Today we wrap up the search for the answer to the question, "Who is Jesus, Really?"
We have built the proof that
A. He Is The One Sent by God
B. He Is The Son of God Meaning that He is God, He is divine
C. He Is The Son of Man Meaning that He was really human. He faced and managed all the challenges that we do, so we can relate to Him, we can depend on Him, He knows what we face.
Last week we focused on the fact that
D. He Is Our Sovereign Lord.
Since He is our Lord, we need to have the attributes that He wants us to have. In the last section of Luke Chapter 9, there are a series of events and discussions that show the characteristics that a true follower of Jesus exhibits.
Last week we studied where Jesus taught us to be humble.
...for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great. Luke 9:48The disciples had been arguing about which of them was the greatest, when Jesus explained that they had a reversed opinion of greatness. Humility is a trait of greatness to Jesus, the opposite of what the world considers as greatness.
But remember that they learn as slowly as I do. Later in the ministry of Jesus, the same discussion came up and He had to teach them again.
Greatness: - We saw that our greatness, in the eyes of Jesus is shown by:
Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35Remember, “The world measures greatness by how many people serve you; the Lord measures greatness by how many people you serve.”
And greatness is shown by how we humble ourselves.
Jesus wants us to intentionally make choices to humble ourselves. One way we need to humble ourselves is to realize that we are not the only arrow in God’s quiver. He has many other tools spreading the word about Jesus. We must avoid competing against other Jesus based ministries, or criticizing them. We need to build up all of the ministries who are promoting the cause of Jesus.
But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:50This does not say that every program or ministry out there is good or beneficial. But if they are promoting the Gospel, then no criticism or competition.
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village. Luke 9:51-56Only Luke’s Gospel records this incident. But Luke, maybe because He was a Gentile, was especially sensitive to Jesus’ attitudes toward non-Jews.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16The rest of Jesus' statement is continued in verse 17:
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17The disciples expected Jesus to rebuke the Samaritans; instead, He rebuked them!
The Holman Bible Dictionary states:
"In the days of Christ, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was greatly strained. Animosity was so great that the Jews bypassed Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea. They went an extra distance through the barren land of Perea on the eastern side of the Jordan to avoid going through Samaria. Yet Jesus rebuked His disciples for their hostility to the Samaritans, healed a Samaritan leper, honored a Samaritan for his neighborliness, praised a Samaritan for his gratitude, asked a drink of a Samaritan woman, and preached to the Samaritans. Then in Acts 1:8, Jesus challenged His disciples to witness in Samaria. Philip, a deacon, opened a mission in Samaria in Acts 8:5." (Holman Bible Dictionary)According to the Scriptures, what attitudes does Jesus want us to have toward people who reject, oppose us?
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:44
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Luke 6:35
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
Remember, the theme we are tracking on in this section is a commitment to the lordship of Jesus. So maybe one thing we learn from these people is that they all talked like they are committed to discipleship but actually wanted to follow Jesus on their own terms. In each case, Jesus looked at the heart of each person and addressed the issue they would struggle with related to following Him.
In verses 57 and 58 we see that even though this person says, “I’ll follow you wherever you go”, He apparently backs down when Jesus describes His own poverty. Jesus response suggests that this person had not really counted the cost of following Jesus, that is, counted and committed to paying it! We will see more on counting the cost in Luke 14. At the same time, Jesus gives a glimpse of part of what it cost Him to do His Father’s will.
Allow the dead to bury their own dead... Luke 9:60This sounds harsh and insensitive. But since we know that Jesus is loving and compassionate, there must be some other explanation something Jesus knew that we don’t. One explanation many scholars suggest is that the father here has not yet died. Maybe he was seriously ill or just very old so that the time of death was uncertain. Other scholars speculate that this person wanted to have his father’s estate settled and receive his inheritance before following Jesus.
“I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” Luke 9:61The request seems reasonable but there has to be more to this situation or Jesus wouldn’t have responded the way He did. One Greek scholar says that the word suggests “a formal function and this man meant to go home and set things in order there and then in due time to come and follow Jesus.” In other words, this person also is putting off following Jesus until some vague time in the future.
But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62Don’t look back! This statement has become a proverb in the English language. You can’t plow straight furrows if you’re looking backward instead of forward! Maybe an analogous situation for us would be driving down the road while turning our head to look out the back window.
This is a word picture to describe the person who makes a commitment but looks back with longing to his life before making that commitment like a married person wishing they were single again, like Lot’s wife looking back at Sodom. This attitude reflects a lack of wholehearted commitment to my decision. And Jesus says we can’t be His disciples if we have this kind of thinking.
In all three situations, there is a reluctance on the person’s part to follow Jesus unconditionally, to do whatever He asks, to go wherever He goes. Regardless of what seems right to us, we need to trust that Jesus knows what is best and obey Him.
Contrast these “disciples” to the responses of Peter, Andrew, James and John, when Jesus called on them to follow Him:
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. Mark 1:16-20What a difference! Here there is not hesitation, no conditions that must first be met. This four immediately and unconditionally follow Jesus.
There’s another lesson here that Jesus is teaching us and that is the urgency of His work. Something that is urgent requires immediate attention and action. And Jesus wants us to understand that His work in the world is urgent. It must not be put off because there is a desperate need for as many people as possible to be told about Jesus.
A. W. Tozer says:
“Millions call themselves by His Name, it is true, and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life.”How about you? Are you following Jesus on His terms or on your own? Jesus doesn't give us the freedom to pick and choose the commands we like ("Okay, I'll take some of the 'I am with you always' but I think I'll pass on the 'deny yourself and take up your cross daily'!) God's Word is not like a buffet table that we move along passing what we don't like and taking what we do.
Jesus calls us to be unconditionally willing to follow His will, regardless of what it may be. Maybe today we need to make a new commitment to follow Him in every area of life, no matter what the consequences may be.
Coming up: For the next three weeks, we will not have Bible study.