Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: Large scale clarity is the main issue when small scale ambiguity is the main problem.
Introduction: When we began our study of this part of Luke's record, I made two claims: 1) that the main thesis of the paragraph is "ambiguity"; and 2) that the "connection" between the paragraph and its predecessor is that no one can ever be a disciple who comes at the issue with "qualifications" -- a most fundamental issue for anyone who would be a disciple.
This morning I want to look at Jesus' instructions to the leper that He cleansed. I believe that the instructions continue to address the "problem" of "qualified" discipleship which, as I have said multiple times now, is not really discipleship at all.
There are actually two theses raised by this paragraph. The first is the ambiguity that everyone faces in respect to the expectations we have of God. The other is the clarity that God provides to all. On the face of it, this seems to be a contradiction of terms: How can there be "clarity" in the face of "ambiguity"? It is this that I want us to consider this morning.
March 25, 2007
- I. The "Clarity" Issue.
- A. Jesus' instruction to the leper regarding his "speech".
- 1. The text tells us that Jesus instructed the leper "to tell no one".
- a. This was not a "life-long" restriction.
- b. This was a "context-sensitive" restraint.
- 2. The text tells us that Jesus' "purpose" for such "restraint" was frustrated (verse 15).
- a. For some people this is just the "excuse" they are looking for in respect to the obligation of creatures to be in submission to their Creator.
- 1) How can Jesus be the One He claims to be if His purposes can be frustrated?
- a) This is an age-old question that struggles with the tension between the "control" of God and His willingness to give men "personhood" -- the quality of having hearts and minds and the capacity to make decisions.
- b) Using man's ability to frustrate God's stated desires as an excuse to reject Him ignores the biblical fact of "tiered" purposes and the biblical claim that no one can keep God from using their own actions to further His Plan/plans [Matthew 26:54].
- 2) What did Jesus come to do if His purposes cannot be frustrated?
- a) If all things that occur are what God wants to occur, there is no such thing as sin.
- b) If there is no such thing as sin, for what reason would Jesus suffer what He did?
- b. For others, this is a significant stumbling block to a genuine desire to be a faithful disciple.
- 1) Jesus acknowledged the possibility of "stumbling" in Matthew 11:6 for a man who had been significantly privileged and prepared and had shown no evidence of "qualifications" in his discipleship.
- 2) Paul acknowledged the real consequences of "stumbling" in Romans 14:15 and 20 and Titus 1:11.
- B. Jesus' instruction to the leper regarding his "actions".
- 1. The text tells us that Jesus instructed the leper to "establish a witness".
- a. He was to "show" himself to the priest.
- 1) This had to occur in Jerusalem at the temple.
- 2) This had to have some corroborating testimony from "two or three witnesses" so the priest would have no reason to reject the claim.
- 3) This was to have a very major impact because it was "leprosy" [Remember the "sign" given to Moses on the mountain].
- a) The impact was that a "God-validated-Deliverer" was on the scene.
- b) The impact was to establish clarity in the midst of all of the ambiguities [John 9:25 is a potent biblical illustration of the kind of reasoning ambiguity requires].
- b. He was to "offer" the sacrifices required by Leviticus 14.
- 1) According to Jesus' own words in Nazareth, these instructions were among the least used instructions in the Old Testament during the times when the nation was willing to allow ambiguity to justify a hardened heart.
- 2) This requirement was that the Law of Moses was to be observed according to its true intention.
- a) One of the greatest possible problems of "clarity" is the hypocrisy of claiming faith in the Truth while demonstrating unbelief in that Truth [Romans 2:24].
- b) This is the reason the religious leaders were constantly trying to accuse Jesus of breaking the laws [Mark 2:24 and 3:4].
- 2. This is Jesus giving the nation its John 9:25 foundations so that ambiguity would not be the stumbling block it can be.
- II. The Tension of the Text.
- A. We have a saying, "He cannot see the forest for the trees."
- B. We could also have another saying, "He cannot see the trees for the forest."
- C. The facts are...
- 1. No one can be a legitimate disciple without a legitimate conviction base.
- 2. Anywhere there is sufficient ambiguity, discipleship will crater.
- a. This is not because there is no honest desire.
- b. This is because even honest desire has to have legitimacy for belief.
- 3. Nowhere does God ever permit ambiguity without having already given sufficient clarity [1 Corinthians 10:13].
- 4. Nowhere does God ever give total clarity so there is no ambiguity [He cannot impart omniscience to creatures].
- III. The Point.
- A. Large scale clarity has always existed in this creation.
- B. Small scale ambiguity will always exist in this creation.
- C. Every would-be disciple will have to deal with the tension.