Sunday, March 09, 2008

See Jesus and rejoice (part 1)

Luke 10v1-24 at Grace Church Bristol, part of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Download MP3 - Dave Bish - Luke 10:1-24 at Grace Church Bristol

How would Jesus equip his church for action? What would evangelism bootcamp look like Jesus as the speaker? That’s what we find here in Luke 10. First the preparation to preach, and then the de-brief. What we see here is what makes Christian Evangelisation different from Muslim mission and McDonalds marketting. Remember Luke is always seeking to give us certainty about Jesus – carefully arranging the events of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection to persuade us to believe. Boot camp on the road to the cross is no mere training session it’s a stunning revelation of the one with whom they’re walking. This isn’t skills training it is heart-examination and so there are two things to see:

1. The worst thing in the world – to reject the disciples teaching (v1-16)
2. The best thing in the world – to have Jesus reveal the Father to you (v17-24)

[edit: I was a bit torn as to whether to develop the 'evangelism bootcamp' idea which fits the shape of the narrative, or to focus more on the 'best/worst thing in the world' theme... probably didn't do enough with either...]

THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD: to reject the disciples teaching

v1-9. Go and preach peace.
V2, notice he sends them to a vast harvest field. Not unlike today, Britain is incredibly un-churched in the early 21st Century. God’s new people are sent out together giving us a foretaste of what we find in Luke’s second book. Just a taste! Here, v4, they are ill-equipped but in time they’ll go to preach, weak but in the full power of the Holy Spirit. Lambs among wolves, sent by the good shepherd Jesus. In danger yet protected. As they go, V5, they’re to preach “peace”.
Why peace? Peace is God’s good news for this world. As they angels said in 2v14, it’s God’s message of favour towards his sin-corrupted world. And, 4v19, Jesus came to announce the day of God’s favour.

Today that’s a surprise because it’s assumed that God, if he exists, would be peaceful towards us. By announcing peace Jesus is exposing war. Everyone thinks they live in peace time but he brings clarity. The sea may look calm but dangerous currents, and hungry sharks lurk beneath the surface. How does Jesus bring peace? Can he just announce it and there it is? No. Since 9v51, we’ve been with Jesus on the road to his death in Jerusalem, on a cross. Why? To secure God’s peace towards his people. Something necessary because God is at war with us because of our rebellion against him. Pained by our rejection of him, justly angered by our worship of self and creation but not of him.

And in the most astounding act of love Jesus goes to his death, bearing the wrath we deserve so that God will be abundantly favourable towards us. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together in perfect and joyful unity to bring rebels like us to intimate knowledge of themselves. Jesus came to secure peace. He secures peace at the cross. The cross is why Jesus came.
V7. When they preach “peace” and it’s received then they’re to go and eat with people. This is the natural overflow of peace with God – peace with one another. Moreover, v9. And there will be healing. The gospel rehumanises.

Bible words have Bible meanings and ‘Human’ or ‘Man’ is no exception. Man is made in God’s image. Made to enjoy God, God’s people and God’s world. People say “to err is human” and we see people wasting away. But the Bible says this is abnormal. We’re made to enjoy favour from God in his world with his people. Peace is announced by Jesus’ death. The war between God and man, and man and God can be ended. Man was cursed by God but now blessing is offered. And that blessing is rehumanising in everyway – healing our bodies and drawing us into relationship with God and his people. Experienced imperfectly here, but nonetheless real.

No wonder Isaiah prophesied: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, who publish peace, who bring good news of happiness, who publish salvation – as Isaiah said (52v7).
How beautiful those who say: Your God reigns!
The disciples announce: “The kingdom of God is near”.
They announce the reign of God: Your – God – reigns!

The King who brings peace comes near by his gospel. Jesus comes to these towns and villages clothed in the teaching of his disciples. You’d think that this would be a message loved and embraced by all peoples… this offer of peace with God, of Jesus born at Bethlehem to die in Jerusalem as our Saviour.... but we’ve only see half of the story. Look at v10-16....

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