The Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the book of Luke (KJV)
You may read and discover Chuck’s entire biblical commentary here. http://www.blueletterbible.org/
The truth according to The Word of God! The Book of Luke in the Holy Bible. Don’t be deceived by another Gospel!
Luke, the author of this third gospel, was called by Paul the apostle “the beloved physician.” There is some speculation that his patron was a man by the name of Theophilus. In those days physicians were often slaves. And there are some who theorize that Luke was Theophilus’ personal physician and servant. Whether or not that be so is only a matter of speculation, and thus, worthless to delve into.
Luke was a Greek. And he is the only Gentile to have the privilege of placing scripture in that holy canon of scripture, which we recognize as inspired of God. And there are two New Testament books that are ascribed to Luke. Of course, the gospel according to Luke and then the Acts of the apostles, which he begins again addressing himself to Theophilus saying, “The former treatise have I made onto thee, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1).
There are some who say that the word Theophilus is not actually a person at all, but just the word in Greek, Theophilao is “lover of God”. And so that Luke is actually addressing his letter to the lovers of God. However, the people were usually named after hopes or aspirations or whatever of their parents, and there is no real reason to believe that Theophilus was not an actual person. In fact, being addressed as the most excellent Theophilus indicates that he was actually a ruler in the Roman Empire, as that is a title that is given to men who had a ruling position within the Roman Empire.
Luke introduces the gospel to Theophilus in the first four verses of chapter one.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in an orderly fashion those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them onto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had a complete understanding of all of these things from the very first, to write unto thee an orderly progression, most excellent Theophilus. That you may know the certainty of those things, wherein you have been instructed (Luk 1:1-4).
So Luke here declares that he has heard the message from those persons who were actually the eyewitnesses to these things. Now Luke, no doubt, interviewed personally Mary, in order that he might get a complete understanding concerning the circumstances that were surrounding the birth of Jesus. Luke, being a doctor, would be interested in various aspects that bordered on the medical profession. And it is obvious that he received the information of chapters one and two directly from Mary. And so from his interview with Mary and his questioning of Mary, he got the information for chapters one and two. And the information in these two chapters is not found in detail like this in the other gospels. He had heard Peter and John and those who had been with Jesus, those who were eyewitnesses, he heard their stories, as they told of their relationship with Jesus and of the work and the ministry that Jesus preformed. And then he, no doubt, questioned them more thoroughly to get a more complete understanding. And having what he feels to be a complete understanding of the story, he then proceeds to write to this man Theophilus, in order that he might realize the certainty of those things that he had heard.
Now Luke begins then the actual story of the gospel of Jesus by dealing with the birth, first of all, of John the Baptist, who was to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
And so there was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth (Luk 1:5).
So immediately we are introduced to the persons that will be involved in the first part of his narrative here.
Zacharias of the tribe of Levi, making him then one of the priests. He was of the family of Abirim. His wife was also of the tribe of Levi. She was a descendent from the family of Aaron. Now at this particular time in Israel, there were around 20,000 descendents from Levi, male descendents, involved in the priesthood. And in as much as it was, of course, impossible for all 20,000 to serve continually in the temple, each family had their turn to serve, and they served twice during the year for one-week periods. And when it was the turn of your family to serve, they would cast lots to determine what particular aspect of the service you would be engaged in. And maybe once in a lifetime the priest would have his lot to fall upon the offering of the incense before the altar of incense before the Lord. This was usually just a once in a lifetime; one day in your life you get this glorious privilege of going in with the incense before the altar of incense to offer it before the Lord for the people. And so this was surely a significant and a special day for Zacharias, who during the time that he was serving there, the lot fell on him for this particular task.
Now we are told concerning Zacharias and Elisabeth that:
They were both righteous before God, [they] walked in all of the commandments and the ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luk 1:6).
Two beautiful, righteous people who are quite insignificant as far as the world is concerned. People who loved the Lord, people who walked with the Lord, people you would have never heard about, unless they had been so involved in the story of Jesus Christ. The people, because of their involvement, we are told of them.
Now we are also told that:
They had no child, because Elisabeth was barren; and they were both now well stricken in years (Luk 1:7).
That is, the years had taken their toll; they were bent over. They had become feeble. And the idea of well stricken in years is that of feebleness as the result of age.
In that culture it was considered a curse for a woman not to bear a child. And it was legal grounds for divorce. Had Zacharias desire to put away Elisabeth because of her inability to bear children, no one would have questioned him. It would have been accepted by everybody. But, no doubt, there was a tremendous love that they shared together, and they shared this grief and this sorrow together that they were unable to have children.
Now it came to pass, that, while he was fulfilling the priest office before God in the order of his course (Luk 1:8),
They had the priestly orders, and this was one of the weeks that he had to come in for his particular duty of service.
According as was the custom of the priest office, his lot fell that he might burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord (Luk 1:9).
And you can imagine the excitement of this old man, probably the only day in his life. And he probably had given up by now ever having the opportunity of burning incense. When the lots were drawn, his was that lot to burn the incense before the Lord that day.
And the whole multitude of people were praying outside at the time of incense (Luk 1:10).
Now they would go in before the altar of incense, and they would take this little golden bowl that had burning coals that had been taken from the altar where they had offered the sacrifice. The lamb was offered in the morning and in the evening. And they would take the coals from the altar, put it in this little golden bowl, and then they would put the incense on top. And they would go in swinging this little incense burner before the altar incense, and the smoke, the sweet smelling smoke, would ascend up, and it was a beautiful symbolism of how God receives the prayers of His people. Our prayers that we offer to God arise before God as a sweet smelling odor, pleasant, beautiful.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 5, when the lamb takes the scroll out of the right hand of Him who is sitting upon the throne, John said, “And the twenty-four elders came forth with their little golden bowls, full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offered them before the throne of God” (Revelation 5:8).
Now you remember that when God gave to Moses the instructions for building the tabernacle, and all of these furnishings, and the methods of worship were established, the Lord told Moses over, and over, “Now be careful that you make it exactly according to plan.” And the reason why he was to make it exactly according to the plan that was given to him was because this whole thing was a model of what is in heaven. If you want to know what the heavenly scene, the throne of God and all looks like, you can study the tabernacle. And it was a model of heavenly things. So, as the priest on earth would take this little golden bowls and fill them with incense and the incense would arise as the prayer, a sweet smelling savor before God, so in heaven. Chapter 5 of Revelation, we see it fulfilled in the heavenly scene, as the twenty-four elders offer their little golden bowls full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.
So a beautiful symbolism there. And so in offering the incense before the altar of incense, which was in the inner court of the temple, in the holy place, not the holy of holies–only the high priest went in there once a year, but the holy place which was just outside of the holy of holies.
And while he was there, the multitude of people were waiting outside. Because it was then customary when he came out to place the blessing of God upon the people. It was a special occasion, and the people would wait for the priest to come out and give them this blessing.
And there appeared onto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said onto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard (Luk 1:11-13);
What prayer? For years he had been praying, “Lord, please give me a son.” It really gives to us encouragement for persistence in prayer. He didn’t give up. Even though he was now old. Well stricken with years. He was still praying, “Oh, Lord, I’d love to have a son.”
thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name, Johanam (Luk 1:13).
Which means the Lord is gracious. It is shortened to John, but the full name is actually Johanam.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many will rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the side of the Lord, and he shall drink neither wine, nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him [that is the Messiah] in the spirit and in the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luk 1:14-17).
Now the last word of God to man prior to this was in Malachi, the fourth chapter. And the last word of God to man was in Malachi 4:5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
That was the last word of God to man in the old covenant period, prior to the angel meeting Zacharias there at the altar of the Lord. And it is interesting though the Lord has been silent for four hundred years, that very promise, which was the last promise of the old testament, is the first word of the Lord in the new testament, which is the fulfillment of that prophesy, which is about to take place, as this child that will be born, will go forth in the spirit and in the power of Elijah.
Now there is a lot of confusion as regards to John the Baptist, and the prophesy of the coming of Elijah. In John’s gospel we are told that as John was baptizing at the Jordan River, the Pharisees came out and they demanded of him his authority, and who gave him the authority to do these things. They said, “Are you the Messiah?” He said, “No.” They said, “Are you Elijah?” He said, “No.” “Then who are you?” He said, “I am just the voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His path” (John 1:20-23).
And yet, here the angel of the Lord tells his father that he will be going forth in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah.
Now the confusion exists in the fact that there were two comings of the Messiah. The first coming that we find recorded here in the gospel. The second coming for which we presently wait. And even as Elijah will appear before Jesus comes again. So John the Baptist came in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah. And if a person is able to accept it, he was the fulfillment of that promise of Elijah coming before the Lord, to cause the hearts of the children to turn to their fathers, and their fathers to their children.
So the confusion lies in the fact that there are two comings of the Messiah, as well as the two comings of Elijah, both of them to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.
He shall be great in the sight of the Lord. He was to be as a Nazarene. Not drinking wine or strong drink, but filled with the Holy Spirit, from his mother’s womb.
In a little bit we will be studying where Mary, when she received word that she was to be the instrument through which the Messiah was to be born, went to this little village of Juda, the home of Elisabeth, who at that point was six months pregnant. And when Mary walked in and greeted Elisabeth, Elisabeth felt the baby leap in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
So at that time, no doubt, John was also filled with the Holy Spirit, a prenatal experience, which is quite interesting indeed. Even from his mother’s womb.
Now though Zacharias had been praying that he might have a son, the prayers had not really been prayers of faith anymore, just of a hardly even a glimmering hope. Because when this angel told him that he was to have a son, he didn’t believe it. And he challenged the angel.
Zacharias said onto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years. And the angel answering said onto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I’ve been sent to speak to thee, and to show thee this glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (Luk 1:18-20).
It is interesting to me that we so often put such great emphasis upon our faith that God will do a certain thing. As though God is almost impotent apart from man’s faith, to operate, or to work. But here with Zacharias, the angel said, “Alright, you want a sign? You’re not going to be able to speak until the day the child is born, because you didn’t believe.”
The things that God is going to perform, whether you believe it or not, God is going to do it. Your unbelief will not stop the work of God. It will not hinder the purposes of God. And so many times they put heavy trips on us. You know, as though God’s work is totally responsible upon my hanging in there and believing, and I feel so guilty because maybe I failed God, and thus, people are lost, or whatever, because I failed God. No, God’s purposes shall stand, whether I believe it or not. You see, your believing or not believing doesn’t really hinder the work of God. He is going to do what He is going to do, in spite of us. And that’s sort of comforting, because I’d hate to think that God’s work depended on me and my faithfulness.
You remember when the children of Israel were threatened with extinction because of Haman’s getting the king to sign the degree that all the Jews were to be put to death on a certain day. And Mordecai sent a message to Esther that she should go in before the king and plead the cause of her people. And she responded, “You just don’t do that, that’s not the protocol of the court. Even as his wife I can’t go in there anytime I want to see him. I can’t go in there unless he calls me in. And if anyone would there to go in before the king, not being called, you’re putting your own life in jeopardy. Because if he doesn’t raise the scepter, they’ll put you to death immediately. And so Mordecai sent an answer back, “Do you think that if this degree goes through that you’re going to escape? How do you know, Esther, but what God didn’t bring you to the kingdom for just this purpose?” And then he said, “If you altogether fail, then their deliverance will arise from another corner.” God is going to deliver His people. His purposes are going to stand. God is going to deliver His people. But you will lose out completely.
Now God’s work is going to be done. You may lose out on those rewards and blessings that you could have experienced, had you’ve been faithful. But your unfaithfulness is not going to stop that which God has purposed to do.
And so here is Zacharias, filled with unbelief. “How can I know this? I am old man, my wife is an old woman. What do you mean I am going to have a son?” ” I am Gabriel.”
The last appearance of Gabriel to our knowledge on the earth was about a little over five hundred years prior to this particular event, when Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel and gave to Daniel one of the clearest prophesies concerning the time of the coming of the Messiah. It was Gabriel who said unto Daniel that there are seventy sevens determined upon the nation of Israel, to finish the transgression, to make an end of iniquity. To bring in the everlasting righteousness. To anoint the most holy place. To complete the prophetic picture. And no one understand from the time the commandment goes forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, to the coming of the Messiah, the prince, will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. The walls should be built again in troublous times. And after the sixty-nine sevens will the Messiah be caught off, and receive nothing for Himself, and the people will be dispersed.
And so this amazing prediction of the time of the coming of the Messiah was given by none other than our friend Gabriel. Sort of a timeless fellow, because now it’s over five hundred years later, and he shows up on the scene again. Probably looking as young and fresh as ever. Announcing now to Zacharias that his wife Elisabeth was to bear the son, which was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, as he will go forth in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah to fulfill the prophesy of sending the messenger before the face of the Lord.
It would appear that as God has set in order the things of the universe, that He probably placed Gabriel as the overseer in charge of the details of getting His Son into the world. Preparing the people on the earth, preparing Mary, because it was Gabriel who appeared to Mary. Preparing here Zacharias. It would seem that he has a hard time keeping secrets. He appeared five hundred years earlier and spilled the beans to Daniel of a time that the Messiah would be coming. And so here he is again, some five hundred years later. It will be interesting to meet Gabriel, looking young and fresh as ever, as he is one of those special angels that God has committed great responsibilities to. And I for one am quite anxious to meet Gabriel. Now, I don’t expect him to sit on my bed and pet my dog. And for you who have read that book, you know what I am talking about.
Now the people waited for Zacharias, [They were waiting outside for that blessing from the priest.] and they marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and so they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and he remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house (Luk 1:21-23).
So, because they only served for a week at the time. In just a few days he left there, Jerusalem, and went to Judea, which is nearby Jerusalem, actually.
And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and she hid herself for five months, saying, Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach from among men (Luk 1:24-25).
Her inability to bear children caused her to be a reproach. But the Lord, she says, has taken that away.
And in the sixth month [the same fellow] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin who was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary (Luk 1:26-27).
Three terms we need to deal with: engaged, espoused, and married. A person could become engaged when they were two years old, because for the most part, marriage was by arrangement. So parents would get together, they would be friends. You have a pretty little girl, your friends would have a nice little boy, and we’re friends with each other, why don’t we have your son marry my daughter? And we make the arrangements. And so here these little kids, they are four years old, walking around saying, “Well, we’re engaged.” Because the arrangements had been made by their parents that they would have each other as husband and wife. They felt that decisions as important as marriage should never be left to the capriciousness of youth. They felt that young people didn’t have enough wisdom to choose their mates.
Now as they became older, and usually they were married by the age of fifteen or sixteen years old. And as they became older, one year before they had the marriage ceremony, they entered into a period known as espousal, where they were as though they were married, in that they were committed completely to each other, but there was never a consummation of the marriage during this period of time. However, once they entered into the period of espousal, they were considered married to the extent that if the fellow wanted to break it off, he had to actually get a divorce, even though the marriage at this point had never been consummated.
So Mary and Joseph were in this period of espousal. Where they were totally committed to each other and to the marriage of each other, and yet, the marriage was not to be consummated until the ceremony at a later time.
And so, “To the virgin who was espoused,” she was in this period of the one year before the actual consummation of the marriage, “to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
And the angel Gabriel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at what he was saying, and thought in her mind what kind of a greeting is this. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jehoshua (Luk 1:28-31).
Which in Greek is Jesus, but in Hebrew Jehoshua, which means, Jehovah is salvation.
Now you remember in Matthew’s gospel when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, and he was really troubled by it, because they were espoused. He thought he might just give her a bill of divorcement, put her away privately, because if he would her expose her publicly she’d be stoned to death. And the angel of the Lord came to Joseph at night and said, “Fear not to take Mary as your wife. That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, and thou shalt call His name Jehoshua” (Matthew 1:20-21). So both Mary and Joseph were instructed by the angel of the Lord in the naming of Jesus. But when he told Joseph, “Call his name Jehoshua,” he said, “For He shall save His people from their sins.”
So the name is extremely significant because it expresses the mission of Jesus, and that is bringing God’s salvation to men. Jehoshua, the Lord is become our salvation.
Then the angel Gabriel went on to say,
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of His father David (Luk 1:32):
And, of course, throughout the Old Testament prophesies, there was that promise that the Messiah would sit upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it in righteousness and in judgment, from henceforth, even forever.
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luk 1:33).
In the book of Revelation, again, that glorious song that Handel has put to music, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords, forever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah.”
So the angel is telling about the eternal reign of Jesus Christ.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luk 1:34)
Now there is a vast difference between the question of Zacharias and the question of Mary. Zacharias was questioning the word of the Lord. Mary was only asking information on the procedures. “How is this to be, seeing I know not a man?” Hers was not the question of doubt. Hers was only an inquiring question as to the manner by which it should be fulfilled. She believed. And that is pointed out a little later as Elisabeth said, “Blessed art thou who hast believed the words that the Lord spoke to thee.”
She believed the word that the Lord spoke to her. However, she didn’t know by what process it was to be fulfilled, and that really was her question. “How is this going to be, seeing I am a virgin, I know not a man?”
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy one which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month of her pregnancy, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luk 1:35-38).
There is sometimes within the Protestant circles, perhaps a backlash to that position that the Catholics have sought to place Mary in as the intercessor, and even some today, the co-redemptress, and there is that backlash among Protestants, oftentimes, to sort of put Mary down. However, as the angel said unto her that she was highly favored, that the Lord was with her and she was blessed among women. Surely when God chose an instrument by which to send His Son into the world, I am certain that He chose an instrument that He has thoroughly prepared. And I believe that Mary must have been one of the most beautiful of character of any woman who has ever lived. And I think that we can demonstrate this actually in the text. That she was a extremely unique individual.
Now remember it is possible that at this point she was only about sixteen years old. And yet, there is such a depth of character that is demonstrated in her. And it begins right here as when the angel tells her all of these remarkable, unusual things that are bound to create problems, as they did with Joseph her espoused husband, she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.” With other words, she submitted herself to the purpose of God. “Here I am, let the Lord do as He pleases in my life.” That kind of commitment. And I am just intrigued. And Mary is another one that I want to meet. What an unusually remarkable person. Surely the most blessed of any woman who has ever lived.
Now culturally it was the dream, the hope, the desire of every Jewish girl to be the instrument through which God would send the Messiah into the world. And thus, many young Jewish girls, when they had a boy born to them, would call his name Joshua. Hoping that maybe God would use that child to be the instrument of His salvation. And that was a reason, one of the reasons why being barren was considered such a curse. You have no opportunity to be the mother of the Messiah if you are barren. And that was the hope of every young Jewish girl to be the instrument that God would use, the dream, the hope. And with Elisabeth being barren, she had lost that hope. And, of course, everyone who was barren, they would lose the hope. “Oh, I can’t be the instrument.” And that was a very disappointing thing to them, to feel, “I can’t be the instrument that God uses to accomplish His purpose.”
Oh, that we would be concerned about being the instrument though which God accomplishes His purposes. Today, the Drews are very interesting people. They have an interesting religion that really they don’t even know what it is. In the Drews religion, it’s a break off from the Moslems, but only their priests know what they believe; the people don’t know what they believe. And the priest does the whole religious bit for them. They know they are Drews, and they know that this is their religion and all, but only the priests know what it’s all about. And they know what they believe, but the people don’t. And many of the men, though, are priests. And as you go through the Drews’ villages today, you will see these men wearing these pants with these large pouches in the front. For one of the things that the Drews do believe is that when the Messiah comes, He will be born of a man. And so going through their villages, and it’s fascinating to go through the Drews’ villages, and see these huge baggy pants in the front, these sacks that hang down in the front, and these man wear these in case they are the one that God chooses to send the Messiah through him.
In other words, they are they ones that get pregnant with the Messiah, and so they are prepared for it by wearing these pants with these large baggy things in the front. They are all set for their pregnancies. They already got their maternity clothes.
But such was the hope of every young girl in Israel. And the fulfillment of that hope came to one, a young girl from Nazareth. A beautiful young girl in character and spirit named Mary.
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, to the city of Juda; and she entered into the house of Zacharias, and she greeted Elisabeth (Luk 1:39-40).
That word saluted is an old English word, and it actually means greeted. In the marriage ceremony they used to say, “You may now salute your bride.” But during World War II, too many of the guys were not really understanding the old English word salute, and so it’s now something that you say, “You may now kiss your bride.”
So she entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the [greeting] salutations of Mary, that the baby leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as I heard the voice of your greeting sounding in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believes: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord (Luk 1:41-45).
I suppose that this would be an appropriate place to talk about abortion.
There was John the Baptist six months along, and yet, there was some kind of a recognition, for when Mary spoke, he responded it to it in the womb.
We are told that as the child is in the womb, that it begins to understand and to recognize voices. That you pregnant mothers should talk to your child. For if you are talking to them while you are still pregnant, they will be comforted by your voice after they are born, because they have learned to recognize it. More and more are we discovering interesting facets of that fetal development. And here at six months with John there was that capacity to leap for joy in his mother’s womb when he heard the voice of Mary.
Now remember she is speaking by the Holy Spirit. And thus, we have the word of the Holy Spirit that the child leaped for joy, at the word of Mary.
We talked a little bit this morning about what factors are considered in determining what is right and what is wrong in our present society. And the effect that the philosophy has had upon our entire culture. The idea that the morees determine in a society what is accepted and unacceptable behavior. What is good, what is bad, what is right, and what is wrong. And in this particular philosophical determination, if enough people within a society began to practice a certain thing, it becomes then socially acceptable, or it becomes good, or becomes right, because that is determined by the mores of the society itself. Accepting that God does not exist, because it has to come from a totally humanistic base. God does not exist. And therefore, there is no godly standard for right or wrong. And in as much as there is no goodly standard for right or wrong, right or wrong is determined strictly by the practices, the mores of a particular society. And the sociologists will show that there are societies where the father has nothing to do with the children. And so in that society it is perfectly alright as the uncle takes the father role within the home. There are societies where they have a plurality of wives, or a plurality of husbands. And because it’s the accepted practice of the society, no one thinks wrong of it or thinks it’s bad or evil, and because the mores determine what is right and what is wrong. So you get enough people doing something, and suddenly it becomes right. And so we get enough abortions, killing millions of innocent babies, but it’s alright because it has become part of the mores. No one is supposed to say anything against it.
I have a hard time handling my emotions around a child. I become foolish. I try to come to their level a bit to communicate with them. I am so fascinated with children. I love children so much. I love little boys, and I love little girls. And to me there is nothing more enjoyable than communicating with children. Seeing their responses. I love to study their faces. I love to study their habits. I love to study just children. I can hold them and just look at them for hours on end, watching them, watching the changing expressions and all. I love to see them develop and grow. That is why I have such tremendous difficulty with child abuse. Where an adult would deliberately abuse a little child. Hurt it, damage it, beat it, destroy it. And unfortunately, it is a rising, increasing problem in our society.
In fact, in L. A. County this year there have been more murders of infants than any time in the history of L. A. It’s at record heights. Babies that are beaten to death, they are drowned, or suffocated, abused. It’s reached record proportions this year. And I have such difficulty with this. My body begins to recoil. I have to put it out of my mind, because I just can’t think about to long, it just affects me too deeply. But I wonder if much of this isn’t attributed to the fact that we’ve began to put a cheaper value on life by the legalizing of abortion. You see, it’s alright to abuse the child, as long as it hasn’t been born yet. But if it is alright to abuse that child because it really doesn’t understand much, it hasn’t been born yet, then I wonder if the next step, it, well, it doesn’t really understand too much of what’s going on, so what difference does it make if you abuse the child? Because it doesn’t really know or understand much yet. Whether or not that has anything to do with it, all I know is that with cheapening of the value of life, it seems to be following through all the segments of our society. And I think that we have some extremely dangerous sociological implications that will arise, from some of these humanistic, liberal legislative decisions that are being made. And I only say that to warn you. I don’t think we’re going to have to deal with it too long. I don’t think God will allow things to go on much longer; I would be very shocked if He does.
All I can say, if I was the Lord, I would have closed it down a long time ago.
Now Elisabeth said onto her,
Blessed is she that believed (Luk 1:45):
for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said (Luk 1:45-46),
And here we now get an insight into the beautiful depth of this young girl, as she began to just worship the Lord.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. For his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. For he hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He’s helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; And as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever [in a reference to the promise of God to Abraham, that through thy seed all nations of the earth will be blessed]. And Mary stayed with her for about three months (Luk 1:46-56),
Probably until the time that John was born.
and then she returned to her own house (Luk 1:56).
Probably stayed to help during this period of pregnancy.
Now she speaks here, beginning with verse 51, of the revolution that God creates. First of all, “He has scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts.” And so the first revolution is really an individual revolution of God scattering the proud. The second, “He put down the might from their thrones, and exalted them of low degree.” And then thirdly, “Filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty,” an economic revolution.
Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eight day they came to circumcise the child; they called him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, Not so; he shall be called Johanan [God is gracious]. And they said unto her, There is none of your family that is called by that name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him to be named. He asked for a writing tablet, and he wrote, saying, His name is John [or Johanan]. And all of them marveled (Luk 1:57-63).
Now when a woman was in labor, the neighbors would begin to gather, they would bring their musical instruments, and they would bring food and they prepare for a great party when the child was born. And when the child was born, and they would say, “It’s a boy,” the musicians would start playing, and they all dance, and they would have a big party. If when the child was born, and they said, “It’s a girl,” they take their musical instruments, fold them up, and go home.
In those days it was considered a great blessing to have a boy born in the home. But girls were sort of disregarded. It took really the teachings of Jesus Christ to elevate women to their proper level. Placing upon them that glory, honor that they deserve.
You women should be extremely thankful for Jesus Christ. All you have to do is go into a culture where the gospel of Christ has not had a strong influence, and look at the role of the woman, and you will appreciate more and more what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Look at the Bedouin society, look at the Indian culture, look at the culture of those people in New Guinea. Read the book, Lords of the Earth, it’s a tremendous sociological insight into the culture of the New Guineans before the coming of Christianity. You’ll really appreciate what Jesus Christ has done, in His elevation of womanhood, to its beautiful, proper place.
Now as soon as he had written on the tablet, his name is John,
His mouth was opened, and his tongue was loosed, and he spoke, and praised God. And fear came on all those that dwelled about them: and all of these sayings were noised abroad throughout all of the hill country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What kind of a kid is this going to be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luk 1:64-67),
Now Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary greeted her. Now Zacharias is filled with the Holy Spirit,
and he prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he has visited and redeemed his people (Luk 1:67-68),
Blessing God for, first of all, the fact that God has visited His people. Jesus Christ is God, manifested in the flesh. And through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as he is prophesying, the first declaration is that God, the Lord God of Israel, has visited His people. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God. The same was in the beginning with God, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-2, 14).
He visited His people. But the purpose of His visit was redemption. He was visited and redeemed His people. Jesus, in announcing His purpose, declared, “For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Redemption, the purpose of the coming of Christ. The Lord has raised up a power of salvation. The horn was always symbolic of power. And so He’s raised up the power to salvation in the house of His servant David.
Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: it is the power of God unto salvation to those that believe” (Romans 1:16).
The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness, but unto us who are saved, thereby it is the power of God.
Oh, blessed be God. He has visited His people. God has come to bring redemption, to give power for salvation through the house of His servant David.
As he spoke by the mouth of the holy prophets, which have been since the world began (Luk 1:70):
Recognizing that the prophesies concerning the Savior, concerning the Messiah, have been in existence from the beginning of men’s existence from the beginning of the fall, actually from the time of the fall, when God said to the woman, “Cursed be the serpent. Crawl upon the earth.” But then He said that the seed of the woman will bruise his head. That sin would be destroyed by the seed of the woman. Blessed be God, He has brought now the power of salvation. He has redeemed through the seed of the woman, through the virgin-born child.
For God is performing the mercies that he has promised to our fathers, and he is remembering his holy covenant; the oath which he swore to our father Abraham (Luk 1:72-73),
“Through thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear (Luk 1:74),
Salvation is more than being saved from. Yes, God has delivered us from the hand of our enemy, but He has saved us for the purpose that we might serve Him, without fear.
In holiness and in righteousness (Luk 1:75)
Now both holiness and righteousness have as their root idea that of being right. But holiness is a rightness of character, whereas righteousness is a rightness in conduct. But the one springs out of the other. Holiness is the root. Righteousness is the fruit that springs forth from the root. The difficulty that so many people have today is their endeavor to be right without holiness. But ultimately, any endeavor to be right will break down, for there is no motive strong enough to maintain righteousness, other than holiness. You’ve got to be pure at the core. You’ve got to have the holiness, the right attitude, if you are to have the right actions or activities.
And so it is God’s purpose, first of all, that we walk before Him, or serve Him in holiness. That God does that work within our heart, changing our character, our life, in order that we might also serve Him in righteousness.
The Pharisees had a system of righteousness apart from holiness, and it was total failure. And Jesus remarked on the failure. He said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you’re not going to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). So to the disciples that must have been one of the most shocking statements that Jesus had ever made. Because who was more right, who did the things more right than did the Pharisees? And yet, unless your righteousness exceeds those, you’re not going to make it, Jesus said. Why? Because theirs was a righteousness without holiness. It wasn’t from the heart. Their attitudes were stinking according to Jesus.
“The outside you’re like a whitened sepulchre, but inside dead man’s smelly bones. The outside of the platter is all clean, but the inside of the cup is filled with vermon. You may clean the outside, but the inside you have a righteousness without holiness, totally unaccepted. And unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees, you are not going to make into the kingdom of heaven.” Because you have to have a righteousness that springs from holiness. The holiness of character. And God’s purpose that we serve Him in holiness and in righteousness,
all the days of our life (Luk 1:75).
And now addressing the child. This is a prophecy concerning the one that the child is to go before, but concerning the child himself, little John lying there.
And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest (Luk 1:76):
Jesus said, of all the prophets born of woman, there hasn’t been a greater one than arise than John. “Thou shalt be called the prophet of the Highest.”
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation onto his people, by the remission of their sins. Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the sunrising from on high hath visited us [Or the dayspring, or the sunrising, or the rising of the sun], to give light to those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace [again referring to Christ] (Luk 1:76-79).
God, by His tender mercy, has sent the sunrise from on high to visit us, that He might give us light, for those who are sitting in darkness, and in the shadows. That He might guide our feet in the way of peace. Peace with God.
And so the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his showing onto Israel (Luk 1:80).
Now it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And the taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syra.) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, and unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and the lineage of David,) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, who at this point was great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should deliver her child. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luk 2:1-7).
“And it came to pass in those days…” Those were the days when the Roman Empire was being formed. Originally the Roman Empire was ruled by several generals, but gradually the power began more and more to be invested into one man, until finally Gaius Octavius gained control. He took the name Caesar from his uncle by adoption. And the name Augustus was given to him by the Roman senate when he gained power. When finally he was able to gain control and one man began to rule over Rome, the senate determined to give him some title, and they first suggested that they call him the king of Rome. And he rejected that title. Then they said, “We’ll call you the dictator of Rome.” And he didn’t like that. And so finally they came up this title Augustus, which has as its background, though, of the god’s. He said, “I like that.” And so he was called Caesar Augustus. This man was the most powerful man on the face of the earth.
“It came to pass in those days, that there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, and every man went to be taxed.” Think of the power. Here is a guy sitting in Rome. Gradually he has gained this position of power, until he is able to issue a decree, and immediately the whole world must bow. There is no one to appeal to. One man makes a decree; the whole world must bow to that decree. For Rome had bludgeoned the world into submission.
It came to pass in those days that the temple of Janice was closed. Janice was the god of war. And whenever the Roman troops were out in the fields to battle, the temple gates would be open that the people might come in and pray for victory for their troops. But the gates were closed, for there was peace. For sixteen years the gates had been closed.
You say, “Oh what a beautiful time for the Prince of peace to be born.” But think again. There was peace only because Rome was such a powerful ruling force that no man dared to say that his life was his own. Every man was a slave to Rome. World ruled by one man. This is what Caesar had sought to obtain. And he gave a decree.
It is interesting that in Egypt we have actually found records of these censuses that were made by the Roman government. They were made every fourteen years. And we have found the records of those censuses that were taken in Egypt every fourteen years.
In a little province of Rome, far off from Rome and the Roman capital, in a little city called Nazareth, of which hardly anybody had heard of it, there was a young couple, they were both of the house of David. And when the decree came from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed–enrolled in the census, actually for taxation–they, too, had to submit to this Augustus Caesar, and in order for them to enroll in the census, they had to go back to their family home, city of Bethlehem. And interestingly enough, in Egypt there are records that they have discovered where it said that the people had to return to their family homes for the census to be taken, completely confirming this account in the scriptures.
And so it was necessary that at this point of pregnancy, which becomes quite miserable, as in the final days of waiting the birth of the child, so many things are happening within as far as the hormones are concerned, and there are so many physical responses and reactions, and yet, because this fellow in Rome has given a decree, Mary and Joseph, not withstanding her pregnancy, have to make this long journey. Long in those days, because of the mode of transportation. Something like seventy miles or so from Nazareth to Bethlehem, just to fulfill the commandment, just in obedience to the commandment of this fellow in Rome.
“And so it came to pass, that Joseph went up out of the city of Nazareth, there in Galilee, clear on down to Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled, or taxed with Mary his espoused wife being great with child. And while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, laid Him in a manger. There was no room in the inn.”
Interesting…if you were God, where would you have your Son to be born? Interesting that when God came to visit the earth, there was no room for Him in the inn. Sort of a precursor of His entire life, I guess. For even today there are people who refuse to make room for Him. They have room and time for just about everything but Him. It seems that He is still consigned to a position outside of the general society. But there is something more to this, that’s looking at it from a human standpoint. Let’s go up a bit and look down. Interesting what you can see when you draw back a bit, and get a little broader prospective.
Seven hundred years before this event took place, before this young couple made their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, at this critical point of pregnancy. Seven hundred years earlier a prophet had said, “And thou Bethlehem, though you are little among the provinces in Judea, yet out of thee shall come He whose goings forth has been from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). The prophet had predicted that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah.
So when I read in the text, “It came to pass in those days that Caesar Augustus gave a decree that all the world shall be taxed,” and Joseph had to journey to Bethlehem in order to be taxed, I realize that because the Word of God had said that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, that it isn’t really that little man sitting on the throne in Rome that is really in control of things, he is only a puppet. He has not gained what he desired–world rulership–but that child that is being born in Bethlehem is the one who will ultimately experience true hegemony.
You see, God had a problem. Mary and Joseph were clear up in Nazareth, and yet, the prophecy said the child had to be born in Bethlehem. Now no couple in their right mind are going to make that journey all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem at this point of pregnancy. So God has to somehow get them down to Bethlehem. How are we going to work out this problem? God begins to pull the strings, and Caesar Augustus says, “Let’s enroll all the world for taxing, let it be done.” The decree of Caesar. “Yes, sir.” Here he thinks he is in control, but in reality he is only responding in order that God’s purposes, which had been declared seven hundred years earlier, might be fulfilled. That Mary and Joseph might get to Bethlehem before the birth of that child.
There is a lot of aloneness expressed in this. She brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. Evidently she had no help at the birth of the child. Usually there was a midwife to take the child and to wrap it in its swaddling clothes and to take care of it. But no help. And so she herself–you remember now, sixteen and a half, seventeen years old, giving birth to a child in a manger, a stable. The place where they kept the animals. But that child is the fulfillment of God’s promise. For He is God, who has come to visit men, to redeem him.
Oh, what a story.
Now there were in the same country shepherds who were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night (Luk 2:8).
Just a point–this means that He couldn’t have been born on the twenty-fifth of December, because it gets too cold for the shepherds to stay out in the field in the winter month. And so the twenty-fifth of December was borrowed from the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, and more and more it is becoming a pagan holiday, which it originated as. I wonder how long we as Christians can continue to even observe the sham of December 25th.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid (Luk 2:9).
It is thought that the shepherds were perhaps the temple shepherds, because they offered a lamb every morning and every evening, and had to be without spot and blemish. And so, in order that they would have enough lambs for the sacrifices, they had their own temple shepherds who kept the lambs for the temple sacrifices. And it is thought by many that these shepherds were those who were watching those lambs that were to be used for sacrifices in the temple. And if so, of course significant, because they were the first ones to see the Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world.
And so they were out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. When the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were so afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people (Luk 2:10).
Good tidings, great joy, all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour [the Messiah], the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And so it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into the heavens, the shepherds said one to another, Let’s go now even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us (Luk 2:11-15).
The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. I think the angel was Gabriel. I don’t have any proof for that, just a strong hunch. Because we already know he can’t keep a secret, and we already know that he had quite a bit to do with making the arrangements for the birth of the child. And now that his job is pretty much complete, the child is there, it’s safely born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, his job is over. The child had his first cry and gone asleep there in the manger, and I finished my task. It’s over. The most exciting event in the history of the world has just taken place. God has taken on a human form that He might visit men to redeem him.
Oh, what news everybody ought to know. But nobody is awake. All the lights are out; the candles are all blown out all over Bethlehem. And so as Gabriel is observing the whole scene, he sees a flicker of a fire out towards Jerusalem. All right. And he goes over and finally got someone awake. “Hey, guys, great news! Today in the city of David, He is there, the Savior, Christ the Lord, the Messiah, you’ll find Him. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and He is lying in an manger.”
And then, of course, there were other angels that suddenly appear, as they were praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth…now the possibility of peace, and good will toward men.”
Exciting scenes. I never tire of them.
And so they came with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when the eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus (Luk 2:16-21),
They usually named the boy on the day of the circumcision, which was always eight days after his birth, and it was such an important right, that even if it came on the Sabbath, they would go ahead and circumcise the child on the eighth day. It was one of the rare things that they would be allowed to do on even the Sabbath day.
The called His name Jehoshua,
which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished (Luk 2:21-22),
She had a son; she had to go through forty days of purification. If she had a daughter, she would have gone through eighty days of purification. Sort of a punishment for having a girl. Forty days of purification were accomplished.
then they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (Luk 2:22);
Now after the forty days, then they were to offer a sacrifice unto the Lord. A lamb and a dove. Or if they were poor, instead of the lamb, they could offer two turtledoves.
(For it was written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb should be called holy onto the Lord;) (Luk 2:23)
Actually, the Lord claimed the firstborn. But it came to the place were the people could redeem the firstborn, and God finally chose the Levi’s. And they would then pay the Levi’s for the firstborn, redeeming their firstborn for being committed for serving the Lord. But they brought the firstborn, holy to the Lord.
And that to offer the sacrifice according to the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves (Luk 2:24),
That was for the poor people, and so it would indicate that Mary and Joseph were poor. Which to me is interesting, because Jesus perhaps grew up in a home filled with poverty. And he knows what it was to have those kind of struggles that we have, as we think about the payment of the bills, and where we’re going to get this and that and the other, and thus, He can identify with us in our concerns for our needs.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and he was a just and a devout man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel [the peace]: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not die, until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (Luk 2:25-26).
Now here is a man who walked with God. An godly older man, and God said, “Look, you’re not going to die until you have had the opportunity to see the Messiah.”
And so he was lead by the Spirit at that time into the temple: and when the parents of Jesus brought him in, in order that they might fulfill the customs of the law, he took him up in his arms, and he blessed God, and he said, Oh Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten [who?] the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luk 2:27-32).
So here in the prophecy it was to be a light, not just to Israel alone, but to the world, to the gentiles.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of the child. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall in the rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed (Luk 2:33-35).
And so he is telling Mary, “Look, this child is set for great blessings to the people, but it’s going to pierce as a sword through your own soul.” Preparing her for the agony and the pain that she would experience, as she would watch one day this child, hanging on the cross.
Now there was a lady by the name of Anna, who was a prophetess, she was the daughter Phanuel, she was of the tribe of Asher: she was of great age, [actually she was eighty-four years old] and she lived with the same husband from the seven years after her period (Luk 2:36);
When a girl began her menstrual period, seven years after she had began her menstrual period, she was married, and she lived with that same man all this time, that’s what it is saying. The way it is written it’s a little hard to understand. She had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. And so that is from the time that she had began her menstrual period, seven years from that time, she got married and lived with this man the whole while. She was now eighty-four years old.
and she departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings, and prayers night and day (Luk 2:37).
One of those beautiful, godly saints.
And she coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Now when they had performed all of the things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom to the feast (Luk 2:38-42).
Probably the first time He was able to go to the feast, because He was now twelve and getting time for His bar mitzvah.
And so when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning (Luk 2:43),
That is, the days of the feast of the Passover, they went every year; they were a devout couple as they had fulfilled the days, they returned.
and the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother did not know of it (Luk 2:43).
Now hundreds of people would travel together. And usually the women would take of first because they traveled slower. And the men would take off later, and would always catch up with them by night; they make camp for the evening. And so they took of for Nazareth with all of their friends and the families, and all. And when they started making camp at night, and Joseph probably caught up with them, he said, “Where is Jesus?” And she said, “Well, isn’t He with you?” “No, I thought He was with you.” And so they looked around. They inquired from all of the relatives, “No, we haven’t seen Him.” And so they each thought that He was probably in the company of people.
and when they sought for him among the kinsfolk and their acquaintances, no one had seen Him. So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for Him (Luk 2:44-45).
Now here is a little twelve-year-old fellow. He thinks, “Oh, my, my parents are gone,” and he be all concerned and worried.
And it came to pass, after three days they found him (Luk 2:46),
They didn’t find Him when they first got back. And when they found Him, he was in the temple.
sitting in the midst of the doctors, as he was listening to them and asking them questions. And all of those that heard him were astonished at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why have you dealt with us like this? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing (Luk 2:46-48).
Notice, “your father and I,” referring to Joseph. He is quick to correct her.
And he said unto them, How is it that you were looking for me? did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luk 2:49)
He didn’t recognize Joseph as His father at this point. “I must be about my Father’s business.”
Now these are the first recorded words of Jesus. They are important, because they express the purpose of His existence. What is it? “I must be about my Father’s business.”
Now I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, I know I ought to be doing that.” That doesn’t carry much force. Because we ought to be doing a lot of things we don’t do. “Oh, I know I should, I really should.” That doesn’t carry much force.
But when a person says, “I must.” Listen, because now you are getting close to the real heart of the life. “I must be about my Father’s business.” That was the burden of the life of Jesus, to do the Father’s will. “I must be about my Father’s business.”
And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. But he went down with them, and they came to Nazareth, and he was subject unto them: but his mother kept all of these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, [grew up strong, big fellow] and in favor with God and man (Luk 2:50-52).
So in the first two chapters get the background now, and in chapter 3 we begin with the ministry of John the Baptist, and that of Jesus.
May the Lord bless and increase your knowledge and understanding of His truth, as we have this opportunity of sharing together in God’s Word, growing, and learning. And may we also be increased in wisdom and in favor with God, and with man.
Shall we turn to Luke’s gospel chapter 3.
As Luke begins the third chapter, he is giving you the date of the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist, and he uses no less than six historic references points to tell you when John began his ministry.
It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea, and Herod was the tetrarch (Luk 3:1)
And the word “tetrarch” means a ruler of a fourth part. And when Herod the Great died, he left the ruling of that area, they divided it into four, and three of his sons ruled over a part of the area. So a tetrarch was a ruler of a fourth part, and Philip the tetrarch of Iturea, Herod the tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip the tetrarch of Iturea in the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests (Luk 3:1-2),
And so these were the historic dating reference points.
Now we know that Tiberius Ceasar began his reign in the years 13-14. So that in the fifteenth year would make it about the year 29 A.D. that John the Baptist began his ministry.
It is interesting that he lists for us here two high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. The Jews only had one high priest at the time. However, Annas was the high priest for a period of time, around 13-14, but he was replaced by the Roman government. And there followed him three different high priests before the Roman government appointed Caiaphas as the high priest. So that Caiaphas was an appointment of Rome, whereas Annas was recognized by the people as the high priest. And he was the religious leader, where Caiaphas was as was the high priest in those days, a political leader under the appointment of Rome. So there was this period when, oddly enough, there were two high priests. One recognized by the Jews as the legitimate, the other recognized by the Roman government as the political appointee, Caiaphas.
Now when they arrested Jesus, they brought Him to Annas first, because He was still the power. He was the recognized power. And Caiaphas was more less a figurehead, but the recognized power was in Annas the older, the high priest. Caiaphas was actually one of his sons.
Herod being the tetrarch of Galilee, this was Herod Antipas, and we’ll come across him in just a few moments again. And so in this time,
the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness (Luk 3:2).
Now we were introduced to John last Sunday night, and to his miraculous kind of birth, as his mother and father were both of them well stricken in years. And up to this point, Elisabeth his mother had been barren. And the announcement of the angel concerning the birth of the child, who was to be the forerunner of the Messiah.
So now in the year 29, the word of the Lord came unto John.
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight (Luk 3:3-4).
Now in those days when the king was to visit a certain area, there would always be couriers that would go out in advance of the king, and the couriers would tell the people, “The king is going to be visiting on such and such a day, clean up your yards, get the trash and all, all taken care of, repair the roads, and all, for the king’s coming.” So that when the king comes, he will see everything in a nice condition, the yard is clean, the trash is all out, and all of the roads repaired, no chuckholes or whatever, so that the king sees that everything’s is going well. And so John is as a courier, telling the people, “Make your path straight, the King is coming.”
Every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hills shall be brought low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth (Luk 3:5);
Preparing the way for the King.
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luk 3:6).
This was the promise that John was giving to the people. As they were to prepare themselves, they would see God’s salvation. And, of course, that was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
Then he said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Luk 3:7)
Imagine telling that your congregation, people are coming to be converted. And you say, “Oh, you generation of vipers.” Sounds like Romaine almost, doesn’t it? “You sinners, you know.” Romaine is our John.
“Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Bring forth therefore fruits that are worthy of repentance (Luk 3:8),
Or that demonstrate repentance, let us see your true repentance. Not in the fact that you just being baptized, let’s see it in your actions, let’s see it in your changed lives.
There are many people who, upon the excitement of an emotional moment, will renounce their life of sin, will renounce their past. And will make their vows of, “I am going to be different, I am going to do better. I promise; I swear before God, I am going to be a different man.” Words are cheap. John said, “Let’s see the fruit of it. Let’s see the changes in your life.” And calling for more than just a verbal-type of a commitment, but let’s see the fruit of it in the changed lives.
and don’t say within yourselves, [he said] That we have Abraham as our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Luk 3:8).
Now this is the claim of the Jews: “We have Abraham as our father. God gave the covenant to Abraham and to his seed forever. So we are the beneficiaries of God’s grace and covenant to Abraham. We have Abraham; we are the covenant people.” And they rested on that relationship to Abraham. And that was an extremely important thing. In fact, to Jesus, when Jesus was challenging their lifestyles, they said, “We have Abraham as our father.” It was a common saying among the Jews. As they were resting upon the covenant that God had made with Abraham and to his seed forever, and thus, recognizing that covenant they would say, “Well, we have Abraham as our father.” And that was sort of to excuse any kind of a lifestyle I want to live. “Well, I have Abraham as my father, I am under the covenant, and I can live however I please.” And he said, “Hey, don’t try and pass off that we have Abraham as our father bit, because God is able to raise up from stones children for Abraham.” And so he is calling for a true repentance, a changed life, changed actions.
And now also the ax will be laid unto the root of the trees: and every tree which does not bring forth good fruit will be caught down (Luk 3:9),
So he is calling for fruit that show repentance. Let’s see the fruit of it, because every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruit will be cut down.
and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? (Luk 3:9-10)
And as we find his responses to the questions, we find that John was preaching a social gospel.
He answered and said unto them, If you have two coats, give one of those to someone who doesn’t have any; and if you have extra meat, do the same thing [share your abundance with the needy]. And then the tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you (Luk 3:11-13).
Now the tax collectors were appointees of the Roman government, and their pay was actually the excess taxes that they could collect. The Roman government had the certain standard that they had to collect. I mean that was just the tax due to Rome. But the tax collector would collect his own salary by adding to that tax. And that is why they were extremely hated by the people. They haven’t found much more favor even today. Taxes are always a galling thing. But John is telling them, “Look, don’t collect the extra dividends, just that which is appointed you.”
And the soldiers likewise demanded, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. And as all the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he was the Messiah, or not; John answered them, saying unto them, I indeed baptize you with water; but one who is mightier than I is coming, the latched of whose shoes I am not worthy to untie: and he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable (Luk 3:14-17).
So as they are wondering, “Can this be the Messiah?” John declares unto them that he is really not the Messiah. That there is one that is coming after him who is mightier than he is. John is unworthy to untie His shoes. And though John is baptizing with water, He will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
That baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire has been misunderstood, and as a result, we see a lot of fanaticism that is classified the baptism of fire. If a person, if a preacher in his preaching is very demonstrative, if he is shouting out his message from the top of his lungs, speaking rapidly, and sucking for air, and going on with a lot of movement and a lot of hand waving and a lot of pointing with the fingers and everything else, people say, “Man, he is really got the fire.” That isn’t the fire of the Holy Spirit; that can be fire of human energy, but not the fire of the Holy Spirit. So many times we see untoward type of demonstrations, usually in a violent kind of an emotional way, and people say, “Oh, oh, boy, they really got the fire.” Not of the Holy Spirit.
The fire of the Holy Spirit is always a purging fire, a cleansing fire. You may want to scream, but not in excitement, but in pain, as the fire of the Holy Spirit begins to burn in your heart, because the purpose of that fire is the purging of the dross. It always has as its net result purifying. And in the context here as he speaks of Him baptizing with fire, he declares, “Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.” Now this is the threshing floor.
The fan was the large wide wooden shovel that they would take and take the wheat with the shovel, and they would throw the wheat in the air. And the wind would carry of the chaff, and the wheat would fall back down on the floor. And this was their way of threshing the wheat. Just wait for a windy day, and you go down to your threshing floor. You take what they call the fan, the big wide wooden shovel, and you just take the wheat in the wind, throw it up in the air, and the chaff would blow off, and the wheat would fall down. And you continue this process until you’d separated that little rough bran from the kernel of wheat itself.
And then he declared He will thoroughly cleanse, or purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His silo, in to His garner, but He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
He, no doubt, is eluding to the first chapter of Psalms, where David talks about the blessed man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate day and night. Who will be like a tree, planted by the river of water, bringing forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not withering, and whatsoever he does shall prosper. The wicked though, he said, are not so, but are like the chaff, which the wind driveth away.
So it is again a figure of purging, of cleansing, separating the chaff from the wheat. Separating the dross, the fire from the pure gold. So it is only proper that in context it is explained what is meant by the baptism of the Holy Spirit with fire.
And many other things in his exhortation he preached unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch [Herod Antipas], being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all of the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above everything else, in that he imprisoned John (Luk 3:18-20).
Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great, his brother Philip ruled in the northern part of the province. He had another brother who lived in Rome. Now Herod the Great had many wives, many children. And one of his sons had a daughter named Herodias. Now the Herod who lived in Rome married his half niece Herodias, but when Herod Antipas, the character that we are dealing with in our text, went to Rome, he seduced her into marrying him, leaving his brother, marrying him, and returning with him to reign in Galilee. Which she did. So Herodias left her husband, who was also her step uncle, and she was actually a step sister-in-law to Herod Antipas, and also his step niece, but she became his wife. So it was quite an entangled situation. So your wife is also your niece and your sister-in-law. So John the Baptist dared to speak up against him. Now just didn’t speak up against the rulers. But John being the type that he was, spoke out against this relationship, said, “You have no right having Herodias as your wife, that’s wrong. What you did was wrong.” And so as the result, Herod imprisoned John.
Now when all of the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened (Luk 3:21),
Now Luke’s gospel shows to us more than any of the other gospels the human side of Jesus. John shows us more than any of the other gospels the divine side of Jesus. But Luke points out His humanity. And because Luke is careful to point out the humanity of Jesus, he is also very careful to point out the references where Jesus was praying. And in so many cases we find Luke making mention of the fact that Jesus was praying when certain things transpired. Or before certain decisions were made. And Luke gives us a keener insight into the prayer life of Jesus than any of the other gospels. And rightly so, because of his emphasis upon the human side of the nature of Jesus. And so it is only Luke’s gospel that points out the fact that Jesus was praying when He was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. That as He was baptized, He was praying, and the heavens were opened.
And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased (Luk 3:22).
And so again, we find the tri-unity of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Jesus, the Son of God, being baptized; the Holy Spirit descending upon Him; and the voice of the Father declaring, “Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.”
Now there are those people who are known as “Jesus Only.” You don’t run across many of them here in California, they are often called “The United Pentecostals.” There is an awful lot of them back in the southern states, and quite a group of them in Arizona, “The United Pentecostal Church,” or they take some even longer titles, “The United Pentecostal Church in Jesus’ Name,” and different titles. But their chief doctrinal difference is their belief that Jesus is the Father, He is the Holy Spirit, He is the Son, there is only one, and that is Jesus, it’s Jesus only. It’s interesting to bring up this particular verse to them, to hear double talk.
When Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, where did the voice come from? When the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” was Jesus practicing ventriloquism? And they really can dig a hole for themselves on this particular verse. And it’s fun; I do it to tease them every once in a while, watch them dig their hole.
Now Jesus at this point was about thirty years old. How long John was baptizing before Jesus came, we are not informed.
But Jesus at this point being about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the [and this should read,] son-in-law of Heli (Luk 3:23),
For here we obviously have the genealogy of Mary and not of Joseph. In Matthew’s gospel we have the genealogy of Joseph. And in Matthew’s gospel the genealogy begins not with Adam, but with Abraham coming down through David, and from David through Solomon, coming to Jesus Christ. Now here we start with Jesus, and we go back to Adam, not to Abraham. But we go all the way back to Adam. Now you’ll find that the genealogy between Abraham and David is the same. However, in the genealogy here in Luke, rather than coming through Solomon, it comes through Nathan, Solomon’s older brother. And we come to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli.
Now why would we have two genealogies for Jesus differing? And if Joseph isn’t the father of Jesus, then what is the value of putting Joseph’s genealogy in the record? If He was born of the virgin Mary, I can understand Mary’s genealogy. Let it be said that the person’s genealogy was an important document in that person’s life among the Jews. God had a special purpose for the Jewish nation. That special purpose was that they were to bring the Messiah into the world. And thus, as God established His covenant with them, and His law, He incorporated within that law and within that covenant a very close guarding of the race itself. And the prohibitions against inner racial marriages, because God was seeking to keep a line from Abraham and David to the Messiah. For anyone to declare themselves to be the Messiah they must prove that they are descendents of Abraham, and descendents of David, because God promised to both Abraham, and to David that from their seed the nations of the world would be blessed.
God said to David, “I will build thee a house, and there will always be one sitting upon the throne.” And He was referring to the Messiah. So that the Messiah has to be able to prove.
Now there in the time of the return from the captivity in Babylon, Ezra and Nehemiah, there were certain men who said, “Well, we’re of the house of Levi, we want to exercise the office of the priesthood.” And so they said, “Alright, show us your genealogy.” And these fellows were unable to produce their genealogies. They had been lost in Babylon. And because they could not produce their genealogies proving that they were of the tribe of Levi, they were not allowed into the priesthood. Only those that could bring out their genealogy, and prove that they were from the tribe of Levi. And so it was an extremely important thing to those people to maintain the records, the family records of their genealogies, in order that they might prove what family, what line they came from. It was especially important for the Messiah.
Now it would immediately put a disclaimer upon anyone today claiming to be the Messiah, because no one today has their records that can take them back to Abraham and David. So anyone who would come along saying, “I am the Messiah” would have no ability to prove that claim, inasmuch, there are no more records that would trace them back through Abraham and David.
Now why Joseph’s genealogy? If you notice, Joseph’s genealogy comes through Solomon and the kingly line. So that it brings you down to Jesus from the line of Solomon, and the kingly line showing that Jesus as the adopted son, the eldest adopted son of Joseph, had right to the title to the king of Israel. As the oldest adopted son of Joseph. But as the son of Mary, coming through Nathan, who was the older brother of Solomon, Nathan was the legal heir of David. And so through Mary He received His legal heirship through David. But through the adopted sonship of Joseph He received the kingly right.
Now during the later part of the time of the kings in Judea, in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 22, because of the wickedness of the king Jeconiah, God placed a curse upon him, and this curse that God placed upon Jeconiah precluded any of his descendants taking the throne in Israel. The last verse of Jeremiah 22, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Write ye (concerning Jeconiah) this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.'” From Jeconiah it was cut off. And none of his sons sat upon the throne. And from this word of the Lord, none of his descendants could sit upon the throne.
Now if you will read the genealogy of Joseph in Matthew, you will find out he was a descendant of Jeconiah. So he could not sit upon the throne. If He were from the bloodline of Jeconiah, the actual son of Joseph, but being the adopted son of Joseph, and yet, the son of Mary through Nathan and David, He had the legal claim to the house of David. Plus He could take and sit upon the throne as the eldest son of Joseph, yet not be of the seed of Jeconiah. So it’s fascinating that God would put both records in, so He can sit as the King, because He is the adopted eldest son of Joseph, but He also has the legal right, because He is the son of Mary, virgin-born.
So Luke gives us that genealogy through Mary and gives the names of all these people, and we are not going to go through them. But it is interesting that he goes all the way back to Adam, so that where Matthew relates Him only to the Jewish race, Luke relates Him to the world. Because we are all descendants of Adam. So all of us are related to Jesus, as Luke makes the relationship of Jesus to the world, and thus, we can each one identify being Jew or Gentile, because He comes basically from Adam. We all relate to Him and can relate to Him.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan (Luk 4:1),
Now He was at Jordan where He was baptized by John, and He returned from Jordan.
and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Luk 4:1),
Now the Judean wilderness stretches from an area just fifteen miles north of Jericho, and continues on down to the Dead Sea. And it extends back to what are known as the Jerusalem Hills, and it is a very barren, desolate area known as the Judean wilderness. There is about an average of one inch of rain a year.
It was in this area that Bishop Pike died as he was searching for the historic Jesus. It is a very wild, desolate area. It oftentimes gets up to 120, 125 degrees there in that Judean wilderness.
And Jesus went into the wilderness.
Forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did not eat anything: [so forty days fasting] and when they were ended, he afterward hungered (Luk 4:2).
Now those who have fasted for prolonged periods of time will tell you that after five days that strong appetite leaves, and you really don’t get that hungry. Now I can tell you after three days you’re vanished. You start having visions of hot fudge sundaes and strawberry shortcake. But they tell me, if you can get to the fifth day that the hunger begins to leave, and that you will not get hungry again until you begin to starve to death. And they do say that a person, by taking water, can exist as much as forty days or so without eating. But once you get hungry after a prolonged period, it is important that you eat, and of course, you have to eat, breaking your fast very slowly. In other words, if you sit down to a big dinner after fasting for forty days, it will kill you. Your body wouldn’t be able to handle it. So if you’ve been fasting for say fourteen days, you should take at least fourteen days in breaking the fast. Beginning with just half glass of juice, and half water mixed together, and break it slowly, introducing foods and nutrients to your body again, because if you introduce too much, too fast, it can actually destroy you, it can kill you. Your body just can’t handle it. And a lot of people have died because they were foolish in breaking a fast. They just go out and eat a big dinner.
So Jesus had been fasting, going without food for forty days. And now He was hungry. Which means that He was beginning to starve to death.
And so the devil said to him, If thou be the Son of God (Luk 4:3),
And in the Greek, the if is in the subjunctive, rather than in the indicative case. And the if in the subjunctive is not a question, but is a declaration, “Since thou art the Son of God”. He isn’t really questioning the fact if Jesus is the Son of God or not, but he is in reality saying, “Since thou art the Son of God,”
command this stone that it be made bread (Luk 4:3).
Use your divine gifts to satisfy the needs of your own flesh. A common temptation for men who have been gifted by God or placed in positions of authority or power by God, use God’s gift to you, for your own benefit, for the benefit of your own flesh, to enrich yourself. And there are always those who, unfortunately, succumb to that temptation of the prostituting of their gifts that God has given to them, as they use them for their own benefit, rather than for the blessing of the entire body of Christ.
Satan is suggesting to Jesus that He do this, that the material is superior, the most important. But Jesus denied that suggestion with a word of God, declaring,
It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone (Luk 4:4),
The material life is not the most important.
but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Luk 4:4).
Now all the way through Jesus emphasized and declared that the spiritual was superior to the material. This is the declaration of the New Testament, that the spiritual life is more important than, and superior to the material life. And this is the challenge that the world is giving us today in humanism, declaring that the material life is superior. And that is why the church and humanism lock horns. Because the true church of Jesus Christ must affirm the same message that Jesus declared, and that is, the spiritual is supreme. Humanism says the material is supreme. So the battle rages. But this is the declaration that Jesus made. The superiority of the spiritual over the physical realm.
Satan here was declaring the superiority of the physical over the spiritual. Take the spiritual and make something physical out of it. Take the spiritual power, and take that stone and make it bread, so you can feed yourself. You are hungry. And Jesus said, “Look, man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” The superiority of the spiritual over the material.
So the devil took him up to a high mountain, and showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time (Luk 4:5).
So before His eyes flash the kingdoms of the world. He saw Caesar sitting on the throne in Rome. He saw all of the power that world rulership brought. All of the honor, all of the glory. He saw the servants as they bowed and as they brought the delicacies. And He saw the people as he had the audience before him. Saw the power that he wielded from the throne.
And Satan said unto Jesus, All this power will I give to you, and the glory of them: for it’s been delivered unto me (Luk 4:6);
When was it delivered unto him? It was delivered unto to him in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned against the commandment of the Lord. They forfeited the earth to Satan. The Bible says, “Know ye not that whomsoever you yield yourself servants to obey, his servants you become. Whether obedience unto righteousness, or of disobedience unto sin. Yield therefore your members as instruments unto God, unto righteousness.” But in yielding to Satan’s suggestions, in obeying the suggestion of Satan, they were disobeying the command of God, and they yielded and forfeited the earth, which God had given to them, over to Satan. And Satan took control of the earth, as man yielded to his power, to his control, to his suggestion.
You see, in the beginning the world was God’s; He made it. But when God created men and placed men on the earth, God gave the earth to men. God said to Adam, “Have dominion over the earth, over the fish in the sea, the fowls in the air, over every moving and creeping thing, for I have given it unto thee” (Genesis 1:28). So God gave to men this beautiful gift of the earth. And at that time it was beautiful. And even today where you can find nature unspoiled, it’s still beautiful.
But men in his folly and in yielding to Satan forfeited over unto Satan the world. And man in turn became a slave. A slave of Satan. And so Paul the apostle said, “In times past you all walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, that even now is directing the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is in control of the world. We sing, “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ear, all nature sings and… the music of the spheres.” But in reality, this is Satan’s world. He is telling that to Jesus. In fact, if you will study carefully, we will realize that the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ was to redeem the world back to God. To bring it back into God’s sphere. Because men had forfeited to Satan, now God is seeking to bring it back into His sphere, and for this purpose He sent His Son to redeem the world.
Now as we look at the world today, we do not yet see the redemption. We still see a world that is in rebellion against God. And we see the effects of that rebellion in our society. And it is totally wrong for men to blame God for the calamities of our world, which calamities have resulted entirely from men’s rebellion against God ruling over the world. Yes, the world is in a mess. Yes, horrible things happen. Yes, there are things that we can’t explain or understand, especially in the light of God’s love. But we can understand them in the light of the world under the control of Satan, being governed and directed by Satan.
Now Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim when Satan said, “Look, it’s mine, it’s been given to me, it’s been delivered to me, and I can give it to whomever I will.” Jesus didn’t dispute that; He recognized that fact. In fact, He knew that was true, and that’s what He had come for, is to wrest it from Satan. By redeeming the world by going to the cross, and dying to pay the price of redemption. The price of redemption was that of shedding the blood. And He was going to go to the cross to redeem the world. And that was God’s plan of the redemption of the world and man. It’s through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Now what Satan is actually suggesting here is that Jesus can escape the cross. “You don’t have to take God’s plan. You don’t have to take the path that God has prescript to redeem. I’ll make a deal with you, I’ll give it to you right now, without the cross. Only one little hitch, bow down and worship me.”
Of course, Jesus, had He bowed down to worship him, would then have been subservient also to Satan, and it would still be in his power. He would still be the one in control, because He would have bowed down to him. ” Submit to my authority, I give it all to you. You can sit on the throne, you can rule, but you be under my authority, having bowed down to me.”
And Jesus answered:
it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve (Luk 4:8).
Now, that the world is still under the control of Satan is evident by the fact that in the book of Revelation in chapter 13, when the man of sin, the beast comes on the scene, Satan will give to him his power and his throne. And we read that the antichrist will rule over the world. Satan still has the power of dispensing the world ruling powers to those whom he pleases. “I can give it to whomever I will.” God allows him, of course, but yet, Satan has still tremendous power and will turn the world over to the antichrist. But then Jesus will come with the title deed to the earth, and will declare, “The kingdoms of this world have now become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Messiah, and He shall reign for ever and ever, as king of kings, and Lord of Lords, forever and ever, and ever Hallaluja, Hallaluja, Amen” (Revelation 11:15).
That has not yet happened. I am personally convinced that it is not far off. I believe that man has sunk about as low as God will allow him to sink. I really believe that the time has come in the history of mankind that God must once again intervene. God has intervened in history before. He intervened at the tower of Babel. When the technology of men had increased to the extent that God said anything he wants to do, he is capable of doing. And we are again arriving at that type of technology. God intervened in at the time of Noah, when there was a tremendous advancement in the powers given unto men through occult forces. We are coming to that again. Time for intervention.
So Satan is laying before Jesus an extremely powerful temptation. Something extremely desirable. Something that He was willing to die for. But Satan is saying, “You don’t have to die for it. I give it to you, just bow down and worship me.”
The third temptation was at the pinnacle at the temple, where Satan suggested that He jump. And now Satan takes to quoting the scripture.
It is written, He will give his angels charge over thee (Luk 4:10),
He leaves out an important part. “To keep thee in all thy ways.” He omits that. So he is quoting only half of the scripture. Which he is a master in doing. Leaving out some of the salient points. It is written, “He will give His angels charge over thee,”
to bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone (Luk 4:11).
“If you’re the Son of God, go head and jump.” And the idea being, by jumping off of this high pinnacle of the temple and landing in that crowd of people down below, completely unharmed, soft landing. “The people by the spectacular demonstration of power will surely know that you’re the Messiah. And they will stand in awe of wonder of you.”
And Jesus said, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Luk 4:12).
Now a couple of weeks ago when we were closing out Mark’s gospel, we find that it was written there that these signs should follow them that believe. “In my name,” He said, “they will cast out devils, they will speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them.” Again, this other written word of God applies, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” You are not to put yourself deliberately into jeopardy to prove anything. Jesus doesn’t need to prove that He is the Son of God by putting His life deliberately in jeopardy by jumping of the pinnacle of the temple to create a spectacular scene among the crowd below, by the angels bearing Him up, lest He dash His foot against a stone.
So it is not right to just take scriptures and say, “Well, it says if they drink any deadly thing,” so just drink cyanide and show that we are real believers. No, that’s tempting the Lord our God.
I know of missionaries who have been bitten by poisonous snakes without any harm at all. I know missionaries who have drunk poisonous swamp water, because of their intense suffering of malaria, and just so thirsty, they had to drink something, and put a straw down into that poisonous swamp water, and drink it without any harm. But for you to just go out and deliberately jeopardize yourself is manifestly wrong. Tempting the Lord our God.
So when the devil had ended all of the temptation, he departed from him for a season (Luk 4:13).
He came back, but for a while he left Him.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit (Luk 4:14)
Now He began in chapter 4, full of the Holy Spirit, and being led by the Spirit. And now returning in the power of the Spirit. And so that work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, leading Him, filling Him, empowering Him. And we as believers have that same privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being led by the Holy Spirit, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Paul said, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye being filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul said in Romans 8, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “And you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
So we as the believer have that same relationship with the Spirit that Jesus had, and that we can be filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit of God.
And as he was there went out a fame of him through all of the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all (Luk 4:14-15).
He was going around teaching in the synagogues in the area of the Galilee. Now at this particular time, according to Josephus, at this time was the governor in the area of Galilee, and Josephus in his writings declares that he had two hundred and four cities in his jurisdiction that had populations exceeding 10,000 people. So at the time that Jesus was ministering in the Galilee, it was a very populated area, perhaps as many as three million people. Of course, that’s the number that Josephus claims–three million people living in the area of Galilee during the ministry of Jesus. Today there is just about four million people in all of the land of Israel, most of them are in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There is probably less than a half a million people in the Galilee region today. But in the time of Christ, there were three million people inhabiting. Which, of course, is an extremely beautiful area. If there were an area in the world which I would enjoy living, it would be along the Sea of Galilee. It is so beautiful there; I love it there. You got hot summers, but you got the lake right there, skiing and swimming and all, it’s just a beautiful place. In fact, they used to say in the Galilee it was easier to raise ten tons of fruit than one child. It produced so abundantly in that area.
Now, He now returned to Nazareth where He was born and where He grew up. He spent thirty years in Nazareth. Where He was known as the carpenter’s son. And He was well known by the people.
And so he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as was his custom [He was in the habit of doing it], he went into the synogogue on the sabbath day, and he stood up to read the scriptures (Luk 4:16).
Now this was something, a custom that He had developed. He would go into the synogogue on the Sabbath day, and to teach. So He stood up to read the scriptures.
And they delivered unto him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah (Luk 4:17).
And, of course, all of the scriptures were on scrolls, and they would keep these in a depository in the synogogue, and they would carry it out, and they would unroll it. And so they handed Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And each day they had a particular passage that they read out of the scrolls. And in the synogogue worship, even to the present day, on every day of the year on this particular day they read these particular scriptures.
And so they handed him the prophet Isaiah.
And when he had opened the scroll, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of their sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it again to the man who was in charge (Luk 4:17-20),
It reads minister, but really he was the servant. He isn’t minister in the sense that we think of a minister today. But he was just a fellow that carried the scrolls around.
and he sat down. And all of the eyes of the people that were in the synogogue were fasten on him (Luk 4:20).
When He sat down, that was indicative of the fact that He was now going begin to teach. The rabbis always sat when they taught. And so He stood to read the scriptures. But having read them, then in sitting down, he was signifying to the people He is now going to teach us the scriptures.
He looked up this particular passage in Isaiah, which is Isaiah 61, and He read out of Isaiah 61 the prophecy concerning the Messiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of the sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” This was to be the ministry of the Messiah. Now if you will go back to Isaiah 61, you’ll find that He stopped right in the middle of the text of Isaiah 61. He didn’t complete the reading of the ministry of the Messiah. The reason being, there are two comings of the Messiah. The rest of Isaiah 61 pertains to those things that will transpire when He comes again. As it speaks of the judgment and all that will transpire. That will await His second coming. Those things that He read are the things that pertain to His first coming. This would be His works. This would be His activities. And thus, it was extremely significant that as He said, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” He closed the book.
Now it’s interesting to compare the ministry of Jesus with John the Baptist. With John the Baptist there was really no gospel. Just, “Repent, you generation of vipers, bring forth something that shows you’ve repented. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Make the path straight.” I mean, just laying on them, really no gospel. But with Jesus, we find the gospel. “I have come to mend up, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, recovering of the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are bruised, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And so the glorious gospel that was brought to us by Jesus Christ.
Now later on when John the Baptist began to have questions concerning Jesus after he had been in prison for awhile, and Jesus had not kicked Herod out from the throne and taken over, John sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the Messiah, or shall we look for another?” In other words, “What’s the big delay? I am tired of this prison.”
And in that same hour many came to Jesus who were blind and lame, the poor. And He healed them. He restored their sight. And He said to those disciples of John, “Go back and tell John what you’ve seen. How the blind receive their sight, the lame are walking, and to the meek the gospel is being preached.” And Jesus, rather than answering directly, “Go back and tell John, ‘Yes, I am the one you’re looking for.'” Rather than His own testimony, in essence He was saying, “My works testify of who I am.” These were to be the works of the Messiah.
Now later on Jesus said, “Believeth thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works sake.” “Don’t believe it because I say it unto you, but I have demonstrated the works of the Messiah. I have done those things that the scriptures said the Messiah would do, in giving sight to the blind, the lame are walking, the gospel if being preached to the poor.” And these works are a witness, and they attest to the fact that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
And so He closed the book, gave it to the minister, He sat down. Everybody was looking at Him.
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luk 4:21).
That must have been an electric, dynamic moment. As He closed the book, having read these prophesies of the Messiah, which they all knew and recognized to be prophesies of the Messiah. And He said, “Today the scripture has been fulfilled.”
When He was talking to the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, she said to Him, “We know that when the Messiah is come, He is going to tell us everything.” And Jesus said, “Woman, I’ve got news for you, the one who is speaking to you, is He.” Imagine the dynamic of that moment, to realize, “Hey, this is it, He is the one.” He is declaring this to the people here at the beginning of His ministry.
And all bore witness, and they wondered at his gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? (Luk 4:22)
They were stumbled, because they knew Him.
And he said unto them, You surely will say this proverb unto me, Physician, heal thyself: for whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do it also here in this country (Luk 4:23).
Now we’ve heard that you have done some exciting things down in Capernaum, do something here.
And he said, I tell you the truth, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut for three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout the land; But unto none of them was Elijah sent, but to Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow (Luk 4:24-26).
Now Jesus is saying some things that are going to really upset them, because one thing a Jew was, and that was, he was a complete national. In fact, in their writings of this time, the Jews taught that the Gentiles were only created for fuel for hell. And they did not believe that a Gentile could be saved. “We are the sons of Abraham.” And they had this strong nationalistic feeling, feeling that salvation was only for the Jews, everyone else was excluded. So that when Jesus begins to point out a few things in their history, it upsets them.
Now in the time of Elijah when there was this famine as a result of the drought for three and a half years, there was a widow who was sustained during in the famine by Elijah. The Lord sent Elijah to her. But she wasn’t a Jewess. She was in the city of Sarepta. And there were many lepers in Israel, though there were many widows in Israel, none of the widows were visited by Elias, just this one outside.
And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of Elijah the prophet; but none of them were cleansed, except Naaman the Syrian (Luk 4:27).
Oh, man, that’s enough to make any Jew’s blood boil. “We are the people. God only cares for us, and no one else.”
And all of those that were in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled [with anger] with wrath. And they rose up, and threw him out of the city, and they led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him head first over (Luk 4:28-29).
They were going to take Him up and toss Him over the cliff.
But he, passing through the midst of them on his way (Luk 4:30),
So He just disappeared actually from their sight.
And went on down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and he taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with authority (Luk 4:31-32).
Now no one spoke with authority in those days. When anyone would preach they would say, “Now Rabbi Hallel declares… ” They were like government employees, no one wanted to take any word of authority; they always pass you off to someone else. No one wants to take responsibility for anything. That’s why it is so hard to get a permit anywhere. No one wants to accept any responsibility. If it comes back it’s my neck, and it’s awfully hard to deal with government agencies. Well, in those days when everyone spoke, they would always speak with the quoting of someone else. “He said this,” or, “He declared that.” But Jesus wasn’t quoting the rabbis, He just said, “I say unto you, now you’ve heard that it has been said, you’ve heard that this is what was said, but I say unto you,” and He spoke with authority. And they weren’t used to that, they were amazed at the fact that He spoke with such authority. Astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with authority.
And in the synogogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know who you are; the Holy one of God (Luk 4:33-34).
The demons recognized Him. And here in the synogogue in Capernaum the demon possessed man cries out.
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and did not hurt him. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What kind of word is this! for with authority and power he commands the unclean spirit, and they come out (Luk 4:35-36).
Now in those days they had rights of exorcism. I mean, they would go through a ceremony that you wouldn’t believe. Gaze over that person with that unclean, and they would use sometimes a gold ring, and go through this whole long routine and rigmarole to exorcise the unclean spirits. And it was really a heavy-duty thing. And here Jesus is just speaking to them, and commanding them, and they are coming out. And they are saying, “Hey, wait a minute. What is going on here? What kind of word of authority is this that He can just speak to them and they are obedient to Him?”
And his fame went out in to every place of the country around that area. And he arose out of the synagogue, and he entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with great fever; and they besought him for her (Luk 4:37-38).
Now Simon was married, his wife’s mother. It is interesting that nothing at all is mentioned concerning the wives of the apostles. Now because nothing is mentioned from them we should not infer anything concerning them. The scripture is silent. We should be silent. There is no inferences at all that we can draw from the silence of the scripture concerning the wives of the apostles. No inferences can be made. Inferences if they were second-rate citizens, or anything of this nature are absolutely wrong. Because the scripture is silent concerning them. But the main thing when the scriptures are silent, how many times men love to speak, and the books that are written about the silence of the scriptures. You know, the inferences and the conclusions that a person draws because the scripture is silent in a certain area, and that is all speculative, and there is to be no inferences drawn from it whatsoever.
Now we would not even know that Peter was married for sure, except that his wife’s mother was sick and was taken with a great fever. Now this is in the Greek medical terms. Luke was a doctor, and thus, he diagnoses her condition with medical terms in the Greek language here.
And they came to Jesus that He might help her.
And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she rose and [fixed dinner for them] ministered unto them (Luk 4:39).
Which means fix something to eat, and prepare something for them, as mothers are so prone to do. You know, just that typical neat mom that goes out and fix something for them.
And when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with diverse kind of diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of God. And he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak: for they knew that he was the Messiah. And when it was day, he departed and went into a deserted area: and the people were looking for him, and they came unto him, and they begged him that he would not depart from them. But he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee (Luk 4:40-44).
Now if there were two hundred and four cities, the population of 10,000 plus, it would take a good while to get around to all of these fairly good sized little communities, two hundred and four of them, to preach in the synagogues throughout the area of Galilee.
So next week we’ll enter into chapter 5 and chapter 6.
May the Lord be with you and bless you and give you a beautiful week and fill your life with praises and thanksgiving unto God for all His goodness. And we are entering into that difficult time of year known as Christmas, when there are so many extra pressures, so much pushing and shoving and crowded parking lots and people go insane. May the Lord keep you cool and may the true spirit of Christmas just fill your heart. God protect and keep you from getting caught up in the spirit of the age and may you rather be controlled with the Spirit of Christ walking with Him, walking in His love, as a light shining in a dark place. In Jesus’ name.
Chapter 5 & 6
Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Luke’s gospel chapter 5.
The popularity of the ministry of Jesus is growing. Word is being spread around of the miracles that are being wrought by Him, and now wherever He goes people are beginning to jostle and shove in order that they might get close to Him. It made it difficult for Jesus to travel to get around because of the multitudes that, according to Mark’s gospel, at this point were thronging Him wherever He went.
And so here in Luke’s gospel,
It came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God (Luk 5:1),
And that to me is always an exciting situation, when people are pressing to hear the word of God. When this becomes such a priority in the life of people, to just hear the word of God, they pressed to hear it. But,
he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (Luk 5:1),
Also known as the Sea of Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee. Whenever you are talking about a sea, somehow in my mind you get a vision of a sort of a salt body of water, but the lake of Gennesaret, or it’s to me more of a lake than it is the sea. It’s not salty water, but is fresh water, drinkable. So yet, it is known as the Sea of Galilee.
There were two ships that were standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and he prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship (Luk 5:2-3).
So in order to escape a little from the crowd that was thronging Him, He commandeered Simon’s ship. He got in it, and He said, “Pull on out a little ways,” in order that He might be able to teach the people without them pressing so close that He loses the sight of those that were behind. Now here in the area by Capernaum there is sort of a good slope where the Sea of Galilee comes down, where the banks come down into the Sea of Galilee there, so that just pulling out just a little ways from shore, you’re sort of an amphitheater type of a situation, which made it very conducive to teach the multitude of people who were thronging to hear the word of God.
Now when he was finished speaking to them, he then said to Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught (Luk 5:4).
For a load, you’re going to be pulling in a large catch.
And so Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net (Luk 5:5).
Simon is objecting to the command in a polite sort of a way. “Lord, I am the fisherman, I know how to fish, and I know the time to fish, and I know that the time isn’t now.” As the day gets warmer the fish go to the deeper areas of the lake. And these nets were not really deep-water nets, they were sort of surface nets. They had the floats on the top, and they just cast them out as they are rolling around in a circle in the boat. And then as they complete the circle with the boat having cast the nets around in a circle, then they pull the nets on into the boat, and they are not deep-water type nets. They would catch the fish in the shallower areas in the cooler part of the day. Or in the evening which was usually the best time for fishing. So they’ve been fishing all night, caught nothing, so you assume that this just isn’t the time. “Yet, nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net.”
Now this to me is interesting, because here we find men laboring all night with no results. Now suddenly Jesus directs them to labor in the same area, and they have phenomenal results. And to me this marks the contrast that usually exists in those efforts that are on our own, and those efforts that are directed by the Lord. I think of all of the time and energy and money that is wasted by man-inspired efforts. We see a task that needs to be done. We sit down and figure out what would be the best way to accomplish this task. We develop our programs, and then we develop the financing in order that we might fund the programs that we have devised. And then we set up the committees, then we set up the ways by which we might implement that program. And certainly in the church of Jesus Christ we have seen some remarkably phenomenal programs established by man.
We have some friends who were pastoring a church in the same denomination that we served for so many years, where we got packaged programs from the denomination. Quick, convenient, you didn’t even have to think of one, they thought of them for you. All you had to do is get your committees and inaugurate them. And, of course, every year you get two of them. You get your spring enlargement program, and that you get the one to beat the summer slump program. And so this church was going to go all out. I mean they had everything all lined out. You take a telephone book, and you go up the pages and each person takes a page of the telephone book, and they call all the people on that page, and invite them to the church. And then, of course, you have a person over that, that calls everybody whose supposed to be calling all the people to make sure they call the people they were supposed to call. And then they filled helium balloons with numbers, and you turn them lose upwind from the city, so that the balloons sort of drop down, and so the numbers are then put in a barrel, and the person that draws the number. And if you bring the number out of your helium, there is a little note telling you there is going to be a drawing, special prize if you there and get the number. So you get the people coming with their numbers so that they might get into the drawing, and perhaps win this special prize that will be given away when the number is drawn out of the barrel. And then, of course, you organize your transportation committees. If a person needs transportation, they’ll drive out, and pick them up, and bring them to church. And I mean it goes on, and on, and on. I mean so many gimmicks, you can’t believe.
And so this particular church thought, “Well, we’re going to really go into this big program, we’re going to go full into it.” And so I was talking to the pastors some six months after the program, and I said, “Well, now it’s been six months since the program was concluded, as you evaluate the results of the program, how many of you have been able to add permanently to your church?” And they said, “Well, there is an eighty-five year old man that we have to drive twenty-five miles to pick up, and he really can’t hear, but he doesn’t get to see people very much, so he just loves to sit around where people are, and he is the only one we were able to add to the membership.”
You know, after spending thousands of dollars on all of these programs to add to the church. There is man’s way of doing it, and then there is the Lord’s way. None directed service can be very unfruitful. But directed service can be exciting.
Now Jesus is directing Peter. Just launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draft. And Peter semi-arguing says, “Lord, we’ve been fishing all night and we’ve caught nothing, nevertheless, at thy word. (If you insist on it, we’ll do it),” not really expecting anything.
How many times I’ve met people who are discouraged because of bad experiences. How many times when we’ve suggested a solution to a person’s problem, they’ll immediately respond, “Oh, I’ve tried that.” But did you try it at the Lord’s direction, or did you try it on your own initiative? It makes a difference when the Lord directs you to do a thing. You can be sure when the Lord is directing your service, that your service for the Lord will not be in vain.
So when they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fish: and their net began to brake. So they signaled to their partners, [which were James and John] who were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and they filled both of the ships, so that they began to sink (Luk 5:6-7).
Success beyond their wildest dreams by simple obedience to the command of Jesus. Now the result of the success to me is significant. When we have devised programs, and we put in all of the human energy, and the human effort, and we begin by the human effort to gain a response. You’ve got something that is working, you’ve got something that is attracting people. What do you do with it? You franchise it. You carry it out other places. You develop your success seminars. And you invite others to come and learn how to bait your hook, to make your lure more attractive. So you can gather more fish. But when it is the Lord doing the work, rather than developing your success seminars, and being all puffed up over what’s been accomplished, like Peter you just sort of fall at the feet of Jesus and say, “Lord, I am not worthy, depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man.”
Suddenly you’re aware of God’s work. You’re aware of God’s power. You’re aware of the presence of God, and that is always a humbling experience. No man who has stood in the presence of God can be proud. Standing in the presence of the Lord, conscious presence of the Lord, is always a very humbling experience.
Depart from me, Lord, [Peter said,] I am a sinful man. And he was astonished, and all of those that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so also was James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; for from now on you’re going to catch men. So when they brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him (Luk 5:8-11).
The Lord brought them to the peak, to the ultimate of success in their chosen profession, and then called them to leave it, to follow Him. Their little ships rowing to shore, weighted down in the water by the load of fish. The dream of every Galilean fishermen, and from that point of success the Lord said, “From now on you’re going to catch men.” And they left all to follow Jesus.
Now in the other gospels they do not give us the background to the call of Peter and John. And it would appear from the other gospels that Jesus was just walking by the Sea of Galilee and He saw some fishermen mending their nets, and He said, “Come, take up your cross and follow me.” Or, “Come leave your nets and follow me.” And they dropped their nets and followed Jesus without even knowing Him or seeing Him. That is not so. These men had already experienced the Lord, they knew the Lord. Jesus wasn’t a stranger to them. They knew Him. Now He is calling them to a complete commitment in following Him.
Now it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man was full of leprosy; who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and begged him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him (Luk 5:12-13).
He is going to give us a list of some of the miracles that Jesus was accomplishing. Sort of a variety of miracles. The one directing them and catching the fish, sort of a miracle in nature. Now the miracle of the curing of an incurable disease. Leprosy was one of the most dreaded and loathed diseases in the aged world. If a person had leprosy he was to be ostracized from the community. Nobody could touch him. If they touched him, you would be unclean. Jesus touched him.
Now in another case when Jesus healed lepers, He did not touch them. Jesus did not confine Himself to a particular pattern in doing His work. And I am glad for that. Because we so often are trying to find the formula as though it existed within a formula. Jesus said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, you hear the sound thereof, but you can’t really tell from whence it is coming, or where it is going. And so is he that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
God does not confine Himself to our patterns, to our methods, to our ways. In seminary we had a class in methodology. As always, men is seeking to develop the methods or to learn the methods by which God works. But the interesting thing is that God doesn’t work by any particular method. There are diversities of gifts, and diversities of operations. Yet, it’s the same Lord. So there are different gifts, but even with the same gift, there are different ways by which that gift operates within the individual. The Holy Spirit dividing to each man severally as He wills. And so He always maintains the control of method and the work which is to be done. At best I can only be an instrument through which God does work.
So here we find Jesus touching the man. And the interesting question is, “If thou wilt Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” So often when we pray we say, “Now, Lord, if it is your will,” and I am not putting that down. I feel that we should, that whether I say it or not is an underlying fact in every prayer that I ever offer to God. I don’t want my will to be done above God’s. “Now, God, You set Your will aside, because this is what I want You to do.” The purpose of prayer is never the accomplishing of my will. Except as my will has been molded and shaped and conformed to His will. Always the purpose of prayer, the thrust of prayer is the will of God, the accomplishing of the will of God upon the earth. And we need to remember that. Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but thy will be done” (Mark 14:36). And that was at the end of the prayer, after He had offered His request, then He made that statement. And that’s not a bad statement for us to make. After laying out to God the things that we desire, I think it is always wise to just say, “Lord, not what I will, but Your will be done.”
Now quite often the Lord is willing to do those things that we desire. When He said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus said, “I am willing, be thou made clean.” And He touched him, and he was cured of his leprosy immediately. Now in the case of the ten lepers that came to Jesus, He didn’t touch them, and they were healed as they went. In the case of this fellow, he was healed immediately. Again, diversities of operations. He doesn’t always work the same way.
Now the problem that would develop if He worked the same way is that, it didn’t happen to me the way it happened to you, then I think, “Oh, God is not doing it for me.” So God keeps His ways diverse, so that when I relate to you what God has done in my life, you then don’t look for my experience that I’ve got, but you look for your own personal experience. For God does not pattern Himself in His work in our lives. And He may work in you in a totally different way, and your reaction may be completely different than my reaction to the work of God.
There is a value to testimony meetings, but there is always a problem with testimony meetings. Because through testimony meetings so oftentimes we seek then to have a similar experience to someone else. And the emphasis in the testimony meetings seems always to be experiential, or this is the way I experienced it, this is how God did it for me, this is what God did for me, and then I begin to think, “Oh, God didn’t do it for me that way, there must be something wrong with me, because I didn’t feel that. I didn’t see the lights flashing. I didn’t get the tingling down my spine. I guess maybe I don’t have it, because I didn’t experience it like someone else.” So God keeps working in a variety of ways so that we don’t try to pattern God after our methods.
So he was healed immediately. Now Jesus said to him,
Don’t tell anybody: but just go, and show yourself to the priest (Luk 5:14),
A marvelous thing about the law of God, the book of Leviticus, is that God in the law provided the way by which a person of an incurable disease could be returned into society and into fellowship in the worship of God when he was cured of the incurable disease. Now that I really like that, because God left Himself space to work. And this is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. This is the method by which he is to be restored into the full fellowship of the family. And yet, leprosy is incurable. Even to the present day leprosy is incurable, it can be arrested, and they can be brought to an arrested state now in what the call the Hanson’s disease, but it is still incurable. And it was incurable then, and yet God made provision for Him to work sovereignly, even in incurable situations. God always left Himself that space, to inapt, to put into operation His higher laws that supersede the natural laws as we know them. So Jesus said, “Follow the law, go show yourself to the priest.” And, of course, the priest would examine him, and see no white flesh, and see the area where the leprosy was all pink, and new flesh. And so he would set him in the house where he would have to be for seven days, and then he comes back and shows himself to the priest again. He examines him, doesn’t find anything, and then the fellow brings two doves. And the one dove is killed, and the blood is poured with water into a basin. And the second dove is taken and immersed in this bloody water, and set free. And the second dove flying off, the bloody water dripping off his wings, as he takes off, is a symbol of the disease being taken from the man, and his full restoration now into the community. Can you imagine the emotions that a leper must have felt when he saw that dove flying away, and suddenly he realized that he could be restored completely and fully into society? Here he was hopelessly ostracized because of this loathsome, incurable disease, and yet, he always knew, God has wrought a work.
So Jesus told him, “Do what the law tells you to do, show yourself to the priest.” But Jesus could not hide. More and more people were hearing of the miracles that were being accomplished, and the crowds were coming and thronging. And He healed them, and they came actually to be healed from their infirmities. Verse 16:
And Jesus withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed (Luk 5:16).
As we pointed out last week, as we were studying the gospel of Luke, or the week before. The humanity of Jesus is the thing that Luke points out. The Son of man, the human side. And because this is the particular emphasis of Luke’s gospel, Luke makes more mention of the prayer life of Christ than any of the other gospels. Luke gives us insight into the prayer life of Christ. So here again, he shows us, he gives us a little insight into that prayer life of Jesus our Lord. Now all I can say is that, if Jesus as the Son of God felt the necessity of prayer, who do you think you are that you can get by without prayer? If He, being the Son of God, felt it such a necessary part of His life, surely it ought to be a very necessary and considered to be a very necessary part of all of our lives.
Again, the mystery of heaven, I am certain, is that men pray so little. I am sure the angels discuss this all the time. When they watch and observe us going through all of our calamities, all of our troubles, and they are just waiting to be dispatched to help us. And they watch, and we get knocked down and bloodied, and we stand up, and get knocked over again. And I am sure the angels say, “When is that nut going to call? How long is he going to go on until he cries out for help? If he only knew what God has made available to him.” The mystery of the prayerlessness of infirmed man.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees the doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: [and I like this,] and the power of the Lord was present to heal them (Luk 5:17).
Now Jesus had began to attract the notice and the attention of a hostile crowd, the Pharisees, the doctors of the law, and they were coming all the way from Jerusalem up to the area of Galilee because they heard of Him. And their purpose of coming was really of being more critical than accepting. Here is a rising movement, a spiritual movement among the people. Now they have pretty well set themselves in a comfortable position as religious leaders. Here is a threat to them. They must come up and listen carefully, and examine Him, so that they can contradict Him, and show where He is at fault, and to dispel any idea that this man might truly be of God, and possibly the Messiah. But while they were there, the power of the Lord was present to heal.
And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with palsy: and they sought a means to bring him in, and lay him before Jesus. But when they could not find a way that they might bring him in because of the multitude, they climbed up on the roof, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus (Luk 5:18-19).
And so you can get the picture. Jesus is sitting there in the house, and the people are all gathered, the multitude is gathered around, and suddenly there is a noise upon the roof, and the tiles are being pulled back, and then the ropes, and here is this guy being let down right in front of Jesus. These guys are ingenious, I admire them, I really do. They are determined. They’ve got a friend, they want help for him, and they are determined to get help. Now I tell you, those are the kind of buddies you need. And so they come with him to the house, carrying him in his bed. They can’t get in, and so they are not to be stopped. And so they let him down right in front of Jesus.
And when he saw their faith (Luk 5:20),
Not the faith of the fellow that was let down, the faith of his friends that brought him. That’s great to be surrounded by friends who believe. And He saw their faith,
and he said to them, Man, your sins are forgiven (Luk 5:20).
Now I imagine the guys upon on the roof said, “No, no, no, Lord, that’s not what we want, we want him to walk home.”
So often in their minds, illness was related to sin. You remember when the disciples were with Jesus, and they saw the blind man, they said, “Lord, who did sin that this man was born blind?” Now they even believed in prenatal sins. While you were in the womb you could sin. I don’t know how, but they believed that you could. “So was it his parents, or was it him? Did he do some sin in the womb that he was born blind? Or was it his parents?” And Jesus said, “No, no, no, this man….” He didn’t really answer why he was born blind, He just said, “That God may be glorified, I must do the works of God while I am with you.” And He healed the man. He never told them why the man was born blind.
People misinterpret that saying, “Well, he was born blind for the glory of God to be revealed.” No, Jesus just said that He must work to glorify God, and thus, He healed the man. He never answered the question. Except that He affirmed that neither he nor his parents sinned. He affirmed that it wasn’t their sin. But they so often related illnesses to sin. Which we haven’t really divorced ourselves from that completely yet. And it’s tragic, that when we see a person who is suffering, we say, “Oh, you must have really done something wrong.”
We were pastoring a church in Tucson years ago, and one of the fellows in the church said, “Would you please pray for my wife tonight that God will help her to confess whatever sin she has been committing? She has been sick for over a month.” And so that idea that somehow illness is related to sin is not completely divorced from the minds of people. If illnesses were directly related to sin, none of us would be strong enough to be here tonight. And it is extremely wrong, and extremely cruel to say to a person, “Well, if you just had enough faith, you would be alright.”
I was talking with Joni Erickson, and she was saying one of the most difficult things about her condition is that there are so many people who feel that they have a special anointing for her healing. And these evangelists, and whatever, who come up and lay hands on her, and then say, “Now stand up.” And then sort of say, “Well, if you only had enough faith, you could get out of that wheelchair.” And that’s one of the most difficult problems that she faces with her condition. That’s cruel. It makes a hardship on her. She is already in a difficult position. But that only increases the hardship. Making a person feel guilty because they are in the condition that they are in. Because surely you must have done something wrong or you don’t have enough faith to change your condition.
Some of the greatest saints of God have had great physical maladies, and actually it was the physical malady that created that depth of character, and that depth of their walk, and relationship with the Lord.
Jesus took care of the most important thing first. You know, it’s more important that your sins are forgiven than that you be healed. It’s better to go into heaven maimed than to go into hell. So Jesus took care of the most important thing first, with the man’s sins. “Man, your sins are forgiven.” Of course He knew that the Pharisees and all were there watching and listening. He was baiting them. I mean, He was looking for a big blowup, which He got. And He was deliberately just baiting them. He knew what their response would be. He anticipated it. And He was deliberately creating it.
And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? (Luk 5:21)
Now, they were right in their assumption. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus wanted them to make that assumption. They were falling right into His trap. They were wrong in thinking that Jesus was speaking blasphemous. What Jesus was actually demonstrating to them was that He was God. So in saying, “Man, your sins are forgiven you,” He is exercising His divine prerogative of forgiving sins, knowing that only God can forgive sins. David said unto God, “Lord, against thee, and thee only have I sinned, and done this great sin in thy sight” (Psalm 51:4). Thus, if sin is against God, then only God can forgive sin. And Jesus was deliberately seeking to get this response and reaction, which He did get. And then He closed the trap.
He said unto them, What are you reasoning in your hearts? What is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you; or, Rise up and walk? (Luk 5:22-23)
Well, it would be easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven you.” If you say, your sins are forgiven, who can look in a guys heart and really see? Well, you can say that, but how do you know it’s really happened? How can you prove that the sins were really forgiven? How can you prove that your words really have authority? You can’t prove it. There is nothing that you can see that can prove the authority of that. However, if you say to a fellow who is lame, “Rise up and walk,” it’s very easy to quickly see how much authority you have in your words.
So Jesus said unto them,
But that you may know that the Son of man has the authority upon earth to forgive sins, (he said to the man who was sick of a palsy,) I say unto you, Arise, take up your couch, and go home. And immediately he rose up before them, he took up that whereon he was laying, and he departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen some weird things today (Luk 5:24-26).
Now Jesus was here demonstrating to them His divinity. Doing it in a very clever way, saying first to the man, “Your sins are forgiven,” creating that response, “How can you do that, only God can do that?” Only God has that authority. And thus, by showing that His word did have authority by saying, “Rise up and walk,” He is demonstrating to them that He is God.
Now after these things he went forth, and he saw a publican (Luk 5:27),
Now a publican was a tax collector. The Roman government assessed an area with an certain assessment, and then they auctioned off the job of tax collector. And the tax collector only had to pay to the Roman government that assessment. Anything he could collect above the assessment was his. So they were constantly looking for things to tax. Constantly grabbing people and taxing them for many things. Actually, you had to pay a tax just to be alive under the Roman government. They taxed 10% of the fruit of your crop, and 20% of your oil and wine. They had taxes on just about everything. And you think that our government has been shrewd. All they had to do is read what the Roman government taxed, we’d really be crying even more than we are. The people in those days classified tax collectors with murders and thieves. They probably weren’t so far off, thieves to be sure. In fact, it was extremely rare to find an honest tax collector. They were notoriously crooked. In fact, there was a monument that was raised. They’ve found records of a monument extolling a man because he was an honest tax collector. About the only one I guess in the Roman Empire. So much so, that they made a special monument. This man was an honest tax collector. But that was a rarity indeed. And so the Jews considered tax collectors, quislings, because they were really working for the Roman government. And they made a law that a tax collector could not enter the synagogue. I mean, he was a rank sinner. There was no way he could come into the synagogue. Ranking him with the murders and the thieves, they would not allow him to worship God in the synagogue.
Now here was a tax collector,
named Levi, and he was sitting at his little custom house [where he received his taxes]: and Jesus said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi had a big feast [of course he could afford it] in his own house: and there was a great number (Luk 5:27-29)
He invited all of his tax collector friends to come and listen to Jesus. All of the publicans, he invited them to gather together, and Jesus sat down with them.
It’s interesting how that when a person comes to a real relationship with Jesus Christ, the first thing they do is they grab their associates to tell them about it. The only associates he had were tax collectors. So in gathering his associates, he had to gather the tax collectors. They only had fellowship with each other, no one else would fellowship with them. And so he gathered together all of these tax collectors, and the scribes and the Pharisees murmured against it. And they came to His disciples and they said, “Why are you eating and drinking with publicans and sinners?”
You see, a Pharisee if he came near a tax collector would grab his robe and hold it tied around him, because he wouldn’t want his robe to flip out and touch a tax collector, because they were considered unclean. And if he did that he would have to go home and bathe, and change, and wash his cloak, and he couldn’t go to the synagogue for a day, because he was unclean, because his cloak touched the tax collector.
Now here is Jesus eating with them, that’s even worse in their mind, because when you’re eating with someone, you are touching the same bread. And you’re eating bread that that guy touched. “How is it you’re eating with this publicans and sinners?” Eating together was identifying with one another in a very intimate way.
They were murmuring to the disciples, [they were bringing their complaints to the disciples,] but Jesus answered them and said, They that are whole need not a physician; but those that are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luk 5:30-32).
Jesus went out where they were, meet them on their own territory. He ministered to the sick. Those who were sick spiritually. I think that oftentimes in the church we begin to make ourselves sort of sterilized hospitals. And we create almost a sterile environment, where if a sinner would come in he feels so totally uncomfortable, because we are all sitting here in our sterile robes of righteousness.
In England we have a good friend Jim, who pastors a Calvary Chapel affiliate in the area of the northern part near Manchester. And Jim’s ministry is in the pubs. He goes down to the pubs three or four nights a week. And has a tremendous ministry there in the pubs witnessing to the people who are getting drunk. And he is an outstanding witness for Christ.
Oh, he gets a lot of flak from the other ministers in town because he spends so much time in the pub. But he is following the example of the Lord, going where they are at to reach them, and to bring them out.
And so they then brought up the question, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and they make their prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but yours eat and drink? And he said unto them, Can you make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days (Luk 5:33-35).
In those days when a couple got married, it was a two week party. A week before, and a week after. The week before everybody would gather together and they have this big weeklong party, and then they would have the marriage and the consummation of the marriage. And then they would have open house for a week, where they would party for a week. And the bride and the bridegroom would be the host of a party for a week, and their special friends were invited to party with them for a whole week. Now their lives were extremely difficult in heart, and this was probably the only time in their lives where they just have a week off with doing nothing. Because they had to work so hard. And so it was that one week of their life of real partying, now that they are married, then after that it was to work and to the treachery, as life as it was in those days.
Now those special friends that they invited to celebrate that week and party with them and all were called the children of the bridechambers. And so Jesus called his disciples the children of the bridechamber. The bridegroom is with them, they are here to party. “We are here to enjoy and celebrate the fact that I am with them. Now when I am gone, then it will be time for them to fast, but as long as the bridegroom is with them, they are not going to fast, they are just going to enjoy the presence of the bridegroom.”
And then he spake a parable unto them; No man puts a piece of a new garment on an old; if otherwise, then both the new makes a tear, and the piece that was taken out of the new does not agree with the old (Luk 5:36).
They didn’t have preshrunk in those days. So if you took a new patch and sew it into an old garment, the first time you washed it, the new patch not being preshrunk would shrink. Of course, the garment had already been washed enough that all of the shrinkage was out of it. But if you put a new cloth into an old garment, the new cloth as soon as you wash it would shrink, and it just make the tear worse. So Jesus said, “You just don’t put a new patch on an old garment. It’s only going to rip it up more.”
And also he said, No man puts new wine into old bottles (Luk 5:37);
Now when they poured the new wine into the wineskins, there was a chemical reaction that created a gas. So if you would pour the new wine into old wineskins, it would cause it to immediately ferment, and this gas would be formed, and the old wineskins, of course, were stiff, because they were old. And being stiff, no give to them, the gas would develop and they just pop. And so you just didn’t put new wine into the old skins, but you put it into new skins that were still soft and pliable. The gas had developed, but they would just expand with the gas, because there was a pliability in the leather. And the wineskins were made of leather. And so Jesus said, “You don’t take the new wine and pour it into the old skins, they’re going to burst on you.”
You put the new wine into new skins; and both then are preserved. And no man having drunk the old wine immediately desires the new; for he says, The old is better (Luk 5:38-39).
Now He is talking about the old religious systems that He was coming up against. He is bringing a new breath of air into the religious scene that had become so stodgy that no one could hardly stand it. Now, rather than coming in to reform that system, putting the new cloth in the old garment, or putting the new wine in the old skins, He is developing a whole new skin for this new work of God.
Now those who are used to the old traditional ways are always upset when something new comes along. They say, “Oh, the old is better.” And we see this demonstrated so often. New ideas, new thoughts are so often immediately rejected. People get caught in their old traditional ways, and they get upset if anything should come along. Well, the old wineskins burst.
Chuck 1:1, “Blessed are the flexible, they shall not be broken.”
May God keep us flexible. As I grow older I know the tenancy is to get set in your ways. And I pray, “God don’t let me grow old in that regards, help me to always be open to what You might want to be doing.” I have observed in the history of the church how many times when God wanted to do a fresh work upon the earth, He had to go outside of the organized systems. Because the old skin couldn’t handle the new wine. And so we see this glorious fresh work of God, but he had to create a new skin in order to do it. And those who come from the old systems so often are shocked and appalled at what they see. Kids sitting on the floor. And they just can’t handle what God is doing, because it doesn’t follow our structure. It doesn’t fit into our pattern. And yet, God develops the new skins for His new wine.
Now it came to pass on the second Sabbath (Luk 6:1)
Now He is going to deal with a couple of instances on the Sabbath day. We’ve been introduced now to the Pharisees; they’re beginning to really get into it and trying to find fault with Jesus and condemn Him for the things He is doing. And they condemned Him for eating with the publicans. He, of course, spoke out against their condemnation, telling them, “Hey, you guys belong in the old skins, and so I am just going not try and give you the new wine. We’re just going to create a whole new system here.” And now Luke points out a couple of Sabbath day experiences where He crossed the Pharisees.
It came to pass on the second sabbath after the first (Luk 6:1),
Now that’s an interesting way of dating it. We don’t know when the first Sabbath was, but on the second Sabbath after the first,
he was going through the corn fields (Luk 6:1);
And, of course, that was the wheat, the little thing on the top where all of the grains of wheat are called a corn, and so they were going through the wheat fields.
and the disciples began to pick these little corns of wheat, and they ate them, rubbing them in their hands (Luk 6:1).
Now around the later part of May when the wheat is turned brown and is getting dry, as you are in the area of Galilee it is a tremendous… it’s called the bread basket of Israel because they grow wheat there, and it grows so well. The winter wheat does so beautifully up there. And so you can take this wheat, and you rub it in your hands, and then you hold open your hands like this, and you blow it, blowing off the chaff, or the husk, and then you can eat the wheat. And it’s extremely healthy. As you chew, it forms a gum, and you can just chew that gum all day, or you can swallow it, but it’s just very healthy. You’re getting the raw fresh wheat. And when I am in Israel in that time of the year, I love to go through the fields and grab the wheat and do just like the disciples, rub it in my hands, and blow the chaff off and eat it. And it’s just so healthy, and so good for you.
Now this was perfectly legal under the law. If you were hungry, you could go into a field, and you could eat all that you needed to eat, you just couldn’t carry any out. You cant’ take a sickle into the field and start harvesting your neighbor’s field. But you could eat all that you needed in the field.
So it was perfectly legal for the disciples to go head and pick the wheat, and rub it in their hands, however, not on the Sabbath day. Because you weren’t to prepare food on the Sabbath day, nor were you to bear a burden. And the weight of the wheat would constitute a bearing a burden. So they began to find fault with the disciples and Jesus.
Why do you do that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? And Jesus answering said, Did you not read so much as this, that what David did when he was hungry, and those that were with him; how he went into the house of God, and took the showbread, and ate it, and gave also to those that were with him; which is not lawful to eat but for the priest alone? (Luk 6:2-4)
David was fleeing from Saul. He had his company of men with him, he came to the house of God. He asked the priest for something to eat. And he said, “Well, I don’t have anything.” And David said, “I’ll take the showbread here.” Now it was not lawful for any men to eat the showbread, but the priest. There were twelve loaves of bread that they sat out on the table before the Lord, represented of the twelve tribes of Israel. And God’s presence among the twelve tribes. And they would leave it out there on the table for seven days, and then the priests would eat it. Well, David came along, he was hungry, his men were hungry, and the priest said, “I don’t have anything to eat.” David said, “Alright, I’ll just take the showbread.” And so he took the showbread and he ate it, and he gave it to his men to eat. Not lawful to do. However, human need transcended the law. Human need. Now the disciples had a human need. Hungry, they were hungry going through the field. So they did what David did in essence. The human need transcended the law, and they ate.
And Jesus said, that the Son of man is Lord also [I rule over the Sabbath too, fellows]. So it came to pass on another Sabbath, [He was in Capernaum] and he entered into the synagogue and he was teaching: and there was a man whose right hand was withered (Luk 6:5-6).
Now Matthew and Mark both tell us about this incident, only Luke tells us it was the right hand, but remember Luke is a doctor, and so he is interested in details of the person’s problems, physically. And so he is careful to note that it was the right hand that was withered.
And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man that had a withered hand, Rise up, and stand here in the middle. And so the man stood up. And Jesus said unto them, I am going to ask you one thing, is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save a life or to destroy it? (Luk 6:7-9)
Now if you were asked that question, how would you answer it? On the Sabbath day is it lawful to do good, or to do evil? When is it ever lawful to do evil? When is it ever lawful to destroy a life? So really they couldn’t answer Jesus.
And looking around upon them all, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness [not gladness] (Luk 6:10-11);
They were insane with their anger,.
And they began to commune with one another what they might be able to do with Jesus (Luk 6:11).
He is really beginning to irritate them now.
We see suddenly how ludicrous their position is becoming. And when your position becomes untenable, because it is so ludicrous, then the only thing you can do is revered to violence. You know, you’re whipped, you better fight. You don’t have any reason, you’ve been wiped out, so what do you do? you fight. Because there is no reason to your position any longer.
So it should be noted that when Jesus said, “Stretch forth your hand,” He was making of that man an impossible demand. The man could have argued. He could have said, “Lord, I can’t stretch forth my hand, it’s withered, can’t you see? I’ve never been able to use this hand. You think if I could stretch forth my hand, I would just have it hanging here by my side all the time?” And he could very easily have argued with Jesus, and said,” well, I just can’t do it Sir, I wish I could, but I just cant’ do it. Because Jesus was making an impossible demand on him, when He said, stretch forth your hand. However, rather than arguing with Jesus, he tried to obey Him. When Jesus said, “Stretch forth your hand,” he tried to obey Him. Hey, all of a sudden he found out he could obey. But that’s impossible, I can’t do that, but there it is. Jesus made an impossible demand of him, he chose to obey, and in the very choosing to obey, the Lord immediately gave him all that was necessary to obey.
Now your problem is you’re standing and arguing. Jesus is making impossible demands on you. He is saying, “Be perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). “Lord, there is no way I can be perfect, You know my flesh.” And you’re arguing, aren’t you? Jesus is saying, “Be strong.” “Well, Lord, You think if I could be strong I’d be wallowing in this weakness that I have, and going through all of this misery?” Jesus is saying, “Have victory.” “Lord, You think… how I want victory.” And you are arguing rather than obeying. The moment you will to obey the command of Jesus Christ, as impossible as it may seem, in that very moment He will give to you all that is necessary for you to fulfill that command. He does not command you to do anything, but what He will not empower you and enable you to do it, if you will only will to obey. I love it.
Now it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray (Luk 6:12),
Again, Luke is giving us the insight to the prayer life of Jesus.
and he continued all night in prayer (Luk 6:12).
You men that spend the all night vigils here in the prayer room, you know who is there with you every night? The Lord. He said, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there” (Matthew 18:20). He was used to praying all night. You’re in good company. He spent the night in prayer, why? Because the next day He was going to be making some very important decisions. From those disciples that were following Him, He was going to choose twelve to be called apostles. Jesus prayed before important decisions were to be made. I think that that is a tremendous example for us, and we would be very wise to follow it. When we have important decisions to make to spend some time in prayer, seeking God’s guidance in those decisions.
So when the day came, he called unto him his disciples: and from them he chose twelve, whom he also named apostles (Luk 6:13);
And He gives us the name of the twelve.
Simon, (who he also named Peter,) Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon called the Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who also was the traitor. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases (Luk 6:14-17);
So now He is drawing people, not only from the south, the area of Judea, and Jerusalem, but they are coming from the coastal northern areas of Tyre and Sidon to hear Him and to be healed.
And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitudes sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and he healed them all (Luk 6:18-19).
It is interesting that this declaration, and, of course, here a doctor is talking to you again, the physician Luke, talking about virtue going out of Jesus. But it is interesting to me that this follows His night in prayer, that this power now, this dimension, virtue begins to go out of Him, and people were coming up and touching Him in order to be healed.
And he lifted up his eyes (Luk 6:20)
And now, from here to the end of the chapter, we have an abbreviated version of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5, 6, and 7, we have a longer version. There are some differences, enough, that some teachers do not believe that this is actually the Sermon on the Mount, but just another Sermon in which Jesus touched many of the points that He touched in the Sermon on the Mount. There is enough difference that does support that particular theory.
So he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and he said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God (Luk 6:20).
You may be poor on this earth, and on this earth’s standards, but hey, you’re blessed because the kingdom of God belongs to you.
Blessed are you that hunger now: you will be filled. Blessed are you that weep now: you shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, when they will separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake [for my sake. Jesus said,] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy (Luk 6:21-23):
Now I haven’t seen any of you leaping for joy because someone was speaking against you at your job and got you in trouble, and they only did because you were a Christian. I have counseled a lot of people with long faces. They come in just discouraged, defeated, ready to quit, because of the trails they were going through at their job because they were Christians. “Oh, I can’t believe the hassle I’ve got this week,” or, “My foreman is really upset.” But the Lord said, “When that happens leap for joy, rejoice.” Why? Because your reward in heaven is great.
for in the same manner did they treat the prophets. But woe unto you who are rich! for you have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! you will be hungry. Woe unto you that laugh now! you’re going to mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you! because this is how they treated the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to those that hate you, bless those that curse you, pray for those that despitefully use you (Luk 6:23-28).
Now suddenly Jesus is giving us a bunch of impossible commands. I am ready to argue. “Lord, how can I love my enemies? No way I can love my enemies. And I don’t want to do good to those that hate me. And I don’t want to bless those that curse me.”
You see, these are unnatural commands. They irritate me. I find myself arguing with them. I really do. I find myself arguing with this commands. Now as long as I am argue with them, I am always going to have a withered hand. I am never going to change. I’ll always be trying to get even. I’ll always be after the eye for an eye, and the tooth for a tooth. And seeking revenge, and being eaten up by ulcers. But if I just will to obey, “God I am willing to love, but you’re going to have to do it, I can’t do it.” Well, if I am willing, I will find that He will all for me that is necessary for me to obey that command. My part is to be willing to obey. Not to argue with Him, but just be willing to obey, and in that willingness you’ll discover the secret of victory. And the Lord will give to you the capacity and the power to obey the commands that He has given.
Now he that will smite you on the one cheek offer him the other; and if he takes away your cloak, don’t forbid him to take your coat also. To every man that ask of thee [give], and to him who takes away your goods don’t ask for them again. And as you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Luk 6:29-31).
Now so many of the teachers that put this in the negative. “Don’t do to anybody what you don’t want done to you.” That’s a very common thing.
Hallal, Confucius, and all of them said something similar to this, but it was always negative. Whatever is distasteful to you, and you don’t want that done to you, you just don’t do that to some one else, a good rule to follow.
Jesus put it in a positive sense. Hey, not just the negative, not just not hitting him because you don’t want him to hit you, but He put it in a positive sense. Whatever you would like people to do you, do that to them. How would you like them to treat you when you’ve made a mistake? You want them to be kind and understanding and sympathetic. Alright, that’s the way you should be to them when they’ve made a mistake; kind, sympathetic, and understanding. How you would like people to treat you? That’s the way you are to treat them, Jesus said. And so, He turns it from a negative to a positive. And so it leads us into actual positive actions rather than just refraining from negative things.
For if you love those which love you, so what? sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those which do good to you, so what? sinners do the same thing. If you lend to those of whom you’re hoping to receive a return, so what? sinners also lend, in order that they might get as much again. But love your enemies, do good, lend, hoping for nothing again; that your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to everyone, the unthankful, the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luk 6:32-36).
Now again we find ourselves arguing, don’t we? But these are commands of the Lord. Rather than argue, let’s choose and will to obey.
Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you will be forgiven: give (Luk 6:37-38),
And here the law of giving. Give: it’s a principle; it’s a spiritual law. We’ve learned to observe natural laws and live by them and profit from them, but we ought also to learn the spiritual laws, and this is a spiritual law; it works. You say, “I don’t know how it can work.” I don’t either, but I know it does.
Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete it out it will be measured to you again (Luk 6:38).
Paul said if you sow sparingly, you’re going to reap sparingly. You sow bountifully, you’re going to reap bountifully. Whatever measure you mete, it shall be measured to you. So in the giving, the Lord will give back to you on whatever measure you give. However, He will give back more. Because He will give out, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.
So he spoke a parable; Can the blind lead the blind? will they not both fall in the ditch? And the disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why do you behold the mote [the sliver] that is in your brother’s eye, and you don’t perceive the beam [the four by six] that is in your own eye? (Luk 6:39-41)
And I am sure Jesus said this with a smile. Because it gives you a good picture. Some guy with a four by six in his eye, trying to pull a sliver out of his neighbor’s eye. And so I am sure this was said with a smile and all. But oh, how typical it is of us. Those who are so critical, ready to find fault with the next person, ready to point out their flaws and their weaknesses, but oh, God help us. There is so much bad in the best of us. And so much good in the worst of us that it ill behooves any of us to speak of the rest of us. The Lord is saying, “Clean up your own act.”
Who can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take this sliver out of your eye, when you can’t behold the four by six that is in your eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you’ll be able to see clearly to pull the sliver that is in your brother’s eye. For a good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. And every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs (Luk 6:42-44),
You don’t go out and gather figs off a cactus.
nor from a bramble bush [from a tumbling weed] you don’t gather grapes (Luk 6:44).
Everything brings forth after its kind.
And thus a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bring forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luk 6:45).
And all you have to do is stand around and listen to a person’s conversation, and it doesn’t take long to reveal where their heart is. Out of the abundance of the heart a man speaks. It comes out. And you know, standing around listening to some people, is like standing near an open cesspool. You know what’s in their heart; it stinks.
And then Jesus asked a very interesting question. One that we should all be asking ourselves tonight.
Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and you do not the things which I say? (Luk 6:46)
You see, the title Lord implies mastery. It implies servant. I am the servant, He is the Lord. In our culture we don’t understand what it was to be a slave. To not be able to own anything. To be the total property of another person. To be required to obey implicitly without question anything that was demanded of you. We independent Americans can’t even conceive of this. And so we find it easy to say, “Oh, Lord, oh Lord.”
And yet, how inconsistent it is if you call Jesus, Lord, and yet you don’t obey. Now He is just giving you a lot of things here to consider as far as obedience is concerned. Now James says, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). As we read what Jesus ideally requiring of us, and commanding us to do and to be. And then we say, “Oh, Lord, I don’t think I can do that. Oh, Lord, there is no way I can do that.” And then His response is, “Why do you call me, Lord, unless you’re going to do the things I command you to do? You see, if you’re not obeying what I am commanding then I am really not your Lord.” That’s exactly what He is saying to you.
And so this really does create a cause for great self-examination. Paul the apostle tells us when we come to the Lord’s table, let a man examine himself, for if we’ll judge ourselves, we will not be judged of God. And I think that so often we are just prone to slough off some of the commands of Christ that we don’t quite agree with, or we don’t want to go along with. Then we pick and choose. “Oh, I like this one. Oh, this is my favorite, oh yea. Well, I don’t know about that one, I sort of think people interpret things different way, and I have a different interpretation.” But if I am going to use the title of Lord, then I need to take a look at His commands, and at least will to obey them. Not argue with them, but choose to obey them.
Now whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, and does them, I’ll show you what he is like: He is like a man which build a house, and he dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, and the stream vehemently upon the house, it could not shake it; because it was founded on a rock (Luk 6:47-48).
The importance of digging deep and laying a good foundation for your faith in Jesus Christ and the word of God. Too many shallow foundations. Too many people just building a superstructure without a foundation. Building on emotions, building on experiences, building on exciting times, building on the glory, glory, hallelujahs. But when the storm comes, if you haven’t laid a good foundation on the rock, the house just isn’t going to stand.
He that hears, and does not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately fell; and the ruin of that house was great (Luk 6:49).
Now both cases were subjected to the test of the storm. The Lord does not promise you immunity from problems, from trials, from hardship. It’s going to come to every man alike. Through life there are going to be difficult things that we are going to have to face that we cannot understand, or rationalize, as we try to think of a good, loving, just God, and try to rationalize our current situation on the basis of a loving, kind heavenly Father. The storm is going to come. It will beat vehemently. And if you haven’t taken the time to lay a good foundation, you’re going to find the whole system collapsing around you. And you’ll be swept away. How important, we dig deep, that we obey, that we do the things that Jesus commanded. We practice doing them, rather than just arguing with Him, telling Him why we can’t do them, and excusing our pleas. He doesn’t want you to excuse your condition, He wants you to change from your condition. You say, “I can’t do that.” That’s exactly right. He knows that. But do it anyhow. For when you will to obey, all that you need to obey will be given to you in that moment. God make us willing.
Shall we pray.
Father, we thank You again for the study of Your Word and, Lord, we do want to be doers of Your Word. As we go back and we again use on the commandments, and we find those that do irritate us, those that grate on us, O God, may we truly bow our hearts in submission and say, “Lord, I can’t, and I’m willing.” And may we, Lord, receive that ability and capacity from You to be and to do all that You want us to be and to do. Help us, Lord! We need Your help. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
May the Lord bless you, keep you, fill you with His love, His Spirit, His strength, His power. May the Lord enable you to go forth to do His will, obeying His commandments. In Jesus’ name.
Chapters 7 & 8
Let’s turn now in our Bibles to Luke’s gospel, chapter 7. At this point in Luke’s gospel he is going to give us series of events, miracles that transpired in the life of Jesus.
When he ended these sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loves our nation, and he has build us a synagogue (Luk 7:1-5).
The Roman centurions were special men. They are mentioned several times in the scriptures, and always in a favorable light. They were always, it seems, outstanding men. We remember the Roman centurion Cornelius in Caesarea. It was while he was in prayer that the Lord spoke to him, and commanded that he should send his servants to Joppa in order to get Peter to come down and teach them the way of the Lord more completely. And so it was in the Roman centurion’s house in Caesarea that the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his house, and those that were with him. As God began His work among the Gentiles, actually in the house of a Roman centurion. So they are mentioned several times in the scriptures, always in a kind and favorable light.
This centurion in Capernaum was declared to be a worthy person by the Jewish leaders, who came to Jesus on his behalf. They said that he was worthy for whom He should do this. This is interesting to me, because the Jewish people, even to the present day, and I am certain that it doesn’t have it’s roots in the New Testament, but to the present day they have awards that they give to worthy people. And it is a phrase that they yet use today. In fact, I’ve been awarded a worthy person by the Jewish community, whatever that might mean. And I haven’t found out yet, but I don’t know that I fully want to. But I think it’s good, because they were smiling when they awarded me. But it’s a title that they still give today for a person who has, and I suppose it is a person outside of the Jewish faith, who has shown kindness and consideration to the Jews would be my estimation of this title. And such was the case with the Roman centurion. He has build a synagogue for them, and he loved their nation. And so having this as his credential, the Jewish leaders came and besought Jesus to do the favor for him by healing his servant.
It was unusual for a master to have a close relationship with his servant. The servants in the Roman Empire really had no rights whatsoever. And there was a Roman writer who said that every year a man should take stock of his possessions, and should hold on to that which is still producing and beneficial, and should get rid of that which was no longer productive. And included in that getting rid of that which was no longer productive was a slave who was no longer capable of putting out a day’s work. And so when he got to that place, he would just be put out, and left to die. For he had no other recourse. The slave was so much a part of, just a possession of his master, that in the Roman Empire a master could put his slave to death and not face any charges for it. After all, you’re just destroying your own property. So for him to have this attitude towards a slave was unusual in itself. And it does show that he is one of those men above the ordinary. He loved this slave very much, and was concerned because he was almost dead.
Then Jesus went with them. And when he was not far from the house, then centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, do not trouble yourself; for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed (Luk 7:6-7).
Now the commendation that the Jewish leaders had given to Jesus is, this man is worthy. As he answers or responds when he finds out that Jesus is getting close to his house, sending other friends, he said, “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” He used a different word for worthy. But then he did say, using the same word for worthy, “neither did I think myself worthy to come to Thee.”
In that culture it was unlawful for a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile. He knew for Jesus to come into his house would be putting a strain upon Jesus. When Peter entered the house of Cornelius, he apologized for doing so. He had taken some Jewish friends with him from Joppa. And he apologized for doing so. He said, “You know it isn’t lawful for me to assemble with you fellows, to come to this house, but the Lord told me not to ask any questions, so I am here, what do you want?” But he was apologizing for entering into the house of a Gentile, because that was forbidden to the Jew.
So he is saying to Jesus, “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. I didn’t even feel I was worthy to come to You.”
It is interesting when we remember when the woman from the area of Sidon came to Jesus concerning her daughter, who she said was vexed with a devil, and Jesus didn’t answer. The disciples said, “Lord, do something for her, she is bugging us; she is driving us crazy.” And Jesus said, “It isn’t right to give the children’s bread to the dogs.” Now, Jesus was declaring that these benefits that He was bringing were for the Jews. This centurion did not feel worthy to come to Jesus and ask that Jesus would even come. And was sort of embarrassed that Jesus was coming. But then he made a remarkable statement. He said, “Just say the word. You don’t have to come; I am not worthy that you should come. Just say the word and my servant will be healed. For I understand authority.”
For I also [recognizing that Jesus had authority, I also] am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers (Luk 7:8),
“I am a man who is under authority, and I have under me soldiers. I understand what authority is about. I submit to an authority, but I also have authority. And I understand how authority works. I also,” recognizing now that Jesus had this authority, “I also am a man under authority, having under me men, or men set under authority, having under me men.”
And I can say unto one, Go, and he goes; and to another I say, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he will do it. When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and he turned about to the people that were following him, and he said unto them, I say unto you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel (Luk 7:8-9).
Among the Jews, to whom He came, He did not see as much faith as this centurion.
So they that were sent, when they got home, found the servant that had been so sick, [nearly dead] was alive and well. So it came to pass the day after (Luk 7:10-11),
Now this is at Capernaum.
he went into a city called Nain (Luk 7:11);
Nain is about twenty-five miles from Capernaum.
and many of his disciples went with him, and a lot of people. Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man being carried out, and he was the only son of a mother, who was a widow: and many people of the city were with her. And when the [Jesus or the] Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not (Luk 7:11-13).
The picture could not be more pathetic. A woman who was a widow, following the procession, as her only son is being carried out for burial.
Now, in those days they did not have caskets. They usually carried them in baskets and put them in a sarcophagus. The word sarcophagus from the Latin means flesh eater. They have these lime stone sarcophaguses there in Israel. In fact, you can see them just in excavations where they dug for a highway. They uncover them, and they just leave them set there on the sides, and you can find them all over. There is something about the limestone that eats away the flesh very rapidly. In fact, within a month or so, and thus, the name sarcophagus, the flesh eater. And so they would usually place them in the sarcophagus until the flesh was eaten away, and then they would later bury the bones.
And so he was being carried, probably in a basket, to the place of burial, either a cave, or sarcophagus. And the mother with the crowd, the sad pathetic scene. And they didn’t just weep, they wailed. And Jesus had compassion on her. In the Greek there is no word that is more expressive of feeling sympathy than the word used here, translated compassion. And it is used many times of Jesus. It’s the strongest Greek word that expresses the deepest kind of feeling towards a person. Jesus had compassion on her, and said unto her, “Weep not.”
And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And Jesus delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear upon all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God has visited his people (Luk 7:14-16).
This term, “God has visited His people,” if you go back to the first chapter at the birth of John the Baptist when God opened the mouth of Zacharias, his father, he began to prophesy, and some of the first words of that prophesy back there in chapter 1, where, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited His people.” And so here the people are declaring, “God has visited His people.” The fulfillment of this prophesy of Zacharias.
And this story of him went forth throughout all of Judea (Luk 7:17),
Now Judea is unto the south sixty-seventy miles. So this story really spread concerning this young man who was dead, brought back to life by Jesus.
and throughout all of the regions there around about the Galilee region. And the disciples of John were telling John about all of these things. And John called him two of his disciples and he sent them to Jesus, saying, Are you the one that is to come? or should we look for another? And when the men were come unto him, they said, John the Baptist has sent us unto thee, saying, Are thou he that should come? or should we look for another? (Luk 7:17-20)
Now in John’s gospel, he tells us that when John saw the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus, that he knew that He was the Messiah. For the Lord told him that upon whomever you see the Spirit descend, He is the one. And so John, in referring to Jesus, said to his own disciples, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” And he pointed men to Jesus Christ.
Now John has been in the dungeon for a while, Herod’s prisoner. He does not like confined quarters, for he is a man of the outdoors. He grew up in the wilderness. He was a man of the woods, sort of speak. And this confinement, no doubt, was very irritating to him. And would imagine that John, like the other disciples of Jesus, was anticipating the immediate establishing of the kingdom of God. And he was probably wondering, “How long am I going to sit in this prison?” And the question, “Are you the Messiah?” was not so much a question, as was sort of an urging, “Let’s get things going; let’s get moving.” It could be that the fact that Jesus did not immediately establish the kingdom, overthrow Herod, and the Romans, that John did have second thoughts. Whatever be the case, the response of Jesus is quite interesting.
In that very same hour he cured many of their infirmities and of their plagues, and of the evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. And Jesus answering said unto him, Go your way, and tell John the things which you have seen and heard; how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Luk 7:21-23).
Now Jesus said to His disciples, “Believe Me, or else believe Me for My works’ sake.” Again He said, “The works that I do, they do testify of Me.” Jesus pointed to His works as a testimony to His identity who He was. “My works bear witness, they do testify of Me. And if you don’t believe Me,” He said, “believe Me for My works’ sake.” So He called upon His works as the witness as to His authority and to His identity. And they form a very strong witness as to His identity and His authority. Because no man can do these things, except the Lord be with him.
The works that He was doing were the works that were prophesied of the kingdom age. And, of course, that’s what John was concerned about, the kingdom. “Are you the One? Why haven’t You set up the kingdom? Are You the One, or shall we look for another?” And the works that He was doing were works that were the fulfillment of the kingdom age. Where the lame would leap as the deer, the blind would behold the glory of the Lord, and the dumb would sing praises unto Him. And unto the poor the gospel would be preached.
He just said, “Go back and tell John.” He knew that John knew the scriptures. He knew the scriptures well enough that when they come back and tell John the things that they saw, the things that they heard, that John would know the scriptures well enough to know, that, yes, He was indeed the promised one.
So when the messengers from John departed, Jesus began to speak to the people concerning John, and he said, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaking in the wind? (Luk 7:24)
Now the area where John was baptizing, the Jordan River, was surrounded by these reeds. They were a very, very common sight. And obviously they didn’t go down to the Jordan River just to see reeds blowing in the wind. “What did you go out to see, reeds blowing in the wind?” No!
What did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? (Luk 7:25)
That is, a man who was robed in beautiful robes. And then in a bit of satire, Jesus said:
Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts (Luk 7:25).
They’re not in the kings’ dungeons.
But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say unto you, much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist (Luk 7:26-28):
And so Jesus puts John at the top of the list of those prophets that had been sent by God to the Jewish people. Of all of the men born of women, not a greater than John the Baptist. But then an extremely remarkable statement.
but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he (Luk 7:28).
The privileges that you have as a child of God living in this age are superior to the highest position under the old dispensation, where God related to man in a legal way, through the law. Now those who related to God from that legalistic background, the greatest of all was John the Baptist. And yet, he who is least in the kingdom of God has greater privileges, a deeper relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, than the highest of that prior dispensation. For we have not a legal, but a loving relationship with God.
And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans [that is, the tax collectors], justified God (Luk 7:29),
They declared, “Yes, that ‘s right.”
because they had been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, because they were not baptized by him (Luk 7:29-30).
Jesus used this later on when they were asking Him a bunch of questions that He didn’t want to answer at that moment. He said, “I’ll ask you a question. If you answer My question, I’ll answer yours. John’s baptism, was it of God, or was it of man?” And they knew that if they said it was of man, then all the people would turn against them, because they all believed John was a prophet. But if they said it’s of God, then Jesus say, “Then why weren’t you baptized by John?” So they said, “Well, we can’t answer You that question.” Jesus said, “Well, I don’t answer you yours either.”
But He used this. Here was the division, it was marked, the opinions concerning John. He was officially rejected by the religious leaders, but widely accepted by the people.
And so the Lord said, What shall I liken this generation to? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace, and calling to each other, they say, We’ve played our pipes, and you have not danced; and we’ve mourned with you, but you’ve not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say, He has a devil. But the Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of the tax collectors and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all of her children (Luk 7:31-35).
In other words, “What do you want? You are in a position that nothing satisfies you. John came living in a sedic life, and you say he has a devil. I came mixing with people, eating with the publicans and all, and you say, ‘Hey, He is a winebibber; He is a gluttonous man.’ What do you want?”
One of the Pharisees desired that he would eat with him. And Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat [that is to eat dinner]. And, behold, there was a woman in the city, which was a sinner, and when she knew that Jesus was sitting in the Pharisee’s house for dinner, she brought an alabaster box of ointment, and she stood at his feet behind him weeping, and she began to wash his feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and she kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. Now when the Pharisees which had bidden him saw it, within himself he thought, If this man were a prophet, and if he had known what kind of a woman this is that is touching him: [He wouldn’t allow her to do that] because she is a terrible sinner. And Jesus said unto him, Simon, I have something to ask you. He said, Go head and ask it, Lord. And Jesus said, There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he completely forgave both their debts. Tell me therefore, which of them loves him the more? And Simon answered and said, Oh, I suppose that he, whom he forgave the most. And Jesus said unto him, That’s right. And He turned to the woman, and he said unto Simon, You see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. You did not give me a kiss: but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil you did not anoint: but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little (Luk 7:36-47).
Simon was a rude host. And in that culture hospitality was something that was treasured highly. When you invited guests to your home, they would leave their sandals at the door, but immediately there would be a servant there with a towel and with a basin of water, and the host would provide that servant to wash your feet in order that you might come into the house to dine. Of course, they wore open sandals; they had dirt pathways that they walked on, and it was just a common, accepted courtesy that the guests that were invited would have their feet washed by the servant when they entered the door of the house. And then it was customary to greet your friends with a kiss. Usually it was a kiss on each cheek. This was just common. And, in fact, in some of those areas it is still practiced today. Italy, the men in the church when they come up and greet you, kiss you on both cheeks. And it’s a sort of a beautiful, loving thing. But it was common in that culture. And then also it was common to anoint with oil. To pour oil on the head of the guest. Which was a symbol of the joy that you’d hoped to share together that evening. And they would then serve you your first cup of coffee, no sugar, strong Turkish type coffee, bitter. The idea being that you are washing away now all of the bitter experiences that you’ve had. The second cup they offer you is very sweet. Symbolic of that sweet time that we can now share together, that all of the bitterness was taken away.
Simon was a poor host. He did not show to Jesus any of these common courtesies. He did not wash Jesus’ feet. He did not anoint His head with oil. Nor did he kiss Him when He entered the house. But this woman washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed His feet continually, and anointed His feet with ointment. And here is Simon the Pharisee sitting there in his pompous, self-righteous attitudes and all, and, “If He were really a prophet, He wouldn’t allow this to go on. He’d know what kind of a woman she was. And He wouldn’t allow her to touch Him.” You see, Simon wouldn’t touch that woman. Because if you touched her, you’d be considered unclean; she was a sinner. “Don’t let that woman touch me.”
I am glad that Jesus is touchable, even by sinners. I appreciate that so much. I can reach out and touch the Lord, no matter how badly I feel. He is always within reach.
And so Jesus gave to Simon this little parable about the fellow who had two debtors. One owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty pence. He forgave both their debts. Which one loves him the more? The one forgiven the most. And so Jesus said, “Yes, that’s right. And this woman, because her sins are many and are forgiven, loves Me the most.”
And so He said to the woman, and I am sure this is just to get Simon’s goat,
He said to the woman, Your sins are forgiven (Luk 7:48).
And it had the reaction, I am sure, He was expecting.
And they that were sitting at dinner with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee (Luk 7:49-50);
Oh, oh, isn’t this interesting. Jesus is bringing to men a whole new relationship to God. A relationship that is based on faith, and salvation through faith. And here this woman’s faith puts her a step ahead, and already into that new dispensation of God’s grace.
Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace (Luk 7:50).
Always the result for having our sins forgiven.
And it came to pass afterward, as he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene (Luk 8:1-2),
She was from Magdala, and because there were many Mary’s, she was identified as Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalen. Jesus was called Jesus of Nazareth because there were many people by that name also. And so to identify who He was, they referred to Him as Jesus of Nazareth. Common Jewish name, Joshua in Hebrew, and it was a common name for the little boys. And so to identify Him, it was Jesus of Nazareth. Here it is Mary of Magdala, and so they called her Magdalene because that was the city from which she came.
And Jesus had cast seven devils out of her, and Joanna who was the wife of Chuza who was Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance (Luk 8:2-3).
In other words, these women that were following with the company of disciples were taking care of their needs with their substance. They were the ones that were providing the food and taking care of those needs.
I am certain that in heaven these woman who sacrificed to minister to the physical needs of Jesus during His lifetime have a very special place up there. And I imagine that they are very special women. We don’t really hear much about them, not much is said concerning them. But they, no doubt, are very special women, and have a very prominent place there in the kingdom of heaven. And it will be interesting to meet them, and to get their side of the story. Because if they are anything like my wife, they can tell you so many more details of the color of their hair and eyes, and what they wore, than I can ever remember. And so the fact that we have men gospel writers, we’ve lost a lot of details that these women will, no doubt, be able to fill in for us, and it will be interesting talking to them indeed.
Now Jesus went about every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
Paul the apostle, as he was talking to the elders of Ephesus there on the beach of Miletus, and knowing that this is the last time that he will probably see them, he said, “You know how that I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but I have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.” He is talking about his ministry there in Ephesus, and he said, “In my ministry to you, I showed you and I taught you.”
There is much that we can learn from a lecture. But there is much that cannot be learned from a lecture, but must be learned by observation. As a person’s life demonstrates what he preaches. Many times what a person preaches is totally negated because the life that he lives is not in harmony with the message that he preaches. Jesus both preached and showed. He demonstrated the message of the kingdom that He was preaching to these people. The message of the kingdom of God was the central message that Jesus had to declare to man.
Many people are confused about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. And there are some people who have tried to make it difference, and make spiritual kind of meanings and mysteries, and, “Has God revealed to you,” brother bit. “The kingdom of heaven verses the kingdom of God.” But the terms are used synonymously. Matthew usually refers to the kingdom of heaven. And the other gospel writers to the kingdom of God. But you can cross reference the scriptures and find that they are used synonymously. The kingdom of heaven usually refers to the kingdom of God when it has come to the earth. But it is all under the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is that kingdom where God is King. So when Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you,” He was showing to them the kingdom.
He lived a life in complete submission to the Father. He showed them what it was like to live a life in submission to the Father. He said, “I do always those things that please the Father.” And He showed them what kind of a life it was when you lived in complete submission to the Father as King. And when you live in submission to God as the King of your life, you are living in the kingdom of God. It’s just that simple. And there is no sense in trying to make some deep spiritual mystery out of it. It’s an extremely simple thing. So simple that a child can understand it. And so simple that unless you become as a child, you can’t enter it. You’ve got to get rid of all this hocus, pocus, mysteries, spiritualizing of stuff, because Jesus said it isn’t that. It isn’t some kind of difficult mystery, only revealed to some initiates. It is something that a child can perceive and understand. And you’ve got to come as a little child to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Just as a little child says, “I love God, and I want to serve God.” Bowing before God, acknowledging God as the King of your life, you’ve become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. That’s all it takes. Obedience to God, submission to God, and you’re a part of the kingdom of God.
Jesus preached to the people of the kingdom of God. It was something that was central in their minds. They were anticipating God’s establishing the kingdom of heaven on earth at that time. Especially the disciples–they felt that when the Messiah came, He was going to immediately establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. But that was not God’s plan. But you remember that this was so important to them, that even when Jesus is saying to them, “Now I am going to go away, but I am going to pray the Father, and He is going to send you another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, that He may abide with you forever (John 14:16). Now wait in Jerusalem until you receive this promise from the Father, which you’ve heard of Me. For John baptized you with water, but I am going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” And they said, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom? Is this when you’ll set up the kingdom of God?” Jesus said, “Look, it is not given to you to know the times and the seasons that are appointed unto the Father, but you’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
They were anxious for the kingdom of God, and rightly so. Because they were living in miserable conditions as far as the world itself was concerned. We should also be anxious for the kingdom of God. And I tell you, there are times when I groan and cry for the kingdom of God. When I read the statistics of Orange County, the abused children for the month of September, and I read of all of these things that are happening to these little children, I tell you, my heart, it yearns for the kingdom of God. It cries for the kingdom of God to be established. How long, God, how long are You going to allow men to go on in his rebellion against Your kingdom? How long, God, will You forebear? And it is my prayer that the Lord come quickly and establish His kingdom. For I don’t think that mankind can go on much longer. I don’t think mankind will survive much longer. I think that it is imperative that God establish His kingdom soon. And as I look at the world today, my heart yearns for the kingdom of God. As I look at my little grandchildren, and I think of the world that they are growing up in, I tell you, my heart cries out to God. I don’t know what I would do, should some sex pervert touch one of my grandchildren. You probably would have to bail me out. I cry, “Oh God, come quickly. Things can’t go on much longer.”
But Jesus was preaching the good tidings, the glad tidings of the kingdom. And it is glad tidings. A glorious day is coming. A day when men will live with peace with one another. A day when God will reign. A day when we will see the earth as God created it and intended it to be for all times. Where the deserts are blossoming like a rose. And there are streams in the deserts. And rivers in dry places. The parched ground has become a pool. And the blind will see, the lame will walk, and leap as the deer and all. These were the things that Jesus was showing as He was healing the sick. As He was feeding the multitudes. He was showing the things that would transpire in the kingdom age. And He proclaimed how beautiful and glorious it is when a man lives in obedience to God and in submission to God.
And so He preached and He showed to the kingdom of God. When Jesus was born and the angels announced to the shepherds, He announced it with these words, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). The angel was proclaiming the kingdom of God. “The King is born, He has come. He is over in Bethlehem. He is lying in a manger, you’ll find Him there swaddled.” And suddenly there was with that angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). They were proclaiming the conditions of the kingdom. But the kingdom was to be brought by this child who the angel said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). And to those who have found Jesus as their Lord, they have entered into the kingdom of God. And you can begin to enjoy even now a part of the benefits of the kingdom. As God fills your heart with His love, and with His peace.
Now there were many people that were gathered together, and they came to him out of every city, and he spoke to them by a parable: [And he said] A sower went out to sow his seeds: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. Some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and it sprang up, and it bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that has an ear to hear, let him hear (Luk 8:4-8).
Jesus was always saying that. And in His messages to the seven churches He repeated it to each church. “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”
How important that we have an ear to hear what God is seeking to say. I am constantly praying, “God, give me an ear to hear what You have to say.” And that is more than just hearing, it’s understanding what God’s message to man today would be. “God, what is Your message to me? What are You saying to me? What are You wanting to say to me? God, give me understanding, give me an ear to hear.” For I realize that unless the Spirit does teach me, I can’t learn. No matter how intelligent I might be, I cannot learn spiritual truth apart from the Spirit of God opening my heart to understand and to receive. For the natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned. God, give me an ear to hear.
And so the disciples asked him, saying, What does this parable mean? And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others it is spoken in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God (Luk 8:9-11).
So we realize that the Word of God falls on different types of soil, or there is a different reception in the hearts of people to the Word of God. And the Lord is sort of illustrating the four types of people upon whom the Word of God falls.
Now these are those that are by the way side, there are those that hear the word of God; and then the devil comes, and takes the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved (Luk 8:12).
Immediately there is just nothing, there is no penetration. The Word comes, but immediately Satan snatches it away, and it is as though they had never heard.
They that are on the rock are they, which, when they hear the word, they receive it with joy (Luk 8:13);
They have a great emotional experience.
but these have no root, which for a while they believe, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, is those, when they have heard, go forth, and they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to perfection [or completion] (Luk 8:13-14).
There is no real fruit that comes from their life. They hear, they receive, but the fruitfulness is choked out by pleasures, riches, cares.
But that which fell on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and they bring forth fruit with patience (Luk 8:15).
Now as you look at your own life and examine yourself, on what kind of soil has the Word of God fallen in your life? In which of the four categories would you place yourself: A, B, C, or D? And it might be good to take a moment with an honest look at your own heart. Am I bring forth fruit unto completion? If not, why not? Have I allowed cares, riches, desire for pleasure, to choke out my fruitfulness? On what kind of a soil has the Word of God fallen in your own heart? God help us. That we might bring forth fruit, with patience. Be not weary in well doing, in due season we will reap, if we faint not.
No man, when he has lighted a candle, covers it with a vessel, or puts it under his bed; but he sets it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how you hear [be careful how you hear the word of God]: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever has not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have (Luk 8:16-18).
The importance of using what God has given to me for His glory. And if I do, God will add more. The Lord said, “Thou hast been faithful in a few things, now I will make you ruler over many things.” That is always the process of God. Unless you are faithful in those little things that God has laid before you, He’ll never lead you any further. There are a lot of people who want to jump into something big, major work for God. That’s where they want to start. But they don’t want to, they don’t have time for teaching a Sunday school class. Or helping out in the nursery. “I want to do great things for God.” And God always promotes through the ranks. Those who begin, and are diligent in those small things, God gives more. If you are not faithful in the little things, then who is going to entrust you the things of the kingdom?
Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and they could not come in because of the crowd. And it was told him by certain ones which said, Your mother, and your brothers are standing outside, and they desire to see you. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it (Luk 8:19-21).
Now in the previous parable there was that emphasis upon doing also. But here again, Jesus is declaring that that relationship that we have with Him who hear and do His word, is that of a brother. Close relationship.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And so they launched forth. And as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and they awoke him, saying, Master, Master, we’re perishing. And so he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him (Luk 8:22-25).
It is interesting that Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith, when the ship was in jeopardy of sinking. Interesting, because from all appearances they were going to go under. “Where is your faith?” They weren’t listening when Jesus said in verse 22, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.”
Now, when you have the Word of Jesus that you are going to go over to the other side of the lake, there is no way you can go under. “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.” But they weren’t listening carefully. And so when they were afraid that they were going to go under, He rebuked them because of their lack of faith, because He said, “Let’s go over.”
And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee (Luk 8:26).
The city of Gadara has recently been discovered in the last two years. And at the present time they are excavating the sight of the city of Gadara. Actually, they were building a new road up into the Golan Heights, and as they were building this new road, they began to come across these ruins, and so they halted their building, and called in the archaeologist, and they discovered the sight of the aged city of Gadara. And so they moved the road a few hundred yards, and are now excavating the city of Gadara. Interestingly enough, a couple of miles from the sight of the city of Gadara is the only place around the Sea of Galilee where there is a steep incline leading into the sea. So the very area where Jesus landed in His boat can be ascertained there today, and it is near the ruins of the ancient city of Gadara. So in this very area Jesus came with His disciples.
And when they came to the land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils for a long time, and he wore no clothes, nor did he live in any house, but he lived in the tombs (Luk 8:27).
The rock tombs out there.
And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice he said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded, Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many times it caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; but he broke the bands, and was driven by the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion: because many devils had entered into him. And they begged him that he would not command them to go out into the deep (Luk 8:28-31).
The word translated deep is the Greek word abusso, which in other places in the New Testament is translated the bottomless pit.
There are four places mentioned in the scriptures as the places of abode for the wicked dead and for the disobedient angels and spirits. There is a place known as Tartaras, where certain angels are kept bound, awaiting the day of judgment. And they are bound in chains of Tartaras, awaiting that day of judgment. In the center of the earth, there is a place in the scriptures called Hades. In the Hebrew it is called Sheol. It is oftentimes translated grave, and many times translated hell. It is in the center of the earth. Prior to the death of Christ and resurrection, it was divided into two compartments, and in a few weeks when we get to the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel, we will get a description by Jesus of what this place in the center of the earth is like, known as Hades.
We know that it is in the center of the earth, because when they asked Jesus for a sign, He said, “No sign will be given to this wicked and adulterous generation, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40). And so when Jesus died, He descended into hell, into Hades, into this compartment in the center of the earth. And according to Peter, there He preached to those souls that were imprisoned. And according to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, when He ascended He led these captives from their captivity, fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah, the sixty-first chapter, where He would “set at liberty those who were bound, and open the prison doors to those that were captive.” And so Jesus led the captives from their captivity at the time of His resurrection. And they with Him ascended into heaven. However, Hades was divided into two compartments, of which there could be no concourse back and forth. And we’ll get that in Luke’s sixteenth chapter. And we’ll just wait till we get there, and talk a little bit more at that time.
Now, somewhere upon the earth there is a shaft that goes from the surface of the earth down into Hades. This shaft in the scripture is called the abusso. It is translated the bottomless pit. And this shaft is the abode and incarceration of evil spirits. The antichrist will ascend out of the abusso, the shaft. When Satan is bound during the thousand-year reign of Christ, he will be cast into this same abusso, out of which the antichrist came. In the book of Revelation we read where an angel is given the key to the abusso during in the time of God’s Great Tribulation and judgment upon the earth, and he opens up the abusso, and when he does, these creatures that John graphically describes in the book of Revelation come out of the abusso and began to attack men upon the earth. These hordes of demons released, and attacking men during the Great Tribulation period. I mean, those who have made these fantasy movies haven’t seen anything yet. When you read of these creatures that will come out of the abusso, these demon apparitions, actually, and demons themselves who will come and attack men. And through the ultimate result, one third of the earth’s population will be destroyed. In the beginning they have power only to hurt men for six months. And then they begin to this other horse-like creatures have power to kill, and by them a third of the earth’s population will be wiped out.
Now, when Jesus comes again and He destroys the antichrist and the false prophet, they will be cast alive into Gehenna. Gehenna is described as in outer darkness.
Now how far out does space go? They say that they have discovered galaxies that are twelve billion light years away from the earth. When you get that far I don’t know how accurate your measurements can be, but give or take a view billion years. But if you continued out beyond the farthest galaxy and continued on into space until the light of our galaxy did not shine, it could be that Gehenna is out there. Or it could be that Gehenna is a black hole. Sucking everything into it, the gravitation is so heavy, that not even light can escape. But it is called in the scripture, outer darkness. This is where the antichrist, the beast, and the false prophet will be cast when Jesus returns to the earth. A thousand years later, Satan will be released out of the abusso, this pit. Now, Satan and the demons will be put in the pit during the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ in the kingdom age, but then they will be released.
Now notice, they are begging Jesus that He would not command them at this time to go to the abusso. They know that the time is coming when they will be consigned to the abusso. They’re begging further liberties now. Which, interestingly enough to me, Jesus gave to them. He did not at that time command them. “Torment us not, don’t send us to the abusso.” And Jesus at that time did not send them to the abusso. However, they will have their time, when Satan is bound. Now, they will be released, and will create in the heart of wicked men a rebellion against God, and against the reign of Jesus Christ, and then they will be cast into Gehenna, where the beast and the false prophet are, and then the great white throne judgment of God when all men, small and great stand before God. And whosoever name was not found written in the Book of Life will also find his place in Gehenna.
Blessed is he who takes part in the first resurrection, because he’s got it made, over him the second death will have no power. But this is the second death. It is God’s final consignment of the wicked. They hate the light, they will not come to the light, and so God honors their desire for darkness, and casts them into outer darkness.
Way down in the depth of Oregon Caves they turned out the lights, and we experienced what the guide said was total darkness. And I mean, that was dark. We waved our hands in front of our faces to see if we could pick up any kind of a movement–you couldn’t. In fact, there is something that just sort of began to press in on you. I was glad when they turned the lights on. Because total darkness can freak you out in a hurry. Especially if you are a little kid and have a vivid imagination. They will be cast into outer darkness. And Jesus said of Gehenna, “Where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and the worm dieth not.” And in the book of Revelation speaking of it, it said, “And the smoke of their torment ascended from the ages throughout the ages.”
So four places, by the grace of God, we don’t have to go to any of them. Because now he that lives and believes in Jesus Christ shall never die, we will be changed. We know that when this earthly tent is dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So we who are still living in these tents, our earthly bodies groan earnestly desiring to move out. Not to be unimbodied spirits, but we might move into that new building of God, not made with hands. For we know that as long as we are living in these tents, we are absent from the Lord, but we would choose rather to be absent from these tents, than to be present with the Lord.
Some day you may read Chuck Smith died, don’t believe it, poor reporting. Chuck Smith moved out of an old worn out tent into a beautiful new mansion. A building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For Jesus said, “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26).
But here they are begging not to be sent to the abusso.
So there was a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain (Luk 8:32):
Now that’s illegal. These men were trafficking in illegal trade. It’s like growing cocaine or poppies. And so these demons, legion,
besought him that he would allow them to enter them. And so he allowed them. And then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake, and they were choked (Luk 8:32-33).
Now my son would say this is the first account of deviled ham. I wouldn’t say that, but…
Now when those who were feeding the swine saw what was done, they fled into the city, and they told the people what had happened. And so the people came out to see what was done; and they came to Jesus, and they found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, and he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, he was clothed, and in his right mind (Luk 8:34-35):
Healed, no longer naked and screaming and crying, and having to be bound with chains. But he is sitting there clothed, and in his right mind.
and they were afraid. And they also which saw it told them by what means the man who was possessed of devils was healed. And then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about begged him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again (Luk 8:35-37).
Isn’t that tragic? The people were more interested in those swine than they were in this man’s deliverance. The loss of their swine was of greater concern to them than a man’s health. They begged Jesus to depart.
But the man, out of whom the devils were departed, begged him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your own house, and just show how great things God has done to you. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city the great things that Jesus had done for him. Now it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned [that is, back over the other side of the lake, Capernaum], the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him (Luk 8:38-40).
What a contrast, on the one side they were saying, “Would you please get out of here?” And on the other side the crowd is waiting.
And, behold, there came a man name Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue; and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and he besought him that he would come into his house: For he had only one daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as he went the people were thronging him. And a woman having an issue of blood for twelve years, which had spent all of her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood was stopped. And Jesus said, Who touched me? And everyone denied, and Peter and those that were with Him said, Master, the multitude is thronging and pressing against you, and you say, Who touched me? Jesus said, Somebody has touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me (Luk 8:41-46).
It is interesting to me that in a multitude of people who are thronging and pressing against Jesus, there is one in the crowd who touches Him. Her touch was different from the pressing and thronging. It is interesting to me that how that the Lord can minister to people individually, even in a throng, even in a multitude. And here we are tonight a multitude of people gathered together, many pressing, many thronging. How many are touching, really receiving the touch of Jesus in your life, by faith reaching out and really touching the Lord?
Here we have two cases, contrasting cases. Twelve years earlier, before the event that we read, this woman came down with a debilitating malady. She began to hemorrhage, and it would not stop. She had gone to many doctors, they treated her until her money had run out. But her condition did not improve, it was only worse. In that society, for a woman to be bleeding meant that she was unclean from a ceremonial sense and could not enter the synagogue or the place of worship. A woman afflicted with a malady for twelve years. The loss of the relationship with her husband, according to the law he could not touch her while she was hemorrhaging. She could not worship God in the synagogue while this condition persisted. And no doubt anemic and weakened as the result. For twelve years she lived in darkness, hopelessness, and was getting worse.
On the other hand, twelve years earlier in the house of Jairus, a little girl was born, and as little girls, no doubt, brought great joy, and happiness, and light, and laughter, and beauty into the home. And for twelve years they enjoyed watching this little girl as she grew up, as her personality began to develop, and all of the cute wonderful things that she had done. In one household twelve years of darkness and despair, in the other, twelve years of laughter and beauty. And so they are approaching Jesus from different angles. In both cases, the light was going out. This woman was getting worse. She didn’t have any more money. She had only one hope. Get to Jesus, touch Him.
To this dad, the light was going out. His little girl who had brought such life, and joy, and happiness into the home, was at home, and she was dying. And he had only one hope: get to Jesus. And as Jesus was going to his house, and it was urgent, the girl was dying. As He stopped, I imagine that Jairus was a little irritated that He had stopped over a triviality over, “Who touched me?” For as He was going, the crowds were going with Him and pressing Him and pushing Him, thronging against Him. And I can imagine Jairus saying, “Lord, let’s get unto my house; my daughter is dying. You don’t understand the urgency. Why stop over a triviality of someone touching you in this crowd?” But Jesus is persisting. And even the disciples are beginning to object, they said, “Lord, with people pressing and thronging You, what do You mean, ‘Who touched Me?'” Jesus said, “Someone has touched Me; I felt the virtue go out of from Me.” And this woman stepped forth, and she knelt before Him trembling, and said, “I did it.” And she told her story. Twelve years ago, twelve years that must have flashed on Jairus. “Twelve years ago I was stricken with a malady that ostracized me from the community, from my family, but I am healed. The moment I touched, I knew I was healed. I am healed; it stopped. I felt it, I know it.” And Jesus continued on to Jairus’ house, after saying to her:
Be of good comfort, daughter: thy faith has made thee whole; go in peace (Luk 8:48).
Now as He was speaking, and Jesus no doubt knew this,
As he was speaking to the lady, one of the servants came running up, and he said, Don’t bother the Master any more, [it’s too late,] your daughter died. But Jesus turned to him, and he said, Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole. So when he came to the house, he did not allow any men to go in, except Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the girl. And all of those that were weeping, and wailing because of her: but he said, Don’t weep; she is not dead, she is only sleeping. And they turned from their weeping, and laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And so he put them all out, and he took her by the hand, and called saying, Maid, arise (Luk 8:49-54).
The word in the Greek is my little child. Twelve years old, beautiful little girl, no doubt. Who has never seen a twelve-year-old girl who wasn’t beautiful? And He said, “My little child,” very endearing term in the Greek, “arise.”
And her spirit came again (Luk 8:55),
You see, this indicates that at death our spirit departs from our body. Our spirit moves out of our body, and moves into that new body that God has. The real me is spirit, the real me isn’t this body. The body is only a tent in which I am dwelling for a while. It was designed by God to exist in the conditions of this planet earth. It was designed by God and purposed by God to be the medium by which I might express me. But the body isn’t me. Only the medium by which I express myself. The real me is spirit. One day my spirit will move out of this body.
Now her spirit returned to her body. It had moved out. She was dead. The spirit had moved out of the body. But her spirit returned, came again in to her body.
and she arose immediately: and he commanded that they give her something to eat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them [or commanded them] that they should not tell any man what was done (Luk 8:55-56).
Interesting little insights into the ministry of Jesus. The miracles that He performed, given to us by Luke, who being a doctor, was quite interested in these various healings that Jesus brought to the people. And interestingly enough, he uses terms that are medical terms in the Greek language, and can be found in much of the classical Greek in the very same types of diagnosis in records and classic Greek that Luke is describing here of those being healed by Jesus.
Chapter 9 & 10
Let’s turn in our Bibles to the gospel according to Luke, chapter 9.
Luke here records the sending of the twelve to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. This is not to be confused with the time that He sent out the seventy. We will get that in the beginning of chapter 10. But here He is sending out the twelve to go throughout the area of Galilee. In fact, to go as far as they can, they are to travel light. Which means that they will be traveling fast, and they will be getting out as far as they can in this period of time.
So he called his twelve disciples together, and he gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house you enter into, there abide, and from there depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; And others said, that Elias had appeared; and still others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John I have beheaded; but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him (Luk 9:1-9).
A desire that was not fulfilled until Jesus was standing trial on the day of His crucifixion.
Now we noticed that when Jesus sent out His disciples, He told them that they were not to take a purse, nothing for their journey, neither script, nor bread, nor money, nor two coats. Wherever they would go, they were to abide with the people there, and eat what was given to them, and receive from the people, “For the labor,” He said, “is worthy of his hire.”
Traveling light they could travel fast, and they could travel far, which they were to do. Their mission was to preach the kingdom. Incidental to preaching the kingdom was the healing of the sick and the curing of deceases. But that was only incidental to the preaching of the kingdom. That was not their mission. Their mission was not to heal the sick or cure diseases. The mission was to preach the kingdom. And the healings were incidental to the mission. And so must it always be. The church should be involved with the total person. We should be interested in the needs of society, and we cannot ignore them. But we mustn’t make the mistake of making the social work the mission of the church. It is incidental to the mission of the church of preaching the kingdom of God. That’s the mission. We’re to declare to the world of a glorious kingdom that is coming. That kingdom of God, of which a person can now become a part, by submitting himself to God as King.
Now as we proclaim the kingdom of God, we cannot ignore the hunger of people, the needs of people. And those incidental to our mission is that social work of the church in the community, but it should never become the primary mission of the church. And unfortunately today in the modern church, they have exchanged the message, really, for the social work, and the social gospel, and they are not really doing a good job with either.
Now the disciples, in a sense, were poor, in that they were to take no money, nor two coats, but yet they were very rich by what He gave them. He gave them power and authority to use that power. The word power is dunamis, the energy, the dynamic. And then that authority to use that power. Now they were evidently effective in their ministry, because word got around that what was happening; it even came to Herod. And he heard the various things that were being done, and he desired to see Jesus.
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went a side privately into a desert place belonging unto the city of Bethsaida (Luk 9:10).
So they had come back now from their journey, they were suffering jet lag, and so He figured it’s a good time to just go over to the other side of the lake and just be alone with them for a little bit. To get their reports. And to see how things went, and to sort of put things together. And so across to the sort of deserted side of the lake, a deserted area, near the village of Bethsaida.
And the people, when they knew it, they followed him (Luk 9:11):
So that when they arrived… actually leading from Capernaum, Bethsaida is just a short little ways, maybe five miles across the northern end of the Sea of Galilee there. And visibility is good, and you can watch the ship that is going. You can tell the course that they are taking. You know exactly where they are going to land on the other side. And as soon as the people saw the ship going over that direction towards Bethsaida, they said, “That’s where He is going, come on.” And they jogged around the upper end of the Sea of Galilee. And as they were jogging through the villages, people would say, “Hey, where are you going?” “Oh, Jesus is going to be over here.” So people joined them, so that by the time that Jesus arrived there was a huge crowd.
Trying to get away alone with your disciples, have a little quite time, and He is greeted by a tremendous throng of people. Some five thousand men, besides women and children. So you can create your own estimates on the crowd, perhaps 15,000 or so.
Now at this point it would be very easy to be irritated. As you are trying to get away for some quiet time. But Jesus, it said,
received them, and he spoke unto them of the kingdom of God (Luk 9:11),
Last Sunday we dealt with the subject with the kingdom of God. If you weren’t here, I would suggest that you get the tape of last Sunday morning. This was the central message of Jesus. He was proclaiming to man that there is a kingdom where God wants men to live. A kingdom of light and life. A kingdom that is marked by righteousness, and joy, and peace, and love. And that kingdom comes to a man when he submits himself to God as the King of his life. And that’s what the kingdom of God is all about. When God reigns as King.
And so He preached to them of the kingdom of God, spoke to them of it.
and he healed those that were in need of healing. And when the day began to wear away, the twelve came to him, and said, Lord, you better send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and the country around here, and find a place to spend the night, and to get some food: for this is a deserted area (Luk 9:11-12).
There is no McDonald’s around here.
And he said unto them, Go head and feed them. And they said, We don’t have anything but five loaves and two fish; unless we would go into town and buy food for all of these people. For there were about five thousand men. And he said unto his disciples, Make them sit down in company of fifty. And so they did that, and they made them all sit down. And he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and he broke them, and he gave the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did all eat, and they were glutted: and then they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full (Luk 9:13-17).
We’ve commented on this when we were going through Matthew’s, and Mark’s gospel. And I don’t feel that it is in need of any further comments than that which has already have been made.
Now from Bethsaida, the Sea of Galilee, the northern end there, our next little scene takes place around forty miles away. Jesus has now moved with His disciples from the area near Bethsaida. We know that He returned across the lake to Capernaum. But now Luke’s next little scene that we have takes place up at Caesarea Philippi, which is the area that is today called Baneas. And it is right at the foot of the Mount Herman, where the Jordan River begins as a huge spring coming right out of the rocks. The water just begins to flow right there from the rocks. It’s an interesting thing to go to Baneas today and see the beginning of that Jordan River, right there at Baneas, right at the base of Mount Herman.
And so we are moving now from the Sea of Galilee. We are at the upper end. It’s like He is getting alone with His disciples, leaving the crowded areas around the Sea of Galilee, and coming up now to Caesarea Philippi.
And Luke again who is more careful to point out the prayer life of Jesus than the other gospels. For there are seven places in Luke’s gospel where he points out the fact that Jesus was praying when certain things took place that are not recorded in the other gospels. But Luke is careful to report them, because Luke’s emphasis is upon the humanity of Jesus. And because his emphasis is upon the humanity of Jesus, and one of the greatest needs that men has is contact with God through prayer. Something that Jesus felt important, and accentual, even in His God-man state. So Luke is careful to point out the prayer life of Jesus.
So it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him (Luk 9:18);
Now that’s an interesting statement, isn’t it? Sounds contradictory. As He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him. But such is the case when a man is in prayer.
Prayer is a very private thing. It is communion between you and the Father. And you know that communion can be a very private thing, even in the midst of a large company. And sometimes I have found it’s so strengthening and helpful in a crowd to get alone with God in prayer. Pressed by a situation, and so He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him.
and he asked them, Whom say the people that I am? (Luk 9:18)
What’s the popular opinion? What are the people saying?
And they answered and said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets is risen again (Luk 9:19).
Now these are the stories that you remember Herod had heard. Herod had heard that John the Baptist was risen again, or that it was Elijah, or that it was one of the old prophets risen again.
And so he said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he immediately charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing (Luk 9:20-21);
Now you may wonder, “Why did Jesus tell them not to tell anybody?” I believe it is because at this point they had a totally false conception of the Messiah. “You are the Messiah of God,” Peter said. Jesus said, “Don’t tell anybody.” For the disciples themselves did not understand this at this point. Because the whole Jewish concept of the Messiah was the establishing of the kingdom and the overthrow of the kingdoms of the world. And they did not understand that He was to come into the kingdom by His death. So because they did not fully understand the complete implications of Him being the Messiah of God, He said, “Don’t tell anybody, you don’t know enough about it yourself yet. Don’t tell anybody about this.” Because He knew that His mission was to be accomplished, not by establishing His throne in Jerusalem, and overthrowing the Roman powers, and bringing the world in submission, but His kingdom was to be established by Him hanging on a cross. Something the disciples did not understand, could not understand, would not understand, until He rose again from the dead. So these are things that they did not comprehend, and would not comprehend until after the resurrection. “So don’t go out and publish this, because the crucifixion would then blast the hopes of all the people.” If they went out and said, “Oh, the Messiah is here.” The crucifixion would have destroyed everybody. It was premature until the resurrection of the dead, and then they could proclaim the fact that this was the Messiah. For they could now even point out the scriptures being fulfilled in His death. But they didn’t understand it, so He said, “Don’t tell anybody, it’s premature, you don’t understand this fully yourself.”
And then he said, The Son of man must suffer many things (Luk 9:22),
Peter just said, “You’re the Messiah of God.” In their mind they thought, “Oh, oh, sitting on the throne, He is going to reign. Lord, can I sit at your right hand? I want to sit on your left hand.” And so now He is beginning to break to them the news. “You’re right, I am the Messiah of God, yet I am going to suffer many things.”
and I am going to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and I am going to be slain, but I will rise again on the third day (Luk 9:22).
Now He is beginning to tell them, though they don’t understand, this is just going over their head. In fact, Matthew tells us that at this point Peter began to rebuke Him. Said, “Oh, Lord, be that far from thee. Don’t talk like that.” And Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” So they don’t understand. “Don’t go out and publish this yet, you’re not ready, you don’t understand.”
And he said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man’s advantage, if he gained the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels (Luk 9:23-26).
Now you see He is beginning to tell them now more about the truth about the Messiah. “Thou art the Messiah of God.” “Don’t tell anybody, because I am going to be despised, I am going to be rejected, I am going to be slained, but I am going to rise again the third day. And I am going to come again in the glory of the Father. That’s when the kingdom is going to be established, when I come again with the glory of the Father, and all the holy angels.”
“Now if you want to be a part of this kingdom, if you want to come after Me, you got to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” These are the requirements of discipleship. “If any man will come after Me.” And they remain today for the requirements for discipleship, there is a denying of self, for the kingdom of God is not selfishness. It is not self-centeredness. The kingdom of God is not man-centered; it is God-centered. And a man whose life is centered in God cannot be centered in himself. But because it is centered in God, it will have as that proof the desire to give, and to help fellow man, because that is God’s desire. And as I submit to God, God will lead me in giving myself, and of myself to others. So you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily. The taking up of the cross involves the total submission of your will to God.
Jesus in the garden prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Referring to the cross. “Nevertheless,” He said, “not My will, Thy will be done.” And if I take up my cross, what I am doing is saying, “Father, not my will, Thy will be done in my life.” It is the submitting of myself totally to the will of the Father.
The third aspect is following Jesus Christ. Those are the requirements of discipleship. Now the rationale is next given by Jesus. These are the requirements, you want to be a disciple, but here is the rationale. “If you seek to save your life, you’re only going to lose it. If you try to set your own destiny, if you follow your own ambitions, if you live to fulfill your own desires, you’re just going to lose your life. If you try to save it, you’re going to lose it, but if you will lose your life for My sake, you’ll find what living is all about.” Real life is found when you lose your life for Christ’s sake. You lose your life in Him. When you submit yourself totally to Him. You really discover the real meaning and purpose of life itself. Why are you here? Why did God create you? Why did God place you here? In order that you might go out and fulfill all your desires, and follow after your ambitions? No way! In order that you might find all of the pleasure that you can, and live for pleasure? No way! If you live for pleasure, you’re dead while you still live. The man who seeks to find his own pleasure and his own way in life is only losing it. But the man who will seek to bring pleasure to God is the man who has discovered life and it’s meaning and it’s purpose. And when you start living to please God, you’ll find a very satisfying, fulfilling life.
Further rationale: what is a man’s advantage if he would gain the whole world? Now you say, “My ambition is to be wealthy; my ambition is to have goods.” Hey, wait a minute, what if you attain it, what if you achieve it, what if you gained the whole world? What advantage is it if you lose your own soul? Or you are cast out from the kingdom of God?
“Or whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angles.”
He is coming again, in His glory, the glory of the Father with the holy angels. That’s the kingdom of God.
“You say I am the Messiah of God, right, but you don’t understand it. Keep it under your hat for a while, until you come to a more complete understanding of what that means.” It doesn’t mean the immediate establishing of the kingdom and of the throne of God upon the earth. It means there is going to be some hard times. And there is going to be some suffering. There is going to be rejection. There is going to be the cross. There is going to be the resurrection. And then there is going to be the service, the work of bringing others into the kingdom, which will come to pass as men deny themselves, and take up their cross, and follow Him.
But there is a glorious reward. If you are faithful in serving Him, not ashamed of Him, then He will not be ashamed of you, but you will share in the glory, in that day when He comes in His glory, and that of the Father’s, to establish God’s kingdom.
But I tell you of a truth, there are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God (Luk 9:27).
Now they are up in Caesarea Philippi, and He is saying to them, “There is some of you right here, you’re not going to die until you see the kingdom of God.”
And so it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, that he took Peter and John and James, and he went up into a mountain to pray (Luk 9:28).
The purpose of going up there in the mountain again, Luke points it out, was to pray. He gives us these beautiful little insights to the prayer life of Jesus.
And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering (Luk 9:29).
That word glistering is an interesting old English word, and the word in Greek, is as lightning, as lightning flashing. His raiment became like lightning flashing. The glistering is flashes of light coming off of it. And here He is in prayer, and while in prayer, this, and the Greek word is metamorphosis. There was that change, the metamorphosis, the total change of body, so that they saw Him in the glory of the kingdom.
As He said, “There is some of you that are here, that you are not going to die until you see the kingdom of God.” And there they got an insight into the kingdom of God as they saw Him in the glory.
In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Father, glorify Thy Son with the glory that I had with Thee before the world ever was.” And the Father answered and said, “I have glorified Thee, and I will glorify Thee.”
In the first chapter in the book of Revelation, John gives us a very graphic and beautiful description of Jesus in His glory. And again John speaks of that His face shining like the sun with brightness. Here His clothes like flashes of lightning, glistering.
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elijah: who appeared in glory, and they were talking to him of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luk 9:30-31).
Or the word deceased is departure, His departure from the earth and coming back into glory that would be accomplished there in Jerusalem.
Now how did they know it was Moses and Elijah? Did Jesus say, “Peter, I want you to meet Moses. This is Peter”? People oftentimes ask me, “Will we know our friends when we get to heaven? Will we know each other there?” Oh, God help us, I pray we are not going to be more stupid there than we are here. If we know each other here, surely we will know each other there. “Oh, but I want scripture.” Alright, “When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be put away, then shall we see face to face, and then shall we know, even as we are known” (I Corinthians 13:10-12). I’ll know you, just like I know me. I am not going to need introductions to anybody in heaven. The Lord will plant DNA, or whatever into my consciousness, so that I will immediately and automatically know everybody. I say, “Oh, there is David over there, I never have seen him before.” And you’ll immediately know.
They didn’t need introductions to Moses, and Elijah. They just knew that’s who it was. You just know intuitively, you have the oedis, the intuitive knowledge. Interesting that Moses and Elijah were alive. And interesting that they were talking with Jesus, as the disciples were privileged to see, this glitch into the spiritual world.
But Peter and those that were with him were sleeping heavily: and when they woke up, they saw the glory, and the two men that stood with him (Luk 9:32).
Now Peter, it seemed, like to sleep when Jesus prayed. And he was in a heavy sleep. Can you imagine this? They are up on the mount of Herman, and it’s a steep mountain, good climb, so you are probably real tired. And Jesus is there praying, and the three disciples, Peter, John, and James, they were in a heavy sleep. And they probably heard voices, probably woke them up. “Who is He talking to?” And when they looked, they saw Jesus in the transformed glory. His clothes like lightning flashes, and there is Moses, the giver of the law, and Elijah. They are talking with Jesus. And Peter,
When it came to pass that Moses and Elias departed, Peter said to Jesus, Oh Master, it was good for us to be here (Luk 9:33):
Now you remember just a few days earlier Jesus told them that He was going to die. “I am going to go to Jerusalem; I am going to be rejected by the scribes and the Pharisees. They are going to kill Me.” Peter said, “Lord, it’s good to be here. Let’s stay right here. Let’s built three tabernacles. Let’s not leave this place. Let’s not go back to Jerusalem. Let’s stay right here, Lord. Let’s built three tabernacles. It’s good for us to be here, not to be in Jerusalem. If that’s what’s going to happen there, let’s just stay right here, Lord. It’s good to be here.”
let’s built three tabernacles and stay here; one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah: not knowing what he said (Luk 9:33).
Another gospel said, because he didn’t know what to say. If you don’t know what to say, it’s better you just shut up. You can get in a lot of trouble just saying something because if you think you ought to say something, but many times in that place it’s better to just keep silent.
I guess Peter’s idea began that, which to me has become a curse in the land of Israel, and that is building a tabernacle over the sight of some event. And to me one of the disappointing things of going to the holy land is all of the churches that have been built on supposed sights of scriptural events. And there is nothing to take away the awe, and the wonder of the birth of Christ than to go in to the church of Nativity. It will just spoil it every time. You go in and see all of the tinsel and the babels, and the priest with the hand out, and somehow it just doesn’t fit.
And Peter, I guess, was the one that started that whole custom. “Lord, let’s build a tabernacle right here to commemorate this glorious event. Three of them in fact: one for you, one for Moses, one for Elias. It’s good to be here.”
And while he was thus speaking, there came a cloud, and it overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him (Luk 9:34-35).
Now there appeared who? Moses, who was the spokesman to the nation through the law. They saw Elijah, who was the spokesman to the nation through the prophets, and represented the prophets. And the Old Testament is made up of the law and the prophets. “You’ve heard the law and the prophets, but this is My beloved Son, hear Him.” “God, who at sundry times and in diverse ways spoke to our fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His own dear Son” (Hebrews 1:1). “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” And so the words of Christ supersede the law and the prophets, which He summed up to be: love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. They kept it close, and they told no man in those days of those things which they had seen (Luk 9:36).
When they came down from the mountain, they didn’t share it with the others.
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, there where many people there to meet him [there in the area of Caesarea Philippi]. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee [I beg you], look upon my son; he is my only child. And, lo, there is a spirit that takes him, and he suddenly cries out; and it tears him and he foams at the mouth, and it bruises him and it hardly ever leaves him. And I begged your disciples to cast them out; but they couldn’t. And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring your son to me. And as he was yet bringing his son, the devil threw him down, and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again unto his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all these things that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears [now pay attention, and let it sink in]: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men (Luk 9:37-44).
Let it sink in now. They still could not conceive this. They were still in their mind rejecting the idea of suffering. They were rejecting the idea of the cross.
“So let this sink in. I am going to be delivered into the hands of men.”
But they did not understand this saying, as it was hid from them, and they did not perceive it: and they were afraid to ask him what it meant. And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be the greatest (Luk 9:45-46).
You see this is again an indication that they didn’t understand. He is talking about His cross, His rejection, His suffering. And they are talking about themselves, and the greatness that they might enjoy in the kingdom.
And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and he sat him by him, and he said to them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receives me; and whosoever shall receive me, receives him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great (Luk 9:47-48).
You want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant.
And John answered saying, Master, we saw one who was casting out devils in your name; and we forbid him, because he did not follow with us (Luk 9:49).
The beginning of sectarianism, denominationalism.
And Jesus said unto him, Don’t forbid him: for he that is not against us is for us (Luk 9:50).
Ready to stop others who don’t follow along with us. The Lord says, “No, no, no, if they are not against us, they are for us.”
So it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luk 9:51),
So He has come back now from Caesarea Philippi, and He is back in the area of Capernaum, but now He is getting ready to go to Jerusalem for the last time. And they are in their journey southward. And they are coming now towards Jerusalem through Samaria.
Now Jesus often took the typical Jewish route, through the Jordan valley, so you wouldn’t have to go through the area of the Samaritans, but this time He is coming through the area of Samaria.
The time that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
And he sent messengers before him: and they entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him (Luk 9:52).
Actually, they find a place for Him to lodge. There was a good company of people that traveled with Jesus, maybe forty or fifty people in their company that were traveling with them. And so it took preparations, it took arrangements. People had to go ahead, buy the food, get places for them to stay, and all, as Jesus would move with His company.
And so they went into this village of the Samaritans to make preparations. But they did not receive Him, because it was obvious that He was heading towards Jerusalem. And because the time of the feast of the Passover was approaching, they no doubt figured He was going to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of the Passover. Which the Samaritans felt should be celebrated on Mount Gerizim, there in Samaria.
And to the present day the Samaritans still celebrate the Passover on Mount Gerizim by offering a sacrificial lamb, even to the present day. There are only about two hundred Samaritans left in the world. Most of them have sort of traces of idiocy, because of the close inner marriages now that are taking place between the Samaritans. They are almost extinct. There is only about two hundred left today. But on the Passover they still offer a sacrificial lamb on the Mount Gerizim.
And so they felt that was the place where God was worshipped. That was where Abraham build his altar to sacrifice Isaac. And they held that as the sacred place to worship God. And so because of this animosity, antagonism, that existed between the Jew and the Samaritan, for they had no dealings with each other. When it appeared that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, they just wouldn’t allow Him in the village. They wouldn’t give them any hospitality at all.
And so when the disciples James and John (Luk 9:54)
And now we know why Jesus called them the sons of thunder,
when they saw this, they said, Lord, would you have as to command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, as Elijah did? (Luk 9:54)
Of course these guy’s had just been up on the mountain, they saw Elias, and so probably got inspired again by what this prophet did. And so, “Why don’t we wipe them out, Lord? Show them a thing or two. You teach them a lesson for snubbing You.”
But Jesus turned, and he rebuked them, and he said, You don’t know the manner of spirit that you are of. [You don’t know, because I didn’t come to destroy]. The Son of man has not come to destroy, but to save (Luk 9:55-56).
And here again, Jesus annunciates Himself the purpose of His coming. And that is something that should concern us at the Christmas season. Why Jesus came, what is the purpose of His coming? Jesus in many places has declared the purpose of His coming. One of the purposes of His coming is that He might seek and save those that are lost. He didn’t come to condemn the… He didn’t come to destroy, He did come to save. But He came for other reasons too. And He tells us the reasons why He came. And for special credit, look them up and find out the purposes for His coming at this Christmas season.
So they went to another village. Now it came to pass as they went in the way, a certain man said to him, Lord, I will follow you wherever you’ll go (Luk 9:56-57).
And Jesus basically says to him, “Fellow, count the cost.” There are a lot of people that are touched by emotion when they come to Jesus. “Oh Lord, I do anything for You.” Jesus said, “Wait a minute, count the cost.” “Lord, I go with You, wherever You go.” The Lord says, “Count the cost.”
Foxes have holes, the birds of the air of nests; but the Son of man doesn’t have anywhere to lay his head (Luk 9:58).
“You say you’re going to follow Me wherever I go, hey, it’s going to cost you, man. Are you willing to pay that cost? Are you willing to pay the price?” And that’s what Jesus is just saying, “Weigh the price and determine, don’t just take off without first considering, weighing the price.”
Now there is another, and Jesus said unto him, Follow me (Luk 9:59).
The first one volunteered, Jesus discouraged him. Or at least encouraged him to count the cost before he did. But to another He said, “Follow Me.”
And he said, Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father (Luk 9:59).
Now right here in the words me first, you see the reason why he couldn’t follow Jesus. No man can follow Jesus who is a me first man. You see, to follow Jesus you’ve got to deny yourself. And the minute you say, “Me first,” you’re disqualifying yourself from following Jesus. And so he said, “Allow me first.” No, can’t allow that. If you let, and if you acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and you’re determined to follow Him, it’s Jesus first.
“Allow me first to go and bury my father.”
And Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their dead: but you go and preach the kingdom of God (Luk 9:60).
You say, “Wow, how cold and insensitive Jesus must have been. Wouldn’t even allow this fellow to go and attend his father’s funeral. Why anybody lets you off work to attend your dad’s funeral.” But that phrase, “Allow me first to bury my father,” is an interesting phrase of procrastination. It doesn’t mean that your father is dead. It is a phrase that they still use to the present day, that says, I want to stick around home for a while. I want to wait till my father dies, and then I’ll come. And it didn’t mean that his father was dead and was ready to be buried, because they always buried people within two hours after they were dead. So when he says, “Allow me first to bury my father,” he is saying, “Maybe down the road a ways, I’ve got a few things I want to do first, and down the road a ways maybe I’ll do it. Me first.”
And another said to Jesus, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first (Luk 9:61)
Oh, come on you guys, learn your lessons. It can’t be that way. It can’t be me first when I am following Jesus.
let me first go bid those farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luk 9:61-62).
It takes a commitment, a total commitment to Jesus Christ. It may cost family relationships. You can’t go forward looking backwards.
Now in chapter 10, we read of this commissioning in the sending forth of the seventy, in the contrast to the twelve of chapter 9.
After these things (Luk 10:1)
Now He is on His way towards Jerusalem.
and the Lord appointed another seventy also, and he sent them two by two before him into every city and place, where he himself would come (Luk 10:1).
So they were to go as advance teams in the villages that He would be passing through, as He is on His way to Jerusalem.
And therefore he said unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would sent forth laborers into his harvest. Now go your ways: and behold, I sent you forth as lambs among wolves. Don’t carry a purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: nor greet any man in the way. And into whatsoever house you enter, first say, Peace [or shalom] be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: and if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking the things that they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. And just don’t go from house to house (Luk 10:2-7).
Remain in the house, and eat and drink what they give you. The laborer is worthy of his hire.
And whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat the things that are set before you: and heal the sick that are there, and say to them, The kingdom of God is come near unto you (Luk 10:8-9).
They were advanced messengers to go before Him, to do His work. The work of the kingdom, and the healing of the sick, and the proclaiming of God’s good news to men.
And whatsoever city you enter, if they receive you not, go your way out into the streets of the same city, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaves on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come near to you (Luk 10:10-11).
There are people who have come near to the kingdom of God and have never entered in, and that is always to be a tragic thing. That Herod Agrippa should say to Paul, “Almost thou persuadeth me to become a Christian.” He came near to the kingdom of God, but He didn’t enter.
And the Lord said, “If they don’t receive you, just go out into the street, dust off your shoes in front of them, and say, ‘We dust off the dust of the city that it might remain, but know this, the kingdom of God came near to you.'”
And I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day [that is, the day of judgement that is to come] for Sodom, than for that city (Luk 10:12).
The sin against light is the greatest sin that man can commit. God holds us responsible for the knowledge that we have. God does not hold a man responsible for knowledge that he does not have. To whom much is given, much is required. To whom little is given, little is required. God is fair in judgement.
Now for this city, it would be more tolerable than Sodom, because the kingdom of God came near. They had the exposure, but they did not enter in. And thus, for that city it would be more tolerable for Sodom than for that city, because Sodom did not have the same exposure to the truth.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida! (Luk 10:13)
These are two cities around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus had ministered, where His light did come, who rejected that light. They rejected the kingdom.
for if the mighty works that had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which were done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes (Luk 10:13).
Instead of being destroyed by subsequent nations of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great. But it will more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.
Interestingly enough, the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida are both totally obliterated. In another denunciation Jesus also said, “Woe unto thee Capernaum.” It also was obliterated. They just recently in the last view years even found the sight of Bethsaida. It was so totally obliterated. Woe unto you, and judgement surely came upon the Bethsaida, on Chorazin, upon Capernaum.
And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you (Luk 10:15-16)
Now He is talking to His disciples, still commissioning them as they are going.
He that hears you hears me; he that despises you despises me; and he that despises me despises the one that sent me (Luk 10:16).
Now this is true for everyone that the Lord commissions to go out and do His work. If the person hates you, you should not take that personally. They only hate you because of the one that you represent. Because you are a representative of Jesus Christ, they actually hate Him, and thus, they vent their hatred of Him upon you. But if they hate Him, then they hate God. They hate the one that has sent Him.
“Now he that hears you hears me. He that despises you despises me.” We are so identified with the One who has sent us.
And the seventy returned again with joy (Luk 10:17),
He had sent them out in advance, and now they were coming back, and they said, “Lord, it was neat.”
even the devils were subject unto us through thy name (Luk 10:17).
In the name of Jesus we have authority of power over the demon spirits.
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (Luk 10:18-19):
God help us, let that sink into your heart. You as a child of the kingdom, the power that God has made available to us, over all the power of the enemy. That’s why Martin Luther wrote, “The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not at him, one little word will fell him.” That name, or that word above all words, the name, the power of the name of Jesus. And yet, we see the church so often trembling before the forces of darkness. We need not to tremble. The Lord has given us authority and power over every power over the enemy. But it’s time that we start exercising this power and using it.
and nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luk 10:19).
You remember when Paul was there cast up on the shore after the shipwreck, and they were building the fire, and this poisonous viper fastened on Paul, and the natives said, “Wow, he must be a murderer, or something, because even though he escaped the storm, the god’s aren’t going to let him live.” And Paul just shook the thing off into the fire. And they kept watching him, because they knew that he should soon go into convulsions and die. And as he just kept sitting there, warming himself, talking and all, then they changed their mind, they said, “He must be a god. Nothing will hurt you.”
I think that until God is through with us, that not much can happen to us. I really feel that God has a purpose for my life, and until that purpose is complete, God is going to preserve me. Now I don’t go out and just live recklessly, and drive one hundred miles an hour down the freeway, saying, “Oh God has got a purpose, nothing can happen to me, nothing can hurt me, until God’s purposes are fulfilled.” That’s stupid. God also gave us brains and prudence. But I do feel that there is sort of a divine protection over a person who is walking according to the purposes of God, and that nothing can happen to you until your purpose is fulfilled.
In the book of Revelation it tells us about the two witnesses whom God sends to bear witness during the time of the great tribulation, and it said, “And when the days of their testimony were complete, the antichrist had power over them to slay them.” He didn’t have that power until their days were complete.
I feel that until the days of my testimony and witness are complete, that I am sort of indestructible. That God is going to keep me, God is going to preserve me until His purposes are fulfilled. And the minute the purposes of God are fulfilled, and I have finished my testimony, I believe God is going to be gracious, and good to me, and take me home immediately. The minute He is through with my witness here upon the earth. Why would He want to leave me here any longer once I have finished those purposes. So I have that confidence. My life is in God’s hands, and until His purposes are complete, I am going to be around. Not necessarily around here. I don’t know that God wants me to always be around here. It would appear that way right now, but who knows. I don’t know, I live from day to day. And you see, I am not my own to say where I am going to preach, or in what manner, or whatever. I am His servant. And as His servant I have to wait upon Him for instructions. And He is the one who guides me. And He has a plan and a purpose, and He is working in me to prepare me for those works that He wants me to do for Him. And when they are finished, I am going home.
So Jesus said that I have given you power over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Oh interesting, because the twelve apostles, with the exception of John and Judas, were all martyred. Some of them in very vicious ways for their witness of Jesus Christ. But not until they finished their testimony.
Now Herod stretched forth his hand against the church, and he beheaded James, one of these that Jesus was talking to. And when Herod saw that it pleased the Jews, he had Peter thrown in prison intending to bring him forth on the next day, and no doubt to execute him. But that night an angel of the Lord came to Peter in prison, and woke him up, and said, “Peter, put your sandals on, let’s get out of here.” And Peter followed the angel as the doors automatically opened in front of them, and closed behind them. And Peter walked right out of the prison. And when he was out on the street, the angel left him. And Peter said, “I guess it isn’t a dream, it’s real, I am out, wow.” And he headed for the house of John Mark’s mother, where the church was having a prayer meeting. Praying that the Lord would help poor Peter in prison. And he knocked on the door, and the young girl came to the door and she said, “Who is it?” He said, “It’s Peter.” And she got so excited, she didn’t even unlock the door. She ran back and told those who were praying, “Oh God help poor Peter. Peter is at the door.” And they said, “Oh, you’ve seen a ghost.”
Don’t tell me it was their prayer of faith that released Peter. It was God’s sovereign work. God wasn’t through with Peter yet. Yet there came a day when God was through with Peter’s witness, and Peter, when they came to execute him, said, “Fellows, please do me one favor.” They said, “What is it?” He said, “Well, you’re going to crucify me, but don’t crucify me in an upright position. I am not worthy of that. That’s the way my Lord was crucified. Crucify me upside down.” And so Peter was crucified upside down. But not until he had finished his testimony. God will preserve you. Nothing will hurt you. He’s got a purpose and a plan for your life.
But Jesus said:
You rejoice in that the devils are subjects to you (Luk 10:20);
Don’t rejoice in this, not that the spirits are subjects unto you. Don’t rejoice in the phenomena. Don’t get all excited over the phenomena that you see.
but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven (Luk 10:20).
If you want to rejoice over something, rejoice over the fact that, hey, you’re a citizen of the kingdom. Your name is written on the rolls of the heavenly kingdom. That’s what you need to rejoice in.
And in that hour Jesus rejoiced in the spirit (Luk 10:21),
Now that’s an interesting phrase. He rejoiced in the spirit. Have you ever rejoiced in the spirit? It’s an exciting experience to rejoice in the spirit. When God’s Spirit is moving upon your heart, and just to be rejoicing in the spirit. It’s a beautiful experience.
And Jesus rejoiced in the spirit,
and said, I thank you, Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and the prudent, and you revealed them unto these babes: even so, Father; for it was good in your sight (Luk 10:21).
Jesus is looking at these simple people. He sees their excitement, as they are saying, “Oh Lord, it was glorious. O, we had such a neat time, the devils were subject to us, and we were doing this… oh, you should have seen that, and all.” And the Lord will say, “Oh, that’s good, but don’t rejoice really in these things, rejoice that your name is written in heaven. You’re part of the kingdom.” And then He just says, “Oh, it’s so beautiful, see these simple people,” they weren’t the Pharisees, they weren’t the rulers. They were just plain, simple people. And He says, “Oh Father, it’s so great that You hid these things from those self-important people. You’ve revealed them unto these babes, because it seemed good to You.”
I am glad that I am just a simple person. God is so good to make me just a simple person. I hate complexities.
I had a lady in my church one time that use to call me up and say, “Now Pastor Smith, the other day when you said, good morning, what did you really mean by that?” When I say, good morning, I mean, good morning. I don’t mean anything else. I don’t have hidden meanings. I don’t try to use subtleties, and complexities, and hide the true meaning. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. I am not smart enough to speak in these subtle kind of things, and say one thing, and really mean another. You can’t really know what I mean, until you discern it, and study it, and find the hidden meaning in what I said. I am not that way. Jesus wasn’t that way. And it’s tragic that a lot of people try to make Jesus that way in their interpreting of the scripture.
Now what did Jesus really mean by this? And then they get into the spiritualizing of the scripture, where they lose the sense of it all. Because Jesus meant what He said. And He said what He meant. And you can just believe it, and trust it.
“Father, I thank You, that You’ve hid these things from those big shots, and You’ve just revealed them to these babes, so it seemed good in Your sight.”
And then He said:
All things are delivered to me of my Father (Luk 10:22):
Quite a statement, isn’t it?
All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him (Luk 10:22).
No one really knows who God really is, except those to whom Jesus has revealed the truth of the Father to. No man can come to the Father, except he is drawn. So if you have been drawn to God through Jesus Christ, be thankful, because unless there was that work of God’s Spirit in your life, you would have never made it.
And he turned again to his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see (Luk 10:23):
How blessed it is for a person to see, to understand the things that you see. To have the same understanding. To perceive these things.
And I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which you see, but they didn’t see them; and to hear those things which you hear, but they have not heard them (Luk 10:24).
Many important people would give everything to have what you have, in that glorious relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.
“Oh,” He said, “you’re blessed that you have seen these things.”
Now, there was a certain lawyer who stood up, tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, What is written in the law? how do you understand it? And he answered saying, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And Jesus said, That’s correct: do it, and you’ll live. [But he wasn’t satisfied.] He was wanting to justify himself in front of the others, and he said, Well, who is my neighbor? And Jesus said, There was a certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among thieves, which stripped him of his clothes, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise also a Levite was at that place, and he came and looked at him, and he passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and he saw him, and he had compassion on him, and he went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring oil in and wine, and he set him on his own beast, and he brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the next day, when he was leaving, he took out two pence, and he gave it to the host, and he said to him, Take care of him: and whatsoever you spend more than this, when I come again I will repay you. Now which of these three, do you think, was his neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves? And he said unto him, The one who showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go and do likewise (Luk 10:25-37).
Who is your neighbor? Whoever is in need. Love your neighbor as yourself. Who is my neighbor? The man who is in need.
Now, of course, suddenly Jesus is again making an outsider the hero of the story. You see the priest and the Levite do nothing in all of their self-righteousness, they do nothing. Who is the one that helps him? A hated Samaritan. He becomes the hero in the story. The one that they have such strong, racial prejudice against, is the one that Jesus lifts up in the hero’s role, knowing good, and well that it would irritate them. But He didn’t care.
Now it came to pass (Luk 10:38),
That’s an interesting phrase, Luke uses it over and over again. Have you noticed that whenever he introduces a new little scene, he usually introduces it with the phrase, “and it came to pass”? One of Luke’s special little phrases.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman name Martha received him in to her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to his words (Luk 10:38-39).
Now we know from other gospels that this is Mary and Martha, who lived in Bethany with their brother Lazarus. So Luke doesn’t identify this village, nor does he identify the sisters anymore than Mary and Martha, but we know from other accounts that it is Mary and Martha from the city of Bethany, the sisters of Lazarus.
And Martha was cumbered about with much serving. Now the big crowd came in. Jesus you remember traveled with a lot of people. And here were at least seventy traveling with Him, because He sent them out two by two, to go into the villages ahead of Him. So imagine this crowd coming in for lunch.
And Martha was cumbered with much serving [and frantic], she came to him, and said, Lord, don’t you care that my sister is left me to serve alone? order her to help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Oh Martha, Martha, you are so full of care and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her (Luk 10:40-42).
What was it? Sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning. You know, so often we get so concerned about our serving God. And we get so busy in activities. And we get so worried, and encumbered in our service for God, that we forget the better part of just sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning. God help us, that we don’t fall into that trap of over-involvement in service, to the extent where we don’t have time to just sit and worship at His feet as we learn of Him.
Next week we’ll go on to chapters 11 and 12.
May the Lord be with you. May the Lord bless you. May the good hand of our Lord be upon your life. May you experience that power in your life. And may you experience the rejoicing in the Spirit, and above all, may you have that joy of just sitting at His feet to learning to worship rather than being encumbered about, and full of care and troubled about what I’m going to get Aunt Jane and Uncle Charlie. It’s an easy time of the year to be a Martha. You better take time to be a Mary, because you never can be a good Martha until you learn to be a good Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. May that be your joy, your strength, yo ur delight this week. In Jesus’ name.
Again, as Luke is pointing out the human side of Jesus, though He was God, He became man. He is the God-man. He is divine, and yet, He is human. The perfect balance. And whereas John points out the divinity of Christ in his gospel, which we will be entering into next, Luke points out the humanity of Jesus. And because this is the special emphasis of Luke, he does record more than any of the other gospel writers concerning the prayer life of Jesus Christ. And so Luke mentions many cases where Jesus was praying. And again, beginning the eleventh chapter, Luke tells us:
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples (Luk 11:1).
Prayer is something that can be learned, but learned best through practice. I have observed that those men who are engaged in the all-night ministry of prayer here at Calvary Chapel, have really learned to pray. As I am in a group of men, and we are praying, as one of them leads out in prayer, I can always tell the men who are engaged in that all-night ministry of prayer, it shows in their prayers. It is reflected. They’ve really learned how to pray. Of course, if you spend a few nights in prayer, and you really learn, you’ve got a lot of chance to practice. But it really shows; it’s really a skill that can be developed through practice.
And the disciples, one of them said, “Lord, just teach us to pray.” And that’s something that we all need to learn. We need to learn how to pray more effectively. And there is much to be learned on the subject of prayer.
Now Jesus taught by an example, giving to them a model prayer. Not one that was to be memorized and recited verbatim. But in the model there is the basic structure for all prayer.
So Jesus said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name (Luk 11:2).
Prayer always begins with relationship. If there is not an established relationship, there is no basis for prayer. The Father’s ear is always open to the children’s cry. And if you have that relationship with God where you can say, “Father,” then you’ve established that relationship that opens prayer for you, effective prayer for you. But if you do not have that relationship, then prayer is meaningless. There is only one prayer that God wants to hear from you if you are not His child, and that’s the prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And that establishes then relationship, and opens this glorious opportunity of prayer for each one of you. But prayer begins with relationship.
“Our Father, which art in heaven,” and that reverence of God. “Hallowed be thy name,” or reverend by thy name.
The name of God is a name that in the Hebrew was an active verb, which meant, the becoming one. How it was pronounced is something that we are not certain of. There are those who say, “Jehovah.” There are those who say, “Yahweh.” All we have are the consonants, Y h v h. The left out the vowels, so that we do not know what was the actual pronunciation, but most scholars conclude that it was Yahweh. But it is the Hebrew word the becoming one.
The name of God is significant, because in it God expresses what He wants to be to you. He wants to become to you whatever your need may be. So the Jehovah, or Yahweh, was used in compound forms. You had Yahweh Tesitkonu, the Lord has become our righteousness. Yahweh Raffa, the Lord our healer. Yahweh Jira, the Lord our provider. And all of these compound forms of the name of Yahweh by which God expresses His nature, and that which He wants to be to you. In prayer it is helpful if you understand that God desires to become to you whatever your particular need might be. If you are praying for healing, then He becomes the Yahweh Raffa, the Lord our healer. He becomes what you need. And whatever might be the need that will be expressed in the prayer, is exactly what God wants to become to you. The One who will provide that need in your life.
“Hallowed be thy name.” And let me say that as far as I am concerned, the only name that is reverend is the name of the Lord, Yahweh. I do not like the title of Reverend Charles Smith. Whenever I get mail to Rev. Charles Smith, I know that they don’t know me. Because I don’t think there is anything reverend about the name Charles at all. And some write, the Reverend Charles Smith, which is suppose to be a little more impressive, and I like it that much less. And then there are those who go all out, and write the Most Reverend Charles Smith. Just call me Chuck, please. “Hallowed be thy name.” The reverence due to the name of God.
Now the purpose of prayer is not to get your will done. The purpose of prayer is to accomplish God’s will. So prayer moves in a cycle. It begins with God. His purposes, His desires, which He makes known to our hearts, which we utter as our prayer back to God. Which then God fulfills. And so prayer moves in a cycle, but the cycle begins with God, and the purposes of God. It is tragic that there are many people today who look upon prayer as an instrument for the accomplishing of their will upon the earth. “Now, God, this is what I want. And I demand, God, that You do this.” And they hold the scripture up to God, and make their demands.
Prayer is never intended, was never intended to be an instrument by which men’s will could be accomplished upon the earth. And the primary thrust of prayer is always the will and the purpose of God. And so it is significant that the first petition in the prayer is, “Thy kingdom come.” God’s will, God’s purposes. That’s what prayer is about.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth (Luk 11:2).
And so the purpose of our prayer should be to see the will of God being done here upon the earth. You say, “But didn’t Jesus give us some pretty broad promises in prayer? Didn’t Jesus say, ‘And whatsoever things you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them’? Didn’t Jesus say, ‘And if ye shall ask the Father anything in My name, I will do it, that the Father might be glorified in the Son’? Didn’t He say, ‘Ask, and you shall receive’?” Yes, He did. But in each one of these cases, who was He talking to? Was He talking to the multitudes? Or was He talking to His disciples? And if you will read the scriptures carefully, you’ll find that in each of these cases He was addressing His disciples. And what constitutes discipleship?
“If any man will come after Me,” Jesus said, “let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” So whatsoever thing you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them. Who is He talking to? The disciples, who have denied themselves, and have taken up their cross to follow Him. Therefore, their prayers will be reflective of the life of self-denial, and the purposes of God being wrought. It would be the thrust of the prayer of that person who has denied himself, and has taken up his cross to follow Jesus.
Prayer was never intended to be an instrument for the accomplishing of man’s will upon the earth, but the instrument for the accomplishing of God’s will upon the earth. For you see, the earth is in rebellion against God. The earth is under the power of Satan. His will is being done upon the earth. Satan is sitting upon the throne, ruling over the earth, the world’s system.
Now it is God’s desire to bring the earth back under His government, under His kingdom, and His reign. And so God gets men upon the earth who align with Him, and He establishes through them a beachhead here on the planet earth. And then He uses them as instruments to enlarge that beachhead, to take back the world for God. We’re in a battle. And the purpose of the battle is the control of the earth. And we who have come in submission unto God, then exercise prayer, that power that God has given to us, in order that we might expand the beachhead that God has upon this planet. And bring His love and grace, and His power, and His kingdom into other lives of those around us. And that’s why God has you here. And if you are using your time for any other purposes, you’re just wasting your time as far as God is concerned. He has a purpose and a plan for you being here, and that is the expanding of His kingdom upon the earth.
But there are many evangelists today that want to change this prayer to, “My kingdom come, my will be done on this earth, even as it is in heaven.” But that’s not what Jesus prayed. And that’s not what we’re to pray. There is so much selfishness in our prayers. So many prayers for personal gain and personal possessions, and those very things that could be extremely detrimental to our walk with the Lord.
Having established first things first, then He moves on the personal petitions. And there is nothing wrong with personal petitions, as long as they are in the proper place.
Give us day by day our daily bread (Luk 11:3).
Interesting, isn’t it? “Lord, give me enough bread for the 1983 that is coming up.” No, God gives us day by day our daily bread. That we might live a life of constant trust in Him. As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. So often God does not give us more than just enough for today. And you shouldn’t be concerned or worried if you don’t have enough for tomorrow. For the Lord said you shouldn’t really be worrying about tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. “Give us day by day our daily bread.” God took care of us today, and the Father will take care of us tomorrow, and the next day, and each day that comes. And we don’t have to worry.
Forgive us our sins (Luk 11:4);
Oh, what an important prayer.
for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us (Luk 11:4).
Forgive us, Lord. And Jesus teaches that we will be forgiven as we forgive others.
There is much to be said by Jesus on the subject of forgiveness. Sufficed tonight that we just say it is one of the signs of true conversion, and it is one of the most important things for your mental health that you have a forgiving spirit. There are a lot of people today who are in institutions, who don’t have to be there. But there is a bitterness, an unforgiving spirit that has tormented them, and has driven them to that point of being beside themselves. It is so important that you forgive. Now, we have asked God to forgive us, it’s important that we be forgiven, but it is equally important that we forgive.
Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from the evil one (Luk 11:4).
And so the model that He established for prayer: relationship; that purpose of prayer, the accomplishing of God’s kingdom and His will upon the earth; and then our own personal needs.
Now continuing on the subject of prayer:
Jesus said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, loan me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine is on his journey and he has come to my house, and I don’t have anything to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Don’t trouble me: the door is shut, and my children are with me in bed; I can not rise and give to you (Luk 11:5-7).
Now, it is helpful to understand a little bit about the culture of the Middle East, where hospitality is considered one of the highest virtues, and an essential. Whenever you have guests come, you are obligated as the host to set out food before them. And, however, they all lived in one little room, the whole family. And when they would go to bed at night, they would actually, just mats that they would roll out on the floor, and the whole family would sleep close together for warmth. There be a little fire in one portion of the room, and often the animals would in the room too. The chickens, and the lambs, or whatever, they would be in the one little room sleeping with them at night. And here you be all huddled together with your family, and someone is knocking on the door. Now, once the door is closed, it was really considered impolite to knock on a closed door. When you closed the door that meant, “don’t disturb.” When you woke up in the morning, you’d open the door, and you leave the door open all day long. And the people just come and go all day long, get coffee, or tea, or whatever. But when at night closed the door, that was a signal, don’t disturb. And so you get ready to go to bed, you close the door, and that was it. You huddle close with your family.
Now, if you get up in that kind of circumstance, the whole family wakes up. Everybody is disturbed. The animals start squawking, and it’s just a real mess inside. So Jesus paints a scene, midnight, the family is all asleep. The animals are all asleep. Here is some guy knocking on the door. Your neighbor, your friend says, “I need to borrow some bread, three loaves of bread. I have some company coming, I don’t have anything to give to them.” And, of course, he was in a bad way, because if you have company coming, and you don’t have anything to lay before them, that was disgraceful too. So the guy inside the house says, “Go away, don’t trouble me.”
Now He said:
I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend (Luk 11:8),
Even though you’re my friend, hey, that’s no friend now, go away, friend.
but because of his importunity (Luk 11:8)
Now that word in the Greek is because of his continued, shameless knocking. Hey, he is not going to go away until he gets the bread, waking everybody up. You know that you’ve had it, he is not going to go away, he continues his shameless knocking at the door. So because of his continued, shameless knocking, you get up, and you go to get him his bread. Something you wouldn’t do just because he was a friend, but something you do because the guy just won’t go away. His continued, shameless knocking. He will arise and give him as many as he needs. “Get out of here, take it.”
Now Jesus is giving us an illustration of prayer. But it is important to note that Jesus often illustrated with contrast. So that the man knocking at the door is a type of a man praying. Asking for a need of a friend. And this man is persistent. He continues to knock on the door until he gets his desired response. Now, does that mean that we have to continue to pray until we break God down, until He gets so sick of hearing us that He finally gives in and gives us what we want? No, again we have a contrast. If a man, a friend, will do something because of persistency, how much more will your Father? In other words, he is using a bad illustration as far as the prayer was concerned. Here is a man who is being moved because of importunity, the persistency of the one knocking, but with God you don’t have to be persistent. Your Father knows.
We get another contrast down here. Again,
If a son asked bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he asked for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he asked for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? And if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your Father? (Luk 11:-13)
You see, it’s contrasting. If you earthly fathers know how to give good gifts, how much more? So the contrast is intended, not a parallel with God in the illustration.
And so Jesus said:
I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened (Luk 11:9-10).
Now again on the subject of prayer, Jesus is saying: ask, seek, knock.
James tells us that we have not, because we ask not. And that is so often true. People come and they pour out their tale of woe. “I don’t know what I am going to do. Oh, I just don’t know what I am going to do.” “Well, have you prayed?” “No.” “Well, you have not, because you ask not.”
Now it is also possible according to James, to ask, but ask amiss because my desire is to fulfill my will. It’s prayer according to my will. I am trying to do something to fulfill my own desires. You ask amiss that you might consume it upon your own desires. So prayer is asking, it is seeking, it is knocking, and the promise is, that if you ask, you will receive.
Now you may not always receive what you asked for. Sometimes God has something better. And so there are many times that I have asked God for something, and He didn’t give me what I asked for, but He gave me something so much better. And many times His answers of no were much better than His answers of yes would have been, as I learned later. And though I moaned and complained because of the no answer, there always came that day when I said, “Oh, thank you, God, you’re so smart, and I am so glad that You didn’t answer that prayer that I asked You for awhile back. Oh, thank you, Father.” I realize the mess that I could have gotten into had God answered that prayer. Well, He did answer it, but He answered it, “No.”
If you ask you will receive; if you seek you will find; if you knock it shall be opened (Luk 11:10).
And then again, another illustration. Earthly fathers, your son is coming to you, and he is asking, “Dad, can I have some bread?” And the dad hands him a stone, and says, “Chew on that, son.” “Daddy, I’d like a tuna sandwich.” And he gives him snake. “Daddy, can I have an egg?” And you offer him a scorpion. Jesus said, “No, you don’t do that. You earthly fathers, you wouldn’t want to do that to your own children.”
Now if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luk 11:13)
I am sick and tired of the Boogieman stories concerning God. Of someone who was seeking that God might fill them with the Holy Spirit, and then became possessed by some demon. What is that declaring? Exactly the opposite of what Jesus said was the case. It’s saying that our heavenly Father is evil. If someone was asking for bread, and He gave them a stone. They were asking for fish, and He gave them a serpent. Not so, that is a blasphemous concept of God. The Bible says that God delights to give good gifts to His children.
I’ve heard people say, “Oh, you better be careful how you open yourself to God. You just be careful now, you never know what’s going to happen.” Again, Boogieman stories. And they are blasphemous, because they condemn the very nature of our righteous, holy Father.
Let me say this: I am not afraid one iota of anything that God has for me, or God wants for me. I want to always be totally be open to God. And my only fear is that I might not be open to something that God is wanting to do in my life. I am not the least bit afraid of anything that God may have for me, or want for me. I am not concerned that God is going to make some kind of fool out of me. I am perfectly capable of doing that for myself. What I am fearful is that I might have a closed door somewhere to God, and that He cannot do for me what He is wanting to do for me, because of my limited faith, or my preset positional ideas that have limited that work that God is desiring to accomplish in my life. I want to be totally open; I want everything that God has for me. I need everything that God has for me. And I don’t want to have any closed doors when I come to God. Because I know that my Father loves me so much, and His desire for me is for the very best for me, because that’s the way He loves me. And thus, I am not afraid at all of any work that God is seeking to accomplish in my life.
Now as Jesus was casting out a demon (Luk 11:14),
The demon had taken over the motor functions of this particular person’s speaking apparatus, and caused the person to be dumb.
I am in total disagreement with people who see demons in every malfunction of the human body. There are people that have gone overboard on this demon bit. And it’s dangerous. There are demons, I recognize that. They are powerful, I recognize that. They are able to possess a human body and to distort the motor functions, I recognize that. But every malfunctioning motor function of the body does not indicate demon possession. And that is a very sad and tragic concept that has hurt a lot of wonderful people. In this particular case, the person’s speaking ability was hampered by the demon.
And so it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, that the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He cast out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them (Luk 11:14-17),
Knowing that they were suspecting that maybe He was doing this by the power of the devil, He showed the inconsistence of the idea. He said,
Every kingdom that’s divided against itself is brought to desolation; a house divided against itself falls. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges (Luk 11:17-19).
Now, they did have exorcism rights, according to Josephus, that were handed down from Solomon. They say that Solomon in all of his wisdom did devise certain drugs and all and incantations for the exercising of demons. And there were those in those days according to Josephus who, using these ancient rights of Solomon, were able to exercise demons. And Jesus was probably referring to these widely practiced and totally accepted exorcism rights of which Josephus spake.
And He said, “If I am casting out demons by Beelzebub, then who are your sons casting them out by? They’ll be your judges.”
But if I with the finger of God am casting out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God has come to you (Luk 11:20).
He is just asking them to use their reasoning powers. Jesus is reasonable, and He asks you to be reasonable. They are making a ridiculous accusation: He is casting out devils by the power of the devil. Jesus said, “Hey, that’s ridiculous. If that’s going on, then Satan’s kingdom is divided against itself. It’s going to fall. You better be rejoicing in what I am doing. But that’s not the case. If I am casting out devils, I am doing it by the power of God, then you better realize that the kingdom of God has come among you.”
And when a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger then he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he takes from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divides his spoils (Luk 11:22).
Now, here we have a very important lesson concerning prayer. The strong man in this case is Satan. He is armed, he is keeping his palace, his domain. But thank God we can come against the domain of Satan in the name of One who is stronger than Satan. In the name of Jesus Christ. And we, through the power and the authority of the name of Jesus Christ, can spoil the stronghold that Satan has in people’s lives.
I am amazed at the control that Satan is able to exercise over people. I have seen people’s lives who are so bound by the power of Satan, that they do not possess good common sense. They’re irrational in regards to spiritual things. And there are those that when you listen to them talk, you observe their habits, you see the power of Satan manifested in such a strong way, we oftentimes just sort of back away, and say, “Man, there is no help for that person; they are really gone.”
But that is because we are so overawed at the power of Satan to take hold of a person’s life, that we fail to realize that there is One that is stronger than Satan. The Bible says, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). And God has left us here in order that we might exercise that authority and power of the name of Jesus, by destroying the work of Satan in the lives of those people around us. By binding Satan’s power in the authority in the name of Jesus, setting them free from that terrible hold that Satan has upon them. And giving them the opportunity, without that cohesive force and power of Satan, perverting their reasoning processes, let them make a reasoning decision concerning their relationship to Jesus Christ.
“And so when one that is stronger comes, he overcomes him, and takes from him his armor.” Satan’s armor has been stripped. We have authority and power over him, in the name of Jesus Christ. And we need to exercise that authority and power.
Then Jesus said,
He that is not with me is against me (Luk 11:23);
There is no neutral ground. “What do you think of Christ?” “Well, I don’t know, I think He is a good man. He was a pretty good philosopher.” “Are you for Him?” “No, I am neutral.” “No, you’re not.” Jesus said, “If you’re not with Me, you’re against Me. If you’re not gathering, you’re scattering.”
Two types of people: the builders, and the destroyers. Those who gather, those who scatter. If you’re not gathering, you’re scattering. You can’t be neutral concerning Jesus Christ. He was a radical, you can’t be neutral concerning a radical. You’ve got to have an opinion. You’ve got to form a decision. And not to be for Him is to be against Him.
Now, Jesus having cast out this demon, teaches a little bit concerning demons. And He said,
When an unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest (Luk 11:24);
So there is the intimation that demons, when they are not inhabiting a body, are restless. They seek to find a body to inhabit. And so when an unclean spirit is driven out of a body, through the authority in the power of the name of Jesus Christ, they wander through the wilderness areas restless, seeking rest, seeking a body to inhabit.
and finding none, he said, I will return to the house from whence I came out (Luk 11:24).
Now, evidently there are certain conditions which open the doors for demons to enter in to a person’s body. There are other conditions which prohibit a demon from entering into a person’s body. Jesus teaches that they looked for a body to inhabit. Evidently there are things that can restrict their entrance into a body. And I believe that that which can restrict, and does restrict, is the will of man. I do not believe that a demon can enter into a person against that person’s will. Whether the person be born again or not. I do not believe that they can violate the free will of man, as far as taking possession of a body. But people are often getting involved in the occult, into those areas of spiritism, where they are opening themselves to the entrance of demon entities. And by dabbling in the occult, by playing around with Ouija boards, or any of these things that have an occultish aspect to them, you are opening the doors for these demons, as you are seeking them to somehow mystically guide your destiny with the movement of the marker or with some other type of manifestation. And I believe that when you start getting into these areas, that you are beginning to open the door for demons to come, and begin to advise you, begin to direct you, they can inspire people in writing interesting detective stories. They can bring you fame, and the spirit writing, and all of these things are doors by which you can open yourself to being possessed by a demon entity. And so, I cannot warn you too much against the dangers of dabbling with those areas of spiritism, contacts with spirits and all, because it is in those areas where you can open the door that demons can come in. But I do not believe that they can come into a person against that person’s will.
As God honors the free will of man, I think He forces Satan to honor the free will of man. So Satan comes in by guise. He leads you into the areas of dabbling into the occult, where gradually become open to these things.
Several years ago in the little chapel, we had a young man come into the office, and he sat down, and he was obviously troubled. And he introduced himself to me. And he said, “My name is Dave Hunt.” And he gave me a Time Magazine that I had read, a Time Magazine that dealt with organized crime and dealt with Lucky Luciano. And in this particular Time Magazine, it had one of these little insert articles and the picture of this young man Dave Hunt, and said, “The mystery man, the Associate of Lucky Luciano.” And this young man told me his story of how when he was growing up, he had an intense fascination for power. And when he was nineteen years old, he determined that he was going to possess power at any cost. And he said as he looked at society, he realized that one of the strongest powers in society was the Mafia. Stronger than our judicial system, because it had bought off the judicial system. It had bought off the government leaders. And so, he theorized that Lucky Luciano at that time was the most powerful man in the world. And because his ambition was for power, he decided that he was going to get next to Lucky Luciano and learn the secrets of power. Which somehow he was able to get in and become the associate, the constant companion of Lucky Luciano. And it was written up in Time Magazine. This mystery kid, young man, where he came from, nobody knew. But he was constantly with Lucky Luciano, the protégé of Lucky Luciano. And he said he enjoyed the power and all of the money, and the power that he had through these associations. The control over people, over circumstances.
But he said then he began to study the reign of Hitler. And he realized that Hitler was one of the most powerful men in the world. And he learned that Hitler was being guided by men who were involved in what was known as the White Magic Fathers. Men who were into the occult. Men who were in contact with demons. And so, he decided to go down to Peru where at the fall of the Fifth Reich many of these men, the masters of the white magic who were guiding Hitler fled to Peru at the end of the war. And he decided to go down and to look them up, and to learn from them the secrets of power. And so he went to Peru, and he got hold of these white masters. And he began to sit at their feet and learn the white magic. Began to dabble into this area of spiritism. And he said he was in his hotel room, and he was going through these incantations and all, when suddenly this presence came into the room. He said he was very aware of it, this spirit. And he said this spirit began to enter into his body, and he said, “Somehow I realized that if this thing enters into me, I no longer have power, I’ll become its slave, I’ll be under its power, and control.” And he said, “I became extremely frightened.” And he said, “Though I had only been to Sunday school a few times when I was a kid, I began to cry out, ‘Jesus, Jesus help me, Jesus.'” Because he said, “I knew that if this thing took over I’d be lost.” And he said, “I immediately packed my bags, I got a cab to the airport,” and he said, “I waited at the airport for the next plane out of Peru.” And he said, “I checked in, got back to Texas, I checked into a motel.” And he said, “I was so shook, I didn’t call anybody. I didn’t let anybody know where I was.” He said, “I was just so shook over this experience.” And he said, “As I was sitting there in the motel, just thoroughly confused,” he said, “the phone rang.” And the fellow on the phone called him by his name, and gave him a cryptic message. And he recognized that these white masters spoke in these cryptic messages, and so he was figuring out the message. And he just about had the message all figured out, but there was one part that the fellow gave to him that he couldn’t remember, and he knew that if he could remember that, that he could put the whole message together.
And so he was just sitting there, thinking, “Oh, if I only knew that one part, if I only knew that one part of the message,” and the phone rang again. And the fellow said, “The part of the message that you can’t remember is this:” And he said, “Wait a minute, who are you?” He said, “Hey man, I don’t know what’s going on, but you guys are weird.” He said, “What do you mean, who are you?” He said, “I am a guard over here in Fort Hood,” he said, “I am on duty here, and some old man came by and gave me a hundred bucks to call you and give you this message. Gave me the number to call, told me your name, and gave me this message to give to you.” He said, “What did he look like?” And he described the white father that he was under in Peru. And he said, “He came back a few minutes ago and gave me another hundred bucks to call you back and say that this is the part of the message that you can’t remember.”
And this kid, as he sat in my office, was shaking, visibly shaking. He said, “They follow me everywhere I go; I can’t get away from them.” He said, “They wont let me go.” He said, “I became too involved.” And he said, “They are right here, they are right here right now, they know what’s going on.” And I said, “Yes, Dave, I know that,” but I said, “they’ll never follow you out of here.” And according to the scriptures, we took authority and power over those forces of darkness, these fathers of the white magic, and their spirit forces. Because a stronger than Satan dwells in us, and He has destroyed the armor wherein he trusted. And we were able to spoil these principalities and powers, and we were able to set this young man free. Not because I have any great spiritual power. I am just a child of God like you, but I know the scriptures. I know my position. I know where I stand. I know the authority that I have in the name of Jesus.
I got a letter from Dave awhile back. He is now an evangelist, preaching the gospel. And, of course, he shared that he has not been troubled since that day.
Spirit forces are real. They are not to be messed around with. It is possible for you to open the door by dabbling in the areas of the occult. And there will come a time when, like with Dave, they will seek to take over your very body.
Now Jesus said, “They wander through these dry places, looking for a place to rest, a body to inhabit. And if they find none, they say, ‘Well, I go back to the house from whence I was driven.'”
And when he comes, he finds it all swept and garnished. And then he goes out, and he takes seven other spirits that are more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and they dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first (Luk 11:25-26).
Now Jesus here is giving a very solemn warning concerning those people who have been set free from the power of Satan. You don’t let a vacuum exist. You’ve got to replace. There is more than just driving Satan out, there has to be the moving in of the Spirit of God to take residence within. And just to go around delivering people can be the most harmful thing you can do for a person. People oftentimes come to me, and say, “Oh, pray the prayer of deliverance.” And I say, “I pray the prayer of entrance. The entering of the power of Jesus Christ into your life. When He enters the darkness has to go. Light and darkness cannot coexist.”
And so, rather than just praying for deliverance for someone, that the powers of darkness be loosed and send forth, I would rather pray that the power of God come in. The other is forgone conclusion when that happens. But there is real danger for a person just coming to God just for the help that they might get. Coming just for healing, rather than the Healer. Just for deliverance, rather than the Deliverer. Because you can end up in worse shape than you ever were if you don’t substitute or replace that power within your life, that empty area.
And so it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breast which you have sucked (Luk 11:27).
Here is one of the first attempts to worship Mary. And what did Jesus do with her?
He said, Yes, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luk 11:28).
Now, she is attempting to worship His mother. “Blessed is the womb that bare you, and the breast from which you nursed.” “Yes, but rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”
And so when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: and they seek a sign (Luk 11:29);
You remember back in verse 16, others tempting Him sought from Him a sign from heaven.
and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of man be to this generation (Luk 11:29-30).
How was Jonah a sign to the Ninevites? He was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale when he survived. He came out alive.
So Jesus said He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. So, the same kind of a sign of Jonah will be to this generation, as Jesus rises from the dead.
Now the queen of the south shall rise up in judgement with this generation, and condemn it: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater then Jonah is here (Luk 11:31-32).
This verse totally discounts the idea of reincarnation. For the men of Nineveh will rise in the day of judgement with this generation. You see, if reincarnation was a process by which men were gradually evolving into perfection, then in the day of judgement they wouldn’t be the men of Nineveh. They would have been in their developed state along the line of reincarnation. But here, the men of Nineveh will be arising with this generation in the day of judgement, precludes the idea of reincarnation.
Well, might the men of Nineveh speak out in the day of judgement against that generation, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, who was angry, who hated them, and who had one monotonous message? No hope in the message of Jonah, no grace in the message of Jonah, no love in the message of Jonah, just a message from a hateful prophet saying, “Forty days and comes destruction.” And yet, they repented.
Now here was Jesus bringing the love of God, preaching the grace of God, extending to men the mercy of God, and they did not repent. Oh, I tell you the men of Nineveh will have a good case against this generation.
No man, when he has lighted a candle, puts it in a secret place, nor under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body is also full of light; but if thy eye is evil, then thy body is full of darkness (Luk 11:33-34).
The entrance into men, the eye gate. And again, that which you are planting into your mind through the eyes. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. If you sow to the flesh, of the flesh you’re going to reap corruption” (Galatians 6:7-8). If your eye is single towards God, then your body is full of light, but your eye is evil, looking at evil things, and your body is full of darkness.
Take heed therefore, that the light that is in thee (Luk 11:35)
The light of the body is the eye, so take heed that the light that is in thee,
be not darkness. For if thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle does give light. And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they marveled that he did not wash his hands before dinner (Luk 11:35-38).
Now this is referring to the ceremonial washing of hands, which they had an elaborate ceremonial washing of hands. Which Jesus said, “Oh, good enough.” But they had to have one log of water, and you’d hold your hands outstretched in front of you in an upright position, and they would pour the water over your hands, as you rub your fingers and your hands together. And you had to be careful that the water didn’t run down your arm, but dripped straight down, because if it runs down your arm, then your arm would be unclean, because the water that was cleansing your hands was coming down. The uncleanness from your hands was coming down your arms. So they had a way of holding your hands out here, and pouring the water. And then they would take, and you hold your hands down and pour another log of water over it, with your hands in a downward position, letting the water drop off. And they would do this several times during a meal. Jesus didn’t fuss with that kind of a nonsense. And so this Pharisee was just sort of shocked that He didn’t go through this little ceremony of washing.
And so the Lord said to him, Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and the platter clean; but the inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. You fools, did not he, who made that which is without, also make that which is within? But rather give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you (Luk 11:39-41).
One of their little customs. If you just give alms of that which you have, everything is great.
But woe unto you, Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over the more important things of judgement and the love of God (Luk 11:42):
Now, it wasn’t really required in the law that you pay tithes of your spice gardens. But these guys did. And, of course, you wanted them to know what your little spices are like. You’ve got your rosemary, and your cumin, and various spices. Well, they all had their spice gardens, and they would shake out the little seeds, poppy seeds. And nine for me, one for God; nine for me, and one for God. And they were so careful, give God the tenth of His seeds. Very meticulous, give God His due. And yet, they were omitting completely the important things of judgement, of love and all. Exacting in the small matters, which really didn’t count. And completely skipping over the important matters.
Then Jesus said, (interestingly enough, talking about tithing,) Jesus said,
this you ought to have done (Luk 11:42),
Jesus confirmed that they ought to have done that. But He said,
you shouldn’t leave the other undone. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the markets. Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are as graves which appear not, and men walk over them and are not aware of them (Luk 11:42-44).
Now, one of the purposes of whitewashing the graves in those days was to keep people from walking over them. Because if you walked over a grave, you were considered then to be unclean, and for seven days you couldn’t go into the synagogue. You had to go through a right of cleansing, because you touched a grave.
But Jesus said, “You are like graves that don’t appear. You are defiling men, and they don’t even know it. Your influence on men is that of defiling men.” There are those people whose very influence is an defiling influence, but the bad part is that men don’t even know in their contact with them that they are being defiled by it.
Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, in saying that you’re reproaching us too. And Jesus said (Luk 11:45-46),
I haven’t started on you yet.
Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! (Luk 11:46)
Now, He was not talking about the common practice of attorneys today, but these men who were lawyers as far as the Mosaic Law, and the interpreting of the Mosaic Law to the people.
“Woe unto you also lawyers!”
for you load men down with heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and yet yourselves will not touch one of the burdens with your little fingers (Luk 11:46).
“You are laying heavy trips on men.” And boy, when you read how they interpreted the law of Moses, you read what a heavy trip they laid on men.
“Thou shalt not bear any burden on the Sabbath day.” What constitutes bearing a burden? Do you have false teeth? That’s bearing a burden. You can’t wear your false teeth on the Sabbath day. Do you have a wooden eye, glass eye? You’re bearing a burden. You’ve got to take it out on the Sabbath day. Do you have a wooden leg? Bearing a burden. Pull it off on the Sabbath day. And yet, they had silly rules. You can only walk two-thirds of a mile, 1000 yards. But if you ran a rope from your house unto the end of the block, then that extended your house to the end of the block, and you could walk 1000 yards from there. And if the day before you would set your lunch a half mile away, then that constituted the border of your house, and you could walk to where your lunch was, and then you had 1000 yards from there to go. And if you carried things under your arm, you could carry whatever you wanted. You couldn’t hold it with your hand. Or if you would carry with the upper part of your hand, loop the thing over the upper part of your hand, then you could carry it. Or you could carry it under your arm. Because that didn’t constitute barring a burden. Now you could not tie a square knot, or a sailor’s knot, but the woman could knot their girdles. So if you wanted to put a bucket of water down into the well, you couldn’t tie a square knot, or a regular type of a sailor’s knot on it, but the woman could tie their girdle to it and let the bucket down, and pull the water up.
Now God, when He said, “Thou shalt not bear any burden on the Sabbath day,” didn’t have any of this junky stuff in His mind. But just let a bunch of lawyers get hold of something, and they can make something complicated out of the most simple case.
I want to sell you my pen. I take a dollar for it. Very simple transaction, isn’t it? Take it to a lawyer. Let him draw up an agreement. You can see what a complicated issue they can make out of the pen. You know, when I sell it to you, then there is no recourse, you can’t sue me in case you should happen to fall on this pen, would jab into you and all. And you know, I’ve got to protect myself in this sale, because you never know what might happen to this pen, once it becomes in your possession. And you can always come back on me, because I sold it to you.
And these fellows were great at complicating issues. And so Jesus gets on their case, for complicating the issues. And then He said,
Woe unto you! for you build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them (Luk 11:47).
You build sepulchres for them, but your fathers killed them.
Truly you bear witness that you allow the deeds of your fathers (Luk 11:48):
You agree to the deeds of your fathers.
for they indeed killed them, and you build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute (Luk 11:48-49):
In other words, if a prophet comes to you, you will kill him, but yet you build sepulchres for those prophets that your fathers killed.
That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundations of the world, may be required from this generation; from the blood of Abel [who was killed by his brother Cain] unto the blood of Zacharias (Luk 11:50-51),
Which was one of the last of the prophets to be killed in the Old Testament period.
which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation (Luk 11:51).
Why? Because they are going to kill soon the One of whom the prophets promised.
Woe unto you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you enter not in yourselves, and them that were entering in you’ve hindered (Luk 11:52).
I think that this is very appropriate, for many of these professors in our theological seminaries today who cast doubt on the word of God, who, as Jesus said, have taken away the key of knowledge. Claiming that they alone really understand the scriptures. Only they really know which scriptures are inspired, and those which are not inspired. And they will not enter into the kingdom themselves. But the problem is, they would hinder people who would enter the kingdom of God, and they try to stand in the way of people who would enter into the kingdom.
There are many churches that have taken an active opposition against any evangelistic efforts. Churches that are opposed and find fault with any endeavors of evangelism. They will not enter in themselves, but they would also go one step further, and hinder those who would enter in.
And as he said these things unto them, and the scribes and the Pharisees began to [really bate him,] they urged him vehemently, and they sought to provoke him to speak many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him (Luk 11:53-54).
Let’s go chapter 12 and 13 next week, and maybe fourteen. Try it, read it, it won’t hurt you. And so be it.
May the Lord be with you, bless you as you fight the crowds to return the merchandise that you can’t use. You’ll find that it is more easy to buy than to return. But may the Lord strengthen you and keep His hand upon your life, fill you with His love and His Spirit, draw you into an ever-deepening relationship with Him that you might be enriched in all things in Christ Jesus walking in His love after the Spirit.
Shall we turn in our Bibles to Luke’s gospel, chapter 12.
We are dealing with the final month in the ministry of Jesus. He has returned to Jerusalem. He will soon be leaving Jerusalem to go down to the area of the Jordan River beyond Jericho. Where He will sort of absent Himself from the authorities, until such a time as He comes back for the feast of the Passover, and makes His triumphant entry on the Sunday before the feast of the Passover. So just where, here in Luke’s account, does Jesus leave Jerusalem, is not declared by Luke. John tells us about this little time that He spent down at the Jordan River. It was while He was there at the Jordan River that He got the message from Mary and Martha concerning the death of Lazareth, which perpetrated His return. And then, of course, soon after that His triumphant entry, His trial, and crucifixion. Probably chapter 12, no doubt, still happened while He was in Jerusalem. And around chapter 13, as He is there in a synagogue, it could be that He has moved from the precinct of Jerusalem at that point.
So in the mean time, when they were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people (Luk 12:1),
They beginning to really press upon Him, and thronged Him. So bad were the crowds,
that they were stumping on one another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luk 12:1).
Now leaven was that yeast, actually, that they used in the baking of their bread. And it caused the bread dough to rise by the process of fermentation. And so actually, it was a rotting of the leaven or of the yeast that causes it as it rots to release these little bubbles of air, which puff the bread up. And all you need is just a little bit of leaven within the lump of dough, and that little leaven will exercise its influence upon the whole lump of dough. The whole lump will be putrefied or fermented by just a little peace of leaven. So they had what they call their starters, like the sourdough. Where they put just a little bit of it into the new dough, and they always save a part of it to put in the batch that they would make tomorrow. And just a little leaven was all they needed to leaven the whole lump.
Paul warns about the leaven in the church. A little leaven leaventh the whole lump, therefore purge out the leaven. Jesus is here warning of the leaven of the Pharisees, which He said is hypocrisy. It’s amazing how hypocrisy can spread, just a little bit of it. It has that effect of rotting and spreading.
For there is nothing covered [Jesus said], that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which you have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon on the housetops (Luk 12:2-3).
Now I don’t know that I appreciate that. There are some things that I have said in confidence that I really don’t want published abroad. But the Lord is really just telling us basically to keep yourself open and straight, don’t be hypocritical.
Somewhere a story was spread that we had received some tape recordings of some private evangelist in Israel. We had taken a tour over there. Of course, in Israel a lot of things are bugged. Your hotel rooms are, you never know. But somehow these evangelists got word that we received from our friends over there, who are involved in the Israeli government, that we had received from them some tapes that were made of some of the stories they were telling, and things that they were saying about the people that were on their tours. And they were quite upset, because according to the story that came to them, we were going to use these tapes to expose them. Very interesting, I don’t have any tapes. I never had any tapes. I am not interested in any tapes of private conversations.
But this thing of being one thing to a person’s face, “Oh, you precious little darlings.” And then when you get alone say, “Did you see them? Can you believe that?” That ‘s what Jesus said, this business of hypocrisy. How tragic that this is one of those evils that seems to permeate the religious systems of men.
Years and years and years ago, before many of you were born, when radio was still in it’s infant stages, there was an announcer on a children’s program that use to read the comic strips to the children. And oh, he was so gushing and all in his talking to the children, and so personable on his show. Well, it so happened that he thought that they had caught off his mic and they didn’t. And he began to express his true feelings concerning kids. And that was the end of his career.
Beware of hypocrisy.
“That which is spoken in secret,” Jesus said, “will be shouted from the housetops.”
I say unto you my friends, Don’t be afraid of those who can kill your body, and after that they have no more that they can do. I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him, which after he had killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings (Luk 12:4-6),
Now two farthings equals about a penny, so sparrows aren’t worth much.
and not one of them is forgotten before God? (Luk 12:6)
Though they are so insignificant, yet your Father God is concerned. Not one of them is forgotten before God. God is very interested in you. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, none are forgotten before God.
But even [He said] the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not therefore: for you are of more value than many sparrows (Luk 12:7).
And so He is comforting now the disciples with the fact that the Father knows our needs. The Father is concerned with us. The Father keeps interesting statistics about you. He is concerned with even insignificant things of your life.
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven (Luk 12:8-10).
Now these are things that we have studied in other gospels of the sayings of Jesus. Luke is just sort of grouping together. And Jesus probably is just grouping together a series of thoughts and principles that He has previously amplified upon. And so on another occasion Jesus amplified this subject of the sin against the Holy Spirit and the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. And in other places He amplified on the confessing Him and denying Him.
Now when they bring you into the synagogues, and unto the magistrates, and the authorities, take no thought how or what thing you are going to answer, or what you’re going to say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say (Luk 12:11-12).
And so this divine inspiration of the Spirit in the moment of peril.
One of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And Jesus said to him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? (Luk 12:13-14)
But he used the occasion to warn now against covetousness.
He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things he possesses (Luk 12:15).
This is an opposite of the popular conception of the world around you. As far as the world around you is concerned, a man’s life does consist in the abundance of things that he possesses, and thus, men are trying to amass more things to themselves. But Jesus is declaring that you’ve got to be careful of covetousness. Because a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. What then does a man’s life consist of? It consists of relationships, which are more important then possessions. For what should it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Your relationship with God is more important and more valuable than all of the possessions you could possibly amass to yourself. It is tragic that many people, in order to amass to themselves vast possessions, many men who have been caught up with this covetousness, because of their greed and covetousness, their drive to amass a fortune, they have alienated themselves from any meaningful relationships. How many families have been broken because the husband was so driven by that desire to get ahead, to amass for himself vast possessions, that he neglected his relationships at home. How many men have driven themselves until they had a heart attack. It’s a very common ailment among executives, men who drive themselves until they destroy their health. And covetousness is something that just can’t be satisfied. It will continue to drive you harder, harder, harder, until it destroys those things that are important. Those things of which life does consist, life’s consistent relationships, primarily your relationship with God, which then affects your relationship with others. And covetousness can destroy these things. So beware of covetousness.
And then to illustrate it, He gave them a parable.
He said, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room to bestow my fruits? And he said, I know what I’ll do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there I will bestow all my fruits and goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, [you’ve got it made] you’ve got a lot of goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee (Luk 12:16-20):
Interesting, the man’s opinion of himself, and God’s opinion of him. His opinion of himself was: I’ve got it made. God’s opinion of him was: thou fool. Now notice this: this man was still in the dream state, not the fulfilled state. He had not yet built the bigger barns; these were only plans. “As soon as I have the bigger barns, as soon as I fill them, then I will be able to say: alright you’ve got it made, kick back, eat, drink, and be merry. Take it easy; you’ve got it made.” He never did arrive at that point.
I would dare say that when, if he had not died that night, and he had continued to live, and he went ahead and tore down his barns and build the bigger barns and filled them, that he still would not have been satisfied. And at that point could not have said, “Well, you’ve got it made, kick back.” Very few people ever arrive at that point in life. Where they can say, “Well, I have enough.” There is a proverb about those things that are never full. And one of these is that desire, never full, never satisfied.
The question then, of course, is propounded by the Lord: “Tonight your soul is required of you, so who is going to be able to enjoy all of the goods that you have amassed?”
whose shall these things be, which you have provided? So is he [the parable now is of that man] who lays up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luk 12:20-21).
This is whom the parable is addressed to. Those people who have been so careful to lay up treasures for themselves, but are not rich towards God. Their relationship with God has suffered as a result or consequence.
And he said to his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, [don’t be covetous] Take no thought for your life, what you are going to eat; for your body, what you are going to put on (Luk 12:22).
That is, take no anxious thought, or better translated, don’t be worried about what you are going to eat, or what you’re going to wear. For life doesn’t consist in things.
Life is more than meat, the body is more the clothes. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have store houses or barns; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls? And which of you [by worrying] taking anxious thought can add to his stature one cubit? (Luk 12:23-25)
Now if you happen to have a pituitary gland that hasn’t functioned at full capacity, and you happen to be short, and you’re so concerned because you can’t reach the top shelf in the cupboard, which of you by facing this kind of a problem, sitting down and just being so worried, and so concerned, about, “I am so short, oh, wish I weren’t so short.” And which of you by giving a lot of anxious thought of this can add eighteen inches to your height? That’s what Jesus is saying. You can’t even add one inch to your height, much less eighteen.
Now if you’re not able to do the simple things, then why are you worried about the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they don’t toil, nor do they spin (Luk 12:26-27);
And, of course, the idea is the woman at the spindle, making the yarn, and making the cloth and all. Using the spindle to make the threads to make to cloth, and the whole thing.
But look at the lilies how they grow. They don’t toil, they don’t work, they fingers aren’t toiling, and working at the spindle.
yet, Solomon in all of his glory [with all of his wealth, with all of his grandeur] wasn’t dressed as beautifully as one of these. Now if God so dresses the grass, which today in the field, and tomorrow is burned; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Luk 12:27-28)
And so really in this whole area, Jesus is talking about life, and He is talking about the Father’s concern and care for His children. Sparrows are almost worthless little animals in the sight of man. You can buy five of them for a penny from the little boys in the streets. Yet, there is not a sparrow that falls to the ground, but your Father doesn’t take note of it. Your Father takes account of these little animals. Now if your Father takes account of these little animals, how much more does He take account of you? He knows the number of hairs on your head. And so you don’t have to worry. You’re going to have problems, but don’t sit down and dream up your little speeches what you are going to say. The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say. The Father is going to take care of you in every situation. And beware of this thing of covetousness. You don’t have to worry about the material things.
Now here is the answer to the whole thing, in verse 29, or going on from there.
And seek not what you are going to eat, or what you are going to drink, or be of a worried mind. For all of these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things (Luk 12:29-30).
I like that: your Father knows all about you. And He knows you have to eat. He knows that you got to wear clothes. He knows all about the issues in your life. Your Father knows all about these things.
So rather [than seeking these things as the primary issues of life] seek first the kingdom of God; and all of these things will be added to you. Don’t fear, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luk 12:31-32).
You don’t have to worry about these things. You just seek the kingdom of God, because it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
So sell what you have, and give to the poor; and provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief can approach, neither can moth corrupt. But where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. And let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning (Luk 12:33-35);
This business of loins girded about is a phrase that was particular to their culture, for the men wore long robes. And to work in a long robe is cumbersome. To run is cumbersome. And so when a man was ready to go to work, he would pull his robe up and tie a sash around it. Making it knee length, or above the knee length, rather than down to his ankles. And this facilitated his ability to work or to run.
So Jesus is saying, “Prepare yourself for service, for work, gird up your loins. And let your lights be burning.”
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord (Luk 12:36),
Now here Jesus is giving to us a concept of life, which should be the concept of life of every child of God. A person’s concept of life is extremely important, because it determines his attitude and his actions. People express their concepts of life with various figures of speech. Life is a journey. Life is a race. Life is a war. Life is a party. A man expresses his concept of life. Jesus said your concept of life should be, “Life is like a servant waiting for his lord.” That ‘s what your life should be. Like a servant who is waiting for his lord, for his lord may appear unannounced at any time. Therefore, you should be living your life with the anticipation of our Lord coming at any moment. And if you do live your life with this expectation, it will markedly alter your actions and your attitudes. Especially towards the worldly things, of which Jesus is just been speaking.
What is my attitude towards material things? What if the Lord comes tonight, then what value are all of these material things going to be to me? If my Master comes for me tonight, all of these things that I’ve been worried about, all of these things that I’ve been giving so much time to, what value will they be to me at that point?
Now the way to maintain my proper attitude towards the material world is to be as a servant who is waiting for his Lord. If I am living with that concept of life, then I don’t have to worry about an improper attitude towards material things. I have the proper attitude, because I am not going to be caught up in the material things. Because I realize that they are not important. My relationship with God is all important. And I am like a servant who is waiting for his Lord. And when my Lord appears, I want to be ready for Him, and able to open the door immediately.
so that when the lord knocks, they may open to him immediately (Luk 12:36).
Jesus said that’s the way you should be. Not a lot of unfinished business when the Lord comes. “Oh wait, oh I wasn’t ready, Lord. Oh, you caught me by surprise. Would you mind waiting for a few hours, while I get things cleaned up here?”
Now our Lord is coming at any moment. Every other concept of life has its goal in view. And you can pretty well ascertain when it will be achieved. Life is a race. If you are running a race, you know where the goal is. You know how many laps you have finish before you come to that finish line. Life is an education, you know how many more units you need to graduate. But I don’t know when the Lord is going to come. I don’t know what is the climax. The climax can take place at any moment. It can take place before I get home tonight. It can take place before I wake up in the morning. And when He comes there will be two sleeping in the bed. It could be that I be asleep in bed when the Lord comes knocking, and I want to be ready to just go immediately. Good thing to just clean the slate before you go to sleep at night. Take care of it. “Lord, I commit myself to you.” He may come before morning. And that’s the way the Lord wants you to live, because it creates a greater urgency to everything I do. Because this may be my last opportunity to do it. My last opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ. My last opportunity to serve the Lord. My last opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven. And so your concept of life is as a servant waiting for his Lord. It has a lot to do with my life, as far as purity is concerned.
“For we are now the sons of God, but it doesn’t yet appear what we are going to be: but we know, when He appears, [at any moment, at any time] we are going to be like Him; for we will see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).
And he who lives by this concept, he who has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as He is pure. It is a purifying influence living this concept of life. I want to make sure that I am pure. I want to make sure that I am right. I want to make sure that I am ready to meet my Lord at any moment. So that when He comes, you may open immediately.
And blessed are those servants, who when the lord comes he will find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them (Luk 12:37).
Now that’s the thing that just absolutely is hard for me to really conceive. The Lord’s reward for His faithful servants who are girded, waiting for their Lord. Ready to open, watching for Him to come. What’s He going to do? He is going to gird Himself and serve them. The glorious marriage feast of the lamb. The Lord is going to be there and say, “I am going to be here to serve you.” Oh, my.
Now if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch (Luk 12:38),
And these are watches during the night, you don’t know what watch He is going to come, the second, or the third, but the thing is, be ready. So that whatever time the Lord may come, you will be ready.
and if he finds them girded [waiting for the Lord], blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and he would have not allowed his house to be broken in through. So therefore be ready also: for the Son of man is coming at an hour when you think not (Luk 12:38-40).
Now how many of you believe that the Lord is coming in the next hour? Honestly, I don’t think any of us believe He is coming in the next hour; we probably wouldn’t be sitting here. There is a little bit of unfinished business I’d like to take care of, you know. A few calls I want to make. Watch out. The very fact that you don’t think He is coming in the next hour makes it a good candidate. For the Son of man is coming in an hour when you think not.
Then Peter said unto him, Lord, is this parable for us, or is it for everybody? And the Lord said, Who is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? (Luk 12:41-42)
Who is that faithful servant that the Lord is going to make a ruler in His household in the kingdom of God?
Blessed is that servant, whom the lord when he comes shall find him so doing (Luk 12:43).
So doing what? Watching for the Lord. As a servant, girded, waiting for his Lord.
Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him the ruler over all that he has (Luk 12:44).
Jesus said, “And in that day I will say unto them on the right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you from the foundations of the earth'” (Matthew 25:34).
As John is describing Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation 1, he said, “Unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, who has made us on to our God a kingdom of priests, and we shall reign with Him, upon the earth.” He said, “I will make him the ruler over all that I have.”
But here is a warning:
If that servant says in his heart, [Oh,] My lord is going to delay his coming (Luk 12:45);
“The Lord isn’t going to come until after the revelation of the antichrist. He is going to delay His coming until the tribulation period, or until after the tribulation period. Or He is going to delay His coming until Russia moves, or whatever.” Hey, the Lord can come at any moment, and He wants you to be ready for Him to come at any moment.
Now there is always a danger of saying the Lord is delaying His coming. That is a dangerous and pernicious doctrine and thought. Because the effect of it is so often slothfulness. The Lord is delaying His coming; let’s have a big party.
and he begins to beat the menservants and the maidens, and he begins to drink, and be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he is not looking for him, at an hour when he is not ready, and he will cut him in two, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew the lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, will be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. [And here is the key:] For unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of them they will ask the more (Luk 12:45-48).
God holds you responsible for your knowledge. Knowledge creates responsibility before God. And having the knowledge that you have, brings you into a greater responsibility before God. God holds you responsible.
Now there are oftentimes questions asked concerning that poor man in the jungles of New Guinea who has never heard the name of Jesus Christ. And who is killed in a battle with other men, and he is eaten by them, what happens to him? Is he lost forever because he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ? How could he believe in Jesus Christ when he never had a chance to hear? Is it fair that God would punish him with eternal punishment when he had never had a chance to hear? Jesus answers that for us here. Showing that all punishment is not going to be the same. Those who have heard have a greater responsibility, and thus, a more severe degree of punishment. Whereas those who did not hear, yet did things worthy of stripes, because they did not know, a lesser degree of punishment. They will be punished for the knowledge that they have. So you better quit worrying about that poor little man in New Guinea, and start worrying about yourself. Because you have heard, you do know, you are responsible for what you know. And having received the greater knowledge, if you do not act in accordance to that knowledge, then there shall come the greater degree of punishment.
I know there is a lot of issues in this you would like me to address myself to tonight, but I am not going to.
I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it already is kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I might straitened until it is accomplished! (Luk 12:49-50)
He is talking about the fire of hell that was really burning against Him in the hearts of the people. It’s already kindled this fire, the fire of judgement. And He has a baptism, that baptism of death.
When the mother of James and John said, “Lord, I’d like a favor. Let my one son sit on one side, and the other on the other side of You when You are sitting there in the glory of Your kingdom.” And Jesus said, “Are they able to be baptized of the same baptism?” “Oh, yes, Lord,” the boys said, “you bet you. We can.” Jesus said, “Well, that may be, but to grant that request is the Father’s prerogative.” Talking about His death, His baptism. “And I am straitened until it’s accomplish, I am set towards it.”
Do you suppose that I’ve come to give peace on earth? I tell you, No; a division (Luk 12:51):
The Gospel of Jesus Christ divides men. Those who are saved, and those who are lost. Those who believe, and those who do not believe. Those who have a hope in eternal life, those who have no hope of eternal life. The Gospel of Christ is a divider of men. Families are divided by it.
And so from now on there will be five in one house divided, three against two, two against three. The father divided against his son, the son against his father; the mother against the daughter, the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (Luk 12:52-53).
This division that the Gospel created, and especially so in the Jewish home, where so often to receive Jesus Christ wrought a complete ostracizing from the rest of the family. What a division their faith in Jesus Christ did create in an orthodox Jewish home. Where many times they would have a funeral for that child and considered them dead, because they dare to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the chosen one of God. The division.
Now He is talking to His disciples up to this point, now He turns to the crowd.
And he said to the people, When you see a cloud rise out of the west, immediately you say, Oh there is going to be a shower; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, Oh, it’s going to be a hot day today; and it comes to pass (Luk 12:54-55).
Over there, of course, from the west would be coming from the Mediterranean Sea. So like here, when you got the clouds coming in from the ocean, you say, “Oh, oh, we are going to have a shower.” You get the Santa Ana winds blowing, you say, “Oh, oh, it’s going to be a hot one today.” So over there, much the same.
And Jesus said,
You hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that you can’t discern this time? (Luk 12:56)
In other words, you are able to tell by the signs in the heavens what kind of a day it’s going to be, rainy, or hot. Why is it that you haven’t been able to read the signs that God has placed for the time of the coming of the Messiah?
And He rebuked them, because they had not known the time of His coming. They should have.
Now I feel that the same is true for us today. The Lord has given ample evidence by prophesy, telling in advance the things that would exist at the time of the return of Jesus Christ. Having given us the signs of these things, He said, “Now when you see these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
And yet, there are people who are able to make predictions of the stock market, or able to make weather predictions, or they can predict and forecast many things, but they are not aware of the fact that we are in the last days. And in the end of time. And the same kind of spiritual blindness over the return of Christ. And even many ministers will sort of mock the idea of the immanency of the return of Jesus Christ. How sad that people are just as ignorant of His second coming as they were His first.
Yes, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? (Luk 12:57)
Why can’t you yourself make a good judgment?
Now He said,
When you go with your adversary to the magistrate (Luk 12:58),
You’ve got problems; you are being involved in a suit.
as you are in the way, give diligence that you may delivered from him (Luk 12:58);
Seek an out of court settlement is what the Lord is saying.
lest he hale you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, who cast you into prison. I tell you, you won’t get out, until you paid the very last mite [which is one eighth of a cent] (Luk 12:58-59).
Now there were present at that season (Luk 13:1)
And, of course, now Luke may have gone on in a period of time. We don’t know how much time elapsed between verse 59 of chapter 12, and 13:1. It could be that this synagogue is somewhere down near Jericho.
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (Luk 13:1).
Now the Galileans were often hotheaded. They were always chaffing under the Roman rule, and most of the revolts against the Roman government came in the area of Galilee. So they are relating to Jesus how that there were some Galileans who were probably involved in a ruckus against Rome, and Herod sent his soldiers, and when the soldiers came, they were in the act of offering sacrifices to God. And the soldiers killed them right there, and their blood was mingled with the blood of the sacrifices. And, of course, to the Jew that was a very heinous thing.
And so they had just informed Jesus about this.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Do you suppose that these Galileans were sinners greater than all of the rest of the Galileans (Luk 13:2),
Do you suppose that they are the worst sinners in Galilee?
because they suffered such things? (Luk 13:2)
Do you think that this is an act of God’s judgment because they were worse sinners than all the rest?
Now it is so often that we make that mistake of when something happens to a person that is a very sad or tragic event, so many times people look on it as judgement. “Oh, ho, they are getting what they deserve, aren’t they. I wonder what they did to deserve that terrible thing.” And Jesus is putting down this concept. “Hey, do you think because this happened to them, they were worst sinners than the rest of the people in Galilee?” He said,
I tell you, No way: and, unless you repent, you are also going to perish. Now the eighteen people, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and killed them, do you think that that happened because they were sinners who were living there in Jerusalem? (Luk 13:3-4)
Now the pool of Siloam is down in a area that you have to go down many steps to get down to the pool of Siloam. And there are buildings around the pool of Siloam now, walls and all, and they were probably building a tower. And the people used to go to the pool of Siloam. It was a crowded place because that was the main water supply for Jerusalem. And the women would do their washing there in the pool. And it’s no doubt always crowded with people. And this tower that they were building there at the pool of Siloam fell, and eighteen people were crushed to death.
And so Jesus calls attentions to this tragedy. He said, “Do you think that that happened because they were the worst sinners in Jerusalem?”
No, I tell you: unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. And then He spoke a parable to them; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit from it, and he found none. And he said to the dresser of his vineyard, Three years I’ve been waiting for this tree to produce fruit, and I have found none: cut it down; [why should it take energy or nutrients out of the soil?] Why cumbereth it the ground? But the gardener answered and said, Lord, let it go for one more year, and I’ll dig about it, and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, good: and if not, after that we’ll cut it down (Luk 13:5-9).
The fig tree is used in a symbolic sense of the nation Israel. The Lord desiring to receive fruit, and not receiving it. Coming for fruit, and not finding it. And the one more opportunity that is given to them to bare fruit. If they don’t, then it will be cut down. Tragically they did not, and the nation was cut off.
And as he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. There was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could not lift herself up (Luk 13:10-11).
Now I have seen people over there in the orient, in the Middle East, who are bent over from their waist, the upper torso goes down, and they usually hold their head out, but they are bent double from their stomach. The upper torso down, and their head is sort of by their feet, looking up, just bent over. And it’s a very grotesque sight to see. Here was a woman who had this grotesque appearance, being bent double. She was in the synagogue on the Sabbath day when Jesus was there. According to the account, her condition was caused as the result of demonic activity, a spirit of infirmity.
And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and he said unto her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God (Luk 13:12-13).
Imagine what that must have done in the synagogue that day. With this woman, who after eighteen years in this bent over condition, was able to stand up straight, and started praising God, and glorifying God.
Now the ruler of the synagogue responded with indignation, because Jesus had healed her on the sabbath day (Luk 13:14),
And not to Jesus, he didn’t have that much courage, but to the people.
he said, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, but not on the sabbath day (Luk 13:14).
So sort of rebuking the people, saying, “Look, you’ve got six days to be healed, don’t come on the Sabbath day.”
And the Lord answered him, and said, Hypocrite, do you not on the sabbath day loose your ox or your donkey from the stall, and lead him away to watering trough? (Luk 13:15)
One thing about the Jews was they were always very humane. A high value upon life, human and animal. This humane aspect to the date is one of the great qualities of the Jewish people. Some of the greatest hospitals, open to everybody, their value that they place upon life. And so because of that, their law would allow them to untie the donkeys, or their ox, and lead it to water, even though it was the Sabbath day, and that was work. Because of the humanness of it or the kindness of it to animals, they were allowed to do that in the law. And so Jesus said, “Which of you, if you have an ox or a donkey, don’t you loose it, don’t you untie it on the Sabbath day to give it water?”
And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, who Satan has bound, for lo, these eighteen years, be loosed on the sabbath day? (Luk 13:16)
All I have done is untie a woman that Satan had bound up for eighteen years. So what if it is the Sabbath day? You loose your donkey to give him water.
And when he said these things, all of his adversaries were ashamed [rightfully so]: and all of the people rejoiced in the glorious things that were done by him. And he said, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? (Luk 13:17-18)
Now here He has just had this run-in with the religious leaders. The religious systems of man, who had taken the revelation of God, the law the ordinances, the statutes, and they had made such a system out of it that it was hard for a simple man to come to God with this complex system that men had made. And so really, as Jesus said, “You won’t enter the kingdom yourself, and you actually hinder those who would like to come into the kingdom.”
It’s tragic when religion becomes a hindrance to man’s coming to God. Rather than an assistance to man’s coming to God. But that’s the capacity of man. He is able to take a simple thing and make it extremely complex by setting up his own hierarchy in it, and his systems of authority and power.
And Jesus said just come up against the authority who would hold back the work of God on these people because of some tradition that they had developed, a concept of man that had become popular among them. And thus, they would hold back the people from God’s work in their lives.
And so Jesus said, “What shall I liken the kingdom of God to?”
what can I give to resemble it? It’s like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed into a great tree (Luk 13:18-19);
Wait a minute, something is wrong. A mustard seed is a herb. It belonged in the herb gardens. A mustard seed never became a great tree. There is something abnormal about this. There is an abnormal growth here.
and it grew, and waxed into a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it (Luk 13:19).
In college I had a professor who told us not to try to preach from the parables until we had been pastoring for at least thirty years. He said, “It will take you that long to understand the parables.”
What do college professors know? I started preaching from the parables immediately. I wish I could retract many of these sermons that I have preached from the parables. It’s amazing how they have changed in the last thirty years.
This parable, and the following parable of the leaven hid in three measures of meal until it leavens the whole lump, have had two widely divergent interpretations. There are some, mainly liberal theologians, who use these parables to show how the kingdom of God will start very small like a mustard seed, which is so very small. Yet, it grew into a great tree and the fowls of the air came and lodged in its branches. And so they teach that, though the kingdom of God will start with a very small beginning, the twelve disciples, yet it will grow, and grow, and expand, until it encumbers the whole world. And all kinds of nations and people will be able to lodge in its branches. And they say it really doesn’t matter what a person believes, they all find shelter and lodging in this great tree. It’s able to accommodate a wide variety of beliefs and systems. And again, the same idea with a little bit of leaven hid in three measures of meal, until the whole of it is leavened.
Is again a symbol of how just the Gospel will begin in just a little part of the world, but will gradually expand until the whole world has been brought to Christ.
These theologians back in 1935 and ’36 were proclaiming every day, and in every way, the world is getting better, and better, and better. That was before Hitler began his movement into Austria. After Hitler’s rise, somehow you didn’t hear that phrase anymore. Because we saw that horrible holocaust of World War II. But unfortunately, things haven’t improved much since World War II. The world is perhaps in the worst shape it has ever been in. And far from the church being a healthy influence, bringing the kingdom of God. And, of course, that’s what was going to happen according to this philosopher. The church is going to bring the kingdom of God to the world. And one of these days the church will take over the governments of the world, and we’ll have a theocratic government, and will be able to rule, and we’ll bring the glorious kingdom age. And we’ll bring peace, and the men will beat their swords in the plowshares. And the church is going to bring to pass, the glorious kingdom age.
Now there are still groups that do believe this. The Mormon church, for instance, has set itself up to take over the government as soon as it collapses. And they believe that the collapse must come, and they will then step in in the shambles. And they will establish a righteous government. And we will all become Mormons. And we will have peace upon the earth.
But unfortunately, the Jehovah witnesses are planning much the same. So it looks like when the system falls into shambles that we are going to have a first class war as to who will be setting up the theocratic government. Whether it be the Mormons or the Jehovah witnesses. I am of the opinion that it will not be the accomplishment of men or of the church, but will, and can only be, accomplished by the return of Jesus Christ Himself. And I don’t think that it is going to happen prior to His return. In fact, I think everyday, and in every way, the world is getting worse, and worse, and worse. And that’s pretty much in keeping with what Jesus said would happen. “For evil days,” He said, “shall wax worse, and worse.”
Thus, the second interpretation to these parables. Guess which one I believe? Number one, the mustard seed growing into a tree is abnormal growth. It isn’t natural growth; it’s abnormal growth. Now there is what is known as expositional constancy, and that is, you use a figure of speech in a parabolic form, and that figure of speech remains the same in all parables. So in all of your parables the fowls or the birds are never used in a good sense, but in an evil sense. When the seed fell by the wayside, the birds of the air came and devoured it, that it could not take root. And what did Jesus say the birds of the air were? Satan comes in and snatches it away. So what Jesus is saying, is that, though the church may experience an abnormal growth, it will become the lodging place of many evil systems. And as I look at church history, that is what I see is indeed the fact.
When Constantine, for political reasons, gave the edict of toleration and supposedly embraced Christianity and joined a church to the state, that was the darkest hour in the history of the church. For in joining the church to the state, he introduced into the church a multitude of pagan practices, of which the church has never been able to fully free itself.
To the church of Sardis, the protestant reformation, Jesus said, “I have somewhat against you, I have not found your works complete before God.”
The Protestant reformation came as a protest against the evil practices that had arisen within the Catholic church, especially the selling of indulgences. For the pope was desirous to build a great cathedral in Rome, St. Peters. And the money wasn’t coming in fast enough to build this glorious monument that he was desiring to put up as a symbol for Christianity. And so someone in the council came up with a bright idea. “Everybody likes to sin, why don’t we sell them forgiveness for sins.” And they can buy an indulgence before they ever indulged. So as they’re indulging, the thing is covered, because they’ve already bought their forgiveness. “So you want a little escapade on the side. You want to go out and get drunk? Fine, go down and buy your drunk indulgence. You want to have an affair? Go down and get an adultery indulgence.” And they started selling the indulgences to the people. And this so incensed Martin Luther that he took his ninety-five thesis, his objections to the practices that had developed within the church, and he tacked them on the door, and he protested. And thus, the name Protestant. Beginning of the Protestant reformation.
A dark black history, birds in the branches, fowls. Leaven, as we mentioned earlier, when Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” creates a fermenting process, rottenness. The three measures of meal, going back into the Old Testament when the angel of the Lord visited Abraham, he ordered Sarah to prepare something for him, and she took three measures of meal, and made some bread for them. And at that point they became symbolic of fellowship with God. So that under the law, when they had made the burned offering sacrifice, which was the sacrifice of consecration of a person’s life to God, they followed it with the meal offering, which was made of three measures of meal, three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, the three measures of meal. And they would offer this as a sacrifice, which symbolized the offering of my works to God, bringing me into fellowship with Him.
Now in the offering of the sacrifices, they were never to use any leaven. So that the leaven inserted into the three measures of meal is an evil thing. But yet, that evil will permeate until it has an effect upon the whole lump. And unfortunately, this has been again the experience of the church. And as we look at the condition of the church today, we see that it is far from what Jesus said it should be. There is leaven and it has affected the whole church, and the witness of the church is sadly hindered by the leaven within it.
Now Jesus went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem (Luk 13:22).
So He is now on His way back toward Jerusalem.
Then one said to him, Lord, are there only a few that are going to be saved? And he said unto them, Strive [the word in Greek is agoniso, strive] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able to. When once the master of the house is risen up, and has shut the door, and you begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; he will answer and say unto, I don’t not know you from whence you are: Then shall ye begin to say, Oh, but we have eaten and drunk in thy presence [we’ve taken communion], you have taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I don’t know from whence you are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. And there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, You better get out of here; because Herod is going to kill you. And Jesus said to them, You go tell that vixen, Behold, I’m casting out devils, and I’m curing today and tomorrow, and the third day I will be perfected (Luk 13:23-32).
This is the only person of which Jesus really spake in such a derogatory manner. Herod had gone over the limit. Jesus had absolutely nothing to say to him, except the message he sent, “You go tell that fox I’m going to do my work,” that vixen, female fox.
When Jesus appeared before Pilate, Pilate sent Him to Herod, and Herod was glad because he had heard about Jesus and he was curious. He wanted to see Jesus work some miracle. And when Jesus came to Herod, Herod asked him a lot of questions and Jesus didn’t say a word. He had no answers. He didn’t say a word to Herod. It is sad when a man’s condition is so bad that the Lord has no word for him at all. Jesus refused to speak to him, had no word for him, that is how far he had gone down. What a sad condition to be in. “You tell him that the third day I shall be perfected.” “Herod is going to kill.” He says, “I’m going to be there.”
Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following (Luk 13:33):
Now remember he was journeying towards Jerusalem. He said,
it isn’t proper that a prophet should perish out of Jerusalem (Luk 13:33).
And then He cried,
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and you stoned them that were sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, You will not see me, until the time come when you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord (Luk 13:34-35).
Now they did not see Him publicly until His triumphant entry, and what were they crying at His triumphant entry? “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” You see, He had just been warned about, “Herod is about to kill you. You better be careful. Herod is about to kill you.” “So, you go tell him I’ve got my work to do. I’ll be there. I’ve got journey today and tomorrow, third day I’ll arrive. It’s not proper that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” But then His lament, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stoned them that have been sent to you; how often I would have gathered you together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not!”
Now when He made His triumphant entry, as we will get in the nineteenth chapter here of Luke’s gospel, again, as He is looking at Jerusalem, He again laments and cries over Jerusalem, “If you had only known, at least in this thy day, the things which belonged to your peace! But they are hid from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). They’re crying, “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
So I feel that Jesus is perhaps referring to the fact that He will not be seen in Jerusalem until the day of His triumphant entry. It is possible that He is referring to His second coming. But it is true that at the triumphant entry they were crying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” But it is also true that things are going to get so bad in Jerusalem prior to the return of Jesus Christ, when the antichrist comes to the rebuilt temple and declares that he is god and demands to be worshipped as god and begins to persecute the Jews with a greater persecution than they have ever known before, then they will be crying, “O, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” They’ll be praying for the Messiah, and Jesus will come.
So which of two, or perhaps it refers to both, but Jesus is making reference here, “And they will not see Him until they pray, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
Next week, chapters 14 and 15.
Now may the Lord bless you and be with you and cause you to hide His Word away in your heart. Meditate upon it, go over and review it, and then be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Adopt that concept of life that Jesus spoke of that you might be as a servant just waiting for his Lord.
May God be with you and bless you, give you a good week, help you as you begin this new year, that you might walk with Him in an ever deepening fellowship. In Jesus’ name.
Chapters 14 & 15
Shall we turn in our Bibles now to the gospel according to Luke, chapter 14.
The fourteenth chapter involves an invitation for Jesus to come to a supper on the Sabbath day and of the things that transpired at that supper, and the subsequent exchange between Jesus and the people as Jesus talked to them concerning etiquette and concerning the demands of the kingdom.
So it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him (Luk 14:1).
It is interesting to me that Jesus accepted the invitation. He knew that they were out to get Him. It seems to me that Jesus was always open to an invitation to eat, going so far as inviting Himself to Zacchaeus’ house. “Come on down Zacchaeus. I want to come over to your house and eat.” And finally in Revelation, standing at the door and knocking, waiting for anyone to open so that He can come in and eat. “And if you will open the door I will come in and I will eat supper with you.” As we this morning were talking about the significance of eating in that culture, becoming one, how Jesus desires to be one with us.
Now the Sabbath meal was different from other meals in that all of the food had to be prepared before the Sabbath. You weren’t to kindle any fire. If you were to have anything that was hot it had to be hot before the Sabbath. And somehow there had to be ways to maintain it being hot. Now in those days they had definite rules of those things that you could not do to keep food hot and things you could do to keep food hot, but there was a kosher way of keeping your food hot even that they even had developed for the Sabbath day.
Today they plug in before the Sabbath begins. Their hotplates and their water for their coffee (they use instant coffee on the Sabbath day) all have to plug it in. They can’t fill the pot once the Sabbath is come. But once it is plugged in, you can pour it out of the pot into your cup and make your instant coffee. That doesn’t constitute work. Just don’t pour any water into the pot to heat it on the Sabbath day. You have got to have that going before the Sabbath day. And you can’t turn the switches on. You just have to have it plugged in and going before the Sabbath day comes. So they still have some interesting little rules for the Sabbath day.
If you want to go out to eat, you cannot pay with cash, but you can pay with credit cards on the Sabbath day. To pay with cash would violate the Sabbath, but to pay with a credit card, they have this unfortunate concept that so many people have about credit cards and that is you are really not paying. That is a dangerous thing.
So the Sabbath day meal was different. And they were watching Jesus. Now it seems that they were watching Him because there was a setup.
And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake the words to the lawyers (Luk 14:2-3)
Answering what? It doesn’t say they asked Him any question, but realizing, no doubt, that this whole thing was a set up. He was invited to eat on the Sabbath day to break bread with them, and here right before Him they have set this man with this disease of dropsy.
And so Jesus answering them, realizing that it was a setup,
spake to the lawyers and the Pharisees, and he said, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace (Luk 14:3-4).
They didn’t answer Him.
And so he took, and healed him, and let him go; And he answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox that has fallen into a pit, and will not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things (Luk 14:4-6).
Now, under the law they did have a provision that if your donkey or ox would fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, you could pull it out. They did have many open wells, so it was not uncommon for a donkey or an ox to fall into a pit. So Jesus brought up their own law to them, and they could not answer Him.
So then He dealt with them concerning etiquette.
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden to the feast, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms (Luk 14:7);
Usually they had at these feasts a table with three pillows around it. They were called tricliniums. And they would usually sit the people three at a table, and the middle pillow would be the place of honor at that table. And say you were going to invite nine guests. You would have three tables set up in this triclinium, and at each of the tables you would have the center pillow for your guest of honor. And of course, they would sit and sort of recline, and that is why they are called tricliniums. They would recline on these pillows and eat in sort of a reclining position.
So, Jesus was watching how they were jockeying for the best positions, for the places of honor, for the places of note, for this business of trying to get into the place of prominence. So He said,
When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, don’t sit down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than you has been bidden to the feast; And those that bade thee and him come and say to you, Give this man your place; and you with shame will have to go to the lowest room (Luk 14:8-9).
It is an embarrassing situation. You sat at the head table, but you don’t belong there. So they come up and say they are sorry, but they don’t have any place for you at that table, so you better take a table in the back. And everybody sees you leave the head table and head for the table in the back.
But when you are bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; and when he that bade thee comes, he may say unto thee, Friend, come on up higher: then you will have honor in the presence of those that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luk 14:10-11).
I think that one of the characteristics of greatness is humility. Some of the greatest people have been very humble people. I think that one of the most humbling things is to have God use your life. For you know it is not you and you know you are not worthy. But if you seek to exalt yourself, the law of the Lord, you will be abased. But he that will humble himself, the Lord will lift him up.
Then said he also to him that invited him, When you make a dinner or a supper (Luk 14:12),
Now he is turning on the host.
When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, and your brothers, and your family, or your rich neighbors; in order that they might bid you again, and recompense you for the invitation. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And you will be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: but you will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luk 14:12-14).
These are interesting rules of the kingdom.
And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God (Luk 14:15).
I think that someone at the table got the flash of light as Jesus began to talk about how in the kingdom there is going to be an equality. There won’t be the exalting of one man above another. There won’t be important people and unimportant people, but we are all one in Christ Jesus. And we will all share together in the glory and in the honor in the kingdom. And this man got a flash of light in the kingdom and he said,
Blessed is the man that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God (Luk 14:15).
And then Jesus gave a parable unto them. You see, all of these have to do with being invited to dinner, going to dinner, because they are sitting at this dinner, or at this Sabbath dinner with the Pharisee.
Then he said unto him, There was a certain man which made a great supper, and he invited many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to those that were invited, Come; for dinner is ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said, I have bought a piece of ground, and I better go see it: I pray thee you will have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: And I pray thee you’ll have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind (Luk 14:16-21).
These are the ones that Jesus told the fellow he should have invited anyhow.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as you have commanded, and still we’ve got more room. And the lord said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper (Luk 14:22-24).
In this parable I believe that the one who has made the invitation and inviting to the supper is really none other than God. And the reference is to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And these are some of the excuses that people give for not coming to Jesus Christ.
The first man’s excuse was sort of a commercial excuse: “I bought a house and I need to go take a look at it.” Pray tell, what kind of a fool buys a house without looking at it? He was busy in commerce.
The second man is busy in his labors. It takes precedence over the kingdom. “I bought five yoke and I need to prove them.” Again, what man would buy five yoke of oxen without first testing them? Which of you would buy a car without driving it around the block?
Then the third said that he had just married a wife and couldn’t come. Why didn’t he bring his wife?
You notice that they all began to make an excuse. And there is a difference between excuses and reasons. Sometimes you can make an excuse when you don’t have any real reason for it. But I would warn you as Benjamin Franklin said, “The man who is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
They began to make excuses for different reasons, so the lord said to go out into the highways and bring in the poor, the maimed and the halt. Remember to Jesus, He fulfilled the prophecy to the poor, the gospel is being preached. And still there was room, so he was to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, and the gospel was being preached compelling men to come into the kingdom of God.
Now at this point he probably left the supper, for we read,
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them (Luk 14:25),
Having left the house, the people were outside waiting for Him. At this point great multitudes of people were attracted to Him and were following Him and listening to Him. And He is on His way towards Jerusalem, but they think He is on His way towards Jerusalem in order to overthrow the Roman government and to establish and set up His kingdom. And that is why they are being attracted. That is why the multitude is coming. They think that the kingdom is going to come now immediately, and James and John are saying, “Lord, can I sit on the right and left hand?” and all of this jockeying for position was going on. But they don’t understand. He is not going to Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government. He is going to Jerusalem to be put on a cross.
You cannot follow Christ just because it is a popular movement. There is a shallowness and a danger to popular spiritual movements. The Jesus Movement was sadly weakened by the endeavors to commercialize the thing and to popularize the thing. And the Jesus Movement parades and banners were fade aspects.
In following Christ, you just don’t get on the bandwagon. It is just not joining because everybody is doing it, or it is the in thing to do. This was at that time the in thing. Multitudes were following Him. And because there is a danger in this, He turns to the multitudes and He becomes extremely severe in His words. He is really more severe than I would like Him to be, for He said,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luk 14:26).
I am not going to be popular, being acclaimed as king. I am going to be crucified. There is a real cost if you are going to come after Me. You better count the cost. You better measure it.
Now, don’t misunderstand Jesus and think that I have got to hate my father, and my mother, because that is just the opposite of what the gospel teaches. The fruit of the Spirit is love. And if say I love God and hate my brother, I am a liar and the truth is not in me. How can I love God who I haven’t seen and hate my brother who I have seen? Then what does Jesus mean, unless you hate your father, mother, brothers and so forth? That is in the language a comparative.
Your love for Jesus Christ must be supreme. It must be greater than your love for your family, your home or yourself, because it may cost you all of these things to follow Jesus Christ. And for many of those people it did cost all those things. Following Christ did cost some of them their families, their family relationships. For they were ostracized by their families when they made their commitment to Jesus Christ. And the same is true today. Many people have found it quite costly to follow Jesus Christ. It cost them their family relationships. But Jesus said if you are not willing to give up these family relationships, you can’t really be My disciple. You have got to love Me more than you love any other relationship that you have. Your love for Me must be supreme and every other love must be subservient to your love for Me.
Then He went on to say,
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luk 14:27).
I am not going to be crowned as king of the world. I am going to bear a cross. I am going to be crucified, and if you are not willing to take up your cross you can’t really be My disciple. If you really want to follow Me and be My disciple, it can involve a cross and you better consider that.
Jesus is deliberately laying out the terms for discipleship and they are not soft, easy, comfortable terms. They are harsh. They are severe. And it is important that you count the cost, the cost of discipleship.
Then Jesus gives a couple of parables in which there is that emphasis of counting the cost.
For which of you, intends to build a tower (Luk 14:28),
This is probably one of those towers that they built out in the middle of their vineyards, which are so common even to the present day in that country.
The people generally lived in the cities, but they had their farms in the countries. During the spring, summer, and fall seasons they would move out of the cities and into these towers that were built out in the middle of their orchards, or vineyards. These towers had the living quarters in the first level, but then you can go up into the upper level, and from the tower you can look over and watch the vineyard to make sure that no one is coming in and ripping you off. They were just towers for the protection for the vineyards. So He is probably referring to one of these vineyard towers.
Which man of you, who intends to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all those that see it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish (Luk 14:28-30).
Count the cost. It is important. Don’t just jump in. He is not really seeking to create a popular movement. He is seeking to thin the crowds of those that were following. Count the cost.
What king, going to make war against another king, doesn’t sit down first, and consult whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends an ambassadors, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple (Luk 14:31-33).
Now, you count the cost. Unless you are willing to forsake everything you can’t be My disciple. Unless you are willing to take up your cross, you can’t be My disciple. Unless you love Me supremely, you cannot be My disciple. The terms of discipleship are harsh. They are severe. And it is wrong when people tell you just accept Jesus and you are not going to have any more problems. Listen, many times when you accept Jesus your problems are just beginning. It is not easy. It is not going to be easy. The Lord doesn’t say it is going to be easy. He said it is going to be tough and you better sit down first and count the cost. You better not get started in it if you can’t finish it, or are not willing to finish it. You need to make an accounting here and determine whether or not you are really willing to pay the price to go all the way through, because unless you are willing to forsake everything, really, you can’t be My disciple. These are heavy, hard words.
Then He said,
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its tang, who will use it for seasoning? It is neither fit for the land, nor for the dunghill; but men will cast it out. He that has ears to hear, let him hear (Luk 14:34-35).
In those days salt was used for three basic things. Salt was used, number one, as a preservative when they would butcher. They would roast the meat right away and the meat that they didn’t roast they would salt because they didn’t have refrigeration. Salt has an antiseptic type of an effect. It kills the bacteria on the surface of the meat and preserves the meat.
Salt was used as a seasoning to flavor the food, like we use salt today-add a little zing to the food, to the taste. Foods without salt are flat. Just a little salt really makes a difference. Every once in a while when we were kids, Mom would forget to put the salt in. Potatoes without salt, mashed potatoes are flat. It is amazing what a little salt will do for mashed potatoes. We are the salt. Salt is good. But if it has lost it savor it is not good.
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talked about salt in an earlier part of His ministry. He said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Again, talking about if the salt has lost it savor wherewith would it be salted, therefore it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of man. Salt is good if it is tangy. If it isn’t, it is worthless.
The third purpose for salt was to put it on the path to kill the vegetation so that they would keep the paths clear from vegetation by just putting salt on it. The salt would destroy the vegetation. It was a weed killer.
You as a child of God should have a preserving effect in the society in which you live. Our rotten society testifies against the church. It bears witness against the church. But you should have sort of a zingy effect where ever you go. You should add zest and flavor because of your walk with Jesus Christ.
Salt has another capacity of making people thirsty. And you should be creating a thirst in people.
Then drew near to him all the publicans and sinners to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receives sinners, and eats with them (Luk 15:1-2).
Notice the four groups that had gathered divided into two categories. First of all, the publicans and sinners. Publicans were tax collectors, the outcast of that society, one of the most hated persons in the community. They were considered by the Jews to be traders and quislings. And they were always classified with sinners.
So the publicans and the sinners had gathered to hear Jesus. It is amazing that many of the publicans were attracted to Jesus. Matthew was a publican called to be a disciple. He left his receipt of customs and followed Jesus. Zacchaeus was a publican. And after his encounter with Jesus, he said, “Behold, I will take half of my goods (they were always wealthy people) and give it to the poor. And if I have taken fragrantly from any man, I will restore to him twofold.” Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house.” The publicans were attracted to Jesus as were the sinners, because He had a message of hope for them. They gathered to hear. But the others, the Pharisees and the scribes, they gathered to find fault. They were looking for things by which they might accuse Jesus. They were waiting for a slipup. They were waiting for some mistake so that they could pounce upon it and accuse Him. So they began to say, murmuring,
He receives sinners, and eats with them (Luk 15:2).
They thought they were saying something horrible in condemning Him, but in reality, they were proclaiming a glorious gospel. Jesus receives sinners and you can become one with Him.
John wrote, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you might have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ.” He receives sinners and He eats with them. He becomes one with them. He dips in the same sop with them. He eats the same bread with them. He is identifying with them. Yes, He does. Thank God He does, and because He does there is hope for every one of us.
So, there were those that were hearing Him, desiring to hear Him. And there were those who were seeking to find fault with Him, looking for something to condemn.
Now, what should have been if they were truly righteous men, the Pharisees and the scribes? What should be their attitudes when sinners were responding to the gospel? What should be the reaction if we see sinners