When the rubber meets the road is when you test the integrity of the tire... The disciples had a good idea of who Jesus is, but they did not get it meant to submit to him. How often we get good ideas that just don’t work out. I read a true story about a woman who was locked out of her house. She came up with what she thought was a good idea to unlock the door: first she set her house on fire. Then she called the fire department thinking they’d come and unlock the door. Unfortunately for her the police also came and arrested her for reckless endangerment. The disciples thought fighting over Jesus and greatness was a good idea ~ they did not see the inconsistency of what they had just been taught by the Master himself.
I feel like our world is falling apart. Up is down and down is up. There is a cultural shift with new laws. The world is changing. How do we respond?
It’s tempting to try and win! To argue my way to the top so I can be the greatest. Jesus shows us that to follow him means we no longer compete for our reputation. Jesus uses a child to show us what we must strive to become as committed Christians who believe in the sovereignty and the suffering of Jesus Christ. We’ll come back to thoughts about what it means to be like a child. First, let’s laugh at John who tries to change the subject like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar: READ Luke 9:49.
Some of us are masters at changing the subject…That’s all John is doing here…. He knows Jesus has caught them in their pride and arrogance so he changes the topic. My neighbor in school got a job as the secretary of one of my professors a particular quarter. I had an occasion to deliver her something, and something crazy got into me and I started telling her I thought her boss was a smart guy but a boring lecturer. I was in mid-sentence when the door opened right behind her desk and their stood the professor, and he politely paused so as to not interrupt me so I could finish my sentence. I froze. Turned red. Stammered out something uneloquently about the weather. And left. John tried to change the subject. He would have been smarter if he would have changed the topic to the weather, and gotten all red-faced, but he is having an off day, because he stammers out something equally as divisive and exclusive: READ Luke 9:49. You cannot have it both ways. If you believe Jesus is the Christ, the one sent by God, the Holy One of God, fully human and fully divine, He who gave his life to forgive your sins ~ you must confront how that changes you. But its tempting to change the topic…
You cannot have the fullness of Christ without sacrifice. Too many people want to be obedient to the easy parts of the Bible, the popular parts, but we are called to live under a full commitment. Jesus does not care about our reputation with the world, it’s not a competition to gain his ear…. Guess what Jesus says in response to John’s silly attempt to change the subject: READ Luke 9:50. Humility before the Lord is what the Lord is looking for. Nobody deserves the love of Christ. Nobody can say with an arrogant spirit that Christ died for me: it’s a statement that if understood and lived rightly can only be claimed by the person who knows he does not deserve the love of Christ.
Like a child. “Whoever receives a child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” The Lord loves me more than life itself ~ he gave his life for me. The Lord loves the lost, the forgotten, the abandoned, the ridiculed, the scorned, the unpopular, the outcast, the loser, the lonely, the elderly, the bedridden, the child, the innocent, the abused. The Lord loves those who see themselves and cannot help but think, “I am ugly”, “I am worthless.” The Lord came into the world to LOVE ME! Me, who does not deserve his love. Our calling is to forever live with that tension of knowing we do not deserve His love but receiving it anyway.
Who are you? Don’t change the topic. Ponder in your heart. Jesus is the greatest. His love endures forever. His mercy endures forever. His heart belongs to me. Go back to last weeks verse: READ Luke 9:44. He gave his heart for me. His life was laid down for me. The Lord came into the world for me, he preached for me, he lived for me, was tortured because of me, and he died to save me. And he went to the cross for me because I turned away from him in sin. I will never fully understand what he did for me until I understand what I did to him.
The Lord is the greatest because he is meek and humble of heart. He reaches out to the sinner, touches the leper, brings sight to the blind and understanding to the wicked. He goes after the lost sheep and carries them home. He breaks his back to carry the stray. He raises the dead. He is a friend to all: sinner and saint; friend and enemy.
Christ died on the Cross because he emptied himself. We’ll talk about it more next week, but in next weeks verse there is a major change in the gospel story when Luke 9:51 says “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” i.e. Resolved to go to the cross and die. “It is finished” one of the amazing phrases Jesus speaks from the cross, which means, “I have completed God’s mission on earth, I have given you everything; I have nothing else to give.” This is the only way that God could die: By giving all. He gave us his words, his deeds, his love and mercy, his compassion and kindness, his inner thoughts, his deepest desires; he revealed the mysteries of his Father’s kingdom. He prepared the mansion, a room for me. And if that were not enough, he personally gave to me His flesh and blood.
Who are you? Everyone has to answer the question. You have no choice. A lot of the world wants to say we are not spiritual beings…. Many well meaning people want the love of God without the sacrifice, but in reality that puts us in the position of watering down our sin nature and brings no inner peace. The disciples tried to answer the question by jostling among themselves about who is the greatest. “No, no, no,” Jesus says. “Turn your thinking upsidedown, to follow me means you are the least. It’s about humility. It’s about being like a child.” Who are you? If you change the topic enough maybe you never have to answer. But you will also forever be searching. I think the spirit of Luke 9:49 is probably the most monotonous verse in the world as we endlessly try to ignore the real issues about who we are, our sin nature, our need for humility, coming up with one excuse after another, put off till another day a commitment to follow God more. All John is really saying when he says READ is “at least I am more spiritual than that guy down the street.” Is that who you say you are? That is my goal for my lawn! I don’t care what my lawn looks as long as it is a little bit better than my neighbor, that way I look good, but it doesn’t look so good for my soul…
As Jesus sets a little child beside himself to demonstrate true humility, Luke 9:47 uses a fascinating phrase: “Jesus, knowing their thoughts…” or another translation, “perceiving the thoughts of their heart” (KJV). The inner thoughts. We have a heart problem. Jesus knows it! The Good News is that no matter what the world says, no matter our situation, the Lord knows our heart and is ready to receive us as we are. Our hearts simply need to be ready to admit that we need the sacrifice of Jesus. Are you ready to pray. Do you know who you are?:
“Jesus, no more excuses, I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. It’s not about how I compare to others or competing for your attention. You have already given me everything and more than I deserve because you gave your life for me. I do not deserve your love, but I accept it. Amen.”