Thesis:The issue of "faith" has its roots in the question of Jesus' identity.
Introduction:Last week I attempted to make the point that this "thing" called "faith" is at root a matter of "response". It is a response to developing circumstances; it is a response that assumes personal ignorance; it is a response that assumes a unity between the God of Ability and the creature who serves His agenda; it is a response to a specific divine declaration of that agenda within the current circumstances; and it is a response that is designed by God to develop into a continuum of such responses. We at least introduced those five aspects of this thing called "faith" that has its genesis in God's desire to enable men who are dead in their Sin to live again.
This morning we actually come in our study of Luke's record to Jesus' demonstration of what happened when "The Twelve" set their proud self-sufficiency aside and simply "followed" His words. This part of the record is a vindication of "faith" and it is designed to serve us as an encouragement to trust God in each circumstance according to the five elements of such trust.
I. There are Two Parts to This Vindication.
A. On the "Big Picture" side of the coin, there stands the ultimate question of divine integrity as it focuses upon Jesus as the Christ.
1. For 4,000 years a promise by God of the coming of One Who could actually handle the problems of men had gone without fulfillment.
a. In that absence of fulfillment, men and women of faith had struggled to deal with life in much the same way we were told that Zacharias and Elizabeth did: they "did" what was revealed, but they lived in significant fear that it was unacceptable to God.
b. One problem that we inadvertently introduce into the biblical narrative is a collapse of the flow of time so that we project understanding into people where there was none.
1) It had been 450 years since there had been a "prophet" in Judah.
2) Every generation that passes leaves "less" to the next to come.
2. In this part of Luke's record, the focus is upon Jesus' clarification of His own identity for a small few in that generation.
a. Twice in this chapter we see "what the people thought" in the face of Jesus' reality.
b. After the second presentation, Jesus asked The Twelve "what they thought".
3. The point: the time of the Promise had finally come upon one generation and the Promise of God was historically vindicated, leaving unbelief as an inexcusable way to live.
B. On the "details" side of the coin, there stands the deliberate contrast between the record's statement by The Twelve in 9:13 and the record's statement in 9:15 that "they did thusly".
1. We have made much of the point that when The Twelve were faced with circumstances for which they had no resources, their method of dealing with them was as much pragmatism as they could muster.
a. This is what happens when men lose sight of what is important and what is true and simply chase their own lusts.
b. But there is a reminder in Daniel 11:32-33 that it does not have to be this way.
1) The setting for this reminder is the interim between Malachi and Jesus.
2. The caution is that the experience will be one of significant disappointments.
2. Luke's presentation of 9:15 is his "solution" to the challenges of living.
a. The "solution" is given against the background of "fives" and "twelves".
1) Twelve, as a number in the Bible, pretty consistently points to "a representative group".
a) In this record, The Twelve are operating within a level of blind unbelief that has to change in order for the divine agenda to move forward on track.
b) In this record, The Twelve are confronted with "twelve baskets" of proof that their objections to the faith life are unacceptable.
2) Five, as a number in the Bible, often sets up a text so that "inadequacy" is the suffocating reality.
a) As soon as the divine agenda is expressed, the reaction is "we can't do that; we only have five loaves...".
b) The reason that "five" loaves was seen as insufficient is that there were "five" thousand men who needed food.
i. This magnifies the inadequacy of the personal sufficiency of The Twelve who have their own way of doing things.
ii. But it maintains the sense of inadequacy in the larger context: what is five thousand who cannot even make up their minds about who Jesus is in the face of the opposition to the Kingdom of Messiah?
b. The "solution" is the same every day in every generation.
1) In the most brief of statements Luke records, "And they did thusly".
a) The statement is followed by a redundancy that means that it is emphatic.
b) The point is that they simply gave up their own pragmatism and did what they were told.
i. What they "did" was get everyone seated in groups of fifty.
ii. This made it possible for everyone to "see" what was going to happen so that "five" loaves was "applied" to ten times too many (fifty) a hundred times (five thousand).
iii. The result was that "twelve" learned an important truth and countless others heard about it throughout multiple generations.
c) On the heels of their "obedience" they saw Jesus demonstrate how life is to be lived: He looked up to heaven and did what He saw there.
2) This follows on the heels of Daniel's prophecy in 11:32-33 that they "who know their God will display strength".
a) There is only one way to "know" God: consistent exposure to what He says with the willingness to ponder how His words "work" today.
b) The way that individuals compensate for the generational losses is to deliberately pursue the knowledge of the Truth in application where risk is everywhere.
3) There are two fundamentally different kinds of "Christians"; one kind "lives" and the other kind "fakes it".
a) Those who "live" do not ask others to do for them what they will not do for others.
b) Those who "fake it" are constantly expressing their dissatisfaction with what others do for them and never look into the mirror to see how great is their own failure to do for those others who are the objects of their own dissatisfaction.
c. Luke's point is that every day those who wish to "live" look to the words of God to find what He would have them do (James 1:5) and "do thusly".