Luke: Surviving in the valley (Part 2)-11/26/17

The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Surviving in the valley’ pt.2        Text: Luke 9:46-62
Summary: How do we survive in the valley?
That’s the questions we’ve been asking and hopefully finding answers to as we’ve been traveling through Luke 9:46-62. Allow me a few moments to get us all caught up since it’s been 3 Sundays since we’ve walked with Jesus and His 12 apostles.
Jesus took Peter, John and James with Him up on a mountain to pray. While there, Jesus was transfigured, transformed, to reveal His divine glory. With Jesus were Moses and Elijah, both with glorified bodies.
• This was a wonderful experience for the 3, Peter, John and James. So much so that they didn’t want to go down from the mountain. And who could blame them?
While they were experiencing a spiritual high on the mountain, the 9 other disciples whom Jesus left in the valley, were not having such a good time. They tried and tried but were unable to cast a demon out of a young boy.
Jesus comes down from the mountain and is met by the boys father, who tells Jesus His disciples were unable to cast out the demon.
Jesus reveals His disciples lack of faith and then cast out the boys demon.
• Remember I said that to survive in the valley, we need a faith focused on and fully dependent upon Jesus.
Right on the heels of that, the 12 disciples get into an argument about which of them was the greatest. That showed us that our pride can be so deeply rooted
• that not only can’t we see it in ourselves,
• it has a very short memory when it comes to our own failures.
Jesus immediately calls them on it by using a child as an object lesson. He tells his disciples that instead of seeking status for themselves, to seek to care for the needs of and elevate those who have no status, like that child.
• Remember I said that to survive in the valley we need to be humble.
Next, the Apostle John, changed the subject by telling Jesus they ran into someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name but were not part of their group, the 12. But Jesus told him not to worry about it because if the man was not against the 12 then consider him for the 12.
What we saw was an extension of individual pride, manifest as ‘group pride.’ A pride that separates us from other groups by thinking they are less than, not as important as, nor as ‘Biblical,’ as our group.
One take away of that, is that the church today has enough enemies, other Christ exalting churches shouldn’t be one of them.
• Remember I said that to survive in the valley, we need to have a Kingdom mindset.
Transition: OK, now that we’re caught up, open your Bibles to Luke 9:51.
III. Luke 9:51-56  Compassion
A. Luke 9:51  Set His face
A major shift in Luke’s Gospel takes place here in verse 51. I addressed this at our Good Friday service, so just a couple thoughts.
Read: Luke 9:51
He set His face to go to Jerusalem. This is a Hebrew idiom that means ‘to be determined.’ In this case it represents
• Jesus’ profound tenacity to accomplish His purpose,
• even taking into account, His impending persecution, suffering and death.
Listen, Jesus knew His purpose in life. He lived out that purpose, faithfully, and with a great sense of urgency.
B. Luke 9:52-56  Compassion
Read: Luke 9:52-56
The most direct way to get from Galilee, where Jesus and the 12 were, to Jerusalem, was trough Samaria, but all respectable Jews avoided it.
• The utter loathing that existed between the Jews and Samaritans had gone on for centuries.
• In fact, the Samaritans would do everything they could, even using violence, to keep Jews from traveling through their land.
Here, Jesus sent messengers into a Samaritan village requesting hospitality, overnight accommodations. Now, even though Jesus was accepted earlier in Samaria, after He had talked to the woman at the well, this time, this village rejected His request for hospitality.
That didn’t go well with John and James who were not only apostles, but brothers.  Listen again to what they ask Jesus:
• Lord, do You want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?
Where is their heart of compassion? After all, John is the John who wrote:
• Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7–8)
Yes, God was still working in John. Aren’t you happy about that? It means there’s hope for our shortcomings.
Let’s try to break this down.
First, nowhere in Scripture are we are told they had the power to tell fire to come down from heaven. So where did they get the idea they could actually do that? Their pride.
Questions:
• Who were the 3 disciples whom Jesus took with Him up on the mountain? (Peter, John, James)
• Who appeared with Jesus in glorified bodies on the mountain? (Moses and Elijah)
John/James were given the privilege of seeing the prophet Elijah. But, that great privilege turned into great pride. How?
• They knew the OT storied… Elijah was a hero to the Israelites.
• Elijah did something very similar in 2 Kings 1. He called down fire from heaven to destroy the messengers of the ungodly king of Samaria.
However, in Elijah’s case, he was acting upon God’s calling… Jesus never called them to violence when someone rejected Him. By the way, He still doesn’t.
Second, I believe they were trying to bring honor to Jesus, but, in an inappropriate way. Jesus rebukes them. And that shows that their heart was not in tune with Jesus’ heart… of compassion.
Allow me a few passages from God’s Word that clearly express God’s heart of compassion for the lost, even the rebellious.
Read: Matthew 9:36 When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Read: John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
Read: Romans 5:8 God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Finally, what John and James said was, in fact, a poorly vailed prejudice against the Samaritans. A prejudice that they wanted to act on with violence.
• Today we would call it racism.
• Today, we still want to express it with violence.
• It was wrong back then, and it still is today.
IV. Luke 9:57-62  Commitment
A. Luke 9:57-58  Wherever you go
ILL: A cartoon showed a church building with a large billboard in front that proclaimed: “The LITE CHURCH: 24% fewer commitments, home of the 7.5% tithe, 15 minute sermons, 45 minute worship service; we have only 8 commandments—your choice. We use just 3 spiritual laws and have an 800 year millennium. Everything you’ve wanted in a church … and less!”
Commenting on this, a pastor writes: “90% of our churches across the country require less commitment than the local Kiwanis club” (Steven Cole)
Unfortunately that has become all too true in many if not most churches today. For two interrelated reasons:
• Christians, just don’t want to make commitments to a local church.
• And the local church, acquiesces; complies w/o protest.
As a result we perpetuate a community of Christians who are not fully committed to Jesus Christ nor to helping to build His kingdom.
• To put it another way, the community of the church becomes a mile wide and an inch deep, and no one does anything about it.
And truth be told, we at CBC are not excluded.
• So as you begin to grasp what Jesus says here, you might begin to feel as uneasy as I did when I was writing this.
Here’s the bottom line:
• Anything that competes with Jesus for our loyalty must be seen as an idol. Anything!
OK, now that I’ve ruffled some feathers, back to the text. To show us how that actually plays out in our lives, Dr. Luke gives us three events related to our commitment to Jesus. The first is in Luke 9:57-58
Read: Luke 9:57-58
As they were traveling, someone, not one of the 12, comes up to Jesus and says that he wants to follow Him wherever He goes.
Admirable, but Jesus tells him that before you glibly make that commitment, count the cost.
Remember Jesus words to His disciples on this subject:
• And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)
The life of a follower of Jesus is not an easy one.
• It’s a life of self-denial, of self-sacrifice.
• It’s often hard, always a life of faith and one where our own comfort and achievements are not worth our efforts to obtain.
The Apostle Paul knew something about this.
• …If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:4b–7)
When Jesus told the man that He had nowhere to lay His head, He was saying your commitment must be to Me… not to seeking comfort and security. Because, you are just passing through this world, heading to your true home in the eternal kingdom of God.
• So, while on this earth, wherever you find yourself in life, you must remain fully committed… to Me.
B. Luke 9:59-60  Your highest calling
Read: Luke 9:59-60
A second man comes to Jesus and says he wants to follow Him. Right off the bat I agree with you that Jesus’ words here sound very harsh… even unfair. After all why did God place us in families if we’re not to commit a significant amount of our time and efforts nurturing our relationship in them?
Let’s find out what Jesus means.
First, most scholars don’t believe this man’s father had actually died. If he was dead, the man wouldn’t be on the road following after Jesus because the Jews buried their dead the same day they died.
Here is what’s more likely in this scenario.
• The man wanted to wait for his father to die so he could get his inheritance (something extremely important to Jewish men at that time.)
• Then, he would commit to following Jesus.
The first example in verses 57-58 showed us we must count the cost of following Jesus, here, we must make Jesus the highest priority in our life.
ILL: With this verse, D.L. Moody looked at the lives of those in his church community and thought: the church reminded him of firemen straightening pictures on the wall of a burning house. (Chris Benfield)
Skewed priorities.
Look, don’t misunderstand me… or Scripture:
• Jesus isn’t saying we must neglect our responsibilities to our family.
• But that Jesus must have preeminence in our lives as we exercise our family responsibilities.
Here’s the idea of this text.
• There will be times in life when we must involve ourselves with earthly cares, but they cannot dictate our lives.
• There is a greater work to be done than the simple accomplishments of this life.
• Jesus didn’t want the man to be insensitive to the needs of his family, but the most important task was to share the forgiving, life transforming, saving gospel of Christ.
• Jesus wanted the man to see past the physical death of his father and his inheritance to consider the spiritual death of all men but the spiritual inheritance available through faith in Jesus.
(adapted from Chris Benfield)
With this example Jesus is asking us to consider a hard question:
• What is it that always takes precedence in our life over following Jesus?
C. Luke 9:61-62  No turning back
Read: Luke 9:61-62
A third man comes to Jesus with a desire to follow Him. This request seems reasonable doesn’t it?
• Jesus look, just give me some time to say goodbye to my family and friends.
• Then soon, you know, sometime after that, I’ll make that commitment to follow You.
Today, we have more self-justifiable excuses for not making a commitment to follow Jesus today and with our whole heart.
• I need to finish college and get a good job.
• My kids are young and they need all of my attention.
• My job is just too demanding right now.
• My kids are older and need to discover what they’re good at and pursue it.
• When they are out of the house, I’ll commit to following Jesus.
This example of a lack of commitment is pretty clear.
• If your heart is focused on anything or anyone else but Jesus, even the good things of your life
• you will not be fully committed to Jesus.
But, here’s the thing, God is looking for fully committed Christians… today!
And this is not something new to Scripture. Joshua, after he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, just before he died, said the same thing to the Israelites who had been floundering in their faith and commitment to God.
• …choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15b)
Christian, choose this day whom you will serve.
Conclusion
Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem.
• He knew His purpose in life.
• He lived out that purpose faithfully and with a great sense of urgency.
What we saw in Luke 9:42-62, and most clearly in verses 57-62, is that
• God calls each of those who are His by faith in Jesus,
• to live the purpose He has set for us…
• in the very same manner Jesus did:
• faithfully and with a great sense of urgency.
What is that purpose, our purpose as followers of Jesus Christ, besides the obvious… to follow Jesus?
It’s two fold. And let me give it to you directly from God’s Word so as not to mistake it for mine.
Read: Matthew 22:37-39 And He (Jesus) said…, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Read: Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
For the one who professes to be a Christian, NOTHING and NO ONE is more important than fulfilling God’s  purpose for you… today!
• Not your pride, not this local church, not your comfort, not your family, not your dreams for the future, not even your very life.
ILL: The theologian Augustine was listening to a teaching about the Kingdom of God and was greatly troubled. He knew what the preacher was saying was right, and that he wasn’t living his life for God, but he also was living with his mistress. So a conflict happened within him and so he offered up this prayer. “Lord, make me good: but not yet.” (Dennis Lee)
To make this more relevant to the text, have you perhaps changed his prayer to this?
• Lord, make me compassionate towards the lost and committed to You, but not yet.