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Luke 1:1-38
Luke 1:39-80 Luke 2:1-38 Luke 2:39 - 3:17 Luke 3:19-4:23 Luke 4:14-5:11
Luke 5:12-26 Luke 5:27 6:11 Luke 6:12-49 Luke 7:1-23 Luke 7:24-50 Luke 8:1-18
Luke 8:19-40
Luke 8:40-56 Luke 9:1-27 Luke 9:26-50 Luke 9:51 to 10:24 Luke 10:25-42
Luke 11:1-13 Luke 11:14-44 Luke 12:1-21 Luke 12:22-48 Luke 12:49 - 13:17 Luke 13:18-35
Luke 14:7-35 Luke 15:1-10 Luke 15:11-32 Luke 15:24-32 Luke 16:13-31 Luke 17:1-26
Luke 17:26-37 Luke 18:9-27 Luke 18:31-43 Luke 19:1-27 Luke 19:28-48 Luke 20:1-26
Luke 20: 27-47 Luke 21: 5-36 Luke 22: 1-20 Luke 22:21-34 Luke 22: 35-53 Luke 22: 54-71
Luke 23: 13-43 Luke 23: 43-56 Luke 24: 1-35 Luke 24: 36-53    
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Luke 12:49-59

 

“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?  But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straitened till it be accomplished!  Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth?  I tell you, Nay; but rather division:  for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.  The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.  And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.  Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it ye do not discern this time?  Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?  When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.  I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.”

 

“We shall turn there, and we’ll pray, as we continue.  ‘Father we look for you to continue to be in our midst this evening.  Father you tell us in your Word, in the Book of Revelation, that you’re walking in the midst of the lamp stands, in the midst of your Church.  And Father I pray that we indeed might be like the church of Philadelphia, though we have little strength Father, we have kept your Word, we have not denied your name,  and Lord, we love you.  Lord, all the strength that we desire, flows from your presence, Lord.  As the Psalmist says, all of our springs of joy are in thee.  And Lord we are so easily distracted by the material world that surrounds us, temporary things.  Lord we are so easily mistaken in putting our hopes and our joys in some circumstance that we feel would give us a greater fulfillment in our heart Father, and we’re constantly reminded, Lord, that a day in your presence Lord, an experience in your presence is more to be desired than gold Lord, and all this world has to offer.  So we thank you that we can come to a public building and sing your praises, Lord, and look into your Word, and desire to behold Jesus, and to fellowship then with one another.  Father we settle our hearts as we continue Lord, each of us desires Lord your continued work this evening, to be touched by you before we leave, to have you pass by Father, as you passed by Bartemeus when you were here in the flesh, and Lord as you passed by Lord, so many, the man at the pool of Bethesda, Lord, that you would pass by this evening Lord, touch us, and call to our hearts, and draw us after yourself.  Lord we pray anyone here this evening who doesn’t know you, Lord, that Lord before the evening is over they would, that you would open their eyes and their hearts.  Father we put these things before you in Jesus name, amen.

 

The Two Biblical Divisions

 

Luke chapter 12, nice quiet prayer, the Lord starts by saying “I am come to send fire on the earth.”  [he’s laughing]  We are in verse 49 is where we left off.  Chapter 12, verse 49, “I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I if it already is kindled.  But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!”---desiring, constrained until it be accomplished---Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth?  I tell you, Nay; but rather division” (verses 49-51).  Now take note, that’s our word here in these few verses, “division.”  “For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.  The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father;”---and “divided” is now implied through the rest of the verse---“the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (verses 52-53).  We knew that, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law.  Division, Jesus says “I am come to send fire…do you think I am come to bring peace?”  He says ‘I’ve come to be baptized with a baptism, and now my heart is pained, constrained until it be accomplished’ he said, because he had come to bring a division, and he speaks about a great divide here, come to bring fire.  You know that when John the Baptist was baptizing he said ‘The one that comes after me shall baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’  And many times our Pentecostal brothers and sisters will tell us, ‘Well what this means is that Pentecost, you know, the Holy Ghost fell and there were fires on their heads, and that we should be on fire for Christ, it’s that Holy Ghost fire.’   No, you just have to read on, because it says that he’s going to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire, he’ll gather his grain into the granary and thoroughly quench the chaff away with fire, with unquenchable fire.  He had come to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  He had come to save that which was to be saved, and then separate into eternal fire that which would be lost.  And at Pentecost it doesn’t say fire was on their heads, all their heads would have been burned.  It says there were cloven tongues ‘like as fire’, it doesn’t say it was fire.  But right in the Gospels we’re given the commentary of what that’s speaking of.  He had come to send fire.  Now there is a fire that we could say ‘OK, here he is talking in a more symbolic sense, there’s a fire that would ignite the world in regards to the Gospel.’   We can see that.  But that ultimately culminates in judgment when he comes at his second coming, you will either know him as Saviour or you’ll know him as Judge, you’ll either have an experience of the fire of Christ consuming away the dross in your life, changing you into his image and likeness, or the fire of Judgment, one or the other, as Saviour or as Judge.  And he says here, that fire that he came to bring on the earth, it has to do with a division, and that division he says, ‘is accomplished by a baptism that I am at this point constrained or my heart is pained until it be accomplished.’   He’s speaking about his crucifixion, his Passion and his resurrection, being baptized into, in a sense, the fiery wrath of God.  The judgment would come down on him so it need not come on us, and that he would accomplish then that which he had come forth to do. 

 

The Original Division Between God and Man---the Sin Barrier

 

Now what he was doing in that, was he was answering one division that existed.  There was a previous division.  And the Bible says that your sins have separated between you and your God, that sin, not just sins plural, actions, but sin, sins plural, are borne out of sin, the nature that we inherited from Adam, that we were born with.  And all of the sins we commit are borne out of that.  You don’t have to teach a little child to lie, you have to teach him to tell the truth.  You don’t have to teach him to steal, you have to teach them not to steal, because they’re borne thieves and liars, cute as they are.  [Comment:  This is not entirely true.  The mechanics is slightly different, but the result is the same, of what he’s talking about.  Every human being, at conception, has the spirit-of-man, or a spirit-in-man placed within them, which gives their brains intellect, computing and reasoning power far above the apes and monkeys, though they have equivalent brain size and quality physically.  Satan can tap into the spirit-in-man wavelength, infecting it with his Satanic attitudes, described in Galatians 5:19-21.  A newborn baby’s mind is essentially neutral, but soon afterward takes on the bias of this invisible Satan-induced signal coming into the spirit-in-man which is mated with their brains, giving them mind-power cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13]  You give them time, it manifests, with a sinful nature.  The Bible says we’re born in sin, conceived in iniquity.  Now, we can look around and say ‘Well that’s not fair, I wasn’t in Eden, I didn’t sin, Adam sinned and it’s been passed along.’  And the Bible understands that, and says, ‘that because death has come to the entire race through one man, that life and forgiveness also then comes to the whole race through One man, which is Jesus Christ.’  And he says ‘I am constrained to accomplish this baptism which will answer the first division’ there’s a division between man and God, and that is sin.  And because God is infinitely holy, and man is sinful, man can’t come into the presence of God.  The darkness is obliterated by the light.  And for any of us to step into the presence of God without the righteousness of Jesus Christ upon us is to be destroyed.  And there’s a division between man and God, because the Bible says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  It says “all of our righteousness is like filthy rags…and that our sin has separated between us and God.”  Now, the wonderful thing of course is when we come to Christ, that division is answered.  Because the Bible says, judicially in heaven’s court, the very righteousness of Christ is imputed to you, by faith, by belief, because you’ve asked him to be your Saviour and forgive you sins, the righteousness of Christ is upon you, judicially.  That all of your debits have been erased and all of Christ’s credits have been put in your column.  It’s a bookkeeping thing in heaven, that all of your sin has been removed and placed upon Christ by faith, and all of his righteousness has been removed from him as it were, and placed upon you.  And when God the Father looks down upon your life he sees the very righteousness of Christ, and that’s why he can accept you, that there’s been a propitiation. His wrath has been satisfied because it was poured out on Jesus, and all of the sin of mankind was there placed upon him, and then punished by the wrath of God.  So now anyone whose willing to avail themselves of that can come into the presence of God asking the forgiveness provided through Christ, and then we’re clean [judicially, but not in the reality of our own lives, obviously, which gets us into the huge subject of Law & Grace.  For more on that, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm].  So that division has an answer to it. 

 

The Second Division, Between Believers and Non-believers

 

But what he says is, then it creates a different division.  You come to Christ, he says, and then you find where in one house three are on one side of this divide, and two are on another, where a father can be divided against his son, or a mother against a daughter or a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and so forth.  It says what happens is, all of a sudden you come home, one day, and you say ‘Praise the Lord!’ and they say, ‘What happened to you!?  Aren’t you going to Atlantic City with your friends anymore?  Aren’t you going to the dance anymore?  Aren’t you going out on your beef’n beer nights anymore with your buddies…what do you mean, you go to church Sunday [or Saturday] morning, Sunday [or Saturday] night…’ and you know this incredible aggravation starts.  It’s amazing, we have had men in this church that were no-good, drinking, running with women, spending all their money gambling, and they get saved, and their wives get rid of them!  They kept them while they were bums [loud laughter], but they come home and start to talk about Jesus, and the sinful heart of the wife can’t handle that.  She understood perfectly the other stuff.  And the Bible says that we have this savor, and it’s a spiritual thing, it’s not with the physical palate, but a taste or a smell of life unto those who are saved, but unto death to those that are perishing.  And just the fact that you come home smiling, saying ‘Praise the Lord!’ and you’re marking your Bible, you’re saying ‘All of the religion you have [addressed nonverbally to the other mate] don’t mean nothing unless you know Jesus.’  And it strikes a sharp division, and many of you here know that.  You’ve been alienated from family members.  [I have to say here, my dad would not allow that alienation to take place in his house when I came to the truth and was baptized and received the Holy Spirit.  He told me not to preach to them.  But he would not allow the alienation to take place.  He was a wonderful man.  They did think I was in a cult.]  They think you’re in a cult, big one, bigger than theirs.  [laughter]  They think you’re getting brainwashed.  They don’t know our brains were washed the moment we got saved [actually a washing process started, which lasts a lifetime.  Judicially we were washed instantly].  And you know the division, you know the agida.  Some of you are going to an early church service somewhere else and sneaking over here afterwards.  [laughter]  I know what goes on.  You’re just trying to make everybody happy.  As Jesus looked toward that great divide [the first division between man and God caused by sin], he saw, from his vantage point, that all men at that point were remaining in their sins, they were all damned.  And he knew there was something that he would accomplish, that would then put the division within a household instead of the household of God.  He knew that he would accomplish something so effective, that would satisfy the just wrath of God on our behalf, and that there would then be those that are saved, and that when God the Father looked down at the world, he would see those that were lost and those that were saved, the new Great Divide.  And he says, ‘I can’t wait until this,’ he says, ‘is accomplished.’ 

 

You can discern the physical signs but not the spiritual ‘Signs of the Times’

 

Verse 54, “And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west,”---from the Mediterranean Sea---“straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.  And when ye see the south wind blow,”---the Sirocco coming from the desert, the dry wind---“ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.  Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth [and even space-weather now]; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?  Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” (verses 54-57)  Now, in a very similar place, Jesus had challenged the Pharisees and Sadducees in a very similar way, you know, we have the ‘Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight.’  And Jesus said to them, look, you can discern the signs of the sky.  Here he says, in a different sense, they’re an agrarian society, they didn’t watch weather reports at night, they didn’t turn on the 11 O’Clock News to see what was going to happen the next day.  Their lives depended on the field, it depended upon the weather, it depended upon their labor.  And they learned in very natural ways, if the wind was coming from the west, it was blowing off the Mediterranean Sea, they knew there was rain coming, it was carrying water from the Mediterranean.  If the wind began to blow from the south, they knew the Sirocco was coming, and it would dry the fields and there would be heat.  And Jesus said, ‘You have this ability to see in the natural realm what’s going on around you, in the weather, and then to determine your life by what you see in the natural.’  You leave the house with an umbrella.  You leave the house with your shorts and T-shirt.  My kids, all winter, waiting to leave the house in shorts and T-shirts. ‘It’s winter, you have to put a coat on, you have to put a hat on!’   ‘Isn’t spring coming?’  They’re looking out the window.  But we learn to determine, it’s going to be 30 degrees today, so we leave with a coat.  It’s going to rain, we take an umbrella. He says ‘You actually determine your life by the natural things that you’ve learned to understand around you, and yet you don’t understand, speaking to those people, ‘this time we’re living in.’  And in Matthew it applies it to the Last Days, the Signs of the Times, saying that ‘Why don’t you judge?  That we should determine our lives by what we see happening around us on the spiritual level.’

 

The Signs of Our Times, Not Good

 

Jesus gave us a panorama of what will be taking place right before he returns.  And how much of it is in place, it’s incredible.  And people will say ‘Oh my grandma walked down the street with a sign on saying ‘Repent, Jesus is Coming!’ and they’ve been saying this for a thousand years.’  Yeah look, all of that is true.  But there are some very particular things you need to take note of.  First of all, Israel [the Israeli nation] is the secret to God’s prophetic time-clock.  And Israel has not been a nation for 2,000 years, and in 1948 it was born again as a nation.  No other people have been driven out of their land for 2,000 years and come back and become a nation again.  Because Israel had to be in place for the prophecies that we read to be fulfilled.  First thing you see is that.  Second thing, very important.  This is the first generation that has ever existed that has the capacity to completely destroy itself [from 1945 onward].  A hundred years ago when they fought the Civil War, they were not going to kill every human being on the planet.  When the Spartans fought [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ezra/ezra4.html], and the Romans, they were not going to kill every human being on the planet.  The Bible says in the days that Jesus will return, if he would not return when he would, there would no flesh left alive on the face of the earth [cf. Matthew 24:22].  Because of nuclear proliferation, and chemical, and biological warfare, we are distinct from any generation who has ever lived before.  And we should be watching the signs that surround us.  And we know this, for certain, we are closer to the 2nd  coming of Christ than any generation of the Church that has ever lived.  If he doesn’t come for 500 years, we are still closer than any generation of the Church that has ever lived.  And I for one, can’t imagine living my life out to old age in this present world.  [He was 47 when he preached this, he’s 63 now, he may get that chance to live out his life.  But we are getting pretty darned close to those end-time events right now, as the Biblical King of the South is beginning to form up through the Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa and now in Syria (see Daniel 11:40).]  And if you can’t discern these things, and you’re my age, you’re uninformed, you are uninformed [asleep at the switch, as they say].  Jesus says, we should determine how we live by what we see of the spiritual signs around us.  He says, verses 58-59, “When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.  I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.”  What he says in the natural, if there’s an accusation, if you’ve been implicated, if you’re on your way to court, you do everything you can to prepare for that, and to make peace before the sentence is passed.  What he’s saying here in the spiritual, look at the signs, look at what’s around you.  ‘I have come to bring a division in the world.  You are either for me or against me.’  Do not wait until you are hauled before the Judge at the Great White Throne to try to make up your mind, that will be too late.  Because, he says, once you come to the judge, you’re in prison until the entire dept is paid.  Well I encourage you this evening, if you don’t know Christ, to be thinking about these things.  And I am certain, if we’d have been there, sitting with Jesus, listening to the tone of his voice, looking into his eyes, I don’t think he was ranting and raving and screaming.  I think his eyes were probably filled with tears.  And I think his heart was broken.  And he was saying, ‘You can see so much of what goes on around you in the natural, why can’t you see with your heart, why can’t you understand?  Don’t wait until you stand before the Judge of the world, of the Universe, make peace now while there’s time.’  And you can do that this evening if you don’t know Christ. 

 

Luke 13:1-17

 

“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?  I tell you, Nay:  but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, Nay:  but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none:  cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:  And if it bear fruit, well:  and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.  And he was teaching in the synagogues on the sabbath.  And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.  And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  And he laid his hands on her:  and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.  And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work:  in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.  The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?  And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath boung, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?  And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed:  and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.” 

 

Don’t Worry About Those Who Have Died, Worry About Yourself and Your Repentance

 

“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.”  Now I don’t know if his talking about the adversary and the magistrate, the judge, brought this question on.  But they told him about some Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And Jesus, now I don’t know if they want Jesus to say, ‘That Pilate, he’s going to get his.’  I don’t know if they’re trying to bait him into the political realm, but he doesn’t step into it.  “And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?  I tell you, Nay:  but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, Nay:  but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (verses 2-5).  Now we are not exactly sure what he’s talking about here.  We know this much.  Pilate, Pontius Pilate, who was not a very nice man, if you read secular history and study, he was finally banished for his cruelty.  The contemporary Jews said that he was a beast.  Some particular thing happened, where he slaughtered, evidently, a number of Galileans who had come to worship in the Temple precincts, somewhere near the brazen altar, and shed their blood, and mingled it with their very sacrifices.  Now we do know from Josephus, there were times when he marched up on the Temple Mount with the standard of Rome and started a riot because it was an image of Caesar there, and to them [the Jews] that was idolatry, they didn’t want any image up there, and he actually had to move those standards to Caesarea to keep peace, because he saw there were so many that were willing to die for what they believed.  But we do have record that it may be what it’s speaking of here, because the tower of Siloam falling on these eighteen others seems to be a part of this other scenario, where Pilate came and took money out of the Temple treasuries to build an aqueduct, to bring water.  Now, the Galileans, even as they are today, were famous for kind of being rough and tumble.  You know, the metropolitan people lived in Jerusalem, and they considered the Galileans kind of hicks, but they were like kind of frontiersmen, these were the people that you’d rather have fighting on your side if you’re going to have some kind of confrontation.  And they may have been the ones that jumped right into the fray, as Pilate went and took money out of the Temple treasuries to build his aqueduct.  But Jesus makes an interesting point, he says, ‘You think that was Pilate that killed them?  You want me to jump in and make a political judgment here on the local government?  Or do you think it was because they were sinners more than other Galileans?  He said, ‘What about those upon whom the tower of Siloam fell?’  Evidently, as they built that aqueduct for Pilate, and part of the riot that started, those that were in that part of the construction, the tower of Siloam fell, down by the pool of Siloam where the water was, and killed a bunch of them.  And what he’s saying is, ‘Pilate didn’t knock that tower down.  Was that God?  Was it God that killed the 18 down by Siloam?  And Pilate that killed the ones on the Temple Mount?  Was it God who took all of them?  Was it his sovereignty?  Was it because they were sinners?’  He says, ‘Why are you measuring out?  The amazing thing is that you are alive.  Don’t worry about the fact that they’re gone, worry about that you’re alive and you have an opportunity to repent, lest you perish.’    

 

We Tend To Judge Others and Not Ourselves

 

And you know, we do that sometimes.  If Jesus doesn’t step into it, like Job’s counselors, they looked at Job’s life, and because Job was suffering they said, ‘Certainly he must be a sinner.  There’s something wrong between him and God, and that’s why Job is suffering.’  And nothing could be further from the truth.  Job was a righteous man, who fled from evil, and God was proud of him, said there wasn’t another man like him in all the earth, and Satan wanted to test him, and God said ‘OK, go and test him.’  But Job was not suffering because he was sinning.  Now you see, you have to be careful, because the Bible teaches us ‘that what a man sows, he’ll also reap.’  If you go out drinking every night [to excess], chances are you’re going to get sclerosis of the liver, there might be some suffering, you’re going to reap what you’ve sown.  You go out and abuse drugs, using a needle, or having illicit sex and you might end up with AIDS.  There are things where you sow and reap.  And the Bible says that will happen.  And you can look at someone who is identifiably living in sin and rebellion, and watch them go into that judgment and say, ‘Well that’s because of their actions.’  You can look at that from the front side.  But you can’t go around the back side without any evidence, and look at someone whose suffering, and say, ‘That person’s suffering, it must be because they did something wrong.’  Jesus sent the disciples right out into the middle of the storm, he sent them, he said, ‘Go into the boat, cross to the other side.’  It was by his will that they were directly in the middle of the difficulties they were in.  Paul when he is writing to the Galatians, I believe in the 4th chapter says it was because of infirmity, ‘not in spite of the infirmity of my flesh, I preach the gospel to you, but because, you know it was through infirmity of the flesh that I first preached the gospel to you.’  He said ‘God used this difficult time in my life to bring me to this plateau in Lystra, Derby and Galatia, and it was through my infirmity that these churches were born.’  So Jesus says you’re looking at these guys and saying, ‘Because they were sinners Pilate killed them’?  What about the guys on the other end of the aqueduct, the other end of this project, and Pilate wasn’t even down there and the tower of Siloam fell and killed them?  Who killed them, God?  Were they greater sinners?  He says, the answer is that you’re still alive, you’re alive.  And you have opportunity to repent, lest you perish.  And his concern is always with the living.  And he wouldn’t step into a political debate.  Again, C.S. Lewis said, “War does not increase death, plague and illness does not increase death.  Death is total in every generation.  For every one hundred people born, one hundred people die.”  War does not increase those statistics.  Some die stillborn at birth, some die from sudden infant-death syndrome when they’re a little older.  Some die from a childhood disease.  Some are killed by abusive parents.  Some die of cancer in their thirties or forties, some are killed in a war.  Some live into their old age, and wear away, and die.  But war doesn’t increase death.  Sickness doesn’t increase death, it’s total in every generation.  Jesus says ‘You think they’re dead just because they’re sinners?  You’re just going to measure things out that simply, you think that you’re still alive because you’re not a sinner?  He said, ‘You’d better repent while you’re still alive.  You’d better take opportunity lest you likewise perish.’   

 

The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree

 

Verses 6-8, “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none:  cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:  And if it bear fruit, well:  and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”  Jesus says, even with a tree, you give it a few years, you just don’t hack it down.  You think God just hacked these guys down because they were sinners?  Jesus says no, God is looking for fruit in our lives, that’s for sure, he’s looking for fruit in our lives this evening.  Does he immediately hack us down?  Aren’t you glad, you know…sometimes when you see bad fruit in somebody else’s life, of course, unlike our Father in heaven we’d like to hack some of those people down, wouldn’t we [I can apply names to that one…I’m glad I’m not God]?  And he says, even with a tree, give it three years to bear fruit, and the fourth year the fruit was supposed to be the Lord’s, and if it didn’t bring forth fruit then, give it another year, let’s dung it and dig it.  And you feel like you’re in that process sometimes, don’t you?  Either cut down or dunged and digged.  And see if it bears fruit.  Now of course when they listened to it, they probably thought of the vineyard in Isaiah, they probably thought of this parable in a Jewish context.  They knew that even Israel was not bearing fruit, Christ was looking for it.  That’s why he was challenging them as hypocrites, and that if they didn’t bear fruit, as in 70AD, then judgment would come [a year per decade, three years dunging and digging by way of his Church in Judea, and a fourth for good measure, and then 4 x 10 = 40 years, 31AD to 70AD, just about fits]. 

 

The Healing of the Bent-Over Woman on the Sabbath

 

Verse 10, “And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.”  As we come to the next verse we enter into a beautiful picture, of a woman, and of her Lord.  Verses 11-17 say, “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.  And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  And he laid his hands on her:  and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.  And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people,”---now the guy’s a coward, he yells at the people instead of Jesus---“There are six days in which men ought to work:  in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.”---‘You trying to give this synagogue a bad name?---“The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him to watering?  And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?  And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed:  and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.”  Jesus is in the synagogue.  The synagogue was not an environment like this one here in our church, they didn’t have the praise band, no drums, no music, none of that stuff was going on.  They would come into the synagogue, there was a ruler of the synagogue, who basically unlocked the cabinet where the Scrolls were, he kept the place clean, and if there was an itinerate preacher there, he would let him speak.  When they gathered in the synagogue, and it could have been anywhere from ten adult Jewish men, there could have been 50, 100, we don’t know how many people were there.  We don’t know what synagogue we’re in at this point.  And they would come together, they would have a particular Scripture reading for the day.  The Scripture would be read.  Then if there was someone there that would speak or expound on the passage, they would let him have his time.  When that was over, they would end in prayer.  It was basically a time of instruction. It was quiet. 

 

‘Behold, Consider This Woman’

 

Jesus is in the synagogue, and there was a woman there. It says “behold, there was a woman”, which means “consider this woman,”  Now, we’re told some amazing things about this woman.  She has an infirmity, it says, and she is bent over, “bowed together” is what the King James says.  It’s the only time in the Bible this particular word is used of a disease. It’s literally “double-bent”, and you may have seen someone like this in a third-world country.  We don’t know what her condition was when she was born, if she had spinabiphada, or she had a spine that just was soft.  We don’t know.  But for eighteen years she’s been in this condition, and her face is down by her feet, and she is literally bent in half.  Maybe you’ve seen someone like this. 

 

Digression to correct Pentecostal misinterpretations

 

She is not demon possessed.  Jesus says “she hath been bound by Satan these eighteen years.”  Job was not demon possessed.  He was afflicted physically as God allowed the enemy to test him. But his soul was not possessed.  People go into great detail to try to say, ‘Well the spirit can’t be,’ but the soul’s different, and they try to set you up as a duplex or as a time-share with God and the Devil.  It doesn’t say that here anywhere.  And it isn’t a spirit, when it says “it’s a spirit of infirmity” it is literally “a spirit that caused” infirmity.  The name of the spirit is not ‘spirit of infirmity.’  You need to know that, because there are those in the Church [greater Body of Christ] in the ‘deliverance ministries’, and they think this is a name, spirit of infirmity, spirit of drunkenness, spirit of lust, a spirit of drugs, a spirit of dancing, I don’t know, you know.  And just think what they’re saying.  If you have a spirit of drunkenness, now that’s all that spirit can do I suppose.  He makes you drunk.  If he wants to make you fornicate he’s got to call one of his friends to come whose in charge of fornication.  No, they’re all fowl and unclean, it’s ridiculous.  The only time in the Scripture Jesus is asking for a name at Gadera, and it says Jesus spoke to him, singular.  They, the demons, plural, answered.  I have the great sense that Jesus was asking the man, ‘what’s your name?”  The demons, plural, answer.  He was trying to bring the man to the surface for deliverance.  And we don’t have anywhere in the Bible where…those are acts of the flesh we’re told in Galatians, it’s not a spirit of this or a spirit of that.  Michael is not spirit of archangel.  He’s Michael, that’s his name.  He has a name.  Gabriel is not spirit of birth announcements.  His name is Gabriel.  [He’s digressing on this subject probably due to the fact that they have some Pentecostal problems within the church, and he’s trying to lay some of this to rest, which is a digression from the real point these verses are making.  We’ll get to that soon, hopefully.]  Lucifer is not spirit of the Devil or something, he had a name, Lucifer.  And it is amazing to me, that any pastor or any Christian would talk to a demon and ask him his name.  Jesus said ‘Satan is a murderer and a liar from the beginning.’ How do you know he’s telling you the truth?  Why would you want to know his name?  Are you going to ask him for his address and phone number too?  And I’ll tell you what a demon will do if he knows he’s gotta come out, he’s gonna say ‘My name is spirit of lust.’  Because he knows that pastor is going to go and repeat it and say ‘I cast a spirit of lust out of a guy the other day.’  And he knows every other guy in the church is gonna go, ‘Oh no, I know where he went. I know where he is now.’  [laughter]  And he’s going to cause more havoc with bad doctrine, he’s leaving anyway, gotta come out.  This is not a spirit of infirmity. 

 

What Was Her Life Like?

 

He said Satan bound this woman, there’s an illness involved.  And he doesn’t give us the particulars. Is it because of the Fall [Adam & Eve]?  Is it because of just sin that’s in the world, through the Devil?  The important thing is, look at this woman, a daughter of Abraham.  She’s not demon possessed, she believes, she’s a daughter of faith.  She is double-bent.  Her face is by the ground.  And in those days the streets weren’t paved, they didn’t have sidewalks.  If she walks somewhere in the street where the manure is from the camels and donkeys, that’s where her world is, seeing peoples feet. If she wants to look, she has to turn her head sideways to look at someone.  When she gets up in the morning, does she wash her face like you do when you stand up in front of the mirror?  Does she gargle or brush her teeth every morning.  Her head’s down this way.  Does she have to swallow uphill?  Has she ever combed her hair?  Or is it lopped off so it doesn’t drag in the dirt?  Has she completely forsaken the hopes and dreams of other young women---to think about getting married and having a family?  What does she do when it rains and the water runs down her back to her head?  Or when she’s cold, or when she’s sick.  And yet we find her in the synagogue observing God’s Sabbath.  Lord Jesus, give us the grace, in spite of our difficulties, to find our way to your sanctuary.  ‘Oh I have a headache, I can’t go to church today.  That stinking parking lot, I’m tired of fighting with that traffic.’  This woman is bent over, people are staring at her.  Imagine her walk to the synagogue.  And in eighteen years, she has been to over nine hundred Sabbaths in the synagogue.  And in eighteen years she has lived with thousands of unanswered prayers.  Bend yourself in half for one day, do it for an hour, do it from the time you leave church to the time you get home.  Just try to imagine.  I would have given up on the Lord a long time ago.  I mean, just imagine eighteen years, and yet she is still there.  And the guy who runs the synagogue’s a crank on top of all that.  And she’s not bitter.  She’s not angry at God.  She finds her way there.  It still must be in her heart, somehow, either a hope in the God of Abraham, or she’s relinquished her life completely, she’s just longing to step into that city whose builder and maker is God [cf. Hebrews 11:10], the city not made with hands that Abraham sought his entire life.  Just think of her condition, and her faith.  How remarkable. 

 

Jesus Always Looked For The Hurting, Those in Great Need

 

It says that Jesus saw her.  Now that’s what he does.  He always sees the person with the greatest need.  The Bible tells us he’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  And some of you are bound by Satan.  No, not possessed,  but bound by bitterness, by some memory of perversion or abuse that haunts you, lust, temptation.  Some of us are double-bent, well it doesn’t look that way while we’re sitting up, you can’t see it outwardly.  But the heart of God is the same, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  And he looks around our synagogue this evening, our sanctuary, he sees the person that has the greatest need.  That’s who he looks for, that’s who he sees.  It says ‘saw immediately,’ that’s who he looked for.  That’s who he looks at this evening.  And you know what, I did this with the women, someone is saying, ‘Well that leaves me out, no I’m not the one with the greatest need.  I’m about number 425 on the list.  He’ll never pay attention to me.  You know, I should go to a church that’s refined and has it together, and I could be the one with the greatest need, 25 on the list.  He’ll never pay attention to me.  But no, I come to Calvary Chapel where everybody’s messed up…’  He will get to you, he will get to you, if he hasn’t gotten to you already.  He will get to you this evening. 

 

Jesus Calls to Her, Heals Her Immediately

 

He saw her.  And it says “and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity”, and I pray that he begins to speak to you.  I wonder how long it was since she heard that?  You know, Jesus looked at her, she wasn’t a monstrosity.  He saw somebody’s little girl.  He had come to straighten out lives.  He saw somebody with dignity.  When he said to her “Woman” she had to look from the ground up to see who it was that talked to her, because kids made fun of her, people stared at her.  And she hears this remarkable voice calling her to him and saying “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.”  How amazing.  He says ‘you’re loosed from your infirmity.’  And it says, “and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”  Now Luke, doctor Luke does an interesting thing for us.  He uses a medical term, she was “loosed”, it means to relax tension, and it means, it was used to describe unwinding bandages from a bad wound.  And it says when she was straightened, that’s in the passive voice, it means it wasn’t her, she wasn’t active, the straightening took place, she didn’t have to go through months of rehab, it says immediately she stood up and praised God.  No problem for Jesus to touch an impossible situation.  The bones that had grown together were fused together, the muscles that had never been used, they were in place when he told them to be there.  And some of you feel this evening, ‘I have an impossible situation, I have been bent in half for years, I’ve been doubled over in my heart or with my anger, or with my bitterness, with my guilt.  Or maybe you’re here this evening and you’re not saved, and you think ‘I am doubled over with my addiction or my sin, or with my emptiness.  There was no need for rehab in this situation.  Not when Jesus calls.  He said to her ‘be loosed’ and maybe this evening he’s speaking to you.  And maybe you can feel the tension relaxing, releasing.  Maybe he’s speaking to you about some thing that you carry in your heart.  Maybe this evening he’ll take the bandages off and begin to unwind them, and begin to set you free.  He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever.  Immediately, it says, she was loosed.  It says he touched her, and she straightened up, and began to praise God.  I bet all those eighteen years in that synagogue she wanted to stand up and lift her hands and praise God, you know that.  Imagine what her walk home was like.  ‘Hey!’ you know, straight up.  ‘How you doing?  Good to see ya!’   Everybody must have been, their mouths hanging open.  Imagine what she was like that night in bed, she must have gone, aaaah, when you get around 47 bed starts to feel better and better, and I kind of like to stretch.  That was the first time she had done that, imagine.  I bet she was up early the next day, read her Bible, and to seek her Lord.  I bet she went back to the synagogue the next day to see if he was hanging around.  How would you serve Christ, if he set you loose like that?  If he unwrapped those old bindings.  And how did so many of us first serve Christ with zeal, with fire, and how many of us have cooled as the years have gone on?  And how many here tonight need to be loosed, to serve Christ? 

 

Who Are You In This Picture?

 

Well the ruler of the synagogue must be a character.  He looks around, sees the woman he healed, he’s mad.  Everybody’s eyes should have been filled with tears.  And he says, “There are six days in which men ought to work:  in them therefore come and be healed.”  Now the thing he doesn’t know is this.  Setting  people free and straightening lives is not work for Jesus, it’s joy for Jesus.  It is never work for him to straighten out a broken life or a broken heart.  You need to know that this evening. ‘There are six other days that work can be done.  Come to be healed on those days.  Not on the sabbath, this is our Holy Day.’  Jesus said ‘Thou hypocrite, if you have an ox or a donkey, don’t you loose him on the Sabbath, take him to water him?  Lo, this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound these eighteen years, shouldn’t she not have been loosed on the Sabbath day?  And it says they were all ashamed.  Put yourself into the picture as we look at this.  Who are you?  Paint yourself in. 

 

Are We Like This Woman?

 

Are you the woman this evening, doubled over?---sitting here with a smile?---singing the songs in the beginning of the service?  Are you carrying something in your heart that’s bent you in half, needs to be healed, it needs to be straightened out?   Are you willing to look to this same Jesus?  Do you know that when he calls your name, he doesn’t say ‘Hey you with the lust problem.’  ‘Hey you, with the bitterness.’  No, he says ‘Woman, man, son, daughter.’  He sees dignity, he sees a life that can be straightened out.  And if you’re in her position this evening, know this, that he sees you, I believe with all my heart he’s calling you, as he called her, unto him.  And it says he put his hands on her, and said, be straightened.  And I believe he’ll do that this evening.  You need to look to him. 

 

Are You Like Jesus?

 

Look at Jesus, now.  You know, we want Jesus to live through us.  As we come into a room like this, or we’re around our relatives, or we’re around people, do we let Jesus, does he find that he can live through us?  When we walk into a room, do we look for the person with the greatest need?  And do we say, ‘Lord, use my eyes, I just want to see who here this evening, this guy’s got tears in his eyes, whose got a broken look on their face?’  Are we letting Jesus use our head and our eyes as a lookout and we’re just looking around for the one that hurts the most?  Or are we saying, ‘Lord, just keep the crazies away from me?’  ‘That person, Lord, oh man they are messed up.   No, they’re never a monstrosity to Jesus, he’s not frightened away by any impossible situation.  Do we let Jesus use our mouth, and say, ‘Hey, come over here, tell me how you are?’  That’s what he did to this woman, called her to himself.  He touched her, put his hands on her.  Are we willing to let Jesus touch someone’s life through ours?  You know, when you have a church like that, it continues to explode [it draws people, the agape-love of Christ in action through our lives]. 

 

Or Are You Like the Ruler of the Synagogue?

 

Or are we like that ruler of the synagogue?  You know, we can be like that.  I can be like that sometimes.  You know, we sit home and we watch a show on TV, Old Yeller, Old Yeller gets rabies, we get tears in our eyes, ‘Oh Old Yeller, they’re going to have to put him down, turn it off before the kids see it.  He’s so pretty, they’re going to have to shoot him, I know what happens.’  Then when the news comes on we go get ice-cream, watch Somalia, watch Yugoslavia, watch human beings dying.  ‘Oh look at Lassie, his foot’s bandaged up, I can’t believe they did that to that animal to make the movie, I wonder if they really hurt him?’  Timmy can hang over the cliff, just look at that poor…And sometimes it’s easier to love a dog than it is to love a person, you know that.  A dog is man’s best friend, that’s because he can’t tell you what he really thinks about you.  Sometimes when people come into a room, they come in and say ‘Meet my need!  OK, I’m here.  Let’s see what this church is all about.  50 other churches in this area, and if you don’t meet my needs, I’ll go to one of them.’  Go on.  [laughter]  You know, come here like the woman, saying, ‘My life is broken and I’m in pain.  But I trust God, I’ll find my way to his sanctuary.’  And if you’ll listen, you’ll hear his voice, calling you to himself, touching you.  Or be like Jesus, and come and look for the people with tears in their eyes, and say ‘Lord, live through me. Let me see Lord, my brothers and sisters with your eyes, with your heart, let me speak to the ones who look lonely Lord, let me please Lord Jesus somehow may I be an instrument in your hand, touch a life, before I leave this world I will have lived to benefit someone else, and not just live for myself.’ 

 

The Rigid Religious Culture Within the Synagogues Back Then

 

[Comment:  Pastor Joe missed a real big point about the whole Jewish culture under the Pharisees, scribes and synagogue rulers, and so I’ll add it here.  These religious leaders had taken God’s true Old Testament church and turned it into a Pharisaic legalistic dictatorship.  They had bound up the Sabbath day with thousands of do and don’t commands which were not a part of God’s original Sabbath command.  The Sabbath is, technically, listed as a Holy Day or a Feast Day in God’s Law, in Leviticus 23:1-3.  God’s Feast days were to be joyous occasions, coming before God.  These religious leaders had made a severe burden out of the Sabbath.  If you want to see the definition of a legalist in Jesus’ dictionary, look up the words, Pharisee, scribe or synagogue ruler.  They had turned true Judaism into a legalistic, unmerciful religion.  There’s was also a religion of pure dead orthodoxy.  Like the scribe that Jesus said quoted God’s two great commandments correctly, but then asked Jesus “Who then is my neighbor?”, he knew God’s Word perfectly, but he did not live by it.  That’s dead orthodoxy.  During Jesus’ short three and a half year ministry he did not break the Sabbath, nor did he ever tell others to, he set a perfect example of Sabbath and Holy Day observance.  But he severely corrected those who were enforcing it’s observance under their harsh interpretation of God’s Sabbath Command.  He corrected the people of their wrong, Pharisaic methods of Sabbath observance, not the observance itself.  There are churches and denominations out there today who may be observing all of God’s laws perfectly and to the letter, and know God’s laws and Word by heart.  But they are infected with Pharisaism, and dead orthodoxy.  Sadly, most of the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God seem to fit this profile.  Most of them lack God’s agape-love, which would transform their obedience to God’s Word beyond Pharisaic obedience, just as we see the transformations which take place within the Calvary Chapels (I talk from personal observation).  To view an article about the Sabbath that details all of Jesus’ corrections and Sabbath encounters with the scribes and Pharisees, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm.  The question Pastor Joe asked for the title of this section was, are you like the ruler of this synagogue?  If you’re judgmental, legalistic, and Pharisaic in your approach, in your church setting, and in your attitude, then you are like this synagogue ruler.  Jesus said, “The “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  That was his enduring correction of that whole religious system.] 

 

conclusion

 

Some of you are bent-over with sin, shackled, you might as well have a ball and chain tied to you.  This woman, her spine was fused, she was bound by physical limitations, in the natural.  And some of you are bent, doubled-over, with sin.  You’re empty and you keep going back to drugs, you keep going back to alcohol, you keep going back to an illicit relationship you know you shouldn’t have, you keep going back to the world to look for something.  You’re mad at God because he hasn’t done anything, but you keep coming back one more week to see if anything happens.  And you know you don’t have any ability to free yourself at all.  Well Jesus has solved that problem.  He says “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and I am straitened until it be accomplished.”  He has paid the price for your disease called sin, paid the price in full.  And what he does is he calls to us, and says ‘Look, don’t wait, make peace now.’  You can only be saved while you’re alive physically.  Once your physical body dies, you then are destined to your own choice.  If you choose Christ while you’re alive, you can be saved.  The Bible says that.  If you refuse him during your entire life, that’s the blasphemy of the Spirit, that is the one unpardonable sin, refusing Jesus.  Murder is forgivable, abortion is forgivable, stealing and gambling and abuse are forgivable, drugs and alcohol and prostitution, all of that can be forgiven.  Or just self-righteousness or hard-hardheartedness or bitterness, all of that can be forgiven, it’s all dealt with, Jesus can straighten that right out.  The one thing he can’t straighten out is the person who won’t come.  The person who refuses his forgiveness, that is the unforgivable sin.  I’m going to have the musicians come…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 12:49-59 and Luke 13:1-17 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

Pharisaic and Rigid Religious Culture Within the Synagogue System of Christ’s Day.  See:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm

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