Who, Then, Is This? (Part Six)

Luke 9:18-27

“It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (9:22-27 CSB).

Third, we hear the explanatory remarks of Jesus (9:22-27). Jesus wanted the apostles to know that since he was the Christ of God, he was on a redemptive mission (9:22). God sent him to free and save his people from sin and its consequences.

God had planned for his Christ to suffer many things, to be rejected, and to die for sinners. When someone interviews for a job, it is helpful when the employer clearly sets forth the demands of the position. Reverently, let us imagine God the Father interviewing God the Son for the position of Christ. After the Father described everything in its horrid details, the Son responded that the plan was good and wise and that he was willing to do everything commanded. As the psalmist wrote of the Messiah, “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8 NIV).

This must have been a shock to Peter and the others, for it seems that they were ignorant of all that the Scriptures had revealed about Christ. They read or heard selectively, paying attention to the glory parts and overlooking the suffering parts. This remains a problem for Bible readers, especially during this Covid-19 crisis. Everyone wants to hear words of comfort and hope. How many want to feel challenged to endure hardship during this time?

From this point on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples the significance of his first coming. It is the turning point of his ministry with them. He started to explain this divine necessity (“it is necessary”, 9:22) to them.

Action Step: As you teach the Gospel of Luke to someone, or read it with them, you should clearly present the significance of 9:22-26 to the person.

God had planned for the Christ to be raised to life after his suffering and death. Though Jesus would say this clearly many times, it went right over their heads. It was only after his resurrection that they understood (24:5-8, 25-27, 44-49). Do you believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead? Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Romans 10:9-10 ESV).

Jesus wanted his apostles to know that since he was the Christ of God, that they must follow him (9:23-27). Jesus was not someone on a search for significance. He knew that he was the most significant person in human history and he demanded and continues to demand that all follow him.

  • You must practice self-denial and put your way of life to death daily and follow him (9:23). Notice his words “come after me” and “follow me”.
  • You must reevaluate your whole life in relation to Christ (9:24-25). Notice his words “but whoever loses his life for me”.
  • You must be willing to stand up for Christ and his teaching in the marketplace of human opinion (9:26-27). Notice his words “if anyone is ashamed of me and my words.”

True Christianity demands a change of mind and complete commitment of oneself to the Lord Jesus Christ. Has this happened to you? If it has not, you will die and then die in the Lake of Fire forever. If it has not, you are not a Christian. You will lose yourself! You must leave the way of rebellion and return to the Lord. This will only happen as by grace you see the significance or value or worth or glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Now is the moment for you to bow in faith before him. Cry out to him, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!”

Grace and peace,

Greater Kindness

20150812_072954Ruth 3:10-18

As God reveals his greatness and plans in the Bible, Ruth is a book about kindness. It proclaims God’s kindness and how it works out through his people to others. The true story of God’s glory involves kindness at its core. How much we need to hear about kindness in our day! Sadly, our time is marked by selfishness. I do not think that I need to prove that to you, since every day we experience the cruelty of selfishness to some degree. How often we grieve about how people destroy their own lives and the lives of those around them by their selfishness. However, the living God calls us to imitate him in goodness, kindness and generosity. The “atmosphere” conveyed by those who follow Jesus should have the sweet fragrance of kindness, the Lord’s kindness. Others ought to sense this when with us.

Many parts of this section illustrate Christ’s kindness toward those who believe in him. Be alert for these illustrations.

Kindness produces acceptance of others (3:10-13). I’m not speaking of toleration, which is a poor substitute for kindness, reaching even into Christian circles. To speak pleasant words to someone’s face as they are welcomed to your church meeting turns into evil when the greeter rolls their eyes about that person when they have left and makes that person become a subject of laughter. “Did you see that visitor? They sure were weird.” That is toleration and not kindness.

Acceptance in turn produces blessing, meaning prayer for God’s kindness. Since Boaz was a godly man, he brought the Lord into the situation. To live godly means to live consciously in God’s presence. Before Boaz did anything, he prayed for God’s blessing on Ruth. A great goal of Christ’s work is to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). As we live in Christ in this world, we ought to pursue our Lord’s goals, too. This will mean bringing God into situations. Since people like to suppress the knowledge of God (Romans 1:18-19), this can be a difficult task. As such, it requires wisdom and skill gained through Christian experience. New followers of Jesus are filled with zeal, but they lack wisdom and skill, and so they get too pushy and turn people off. To make others more hostile is not the goal. For this reason, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom in this matter. “Lord, teach me how to do this.”

Boaz commended Ruth for her kindness. He had noticed this earlier about Ruth (2:11-12), but now he sensed a greater kindness in the proposal she had just made (3:9). But what is kindness? Kindness is a very rich word that conveys the idea of love, kindness, compassion and loyalty combined. It is an active word, reaching out to help. Boaz especially thought of her willingness to marry him. She wasn’t after someone her age and peer group. (From the way he talked with her, he was clearly much older, though their ages are not given.) It is very natural to wish to marry someone your age, so that you have the same way of looking at things, and the same energy level to do stuff together. But Ruth wasn’t after that. She also wasn’t after someone with money (“whether rich”), or after someone for some kind of romantic love (“or poor”). She was doing it for kindness—for family love and loyalty. Ruth wasn’t under obligation to marry to provide her deceased husband with an heir, but she took that obligation upon herself. Ruth thought of others, thinking with the larger community in mind. Kindness motivated her. Sadly, our people have become far too individualistic. We must begin to think much more about “we” than about “me”. Since in Christ we are members of God’s family, we must think about the local gathering or assembly of Christ’s people more than we have. Church is not a place that you go to, but it is people with whom you share God’s love and kindness. Remember our Lord’s example. When Christ died for us, he wasn’t thinking about his needs, but about the Father’s glory and our good. His attitude should transform ours. His mission must become ours.

Grace and peace, David