Monday, January 13, 2020

Gospel Quest 11: Christ Refused - Luike 9:57-62

Gospel Quest 11: Christ Refused

Text: Luke 9:57-62
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Introduction: Crazy Consumer warnings that don’t make sense. Let me share with you some things that don’t make sense.
ON A KITCHEN KNIFE - Warning: keep out of children
ON AN AIRLINE'S PACKET OF NUTS - Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.
ON A CHAINSAW - Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.
• On a bottle of shampoo for dogs. Caution: The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish."
• On a curling iron "For external use only!"
• On a hair dryer "Do not use in shower."
• On an electric rotary tool "This product not intended for use as a dental drill."
• On a sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard. "Do not drive with sunshield in place."
• On an "Aim-n-Flame" fireplace lighter. "Do not use near fire, flame, or sparks."
• On a toner cartridge for a laser printer" Do not eat toner."
• On a coffee cup. "Caution: Hot beverages are hot!"
• On a toilet bowl cleaning brush" Do not use orally."
• On a butcher knife" Please keep out of children."
• In the manual for a microwave oven. "Do not use for drying pets."
• On a can of air freshener "For use by trained personnel only."
• On a motorcycle helmet-mounted rear-view mirror. "Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you."
• A label inside a protective bag (for fragile objects), which measures 9" x 9" x 5", "Warning: Do not climb inside this bag and zip it up. Doing so will cause injury and death."
• On a package of silly putty. "Do not use as ear plugs."
• On a bag of fresh grapes "Please store in the cold section of the refrigerator."
• On the packaging of a whet stone "Warning: knives are sharp!"
• On a box of rat poison. "Warning: Has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice."
• Posted on a Boeing 757. "Fragile. Do not drop."
• On a portable stroller "Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage."
• On packaging for a Rowenta iron "Do not iron clothes on body."
• On Boot's children's cough medicine "Do not drive car or operate machinery.
• On a Superman costume. "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly."
• On a sign at a railroad station. "Beware! To touch these wires is instant death. Anyone found doing so will be prosecuted."
• On a package of dice. "Not for human consumption."
• On a shipment of hammers "May be harmful if swallowed."
• In the manual for a Swedish chainsaw. "Do not attempt to stop the blade with your hand."
• In a manual for a computer. "Do not dangle the mouse by its cable or throw the mouse at co-workers."
• On a package of peanuts "Warning: May contain nuts."
• On a box with Styrofoam peanut packing, "Do not eat."
• "Warning: May cause drowsiness." -- On a bottle of Nytol, a brand of sleeping pills.
• "Warning: Misuse may cause injury or death." -- on the barrel of a .22 calibre rifle.
• "Do not use orally after using rectally." -- In the instructions for a thermometer.
• "Do not put lit candles on phone." -- On the instructions for a cordless phone.
• "Do not put in mouth." -- On a box of bottle rockets.
• "Not dishwasher safe." -- On a remote control for a TV.

Those really don’t make any sense. You know what else doesn’t make sense? People who walk away from the Lord. People who refuse the open invitation of Jesus. Those are the people we are looking at today. People who for all eternity will be know as those who walked away from the best thing that life would ever offer them. We find three of them in Luke 9:57-62, here Luke puts them all together in one chapter, this is a distinction of Luke’s Gospel. He often take event, parables or lessons in the life of Christ and groups them together topically. I suppose the topic here would be almost persuaded or missing heaven by 18 inches. Whatever the topic these are thee people who refused Jesus Christ.

The Bible doesn’t tell us their names so I have give them my own names.  We will call them, Secure Sam, Responsible Ron and Unwilling Willy.
This section of Luke's Gospel contains many episodes and parables which are not found anywhere else. The timeline was not as important to Luke as the stories themselves. It this portion of scripture we find the teachings of Jesus in the last year of his ministry, and it shows gives us examples of that year of rejection.

In verse 51 Jesus begins his trip toward Jerusalem, the Bible says, “Luke 9:51  And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,” As he traveled he tried to stay in a Samaritan village something not usually done by Jews on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Samaritan seeing that Jesus was traveling toward Jerusalem for the Passover, refuse to let him stay. John and James, nicknamed the sons of Thunder, are so upset at the inhospitality and dishonoring of their Lord, ask Jesus in verse 54, Luke 9:54  Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” Whoa, that sure escalated quickly, from rudeness to annihilation.

Jesus rebukes them with a answer that sums up His entire life’s mission in statement, “Luke 9:55-56 Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” They go to another village rest and then we take up the narrative in vs 57. Where we see more of Luke’s theme of the final rejection of the Savior.

Secure Sam Luke 9:57-58

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Unable to anchor in Jesus

Look at our first lost disciple Secure Sam.  He shows great promise. He comes to Christ. He declare his intent. "I will follow you." And he declares the extent of that desire, "whithersoever thou goest."
Jesus’ response to Sam, shows us once again that God always is looking upon the heart. What we see is a willing disciple, but what Jesus sees is someone who wants something more secure than Jesus Christ.

With the rejection in Samaria still in His mind, Jesus is telling Sam, to follow me is to be as I am, without security of home, or job. With the things this life offers you as security instead your security, your hope, your guarantee, must be in me. Jesus' purpose was to reveal the man's heart to the man himself and to instruct his disciples, then and now.

Luke doesn’t tell us what happened to Sam but we are left with the implication that he did not follow Jesus that day. He did not put his hope and security in the Saviour.

Trusting True Security

To be a disciple I must step outside the circle of worldly security, home, job, money in the bank, my education, or my talent, sometimes even the security of my family.  I’m not disparaging these things. I pray and how we all have them. In reality these are God's gifts and blessings, but as a disciple of Christ, there comes a time when I must realize that their security must be secondary to my relationship Jesus Christ and to his promises to me. I must come to understand that these security, important as they are, still are limited. They are temporary and can be lost, but the security promised me by God eternal and can never be lost. 

To be a disciple of Jesus, I must step outside my circle of earthly security and step inside the circle of God's heavenly security. The true disciple learns to trust the absolute, unfailing security of our relationship with God.

Paul who gave up the security of his Jewish education and Pharisee entitlement, wrote in Colossians 2:6-7, 10  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

He also wrote one the most powerful statement on security anywhere in Romans 8:35-39  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Think about the example of Abraham put all his security in the Lord when he went in obedience to sacrifice Isaac.

Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac.

Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son showed his faith was in God's secure promise of raising up a nation through Isaac, even if Isaac was slain. Isaac, was his family, he represented the security Abraham trusted in this world, but God's promise was spiritual.  And when Abraham raised that knife, he showed his faith, his security was in God.

In our story Secure Sam was challenged to walk away from his comfort zone, his earthly security. So was Paul, and so was Abraham. So also I believe is every child of God. Each of us must understand that Jesus is challenging us to put our security on the altar and look beyond the world we see to the eternity that awaits. There only what we have put in God’s secure keeping will have survived.

Transition: vs. 59 brings us to our next lost disiple, Responsible Ron.

Responsible Ron - Luke 9:59-60

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Unable to see priorities.

This time it is Jesus who takes the initiative, and he calls to a potential disciple, "Follow me."The man answers "let me bury my father." Now you may think that Jesus was walking by a funeral procession and the man is doing walking along and Jesus calls out to him to follow, but that is not the case. Actually at this time, the man’s father is not dead. Jesus has encountered this man while traveling back to Jerusalem, perhaps a seeker looking for truth. What he finds is a challenge and an invitation from the Messiah. Very bluntly Jesus says, “Follow Me.”

The man’s response is about his duties as the oldest child in his family. He was responsible for the future burial of his parents. This duty was important under Jewish law it superseded military duties and Temple duties. What Responsible Ron is saying is  "Let me fulfill my duties at home first and then I will follow you."

Setting Proper Priorities

Once again, being responsible to your family is a good thing. This is not a matter of abandoning one important thing for another but it is a matter of understanding our priorities. In order to be a disciple we must beyond any question know that God must be my first priority. Too often, as believers, we are lost to Christ as disciples, because we cannot put in order of importance our duties, and responsibilities.

Example When I taught theology at Independent Baptist College, there was a young man in my class.  He was already well educated, he even spoke Russian, his father was a pastor and he was in school to be a missionary to Russia.  He was newly married and before he was out of school he had a new baby and a new job and a new car.  I saw him years later at a missions conference it had been at least 6 years since last I had seen him.  I asked what he was doing.  He told me he was still working at a well paying job in order to pay for his last new car or new child or new home. He was and is a very responsible man, a good man, but he is a lost disciple because he could not get his priorities straight.

Listen to Jesus explain about how you are to set your priorities in Mark 12:29-30, after he is asked what is the first, most important commandment,  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

We see Jesus living this priority throughout his life, Often misunderstood by his brothers and sisters, and even having to make difficult choices when it came to his mother. He always knew that God must come first, but still he never abandoned his family, never deserted them nor failed them. One of the most heartbreaking scenes at the crucifixion is when Jesus sees his mother and John the apostle closest to him and he tells Mary, Woman, behold thy son!” and to John, “Behold thy mother!” John then took Mary into his own home and fulfilled the duties that Jesus would not be able to.

He fulfilled his duty to God, first but Jesus still fulfilled his duty to his mother aw well. In reality you cannot fully fulfill your duty to your family, without first making God your first priority.

Jesus response to us when we offer up our feeble excuses for not following him, is the same today as it was to Responsible Ron, "Let the dead bury the dead." He is saying, “Let the world take care of itself. Your relationship to me must be first.”

Illustration:  I was almost a lost disciple. I had run from the call to preach for 5 years.  I was now married and running my own business in Yuma, Az.  I couldn’t get away from what God had place on my soul, and one night I gave up and said, “I’ll do what you want me to do.”  

I called my grandfather who is a preacher and told him.  “I’ve surrendered to the ministry and I’m coming to school.”  He was very glad and told me he had been praying for years.  A few days later he called and said he had heard of a place to stay and that they were hiring at UPS.  I needed to get to Texas right away.  “Well Granddad, I can’t come right now.  I’ve got to do something about my job down here someone has to take over.  I owe to the people that depend on me being there.”  “Kris, he told me, “Do you remember what Jesus said to the man who wanted to go back and bury his father?”  “I think he told him, ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’”  “Well, Kris that’s what you need to do.”  “Ok, Granddad.  I’ll be there when school starts.”   What I wanted to say was.  “OK, Granddad, I can’t fight you and God.”

Transition: Following Him then was the right choice, He has never failed me and He has blessed every step of the way. Lets look at Unwilling Willy our last lost disciple.

Unwilling Willy - Luke 9:61-62

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Unable to look forward.

These last two statements of Jesus are considered to be some of the most difficult ones in the Bible, not in understanding what them mean, but in accepting them as true in our lives.
Jesus hears another man say, “I will follow but....

Unwilling Willy wanted to follow but he was hesitant in his commitment and choice. He wanted to go home and say good-bye. Probably, wanted to get their opinion and input. It reality, this was an one last opportunity to visit the world. It meant Willy was opening the door to returning to the world and refusing to fully close that door by committing to Jesus now.

Listen to Jesus reply, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  In other words, no man can plow while looking backward over his shoulder.          Notice the tense of the verb, "Looking" its present tense. You cannot plow a field properly while at the same time looking backward.

Jesus seeing the real intent of this man’s desire to go home is saying, “You cannot serve God while continuing to look back at what you are leaving behind.  Your commitment must be to the future not the past. Your eyes must be set on the eternal not the temporal. 

Looking To What Is Ahead

If Jesus were talking to us today, instead of talking about a plow, he would tell us, ‘To be my disciple, You can’t drive a car if you keep looking in the rearview mirror. To be a disciple I must commit myself to God and quit worrying about anyone else,  what's around or what's behind me.

Buddy the plow horse
  An out-of-towner drove his car into a ditch in a desolated area.  Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his big strong horse named Buddy.  He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!" Buddy didn't move.

 Then the farmer hollered, "Pull, Buster, pull!" Buddy didn't respond.   Once more the farmer commanded, "Pull, Chester, pull!" Nothing. Then the farmer nonchalantly said, "Pull, Buddy, pull!" 
And the horse easily dragged the car out of the ditch.  The motorist was most appreciative and very curious.  He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.

The farmer said, "Well, you see, Ol’ Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the only one pulling, shoot he wouldn't even try."

Instead of being Unwilling Willy or even Buddy the blind horse we need to be like Paul when he wrote - Philippians 3:7-14 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the  fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Discipleship today is often a casualty of today's no deposit-no return, down-loadable, instant gratification, no money down, no deposit society. Words like loyalty, conviction, fidelity, and steadfastness have lost their meaning to us. There are no commitments in marriage, or family; in our beliefs, our convictions, in our churches or in our discipleship to Jesus Christ.

I’ve always been enthralled by the disciple of the ancient Greek city of Sparta. One story illustrate their commitment to who they were as Spartans.

Conclusion: Spartan Mother's words to her son.

When leaving to go into their first battle the Spartan mother would hand the shield to her son and say, "Return, my son, with this or on this." To the Spartan, it was fight or die. There was no other option but total commitment.

This kind of commitment made Sparta the most powerful city of ancient Greece.  Once when a king from another city visited Sparta and was being show the city by Sparta’s King.  He noticed that there was no wall around the city. When He asked where was Sparta’s wall the king pointed to his soldiers and said, “There is the wall of Sparta.”

When a child of God makes the commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, perhaps we will think of that Spartan mother but instead of a shield it would be the Bible that we are presented with and told by the Lord, “Return my child, with this or on this.” And when Jesus is asked where are the walls of His church?  He would point at you and me and say, “There are the walls of my church erected in the lives of my disciples.”

This morning ask yourself, are your truly willing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment