Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. The difficult statement that we're going to look at this week comes from Luke chapter 12. This is what Jesus says. Do you think that I came to bring peace on earth? No.
No, I tell you. But division. He said, now wait a minute, not peace. He came to bring division. I thought Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Welcome to Summit Life with JD Greer.
I'm Molly Vidovitch. You know, most people, if they're not Christians, seem to like the Jesus of Christmas the best, bringing peace on earth and goodwill to men. And they usually like the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, telling us to love one another and to turn the other cheek.
But the fact remains, uncontroversial people aren't usually crucified. And the truth is, Jesus wasn't afraid to stir the pot. That's our subject today as Pastor JD continues our study called The Difficult Sayings of Jesus.
Make sure you listen until the end today for information on a new resource from Pastor JD. But right now, grab your Bible, turn to Luke chapter 12, and let's get started. Jesus was very polarizing. You either loved him or you hated him. At the same time that he was becoming really attractive to certain people, he was becoming really repulsive to others. And so you see toward the end of his life, after he's really revealed himself, you see great crowds thronging to him and you see simultaneously other people plotting his death. And that's how you know, I explain to you, that you've encountered the real Jesus. You either develop feelings of intense love or intense hatred.
There's really no middle ground. The great irony, I told you, is that a lot of people in our culture, most people find Jesus to be boring, if anything. Nobody in the Bible ever found Jesus boring. Many hated him, thought he was full of it, thought he was a fraud, a fake.
That happened. But nobody ever found him boring. And so if that's you, chances are you've never really experienced the real Jesus or actually heard what he has said. So we're looking at the difficult statements that Jesus made, because what they're going to do is reveal to you kind of what side of the line that you're on.
Do you love him or do you hate him? And there are times that Jesus makes me mad. And I have a choice to whether or not this is going to let these things develop hatred in me for him and resistance, or whether it's going to draw me to him.
So I think that's what will happen here in these next several weeks. The difficult statement that we're going to look at this week comes from Luke 12. So if you have a Bible, I invite you to take it out and open it up or turn it on and go to verse 49 of Luke 12. This is what Jesus says. He said, I've come to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled. But I have a baptism to undergo first.
And what constraint I'm under until that baptism is completed? Then here is the divisive, confusing statement. Do you think that I came to bring peace on earth? No.
No, I tell you. But division. You say, no, wait a minute, not peace.
He came to bring division. I thought Jesus was the prince of peace. Isn't that what the angel said when he was born?
I come to bring you good tidings and peace on earth, goodwill toward men. Some translations there even say a sword. I came not to bring peace, but a sword, which is literally, by the way, what the Greek language says. The NIV that I'm using this weekend translates it as division, because he's not talking about inciting violence. He's talking about dividing, his message dividing people, causing bitter division. See how it continues?
He goes on, verse 52. From now on, there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Jesus is going to divide some families.
Some of you have experienced that, have you not? The greatest conflict that's ever come into your family came over this issue of where you stand with Jesus. Why does Jesus divide certain families? Well, it's because of the absolute allegiance that he demands. His claims are so absolute and so dramatic that it divides families as to whether or not they are fully on board with him or not.
Let me show you this. The Gospel of Matthew, after recording the exact same statement that Jesus made, adds these words to the end of what Jesus said. Matthew 10, 37. You see, anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.
Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. All right, so he came not to bring peace but division. He'll end up separating people within the same household.
Unless you love me more than you love your own kids, you can't even be my disciple. I mean, that's like the triple threat of difficult statements. So here's what I want to do.
I want to do four things today. All right, firstly, I want to deal with a widely held myth that a lot of people bring into this. And secondly, I want to try to expose for you a staggering claim. Then three, reveal an incredible motivation that Jesus puts within this passage. And then number four, I want to ask you a few very practical questions about where you are with what he said here.
Here we go. Number one, a widely held myth. Here is the myth. The myth is that Christianity and the claims of Jesus are more divisive than other viewpoints. You see, there are some of you who hear this and you say, well, yeah, I've always known that Christians and Christianity is divisive. Bible-thumping Christians are the bane of society.
They're always causing division. And there are some Christians who are self-righteous jerks, and I will acknowledge that. But the assumption is that other viewpoints are tolerant and inclusive. But Jesus' message is uniquely intolerant and exclusive. But you see, all viewpoints, when you really get down to the roots of them, are ultimately exclusive.
Let me give you what hopefully will be a pretty extreme but clear example. Let's say, for example, that I was a pastor, not at the Summit Church, but I was a pastor at the Unitarian Church. And the Unitarian Church, if you don't know, there's actually a couple here in Raleigh-Durham. They believe that all religions are equally valid, that they're all headed to the same place. They think God is like a mountain and that whatever route you take to get to the top is up to you because you're headed toward the peak.
It makes no difference. So say that I were a pastor at the Unitarian Church, and I decided to do a series comparing different religions. So I teach one week on Buddhism, and so I teach that God is not a person.
He doesn't have a personality. God is more of a life force that you kind of tap into. And God doesn't get angry at Sam because he's not a person who can't get angry.
But what you can do is by being as good as you can, you can be as good as you can. You can sort of get into a good karma stream so that one day the divinity will repay your goodness with more goodness. The next week, I'm going to teach on Christianity, and I discover that here you have a God who is very personal, a God who has a mind of his own, a God who gets righteously angry at sin, and has declared that there's nothing really you can do about that because you're so saturated with sin that by being good, you're not going to change his disposition towards you, but because he loved you, he came himself and did for you what you couldn't do for yourself, and he died to save you so that you could be fully righteous in his sight and be saved. And so I say these both cannot be accurate pictures of God, and so I think that Christianity is right, and I think that Buddhism is wrong. How long do you think that I would last as a pastor at the Unitarian Church? Not very long.
That would probably be my last Sunday. You say, well, wait, wait a minute. Maybe both of the viewpoints are true in their own, you know, mystical kind of Obi Wan Kenobi kind of, you know, way, and maybe it's just different. Well, the problem when you say that is you've just told the Buddhist that his view that you cannot interact with God as a person is wrong because you've got the Christian over here interacting with God as if he's a person, and you're allowing him to do that. And you've just told the Christian that his view that we are too sinful to please God is wrong since you're acknowledging that the Buddhist over here, by doing the best that he can, can get into a good karma stream just through his good works. You're claiming that both of them have found a workable system, but neither of them sees the whole picture of God. And how do you know that?
Well, evidently you see the whole picture of God. How do you know that the roads they're on are going up the same mountain? The only way you can make a statement like that is if you've got some version of Google Maps where you can see that they're headed toward the top of the same mountain. So in other words, you're claiming to see the very thing that you're saying neither of them see, and that's kind of arrogant to me. In fact, it's kind of like hypocritical to deny to other people the very thing you're allowing yourself to do.
How do you know that all religions are the same? It's only if you know where they're headed, and that claims a superior knowledge. Here's the other analogy that I've used with you over the years. It's like this parable that comes out of, I think it comes out of India, of three blind men that fall into a pit, and when they fall into a pit, there's an elephant in there. Well, they're blind, so they start feeling around, and one of them grabs a hold of the tusk of the elephant and says, oh, it's a spear. And the other one says, no, because he's touching the abdomen of the elephant.
He says, it's a wall. The other one grabs a hold of the tail and says, no, it's a broom. And the moral of the story is each of them has an incomplete knowledge, and only by humbly putting all of their knowledge together will they get a fuller picture of what the elephant's like. And the moral of the story is that's what each religion is. Each religion sees a different part of God, and only by putting them all together do you get a full picture of God, which is a quaint little parable. But here's the question, who is the only person in the parable who sees the whole elephant?
The narrator, you. So you are claiming to see what nobody else can see because they're blind and you have sight. How arrogant, how arrogant that you claim for yourself the one thing you won't let anybody else have, and that is the full and the complete picture. I mean, you see the hypocrisy there?
It's exclusive. You've got a view of God and ours does not fit into it. When Jesus came, he claimed to be the full and complete revelation of the one true God.
He's either true and accurate when he says that or he's not. All our division comes from the decision that we make about who Jesus is. The Christian says he's God. Because he's God, he gets to make the rules. And because he's God, that means it doesn't matter what I think, doesn't matter what you think. It matters what he says about this. Well, the world says, no, no, no, no, no.
I want to get to make the rules, too. So I'm going to exclude Jesus's claims to total lordship. The world, for example, says you Christians, your views on sex are too narrow. And we say, well, we just believe that Jesus gets to make the rules on all things, including sex. The world has its ways of determining what is right and wrong.
They just don't like our ways. And so they exclude our ways of determining what is right. Romans chapter one says that all of our division and conflict comes from this one question. Is God in charge of our lives or are we in charge? Does he get to make the rules or do we get to make the rules?
Either way that you answer that question, you exclude the other answer. That's why when I'm talking to a person who tells me that my views of morality or whatever are way too narrow, that what I usually, and this happened just last week, I usually ask them, I say, okay, are you saying that my interpretation of Jesus's statements is too narrow and I'm wrong about my interpretation? Or are you saying that Jesus's claims to lordship are invalid?
Because that's a very important distinction. If you question my interpretation of what he said, yeah, I invite you to read the Bible and figure it out on your own. But if the question is, is he Lord or not? You've got to answer that question because if he's Lord, then that means that he gets to decide what is right and wrong in your life and you don't. And see, there's a lot of people that are not willing to go there. They don't want to give up any lordship over their lives.
They want to help make the rules too. So you need to ask yourself if you've got a problem, is my problem with the fact that there is a Jesus who said, I'm in charge. I get to make the rules because he's either Lord of everything that he says, or he's not Lord at all.
There is no middle ground. So see, it is a myth to say that Christianity is unusually exclusive. The truth is that all claims to lordship are exclusive and you got to decide, is he Lord or is he not? If he is Lord, he has total authority.
If he's not Lord, then you are free to make whatever decisions you want to make about your life and what's right and what's wrong. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit jdgreer.com. Before we dive back into today's message, I want to let you know about a free resource that's available to you 24 seven. It's a podcast called Ask Me Anything. And on this program, Pastor JD takes your toughest questions and answers them in about 10 minutes. So whether you're struggling with doubt or confusion or just looking for some practical wisdom on hot topics, Ask Me Anything is the perfect resource for you. You can listen to this podcast on your morning commute, during your afternoon workout, or anytime you want to hear honest questions and quick answers from Pastor JD. To access the Ask Me Anything podcast, visit jdgreer.com slash podcasts or search for it on your favorite podcast platform.
Don't miss out on this fantastic resource. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor JD Greer here on Summit Life. Here's number two, a staggering claim, a staggering claim. Verse 37, anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.
Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. This statement is staggering for two reasons. The second one's the more obvious one.
So let me do the first one. Here's why it's staggering. Jesus puts Himself right at the center of our faith. He does not say, notice, He does not say here, love and obey God.
He says love and obey me. That makes Jesus unlike every other religious leader. I mean, I'm your pastor, right? So that means in many ways I'm your religious leader.
Imagine if I said that. If you're sitting here, I'm like, hey, unless you love and obey me more than anything, if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy to sit in here and listen to me teach. If any religious leader ever says that, you should stand up immediately. You should walk out, do not pass go, do not collect 200.
You just get out because shortly after that, the Kool-Aid distribution happens and you don't want to be there for that part of the service, right? Yeah, that's exactly what Jesus said. Other great religious leaders in the world never said that. Muhammad never said that. Muhammad said love and obey God. Buddha never said that. Great Christian leaders have never said that. John the Baptist, the greatest prophet to ever live, Jesus said. John the Baptist said, hey, he's got to increase. God's got to increase, I've got to decrease.
George Whitefield, one of the leaders of the great awakening said, may the name of Whitefield perish from the earth so that nobody ever remembers it and may the name of Jesus grow brighter. They were all like love and obey God, don't put the focus on me. Jesus, by contrast, always wanted to talk about himself.
And you need to grapple with that. He didn't tell people love and follow God. He said love and follow me. And unless you love me more than you love everything else, you can't really follow me, which means that he's either the worst cult leader ever, or he's something different than every other religious leader. And that is he is God himself, the object of our faith.
You see, this is a staggering claim. And by the way, for those of you that are a little bit more on the academic side, there's a professor at UNC Chapel Hill named Bart Ehrman who just released another book, basically claiming this, that Jesus never claimed to be God in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He only claims to be God in the gospel of John. And his basic idea is gospel of John was written later. So it was kind of this idea that Jesus was God was something the disciples developed and added in later because it's just not there in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The problem is it overlooks clear passages like this one. I mean, when Jesus says, I've got to be the sole object of your faith and you've got to love me more than anything, he's either the worst cult leader in blaspheme that's ever walked the earth, or he actually is God.
Right? Or here's another one in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus forgives sins.
I think I've explained this to you before. You can only forgive sin. Who were sins against? Sins are against God. It's kind of like if one of our worship leaders was up here on stage and somebody walked up in the middle of the worship set and just told off and smacked them in the face, and I walk up and say, I forgive you. The worship leader's like, I'm sorry, bro.
He didn't smack you, he smacked me. It's not your place to forgive. If Jesus is not God, he's got no business forgiving sins.
Right? Because he can only forgive sins if he's the one that we sin against. So everybody recognized that was a claim to be God. Or how about this, from Matthew 5, Jesus climbs up on top of a mountain and from that mountain begins to teach what they refer to as the second law. Now, the first law was given by whom?
By God on a mountain. So Jesus is kind of recreating that and he says this, you have heard it said, first law, but I say to you, who would have the audacity to edit God, but God? You see, that's a clear claim. Here's one. Jesus says, if you tear down the temple, I'll raise it up in three days talking about his own body.
Okay? What was the temple? What was the main characteristic? What made the temple the temple? The fact that God lived there. So what's Jesus saying? I'm the temple, I'm God, because this temple is my body. To see the idea that Jesus does not claim to be God in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is a complete fiction. He claimed to be God. He's either the worst blasphemer that ever lived, or he is actually God. Bart Ehrman says that the gospels were written by Jesus's admirers.
He is profoundly wrong. The gospel was not written by Jesus's admirers. It was written by Jesus's worshipers. And the Bible message from start to finish is worship only God.
And Jesus basically says, that's me. And that's why I say love me more than anything. That's the first reason that claim is staggering.
Here's the second reason. It's also staggering because he is talking about a commitment that trumps our most precious relationships, a commitment that can have no conditions at all. Let me read that verse again. Anybody who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Can I ask you a very sober, serious question? You love your kids more than Jesus? You cannot be his disciple. You see, a lot of us come to God because we want him to help our family. And God is a good means to a good family.
We're like, well, he can give my family stability. And so we want God in our lives, but God is a means to an end for us. He's a means to a stable family and then bonus, we all get to go to heaven when we die. Jesus will not be a means to anything else.
Here's a question. Are you teaching your kids to obey Jesus more than you? I try to teach my kids, hey, it's not what daddy and mommy want from your life, it's what Jesus wants from your life. And if what Jesus wants from your life turns out to be different than what mommy and daddy want from your life, you need to obey Jesus. You see, the Christian world is filled, and sometimes I fear even our church is filled with parents who don't want their kids to really obey God. What they're interested in is God helping their kids not have sex during high school, and not be on drugs. And that's why when they get to college, and they start thinking about where they want to live, and they start saying things like, maybe I want to go to the mission field, the parent steps in and says no. Because it's never been about you obeying Jesus, it's been about me using Jesus to get the kind of kids that I want.
Parents, listen to this. Jesus says to your kids, and to you, I am telling your kids to love me more than they love you. And I'm telling them that if I tell them to do something that you don't agree with, I am telling them to defy you and obey me. Does that make you hate Jesus?
See, if so, maybe for the first time you're actually considering what he actually says about lordship. You're teaching your kids to love Jesus, to give him their loyalty more than you. Where are you directing their loyalty and love?
First to you or first to him? Where are you directing their priorities? Look at your family schedule. Does your family schedule indicate that your kids, it's about them becoming, you know, responsible men and women that go to college and make lots of money?
Is that kind of the, if I looked at your schedule, is that the trajectory or is it not? Nope. I can tell that their whole focus is teaching them to love and know Jesus. Now, I do not want any of this to imply that coming to Jesus gives you some kind of brazen and loving attitude towards your family. People who come to Jesus invariably become better husbands, better mothers, better wives, better children.
Why? Because Jesus teaches you to love and lay down your lives for those people. I'm just saying that for many of us, our kids and our families have become idols that we put ahead even of God. Your kids are good things that become God things that then turn into bad things. Because an idol is rarely something bad in and of itself. An idol is something good that you always just give too much in weight upon. And many of us are basically using Jesus to get a good family which is the ultimate thing for us and Jesus will not be used as a means to anything else.
A convicting thought to end on today. I pray that I'm teaching my own children to love the Lord and obey Him even over my own desires for them. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer and if you missed any of the previous messages in this series called The Difficult Sayings of Jesus, you can catch up for free at jdgreer.com. Not long ago, I got the chance to sit down with Pastor J.D. to ask him about our newest premium resource, which is unlike anything we've ever created before.
And here's what he had to say. Yeah, you know, we recommend a lot of books here. I'm a big bibliophile.
I love to read. But there's a lot of people that, while they enjoy reading, they need a tool that will help them keep the gospel in front of them. And sometimes we get into memorized scripture, but we produce something that is like a daily—think of it almost like a little flip calendar that's going to have on it. It's going to have a scripture passage. It's also going to have like a kind of a major thought, a gospel thought. For example, God doesn't need anything from you and it's going to, you know, something that will get your attention, something that will arrest the way that you're thinking and give you something to meditate on throughout the day. It's going to have little insights into what you're reading and in the gospels and these chapters that you go to. Years ago, I wrote this thing called the gospel prayer, where it was a way that every day I could pray the gospel into my heart to begin my day. This takes the elements of that gospel prayer and it just stretches them out and couples them with key insights, key passages. We would love to give you one of those. It's our gift for you becoming a gospel partner or just supporting us. If you'll reach out to us at jdgrier.com, we'd love to start a conversation with you and we'd love to have you as a part of the team.
I'm Molly Bidevich. Be sure to tune in next time as we learn more about what it really means to follow Christ. See you Wednesday for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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