Bible Passage: Luke 6: 1 - 16
Big Idea: Jesus has Absolute Authority as the Son of Man
Intro: Well morning friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and today we continue our sermon series – Portraits of Jesus. So far we’ve seen Jesus the Itinerant Rabbi, Jesus the Fisherman and Jesus the friend of sinners. But today it’s kind of Jesus, the King of Kings. It’s Jesus with absolute authority. So let’s pray…
Well who do you obey as a Christian? For a long time, the POPE had ultimate authority in the Catholic Church. Catholics were told obey the Pope. But in recent years – the Pope has answered more and more to the Council of Cardinals. That means that if the Pope says something that is UNBIBLICAL – the Cardinals now challenge him. For instance, a few years ago – the Pope said some weird stuff about homosexuality. But, after being challenged by the Cardinals – the Pope now upholds a much more biblical position. So, in some ways, the Catholic Church has become more biblical.
Meanwhile many of the bigger Protestant Churches in America have become more Popish. Some Churches in America that believe the ministry of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists all still exist today – believe the church should obey the modern-day apostles. So Bethel Church in California (who does a lot of music like Hillsong) believe their pastor Bill Johnson is an apostle. And the International House of Prayer in Kansas City – believe their senior pastor Mike Bickle is an apostle. This means the pastor is like a mini-pope. Apparently, Jesus speaks directly to these super-pastors all the time. It’s not through the Bible. But supposedly through visions and direct words of knowledge. So, each Sunday these churches gather to hear the latest nonsense Jesus has supposedly revealed to their super-apostle.
The Church then believes and does whatever the pastor tells them.he’s like the pope. And most of the preaching is all about Christians taking up positions of authority in the world for Jesus. It’s called the Seven Mountain Mandate. Of course there is nothing in the Bible about this.
But they teach that if Christians get into all the positions of power in the world including in 1) education, 2) religion, 3) family affairs, 4) business, 5) government, 6) entertainment, and 7) media – then Jesus’ kingdom will be established on earth. Personally, I think this is ythe biggest load of (… well I can’t say, because I’m a pastor).
But it raises the question; how does Jesus rule his church today? Who should Christians listen to and obey?
Point 1: Jesus has Absolute Authority because He is the Son of Man
Show: Lk.6:1-2 (READ)
Explain: Well today’s stories take place on the SABBATH, which is Saturday. Now as Christians our Sabbath is generally Sunday. The reason for this change is complex. But the short answeris Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church on a Sunday – so Christian’s worship on a Sunday. But Messianic Jews often still worship on a Saturday. Anyway, the story today is all about who gets to set the rules for A) what you can and B) what you can’t do on the Sabbath?
The 4th Commandment in the Ten Commandments says; (Slide 2 – Ex.20:8-10). Now notice, God says “no work” on the Sabbath. So the Pharisees are upset with Jesus’ disciples because they are picking grain and then eating the kernels. Now its super pedantic, but they think this is a little bit too much like farming. They’re working – sort of. The question is – what is and what isn’t – work? And who decides?
The Pharisees believed that a mum who bakes a cake for her family on Saturday was breaking the Sabbath. That was work. Not allowed. What about going to toilet? Is that work? Well, if you’re constipated it may be. Maybe you should wait until after the Sabbath. (Now yes I’m being cheeky – no pun intended). But that’s how silly it got. They looked at every aspect of life and then came up with a list of 39 things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath – including lighting a fire. Sadly, that now means some Orthodox Jews can’t even turn on a light switch on the Sabbath. Some Rabbis say the spark of electricity inside the switch is like lighting a fire, which is forbidden.
So the Pharisees say to Jesus; why do you let your disciples WORK on the Sabbath? (PAUSE). Now Jesus is very clever. He answers their question with another question. (Look at Lk.6:3-4; Slide 4; READ).
Now here’s the background to JESUS’ QUESTION. Way back (about 1000BC) David kills Goliath and everyone loves David. But this makes King Saul – really jealous and he wants to kill David. So David is on the run and he goes to a Jewish priest named Ahimeleck and asks for some food. But the only food Ahimeleck has is special holy bread. The Bible says– only the priests can eat the holy bread. But nonetheless, Ahimeleck gives this special bread to David and he eats it. So technically Ahimeleck and David break God’s command…
Now the difficulty for us – is Jesus doesn’t tell us what we should conclude from this story. A) The Pharisees accuse Jesus and his disciples of doing the wrong thing and B) Jesus reminds them that once upon a time David and his followers also did the wrong thing. But what’s the point? Is Jesus saying that sometimes its ok to break the letter of the law, in order to keep the spirit of the law? (PAUSE) Some Christians believe this is what Jesus is saying. Although Ahimeleck broke the letter of the law (holy bread is only for priests), he did show love and compassionto David which is the overall spirit of the law. So maybeJesus is challenging them to think a bit deeper about how they apply the law.
But another possibility is that Jesus tells this story to make the point that just as A) King Saul persecuted David because of jealousy, so the B) Pharisees are now persecuting Jesus because of jealousy? Maybe that’s the point (PAUSE) Another possibility is that Jesus tells the story because; “just as A) David was God’s anointed king (and Ahimeleck recognized the truth) so B) Jesus is God’s anointed King and the Pharisees should recognize the truth. The beauty of Jesus’ response is that he has just dodged the Pharisees accusation and there is probably a little bit of truth in all of these options…
Apply: But look at what Jesus says next (Slide 5; Lk.6:5; READ). Now this is a HUGE statement. Jesus is saying that he is the LORD of Sabbath (and so he gets to set the RULES for the Sabbath).
The Pharisees would be thinking; “No! You can’t say that because God is the Lord of the Sabbath.” But Jesus said something very similar last week. Jesus said (ENTER – LK.5:24). Again, last week the Pharisees were thinking “You can’t say that.”
But did you notice that in both cases Jesus calls himself “THE SON OF MAN” (ENTER)? This title harks back to Daniel 7. In 550BC the prophet Daniel had a vision of one “like” a Son of Man. This is what Daniel saw (Slide 6-7; Dan.7:13-14).
Throughout the Old Testament God said that one day he would send a special king (descended from David) who would set up God’s kingdom on earth. Now what Jesus is saying is that A) he has authority to forgive sins and B) he has authority to decide what should and shouldn’t happen on the Sabbath because he is the Son of Man in Daniel. God has given Jesus absolute God-like authority to set up God’s Kingdom on earth. By tying A) the King David story to B)the Son of Man story – Jesus is claiming to be God’s chosen King with absolute authority in everything. So as Christians – JESUS is the one we should obey. Not Rabbis and their silly traditions. Nor Popes. Nor super-pastors. Jesus is our king. And because Jesus is our king;
Point 2: Jesus has Authority to Define what is Lawful on the Sabbath
Show: Lk.6:6-9 (READ)
Explain: Well, here’s Sabbath controversy number 2. The Pharisees believe you cannot heal people on the Sabbath. You could only save them or help them on the Sabbath – if they were about to die. But the man with a shrivelled hand is not about to die. Church tradition says he was a stone mason and huge stone fell on his hand. Can’t be sure – that is absolutely true. That is the tradition. But either way, his life is not in mortal danger. So the Pharisees believe his healing should wait until after the Sabbath. But look at what Jesus says;
Show: Lk.6:9 (READ)
Apply: Interestingly, Jesus focuses on what SHOULD be done, rather than what SHOULDN’T be done. The Pharisees were forever saying you can’t do this and you can’t do that. But Jesus says lets focus on what you should be doing as God’s people everyday – which is DOING GOOD and SAVING LIFE. This is not particularly a new thought. Many of the Old Testament prophets challenged the Jews in a similar way. They said; stop being religious hypocrites and do some good. Perhaps the most famous accusation against Israel is found in Micah 6:8 (Slide 10; Mic.6:8). Jesus is saying a similar thing…
Christianity is not really a list of rules telling you what you can’t do. RATHER, Christianity is about A) DOING GOOD to all people (and especially the household of faith) and it’s about B) SAVING LIVES from hell. That’s it. Do good. Save lives. This idea of “doing good” will be expanded upon later in this chapter. Jesus explains – “doing good” means loving all people, even our enemies. Doing good is about loving our neighbor and Jesus says – it will bring us great reward in heaven.
Meanwhile, the words “SAVING LIFE” – generally mean physical salvation. But of course, in the course of Jesus’ ministry “SAVING LIFE” will come mean “saving people” from damnation in hell.
(GOSPEL) The fact is – all humans are perishing and going to hell. Everyone faces God’s judgment for sin. But people can be saved. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He bore the PENALTY for all our wrongdoing because he loves us. So God now promises – that everyone accepts Jesus as Lord and ask for forgiveness from God will receive eternal life. And then; when they die – instead of hell, they will go to heaven. THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS of Christianity. So if you are sitting at home and you have not yet asked God to forgive you – that’s what you need to do. Trust Jesus loves you enough to die for you and ask God to forgive you. (Simple). But if you are already a Christian (and you’re thankful that God has forgive you) – Jesus tells us now “DO GOOD” and “SAVE LIVES”. This is our task.
Illustrate: Sadly, the message of the super-apostles in Bethel and Kansas City adds AN INTERIM STEP. Like many of Satans best lies they just twist the truth a little bit. They say Jesus wants you to be in a position of authority so that you can do lots of good and save lots of lives. God wants you to conquer the 7 mountains and become a great world leader, because then you’ll be able to do lots of good and save lots of life. So everyone gets excited and jumps up and downbecause God wants them to be a super-spiritual world leader. But these poor, misled Christians then focus all their energy on becoming world leaders and they never really get around to “doing good or saving life”. It’s kind of a new prosperity gospel. God wants you to be powerful because the more power you have the more influence you have for him. But as a result many people never really get around to doing what Jesus tells them to do – because they are forver trying to get to the top – first…
Apply: Friends, we don’t need an interim step to change the world. All we need (each day) is to see the people God puts in our path – thendo good and try to save them. Don’t be so busy that you ignore the beggar in the street; or fail to see your child asking to be loved. Each day God will be bring people into your sphere of influence and your job is to love them and (where possible) share the gospel with them.
If you’re a mum – start with your kids – do good and share the gospel. If you are on unemployment benefits start with your crazy neighbor – do good and share the gospel. And if you are a leader of sorts whether in business (or some other field) – don’t spend all your life networking and strategising about how to have the greatest influence for Jesus – just get down to business; do good and share the gospel. This is the essence of what Jesus wants us to do (everyday) and he commissioned 12 apostles to explain how best to do it.
Point 3: Jesus bestowed His Authority on 12 Specific Apostlesto teach us
Show: Lk.12:12-16 (READ)
Explain: Well, as the Son of Man Jesus had the responsibility to establish God’s Kingdom. But Jesus chose 12 specific disciples (from a larger group) to help him do it. These 12 disciples – he called APOSTLES. You can see this word in verse 13. Now the general meaning of the word “APOSTLE” is one who is sent as a representative of another. Speaking of apostles the JEWISH MISHNAH writes; (Slide 11). This means the apostle speaks with the SAME AUTHORITY as the one who sent the apostle. This means that we should show Jesus’ apostles a similar sort of respect to what we would show to Jesus.
But not every apostle has the same level of respect. In Hebrews, Jesus is called the apostle of God, because he was sent by God (Heb.3:1). That means lots of respect for Jesus because he was sent by God. But in Philippians Epaphroditus is called an apostle because he was sent by Paul (Phil.2:24). That’s less respect. The level of respect we show an apostle depends upon who sent them.
Now we need to remember Jesus sent out 12 specific apostles. These 12 specific men(listed here) will lay the foundation for God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is no longer built upon the 12 tribes of Israel, but upon the 12 apostles. This idea is confirmed in Revelation 21. Although A) the names of the 12 tribes of Israel are still on the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev.21:12); the actual foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem is laid on the names of the 12 apostles. Let me show you because this is really important (Slide 12; Rev.21:14). So how many apostles are there holding up the heavenly Jerusalem? (PAUSE). C’mon we’ve got to get this number right. (That’s right – only 12).
Illustrate: That means BILL JOHNSON in California is not a real apostle. It means MIKE BICKLE in Kansas city is not a real apostle. Anyone who claims to be an apostle – like the 12 apostles – is actually a false prophet. They are taking to themselves an authority that Jesus did not give them. It is a lie. And where there are lies, there is usually the work of Satan, more than the work of Christ. Now with that said – I do leave Jesus to judge them. They will ultimately answer to him.
Apply: But my job is to point out that Jesus only commissioned 12 authorative apostles to lay the foundation for the church. 12 specific men who were nobodies from Galilee. We need to remember that God often chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. But who is the 12th apostle given Judas betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide? I would say the 12 genuine apostles (of the heavenly Jerusalem) are these 12 men (minus Judas Iscariot), plus the apostle Paul. Although the apostles tried to create another apostle on the Day of Pentecost and chose Matthias – we hear nothing of him in the rest of the New Testament. Matthias was not sent by Jesus. But we know that the resurrected Jesus appeared to Paul and sent Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles. So, I’d say the 12 names on the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem are these 12 men (minus Judas), plus the Apostle Paul. And if Jesus commissioned these 12 men to be his apostles, these are the 12 men we should primarily listen to in all matters related to Christianity.
Now the good news is that you can listen to these 12 apostles by reading the New Testament. The only writings that were included in the New Testament were those that could be direcly linked with an apostle. Any Christian letter circulating in the C2nd AD that could be directly linked to one of the 12 apostles was included in the New Testament AND any letter that wasn’t linked to an apostle was left out. The church did this because Jesus specifically commissioned 12 men to be his apostles. Jesus rules his church – not through the pope, nor these new fan-dangle apostles, nor even through pastors – like myself. No. Jesus rules his people through the writings of the 12 apostles.
That’s why we always study the Bible in church. (Hold up Bible). That’s why you need to be good Bereans and test everything I say against what is written in the Bible. Don’t do what I say. Do what Jesus tells you to do through his apostles. (BIBLE) This tells you what Jesus did to save you. This tells you how to respond in faith. Indeed, this tells you what it really means to “do good” and how to “save others”. You don’t need anything else. You just need to get into the habit of listening to Jesus in the pages of the New Testament.
If only we could cut out all the white noise of the 1) self-appointed apostles, and 2) the self-serving pastors and 3) the latest church growth methods – and simply put into practice what Jesus said perhaps God’s kingdom would be more and more established. There is nothing in the New Testament about 1) climbing 7 crazy mountains, or 2) setting up the all important 5 M’s of ministry or 3) of great worship in seeker sensitive services. These are all the invetions of man. But there is a lot in the New Testament about doing good and saving others. It’s not rocket science. It’s just hard to stay focussed. If we really want to follow Jesus, learning how to do good AND how to save lives, then we need to listen to the 12 apostles because that is how Jesus rules the church. The absolute best thing the church could do today is just get back into the Bible. Know Jesus through his apostles and stop listening to all the self-appointed, false-prophets on the internet. Lets’pray.