How To Be Like A Pharisee—Luke 16:14-18

INTRODUCTION 

 

The passage that we have before us is a difficult one to place in the logical flow of the chapter. It starts with how the Pharisees loved money and ends with divorce and remarriage! How does it all fit together? I struggled with this passage and the connecting theme that I found was: how to be like a Pharisee.

 

14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. 18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (Luke 16:14–18)

 

Let’s look and see how to be like a Pharisee:

 

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Which Master Do You Serve?—Luke 16:13

INTRODUCTION 

 

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13)

 

Yusuf Ismail, the original “Terrible Turk,” was a wrestling legend even while he was alive in the 1890’s. In his first match, against a champion Frenchmen wrestler, he pinned his opponent in four—four—seconds. 

 

In 1898, he came over to the United States on a tour, where he destroyed opponent after opponent. For this tour, he received a massive sum for the time, $10,000, which he demanded in gold, not cash. He put this 40 or 50 pounds of gold in a belt that he kept strapped around his waist. 

 

On the return voyage to Europe, the ship collided with another ship, taking nearly 600 people down with her, including the Terrible Turk. It is assumed that he was too greedy to remove the heavy weight of gold from his waist, and drowned trying to swim to a lifeboat. (See https://www.eurozine.com/the-life-and-death-of-the-terrible-turk/)

 

Money is something that can drag us down in many ways…including spiritually. Paul wrote—

 

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

 

How do we allow money to drag us down like the Terrible Turk was?

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The Parable Of The Unjust Steward—Luke 16:1-12

INTRODUCTION 

 

Sometimes Jesus’s parables are a tad confusing, and this one is no exception. It appears that Jesus is making a good example out of someone that does a corrupt and dishonest thing. It has bothered some enough that they have speculated that the steward wasn’t actually doing anything that dishonest. 

 

But Jesus wasn’t making a good example of this dishonest man—He doesn’t expect us to copy him in his dishonesty, but Jesus does draw some lessons for us from him. First, we’ll work through the parable of the unjust steward and then look at the two lessons we can learn.

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The Moral Stickler And The Moral Rebel—Luke 15:11-32

INTRODUCTION 

 

The parable of the two sons show us two kinds of people—the moral stickler and the moral rebel. The elder son is a stickler for the rules. The younger son is, of course, the moral rebel.

 

The moral stickler looks at the moral rebel and says, “The problem with our nation is you immoral people who don’t respect authority.”

 

The moral rebel looks at the moral stickler and says, “The real problem is you bigoted, homophobic people. We need to have progressive polices and tolerance in order to really be happy.”

 

These two patterns of living are followed by everyone to some degree—we have a leaning one way or another. 

 

Some people will even begin one way and, not finding the satisfaction that they thought would be there, slingshot to the other side. There are also those who live the life of a moral stickler on the outside, but maintain the life of a moral rebel in secret. They may even make the news when their life is exposed!

 

Let’s take a look at these two patterns of living by looking at…

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The Parable Of The Two Sons—Luke 15:11-32

INTRODUCTION 

 

What is the parable of the Prodigal Son about? Probably more than you think. Most Christians will say something about it’s about how God welcomes the lost sinner home. It’s true…that’s there.

 

Have you ever noticed when you read what we call “The Story of the Prodigal Son,” that there are, in fact, two sons?

 

Luke 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons

 

If this is the story of the prodigal son, why are there two sons? Why does the second son, get over one-third of the space in the story? Because this is not the story of the prodigal son—it’s the parable of two sons—a younger son and an elder son.

 

According to sociological family studies, the oldest sibling in a family is often the responsible one.  It makes sense, because they are often tasked with caring for their younger brothers and sisters. 

 

The youngest sibling tends to be more of a rebel, perhaps because they were spoiled rotten.

 

The parable of the two sons follow this family psychology to a tee. Let’s look at the parable. There are basically two acts: the first is about the younger son. The second is about the elder son.

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Rejoicing Over The Lost—Luke 15:1-10

INTRODUCTION 

 

Have you ever been lost? We all have been at one time or another. In fact, there are some here that are still lost—you’ll know what I mean in a few minutes.

 

A few months ago, Amanda Eller went hiking in Hawaii and got lost in a 2,000 acre forest reserve. She only intended to go for a short walk, but at one point, she got turned around and after hours of hiking, got hopelessly lost. Then she fell 20 feet off a steep cliff, fracturing her leg. Then she lost her shoes in a flash flood. When rescuers finally found her 17 days later, she was miles from her car. You can just imagine the joy she and her family felt when she was found. Someone used the word, “elated.”

 

Being found and joy go hand-in-hand. Not just for the one who was lost, but also for their family, and for those involved in the rescue (in Amanda’s case, that was about 150 or so, including one who was fired from his job for spending too much time with the rescue). The Pharisees and scribes, we are told, did not like the idea of rescuing people—

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Are You A Disciple?—Luke 14:25-35

INTRODUCTION 

 

25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple

 

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple

 

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

 

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple

 

34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:25–35)

 

Three times in this passage, Jesus makes the statement, “cannot be my disciple.” What is meant by “disciple”?

 

The word for disciple appears 269 times in the New Testament—all of them in the Gospels and Acts. It does not appear at all in the rest of the New Testament.

 

The word “disciple” (mathētēs) means a follower or learner.  A disciple was someone who followed and learned from a teacher. We usually think of Jesus having disciples, but so did John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14), the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16), and Paul (Acts 9:25).

 

Jesus had many disciples who followed Him (Luke 6:17), but sometimes they stopped following Him and left (John 6:66; Luke 19:37-39). This tells us that not every disciple was a true believer in Christ. Those disciples who left, came to Jesus to learn if He was the Messiah and, finding Him not to their expectations, they left.

 

In our passage today, Jesus places some very strict requirements on being His disciple. As we look at His requirements, be asking yourself: is being a disciple the same as being a believer? 

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The One Who Gave Thanks—Luke 17:11-19

INTRODUCTION 

 

Gratitude is something that seems to get harder the more things that we have. We have to have a day set aside each year to remind ourselves to give thanks, and even on that day, we can be the most unthankful. The turkey is too dry. The weather is too miserable to drive to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. My football team is losing.

 

Even if things are going well, we find something to complain about. There’s a story about a mother whose son was swept away by a tornado. Immediately, she cried out the Lord for help, “Bring him back, I beg you!” Just then her son fell from the sky right at her feet! He stood, shaken from his experience, but otherwise completely and miraculously unharmed. The mother took one look at him and glared up at Heaven and said, “Lord, he had a hat!”

 

The account of the ten lepers is another case of this lack of gratitude even when something amazing happens to a person.

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The Invitation To The Lord’s Banquet—Luke 14:12-24

INTRODUCTION 

 

In the last lesson, we saw that Jesus got invited to dinner at the house of a chief Pharisee. Jesus healed a man sick with dropsy (edema). He also noticed how the guests maneuvered to get the best seat. He challenged them not to be so prideful and to take the lowest seat instead.

 

But that is not all that happened that day at the dinner. Jesus turned to the host and spoke directly to him:

 

Luke 14:12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 

 

Luke 14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed [crippled], the lame, the blind: Luke 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. 

 

The Pharisees were very much concerned about social status and etiquette. Accepting a dinner invitation meant that you owed the host something—some sort of recognition and repayment. A picture in the newspaper of the two of you shaking hands. He would be greatly offended if you just came and ate and then you didn’t give anything in return.

 

Jesus challenges this social notion by calling them to invite the kind of people who can’t pay them back. He challenges them to instead wait for their repayment at the end, at the resurrection. That causes one of them to blurt out a Jewish blessing about the coming kingdom— 

 

Luke 14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 

 

Why does this person say this? Scholars are divided on whether he was being honest or devious. I don’t know. I am going to say that he was apparently expressing his hope in the messianic banquet that would take place when the Messiah came.

 

The man was seemingly excited, like all Jews should have been, to eat with the Messiah in the kingdom of God. Jesus’s point in the parable will be: are you really that excited for the Lord’s banquet? Here was the Messiah among them and yet they were rejecting Him (John 1:11)!

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Which Seat Do You Take?—Luke 14:1-11

THE ARROGANT SET A TRAP FOR JESUS (14:1-6)

 

Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 

 

Jesus may have been the guest teacher in the local synagogue that sabbath day, and then he was invited over for dinner afterwards. 

 

But the chief Pharisee’s motive was not all hospitality, as we can tell from that ominous ending of this verse, “they watched him.” 

 

The word “watched” (paratēreō), has to do with watching very closely (Cf. 6:7, 20:20), like a spy waiting for an opportunity to strike.

 

Very likely the chief Pharisee who had invited Jesus had heard of the incident in recounted in Luke 13:10-17. Jesus had healed a woman in the synagogue on the sabbath, angering the ruler of the synagogue.

 

Now, he laid a trap for Jesus, just as the Pharisees had been trying to do for some time. Luke records that they were…

 

54 Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him. (Luke 11:54)

 

What was the trap? We see it next—

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