Luke 9:51-56 October 4, 2020 These are my notes or the gist of what I preached in our parking lot this morning. :)
INTRODUCTION – Last week Joshua reminded us of the glory God infused each of us with by creating us in His image; and then he helped us see the path to greatness as explained by Jesus in Luke 9:46-50. Jesus was not necessarily displeased with His disciples’ aspiration to greatness. He was clearly displeased with their chosen path to greatness, and their having adopted the world’s definition of greatness.
This morning - I want to talk to you about two major things from our next passage in Luke.; First, Your pursuit of your destiny or the will of God in your life; and Second - Textual problems in the scriptures, and your understanding of and attitude towards them.
If you have a Bible turn with me to Luke 9:51-56. Let’s read our passage together.
I want to start with the textual problem in this passage, even though it is at the end of our passage for today.
If you have a New American Standard Bible, you will note that in vs. 55 after the phrase “But He turned and rebuked them,” is a bracket, which sets apart a long compound sentence, which reads, “and said, You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And then at the end of that compound sentence is another bracket.
This bracketed sentence is the first major textual problem we have come across in our sermon series through the gospel of Luke; and while I would love to just skip over and ignore it - - I think the Holy Spirit would have us try to understand it.
One of the reasons I want to discuss it is because if you have an NIV or ESV or RSV or NLT translation of the Bible you will not see those bracketed words. Your Bible will instead read, “But He turned and rebuked them, And they went on to another village.” The translators of those versions evidently were confident the bracketed words were not God inspired scripture, and thus did not include them in the scriptures.
Now going back to the NASV, if you look closely at the beginning of the bracketed section of vs. 55 you will notice a little numeral one. If you then look in your notes in the margin of your Bible, which in my Bible are in the middle of the page; (in some Bibles these marginal notes might be at the bottom of the page) - - if you look for a note on vs. 55 with a little numeral one, in my Bible it says, “Early mss (which stands for manuscripts) do not contain bracketed portion”.
So the translators of the NASV (and the same would be true of the NIV, NLT, ESV and RSV) - these translators believe the most reliable manuscripts or copies of the original manuscripts of scripture are the oldest or earliest ones.
In the science or discipline of Textual Criticism, which is the study and analysis of ancient texts or documents, most scholars believe – when the original manuscripts of an ancient document are missing, and of course - most original documents are missing of documents that were written 2,000 or more years ago - - when these originals are not obtainable, then the copies of those documents that were written the soonest after the originals were written are in general the most reliable or trustworthy.
One of the many reasons why we have the utmost confidence in the authority and trustworthiness of our Bibles today is that there are over 5,800 copies of the original New Testament documents in Greek,which is the original language in which the NT was written. Many of these copies are complete; some are fragmented. This is a staggering amount of copies, when you consider that other ancient documents that we consider legitimate have nowhere near that amount of copies. For example - Homer’s Illiad has only 1900 copies and Homer’s Odyssey has only 574 copies.
One of the interesting things about the science of Textual Criticism in terms of the New Testament is even when you come across a passage like this compound sentence in vs. 55 & 56, or the story of the adulterous woman in John chapter 8, or vs. 9-20 of Mark chapter 16, nothing in these passages contradicts the doctrines or truths of scripture. So going back to our long sentence in vs. 55, 56, even if “and said, You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” was not in the original; even if Jesus Christ did not really say this in response to James and John wanting to burn this village of the ancient city of Samaria to a crisp - - this kind of response is very similar to other responses and statements Jesus made during His earthly ministry.
Did James and John know what kind of spirit or inner attitude or disposition they were of? No they obviously didn’t. They thought they were being totally righteous and just. Very likely they had in the forefront of their minds the prophet Elijah’s example when he called down fire upon the armies of the King of Samaria as they sought to arrest him. God clearly empowered Elijah to do that some 900 years prior to Jesus’s earthly ministry.
But Jesus ushered in a kingdom whose foundations were grace and truth and internal transformation. His kingdom is fueled by a far greater power than any army or weapon can provide – and that is the power of the cross or the power of redemption! In the kingdom Jesus established and is expanding among every tribe, tongue, people and nation – regardless of what their governments allow or do not allow – in Jesus’s kingdom - forgiving and extending mercy to our enemies is far more powerful and redemptive than destroying them by fire from heaven.
Is it true that Jesus Christ did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them as this disputed sentence says? Yes that is absolutely true and in keeping with other things He said about His purpose in coming to the earth and going to the cross. But those exact words in this instance were probably not in the original writings of scripture.
Now for those of you who may want to investigate the science or discipline of Textual Criticism further, you might want to start by getting familiar with Josh McDowell’s writings on the subject as kind of an introduction. You can find many of those at www.Josh.org. I do need to warn you – that some in the pursuit of biblical scholarship, have allowed pride to dull their spirits and corrupt their hearts. We do not ever need to be afraid of the science of textual criticism. We do need to be afraid of the destructiveness of pride and arrogance.
Alright. So that’s a very brief introduction to textual criticism as it relates to the disputed passage in vs. 55, 56.
Now let’s talk about fulfilling your destiny or the will of God for your life. I want to ask you a question. Who in scripture absolutely fulfilled the will of God for their life from beginning to end? One person right?
Jesus said to His Father in prayer these words just before He was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4) On the cross right before He breathed His last breath, Jesus uttered these words, “It is finished.” Jesus Christ fully and completely without a lapse fulfilled the will of God for His life.
Do you know where His 33 year destiny was finished? That’s right! In Jerusalem.
Jesus’s destiny or the will of God for Jesus was integrally entwined with this ancient city. Vs. 51 says, “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem;”
I find it very interesting that in Jesus’s transfiguration up on that mountain with Peter, John and James - that when Moses and Elijah appeared to Him they were discussing “…His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:30, 31). This discussion of course was about His upcoming unjust arrest and unjust trials, resulting in unjust and cruel beatings, culminating in one of the most horrible and painful forms of punishment and death known to man – crucifixion – all to happen in the city the Jews so prided themselves in – Jerusalem.
Jesus’s destiny and ultimate purpose was all wrapped up in this city. Our eternal destiny is centered in what happened in that city. And Luke wants us to know that as the time for this fateful but glorious day approached, Jesus determined, literally “set His face” to go there one last time and fulfill the Father’s will.
We do not know at which point in Jesus’s earthly life He discovered that the cross was His destiny; and that it was to happen in the “Holy” city. We know especially from Luke’s gospel that while Jesus was God from eternity past, …………. when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, He took on the form of a human, denying Himself the right to draw upon His deity or the attributes of His deity, and instead grew as a human in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). That is - Jesus knew what He knew, said what He said, and did what He did – while on earth – not because He was God, but rather because He was man dependent upon God the Father and submitted to the Holy Spirit. His revelation, like ours, was gradual, not all at once. Jesus chose to live His life on earth this way for many reasons – one being – so you and I could closely follow His example in everything He did. That’s why John the apostle said in his first epistle, “the one who says he abides in Him (or follows Him) ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.” (I John 2:6). And that’s why I want to ask you this morning – as Jesus followers – how is your determination these days to fulfill the will of God and the destiny that is on your life? How’s your face these days? Is it sad, is it shifty, or is it set? Do you want it to be more set, more determined? I doubt you would be here if you didn’t.
So as one who though fully God, was also fully man, and who lived as a man, not as God while on earth - - how did Jesus develop that kind of resoluteness to do God’s will? I want to suggest that He developed His determination or resoluteness from several daily practices: And the first one I want to touch on is that of meditating on the scriptures. When Jesus said to Satan, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” He said that from personal experience.
I believe Jesus discovered what God’s will was for Him – even being crucified on a cross - by meditating on scriptures like Psalm 22, Isaiah 50 and Isaiah 53 among others. These are just several of a number of passages that gave Jesus prophetic windows into how His life would unfold, and how He should live it.
Why don’t you turn with me to Isaiah 50. This is a fascinating chapter, wherein the Lord first rebukes the people of Israel for blaming Him for their problems, when the real problem was they were not listening to and responding to His voice and His overtures to them. Then in vs. 4 the coming Messiah Jesus begins to speak of His earthly life and practice even though He would not be born for another 700 years. His example in this passage is meant to be a glaring contrast with the people of Israel; a road map for Jesus once He was old enough to hear it read or read it Himself; and an example for those of us who want to follow in His footsteps. Let’s start reading at vs. 4 together and I will make a few comments along the way.
“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” Just like with you and I, God the Father was the initiator of His relationship with Jesus. He is a highly relational God who has much to say.
Jesus was able to powerfully impact people with His words, according to vs. 4 because He was daily powerfully impacted by God’s words to Him. God even woke Him up every morning often before the light of day (we are told in Mark chapter 1).
“The Lord God has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn back.” (vs. 5). One of the reasons Jesus was able to set His face like flint even though He knew His last trip to Jerusalem meant unbearable suffering was because He early developed a lifestyle of obedience to every word God the Father spoke to Him. God opens our ears, but we have to position our hearts to respond to what He says.
Vs. 6 - “I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.” This is a clear reference to those dark hours in His trials before Pilate and Caaiphas and the Sanhedrin Council where the anger and hatred of the Jewish leaders became unhinged at their Messiah Jesus.
In vs. 7-9 Jesus speaks of the great help God the Father (and implied the Holy Spirit) was to Him in those last hours of His life. “For the Lord God helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.” It was because of God’s daily help and encouragement that Jesus was able to set His face like flint and embrace the suffering that awaited Him. It is very likely that when Luke described Jesus’s resoluteness in Luke 9:51 he was thinking of this passage.
Jesus would suffer greatly – physically, emotionally, spiritually. But he was confident He would not be ashamed, and that God’s will would be completely fulfilled.
Vs. 8, 9 “He who vindicates Me is near; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. Behold, the Lord God helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them.” In fact many would contend with Jesus and accuse Him of many things increasingly as His earthly ministry drew to a close, though the gospel writers state that none of their accusations were found to be true. What Jesus is declaring here is that nothing anyone said or did could keep Him from accomplishing the will of God. They thought by killing Him they could finally put an end to Him and His ever growing movement. Little did they know His death was the predetermined plan of God to bring an end to the reign of sin and Satan and death in their lives and in yours.
Jesus’s daily pursuit of fellowship with the Father, listening to His voice, and meditating in His word gave Him great strength to endure untold suffering so He could make a way for you and I to be freed from the tyranny of sin and Satan.
The second thing I see in Luke 9:51 that enabled Jesus to remain resolute, and to set His face like flint was His eye was on the prize. Luke might have said, “When the days were approaching for His death or His crucifixion. But instead He said, “When the days were approaching for His ascension,…” literally “His taking up”. As awful as Jesus’s beatings and crucifixion were to be, His resurrection and ascension would soon follow. He knew deep in His spirit that, “…weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Jesus knew that the sweet unbroken fellowship He had enjoyed with the Father and with the Holy Spirit for all of eternity past would soon be restored to Him.
I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s declaration at the end of I Corinthians chapter 9, which is a chapter wherein he describes the process he underwent to become successful in reaching the lost. Here’s what he said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that , after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” I Cor. 9:24-27 Are you finding yourself increasingly detached from the things of this world, and increasingly longing for that day when you will be face to face with your Savior – enjoying all the glories that are promised to those of us who know and follow Him? That kind of expectation and longing is crucial to keep us determined in our pursuit of God’s will and destiny for our lives – no matter what kind of suffering and affliction we have to endure along the way.
OK. Well here’s the last aspect of Jesus’s example that I want to leave with you today from our passage in Luke 9. Jesus never let rejection, persecution, and hostility from others divert Him from His determination to fulfill God’s will and destiny for Him. And believe me, He encountered boat loads of it! If you are into alliteration, here’s the principle: Resoluteness Requires Righteous Responses to Rejection. We might even say in these days in America, Resoluteness Requires Righteous Responses to Rioting!
Jesus’s disciples wanted to burn up a whole village of Samaria as seen in vs. 54. But I’m amazed Jesus never wanted the same for Jerusalem! It was from Jerusalem that King Herod tried to kill Jesus when He was a baby. It was from Jerusalem that scribes came telling the crowds that were following Jesus that He was casting out demons by Satan’s power. It was from Jerusalem that “..some Pharisees and scribes came” and challenged Him asking, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And it just gets worse and worse to the point where Jesus not too long before His arrest and crucifixion, mourned over her saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34). Even after the horrors of His last 24 hours at their murderous hands, on the cross He uttered, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I find it very interesting that Jesus’s church - that would touch every corner of the known world in that first century - was birthed in Jerusalem and stayed centered in Jerusalem. You see Jesus knew what He was destined for; and He knew the fruit that would come if He would just stay focused on the goal and the prize.
One of the reasons Jesus rebuked His disciples as seen in vs. 55 is because He knew the Samaritans were not really rejecting Him; rather they were responding out of their decades long feud with the Jews, Jerusalem being the epicenter of those resentments and hostilities. Was it not in Samaria where a heart to heart conversation with a love sick woman led to many from her city believing in Him – per John 4? And was it not in Samaria some years later where Phillip the evangelist would see many turn to Christ? Per Acts 8. Things in our cities are often not what they appear to be.
It is my conviction that Jesus Christ wants to use you and others of His sons and daughters in your city to see people saved from their sins; healed from their sicknesses; and set free from their demons. He wants you to be His hands and feet and mouth to see the orphans and widows cared for; the poor fed and clothed and housed, etc., etc. But one of the obstacles to seeing that happen is many of His sons and daughters are highly distracted with the national political theatre, and some of the extreme behavior being played out in some of our major cities.
My Bible says, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” (Acts 17:26,27) That means God led your neighbors and fellow Los Osoians or MorroBayites or Atascaderoians to live in your city so that He could use you to help them see that only Jesus saves and heals and restores. But for you to feel about your fellow citizens like He does, which will require you to pray for them fervently so you can see them through His eyes, you will have to find more time to devote to this mission - - time and energy which especially in these days is being stolen from us because we have not yet learned that if I live in Los Osos my destiny is probably not too connected to Washington DC or New York City or even Sacramento, CA. When Jesus said of you and me that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, I doubt He expected my salt and light to affect those far away cities. He certainly expected it to affect the city He sovereignly placed me in.
Brothers and sisters the needs are great and the harvest is ripe in your cities. But there are many leaders in the body of Christ (and in the conservative movement) who would have you devote much of your time and energy to national issues, that not only rob your neighbors of your time and attention, but also harden your hearts towards them - especially if they have the wrong sign out in their front yard, or wrong bumper sticker on their car!!
Five years and a few months ago, just days after our sabbatical started, God spoke to me and asked me to refrain from any social media (emails, facebook, checking the news, sports scores, etc) until after I had been up with Him for 2 hours. I initially balked at such a suggestion, but since it wouldn’t go away, (since it wasn’t a suggestion), I decided I would wait for an hour and a half before engaging in those things. Well that went better than expected so some weeks later I began to wait for two hours. Then He stretched me to two and a half hours. And now He has me at three and a half hours before I check my emails, news, etc. Please know this was not my idea. I would have never dreamed the outside world could get along for all of that time without me engaging it!!!
What the Holy Spirit has helped me see through this is for me to fulfill my destiny to be salt and light and an effective minister of reconciliation, and an ambassador for Christ in my city and region, I need an ever big dose of Him, and ever greater boundaries with things in the wider culture that might distract me or harden my heart or cause me to want fire to come down from heaven on my enemies or the enemies of our nation.
Time of prayer