Thesis:There is a reason that "the crowds" had a variety of wrong ideas about Jesus: the absence of repentance.
Introduction:Last week I made the claim that man's plight is worse than his worst nightmares because Jesus had to spend a deliberate period of time in prayer to His Father before He even approached the idea of what His behavior meant to His disciples. This is in direct contrast with His "look unto heaven" before He began the process of multiplying loaves and fish to feed a massive crowd. It was, so to speak, "easier" to feed 5,000 adult men with more than enough to fill them than it was to get "The Twelve" to settle the greatest question that men will ever face in their lives on this planet. The reason is not hard: multiplying inanimate objects does not require the heart cooperation that getting people to finalize their answer to the question requires.
It will be the focus of our study this morning to see how people dodge the obvious Truth so that we may be challenged to seek a God-given ability to refuse to be like them. The problem that we face has two parts: on the one hand, only Truthactually produces good but we live in a setting where the appearance is just the opposite, and on the other hand we are so committed to our own well being that we cannot be genuinely committed to the Truth-principle of "Love". Jesus both said and did what "Love" requires: He gave up His life for His enemies so that they would profit. But the crowds are not like that and our text reveals it.
I. After Prayer, Jesus Quizzed His Disciples About the Opinions of the Recipients of His Goodness.
A. Luke apparently determined to put the "issue" on the front burner for Theophilus.
1. There is absolutely no question as to whether the "crowds" had been the recipients of Jesus' total commitment to "Love" for them.
a. He uncritically, and without restraint, simply made "life" better for them at every turn.
1) Luke wrote that Jesus "welcomed them, spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, and cured any that had need of healing" (9:11).
2) There is every evidence that they did not deserve this kind of treatment, but they got it from Him any way.
b. Even when those who were the closest to Him insisted upon "Herodizing" Him, His response was gentle, though firm.
1) They came "at Him" like the typical herodians that they were.
2) He did not let them "get away with it", but His method was gracious beyond measure.
c. The only explanation for this is that Jesus actually believed that the needs of others trumped His own "secondary wishes".
2. Nor is there any question as to whether this reception of loving benefit created an obligation upon the recipients that will be required of them.
a. "Love" can only be "one-sided" for a limited period of time.
1) One-sided love gradually builds an intolerable Hell for its recipients (Romans 2:5).
a) This cannot be otherwise: persistent evil cannot be tolerated forever.
b) It is the cumulative testimony of all of the Scriptures that a day is coming in which Love will be enthroned and Hate will be consigned to its own intolerable place.
2) 1 John 4:11 point-blankly declares this "obligation" and the declaration means absolutely nothing if there is never going to be an end to one-sided love.
b. Though "Love" cannot be demanded, its absence can be condemned and removed.
3. This means that Luke determined to record for Theophilus what Jesus was "requiring" from those who received of His goodness: he was putting the issue on the front burner.
B. Luke understood the significance of Jesus' question.
1. Jesus' initial question concerned how the crowds were responding to His actions.
2. The response about which He was asking was penetratingly revelational.
a. On the face of it, the question was simple: what are the people deciding is the "Truth" about Me?
b. Likewise on the face of it, the question was penetrating.
1) The decisions the people were making had their own roots.
a) Decisions are about how "life" is going to be "lived".
b) They are not fundamentally about "objective evidence".
c) They are about gains and losses.
2) The decisions revealed those roots.
a) The "John" decision.
i. This decision was "magical" and "senseless" in that it posited an unsustainable contradiction (Jesus and John ministered simultaneously for a while and Luke3:15 makes this decision the outcome of a double-minded group) and arose most fundamentally out of the "guilt" that demanding one-sided love always produces (Note Herod's insistence in Mark 6:14-16 that Jesus was John).
ii. This decision was an attempt to side-step the Truth so that the "decider" could continue to live as always: refusing the obligation of love.
b) The "Elijah" decision.
i. This decision was more "biblical" in that it had its roots in Malachi 4:5, but it had its own problems with reality (Jesus did not put Himself forward as a forerunner, nor did His works look like Elijah's: Luke 9:54).
ii. This decision was also an attempt to side-step the Truth in that it "put off" having to embrace "Love" until the "real" revealer revealed its essential requirements (as long as Jesus is not the "Lover", no one has to act like Him).
c) The "ancient prophet" decision.
i. This decision was the most undefined: it erased all specific meaning.
ii. As an eraser, this decision was the easiest to live with without making any response.
3) The decisions all had two contradictory facts in them.
a) On the one hand, they were all attempts to claim to be impressed by Jesus without having to yield to His Truth.
b) On the other hand, they all left the responders without excuse: prophets speak for God so that every jot and tittle will be validated in the day that love ceases to accept Sin's demand that it be one-sided.
c. And the question was revelational.
1) The question brought "answers" to the surface that revealed the true unwillingness of those who would not deal with the evidence (John 7:31).
2) The question surfaced the reality that those who would be willing to embrace the truth would not make up a "crowd".
C. Jesus was pressing His disciples to "repent".
1. There are only two reasons people want to side-step the Truth: pride or fear.
2. The biblical issue of "repentance" is core-central to these two "reasons" and insists upon a renunciation of both.