Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lord, Do Not Trouble Yourself, For I Am Not Worthy

Review Luke 7:1-36 (January 6, 2013)

My thoughts on sermons at Andover Baptist.

Where does life come from?  Even though scientists purport to know the answer, they end up chasing their tail.  At the end of all of the links in the evolutionary chain there is nothing holding it up.  There is no explanation for where matter comes from and no explanation for how non-living matter became life.  Of course you could agree with some who insist that life, "formed on the backs of crystals" but for many this is not a satisfying explanation.  Jesus came to bring true life and turn the values of the world upside down.

In this passage we see Jesus giving life to several people.  Jesus is the source of life and illustrates this fact by miraculous resurrections.

- embrace Christ's power
- don't be offended by Jesus
- accept God's purpose for you

The centurion embraces Christ's power.  He does not doubt it or exhibit a hyper-scepticism.  He is likely a God-fearing gentile and not a full Jewish proselyte.  He had probably been thinking about deep questions regarding life and eternity a good long time before Jesus came.  But he was likely not circumcised or part of the Jewish community.  But he has a profoundly deep understanding of his status before God.  "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof" is an expression of great humility and spiritual poverty for a powerful centurion to communicate.  He does not even presume to come to Jesus personally.  This could almost seem lazy or presumptuous, but taken with his previous statement and the subsequent statement of Jesus regarding this man, it is surely another sign of this man's humility.  The centurion also recognizes the authority of Jesus.  This is something that so many of the religious leaders struggled with accepting, to the point of challenging Jesus by asking, "by what authority do you do these things?"  But this gentile knew better than they that it was by the power of God that Jesus was doing these things.  And more than that, he recognized he was not worthy and in so doing found favor in the eyes of Jesus.  We would do well to do the same; to humble ourselves in the eyes of God and admit that we are not worthy.  But even in this admission we must entreat God to help us and give us life.

Jesus gives new life to the widow's son.  This is a monergistic process.  We do not see anyone entreating Jesus here.  It is simply the compassion of Jesus which forms the basis of this miracle.  The grace of God is mysterious and often comes to the weakest and most despised of society.  This is one such occasion as the widow and her son were both likely from the lowest levels of society.  Are we not dead men before Jesus comes and tells us, "... I say to you arise"?

Don't be offended by Jesus.  We need to remember that everything good and valuable in our lives is not from our own work and striving but it is a gift from God.  Is it possible that we struggle at times to glory in what we ourselves have done instead of what God has done?  Can we struggle with glorying in ourselves instead of Christ?  Can we struggle in times of trouble with faith in Jesus?  Do we wonder why God allows us to suffer when we are His beloved children?  Of course.  Blessed is He who is not offended at Jesus.  John and his disciples learned this lesson.  Jesus came to show us what is truly valuable and this is very difficult for us.  We still struggle with affection for the values of the world.

Accept God's purpose for you.  The pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves.  It is not enough to reject the truth of the Gospel because the messenger was strange.  God's purpose for them and for us is to recognize we are not worthy and that we need Jesus.

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