The Church is a Godly Force for Good. – Luke 9
This message is a part of our Rethinking Church Sermon Series.
How many of you love Chik-fil-a? One of my first jobs was at a chik-fil-a. I was in the back prepping the filets. Afterward I cleaned off the surface I had been using because it was covered in the breading. Before that moment, I knew electricity existed. I understood that it caused the lights over head to be on, that it powered the freezer I was using as a prep surface, but in that moment I felt it.
In that moment it became real.
In today’s passage, we are going to watch as a few of Jesus’ disciples going from having right beliefs and understanding- and from even serving to knowing it to be real.
I wish that I could read all of chapter 9 because the focus of our message is going to be in the connection of themes Luke has put together for us in these paragraphs- however reading all 60 verse is a little impractical, so we are going to start at the beginning and hit the highlights as we hop, skip, and jump through the entire passage. I encourage you to go back and read through the whole chapter later.
Read Luke 9:1-3, 6
This is a part of the founding of the church, Jesus is giving his anointing, his blessing, his authority to the disciples to go out and do the ministry he had been doing. This is the work of the church. They would go into towns and villages that Jesus was coming to later, so they were preparing the way, they’d also get to some places that Jesus wouldn’t make it to… When Jesus walked among us, he submitted to the limitations of man. He was hungry and tired. He experienced pain and exhaustion. He also could only be in one place at a time, so he sends the disciples out to carry the message wherever.
Sometimes people will reach out to me and want to come talk or get help… I’ll talk with them and I’ll say at the end, why don’t you join us for worship this Sunday. I’m not really into church or they’ll make up a lame excuse why they can’t make it… They’re saying, I need help but I don’t need church or worship or preaching…
When people want my help, but not the church- they are showing that they don’t understand me or the church… You see, to really get me, you have to appreciate the church because I am giving my life to it. Now this is just one of many places that we see Jesus pouring himself into and speaking of the church in the works of Luke, and that’s only fitting because Luke is giving us this written documentary of who Jesus is, and to do so without giving ample amounts of focus to the church would be like doing a biography of Michael Jordan and not mentioning basketball, or a profile of George Washington without mention of the American Revolution.
You can’t really know Jesus without appreciating his heart for the church.
They’ve got the idea of church all wrong- Jesus established the church to help people, to save people, and every time someone is added to the church, the ring gets a little larger and our capacity to reach others expands. When I say we are building the church our friends and neighbors will join and our children will lead. I’m not saying we are merely adding names to a list… We are bringing people into the powerful life chaining love and grace of God, and then they are turning around and helping others, who join and then help others… In this Chapter Jesus sends 12 disciples out, in chapter 10 which we’ll look at in a couple of weeks, Jesus sends out 70.
The purpose of the church then and the purpose of the church now is helping people…the purpose of growing the church is to help more people.
Jesus’ heart was always in helping people. Look back at the passage with me in verse 16. By this point, 9 verse later where left off reading, the disciples have returned to give Jesus a report of everything that has happened, so he takes them out into the dessert to debrief and people hear where they are at and come out to him by the thousands. Jesus fears they’ll faint in the way if he doesn’t feed them first so says gather all the food, and all they can come up with is a little boys lunch…
Read verse 16.
Let me further show you that this passage is all about the church, look down at verse 18.
Read verse 18-20.
Those of you that have been here a while will recognize this dialogue as one I refer to often. I usually refer to it as told from Matthew’s personal account, where when Peter answers you are the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus says flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my father who is heaven! Upon this rock of truth I will build my church. When we say, we are THAT church we mean that we are the church that people have heard of, but more importantly we are THAT church in Jesus spoke of building upon the truth. We are THAT church people have heard of, but more importantly we are THAT church in Jesus promised to build with power upon truth.
Read Luke 9:27-36
It’s not typical for Luke to give specific timing, however, he does about this…he tying all of this together. There’s this spectacular event, and the disciples wake up to it. They were praying with Jesus and they were struggling to keep their eyes open- not the only time this would happen. The disciples are sleeping, but the glory of Jesus being revealed wakes them up. Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ closest disciples. They were the inner circle, but they were sleepy, but when they saw Jesus- saw the cover pulled back and really saw Jesus, they were no longer sleeping.
In this minute, they get it. The things they knew of, became real… It was like the moment that the water ran down onto that frayed cord and the electricity I knew about coursed through me. It became real.
Something that happens with frequency around here is that God will get ahold of someone’s heart, in a worship service, in a group, and suddenly they’ll wake up.
Then they’ll recognize they need to take the step of getting baptized and they’ll tell their family they’re going to be baptized and the family will say, what do you mean you’ve become a Christian? You’ve alway been a Christian. We’ve always believed in God… It’s real to me now… When it’s real, it changes the way you think, act, speak, and make decisions. It wakes you up!
When we see who Jesus really is, we wake up.
I heard about a family that was vacationing in Hawaii and they just happened to be there when the false alarm was sent out about a ballistic missile. Just like the test notification you got from the president this week, everyone on the island got a notification of an incoming ballistic missile. For several minutes, people thought they were going to die.
This family that was vacationing on the island, the father and the kids were on the beach playing while the wife went to the hotel gym to run on the treadmill. The notification came in and the father took the children to the hotel room and he tells them that the loves them and ha makes sure they’ve trusted in Christ and he hugs them and they’re saying their I love you’s when the news comes that it’s a false alarm…
The wife didn’t take her phone, so for that whole period of time she’s just running on the treadmill. Man, what a great illustration of how many people spend life, running but not really going anywhere unaware of what’s going on…
The disciples wake up and they would never be the same after this, because what they knew became real.
When we plug into the almighty,
we get clarity about what matters.
Peter knew that worship was the right response, but He didn’t know how to go about it, he knew that something was different, but he wasn’t sure how to channel this, so as Moses and Elijah start to leave, Peter blurts out, this is good that we are here, let’s build 3 tabernacles so we can keep worshipping with each of you!
Peter doesn’t want this to end…
Then something powerful happens.
They are enveloped with smoke, and they are terrified.
They’ve heard the stories in synagogue school of when Solomon dedicated the temple how it filled with smoke which was the presence of God.
34While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying,
This is my beloved Son: hear him.
In Jesus and Jesus alone is the power of transformation.
This is not only true for our personal lives, but true for us corporately in our church.
The blueprints for the church we are building are found in God’s Word and this passage is showing us where the power supply for the church comes from-
The power to change lives and build life changing churches is in Jesus alone.
Without the power of God, this is just machinery with no electricity.
Illustration of the gift shop at the Hoover Dam…
Had no electricity… Sitting on top of this giant electricity producing structure…
We see this play out in the next passage look at it with me.
Read 37 – 43A
While this powerful moment is happening up on the mountain, a man bring his child to the disciples and they are unable to help him…
These guys had been preaching and healing, what happened?
Somehow the connection of power had ceased to flow through them, they were no longer empowered.
Jesus responds, oh faithless generation…
So Jesus heals the child, cast the demon out of him and everyone is amazed…
You see, the disciples were nothing without the power of Jesus, but when Jesus shows up, incredible things happen.
I heard Tim Keller use this illustration and I’ve just got to borrow because it’s so good.
The church without power is a lot like the time machine in classic movie, Back to the Future. How many of you love Back to the Future.
The premise is that Michael J Fox goes back in time and when he goes back in time 30 years, it uses up the power source. So he finds the scientist who would eventually build the thing and tells him his problem and they figure out the only way to have enough power is if they can channel a lightning strike, and because Michael J Fox is from the future, he knows the precise moment that lightning is going to strike the clocktower in town.
They harness the lightning and it powers the time machine to take him home.
When Jesus shows up, this spiritual darkness that was ruining this Childs life is told to leave and it has to… When the power of Christ is harnessed toward evil, evil doesn’t stand a chance.
It’s for that reason that right after Peter says you are the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus tells Peter upon this truth I will build my church and
THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT!
The church is often weak. Powerless. Making very little difference in the community and the world, that’s because we are plugged into the lightning that is Christ’s power!
The Church Jesus spoke was built upon the power of God.
We are THAT Church!
Now, let me bring this home and give us some clarity and make the next step clear…
Jesus heals this child, and everyone is amazed.
43And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
How amazing that right after the disciples see these incredible things that Jesus can do, he redirects them to look at the cross!
When someone’s focus is on big signs and miracles, that’s not of God because Jesus’ focus wasn’t even on that.
Jesus’ focus was on the cross.
Look down at v.51
he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem
You know what was in Jerusalem?
The people were amazed that Jesus could feed the hungry and heal the sick, they were amazed that his power could be displayed in majestic ways like on the mountain, but the most powerful thing Jesus ever did was walk to the cross…
Before the cross he did many mighty things to change the world out here, on the outside, fixing what was broken in communities and in the world, but on the cross he did something mighty in here- he fixed what was broken in our hearts.
The cross arcs the lightning power of God from heaven to our sin clogged hearts, bringing us to life.
The energy they use during defibrillation is serious electrical energy. At its highest it is 360 joules (watt/seconds) that is about 54 amps at 3,000 volts for a millisecond. 60 amps runs an entire house.