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Faithlife

Luke 7.18-35

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Jesus Is the One Isaiah Prophesied About (v. 18-23)

The last time we saw John was in chapter 3, where we see him locked away in prison. King Herod was sleeping with his brother’s wife, and John was calling him out on it publicly, so Herod has him emprisoned to keep him quiet. But he still had some contact with his disciples, for John has heard about all the miraculous things that Jesus is doing, and send his disciples to ask him a question.
V. 18:
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him [“all these things” were the miracles Jesus was performing]. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ”
20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ”
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
“The one who is to come” is a common way of referring to the Messiah—the Savior of the people of Israel who was prophesied by the prophets. The Hebrews had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah for centuries, and now their anticipation had reached new heights, because their country was occupied by the Roman Empire. They expected the Messiah to come in and free them from this foreign power. So when John asks, “Are you the one who is to come?” what he’s asking is, “Are you the Messiah?”
It’s a revealing question—let’s not forget that John and Jesus are related: their mothers were cousins. In addition, in the past John had actually testified to the identity of Jesus. In , we see John preparing the way for the Messiah, and in v. 29 we read,
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The point is, it’s not as if they’re strangers. So it’s surprising that now that Jesus is actually coming out and doing these miraculous things, John sends his disciples to essentially ask Jesus, “Are you really the Messiah?” Why the doubt? Why is he now wondering if what he had said before was actually true?
To be honest, the Bible never tells us. It could be because Jesus isn’t freeing Israel from the oppression of the Romans. It could be simply—and this is my personal guess—because John is a human being, and human beings, when they’re suffering, tend to see things in a darker light. John always did the right thing, said what needed to be said…and what is he getting for it? He’s locked away in prison for doing what was right. It would be easy for him to think, But it wasn’t supposed to go this way!
Whatever the case may be, what’s most important is not the question, but the answer. V. 21:
21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
There are two things that are remarkable about his answer.
First of all, Jesus quotes several passages from the book of Isaiah to confirm his identity. All of these quotes speak of the coming Messiah, the one who would free Israel; and Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah came, these are the things he would do—these are the ways you will know it is indeed the Messiah.
Jesus is essentially showing them his I.D., proving that he is who he says he is. And his I.D. consists in his fulfilling the promises of God. We know Jesus is the Messiah, we know Jesus is the Son of God, because prophecies had been made centuries before, and Jesus is fulfilling all of them. And we know he’s not a charlatan who is simply organizing his life to meet certain historical criteria because the prophecies about him are humanly impossible: he’s giving sight to the blind, he’s making the lame walk, he’s raising the dead. Jesus proves who he is by what he does.
This is the first remarkable thing: in his grace, Jesus gently reminds John of his identity using impossible facts: John’s disciples can see him doing these things—they're not just rumors. And the impossible things they’re seeing are exactly what Isaiah said the Messiah would do, hundreds of years before.
Here’s the second remarkable thing—it’s not the main point, but it’s astounding. V. 22 again:
22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
And he doesn’t say, “And the prisoners go free.”
The last thing he mentions—”the poor have good news preached to them”—comes from , a verse John would have known well:
61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
But Jesus never says that last part. John, hearing this from his prison cell, would have understood what that meant: “You’re going to die in there.”
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Now, why is this remarkable? It’s remarkable because it speaks directly to the doubt anyone in John’s position would have had: Why am I stuck in prison if he came to set the captives free? Because Jesus came to bring a different kind of freedom. Not a military or political freedom, not even physical freedom from prison—but spiritual freedom from sin. (Just a reminder, sin is rebellion against God and rejection of him—any act we do which is not done from faith in God in sin. We are slaves to that sin, and Christ came to bring freedom from that slavery.)
End parentheses—let’s come back to the main point.
, , , (“the poor have good news preached to them”)
To prove his identity, Jesus points to the things he is doing: healing the sick, and proclaiming the good news to the poor. Why is this fact so central to the Messiah’s identity? Why was it those things which were prophecied about him in the first place?
Because Jesus came to show us the character of God. He always goes toward those who have nothing to offer him (the blind, the lame, lepers, the deaf, the dead, the poor). He is drawn toward those who are stunted, handicapped and sinful.
The love of Christ: he always goes toward those who have nothing to offer (the blind, the lame, lepers, the deaf, the dead, the poor). He is drawn toward those who are stunted, handicapped and sinful.
Ever wonder why that is? Why doesn’t he go to those who would be “useful” additions to his team? to the strong, or the intelligent, or the influential?
He does it because these people who are physically disabled all have something in common: they know they need help. They all know they’re handicapped, they all know they can’t heal themselves. They all know they need help.
And the thing is, there are loads of other, healthy people standing around, watching this.
So what must have it have been to be watching this from the outside, seeing Jesus spending time with the physically disabled and healing them; and then seeing him walk towards them, and hearing him say, “I want to spend time with you too.
The message would have been crystal clear: “You need my help as much as they do.”
Their handicap was their sin, and Christ’s love drove them to repentance.
- Take him as he is.
Now the point of all of this is that Jesus does not work in the way people expect him to. The Hebrews expected the Messiah to come in a certain way; and Jesus came doing something entirely different. He came doing exactly what the Scriptures said he would, but not at all in the way people thought he would. They knew those Scriptures, but they chose to see them in light of what they wanted, not in light of what they actually said. And apparently even John fell prey to this to a certain extent.
And this still happens today. People put so much emphasis on one aspect of Jesus’s character, to the detriment of all the others. They’ll come to Jesus with their ideas of love and acceptance and harmony, and they’ll find themselves not quite knowing how to take his demands to righteousness, his warnings of hell or his commandments which frankly seem impossible. Or they’ll come to Jesus looking for those teachings in which Jesus makes severe demands on his people, but they don’t quite know what to do with Jesus hanging out with sinners—because they certainly don’t feel comfortable doing that!
Jesus says (v. 23):
23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
In other words, blessed is the one who sees me for what I am, and who takes me as I am. If Jesus makes moral demands on you, then obey him. If Jesus calls you to turn from your sin, repent and turn from that sin as rigorously as you possibly can. If he calls you to love your enemies, to not judge or condemn others, open yourself to others rather than closing yourself off.
And if Jesus tells you that he came to heal the sick, to raise the dead, and to preach good news to the poor, then admit your sickness, admit your spiritual deadness, and accept his good news. Let him heal you—even in those areas where you don’t want to admit that you’re sick.
Now this passage in particular is important for those who have a hard time admitting that they are sinners. To some of you, the very idea is appalling—you fall in with those subjectivists who say no one has the right to tell anyone else what is wrong or right; it’s up to each person to decide for themselves. So the idea of someone saying you’re a sinner is offensive to you. Your natural reaction is to say, “I don’t need help. I’m good. I’m not perfect, maybe, but I’m a good person; I don’t need any help.”
Can you not see why Jesus said what he said? V. 23:
23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
That’s the default position of all humanity: “I am the captain of my soul.” But don’t you see, that’s the point of Jesus’s ministry. He healed people from their physical illnesses to prove that he was indeed the Messiah; and the power by which he healed people of their diseases is the same power by which he saves people from their sins.
Jesus came to heal the sick, and to save sinners—and essentially it’s the same thing. Because whether we want to admit it or not, we are all sick—every one of us—and we all need to be healed of that illness.
1 - Realize the weakness in yourself, and repent of it. Jesus is the Messiah, and he came to save and restore the weak.
That reality is important to what follows.

John and the Least in the Kingdom (v. 24-28)

V. 24:
24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?”
It’s kind of a strange question—here’s what he means. These people in the crowd were apparently many of the same people who went out to see John in the wilderness. Jesus is trying to get them to remember what they were expecting from him, in order to redefine for them what John was doing.
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” A reed shaken by the wind?
Definitely not—“a reed shaken by the wind” was a colloquialism for an easygoing person, which John wasn’t. John was fiery, and passionate, and disturbing.
25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.
Again, no—John dressed in camel’s hair; he lived in the desert, so he was probably filthy and smelled bad. The man did not live in luxury.
26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet?
Aha—that’s closer to the truth. There hadn’t been a new prophet in Israel for many years, so when John came, speaking with the authority he did, he had all he hallmarks of an Old Testament prophet. And Jesus confirms it:
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
“ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.
John had the prestigious task of getting God’s people ready for the Messiah’s coming. And the way in which he did so was vital. John’s asceticism—his living in the desert and wearing strange clothes and dieting on locusts and wild honey—was more than just compelling. The prophets often lived out symbolically the things God was trying to teach them.
John preached a baptism of repentance, and he was a walking example of repentance. He rejected normal living and normal clothes and turned aside to an entirely different way of life—a beautiful picture of repentance, which is consistently and habitually turning away from and rejecting sin.
John’s task was to simultaneously anticipate Christ’s coming and show by his life what needed to happen for Christ’s salvation, and he performed his task perfectly. Which is why Jesus said of him (v. 28),
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.
But then he follows it up with this astounding statement:
Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
As amazing as John’s ministry was, and as perfectly as he fulfilled it, God doesn’t consider success in the same way we do. What is important to God is not how well the job is done, but the fact that we belong to him. And he’s not saying this to diminish John’s importance, but rather to show why John was important. As great as his ministry was, what made John ultimately great was not that he announced the kingdom, but that he belonged to the kingdom.
29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John…)
John’s asceticism made him compelling—he was a walking example (i.e. the prophets) of what repentance is: the turning away from and consistent rejection of sin.
“ A reed shaken by the wind” = an easygoing person
Now there are those who have a really hard time admitting their own sin, their own need for repentance. We’ll get to those guys in a minute. Many of us aren’t quite like that. Many of us rather feel the weight of our sin all too well. We look at ourselves, at all God calls us to do and all that we find ourselves unable to do, and we’re horrified by it. “I still wasn’t able to obey,” we say. “I’m still struggling with this,” we say. “I don’t understand why this is taking so long,” we say.
Rarely if ever do we say, “I am the least in the kingdom of God, so I am greater than John.”
Obviously when Jesus says that, he’s being hyperbolic: God doesn’t show favoritism, and he doesn’t rank his children as greater or lesser. But that’s exactly the point: God doesn’t show favoritism—even in favor of his most important prophet. The smallest, weakest, most sinful human being, bought and redeemed by the blood of Christ, and united to God in faith, has as much value in God’s eyes as his most significant and world-changing prophet.
We need to recognize our need for a Savior—we need to recognize our sin and our frailty and our weakness. But when we turn to Christ for help in our need, for forgiveness for our sin, for strength in our weakness, we also need to recognize our worth in him, and thank him for it. Because of what the Spirit has done in our hearts, because of the faith he has given us, our worth and identity are no longer found in ourselves, but in whose kingdom we belong to.
(Hyperbole—God doesn’t show favoritism. But God doesn’t show favoritism—even in favor of his most important prophet.)
“The least in the kingdom”: As great as his ministry was (the greatest in history, according to Jesus), what made John ultimately great was not that he announced the kingdom, but that he belonged to the kingdom.
2 - Realize your worth in him, and thank him for it. Your worth and identity are not found in yourself, but in whose kingdom you belong to.

Religious Children (v. 29-34)

Now Luke tells us how the crowd in front of him responds to what Jesus says, and we have two opposite reactions coming from the crowd. V. 29:
29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
So on the one hand we have “the people”—these people included the ordinary folks, those who were previously suffering from handicaps and illnesses, and those whom other people would reject as “sinners,” like the tax collectors. All of these people hear what Jesus is saying and accept it, because they had been baptized with the baptism of John.
In case you’re wondering, John’s baptism is one way in which he was “preparing the way” for Jesus. His baptism was a baptism of repentance—repentance, by definition, is recognizing one’s sin and turning from it: humbling ourselves before God. And Jesus saying that in bringing ourselves down through repentance, not only do we escape from the wrath of God, but we are invited into his kingdom through faith in him.
Or to put a picture to the idea, Jesus is constantly healing—he heals the sick, the weak, the helpless, those who know they are sick and come to him for healing. In the same way, in repentance we recognize that we are weak and sinful, and we come to God for help. This is what John’s ministry was pointing toward, and now, the people are actually able to do it, because Jesus is here—they can actually, really come to him for help and healing and forgiveness, because he is God.
So having been baptized with the baptism of John—the baptism of repentance—they understand that what Jesus is saying about himself, about John, and about the kingdom all fit together: it’s all in keeping with one and the same message, so they readily accept it.
However, on the other hand, you have the Pharisees and the lawyers, who refused John’s baptism, and who reject Jesus’s teaching too. In order to repent, you have to humble yourself, and that is the one thing these obstinate, prideful sinners will not do.
So Jesus continues by commenting on those who reject him in v. 31:
31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
Apparently this was a couplet children would chant to other kids, to mock them when they wouldn’t play the games the others were playing. What he’s saying is that the Pharisees and the lawyers are like petulant kids whining when the other kids don’t do what they wanted them to do. And he explains himself (v. 33):
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
He’s right. The Pharisees mocked John’s asceticism and insistence on repentance, saying it wasn’t necessary. In fact they went so far as to say his insistence on something more than the law was evidence that he had a demon in him.
Then when Jesus came, they flipped it completely around: Jesus didn’t insist on asceticism; he ate and drank freely with those who sought him, and they called him out for it, using for him a slander similar to they way the unruly son of is described—and that guy was stoned for what he did. The message is clear: this man Jesus was an apostate.
So Jesus is a sinner and apostate; and John had a demon. John was accused for being too strict; Jesus was accused of being too free; but the reality is that John and Jesus both pointed to two complementary realities of the gospel.
The point Jesus is trying to make is clear: there is simply no way to please the simply religious.
John and Jesus both pointed to two complementary realities of the gospel.
John’s asceticism pointed to the need for repentance—the necessity of turning away from sin and living a wholly new life to God. This is indeed a requirement for salvation, and proof that the Spirit has given us a new heart.
On the other hand, Jesus’s life pointed toward the wonderful freedom the gospel affords: since we are accepted by God through faith in him, we are no longer bound by the regulations of the Law of Moses, but are free to go into those places in the world where people are lost and hurting and give them what they need.
But the Pharisees and the religious leaders, who were more attached to their religion and traditions than to God himself, reject them both—not because they disagreed with their form, but because they did not recognize the sin in their own hearts for what it was.
The point Jesus is trying to make is clear: there is simply no way to please the simply religious.
I’m probably going to get into hot water for this, but I’m going to say it anyway: we have specific ways in which we do things here at Eglise Connexion, and we do things that way either because we believe it’s right, or because we believe there’s value to doing it that way.
Today, in our churches, we see this a bit differently. We won’t see many Christians rejecting Christ outright (otherwise they wouldn’t be Christians), but what we see is people emphasizing one aspect of Jesus to the detriment of the others, because it suits their purposes. They’ll put all the emphasis on Christ’s love—they’ll talk about how Jesus went towards the outcasts and the sinners and ate with them—but they never speak about his demands of perfect righteousness or his warnings of hell or his violent condemnation of hypocrisy. Or they’ll put all the weight on his demand that we hear his words and do them, while rejecting and hating those people he calls us to love. Those who are simply religious are unable to take Jesus as he is.
We believe that expository preaching is the best way to remain faithful to what the Bible has revealed to us.
And they are unable to take other people as they are, unless they fit their own mental categories. To quote R. Kent Hughes:
We believe that having a time of confession and assurance of pardon in every service is useful to our faith.
We had a long discussion with the elders a couple weeks ago on the form in which we administer Communion—dipping the bread in the juice as opposed to taking them separately, or whether those who distribute the bread and juice should remind us that these are “the blood of Christ, shed for you,” and “the body of Christ, broken for you,” out loud, when we take it.
We believe that keeping the worship band stripped down to the bare minimum—as few instruments as possible, with as little “production value” as possible—is valuable to our experience of worship, because it reminds us that we do not have those moments to listen to talented musicians play, but to sing together to God, as a body.
We do things the way we do because we believe they are right, or because we believe they are useful and valuable.
We have a long and strenuous process we ask people to go through to become members of the church, because we want members to know inside and out what the church believes and how the church functions before covenanting to be a member with us.
We do things the way we do because we believe they are right, or because we believe they are useful and valuable.
But that doesn’t mean that those who do things differently are not our brothers and sisters, or even necessarily that they are less faithful than us.
Hillsong Church meets in this same building on Sundays (they’ve recently added a service to the same time as us). Now, we know perfectly well why we planted another church and didn’t simply decide to be a part of Hillsong: we disagree on a lot of pretty fundamental things, we don’t do church in remotely the same way they do, and we don’t have any desire to do things the way they do. And when we talk about Hillsong, very often the comments people throw around are negative.
Now I have to say, I would probably agree with the majority of those criticisms. But at the same time, if we’re honest, I think we have to say there are some things they do really well, better than us. And I’m not talking about the music.
Just one example: they understand what we call “missional living” better than many of us do. Two guys from their church quit their jobs and opened up a Christian-oriented coffee shop in our area, as a witness to the area (and they do a great job, because they make great coffee, and they invite Christian to come hang out there, so when unbelievers come in to get this great coffee, they see a side to Christianity they probably haven’t seen before). These guys took a massive financial risk—opening a coffee shop in the 1st arrondissement in Paris—for the sake of the gospel.
For all we disagree with, we can’t write them off—nor can we write off any number of Christians with whom we disagree.
To quote R. Kent Hughes:
Some will find fault no matter what. “You’re too serious. Lighten up!” “You’re too ‘Pollyanna.’ Get real!” One sermon is “too doctrinal,” and the next one is “too illiterate.” The church is “too gushy and saccharine.” Then it is “too condemning.” Christians are “too dull,” or they are “too frivolous.” Ultimately, such people want God to dance to their tune. Nothing will please the heart that feels no sin.
How many so-called “Christians” more closely resemble these religious children Jesus is describing? How many who claim to love God and have faith in his Son’s sacrifice for them spend all their time picking apart all of the faults they find in every church they happen upon? How many of them go from church to church to church and remain perpetually unsatisfied, because this church is too free, or this church is too strict, or this church feels too much like a concert, or this church feels too much like a classroom?
Hughes, R.K., 1998. Luke: that you may know the truth, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
who claim to love God and have faith in his Son’s sacrifice for them spend all their time picking apart all of the faults they find in every church they happen upon? How many of them go from church to church to church and remain perpetually unsatisfied, because this church is too free, or this church is too strict, or this church feels too much like a concert, or this church feels too much like a classroom?
These people will constantly seek out the shortcomings in others, and never realize their own. Or as Jesus said it in chapter 6, they’ll constantly try to get the speck out of their brother’s eye, and never pay attention to the log in their own.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be discerning, or that we should simply accept everything any church throws at us with no thinking through the implications of what they’re doing. I’m saying that Jesus calls us to be wise enough to recognize God’s grace when we see it.
After his scathing condemnation of the Pharisees, Jesus finishes (v. 35):
35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.
And
As we grow in the wisdom God gives us through his Word, we become more and more able to discern rightly. When we have experienced the grace of Christ, we see that grace in others. We see what Christ has done in our lives, and that transformation testifies to his reality, and the reality of our faith in him. And so when we observe other Christians—even those we disagree with—we are able to see the evidence of God’s grace that is present, even in a person or a church who does things we disagree with.
Let me give you an example (I may get in hot water for this, but I’m going to say it anyway). We have specific ways of doing things, and we know why we do things the way we do them. What we believe about the Bible drives us to have strong convictions about preaching, and worship, and structure, and the life of the church. And if anyone asks we’ll defend those convictions.
But now, look at Hillsong Church. Hillsong meets in our building (we didn’t know that when we moved in), and they have a very, very different church from ours. We disagree on a lot of aspects of Christian doctrine, of ecclesiology (what the church is, and how we should practice the life of the church)—in other words, we know perfectly well why we’re doing things differently from them.
But what happens is, when we talk about Hillsong, very often the comments people throw around are negative. Now I would probably agree with the majority of those criticisms. But at the same time, if we’re honest, I think we have to say there are some things they do really well, better than us. And I’m not talking about the music.
They understand what we call “missional living” better than many of us do. They are enthusiastic about the gospel in ways that would make many of us ashamed. They are enthusiastic about their church in a way very few Christians are. They take risks many Christians are unwilling to take—in their church, but more importantly, in their day-to-day lives. (And I know this because I know some of them, and I’ve seen this in them.)
when we talk about Hillsong, very often the comments people throw around are negative.
Now I have to say, I would probably agree with the majority of those criticisms. But at the same time, if we’re honest, I think we have to say there are some things they do really well, better than us. And I’m not talking about the music.
For all we disagree with, we can’t write them off—nor can we write off any number of Christians with whom we disagree.
In the same way, as we grow in the wisdom of God’s Word, we see Christ for who he is. There are things Jesus says and does which are perplexing to us, or bothersome, or even some things we just don’t want to accept. How many times have we read the words of Christ, or what the Bible says about Christ, and our salvation, and wished he hadn’t said those things? How many times does the Bible give commands we really don’t want to follow?
Any time this happens, we’re faced with a choice: on the one hand we can reject those things we feel like we can’t accept. But if we do that, everything we believe—all of our faith—comes into question and falls apart, because our faith is based on what this book says about who we are and who God is. We can’t accept its authority in some areas and reject its authority in others—as James said, whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it ().
whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
The alternative is to be honest with God and say, “God I don’t understand this, I don’t like it, I don’t want these words to be here!… But I can’t reject them, because if I reject your words, I reject you. So I trust you—help me to trust you that you are good, and your words are good, and your plan is good, even if I can’t understand how or why.”
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Accept Christ as he is, not as you want him to be. Because I guarantee you, the real thing is better.
Conclusion
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He came to heal the sick, to save the lost.
So he calls you—whether you are a Christian or not this morning—to accept that you are one of these sick; you are one of these lost. Accept the state you are in, and come to him for help—repent of your sins and turn from them.
And when you do, accept that you now belong to his kingdom—and the least in his kingdom is greater than John. Accept the value God places on you, and trust that you belong to him.
Finally, if any of that is to make any difference, if you are to persevere in our faith, you must accept Christ as he is, not as you want him to be. When you hear his words, obey them. When he tells you who he is, believe him. When he tells you how he works, trust him. He is God, and he does not fail.
Accept your state, and repent of your sins.
Accept your value, and trust the God to whom you belong.
3 - Accept Christ as he is, not as you want him to be.
1 - Realize the weakness in yourself, and repent of it. Jesus is the Messiah, and he came to save and restore the weak.
For all the obvious good of Jesus’s ministry and John’s, obstinate, prideful sinners reject them both.
There is simply no way to please the religious—they reject the need to repent, and they reject the freedom the gospel affords. They will constantly seek out the shortcomings in others, and never realize their own.
There is no way to please the prideful—Herod was so prideful that when John rebuked him for sleeping with his brother’s wife, he had him thrown in prison, and ultimately had him killed. He had such a tight grasp on the sin that he loved that any voice speaking against that sin was a threat.
35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
We know Jesus is real because we have experienced his presence. We see what Christ has done in our lives, and that transformation testifies to his reality, and the reality of our faith in him. (cf. 6.43-45).
Jesus is the kingdom, and those who belong to him are great, even when they are small, because they belong to him.
If they rejected Jesus, they will reject you. Things won’t go as you hope they will.
There are always those who reject both. If they rejected Jesus, they will reject you. Things won’t go as you hope they will.
Our King is holy, and our King is loving. So our King’s gospel demands repentance, and it affords great freedom.
I’m probably going to get into hot water for this, but I’m going to say it anyway: we have specific ways in which we do things here at Eglise Connexion, and we do things that way either because we believe it’s right, or because we believe there’s value to doing it that way.
Why? Because our King is holy, and our King is loving.
We believe that expository preaching is the best way to remain faithful to what the Bible has revealed to us.
We believe that having a time of confession and assurance of pardon in every service is useful to our faith.
We had a long discussion with the elders a couple weeks ago on the form in which we administer Communion—dipping the bread in the juice as opposed to taking them separately, or whether those who distribute the bread and juice should remind us that these are “the blood of Christ, shed for you,” and “the body of Christ, broken for you,” out loud, when we take it.
We believe that keeping the worship band stripped down to the bare minimum—as few instruments as possible, with as little “production value” as possible—is valuable to our experience of worship, because it reminds us that we do not have those moments to listen to talented musicians play, but to sing together to God, as a body.
We have a long and strenuous process we ask people to go through to become members of the church, because we want members to know inside and out what the church believes and how the church functions before covenanting to be a member with us.
We do things the way we do because we believe they are right, or because we believe they are useful and valuable.
But that doesn’t mean that those who do things differently are not our brothers and sisters, or even necessarily that they are less faithful than us.
Hillsong Church meets in this same building on Sundays (they’ve recently added a service to the same time as us). Now, we know perfectly well why we planted another church and didn’t simply decide to be a part of Hillsong: we disagree on a lot of pretty fundamental things, we don’t do church in remotely the same way they do, and we don’t have any desire to do things the way they do. And when we talk about Hillsong, very often the comments people throw around are negative.
Now I have to say, I would probably agree with the majority of those criticisms. But at the same time, if we’re honest, I think we have to say there are some things they do really well, better than us. And I’m not talking about the music.
Just one example: they understand what we call “missional living” better than many of us do. Two guys from their church quit their jobs and opened up a Christian-oriented coffee shop in our area, as a witness to the area (and they do a great job, because they make great coffee, and they invite Christian to come hang out there, so when unbelievers come in to get this great coffee, they see a side to Christianity they probably haven’t seen before). These guys took a massive financial risk—opening a coffee shop in the 1st arrondissement in Paris—for the sake of the gospel.
For all we disagree with, we can’t write them off—nor can we write off any number of Christians with whom we disagree.
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