Intro: Well morning friends, visitors and those joining online. My name is Matt Johnson and today we are continuing a study of Luke’s gospel – called PORTRAITS OF JESUS. Now today’s portrait is Jesus the wise man or Jesus the teacher. So today we are thinking about WISDOM and two of the biggest threats to wisdom – which are pride and hypocrisy.
Well, today we see Jesus warn us against PRIDE AND HYPOCRISY. But sadly, many Christians seem to ignore such warnings. Today, pride and hypocrisy seems to be the norm, especially among church leaders. One of the bigger ones to fall in recent times – was KARL LENTZ who headed Hillsong in New York (Slide 2). Karl was the pastor to the celebrities like Justin & Hailey Bieber and many of the NBA players. Yet, last year it came out Karl had, had multiple affairs. How could such a man speak about faithfulness to Jesus, when he couldn’t even be faithful to his wife? But this was just the tip of the iceberg. When Brian Houstoneventually fired Lentz (late 2020) – he told his leadership board (Slide 3); “Not just general narcissistic behavior, manipulating, mistreating people … I think sometimes other hurtful things, the breaches of trust connected to lying, constantly lying … basically, broken trust.”
Unfortunately, such things are now far too common. Each day I get an email from My Christian Daily that reports news in the Christian world. And I’d say nearly a third of the news reports involve Christian hypocrisy. Let me show you just some of the links from Friday. Just Friday…
(Slide 4 – Neil Gallagher). This man spoke on Christian radio for years about money matters. He offered biblical guidance on being a good steward, tithing your money etc etc. But it’s just come out that he’s been ripping off Christian retirees to the tune of $19.6 million.
(Slide 5 – John Blanchard). This minister (of a mega church in Virginia) was not just caught in prostitution, the girl he was caught with was also underage.
Finally (Slide 5 – Pope, Biden). One wonders what the pope means by good and even Catholic. Catholic bishops in the US have been rebuking President Biden because of his support of abortion. Biden calls himself a Catholic but rejects the biblical position that abortion is murder. So many US bishops have been rebuking Biden. But this week – the Pope gave President Biden communion and called him a good Catholic. Again, it’s a form of hypocrisy.
Now while it is easy to throw stones at all these big names and call them hypocrites – how often do we act in similar ways. We call ourselves followers of Jesus and yet do the opposite of what Jesus says. Today Jesus explains that Christian integrity requires obedience. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith. But we can’t just live in blatant disobedience to Jesus and think we’ll get away with that unscathed…
Point 1: The Wise Christian remains Humble and Teachable
Show: Lk.6:39-40 (READ)
Explain: Well today Jesus THE WISE MAN, tells us to take Jesus THE ETHICIST seriously. Last week, Jesus the ethicist gave us some really hard instructions about loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us and turning the other cheek. This is the Christian ethic. But it was very hard teaching and the TEMPTATION is to respond “Jesus, I think I’ll skip that bit about turning the other cheek, what else have you got?”
And today Jesus is like “No. I want you to do what I said.”
So lets look again at what Jesus says; (Lk.6:39-40; READ). Now what happens if Gus (who is nearly blind) tries to lead Carol (who is almost blind) down the street? Does that story end well? (PAUSE) Probably, not. Jesus says the blind people fall into the pit together and the word pit (used here) sometimes means “hell.” That possibility would not have escaped the listeners: The blind are leading the blind to hell.
BUT WHO is Jesus talking about? Who are the blind? Throughout this sermon in Luke – Jesus has been telling us about God’s kingdom which is UPSIDE DOWN AND BACK TO FRONT. Jesus told us “blessed are the poor” and “cursed are the rich.” And we respond; “hang on Jesus, I think you got that wrong.” Jesus told us love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. And we all think, “Like hell, I’m going to love my enemies and do good to those who hate me.” That’s just wrong.
BUT WHO ACTUALLY HAS CLEAR VISION? Is it you or is it Jesus? The Bible says we are all spiritually blind because of sin. We’re groping our way through life. Sure, every so often A BLIND PERSON comes along claiming to see. They have a certain charisma to them and they confidently claim to have 20:20 vision. So we all jump on the bandwagon and we follow them until they lead us over some cliff. OPRAH can’t see. ANTHONY ROBBINS can’t really see. I’d say MOHAMMAD is as blind as a bat and so too the DALAI LAMA. The question is whether there is anyone who can truly see?
Becoming a Christian is all about admitting we can’t see. But it’s also about recognizing that Jesus can see because he is God. Jesus can see because he is God in human form. That’s why Jesus could work miracles. That’s why he rose from the dead. You can’t kill God. So, because Jesus is God he can see properly and we should listen.
But have you reached that point where you’re HUMBLE enough to admit that you need some help in life? (GOSPEL) The message of Christianity is that no matter what mistakes you’ve made – God still loves you and Jesus is willing to help you. Of course, there are still consequences for your bad decisions. But the good news is Jesus took the punishment for all your bad decisions when he died on the cross. Because justice is a real thing – it means God must punish wrongdoing. Justice demands it. But on the cross Jesus bore the full penalty for everything you have done wrong, so that you can be spared on judgment day. Jesus did this because he loves you. And God now says; “1) if you humble yourself and 2) you trust in Jesus as your Saviour and 3) start following Jesus as Lord – God will forgive you and God help you.” This is the gospel. So as Christians we live by faith in Jesus’ words. We do not live by sight, because we are blind.
Apply: But sadly, no sooner do some Christians get baptised than they start thinking they know better than Jesus. Not only do they FORGET that they are blind, they also FORGET who is the teacher and who is the student? C’mon. In your relationship with Jesus who is the teacher and who is the student? (PAUSE) Of course, we all say Jesus is the teacher. But how often do we act like we know better than our teacher. When Jesus says; “Do good to to those who hate you”, we think “no pretty sure you’re wrong on that one, Jesus”. So, we ignore him. Or Jesus tells us; “sex outside marriage is wrong” and every person in the western world is convinced Jesus is wrong. So we accept what Jesus says about eternal salvation (the big thing), but we totally ignore what Jesus says about sex (the little thing) and we wonder why so many people are having troubles in marriage. Do you see the hypocrisy?
Friends, Jesus says, end of verse 40; “everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” THAT’S THE GOAL. Our objective is not to be smarter than our teacher, but like our teacher in every way. So truly and honestly is your life objective to become more like Jesus? Do you actually want to be like Jesus? I think that’s a tough question because we know the answer should be yes. But I think most of us have other life goals. So are you becoming more like Jesus?
Many scholars believe this bit in LUKES GOSPEL about teacher and student is LINKED to what follows about the sawdust and planks in the eye. Both sections are dealing with blindness. Now we’ve all heard this preached before; don’t judge the small problems in other people’s lives until you’ve dealt with all the rubbish in your own backyard. In Matthew’s gospel that seems to be THE MAIN POINT. Examine your own behaviour before you look at others. BUT IN LUKE’S GOSPEL the focus is actually on how we respond to Jesus as our teacher.
As sinners (who are blind) we have a plank in our eye. Not just a slinter or bit of dust. A whole plank. We have spiritual conjunctivitius off the charts and yet we think we can discern little errors in Jesus’ teaching. “Oh, I think Jesus is wrong on this bit about wives submitting to husbands.” Or I think Jesus is wrong on this bit about storing up treasure in heaven and not on earth. Pretty sure he is wrong on that one. So despite having a plank in our eye, we think we can see little errors in Jesus’ teaching on certain topics. Now of course, we may not say that out loud. BUT WE CHERRY PICK the bits of Jesus teaching we like and we throw out the bits we don’t like. And Jesus says “YOU HYPOCRITE! YOU’RE A COMPLETE & UTTER HYPOCRITE IF THAT”SHOW YOU LIVE. If you say Jesus is your Saviour and Lord, stay humble, stay teachable and do what he says – because you’re blind as a bat.” The only wise thing to do when your blind as a bat is listen to what the person who can see, says. The only way to truly avoid falling into the pit is to live by faith in Jesus’ words, not by sight. The minute you stop doing this – hypocrisy and foolishness is creeping into your Christianity.
Point 2: The Wise Christian Reflects on their likeness to Jesus
Show: Lk.6:43-45 (READ)
Explain: Well again, we’ve all heard preachers say this is how you spot FALSE TEACHERS. By their fruit you will know them. Now in Matthew’s gospel that is probably correct. Jesus begins “WATCH OUT FOR FALSE PROPHETS” and then he goes on to talk about the tree and it’s fruit.” So we’ve come to believe we identify true Christians leaders from false Christian leaders by the spiritual fruit in their lives.
But as I explained 2 weeks ago – there is good reason to believe that there may NOT have been just one Sermon on the Mount. It is highly probable that as Jesus travelled he may have taught similar material on multiple occassions – even drawing out slightly different applications depending on his audience. So here in Luke we find no warning about FALSE TEACHERS. The warning is actually against FALSE STUDENTS. Students who claim to follow Jesus – but are not.
So if we consider this passage solely in the CONTEXT of Luke – we see Jesus talking about a GOOD TREE and a bad tree, about A GOOD MAN and a bad man. Now after watchingJesus helping people, love people and bless so many people who are we to conclude is the good tree or the good man? Who is the one that is bringing good things out of the good stored up in his heart? OBVIOUSLY – the answer is Jesus. Jesus is the teacher. Jesus is the good tree and the good man. I would truly say Jesus is the good man – par excellence.
Of course, Muslims claim Mohammad is the goodest man. But read his life story and you’ll see 1) he killed people, 2) owned slaves and had 3)multiple wives at the same time, (including one who was a child). We have words to describe people who have sex with children and good is not usually one of them. To be honest Mohammad is not even worthy of comparison with Jesus. But even great pascifist’s like Ghandi or the Dalai Lama are not in the same league as Jesus.
Although, both GHANDI and the DALAI LAMA speak about the restraint of evil and detachment from fleshly lusts, neither go as far as Jesus in terms of POSITIVE GOOD. They speak about avoiding evil. But Jesus speaks about overcoming evil with good – even if it costs you your life. This is goodness at a whole new level.
AND Jesus was so good that he loved all of us – enough to die for our sins. We deserved to die and stay in the pit for all the things we have done wrong. That’s justice. But Jesus took the punishment for us as he died on the cross. That’s real love. That’s doing good. By dying on the cross for our sins Jesus actually took us by the hand and lifted us out of the pit of hell. So who is the good man? (PAUSE) There is an OLD JOKE, about a man falling into a pit. (Slide 7 – ENTER). Now whos’ truly good? (JESUS) And remember the student is meant to become like the teacher. So is your life in any way like Jesus?
Illustrate: Back in 2003, an extensive study was conducted by MONIKA ARDELT at Florida University on what makes some people wiser than others. Her finding was that THE KEY INGREDIENT for wisdom was regular, unbiased self-reflection. In other words, wisdom comes from looking at your life, your decisions and your emotions to see what your decisions are producing and learning from this. Monika showed that wisdom and self-reflection go together and her findings have influenced so many psycholgists and sociologists that if you now google “wisdom” and “self-reflection” you’ll get about 51 million hits….
Apply: But did you notice that Jesus the original wise man is encouraging us to do some self-reflection. We all claim to be good. We all claim to be wise. But what fruit is our life, our decisions and priorities actually producing? Is it good or bad, especially when measured against the life of our teacher? Jesus is encouraging us to SELF-REFLECT on what is actually coming out of our heart and out of our mouths? How did I handle that situation at work? What did I do when I was angry and was that good? How could I have handled it better? This is wisdom…
I think that CHRISTIAN QUIET TIMES each day in the Bible and in prayer – help us find this time for honest self-reflection – that turns knowledge into wisdom. Many Christians have found JOURNALING in their quiet time an important part of this self-reflection. Does my life, my speech and my priorities actually align with Jesus? Is the stuff coming out of my mouth and out of my heart really like Jesus the good man – par excellence. Of course, the answer will often be NO. But as we examine our lives and recognise our mistakes we apologise to God and we ask the Holy Spirit to help us change. But as we do this self-reflection we also begin to recognize A CONSISTENT PATTERN – Jesus’ way always works out better than my way – and in that moment of comprehension knowledge begins to become wisdom.
Point 3: True Christian Wisdom has the Wisdom to do what Jesus says
Show: Lk.6:46-49 (READ)
Explain: Notice, that what we are meant to do according to verse 47 – is COME to Jesus, HEAR his words and PUT THEM into practice. Those who do this 1) will SURVIVE the storms of life, whereas those 2) who only give lip-service to Jesus will be left in ruin. No matter how much we’ve called Jesus “lord, lord”, or spoken in tongues or worked miracles or gone to church every Sunday – if we are hypocrities it all amounts to NOTHING.
The way a person is saved and taken to heaven – is through FAITH in Jesus as your Saviour and Lord. In other words, you need to really believe 1) that Jesus loves you enough to die and pay for your sins. But you also need to believe 2) that Jesus is God’s Son, in the flesh. He is your Lord and he is your King. Now if you really believe Jesus loved you enough to die for you (SAVIOUR) and you really believe Jesus is God in the flesh (LORD) – then what should you do? OBVIOUSLY, listen to him and obey him. If you’re not trying to obey Jesus – it means you don’t really believe he loves you OR you don’t really believe he is God. And if you don’t really believe these things then you’re not saved. That’s the warning in the book of James.
Now of course, as a sinner you will never obey Jesus perfectly. You will stuff up and sin. But God knows if you are trying. God knows if you really believe in Jesus (or just going through the motions). Are you trying to become more like Jesus?
Apply: Sadly, our world today is full of hypocritical “Christians”. Many people say 1) they follow Jesus, but their life is nothing like Jesus. What they really follow is the ways and teachings of the world. This is hypocrisy. GHANDI once said “if it wasn’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.” He loved the portraits of Jesus. But he could see too many Christians were being hypocrites. He loved what Jesus stood for but was put off by the insecerity of many of his followers. How tragic that Christian hypocrisy may prevent others from taking Jesus seriously? So before we throw stones at Karl Lentz or Biden or even the Pope – we need to do a little bit of SELF-REFLECTION and ask ourselves – are we really following Jesus (on a day to day basis) or do we just give lip service on Sunday. If it is only the latter – not only are we hindering other peoples faith, Jesus also says – that when the storms of life come the lives of those who have been hypocrites will fall apart like houses built upon the sand.
So which are you? So often we become hypocrities and depart the narrow path that leads to life at the point of pride. The point where we 1) know better than Jesus or 2) we start ignoring Jesus is the point where hypocrisy begins to take hold. Its one thing to make a mistake and sin. But it is a different thing altogether to know what Jesus is telling you and then willfully dismiss it or ignore it. This sort of pride usually comes just before the storm and then our house starts to fall apart. Now maybe you know there is an area in your life you need to change. Maybe today is the day to ask Jesus for forgiveness and get back on the narrow path. HYPOCRISY A) is no good for our church witness and B) it is no good for our personal lives. If you persist in hypocrisy you will come unstuck. It is just a matter of time. As true followers of Jesus we need to make sure we are not just hearers of Jesus’ words, but doers.