Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tuesday, May 28th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Kings 1-2, Psalm 106; Acts 17
Today's scripture focus is Luke 4:22-30

Luke 4:22-30

English Standard Version (ESV)
22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus the Prophet
Accompanying Mark Chandler sermon: Deconstructing Religion
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Jesus' Return to Nazareth - Rejection by the People

Yesterday we saw that Jesus exclaimed outright, in the synagogue of His hometown of Nazareth, that He was the Messiah.

And the initial reaction is good as we see in v22.  They were amazed at Him and filled with wonder.

But Jesus wasn't done yet.  And He knew that when He was done, they would not be happy.

Yes, the Messiah was here. But it wasn't going to go down like they thought it would.

Chandler points out four ways the kingdom would be different than they expected.

First - the kingdom would include all races - just like the pagan widow from Phoenicia in the days of Elijah, just like Naaman, the pagan king of Syria.

Secondly, it would include people with dark pasts and current struggles.  We see that truth all over the gospels as Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well, with Zaccheus, even with Peter.

Thirdly, it would take place in the heart, not by action alone.  Jesus always pointed past "just" the Law, and straight to the heart, to the motive, so what lies beneath our actions.  After all, we can do the right thing for the wrong reason and that's still sin.  Jesus is after your heart.

Fourth, it would not be a political movement.  Love this quote....

Now I’m not in an election year trying to make any kind of political statement, but the gospel has historically transformed lives; therefore transformed cultures—not had laws set for it so we would all live morally the same. You cannot legislate transformed hearts. And so here’s the thing that frustrates me about the religious right.  I know I’m being recorded. And I know this will go out on the podcast to a bunch of people. Hey, out there. But I’ll tell you this, just because I burn with it. Sometimes I just find this thing in me wanting so desperately for that block to shut up and instead live out the gospel in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces—to live lovingly, and live graciously to a post-Christian, fallen world in such a way that the gospel would take root in peoples lives, so that things would then be transformed, instead of spending an unbelievable amount of money, time and energy trying to get it legislated. Now I’m not saying that we should not be active politically. That’s not what I’m saying. We have a responsibility as citizens of this nation to do what is our civic duty. And there’s nothing wrong with electing God- fearing, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing men, but you’re not going to legislate Christianity.

Jesus came with a whole new way of defining who the people of God were.
It’s going to be defined by faith in Christ alone. And faith in Jesus is going to trump ethnicity. It’s going to trump past. It’s going to trump present struggles. It’s going to trump the weight of the law, and it’s going to go well beyond governed religion.

How did they react?  Not well.  In fact, they tried to kill him.

But it was not yet His time, and He walked away and back into His ministry - which was to save the poor, captive, blind and oppressed.

Driscoll had a slightly different take on the passage.

Jesus was telling the people - you are more needy than the pagan and penniless widow from Elijah's day, and you're farther from God than she was because at least she had faith and did what God, through Elijah, told her to do.
Religious people don’t want to hear that they’re in worse condition spiritually than a pagan, demon-god worshiping, starving widow. And he’s not done.Then He told them that their sin (and ours!) is as horrific as leprosy and they needed cleansing.

But as long as we're still living, there's hope for us.  Jesus will provide for us like He did for the widow.  He will heal us like He did for Naaman.  He will love us, always, no matter what.  His offer of forgiveness is extended to everyone who will recognize their sin, His holiness, repent and follow Him as Lord.

As MacArthur says:  Salvation is available, it's available to those of you who confess your spiritual poverty, who confess your spiritual bondage, who confess your spiritual darkness, who confess your spiritual defeat....

And Jesus was saying to those Jews, "Let me tell you something, you may be Jews, you may be part of Israel, you may be the people of the covenants and the people of the Messiah, but I'll tell you this, God will save an outcast Gentile widow who admits her spiritual destitution before He'll save you." 
Let me tell you this, folks.  There's only one reason why people who know the gospel don't accept Christ.  It is because they do not see themselves as the poor, the blind, the prisoners and the oppressed.  Do you see it?  That's always the problem....

Let me tell you something, there's nothing worse than spiritual pride, is there?  You know, the Lord had said, "You know, I come to save, this is it.  But I can only save the poor, and the prisoners and the blind and the oppressed. That's all I can save and it doesn't matter whether they are a Gentile woman or if they're a Syrian leper, it doesn't matter who it is, it just matters that they see their bankruptcy, their destitution, and they come to Me like the man who said, 'Lord, I believe, but could You help my unbelief?'  And they may not know everything there is to know and their faith may not be full, but if they'll just come in their desperation and say, 'I don't have a choice, here's all I have and see what I can do with it.'  Then they'll know that I'm the Messiah, right?"
You didn't know either and neither did I until I gave Him my life.  Then I knew.  And you could have paraded before me an infinite number of miracles, they wouldn't have proved anything.  You will never know whether Jesus can save your soul from hell, give you new life, recreate your soul, plant His Holy Spirit there, forgive your sin and send you to heaven until you give your life to Him. 
All they could think about was that they were below Gentiles.  They didn't even want these stories to be rehearsed again, they didn't like these stories.  And they're so angry with Him because He's insistent on the fact that unless they humble themselves like a Syrian leper, unless they see themselves as no better than a Syrian leper, no better than a pagan Gentile woman, unless they see themselves as no better than outcasts, they aren't going to get saved.  And that is absolutely intolerable to them, to go to someone who is a life-long Jew, a life-long attender of the synagogue, a serious devout Jew and say, "You're no better off than a pagan, you're no better off than an outcast Gentile leper," is unthinkable because they're so committed to the self-righteousness that's a part of a work system....

They were so entrenched in their self-righteousness, so unwilling to see their sin that when Jesus, the Messiah they had waited for for so long, the Savior of the world came, they tried to kill Him because He threatened their self-righteousness.  There's only one reason why people who know the truth of Jesus don't believe, it is because they do not see themselves as the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed.  You see that?  Because you can't be saved if you don't.  God offers nothing to people who are content with their own condition, except judgment.  

And the amazing irony is that when we recognize and confess our spiritual poverty, darkness, bondage and defeat - it is then that God makes us rich spiritually, restores our sight, sets us free and delivers us from our oppression.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 4:31-37
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Kings 3-4, Psalm 107, Acts 18

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