Message: Series Title
‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Adjusting our focal point’ Text: Luke 12:49-59
So, has anyone ever been disappointed with a picture you took, either on your cell phone or camera? Many times, it’s because some or all of the picture is out of focus. And often it’s a matter of your depth of field.
- When I had my photography business in Pa. before I was a pastor, depth of field was important
- because it determined what and how much of what you’re taking a picture of, is in focus. People don’t pay for blurry pictures.
PP: Focusing Distance example
Take out your Bulletin. Look on the front cover.
There are 3 examples explaining depth of field.
- In the example on your far left, you see a tree that’s in focus and what’s behind the tree is…a little blurry. That’s because you’re very far away from the tree (subject) and from the what’s behind the tree (background).
- In the center example, as you get closer to the tree and as the distance between you and what’s behind the tree increases, it makes the background more blurry while the tree is in focus.
- In the example on your far right, you’re very close to the tree and the distance between you and what’s behind the tree has greatly increased, making the background very blurry and the tree very sharply focused.
So, it’s important that you know what you want in focus, what’s the subject or focal point of your picture.
- Where am I going with this?
PP: Blank Slide
Background: For most of chapter 12, Jesus has been directing His teaching primarily to the 12, to His apostles. Now He directs His words to the crowd and religious leaders.
- In other words, Jesus is speaking directly to those who have not yet given their hearts and lives to Him by faith,
- they have not received Jesus as God’s promised Messiah.
And He’ll tell them that they have the wrong focal point, which is why they can’t clearly see Jesus for who He is and what He’s come to do.
- So, in verses 49-59, He tells them to adjust their focal point.
- Luke 12:49-53 Focus on God’s coming judgment
PP:I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
Wow! That doesn’t sound like the Jesus we know… right? So there must be more going on here. Let’s take a closer look.
First, remember Jesus is primarily speaking to the crowd and religious leaders… to unbelievers.
Second, He’s attempting to correct, to refocus their picture of the Messiah. Yes, they knew what we know about the promised Messiah:
- PP: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
But they wanted someone different, someone to do what they thought important… defeat Rome.
- They made the same mistake their forefathers made when they said they wanted a human king to rule over them.
PP: Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” (1 Samuel 8:4–7, ESV)
The crowd and religious leaders saw Jesus as a man who was supposed to do what they wanted.
- Just like their forefathers rejected God as their king to have an earthly,
- the crowd and religious leaders were once again rejecting God as their king in Messiah Jesus.
And that’s why Jesus wanted them to adjust their the focal point.
- They wanted the promised Messiah to be something God didn’t intend Him to be.
- Making who the Messiah was supposed to be, and what He came to do, very blurry to them.
As a result, there’d be grave consequences.
The first consequence will be to experience God’s judgment for their unbelief. Let’s revisit verses 49-50
PP: I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! (Luke 12:49–50)
- Verse 49 tells us that God’s judgment will be the consequence for their unbelief.
- Verse 50 that Jesus’ death on the cross will be the event that both initiates and is the foundation for the judgment.
And in both cases, Jesus said
- He’s living with a great sense of urgency.
- He’s looking forward to the day when by His death on the cross (baptism in the text) and His return to earth to consummate all things,
- He’ll bring God’s judgment (cast fire on the earth) for their and all people’s unbelief in Jesus as God’s promised Messiah.
Does that sound harsh?
- The Good News of forgiveness of sin and eternal life by faith in Jesus, is ONLY Good News because of the Bad News.
- By rejecting Jesus there is no forgiveness of sin, there is only suffering the eternal judgment of God for our utter rejection of Him and His Son, Jesus.
And that leads to the second consequence for their unbelief…division.
PP: Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51–53)
This shouldn’t be too difficult to understand because many of you either have, are now, or will in the future, experience a family member at odds with you because of your faith in Jesus.
- Understand… Jesus is NOT saying He came to destroy families. The family was very important to Jesus and He showed it by what He said and did.
Perhaps with an eye towards His disciples, He’s saying: placing your faith in Me, following Me, living for Me, won’t be easy. Because many around you, including some in your own family, will reject Me and by doing so, make it hard for you to live in the same house.
Let’s be clear:
- It’s NOT your faith in Jesus that causes the division, it’s the unbelief of others.
- Unbelief in Jesus is the topic of this section.
Look at the church,
- We’re culturally, financially, educationally, socially, ethically… diverse, different.
- And were it not for our faith in Christ, were it not for the indwelling Holy Spirit in all of us, we too would be divided, we probably wouldn’t spend much time with each other.
- But, Scripture says we’re one in Christ. And we work hard as a church body to make that oneness an ongoing reality.
Jesus is not saying it’s our faith in Him that brings division in the family, but division is the consequence of the unbelief of others.
- They won’t like the light of Jesus in you revealing their sin to them. Why? Scripture tells us why? They love the darkness.
So, I believe the idea here is
- Instead of making your picture of the Messiah your focal point,
- make God’s picture in Scripture of the promised Messiah, Jesus, your focal point.
- Then you’ll bypass the coming judgment.
However, if you chose not to do that, then expect that you’ll look to make divisions in your family when someone else does place their faith in Jesus.
- Luke 12:54-56 Focus on what God’s doing now
PP: He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Jesus is telling the crowd:
- You’ve heard me teach. You’ve seen the miracles I’ve done. You know what the Scriptures say of the coming Messiah.
- Why is it so hard to discern that I am God’s Messiah?
Jesus calls them hypocrites because of their lack of spiritual discernment.
- They knew how to interpret the future weather based on what they see in the sky today.
- But were unable to interpret the signs Jesus did right in front of them.
With the theme of judgment heavy here, Jesus is telling them to refocus, to make Him their focal point and avoid the coming judgment of God.
III. Luke 12:57-59 Focus on being reconciled to God
PP: And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny. (Luke 12:57–59)
Again, I hope this is clear. It would have been to the crowd and religious leaders. And it just makes sense, even from a non-spiritual perspective.
- If you’ve done something wrong, if you’ve harmed someone in some way or cheated them, stole from them, whatever you’ve done that causes someone to take you to court over it…
- And you know you’re guilty… settle it with them before you get to court.
Because if you go to court, you’ll be found guilty. And in that day, you’ll be thrown into debtor’s prison until you can pay the person back for their losses. Here’s the rub:
- If you’re in prison, you can’t work.
- If you can’t work, you can’t pay back your accuser.
- If you can’t pay back your accuser you’ll spend the rest of your life in prison.
That was a practical parable everyone understood.
But remember, Jesus is talking about God’s coming judgment for their sin of unbelief in Jesus. Here’s the spiritual moral of the story:
- You’ve sinned against God.
- You will be judged for your sin by spending eternity in Hell.
- You don’t know when Jesus will return, so get right with God, be reconciled with God through faith in Jesus, while there’s still time.
- Place your faith in Jesus, not only as God’s promised Messiah, but as God Himself.
- Trust Him and Him alone for the forgiveness of your sin.
- Adjust the focus of your life to Jesus.
- And you’ll escape God’s coming judgment.
Let me see if I can step back and show you the big picture here.
PP: No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24a)
To put that into our context this morning, the two masters are Jesus and the world.
- No one can clearly focus on two subjects that are a great distance apart from each other.
- Only one can be in complete focus.
Take out your Bulletin again. Look at the front page.
PP: Bulletin Cover
Remember I said there are 3 examples of what depth of field is about. Well, they also represent our walk with Jesus and our passion for the world.
In the example on your far left, I said you see a tree that’s in focus and what’s behind the tree is…a little blurry. That’s because you are very far away from the subject (the tree) and what’s behind the subject, (the background).
- Well, lets consider Jesus as the tree and the world as what’s behind Him.
- When we’re far away from Jesus, both He and the world share our focus. And we live lives on the spiritual fence as it were. We see Jesus clearly when it’s to our advantage and the world when we want what it offers.
- According to Matthew 6:24, that’s sin because the reality is, more often than not, we will focus on the world rather than Jesus.
In the center example, we begin to sense our need to walk closer to Jesus and put some distance between us and the world.
- And as we do, we begin to make Jesus our focal point, the subject of the picture that is our lives.
- Then the world starts to get blurry, not as appealing to us.
In the example on your far right, you’re become very close to Jesus, and the distance between you and the world has greatly increased, making the pleasures of the world completely blurred and no longer as enticing.
- And that’s where God can do great and mighty things.
- Because you’re ‘sold out’, ‘all in’ for Jesus.
- No fence sitting. No putting off following Him till a time that’s more convenient.
You’ve taken that giant step from being a believer in Jesus to becoming His disciple.
Let me leave you with two questions to ponder this week. Using the picture on the front of the Bulletin:
- Are you in the far left, the center or the far right example?
- Is Jesus calling you to adjust your life’s focal point… to Him?
PP: Next Slide