A Compassionate Sovereign?: Gospel of Luke #55
This is an exposition of Luke 13:31-35. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 23, 2017.
What is Christianity about anyway? I mean, what’s the purpose? I think that is a legitimate question. And if you turn to religious programming or pick up a best seller in the local Christian bookstore you just might miss the purpose. Some recent examples from my channel surfing may help illustrate what I mean. As I was flipping channels one evening I came across a “prophet” who was speaking to the demon of debt. As I listened to him for a few minutes it seemed as if the whole purpose of Christ’s coming was to break the spirit of poverty. “Tonight is a night of deliverance,” declared the prophet. “If you are in bondage to debt, if you are on the verge of financial ruin call in your faith pledge and we’ll pray the prayer and set you free.” I guess it’s true, “You have to spend money to make money!” Never mind that not one word was said about being financially responsible. Never mind that stewardship was not an issue. Never mind that nothing was said about Christ, his death on the cross, our sin or the need of redemption. It was easy to see Christianity is about financial freedom. On another occasion I heard about God’s moving in a miraculous way in a certain church. What was happening? Were people broken over their sin? Where people falling on their faces before a holy and righteous God? No, they were told if they had mouth or teeth problems that they were to put their hands on their mouths and receive the blessing. The result? God was filling teeth! And He was filling them with gold. Person after person testified that God miraculously filled their teeth with gold while they were sitting in the service. Free dental work? Is that the good news of the Gospel? Others share testimonies about how miserable their lives were but one day they met Jesus and now they are happy. For others Jesus was the means of overcoming drug addiction, depression, suicidal tendencies or other disorders. Is that the Gospel? Jesus the miracle cure?
By the grace of God many have been relieved of financial bondage. Many have received miraculous healing and deliverance from all kinds of distress and disease. A relationship with Christ does bring joy, peace, meaning and purpose to life. But that is not the Gospel. The Gospel is that we who are spiritually dead, hell bound, hell-deserving sinners are the object of God’s great mercy and grace. That Jesus Christ left the glory and splendor of heaven on a mission to redeem stubborn, rebellious folks like us. Jesus did not come to make us happy. He came to make us holy. He came so that we who are the enemies of God could be made the children of God. That, is the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t about us, it is about Christ. It isn’t about what we want, it is about what He did.
That was the focus of Dr. Luke as he wrote to his good friend Theophilus. You see even in the first century the Gospel was being distorted. Many “Gospels” were being written. Many stories were circulating. Luke wanted his friend to have an accurate account of the facts. And he wanted those facts to lead his friend to saving faith. This morning I want us to look at Luke 13:31-35 and learn something about the true nature of the Gospel.
Text: Luke 13:31-35
We are in the last months of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.
Luke 9:51 signals Jesus march toward death.
From that moment on Jesus moved toward the cross.
Each day brought Him closer to agony. Yet He was determined to give himself as a ransom for many. This is at the heart of the Gospel. This is why He came. The son of man must suffer and die.
Remember that the religious establishment has had it with this upstart from Galilee. They are determined to get rid of him. They are determined that he will be silenced. They have been following him for months seeking an accusation that could be used against him. The storm is gathering and is about to erupt.
The immediate context finds Jesus teaching on the nature of salvation. The question was raised concerning the number who would be saved. Will it be only a few? Jesus’ response was, “Make sure you are saved. Strive to enter through the narrow gate. Many will try to enter and will not be able.” Why? They do not know the Lord – or better yet – He does not know them. Jesus warned of the misery that awaits those who reject the Gospel. But He closed with assuring that people from north, south, east and west would gather in the kingdom. The Gospel is universal in its appeal.
Luke tells us that on that very day, the day of that teaching, some folks came to Jesus with a warning. Let’s take a look at that.
[Read the text]
What is clear in this brief text is that…
Thesis: The gospel tells of our Sovereign Savior lovingly laying down his life while weeping over the stubborn refusal of an obstinate people.
You are familiar with the expression “beware of Greeks bearing gifts?” If you are Jesus or one of His disciples, beware of Pharisees giving “caring advice!” When your mortal enemies come to tell you something for your own good, out of their great concern for your personal safety, look out!
In this encounter we are given a unique glimpse into the character and personality of the Lord Jesus. I want you to look carefully at this passage and learn 2 precious truths about our savior.
- The gospel presents the Sovereign Lord who willingly gives his life as a sacrifice for sin. (31-33)
- The gospel presents the compassionate Savior who weeps over the stubborn rejection of His own people. (13:34-35)
Luke calls us to see who now, for who he is.
This is our Savior – powerful, strong, determined, Sovereign and at the same time, loving, compassionate, caring, giving. The perfect blending of strength and compassion – power and tenderness. He is at the heart of the Gospel. The Gospel is about our hopeless state – and the one who brings hope – Jesus the compassionate, sovereign Savior.