Eyes Front! l Luke 43-62 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
As many of you know, a month ago, I contracted Bell’s Palsy. Symptoms include paralyzed facial and eye muscles, and eating habits that turned mealtime into a spectator sport. It also impairs your speech. I couldn’t say “Fs” or “Ps.” Well…“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” As you can see, four weeks later, I’m doing great. I am so grateful to the Lord. And to you, my Sweetheart Church! For all your prayers, meals and cards…and advice. Lots of advice! And I’m so grateful for our team led by Pastor Ellis, who stepped in so ably to preach and lead. We are blessed, aren’t we?
Two weeks before I was stricken, I preached on the power of evil…and the next week on our need for revival. I remember someone saying, “Watch out…when you start preaching that way, the Devil’s going to come after you.” Is it coincidence that this attack came at this time? I don’t think so. We have an enemy. He doesn’t want us to have revival. And he doesn’t like to be called out. Well…tough beans! The good news is, “Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.” So, take that, Devil!
We continue this morning in our journey through Luke’s gospel. Jesus, Peter, James and John have just returned from the Mt. of Transfiguration. There they got a glimpse of Jesus in all his glory. Not Jesus as a lowly carpenter. Jesus as the Son of God! Jesus as the Chosen one. Jesus whose clothing was white as lightning. Jesus who chatted with his friends, Moses and Elijah. Jesus who got a shout out from God the Father who bragged on him: “This is my son, the chosen one, listen to him!” It was an eye-opener for the three disciples… literally, because they had fallen asleep!
But their spiritual high doesn’t last long. When they descend from the mountain, they are confronted by a desperate father whose son is possessed by a convulsing demon that throws him to the ground. The other disciples were unable to deliver him. But Jesus, with a word of rebuke, drives out the demon, restores the boy and gave him back to his father. (We live in a time where children are being taken away from their parents…from their care, their supervision, their nurture, their authority. Jesus gives children back to their parents.) And everyone, we are told, was “astonished at the majesty of God.” I love that!
Which brings us to our morning text. It starts with Jesus telling his disciples something really important…which they completely miss…and ends with one of my favorite verses in Luke’s gospel…a verse that has guided my ministry for 40 years: Luke 9:28 ff.
“But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”