Luke: Taking your eyes off Jesus. -08/11/19

Message: ‘Taking your eyes off Jesus’               Text: Luke 22:1-6

Introduction: PP: The heart. When you hear that word, tell me what comes to mind.

  • It’s an organ that pumps blood thru our body.
  • Symbolically, it’s the place of our emotions.
  • The heart is a symbol for love.
  • When love is rejected, a heart can be broken.
  • To show compassion is to have a heart for others.
  • To show apathy or a lack of concern, is to have a hard heart.
  • To give up on someone or something is to lose heart.

PP: Next Slide

There is another truth related to the heart…

  • it can drift. (Adapted from Jeffrey Anselmi)

In our text this morning, we’ll find that when we take our eyes off Jesus, our hearts will drift to worldly pursuits.

Background: While verses 1-2 of Luke 22 focus on the Jewish religious leaders and how they took their eyes of Jesus and their hearts drifted to worldly pursuits,

  • it’s Judas who’s the key figure in the 6 verses we’ll examine this morning.

Judas too took his eyes off Jesus and his heart drifted… to the point of betraying Jesus.

 Let’s talk a bit about Judas before we engage the text.

Let me ask, do you know anyone named Judas? Probably not.

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, John… yes! Joshua, Mary, Martha, Paul… even Hezekiah! But not Judas.

Why? Anyone?

  • Because that name is associated with the worst betrayal of all time…

It seems to even have affected Jesus’ half brother Jude. Did you know his full name was Judas? Looks like he shortened it so not to be confused with Judas Iscariot. (Matthew 13:55)

But, let’s get back to Judas’ betrayal for a moment.

Have you ever thought about why Judas betrayed Jesus? Scholars have come up with a few possible reasons: PP:

  • Judas was greedy and betrayed Jesus for the money.
  • Judas didn’t like that Jesus wasn’t the ‘military Messiah’ he had hoped for.
  • Some say he turned state’s evidence against Jesus to avoid persecution when all this went south.
  • While others posture that Judas couldn’t stand to be in Jesus’ presence because he felt Jesus could see right through him.

I’m not sure it was for any one reason, but perhaps for all of the above. Why? Because somewhere along the way, Judas’ agenda changed and I believe it began when he took his eyes off Jesus.

PP: Next Slide

Transition: So, let’s open our Bibles to Luke 22:1. And we’ll see what can happen when we take our eyes off Jesus.

  1. Luke 22:1-2 Off Jesus and on religion and fear

PP: Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put Him to death, for they feared the people.

It’s Thursday of Passion week. Jesus will be killed on Friday and raised from the dead on Sunday.

From the time Jesus began His ministry, He had numerous confrontations with the Jewish religious leaders… and each time, it ended badly for them.

  • They were embarrassed in front of the crowds.
  • They were threatened by His knowledge of Scripture and by the authority with which He spoke.
  • .. they hated that Jesus had ‘stolen’ the hearts of the Jewish people, that they felt belonged to them.

So, instead of looking to Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, their hearts drifted and they took their eyes off Jesus to focus on religion… at least on what had become it.

  • Remember, many times Jesus proved the practice of the Jewish religion in His day had become corrupt and no longer focused on God, but on the rituals of worship and the leaders of worship in the temple and synagogues.

So, rather than give Jesus their hearts, rather than see Jesus with their eyes and believe in and  follow Him as their Messiah, they chose to take their eyes off Him and put them on what they were already doing…

  • trying to appease God’s wrath to earn entrance into Heaven, by good works.

Here’s a foundational truth…

  • whenever we take our eyes off Jesus,
  • we resort to works… of some kind, to look religious and to cover over our guilt.

The religious leaders took their eyes off Jesus in another way… they focused on fear. The text says they feared the people.

  • They were more afraid of what the people thought of them and might do to them,
  • than what they thought Jesus could do to them.

In other words, they had the most fear in the least harmful thing. Let me give you a very personal example: PP:

  • Many years ago when I was young and dumb, I decided to go bungee jumping.
  • It was at a local carnival in Levittown, PA.
  • There was a cage 175ft in the air held by a metal chain attached to a large crane.
  • PP: There was an elastic cord made up of many small elastic strands forming a core, usually covered with polypropylene that was connected to the bottom of the cage and to my ankles.

Lastly, there was a guy in the cage saying jump on 3.

  • 1 2 3… nothing
  • 1 2 3… nothing

Before the third time he said that if I didn’t jump this time, he would have to lower the cage so I would walk off.

  • At that moment only one thought crossed my mind… not my wife, not my children
  • But that if I was lowered down, the crowd, and it was a big crowd, would laugh at me.

PP: So, the guy said 1 2 3… and I jumped head first, 175 feet, to a 1 inch foam mat on the concrete ground. (like that was going to do anything should the rope break)

We’ll I’m here to say, it was exhilarating.

  • But also one of the most stupid things I’ve ever done, because the fear of being embarrassed, overwhelmed my fear of dying and leaving behind my family.

Look, taking your eyes off Jesus and focusing on fear will also make you do very dumb, and sometimes even sinful things.

  • Take a moment… I can’t believe I’m the only one whose fear led them to something pretty dumb.

Listen, none of those dumb or sinful things we’ve done in fear were necessary. Allow me to remind you what God says about fear:

PP:

  • The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
  • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Don’t let fear cause you to take your eyes off Jesus!

Transition: Ok, I’ve attempted to stay close to Luke’s Gospel in this series… But there’s relevant information in John’s Gospels that has bearing on how Judas’ heart drifted and caused him to take his eyes off Jesus.

We’ll look at an event that took place just prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

  1. John 12:1-7 Off Jesus and on money

PP: 2 slides Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for Him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with Him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.”

Dr. Luke omits this event with Mary.

From John’s Gospel a connection is made between Judas objecting to the money that could have been obtained from selling the oil and Judas betraying Jesus.

  • For me, and some other scholars, that indicated that Judas’ most pressing reason for betraying Jesus was greed, money.
  • You see, according to John’s text, Judas was skimming off the top from all the money Jesus and the disciples got, since he was appointed treasurer.

If they sold the oil for a great sum of money, Judas would help himself to some of that too.

I believe what we see in John 12:1-7 is a comparison between Mary and what she did and Judas and what he said.

  • Mary’s heart was sold out for Jesus.
  • Judas’ heart had begun to drift.

A heart that’s sold out for Jesus,

  • Hungers and thirsts for Him.
  • It longs for holiness.
  • It breaks when we sin.
  • It looks for ways to honor Jesus.

Mary, in our text, is shown to be sold out for Jesus, to have a heart for Jesus, her eyes were held steadfast on Him and as a result she worshipped Him using the expensive oil

But, when the heart begins to drift… When we start taking our eyes off Jesus, one of the places we look… is to money and the things money can buy.

  • And yes, this even happens in some churches.

ILL: Pastor Chuck Morley writes:

I was watching a nationally known pastor on television for a for minutes the other day. When I turned on his show he was standing behind the pulpit leading his congregation in today’s Health,

Wealth & Prosperity mantra, “Gimme my stuff!”

  • You laugh, perhaps are a bit skeptical, but he continues…

Thousands of church members standing, shouting “Gimme my stuff!” “Gimme my stuff!” (End quote)

  • When the church takes it’s eyes off Jesus, it looks to ‘stuff.’

In John 12:7 how does Jesus respond to Judas’ challenge? Jesus redirects Judas’ focus away from money and back to Himself.

 PP:  Next Slide

Jesus attempts to redirect Judas’ eyes towards what’s of utmost importance… Him, Jesus!

Transition: Well, we find Judas would have none of that. He had just been publicly rebuked by Jesus. His heart had drifted, he had taken his eyes off Jesus and the only thing left, was to betray Him.

  1. Luke 22:3-6 Off Jesus and on self

PP: Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of a crowd.

OK, right off the bat we hit the proverbial theological wall…Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.

Commentator Albert Barnes, along with most, conservative, scholars, describes the process this way: It is not necessary to suppose that Satan entered personally into the body of Judas, but only that he brought him under his influence; he filled his mind with an evil passion, and led him on to betray his Master.

Let me see if I can frame this so you see how this can happen.

  • I think Judas eagerly made the decision to leave his family and follow Jesus.
  • I think Judas perhaps started out with some enthusiasm about Jesus and His ministry.
  • I think Judas was proud, in a good way, to have been chosen by Jesus to be one of His 12.
  • I think Judas initially had good intentions about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

But there came a time, because of how he responded to Jesus’ teachings and actions, that his heart drifted.

  • Judas came to the place in his life, where he decided that in spite of what Jesus was saying and doing, he was going to pursue his own agenda. To live how he wanted to live.
  • His agenda was not Jesus, but self. He was in this now for what he could get out of it.
  • He began to steal from the ministry petty cash fund. And when he found he could get away with it, he stole more and more often.
  • His greed took over and he challenged Jesus for allowing Mary to waste the expensive oil on Him.
  • Jesus, publicly rebukes Judas for where his hear is.

And when he saw that this Jesus thing, was not going in the direction that was advantageous for him, he jumped ship by selling Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver.

So here’s the thing. Judas didn’t ask Satan into his life. I don’t believe he was possessed by Satan.

  • His heart, over time, drifted from Jesus.
  • Over time he took his eyes off Jesus and placed them on himself.
  • Sin became easier as time when on. Satan’s influence became greater and greater

For whatever reason Judas betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders, it was because in his heart he thought it was in his best interest to do so.

  • His heart drifted, he took his eyes off Jesus
  • And it eventually led to his destruction… it always does… for everyone who rejects Jesus.

 PP: Conclusion

I need to tell you that

  • Making a decision to follow Jesus, enthusiasm for who Jesus is, being a part of Jesus’ group (attending church) and having good intentions, even doing good things with the church
  • … doesn’t save you. It doesn’t convert you… now there’s a word the church doesn’t use much anymore… convert.

To be saved is to be converted. Conversion is achieved

  • by the power of God
  • through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • It changes, no gives us a new heart that rather than beating for ourselves, beats for Jesus.
  • And that new heart, that beats for Jesus floods our hearts with faith, saving faith to believe in Jesus.
  • That new heart also leads us to our knees to repent of our sin and ask God for forgiveness.
  • And that conversion, that new heart, results in a new life lived for Jesus.

Judas never had that. Do you? Or are you just going through the motions of religion like Judas did?

  • Because you need to know, if you are like you’ll never see the kingdom of God.

We will see later that Judas never repented, never asked Jesus to forgive his sin. And we’re told he was lost… forever.

If God is touching your heart right now,

  • respond to Him,
  • ask Him to forgive your sin,
  • repent (choose right now to turn away from your sin)
  • and ask Jesus to be your Savior,
  • ask Him to give you the will and power to submit to His rule over your life.

God’s Word promises that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

  • Everyone… even you.

And He’ll give you a new heart. A heart to love Him, a heart to obey Him, a heart to serve Him.

And Christian, listen, we too can have hearts that drift, we too can take our eyes off Jesus. And be warned, it’s always a slow drift.

  • When we take our eyes off Jesus, our will rules, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we submit to the will of God.
  • When we take our eyes off Jesus, we find pride in our good works, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we’re humbled by our sin.
  • When we take our eyes off Jesus we justify our sin, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we confess and mourn over our sin.
  • When we take our eyes off Jesus getting to know Him is just a peripheral thought… when convenient, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, it becomes our one, true, and holy passion.

Christian, if your heart has drifted from Jesus, if you’ve taken your eyes off Jesus…

repent, seek God’s forgiveness and find restoration, rediscover your purpose in Him and find renewed blessing.

Fix your eyes on Jesus!