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The Hiddenness of Jesus, Part 3

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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August 16, 2023 9:00 am

The Hiddenness of Jesus, Part 3

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 16, 2023 9:00 am

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t just show up and announce himself? Wouldn’t that quiet down all the skeptics? As we continue our series titled "Kingdom Come," Pastor J.D. explains that God reveals himself to those who want to know him but hides from those who want to use him.

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J.D. Greear

Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Why are people still able to raise questions and doubts? The answer, listen, hiddenness. God has preserved his revelation in such a way that those with proud, rebellious hearts miss it, and those with childlike hearts get it. The Bible gives enough evidence for those whose hearts want to know God. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Have you ever wondered why God doesn't just show up and make his presence known, like writing it in the sky, or a televised appearance, or maybe a miracle or two on social media? Wouldn't that quiet down all the skeptics?

I mean, he is God, and he could certainly present himself fairly convincingly, right? Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer gives us Jesus's answer to this question, and why he actually hides himself from certain people. It's part of our Kingdom Come teaching series through the book of Luke, so grab your Bible and let's join Pastor J.D. with the conclusion of his teaching titled, The Hiddenness of Jesus. Luke chapter 10, verse 13.

Woe to you, Chorazin. Woe to you, Bethsaida. For if the mighty works, he says, done in you, had instead been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven?

No, you will be brought down to hell, to Hades. Then Jesus says to his apostles, the one who hears you, you see, hears me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And the one who rejects me, rejects him who sent me. Verse 21, in that same hour, he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and he said, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden, that's your keyword, hidden, these things, you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and you have revealed them to little children.

Verse 23, then turning to his disciples, he said, blessed are the eyes that see what you see. I got two questions I'm going to try to ask of this text, okay? Number one, why do the wise and the understanding, why is it that they miss God? And then the second question I want to ask of this text is, how do we find certainty in what to believe about God? Question number one, why do the wise and understanding miss God?

Here we go, I'm going to give you four logical premises. Number one, because our hearts are naturally blind. The Gospel of Luke repeatedly presents men and women in a natural state of blindness. We saw this when Jesus first launched his ministry in Luke 4 and described what it was going to be like, he said that one of his primary tasks was going to be to open the eyes of the blind. And yes, he was talking about the physically blind, but he was talking about something even more significant than that, and that was the spiritually blind, those people who were unable to see the glory of God that was all around them. The blindness of our hearts was a kind of willful blindness that grew out of our sinful attitudes, our sinful disposition. What the Bible teaches you is that God the Holy Spirit restores your mind so that all of a sudden your eyes are open, you start to see evidence, it's all around you, you're like, how could I not have seen this before?

But it takes a change of the heart to be able to see that kind of evidence. Number two, God will not be found through human achievement because if he could be, that would contribute to human pride. If the way to find God, for example, were through mastering science, then the really smart scientists would say, we found God because we were smarter than everybody else. They would boast if the way to find God was through religious piety, then the really religious people would say, we found God because we were morally superior to everybody else. And they would boast that their personal goodness was what enabled them to find God.

God says, you will not find me through anything that would allow you to boast. In fact, in this passage, Jesus says, God, you have hidden these things from the wise in the understanding and you have revealed them of your own choice to little children. Yes, father, for such was your gracious will. Grace means we didn't deserve it.

It was your gracious will. Nobody knows who the father is, verse 22, except the son and anybody to whom the son chooses to reveal him. In other words, Jesus says, God, people who find you, find you only because you reveal yourself to them.

In fact, they didn't really even find you, you found them. Here's the third reason that the wise in understanding miss God. Number three, because God will be found only by those with a childlike heart. God will be found only by those with a childlike heart, verse 21. Verse 21, he says, hey, you revealed these things to children. People with childlike hearts recognize the truth about God when it is presented to them.

Now, don't go off here. Childlike heart does not mean dumb or simplistic. And Luke, as we've studied, a childlike heart is humble. It doesn't think more about itself than it should. A childlike heart is submissive.

It recognizes authority, namely the authority of God. A childlike heart is not cynical. People with a childlike heart look at the evidence for Jesus and they see that it is true. Number four, God will be found by those who want to know him, not use him for something else. Several times in this series, I've talked to you about people who don't want to know God, but instead want to use him.

I've used the example of a piñata. And I've told you, God is not your piñata. And faith is not a whacking stick that you hit God just right with your whacking stick of faith and out from the piñata comes whatever you need. God's not going to be used as a means to any other end.

God is the end. God is only known by people who want to know him for him. All of us have the experience, do we not, of having a friend who only calls us when they need something from us.

Anybody have that experience? They only call you when it's time for them to move. None of us like that, do we? We want to be known for us, not for what we can do for somebody. God is only known by those who want to know him for him. God, listen, God reveals himself in a way that the only way you'll find him is if you want to know him for him, not for what he can do for you.

Otherwise, he obscures himself so that you'll miss him. God reveals himself in a way that the only way you'll ever know him is if you want to know him for him, otherwise he obscures himself so you won't find him. Why do the wise and understanding miss God?

One, because their hearts are blind and that can't be overcome by anything that they do. They're miss God because God reveals these things to children. God does it in a way that shatters their pride and God will not be used as a means to any other end. The second question I told you is how do we know the certainty of what to believe about God? That's verse 23. Then turning to his disciples he said, blessed are the eyes that see what you see. You learn the truth and the certainty about God from the story of Jesus. In seeing what the disciples saw about Jesus, we see God. And that's the whole gospel of Luke because the gospel of Luke claims to be eyewitness accounts of who Jesus is and what Jesus did. That's what Luke says.

It's chapter one if you want to go back and look at it. Luke said, I set out to find the truth about Jesus, to find eyewitnesses that could give me accurate stories. So Luke went on this project, we don't know how long it took, probably took several years, chasing down evidence. He'd hear a rumor over here, he'd go to somebody, he'd be like, okay, I heard one time that Jesus took a lunchable and fed 5,000 people. Is that true?

Yes. Okay, let me write some of that down. He goes to somebody else and says, I heard that one time Jesus surfed across the Sea of Galilee from one side to the other. Is that true? No, he walked, not surfed.

Okay, let me write that down. So Luke is this researcher, he's getting eyewitness testimonies about Jesus. Luke is part-time crime scene investigator, part-time journalist, and part-time Indiana Jones.

That's Luke. And he presents eyewitnesses' accounts so that you can see in Jesus, you can see the truth about God. Now, how do we know?

That's the question. How do we know that these are eyewitness accounts, what we have here, and they're not just made-up stories. They're not forgeries and they're not legends.

Well, here's how. Because there's so many things about these stories that just smack of eyewitness accounts. There's a great book written by a guy called, the name book is called Eyewitnesses of Jesus that just goes and shows you how the way these gospels are written, they're not written like legends.

Let me give you a few examples. There's too much counterproductive stuff recorded in the gospels that you would never just make up. I mean, for example, on almost every page of the gospel of Luke, the apostles are buffoons. They're always getting stuff wrong. They're rejecting children.

They're sitting around arguing about who's the greatest. In one account, right, you know, the gospel writers record Jesus calling Peter, Peter who became the head of the church, calling him Satan. Now, is that what you want to know about your pastor? Is that in a conversation with Jesus, Jesus once referred to him as Satan?

No. I mean, why would you record that embarrassing fact if it were untrue? Why is it that Luke says that the first people to discover who discovered Jesus's resurrection were women? Now, I know that may not mean a whole lot to you, but in the first century, they were like chauvinists out, you know, the wazoo. And in those days, a woman's testimony would not be accepted in a court of law unless it was substantiated by man's. Now, you and I think that's ridiculous, and it is ridiculous, but the point is, in those days, if you were trying to prove that Jesus really resurrected, you would not make up that women were the first ones to see him. You would make up that men are the first ones to see him, and the women were sitting around going like this with a golf clap saying how awesome the men are.

That's how you would record it. It's got way too much counterproductive stuff in there to be a legend. Here's another thing. It's got way too many random details to be legends.

I've tried to point out a few of these for you as we've gone through this. Luke 1-11, remember when we were studying the story of Zacharias? They record that the angel that appeared was standing on the right side of the altar. That has nothing to do with the plot.

Nothing. It's just a memory that a guy is telling you how he saw it. Luke chapter 8, I love this one, the woman that Jesus touched and healed her of her flow of blood, it says immediately her flow of blood ceased. Who would know that?

The woman would know that. And that's who Luke talked to. All the gospels are like this. For example, one of my favorite examples, Mark chapter 14. In the midst of a really serious reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark records a detail about one guy fleeing naked. That has nothing to do with the plot.

Nothing. Why would you record it? Because it's just a guy remembering what happened and that's the kind of thing you include when you're telling a story whether it has anything to do with the plot or not. Fair?

I mean, if I go out to Walmart to buy myself a pair of jeans and while I'm there some guy runs to the store naked, when I'm telling my wife about the situation later, she's going to hear about that guy even though he had nothing to do with the pair of jeans that I bought. Right? It's just the kind of thing you record when you're recounting something that you saw.

These are not myths or legends because they don't read like myths or legends. Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. We'll get right back to our teaching in a moment, but first, have you been wanting to grow in the consistency of your time in God's Word? Or are you looking for a great way to introduce a friend or a family member to the gospel message, maybe even for the very first time? If so, I've got good news because this month's featured resource is a book of devotionals Pastor J.D. wrote called Kingdom Come 20 Devotions from Luke. It's exclusively available to our generous donors and gospel partners. You won't want to miss out on the opportunity to move through the book alongside the daily teaching that you're hearing every day here on Summit Life.

It's a chance to dig even deeper into your own study and then to pass that on to those around you. I mean, what better way to make disciples than by sharing directly from the gospels, the actual words of Jesus himself? We'd love to send you a copy today with your gift of $35 or more.

To give, just call 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. You say, no, no, but they were, it was the disciples making up details so it sounded like it was true. Okay, there's a genre of literature that's called historical fiction. There's a lot of it today where people make up details to make it sound like it's historical, but it's fiction.

Here's the problem with that theory. That genre of literature first showed up in about 1800 something. So what you're saying is that the apostles invented a genre of literature 1800 years before anybody else did.

They used it and then that genre disappeared for 1700 years until it just re-showed up magically in the year 1800. Really? That's what you think?

I feel like that takes more faith to believe something like that than it does to believe what I believe. It's C.S. Lewis, an Oxford literary scholar. That was C.S. Lewis's day job.

C.S. Lewis said, I've been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, and myths all my life. I know what they're like. I know none of them are like this, like the gospels. Of the gospel texts there are only two possible views. Either this is historical reportage or else some unknown ancient writer without known predecessors or successors suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic realistic narrative. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned how to read. A legend is Beowulf, Iliad, read those.

You'll see what a legend is written like. These things are written like legends. The message itself, here's another reason, is too counterproductive to be made up.

It's too counterproductive to be made up. The message that Jesus was Lord and rose from the dead didn't gain the apostles any power or prestige, did it? In fact, it lost them their lives. We know that from the very beginning those who preached this gospel, those who told these stories were a highly persecuted group. Church history tells us that all the apostles died a brutal unnatural death except for John who was boiled in oil and then died as an old man which has its own disadvantages. They all died this martyr's death. James, who was the half brother of Jesus, the secular Jewish historian Josephus, said that James was martyred because of his belief in Jesus. He believed, we know, that Jesus was God, that he died and rose again. That's all the more remarkable when you consider the fact that James, as I showed you, at first did not believe in Jesus at all.

Here's a question. Most of you have brothers. What would it take to convince you that your brother was the Lord from heaven? James was killed for it.

There's no reason why they would make this up. What you're saying is, to say they made up the stories about Jesus means they were sitting around one day after Jesus had died, they're fishing, and Peter jumps up and he's like, I know, let's tell everybody that he resurrected and then we'll get to be the leaders of this new religion. Except, let's teach everybody that Jesus' kingdom is not one that gives you power and riches on this earth. So we'll give away all our money. And when people attack us, we'll never fight back. And maybe, just maybe, if we're lucky, we'll all die a brutal martyr's death, us and our family, and be humiliated. And all the disciples are like, yeah, that's a great idea.

Sign me up. No, it doesn't, it's too costly to be a legend. You say, well, maybe what happened is they told some stories and then other people like beefed them up later. That's Dan Brown, you know, DaVinci Code, that's that kind of theory, is that later they kind of inserted the parts. These accounts are entirely too early to be legends.

Most of these New Testament books are written within 30 years of Jesus' death and that's too early for a legend to spring up. You're like, well, but maybe again they told the stories and then later like, you know, scribes with their own agenda went in and like added some stuff. I've heard it described before like the telephone game. You ever heard this? The telephone game is where, you ever played this where I tell you something and then you tell somebody and they tell somebody, tell somebody, and by the time you get all the way around the circle, the 20th version of the story has nothing to do with the first version. You ever played the telephone game? And I've heard it said that this is how the gospels worked, is that these stories about Jesus and gradually they grew to a point that nobody could even recognize it.

Here's the problem with that, okay? Unlike the telephone game, when one person wrote this down and the other person copied it, if the person who copied it made a bunch of changes, this person who was the original one who told the story is still able to see the copies that the person is making. It's almost like if we were playing the telephone game, I'm an expert at the telephone game, and after I told you the story, I listen to you tell them the story and then I get to correct the story that you're telling while you're telling it.

And all 20 times I'm doing that, that's what's happening is that these copies are being made and all these original copies are still in existence. Tertullian, in the end of the second century, Tertullian refers to the fact that a lot of the original letters of Paul are still in Galatia and Ephesus. Now there's some question as to whether or not that was actually true or not, but the point is they had this understanding that there were these original copies out there and so the idea that you could have just added a bunch of stuff into it and nobody really unknown that or nobody been able to say that's not what was in the original or for Paul to say that's not what I taught.

It's just not accurate. We also know that from the very earliest days of Christians, from the very earliest times, they believed all the central components of Christianity. They believed in the death of Jesus.

You know how we know that? Because the very first Christians, we know nobody disputes this, they all celebrated communion. What does communion symbolize? The death of Jesus. They all worshiped on a Sunday.

That's an undisputed fact. You know why they worshiped on Sunday and not Saturday like all their grandparents had worshiped on? Because they believed Jesus had rose from the dead on Sunday. Well they all believe in Jesus' divinity.

You know how we know that? The book of 1 Corinthians which was written in 55 AD and the book of Philippians which was written in 57 AD, both of them record a hymn that talks about Jesus' deity, a hymn that the early church was already singing. So Paul is merely reflecting on this hymn they already sing that talks about the deity of Jesus.

All I'm saying is this stuff is too early to be a legend. Now you hear all this and you're like, yeah, yeah, okay, but why doesn't God make it plain? Or why are people able to bring up questions like this? Why is it that people can cast doubt on these things? Why doesn't the angel hover over the Bible like you said?

Why don't they have a DVD in the back of the Bible that shows you eyewitness footage of this stuff? Why are people still able to raise questions and doubts? The answer, listen, hiddenness.

Hiddenness. God has preserved his revelation in such a way that those with proud rebellious hearts miss it and those with childlike hearts get it. The Bible gives enough evidence for those whose hearts want to know God. Have you ever heard this before? That Jesus has hidden himself in the revelation so that you got to have the right kind of heart to see it. Luke chapter 16, there's a man who's in hell and he wants Jesus to send back somebody to his brothers. And Jesus says, well, they've got Moses and the prophets, let them read the Bible.

And the man, remember he objects, he says, no, no, no. If somebody came back from the dead, they would believe. And Jesus said, no. If they won't believe Moses and the prophets, they won't believe even if somebody comes back from the dead, they might believe on the outside, but they would never believe for the right reasons. They wouldn't believe because they want to know God. So God reveals it in a way that you got to have the right heart to see it.

That's called the hiddenness of Jesus. That's why Jesus said in Luke, I showed you this a couple of weeks ago, that the gospel is like a seed. A seed, you can lose it, you can throw it away, you can eat it. But that seed has the capacity to become a tree that is so large that one of its roots could split a marble slab in two, but it starts out so small you could just neglect it. And Jesus said, that's the way my kingdom is, is it starts out small. It's easy to miss, it's hidden. But if you've got the right heart, you'll see the evidence for it and you'll believe.

So here are my questions for you. Do you have the kind of heart that is open to doing whatever God tells you to do? Because if not, that's why you can't find God. Some of you won't follow God because he is offensive to you.

It has nothing to do with the evidence. It has to do with the radical changes it would mean to your lifestyle and beliefs. For those of you that are believers, have you lost that childlike heart? We think growing up means growing up into adulthood. As a believer, you never grow out of childhood. Do you approach God with a sense of surrender and humility and willingness regardless of what he says to you?

I want you to ask a bunch of questions, but I want your heart to be surrendered even before you know the answers. Finally, to those of you guys that are sharing Christ with other people, let me ask you this. Do you now understand why we emphasize prayer so much? Because you understand that the reasons that your friends won't believe doesn't have to do with the fact that you're not presenting the evidence to them very well. The reason they won't believe is not because the evidence is not clear, it's because their hearts are not in a place to believe and that's not something you can change, that's something God has to change. Which is why before we talk to men and women about God, we talk to God about those men and women. And as we're talking to men and women about God, we're talking to God about them. Because I know that yes, I'm preaching the gospel to them, but in order to believe, they got to be given a heart, they got to be given faith, their eyes have to be open so that they can see the evidence.

The problem is not that the evidence is not clear, that you're not a good enough preacher and I'm not a good enough preacher. The problem is their hearts are blind and that's something that only the Holy Spirit can change. And that's why we spend so much time praying for people, because God has to open their hearts. Who are you praying for? Who do you know that needs to see Jesus? Don't stop praying for their eyes to be open to the good news of who He is and what He's done for them. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Not long ago, I sat down with Pastor J.D. to hear more about our current resource called Kingdom Come, 20 Devotions from Luke.

He told us about a specific aim he had in mind for this study. One of the things I find frustrating sometimes in preaching is how much more is in the text that we just don't have time to get into. And so we've produced this resource, this Kingdom Come, 20 Devotions from Luke as a way of taking you deeper into what Jesus is teaching in Luke and also just gives you a chance to be face to face with the scriptures and to hear from the Holy Spirit directly yourself. And so we want to give you this. It is something that I think would greatly enhance your your walk with the Lord and your understanding of the Gospel of Luke. These devotions are some of my thoughts that go along with Luke's perspective on what the issues he's bringing up look like in our day to day lives. There's a lot of application in them.

There are 20 of them. I think it'll be a wonderful companion to go with us. You can grab your copy right now if you go to jdgrier.com. Thanks, JD. We'd love to send you a copy of Kingdom Come, 20 Devotions from Luke. It's our way of saying thanks when you donate to support this ministry. Summit Life wouldn't be possible without the generosity of friends like you.

So your gift truly does make a difference, helping more people dive into the Gospel message each day. Just give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online anytime by visiting jdgrier.com. That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us tomorrow when Pastor JD explains that an invitation from God isn't something we can treat lightly.

And when we understand the significance of his announcement, we'll never be the same. So be sure to tune in Thursday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-16 11:26:19 / 2023-08-16 11:37:17 / 11

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