year, and made it through the whole thing.

It was well worth reading. Calvin was a brilliant man, a real gift to the church.  He had his blind spots but he also could see incredibly clearly in other areas. I'm thankful that I read it.

My buddy Dan Ledford and I have been keeping each other accountable for reading the whole thing, and I've profited from reading the short companion expositions of it on this site.  Dan and I have been disgusted with ourselves that we call ourselves pastors and have never read it. Well, now that's changed!

I think my biggest disappointment was Calvin's intemperate use of language.  I know that he lived in a different era, when the pen needed to be a mighty sword, but he seems to fight almost the same with his close brethren as with his biggest enemies--with sarcasm.  I believe there is a place for that (Jesus showed us this, as did Paul), but I can't help but think that he crossed some lines that I couldn't and wished that he wouldn't.  (For example, though he married the widow of an anabaptist, he can't find a good thing to say about those of us who believe in believer's baptism.)

My biggest surprise was how little of his writing was devoted to election/predestination and how much of it was devoted to prayer.  Check out the proportions in his Institutes, and you'll be surprised, too.  Good for him!  (I happen to think he's right on election, too, but I applaud his biblical balance.)

My biggest take-away was awe of someone who had mastered so much Bible and been mastered by the Bible.  Calvin has texts for everything he believes.  Not just a text, and not just a proof text. This man knew his Bible, and it thoroughly shaped his thinking.  Oh, to be a man so steeped in Bible! Calvin has a reputation of being a theologian, but he was clearly an exegete first and foremost and then a systematician.

Several conferences have been devoted to Calvin this year.  He just had his 500th birthday.  I listened to all of the talks of this one at Desiring God.  Good stuff--and not just focused on Calvin--but on His great big, awesome, glorious, magnificent, majestic, joy-giving, all wonderful God and His Son Jesus Christ. As Calvin says in the last sentence of his big book, "God Be Praised!"


Friday, November 20, 2009

Preacher: Be Yourself


It took me some time to find my own preacher's voice (and I sometimes still try to be someone else).

Responding to 2012

My pastor friend, Jeff Wilson, has created a website that interacts with the popular notions about the end of the world in the new movie: 2012.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lamppost - RIP


OBITUARY FOR MR. LANCE M. (LAMPY) POST.

Mr. Lance M. Post, know to friends and family as “Lampy”, passed away on October 9, 2009. He was approximately ten years old. A resident of Lanse, PA, Mr. Post was pronounced DOA after a tragic hit-and-run accident at his home.

Mr. Post was manufactured March 17, 1994 in East Brusnwick, NJ, and emigrated with other members of his family to Lanse, PA in 1999. He was the son of Lester and Latitia Post, of Edison, NJ, and a graduate of Thomas A. Edison High School in Edison, NJ. Later he attended Underwriter’s Laboratory in Red Bank, NJ, where he received an Associates Degree in Illumination. Following graduation from UL, Mr. Post enlisted to serve in the Driveway Guard, where he served until his recent demise. He was awarded honors on numerous occasions for distinguished conduct and bravery, including the Purple Filament for injuries received in the line of duty. Those who served with him said he really had mettle.

Although unknown to all but his closest friends, Mr. Post was musically gifted, and could be heard on many a dark and stormy night, humming quietly to himself– “You Light Up My Life”. He was loved by many, and will be fondly remembered as a light in the community, and a cheerful sight on many a snowy, winter night. Many claim he bore a remarkable resemblance to the well-known Lewis Post from Chronicles of Narnia movie fame, and was frequently mistaken for the celebrity by strangers. Also known for his electrifying wit, Mr. Post’s brilliant sense of humor undoubtedly helped him to endure many a long, lonely night on duty.

Mr. Post was preceded in death by a brother, Lemuel Post, who also served in the Driveway Guard in Lanse. He is survived by a sister, Lampetta.

A candle-light vigil will be held November 25th at the site of his accident, and a memorial service is scheduled for November 26th, 2009 at Bulb and Socket Funeral Home in Clearfield, PA at 4pm. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established for Orphan Bulbs International. Mr. Post will be interred at the Clearfield County Scrap Metal and Recycling Facility.



[This post written by Jeff Schiefer as a tribute the lamppost in our front yard that had been hit many times and finally went the way of all posts last month.  Jeff is a graphic artist with a fertile imagination and too much time on his hands...]


Monday, November 16, 2009

Scripture Is Clear


What a glorious doctrine!

The newest issue of Themelios is out, and it's a wonderful resource.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest"

“Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 15, 2009
Luke 5:33-6:11

Last week, we left Jesus in the middle of a party.
Do you remember who threw the party for Jesus?

It was Levi, the tax collector, who had become a follower of Jesus and wanted his slimy tax-collecting buddies to know Jesus, too.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law weren’t impressed with the crowd at this party–they were “sinners.”  Ewww.

But Jesus said that He came as a doctor...for the sin-sick, not the self-righteous.

We left off with that in chapter 5, verse 32.

Now, in verse 33, it appears that we’re still at that same party and the Pharisees are asking a new question.

They are still not impressed with Jesus.  And here’s how it comes out.  V.33

“They said to him, ‘John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.’”


Do you see where this is going?

They bring up John. Which John is that? John the Baptist.

John’s baptism was a baptism of what?  Repentance.

John’s job was to help people to understand their sin and their need for the coming Savior.

He did a lot of fasting.  And so did his followers.  It was perfectly right for him to do so.

And the Pharisees fasted, too.  Now, their fasting wasn’t necessarily good.  I’m sure that a lot of their fasting was trying to earn God’s favor by being rigid and self-disciplined.  That’s not repentance, that’s works-righteousness.

But both fasted.

And fasting is a...what?  Good or bad thing?  Well, it depends.

It be a very good thing. There are several fasts prescribed by the Old Testament Law.  And when done with a right heart, fasting from food (or even other things) can express a heart that longs for God.

John Piper’s book on fasting has this great title, “A Hunger for God.”

Fasting, when done with the right motives, can be a great way to enhance our prayers.

Did Jesus ever fast?

Of course He did.  He did in the last chapter! Chapter 4.  In the desert.  And He was very hungry, remember?

But, public fasting has not characterized Jesus’ ministry so far.  And his disciples aren’t known for their fasting.  In fact, they seem to like parties.

Remember where they just were, if not still are?!  Levi’s party.

Everywhere Jesus goes, people are having a good time.

And the Pharisees are not impressed.  There is an implied criticism here, a rebuke...“yours go on eating and drinking.”

How do you think Jesus should respond to this? 

Should He tell them, “Lighten up?”

“You guys are just sour-pusses!”

Jesus misses no opportunity to engage people in thinking about Who He Really Is.

And this is another opportunity.

He uses another name for Himself to make them think.

He calls Himself the “Bridegroom.”  V.34

“Jesus answered, ‘Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.’”

He turns their criticism on its head.

He says, “Have you ever been to a wedding?” 

How do people act at weddings when the groom is around?  In the Middle Eastern culture, the arrival of the bridegroom was one the climaxes of the event.  And wherever the groom is, there is joy and feasting!

Does everybody fast during a wedding or do they feast?!

Why?

Because the presence of the happy bridegroom brings real joy.

#1.  THE JOY OF THE BRIDEGROOM’S PRESENCE.

And Who is the Bridegroom here?

Jesus is.

Jesus brings real joy.

Pharisees, do you want to know why we don’t fast much?

Because I’m here.

That’s an audacious claim, isn’t it?

What if anyone other than Jesus said that?  “I’m the party!  It’s all about me. Where I go people become happy!  Get into the Me-Spirit!  Joy in Me!”

If anyone other than Jesus said that, we’d gag.

But it’s real when Jesus says it. Because Jesus brings real joy.

Do you know the joy of Jesus?

I have Heather Joy and Robin Joy. And they are great joys.

But nothing is as good as Jesus Joy.

So, should you and I fast today?

I mean, we Jesus Joy, if we are His followers?

Is fasting appropriate for you and me now that Jesus has come?

Well, no and yes, right?

Jesus has come.  And we have His real joy.

But Jesus has gone away for awhile, and so it’s appropriate right now to fast.  V.35 again.
“But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

Now, that could mean the days between Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection, but that was only 3 days.

And right now Jesus is not present like He will be one day soon.

Right now, while we wait for the fullness of Jesus’ joy to be given us, it is still appropriate for us to occasionally fast.  And I commend the practice of fasting to you as a way to enhance your prayers while we wait for Jesus’ return.

But the point here in Luke 5 is that where Jesus is, there is real joy.

Jesus Brings Real Joy.

This joy is something new.  Look at verse 36.

“He told them this parable: ‘No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.  And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'’”

Now, that sounds good, but it’s really confusing.

I wrote down in my notes this week as I was studying this, “This sounds good, but I don’t know what it means.”

There is a contrast going on here between the old and the new.  Right? That’s obviou, right?

What is the new in this parable?  Jesus is the new.

New joy.  Wine is often a symbol of joy in the Bible.

Jesus brings newness. 

What do you think is the old?

Well, it seems to be the old forms of the Old Covenant.  And also those who cling to those old forms and the traditions of man that have grown up around those old forms.

So, not so much God’s Old Testament Word Promise as the Old Testament system and the Pharisee’s accretions that have grown up around those forms.

We’ll see an example of that in just a minute.

Now which is better in this, the old or the new?

Well, Jesus is the new, so He’s got to be better, right?  Right.

V.36 again.

“He told them this parable: ‘No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

Jesus is a using a funny story here.  Imagine having an old pair of jeans that have a big old hole in the knee.  Do you go to your closet, get out a new pair of jeans, cut out the knee and sew it on to the old ones?

No, duh!

The new is better.  Out with the old.

The same story with the wineskins.

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”

The new is better.  Out with the old.

Now, this is not saying that new is always better.

But when Jesus is the new, He’s always better!

Because Jesus brings real joy.

Now, here’s where I got lost this week.  V.39

“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'’”

Is the old better?

No.  Jesus is saying that some people don’t get a taste for the new wine, the new joy of Jesus.

Some people, the Pharisees (?), the teachers of the law (?), unbelievers (?), prefer the old covenant, the additions to the old covenant, the old way of doing things, the old instead of the new.

And that’s scary.

Some people would rather fast even if Jesus is around than find their joy in Jesus.

Why?

Because they would have to recognize that He is the Real Bridegroom.

And the real joy is found in Him alone.

We have to choose.

We have to choose to find our joy in Jesus.

So, which will it be?  Going through life acting like it’s a funeral?

Or going through life acting like it’s a wedding–or at least the lead-up to a wedding?

Yes, the Bridegroom is not here right now.

But He has left His Spirit with us and by that Spirit promised to be with us always even to the End of the Age.

So, every day, we can find our joy in Jesus.

Tom Wertz died this week.  He went home to be with the Bridegroom.  He is experiencing Jesus’ joy in full right now.

“Welcome home, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.”

As I was thinking about Tom and preparing for his memorial service, I remember how much joy Tom had in Jesus.

It was a quiet joy.  It wasn’t loud and flashy and ostentatious.

But it was real joy.  Joy in Jesus.

Are choosing to find your joy in Jesus?

We all are prone to run to other things to give us joy.

We are all prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.

To say, “The old wine is better.”

No!  Nothing is better than Jesus.  Jesus brings real joy.

And real rest.

In chapter 6, Jesus lives out an example of this new wine principle.

The old wine, the old garment, included an old way of thinking about the Sabbath Rest.  V.1

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’” Now, stop there for a second.

What’s going on here?

Are Jesus and his disciples stealing?  No.

It was legal in that time if you are passing through a grainfield, to catch a bite to eat. They didn’t have McDonald’s drive-throughs, and this was a legal way of eating while traveling.

So, why are the Pharisees in a dither?

It’s because they are doing work on the Sabbath!

What work?

They are harvesting grain.

Is that ridiculous, or what?

The Sabbath was a big deal.  Whose idea was the Sabbath?

It’s God’s idea, right?

A day of rest for the people of God!

God says, “You must rest.  Trust me.  I’ll take care of you.  Don’t work.  Take a break.”  It’s really an amazing command.

But over the years, the people had tried to protect that commandment by defining what was and what wasn’t work.

And then shaming people if they broke the definitions.

All of a sudden, keeping the Sabbath was a lot of work!

Not working was a lot of work!

How whacked is that?!

Now, Jesus could have just said that, right?

In other places He does say that.  He says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

But, catch this, that’s not exactly where He goes here.  Here He goes (again, surprise surprise!) right to His identity.  V.3

“Jesus answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?   He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.’  Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’”

#2.  THE REST OF THE LORD OF REST.

Now, let’s try to understand Jesus’ argument.

He reminds them of a story from 1 Samuel 21.  The Uth Boys have been studying King David and His Mighty Men on Wednesday nights. We just recently read this story in our class.

David is on the run from Saul, and he ends up at the tabernacle, and he and his bunch are hungry.

There is bread there.  Very special bread.  Bread that, legally, on the priests should eat.

But King David eats it and shares it with his companions and it’s not sin.

Why?  Because he’s the king?  Yes, and also because of their need.

The needs of compassion outway the letter of the law here.

There is a greater law that supersedes–the law of love.

Now, are Jesus and his disciples eating the sacred bread?

No.  It’s just heads of grain.  So it’s an argument from greater to lesser.

At least in terms of bread.

But, catch this, it’s an argument from lesser to greater in terms of Persons!

David was Lord of Israel.

But Jesus is saying that He is the Lord of the Sabbath!

That is an even more audacious claim than being the Bridegroom!

He is saying that Sabbath is His to command.

He will say what is right to do on that day and what is wrong!

He will define what is true rest!

Jesus brings real rest.

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

And then He goes on to prove it.  V.6

“On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled [probably paralyzed. The King James says, “withered.”]  The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.”

There is irony, isn’t there?

They want to catch Jesus doing something wrong–like healing somebody!  Ooh, how bad can you get?

That’s not what the Day of Rest is for!

We want our Old Wine!  Old Wine!  Old Wine! 

Fingers in their ears.  V.8

“But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’”

Do you care about people at all?

What is this day of rest for if not for compassion and goodness?

“He looked around at them all [can you imagine the look on his face, anger and compassion mingled perfectly together?], and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored.”

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath Rest.

Jesus brings real rest.

That’s the new wine.

It’s the best of the old wine–its true intent.

And it’s something new altogether.

It’s real rest.  Because it comes with Jesus.

The point of this passage is who Jesus really is.

And the answer is. Jesus is Lord.

He calls the shots.  He is the King.

What He says, goes.

And think about what that means for real rest.

It means that real rest means true sanity.

No more upside down interpretations of the law.
No more the law being used against people.

No more of the law being a club to bludgeon people with.

But instead the law is restored to its original intent–to bless people!

Because He is Lord of that law.

Real rest means compassion.

It means that if we really enjoy the Rest of God, we will reach out to those in need and do good, save lives, do justice, have compassion on people.

That’s what the Lord of Rest does with His rest.

Are you finding your rest in the Lord of Rest?

The Pharisees had turned rest into striving.

Jesus restores rest to its original intent.

Jesus brings real rest.

Are you finding your rest in Him?

This isn’t the place to get into the debate about the Sabbath and whether or not it continues.  Some say yes in the Lord’s Day.  Other say, No.

I don’t think it does continue as a commanded day in the New Covenant.

You know why?

Because I believe that now the Sabbath is Person, not just a Day!

The Lord of Rest Is Rest Himself.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with the old wine, with the dour face, with the sad fasting, with the old garment], and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus brings real rest.

But it was not free and easy.

Look at verse 11.

“But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

Jesus just healed someone, and they want to kill Him!

And they will succeed.

The plot begins now. Jesus has begun to make enemies.

And the old wine will win (for a time).

The old garment will rip up the new garment.

The guests of the bridegroom will fast while he is taken away from them.

That rest will come at a great price. The price of the Cross.

Why did they want to kill Him?

Because of Who He is.

Because He is the Bridegroom.
Because He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

And they would rather have the old wine.  “The old is better.”

What do you choose?

Do you choose to find your joy in Jesus?
Do you choose to find your rest in Jesus?

We are prone to look everywhere else for true rest.

Television, the internet, magazines, exercise, sports, leisure–everywhere but Jesus.

This last week, I finished that paper I was telling you about.

My information addiction.  I called it, “Need to Know.”

I’m prone to look to blogs, check my email a million times a day, check my account balances–any piece of information to throw a bone to my restless heart.

But I’m learning to find my rest in Jesus.

Jesus is the Lord of Rest.

And all true rest is in Him.

Jesus Brings Real Joy and Real Rest.


Messages So Far in Certain of Jesus:
Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hallelujah!

I got to put my papers in the mail today!

I finished the last of 9 yesterday.

Praise the Lord!

Thank you for praying.

Now, it's time for celebrating and life after papers!

I'm not even going to think about the next steps towards the degree...


Monday, November 09, 2009

Give Me a Lever Big Enough



My kids and I picking up a car at COSI.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Sinners"

“Jesus and the Sinners”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 8, 2009
Luke 5:1-32

We’re in the Gospel of Luke together, and we’re learning about Jesus so that we can be certain about Jesus.

Last week, at the beginning of His public ministry, we learned that Jesus is good news for needy people.

Jesus went all around the region of Galilee preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and doing many miracles to show that it had begun in Him.

And there were wildly different reactions to Him, weren’t there?

What did they think of Him in His hometown of Nazareth?

They tried to drive Him out of town and kill Him!

What about in Capernaum?  There, they didn’t want to let Him go!

Remember how old Simeon had said that Jesus would divide people?  The rising and falling of many people in Israel?  That division has begun.  And it’s just going to get deeper.

Jesus has come on the scene and proclaimed that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61.

He said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.’

Jesus claimed to be good news for needy people.

Well, in chapter 5, we see even more of this.

We get a sense of what kind of people gather to Jesus.

And they are very needy people.

In Luke 5, there are four stories about people who come into contact with Jesus and then He changes their lives forever.

And there is one theme that runs through these four stories.  It’s the theme of sin.

Over and over again, Jesus interacts with sinners. “Jesus and the Sinners.”

Now, you and I know that we are all sinners.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

So, this chapter is all about us.  It’s about our sin.

But we don’t always think about ourselves in that way, do we?

Sometimes, we use the word “sinners” to refer to notorious sinners–the bad guys that do really bad things.  The folks who don’t even try to pretend that they are good.

Sometimes, that’s the way the word is used in the Gospel of Luke.  To describe “nogoodniks.”  People known for their bad deeds–sinners, yuck.

How do you think Jesus feels about sinners?  How do you think Jesus interacts with sinners?

This chapter begins to answer that question for us. And it’s good news for people like and you me.

The first story takes place by the lake.  Verse 1.

“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, [another name for the Sea of Galilee] with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.  He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

Do you get the picture?

There is a big crowd, and Jesus is pressed.  So he jumps into a boat and makes it his floating pulpit.  His voice can carry over the water, more people can see Him, and He isn’t crushed by the crowd.

Notice who the boat belongs to.  Simon (who Jesus will eventually re-name Peter).  This is the One whose mother-in-law Jesus has healed.

Professional fishermen were not at the top of society. They were stinky and smelly, they worked at night, they smelled like fish.

They were strong, had to be good businessmen, but they weren’t much liked.

But Jesus obviously liked them.  He hung around a lot of them–especially this Simon guy.  And He decides to do Him a favor.  V.4

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’  Simon answered, ‘Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

Sounds pretty reluctant, doesn’t he?

Well, it stands to reason.

They had worked all night.  How many here have worked all night?

Night is the best time for catching fish on the Lake of Gennesaret.

And how much have they caught.  Nada, right?

Well, how does Peter feel? He feels wiped out!  He feels exhausted.  He’s tired.  He wants to go home to bed.

He’s happy to let the Master do His teaching thing, but He’s probably all whipped sitting there listening to Him.

But, okay, Jesus, if you say so, I will...even though you’re a carpenter by trade, and I’m a fisherman by trade...if you say so, I will.

And, to his credit, he does.  V.6

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

These boats could be 25-27 feet long and 7 feet wide!

There’s several tons of fish being hauled into these boats.

There’s fins and flippers flying everywhere!  It’s a miracle!  V.8

“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

Isn’t it interesting how Simon responded to this miracle?

He didn’t say, “Oh, Jesus!  Thank you for the fish.  You’ve made my business day!”

He didn’t say, “This is so cool.  You are so cool, Lord!”

He said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”

#1.  JESUS’ POWER REVEALS OUR SIN.

Jesus hadn’t said a word about Peter’s sin.  Peter brings it up.

When you come into contact with the raw power of God, it makes you aware that you are a sinner.

That’s what happened to Isaiah in Isaiah 6, isn’t it?

Peter had been fishing all of his life, and he’d never seen anything like this.

He knew that God was doing something unique in Jesus, and it scared him.  It scared him because holy power reveals sinful hearts.

Jesus’ power reveals our sin.

And that scared Peter.

How did Jesus react to this fear?

V.10 says that he told him to not be afraid.

You see, Jesus IS holy, and that should scare sinners. But that’s not ALL He is.  He’s also...a lot of other things we’re going to see as we move on.

And instead of heading off or sending Peter away, He calls Peter to Himself and gives Him a mission.

Fully Follow Him, Catch Men

“From now on you will catch men.”  You guys are going to be a new kind of fishermen.  You are going to fish for men.

And you’ll catch them alive, too.

These men (v.11 says) left everything and followed Him.

They made a decisive break with their old lives and began to follow Jesus.

And they began to cast their nets for people to follow Him, too.

Question:  Have you left everything and begun to follow Jesus?

Are you on the lookout for people to need to be caught?

I’m thankful that the Gideons are with us today.  They have a historic track record of following the Lord and fishing for men.

But we can’t leave it up to the Gideons.

This is a call for all of us: Fully Follow Him; Catch Men.

What are you doing right now to attract others to Jesus?

How are you sharing the gospel or building a relationship with someone to share the gospel?

“From now on you will catch men...[they] left everything and followed Him.”

Now, in story #2 (verses 12-16), Jesus doesn’t actually interact with sin as much as with a picture of sin.

He heals a man who has a skin disease, one of many that go under the name of leprosy.  And leprosy, in the Bible, was not sin itself but it was a picture of sin and what sin does. 

If someone was a leper, they were un–what? Unclean.

And they even had to shout that everywhere they went.  Because uncleanness separated people.  The clean and the unclean.

And being unclean is a picture of sin.  Leprosy itself wasn’t sin but it was a picture of sin and it’s ugliness and how it divides people.  V.12

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.  [This man is very needy, isn’t he?]  When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’”

Notice this man’s bold faith.  He actually comes near to Jesus.  Near enough to fall before Him on the ground. The whole way up, he would have had to be yelling out, “Unclean!  Unclean!  Unclean!”

But now he begs, “‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

And here’s where it gets amazing.  V.13

“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man [You’re not supposed to do that!]. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.  Then Jesus ordered him, ‘Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’  Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

This is amazing.

Jesus touched a leper.  And instead of Jesus becoming unclean–which is how it is when anyone else touched a leper–the leper became clean!

#2.  JESUS’ TOUCH CLEANSES OUR SIN.

It really happened.  Jesus sent the man to go get it verified by the priest.  He wanted him to do it quietly so that no extra trouble got stirred up and so that His identity would more slowly become known. But you could hardly stop the good news from traveling.  That’s crowds came more and more and Jesus had to carve out time to go to lonely places and pray.

It really happened!  This man, who may not have felt someone touch him for a very long time (was he a Daddy?  A husband?)–was touched by Jesus and completely cleansed.

This is a picture of what Jesus does with our sin.

We are all sinners, tainted, tarred, painted with wicked rebellion–unclean.

But Jesus, because of what He did on the Cross, has power to touch our lives and cleanse us.

Application:  Boldly Believe In Him, Be Cleansed.

This unclean man believed that Jesus could heal him and make him clean again.

And He was.

I know a lot of people who believe that they are not worthy of Jesus’ cleansing.

“I don’t feel worthy.”
“I don’t deserve it.”

You know what?  You’re right!  But don’t let that keep you from seeking it.

Call out for cleansing–and He will touch you.

And that’s true for those who have fallen into patterns of sin after becoming a Christ-follower.

Call out for cleasning–and He will touch you.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Boldly Believe In Him, Be Cleansed.

The third story in this chapter features another healing and a confrontation over forgiveness.  V.17

“One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. [Whoa!  Now Jesus has a real audience!]  And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. [Things are happening!]  Some men came carrying a paralytic [a man who is paralyzed] on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”

Interesting!  There is standing room only, and here are some very determined men. They can’t get in the front door, so they head up onto the roof–dismantle the roof (which might have been a big job!) and then lowered their friend down the roof on his mat.

Right in front of Jesus.

Do you get the picture?

Jesus.  Power.  Cleansing Power.

The Pharisees–the chief teachers of the law, the Jewish Religious Leadership.

A big crowd.

Some loving friends.

A hurting man.

What is Jesus going to do?

What is this story about?  Is it about healing?  Only partially.

It’s actually about Who is Jesus and how does He interact with sinners.  V.20

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”

Huh?  Did you think that he was going to heal him?

Instead, He forgave him.

Well, the resident theologians get their knickers in a twist over this one.  V.21

“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”

And they have a point.

I mean, if I sin against Ernie back there.  Let’s say, I stole his car.

Would it be okay for Jen Kerlin down here to forgive me for that?

Have I sinned against her?  No.

I’ve sinned against Ernie.

But all sins are fundamentally against God.  So, if someone comes around handing out forgiveness to people–He’s claiming to be especially related to God!

“Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”

That’s the point.  V.22

“Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?”

Stop there for a second. Which one is easier to say?

I think that means easier to say and get away with apparently?

It’s “get up and walk.”

I mean if you say, “Your sins are forgiven,” how do you know it happened?

But if you say, “Get up and walk” and then they keep lying there–you don’t have any real authority.  V.24

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’  Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.   Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’”

#3. JESUS’ AUTHORITY FORGIVES OUR SIN.

Jesus actually has the authority to forgive sin.

What does that say about who He is?

Jesus is the Son of God.  Like we’ve been seeing all along.

You know, the purpose of this book is grow us in certainty about Jesus.

Are you certain that your sins are forgiven?

Jesus has the authority to forgive them.

And do you see how He wants to?

He delights in forgiving sins.

Not that it was easy!  Jesus had to die to forgive those sins because someone had to pay the penalty for them.

But He did.  And He loves to dispense grace to those who wholly trust Him.

Application:  Wholly Trust in Him, Receive Forgiveness.

I think that sometimes it’s hard for Christians to feel forgiven.

We can feel defeated by sin.
We can feel distracted by temptation.
We can see our imperfections and our besetting sins.

It feels like we’ll never be perfect, doesn’t it?

But Christians aren’t perfect yet. They are forgiven.

Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to pay for all of my sin and all of your sin!

And He has authority to say to you, “Forgiven.”

“Your sins are forgiven.”

He’s saying that to every Christ-follower here.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving.

And while we have many blessing to count–more than we have toes and fingers for, our greatest blessing is what Jesus’ authority says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

“Your sins are forgiven.”

That’s why He came.

The fourth story, and we’ll only get through the first part of it today, explains just that–Jesus came for sinners.  V.27

“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”

I love this story–one of the reasons why is because I was named after this guy.  His other name is Matthew. 

Tax collectors were even further down the list of respected people than fishermen or shepherds.

These were bad guys in league with the Romans and know for practicing extortion.

But this one, Levi, becomes a Christ-follower.  Like Peter, he left “everything and followed him” (v.28).

And Levi was so happy to have come to Christ that he threw a party.

And I think that one of the reasons he did it was to be a fisher of men.

Look who he invited.  V.29

“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. [Great crowd!  This is one of those crowds that you say if a bomb dropped on this building, it would be good for the public!  That’s at least what the Pharisees thought. V.30]  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?’”

Why do you go to their parties?

Why do you hang out at their bar?

Don’t you know that those folks are sinners?  Yuck!

How does Jesus feel about sinners?

How does He interact with them?

This is why He’s here.

“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”

He knows that they are sinners.

And He doesn’t love their sin.  Doesn’t condone it.  Doesn’t applaud it. Doesn’t participate in it.

But that’s who He’s come for.

Not the healthy (or those who think they are). Not the righteous (or those who think they are)–but sinners, the sin-sick.

And the doctor is here.

He loves sinners.

#4. JESUS’ LOVE HEALS OUR SIN.

All we have to do is turn.

Application:  Repentantly Turn to Him, Be Healed.

Do you see that in verse 32.

“I have not come to call the righteous (or self-righteous), but sinners to repentance.”

That’s our part.

We have to turn away from our sin.

We can’t keep loving it, nurturing it, excusing it, turning towards it.

We have to repent and turn to Him.

And when we do, we meet the Sin Doctor.

And we are healed.

“[Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

But to get healed, you’ve got to turn to the doctor.

Repent.

Do you see better now how Jesus feels about sinners?

How He feels about you?

How do you feel about sinners?

Do you have a love for the wayward and the lost?

If you are caught, then you’ll want to be a fisher of people yourself.

If you have been forgiven, you’ll want to throw a party like Levi–and introduce your friends and loved ones to the Savior.

Jesus’ Power Reveals Our Sin–and it’s scarey.

But Jesus’ Touch Cleanses Our Sin.
Jesus’ Authority Forgives Our Sin.
Jesus’ Love Heals Our Sin.

If we turn to Him.

Messages So Far in Certain of Jesus:
Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

After My Papers

For those of you counting (and praying, I hope!), I still have 2 papers to write for my doctoral classes: one medium-sized, one larger.  I'm hoping to nail at least one of those today.

I've begun to make a list of things I'm going to get to make a priority after my papers are done:

Woodpile
Circulator in Heating System (Not sure it's working right)
Blog Layout
Target Practice for Hunting Season
Homeschool Phys. Ed with Kids

The amazing thing is that when these 2 papers are done and sent in with all the rest, I'll be DONE with my coursework for a D.Min degree at WTS.  I'll still have 2 major exams and the great big humongous applied research paper to go, but I won't have any more "classes" to work through.

With the classes I took at Biblical (2004) and TEDS (2005, 2006), I've been working on this for the last five years.

It really feels significant to reach this place.  Hooray!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus in Galilee"

“Jesus in Galilee”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
November 1, 2009
Luke 4:14-44


Today, we are continuing our series on the Gospel of Luke – “Certain of Jesus.”  Luke wrote this to help people to grow in certainty about who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, and what Jesus wants from us and for us.  Certain of Jesus.

Last week, we learned about Jesus’ miraculous baptism, His genealogy, and his testing in the wilderness–a test that He passed for us with flying colors.  Jesus is the Son of God.

Now, at the end of chapter 4, Luke tells us about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee–the northern territory of the nation of Israel.  “Jesus in Galilee.”

The passage is broken up into 2 parts.  I’m going to read both of them for you and then comment upon them together.

The first part (after a general statement about all of Galilee) focuses on Nazareth.  It runs from verse 16 through verse 30, and it tells the story of the time Jesus came back to His hometown and tried to preach a sermon and how people reacted to it.

It’s a sermon unlike any other that you and I will ever hear.

So verses 16 through 30 take place in Nazareth.
Verses 31 through 44 take place in Capernaum.

Both of these are cities in Galilee.

And I want you to notice how different the reactions are to Jesus in Capernaum versus Nazareth.

Same Jesus.  Same message.  Very different reactions.

Okay? Let’s read verses 14 through 44 and then pray.

[Scripture reading, prayer]

Did you notice how different the reactions were between Nazareth and Capernaum?!

How did Jesus play in Nazareth?  Not so good!  I’m glad that no one has ever responded to one of my sermons like that!  But then again, maybe mine aren’t very good.  Jesus preaches the best of all and gets run out of town.

Why?

It started out okay.  In verses 14 and 15, we read that everyone in all of Galilee was praising Him, at the start!

And even in Nazareth, they started out happy with their hometown boy (v.22).

Why did things go South?

We’ll talk about that in a second.

How did they respond in Capernaum to Jesus’ ministry?

Verse 42 says that they didn’t want him to leave!  They tried to keep Him there.

Same Jesus. Same message.  Very different responses.

Let’s look first at the Nazareth one.

Jesus has returned in the power of the Spirit from His testing in the wilderness.  Remember, it was the Spirit that took Him there and the Spirit that brings Him back.

And he heads home.  V.16

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.”

Synagogues weren’t temples, they were more like schools, local religious schools spread throughout the countryside. And there was religious instruction there on the Sabbath.

Jesus had the habit of visiting synagogues.

And now, back at His home synagogue, where He had probably heard over a thousand sermons on the Old Testament, He offers to preach one Himself.

The synagogue leader gives Him a scroll, and He picks out His text very much on purpose. Verse 17.

“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.’  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.”

Sitting down was the appropriate custom for a teacher at that time.  We stand up to preach, but they sat down to teach the Scriptures.

So, Jesus has announced and read His text–it’s from Isaiah chapter 61, and it’s about the Servant of the Lord–this mysterious Person that shows up in Isaiah doing God’s will, proclaiming God’s favor, and bringing in the Kingdom of God.

And here’s the riveting moment.  V.20

“The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Wow!  Isaiah 61 is coming true right here, right now?

This sounds good!

Verse 22, I think shows the range of reactions that come with Jesus’ pronouncement.

“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn't this Joseph's son?’ they asked.”

The first part of that very seems to indicate that they were excited by Jesus’ words.  They sound good.  Jesus is a good speaker. He’s saying something that people want to hear.  How long have we waited for Isaiah 61 to be fulfilled?!

But the second part of that verse seems to show that they quickly grew skeptical.

“I mean, this is Jesus.  He used to play with our boys.

This is Joseph’s son, right?  The carpenter?”  Joseph is probably dead already by now.

“This is Jesus?  We know Jesus.  He’s a great kid, but he’s no ‘Servant of the Lord!’

If he’s the Messiah, I guess we don’t need the Messiah!”

We can just about see the quizzical looks on their faces. “What’s going on here?”

Here’s what’s going on here.  Jesus is saying that He is the Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, the fulfillment of God’s promises, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

And they’re not going to believe it.

Jesus is saying that He is good news for needy people.  V.18 again.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

v.21 “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

JESUS IS GOOD NEWS FOR NEEDY PEOPLE.

He brings good news.  He has been anointed to bring good news.  And He is the fulfilment of that good news!

He is, in a word, the Messiah.

This is quite a claim.

It doesn’t shock us because we already believe all these things about Him.

We know His backstory and the story of His birth and the story of His baptism and His family.  We know what He went through in the desert.

But the folks don’t.  And they aren’t going to believe Him.

Jesus claims to be good news for needy people.

Notice the four kinds of needy people in verse 18.

The Poor
The Prisoners
The Blind
The Oppressed

Those are descriptions of truly needy people, aren’t they?

The poor don’t have anything.
The prisoners don’t have freedom.
The blind don’t have sight.
The oppressed don’t have peace or joy.

I’m sure that these categories relate to the materially poor, the physically incarcerated, the physically blind, those oppressed by other humans.

But I also think that those categories point to the more ultimate, spiritual categories.

Poor in Spirit.
Enslaved and Jailed by Sin.
Blinded by Idolatry
Oppressed by Hate, Doom, and Demons

These point to our more ultimate neediness–spiritual neediness.

And Jesus says that the Spirit (who led Him into the desert to be tempted and now into the synagogue to preach) is upon Him, anointing Him to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor–the coming of the Kingdom of God!

Jesus is good news for needy people.

The real question is, “Do we see ourselves in these categories?”

Do we realize that we are poor?

I think that the poor in spirit, are those who realize that they are bankrupt spiritually on their own.  The poor in spirit are those who realize that they are spiritually needy.

Do you sing, “I need thee, O I need thee, every hour I need thee...”

There is good news for you in Jesus.

The spiritual prisoners are those who are enslaved and incarcerated by the power of sin.  Sin is powerful.

Everyone who is addicted to something knows that. And most of us are addicts of some kind or another.

Do you see yourself as imprisoned?

Jesus proclaims freedom for the prisoners.

The blind are those who cannot see, spiritually, the glory of the Lord and have been deceived by Satan and fallen into his traps.

Do you see yourself as blind?

Jesus brings sight to the blind.

The oppressed are those are beaten down by tormentors.  Maybe depression.  Maybe despondency.  Maybe demonic oppression. Maybe by your own sin.

Do you see yourself as oppressed?

Jesus brings release for the oppressed.

Jesus is good news for needy people.

But we have to see ourselves as needy!

I think that’s where the good folks of Nazareth went wrong.

They thought they were good folks!

Jesus knew their hearts. He knew how they felt about Him and how they were going to react to Him. So He put it into words.  V.23

“Jesus said to them, ‘Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself!  [You see a problem here?  I think the problem is you!  You think you’re so great? Do a sign for us.]  Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'’ [News has spread of the miracles He’s already done, and there is more to come. But not here.]  ‘I tell you the truth,’ he continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

And then He gets personal.  V.25

“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel [God’s nation!] in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.  Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them [Israelites], but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon [A Gentile!].  And there were many in Israel [God’s good people!] with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian [also a Gentile].’

And then the townspeople got furious and tried to kill Him!

If He wasn’t the Son of God and it wasn’t His time yet to die, Jesus would have been killed right there on the spot.

Why?

I don’t think these Nazarenes wanted to think of themselves as needy.

Jesus was putting His divine finger on, not just their ethnocentricism, their racism, and their lack of love for Gentiles.  He was putting His finger on their pride.

He was basically saying that they were worse off than Phoenician widows and Syrian lepers!

Because they wouldn’t recognize it!

And they thought this was insulting.

This is why John wrote this in chapter 1 of his gospel, “[Jesus] came to that which was His own, but His own received Him not.”

These folks didn’t want to see themselves as needy like that.

And if they had needs, they weren’t going to look to Jesus to fill them!

And they turned into an angry mob.

We have to see ourselves as needy and see Jesus as the answer to our need.

In verse 31, Jesus took His message and His miracles to another Galilean city–Capernaum. 

“Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people.  They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.”

The Spirit is on Jesus. And He teaches like no one else does.

Everyone else quoted authorities. Jesus spoke as an authority.

And He began to back up His message with demonstrations of power.

V. 18 is beginning to be fulfilled.

Jesus is good news for needy people.

Good news for the demon-possessed.

Verses 33-36 and again in verses 41.

Jesus confronts these evil spirits. And they always lose.

They try to control Him by saying His name. Doesn’t work.

He controls them. And He doesn’t need their testimony to prove that He’s the Messiah!

He uses His kingdom authority to start bringing that freedom to those who were imprisoned by demon possession.

Good news for the sick.

First with Simon’s mother-in-law. She had high fever and there was no ibuprofen.

Jesus bends down and “rebukes” the fever.  As if the fever was a person, it’s rebuked.

And she feels so good that she gets up and starts to serve others with the health that’s been regained!

Jesus is good news for the sick!

These miracles are tangible demonstrations of the Spirit’s power that is working through Jesus.

They are a taste of the good news of the Kingdom that Jesus is bringing to the neediest of the needy.

And the folks in Capernaum receive it!  V.42

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place [I assume, to pray]. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.  But he said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’  And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”

Now, I don’t imagine that the folks in Capernaum understood all of what He was saying and that their response was one of total faith.

Maybe they just like the miracles.

But their response was much better than those in Nazareth who didn’t receive Jesus at all.

They were seeing, at least in part, that He was Who He said He was–the fulfillment of Isaiah 61.

Good news for needy people.

Now, how do we apply this passage to our lives?

I can think of several things.

First, we can be glad that God has love for Gentiles.

The Nazarenes didn’t love Gentiles, but Jesus loves to tell stories about how God met the needs of Gentiles, non-Jews.

This is good news for us because most of us here are not Jewish.  We’re all on the outside. We’re all widows of Zarephath and Naamans of Syria!

I’m sure that the good Jewish folks in Nazareth never expected Isaiah 61 to apply to Gentiles like you and me.

But Jesus is good news for needy people in Western Pennyslvania, too.

We can be glad that God has love for Gentiles.

Second, we have to recognize our need.

Jesus came for needy people.  Elsewhere He says, “The healthy people don’t need a doctor. I have come for the sick.”


We need to humble ourselves and recognize our need.

That goes for the person who is not yet a Christ-follower and for the person who has been following Christ by faith the longest.

Are you poor, imprisoned, blind, oppressed?

Jesus is good news for you.

Jesus lives a perfect life and then died on the Cross for our sins to bring the good news of the Kingdom to all who trust in Him.

But we have to admit our need.

It matters how we respond to Him.

Whether we want Him to stay or to go away.

Jesus came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.

But those who did receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become [dependent!] children of God.

Not only do we have to recognize our neediness, we have to recognize that Jesus is the answer to our neediness.

And third, we need to turn to Him while we still can.

Why do I say that?

Because Jesus left off a part of the verse.

When Jesus read Isaiah 61, He stopped in the middle of the verse.

Listen to Isaiah 61, verse 2.

The Spirit has sent me to “to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor...and the day of vengeance of our God...”

Jesus left that part off. Why?

Not because He didn’t believe it.

But because it wasn’t time for that yet.

Right now Jesus was emphasizing the first part with His first coming.

Jesus had come to bring good news to the needy.

But He will come again and bring bad news to the bad.

He will bring vengeance when He returns.

We need to turn to Him while we still can.

Are you a faith-follower of Jesus Christ?

If you are not yet a faith-follower of Jesus Christ, I urge you to turn to Him today.

Trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins and the hope of eternal life.

He did everything on the Cross, everything needed for your hope and salvation.

Repent of your sins and put your trust in Him.

Don’t be like Nazareth, rejecting Him once again.

Receive Him and be His child.

If you are His child, don’t stop being needy.

Every day sing, “I need thee, O, I need thee, every hour I need thee!”

Admit your poverty, your imprisonments, your blindnesses, your oppressions and see Jesus bring hope and change and transformation piece by piece bit by bit in your life.

Because Jesus is good news for needy people like you and me.

Previous Messages In This Series: