June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 18:31-19:27: Seeing the Saviour

How clearly you can SEE someone  affects how you RESPOND to them.

Gordon and Pam are expecting A BABY in a few weeks. And so, they’re doing things A CERTAIN WAY. They’ve SEEN THE ULTRASOUND – those fuzzy black and white images. A shadow here. A bump there. And they’ve been reliably been informed that it’s A .

They’ve SEEN the picture of a baby . They’re EXPECTING a . And so they’re GETTING READY.

I’m not sure if the room’s decorated in florals and pastels, or if Pam’s buying frilly dresses, and pink socks and bonnets, or NOT. But their preparation is DIFFERENT to if they were getting ready for A BOY.

How clearly you can SEE someone affects how you RESPOND to them.

It’s like when a brilliant new rugby league player comes into the competition. Someone like Benji Marshall. In their FIRST year, no-one knows WHAT to expect. And, if they’re GOOD ENOUGH, they run rings around the opposition.

But by THE SECOND YEAR. Teams have worked them out. They’ve done their homework. They’ve watched the video. They know which way they’ll step. What their weaknesses are. They’ve SEEN the player more clearly. And so they RESPOND differently.

How clearly you can SEE someone affects how you RESPOND to them.

Seeing The Saviour

And Luke’s intention in this part of his gospel is FOR US TO SEE JESUS CLEARLY. To SEE THE SAVIOUR. To UNDERSTAND him. To see His RE. His purposes. His plans. TO know what to EXPECT. So we can RESPOND APPROPRIATELY.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. The city of David. Has been for a while now. And there’s REVOLUTION IN THE AIR.

The Jews have been waiting for a rebel leader for generations. A MESSIAH who’ll overthrow the Romans. And bring in a new glory age for Israel.

And hopes are mounting that Jesus is THE ONE. The closer he gets to the capital, the more the hype grows. Everyone’s talking about it. Expectation’s high. You can see the sort of thing in Ch 19 v11. Have a look at it.

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, BECAUSE HE WAS NEAR JERUSALEM AND THE PEOPLE THOUGHT THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD WAS GOING TO APPEAR AT ONCE.

Jesus wants to clear up their bad eye-sight. They’re not SEEING him properly. They want a military revolution. And as quickly as possible. But Jesus is on about a DIFFERENT sort of revolution. And so he tells them A PARABLE. A parable about HIMSELF. And about how they’re to RESPOND.

We’ll look at that in a few minutes. But before we DO that, let’s look at what’s come BEFORE. Because it’s more of the same – what Jesus and his mission is about. And how we’re to respond.

1. A Saviour on a Cross

Flip back to Ch 18 v31. That’s where our section starts. And Jesus wants to make things AS PLAIN AS HE CAN to the disciples.

31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. 33 On the third day he will rise again.”

Jesus acknowledges they’re heading for Jerusalem. But he quickly throws water on any plans they might have for a political rebellion. They shouldn’t expect a Saviour with A SWORD. But a Saviour on a CROSS.

He’s headed to Jerusalem to be handed over. To be insulted and d. And then to be KILLED.   … And then on the third day, he’ll rise.

Blind Disciples

But the disciples, who should be SEEING. Are BLIND. Look at v34.

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

Three times it says it! I think Luke wants to emphasise that they didn’t see Jesus clearly!

It’s hard to imagine how they could get it so wrong, isn’t it? I mean, it seems perfectly clear to US. With the benefit of hindsight. And having the Bible to help us.

But the disciples who SHOULD have understood. Couldn’t SEE a Saviour ON A CROSS.

And there’s people like that sitting in churches all across Australia this morning. People who should know better. Who know all the information. Who’ve heard the facts, read the Bible, song the songs. Hung around Christians.

But who don’t know Jesus.

They see Christianity as a set of rules to follow. Or a culture to keep. Or a standard to measure up to.

They see Jesus as just a moral example, or a good teacher, or the pioneer of a world religion. A wet blanket frowning whenever they have fun.

But they don’t see him as A SACRIFICE. As a KING. As a SAVIOUR. Who demands your repentance, your submission. Your LIFE.

Perhaps there’s people like that here today!

A Seeing Blind Man

But by way of CONTRAST, Luke tells us, next, about someone who CAN see Jesus. And the irony is… He’s BLIND. He’s a SEEING blind-man.

Jesus is getting closer to Jerusalem. He’s nearly at Jericho. About 25 km from Jerusalem. And as he walks along the road, there’s a blind beggar who hears it’s Jesus who’s the cause of all the commotion. So, he calls out (v38)

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Everyone tells him to be quiet. But he won’t. He keeps yelling

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Son of David. It’s a King’s title. A Messiah’s title. And the blind man knows it’s Jesus. On his way to King David’s city.

Jesus asks him what he wants. But instead of military victory – release from the Romans – look at what he replies. V41. “Lord, I want to SEE.”

And Jesus gives him his desire. Eyes that work. Because of his FAITH. And everyone praises God.

It’s just what Jesus CAME to do. Back in Luke 4:18 he said about his mission.

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

THAT’S what the Messiah’s doing. And the blind man can SEE it. But the disciples can’t.

2. A Saviour of Men’s Hearts

Next up we see Jesus doing more of the same. Preaching good news. Releasing the oppressed. We see that Jesus is a Saviour of MEN’S HEARTS, not simply their homes or possessions – like a MILITARY saviour.

We see the sort of revolution Jesus DOES bring. A life turned on its head. It’s Zacchaeus.

And Zacchaeus is a short man who wants to SEE Jesus. It’s a bit further along the journey. And Jesus has made it into Jericho. Let’s take up the story at v2.

2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 HE WANTED TO SEE WHO JESUS WAS, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.

THE BLIND MAN had barriers that stopped him seeing Jesus. Well, this guy’s got barriers too. For a start, he’s a tax collector. A SUPERVISOR – no less! More interested in money than being liked. In profit than people. And he’ll do ANYTHING to get it.

And so, everyone thought he was LAST IN LINE for the kingdom. The LAST sort of person God would be interested in

Second, he’s SHORT. So he PHYSICALLY can’t see Jesus. Because the crowd’s in the way. So he comes up with a plan. He runs on ahead, finds a tree, and climbs up it. He’s determined to find out about Jesus. To SEE him.

And then, when Jesus wanders down the street, he’s in the PRIME SPOT to see what’s going on.

Even better, Jesus stops RIGHT UNDER HIS TREE. He’s got front-row seats to see the action. Whatever the action’s going to be.

But then Jesus notices him. And a rich man up a tree provokes Jesus’ curiosity. And ZACCHAEUS becomes the Action. Jesus looks up, and (v5) says to him

“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Jesus is the king who’s come to preach good news to the captives, and proclaim freedom for the prisoners. And Zacchaeus needs that just like everyone else. He might have been last in line according to the crowd. But it’s Jesus’ opinion that matters.

And Zacchaeus seems to have caught a glimpse of who Jesus is. Because he jumps down immediately, and takes Jesus home for lunch.

We’re not sure WHAT they talked about over dinner, but we DO know what the result was. It must have been quite a lunch. Because there was A REVOLUTION! A complete turn-around for Zacchaeus. The crowd called him A SINNER. But in v8, he responds

“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

He’s SEEN Jesus as someone who can offer him a FRESH START. FORGIVENESS. And he responds whole-heartedly. The things that ruled his life don’t matter any more. He’ll give his POSSESSIONS away. He’ll pay back the MONEY he’s extorted.

All for the RICHES of knowing Jesus. Of following the Saviour.

It’s the change that only GOD can bring in someone.

Have you seen that sort of change in people around you? The things that ruled their lives don’t matter any more. It might be success, or acceptance, or power, or fame. Or selfishness. Money or or security.

It’s the sort of change that only God can bring. And DOES bring.

Or what about YOU? Is that YOUR testimony now you’ve found Jesus? The things that ruled your life don’t matter any more.

The blind man’s seen the Saviour. And the SHORT man’s seen the Saviour. And Jesus concludes with a clear statement of his mission. As clear as the one he gave his disciples a few verses before. And you can imagine the grin on his face as he looks at Zacchaeus, and says with joy

“Today salvation has come to this house, because THIS MAN, TOO, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Seeking out lost people and saving them. That’s what the Saviour is doing. He’s not bringing down governments, Or raising an army. Or Instituting a rebellion. He’s seeking out lost people, and saving them. It’s a revolution that’s happening THAT VERY DAY.

It’s a revolution that’s still happening TODAY.

3. A Saviour AND a Judge

But even as he says the words, there are people who are getting it wrong. Who aren’t SEEING THE SAVIOUR. Who are seeing a DIFFERENT KINGDOM. Straight away Jesus begins the parable we mentioned earlier. V11.

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.

It’s a story the people would have been very familiar with. Because it was recent history. In 4 BC, around the time Jesus was born, Herod the Great died. He was king of Judea. And he left the throne to his son, Archelaus.

But before Archelaus could be crowned, he had to travel to Rome to be CONFIRMED as king.

But people disliked him so much, they sent a delegation along after him. To protest his appointment.

But the Jewish historian Josephus tells us that he was appointed ruler none-the-less. And when he came back, he punished his opponents for their insolence. He massacred 3000 of his countrymen at the first Passover as ruler!

The story was burned into the memories of the Jews around Jesus. And it’s the same story Jesus tells. But Jesus adds some details.

The man about to head off. And he calls in ten servants. Each one is given a mina. About 60 days wages. Let’s say $10,000. And told to put the money to work until he comes back. It’s not a HUGE AMOUNT of money. It’s probably a kind of TEST. To see whether they’re up to greater responsibilities. Because when he comes back, it’ll be AS KING, and he’ll need GOVERNORS to help him rule.

The man goes to a far country. And is appointed as king despite the protests of the rebellious delegation. He returns home. And calls in the servants. Time to settle accounts.

The first servant’s invested wisely. He’s made his money back ten times over. Well done, my good servant, is the master’s response.

And then he gets his NEW assignment. Greater responsibility. Not just MONEY, but CITIES to manage (v17).

‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten CITIES.’

Then the second comes in. He’s made his money back FIVE times over. His new job’s managing FIVE cities.

But then we come to the center of the story. V20. ANOTHER servant.

‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was AFRAID of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

The servant was SCARED of his master. He knew his reputation – a shrewd and ruthless businessman. He d to think what would happen if he LOST his money. So he tied it up in a hankie. And hid it away.

4. So What?

And it’s here we come to the “SO WHAT?” of the whole section. What it means for how WE RESPOND TO JESUS.

Look at how the master answers. V22.

I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

He doesn’t deny the servant’s assessment. His point is “If that’s what I’m like – ruthless and shrewd – then the LEAST you could have done was earn me some interest!

And so, the servant fails the test. He gets no greater responsibility. He can’t be trusted with ONE MINA, who would trust him to manage CITIES!?

In fact, even the LITTLE HE HAD is given to the first servant. V24

24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.

And the story concludes with the fate of the rebellious citizens. V27.

27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and kill them in front of me.'”

Two servants who receive a “well done”, and are given greater responsibilities. ONE servant who loses the little he has. And a group of citizens who are put to for their rebellion.

So? What do we DO with it? What’s the POINT of it?

Just like the master, Jesus will be gone FOR A LONG TIME. He’s going to A FAR AWAY COUNTRY. He was here as MASTER, But he’s returning to his Father. And ONE DAY, he’ll return. As KING. And JUDGE. To settle accounts.

So we’re living NOW in the time the Master is away.

And we’re called to show our response to the Saviour by THE WAY WE BEHAVE while he’s GONE. What we’re doing until he returns. How we use WHO WE ARE, and WHAT WE’VE BEEN GIVEN, to maximize the Master’s interests. Living for the Saviour.

That’s really what it comes down to. Can you see Jesus clearly?

Your ANSWER to that question will be seen in how you’re living that out. It’s not an academic, theoretical answer.

If you see Jesus as Saviour, as King. As the one who died and rose so that you could be forgiven. Then that will be seen in the WAY YOU LIVE.

All sorts of people are like the rebellious citizens. Jesus is their rightful king. Yet they choose to run their life THEIR WAY INSTEAD. Whether they’re atheist, or humanist. Agnostic or Pagan or Deist. Buddhist, or Muslim, or Hindu, or Sikh. Rule-breaker, or committed rule-keeper. Disinterested or religious.

Now is the time for them to argue, and debate, and choose their path. But Jesus says the day is coming when the curtain will come down. And judgment will fall. And ALL rebels will be destroyed.

Jesus says Make sure that’s not you!

But for those who’ve recognized the Saviour, our RESPONSE is to SERVE. To make the most of what we have. It might be money, or time, or talents. It might be holidays, or intelligence, or qualifications, or career. It might be possessions, or family, or emotions, or love.

How are you using YOUR life to further Jesus’ interests?

As we begin a new year, take a moment to think back over LAST YEAR. How well have you used 2005 to build God’s kingdom? What have you CONTRIBUTED? What things have GROWN because of you?

Or have you SQUANDERED the year? Missed opportunities.

I wonder how many hundreds of hours you’ve wasted in the last year in watching pointless TV?

One of the things that happens as you get older is that you realize that time is running out. I’m turning 40 this year, and it’s quite possible I’ve got LESS time left on this earth than I’ve already spent. I’m halfway there! Am I happy with how I’ve USED this half-life.

I’ve only GOT one more chance to get it right! What about YOU?

Jonathan Edwards was an American pastor and author in the 1700’s. A puritan. A godly man. And he was SERIOUSLY COMMITTED to making the most of what God had given him.

I’ve included his 70 resolutions for you to read. Can I encourage you to take some time to carefully and prayerfully read them over. Appreciate the wisdom and godliness and  purpose behind them. And if there are 5 or 6 that strike a chord with you, then make them your own.

I think God can use them for good in you.

Making the most of what you have and who you are.

What about CHURCH? What can YOU be doing to help at church? Are there things we’re ALREADY doing you’d like to JOIN IN ON? Home groups, teaching kids church, hospitality, management committee, teaching Scripture, leading yth gp, leading or playing music, welcoming, setting up church. Helping at Festivals or Carols or Movie Nights. Or helping Maureen and Janice with our food and fellowship events? Picnics and dinners?

Are there things we’re NOT doing you’d like to GIVE A GO? There’s ALL SORTS of things we COULD be doing. Kids Clubs, play groups, outreach activities, door-knocking, marriage enrichment courses, coordinating prayer triplets, starting a regular prayer meeting.

We want to plan some evangelistic events this year. How about being involved in THOSE?

Jesus has given you your MINA. You’ve only got one life. How are you going to USE IT? What will your 2006 look like? How are you going to RESPOND to the Saviour who’s given you EVERYTHING?

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