Luke 17 11 19 Commentary

Recently my family has found ourselves in some pretty interesting situations. In particular, this past February seemed pretty full of various trials and difficulties.

At the beginning of the month, our youngest son broke his sub-orbital bone in a sledding accident which required emergency surgery. Then I and both my boys suffered through the flu for about 5-7 days each.

And in both cases – with my son’s eye issue and my own physical health – it was a great relief to have functionality restored in my life. I was so grateful in the hospital as it became apparent that the surgery for my son’s eye was effective. And as my son’s double-vision has subsided my heart has been full of thankfulness. And then as my fever left, what a blessing it was to actually be able to get out of my bed and go back to work!

And so, it seems like in my life at least the level of deprivation that I was lifted out of served to fuel my thanksgiving.

And you know – God often intends things to work that way. He deprives you – takes things away or withholds things from you… in order to fuel your thanksgiving and gratitude toward him when he releases you from that deprivation – when he finally provides what you were lacking.

And so, for our time this morning I’d like to lead us briefly through a story in the life of Jesus Christ that demonstrates this principle of deprivation leading to thanksgiving – and the importance that God places on that second element – the importance of our giving God thanks and being thankful people.

So, let’s turn to Luke 17. And we’ll be considering verses 11 through 19. I’ll just read through the passage adding some comments and some thoughts at the end concerning how God intends to use deprivation to produce thanksgiving in our lives.

Setting the Scene

First of all, Luke sets the scene for us in verses 11 and 12.

KJV Luke 17:11 ¶ {And it came to pass, as he went/While he was on the way/Now on the way} to Jerusalem, {that he passed through the midst of/He was passing between/Jesus was passing along between/Jesus traveled along the border between} Samaria and Galilee.

So, Jesus is going from north-eastern Israel in Galilee and he’s heading down south to Jerusalem. And the route he’s taking is leading him right along the border between Galilee and Samaria.

Now, of course that mention of Samaria will become more important later on in the story.

On to verse 12…

12 {And as he entered into a certain/As he was going into a} village, there met him ten {men that were lepers/leprous men/men with leprosy}, {which stood afar off/who stood at a distance}:

So, Jesus comes to a particular village as he’s on his way to Jerusalem. And he meets 10 lepers.

Now, leprosy has been an incurable disease for much of the history of the world. From Old Testament times (and likely before that) until actually the 1940s there was no known cure for leprosy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy).

And what’s worse is that this spread from person to person. As a result, the leprous person experienced a great deal of deprivation. He had to live among other lepers, leaving his family and friends and all that he ever knew. It was a miserable existence.

An Urgent Request

Well, these lepers see Jesus from a distance and they have an urgent request for him.

13 And they {lifted up their/raised their/called out with loud} voices, and said,

Jesus, Master, have {mercy/pity} on us.

Mercy or pity is what the rich man in hell requested of Abraham. It’s what the blind beggar in Jericho requested from Jesus. It’s the request of one who has no resources and is in a pitiable condition… as that one is looking to someone else whom they believe can relieve some of their pain and suffering and deficiencies.

Jesus Answers

Well, Jesus doesn’t even hesitate in answering their request.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them,

Go {shew/and show} yourselves {unto/to} the priests.

Now, this is what the Old Testament required that a leper who was cleansed of his leprosy do to verify his cleansing from this otherwise incurable disease. Apparently sometimes it would just go away on its own – and when it did, the former leper needed to go show himself to a priest to have this fact verified.

Obedience Leads to Cleansing

So, for these lepers in this story, the implication is that Jesus cleansed them already of their leprosy – only he hadn’t, just yet. Because the verse goes on to describe that very thing happening.

And {it came to pass, that, as they went,/as they were going/as they went} they were cleansed.

So, they obeyed Jesus’ command. And as they did, he healed their leprosy.

They beg for cleansing. He says to go. So, they go – and as they do what he tells them to do, they get what they were asking for.

Now, the story could end there and we’d all be amazed at Jesus’ power to heal people of leprosy in a time when no cure for this disease existed. But that’s not the main point of this story. Jesus wants us to consider and know the importance of giving him thanks as he provides for us after a time of deprivation.

One in Ten

So, we hear the continuing story of one of those ten lepers in verse 15.

15 {And one/Now one/Then one/One} of them, when he saw that he {was/had been} healed, {turned/came} back, {and with a loud voice glorified God,/glorifying God with a loud voice/praising God with a loud voice}

So, just like all ten lepers cried out with a loud voice for healing back in verse 13, so now this one former leper cries out with a loud voice once more. And this time it’s not with a request. This time, he cries out with praise to God.

A Surprising Detail

So, he returns to the one who had healed him and we learn a kind of surprising detail about this man in verse 16.

16 {And fell down on his face/He fell with his face to the ground/He threw himself} at {his/Jesus’} feet, {giving him thanks/and thanked him}:

{and/Now} he was a Samaritan.

This man is so thankful and full of gratitude. And who wouldn’t be!

Well…how about the other 9 former lepers? All were cleansed. But only this one comes back to praise God.

So, you’d think that maybe this one is a very pious man – a man who is very close to God.

Nope. He’s a Samaritan. A loathed, despised, half-breed Samaritan. The kind of guy that most Jews of Jesus’ day would look at askance. Not only because he was an unclean leper – but because he was also an unclean Samaritan!

Jesus Marvels

And yet, he’s the one out of ten that is returning to praise the Lord. What a marvel! And that’s actually just how Jesus feels in verse 17.

17 {And Jesus answering said,/Then Jesus answered and said/Then Jesus said/Jesus asked}

Were {there not/not} {ten/all ten} cleansed?

The answer? Yes – all ten were cleansed.

{but where are the nine/But the nine– where are they/Where are the other nine}?

Answer – who knows! I guess the other nine were off enjoying their cleansed state without another thought of the one who cleansed them. They were enjoying the benefits of what Jesus is able to do for a person without enjoying Jesus himself.

More Marveling

So, Jesus continues to marvel at the nature of this one out of ten who returned to praise God.

18 {There are not/Was there no one} {found that returned to give/who returned/to turn back and/to return and} {glory/praise} to God, {save/except} this {stranger/foreigner}.

So, Jesus marvels that the only one who came back to show his gratitude was this one Samaritan. And this seems to indicate that perhaps all of the other nine former lepers were actually Jews.

What Gratitude to God Indicates

Well, to Jesus, what does this kind of gratitude after deprivation indicate? This is how the story ends in verse 19.

19 {And/Then} {he/Jesus} said {unto/to} {him/the man},

{Arise, go thy way:/Stand up and go/Get up and go your way/Rise and go}

{thy/your} faith {hath/has} made {thee/you} {whole/well}.

Now wait a second. We didn’t know anything about faith here. The passage has told us nothing explicitly about this Samaritan’s faith. All we knew was that this guy was cleansed and that he returned to thank Jesus.

But it’s that very heart of gratitude that Jesus points to as evidence that this man possessed true faith in him.

Application

And each of us can learn from the example of this Samaritan. Has God allowed you to experience a time of deprivation? Maybe it’s not as severe as the leper. But maybe you feel like in some ways it’s more severe. Whatever the case, perhaps God has taken something away from you that you feel is vital to a happy life. Or maybe he’s just never given it to you in the first place.

And perhaps God has subsequently turned to you and been gracious and provided for your need. What is your response to be? A gratitude and thankfulness to Jesus Christ that displays your true faith in him.

And for many of us, perhaps we really in many ways lack nothing. Maybe you’re not experiencing deprivation of any sort as far as you can tell. Well, do you suppose that Jesus wants something different or less from you than your praising him with your lips from your heart?

What Jesus wants from the person who has no need is the same as he wants from the person who is full of needs. He wants gratitude that displays your true faith in him.

So may the Lord give each of us such a heart to thank him – especially after he meets our needs after allowing us to experience times of deprivation.

Matthew 22 1-14 Meaning

Turn with me in your Bible to Matthew 22.

In our last message on this parable of the wedding feast, we discovered that Jesus spoke this parable in the context of hostility. The chief priests and Pharisees were seeking to kill Jesus. He had entered Jerusalem for the Passover and was teaching the people and was pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. And instead of repenting, they resisted God and tried to kill his Son.

And that gets us to this parable that I’d like us to read in its entirety once more.

So, let’s read Matthew 22, 1 to 14.

{Read Matthew 22:1-14…}

Intro/Review

Now, as we saw last time, the question posed for each of us to answer in this parable is, How Will You Respond to God’s Invitation to His Kingdom? He is inviting you to be a part of his kingdom. How have you responded to that invitation?

Well, we saw last time the example of the Jews – especially of the Pharisees and scribes – and God’s invitation to them.

We saw the wedding feast prepared by the king for his son. We saw the folks whose invitation was assumed – and they represented the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

We saw their being invited and their shocking refusal of that invitation. We saw the persistence of the king’s invitation to them and their persistent refusal of the invitation – some being ambivalent about it and some being antagonistic and even homicidal.

And we ended last time considering the destruction of those who had been invited. So, the Jews had been invited to the kingdom, but they for the most part refused the invitation. That’s basically what we saw in verses 1 through 7.

22.8-9 Inviting Everyone

But now things change in verse 8 to the end of the parable. Because in verse 8, we see the invitation – not offered only to the Jews – but we see the invitation going out to everyone.

8 Then {saith he to/he said to/he told} his {servants/slaves},

The {wedding/banquet/wedding banquet} is ready,

but {they which were/those who were/the ones who had been/those I} {bidden/invited} {were not worthy/did not deserve to come}.

9 {Go ye therefore/Go therefore/So go/Therefore, go/Go} {into the highways,/to the main highways/into the main streets/to where the roads exit the city/to the street corners}

and {as many as ye shall find,/everyone you find/anyone you find} {bid/invite} to the {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet/banquet}.

The Parable

So, the refusal of those who were initially invited does not change the reality that there is still a wedding feast to conduct. The king will have his wedding feast for his son – and if those who were originally invited didn’t want to come, then he’ll just open the invitation to everyone!

The Jews

From the context of the New Testament we see this kind of activity begin with the Great Commission in Matthew 28. Many of the Jews had rejected and crucified their Messiah. They had in that sense rejected the invitation to God’s kingdom. So, Jesus rises from the dead and in Matthew 28 he told his followers – who were exclusively Jewish – to go and to make disciples of all nations – all nations! Not just to the Jews to whom the invitation to God’s kingdom had originally been given. That’s where we see in real life the invitation being given to everyone in the world – not just God’s people the Jews.

Then we have the story in the book of Acts about Cornelius the Centurion – a Gentile – who receives the Gospel. And from that event the Jewish church in Jerusalem recognized that God had granted the Gentiles an invitation to his kingdom.

Later on in the book of Acts, we see Paul the Apostle telling some unbelieving Jews in Pisidian Antioch that due to their rejection of God’s invitation to his kingdom, he was going to turn to the Gentiles and minister to them and invite them to God’s kingdom. Paul did the same thing in Corinth and in Rome. When the Jews reject God’s invitation to his kingdom, he turns to the Gentiles and invites them.

God had changed his approach from inviting – for the most part – only Jews to his kingdom – to now inviting everyone – Jew and Gentile!

Us

And that’s where we come in. Because of the rejection of the unbelieving Jews so long ago, the Gospel invitation went out to the Gentiles – and most everyone who is hearing this message falls into that ethnic category.

I am not a Jew. I am a Gentile. And, whereas I have no right to demand to be invited to God’s kingdom, yet I have been invited. And so have you.

And it’s not because you’re more righteous by yourself than any Jew or that you are in some other way better than they are. It’s simply because they have rejected God’s invitation. But you have simply received it!

22.10a Effort of the Servants

Well, as we’ve seen in this parable, the king gives his servants new orders – go out and find anyone to come to this wedding feast for my son! And so, they do in verse 10.

10 {So those/Those/And those/So the} {servants/slaves} went out {into the highways,/into the streets/on the roads} and {gathered together/gathered} {all as many as/all/everyone/all the people} they {found/could find}, both {bad/evil} and good:

And isn’t this a humbling reality? Let me ask you – where did God’s servants find you? Where were you when God – through one of his servants – invited you to his kingdom?

I was at a political party’s booth at the Wisconsin State Fair proclaiming what I felt to be the truth concerning that party’s ideas and platform. I was a lost 20 year old entangled in all the things a lost 20 year old does.

But another way to describe to you where I was back in August of 2002 is that I was on the “highways” of life. Wouldn’t you classify where you were when God invited you to his kingdom as in “the highways?” Just “out there” somewhere? Wandering.

What were you doing out in those highways?

No doubt, some of us were upstanding moralistic people. Maybe you were the “good” that the servants found.

But equally as doubtless, most of us were in that other category. We were the “bad” or the “evil.” We were up to no good. We were rebelling against the King.

Picture with me the possibility in this parable that these servants find someone who was rebellious toward the king. And as the kings’ servants are approaching him maybe he’s thinking, “Oh no! They’re coming to execute me! What am I going to do?

But when the servants come, they don’t execute – they invite.

You deserved execution. Instead you were given a gracious invitation.

And by the way, this isn’t the main thrust of this parable, but who are the king’s servants now? These servants that the king commission to go out and invite into his kingdom – who are these people? Can you look around and see any of his servants?

You are his servants. And you have some inviting to do, don’t you? You’ve gone from being the invited to being the inviters – with the hope that some whom you invite will invite yet more who will invite others and so on.

I’m not talking about simply inviting people to our worship services – though there’s nothing wrong with doing that. I’m talking about inviting people to God’s kingdom – to receive his Son Jesus Christ by faith. To repent of their sins and trust in God’s son. That’s what we need to be about.

22.10b Result of the Servants’ Effort

Well, we saw the efforts of the king’s servants in the beginning of verse 10. Now at the end of verse 10 we see the result of the servants’ effort.

{and the/The} {wedding/wedding hall/wedding banquet} was {furnished/filled} with {guests/dinner guests}.

The king’s banquet is filled with those who were not originally called or invited – but now they have been invited and so there they are – so many of them.

And this really corresponds to our present reality. There are many, many folks who have – from external appearances – accepted God’s invitation to his kingdom.

According to a survey conducted by Pew research in 2015, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. That study conducted just four years ago indicates that there were 2.3 billion people in the world who consider themselves Christians. That was 31.2% of the world’s population.

In contrast, 1.8 billion are Muslim – which is the second-highest populated religion in the world. What that means in contrast is that there are a half-a-billion more Christians than Muslims in this world – 500 million more Christians than Muslims.

Another interesting contrast is that people who call themselves Jews are only 0.01 billion strong or 10 million. So, there are 2.29 billion more people who calls themselves Christians than there are Jews in this world.

The point is that God has sent his servants out now for the past two thousand years to proclaim his kingdom and invite both Jews and Gentiles to that kingdom. And as you can tell from the data, his kingdom seems to be filled with those who have responded to the invitation.

22.11 Inspection of the King

But the shocking reality that confronts us is that not everyone who has externally responded to God’s invitation to his kingdom is really in actuality going to be accepted by the King. Because we see in the last four verses of this parable that not all who are called – or invited – to God’s kingdom are actually chosen or accepted by the King.

So, we start these last four verses of the parable in verse 11 with the inspection of the king.

11 ¶ {And/But} when the king came in to {see/look over/view} the {guests/dinner guests/wedding guests}, he {saw there/saw/noticed} a man {which/there who} {had/was} not {on a/dressed in/wearing/dressed for} {wedding garment/wedding clothes/a wedding}:

Now, apparently, wedding clothes would have simply been clean clothing. This man is one of the many who were invited to the wedding feast for the king’s son. He’s sitting there with all of the other invited guests. But he doesn’t have the proper attire.

And the troubling reality is that there are – in churches across the world – people who come and they listen and they sing and they give. But they’re not clothed… in Christ’s righteousness. They have on – in God’s eyes – their own filthy rags of their own self-righteousness.

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:8-9, …I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”

And the Apostle John sees in his vision in the book of Revelation this righteousness of Christ pictured as a white robe or as white and clean fine linen.

John speaks in Revelation 7:14 of those who, “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Your robes were filthy – but it took blood to clean them. And while no one in this world would use blood to clean clothing, in this case the blood of Jesus is the most powerful cleaning agent ever known to heaven or to men.

Then Revelation 19:7-9 speaks of the wedding feast of the Lamb and the clothing that his bride is wearing:

KJV Revelation 19:7-9 …the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

So, all of God’s true people have this righteousness that comes through faith in Christ and not by your own merit or effort. And this righteousness is pictured as clothing – a wedding garment in this parable.

But as we see in this parable, there is this one guest who doesn’t have this wedding clothing on. Why?

He’s been invited. He’s accepted the invitation. But he’s not wearing wedding clothing. Why?

22.12a Question of the King

That’s what the king wants to know in verse 12.

12 {And he/So he/He} {saith/asked} {unto him/to him/him},

Friend, how {camest thou/did you come/did you get} in {hither/here} {not having a/without} wedding {garment/clothes}?

Because you need wedding clothes to get into a wedding feast. Even in our super-relaxed culture, there is certain clothing that indicates that you are going to a wedding or other special event. But this guy came in without that kind of clothing.

The king has a fair question. And one that should be answerable.

The inappropriately-dressed guest could perhaps point to a lack of money. But surely if that were the case – that this man is impoverished, and therefore unable to buy wedding clothes – the gracious king who so patiently invited all sorts of guests and was willing to provide them with all sorts of excellent and costly food could surely provide the necessary attire for this man. In fact, some say that at these weddings the host would actually provide these wedding garments to each guest.

Well, maybe the man somehow was unaccustomed to the marital practices of the area and didn’t know the requirement of the correct clothing. But if that were the case, you could assume again that the king could make some provision for this man.

22.12b Refusal of the Guest to Respond

But what we see in this parable is actually that the man offers no defense at all. He gives no reason for his refusal to be dressed in the proper clothing for this event at the end of verse 12.

{And he was speechless/And the man was speechless/But he had nothing to say}.

Now, it’s not that this man was bewildered and uncomfortable and embarrassed – and that’s why he didn’t speak. No – this man just had nothing to say.

It’s not that he was squirming in his seat and feeling guilty. He probably looked back at the king with an absolutely blank stare.

And this man in the parable represents any and all who have seemed to accept God’s invitation to his kingdom. They live among the people of God who are themselves entering this kingdom. But they themselves do not have Christ’s righteousness. They are still dressed in their own filthy rags of self-righteousness and sin.

And if that’s the case for you here today – and you persist in your refusal to repent and receive Jesus Christ – then you will be speechless at the judgement. You will have nothing to say.

22.13 Expulsion of the Guest

And that really is a terrifying position to find yourself in. Because there is indeed judgement coming for all who are apart from Christ, as the parable points to in verse 13.

13 Then said the king to the {servants/attendants},

{Bind/Tie up} him hand and foot, and {take him away, and cast him/throw him} {into outer darkness/outside, into the darkness};

{there/in that place there/where there} {shall/will} be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Now, it’s interesting to note whom the king is commanding in this verse. Five times so far in this parable, we’ve seen the king communicate with (or command) his slaves – his douloi. But this group that he addresses to do his bidding in this verse is different. Now, the king commands his servants – his diakonoi.

Because the slaves/douloi are kind of a picture of people like us – from the man whose full-time job it is to preach God’s word to the Christian who has been saved for a few weeks – we are commanded to go and preach the Gospel. We’re the slaves/douloi in this passage.

But we are not the servants/diakonoi. We are not commanded to cast people outside into the darkness. That role is reserved for the angels. And they’ll do this work at God the Father’s command at the judgement.

Now, just like this unprepared and unconcerned wedding guest in this parable, so too will be all who leave this world unprepared to meet their judge.

The guest in this parable – who had received the invitation to the kingdom but was not clothed appropriately – is thrown outside into the darkness. And all who reject God’s forgiveness through Christ – who are dressed in their own unrighteous rags rather than Christ’s righteousness – will be cast away from God’s presence into eternal darkness. They’ll be bound in the sense that they will never be able to escape their fate.

And for these people who have rejected Christ’s righteousness it will be truly hell – emotionally and physically. That’s what Jesus means when he speaks of weeping and gnashing of teeth – with weeping showing the intensity of the emotional suffering and with gnashing of teeth showing the intensity of the physical suffering in that place of torment prepared for the devil and his angels and where his children will finally join him.

22.14 Summary

Well, why does this happen this way? How is it that so many are invited to God’s kingdom but so few actually enter it eternally? Jesus explains that puzzling reality in the last verse of this parable – verse 14.

14 For many are {called/invited}, but few are chosen.

What does this mean? Well, consider what we’ve experienced in this parable.

Many were called or invited in this parable, weren’t they? You had the folks whose invitation was assumed, and they represent the Jews who were the first to be invited to God’s kingdom. You have the good and the bad whom the slaves could find in the highways. They represent the Gentiles that God is now inviting into his kingdom. And the wedding banquet ended up being filled with guests. Truly, many have been – and are being even now – called.

But who are the chosen in this parable? Are they the Jews? No – at least not by-and-large. For the most part the Jews are not chosen – though as Paul the Apostle would point out – he was! So, the Jews in this parable are not chosen – especially the ones who were being antagonistic toward Jesus.

What about the Gentiles? Are they chosen? Well, a number of them are. But then there’s this one who looks like he’s been chosen. But what key indicator let’s everyone know that he’s not chosen? He’s not clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

So, are you called or invited to Christ’s kingdom? Of course you are. The very fact that you are hearing the words of Christ from this passage in Scripture assures you that you have been invited to God’s kingdom. You are one of the many who are called.

But are you chosen? Are you – here’s a controversial term but a biblical one and it’s the one behind this word in verse 14 – are you elect?

Well, how would you know? Here’s the key – are you clothed in Christ’s righteousness?

Have you trusted that Jesus has died for every single one of your awful sins? For your sins – not just the sins of mankind – not just the sins of the world – but has he died for your sins? Are you confident in that – in him? Can anything shake your confidence in the fact that Jesus Christ bore your personal sins in his body on the tree?

If you are confident of this and relying on Jesus’ sacrifice for the forgiveness of all your sins – I have good news for you. You are chosen. You are in the group of the few who are elect.

And you didn’t do a thing to earn this. It’s Christ’s righteousness that clothes you. You would be shamefully naked on your own. But as the song says,

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
my beauty are, my glorious dress.

I trust that most of us hearing this message are elect. But no one should be so naïve as to think everyone here is.

Is there anyone who is still clothed in your own filthy fowl garments? Are you still in your sin? Are you seeking to establish your own righteousness and rejecting Christ’s righteousness?

Maybe you are a good person. People like you. But inwardly you think that you’ll be alright in the end because you are a decent, kindhearted, warm human being. You work hard. You try your best. And in the end, God will accept you.

That is what you’ll be thinking… until the moment you enter hell. You’re wearing the wrong clothing! Everyone else might miss that fact – that you’re not in the proper attire. The other invitees to the wedding feast might miss it. The people who invite you to the feast might miss it. But the king certainly will not. He will see that you are dressed in your own righteousness – and that will not be good enough for entrance into his kingdom.

You better change your clothes. Abandon your own way and your own righteousness – and put on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

We’re all called. Only a few are chosen. Demonstrate that you are chosen by trusting Jesus Christ today.

Matthew 22 1-14 Sermon

It’s always a privilege to be invited to some special occasion.

You can probably think of the excitement associated with finding out that you had been invited to some sort of event:

  • A friend’s birthday party or
  • The wedding of someone you cared about or
  • The retirement party of a co-worker.

Being invited to things like these can fill you with a special sense of acceptance and inclusion and honor.

Since the late 1980s it’s been a tradition for teams in the National Football League who have won the Super Bowl to be invited to the White House by the president of the United States. And most have accepted that invitation.

But some have rejected it. They have thought little of the privilege of being invited to such an event. And not just in the world of football – more recently there have been high-profile invitations to the White House that have either been rescinded by the president or rejected by a player who has been invited.

And yet, this isn’t merely a recent phenomenon. As far back as 1984 a few players from the ‘84 NBA-champion Boston Celtics rejected an invitation to the Reagan White House to celebrate their victory, with Celtic forward Larry Bird famously stating, “If the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me.”

Well, of course, the rejection of certain people of generous invitations by people of importance goes back farther than the 1980s. In a very real sense, God has called or invited all sorts of people throughout the millennia. And so-very-often that invitation has met with rejection – sometimes with ambivalence and sometimes with hostility.

And so, I’d like us to consider a passage that deals with God’s gracious invitation – or calling – and how people reacted to it. That passage is a parable in the 22nd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

So, let’s read Matthew – starting at the end of chapter 21 and verse 45 and reading through to chapter 22 and verse 14.

{Read Matthew 21:45-22:14…}

21.45-46 Context

{Don’t read this again… Skip ahead to my comments…}

KJV Matthew 21:45 ¶ {And when/When} the chief priests and Pharisees {had heard/heard} {his/Jesus’} parables,

they {perceived/understood/realized/knew} that he {spake/was speaking/was talking} {of/about} them.

46 {But when they sought/They wanted/Although they were looking for a way/They looked for a way} to {lay hands on/seize/arrest} him,

{they/but they} {feared/were afraid of} the {multitude/people/crowds/crowd},

because {they/the crowds/the people} {took/considered/regarded} him {for/to be/as} a prophet.

Hostility

Now, the context into which Jesus speaks this parable in chapter 22 is one of hostility.

It follows his entry into Jerusalem that is also known as “the triumphal entry” in which many were praising him and there’s a lot of excitement about his coming to Jerusalem for the Passover.

And the first thing that Matthew tells us that Jesus did when he entered Jerusalem is that he enters the Temple and sets things in order. He removes those who are greedily engaged in making money off of true religion.

And after that, Jesus engaged in healing those who couldn’t see and those who couldn’t walk.

And whereas all of these activities are wonderful and beneficial and demonstrated that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, the chief priests and scribes did not appreciate what was going on and they began to aggressively question and challenge Jesus.

Well, Jesus then leaves the city overnight and comes back the next morning and withers a fig tree that had no fruit on it.

He then proceeded to the city where he began teaching the people – and immediately the chief priests and elders again question him – this time about his authority to do the things he was doing. “Who gave you this authority?

Three Parables

And it’s at that point – in this context of hostility – where Jesus begins giving these men three parables – the third of which we’re going to focus on in our time here.

Two Sons and Their Father

But the first of those three parables involved two sons and their father. The father tells both boys to do something. The first one says he won’t do it but then ends up doing it. The second son says he will do it but ends up not doing it. The chief priests and scribes are like the second sons – they speak of doing God’s will but they don’t do it. And some of the tax collectors and prostitutes – really bad folks – are the ones who initially refused God’s will but then ended up doing it.

Tennant Farmers and Landlord

The second parable involves tenant farmers and the landlord who loaned them a vineyard. The landlord is due some produce from his land, but the tenant farmers are unwilling to yield any to him. The result is that these wicked tenant farmers would be destroyed by the landlord for their refusal to pay him what they owed – even killing his own son in the process.

In that parable, the chief priests and scribes are the tenant farmers, God is the landlord, and the vineyard is his people Israel. When the farmers kill the landlord’s son, it was a foretelling that the chief priests are going to kill Jesus, the Son – not of a mere landlord but – of God.

And that then leads to what we read at the end of chapter 21 – the chief priests and scribes realize that Jesus was speaking about them. And the result was that they wanted to kill Jesus but they couldn’t because of the crowd that was enjoying what they were experiencing from Jesus.

Called vs. Chosen

And so, Jesus begins his last parable about these religious leaders who were religious but lost. Or based on the parable, you might say that they were “called” but were not “chosen.”

And I don’t believe that we have the privilege of having any Jews in our attendance right now. We certainly don’t have any first-century chief priests or scribes here! But what we do have is a church full of people who – weekly, at least – have access to God’s word. Each one of us is being constantly invited or called by God to trust his Son Jesus Christ.

And so, the question put to us, as it was to the chief priests and scribes in Matthew 22, is this – How Will You Respond to God’s Invitation to His Kingdom? He is inviting you to be a part of his kingdom. How have you responded to that invitation?

So, let’s look at this parable in Matthew 22:1-14 to help shine the light for us onto how exactly we have responded to God’s invitation to his kingdom.

22.1 Intro

To begin in verse 1, we have an introduction in which Jesus sets the scene of this parable.

KJV Matthew 22:1 ¶ {And Jesus/Jesus/Once more Jesus} {answered and spake/spoke} unto them again {by/in} parables, {and said,/saying}

Here’s the parable…

22.2 Event: Marriage Supper

The parable surrounds an event. And the event is a celebratory supper in honor of a marriage, according to verse 2.

2 The kingdom of heaven {is like unto/may be compared to/is like} {a certain/a} king, {which/who} {made/gave/prepared} a {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet} for his son,

Kingdom of Heaven

Alright, so this parable is meant to communicate something about the kingdom of heaven. That’s the kingdom over which heaven rules. It’s the kingdom that will be on earth during the Millennium with its king – the Lord Jesus Christ – ruling. It’s the kingdom that will never end on into eternity. It’s the kingdom into which people like you and me are being transferred as we trust Jesus Christ and are then transferred from the kingdom of darkness.

Marriage

And the Lord Jesus pictures this kingdom as a wedding feast. Being invited to trust Christ and enter into his kingdom is like going to celebrate a wedding – with all the joy and anticipation that are associated with that kind of activity.

King & His Son

And note that a king is setting up this celebration. In this parable, the king represents God the Father. And the son of this king represents Jesus Christ.

Who’s the Bride?

Now, you have a marriage feast. You have a king. You have His Son. But who are we missing?

We have the groom. Where is the…? Bride?

Well, she’s actually not mentioned in this parable because the identity of the bride is not important for Jesus’ purposes in telling this story. But you can call to mind the fact that we’re told in Revelation 19 of a coming wedding supper of the Lamb and it’s the church that is going to be the bride. So, the bride is not identified in this parable, but she is us – those of us who have received the Lamb, the son of the King.

Summary of 22.2

So, that’s the event – a celebratory marriage supper for the Son put on by the King his Father.

22.3-7 Cycle 1

And with those details established, Jesus brings us to the first of three cycles in this parable. And these cycles involve only two actions – the king invites and the guests respond.

  • The first cycle spans from verse 3 to verse 7
  • The second from verse 8 to verse 10
  • And the third from verse 11 to verse 13, with Jesus then giving his summary of the parable at the end in verse 14.

And we’re only going to have time to cover this first cycle in verses 3-7 right now. And hopefully we’ll cover the others some other time.

22.3a Inviting the Invited

So, this first cycle begins with the invited … being invited – or you could say, the called … being called. There are people who are invited or called to receive Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven – and these people are pictured in verse 3 as now being called or invited to come.

3 {And/And he/He} {sent forth/sent out/sent} his {servants/slaves} {to call/to summon/to} {them that were/those who had been/those} {bidden/invited} to the {wedding/wedding feast/banquet to tell them to come}:

So, you’re being confronted in this parable with how you’re going to respond to God’s invitation to his kingdom.

Note here in this verse that there are some whose invitation is already assumed. They’ve already been invited from the vantage point of this parable. We’re going to see that these folks represent – in Jesus’ day – the nation of Israel. They were the recognized people of God. If you were to be transported back to this time in history and you were to look for the group that would have been identified as “God’s people” you would have been directed to Israel. They were invited – all of them – they were all called by God in a very special way to his kingdom.

And when Jesus their Messiah finally came for them, that calling took on a special urgency. The called were being called. The invited were being invited, in a special way.

And in our day, we can draw this connection – that the people meeting in this church building and in many others throughout the world are recognized as “God’s people.” You have been invited to God’s kingdom. Here you are in the midst of a bunch of people who are going to enter God’s kingdom! We’re all in a very special position to be hearing from God’s word and to continually be called by God to be members of his kingdom.

22.3b Refusal of the Invited

But at the end of this verse we see a very concerning reality. And that reality is that those who had been invited rejected the invitation.

{and/but} they {would not/were unwilling to/didn’t want to/refused to} come.

Now, catch this – this is meant to be shocking! If you’re carefully reading this story, a king is inviting normal folks to an elaborate wedding banquet to celebrate the joyful marriage of his son. What could possibly motivate someone to reject that kind of gracious invitation?

And yet, how many people in churches across the world are there physically sitting in the seats but they have not responded to God’s invitation to trust his Son? They have refused the invitation even while they’re sitting in the midst of others who are going to the kingdom. How shocking!

22.4 Persistence of the Invitation

And yet, the Lord is so gracious. Because in verse 4 we see God’s own persistence in continually inviting the invited to his kingdom – even after an initial rejection of his already generous offer.

4 {Again,/Then} he {sent forth/sent out/sent} {other/some more} {servants/slaves}, {saying/and said},

Tell {them which/those who} {are/have been} {bidden/invited},

{Behold,/Look!/That} {I have prepared my dinner/The feast I have prepared for you is ready}:

my oxen and {my fatlings/my fattened livestock/fattened cattle} {are killed/are all butchered/have been slaughtered},

and {all things are/everything is} ready:

come {unto/to} the {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet}.

So, note how patient and kind this king is. He’s laying out for those who were invited all of the blessings that come with their attending his son’s wedding feast.

And is this not what God the Father does for you in the Bible concerning the blessings that attend receiving his Son and entering his kingdom? Streets of gold are only the beginning! Mansions in eternity are just scratching the surface!

What awaits those who will receive Christ and enter God’s kingdom? We have eternal life. We have peace with God. We’re free from deserved condemnation. Our sins are all forgiven. We are redeemed from sin and its slavery. We have a sure foundation to base our life upon in this world. We have all things that pertain to life and godliness. We have Christ – a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We have communion with God and fellowship with his people. We will rule and reign with Christ in the Millennium. There’s coming a day when we will experience no sickness or sorrow or pain or death! And we could go on and on as to the blessings that God promises those who respond to his call to trust His Son.

God lays out for us in our mind’s eye in his word the blessings of his kingdom. And he’s constantly appealing to those who are in our midst to enter his kingdom. He’s appealing to you through this parable and through this message that seeks to explain and apply it to you. How will you respond to God’s gracious invitation to his kingdom? He’s graciously calling you.

22.5 Ambivalent Persistence of the Refusal

And yet, the persistence of the king to graciously invite these ones who have been invited to his kingdom… is only matched by the equal persistence of those who had been invited to resist the king’s invitation in verse 5.

5 But they {made light of it,/paid no attention/were indifferent} and went {their ways,/away/off} one to his {farm/own farm/field}, another to his {merchandise/business}:

So, the king invites. The invited refuse the invitation. The king sends a more elaborate and explicit invitation. The invited persist in refusing the invitation.

And doesn’t this resemble the response of some who are even members of places that call themselves churches? Maybe even some among us – either now or in times past. Maybe some of our loved ones to whom we’ve witnessed and who are in a special position of hearing and receiving God’s invitation to trust His Son and enter His kingdom.

You hear the call – the invitation – but you do nothing about it. You take no action. Access to the kingdom of heaven is offered, but you refuse it. Not violently, but just out of indifference and apathy. You have other things to attend to.

These people in the parable had farms and businesses to get back to. They didn’t have time for the wedding banquet. “Who needs a wedding banquet? We’ve got work to do!” was their mantra.

And in our day, a churchgoer might be so concerned with social justice or feeding the poor or trying to bring about world peace or really, just living this mundane natural life that he really has no time to receive the simple invitation to trust Jesus Christ to forgive him all his sins. “Who has time for dealing with sins and humbling himself before God? I’m busy working in the soup kitchen!” is the mantra of people like this.

22.6 Antagonistic Persistence of the Refusal

Well, even worse than the ambivalent refusal of some of those who were invited… is the antagonistic refusal that we see in verse 6.

6 {And the/The} {remnant/rest/others} {took/seized} his {servants/slaves}, {and entreated them spitefully/and mistreated them/insolently mistreated them/treated them outrageously}, and {slew/killed} them.

Now, remember what’s happening here. This king is graciously inviting people to his son’s wedding feast. These people who are invited need to pay nothing. They will have an abundance of provision when they get there. There will be joy.

The king has been gracious in inviting these people. And he’s been gracious to respond to their initial rejection with more grace and more patience and more explanation of how wonderful this event was going to be for them.

And yet, we saw that some continued in their ambivalent refusal. And the reasoning of that group was hard enough to understand.

But now this – that some of those who were invited actually got violent with those who were sent by the king to invite them – to the point of killing these people who simply served as mouthpieces for the king. This is the classic case of people “shooting the messenger.”

Although, when people metaphorically or literally shoot the messenger usually that messenger is bringing bad news. But in this case, the messengers are bringing the best news that could ever be brought! The antagonistic rejection of these people to the point of killing the king’s servants is just ridiculous. It’s outrageous!

And of course, in the immediate context, Jesus is prophesying to these chief priests and scribes that they were basically going to engage in this kind of activity. They were going to kill the messengers that God had sent them to invite them to the kingdom – who would preach God’s word to them concerning the King’s Son – Jesus Christ.

And in our context, it’s disheartening – though it shouldn’t be a total shock – to see the kind of antagonism God’s servants can receive – even from those who claim to be among that group of those who are invited to the kingdom. The antagonism that can be shown to God’s messengers by those who claim to be God’s people is a discouragement. And yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise. It happened in Jesus’ day as well.

And God is so patient – even to those who persistently reject his invitation to his kingdom. Think of how he patiently endured the persistent and violent rejection of Saul of Tarsus until finally Jesus had to arrest him on the way to Damascus. And think of how the Lord had patiently pursued you until you finally received his gracious invitation to trust Christ and be forgiven all your sins. And for any here who have not yet received God’s invitation to his kingdom – he is still patiently inviting you. The opportunity still awaits you. What are you waiting for? Receive God’s invitation to trust His Son, Jesus Christ and enter his kingdom.

22.7 Destruction of the Refusing Invited

Because – though he is amazingly patient – God won’t wait forever. At some point, the Lord needs to give those who reject his offer what they really want – just like the king in this parable does in verse 7.

7 {But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth:/But the king was enraged/The king was furious!}

{and he/he/so he} {sent forth/sent/sent out} {i.e., not his servants this time, but…} his {armies/soldiers/troops/army}, and {destroyed/they put to death} those murderers, and {burned up/set on fire/burned down} their city.

And so, the immediate fulfillment of this happening was when the city of Jerusalem was burned by Rome in AD 70. The invitation was laid out for Israel and the king even sent his own Son to invite them. But after decades of persistent refusal and rejection – some of it being ambivalent and some antagonistic – the Lord needed to do something about it. And so, he sent Rome to burn the city of those who had been invited but who had rejected that gracious invitation.

And for any who hear this message and continue to reject God’s invitation to the kingdom, I anticipate that God will continue to graciously call and invite you. But at some point, there is an end.

For those of us with loved ones – and God has used you to call and invite these folks in your life to the kingdom – but they continue to reject the advances – well, there is coming a time when time is up for them. God is patient. But he won’t wait forever. And none of us ought to reject God’s invitation and act as if he’s never going to take action. He will. It’s appointed to man once to die and after this the judgement.

And the amazing thing is that the Judge who will be adjudicating that judgement spoken of in Hebrews 9 is none other than the Son in this parable – Jesus Christ. God is inviting you to trust his Son, the Judge. Have you?

Many of us have. And yet, I assume not everyone has. If you have been rejecting God’s invitation to trust his Son – why wait? You don’t know how much longer God’s patience will hold out for you.

How will you respond to God’s invitation to his kingdom? Will you receive it? Have you received it? Or will you reject it like the chief priests and scribes of Jesus’ day – and rather receive the destruction that they received? You can receive God’s invitation or God’s wrath. It’s one or the other. There’s no third option.

So, may today be the day of salvation for someone who hears Jesus’ message urging that we respond to the invitation to his kingdom.

Sermon for Children from Luke 2:40-52

All of you in this room are children. Even I’m a child – because I have parents. I don’t live in their home anymore, but I still recognize that I am their child and they are my parents.

But many years ago, I did live in their house. I did eat their food. They did buy me clothes. They paid for my education and my medical care and whatever else I needed.

When I think about it, my parents did a lot for me. They weren’t perfect of course, but God used them to provide for me.

And I would assume that you all have similar circumstances {I am teaching this to 10-12 years-olds…} Your parents aren’t perfect, but they do provide for you. They do make sure that your basic needs are met.

So, I’ve mentioned perfect parents and how none of us have them. No parent is perfect. But did you ever think about being a perfect child?

Are you a perfect child? If you were, what would that look like? How would you treat your parents? How would you interact with your siblings? What would you spend your time doing at home?

The reality is that none of you is a perfect child. You have your flaws and your faults. You have your sins.

But did you know that there has been one perfect child in the entire history of humankind? And that child was Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that he “knew no sin.”

And this is because Jesus’ father was God. So, as God, Jesus was sinless.

And yet, his mother was Mary. And because of that, Jesus was a human who was quite possibly capable of sin.

But he never sinned. He was the perfect child. And if you want to be getting close at all to being that kind of child, you are going to need to be more and more like him. You need to be increasing in your Christlikeness – in your being more and more like Jesus Christ – “Christ-like”.

And so, I want us to look at a story from the life of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Luke in which we see How to be a Perfect (or “Christlike”) Child. Turn to Luke 2. And we’ll be studying verses 40-52 in order to see How to be a Christlike Child.

Let’s first read Luke 2:40-52 and then we’ll study this in detail.

{Read Luke 2:40-52…}

v40 Dependence Upon God for Growth

To begin with, a child who is like Christ is dependent upon God for growth in his or her life like Jesus was in verse 40.

KJV Luke 2:40 And the child {grew/continued to grow}, and {waxed/become/became} {strong in spirit/strong}, {filled with/increasing in} wisdom: and the {grace/favor} of God was upon him.

So, this is speaking here of the time between when Jesus was a baby and when he was twelve years old. And all the Bible tells us about this time in Jesus’ life is that he grew. So, a child who wants to be more like Jesus also needs to grow.

You need to grow naturally. This includes both physical growth and mental growth. Your body needs to grow and your mind needs to grow.

In terms of your body growing the way God wants it to, you need to eat right. That means something other than potato chips and candy every once in a while! So, don’t give your parents a hard time when they serve you some brussels sprouts or broccoli or whatever else you find to be disgusting! It’s for your good in order to help your body grow the way God intends for it.

Also, exercise is important to help your body grow. I hope we don’t have anyone here who just sits around all day! You need to get active and run around. This will help your body grow. So, don’t think that gym class or recess or sports are all worthless. No – they’re part of God growing you physically – growing your body.

And so, you need to grow physically like Jesus did. You also need to grow mentally. Jesus grew in wisdom.

So, if you want to be like Jesus as a child you need to exercise your mind. School work and homework are not bad things. They will help you grow mentally.

And on the flip side, what are some things that will not help you grow mentally? How about plopping yourself in front of the TV or your computer or your phone and mindlessly entertaining yourself for hours? Playing the right kind of games can exercise your mind – but be careful that you aren’t just letting your mind get lazy with all of the games you play. This would not help you grow in wisdom like Jesus did.

And I will add that Jesus wasn’t simply smart. That’s not what it means that he grew in wisdom. Instead, he could take his knowledge and apply it to real life situations. For example, you might know that Jesus is God and that he was perfect and that he died for your sins – but unless you apply that knowledge and actually trust him to save you from your sins, it won’t do any good. You need to take your knowledge – that Jesus is God and sinless and that he loves you and died for you – and you need to do something about that – believe in him.

So, you want to be like Jesus in his physical and mental growth. But as you do these things, you really do need God to be helping you – like he helped Jesus. “The grace of God was upon him.”

God’s grace is when he helps you. When he gives you the things that you need. You are not going to be like Christ without God’s help.

And if you want God’s help, the Bible tells you to humble yourself before God. Don’t be proud. Don’t think that you’re doing just fine and that you don’t need God’s help. If you think you don’t need God’s help – guess what! He’s not going to give it to you. He will resist you and make life hard for you. In fact, maybe that’s the problem in the lives of some of you. Maybe God is making life hard for you because you don’t think you need him. You do need him! We all do.

And so, if you want to be a Christlike child, you need God’s help to grow physically and mentally.

v41 Family Religion

And another really important part of being a Christlike child is your family’s involvement in true biblical religion.

41 ¶ Now {his/Jesus’} parents went to Jerusalem every year {at/for} the feast of the passover.

Now, the Passover was a religious event that God’s people in the Old Testament would celebrate every year. It was a time when they would remember that God saved them out of slavery. God wanted his people to remember and celebrate that at least every year.

And what we see in verse 41 is that Jesus’ parents – Mary and Joseph – would do what God wanted them to do by going to the Passover celebration in Jerusalem – their capital city.

And this is kind of out of your control in some ways. You as a child are not going to be able to make your parents follow God. You can’t make your parents get involved in biblical religious things like going to church and reading the Bible and praying.

But you can encourage them to do this. Some of your parents are here today at church and some are not. If your parents aren’t here, maybe you can invite them to come! You can ask them to read the Bible to you tonight and every night. You can ask your parents to pray before you eat your meals or before you go to bed.

And maybe what your parents need to see is you doing these things – you reading your Bible – you praying – you continuing to come to church.

And we as a church pray that you would grow to become more like Jesus Christ as your family gets involved in true biblical religion.

v42 Personal Religion

But it’s not enough that your family is involved in true biblical religion. You yourself need to be personally involved. Because this is what we see Jesus doing in verse 42.

42 {And when/When} he {was twelve years old/became twelve}, they went {up to Jerusalem/up there/up} {after the custom of the feast/according to the custom of the Feast/according to custom}.

Again, it’s Jesus’s whole family going to Jerusalem for this biblical religious celebration. But he’s with them. He is personally participating in this celebration and time of worship.

And we might have some here today whose family comes to church – but you really have no interest. You’re here because your parents are here and therefore you must be here!

But if you had a choice, where would you be? What would you be doing?

Well, Jesus is God. He could have been doing whatever he wanted. And what did he want to do? He wanted to meet with God’s people and obey God’s commandments for them and worship the Lord his Father.

And we’re going to see in a little while that Jesus was a willing participant in this. There’s a way to come to church and be with God’s people but your heart is not interested at all in being there. Your body is there but your heart is somewhere else. That’s not what was going on with Jesus. He was all there! And you and I should be, too.

So, you want to be a Christlike child? Take biblical religion seriously on a personal level.

v43-45 Miscommunication/Priorities/Inconvenience

Now, you might get the wrong impression about what life is like for a Christlike child. If you think that being a child who is dependent on God for your growth and whose family is involved in biblical religion and you yourself are also involved – well then, everything is going to be perfect.

That’s simply not the case. In fact, we’re going to see in Jesus’ life that even for a “perfect” or Christlike child:

  • There is still a possibility for miscommunication with your parents
  • Sometimes your spiritual priorities might be different from those of your parents
  • You might end up causing some level of inconvenience for your parents

We see all of these things in Jesus’ life in verses 43-45.

43 {And when they had fulfilled the days/After spending the full number of days/But when the feast was over}, {as they/while his parents} {returned/were returning/were returning home}, the {child/boy} Jesus {tarried/stayed} behind in Jerusalem; {and Joseph and his mother/But his parents/His parents/but they} {knew not of it/were unaware of it/did not know it}.

44 {But they, supposing him to have been/but because they assumed that he was/Thinking he was} in {the company/the caravan/their group of travelers/their company}, {went a day’s journey/they traveled on for a day};

{and/then} they {sought/began looking for} him among their {kinsfolk/relatives} and {acquaintance/acquaintances/friends}.

45 And when they {found him not/did not find him}, they {turned back again/returned/went back} to Jerusalem, {seeking/looking for/to look for} him.

So, we see from Jesus’ life that for a Christlike child, there is still a possibility for miscommunication with your parents. Somehow Jesus and his mother and Joseph had not agreed on a time and place to meet and then leave Jerusalem.

And you – even if you are striving to be a Christlike child – you might say something that your parents don’t quite understand, or they’ll say something that you don’t hear or you forget. Maybe your parents will tell you something that you don’t understand.

That’s OK in a way. It looks like this is what happened with Jesus. His parents thought he was with them and so they left town without him.

And at times, this disconnect might be because sometimes your spiritual priorities might be different from those of your parents. Especially if your parents are not themselves also Christlike – trusting Christ and following him – but you are following Jesus – then what you think is important spiritually will be different from what they think is important.

And because of all of this, if you are striving to be a Christlike child, you might end up causing some level of inconvenience for your parents. You might make their life a little difficult if you are following Christ and they are not. And the opposite is true, too. If your parents are the ones who are trying to be like Christ, and you aren’t, then you’ll still probably tend to make their life difficult.

And quite honestly, even when parents and child are both pursuing the Lord there’s still a possibility for life being a bit difficult.

And that’s OK. Just remember that if you are growing to be a child who is like Jesus you might still experience miscommunication with your parents, you might have different priorities than they do, and you might cause them some inconveniences.

v46 Relationship to Spiritual Things/Leaders

Well, another mark of your being like Christ as a child will be your relationship to and interactions with spiritual things and spiritual leaders in your life. Let’s see how Jesus handled these things in verse 46.

46 {And it came to pass, that after/Then, after/After} three days they found him in the {temple/temple courts}, sitting {in the midst of/among} the {doctors/teachers}, {both hearing/both listening to/listening to} them, and asking them questions.

This would be like if your parents came and found you talking with Pastor Kindstedt and me and Mr. Jeremy – and we weren’t just talking about the weather or about your summer vacation or some other thing like that – but we were actually speaking of spiritual and biblical things.

Jesus was comfortable at the age of twelve speaking to spiritual men about spiritual things. Are you?

This is one area that I desire for my own kids – that they would not be afraid of speaking to spiritual leaders and people – even when they’re adults. I think it’s very important that kids learn to speak to adults.

Some of you tend to shy away from speaking to grown-ups in church. Don’t do that. Reach out to us. We’d like to talk with you.

And when you talk with us, we’d like to speak about the Bible. Come with questions. If you have questions that come up throughout the week, write them down and bring them to us on Sunday or Wednesday night and let’s talk about them from the Bible.

And if you’re going to be growing in being like Jesus – and being able to give answers to spiritual people – you’ll need to be reading the Bible yourself.

So, as you desire to be a Christlike child, there needs to be a growing interest in spiritual and biblical things and a growing comfort and familiarity with spiritual people and leaders.

v47 Surprising

Now, quite honestly, it’s very unusual for anyone – especially a kid! – to be like this. And so, don’t be surprised if your being like Jesus is a surprise to others, like we see in Jesus’ life in verse 47.

47 {And all/Everyone} {that/who} heard {him/Jesus} {were/was} {astonished/amazed} at his understanding and {i.e., his…} answers.

Really, if you kids were to come up to Pastor this morning and start asking him spiritual questions and talking to him about what you were reading in your Bible, the reaction from some people might be a happy shock!

Now, obviously Jesus is God and his understanding of spiritual things would have been indeed amazing. But I’m telling you that it wouldn’t take much from some of you to amaze the people here at this church. If you actually were reading your Bible and then came to church and told an adult about what you read, I think even that would cause some of us to be amazed.

Do you want to amaze and surprise people in this church? You don’t need to dress funny, and you don’t need to do weird stuff to your hair, and you don’t need to speak out of turn. You just need to be growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ.

v48-49 Parental Disagreements

Now, it might surprise you to know that even if you are growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ, that there still might be times in which your parents and you don’t see eye-to-eye. This actually happened in Jesus’ life in verses 48 and 49.

48 {And when they/When they/When his parents} saw him, they were {amazed/astonished/overwhelmed}:

{and his/His} mother said {unto/to} him,

{Son/Child}, why {hast thou/have you} {thus dealt with us/treated us this way/treated us like this}? {behold, thy/Behold, your, Look, your/Your} father and I have {sought thee sorrowing/been anxiously looking for you/been looking for your anxiously/been anxiously searching for you}.

49 {And/But} he {said unto them/said to them/replied/he asked},

{How is it that ye sought/Why is it that you were looking for/Why were you looking for/Why were you searching for} me? {wist ye not/Did you not know/Didn’t you know} {that I/I} {must be about/had to be in/must be in} my Father’s {business/house}?

And so, Jesus and his parents didn’t agree in this situation, did they? Mary is kind of angry at Jesus. She was amazed or astonished or overwhelmed. And her question to him kind of reveals that she doesn’t quite know what to say – she’s just kind of angry that she’s just wasted about four days of her life trying to find her son.

Have you ever had a time when your parents didn’t understand why you did something? Maybe they got angry at you. And probably most of the time, they should be angry at you. As children, we make a lot of mistakes and we disobey a lot and we sin quite a bit. And so, it’s a natural response for a parent to get angry at his child when he’s disobeying.

But in Jesus’ case, there was no disobedience. This was God the Son – Jesus – spending time in his Father’s house – in God the Father’s house. Mary speaks of Joseph as if he was Jesus’ father. And Jesus needs to clarify that – no – he had been in his real Father’s house the whole time – in the temple.

And even Jesus’ response doesn’t indicate sin or rebellion or disobedience. He simply states the fact – you should have known where I would have been – in my Father’s house doing my Father’s business.

And again, if you are in the situation where you are personally growing to be more like Jesus Christ but your parents aren’t, this kind of misunderstanding even to the point of disagreement is likely to happen in your family.

v50-51 Obedience to Parents

And so, when you and your parents disagree, you have two choices. You can choose to disobey them, thinking that they don’t know what’s best in your situation. But that’s not what Jesus did.

Rather, in verses 50 and 51 we see Jesus – even though he’s God and even though he’s totally right – obeying and submitting to his earthly and imperfect parents who don’t quite understand him.

50 {And they understood not/But they did not understand/Yet his parents did not understand} {the saying which he spake/the statement which he had made/the remark he made/what he was saying} {unto/to} them.

51 {And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth,/Then he went down to Nazareth with them} and {was subject/he continued in subjection/was obedient} {unto/to} them:

{but/and} his mother {kept/treasured} all these {sayings/things} in her heart.

Jesus’s parents did not understand him. And yet, he obeyed them. Don’t be tempted to think that you should obey your parents only when they completely understand everything about the situation. No – obey your parents even when they might be confused and ignorant about the situation. This is what Jesus did and it’s what you should do as well.

And did you catch that Jesus’ mother even took notice of this event? Even though she didn’t quite understand what was going on, she still remembered these things in her heart. And she probably ended up telling these stories to the writer of this book – the Gospel of Luke. Luke probably heard these stories directly from Jesus’ mother Mary.

And so, if you want to be growing to be more like Jesus Christ, obey your parents even when they don’t perfectly understand you.

v52 Continued Growth

So, if you do these things and are growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ:

  • You are depending on God for growth in every area
  • Your family is involved in biblical religion – or at the very least, you are
  • You might experience miscommunication with your natural family and might have different priorities and place different values on spiritual things than your family would and that possibly leads to some inconvenience for your family
  • And yet you are even growing in your closeness and familiarity with spiritual leaders and spiritual teachings
  • You’re maybe surprising others because of your growing to be more like Jesus
  • You might have disagreements with your parents and yet…
  • You are committed to obeying them

Well, if some or all of these things are happening in your life, then you will very likely experience what Jesus himself experienced as he moved on from this situation in his life that we’ve been studying today – and you will experience continued growth.

52 ¶ And Jesus {increased/kept increasing/grew} in wisdom and {stature/in stature}, and in favour with God and {man/men/with people}.

So, Jesus obeyed his mistaken sinful earthly parents. And catch this – he was not harmed by doing that.

Instead, he grew in every area. He grew mentally – in wisdom. He grew physically – in stature.

And then supernaturally, he grew spiritually – he grew in favor with God. And he grew socially – he grew in favor with man.

Now, the last thing I want to remind us is that there’s only one way for you to grow in favor with God. There’s only one way to get God’s favor – to get him to bless your life. And that is to trust in the one whom we’ve been studying – to place your full faith and trust in Jesus Christ – the only perfect child and the only sinless man who has ever lived.

And he perfectly died for your sins so that if you believe in him, he will save you from your sin and from an eternity separated from God the Father.

It is impossible for you to grow in favor with God unless you humbly confess your sin and trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive you all your sin.

If you are trusting in Jesus right now, God will see to it that you grow to be more like him. And if you don’t trust Jesus right now, he is ready to save you from your empty meaningless life and from your dangerous and harmful sin.

So, I urge you to trust in Jesus right now. Why wait? What could you possibly be waiting for?

And if you have trusted Jesus – by God’s grace he will grow you to be more like the perfect child – to be more like Jesus Christ your Savior and example.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

In this post we’re going to study the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. You can find that parable in Luke 18:9-14.

The Audience (Luke 18:9)

Luke 18:9 tells us for whose sake the Lord Jesus Christ spoke this parable.

So, that’s the audience. That’s whom Jesus is speaking to. He’s addressing the kind of person who: 1) trusts in himself and thinks he’s righteous and 2) who thinks little of others.

Are you that kind of person?

Do you think you’re a good person? Are you confident that you are better than others? Are you proud of that fact? Are you trusting in your own goodness? Do you despise those people whom you think are less righteous than you are?

If you’re like that, then this message is for you straight from the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s speaking to you right now. Listen.

The Parable (Luke 18:10-14)

The Scene (Luke 18:10)

Jesus starts to tell a story in Luke 18:10.

Two Guys

So, here these two guys are.

Pharisee

The first guy is a Pharisee. He’s religious. He’s viewed as a model of religious devotion. In Jesus’ days you couldn’t exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. This man was righteous – he was a good man – and he knew it and others knew it.

Tax Collector

The other guy is a publican – a tax collector. Do any of you still have to file your own taxes? When you last filed your taxes, was that a pleasant experience? Some people aren’t too happy with the IRS these days, and it wasn’t any different in Jesus’ day. The Jews in Jesus’ time viewed tax collectors as traitors and almost sub-human.

Summary of the Two Guys

So, we have one really good guy and one really bad guy.

The Temple

And where are these two? Luke 18:10 says that they’re in the Temple. They’re in the place of worship. The place where God’s people gather to praise and worship him. And they’ve come to pray.

Now, no one would be surprised to see the Pharisee in the place of worship in order to pray to God. But I think the appearance of the tax collector might have turned some heads. A man like that might not make it to the Temple very often. He certainly wouldn’t have been welcomed by most people.

The Prayers (Luke 18:11-13)

But nevertheless, they both show up at the Temple in order to pray. And in Luke 18:11-13, we get to hear the prayer of each of these men.

The Pharisee’s Prayer (Luke 18:11-12)

Jesus starts with the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12. So, let’s note a few things about this prayer.

Focus on Self

The content of this prayer is all about the Pharisee himself. He addresses God, but really the prayer is focused on himself.

He’s Not Bad

In Luke 18:11 he thanks God that he isn’t like other people. He’s not a extortioner – he doesn’t obtain things through force or fraud. He’s not unjust or an outwardly sinful person. He’s not an adulterer – he doesn’t commit adultery with someone who isn’t his wife. And he’s probably most thankful of all for the fact that he’s not like this tax collector who came up to the Temple to pray.

He’s Good

Then in Luke 18:12 the Pharisee shifts his focus from what he doesn’t do to what he does positively do. He fasts twice a week. He denies himself food for the sake of prayer two times every week. He also gives one-tenth of all that he owned.

Summary

So, taken together, this prayer to God consists of thanksgiving for what the Pharisee was not followed by a bare statement of what he was doing right.

Application

Have you ever prayed this kind of prayer yourself? When you communicate with God, are you always talking about yourself and how good you are and how bad others are?

Have you ever heard this kind of prayer from others? What if you entered this service and the man who leads the people in prayer stood up and thanked God that he wasn’t like all the rest of you folks out in the audience here – and then he proceeded to list all of the good things about himself. What would you think about that?

We’re going to find out what God thinks about that kind of prayer in a few minutes.

The Tax Collector’s Prayer (Luke 18:13)

But first, let’s read Luke 18:13 where we get to hear the prayer of the tax collector and notice a few things.

Similarities Between the Prayers

Now, there are a few similarities between the prayer of the tax collector and that of the Pharisee.

The tax collector and the Pharisee were both in the Temple – the place of worship. They both prayed – they directed their words to God. They both stood up as they did this. They both even spoke of themselves as they prayed.

Differences Between the Prayers

Content

But while the Pharisee stood proudly and proclaimed his own goodness in contrast to the wickedness of everyone else around him – this tax collector was focused only on his own wickedness and on God’s ability to pardon his great sinfulness.

Posture

Notice the posture of the tax collector as he prays. He stands just like the Pharisee stood. But he refuses to even lift his eyes to heaven. The weight and shame of his own sinfulness wouldn’t allow it. He beat upon his chest in sorrow over his sins.

Request

And the tax collector’s words are addressed to God just like the Pharisee’s were. But he’s asking God for something. The Pharisee apparently didn’t feel the need to receive anything from God. He was good. He didn’t need a thing – or so he thought. But this tax collector knows he needs mercy from the Lord. He needs his sins to be forgiven. He needs peace with God.

Confession

Why does he need peace with God? Because he knows he’s a sinner. Literally, he’s “the sinner”. There are other sinners around, but he’s not thinking about them. He’s thinking about himself. The Pharisee also was thinking about himself – but he was thinking about his own goodness. The tax collector was thinking about his own badness and sinfulness and unworthiness to stand before God.

Application

Have you ever communicated to God like that? Have you ever humbly confessed your own sinfulness to him? Have you ever asked him for mercy?

God’s Response (Luke 18:14)

If you do, then Jesus ends this parable telling you what you can expect if you pray to God with a tender heart and a heart broken by the weight of your sin against a holy God in Luke 18:14.

Righteousness

Jesus says that the sinful wretched tax collector was justified. He was declared righteous. This parable started off with Jesus addressing those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. This Pharisee was one such man – he trusted in himself that he was righteous. But ultimately, who is Jesus saying was declared by God as being righteous? It’s the sinful tax collector who was so grieved over his own sin and so humbled before God. That’s the kind of person whom God will justify.

But the Pharisee – as externally good and righteous as he thought he was and as he appeared to be in the eyes of others – his prayer didn’t accomplish anything. He came to the Temple thinking that he was righteous, but he leaves with Jesus’ evaluation of him that he was not righteous after all.

Why? Why would the sinner walk away from the Temple righteous while the externally righteous man walks away unrighteous? End of Luke 18:14.

Two Choices

Here’s the point. There are two actions under discussion – exalting and humbling. Every one of us has the choice of doing one or the other for ourselves. We can exalt ourselves or we can humble ourselves.

Exalt Self

If we exalt ourselves – if we’re lifted up with pride over our own goodness – if we think that we’re good in God’s sight – then Jesus Christ promises that we will be forcibly humbled.

Humble Self

But if we humble ourselves – if we acknowledge our own sin and unrighteousness – if our hearts are broken by the weight of our sin against a holy and totally-righteous God – then Jesus Christ promises that he will exalt us. He will justify us. He will declare us righteous.

Application

Where are you today? Are you’re the proud self-righteous person whom God will need to humble? Or are you the humble sinner who knows your need of mercy from God – the God who promises to resist the proud but to give grace to the humble?