51. Sermon to the multitude (1 of 2)
Sermon to the multitude (1 of 2)…..IN the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, Jesus began to say unto his disciples first of all,
Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
And I say unto you my friend, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
¶One of the company said, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. Jesus answered,
Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
And he said unto them,
Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
And he spake a parable:
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits.
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
¶Jesus said unto his disciples,
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after; and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
¶But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Scripture: Luke 12:1-7
Meditation 1 of 7:
What does leaven have to do with hypocrisy? To the Jews leaven was a sign of evil. It was a piece of dough from left-over bread which fermented. Fermentation was associated with putrefaction. Why did Jesus warn his disciples to avoid the ways of the Pharisees? The Pharisees were good at looking religious while harboring evil intentions. The word hypocrite means actor — someone who pretends what he is not. But who can be good, but God alone? Hypocrisy thrives on making a good appearance and masking what we don’t want others to see. The good news is that God’s light both exposes the darkness of evil and sin and overcomes hatred with love, pride with humility, and pretense with integrity and truthfulness. God gives grace to the humble and contrite of heart to enable us to overcome the leaven of insincerity and hypocrisy in our lives.
What does fear have to do with the kingdom of God? Fear is a powerful force. It can lead us to flight or panic or it can spur us to faith and action. The fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing one’s life. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. ..O fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! ..Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:4,9,11) What is godly fear? It is reverence for the One who made us in love and who sustains us in mercy and kindness. The greatest injury or loss which we can experience is not physical but spiritual — the loss of one’s soul to the power of hell. A healthy fear of God leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom and right judgment and it frees us from the tyranny of sinful pride, cowardice — especially in the face of evil, and spiritual deception. Do you trust in God’s grace and mercy and submit to his word?
“Lord, your perfect love casts out fear. Give me a passion for your word and for your righteousness and a resolute hatred for sin. Help me to cast aside anything which would hinder full union with you.”
Scripture: Luke 12:8-12
Meditation 2 of 7:
What is the unforgivable sin which Jesus warns us to avoid? Jesus knows that his disciples will be tested and he assures them that the Holy Spirit will give them what they need in their time of adversity. He warns them, however, that it’s possible to spurn the grace of God and to fall into apostasy (giving up the faith) out of cowardice or disbelief. The scriptural expression to deny someone means todisown them. Jesus also speaks against blaspheming the Holy Spirit. What is blasphemy and why is it reprehensible? Blasphemy consists in uttering against God, inwardly or outwardly, words of hatred, reproach, or defiance. It’s contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. Jesus speaks of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit as the unforgivable sin. Jesus spoke about this sin immediately after the scribes and Pharisees had attributed his miracles to the work of the devil instead of to God. A sin can only be unforgivable if repentance is impossible. If someone repeatedly closes his eye to God and shuts his ears to his voice, he comes to a point where he can no longer recognize God when he can be seen, and when he sees evil as good and good as evil (Isaiah 5:20). To fear such a sin, however, signals that one is not dead to God and is conscious of the need for God’s grace and mercy. There are no limits to the mercy of God, but any who refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. God gives grace and help to all who humbly call upon him. Giving up on God and refusing to turn away from sin and disbelief results from pride and the loss of hope in God. What is the basis of our hope and confidence in God? Jesus’ death on the cross won for us our salvation and adoption as the children of God. The love and mercy of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are freely given to those who acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Is your hope securely placed in Christ and his victory on the cross?
“Lord Jesus, you are my hope and salvation. May I trust you at all times and rely on your grace in temptation. Let the fire of your Holy Spirit burn in my heart and fill me with a consuming love for you.”
Scripture: Luke 12:13-21
Meditation3 of 7:
What causes disputes and what’s the best means for settling them? In Jesus’ time it was customary for people to take their disputes to the rabbis for settlement. Jesus refuses such a case and instead gives the disputant a parable to “mull over”. How would you react if Jesus refused to settle your dispute, but gave you a parable instead? What is the point of Jesus’ story about a wealthy landowner and why does he call him a fool? Jesus does not fault him for his industriousness, but for his egoism and selfishness. Like the rich man and Lazarus, he had lost the capacity to be concerned for others. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. His death was the final loss of his soul! In the parable of the rich fool Jesus gives a lesson on using material possessions. His lesson contains a warning to beware of all covetousness. To covet is to wish to get wrongfully what another possesses or to begrudge what God gave him. Jesus restates the commandment do not covet, but he also states that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. In this little parable Jesus probes the heart — where is your treasure? Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. What do you treasure most?
“Lord, free me from all covetousness and from attachment to possessions. May I wholly desire you as my treasure and portion. Help me to make good use of the material blessings you give me that I may use them generously for your glory and for the good of others.”
Scripture: Luke 12:22-34
Meditation 4 of 7:
Why does the Lord command his disciples to not be anxious about anything? Certainly food and clothing are proper concerns. What makes these concerns foolish and harmful is thinking and acting anxiously about them. Jesus specifically says “do not be of anxious mind” (Luke 12:29). The root word for “anxiety” literally means “being of two minds”. An anxious person is divided, “tossed to and fro”, and often paralyzed by indecision. Fear of failure or some bad outcome usually cripples those afflicted with anxiety. What can free us from anxiety? The apostle Peter tells us to “cast all our anxieties on God, for he cares about us” (1 Peter 5:7). Trust and submission to God is the antidote to self-concern and anxiety for one’s life. Our Father in heaven knows our needs better than we do. Do you place your security in what you possess or in God who possesses you as his beloved son or daughter?
Jesus uses the illustration of nature — the birds and the flowers — to show how God provides for them in the natural order of his creation. How much more can we, as his children, rely upon God’s providential care? God is utterly reliable. In the Lord’s Prayer we are reminded that God is our provider when we pray: Give us this day our daily bread. What is bread, but the very staple of life and symbol of all that we need to live and grow. Anxiety is neither helpful nor necessary. It robs us of faith and confidence in God’s help and it saps our energy for doing good. Jesus admonishes his followers to put away anxiety and preoccupation with material things and instead to seek first the things of God — his kingdom and righteousness. Anxiety robs the heart of trust in the mercy and goodness of God and in his loving care for us. God knows our needs even before we ask and he gives generously to those who trust in him. Do you cast your cares and concerns upon the Lord with trust and faith?
“Lord, free me from needless worries and help me to put you first in my thoughts and concerns. May I seek your kingdom and righteousness above all else and live each day with gratitude and trust for your providential care for me”.
Scripture: Luke 12:35-38
Meditation 5 of 7:
The Boy Scouts have as their motto, Be Prepared! Jesus’ master-servant parables seem to extol the virtue of preparedness. But there is something deeper and even more important behind it. There is an element of surprise in the story of the master returning home after the marriage feast. Will he catch his servant sleeping rather than keeping watchful guard? And what about the reward promised for those who faithfully perform their duty, day in and day out, no matter what the circumstances? The image Jesus uses here is a great wedding feast in which the master honors his guests by seating them in the place of honor and personally waiting on them himself.
This parable contains a lesson in faithfulness and a warning against sloth. Why is faithfulness so important to God? For one, it’s the foundation for any lasting and meaningful relationship. Faithfulness or fidelity allows us to persevere in living out an unswerving commitment. The Lord is committed to us in a bond of unbreakable love and fidelity. That is what covenant means — keeping one’s word, promise, and commitment no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to be faithful. He also rewards faithfulness.
Why is fidelity, commitment, and faithfulness so difficult today? Modern society extols freedom over fidelity and doesn’t want to be bound to an unknown or uncertain future. It’s also inconvenient and a burden to the pursuit of one’s own interests. We badly need to recover this virtue, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the next generation as well. If we want to pass on the faith then we need to first be faithful models for our youth.
Faithfulness demands consistency, a determination to stay the course, and hard work. Cal Ripken, the American baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, is a sports hero simply because he always shows up and gives his best. He didn’t miss one game in 16 years of playing baseball! That’s a total of 2,632 consecutive games. Only one other player in history has come close to that record. In 1983 he hurt his hand sliding on artificial turf and was unable to grip the bat at first; he somehow gritted his teeth and got five hits that night, two of them home runs. The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility. The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us. The more he gives, the more he requires. The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today! Are you faithful to God and ready to give him an account of your stewardship?
“Lord, you are faithful even when I fail. Help me to remain ever faithful to you and to not shrink back when I encounter difficulties. May always live in your presence and be ready to meet you when you call me on the day of judgment.”
Scripture: Luke 12:39-48
Meditation 6 of 7:
What can a thief in the night teach us about the kingdom of God? Jesus loved to tell stories, many which ended with a dramatic and unexpected change of circumstances. Can you imagine a thief calling ahead to tell his victim when he would strike? Should we be surprised to see a thief making off with a great treasure left unguarded? What does this say about the treasure which God has entrusted to you and me? When God offers us his kingdom, he gives us a treasure beyond measure (see the parable of the treasure hidden in a field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46). What is this treasure of immeasurable value? The Lord himself is our treasure (Job 22:22-23)and the kingdom he offers us is a kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (Rom. 4:17). The Lord offers us a relationship with him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. The treasure is of far greater value that any earthly treasure and more secure! But it’s possible to lose this treasure if we do not guard what has been entrusted to us by God. Is your treasure secure?
This parable also contains a lesson in faithfulness. The Lord loves faithfulness and richly rewards those who are faithful to him. What is faithfulness? It’s keeping one’s word, promise, and commitments no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to remain faithful. He also rewards faithfulness. The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility. The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us. The more he gives, the more he requires. The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today! Are you faithful to God and ready to give him an account of your stewardship?
“Lord, you are faithful even when I fail. Help me to remain ever faithful to you and to not shrink back when I encounter difficulties. Make me diligent in the exercise of my responsibilities and wise and prudent in the use of my gifts, time and resources.”
Scripture: Luke 12:49-53
Meditation 7 of 7:
Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. What kind of fire did Jesus have in mind? Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deut. 4:24), righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16). It is also used of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies and cleanses, and it inspires a reverent fear of God and of his word in us. Jesus regarded the coming of the kingdom of God as a time of judgment. His word of judgment was meant to help people take seriously the consequences of their choices — either for or against God. Our response to the judgments of God has serious repercussions, both for the present and the future. Jesus states that even family loyalties would be challenged on the basis of whether people accepted the kingdom of God or not. The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ, a loyalty that takes precedence over every other relationship. When Jesus spoke about division he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6). The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship (or anything else) above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies, if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)?
“Lord, may your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. Make me strong in love and fidelity that nothing may hinder me from doing your will.”