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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Luke 13:10-14:24

Skip Heitzig - Luke 13:10-14:24

Skip Heitzig - Luke 13:10-14:24
Skip Heitzig - Luke 13:10-14:24
TOPICS: The Bible from 30.000 Feet, Gospel of Luke, Bible Study

Father, thank you for the opportunity as a family to gather and to sit and to linger. Lord, we don't have to worry about another service after this one. And we're just so grateful that you've given us a little place of rest and refreshment with a part of the family that gathers midweek, the soldiers of the faith, the ones, Lord, who really want to invest in understanding what the Spirit of God says through the Word of God preserved. And what you have proclaimed to us, Lord, we want to put into practice. And we pray that you'd help us, not only to hear, to listen, and as we do, to apply, but then to put into practice once we leave here. That truly our behavior would be different, our way of looking at life and looking at the world.

We wouldn't think that this applies to other people; it applies to us in many of these cases. So I pray, Lord, that we, your disciples presently, as we look at the life and times of Jesus with his disciples in antiquity, Lord, we would be able to take those lessons that transcend time and culture and make them ours. Lord, thank you for this family, for brothers and sisters. I know that many have come through a week that's been difficult. Some have had a week where it's been nothing but rejoicing. But, Father, when one member suffers, we all suffer. When one member rejoices, we all rejoice. So use this time as we are woven together by your love, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.

I was reading a photographic magazine. I have a little bit of background in photography. I've always dabbled in it and loved it. And something caught my eye. It was an article by a group that calls themselves The Rescued Film Project. And what they do is they look for old film that is still in cameras in somebody's home, garage, estate that has been forgotten about. And they develop it and they put it on their website, because they believe these are pieces of history that no one has seen yet. They were taken. They were captured. It meant something to the photographer at the time, but they have been lost, and so they're now developed. And this guy, just a few weeks back, came across like thirty-one rolls of film from World War II, a soldier who had been in World War II.

And it was medium format film, and he developed it in black and white developer with developer and fix and everything else, and revealed elements in time over seventy years ago that no one has ever seen. And it just struck me what a cool idea. And I did study and went through the images just to see these soldiers lining up, going to war, some coming back, some in battle, fascinating find. And so then I got to thinking about the process of photography. And let me just be brief on this, but there is in photography what is called the latent image, the latent image. Now let me explain this to you. When a piece of photographic film, that's what they used a long time ago, kids, film, before iPhones and digital cameras.

And so when light exposes a piece of film, the film is essentially hardened gelatin with a thin chemical layer of silver bromide on it. And the light excites the silver bromide, so that it clumps together in areas that are exposed by the light, and does nothing in areas unexposed by the light, so that when you put it through a chemical process, the latent image is seen. "Latent" means it's there, but it's unseen. So, essentially, in all of these photographic rolls that were found by this modern photographer of a seventy-year-old photographer, or seventy years ago that it was taken, you had roll after roll of latent images. They were there, but undeveloped, and therefore unseen. He is in the process of discovering them, developing them, and showing them.

And so what got my attention, and the reason I'm explaining this is, essentially, that's what Jesus does. We are stamped in creation with the image of God. The image gets obscured over time, or hidden by sin, by culture, by upbringing, until we are born again. When we are born again, the latent image, it's there, but unrevealed, is developed and shown by Jesus Christ. We become a showcase. We become his poiéma, as Paul said in Ephesians. And so Jesus was in the business of finding people, we see it throughout the New Testament, stamped with the image of God. The image has been obscured. He sets them free, he heals them, he develops them, and then he showcases them.

And every time he does it, people oohed and aahed and glorified God in a much greater way than I did when I saw those images this last week on my computer screen. I went, "Ooh, wow! That's awesome. Check that out, Coca-Cola truck, soldiers." You know, I'm looking at all these things from seventy years past. People marveled at what was a latent image, now developed and showcased, but not everybody did. Some people, you would think, would just go crazy when they saw a healing or a restoration take place. But there were some people who were so bound by their background, by their tradition, by their spiritual upbringing that they just couldn't stand what Jesus was doing in the lives of people.

I've long marveled that so often in the New Testament Jesus comes unglued with religious people, and is much more welcoming to the harlot, to the thief, to the tax collector, to the sinners, to the people that nobody touched. He embraced them. He loved them. He developed them. He showcased them. Watch this in chapter 13 of Luke, verse 10. "Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath", for you notetakers, this is the last time recorded when Jesus in his ministry visits a synagogue. He's marching toward Jerusalem. He often would go into the synagogues. This is the last time he will visit a synagogue as he is on his way to Jerusalem. "And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, who was bent over and in no way could raise herself up."

This woman had some sort of degenerative spinal condition like a spinal stenosis or a scoliosis that caused her to be bent over. However, whatever the physiological reasons were for her bent condition, those were secondary, because we're told by Jesus in verse 16 that she has been bound by the Devil for those years. So the physical manifestation evidently then was secondary to a work that Satan had done in her life. He brings that out. But I find it fascinating that in the synagogue on the Sabbath day was the woman who had suffered for eighteen years, and she's in church, so to speak, the synagogue. And I just wonder how many of us would suffer chronically for eighteen years and therefore find an excuse not to be in fellowship on the Lord's Day.

"Oh, this is, I'm having a bad day. I'm suffering. I'm really bent over. I can't make it." Now, keep in mind, they didn't have cars back then. They didn't have public transportation. They had to walk places. So, evidently, here's a woman in the synagogue who has not found it in her heart to be resentful for her condition before God. She's not saying, "How could a God of love allow this to happen to me? I'm not going to go to synagogue anymore." She's in synagogue on the Sabbath worshiping with the rest of crowd. "When Jesus saw her, he called her to him." Now there's just the little, it's the little things that get my attention anymore. Why didn't Jesus, seeing her bent condition, go over to her? He saw her and called her to come to him.

I think he is beginning to get her to exercise her faith, calling her to do something. He calls her. He summons her to him. "And he said to her, 'Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.' And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God." You could just picture it. You know, if you have ever seen a real healing, not a fake, I know there's lots of, you know, illegitimate stuff. But I've seen legitimate physical healing. And when I see it, it brings nothing but this kind of an emotion. It's often accompanied by tears. It's almost uncontained when you see somebody who's been unable to move a limb, suddenly have free motion of it. Nothing like it. She glorified God, and I'm sure everybody else did, as you will see, but not everybody.

"But the ruler of the synagogue", I have to say it that way, because there's that negative contraction "but." So, you know, everything's good, "But there's this ruler of the synagogue who answered with indignation", that means extreme anger. He was offended, the word indicates, "because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd", notice this, "he said to the crowd, 'There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.'" I really don't know where to begin in making comment on this. But I'll start where I think is the beginning. Number one, rather than addressing Jesus himself, he addresses the crowd. Now, it's not their fault. They've come to worship. Jesus did the healing.

He has a message he wants to send to Jesus, but he doesn't address Jesus. He addresses the crowd who have come and watch Jesus heal. There is a personality type called passive-aggressive. This is an extremely passive-aggressive move. "I want to give a message to you, but I won't say it to you, because then I have to make myself accountable to you. So, I'll say it to somebody else, hoping that you will hear it." It's really the worst way to communicate. I don't handle those people very well. So rather than addressing Jesus, he addresses the crowd, first of all. The second thing to notice is this: instead of rejoicing in her healing, he's resenting his hassle. He has been upset. He has been offended. This is a hassle for him, because he doesn't know what to do with something that happens like this.

"On the Sabbath day? This just doesn't fit into my understanding of oral tradition and the laws of Moses." So you would think, "Hey, when was the last time, dude, you saw at a physical healing like this? Unless you've been hanging out with Jesus, you ain't ever seen one probably. So you should be rejoicing in her healing." But, no, he's so resenting his hassle that he can't rejoice in her healing. The third thing to notice is, well, I'll go on and then I'll show it to you. "The Lord answered him and said, 'Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, think of it, for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?'

"And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." Now, Jesus here points something out that is the third thing that I want you to notice about this little setting. The rabbis had laws and strong feelings about abusing animals. That's a good thing, isn't it? See the commercials on television about those poor little dogs and those poor little creatures, and we ought to take care of them and adopt them? And our heart goes out when we see those little puppy faces, do they not? However, do you get the irony here? Here's a woman bound. They would think nothing, on the Sabbath, of untying an animal from the stall, walking it out of the stall down to road to where there was water. That was permissible.

But they're worried about a woman being healed on the Sabbath. It shows me they love animals more than people. And I find that a terribly compelling argument out of Scripture, and deals with a modern problem we have in our country. In our country four out of every ten pregnancies end in abortion. Those are human lives. In New York City it's more like one to one correspondents, one to one, live birth to abortion. And I've been in New York City where there are protests against animal fur, people who would dare wear leather and fur. And I've engaged some of them in conversation only to hear that they're proabortion, pro-choice, you know, but really anti-mistreatment of animals. And I think, "How stinking ironic that they would value animals more than humans," and they do, and this country does.

In this country if you mess with the egg of an eagle, you can be put in jail for three to five years and be fined $500 to $250,000, depending on what species of eagle, if you tamper with the egg, a potential eagle. But you can kill a potential human, and that's "your choice." So when I look at this, I think of our country, and then I even think of some relationships that I know. I've been in places where I've seen husbands and wives argue and say the nastiest things, and then the little puppy comes in the house, "Oh!" Whaat!? No. You ought to be doing that to her. Hypocrite!

Now after this dramatic healing, it would be tempting for those watching this to think, "This is it. This is the synagogue service. It has culminated in the healing. This Jesus does a lot of this. We've heard about him." It would be tempting to think the kingdom of God is now. It's going to happen now. He's going to set up his messianic kingdom now. These are the signs and wonders predicted by the prophet Isaiah. This is it. But, no, it's not it. We know. It's been 2,000 years, it hasn't happened yet. It will happen, but what we have seen is a lapse of time where the King has come to rescue sinners. He has gone into heaven and at the right time he will come back again. We're waiting for the second coming.

So the kingdom of God has developed differently than they thought it would. Jesus speaks to that. "And he said, 'What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.' And again he said, 'To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until it was all leavened.'" Now these parables spoken together are essentially one. They have one and the same meaning. Let me give you what is the typical and traditional meaning before I give you what I believe is the correct meaning. First of all, mustard bushes don't grow into trees.

There is a species of mustard called the Khardal mustard, which is still a shrub. It's still a bush, and it can grow pretty tall for a bush, like fifteen feet tall. It's still pretty flimsy. So the idea of a mustard shrub or bush growing into a tree that is strong enough to support birds that would lodge in its branches is unusual, and therefore speaks of unusual growth. Now let me give you a traditional, typical interpretation. It goes like this: the church started very small. There were 12 disciples, then 120 in the upper room, then 3,000 on the day of Pentecost. Then the book of Acts shows us another 5,000, and then pretty soon twenty and 25,000. Then it spread throughout the Roman Empire. So it grew and has filled the earth, and it's big enough to house all of humanity to lodge in its branch.

It speaks of the success and the successful growth of the church throughout time. I disagree and here's why: first of all, Jesus doesn't give us the interpretation. There are no literary rules that he inserts in here so we can understand exactly what he says. So we are left with other instances, that Jesus using the same language, to interpret this one. So, for example, in another parable, which Jesus, incidentally, called the key to all of the other parables, the parable of the sower and the seed, remember that one? "A sower went out to sow some seed... some fell by the wayside," etcetera. Here's what he said, "Some of the seed fell by the wayside... and the birds of the air came and snatched it away."

When Jesus explained the meaning of the birds of the air, he said, "Whenever the truth is sown in people's hearts, Satan comes and snatches it away." So in that parable he equates birds with evil, Satan. In the book of Revelation, chapter 18, we have Babylon the great, the great harlot. And it says, "Babylon, Babylon has fallen, the dwelling place of demons, the prison of every foul spirit, and the cage of every foul and hated bird." You see, every time they're use in prophetic literature like this or symbolic literature, it's always evil. When it comes to trees growing in unusually large ways, we have only to look at Ezekiel 17, Daniel, chapter 4, where those visions were given, and the trees there represented this enormous, worldwide, dominating power, the growth of worldly nations.

So what I believe it means, and I think it's proved by the second parable here, is that the church will grow, certainly, the kingdom of God won't happen immediately in its glory, that it will when he comes the second time. We're waiting for that. In the meantime, this thing is going to grow. But it's going to be an unusual growth. And it's going to grow, certainly, and it's going to be large, which means that even evil people and evil forces, because of it growth, can lodge in its branches. It's like a warning. If you look at much Christian television, which typically I dissuade people from, often times, not all of it's bad, but there's enough of it that isn't good.

And when I see Jesus misrepresented by certain programs that I have seen, I think, "Boy, there are some strange birds that have landed in our tree that pass themselves off as spokespeople for the kingdom." So, yes, it will grow, but not all growth is good growth. And that brings us to the second parable, which without a doubt shows you that it's evil entering the church, because it's the parable of leaven. And leaven or yeast was kept by women, whenever they would bake their bread, they would put in leaven saved from the previous loaf. They'd put it in the loaf of bread. It would permeate throughout the entire loaf and it would rise up. Because, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump."

And leaven is often, in fact, almost always, seen in a negative way. They were to purge their houses of leaven at Passover. No sacrifice was to be offered with leaven. Jesus said, "Beware of the leaven of the scribes and the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." So, leaven is almost always typical of something evil. But the typical traditional interpretation of that leaven parable is that the church will grow. And like leaven permeating the loaf, the church of Jesus Christ will permeate the earth. This is the favorite way of interpreting this passage by dominion theologians. Have you ever heard of that term, dominion theology? I won't explain it to you now. We'll move on, because I don't want to have a theology course here. I really want to teach through the text.

But dominion theology that teaches basically "we're taking over the world, and we'll have all the Christian politicians and a Christian community, and we'll bring in the kingdom ourselves." They like to see this as them. But, again, just because there is growth, doesn't necessitate good growth. And I think that there really was a time in church history when the growth that the church took on was this weird, abnormally large, powerful growth that wasn't good at all, but foul birds and leaven entered the church. I could go back to 328 AD, a very significant year. It's when Constantine, the almost emperor, fought Licinius at the Milvian Bridge. And in that battle, supposedly before the battle, Constantine saw a vision in the sky of a cross and the words "In this sign, conquer."

And so he took that as a sign that he was going to win the battle. He did win the battle. And he took that as a sign that he should impose Christianity on the empire. He wasn't a Christian, but his mother was, Helena. So he had a supposed, some kind of conversion. And this is what he said, and this is what sends chills up my spine: "I will set Christianity", and I'm quoting him now. "I will set Christianity upon the throne of the Caesars." "I'm going to make it the official state religion. Everybody has to become a Christian." It was imposed. It became very powerful. The Roman church became enormously powerful from that time on. And the growth was not good growth, not good at all. And here's why: because up to that time there were pagan priests in the empire.

And the pagan priests worshiped in pagan temples and were funded by pagans. Now paganism was banned. Everybody had to be a Christian. The priests were thinking, "I don't want to lose my job. I will convert." And they became Christian priests of a Christian system. And it became, again, enormously, they were invested with enormous wealth and enormous power, because it became the official religion. The church does much better when they're persecuted, not when they are endorsed. That's just the facts of history. So, yes, the kingdom of God, it's going to grow. This tree is going to be enormous. But birds are going to lodge in its branches. Leaven will come into this loaf, and that will happen, until Jesus comes back for his church and takes us all away, and then eventually establishes the kingdom.

I think I maybe spent entirely too much time on that, so I want to go through. "And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying", notice, "toward Jerusalem." We've seen this phrase before: "He set his face toward Jerusalem." "He's on his way to Jerusalem." Here it's mentioning it again. Jesus Christ is on a timetable. He is marching toward Jerusalem to be there at a very specific time predicted by Daniel the prophet. Do you remember the date? The prophet said, "That from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, shall be 173,880 days." The wildest, craziest prophecy I know of.

So, if you were to count from the day that Artaxerxes Longimanus gave the dictate to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, March 14, 445 BC, and you were to count 173,880 days, you would get to April, you would get to, I--my head, my mind, I didn't study this in advance, so it's all by memory. I think it's April 2, 32 AD. I think that's it. And it was the day that the lambs were collected for sacrifice. And it was the day Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives and presented himself as the king to the nation. So he is going toward Jerusalem, and he knows he's going for a specific reason, and he's right on time. God is always on time.

And I love studying this stuff, because afterwards I go, "I can relax. God has my life in his hands. God has my next breath in his hands. I don't need to worry about this thing that has occupied my time those few hours earlier. He's in control." "And then one said to him, 'Lord, are there few who are saved?'" Think of that question; it's really a good question. It's a question that most people have the wrong answer to. I was, a couple weeks ago, in Florida doing a wedding. And after I performed the wedding this man was talking to me and said, "So you're the preacher?" And I said, "Yeah." And so, anyway, we got into a wonderful conversation. I had a chance to share the gospel with him.

He goes, "But, you know, we're all going to the same place. And, you know, we're all going to end up before God." I said, "Well, I agree with you, all roads lead to God. Everybody will have to face God one day. But that's where the dividing line is. Then there is heaven and then there is hell. There is eternal life and there is eternal damnation. And so while all roads will eventually lead you to the judgment seat of God in some capacity, not all roads lead to heaven." I don't think he knew what to say to me. I think he had another drink. "Lord, are there few who are saved?" Now look how Jesus answered him. He moves from the hypothetical to the personal. This guy's hypothetical: "Listen, I have a theological question. You think there's few or many who are saved?"

Jesus cuts right to the personal. "He said, 'Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, "Lord, Lord, open for us," and he will answer and say, "I do not know you, where are you from," then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets. "'" Did you get that?"You were there with us. We were next to you. You were in our town. Man, you hung out at our Starbucks." Here's the principle, and I don't want you to miss it: temporal proximity to Christ does not equal eternal security with Christ.

I know people who are so close, they hang out with God's people, they come to church, who aren't saved. Judas was as close as you get. He is not in heaven today by the choices he made. Continuing on, Jesus said, "'But he will say, "I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from me, all you are workers of iniquity." There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.'"

Notice what they say. Notice the words they use. Jesus said they're going to say this, "Lord, Lord." They have the eternal language, but they don't have eternal life. Anybody can go, "Praise the Lord!" It's one thing to say, "Jesus is Lord," it's another thing to submit to Jesus as Lord. "You say", so they have the right language, but they're missing, they're missing a relationship. "I don't know you. I don't know you. You're missing a lifestyle. You're workers of iniquity. You're missing a relationship. I don't know you intimately, personally as a disciple." You know, when we say we know someone, it's a very interesting word. It's a slippery word now in our vocabulary.

I get probably, at least every other week, somebody who will say, "Do you, so-and-so says hi." And I go, "Who?" And they'll tell me his name and they say, "Well, he says he knows you very well." I said, "You know, he might, but I've, I don't think I've ever, I don't, I can't, I'm trying to place, I'm trying, " So do any of you know the president of the United States? No. I don't. I've never met the man. I've met other presidents, but even those that I've met I could never say I, like, "I know him." I know who he is. I know what he looks like. I might know how he talks, or what his policies are, but I don't know him personally. There are people who know that about Jesus.

They know that he said this and he said that, and he's that, he's this, and he was born there and..." But do you know him? "I never knew you as a follower. I never knew you as a disciple. Oh, I saw you as those who were fascinating with me, but I never knew you as one who followed me. You have the eternal language, but you do not have eternal life." What a shock this must have been. What a shocking answer. It's not what the guy expected when he asked a theological question: "Are there few who are saved?" Bam! "On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to him, 'Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill you.'" Now, again, it's the little things that get me in the text.

I read this and I thought, just recently as I read it again, I thought, "That's interesting that the Pharisees are warning Jesus to depart because 'Herod's looking for you.'" Why would they care? They hate Jesus. You would think they would say, "Let's not tell him. Let's just try and get him in trouble with Herod." Why would they even care to warn Jesus? Now here's the answer, I believe: they want him to go to Jerusalem. First of all, they want him out of there. "Get him out of our town. And if he goes to Jerusalem, we know that there's a plot afoot to get him killed. Let's get him toward Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, the center of our religious culture." And so they warn him, "'Herod wants to kill you.'

And he said to them, 'Go, tell that fox, "Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.'" If you didn't catch that, that's heavy sarcasm. He says, "Go tell that fox..." Foxes were known as sly. Foxes were also known as being very, very destructive animals. And, also, the term "fox" was used to describe in that day a worthless person. So it's quite a thing for Jesus, knowing that Herod the tetrarch of that area, the king of that area is looking for him to kill him. "Go tell that fox, that sly, destructive, worthless king that I'm on a mission."

Now Jesus, of course, did this because he is submitted to the will of his Father, not the political rulers. Obviously, this is not politically correct, what Jesus just said, right? But he's pleasing his Father in heaven. And he's making a statement to the people by way of example, and how he is treating someone under authority, certainly respecting that person, but calling a spade a spade. And this is who that guy is: he is sly, he is deceptive, and destructive. And it's true, history does show he was a pretty worthless people, a worthless person, in terms of governing that area. "The fear of man brings a snare." I've said before that if you can kneel before God, you can stand before any man. If he is your Lord, you've got nothing to fear.

There's a great story of Hugh Latimer. Now, some of you will remember who he is in church history. But Hugh Latimer was a preacher who preached during the days in Britain of Henry VIII, the king. And King Henry was not fond of Hugh Latimer's bold gospel-centered, Christ-centered preaching on repentance. And he was offended by it so often. Well, the king came to hear him preach one day, and Latimer knew that he was in the audience, so in his preaching he performed a little soliloquy. Do you know what a soliloquy is? It's a little conversation, imaginary conversation with yourself. So he said in his sermon: "O Latimer! Latimer! Latimer! The great Henry is here in your service listening to you, be careful what you say, because he can take your life."

"But O Latimer! Latimer! Latimer! The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is also in this service today, be careful that you do not offend him." And he went on to preach and offend King Henry. He didn't care who was in there. He wanted to please the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and I see that here with Jesus. "Go tell that fox what I'm doing, what I'm about." "'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent unto her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see me here again, or see me until the time comes when you say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! "'"

Notice in that little statement that Jesus instructs us on the patience of God: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent unto her." In other words, for generations, for years God had sent to Jerusalem prophet after prophet, messenger after messenger, the Old Testament shows that history, and so many of them were mistreated and killed by Jerusalem. So that shows the patience of God. The second, notice the pleading of Christ: "How often I wanted to gather you." And the metaphor is of a protective hen gathering her young. What an insight into the heart of Jesus, the patience of God, the pleading of Jesus Christ that he often wanted. That was his intention. He had the best intended for them, not the worst.

You know Jeremiah 29, "The thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of good and peace, to give you a future and a hope." That's the heart of Jesus. So we see the patience of God, we see the pleading of Christ, but we also see the power of choice. Jesus says, "But you were not willing!" And because they were not willing, because they said no to the invitation of Jesus Christ, he says, "Your house [the temple] is left to you desolate." Seventy AD it was completely destroyed by the Romans as Jesus predicted here and other places in more detail. "Assuredly, I say to you, you will not see me [your Messiah] until the time comes when you say," and they will, "'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

It's like a doctor holding a cure for a patient. The doctor knows this cure will absolutely take care of the illness, and the patient goes, "Nah, nah." It used to frustrate me as a kid, my dad was, I mean, he was a man's man. But my mom was a nurse, so he had access to good medical care in our house, as well as the doctors we knew in the area. But when something happened, he got hurt, he'd go, "Oh, I'm fine." I'm going, "Fine? You just cut your finger out off." He did one time cut the tip of his finger, all the way to the joint, the knuckle, off in a fan of a motor working on a car. And he took a handkerchief and he bundled it up and he kept working. I said, "Dude, I mean, Dad, let's go to the doctor."

"Oh, I'll be fine." Why would you even say that? And the blood got so thick and started dripping, so he goes, "Yeah, I better do something." So he went into the house and instead of just, like, rushing to the hospital, he wrapped it up again and he took his razor out and needed a shave and, you know, look good, you know, as he went into the hospital. Now, before we close off the chapter, there's something that is brought up quite often. Because here is the patience of God, the pleading of Christ, and the power of choice, a nation saying no to God, and I wonder about our nation.

I mean, doesn't it fit to say, "America, America, how often I would have gathered you, but you were not willing! You push me out of schools. You push me out of public institutions. You push me out of language. You even push me out of churches. "And your house will be left to you desolate." You know, sometimes people will ask me a question, and I take it seriously. They say, "Do you think God will judge America?" You know, Billy Graham used to say, "If he doesn't judge America, he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology." And they said, "Do you think America will be judged?"

And the reason they ask that, students of prophecy realize that the Bible has detailed information regarding the future of Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Germany, Libya, and many other nations, Iran, etcetera, but it's completely silent, it would seem, on America. Now I know people who find the weirdest, most obscure text and say, "That means America." And I say, "Dude, on LSD that means America, but any normal thinking person, it does not mean that." So, anyway, they ask, "Will God judge America?" And my answer is, "I believe he has already done that." One of the first steps in judging a nation is when God gives the nation over to what they say they want.

When it says, "We want that." "Because when they knew God, they didn't glorify him as God, therefore God gave them over," Romans, chapter 1, says. That's the first step. "You want it? You got it." And the preservation is removed and the judgment begins. Now, that's what I see happening. That is my opinion. And the only other alternative to that I see to correct that would be a massive revival. And if you want to see a massive revival, it doesn't begin with unbelievers, it begins with us on our knees before God in prayer and repentance and getting serious with God about the Christian walk. And that will spring out in meaningful outreach into this world. That's the only future alternative I see to this nation.

"Now it happened, as he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath," here it is again, another Sabbath day, "that they watched him closely." That's a lot of pressure. Wherever Jesus would go, people were watching him. Now, I am, I'm not Jesus. I don't even compare myself to him, except in this case. I know what it's like to be watched closely. My mother-in-law, who's visiting us for a month, why are you laughing about that? She actually is. She's visiting us from Michigan for a month. She spends a month with us every year. Well, she travels around when we go to restaurants and stuff.

And years ago, one of the first times she came here, she looked at me and said, "You couldn't get away with anything in this town. Everybody sees you, knows you, watches you. When you walk in, people are looking at you to see how you're going to say hi to that person, if you're going to smile or not. And you have to through all that kind of scrutiny." So wherever Jesus went, they watched him closely. And you may not know this or not, but people are watching you closely, even if it's just the family that is close to you or the people that you work with. If you name the name of Christ, you're on their radar screen. They're examining your life. Daniel the prophet knew what that was about in chapter 6 when the law was passed that nobody could pray to any other god except the king.

And he got on his knees publicly and three times a day faced Jerusalem and worshiped. And they came to the king, his enemies, and said, "That Daniel," that was their word, "That Daniel." It's like my mom used to say to my dad, "That son of yours." "That Daniel, one of the captives of Judah, he's been praying to somebody else." They've been watching him closely. They watched Jesus closely. They're watching us carefully, closely. And they watched him on the Sabbath day. "And behold, there was a certain man before him who had dropsy." What is dropsy? Some of you think, "That's when your arm drops down." No. Dropsy is an old word for edema.

Edema is the modern medical term for swelling of an extremity, because of inflammation due to fluid in that area. So when fluid builds up, doctors call it edema, and that's the dropsy. We don't know what caused it, but this man had dropsy. Because it was in a Pharisee's house on the Sabbath, I can't help but wonder, I can't prove it, but I can't help but wonder if he wasn't planted there on purpose. Because they knew something about Jesus. They knew he was a man of compassion. They knew that he couldn't stand still in the face of human suffering. He had to do something. "Here's a guy with the dropsy and it's the Sabbath day. Let's bring him to dinner."

Now, if that is the case, this is especially cruel, to exploit somebody's condition like that and to use him as bait. But I believe that is what is happening, they're using him to bait him. So, "Jesus answering", what is he answering? Well, he's answering their thoughts, "spoke to the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?' But they kept silent. And he took and he healed him", that's his answer, like, yup, "and let him go. And he answered them, saying, 'Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?' And they could not answer him regarding these things."

If an animal, again, got stuck, not only could they lead it to water, but if an animal got stuck in a pit, to pull it out would be considered labor, it's work. But it's an animal who's helpless and so they were allowed to do that, according to the oral interpretation of the Mosaic Law. It is similar to saying, "If you had a flat tire on the Sabbath, is it lawful to fix it?" If you were to go to Jerusalem, and let's say I could take you there tomorrow. We were all on a bus. And tomorrow is Thursday, and we're touring the city and having a good time. But the next day, on Friday, Friday evening, I decide to take you on our bus through a neighborhood called Mea Shearim. It's the ultra-Orthodox portion of the city of Jerusalem. If you drive a car or a bus through their city, their portion of town, they will stone you.

They will stone the bus, because the law says, "You shall not kindle a fire on the Sabbath." And when you put the key in the ignition, and turn it to the right, and the gas from your carburetor, I'm thinking old school now. Your, what is it?, fuel injection, and the pistons start firing, you've kindled, like, if you have a V-8, eight of them. You've kindled eight fires on the Sabbath. You're down, dude. So that's how, that's how legalistic they are. Yet, for an animal it's okay. So it's like, "Dude, your donkey had a flat tire, and you'll fix it on the Sabbath day. This guy had a flat tire in his life, I am fixing him. He's had dropsy. He's had disease. You guys will fix your flat donkey's tire, and here I am fixing a human life, and you're all bent out of shape 'cause it's the Sabbath."

By the way, they're still with us today. Every church has these nincompoops, loving, sweet nincompoops, and they should be answered. "And they could not answer him regarding these things. So he told a parable to those who were invited." By the way, you could take all of this chapter and call it "Jesus Table Talk." That's what it's about. There are six parables, five of which are particular to only the gospel of Luke, and it's all stories, parables that are centered around the people that are gathered in this meal: the host, the person who has a disease, the people jocking for position at the table for the best seats, and the rest of crowd in the courtyard.

"So he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noted how they chose the best places, saying to them", it was pretty customary to come to a meal, if you were kind of a local celebrity, and expect to be seated, like, in a place of honor. And that's okay, except when it's embarrassing when the host comes and says, "Um, I've reserved your place for somebody really important. Would you go sit outside or go down to the other side of the table?" That would be embarrassing. And that is essentially what Jesus tells them. "'When you are invited,'" or "'When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, "Give place to this man," And then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.

"'But when you are invited, go sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may say to you, "Friend, go up higher." And you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'" The way up is the way down; the way down is the way up. Get down, go low, humble yourself, always the best attitude with anyone. "Do you know who I am?" There are two different kinds of people. One will enter the room and say, kind of like, "Do you know who I am?" or, "Look who I am. I'm here." The other person will enter the room and go, "Ah, there you are." That's the idea of humility, "There you are. There you are. Let me honor and esteem you. It's not about me."

Now what's interesting about being a celebrity is it doesn't last long. Yesterday's famous people are today's forgotten people. Go get an old magazine. Have you ever done this, gone to, like, a secondhand store and found old magazines? I've done it, and recently I flipped through and look at all these pictures of these people. And I went, "Who? Who? Who's that? Who?" You know, so many I've never even heard of, but back then they were, like, wow. "And then he also said to those, or to him who invited him, 'When you give a dinner or supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors, lest they invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.'"

So far it's a pretty tense meal, wouldn't you say? It's like, "Uh, could you pass the olives?" And notice the tension in the room. When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, 'Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!'" There's always one of these guys around at a meal. It's like it's so tense and it's silent, you could cut it with a knife, and somebody goes, "Uh, how about those Patriots?" Or, or if it's a Christian meal, it's like, "Uh, praise the Lord!" When, you know, I mean, it's like this is getting so heavy and so tense that somebody just blurts this out. Now certainly, "Blessed is he who eats bread in the kingdom!" The Jews did have the idea that the kingdom will be like a feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even Jesus indicated that, and all of the prophets gathered together for a great feast.

And the fellow who said what he just said in this tense moment certainly thought he'd be there, he's going to be part of this great feast, he's one the invited guests, until "Jesus said to him, 'Well, a certain man had a great supper and invited many, and sent his servants at supper time to say to those who were invited, "Come, for all these things are now ready." But they all with one accord began to make excuses'", an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. "'The first said to him, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused." Another said, "I bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm going to test them. I ask you to have me excused." Still another said, "I just got married, man. I've married a wife, therefore I cannot come."

"'So the servants came and reported these things to his master. And the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, "Go quickly out into the streets and the lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind." And the servant said, "Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room." Then the master said to the servant, "Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. I say to you none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper. "'" It's not what the guy thought he was going to hear when he said, "Blessed are those who are going the eat bread!" "They're not going to my supper." Now what does this mean? That will be next week's study.

Father, thank you that we are saved by grace. You did a work and you finished the work. And we don't add anything to it. We don't subtract from it. Lord, even with our sin, your sacrifice was enough to cover every one of them. Thank you, Lord, for the love of a God who would compel as many as possible to come into his feast to enjoy his delicacies and his dinner. But not all who think they will be there will be there. Lord, I pray that you would give us a measure of grace and wisdom and love, that we would know how to answer every man, every one, like we spoke about Sunday that our love for people would be mature and responsible, discerning and knowledgeable.

We see that in the life of Jesus. What a compelling piece of Scripture this is. And how we thank you for our lovely Savior who is never taken off guard, and who knew how to answer every single person in every single situation. Now help us, Lord, to emulate him, and to with one another be humble, that you might exalt us in due time, in Jesus' name, amen.

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