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HG093+95 Matthew 8:19-22, Luke 9:51-62, John 7:10

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:48
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Luke 9:51–62 NIV
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
From now on, right until he arrives in Jerusalem Jesus and His disciples are on the road. In fact, Jesus is steadfastly set on getting to Jerusalem and its crescendo will be the triumphant entrance through the Mount of Olives and the Eastern Gate. For those of you at the Ladies Guild on Thursday you will know that this will be the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy as well as many others. Luke mentions the fact they are on the road ten times in the next ten chapters. What is looming large in the mind of our Saviour is the work that He had come to do.
John 12:27 NKJV
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
1 John 3:8 NKJV
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The work of the cross was THE reason Jesus had come and why He was in a hurry to get it done. The disciples were amazed though at Jesus for the words of Jesus had not sunk in:
Luke 9:44 NKJV
“Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”
As they were on the way they stopped at a particular village of people who were antagonistic to the Jews, who worshipped in their place rather than at the Temple in Jerusalem. And it was obvious to all that Jesus was not in the mood for staying but for getting to Jerusalem, so much so that the people of this village wanted nothing to do with Him. They rejected Him openly. And this is not at all surprising for I said the Samaritans were antagonistic to the Jews but it was also vice versa:

W. O. E. Oesterley, The Gospel Parables in the Light of Their Jewish Background (New York: Macmillan, 1936), p. 162, writes:

To the Jews the Samaritans were “strangers,” and were regarded with supreme contempt; the scribes had an especial dislike for them. The Samaritans were publicly cursed in the synagogues; and a petition was daily offered up praying God that the Samaritans might not be partakers. The testimony of a Samaritan was inadmissible in Jewish courts.

Did you hear that? The Jews actively prayed when they met together that the Samaritans would not receive eternal life. Well then, it is no wonder that James and John, after being indoctrinated in such a way would say the crazy things they did: Do you want us to call down fire from Heaven upon them?! Well, I think that they have exceeded the bounds of their authority! They, of course, had no such power. And they used the illustration of Elijah who was used to truly bring fire down from Heaven. On two occasions this happened: 1) to demonstrate that Lord God of Israel truly is God in contradistinction to the gods other people were worshipping and 2) to demonstrate God’s power over those who were rebelling against Him. The Samaritans did not reject Jesus because He is God but because He is a Jew and this because the Jews rejected had them.
No sooner had these words come from the mouths of these two sons of thunder, as Jesus called them, that He rebuked them and their attitude. God does not revel in the death of the wicked or those who reject Him. He desires instead that they would come to Him and realise the error of their ways.
And here we have another of those ‘for this purpose’ statements from the lips of Jesus: I did not come to destroy but to save. And so they moved on to another place. Hear the compassion of the Lord. He does not want to see people’s lives ruined but repaired, reconciled again to God. There was no anger, no disappointment, no discouragement, just pity that they chose to reject Him and so they went to find people who would receive the message of eternal life found in Christ alone. For those who would travel with Jesus there is ‘no turn or burn in hell and I hope you do burn’ attitude. We, also, are to have compassion and not retaliate when we are rejected.
Now we come to some hard things in relation to following Jesus. We have to be careful not to tone down the demands that Jesus makes.
We all know the song:
“I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.”
Well, if this is the case then what do we make of these next verses:
The first man said: I’ll follow You! Look! We’d say: ‘He’s decided!’ I think that we’d say: ‘Great, glad to have you along for the journey.’
But Jesus sees the heart. There was something that was going to keep him from keeping on further up the road. You see, we are told by Matthew that this man is a Scribe. Wow! To have a scribe on your side we would jump at the chance seeing as most were antagonistic to Jesus. The scribe said that he would follow wherever you will go.
There were quite a number of travelling rabbis in these days each with their own little following. We know that Jesus had quite an entourage with Him already for we know of the 12 Disciples and the 70 that He sent out - that’s 83 of them on the road along with many others, some who loved Him, some who hated Him, some hangers-on seeing where all this will lead. No doubt because of the many miracles Jesus had performed people knew He was a man of God, maybe the One who will topple the Roman Occupation and Herod. And the Scribe has got caught up in the moment thinking, perhaps, for we can only use conjecture, that he was looking for his place among the Palace dignities once all this has played out. He wanted to attach his apron strings to Jesus. But had no idea what was really in store.
So Jesus explains : Foxes have places to sleep, so do birds but on this journey I have nowhere to sleep or rest. And the man replied: OK, that’s alright. I’m still here for the journey. Erm. No! You’d think you would hear that - he said I will follow you wherever you go. But we hear no more at all, he slunk away into the crowds. Jesus doesn’t want followers for the moment. No one had told the Scribe that there were to be no Palace to sleep in.
What is the relevance of this today? Following Jesus may mean being literally homeless or having situations that are intensively uncomfortable. Being a Christian will, at some point, make us feel discomforted. If not, then we are truly not following Jesus. We, as Christians, are not aligned with present-day culture. Today’s culture is the antithesis of knowing Jesus - this has always been the case. We are to be a unique people called out from the world. Of course, we all like to fit in and not be one against the tide. Israel felt the same way when they looked around at the nations around them and saw that they had kings. So they wanted one too. This was a rejection of God who was supposed to be their Supreme King.
In fact we are told by Jesus:
John 15:19 NKJV
19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Well, despite the Scribes words, it was a shallow commitment, it was more about what he was going to get out of it. But the Gospel is not this. The Gospel is self-denial. And this Scribe, and by extension us, need to get to a place where we are in sheer desperation for forgiveness, for Heaven, not to go to Hell and for not putting any conditions upon how we are going to get it. It is not the people who say: “Lord, lord” who will get into Heaven but those who do the will of the Father, the will of God, and not be in it for some fancy life in the here and now. Yes, there is a crown in the end but it has to travel first through trouble and through the cross.
Now in the second instance it is Jesus inviting someone to follow Him. With Peter and Andrew, James and John, with Matthew and Philip they all immediately followed Jesus when called. When Jesus says ‘follow me’ it is one word in the Greek and it is a command. But here is a man who says: Wait a mo…I need to go bury my father. Well, by all means, Jesus says, go. Well, no, that’s not what happened. Why? Because his father was still alive! If he had died he would have been dealing with the 30 day mourning period that comes with that and would not have been on the road. It was a saying: I will but once my father has passed on.
We are not given an indication of how long this wait may be but was not going to be soon. He probably thought, hey, I’ve just listened to your conversation with the Scribe and how lacking you are in funds, with my inheritance, whenever I get that, could come in handy for the mission and there will be no need to sleep on the road at all but at the finest hotels. This man turned down the command of Jesus for an ease of life. We can surmise that the man thought: I’ve waited this long for my inheritance and now I am to simply give it up? And he knew that Jesus would say, that’s right. Jesus told him; But you go preach the gospel, the good news and the way of salvation which is of infinitely more worth than any worldly goods.
But no, he wants what is coming to him. We cannot be too harsh on such a man can we? Who here would have given up their inheritance? But, of course, this is something Jesus will ask of you if money is more important than Him.
Matthew 16:26 NKJV
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
And the third person said: I will follow You but first let me say good-bye to my family. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Well, he is not going to wait until his father is dead but perhaps he can raise some funds for a short-term mission trip. There is a problem here which Jesus picked up on. The call to discipleship is not easy. We have to remember something we have hear Jesus say already:
Matthew 10:34–38 NKJV
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
Jesus was saying you have to cut the cords with your family. Later in Luke Jesus says:
Luke 14:26 NKJV
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
The problem with the family is that they will change your allegiance and try to turn you away. This is also true of friends. I had a friend who was persuaded to become a Christian but the ties to other friends and family dissuaded him from continuing on.
It is interesting just how many barriers Jesus puts up, it would seem, to prevent them from having salvation but Jesus was after full commitment, not half-hearted but an undivided heart after Him.
There is no looking back afterwards. Those who pine after what they left behind, who are always remembering the comforts of home and hearth, who dream about how life might have been if they had not stepped onto the road with Jesus, who keep looking in the rearview mirror, will not do well on Jesus’ road.
William W. Borden was the heir of a wealthy Chicago family. In 1904 and 1905, at the age of eighteen, he travelled around the world. This was followed by a brilliant education at Yale and then Princeton Seminary, where he committed his life to seek to win the Muslims in China to Christ. Before he left, Borden gave away some $500,000 (equivalent to about £10m today) and served at the age of twenty-three as a trustee of Moody Bible Institute. In 1913, in his twenty-sixth year, he left for Egypt and never looked back. It was the final year of his life, because in Cairo he contracted cerebral meningitis. As he lay dying, he scribbled this note: “No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.” (Hughes, R. K. (1998))
Let me quote CS Lewis who said: There are only two kinds of people in the end. Those who say to God: “Thy will be done” and those who God says to in the end “Thy will be done”.
Today, Jesus is saying, no, not saying, commanding: “Follow Me!” Will you accept the challenge with no equivocation, no excuses, no demands, no requests and lay down your life for the One who also laid down His life for you?
Will you come and follow Me? is a song chosen by Beryl Griffiths for this evening that we are singing this morning instead.

Benediction

These words will only be for those who follow Jesus in the here and now:
Revelation 5:9–13 NKJV
9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Bibliography

Gaebelein, F. E., Carson, D. A., Wessel, W. W., & Liefeld, W. L. (1984). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Larson, B., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1983). Luke (Vol. 26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). The Gospel according to Luke. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2014). John MacArthur Sermon Archive. Panorama City, CA: Grace to You.
Schaff, P. (Ed.). (1879). Introduction, and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1). Edinburgh: T & T Clark.
Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 38). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 22:23 15 September 2018.
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