Our Real Reasons for Following Jesus – Luke 9: 43b-50
Pastor Doug Klein
Why did the crowds turn against Jesus in such a short period of time only to become a savage mob crying out for his crucifixion? Why did the crowds pursue Him so consistently in his Galilean ministry? Why are we so fickle in much the same way? Why do we follow Him only when it’s most convenient to do so?
There are many reasons. But, one of the main ones is that we have a confusion of kingdoms. Simply put, we put our kingdoms ahead of His kingdom. Without realizing it, we pray “our kingdom come, our will be done.” We assume that Jesus is our “co-pilot” who is along for the ride to help us realize our goals.
So, here’s what’s happening in the story. The disciples had witnessed the glory of God on the Mount of Transfiguration followed by a powerful healing by Jesus of a young man who had been possessed by a demon and severe epileptic seizures. They were riding a wave of optimism and excitement over the ministry of Jesus. Now, all of a sudden, Jesus drops a bomb about the Son of Man about to be delivered into the hands of men. Their entire understanding of discipleship is about to be turned upside down. And He is going to do the same thing in our life through his Word today.
The first principle is 1.) The cross before the crown. Luke 9:43b-45.
One of my favorite phrases articulated over and over again by Pastor Steve Brown is the expression, “We are not home yet.” And yet, we really want to be. We are tired of saying goodbye to loved ones at the grave. We are tired of always feeling like there is something more that we are missing. We are constantly reminded that we are made for eternity and that even life’s greatest pleasures can leave us yearning for more. Jesus’ statement that He is about to be delivered unto death is a reminder that the cross even for us will always be before the crown. For Jesus, it was a reminder that he came into the world to die for sin. The hard work ahead must be faced before the full joy of victory could be experienced.
For us, we must share with Christ in His sufferings before we will know the full joy of glory that is awaiting us. Our prayers, therefore, need to move away from my kingdom come prayers focusing on personal agendas to a Kingdom of God focus. Jesus uses a blunt expression to the disciples in verse 44 to wake them up. “Let these words sink into your ears.” In other words, don’t you dare miss the importance of what I am about to tell you. You are missing the most important task ahead and the primary reason I came to this earth. And you also will have tribulations before you leave this earth.
The same thing holds true for the church universal today. There is a great deal more suffering to come for believers around the world before Christ returns to set up His consummated Kingdom. We are able to understand the nature and impact of Christ’s death because of the presence of the Spirit within us. We perceive what they couldn’t fully perceive. As it cuts us to the core and melts our heart, we are filled with love and praise. The cross will always come before the crown. But no matter what, we are filled with peace and joy because we know what is coming next.
The second principle is 2.) Others before me. Luke 9: 46-48.
Jesus has been called the Man for others. That is certainly the case. After an intense discussion of Christ’s road to the cross, Jesus’ disciples make an extraordinary pivot. They get into an argument as to which one of them will be the greatest. Talk about missing the point. From the suffering of the cross to what’s in this for me. How typical of human nature. Luke mentions in verse 47 that Jesus was not fooled by this. He understood completely the conflicted nature of the human heart. His death on the cross would deal with the cancer of our sin. But, it would also cut away at the self-centeredness that lies at the core of our hearts.
Once again, Jesus uses a child as an illustration of our spiritual posture before God as we admit our helplessness to save ourselves. Children around the world are often helplessly sold into sexual slavery. There is very little protection for vulnerable children. When we stand with and receive the least of these, we receive Christ himself.
The beautiful thing about our Jesus is that He truly understands what it means to be the “least of these” in every way possible. The eternal Son of God who has existed in glory for all of eternity within the Trinity left His place of glory and put aside His eternal glory for a time to become human flesh. In doing so, He became human sin and was despised and rejected by men. He became a curse for us on a filthy old cross, outside the city gate in a garage dump. The very One who had existed within the highest place of glory in the Godhead, descended even lower than anyone could imagine. It’s the greatest act of sacrificial love that any of us could ever know.
The third principle is 3.) Christ’s interests before mine. Luke 9: 49-50.
What a picture of the narrowness that exists within believers. If it’s not done on our turf and in our way, it couldn’t possibly be the work of our Lord. Jesus is not arguing for an anything goes theology or a watering down of the Gospel. He’s reminding us of our propensity to exclude those who are different from you. The only thing that counts according to Jesus, is that we keep His interests and glory front and center in our lives. We protect Christ’s interests over our own.
So why are we following Jesus? Is it just because He’s a big part of our church heritage? It must go much deeper than that. The disciple Thomas was much tougher than most people when it came to believing in Jesus. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.” He was strongly opposed to religious sentimentalism. But when he met the risen Christ after the resurrection, he was overwhelmed by worship and uttered those great words. “My Lord and my God.”
No longer would his interests come before the interests of Christ because he had seen and experienced His glory. He would now be willing to say with Jesus, “Not my will, but your will be done.” The same holds true for us. Our plans, interests and kingdom all take a backseat to the prominent glory of Christ. You are the only One who really counts. I will follow you because of who you are. And that’s more than enough for me!
Faith Presbyterian Church
November 6, 2016