‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus
’Message: ‘Mountain tops and valleys’ Text: Luke 9:37-45
Introduction: On our journey of faith, we talk about the mountain top experience don’t we? And what makes those experiences so special is because we have a cosmology that puts God up in heaven. So, those mountain top experiences we talk about, reflect our feeling that we’ve experienced God in a much closer way.• But being close to God is not about altitude but attitude.• No matter where we are physically, we should be able to connect with God in very real and intimate ways.
Last Sunday I said that Peters desire to build three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah was wrong because it placed Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah?
I also said that Peter’s desire to remain in that moment, to see Jesus in His glory, was a good thing. • We should all desire more moments like that with Jesus in our lives. • More times when we are up close and personal with Jesus, where He is so big we can’t see anything else… Some of our ladies are experiencing that at the Women’s Retreat at Keswick this weekend. • But… the ladies are coming home, down from the mountaintop, • and men, what will they see when they get to the valley, I mean…home?
In our text today, like the ladies, Peter, John and James came down from the mountain and back to the valley. And what they see, what they experience is… quite different.
Show Raphael’s Transfiguration PP.
The artist who painted that picture was Raphael, an Italian artist who lived during the late 14 to early 1500’s. This is one of his most famous paintings. It’s called: The Transfiguration. As you can see it depicts the events in our text. What it shows is this:• The mountaintop experience is followed by life in the valley. • And living in the valley requires faith. The painting shows the struggle of faith Jesus’ disciples had in the valley.
Faith is much easier.. here on Sunday mornings. Faith is much easier, when we’re at a Men’s or Women’s Retreat. Being on the mountaintop is great and wonderful and necessary… But just like our text from last Sunday, we found that mountaintop experiences are only meant to give us • a glimpse of God’s glorious presence, • a glimpse of Jesus and life in His kingdom.
And as such, they’re truly faith boosters that we desperately need, because life, everyday life in the valley, is always a challenge to our faith.
And that’s what Luke will reveal to us in our text this morning.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 9:37.
I. Luke 9:37-40 …they could not!Read: Luke 9:37-40
Talk about a total change of venue. • We move from the peace and joy of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop, to chaos, fear, doubt, desperation in the valley.• From 5 people on the mountain top, we now have a huge crowd in the valley.
I’m sure the dramatic change of scene hit Peter, John and James hard. But we’ll see that it had absolutely no effect on Jesus.• Changing situations often throw us for a loop, but Jesus is God, and as God He’s always sovereign, He’s always in control.
In our text Dr. Luke tells us what Jesus’ other 9 disciples were doing in the valley while Peter, John and James were on the mountaintop with Jesus. And they were not having a very good time.
A man brought his only son who was possessed by a demon to the 9 who remained in the valley. • Perhaps he heard about, even seen, the disciples heal the sick and cast out demons.• Remember from the beginning verses of Luke 9 we read that they had spent a season doing just that, with great success.
But this time, when the father came and asked them to help his son, Luke says … they could not.Let’s dig a bit deeper into this scene:• Jesus is not around.• No problem, Jesus sent them out before, w/o Him and they healed and cast out demons on their own. But this time… they could not.• To make matters worse there was a huge crowd see them fail. On top of that, in Mark 9:14 we’re told that some of the religious leaders were arguing with the 9.
Picture this:• While we’re not told, it’s all together possible, that one after another, each of the 9 disciples in the valley, went up to the boy and tried to cast out the demon, and each… one by one… failed.• I’m sure that both confounded and embarrassed them.• To add insult to injury, the scribes were arguing with them. It’s likely they were criticizing and making fun of their failure to heal the boy.
Jesus, Peter, John and James arrive in the valley to what could only be described as a desperate and chaotic mob.
Show Raffael’s picture again on powerpoint
The man with the demon possessed son, recognizes Jesus and cries out in desperation:• Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.
He goes on to explain the persistent harm the demon was doing to his son. Then, to the dismay, of the 9, he adds • And I begged Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.While I doubt the man meant any disrespect, I can imagine they wanted to find a place to hide.
Failure makes us do things like that. Doesn’t it?• Knowing the disciples, there’s no way their failure was not a great embarrassment to them.
Even though they had healed the sick and cast out demons before, many times in fact, this time… they could not.• Something was different. Something was… missing.• Jesus will tell them what it was.
II. Luke 9:41-43a …faithless generationRead: Luke 9:41-43a
O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? I don’t know about you, but I want to know who Jesus was speaking to? Because if it included His 9 disciples who failed to cast out the demon, that would have been devastating for them to hear.
Well, Jesus was certainly speaking to the crowd that included the man and son, the people who had gathered to watch and the religious who came to mock. And Jesus included, not just the 9, but all His disciples. For example:• Here it’s their failure because of their lack of faith.• In verses 46-48 it’ll be their pride.• In verses 51-56 it’ll be their lack of compassion.
Folks, Christians are not immune to times of faithlessness and a twisted view of life. And sometimes Jesus, by the nudging of the indwelling Holy Spirit, reminds us of our diminished faith or our non-biblical worldview.
Jesus tells the desperate father to bring his son to Him. When he does, the demon, knowing it’s Jesus, makes one last desperate move to show his power over the boy.
Not skipping a beat, Jesus rebuked the demon and healed the boy. And gave him back to his father. Once again, Dr. Luke gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ heart of compassion for people.
Folks, don’t let seemingly insignificant parts of Scripture go unnoticed. Remember I said early on that Luke is the most ‘social’ Gospel. It shows more of Jesus’ interactions with people than any other Gospel. Let me remind you of how Dr. Luke shows us the compassion of Jesus:• The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, (Luke 4:18) • And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. (Luke 7:13–15) • And all were weeping and mourning for her, but He said, Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping…taking her by the hand He called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. (Luke 8:52–56)
Examples, testimony of Jesus’ tender care. When things are rough, remember Jesus’ compassion, and your faith… will be enriched.
Let me step back. William Barclay gives great insight into what we see in our text.ILL: When Jesus came down from the mountain the situation was out of hand. The whole impression is that of people running about not knowing what to do. • The disciples were helplessly baffled; • the boy’s father was bitterly disappointed. Into this scene of disorder came Jesus. • He gripped the situation in a flash and in His mastery the disorder became a calm.
So often we feel that life is out of control; that we have lost our grip. Only the Master of life can deal with life, with the calm competence that brings everything under control. (Barclay)
III. Luke 9:43b-45 …afraid to ask!Read: Luke 9:43b-45
In that moment the people in the crowd, including His 12 disciples, saw Jesus bring calm and peace where there was chaos and disorder. • Can anybody say AMEN?
As a result of Jesus casting out the demon, Luke tells us how the crowd responded.• And they all were astonished at the majesty of God.
When God turns chaos into calm in your life, I pray that you acknowledge it was Him and remember to give Him praise.
In the midst of the joy, the excitement, in the midst of Jesus’ triumph over the demon, He takes His disciples aside and says: Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.
Jesus told them Look, this is really important, let what I’m about to say be burned indelibly into your minds and hearts.• The admiration of the crowd won’t last long. They will turn against Me. And just as easily as I delivered the demon from the boy, I will be delivered over to men, to those who want me dead.
The text says they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying and that it had been concealed from them. Scholars are divided on this but I think the simplest explanation is often correct.
Within the context of the disciples lack of faith, • I think they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying because they lacked faith to believe that being the Messiah meant Jesus had to die.• In other words it was their lack of faith that concealed the truth of what Jesus was saying.
Folks, if we were honest, that’s a reason we sometimes just don’t get what Jesus wants from us.
Conclusion: Let’s see if I can pull this all together.
Our text reveals the realities of everyday life in the valley. • Most of our days are less than perfect. • Many are filled with problems and disappointments. • In the valley life is often difficult at best. We face trials and hardships that we must endure.• We have a determined enemy who knows our weaknesses and he will go to no end to exploit them.• And we fail… often. • And in our failure we fall into shame, guilt and even depression. • We feel lost and alone, as if while we’re in the valley, Jesus is still on the mountaintop and we have no access to Him.• When we’re in the midst of the chaos of life, we desperately need to know the peace only Jesus can bring.
But in those times, we fail to acknowledge that our faith has been shaken, we doubt Jesus will deliver us from our times of distress, especially our times of failure.
To that end, in Mark 9:24 we read a very insightful and shockingly vulnerable confession from the father of the demon possessed boy. • And Jesus said to him, All things are possible for one who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:23-24)
Folks that’s the place we need to come to when we’re lost and being beat up in the valley…• Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief.