Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
Thesis: When we begin to "think", we are dealing with "God".
Introduction: In our study last week we saw that the "faith" that brings "forgiveness" is made visible by the actions it sponsors when opposition arises. The text says that Jesus "beheld" their faith. That means that He saw, in the visible realm, the reality of an attitude that actually exists only in the invisible realm. The importance of this statement is hard to overstate. Jesus put Himself on record as saying three things clearly: first, that sins are forgiven when a person "believes" a specific "something"; second, that "believing" cannot be dismissed into the realm of "claims" alone; and, third, that He is the One Who determines whether a person "believes" legitimately, and whether a person is, therefore, "forgiven".
This morning we are planning to look into the "official" reaction that these claims of Jesus created. We want to see what it was that Jesus, and Luke, were doing...and why.
May 6, 2007
- I. Luke's Reference to Jesus' Audience.
- A. He switches one of the descriptive terms that he originally used in 5:17.
- 1. His original description of the audience was Pharisees and Law-teachers.
- a. This was the first time in Luke that either is mentioned.
- b. This is the only time in Luke that "Law-teachers" is used as a term to describe anyone.
- 2. For "Law-teachers" he now substitutes "scribes".
- B. He is pressing his reader(s) awareness of how important is the issue before us.
- 1. On one occasion, Jesus said, " But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).
- a. This means that the degrees of both "joy" and "anguish" are going to be absolutely set for all of eternity by a meticulous examination of every detail of a person's life.
- b. Now, either Jesus was lying, or we need to be aware that, though there are times for resting and playing, there is no time when the issue of the degree of our experience in and of eternity is not "at stake".
- 2. The question of whether Jesus was lying, or not, is the question before the Pharisees and the scribes.
- C. He is setting the stage for his insistence that his reader(s) go against the decision made by those viewed as the most competent in that generation to make such decisions.
- 1. The Pharisees were noted for their obsessed orientation to the thesis that "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment."
- 2. But the scribes were those who were noted for the determination of whether a word was going to bring glory or disaster in the day of judgment.
- 3. And it is Luke's thesis in his gospel that both groups had completely lost their way and were going to reap huge dividends of anguish for all of eternity.
- II. Luke's Reference to the Audience's "Process".
- A. The text says that they "began to reason".
- 1. This means, first, that they were suddenly faced with a "problem".
- a. People do not "reason" when there is no "problem" (in fact, most people do not reason even when there is a problem).
- b. The "problem" was pretty big: the Most Powerful Person ever seen on planet earth had just declared that "every idle word that men shall speak" does not have to bring on mountains of anguish in the day of judgment.
- c. Was He telling the truth?
- 2. This "reasoning" was not really about whether Jesus could actually "forgive" sins, but was, rather, about whether sins were ever actually forgiven.
- a. The text says that the scribes and Pharisees began to "think" that Jesus was "blaspheming".
- b. The text says that the scribes and Pharisees began to "think" that Jesus was blaspheming because no one but God can really "forgive" sins.
- c. What the text leaves in the background, but is there in a huge presence, is the more fundamental thing the scribes and Pharisees "thought": God does not really "forgive".
- 1) They refused to believe John's promise that God would forgive anyone who "repented".
- 2) That had to mean that they did not believe that God would forgive anyone.
- a) On what basis is "forgiveness" ever granted?
- b) In the theology of the scribes and Pharisees, forgiveness was never really granted; it was simply "redefined" (purgatory was a Jewish heresy before it was a Catholic one).
- B. But the text also says that their "reasoning" was doomed from the beginning.
- 1. The problem was this: reasoning that begins with false foundations never gets to the Truth.
- 2. The scribes and Pharisees were sitting in the presence of "The Facts", but they, not having even the beginning of a glimmer into what "Yahweh is Gracious" means, could not deal with "The Facts" on Their own merit.
- a. Where does "This man is blaspheming" come from?
- 1) It arises out of a pre-determined "T"heology: God is like this and not like that.
- 2) In the pre-determined "T"heology of the scribes and Pharisees there were three major theses.
- a) God as the Source of Life is fundamentally about dominating others.
- b) God as the Source of the power to dominate never lets men off the hook by making forgiveness "easy".
- c) God as the Source of "hard forgiveness" would never condescend to become a real Kinsman/Redeemer.
- 3) Given these major theses, the accusation of blasphemy was automatic and would not have even required any "thinking" except that Jesus was creating a lot of evidence that the theses were flawed.
- b. Where does "no one but God can forgive sins" come from?
- 1) It comes straight out of the "logic" of Justice.
- 2) It is "T"ruth.
- c. The problem is that the blend of "E"rror and "T"ruth keeps the obsessed from ever coming to understanding.
- III. The Point for Us.
- A. We are under Jesus' warning that nothing we do will escape evaluation in the day of judgment.
- B. But we are also under Jesus' promise that evaluation does not have to lead to the imposition of eternal anguish.
- C. We need to understand that, though forgiveness erases anguish, it does not produce "joy".
- 1. Joy is the result of on-going harmony in an unfettered, guilt-free, relationship with God.
- 2. Forgiveness introduces us into that relationship, but it does not actually develop it.
- a. Relationships develop by means of a cooperation in both Love and Methods.
- b. Forgiveness, like "birth", puts us on the "playing field", but living in the reality of loving what is valuable and believing what is true is what develops "joy".