Thesis:Love's ministry fixation is upon the progress of the Gospel.
Introduction:As Luke seven provided us with an extended look into the issue of how one goes about living "Kingdom Truth" in a non-Kingdom setting, so Luke eight provides us with the "fixation" of such a life. It seems clear from a comparison of 8:1 to 9:1-2 that Luke eight is a record of how Jesus trained others to take on the responsibility of doing the work of the ministry. It also seems rather obvious that His focus has remained generally the same: in 6:46-49 He wound up His "sermon" by making it impossible to legitimately call Him "Lord" without embracing His "Truth" and in 8:19-21 He put teeth into it. The "point" here is that it is impossible to own Jesus as "Lord" and not be "into" what He is "into". What this boils down to is that it is fundamentally wrong for a person to profess to possess the life that Jesus came to make possible and not be interested in making sure that the message that brought that life to him/her is getting out to others in a viable form. That it is His "mother" in 8:19-21 that He effectively "rejects" is a two-fold shock in that He treated Mary that way and in that it was Mary in chapter one that set the example for the rest of us. But the fact is: even though people change over time in their commitments and pursuits, the Truth never does.
So, as we begin a new year, we are also beginning a new study. We haveseen that both "faith" and "love" are the foundations for "Kingdom living". Now we are going to see that neither "faith" nor "love" exist in a healthy condition where there is no genuine commitment to the progress of the Gospel.
I. Luke's Reference to Jesus' "Successive" Behavior.
A. Luke is the only New Testament author who uses the word translated "soon" by the NASB translators (the NASB's "afterwards" appears to be an attempt to include the connector that the AV basically ignores) and "afterward" by the AV translators [the Greek appears awkward to an English reader because it has an adverb where one might expect a noun].
1. The word indicates a "successive order" in every place where Luke used it (5 times).
2. The word reveals a "planned approach to a difficulty" in every place where Luke used it (as Acts 11:4 and 18:23 clearly show).
3. The issue of a planned approach to a difficulty indicates a "task orientation".
B. In 4:43 Jesus had clearly rejected the importunity of the residents of Capernaum for one cause: He had been sent for a particular reason that took precedence over their request.
1. As in many other places in the Bible, Jesus' "purpose" statement is "contextually defined" and is not the ultimate "statement of purpose" for His coming [Note Paul's string of questions in Romans 10:14].
2. But in 4:44, and in the text before us today, we see that, though there were various points of focus in Luke's record that tend to distract us from the bigger picture, this fact is: there is a bigger picture that must control the details and snap us out of our distractions.
3. It is also a fact that it is in 8:26-39 that a convert asks Jesus to let him go with Him and He refuses, but He does not sacrifice the "agenda" in the process.
C. In Luke's description of Jesus' successive behavior he establishes what He did.
1. First, Luke says that Jesus "was traveling through".
a. This is a statement of the pursuit of the "agenda" according to 4:42-44.
b. This is the execution of the "plan".
c. This is Jesus' demonstration of what "living Kingdom Truth" looked like: taking God's assignment seriously and pursuing it with a plan for its fulfillment.
d. And Luke says that the pursuit was "according to city and village".
1) The AV translation at this point is seriously flawed (Jesus, Himself, once told His disciples that the task was bigger than the pursuit: Matthew 10:23).
2) The point is that Jesus "was pursuing" the divine assignment; not that He had accomplished it.
2. Second, Luke says that Jesus was presenting the Kingdom of God in two ways.
a. According to Luke's first descriptive word, Jesus was "announcing in a loud voice".
1) The word used here indicates the use of a loud voice for the purpose of getting the attention of the people.
2) It is probable that Luke was using the word in an elastic way that moved from the issue of the volume of a voice to the underlying issue of actually getting the attention of those around.
a) Jesus had to have had a penetrating voice to preach to the thousands who gathered to hear Him.
b) But the issue was not whether they could "hear" Him so much as it was that their attention was riveted upon what He said.
c) Thus, the metaphorical issue of "announcing in a loud voice" included the actions of Jesus that left the people "stunned into attention".
b. According to Luke's second descriptive word, Jesus was riveting the attention of the people to good news.
1) It is true that the words of Jesus were often inflammatory and offensive to those who heard them.
2) But it is also true that it is very difficult to find any of the actions of Jesus to be objectionable to those most directly affected by them.
a) This is not to say that many of the ramifications of Jesus' actions were not hateful to those who were one or two steps away from their primary impact (even in this context we find this "hatefulness": 8:37).
b) But it is to say that, for the one most directly affected, no disinterested observer could find any fault in the goodness of the action that so riveted people's attention to Jesus' message.
c. And, according to Luke's declaration, the focal point of the "noise" and the "good" was "the Kingdom of God".
1) We have already seen what this looked like in Luke's record of Jesus' message in chapter six.
2) It is our point that Luke's current record is simply the outworking of the words in terms of practical actions.
II. Luke's Reference to Jesus' "Associates".
A. In an almost superficial way, Luke says the "Twelve" were "with Him".
1. This is a reference to 6:12-16.
2. This is a preliminary to 9:1-2.
3. This has to do with a most fundamental issue of the "plan".
B. The focus of this "associates" issue is "certain women".
1. It seems clear that two things are important in this reference to the women.
a. Beneath all of the "noise" and "goodness" is the methodological question of "how?".
1) Somehow those who are going to be making the noise about the goodness are going to have to live long enough to make that noise.
2) This text tells us "how" Jesus lived: the "women" provided the funds.
b. But in the focus upon "women" are two realities.
1) First, it was a man who believed in a remarkable way in Luke 7; but it was a woman who loved extravagantly.
a) This "love" thesis is clearly tied to the end of Luke 7 by the reference to what Jesus had done for these generous women.
i. Demons were defeated for some of them.
ii. Disease was defeated for others of them.
iii. Thus, the "Mighty One" had made His "noise" and demonstrated His "goodness" to them in the two "noisiest" ways.
b) This "love" thesis is clearly the more fundamental issue in the question of how one lives out Kingdom Truth in a non-Kingdom setting.
2) Second, it is the woman who is excluded by Jesus from some of the most focal issues in the "noise-making".
a) Many women are frustrated by this aspect of "The Plan" because they think improperly about themselves in respect to it.
b) This fact stands: without the "love" of the women and its driving generosity, the "Plan" would never get off the ground.
III. The Implication for Us.
A. According to 1 Corinthians 12:7 in context, each member of the body of Christ has both an assignment to the same overall task and a particular assignment within the context of that overall task.
B. According to 1 Peter 4:10-11 in context, each believer is summoned to "focus" upon the exercise of the ability he/she has been given to complement the fulfillment of the overall task.
C. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 in context, no one is exempt from the reality of the Plan and its parts so that there cannot be any legitimate "syncretism" in our thinking.