June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 6:12-49: Revolutionary Rules

Have you ever caught a glimpse of eternity?  Do you know what I mean? Understood – just for a split second – something about “forever and ever”. Without end. Infinity. Most of the time. Our minds get stuck with “today”. Or “next week”. Occasionally “next year”. But not often “eternity”.

I catch a glimpse sometimes on a clear night when I can see millions of stars. And I think about how HUGE the Universe is. And how OLD it is. And that God was there before it all. And he’ll be there long after it’s gone. Eternity.

Arthur Stace caught a glimpse of eternity. Illiterate, a petty criminal, and an alcoholic, he was amazingly converted. In 1932, a of years after that, he heard a sermon by the evangelist John Kidney at his home church in Darlinghurst. He preached on Isaiah 57:13

(Isa 57:15 KJV)  For thus says the high and lofty One WHO INHABITS ETERNITY…”

Stressing the word eternity, the preacher cried, “Eternity!  Eternity!  I wish I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney.  Eternity!  You have to meet it.  Where will you spend eternity?”

Here’s what Arthur Stace said about that meeting, “Eternity was ringing through my brain, and suddenly I began to cry and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write “Eternity”.  I had a piece of chalk in my pocket, and outside the Church I bent down right there and wrote it.

The funny thing is, that before I wrote it I could hardly write my own name.  I had no schooling and I couldn’t have spelled “eternity” for a hundred quid.  But it came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script.  I couldn’t understand it, and I still can ‘t”.

Over the next 33 years that one word, “eternity”, was repeated more than 500,000 times, Scrawled in chalk on footpaths.

All over the city of Sydney. Even in country towns and in Melbourne; wherever he went.

He glimpsed eternity. And he wanted others to do the same. To see beyond the present. To see that eternity would either be spent WITH Jesus. Or without him. And that people needed to plan NOW for THAT DAY.

And one of the things Jesus is doing in this chapter is GIVING US A GLIMPSE OF ETERNITY. A glance of God’s kingdom. We see it as we look at Jesus, and as we understand his teaching.

But MORE than that. As we FOLLOW his teaching. Put into practice a new orientation, and a new behaviour. We actually BRING THAT KINGDOM ON. Make the FUTURE int into the PRESENT.

As a community. A group of disciples. We become a WINDOW into eternity. As we live like Jesus, people around us can SEE what eternity looks like. See what God’s kingdom is.

We become salt and light. And people are attracted. And so God’s kingdom grows. And eternity becomes more real RIGHT NOW.

1. A Revolutionary Nation (12-20)

Let me see if I can prove it to you. The section starts with Jesus in prayer. He’s got big decisions to make. And there are so many people around. So he finds a quiet PLACE. And a quiet TIME. He goes up a mountain to meet with God. And he spends the night there.

And when he comes down the next morning, he calls all the disciples together. And chooses TWELVE of them. Calls them APOSTLES. CHOSEN ones. The new leaders of A REVOLUTIONARY NATION.

So what have we got? Jesus/ coming down from the mountain after meeting with God. The people are there. And he chooses 12 leaders. And then he gives them his new rules.

Just like Moses. Coming down from the mountain. Down to the twelve tribes of Israel. Down with God’s law. Written on stone tablets.

But as well as A NEW Saviour and teacher. With NEW leaders. And a NEW LAW. It’s also a completely NEW Israel. And nothing like ETHNIC Israel. Look at what happens next.

He takes the disciples and goes a bit further down the mountain. To a nice level spot. And who’s waiting for him there? V17

(Luke 6:17-19 NIV)  …A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon,

Not just Jews. But Gentiles too. A whole new people. ThAT’s who Jesus’ new Israel is. And why were they there? V18.

{18} They’d come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, {19} and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Jesus. Among the NEW Israel. Surrounded by people from every nation. Being healed from their diseases.

It was only one day. A few hours. Some time around 30 AD. On a dusty hillside in Palestine. But it was a glimpse of eternity.

Because ONE DAY that picture – that glimpse – will be REALITY. FOREVER. ETERNITY. Flip over to Revelation 7 (p870)

John is describing his vision. A vision of the future. A vision of God’s people. From v5 he hears the roll-call. 144,000. 12 tribes. Each named after its LEADER. And 12,000 from every tribe.

But he’s not talking about ETHNIC Israel. It’s the NEW Israel. Those who trust in Jesus. (If I had time I could explain why that’s so)

And he’s not describing EXACT numbers. It’s the PERFECT number. The exactly RIGHT number of God’s people.

Because in v9, the sounds become PICTURES. And he SEES. He sees a great multitude BEYOND counting. And where are they from? From every nation, tribe, people and language.

And that means YOU. YOU’RE there. And I’m there. Australian. English speaker. Sydney-sider.

And who’s the focus. The centre of it all? Everyone was STANDING BEFORE THE LAMB. Jesus himself!

And look down to v15. John is describing ETERNITY.

(Rev 7:15-17 NIV)  Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will his tent over them. {16} Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. {17} For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Healing. Removal of pain. No more tears. Because Jesus has LED them THROUGH IT.

That’s our eternity. And it’s what Jesus is giving us a GLIMPSE OF here in Luke 6. Jesus. With his 12 tribes of NEW Israel. Before all the nations. Bringing healing and removal of pain.

Can you see it? Have you caught a glimpse? Is that something YOU want to be part of? Then listen up. Because Jesus will tell you how!

2. Revolutionary Orientations (20-26)

And right from the start Jesus makes it clear he’s talking about something NEW. What does he say? V20

(Luke 6:20 NIV)  Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are POOR, for yours is the kingdom of God.

It’s a REVOLUTIONARY ORIENTATION. Kingdom people. Those who are blessed. Who have a stake in Eternity. Are POOR.

And he goes on. Blessed people are also HUNGRY. And WEEPING. And D and EXCLUDED and INSULTED and REJECTED because of the Son of Man.

Because when people are like that. And suffering because they’re followers of Jesus. Then Jesus is able to COMFORT them. And vindicate them. And satisfy them. And bring them justice. And lead them to springs of living water. That’s what the Revelation passage describes.

That’s the way God looks at the world. And Jesus is inviting US/ to SEE AS GOD SEES. To catch a glimpse of eternity. To see beyond the present. The everyday. Because looks are deceiving. Things aren’t always what they seem.

It sounds so upside-down. The complete OPPOSITE of what Moses taught. The FIRST person to come down to Israel from the mountain with God’s law.

Back in Deuteronomy. Ch 28. A sermon by Moses. After HE’D come down from the mountain after meeting with God. And HE ALSO talks about blessings. And listen to what he says.

(Deut 28:1-6 NIV)  If you fully obey the LORD your God …{2} All these blessings will come upon you …{3} You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. {4} The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock–the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. {5} Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. {6} You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

It’s a pretty standard position. “Material success equals blessing” That’s what most people listening to Jesus would have thought. “Material success equals blessing”

Two people standing there. One in fine clothes, full stomach, and a healthy family. And the other in rags, red eyes from crying. Thin and malnourished. All alone.

Who is blessed by God? Who’s a kingdom-man? On God’s side? It’s easy! The one with all the stuff. The wealth and food and family.

But Jesus says NO! That’s not the way God sees things. He sees ETERNITY. Because he stands OUTSIDE time. REAL blessing. ETERNAL blessing. Comes from Jesus. When HE provides comfort and living water and healing.

And the EARTHLY blessings are just that. NOTHING more. If you’re ONLY focused on the PRESENT. And NOT obedience to God. On the impact of eternity. Then what you’ve got NOW is ALL you’ve got. Paid in full.

That’s what Jesus goes on to describe with his WOES. V24.

(Luke 6:24-25 NIV)  “But woe to you who are rich, for YOU HAVE ALREADY RECEIVED YOUR COMFORT. {25} Woe to you who are well fed now, for you WILL GO HUNGRY. Woe to you who laugh now, for you WILL MOURN AND WEEP.

That’s the view from eternity.

And it’s exactly the turning of tables Luke’s already told us about. In Ch 1. The song Mary sings when she finds out she’s pregnant.

(Luke 1:46-53 NIV)  …”My soul glorifies the Lord … From now on all generations will call me blessed, {49} for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. …{51} He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; …{52} He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. {53} He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

God is on the move. Through his Messiah, Jesus. And he’s bringing a revolution. And Mary’s excited.

3. Revolutionary Behaviour (27-38)

And he’s doing it here as he preaches to the people on the plain.

And now he moves onto OUR part in the revolution. He’s invited us to see as God sees. Now, he calls us to ACT AS GOD ACTS. V27.

(Luke 6:27-28 NIV)  “But I tell you who HEAR me: (That’s YOU. Are you listening?) Love your enemies, do good to those who you, {28} bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

The world says, “Pay back. Get even. Respond in kind. Give as good as you get. Do unto them BEFORE they do it to you”

But that’s living in the MOMENT. Responding in anger, or greed, or vengeance. Doing the thing. The EASY thing, rather than the HARD thing – as Bronwynne told us last week in the kids’ talk.

And Jesus calls us to live for ETERNITY. To do the HARD thing rather than the EASY thing. And to LOVE those/ who steal your car. Or disagree with everything you say. Or undermine you.

And to bless those who gossip about you, and drag your name through the mud.

And to pray for people who abuse your trust. And treat you like a fool, and betray you.

And when it comes to lending things out, don’t worry about “when”, or “if”, or “how much”. That’s petty. Short-term. Eternity is bigger than getting possessions returned.

Anyone can love those who love THEM. Or lend when you’re guaranteed a return. Or do good when you know you’ll be re-paid. That’s EASY. But it’s not eternity.

Love. Bless. Pray. Give. They’re the actions of eternity. The things that last. Michael Wilcock says this in his commentary. “Each of these actions is A PREVIEW OF THE SPLENDID REALITY which will only be seen in the age to come”.

To Love. Bless. Pray. Give. Things that are hard. But things that are POWERFUL, and EFFECTIVE for the long term.

Because when God’s people display these sorts of characteristics, the world NOTICES. And the world’s ATTRACTED. Because God’s kingdom IS attractive. Eternity is something people want a part of. How well are YOU showing it to people?

And look at what Jesus promises us. When we take our eyes off fleeting, earthly riches and pleasures and esteem. Then he promises something much better. Look down at v35.

(Luke 6:35 NIV)  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. THEN YOUR REWARD WILL BE GREAT,.

That’s glimpsing eternity. Forget EARTHLY rewards. And hang out for the ETERNAL prize. SO much better.

Look at the wonderful picture Jesus paints. When WE’RE generous, and loving, and merciful, and forgiving. Then GOD will be like that WITH US. We’ll get back IN KIND. But better. Look down in v38.

(Luke 6:38 NIV)  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Like the generous shopkeeper. Throwing in another half a bag of bananas. Or lollies. No half measures with God. He’ll give it all back to us. ABUNDANTLY. That’s living NOW with one eye on eternity.

4. Four mistakes/ traps

And that’s the end of his sermon – but Jesus hasn’t quite finished yet. Because he knows what sort of listeners we are. We like to have our ears tickled. Laugh at the jokes. Enjoy the stories.

But when we’re put on the spot, we’ll do ANYTHING rather than CHANGE. We like to keep what we hear at a distance. And not DO anything about it.

So Jesus lists FOUR MISTAKES we can make as hearers. FOUR WRONG ways of listening.

I think that’s the best way to take the next 10 verses. There’s a of tricky verses there.

Part of the problem is that Jesus says he’s going to tell them ONE parable. There in v39. And then he proceeds to tell them FOUR. So I think we’ve got to try to find some common thread through them.

And it seems to me that a helpful way of thinking about them is to see four traps hearers can fall into.

1. The teacher, but not the message

Firstly, we can avoid the message by picking holes in the teacher. It’s a mistake to focus on the teacher, but not the message.

I THINK that’s what Jesus is getting at in v39.

(Luke 6:39-40 NIV)  He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? {40} A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

Some people DISMISS Jesus. Say he’s nothing more than a blind man leading the blind. But that’s making a mistake. Because a student’s job is not to judge the teacher. Critique his technique. Or rate his performance. But that’s not HEARING. Or LEARNING.

A student’s job is to FOLLOW the teacher. Become fully trained. Become LIKE his teacher.

Sometimes WE can fall into that trap. Listening to SERMONS. We spend more time comparing techniques. And evaluating communication effectiveness than we actually do LISTENING to THE MESSAGE.

And Jesus calls us to BE CAREFUL we don’t hear like that.

2. Others, but not self:

The second mistake he highlights is focusing on OTHERS instead of ourselves. That’s the story about the guy with the plank in his eye trying to help out his mate with the speck of sawdust.

How often do YOU hear a sermon. Or read a Bible verse. And think. That’s JUST what BILL needs to hear. HE’s got a problem with anger. Or lust. Or laziness. Or greed.

And you completely miss the point. That God is speaking to YOU. That YOU’RE the one who’s got the problem with anger. Or lust. Or laziness. Or greed.

That’s not hearing. And Jesus warns you. “First take the plank out of YOUR eye”. That’s where you attention needs to be FIRST.

Are you hearing?

3. Actions, but not attitudes:

Third, Jesus says it’s a mistake to focus on ACTIONS, but not attitudes.

People like that are SO INTENT on DOING the right thing. And making sure people SEE that they’re doing the right thing. That the motive BEHIND the action gets forgotten.

It’s the HEART that counts. Make sure THAT’s right. And the fruit will follow. Worry about loving Jesus. And following him. And the actions will follow.

Like a tree and it’s fruit. V43.

(Luke 6:43 NIV)  “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.

The re of the TREE comes first. And then the fruit are a PRODUCT of the tree. Same with attitudes and actions. V45.

(Luke 6:45 NIV)  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.

So don’t walk away from today. Focussing so much on ACTIONS. Giving your cloak and tunic away. And letting people slap you on both cheeks. And taking advantage of you. That you forget about the ATTITUDE that comes FIRST. A HEART that’s right before God. That’s first.

Are you listening?

4. Hearing, but not doing:

And finally. The one that’s sums the rest up. Jesus has a word for those who LOVE TO LISTEN. Spiritual couch-potatoes. Love to soak up the words. And stories. Love to have their ears tickled.

But never get around to DOING any of it.

They call Jesus “Lord, Lord!” But their faith is built on NOTHING. QUICKSAND. In other words. It’s not true faith at all. And when judgment comes they’ll be swept away.

Like a house that’s been built on sand. With no foundations. Might be the best looking house in the street from the OUTSIDE. But it’s worthless when the flood comes.

Is that what YOU’RE life’s like? Pretty impressive on the OUTSIDE? But all built on shifting sand. Nothing solid underneath? Then HEAR Jesus. V47.

(Luke 6:47-48 NIV)  I will show you what he is like who COMES TO ME/ and HEARS MY WORDS and PUTS THEM INTO PRACTICE. {48} He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

May WE be people who HEAR what Jesus says. And DO IT. So that when the storm waters DO rage against us. We will stand.

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