Last week we finished looking at the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2 and 3. All of these Christians were to hear His word, repent and remain faithful till the very end.
W saw the importance of being disciples even in a chaotic environment.
We see this chaos in us, in our community and even in the church.
Ephesus was called to remember the love that they had at the beginning.
Smyrna was told that they were to remain faithful even unto death.
Pergamum was called to purity of teaching and to holiness in living.
Thyatira was told to recover purity of doctrine, holiness in living and to hold fast till Jesus returns.
Sardis, is to wake up, strengthen what remains, remember what they had received and heard and to keep it and repent.
Philidelphia, was to keep His Word and to patiently endure.
Laodicea is to receive from the Lord all of the spiritual graces from the Lord that they desperately needed and yet did not possess.
All of this is expected of the Christians in these churches even though they are in a chaotic world full of temptations, distractions, deceptions, persecutions and problems.
Do you remember when Jesus said to the church in Pergamum, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” (Revelation 2:12) Or when He spoke to the church in Smyrna saying, “Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison.” (Revelation 2:10)
When we consider our culture and our churches we may want to throw up our hands and say,
“Christ expects too much! It cannot be done. It is impossible.”
“Christ does not know what we are going through. How could He possibly understand what we are facing and the pressures that we are experiencing?”
How are we to answer such questions?
It might help if we consider a verse that was in our text from last week in Revelation 3:21. It says, “To the one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne.”
Do you see something in that verse that might help us answer the questions,
It is found in the words, “As I also conquered”.
Jesus, came down from heaven and lived among us.
He experienced the trials, testings, temptations.
He knows how chaotic life can get.
He knows how distracted we can be by pleasure and pain.
He knows that we can be at times either fickle or fanatical.
He knows persecution.
He knows what it is like to be attacked by Satan and the demons
Christ speaks to His church as one who knows what this world is like and the challenges that we face. And He also speaks to the churches as the one who has conquered in the midst of all of this chaos. When we look to Him as our example in our own discipleship we will be encouraged and strengthened.
For the next four weeks, before we begin our study on the book of Ephesians, we will take four sermons and look at discipleship. We will consider discipleship, not by looking directly at ourselves; but by looking at Christ when He conquered in the midst of all of the chaos.
By doing so, we will not be like those of whom Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) Rather, we will be like those who hear His words and apply them to our lives and by doing so we are able to weather the chaotic storms of life. “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke, against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” (6:48)
Let us begin in Luke 12:1-3,
In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first,“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Three things to consider in the text:
We need to understand the context
We need to recognize the crowds around Him
We need to see Jesus’ response to it all
#1 - The Context:
The first words of our text are, “In the meantime”. There is something going on around Jesus at this time besides the crowds that He is addressing.
In Luke 11:37-54 - Jesus was invited to a dinner at a Pharisees house. While they are reclining around the dinner table, Jesus does something that fills host with wonder. We read of this in Luke 11:38, “The Pharisee was astonished to see that He (Jesus) did not first wash before dinner.”
In Luke’s gospel, when this particular word is found, something interesting usually happens.
Where people are found in astonishment, or wonder, or marveling; there is usually a moment of decision to follow. A response is required of a person or a group of people.
Astonishment was meant to lead them to faith; but sometimes it led to unbelief.
We all like to be filled with wonder, marveling, or astonishment. But often when this happens it will come with the opportunity to make a decision to respond in faith and worship.
It is important to see that here, the Pharisee is astonished not because of a sign or wonder, but because of Jesus’ freedom to eat without washing His hands.
When we come to a scripture and our heart is filled with even this sort of wonder we will soon face a moment of decision – will our response be of faith and obedience or of unbelief.
This Pharisee was distracted by the fact that Jesus hadn’t washed before eating.
Did this Pharisee off Jesus the opportunity to wash before dinner?
It is safe to assume that this Pharisee had given Jesus an opportunity to wash.
Did Jesus do this on purpose? He has done things like this at other times.
For some reason Jesus did not wash before eating.
Jesus addresses the fact that the Pharisees keep the smallest rules but they neglect justice and the love of God. (42) Jesus says that they like the best seats in the Synagogues and like to be greeted in the market. Then Jesus says, “Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves; and people walk over them without knowing it.” (Luke 11:44)
After this Jesus has another similar conversation with a lawyer (scribe). And the chapter ends in this way, “As Jesus went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press Him hard and to provoke Him to speak about many things. Lying in wait for Him, to catch Him in something He might say.” (Luke 11:53-54)
This moment of decision had not led them to faith in Jesus; rather, it had led them to turn against Christ.
As Jesus went away from there they ‘began to press Him hard’. Other translations say,
Their urges were an attempt to entangle Jesus into a trap.
They continually began to lie in wait to ambush Him.
This is the immediate context, but we also need to consider that Jesus is also nearing the time of His death.
#2 - The Crowds Around Him At This Time:
Luke has regularly drawn our attention to the crowds around Jesus. For example,
5:1-11 Jesus got into a boat because the crowds were to big.
5:15 – ‘great crowds’ gathered around Him and He would withdraw to pray
6:17 - “a great crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people...”
7:11 - ...His disciples and a great crowd went with him.
8:4 – a great crowd was gathering
8:19 – a crowd was so great that Mary and Jesus’ brothers could not get in.
9:10-17 – Jesus feeds the five thousand
In Luke 12:1 you can sense that the crowd that had gathered there this day was unlike anything that had been seen before.
Jesus has managed great crowds before:
On this occasion the crowd was so big that Luke doesn’t even attempt to put a number on it. He only says, ‘when so many thousands of people had gathered’.
What does it mean that there were people who were being trampled?
Some versions translate this as, “they were stepping on one another”. Every Sunday morning I step on a lot of your feet when I greet you with a hug.
Is this what was happening here?
This word is used four other times in the New Testament. Consider the following:
Mt 5:13 – You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
Mt 7:6 – Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Luke 8:5 – A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot.
Hebrews 10:29 – How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God…
Whatever degree of harm is caused by the trampling of this crowd, one thing is clear.
Luke does not attribute any of this to malice, selfishness, carelessness or hostility.
All of this is the result of the size of the crowd.
#3 - Jesus’ Reaction In The Midst Of All Of The Chaos:
How would you finish this sentence, “In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another __________________________.
How would you expect Jesus to respond in this situation?
It seems that in this situation Jesus would seek to regain crowd control. Maybe he should act to attend to anyone who has been hurt.
What would we think of Jesus in this moment if He does not immediately act and respond in a manner that we think that He should?
This is how Jesus responds, “When so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, He began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” (12:1-3)
Jesus begins to teach and instruct at this time.
He begins to warn the disciples about the leven of the Pharisees because this leven is the greater danger.
Jesus looks past the chaos created by the religious leaders plotting against Him.
Jesus does not get distracted by the great crowd and all the chaos that it is associated with it, and He continues to speak about the things that really matter most.
Perhaps there are times when we become frustrated that God is not addressing the issues that we think He should.
Jesus had such a high view of teaching His disciples that He teaches at this time for their good.
Let us consider the words of Robert Brooks as he preached about the coming of Isaiah to King Hezekiah when he told the king that he was going to die from his illness (Isaiah 38). Brooks speaks of how so few will speak truthfully to a person whose illness is leading to death. He writes,
Some say, ‘We don’t want to upset them and make tier illness worse.’ Others visit them and say, ‘We should tell them how serious their sickness is, but it will only upset us to do so.’ Even their doctor says to them, ‘Your constitution is still strong, so don’t worry!’ Therefore if their pastor neglects his duty to speak plainly to them, there is hardly a friend who will warn them to prepare themselves before their mental faculties begin to fail.
This is what Jesus doing here.
It is important to the disciples that Jesus continues to speak about the most important things.
It is important that He is not distracted by the chaos since the threat is so real and because His cross looms so close.
Yet, our heart goes out to the crowd in this situation and we wonder why Jesus does not seem to address it?
Consider Proverbs 3:21-26. Here a father tells his son what one thing is truly important for him to do in this life. And he tells his son what confidence this will establish in his heart in any situation.
21 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
We see a father telling his son not to loose sight of the most important things: wisdom and discretion. Because they will provide life and beauty. They will provide a path and security. They provide peace. They will be the means through which we have confidence that the Lord will keep us safe in all chaos.
How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!
1. There will be moments of wonder, marvel, and amazement. Some of this will be the result of our faith. At other times, this will bring us to a moment of decision. Be ready to respond in faith and worship.
2. Jesus has taught us the importance of the word. Make studying the word a priority in your life, especially when it is chaotic.
3. Don’t hesitate to bring the Word to bear in the circumstances you find yourself in. Even if it seems strange. Share it gently, humbly, and in love.