Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
Thesis: Responsibility and irresponsibility both increase by exposure to the Truth.
Introduction: One of the most amazing facts about God's dealings with human beings is that He makes Truth inescapable. One of the most amazing facts about men's dealings with God is that they hate Him for making the Truth inescapable. Today, in the 'calendar' of the visible 'church', is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the day when Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem by a vast multitude who identified Him as the promised Son of David Who was to reign over the Kingdom of God. Before the week was out, this nation of people, which had been given the clearest historical demonstration of God's Truth ever seen in history, crucified the Son of God. This is the testimony regarding God and men. On God's side of the issue, Truth is crucial for joy and God's commitment is to make Truth as plain as can be. On man's side of the issue, truth is irrelevant except as a tool for the manipulation of circumstances so that man can continue to pursue his own way.
This remarkable reality has its roots, not in what is sought, but in the ways it is sought. Both God and men seek joy for men. But God seeks joy by Truth and men seek joy by manipulating others.
This morning, as we look again at Luke's record of Jesus' healing of the leper, we are going to see the reality of this distinction.
April 1, 2007
- I. The Contrasts of the Text.
- A. The contrast in the behavior of the involved.
- 1. The crowds (there were great crowds) were flocking to Jesus.
- 2. Jesus habitually withdrew from the crowds.
- B. The contrast in the interests of the involved.
- 1. The crowds wanted to "hear" so as to be "healed".
- 2. Jesus wanted to "hear" so as to do what was both right and necessary.
- II. The Significance of Luke's Contrasts.
- A. In light of the biblical "forest" (the big picture) regarding "discipleship", Luke had determined to show Jesus' similarity to Moses, the most publicly revered man in religious Israel (John 9:28).
- 1. The surface issue of discipleship was raised by Moses in his conversation with Yahweh at the burning bush: acceptable credentials at the beginning.
- a. This is the question of trustworthiness.
- b. This is the question of Truthfulness.
- c. This is the question of Life possibilities.
- d. This is the question of an initiation into joy.
- e. This is the fundamental question of methodology: is it legitimate to second-guess after the fact because what is happening challenges the fourth level of this issue (joy is being disturbed by reason of circumstances that challenge its dominion)?
- 2. The surface issue of Jesus' similarity to Moses was His ability to transcend Moses' "signs" of transformed vipers and lepers.
- a. Moses was given the ability to transform a viper into a staff; Jesus was given the ability to transform a viper into an heir of the Kingdom of God.
- b. Moses was given the ability to transform his own leprous hand into a normal hand; Jesus was given the ability to transform another's fulness of leprosy into a normal cleanliness.
- 3. Jesus was set forth by God as a "greater than Moses" and, by so doing, set the processes of discipleship (II.A.1.a-1.e above) into motion.
- a. This "setting forth" was done in the most indisputable, historical way possible: a leper was cleansed and everyone (vast multitudes) knew it.
- b. The issue before every person, at this point, was one: whatever is decided at this point is to mark a point of no return.
- 1) Ambivalence (the unwillingness to allow the fact to establish the conclusion) sets one on the road to wishy-washy double-mindedness.
- 2) Rejection (the denial that the fact establishes the conclusion) sets one on the road to determined opposition.
- 3) Acceptance (the embracing of the fact as leading to the conclusion) sets one on the road to joy.
- B. Luke's record of the huge crowds' willingness to accept the benefits of the work of Jesus puts those crowds into the "acceptance" camp: it is an enormous hypocrisy to accept the benefits of an antichrist while claiming to be committed to God.
- C. Luke's record of Jesus' consistent withdrawal into the deserts sets the stage for our under- standing of "why" people would accept the benefits of Jesus' ministry while rejecting His goals.
- 1. It is indisputable that the overall record is one of Truth-established and Truth-rejected ("He came into His own and His own received Him not.").
- 2. The question is: Why?
- a. The answer is in the contrast between Jesus' behavior and that of the crowds.
- 1) The crowds were obviously primarily interested in "hearing for healing".
- 2) Jesus was obviously primarily interested in making sure He was doing the will of His Father.
- b. The answer is in this fact: the defined methods of "Life" dominate everything.
- 1) The issue is not the bottom line: What do you really want? (the answer to that is always "Joy").
- 2) The issue is the methodological issues: What will get you what you want? (this is where men and God part company).
- a) The Bible is unflinching in two areas.
- i. Joy comes from being rightly related to God.
- ii. Joy does not come from being "healthy" in material and human issues.
- b) As long as men insist upon, and persist in, making health, wealth, and wisdom the means to Joy, they are rebels against God.