Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 5 Study # 2
December 10, 2006
:God's goal is to provide a true foundation for legitimate love and faith.
:Last week we spent our study time considering the phrase "while the sun was setting." We made the point that the people were not acting out of a legitimate faith because they were not involved in a legitimate love.
It is clear from this text in its context that the people were somewhat committed to the idea that one needed to "keep the rules" in order to obtain goodness from God. They waited until the sabbath was over before they came to Jesus.
It is just as clear from this text in its context that those same "rule-keepers" were streaming to Jesus as a "rule-breaker". It is inescapable from even the most casual reading of Luke 15:14 that the people had been taught that what Jesus did on the sabbath was "against the rules".
So, this sets up a rather significant contradiction. How can it be legitimate for those who see "blessing arising from rule-keeping" to stream for blessing to a man who is "breaking the rules"? Does this not tell us very clearly that the people were not as interested in doing what is right as they were getting what they wanted? And, is not this willingness to violate what is right in order to obtain what is desired the root of Sin? What if Jesus had "worshiped" the devil in order to obtain all the glory of all of the kingdoms of this world? Would that not have been sin? If Jesus was a "rule-breaker", He was the devil. How could the people, in good conscience, come to Him for healing and deliverance if He was not even doing as good a job of keeping the sabbath as they were?
These questions help us to understand Luke's record of the dawning of a greater clarity upon the grace of God. The wonder of grace is that it takes no consideration of the immorality of its objects. In fact, it is not grace if any consideration of the immorality of its objects is given. This is why Paul declares the grace of God to us when he says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
But, there are some questions that naturally arise from our text. One of those questions has to do with why Jesus, in grace, would, on this occasion, indiscriminately heal and deliver everyone in Capernaum and never do it again. Why did He not enter into every city and heal and deliver all? Why would He do that in Capernaum and then turn us down today when we ask Him to heal someone? Two facts need to stand out in our minds. First, there is not only no indication that the people of Capernaum were "properly motivated", the indication is that they were not. Grace needs this fact to show up as grace. This is Luke's point in telling us the people came as the sun was setting. Second, there is no indication in Scripture or history that Jesus ever did this same thing again.
Now, with these two facts in mind, I want to address an issue that this paragraph raises. Many are the deceivers who boldly tell us that healing and deliverance are "standard blessings" for all who trust in Jesus. They often say, "If Jesus did it then and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He will do it today." Why is this a lie?
- I. It is Not a Lie That Jesus Did It Then.
- A. Luke's entire effort in both Luke and Acts immediately goes down the drain if the record is not true.
- 1. It is absolutely irrational to "believe" that some of what Luke wrote is true and some is not and still have any regard for what Luke wrote.
- a. We adapt ourselves to the fact that almost everything we read or are told is a mix of some truth and some error...because it is a fact.
- b. But, what standard do we set up in the face of this reality to try to keep from being led into something deadly?
- c. Normally, we trust in ourselves, or in some "other" whom we consider to be a trustworthy guide because of some characteristic(s) that they have. [Illustrations: on the news Friday evening there was a segment on the Nigerian scam artists in which we were told of a man who had had the intelligence and skill to amass several hundreds of thousands of dollars and then lost more than a quarter of a million dollars to the scam artists. This happened in spite of the fact that there are warnings against these scammers all over the internet. And how many times are we told about some "business man" who bilked gobs of people out of gobs of money when, all the time, a single call to the BBB would have revealed his scam?]
- d. The problem we have with "Luke" is this: he is addressing absolutely crucial issues and we have no way to tell which of his facts are true and which are not.
- e. Because Luke claimed to be telling the absolute truth, any error would be contrary to his claim and make "faith" in what he says completely irrational and extremely dangerous.
- 2. That God made sure Luke did not misrepresent the Truth is a standard theological precept for biblical people.
- a. Jesus, Himself, taught that God has guaranteed the accuracy of those who wrote for Him among men by claiming that their words (even to the accuracy of the jots and tittles) would not fail.
- b. The issue here is not "Luke", but "God".
- B. Most people refuse to face this fact because they are just like the people in Capernaum.
- II. It is Not a Lie That Jesus is the Same Today as He Was Then.
- A. The absolutely trustworthy Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same "yesterday, today, and forever."
- B. This is a "T'heological premise: God is Immutable in His character.
- C. It is, again, completely irrational to "trust" in a mutable God because "trust" requires consistency.
- III. The Lie Arises From Two Misunderstandings.
- A. First, there is a difference between "character" and "action".
- 1. Clearly Luke wanted Theophilus to "believe" -- which meant he clearly wanted Theophilus to have a legitimate foundation for faith -- that Jesus is trustworthy.
- 2. Clearly Luke's entire effort to give Theophilus a "picture" of Jesus that he could trust had to be accurate.
- 3. But, just as clearly, Luke made a severe distinction between what Jesus is and what Jesus does.
- a. Actions address relatively superficial situations.
- 1) This is why actions may well be very different even when the situations seem to be very similar...because "situations" are seldom really similar once we break through the superficial appearance of things.
- 2) The biblical record consists of a huge number of different actions that often look a bit arbitrary when considered superficially.
- 3) But, actions taken become seeds that result in consequences so that everything that Jesus did was going to have repercussions.
- b. Character addresses foundational values and beliefs.
- 1) At the root of character is the commitment to what is valuable and what is true.
- 2) Because Jesus has character, He is absolutely committed to what the Bible reveals as valuable and true.
- 3) It is precisely because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, that He does not do many of the things now that He did when He was here.
- a) The situation has changed.
- i. Some of the changes are enormous.
- ii. Some of the changes are marginal.
- b) His character requires different responses now than then.
- B. Second, there is a difference between "action" and "intent" ["what" Jesus did may not be what it appears to be -- perceptions of "what" often change once the "intent" is revealed].
- 1. This raises the question of just what it was that Jesus actually "did".
- a. On one level, He healed and delivered everyone brought to him after sunset.
- b. On another level, He demonstrated two "abilities" that reinforced the people's grasp of His "authority".
- c. And on a third level, He addressed later "hearers" with certain facts about Himself that they would need if they were going to "believe" in Him.
- 2. The question is this: why did He do what He did?
- a. Some among us would say that He did what He did so that we might expect Him to do the same thing for us.
- b. But, that raises the question of just what it was that He did.
- 1) To answer this question we must understand the situation.
- 2) To understand the situation, we must understand several facts...
- a) Jesus, at this point, was introducing Himself as God's "Kinsman-Redeemer" Who would restore all that Adam lost.
- b) To do that, He had to demonstrate His ability to "restore".
- c) To do that, He had to reverse the two most obvious results of Adam's sin: the degeneration of the physical and the subjugation of the spiritual.
- d) He did this by healing as a demonstration of His ability to regenerate the physical world and by exorcism as a demonstration of His ability to bring freedom from the dominion of the evil one.
- 3) Then we must draw certain conclusions...
- a) First, Jesus did not heal to make a given person, or group of people, well; He healed to demonstrate His ability to regenerate the physical creation.
- b) Second, Jesus did not cast out demons to dominate this demon or that one; He cast out demons to demonstrate His ability to give freedom of spirit to men whose spirits had been brought under the bondage of Sin.
- c) Third, Jesus acted within the context of Values and Beliefs.
- i. He never intended to reinforce the lie that our bodies are more important than our relationship with God [this is what the folks in Capernaum believed that allowed them to seek a rule-breaker to give them health].
- ii. He never intended for people to stagnate so that even after 2,000 years of the presence of the Bible in our world people would still be fixated at the physical level.
- d) Jesus did what He did so that all who hear about it would begin to have a foundation to begin to believe that He represents the God Whose plan it is to bring this creation back to "restoration".
- 3. And, finally, we must ask whether we can expect Jesus to heal today like He did then.
- a. First, all healing that occurs is done by Jesus.
- b. Second, healing is just as potent/impotent today as it was then.
- c. Third, God seldom repeats His actions because the situations have changed.
- d. Fourth, if one is still tied to the lie that "I must be healthy in order to relate to God", the chances are good that He will not heal...but this is clouded in mystery because we do not know what God knows and what it is He is doing.