Archive for the ‘Luke’ Tag

What God Becoming Human Means For Us!

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Part 1a: 31min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-15-what-god-becoming-human-means-for-us-part1a-tah.mp3”

Part 1b: 33min

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-15-what-god-becoming-human-means-for-us-part1b-tah.mp3″

Full Message:

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/2018-04-15-what-god-becoming-human-means-for-us-full-message-tah1.mp3”


Main Passages: Luke 2:1-20 Matthew 2:1-12


“The birth of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew. Here we see the beautiful event in which God takes on human flesh and enters our world as a baby. In Luke’s telling of the story, we see that Jesus was born in humble circumstances, where the news of His birth was then announced to the marginalized of society. In Matthew’s account, we see how the arrival of the wise men demonstrates the plan of God for the gospel to go out to all the nations. As followers of Christ, we are to resemble the shepherds and the wise men—responding to Christ’s birth with extravagant praise and public testimony.” The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

Christ’s humble birth demonstrates the nature and extent of The kingdom of God [Father, Son, and Spirit]

Christ Connection:

The birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of multiple Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. The promised Messiah was born in obscurity, but after His death and resurrection, He was exalted as King of the world. In the humble circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, we see God’s love for all people in every nation.

Missional Application:

Like the shepherds and wise men, we should respond to Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, with extravagant praise and public testimony of His grace.

“We have not properly engaged with the nativity of Jesus until we find ourselves standing in the shoes of the shepherds and the magi. We are reminded once again that the rabbis said you have not walked long enough with someone until you realize that you are on the same journey. That journey from the obscurity of the sheep pens to that place beside the manger is a journey we must make as well. Like the shepherds, we must be drawn out of the daily drudgery of our lives and realize that the good news has been revealed even to people like you and me. At the same time, we are men and women who are unimaginably rich in contrast to the rest of the world. We have been gifted with an education that most of the people in the rest of the world could hardly dream of. Yet with all our possessions and education, we must acknowledge along with the wise men that something vital is missing. That “something” can be found nowhere else except at the feet of Jesus.” – The Gospel Project

“The global purpose of God is the glad praise of Christ among the peoples of the world.”  –David Platt

 

The Parable of the Fig Tree

The Parable of the Fig Tree, in Luke 13:1-9, is sometimes hard to preach about. Ted Johnston, over at the surprising God blog, brought it up a couple of days ago and invited comments on it. I posted my thoughts in the comments section of Ted’s post and I thought I’d reprint them here for those of you who may not have seen them there:

I think the vineyard owner is the Father, the gardener is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the fertilizer. The fig tree is humanity.

The fig tree exists to bear fruit but it’s not fulfilling its purpose. Humanity exists to participate in the Triune Life as the children of the Father (Eph. 1:5) but we also are not living up to our purpose. If something isn’t achieving its purpose it might as well not exist, that’s why the vineyard owner says that he might as well destroy the tree. Not because he hates the tree but because he recognizes the pointlessness of having a tree that doesn’t bear fruit and his desire is to see it achieve it’s purpose.

At this point in reading the parable I think we all, because of our fallen nature, make two false assumptions:

First, we think that the fig tree can make a conscious decision to change itself and begin to bear fruit. We forget that trees do not think and have no choice. They bear fruit based on the soil, rain, sun, and other conditions around them. So, Jesus says our failure to live up to our purpose is like something (a fig tree) which has no conscious control over its own destiny. Because we all fell in Adam it is no more possible for a human being to suddenly, on his own, say “oh! I’m not being who I’m suppose to be, I need to get busy” than it is for a tree to say “oh! I’m not bearing fruit, I better get busy.” The only way we’re going to achieve the purpose for which we were created is if the Good Gardener (Jesus) creates the conditions for us to naturally grow up to be what we were created to be.

Secondly, we assume that the gardener is not a very good gardener. The gardener says to the vineyard owner “let me work on the tree and we’ll see if it bears fruit” and we – in our fallenness – automatically assume that it is going to be a dangerously close thing. We think, “oh no! what if the gardener fails? what if he can’t do it? the tree will be destroyed!” But how do we know that this gardener isn’t the very best gardener the world has ever seen? Maybe he’s so good there’s no danger at all of failure on his part.

So, I would say this is the moral of the parable: the Father created us to live as his children, but we’re not doing a very good job of it. If we aren’t going to live as the children we were created to be then there’s no point in our existence. As human beings we even sense this ourselves as we struggle with depression, despair, and suicidal thoughts. Because of our fallenness we, like a fig tree, are incapable of fixing ourselves. So, the Father sends the Son – the greatest Master Gardener of all time – to heal us, make us whole, and enable us to grow up to be the children of the Father that we were created to be. It is his work, he is doing it, and what we need to do is repent of our false belief that he is not The Master Gardener and believe the truth that he knows how to make us healthy enough to fulfill our purpose. And how does the Gardener make us healthy? By nourishing our lives in his Holy Spirit – the fertilizer that brings the fruit of the Triune Life.

Once we see the fig tree in this way we can see how this parable further explains Jesus’ comments about the people who died tragically at Pilate’s hands and in the natural disaster. The thing about all agriculture, including the tending of fig trees, is that it is very easy to look at a barren tree and assume that nothing is happening. The natural process of health and maturation takes time and patience – and it is not visible to us. We look at people around us, friends and family, and when we don’t immediately see the fruit of the Spirit in their lives we assume the Master Gardener is not at work in their lives and the Vineyard Owner is ready to destroy them. In fact, we can become so blind in our judgmentalism that when bad things happen to these “fruitless” people we assume that we are witnessing the Vineyard Owner’s destruction of them for their failure to be what they were created to be.

But here’s the thing about the destruction of the fig tree: it never happens! The parable ends with the Master Gardener saying “don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” So why are we all so worried? We don’t trust the Master Gardener will take care of it. And that is what it means, in the light of the gospel, to “perish.” To perish is to experience all the fear, anger, and grief that comes from not trusting that the Master Gardener will be successful. When we don’t trust that he will succeed we try to make ourselves fruitful, or trying to harangue and cajole our friends and family into being fruitful, and that is the living death that comes from believing that we’re our own saviors instead of believing that Jesus is the Savior and that he has saved us.

~ Jonathan Stepp

Uncontrolled

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not interested in controlling you.

I made this comment in passing in a post a couple of weeks ago and in the comments Greg said I ought to talk a little more about this.

Religion, for lack of a better word, is about control.

Religion imagines a God (or gods) who is all about trying to manipulate and control people through rules, rewards, and punishments. It also imagines a God (or gods) who can be controlled by our beliefs, words, and actions.

For example: God is mad that you haven’t kept his rules and he wants to torture you to death. But if you say you believe that Jesus really exists then you can control God and make him stop punishing you: now that’s the old time religion!

In contrast to this dysfunctional life of two beings (God and you) trying to manipulate and control each other, Jesus presents the good news of himself, his Father, and their Spirit.

These three are perfectly free to be and do anythying they want to do and in that freedom they are always  choosing (eternally, without beginning or end) to live in faithful, covenant commitment to each other with mutual love and acceptance. And, in Jesus, they have chosen to live forever in faithful, convenant commitment to humanity.

Jesus illustrates this freedom in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32.)

In the parable the Father never seeks to control his kids. When the prodigal wants to rebel, run away, and waste his inheritance, the Father lets him. He lets him learn about who he really is (his Father’s child) the hard away. And when the older son wants to rebel and refuse to join in the family celebration the Father lets him. He lets him learn about who he really is (his Father’s child) the hard way.

That’s the good news Jesus brings to us about our Father in heaven. He’s not out to control us. His goal was to adopt us as his children and he has accomplished this goal in Jesus (Eph. 1:5). And now he loves us through the Holy Spirit and invites us to believe the truth that we are his children in Jesus and to freely – of our own choice – join in the family celebration.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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