Sunday, Dec 11, 2016AM Service
He Is Patient Toward Sinners
Speaker: Jerry Wragg
Passage: Luke 9:51-56
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It is the reality of the resurrection that teaches us so many things.  The Lord said that He will raise us up on the last day (John 6:37-39).  All who come to Him will not be cast out.  Why?  Because all who come to Jesus were given to Him by the Father and will be raised up by Christ on the last day.  Resurrection life courses through our veins as believers.

In the study of Luke’s gospel today, we see a lesson that the Lord had to teach His disciples; not to hate their enemies.  Persecution arises around the Apostles as the gospel unfolds.  In our culture, persecution is likewise rising.  Both the Apostles and we are tempted not to be merciful when looking at unbelievers who reject God with disdain.  Like the Apostle John who prays to the Lord to come quickly, we share in that desire.  But if He comes right now, He comes in judgment against the unbelieving world.  We cannot be the kind of Christians who lack patience, mercy and long-suffering.  Earlier in Luke 6, we learned we are to do good to our enemies, we are to forgive them, we are to pray for them.  You are like God when you are patient and when you reach out to enemies expressing mercy instead of judging them.

In John 3:16-19, right after Jesus spoke to Nicodemus.  We find the patience and mercy of God.  In the first Advent, the Son is in the world and He did not come to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  God was always merciful and patient, but Christ was inaugurating a new era of widespread patience and longsuffering on the part of God.  Christ came to save.  In 2 Peter 3:3-8, we see a similar message expressed.  In the last days, mockers will come with their mockery toward Christians saying, “Yeah right, where is this promise of His coming and the judgement?”  But with God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day.  This speaks to God’s unfathomable patience and mercy in the light of the offense of sin as He waits for generations to repent and be saved.  Temporarily, God is withholding judgement; He is a God of mercy.

In Luke, the Apostles were being discipled by Jesus Christ the Lord themselves and they were small in their thinking, just like us.  God wants soft and humble hearts in repentance.  That is the message and our life calling.  We proclaim a Savior to a lost world and we are to proclaim a message of mercy, patience and kindness, while we pray and plead with urgency for people to believe and repent before it is too late.  Judgment is coming to those who do not care for the message of the gospel, but at the same time patience, love, and mercy is required in our message. 

We learn right here in Luke 9:51-56 that zeal for gospel and for truth to be upheld is the correct disposition of our witness, but humility is required to temper our zeal.  We in God’s new era of patience, mercy and kindness, we cannot have a hatred for the community around us; that’s sinful.  I am to love enemies, even when they are delivering a blow against me and the gospel.  In this section of Scripture, we learn two great realities of Christ’s salvation plans:

  1. The Face of Mercy
  2. The Reach of Mercy

The Face of Mercy (Luke 9:51)

  • Christ was determined to go to Jerusalem or He firmly fixed His countenance.  Luke notes this because there was a noticeable shift in the ministry and the acceleration is noticed in the next ten chapters in this book.
  • Why is it the face of mercy?
    • In going to Jerusalem, Christ will only face humiliation, torture, murder, and rejection and not by just humans.  He will be the sin bearer and rejection by His Father will be required of Him.
    • The disciples can see in Christ’s face that He is on a mission to be obedient to the merciful Father.
  • The disciples should have gotten that there was the dawn of a new era.  They had already received mercy from our Lord and had been given ministry positions by Christ.
  • Christ was heading toward the storm of persecution, not away from it. 
  • How?  What was Christ seeing and believing that the disciples weren’t?
    • He was approaching the time of His ascension.  The completion and victory of His work was nearing. 
    • He was always on a timetable.  Jesus orchestrated the course and the time of His coming death (John 7:6-8).
    • His mind and heart were not filled with the horrors of the cross, but with forgiving the sin that makes the cross necessary.
    • When persecution rises, as God’s people we are to go toward those who need mercy and refuse any temptation to be vengeful.
    • He looked to the deliverance of sinners.  No one has ever known the horrors of judgment for sin more than Jesus Christ.  The prospect of horrors changes the heart of Christians to be merciful toward people.
    • Hebrews 12:2, for the joy set before He endures the cross and despised the shame of sin and its destruction.  Jesus hated sin, instead of loving it.

The Reach of Mercy (Luke 9:52-56)

  • Jesus sends his followers ahead of Him as they were traveling to Jerusalem.  They arrive at a village of the Samaritans to prepare some lodging for His large entourage.
  • But they did not receive Him, because he was traveling toward Jerusalem.
  • The Jews and the Samaritans hated one another. 
  • Luke becomes captivated in his writings that the gospel came to an unlikely people group – the Samaritans.  He mentions them in Luke chapter 10, chapter 17, and in Acts 8.  He writes that the Samaritans believed the Word of God.  Jews and Gentiles, including the Samaritans, were united in one body of believers.  The animosity was gone. 
  • The Samaritans had built a temple of worship at Mount Gerizim and they declared that worship at the temple in Jerusalem was illegitimate. They even created their own law and declared the Pentateuch to be illegitimate.  And the Samaritans were spiritually ignorant, as we saw in the story of the woman at the well.
  • Notice they were also dangerously stubborn and arrogant in verse 53, “They didn’t receive Him.”  This miracle working Rabbi was planning to camp out in their land, but not worship in Gerizim.  They resented Him.
  • The disciples are passionate, but they are not merciful (verse 54).  James and John were zealous, thundering exhorters like many of us, saying things like, “Judgment!  They’re going to get it!  Rain fire on them!”  They expected to get a yes answer from Christ.
  • They had just come down from the mountain after seeing Elijah and Moses and no doubt they recalled 2 Kings, chapter 1, where Elijah called down fire in judgment against the Samaritans many hundreds of years ago.
  • Instead of thinking about a time long ago, what about mercy on the Samaritans in this new era of patience and kindness?  They weren’t thinking about the Samaritan woman and the whole town who received mercy.  Instead, they wanted judgment and fire.
  • This is zeal for the holiness of God without the humility of seeing your place.
  • We also live in that tension; judgment is coming and when sinners come against us, we are tempted to think that we want them to get what they deserve.  But, we are to express mercy.
  • Vv. 55-56, Jesus rebukes them. 
    • The disciples were passionate yet unmerciful. 
    • Christ was passionate, yet patient.
  • He turned and looked right at them with a rebuke. 
  • Then the following bracketed text may or may not have been in the original writing, but it does reflect the spirit of what Jesus was saying.  It is obvious why they were rebuked.
    • Jesus was in Samaria as gesture of his mercy and grace.
    • His action has wider mercy in a new era.  Jesus didn’t kick off the dust; He just went to another village.  Grace is going to go over the whole globe.
    • The fact that we stand in grace should compel us to compassion and mercy for anyone.
  • Do you think anyone is worse than we are?  In Luke 13, we will study the tower of Siloam and its falling on people.  Christ teaches they weren’t worse sinners, all who don’t believe and repent will face wrath and judgment, but they weren’t worse sinners. 
  • Everyone has to repent and turn to Christ --- there are no distinctions.
  • Is it not mercy that:
    • God gives a dream to Pilate’s wife in Jerusalem before Pilate condemns Christ.
    • When Christ is hanging on the cross He is praying for His Father to have mercy and forgive the very people who tortured Him.
    • Peter in Acts 2 preaches the first sermon to Jews who actually took the life of Christ and they’re hearts are pricked and they say, “What shall we do?”  He said repent and God saved 3,000 instantly and several thousand more in the weeks and months ahead.  Mercy to the very ones who killed Him.
    • Saul of Taurus who is arresting and killing Christians, but in Acts 7 Stephen is being stoned and crushed, but he prays for the Lord to have mercy.  Two chapters later Saul is saved.
  • Why are we not more merciful?  Because we do not have a right view of judgment and finality.  We want the Lord to come, but if He does, it will be final.
  • We need to have the heart of God and be merciful like Christ is right here.  We don’t judge, we just move on to another village; to another person, and we share the gospel of hope and salvation.