The Right Stuff
May 17, 2020 | Randy Smith
The Right Stuff
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Pastor Randy Smith
Last week it came to my realization that I work a couple hundred yards away from some of the best mountain biking trails in the state. Every day as I drive to the church, I see dozens of cars parked along Hospital Road and bikers enjoying the adventure at Allaire State Park. I thought, maybe it is time for me to check this out for myself.
Though it probably has been over thirty years since I did any aggressive off-road riding, in my mind I thought I'd simply pick up where I left off. I aired up the tires of my 1990 Schwinn, threw it in the back of my Jeep and hit the trails with the same determination I had with my old motocross bike in Junior High.
Now I understand why people say with age, "I don't so that anymore." After a depth of vision that was just not registering with my brain, up hills that appeared like Mount Everest, speeds that were more suited for driving a car and two nasty falls, I knew I needed to make some adjustments and face up to the reality that I do not have the right stuff for aggressive mountain biking.
This sermon is about having the right stuff.
Most things in life have expectations, requirements and responsibilities. This applies to professions and family roles and hobbies. There are some things we simply cannot do because the standards are too high. There are other things we must modify because of our limitations. Yet in all things we do, we need to know the expectations, requirements and responsibilities if we wish to have any level of success.
I say this because the Christian life is no different. There is a high standard if we call ourselves a Christian. We are not permitted to do what we think best. Laziness is not an option. Ignorance is not an excuse. However, the only difference with other things in life is that God enables all His people to succeed when we work hard but depend on Him for the knowledge and strength necessary. We are called to have the right stuff with God. And only with God can we have the right stuff with God!
I am sharing this today because that is what I seen in our passage which is composed of three different passages, each passage being a different sermon point. The main point? If we call ourselves a Christian, it is essential that we have the right stuff – specifically the right doctrine, the right conduct and the right heart.
The Right Doctrine (20:41–44)
The first point, the "The Right Doctrine."
When we talk about doctrine, we are talking about understanding the Bible correctly. We are talking about good theology. We are talking about functioning in such a way that is guided by a rich and accurate understanding of Scripture.
It's sad that some Christians have been taught to believe that doctrine is a useless, outdated or even despised. However, God Word is clear as to God's heart as it pertains to good doctrine. Titus 2:7, we are to show purity in doctrine. Titus 1:9, we are to teach in sound doctrine. In Ephesians 4:14 we are not "to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine." And for those who oppose doctrine, in a sense they are fulfilling prophecy because 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."
This is why we must understand our Bible correctly. This is why we listen to sermons and have a church doctrinal statement. And this is why Jesus spent so much of His ministry teaching, something we see here in Luke 20, straight up until the time He went to the cross.
In these latter chapters of Luke, often a doctrinal question was asked of Jesus (though often presented with insincere motives). Like, should we pay taxes to Caesar? Or, is there a resurrection? Yet here beginning in verse 41, we see Jesus pose the question Himself. This must have been something His opponents were seeking to use against Him seen in the word, "they."
Verse 41, "Then He said to them, ÔHow is it that they say the Christ is David's son?'
So, this issue at this time (as we have been seeing) was whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. And clearly this thought that He was King David's Son was something used against Him. If Jesus is indeed the literal son of David (separated by many generations), how can He be the Messiah? You see how important good doctrine is? Here it affects whether or not Jesus is the true Messiah. Your entire eternal salvation hinges on good doctrine!
So how does Jesus answer this? What is the right doctrine on this matter?
Verses 42-43, "For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ÔThe Lord said to my Lord, ÔSit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.''
So, on the one hand, Jesus does not deny that He is in the lineage of David (Lk. 18:38). That is true (Rom. 1:3). That is prophetic (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Isa. 9:7; Jer. 33:14-17). If you were to trace His bloodline through His mother Mary, it would go right through the great king David (Lk. 3:31). As a matter of fact, that is why we have those long genealogies in the Gospels to verify the fact that Jesus is in the line of David and the fulfillment of the David dynasty.
Yet on the other hand, Jesus is not less than David, His great relative. He is not even on par with David. Jesus exceeds the greatness of David in many ways. Though Joseph was Jesus' father, who also was a descendent of David (Mt. 1:6), technically there was no bloodline as Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit . Perhaps that's why Luke when presenting his genealogy in chapter 3, says Jesus was (verse 23) "supposedly the son of Joseph."
So yes, He is "David's son" (verse 41), but He is something far greater. And as we see in verse 43-44, Jesus uses the Scripture to prove His point. Let me read those verses again. Verses 42-43, "For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ÔThe Lord said to my Lord, ÔSit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'" Jesus is quoting Psalm 110:1.
So, we see here the Lord [God the Father] promising victory to the Lord [God the Son]. This is the Father bestowing universal dominance to the Son – all power, authority and majesty. Interestingly, here in the context, the very people seeking to put Jesus to death will ultimately be defeated by Jesus .
But the key here in Jesus' thinking is that David called "the Lord" (that being God's Son, the Messiah, the Christ), "my Lord." And clearly Jesus was the Lord. Luke 2:11, "For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
So, what does it say about David's relation and understanding of Jesus? Yes, He is a son of David, but He is clearly much more. He is much greater than David, the mightiest King Israel ever knew. David's descendent is the Lord and David himself affirmed that.
Jesus makes it clear in verse 44. "Therefore David calls Him ÔLord,' and how is He his son?"
So, what do we hear today, even in many churches? "Believe whatever you want." "The Bible has many interpretations." "Doctrine is divisive." "Don't judge the beliefs of other Christians." My friends, learning and rightly understanding doctrine is essential! Why? Because it affects what we truly believe and the way we live our lives. 1 Timothy 6:3, good doctrine is to promote godliness. Good doctrine should lead to good conduct. And that takes us to our second point.
The Right Conduct (20:45–47)
So, in addition to the right doctrine, our Lord expects us to have the right conduct. I'm sure we've seen people that might appear to do one of these things well. We need both, the right doctrine and the right conduct. As a matter of fact, they work together as good doctrine should guide good behavior.
The context is the same. Jesus is under attack from the religious establishment. He has already exposed their erroneous thinking. Now in verses 45-47, He exposes their erroneous conduct.
Follow along, "And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, ÔBeware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.'"
So, six items of criticism. One these religious leaders loved "long robes" – the attire of special status. They loved "respectful greetings" in public – the words of special status. They loved "chief seats in the synagogues" – the location of special status. They loved "places of honor at banquets" – the place of special status. They loved "devouring widow's homes" – the abuse of special status. And the loved offering "long prayers" – the appearance of special status.
What was the internal cause of this external behavior as I begin moving toward the third point? A consumption with pride using their position of spiritual leadership to leverage self-exaltation. We can't see the heart, but a tree is known by its fruit . And based on the way these guys were acting, Jesus points out that His opponents were rotten at the core. They were self-worshippers that selfishly used others. And therefore, He exposes them to His disciples and warns them to (verse 46), "beware" of them.
Does the proper conduct matter in the Christian life? Absolutely! Proper conduct reveals that we have good doctrine. It reveals that we desire to please Jesus. It reveals that God is truly working in our lives. It reveals that we are indeed a good tree .
God sees the heart and we can claim all the faith we want. We can even spit out the best doctrine. But if our conduct is not revealing obedience to Jesus as our Lord, we can have no guarantee of our salvation.
We saw earlier how bad doctrine can lead one to hell. We see the same here with bad conduct. If we are saved, there will be some evidence. If not, condemnation. And for those who are exposed to truth, know the truth and deceive others with the truth like these religious leaders, Jesus says in verse 47, "These will receive greater condemnation."
The Right Heart (21:1–4)
Let's now officially go to the final point. We need right doctrine and we need right conduct, but the source of all of this is our Lord changing us internally and giving us a right heart. And for this point, Jesus does not point to the negative example of the religious leaders again, but rather points to the positive example of a rather unlikely individual – a poor widow.
Look with me at chapter 21, verse 1. "And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury."
So, we can guess Jesus takes a break in His teaching. He's in the temple area and notices the rich making their financial contributions. There were 13 horn-shaped receptacles and these individuals were dropping in their offerings.
Then His eye catches, verse 2, "a poor widow." And she put in "two small copper coins." We learned a denarius was a day's wage. These coins, the smallest of their currency, was a fraction of that.
Then Jesus said in verse 3. "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. Well, how could that be? Verse 4, "For they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on."
Yes, sacrificial giving is a command, but are not commanded to give as this woman. The point is not prescribing a doctrine of giving, but rather revealing a characteristic of a transformed heart. It was not the size of the gift, but the size of her heart.
There is a lesson in contrast happening. Contrary to the religious leaders, we see her utter humility, radical self-abandonment, sincere devotion to God and great faith. This poor widow, who gave from the heart, demonstrated the heart that our Lord desires. It demonstrates the heart of our Lord Himself.
So, while Jesus' opponents were trying to trap Him with their poor theology and while His opponents with their poor conduct were demonstrating the fruit of total selfishness, our Lord shows Himself (in opposition to them) to be the one that really possessed the right stuff – doctrine, conduct and heart. And the combination of those three will lead Him in obedience to the Father and in love for His people to give Himself and endure the cross in the most sacrificial display of radical selfless devotion that the world will ever experience.