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Skip Heitzig - Luke 18

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

So we're in Luke, chapter 18, and we're going to try to make it through the entire chapter tonight. There is a poem I remember reading. I came across it. And let's see if I can come up with it. It's called the prayer of Cyrus Brown. Goes something like this:

"The proper way for men to pray,"
said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
"and the only proper attitude
is down upon the knees."
"No, I should say, the way to pray,"
said Reverend Dr. Wise,
"is standing straight with arms outstretched
with rapt and upturned eyes."
"Oh, no, no," said Elder Slow,
"such posture is too proud.
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
and head contritely bowed."
"Last year I fell in Hidgkin's well
head first," said Cyrus Brown,
"With both my heels a-stickin' up,
and my head a-pointin' down.
I prayed a prayer right then and there,
the best prayer I ever said;
the prayingest prayer I ever prayed
was standin' on my head."

Some people make a big deal about what is the proper posture for prayer. Well, according to Jesus, the best way to pray is just keep doing it. Don't fall down. Don't faint. Don't give up. Don't lose heart. And he gives a story based on that. "Then he spoke a parable to them, that men ought always to pray and not to lose heart, saying: 'There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, "Get justice for me from my adversary." And he would not for a while; but afterward he said been himself, "Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. "' Then the Lord said, 'Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge his own elect who cry out day and night to him, though he bears long with them?'"

Now, first of all, consider how Luke begins the story. Jesus gives a story, "a parable, that men should always pray and not lose heart." Do you remember when you first started your walk with the Lord? Do you remember what it was like when you first opened your Bible for daily devotions and you couldn't wait to see if God was going to speak to you, going to share something with you, going to take a Scripture and make it more meaningful to your heart than ever before? You waited for that. You longed for that. Perhaps after a while you began to lose heart. For whatever reason life took its toll. Things didn't turn out the way you expected them to turn out. You prayed for something, and you prayed for something, and it didn't happen when it should or how it should, and you just began to lose heart.

So maybe your spiritual life today, your devotional life isn't what it once was. You know, perhaps, some of us have the wrong view on prayer. Some people don't see it as a privilege. Some people see it as a duty. "Oh, yeah. Oh boy, I hate when he talks about prayer, because I don't do it enough." Right? That's how a lot of us respond. Whenever we get to any text at all about prayer, we go, "Ohh." That's usually an area we feel like we could do better in. We have the wrong view. Some of us think that it's a duty and not a privilege. Now, can you imagine what an insult that would be to God if you considered it a duty? "Oh, I have to hang out with you again? I have to spend time with you?" That's a duty. When it's an absolute privilege, now it's not an insult, now it's sheer joy to your heart and joy to his heart.

So sometimes we have a wrong view of prayer, we have a wrong idea. Also, too many of us put prayer in the wrong role. I speak to a lot of Christians who have that attitude that I just mentioned. They get guilty whenever prayer is mentioned. In fact, even when they pray they feel guilty. They feel guilty when they walk away, thinking, "Yeah, I didn't pray long enough or fervent enough or well enough." Now, the last time I checked prayer was never given by God as something to inflict guilt, but rather something to alleviate our guilt. "Be anxious for nothing," said Paul in Philippians 4, "but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus."

It brings peace, not guilt. It brings joy. It alleviates the burden. It shouldn't create a burden. So Jesus tells a story, a parable, that you ought to keep going and not lose heart. And he tells a very interesting story in this parable about an unjust judge. Now here, once again, we're dealing with a parable of contrast, not a parable of correspondence. You get the difference? If this were a parable of correspondence, it would be as if Jesus would say, "You know, God in heaven is sort of like an unjust judge, and he'll answer your prayer just 'cause you keep bugging him like this widow." But that is not at all what Jesus is teaching. He's drawing a contrast rather than making a correspondence. He's saying, far from being an unjust judge who wouldn't want to be bugged, by the way, you never bug God.

He never says, "Oh, you again. Oh, you're bringing that prayer up again? Don't you know I'm God? I don't have time to worry about your bills. I'm listening to Billy Graham right now praying, and you bring this?" Banish those thoughts. He is not an unjust judge and Jesus is drawing the contrast. And so he says, "Hear what the unjust judge said." "Listen to what he said about this widow: 'She's pestering me. She's bothering me. She won't leave me alone. I'll give her justice just so she won't keep coming back.'" Here's the difference, here's the contrast: your God, our God, is not a coldhearted judge; he's a warmhearted dad. He's a tenderhearted Father. Now notice the difference in the story between the relationship you and I enjoy, and the kind of relationship she had with the unjust judge.

He's an unjust, coldhearted judge. She is standing in a court of justice; you, on the other hand, approach a throne of grace. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 16, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." So she was approaching a court of justice; you approach a throne of grace. Second thing to make note of: she's a widow; you're the bride of Christ. This was an unjust judge; you have a loving Father. And so Jesus draws the conclusion: "And shall God not avenge his own elect who cry out day and night to him, though he bears long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?" That question has always bothered me.

Here's a woman who just keeps pestering the Lord, or pestering the unjust judge who really doesn't want to deal with her. And the Lord, our Lord, draws the contrast. We have a loving, tender Father who will be right there whenever you call on him to avenge his elect speedily. So when the Son of Man comes back, when he returns to this earth, will he find the faith? Will he find this kind of persistent faith on the earth, real authentic faith? It's always been a haunting question. You know, you've heard it said, "All that glitters is not gold." And I would say, not all that is under the umbrella of Christendom is truly, authentically really Christian. There are a lot of people who love to say, "Oh, yes, I'm a praying man." "I'm a believing woman." "I'm a Christian." You could be under the umbrella of Christendom, but are you following Christ?

Not all that glitters is gold. "When the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?" as if to imply that real, authentic faith as history goes on (before the Lord comes back) is going to be rare. You know, Jesus did say that when he comes back it will be like "the days of", what?, "Noah." You know how many were saved out of the whole population on earth at the time of Noah? Only eight, only eight human beings were saved, the rest of the world was judged. "When the Son of Man returns, will he really find the faith", this kind of faith, authentic faith, real faith, "on the earth? Also he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." You've known people like this. They trust in themselves. They trust in their works. They trust in their religion.

They trust in their upbringing, their affiliation. When you ask them, "How do you know you're going to heaven? What is your assurance that when you stand been before God you will be admitted into his heaven?" "Well, you know, I'm a, I'm a prayin' man." "I'm a churchgoing individual." "I was raised in the church." "Well, I can tell you a few things, you young whippersnapper!" And they trust in themselves and their righteousness. It always bothers me when I hear believers talk down about other believers. "Oh, well, they're not has mature as I am. You know, I pray twelve hours straight without blinking. I wish we had more people around here like me." I don't.

He said, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one was a Pharisee", ooh, the righteous of the righteous, the créme de la créme, the elite (spiritually speaking) of the nation, the most righteous person, a Pharisee. Now he goes to the other end of the socio-spiritual spectrum and picks out someone to make a contrast with. "One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector", ooh, the lowest of the low, the shunned among Israel, an IRS agent. Hey, we're getting to that time nobody likes the IRS. "The Pharisee stood", look at verse 11. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as that tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'

"And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." There is no boundary that sin will not invade. Sin will invade absolutely every area of your life. It will even follow you into the very throne of God when you pray. And you'll notice that this first man said he prayed "with himself." Isn't that interesting? You know, it is possible to when you pray, not even be praying to God. You can be praying to yourself. You can go, "Ooh," as you pray, "I kind of like the way that that sounds. That sounds kind of cool. That's a spiritual word I just pulled out there."

You're impressed with your prayer. You're praying to yourself. You can also pray to other people. Now, this is very devious, it's really dirty, but there are such things, I will call them directional prayers. I've been with people who want to get a message across to you, but they couch the message in a prayer to God. It's a passive-aggressive prayer. So you're having a conversation with John, and John says, "You know, I think you should watch how you spend your money, brother. I've known you and I just think that you ought to, ought to watch it. And you're a steward of the Lord's resources and all. And then so, well, let's pray about it. And, Lord, would you just show us that we don't really need to worry about finances or be worldly-minded like John." That's a, that's a dirty trick.

You're not praying to God; you're just getting a message to John. Have enough guts to say, "John, this is what I feel. Now let me humbly come and bring that before the Lord." He's praying to himself, this man, and some people do that or they-they pray to others. And, by the way, unbelievers pray as well. Did you know that? Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "When you pray do not be like the heathen when they pray." In other words, heathen, unbelievers pray. You go, "They do?" Yeah. You remember September 11, 2001? Boy, people that I never knew even thought about God were praying. The Gulf War, everybody, churches packed, overflowing, filled. You couldn't get a, couldn't get in. And so he's talking about two different approaches to God, a Pharisee and a tax collector.

R. A. Torrey, Reuben A. Torrey, read his books. It was one the foundational books that I read, literature. I read several of his books when I was a brand-new Christian, R. A. Torrey. He said, "Not a single syllable should be uttered in prayer, either in public or in private, until we are really conscious that we are coming into God's presence." You realize, "I'm talking to God right now." It doesn't mean it has to be flowery or King James English, just be yourself, be the child. You don't bother him, but be conscious that you're actually talking to him. You're not talking to other people or trying to impress yourself. Now notice that both of these men had something in common. They both went to pray. They both went up to the temple. So they both took the same steps to the same place at the same time.

And they were both sinners. But here's the difference, they had lot in common, but they had something not in common, one was an honest sinner, the other was a dishonest sinner. The dishonest sinner was the Pharisee. He had an "I" disease. Notice what he says, "I thank you that I am not like other men. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess." He's full of himself. He's talking to himself. He impressed with himself. "The tax collector, standing afar off, wouldn't even look up", wouldn't raise his head, he felt so ashamed. "But he beat his breast", and I love his prayer, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" And in Greek it's with the definite article "the sinner." "God, be merciful to me the sinner!" As if I am the utmost, the highest, the chief of sinners, as Paul said.

I love the prayer, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" Not, "God, if you do this, I promise I'll quit sinning. If you do this I...", just, "Oh, Lord, be merciful, I'm a sinner." And Jesus liked that. He said, "I tell you, that man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, he who humbles himself will be exalted." Listen, here's the principle: the way up is always the way down; the way down is always the way up. We have two different philosophies of life in contrast here. And we see it throughout the Scripture. If you try to push yourself up, that's the sure way down. If you humble yourself and go down and go low, that's the way up, because God will exalt you. So, you want to tell people how important you are and push yourself up? Well, you're going down.

You want to get low and humble because you're dealing with other servants of the Lord and you're in God's presence? He'll exalt you in due time. Now those two philosophies of life happen to be the exact same two philosophies of life, one shared by Satan and the other shared by Jesus. In Isaiah 14 Satan said in his heart, "I will ascend to the throne of God. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will be like the Most High." That's what he said, "I'm going up. I'm going up in this world." Right after that God said, "You will be brought down to the depths of the pit. You're going down, dude." "I'm going somewhere." "You're going down." Jesus, on the other hand, went down.

"Who being in the form of God," Philippians tells us, "who didn't think equality with God was something he had to grasp. He emptied himself. He made himself of no reputation, and took on the form of a servant." He went low. Therefore," said Paul," God has highly exalted him, and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus each and every knee will bow, everyone tongue will confess." The way up is always the way down; the way down is always the way up. "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled [or abased], whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Then they also brought infants to him that he might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them." We don't have much more information. We don't know exactly what they said.

"Don't trouble the Master. He's a busy man. He's the Messiah. He doesn't have time for kids", whatever it was. "Jesus called them to him." It does show us this, however. They spent two years with Jesus in close proximity, but they didn't share his heart. They shared space with him and time with him, but they didn't share his heart. His heart was for everyone, "the least of these," the children. "Jesus called them to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.'"

Now, this kind of behavior of bringing children to a rabbi was very common. The Jewish Talmud taught parents to bring their young children to a rabbi, to have a rabbi lay hands on their children and pray for a blessing, pray for the future of that child. So that's what we do. It's sort of a practice we do. We dedicate babies when they're born. It is not the equivalent of baptismal regeneration. We don't believe in that. It is simply a way to pray for the child's future with all of the church gathered at that service. How powerful is that? How wonderful is that? Now, this practice goes all the way back to Joseph, who when Jacob came to Egypt with the rest of the boys and Joseph was there as the prime minister, and he had already his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob his dad, Joseph's dad was about to die, so he brought his two sons to Jacob to have him bless them.

And so that-that became a custom and it was carried on even till the time of Jesus. So Jesus says, "Don't forbid them, let the little children come unto me; of such is the kingdom of God." Now, once again, I said this a few weeks ago, but let me just reiterate what this does not mean. Jesus is not meaning by what he just said that you shouldn't take your children to Sunday school, but have your child, your little Johnny who's three years old sit next to you in the main service. That is not the context of this. But I have had people say, "You know, the Bible says you ought to let children into the main sanctuary." I go, "Really? Pray tell, tell me where that verse is." And they'll pull this out, and the little "out of context" buzzer goes ehnt-ehnt-ehnt-ehnt!

Also, this does not refer to infant baptism as some have actually thought it does. There's not an ounce of water, there's not a drip of water in the text. It does teach parents, however, that if your child at any age has any interest at all in the things of Lord, encourage that. If they want to come to Jesus, encourage that. If they have questions about the Lord, answer them, spend time with them. We ought to do what these parents wanted to do. Bring your children as soon as you can to Christ. I've always loved what Spurgeon said, "Before a child reaches seven, teach him all the way to heaven; and better still the work will thrive if he learns before he's five." Get them early. I remember one time in Hawaii when Pastor Chuck Smith, my pastor, was speaking, and my son, Nate, was just a little boy.

And Chuck gave an altar call, and I had already prayed a prayer for him to receive Christ. I knew that he was walking with the Lord. He had a real spiritual life. But he heard something Chuck said and it convicted his heart, and he wanted to go forward in the altar call, and so we let him go forward. And afterward Chuck said, "Anytime a child wants to make any kind of a commitment or recommitment, encourage that. The Lord has done something in the heart, encourage that." "Now a certain ruler asked him saying, 'Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, and that is, God.'" Now, typically this is called the story of the "Rich Young Ruler." I submit to you this is not a rich ruler, this is a very poor young ruler, because he walked away from Jesus.

And it doesn't matter how much you own in this world, when you are not close to the Lord, you are poverty stricken. Ask another rich young ruler in the Old Testament, his name was Solomon. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He had so much wealth and could buy so many things and have so many activities and make so many investments, and he said, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. It's emptiness. It's blowing in the wind." So this young ruler came to Jesus and he asked a question: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" We don't know what prompted the question. My guess, he had heard of Jesus. He had probably even heard sermons of the Lord. So he's thinking about eternal life and he's wondering, "Why is it that I have so much, and yet I feel so empty? Is there anything more to life than what I've already experienced?"

So with that inner prompting he comes and asks this question: "Good Teacher, what good thing, or what must I do to inherit eternal life." Now this betrays his ignorance. The question tells us a lot about this young man. Number one, he puts Jesus on a par with other good teachers. Jesus is just a good guy, a good teacher, a wonderful example. How many times have you heard that? "Oh, you know, Jesus never claimed to be God, and you shouldn't say that he's God, because he's just a good guy. That's all." That's what this guy thought, on a par with other good teachers. The second misconception this young man had is he thought you could earn eternal life. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Now, how would you answer that question? You don't do anything. It's done. You receive eternal life.

But notice what Jesus does. He says, "Why do you call me good? There's no one good except One, and that's God." Now, either Jesus is, he's saying one of two things. He's either saying, "I'm no good," or "I am God." He's not denouncing his deity when he says, "No one is good but God." He's saying, "Ah, you've just called me good. Why is that? What is it that you recognize in me, because there's only One good, and that is, God." He's affirming his deity. He's giving that young man an opportunity. The proper response would be, "Well, I'm calling you good because I recognize you must be God." That's the idea behind the question: "Why do you call me good? There's only One good, and that is, God." By the way, how many times have you said, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Answer: There are no good people.

The real question is: Why do good things happen to so many bad people? I'm not just being cute. One of the best books on the philosophy of evil and suffering I read began with the question called "the problem of good," said, most people would wrestle with the problem of evil. That's because innately we understand that the world is filled with so much good that whenever there's an aberration, we question it. So that poses the fundamental problem: Why is there so much good in this world? It's really a profound way to start it. And the Lord says in verse 20, "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother.'" Now he is not saying, "Young man, you know the law and you should know that you are saved by the law."

He's not saying that. He's not saying that you are saved by keeping the commandments. He is simply using the commandments, the law this young man was familiar with, to bring conviction to this young man's heart. And you'll follow that in the story. And the young man says, "All these I have kept from my youth." Wow, I couldn't say that. But notice something about the commandments that Jesus quotes: most all of them are negative. So this young man is saying, "Well, yeah, I don't really do people any harm. I don't kill anybody. I don't steal from people." He had a righteousness based mostly upon negatives. "I'm saved because I don't do bad stuff like that guy who's in jail." It was a righteousness based on negatives. "I don't smoke, I don't chew, I don't go with girls that do." You've heard that kind of thinking before.

"All these I have kept from my youth." Now, here's the problem: the commandments are quoted; this guy says, "Keep them all." There's really one commandment, the most important commandment, the first commandment that this guy did not keep. And what is the first commandment? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength." Right? "I am the Lord your God, you will have no other gods besides or before me." It's the first commandment. He's not keeping that. He has another god. "So when Jesus heard these things, he said to him, 'Well, you still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.' But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich."

Have you ever been to a dentist who takes that little sharp, curved, pointed object and he starts touching little spots. He goes, "Does that hurt?" "Does that hurt? Does", "Aaaahh!" Jesus is sort of being like a dentist. He's probing this little cavity of the mouth of the law and he is showing this young man, "You're owned by another god. You are worshiping at the altar of your own success and your own wealth. The world would say you have achieved, you have obtained, you are aggressive, you are entrepreneurial, you have it all. But one thing you lack." I love how the Lord makes it simple. There's not fifteen things you have to remember; there's just "one thing you lack." David said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after..."

To Martha and Mary, Jesus said, "One thing that she has done, and Mary, the good part will not be taken from her." She sat at Jesus' feet and worshiped, one thing. "One thing you lack," he says, "sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come and follow me." He's not saying that everybody who follows Christ should always sell everything they have. He is, as a dentist, probing the one thing in his life that is askew, that causes everything else to be bad. The Lord isn't first. He had an idol in his life. He's worshiping at the altar of another god. Should have stopped him dead in his tracks. But instead of saying, "Yeah, you're right. I need to put God first." He just said, "He heard this and became very sorrowful, for he was rich." That's it. The text indicates he walked away.

No change, just got really sad. Some people get really convicted when they hear a sermon: "Oh, man that kind of bummed me out." "Hey, where's the party tonight?" "And when Jesus saw that he had become very sorrowful, he said, 'How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.'" Now I've heard this interpreted so many different ways. I was once in Jerusalem and a tour guide showed me one of the gates of the city of Jerusalem, and said, "Here's what Jesus meant when he said that." And he pointed to the wooden gate that was on huge iron hinges that opened so people could go in and out of the city of Jerusalem.

And he pointed to a smaller little wooden door that was built in the gate itself, and it opened up, so you could bend down and go through it. He goes, "Now, this we call," he said, "'the eye of the needle,' and you can see that a camel couldn't go through that. But he could with great difficulty. If you stripped off all of the luggage that was on the camel and got him down really low, bent really low, he could squeeze through that eye of the needle. And that's what Jesus was referring to." Sorry, beautiful story, love the visual illustration, but you're wrong. Because here in Greek text the word that is chosen by Jesus for the needle was a surgeon's needle, a literal, tiny, metal needle with a little hole in it. And so the idea is: "You see that little needle with a little hole, the eye of that little needle?

"It's easier for a camel to go through there than for a rich person to go to heaven." He's not saying it's impossible, because the next verse will dispel all of that. But typically you find that the very, very wealthy and the very upper echelon, they don't, they don't feel they have the same need as somebody's who's down and out, or depending daily on the Lord, or pay check to pay check. It's not that same kind of dependence. And it's the way it is. First Corinthians 1, Paul said, "You see your calling, brethren, not many mighty, not many noble after the flesh are called. God has chosen the foolish things, the weak things of this world," etcetera. So, the eye of the needle. Now, he said, "It's easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven."

Now watch the reaction. "And those who heard it said, 'Who then can be saved?'" You see, they were blown away. They know he meant literally. He wasn't looking at a gate going, "Yeah, that camel, man, we gotta get all that baggage off. That's going to be tough. We can do it, but it's gonna be tough." They're going, "Ah, then, like, it's impossible!" "'Who can be saved?' But he said, 'The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.'" Let me make it easy. Salvation is impossible, humanly speaking. It can't happen to anyone. Now it's easier for some, because you know what? A drug addict knows, "I'm a drug addict," typically. Somebody who's really down and out and in skid row, yeah, they know, "I need help, man." There's other people, go, "I don't, I don't need anything.

"Man, I got the condo in Hawaii and Jamaica and Aspen. I have whatever I want. I need nothing." "Who then can be saved?" The reason they said that is 'cause they believed if a person was wealthy, it's because God blessed that person. And if God blessed that person, he only blesses good people, righteous people, he, the best people. It's a sign of God's blessing and God's favor. If you're poor, it's a sign of God's curse. Now, it was wrong, but one of the texts they used to get that idea was way back in Deuteronomy. The Lord said to his people, "When you enter the land and you eat of the fruit and the produce of the land and you are filled, then you shall bless the Lord your God." Well, they kind of stretched that interpretation too far.

The same chapter of Deuteronomy says, "For it is God who gives you the power to get wealth." So they took a couple of those texts and then they correspond to those text to, like, the life of Abraham or Solomon or David, wealthy people in Scripture. And they thought, "If you got a lot of money, God is highly blessing you, because rich people can give a lot more alms than poor people, and so God's blessing them for that reason." They're going, "'Well, then who can be saved?' And he said, 'The things which are impossible with men,'" like that, "'is possible with God.'" God will make it possible. He has made a way for all men and all women to be saved. "Then Peter said", I love Peter, "'See, we have left all and followed you.'"

"We-we did that. That rich young ruler didn't do it. We did that. We're not like that rich ruler, we're, we did that. We left everything and followed you." Well, Jesus didn't go, "Good boy, Peter. Knew you had it in ya." "He said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.'" Whatever it is you have given up, whatever sacrifice you have made, listen, God will never be your debtor. You can never outgive God. You can't. He will give so much more back. I was reading in my devotions something today that just stuck out to me. I underlined it in the book, I Instagramed it, I tweeted it.

And I'm going to share it with you. This author said in this devotional, "If you don't keep the eyes of your heart focused on the paradise that is to come, you'll try to turn this poor fallen world into a paradise that will never be." Remember where you're going. You know, we know this theologically, it's in our theological locker room. "Oh, yeah, when I die, I'm going to heaven." The problem is we don't live that way. We try to make this our paradise, this our comfort zone, when the whole reason you and I cry out for another world is because you were made for another world. The whole reason you're not satisfied here is 'cause you weren't made for here. You were made for someplace else. "God," the Bible says, "has put eternity into your heart." So, "Peter, God's going to pay you back now and then, here and later."

"Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.'" Okay, you and I are reading what Jesus is saying, and you and I, we're going to understand what Jesus is saying. Here's what's weird: the disciples when they hear these words, the original disciples, they didn't understand. When Jesus said, "We're going up to Jerusalem," they're going, "Hot diggity dog! Finally." Because they believed him to be the political Messiah who's going to overturn the Roman government and establish a Jewish theocracy now. The Old Testament declares that the Messiah will do that, will set up his kingdom on earth. And Jesus will do that when he comes the second time, not the first time.

The first time he's dealing with sin; the second time he's bringing in the kingdom. But they're focused on, "We're going to Jerusalem, now it's going to happen." Jesus says, "Oh, we're going to Jerusalem all right, but it's not going to be what you think." "That all things written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished." Notice it says "all things." They're thinking of some of the things, the immediate earthly kingdom. I could quote a litany of Scriptures for it. I won't. But all that the prophets have said. Isaiah 53, "The Son of Man, the Messiah, will suffer and will die." The crucifixion is pointed there, Psalm 22, and others, all that the prophets have said will be accomplished. "'He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and will be spit upon.

"'They will scourge him and kill him. And the third day he will rise again.' But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things that were spoken." Jesus, this is the third time now, third time he has plainly told his followers, "Going up to Jerusalem, gonna be arrested, gonna be killed." "Going to Jerusalem, gonna be treated badly, gonna be killed." "Going up to Jerusalem, gonna get killed." Foom! over their head. Didn't even get it. Didn't even lock into it. But Jesus predicted it. Now, listen, I see all those stupid National Geographic shows about Jesus just like you do. I have listened to and I have read so many books and so many theories on "the real Jesus uncovered."

That Jesus was some naive revolutionary who had great ideas, but he got caught in the crossfire of Roman politics and Jewish religion and he got himself crucified, got himself killed. Or he was trying to start a coup and overtake the government, but his ambition got the better of him. It's so stupid. If you just read any of the source documents, you have that Jesus saying before it happens, "Gonna happen, gonna happen, gonna happen." Make it easy on yourself, save a few million dollars on the documentary. Then you get to Revelation 13 and it talks about "the Lamb [Jesus] who was slain from the foundation of the world." It was always God's plan. It didn't take God off guard. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus will say, "Father, the hour has come." He knows exactly what time it is.

He's right on schedule for his crucifixion and his resurrection. "But they understood none of these things; saying was hidden from them, they did not know the things that were spoken. Then it happened, as he was coming near Jericho", now he's about twenty miles out of Jerusalem. Jericho is down by the Dead Sea. Dead Sea is 1,290 feet below sea level. Jericho's a little higher than that, but not much, low, low, low desert. Jerusalem is twenty-three to twenty-six hundred feet above sea level, so the grade is sort of like this. It's a-it's a steep incline. Jesus is going from Jericho up to Jerusalem, but as he comes to Jericho, "a certain blind man sat by the road begging", now, stop for a moment. If you are familiar with the four gospels, there's something you're noticing about now.

It says "a certain blind man"; Matthew says there were not one but two blind men. Mark also says there were two blind men, no, excuse me. Luke and Mark say there were one blind man; Matthew says there were two. Mark is the one who names one of the blind men, Bartimaeus. Now, why is it that have two in Matthew and one in the other two gospels? Is that, is that a discrepancy? No. It's a complement to one to another. One happened to be the more notable one, the vocal one, the one everybody knew. You know, Bart. That's the idea of naming him is that everybody would've known him. He was a famous blind man in Jericho named Bartimaeus. So there were two, but one that was more prominent is the one that is highlighted and Mark gives him the name or reveals the name Bartimaeus.

"[He] sat by the road begging." There were lots of blind people in many cities that Jesus and the Old and New Testament authors saw and were around. It was very common. Many things contributed to blindness: sun, bright, bright sun, like we have here; blowing sand, like we have here; bad sanitation, unlike we have here for the most part. But one of the chief reasons for blindness was a congenital blindness called ophthalmia neonatorum that it got into the little, the eyelid, the conjunctiva of the eyelid. A little bacteria got in there and after a few days caused blindness after a child was born. Jericho, interestingly enough, had a certain bush that grew, a balsam bush that provided a sought-after medicine that was used to treat blindness.

So of all of the towns in Judea and Galilee, you gotta know that Jericho had an inordinate number of blind people waiting for the cure. So this guy's blind. He's begging. That's what a lot of blind people did. They didn't have jobs. They couldn't work. They just had to trust the, the generosity of strangers, travelers passing by. "And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant." He can't see; he can only hear. "So they told him Jesus of Nazareth was passing by." Now, listen, listen to this: "He cried out, saying, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'" How did he know that? How would he know to say, "Son of David"? You see, the term "Son of David" was a messianic term, very particular Old Testament term. It was a, referred to the Messiah.

Here is a blind man. He has never traveled probably much from Jericho, if at all. He's never seen Jesus do a miracle. How would he know when they said, "Oh, it's Jesus of Nazareth," to say, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Before I tell you how he knew, let me tell you something, he was blind, but he saw more than a lot people who see can see. If he can see that that's the Son of David, that's insight that people that have real sight don't get. I know a lot of people that see a lot. They have perfect 20/20 vision. They're blind as a bat spiritually. They walk around bumping their head all day long. Blind, blind, blind. Goofy, goofy, goofy. Now, how is it that he knew? He never saw a miracle. Well, he sat at the gate begging. And the gate of the city is where all the information passed.

It was the news, it was the CNN and FOX News of the day. Travelers came from different parts and gave news to the elders at the gates, so all the news was discussed and passed around in that little gate area of the city. So if you wanted to find out what's going on in the Roman Empire in Galilee and Jerusalem, you go to the gate and you talk it over. All the passers-by will deposit their information. So there's that guy day after day, and he hears reports: "There's this guy named Jesus of Nazareth who's unlike anyone you've ever heard or seen. He cures people who are lepers. He unstops deaf ears. He raises dead people." And all of a sudden this guy has a piqued interest. And he probably said at the gate, "Hey, have you ever heard of this man opening a blind man's eyes?" "Oh, yes," they would have said, "many times."

And then he thought, "That must be the Son of David." You see, he was Jewish. He went to the synagogue. He heard the sermons. He knew the promises, like the promise in Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor... and to bring recovery of sight to the blind," to open their eyes. So he thought, "You know, if he ever comes to town, I know just want to say." "Hey, Jesus is in town." "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Just let it out. "And those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he had come near, he asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?'" Really? Is that question necessary?

I mean, is it? I mean, couldn't anybody answer that question standing around? "Uh, I know the answer to that one. He wants to see, just saying." Why would Jesus ask that question? He wants the blind man to articulate his need, to say it out loud, to bolster, to build his faith, to anticipate, to set it up, "What is it you need?", to say it specifically. A specific request will bring a specific answer that will lead to a specific praise. You know, some people pray like this: "God, just bless everyone, everywhere, with everything." You know, don't even bother. I mean, just, if he answers anything, you won't know it, because you paint it so broadly. Ask him, "I need $23.50 to pay that off." And when you get it, and I've seen him answer that specific kind of need, you'll go, "Wow!"

A specific ans, request leads to a specific answer that leads to a specific praise. And so he was specific. "'Jes, um, Lord, that I may receive my sight.' And Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God." Have you ever noticed that? The guy didn't live in Jericho the rest of his life. He was following Jesus after that. Now he can see. Now he can walk down the road. So after he's healed in Jericho, he starts following Jesus, which would mean he would follow him to Jerusalem, which means he would see when Jesus presents himself on that donkey on the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday and the crowd says, "Hosanna!" He would see him go into the city. He would see him overturn the tables in the temple.

He would see him on a cross crucified. And he would see him risen again. But the first thing he saw was Jesus. Not a bad view. Here's Jesus in front of him, he said, "You can see." And all of a sudden he opens his eyes. The first thing he sees is Jesus. How cool is that for the first thing you ever see in life? I love that. Every person I know who's blind on the earth today as a Christian, one today the first thing they'll see in heaven is Jesus. There was a songwriter, a story about a woman, her name was Fanny Crosby. She wrote about eight hundred songs, hymns for the church. She was-she was blind. And a pastor said these words to her one day: "You know, it's a pity that God has given you so many gifts, but that he left you blind." And she said, "You know what? If I could have ever had one request of God, it's that I would be born blind."

And he said, "Why would you want that?" She said, "Because that means the first face that will ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior." So precious. This man had that experience. Saw Jesus, followed him, glorified God. We're going to share the Lord's Supper. We have just a few minutes left. We always do it at the end when we have this type of arrangement. So, take out your elements. And I've asked a couple who was a part of our church staff and a part of our family, who have gone back to New Hampshire, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, to start a church. They're with us tonight, the Marburys, Justin and Kari Marbury are going to lead us in communion.

Justin Marbury: So good to be with you. If you haven't done this before, I'll just give you a little tip. Peel off the clear top. That will reveal the cracker. You can take that and be ready with that as well as the-the juice. And I also know that Skip would like me to say that this is for believers. This is for those of us who have been born again, who can see, because Christ has opened our eyes. And if you aren't a believer, this is the time to do it. If he stirred your heart and you desire to be a follower of Christ, all you do is confess that you are a sinner, you need him, and in your heart right now you confess him as Lord. And then you can take the bread and the cup with us. So let's pray and we'll-we'll take the bread and the juice together.

Father, thank you so much for what you have done. It is a finished work. It is a work that has been completed. Jesus, you went on after the blind man that we just saw you interact with. You went into Jerusalem and ultimately you went on to that cross. All of the sin of the world, all of our sin, all of our junk you took and you were pierced and you died for our sin. And it is your death that reversed the curse that reversed the sin of Adam and Eve, and gives us now the opportunity to have eternal life made evidence, Lord, by the fact that you rose from the dead. Death no longer has its power. And so Paul said, and we know it to be the case, that as often as we do this, as often as we take this bread that represents your body broken for us, and this cup that represents your blood shed for us, we will remember your death that made the way for us to have life. And we pray it in Jesus' name, amen.

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