Turning Things Over to Jesus – Luke 9:37-43
Pastor Doug Klein
It’s an amazing thing to experience the mountain top experiences of life. To meet in celebratory worship with other members of Christ’s body is encouraging beyond words. But, it’s often so hard to go down from the mountain and face the same old grind. And sometimes, we have additional conflicts to face. That’s exactly what happened after the glory of the Transfiguration on the mountain. Mark’s Gospel records in Mark 9 that no sooner had they descended the mountain than an argument broke out between the scribes and a large crowd. How to break the mood of the mountain! We come out of our worship experience and go right back into the struggle.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all give a detailed account of Jesus healing a boy with an unclean spirit right after the Transfiguration. The disciples get first crack at it with the boy and his father and fall flat on their faces. But a remarkable miracle ensues that would never have happened had not the father brought the boy to Jesus. It’s imperative that we bring all things to Jesus. But, it’s especially important that we turn over the most painful things in our lives to Jesus. That’s the exhortation from God’s Word this morning.
The first principle is 1.) Bringing the “hard stuff” to Jesus. Luke 9: 37-39.
I am using the vernacular here when I speak about “hard stuff.” I deliberately avoided being too specific because we all have very different issues. We all have tons of “stuff” that must be brought to Jesus. Luke writes very specifically about the desperate panic of the father over his “only child” who was experiencing severe seizures resulting in dangerous, bizarre behavior. The father was at a point of desperation. The family’s self-image had been shattered by this constant eruption of out of control behavior.
This struggle is all too common today in the lives of countless families who face the ongoing chronic illness of a child or the death of a child. A very high percentage of such families wind up in divorce. The damage that is inflicted affects every area of life. There is no other solution other than the Lord. Jesus is the only One who can deal with this kind of brokenness and despair. But, it takes great wisdom to know when you have hit bottom. Jesus was continually irked due to the failure of the disciples and the Nation to understand his teaching.
The second principle is 2.) Believing everything he has told us. Luke 9: 40-41.
The disciples were confused and defeated from the start because they failed to understand the total scope of Jesus’ teaching. They just didn’t “get it” and therefore failed to deal with critical problems out of their new authority and identity. We are the same way. We fail to grasp the implication of the Gospel. The problems we face seem bigger than Christ.
The boy’s parent in our story may have been desperate but he had come to the right person. The starting point for any parent in crisis is to bring our children before Christ in whatever way we can. We see the damaged fruit of the enemy of our souls. We face a real enemy that can appear to be more powerful than our capacity. The father assumed up until this point that there couldn’t be any way out of this darkness. That was all that was known. That was, until Jesus appeared.
So the question always comes up: Why would God allow something so dark and terrible to continue in the boy’s life? It’s never wise nor easy to speculate on the hidden purposes of God. But one thing is very clear here: God did “permit” this to go on. But he also used it to drive the family to Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what he does in our lives. We receive severe painful mercies but find light and resolution in Christ.
What is really bothering Jesus here that he would use such strong language as “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” It’s once again the matter of unbelief. We are no different than the people he was addressing. We fail to believe and trust the things he has already taught us. When he says to us “my grace will supply all of your needs according to the riches that is in Christ Jesus,” we fail to believe it on the deepest level.
So he gives us the same exhortation. Bring your deepest hurts and pains to me and I will give them back to you in my timing. What a challenge and what a hope.
The third principle is 3.) Receive the “hard stuff” back from Jesus. Luke 9: 42-43.
There’s an assumption here that we really need to be careful with: This particular principle has power assuming we have really given things over to Jesus. But we see a beautiful thing happening in this situation: Jesus gives the boy back to his father in a completely new condition. The father had been honest before Jesus about his faith. When Jesus had said to him, “All things are possible for one who believes.” The Father responded by saying, “I believe, help my unbelief.” So he experienced what we will experience in our lives either in this life or in glory. When I die and my body is presented to the earth, I will receive back from Jesus an immortal body made for eternity. What a transaction.
John Newton said that whatever God withholds from us is not really necessary for us. On the contrary, what God allows in our lives for good or bad is absolutely essential for us. God alone knows that I need this in my life. So we present our broken dreams and hearts to Jesus. He gives them back in a completely different form. We can trust him no matter what the outcome.
Our Lord understands our panic more than we could ever comprehend: He gave his “only Son” who had been with him for all of eternity for us on the cross. He gave the ultimate gift. Once again, we can never out give God. When we realize this awesome truth, we are not afraid to give over to God anything in our life be it children gifts, resources and opportunities, etc. We can trust him to give back to us whatever he deems is right.
One final reminder: There’s no need for us to beg even though we may feel tremendous panic. We belong to him as the apple of his eye because of what he has given for us in Christ. We even possess his Name as his children. So we continue to give things over to God: He gives back to us a renewed life that is better than we could ever have imagined.
Faith Presbyterian Church
October 30, 2016