Thesis:There is a serious danger in seeking Jesus for the wrong reasons.
Introduction:At the beginning of a new direction of thought (from "Truth establishment" to "discipleship training"), Luke deliberately set the stage by returning to the earlier thesis that Jesus had come for the purpose of proclaiming the truth about the Kingdom of God in the various cities and villages of Israel (Luke 4:43). Within that setting he made a distinction between a rather casual reference to "the Twelve" and a more specific reference to the women whose monetary wealth was footing the bill for that proclamation. In our study last week we noted that at least a part of Luke's purpose was to explain how everyone who has been touched by the grace of God has a part they can play in making sure others get the same opportunity that they have had to be touched by the grace of God by means of the proclamation of the Truth about His Kingdom. The part we have to play is, however, not by our choice, but by His. He is the One Who made us male and female. He is the One Who made the distinctions between how male and female are permitted to plug into the agenda. He is the One Who determined what gift, or gifts, of the Spirit He would impart to each individual. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, nor is His grace made available in a "trading days" bazaar for men to pick and choose their own use of it. Behind every person's participation in the Great Agenda is the reality that it must be driven by Love and guided by Faith (the point of chapter six).
This morning, as we move further into Luke's record of this new direction, we are going to look into the foundations of Jesus' use of "parable" in His focus upon "discipleship training" and we are going to consider a sober truth regarding just how absolute are the twin truths of chapter six. They are without compromise.
I. The Amazing Contradiction of our Expectation.
A. Within the Luke 4:43 thesis is this expectation: God wishes for as many to hear the truth about the Kingdom as possible.
B. But, in the Luke 8:4 record is this contradiction: Jesus has an opportunity to speak to the inhabitants of the cities and villages and He uses it to tell a story that no one "gets".
1. It is clear from 8:9 that no one "got it".
a. The disciples did not "get it".
b. If they did not get it, what are the chances that any within the massive crowd "got it"?
2. It is clear from 8:11-15 that, in spite of 8:10's "unto you it is given to know", without Jesus' explanation, no one would have "gotten it".
C. Thus, we are given a significant puzzle to ponder.
II. The Significance of This Contradiction.
A. Is partially revealed by the "present participles".
1. Our translators did what they could, but they misled us anyway.
a. Both of the participles are treated as if they are "imperfect indicatives".
b. Both of the participles are "present participles".
2. Luke's use of these participles in the present tense has a significant implication.
a. The "present tense" is designed to attempt to draw a motion picture in our minds so that we are drawn into the "happening" as a participant, not a mere observer.
b. The implication of this, in this context, is this: if we give in to the pronounced tendency to only give cursory attention to the Truth, we will never "get it".
1) The parable was "intentional".
a) According to Jesus in 8:10, it was to set the Truth before the people in such a way as to make the apprehension of it well-neigh impossible.
b) But, it is a fundamental fact of biblical revelation that if a person refuses to be put off by the difficulty, it can be overcome.
i. Proverbs 2:2-5 says that if a person will stop treating wisdom like "so much background noise", he will obtain it.
ii. Psalm 1 says that if a person will meditate upon revealed Truth, he will become extraordinarily fruitful [we planted five magnolia trees in our yards, but the only one that is thriving is the one at the end of the waste water line].
iii. Revelation 2-3 sets forth a series of seven significant difficulties and then gives a particular promise to anyone who refuses to let them defeat him.
2) Its "intentionality", however, did include a revelation of "the mysteries of the Kingdom of God" for certain ones within its sound.
c. The significance of the present tense participles is this: they are an appeal to allow ourselves to be drawn into the reality long enough to profit from it.
3. Luke's use of these participles is a subtle challenge to engage the puzzle that the contradiction throws our way.
B. Is partially revealed by the reaction of God to the reactions of men.
1. God is always the initial "Actor" Who engages men according to their need.
2. Men are the "responder-actors" whose actions generate a subsequent reaction in God.
3. At some point, God gives men what they insist upon having.
a. In Luke's record of the works of Jesus there are two crucial factors.
1) On the one hand, Jesus did His works because they revealed Him for Who He is.
2) On the other hand, the people responded to these works, for the most part, according to how they affected them in the setting of their own agendas.
b. In this reality of differing agendas, there is a constant tug of war between God and men over what men are going to get out of life.
c. At some point, God always "gives in".
1) If He makes it difficult to obtain a blessing, but one persists, He gives the blessing.
2) If He makes it easy to pervert the blessing, and one persists, He brings the judgment that perversion deserves in the very form it deserves.
4. The switch to "parables" by Jesus is a form of the judgment upon people who demand pleasurable life at all costs because they do not want Life at any cost.
III. The Point: It is Dangerous to Not Seek Jesus But It is Even More Dangerous to Seek Him for the Wrong Reasons.