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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Luke 9:18-62

Skip Heitzig - Luke 9:18-62

Skip Heitzig - Luke 9:18-62
Skip Heitzig - Luke 9:18-62
TOPICS: The Bible from 30.000 Feet, Bible Study, Gospel of Luke, Worship

Father, in this place and at this time we confront you, our Father, the living God on the pages of the living Word. We call it that because the writer of Hebrews said, "The Word of God is living and powerful; it is sharper than any two-edged sword." And, Father, we fall under its might, we submit under its authority, because we believe that by so doing we are submitting ourselves to you. You are the one we believe superintended the text, so that what the authors wrote with their own personalities and individual style represented exactly what you wanted to convey to the human race. As, Lord, we look at Luke's account and we consider his perspective, we also want to weigh our own lives in the light of what we read and what we hear and what we can see with our mind's eye going on in the original setting. We pray, Father, that not only will you search us and test our hearts, but that you will reveal to us the ways in which we can be most pleasing to you according to the gifts and callings you have given to us, in Jesus' name, amen.

The single most important question that you will ever answer is: Who is Jesus Christ? Who was he? Who is he? In asking the question I'm well aware of the variety of answers that I would receive if I asked a group of ten or twenty people. I'd get ten or twenty different opinions. One of the things we're going to see in the first few verses where we are reading tonight is that if you make a decision about who Jesus is based on the polling available, you will be in hot water. You cannot go, necessarily, by what somebody else says about him. You first must discover what he himself said about himself, his own claims, as well as those who were the closest to him and saw him and heard him and wrote about him. You have to consider the source material before you answer the question: Who is Jesus to me?

Now, I say that there's a lot of opinions. Over the years many have offered a variety of identities. Some believe that Jesus was an Essene. Some of you have never heard of that term. An Essene was a member of a community that lived down by the Dead Sea. And there was a community called the Qumran community where we got the Dead Sea scrolls. And Essenes were strict Essenic. They lived out by themselves in very harsh climates. And some believed that Jesus was one of them. That doesn't appear to be according to evidence of the New Testament. Others have tried to identify Jesus as a member of the Pharisee group, because they say his teaching is very similar to a very famous, more ancient rabbi named Hillel. Hillel was very direct when it came to his interpretation of the text of the Old Testament and very refreshing to people, a master teacher.

And so some believed that Jesus must have roots in that kind of Judaism. Still others have said that Jesus was a Galilean hasid, H-A-S-I-D; that is, someone who was a strict adherent to Old Testament traditional law, but one who lived in Galilee. See, you have three different opinions already. If you were to further inquire to the group that calls themselves the Jesus Seminar...ever heard of them? The Jesus Seminar is still to this day trying to figure out who Jesus is based upon what they think is a New Testament text or a spurious text, and they're sifting through them all the time. According to Jesus Seminar latest ideas, however, is that Jesus was an illiterate carpenter from the lowest cast of artisans in Galilee.

If you were to check the Talmud, some of the ancient Jewish writings, they say that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a woman named Mary, whom they fancy was a hairdresser. Where they get that I'm not quite sure, but that's their opinion: Mary was a hairdresser. I don't know if she had her own salon in Nazareth or what they think, but they say Jesus was the illegitimate son of Mary. And some go so far as to say that she was impregnated by a Roman soldier by the name of Panthera. After she became pregnant, she moved down to Egypt, which the Bible says that Jesus was raised for part of his early childhood in Egypt along with Joseph and Mary, and that he was exposed and learned the magical arts of Egypt. So basically they're saying he was the illegitimate son of a hairdresser and basically was a con man, not the real deal.

It is important to answer the question: Who is Jesus Christ? Who did he say he was? Who were the closest associates to him? What was their testimony? Before I answer the question, and I must answer it, who I say he is. Now this is in the forefront of Jesus' thinking, I believe, at the time we are entering into the text that we're, believe it or not, about to enter into. I know it's a lengthy introduction, but I want to set it up for you. You see, Jesus has been with his disciples for almost three years and he has revealed himself to them. And now it's time for the final, so to speak. He's going to give them a test and it's a fairly straightforward test. I wish all my tests had only two questions, but this has only two questions. "What do others say about me?" and "What do you say about me?" are the basic lines of questioning.

Okay, if you remember, last time where we left off was the feeding of the five thousand. And we don't get it in Luke's account, we don't get it in Matthew's account, we don't get it in Mark's account, but in John's account of the same miracle, the feeding of the five thousand, immediately after the miracle we are told that some of the people who saw and experienced that miracle tried to take Jesus by force and make him a...what?...a king. They wanted to crown him as their king, so Jesus immediately stole away from the crowd, went away from the crowd, because he knew this was dangerous. He knew they had an agenda. They wanted to use him as a political pawn, and so he takes his disciples and he goes twenty-five miles north. Now when I say that, they didn't get in a car and drive twenty-five miles, like from here to Belen.

That's about the distance. Imagine walking twenty-five miles. So they walked twenty-five miles to a very verdant, green, beautiful area, the northern part of Israel, one of my favorite places to go. It's hill country. It's green. It's the headwaters of the Jordan River. And up in that place where the highest mountain is, Mount Hermon in the north, in an area known as Caesarea Philippi, Jesus takes them and asks these questions. In verse 18, "It happened, as he was alone praying, that his disciples joined him, and he asked them, saying, 'Who do the crowds say that I am?' And so they answered and they said,'" ...and notice the variety of answers. Just like all the ones I listed off, here's a few more.

"So they answered and said, 'John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say one of the old prophets has risen again.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered and said, 'The Christ of God.' And he strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one." We are not told here where they are. Matthew does give us the precise location. It was in the area of Caesarea Philippi. That's an ancient city. It's a landmark city. Caesarea Philippi was built at the headwaters of the Jordan River. The Jordan River is the river that gives life to that land. The river flowed and any water that flows in Judaism is known as "living water." It's not stagnant. It's not in a pool. It's moving. So at the very source of life for the nation, at the very source of living water, something that would be very significant in Judaism, he poses this question to them.

But that's not all, Caesarea Philippi in that area they have found archaeologically the remains of fourteen different temples. It was a worship center in ancient times. For example, in the Old Testament it was one of the centers of Baal worship in the north. Remember Baal or Ba'al, B-A-A-L? It was one of the centers of pagan Baal worship, nature worship, essentially. It comes all the way back from the Babylonians. That was in Caesarea Philippi. There were other temples, including one to the Greek god Paneus. Ever heard of the god Pan, P-A-N? It is believed by the Greek that Paneus was born in a cave nearby. And if you go there today, I could show you some of the niches in the rock where once altars and places where icons were kept to worship the god of Pan, Paneus the Greek god.

Also, it was a place where a temple was built by one of the Herods to Caesar Augustus who was deified and worshiped in the Roman Empire. So it's as though Jesus uses this backdrop...significant to the Jews, the wellspring of their nation with the Jordan River headwaters and once a place of pagan contrast all of that to himself. So it's a significant place and he asked the question and he gets the answer: "Some say you're John the Baptist." It is interesting how rumors spread, you know. I know they didn't have social media. They couldn't Instagram a picture of, you know, J. the B., you know, down at the Jordan River with his hand up baptizing people. And, you know, we get news so quickly. Back in those days anything that happened was spread sometimes rather slowly by whatever travelers happened to be taking the trade routes.

So this idea that Jesus was somehow John the Baptist was a prevalent one. Even Herod had heard that John the Baptist, whom he beheaded, had risen from the dead. But I've often wondered why is it that people thought that Jesus could have been John the Baptist risen from the dead, and I can suppose because there were similarities between Jesus and John. John was pretty fiery. John was no nonsense. John, you know, said, "You brood of slimy snakes! Who's warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" It's like, "Okay, um, is that your sermon for the day, John?" I mean, he was, like, in your grill. But then there were times where Jesus could be very salty, and in Matthew 23 seven times, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!" You know that litany from that chapter.

"Some say you're John the Baptist." But then they said, "Some say you're Elijah." Now wait a minute, wait a minute, Elijah's been dead by this time nine hundred years. How on earth could they think that Jesus was Elijah? Well, Malachi, the last book in the Bible, second to the last chapter...excuse me, the last chapter predicts that John the Baptist will come. Okay, pardon me, the last two verses of the Old Testament, which is chapter 4 of Malachi. The last two verses of the Old Testament predict that the prophet "Elijah will be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Elijah is coming, so they anticipated Elijah is coming before the coming of Messiah. "Elijah is coming." To this day if you've ever been to a Jewish Passover, there's an empty chair for Elijah the prophet just in case he might show up at your house.

You want to keep the door open, you want to keep a chair for good old Elijah. But also there were similarities between Elijah and Jesus. Elijah was a miracle worker, he raised a woman's son from the dead; Jesus raised people from the dead. Elijah was able to stop the rain for three and a half years; Jesus had incredible power over natural forces. So, "'some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, or one of the old prophets risen again.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'" Now herein is the ultimate question. It's a question that everybody needs to answer. Not only what do people think about Jesus? What does your Bible as literature professor think about Jesus? What do you think? What say ye? How do you answer that? And can you see by just looking at this that it's foolish to make a decision based upon what the popular beliefs are or what the polls are saying?

It's best to discover for yourself. Now, if you're here tonight and you happen to be an atheist, first of all, I'm so glad you are here. You are welcome here. But let me give you a challenge. Or if you're, like, not really sure, let me just give you a challenge...I'm not gonna...I'm going to cut through all of the deep defense for the faith on textual evidence and all that stuff, but I'm just go to ask you to do a challenge, a twenty-one-day challenge. It'll take you ten minutes a day, twenty-one days. Here's my challenge: read one chapter of the gospel of John a day. Take you about ten minutes. If it gets a little, like, you have questions about this or that, you don't understand it, don't worry, just keep reading. And then answer the question, simple question: Who is Jesus Christ? Who does John believe Jesus Christ to be?

Just get Jesus 100 percent, you know, undiminished, unfiltered, you know, straight up, and answer the question: Who is Jesus Christ? Who does John say that he is? Who does Jesus claim that he is? "'Who do you say that I am?' Peter"...I love it..."'You are the Christ of God.'" In Matthew it's a little fuller answer, remember?"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Same basic answer. Luke shortens it a little bit. "You are the Christ." In other words, "You are the Messiah." The word "Christ" in English comes from the Greek Christos which means anointed. And it's the translation of the Hebrew word mashiach, which means the Anointed One. But do you know where the word mashiach comes from? Do you know what it means? It literally means to smear, to smear. And the idea is that a person would be smeared with oil, an indication of special service or anointing.

Kings were smeared, anointed with oil. So the idea of the smeared one, the Anointed One, the one who was set apart, one anticipated long before this that would be the deliverer of're that one. "'You are the Christ [the Anointed One of God]. And he strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one"...and we've already talked about why he said that..."saying this, 'The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.'" They were not ready for this. They made the discovery: "You are the anointed one. You are the mashiach. You're the Messiah. You're the one that the Jewish people have been waiting and longing for. You're the one the prophets wrote about. You're that one."

Jesus says, "Don't tell anyone." And here's why: because they already tried to make him a king by force. And he will be the King one day, but this wasn't the time for him to wear a crown, this was the time for him to bear a cross. And so he says, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day." I can just see a couple of the apostles going, "Like, uh, no." They're, you know...sometimes people "amen" a sermon, they were going like, "Uh-uh, I disagree with that." Because here's why: this did not fit in with their preconception of Messiah. You know, by this time...and we have talked about this. By this time there was a standard belief system as to who the Messiah would be, right? There was even an eschatology, a messianic eschatology or a belief concerning end-time events.

And they believed that they were in the end times when the Messiah would come. And here's their little four-plan scenario: number one, they believed that before the coming of the Messiah there would be great turmoil, a great political, national upheaval. And they thought that was fulfilled now that Rome had completely taken over the Holy Land. They were under the taxation and the oppression of the Roman government, so, check, number one has happened. Number two, during that turmoil an Elijah-like forerunner will come, if not Elijah himself. No wonder they were interested in John the Baptist. And Jesus said, "This is Elijah, if you can receive it," but then he said, "Elijah still is yet to come." So it's like...what?! No. I hope you're asking that. I want you to hold onto that thought.

Number three, after the Elijah-like forerunner, the Messiah himself will come, and the Messiah will rule and reign from Jerusalem. Number four, scattered Jews from around the world will return to Zion and there will be peace in the world. The apostles believed they were somewhere between stage one and stage three. They thought that the Messiah had come, and if the Messiah had come..."And this is you. This is this guy right here. Jesus, you're the Messiah"...he's going to conquer the Romans soon, the scattered Jews will return home, and the kingdom age will start. That is what they were thinking. So for them to hear this: "Don't tell anybody that I'm the Messiah, because I'm not here the wear the crown, I'm really here to bear to cross right now. I'll be back to wear the crown, but right now it's to bear the cross."

"The Son of Man must suffer many things... by the elders, chief priests, scribes, and be killed"'s the most important part..."and be raised the third day." He predicts his own death and his own resurrection. Now, I'm saying all this to you because I want you to understand that after Jesus dies on the cross this is the reason these apostles are so devastated and disoriented. "He's dead! It's over! There's nothing left. Let's go back home. Let's go fishing. Let's forget this dream that we've been living. It's a dream." They're devastated. They did not expect this. Jesus is trying to tell them this. "Then he said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after me'" ...oh, I didn't tell you this: once the Messiah rules and reigns and the scattered Jews come back home and now there's peace on earth, they're hoping to reign with him as well.

That's important to the story. They're hoping to reign with him as well. They want a position in the "Cabinet." They want to be in the messianic "White House." They're hoping for that, and you're going to see a little argument later on in this chapter about that. So, "Not only am I going to die, but if you're going to follow me, guess what?" And here's the rest of story: "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.'"

Two approaches to life are seen in these verses: you can deny yourself, you can live for self; you can take up your cross, you can repudiate the cross; you can follow Jesus Christ, you can follow your own schemes and agenda; you can lose your life for him, or you can save your life for the world's sake. These are two different approached to life. This is discipleship he's talking about. "If you're going to follow me, let me just map it out for you. This is what is included in following me." "Oh, wait a minute, they told me at church that if I raised my hand and come forward, I'll have peace and joy and everything will be perfect." We never tell people that, by the way, when they come forward. "It's all going to be rosy. Life's just all of a sudden now in Technicolor, and, yes, you can see clearer than ever before."

And, yes, I felt the day I got saved like a burden was lifted and I knew where I was going, but life is life and it's tough. "The rain falls on the good and the bad, the just and the unjust. The sun shines on the just and the unjust," the words of Jesus himself. We love evangelism, do we not? We love to see people come forward. We love it, but that is just the beginning. I really think as much as we clap and get excited and we say, "Ah, it's the best part of the service when people receive Christ," we ought to be as much impressed, focused on growing them up. Jesus never said, "Go into all the world and make converts." He said, "Go and make disciples," followers, those who are growing. And all of us are called in some capacity to this role in discipleship. So he says, "If you want to-you want to follow me"...just look at these steps..."deny himself."

Now please, please see that. He's not-he's not saying...he doesn't say, "You must deny things for yourself. You want to buy that; don't buy it. You want to eat that; don't eat it. Deny things for yourself." That's not...he's not saying, "Give something up for Lent." He's saying, "Deny you, deny yourself, not things for yourself, but don't make it about you. Don't live your life for you. Don't be selfish. Don't be self-centered. Deny yourself." C. S. Lewis used to say, "Humility isn't thinking less about yourself or thinking poorly about yourself; it's really just not thinking of yourself at all." Repudiate yourself. Get off the throne. Let him sit on the throne of your life. Deny yourself. Then he says, "Take up his cross." Now, have you heard people talk about the trials of their lives? And they'll say something like this, have you heard it, "Well, it's just my cross to bear"?

And they almost say it, well, pridefully. Like, "I'm going to really get something good because I'm married to him. And I'm still with him, but he's my cross to bear." "That's my cross. I'm taking up my cross." Or at some mean boss, or pushy, bossy mother-in-law: "My cross to bear." Listen, that's not what it means. Every Jew, every citizen of that land hearing these words knew exactly what Jesus was talking about. The cross was an implement of death. To this hour in that part of the world men and women are being crucified. Christians are being crucified like they were in Roman times. Brothers and sisters of ours today are being put on crosses in the Middle East because they believe in Jesus. If you were to say, "Take up your cross," it doesn't mean a little trial you'll go through, it means death. So it's not an inconvenience. It's not a little trial.

It means death to the old way. Now "death" implies a new life, but you can't have the new life and live in the graveyard. You get rid of the old, you deny yourself, you take up your cross, and then you follow him. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world" about maximum hyperbole. I've never met somebody who's gained the whole world, but imagine somebody who is in control of the whole world, but lost his own soul. Or Jesus says here in Luke..."is himself destroyed or lost?" Interesting story: in the year 1000 AD, 180 years after the death of Charlemagne, you've heard of him, Charlemagne the king of the Franks. He died and 160, 180 years afterwards in 1000 AD, Otto the third, the German ruler ordered the tomb of Charlemagne to be opened.

And they found, among other things, immense treasure buried with him. And still on his...just his skeletal remains. On his skull, his cranium was his crown, and in his lap a Bible, and his bony finger, the distal phalange, to be exact, pointing to a verse of Scripture. It happened to be this verse. So just get the picture, the king with the crown, now dead, pointing to this: "What profit it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" I just imagine finding that. I think I'd be converted on the spot. That'd be enough for me. That'd be a sign. "'But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.'" Now we wouldn't know what that meant. They didn't know what I meant until we have the follow-up story.

"Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that he took Peter, John, and James"...most of the writers say, "Peter, James, and John." Luke says, "Peter, John, and James." He must have been reading the Old Testament about "the older will serve the younger." "And he went up on a mountaintop to pray. As he prayed, the appearance of his face was altered, and his robe became white and glistening." I want to just make a quick note, because there may be a question about this. And if there isn't a question, fine. But sometimes people have questions and they're not answered and they don't even ask them, and so they may go away going, "You know, there's problems with the Bible." So I want to address it. Luke says it came to pass eight days later. Matthew and Mark say six days later. They both agree on the timing of six days. Luke says eight days.

Now, somebody goes, "See, there's a contradiction in the Bible." Okay, I have so much to say about this and so little time. Luke was aware of what Matthew and Mark wrote at this time. So he was no idiot, right? So, first of all, he says it was "about eight days," so he's rounding it out, number one. Number two, he's probably simply including two events along with the six days; that is, the day that Jesus asked his disciples in Caesarea Philippi, "Who do men say that I am?" and extracted that confession from Peter, as well as the day of the transfiguration itself, bookending the six days, making it eight days. Either way you slice it, really not a big deal. And he was aware of what Matthew and Mark had written. So we can push that aside. It says, "Behold," verse 30, "there were two men that talked with him, who were Moses and Elijah."

So I know we've read this, but please be impressed that two dead guys are appearing with Jesus. And he's shiny, right? He's glowing. He's like glow-in-the-dark Jesus with Moses and Elijah. I mean, it's like, what!? Why Moses and Elijah of all of the people that could come from the Old Testament? Why not Abraham? I mean he's the father of the nation and father of faith. Why not David, since the Messiah is going to be the lineage of King David? That's the promised Messiah. Why Moses and Elijah? Well, Moses represents the Law; Elijah was considered the great prophet, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets to the Jewish nation, and Elijah was representative of the prophets. So we have the Law and the Prophets endorsing the Messiah. And often times...have you read in the New Testament when they talk about the Old Testament, they call it "the Law and the Prophets."

And so Luke will tell us in Luke 24 after the resurrection the two on the road to Emmaus that Jesus "Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, expounded to them in all of those Scriptures the things pertaining himself." So the great lawgiver Moses, the great prophet Elijah. Moses and Elijah also had a glorious appearing from God on a mountaintop. Moses and Elijah were also at some point in their ministry rejected by Israel nationally. So it's only fitting that Moses and Elijah show up. Now remember Malachi says that Elijah is coming, right? Oh, oh something else: Moses and Elijah have interesting endings. First of all, Moses, he died. The Bible tells us he died, but the New Testament tells us that Satan and Michael the archangel were having an argument over Moses' body, which is just to me, well, weird, fascinating. I'll say it's fascinating.

Why are these two guys duking it out over a dead guy's body? Why could they care, unless perhaps God has purpose for that body in the future. Let's just throw that out there. Then there was Elijah, according to Scripture he didn't die, he was taken up into heaven. So Moses and Elijah are talking with Jesus about the future, especially his death and the meaning of that. The Bible says that "Elijah will come before the great coming of the day of the Lord." And could it be that in the end of days, before the second coming, Moses and Elijah, like here, will come again to this earth? Could it be possible that in Revelation, chapter 11, where it describes two witnesses that come to the earth and one has the power to turn the waters into blood, and the description of that person's work sounds an awful lot like Moses and Elijah as well.

And so it's a thought that perhaps the two witnesses are indeed Moses and Elijah and they're just showing up before, because according to Peter...and I'm trying to put a lot of thoughts together in your mind...according to Peter, what he saw on that mountain was a preview of the second coming. We read that this last Sunday. He said, "We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were eyewitness of his majesty... when we heard that voice come from the heavens [from God himself] on the holy mountain." He was referring to this. So Moses and Elijah are there, "Who appeared in glory and spoke of his decease [or his departure] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep." I'm not going to knock that.

"And when they were fully awake", you know, you're sleeping and you wake up to this, right? And when you wake up to this, you think, "That's the weirdest dream I've ever had," but you're awake now. "When they were fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And it happen, as they were parting from him, that Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah,'" notice what Luke says, "...not knowing what he said." There's sometimes you just start moving the mouth for really no good reason. You just talk, you're processing it out loud, you're talking out loud. He didn't know what to say, so he said this. However, I kind of get what Peter's saying.

I mean, if I saw this, if I saw Jesus in glory and I saw Moses and Elijah appear, I don't want to leave that. This is as good as it gets. I understand this whole idea of "Let's just stay right here. Let's just live up in the mountaintop." Ever gone to a retreat and it's just so good? You're up in the mountains, you're at Glorieta, the Lord speaks to your heart, changes your outlook and you go, "Oh, I don't want to go back to work. I just want to live right here at this camp." And here they are in the mountain, waiting on the mountain, but they need to be working in the valley. And it's wonderful to be up there, but there comes a time where it's done, you gotta go back. Something else: according to chronographers, chronology tells us that this was about six months before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

So we can reasonably state that the times that Jesus appeared on this mountain...Mount Hermon, I believe, that tall mountain up north in Israel...-was around October, or the Jewish month of Tishri, or during the Feast of Tabernacles. Now, that's important, because he says, "Let's just make three tabernacles: one for you, Moses, and Elijah." Now, what's significant about tabernacles? Well, tabernacles look back to the past as well as ahead to the future. Looked back to the past when God kept their forefathers in the wilderness provide for, and the they'd live in these tents, these tabernacles for one week. But it would also look ahead to the messianic age when the land would enjoy peace. And it's as if Peter is saying, "Look, let's just, you know, we''re setting up the messianic age right here right now.

"We're kind of getting that. Let's just kind of get ahead of the game, build the first three tabernacles to celebrate ushering the coming of Messiah." "While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud." Ooh, it's getting a little spooky now. They turn the haze machines on, on the mountain. There's a cloud. Now Moses and Elijah were up there. Moses, in seeing the cloud come down...was he used to that? Yes, he was, wasn't he? When Moses went up to meet with the Lord, first of all, when he was just in the tent of meeting, remember it says, "the cloud of the glory of God," the Shekinah, the Shekinah, if you're from Texas, the Shekinah came down and hovered over the cloud. And it was that cloud that led them through the wilderness. Moses was very familiar with this cloud.

It was a cloud that represented the presence and glory of God. But these disciples, they were afraid. "And a voice came out of the cloud saying, 'This is my beloved Son. Hear him!' When the voice ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet," nice, "and told no one in those days of any of the things that they had seen." Peter didn't know what he was saying, and in saying what he said, he was in reality saying, "Let's build three tabernacles: one for you, Moses, and Elijah," as if to say, "I am placing you all on the same level, all on the same level." The absence of Moses and Elijah and only Jesus after God saying "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!" he's exalting his Son and taking away the Prophets and the Law.

It's very, very significant and a whole night could be spent on that. I will spare you that. "Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met him." Now do you think that Peter, James, and John coming down from that mountain were like stoked? They were pumped up. They had seen what the other nine did not see. They had something special to talk about that they couldn't say anything, except to each other. But you know they were just like smiling. It's like, "Wow!" And then the other guys said, "What? What happened?" "Nothing. I can't tell you. I can't tell you." But they were just...they're just on cloud nine, right?

But watch: "Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, 'Teacher, I implore you, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; and it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs with him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.'" After such a glorious, heavenly scene, to be confronted with such a hellish situation." I knew we should have stayed on the mountain!" "I knew I shouldn't go back to work on Monday!" You come back from that and all of a sudden you're challenged. And you will discover with every blessing God gives you, the enemy will be there to try to take it away from you and to rattle your cage and to shake you up and to challenge your faith.

"And then Jesus answered"...I mean, if that's not bad enough, listen to Jesus' answer to this father who comes speaking about, I believe, his disciples. "'O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.'" Why would Jesus react this way? Well, go back to verse 1 very quickly and you will get the answer. "[Jesus] called his twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases." He gave them the power. He gave them the authority. There was some glitch in the transmission of that. Jesus responds, "'O faithless and perverse generation... Bring your son here.' And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and gave him back to his father. They were all amazed at the majesty of God."

Please notice this. "But while everyone marveled...while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 'Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.' But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying." Did you notice how that is described? "They were all amazed at the majesty of God." You see, those three, Peter, James, and John, or Peter, John, and James, they saw the greatness of God on that mountaintop. But now the other nine, as well as the crowd, are seeing the greatness of God down in the valley. I believe that we need constant reminders of the greatness, majesty, and power of God. I think we need that to keep our faith going.

I don't know if you think that or not, but I do. And when I hear and see...and I see a steady stream of things like this, true stories. A man who walks forward at an altar call and his wife afterward comes up in tears and said, "For years I've been praying for that man. He is so hardhearted. Tonight he gave his life to Jesus," I see the majesty of God. When I see a couple who's financially strained, praying, trusting in God, and God from out of nowhere, seemingly, blessing them, sustaining them financially, I see the majesty of God. And story after story I could recount. They, those three, saw something on the mountain, but the rest saw something wonderful down in the valley. So, here's the deal: when we worship...let me back up. Your life should have a worship component (you're interfacing with God), and should have an evangelism component (you're interfacing with the world).

Do you believe that? Okay, so when we worship, it's like the mountaintop. We're up high in the mountain. Jesus is shining in worship. When we worship personally, privately, as well as corporately, Jesus is shining. We see his glory. It's like, "Ah, yeah! It's so good." But when we do evangelism, we're bringing the Shekinah glory of God into the valley, into the world, into the place where Satan is messing with people's lives. And we need both, we need both: we need to wait on the mountain; we need to witness in the valley. "Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be the greatest." They're still thinking of "This is it, end-time eschatology. We're about to go in the kingdom. I want to be in the White House, Messiah's White House."

"And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by him, and said to them, 'Whoever receives this little child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you will be great.'" What happens to us where we come to Jesus Christ, we're just so broken and we're just so humble and God is so big and we're so unworthy, but then after a while we get a little fat and sassy. And we start thinking, "You know, I'm something special. I'm really-I'm really amazing." Consider the difference between dogs and cats. The master comes home and pets his dog. And the dog wags its tail and looks up and thinks, "He must be God." But then the master pets the cat. And the cat purrs and falls asleep thinking, "I must be God." That is the difference between dogs and cats, by the way.

Cats really do not care about you; they don't. We begin like dogs. "He's the Master. He's great. He's awesome. Wow! Wow." But then this feline theology creeps into our own personal walk and we start thinking, "I'm special. I need a position of greatness." So Jesus puts a little child in front of them. And the idea of a little child was very important, because the Jewish Talmud regarded any time...especially if you were in theological studies...any time spent with a child is a waste of time. Can you imagine that? And what Jesus was showing is like, "You guys think you're so great, but your greatness is determined by how you treat the weakest among you or what you would call the most insignificant among you. If you're really great, those are the people that will concern you."

"And John answered and said, 'Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name'" ...that's good..."'And we forbade him'" ...that's bad..."'because he doesn't follow with us.' Jesus said to him, 'Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.'" Evidently, there's this itinerant Jewish exorcist who is somehow attached or related to Jesus, has power, it is working. And I can't explain how that all...because we're not given the information. But the apostles are bummed out: "Well, he doesn't go to our church." And it's very similar to the story we just read. The stories are put together by Luke for this purpose: the same root problem is pride. In Romans 12, Paul says, "I write to all of you that you ought to not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think." Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.

"Jesus says, 'Don't forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.'" I love the way Moses answered Joshua when Joshua said, "Moses, there's a couple of dudes around here named Eldad and Medad and they're prophesying in the camp. You need stop them." This is in Numbers 11. We read that, I don't know, forty years ago when we were in Numbers. Remember what Moses said? He said, "Joshua, are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all God's people would prophesy and the Holy Spirit would be on all of them." This isn't a competition here. Or how about Paul the apostle? He's in jail, he's in prison, and he writes the Philippians. And he understands that some people are seeing Paul's imprisonment as an opportunity for them (preachers) to exalt themselves and their own ministry in Paul's incarceration.

And Paul says, "What do I care? I rejoice that Christ is preached, whether it's for a good motivation or a bad motivation." Do you know what he's saying? "The message has the power, not the messenger. It's the message. And if the message is being preached, don't care who the messenger is, don't care what the motivation is." That's the idea here. "Now, it came to pass, when the time had come for him to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." Now is the change in the gospel of Luke, this verse. The rest of the book is Jesus on the road toward Jerusalem. "And he sent messengers before his face. As they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for him. But they did not receive him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Uh, Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, as Elijah did?'" Now, they're not joking. Second Kings, chapter 1, is the reference. Don't have to turn there. Here's the story: Ahaziah the king tells fifty of his men to arrest Elijah "the man of God." And so they come to him, to his house, they go, "Man of God, we've come here to arrest you and take you to the King Ahaziah." And Elijah said, "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and destroy you all." And it did. So the king sent out another group of fellas to do to same thing, and..."Man of God, we're here to get you." I think they should have maybe said it a little slower. He said, "If I'm a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and destroy you."

And the third group begged him, "Please, we don't want to be Post Toasties, just please come with us. We'll be really nice to you." That's the reference. "But he turned and rebuked them, and said, 'You do not know what manner of spirit you are. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.'" He didn't come to burn, but to bless. "And they went to another village. Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to him, 'Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Well, foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'" Now Jesus is on the road. He's going to Jerusalem. Somebody says, "I want to follow you." "Okay, understand that if you are actually, literally going to follow me, that I'm going toward Jerusalem and I'm going to be camping out.

"I don't have a place to lay my head, so count the cost. If you're going to follow me, it's going to be hard. I'm on the way to the cross. I can't provide you a pillow with a mint." "And he said to another, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.'" Interesting how one person says, "I'll follow you," and Jesus says, "Now, wait a minute," and then he goes to another person and he says, "Now you, you, I want you to follow me." All this does is show us that Jesus deals individually with each person. He has an individual plan for your life.

"Jesus said, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.'" You never want to use that as a funeral text, by the way."And another also said, 'Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.' "But Jesus said to him, 'No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'" And we'll have to bear explanation on all that next time we're together, because our time is up.

Thank you, Father, for your Word. Thank you for faithful people who desire to learn and grasp and dig through and be reminded of your truth. Father, one thing that we see here is the sweetness of Jesus not wanting to destroy, but wanting to bless, to save people's lives, not to destroy them. I pray, Lord, if anybody here is not a saved person, they're feeling the weight of condemnation, maybe rightly so, because they're under the condemnation that the law says they are under because they're not right with God. And, yet, Jesus came to fulfill the law and give a gift to each one of salvation. If people trust in Jesus, he'll do that for them. I pray if anyone is here who's in that situation, that they would call upon you and be saved, in Jesus' name, amen.

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