Stories with Luke Week 13:

Crossroads"

Pastor Terry Inman

06-25-17

 

Spiritual life is a journey—a series of stories. Salvation is more of a process than a destination. Don’t misunderstand me we are assured of eternal life when we embark on the journey. There are stages in our journey that begin with new birth. Ultimately salvation is reunion with Christ in His eternal kingdom. We arrive when we see him face to face.

 

Along our spiritual journey we come to crossroads, intersections of decision. Which way will we go? Where will the next path take us? What roadblocks, obstacles or opportunities will we encounter along the way? We are like traveling kids—every ten minutes, “are we there yet Daddy? Salvation is a journey with Jesus. As we travel together we get better acquainted. The closer we get to Him the clearer the map develops.

 

This was the disciple’s dilemma. Jesus said, “follow me”. They did. But they really didn’t know who he was. In Luke’s last episode they jump in the boat with Jesus. A storm swamps the boat. They wake Jesus up yelling, were drowning! He calms the storm. They’re amazed, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Luke 8.27 NIV)

 

Crossroads in our lives are places of decision. They present questions and create hesitation, which way will we go, where is this taking me. Jesus traveled the way of cross. We prefer an easier path.

 

Luke’s story, in the first half of chapter nine, is a crossroad—a major transition. Jesus moves from teaching and healing in the familiar lakeside villages of Galilee to greater Judea and ultimately on to Jerusalem. This crossroad ultimately leads to his crucifixion.

 

For the first time in the journey Jesus will mention the “S” word. Not just I’m the Savoir—but I’m going to suffer. That’s not all—half way down the chapter he says, if you really want to follow me, die to your self, take up your cross daily and follow.

 

What does that look like? Do we really want to go down that path? What’s more disturbing—He doesn’t make it optional—this is authentic discipleship! For the disciples it begins with being sent out on their own.

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9.1- 2)

 

This is a major growth stage in our spiritual journey. We are no longer receivers we are givers. They are still trying to figure out who he is and he sends them out with all his power and all his authority over demons and diseases. Aren’t you glad we don’t have to have all together to minister?

 

Satan loves to convince us that we are not good enough to move in the gifts of the Spirit. We’re not! It’s all Him, It’s His power, and His authority.

 

We are representatives of His Kingdom. We are authorized, approved endorsed, empowered, official delegates of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. If we don’t exercise kingdom authority who will?

 

He also told them to pack light. “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.” (vs. 3-4) He wanted them to depend on him and the people they served for their personal needs.

 

This is a trust walk. If we can learn to trust him to meet our basic needs we can believe him for miracles of healing and freedom. (Dad Japan)

 

Luke demonstrates God’s provision with the story of Jesus feeding five thousand. We will come back to it. Our need for security undermines our authority. Jesus shares a parable about a rich fool who builds bigger barns to store all his crops. The problem wasn’t his wealth—it was his values.

“I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” (Luke 12.19 NIV)

 

Actually he had an impoverished soul! Jesus says, “Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12.29-32 NIV)

 

Another thing that immobilizes us is rejection.

Jesus says, “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. (vs. 5-6) Jesus wasn’t very complementary to some villages.

 

Bethsaida where he feeds masses gets an ear full later. “Woe to you, Bethsaida, if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago. (Luke 10.13)   

 

Sandal dusting was a mid-eastern expression for “getting out of dodge”. In chapter ten Jesus tells them to stay with a “man of peace”—someone receptive, responsive and hospitable. Don’t worry about people closed to your good news there are plenty of open people around. Keep moving!

 

Now the word about the kingdom is getting out. It’s even getting the government’s attention. Herod the appointed King of the Jews was trying to figure who this Jesus really is. He was getting very nervous.  

 

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him. (vs.7-9 NIV)    

 

Herod’s question is significant. “Who is this”. That’s what everyone one is wondering. Jesus turned down a premature invitation to the Judean White House. This is where his cousin John lost his head. Jesus did meet Herod later when Pilate the Roman Governor turned him over for interrogation.

 

The disciples return from their mission with great success stories. Jesus takes them on a retreat to the small fishing village of Bethsaida, which means “fish house”. Huge crowds catch up with them and Jesus teaches about the kingdom and heals people that need it until late afternoon.

 

The disciples are tired and hungry they tell Jesus to send the people away to the surrounding villages and countryside for lodging and food because there is nothing to eat in this remote area. The fish house is outa fish!

 

Now here’s the next crossroad. Jesus says, “You feed them”. (v.13) This is a test. Had they learned anything from their earlier mission about His power and His authority? They healed the sick and cast out devils.

 

This is how Jesus teaches us to follow. He says, “follow me” “watch me”. Then “do it with me”. Finally, “now you go and do it.” You feed them! Peter would hear this again after a major detour. Peter “If you love me more than these (fish) feed my sheep”! We will come back to this, for now lets take a look this miracle the feeding of the five thousand plus.

 

The disciples focus on their lack of resources. “We only have five loaves and two fish, unless you want us to go buy food.” In Mark’s gospel they do the math. “It would take eight months wages. Do you really want to spend that much on bread for this crowd.” (Mk 6.37 NIV)

 

God never wants us to depend on our own resources. Then we could take credit. He wants us to get in way over our head and find out he’s GOD!

 

(slide 7) Jesus is strategic. He tells them to gather people in groups of fifty. He lifts the five loves and two fish to heaven, gives thanks and breaks the bread. They break bread and handout fish till all are fed. There are twelve doggy bags of leftovers! These were probably small lunch baskets borrowed from the crowd. So even the disciples get fed after all!

 

Do what God asks you to do, no matter how limited your resources are. He will meet the need, and more than take care of you also! Paul was thanking the poor Philippians for their generous giving. He says, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

(Phil 4.19 NIV) (not just your financial needs)

 

Luke jumps from this incredible story to a thematic question. “Who do the crowds say I am?” (v.18) That’s what disciples were still asking. That’s what Herod was wondering. The disciples reply “some people say, John the Baptist, or Elisha or one of the other prophets back from the dead. (v.19) Jesus says, “But what about you, who do you say I am?”

 

Peter finally affirms, you’re, “The Christ (Messiah) of God.” Unfortunately later at another crossroad, Jesus’ trial, he denies he ever knew him. Peter then goes back to his former fishing trade. But after the Resurrection Jesus knew where to find him. He showed him how catch a lot of fish.

Then he told Peter if you really love me, “feed my sheep”. This is were we are going if we are following Jesus. He says, “freely you have received now freely give.” We are called to be with him and to be sent out by him.

We may feel like we have noting to give. But he has everything to give!

 

Jesus affirms Peter for his right answer in the other gospels. Here in Luke Story, he tells them not to revel who he is until the right time. But for the first time Jesus attempts to make them aware of the next crossroad.

 

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (v.21-22) Notice not maybe, must be!

 

They don’t really get this until he reminds them after his crucifixion. We block out stuff we don’t want to hear. We are still very selective in our ideas about who Jesus is. Now this is not all gloomy. He also predicts His glory. He will be raised to life on the third day!

 

This is also the crossroad He calls us too. “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (vs. 23-25)

 

Denial is the polar opposite of confession. Let me make it simple. If we confess Christ as our Lord we must deny our self as Lord. This is not a passive acquiesce of identity or the rejection of our unique personality.

 

This means we now live for Christ not for our own self-interests. This is a daily crossroad. One leads to life the other to death. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? (v. 25)God wants us to find our self in Him. Don’t waste your life save your life.

 

Last week I went on a day of spiritual retreat at San Damaino, the Franciscan center, in the beautiful East Bay hills above Danville. There is a large garden area with sculptured tiles of the Stations of the Cross.

I paused at each one, reflected and took a photo. I couldn’t help but notice the movements of Christ’s cross bearing.

 

The cross is placed on His shoulder. He stumbles under the Load. He gets back up. It gets heaver. He gets help. His mother sees the burden.

He falls again. He reaches out to bless along the way. He finally falls under the load. He is nailed to the cross. He dies on the cross. He is taken down.    

Taking up our cross is humiliating—It’s bearing His shame?

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (v.26).

 

Who’s glory do we really want, the temporal approval of the world or the eternal Glory of the Son of God. Let’s take the high road that brings fame to His name!

 

Here are some questions to contemplate at this crossroad…

 

If Jesus where ask you, “Who do you say I am?” What would you say? Who is he really in your life? What does it mean to make him LORD?

 

What if he says to you, “You feed my sheep”? What would that look like for you. What does it mean for you to deny yourself and follow Jesus!