Jesus Christ went to average people. He traveled about from one town and village to another (READ Luke 8:1). He was on the move… went to the common people. Went with common people. How Average Are You? Here’s a silly little quiz to help determine what you have in common with most Americans.
Do you believe in God?—More than 80 percent of American adults believe in God, and about 10 percent believe in a “universal spirit.”
How close do you live to the nearest McDonald’s and Wal-Mart? —Most Americans live within three miles of a McDonald’s restaurant and within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart.
Do you prefer smooth or chunky peanut butter?—Most Americans—83 percent—prefer smooth.
Are you a high school graduate?--About 85 percent of Americans earn a high school diploma.
How old is your car?--The average American’s vehicle is eight years old.
Do you own a pet?--Most American households—63 percent—have at least one pet, mainly dogs and cats.
What time are you regularly in bed?--Most Americans—74 percent—are in bed before midnight.
Are you happy?--Most Americans—80 percent—say they generally wake up happy.
Would you rather be in prison for one week or president of the United States?--Most Americans—52 percent—would prefer a week in prison.
Six months ago the sermons were from Luke 7, some of you may remember the diamond of faith ~ four aspects of faith, like a diamond: Confidence, helplessness, questions, sin ~ it’s all part of the diamond of faith, a brilliant dazzling whole. You grow in your faith by gaining more confidence, becoming more dependent on God, ask all your honest questions, and expose your sin.
Now in Luke 8 Jesus goes… he goes… he goes to the people. There is a lesson for us as we are honored to Go in the name of Jesus, to go to where the people are and not expect them to come to us… Jesus sees something amazing about ordinary Joe’s (no pun intended) and he goes to the Joe’s and the (add names...) He does not stick with the leaders, he does not hobnob with the rich, but he goes to the people. One person compiled some statistics of the individuals Jesus meets in the gospels. Jesus has 132 contacts with individuals: 6 were in the Temple; 4 were in the synagogue, and 122 were out in the mainstream of life. Jesus loved to mix with ordinary people like villagers, carpenters, farmers, parents, and children.
The message Jesus spoke is to tell them about “the Good News of the Kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1). As we walk through Luke 8 in the coming weeks, we’ll see the message comes through stories, illustrations, the priorities he sets, miracles, a revelation of the full nature of Jesus, healing, casting out demons… the fullness of faith, the diamond of faith, is for the average person to embrace/live…confidence, dependency on God, questions, and acknowledgement of sin.
This year, my challenge for each of us is to grow in our personal faith, to see Christ with more clarity, to be amazed by the Lord. Yes, we will continue to share the message of salvation, but let us also invite the Lord to reveal himself with power and wisdom and change us to become more like him.
What we are going to see as we go through Luke 8 is that as Jesus enters the lives of ordinary people in ordinary places extraordinary things takes place… Proverbs 27:1 has a wonderful message for those who believe in God: You never know what a day will bring forth. As Jesus travels from city to town, constantly on the move, we see amazing teaching, stories, miracles, healings, people restored to their right minds, a demonstration of his own character ~ you just never know what a day will bring forth. Jesus himself demonstrates the very same principle with the way he lives his life. I have appreciated the current 30 day Bible Challenge…what has struck me as I have been reading each day is the dependency on God, the divine guidance.
You never know what a day will bring forth… that is so true when you walk with the Lord. Here is another way of saying the same thing, but making it active… I have had hanging in my office for about 30 years now an old framed saying that came from my grandfather. My mother says my grandfather got it from a Billy Graham crusade in the S.F. Bay area probably in the 1950’s. I know the picture does not fit the frame, but I’ll never change it because that’s the way I’ve always seen it (on the wall of the church) ~ “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt great things for God” (William Carey). The order is important… Expect… Attempt… and as we walk with the Lord you just never know what a day will bring forth. What a great way to live: expecting, attempting. Everyday an adventure.
I heard an inspiring story from Connie DeBoer a few years ago, that has always stuck with me ~ a picture of the amazing in the midst of the ordinary. As she was driving down the Badger towards Lynden it was a snowy icy day and she noticed something odd on the horizon, something was strange. She slowed down and came to a stop as she begin to realize a team of Clydesdales was galloping towards her in formation. The horses had escaped from a field. As they got closer, having been raised on a farm, she had no fear, but was simply amazed at the beauty, the elegance, the other worldliness of it all. The Clydesdales parted like the red sea and ran past her car on both sides and then closed ranks as they continued running past her. I love that image and have thought of it often. I didn’t even need to be there because I could see through the eyes of Connie. You never know what a day will bring forth. It is the same way with God. You never know, you never know. Jesus enters the ordinary world of everyday men and women, and the most extraordinary things happen. That’s the way it is with God. Clydesdales in formation on a snowy day running towards you and parting like the sea. We are not called to be settled, to be average, we are invited to a life of amazement as we accept the invitation to walk with Jesus. Jesus goes to the average person and brings the amazing.
The next two verses are about some of the folks Jesus takes with him as he goes…
The twelve are with him… The disciples that Jesus had chosen. Ordinary people ordained for great things, witnesses to the miracles and teachings of Jesus, and later commissioned to go on their own proclaiming the same message of salvation that Jesus announced.
Three women are named: READ Luke 8:2-3. All three were healed. All were grateful. All help financially the travelling band. All had been changed. Mary Magdalene is not only with Jesus through-out much of his ministry, she is later also a witness to the empty tomb and the first to announce of the resurrection Jesus, “I have see the Lord” (John 20:17-18). Joanna is an amazing person, the wife of the CFO of the King of the land. Later she is one of the women who goes to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices (Luke 24:10). And Susanna ~ this is the only reference to this woman.
The point of these women is that unexpected people are given unexpected roles. Jesus simply accepts anybody and all. There is, of course, no such thing as an ordinary person. Luke personalizes the people with Jesus so we know that they all have their own story, backgrounds. We could spend hours talking about the twelve and each of them, very diverse in background, personality and character….
We look at the twelve men and the three women and are amazed. I have my doubts they ever saw themselves as great. Apparently what qualified the three women is that they were in need of healing. That’s who Jesus took the message of the Kingdom too ~ ordinary people in the cities and towns. And he used them for great things. And he will redeem you and transform you and change you…
I like the story of Dorothy Day, who teaches us something about always giving God the credit for accomplishments through us: During the Great Depression, she opened houses of hospitality and soup lines for the poor of New York. Until her death in 1981 she was a tireless advocate for the poor, and as a result, was often called a saint – in fact, there was a movement in the Catholic Church to have her accepted to Sainthood. But Dorothy herself always denied the idea of her being something special: “Don’t call me a saint,” she would say. “I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”///
Jesus did not search out powerful and great people who could enhance his own ministry, he went to ordinary people and changed them by loving and affirming them. If you are hurting, if you are struggling, if you feel powerless and weak, then you are the perfect candidate. Expect great things. You simply never know what a day will bring forth, what God will do, who you will meet, what you will learn, what you will see. To walk with the Lord is an adventure that will change you from the inside out!
Can you imagine how exciting it would be to have Jesus come to your village with his band of followers? The farmers are leaving their fields, the women are ceasing their labors with food and clothing, the children are deserting their play, and they are gathering around to listen to the Master, this famous visiting teacher, whose reputation precedes him. In many of these villages there is no building large enough to hold all the hearers, so Jesus teaches outside in the fields, on a gently sloping hillside so all can see him. They see instant, wondrous healings of cripples they have known all their lives. They hear simple but profound stories. Crazy people who have been confined to darkened rooms for years are now restored to their right mind.
And Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, not as a far away place, but as present and powerful, like seed being scattered on different kinds of soil, like a light on a lampstand. Jesus speaks of the Reign of God in ways so real that you can feel it. And did you hear what he says as you stand outside a local home in a crowd ~ you are the brother, you are the sister of Jesus. Jesus calms a storm with his words, he heals a demon possessed man, he answers the plea of a father to cure his daughter of disease. To touch Jesus is transforming. Expect great things of God! You will never be the same. You never know what a day will bring forth!