The Christ Of Certainty And Compassion
November 17, 2019 | Randy Smith
The Christ Of Certainty And Compassion
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
The things I do for you guys! Okay, because you requested it regarding last Sunday’s sermon—the “wheelbarrow story” one more time.
Many years ago a man stretched a wire across Niagara Falls. To the amazement of the crowd, he stood on that wire and fearlessly pushed a wheelbarrow from one side to the other. After he successfully reached the banks, the crowd naturally went crazy.
In the height of their excitement, he singled out one man in the audience. He said, “Do you think I can push this wheelbarrow back across the falls without falling in?” The man without much hesitation said, “Yes, I do.” To which the tightrope artist replied, “I’m not sure if you understand my question. Do you really believe I can push this wheelbarrow successfully across the falls again?” The man replied, “Yes, I just saw you complete the feat with my own eyes.” Once more the daredevil said, “Do you really have the faith I can make it safely to the other side?” The man now becoming exasperated yelled, “I have 100% faith that you can complete the task once again.” To which the tightrope artist replied, “If you truly believe, then get in the wheelbarrow and let me push you across.”
Last week we examined a very convicting passage of Scripture. We have been told, we rightly proclaim that salvation is not based on our works, but rather our belief, our faith in Christ. And in that passage we have a story of people who clearly believed in Christ, people who even claimed to identify with Him and people who not only found, but wanted to enter the “narrow door.” They “believed” in Jesus, but heard Jesus say (verse 27), “I do not know…you.” They were not permitted in.
So, the issue is not the belief, but rather the issue the kind of belief that our Lord requires. The parallel text in Matthew 7 offers some explanation: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Mt. 7:21). Or our passage from last week: “Strive to enter through the narrow door” (Lk. 13:24).
The faith our Lord requires is a striving faith, an obedient faith, a loving faith, a surrendering faith, a childlike faith, a repentant faith, a faith that is willing to get into our Lord’s wheelbarrow.
As one respected pastor told me because “believing in Jesus” is so misunderstood in our society and fails to capture the true essence of the original Greek, perhaps we would be wiser to use, “trusting in Jesus.”
Maybe we should think of the “narrow door” as the “wheelbarrow door.”
So, moving on with the remainder of chapter 13. Still in the introduction. You can see in verse 31 that Jesus was approached with a warning from the Pharisees. “Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, ‘Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.’”
The verse begins with, “Just at that time.” So, this follows directly on what we discussed last week.
Now, I have no problem applying the text to us today, but in its literal context, Jesus was speaking to the Jews as He was bringing the Kingdom to His people. I say that because this section is offensive to many in the church today. It was extremely offensive to the Jews because when Jesus said this they all assumed they were a given for God’s Kingdom. They couldn’t imagine looking in (verses 28-29) and seeing “Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets…[but they were] thrown out [in darkness and then Gentiles] from [the] east and west and…north and south [are reclining at the table and they themselves were excluded].” They had enough with Jesus.
So, when the Pharisees, the chief Jewish religious leaders speak to Jesus in verse 31 and warn him to leave, I have a hard time believing their motives are sincere. I’m speculating a bit, but I think they are setting a trap. For starters, they want Jesus out of their territory in Galilee, but they ultimately wanted Him in Judea so He will have to face the heavy hand of the religious establishment in Jerusalem where they had a stronger influence.
A Word To Herod (verse 32)
So, the first point – let’s look at the response that Jesus sends back to Herod.
But first, who is Herod? Technically he went by Herod Antipas. He was the leader over Galilee and Perea. He was the one who had John the Baptist beheaded. That didn’t go over too well for Herod and no doubt Jesus reminded him a lot of John. Later, he will figure into the crucifixion of Jesus. The whole thing was a political sham. The Pharisees and Herod and Pilate all despised each other, but it’s amazing how well they will work together and even become friends (Lk. 23:12; cf. Ac. 4:26) to eliminate their common opponent in Jesus.
Now, verse 32, the message that Jesus wants taken back to Herod: First He says. “Go and tell that fox.” So, Jesus refers to the man as a “fox.” Some say because Herod was crafty. But the term was more commonly used for someone who is insignificant or weak. I lean toward the later. Our Lord’s point is that people feared King Herod and Jesus here was warned to fear King Herod too (run from him!). But even though this man had the power to take a life (as he did John’s), Jesus knew Herod was infinitely inferior to Him. He’s weak compared to God.
The message to Herod continues, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.”
Herod was not in control of our Lord’s destiny. He was just a pawn used by God to accomplish His purposes. Jesus will not die until the arrival of the appointed day of His physical death. He was not going to be deterred by human threats. He would continue on His mission (serving and teaching people – verse 32) and then on the appointed time reach the reason for which He came for what He calls here, His “goal.”
And the reference to the “third day” is not that He will arrive in Jerusalem in three days, but rather it is reference to the resurrection on the third day, the ultimate day of our Lord’s victory, His ultimate goal. Humans cannot prevent or frighten the Lord from His appointed direction and His predetermined timetable. He will finish His course.
A Word To The Pharisees (verse 33)
In our next point we see what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees themselves.
“Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.”
Are you getting a feel for the divine necessity? “I must journey.” Journey where? Jerusalem. It’s been the wider context ever since chapter 9, verse 51. His face was set to go to Jerusalem. That was the mission, to die as the Lamb of God, the sacrifice, the substitute for sinners.
So, catch this! The Pharisees warn Jesus to go to Jerusalem to avoid death and Jesus is intentionally going to Jerusalem to receive death. They warn Jesus to run from the hands of Herod and Jesus intentionally runs into the hands of Herod. And to take another sarcastic shot at the religious leaders – if you wanted to die as a true prophet of God, the place to obviously go was Jerusalem. Verse 33, “For it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.”
As I was studying this passage, I am again amazed on our Lord’s determination to be a faithful servant to the Father. Nothing, even treats of death, could deter Him from His mission. And to make it even more amazing is the fact that His mission was to die.
Such resolution. With every step toward Jerusalem, He knew He was inching closer to a painful experience. Yet He diligently and courageously marched forward with so much opposition and apparently very few in His corner cheering Him on. In this predicament it must have been so difficult to think of others. But verse 32 says He was healing people along the way.
A Word To Jerusalem (verses 34–35)
So, now as we move to the final point, we see Him focused not on His soon agony, but rather the agony of the Jewish people. We see Him not angry, but rather compassionate toward His people. The very people in a matter of days that would demand His crucifixion.
Look with me at verse 34. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!”
Such compassion for people that hate Him. What a lesson we can learn from our Lord.
The imagery is so vivid. His love is like a mother hen who would seek to protect her young and defenseless chicks with her own outstretched wing. On their own they are vulnerable to heavy storms and fierce heat and dangerous predators. Their only hope is from the only one that would care in a sacrificial way. She’ll face head-on the storms and the heat and the predators so they may be spared. How Jesus longed to be the Savior for Israel. How He longed to gather the nation to Himself, to sacrifice Himself for the people as that mother hen. But how sad is it that they would reject their Messiah as their only hope. Now the nation lies exposed and primed for destruction.
The cry from God’s people throughout the Bible is that they would find shelter under the wings of the Almighty. Listen to the Psalms. Psalm 17:8–9,
“Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.” Psalm 36:7, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 63:7–8, “For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”
This is what Israel wanted from God, but when it came in the Person of Christ they rejected it.
So, what is now left for the nation? Verse 35, “Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”
One word: judgment. They had rejected their only hope. “Your house” could mean your nation, but I believe it is a reference to your temple – the dwelling place of God. Significantly the temple was called “God’s house,” but since God no longer occupied that place it was simply “their house.” It was an empty shell that perpetuated their false religion. Jesus would refer to it six chapters later as a “robbers’ den” (verse 46).
Israel was in the spirit of Romans 1, handed over to God’s wrath of abandonment and within some 40 years, God’s wrath of destruction. In AD 70 the Romans would conquer and level the city to the ground. Even to this day there is no temple and even to this day the nation as a whole is rejecting her Messiah.
The same is true for us on a personal scale when we reject our only Savior in Jesus Christ.
You say, will that ever change for Israel? I believe it will. Since the time of His crucifixion, Jesus has not made any public appearances to Israel. However, He will return at the Second Coming and He will show Himself to His people. The partial hardening will be over and the nation to some degree will embrace their Messiah. Because they will declare, verse 35, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
So much of what we have learned over the past two weeks is a fulfillment of Psalm 118.
Verse 19, “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD.” God has opened to Israel and us as well the gate to His kingdom. It’s the narrow door named Jesus Christ. Yet the door is ignored, missed and misunderstood. But God’s people truly believe and by His grace truly and enter with thanksgiving.
Verses 20-21, “This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, and You have become my salvation.”
Jesus came to His own people and His own people rejected Him. Verse 22, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Marvelous because His rejection in Jerusalem was necessary for our atonement through His life to be made. Therefore, verse 24, “This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Verse 25, “O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!”
And as Jesus quoted in Luke 13:35, verse 26 of Psalm 118, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; we have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” Who sees God? Who receives salvation? The one who trusts in the Savior that has been sent.
Verses 27-29, “The LORD is God, and He has given us light; bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
When it comes to Jesus there are only two sides. On one side are those who reject Him through unbelief, hate and dead religion. And on the other side are the ones who receive Him through trusting faith that is obedient, striving and loving. Which side are you on? Are you in the wheelbarrow, under the mother hen’s wings trusting in the one and only Savior?