Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fixing Your Eyes

Luke 9:51-56 "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (52) And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. (53) But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. (54) And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, 'Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?' (55) But he turned and rebuked them. (56) And they went on to another village."

Jesus didn’t turn & rebuke the Samaritans, these half-breeds of the Jews who were against Him. Instead, His rebuke was reserved for the ones who were claiming to be His disciples, yet had no mercy for their enemies. James & John were desirous to be quick to avenge the wrongs of the Samaritans, while Jesus only desired an avenue of mercy for His antagonists.

Sin besets man; it mendaciously ensnares him in scrupulous study of others’ wrongs. The endless trappings of judging others distracts the mind & heart from healthy self-inspection. The normal proclivities of the natural man & lying spirits is to lead man to judge another rather than himself. One of the most popular staples of television today are the “court TV” shows. We like to sit in judgment of another & think “I would never do that” or “I would never go that far”. Judging another’s seemingly greater sin makes us feel better about ourselves.

James & John deserved rebuke because their indictment of another went beyond their indictment of themselves. The only reason they had not rejected Jesus as well is because He chose them-

John 15:16-17 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (17) These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

Jesus, in union with the Father & Spirit, chose James, John, & every other true believer in Christ out of the mire of their own degradation. We cannot rightly bring a conviction to bear on another for rejecting Christ; for we would be in that place ourselves were it not for God’s merciful election.

We must remember that we are not better than they on the basis of our acceptance of Christ, for our acceptance of Him is not our doing.

More so, He chose you & appointed you towards a goal- to bear fruit. Among the riches of Christ’s fruit is the ability to love the unlovable. As the believer expresses love towards the unbeliever, he is mirroring what Christ has done for him. The Spirit takes this expression of true Godly love & rains conviction down on mind & soul…

Romans 12:9-21 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.(10) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (11) Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (12) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (13) Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (16) Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (17) Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (18) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (19) Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (20) To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Again, the purpose of God’s love within us is to bear fruit. We manifest Godly love by doing as He does- loving the unlovable. The Spirit joins with us in our time of “weakness” (as the world would consider such actions to be) to open the eyes of the unbeliever to a genuine display of Christ’s love. In such times, we truly demonstrate Christian love.

God does abhor evil, but all the while genuine love pours forth from Him for the worst degenerates. His kind of love within the believer does not pull up stakes when evil rolls into town; it stands firm, looking forward towards Christ-like love, instead of forlornly back at man’s selfish & shallow form of love.

Let us return to finish our opening text-

Luke 9:57-62 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." (58) And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (59) To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." (60) And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." (61) Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." (62) Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Always looking ahead to Christ’s measure of mercy & grace, instead of backwards at our own, is the goal.

Following Jesus means loving the unlovable…

Jesus indeed saw the Samaritans’ sin, but pressed on ever the more towards Jerusalem. He pressed on in love for the Samaritans’ sake, for the cross would be awaiting Him in in that place (though at a later date). Our opening verse (Luke 9:51) makes clear the cause for His fixation on Jerusalem- preparation for His appointed time to be "taken up". His greatest expression of love was waiting for Him there; from His first miracle (John 2) onward, the cross was never secondary, it was always His primary focus & goal (John 12:27). For the cross was His primary act of benevolent love for the Samaritans, & all us as well.

Philippians 3:7-14 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- (10) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (11) that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (12) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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