Thesis:The absolute uniqueness of Jesus is a truth that most people cannot handle.
Introduction: I had intended, last week, to complete our study of Luke's record of the presentation of the Kingdom to Peter, John, and James. However, our study was unavoidably interrupted at the point where the details were coming together to actually make Luke's point. Therefore, I decided to return to that point today and expand it a bit.
By way of review, we raised, and attempted to answer, three questions last week. First, why did Jesus command The Three to refrain from telling what they experienced in their exposure to the Kingdom of God? From other situations where Jesus made a similar demand, we saw a common thread: there are some truths for which people are not ready and the declaration of them may actually do more harm than good in that the rejection may settle into permanency. Second, why did Luke not tell Theophilus that Jesus was the reason for the silence of The Three in a way similar to Matthew's and Mark's records? The answer to this question is one of authorial intent and deliberate selectivity. Luke apparently wanted Theophilus to do some serious thinking on his own about the reality that not even The Three did very well with the information created by the revelation. Then, third, why did Luke tell Theophilus what he did tell him? This was where we stopped last week and it constitutes the most important truth of the entire passage.
This morning we are going to pick up with the facts that Luke did give Theophilus.
I. Fact One: the Father Did Not Speak From the Cloud Until Jesus No Longer Had Any "Glorified Associates" Present.
A. What He had to say was decisive.
1. It is clear from Peter's response to what he was shown that he was not on the right wave length to properly grasp Jesus' identity.
a. It was Peter, in 9:20, who uttered the rightwords to this issue.
b. But Jesus immediately threw a monkey wrench into Peter's understanding of those accurate words in 9:22 by declaring that He was going to be put to death and be raised on the third day.
1) In Matthew's record of this event, Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him (16:22).
2) In Mark's record of this event, Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him (8:32) and Jesus responded with a rebuke of His own (8:33) that makes Luke's point: rightwords do not necessarily indicate a rightunderstanding.
2. It is clear from two declarations by the apostle Paul that right understanding is beyond critical; that right words will not carry the day.
a. Galatians 1:8-9 clearly declares a decree of excommunication from the Life of God for proclaiming a particular "twist" to the Gospel that inherently undercuts it.
1) The Galatian "twist" was not a denial of Jesus' identity as the Christ of the God.
2) The Galatian "twist" was a denial of the effectiveness of the works of Jesus as the Christ to those who refused to accept the claim that it was their own responsibility to produce similar works that made Jesus' actions capable of saving them.
a) This boils down to a "gospel" of Jesus plus... .
b) This is precisely the reason for the Father's hesitation to speak in our text until the issue was "Jesus alone."
b. 1 Corinthians 16:22 clearly declares a similar decree of excommunication from the Life of God for anyone whose "profession of faith in the right words" does not translate into what he calls "love" for "the Lord".
1) The issue is not a subtle contradiction of the apostle's own anathema in Galatians1:8-9.
2) The issue is a clear declaration that "right words understood" does something real in the soul.
a) That "reality" is what Paul calls "love" for "the Lord" -- i.e., the Christ of the God.
b) The particular "kind" of love which Paul describes is what is known as "soul attachment" love: that reality of one's soul being made one with Christ as Paul described in Romans 7 with his marriage analogy.
c) This particular "kind" of love guarantees only two ultimate realities.
i. Upon the advent of "sin" by the one who "loves", there will be a potent emotional upheaval in the soul created by the guilt and the distance inserted into the relationship.
ii. This emotional upheaval will, ultimately, bring genuine repentance as is illustrated by Jesus' and Paul's teaching on the effectiveness of the discipline of the Church.
d) This boils down to a "gospel" of "real Life" in the soul on the basis of "Jesus alone", which is the point of the Father's declaration in our text.
B. What He had to say was exclusive.
1. He declared Jesus, alone, to be His "Chosen Son".
2. He demanded that Peter, John, and James leave off their penchant for ignoring what this "Son" had to say.
a. One side of this issue is more obvious than the other: Jesus, alone, is the source of truth about His Father.
1) This automatically means that, when push comes to shove, "faith" is only "real" when it is rooted in Jesus-Truth, not in "instrument-truth".
a) This addresses the major problem of Peter's amalgamation of Jesus into a one-of-several identity: non-exclusivity.
b) This addresses the root of that problem: a confusion of the Creator and His use of agency.
2) This is the reason that the inspiration of the Scriptures is a critical doctrine: it is only by inspiration that men's words are "Jesus-Truth".
b. The less obvious side of this issue is man's penchant for not listening.
1) Men fail to listen for a plethora of reasons, among which are two: distraction and distaste.
2) The Father's demand is that men commit themselves to "diligent attention" and "acceptance without argument".
II. Fact Two: the Silence of The Three Indicates God's Awareness of the Magnitude of the Problem.
A. "Jesus alone" is very difficult because the faith it requires penetrates to the reality of all of our fears and wants.
1. Our fears tell us to not turn loose.
2. Our lusts tell us to not turn loose.
B "Jesus alone" is very difficult because the practice it requires is "unsettled".
1. There is a divine use of intermediate agencies.
2. There is no "pat" answer to the question of whether God is going to do what He does without our agency or with it.
a. In the history of Israel, there were times when the instruction was "stand still and see" (Exodus 14:13 and 2 Chronicles 20:17).
b. In that same history, there were times when the instruction was "fight because the Lord your God goes with you to fight..." (Deuteronomy 20:4 and 2 Chronicles 32:8).
3. The fact, however, is this: if a believer understands the reality of the divine use of agency, he understands that it is, and always will be, "Jesus alone" because it is He and not His instruments that actually does the work (no one thinks that the pipe that brings the water into the house is the water, or the source of the water).