Luke: Love in the mist of rejection: 08/26/18

Message: Series Title

‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’

Message: ‘Love in the midst of rejection’       Text: Luke 13:31-34

 Introduction: Unrequited love… That’s when you love someone and they don’t love you back.

Has that ever happened to you? It hurts…right?

It’s such a universal experience that movies are made about it.

PP: Forest Gump.

  • A major theme in the movie is how Jenny refused to love Forrest.

PP: 500 Days of Summer

  • Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl doesn’t.

PP: Dr. Zhivago

  • Yuri Zhivago offers tenderness and understanding to his wife, Tonya, but his heart belongs to Lara.

PP: Next Slide

Unrequited love is even found in the Bible in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

  • The father’s love for his son, is not returned by his son. Yet, the father continues to love him deeply.

One of the truths from that parable is the deep love God has for His people and the way they reject that love and turn their affection to other things.

  • That was the predominate reason for the downfall of Israel.
  • Their heart’s affection was constantly being set on other things.
  • And God’s heart broke.

Church, I wonder if we truly realize just how much it matters to God that we return His love with a deep, passionate pursuit of His heart…  before and above anything else?

PP: 1. Luke 13:31-33  Finish the course 

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course. Nevertheless, I must go on My way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’

While Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees come to warn Him that Herod, the ruler of the Galilee area of Israel, wanted Him dead.

  • While we don’t know why, it’s a safe to assume the religious leaders put Herod up to it. They, in fact, did want Jesus dead.
  • But some commentators believe, that in addition to wanting Jesus dead, which could take some time to come about, they also wanted Him to stop teaching.
  • And I agree because of what Jesus continues to say.

Jesus tells the Pharisees to pass a message on to Herod. In essence is said:

  • There’s nothing you, the religious leaders, or anyone can do to hinder Me from what the Father has sent Me to do.

He said tell Herod, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow and the third day, I must finish My course. Some have said that Jesus was referring to His resurrection. I’m not so sure.

  • The context here is not on His resurrection.
  • It’s Jesus’ tenacity for completing His mission, we can see that when He said I finish My course and I must go on my way.

The idea is, neither Herod, nor the religious leaders, were, in any way, a threat to God’s sovereign purpose for Jesus.

Here’s another reason I see this:

  • I believe the comma, which is added by translators and is not found in the original text, is misplaced.
  • In the text it’s after the word tomorrow, but in keeping with the context, I believe it should be after the word day.

 PP: Lets see why that’s important.

And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course.” (Luke 13:32)

And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow and the third day, I finish My course.” (Luke 13:32)

today and tomorrow and the third day is a figure of speech. Meaning:

  • I’m methodically going about doing what God has given me to do, right on schedule. In a short time, today and tomorrow and the third day, in a short time I will complete that work.

 PP: One last thing, the figure of speech is used again in verse 32, but notice the comma is after the word following and not after the word tomorrow as it was in the previous verse. The placement of the comma there is correct.

Look, just my thoughts on how to preserve the integrity of the context of the passage.

Then Jesus adds for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem. Here Jesus responds to the Pharisee’s waring that Herod wanted Him dead. And what Jesus said was significant in two ways:

  • One, He’s claiming to be a prophet from God.
  • Second, He predicts His own death… in Jerusalem. And we know that prediction became a reality.

So, what’s the take away for us here?

  • In a world where ‘playing it safe’ is the go to position, even the smallest threat often deters us from obedience to God.
  • However, we need to be assured that our lives are safe in God’s hands.
  • That means we should obey God’s call and continue, unafraid of what others might do, to complete, to finish, the path God has set before us.

We finish the course.

  • Christian, do you see yourself on a journey, on a path, a course, set by God, with a specific job to do? But, has fear, set you on the detour of disobedience?

PP: 2. Luke 13:34  The depth of Jesus’ love

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

Jesus calls Herod a fox, perhaps because the fox was considered a destroyer in that day. The connection Dr. Luke wants to show is this:

  • Where the fox (Herod) comes to destroy the little chicks, Jesus (the hen) comes to protect them.

From the very depths of His heart, Jesus says, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…

Yes, I know there’s more, but I want you to get a clear picture of Jesus heart, His love for God’s people.

  • By Jesus mentioning Jerusalem twice, commentators believe He is lamenting not just over the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but of all Israel.

One aspect of Jesus’ love for His people, here in our context, is a protecting love. Pastor Freddy Fritz relates the following story about the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice, the former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

  • A fierce fire raged through a farm. Scores of people tried to save the farm and the animals.
  • Unfortunately, the fire was so fierce that all the animals perished. Horses, cows, sheep, and chickens all perished in the destructive blaze.
  • The heat was so intense that it took several days before people could go through the farm to examine the destruction. There were burnt animals everywhere. It was a dreadful scene.
  • But then one of the people heard a noise. And they heard it again. Following the sound of the faint noise they came to a hen. Her body was charred and her wings were spread out. She, of course, was dead – burned by the heat of the fire. However, when her feathers were lifted, the people were amazed to find a brood of live chicks under her wings! They were safe and secure.
  • Their mother had given her life so that they might live.

Folks, that’s the kind of love Jesus is talking about. The kind of love He had for God’s people, still has…for you.

  • Perhaps the vastness, the immeasurable depth of Jesus’ love for you doesn’t quite click as being extraordinary.
  • Because you think since He’s God, He SHOULD feel that way about you, about us.

Well, allow me to read what I had cut out from our text. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it… and you were not willing!

The biblical story of Israel’s relationship with God is not unlike an unhappy marriage in which the wife shows no love for her husband but whose affection is thoughtlessly given to others.

A few examples from God’s Word about Israel’s proclivity to give their affection to anyone else, but God.

  • In Genesis Adam and Eve, instead of showing their love for God by obeying Him, instead obeyed the words of the serpent. They placed their affections on something else other than their Creator.
  • In Exodus when God miraculously and powerfully led the Hebrews out from slavery in Egypt, when things got tough, they forgot God and all He had done and their hearts longed to return to bondage in Egypt.
  • When Moses went up on the mountain to speak to God, the Israelites were in the valley worshiping, offering their hearts, to a false idol.
  • In the time of the Judges when the people of Israel were in the Promised Land they were seduced away from the Lord who gave them commandments to live by. Instead they worshipped, they gave their affections to the pagan gods of the people around them.
  • They openly and willfully disobeyed God’s command not to intermarrying with pagans who did not know and follow the One true God.
  • The poor were oppressed and the prophets of God were killed by their own people.
  • The book of Kings describes the pattern of the people’s unfaithfulness to God.
  • God wanted to be Israel’s king, but the people rejected God as their king because wanted a human king like all the other nations.
  • The Book of Hosea vividly shows how God is married to the Harlot, Israel, who rejects His love to give it to many other men.
  • And God’s people continued to give their affection to other gods. They continued to kill God’s prophets who spoke for God.

PP: The Apostle Paul summed it up this way

  • but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, ESV)

That’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the very heart of the Godhead.

  • We think we have to try to impress God so that He might love us.
  • But He says ‘No, you’re loved already, even at your worst.’

Even though many right in front of Him at that very moment had been conspiring to kill Him… Jesus still said

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…

In spite of their sin, in spite of their hatred, in spite of their disobedience, in spite of rejecting His love… Jesus still loved the people of Israel.

  • He longed to embrace them.
  • He longed for them to be saved.
  • He longed for them to be restored to a right relationship with the Father.
  • He longed to make them safe, to protect them from the ungodly pagan nations.
  • He longed for them to become a blessed nation.
  • He longed for them to know and experience His love.

But… Jesus, I believe, with great sorrow, adds…

PP: and you were not willing.

  • They refused Jesus’ protection.
  • They refused His blessing and presence.
  • They refused His provision and guidance.
  • They refused His Kingdom.
  • They refused His love…

People still do that today. And Jesus’ heart continues to break for them. Perhaps even for you.

Jesus finishes with this crushing statement:

PP: 3. Luke 13:35  Judgment… yet hope

Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (Luke 13:35)

It seems to me that when Jesus uses the word house, He’s referring to the Temple in Jerusalem. Here’s why:

  • When Jesus was 12 and left behind in the Temple, He referred to it as My Fathers house. (Luke 2:49)

If He does mean the Temple in Jerusalem, then did you hear the difference, and a HUGE and frightening difference it is…

  • Before Jesus said it was My Fathers House.
  • Now, it’s your house.

And to clarify it, He adds your house is forsaken. Why would Jesus then say it is forsaken? Because God will no longer be there.

  • The Israelites would go to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship God, but God’s presence would no longer be there.

That would make the Temple in Jerusalem useless because God had left the building.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus already address that issue but not with such dire words. Remember Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well?

PP: The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but You say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. (John 4:19ff, ESV)

  • Perhaps Jesus was referring to 70AD when Titus entered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple?
  • Perhaps Jesus was talking about the time after His death and resurrection when He comes to live inside those who by faith place their trust in Him?

I think it’s both!

PP: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV)

Glorify God, worship God, in your body, for that is the new location of the Temple of God, it’s where His presence dwells.

And that, is the HOPE found in our text.

  • While the physical Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed and forsaken by God,
  • He’ll take up residence in the hearts of those who receive His love, when they place their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin.

And then together, one day, believing Jew and Gentile alike, we’ll all say Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

 PP: Next Slide

 Conclusion

From a human perspective God’s love for us, just doesn’t make sense. It’s not rational. It’s not how we love. Especially when our love is rejected, even more so, when we’ve been hurt by those we try to love.   Yet,

  • while we were sinners; disobedient, rebellious, and rejecting God’s love,

Jesus demonstrated His love for us, by dying for us.

A pastor once sat in the church office to meet anyone who might have spiritual difficulties. One man came and the pastor asked, “What is your difficulty?” The man answered, “My difficulty is in Romans 9, where it says, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’”

“Yes,” said the minister, “there is great difficulty in that verse. But which part of the verse is difficult for you?” “The latter part, of course,” said the man. “I cannot understand why God would hate Esau.”

The minister replied, “The verse is difficult, but my difficulty has always been with the first part of the verse. I never could understand how God could love that wily, deceitful, supplanting scoundrel, Jacob.” (adapted from Steven Cole)

How could God love a disobedient, rebellious,  ungodly, self-righteous, prideful, deceitful, man like me?

Then I’m reminded of what the Apostle John wrote and I realize just how deep the Father’s love is for me.

PP: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1a)

PP: Next Slide