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


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.


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.


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.


“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