This is another point that I don't really want to spend time tracking, but it does occur to me that they're so filled with hatred that they'd rather keep their blind and they're lame and they're sick than have Jesus there for a night.
Why? Luke says it, look back in verse 53, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. See, that advance team had told the village leaders, we only need reservations for one night. We're on our way to Jerusalem.
And with that, the villagers basically said, well, you know, you keep off our property. Jesus might be a prophet, but he's not our kind of prophet. God gave us the four gospels primarily so that we can learn more about Jesus, but also so that we can learn about his disciples. In his 12 followers, we see men dedicated to their Lord, but constantly falling short.
They often miss the big picture and struggled to grasp the magnitude of the moment they were living in. What's encouraging about this is that we also fall short and miss the mark, but let's continue to strive after Jesus and follow his example. Stephen will teach about this from Luke nine. In today's message, we see an example of divine grit and divine grace.
If you somehow knew that you had only eight months to live and you had to guarantee that you'd be healthy up until the moment of your death, what would you do with those remaining months of your life? Well, many years ago, when I was around 40 years of age, I decided to put the prayer of Moses into a tangible form so that I could see it. And so I got a vase. I have it with me here.
You've been around a while. You've seen this vase. And I put marbles in there. Each marble represents a month that I have left if I live to the age of 77.
There aren't many in there. I remember when I was 40, there were a lot more than there are now. Well, I'm 64 next month. Don't send cards, just chocolate, okay?
That's all you need to know. I counted my vase this week just to make sure it was adding up. If I lived to be the age of 77, I should have 156 marbles in there, 156 months left. So I counted them and I counted 144. I'm 12 short. I'm a year.
There's a year missing in there. So I counted them again to make sure and came up with the same figure. Either I can't count or somebody's stealing my marbles. But one thing's for sure, I am literally losing my marbles faster than I want to.
I'm going to put a camera, I think, in my study to see who's doing it. Well, maybe God knows, maybe I won't make it to 77. Maybe I'll live to 76.
He knows. Actually, I've been thinking of changing the formula. My mother lived to 88. I put a lot of marbles in that jar.
My dad is 92. That would almost take me back to when I first started this. But I've decided that I'm going to leave it and each month I take a marble out and toss it. And if I empty that vase, I've decided that what I'm going to do each month is put a marble in. That'll be extra time that I have to live. This isn't a morbid exercise. In fact, I recommend you get your own vase.
According to the Bible, it leads to a heart of wisdom. But back to my question. What would you do if you only had eight marbles left and you knew it? Eight months to go. What would you do with your life? What might you change?
What might you focus upon? That's exactly what Jesus knows about his own earthly life. He has eight months to live before his death. And with eight months to go, we reach a transition in his life. So turn with me to Luke chapter 9 because this next verse marks that transition. In fact, you might do what I have done and mark a line, draw a line between verse 50 and verse 51 of Luke's Gospel at chapter 9 because that marks a transition in his ministry. Luke chapter 9 and verse 51 reads this, when the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. He set his face. One commentator writes that he called this steely resolve. You could call it divine grit.
I like that. Even though Jesus is going to return briefly to Galilee, from this point on, it will no longer serve as his home base for ministry operations. At this moment, he sets his sights on Jerusalem. Now, he's been there several times before, but this time it's different. He's thinking about it differently.
He's focusing on it differently. With steely resolve, Jesus is actually going to begin his final tour of ministry and his final visit before his death to Jerusalem and to the cross and to that borrowed tomb. Now, in the next few verses, the Lord is going to demonstrate what I'd like to call two characteristics that ought to be demonstrated by every believer who thinks about the brevity of their life and how short their time might be so that none of it's wasted, no matter if you're 17 or 76.
I want to call the first characteristic a demonstration of divine grit. Go back to verse 51 again. When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. When the days drew near, you could translate that literally, when the days were being fulfilled like that.
In other words, this is all according to plan. This is the fulfillment of his life purpose. Jesus is not wondering at this point what's going to happen. He wasn't going to Jerusalem.
He knew by accident he's going to Jerusalem by appointment. And that's why, as he rides on that mule, the text will tell us he's not laughing and smiling, he's weeping. He knows that this national reception will soon turn into national rejection. And he weeps for the nation that will reject him.
Now, you need to understand that in his mind, it isn't all suffering and agony. In fact, Luke makes a point here to include everything that will happen in Jerusalem. Notice again verse 51.
When the days drew near, that's plural. There are multiple events that Luke's referring to here that are going to take place in Jerusalem over the course of days. Not just the crucifixion. In fact, not just the resurrection. Because Luke says here that when the days drew near for him to be taken up, that isn't necessarily just to be raised up on the cross, which you might immediately assume.
The same verb, to be taken up, is actually used by Luke and by the Apostle Paul to refer to the ascension of Jesus Christ back into the glory of heaven. So all of these events are in the process of being fulfilled and it all ends with him in victory being taken back into the glory of his Father. So Jesus is setting his face. It's like he's made a fresh resolution.
He's entirely human as well as entirely divine. He's made a fresh resolution here. He's not going to be distracted. He's not going to be diverted.
He's surely not going to be denied. In fact, this phrase here for Jesus, setting his face, is a fulfillment, even that expression of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah writes with incredible precision in chapter 50 and verse 6.
Listen to this. I gave my back to those who strike and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard. I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. Therefore, get this, I have set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. See, this isn't just a crucifixion.
This is a vindication. Vindication is right around the corner and it's not going to be long before the plan of salvation is completed. See, beloved, you've got to understand in his mind, he knows fully well.
There's a stinger. He's planning on removing from death and the grave. There is a serpent he plans on crushing when he gets to Jerusalem.
So this isn't all doom and gloom. Like the writer of Hebrews says, it is the joy set before him. He has a joyful spirit about him as he heads into these final days. Though agonizing and he will express it, he knows this is ultimately vindication.
So it's as if Jesus sets his jaw, tightens his lips, he fixes his gaze now more than ever on Jerusalem. This is a wonderful transition here and a demonstration of divine grit. It makes me think about the fact that I need more of this in my life.
How about you? You consider the brevity of life and it ought to create in you this sense of grit. There may be trouble ahead, but let's stay the course. Let's make sure we're walking the path that we ought to be walking. There may be sorrow or suffering ahead, but let's stay on track. There may be as a church ridicule and persecution ahead, but let's stick to the plan.
Let's not be distracted. Go to the nations of the world and make disciples. Ultimately, the plan of God will be vindicated.
Now Jesus here not only demonstrates divine grit, but he provides what I'll call secondly a demonstration of divine grace in verse 52. The Bible says, And he sent messengers ahead of him who went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for him, but the people did not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem. Now in this day, most Jewish people would avoid traveling through a Samaritan area.
They would certainly have no interest in spending a night in a Samaritan village. Jesus, if we put the clues together, is traveling here with his 12 along with a much larger group of disciples. In fact, in the next chapter, he's going to commission 70 of them to go and preach. This is a large group, and Jesus rather kindly sends an advance team ahead to alert this little village that a large group is heading their way, to make sure the restaurants have enough food and enough rooms in Holiday Inn or whatever. So when they arrive, they can accommodate them, but they're turned away. The villagers put out signs that say no trespassing, keep off the grass, stay away.
And frankly, we have to understand that this rejection isn't all that surprising. There's been centuries of mutual hatred between the Jews and Samaritans. It all began when Jewish people who remained in the land following the Assyrian conquest intermarried with Assyrians that had been posted there.
Their children would be considered by the Jewish nation half-breeds, racial half-breeds they would call them, viewed them as religious apostates, which for the most part they were. The Samaritans rejected Judaism. They created this own syncretistic religion. They chose some things from Judaism. They chose things from Assyrian paganism. The Samaritans wrote their own version of the Pentateuch. They even built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, all this before the birth of Christ, so that none of them would have to go to Jerusalem and worship God there.
They could worship their own God that they'd sort of created on their own from their own temple. About 130 years before the birth of Christ, Jewish soldiers went over and destroyed their temple on Mount Gerizim. All that to say, for hundreds of years, this hatred has poisoned the relations between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jewish rabbis would pray every week in the synagogue that God would not allow Samaritans into eternal life.
How's that for a prayer request? A Samaritan was not allowed to give testimony in a Jewish court. Samaritans were just as likely to attack Jewish travelers. This hatred was deep. As far as the Jews and the Samaritans were concerned, life was short and they had a lot to hate about each other.
So if they had a few marbles left, they'd just as soon throw them at each other. Now these Samaritans here in Luke chapter 9 are no doubt very aware of Jesus. His miracle working ministry at this point is famous. They know, they could correctly assume, that if Jesus spent the night in their village, he'd probably heal the sick and give sight to the blind and raise the lame to their feet. This is another point that I don't really want to track, spend time tracking, but it does occur to me that they're so filled with hatred that they'd rather keep their blind and their lame and their sick than have Jesus there for a night. Why?
Why? We're told. Luke says it. Look back at verse 53. Because his face was set toward Jerusalem. See that advance team had told the village leaders, we only need reservations for one night. We're on our way to Jerusalem. And with that, the villagers basically said, well, you know, you keep off our property. Jesus might be a prophet, but he's not our kind of prophet. We're not interested in anybody who's interested in Jerusalem. Now verse 54, when his disciples James and John saw it, some scholars believe they were actually the advance party. They said, Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them? Lord, do you want us to burn this place to the ground? How's that for an evangelistic strategy? I don't know.
It could be effective. I've told you before, I remember one of my sons, I told you years ago when he was around five, he was playing in the playground and I saw him talking to a kid. After we got in the car, he was so excited to tell me, the kid asked Jesus into his heart.
I said, wow, that didn't take long at all. You know, what'd you tell him? He said, well, I told him, would you like to one day fly in heaven or burn in hell?
He said, well, I want to fly. So we prayed. He got saved right then and there.
That's about as deep as it gets with James and John here. You Samaritans, you know, you reject Jesus. In fact, you don't even need to wait for the fire of hell. We're going to bring it now. Let's burn it.
Let's toast them all. Keep in mind, Jesus has already told his disciples that if a village rejects the gospel, that they're to shake the dust off their sandals. That's a ceremonial warning. We don't even want your dust clinging to us because you're headed for trouble.
James and John are not interested in shaking the dust off their sandals. They're interested in turning this village into dust and ash. Now, the authorized version adds later manuscript evidence, which includes the words, enough evidence to me to include it. It reads this, Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did? And the Lord turned and rebuked them and said, you do not know what manner of spirit you have, for the son of man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.
And with that, they went on to another village. Now, you can't fault the disciples for their zeal, but it was zeal without knowledge. This is what you could call grit without grace. Jesus has told us as a church to be a candle set on a hill, a candle providing light to our world.
There's a big difference between a candle and a blowtorch. It's possible to have zeal for Christ and be unkind, to yell louder, get a bigger bullhorn, to show them, to tell the truth, but tell it without love or to love without telling the truth. These disciples have some important things to learn over these next eight months. You see, they haven't yet heard Jesus tell the story of the good Samaritan who becomes your neighbor, your fellow neighbor. They have yet to see that Samaritan leper, the only one who came back to thank the Lord Neil and become their fellow worshiper.
Let's get it going. They have yet to see, by the way, the power of the gospel, as Luke will inform us later on, how the gospel and the fruit of gospel preaching takes place throughout, the text says, the villages of Samaria. But for now, they're also having trouble connecting the dots. Jesus began his ministry back in Nazareth and he was rejected by his own people in that village. Now he begins his final journey to Jerusalem and he's rejected by the Samaritans. He's ultimately going to arrive in Jerusalem and he's going to be rejected by his nation.
Rejection is par for the course. Disciples to this day have to learn how to engage with a culture that effectively says, stay off our property, that is, stay out of our lives, especially a world that is growing as angry as what we believe these Samaritans and Jews were with each other. In fact, our missions conference this coming weekend is going to focus on peace with the world.
It's the peace of God that the world knows nothing of. How do you demonstrate it? How do you live it? How do you offer it?
Well, one step would be to register and show up and learn. How do you live for Christ in a world that's growing more hostile to your understanding of what the Bible teaches, where dissent is becoming criminalized, where the rhetoric is ramping up? I agree with Erwin Lutzer's recent book, The Church in Babylon, where he writes this, we need to no longer pretend that we are a country with a moral majority, that abortion, same-sex marriage, sex slavery, transgenderism, explicit sex education in public schools are exceptions rather than the cultural norm. The truth is, he writes, our world now looks at us with neither appreciation nor respect. The threats against Christians who dissent from politically correct dogma are becoming tangible in reality.
Sounds a lot like the early church to me and its culture and the church around the world, as long as I've been alive. Listen to what Paul describes of what they were experiencing. He writes to the Corinthians and he says this, up to this present hour, we are both hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless. And we labor, working with our hands. When we are verbally abused, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it.
When we are slandered, we reply as friends. We have become as the scum of the earth. Can you imagine that? Is that right?
Is it fair? Maybe we should start calling down fire. I wonder how many Christians would if they could. That's not the spirit, Jesus says. He instructs his disciples. See, the disciples aren't even fully aware of the fact that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to die for Samaritans.
They weren't the enemy, they were the mission field. So let's be reminded here as he teaches them and teaches us, let's not get sidetracked by the world's rejection. Let's not respond to the world in like manner. Let's not forget the world as our mission field. Let's remember that we are to demonstrate to our world and ultimately for the glory of Christ who will be vindicated to model his spirit, his determination to stay the course, not forget the mission, respond like Christ, respond with that kind of divine grit. We're going to need more grit than ever to not get distracted from the mission but to respond to our world with divine grace. This message is called Divine Grit and Grace.
Stephen is teaching through Luke 9 in this series called Into the Spotlight. This is the eighth message in that series. If you missed any of the previous messages, you can go to wisdomonline.org to listen to each of them and get caught up.
We'll be bringing you the rest of this series in the days ahead. While you're at that site, be sure and look around and explore all of the free resources we have for you. Stephen has been teaching through the Bible for over 36 years. His collection of all those messages is posted online for you to access anytime. Again, that's wisdomonline.org. Visit there today then join us back here next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 20:56:06 / 2023-01-25 21:04:36 / 9