Friday, May 21, 2010

Touching Base! Part 88

When the Lawn Mower Won't Start!
(This article can also we found on our website at under the tab called “Blog”)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community

(NOTE: To understand this week’s title, download the sermon!) Ever had the experience of choking or panicking? Maybe those are words you would not use but nonetheless you crashed, under-delivered, and disappointed a whole whack of people in the process. Last week we looked at the transfiguration of Christ, His majesty, greatness and how this was to serve as a motivation for the disciples to listen to Him- “Jesus is amazing, listen to Him”. As we move on in Dr. Luke’s narrative our idea slightly shifts to, “I am not amazing, listen to Him!”

As a group, talk about a time in your life where you blew it. You knew that your “performance” was subpar, nothing to write home about.

Read Luke 9:37-45, that we looked at this past Sunday. Maybe to see the context better, you could also read last week’s text, Luke 9:28-36.

Scene 1- vs.37-40 - The Desperation and Disappointment of the Father
Take some time to examine the emotion of this scene. Notice the contrasts between this scene and the transfiguration. I mentioned these on Sunday.
  • From the mountain to the valley
  • From the Father and Son to the father and son
  • From Moses and Elijah to the current day disciples of Jesus
  • From the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Darkness

What is it like to know that no matter how hard you try, you cannot satisfy the person in need?

Scene 2 – vs.41-43a - The Frustration of the Saviour
Note towards who Jesus directs his words. It is one thing to disappoint a crowd or even a dad you don’t know but to disappoint Jesus, the one they admired and followed, must have really stung. Who is Jesus quoting? What is the significance of quoting Moses here?

Here is a possibly sensitive issue we can address: I wonder how much these words stuck on the insides of these disciples? Ever heard words from the person you disappointed and to this day they are stuck to your insides?
Willing to share the phrase, the word?

I wonder if these words of Jesus served months later as a motivation for the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. There are certain events in our lives that make us hungrier for God- right?

Side note - Matthew gives us a bit more detail – he tells us that it was their lack of faith. Mark tells us that it was the father’s faith to which Jesus responded. The father had greater faith than the disciples who had been with Jesus for 2-plus years. Mark also tells us that this kind of bondage needs prayer - some translations say prayer and fasting.

You have to wonder how far their hearts had wandered in the short time of Christ’s absence. Makes you wonder what false practices, godless approaches they had adopted.

Scene 3 – vs.43b-45 The Wonder of the Crowd
I love v.43. It literally means that they were struck out of their senses. Luke is making the point clear - Jesus is amazing!
Note the “demonic” aspects in this whole passage. Let me make some comments here and discuss as a group additional insights.
  1. Jesus has authority. Fear is not a factor, respect yes, but not fear. The writer is not wanting to sensationalize the demonic but clearly show that Jesus has authority. The crowds are struck out of their senses with Jesus, not the demonic. “Exorcists normally tried to subdue demons by incantations invoking higher spirits, or by using smelly roots or pain-compliance techniques. Jesus here uses only His command, thereby showing His great authority.”
  2. The demonic is real and is why Jesus is headed to Jerusalem (referred to in transfiguration) - “ ... authentic Christian faith must honestly recognize the depth, subtlety and power of evil. On this, biblical teaching about human folly and depravity provides a necessary bulwark against naive readings of the human condition. The New Age theory that evil is just “live” spelled backwards simplifies a very dark and sinister reality.” (Ideas from James Beverly)
  3. This text is not saying that everyone who has a convulsion and foams at the mouth is demonic. Holistic approaches to healing must consider the spiritual but not think that all physical ailments are demonically driven.
  4. The boy is probably Jewish, circumcised, following the religious code - but note it is only Jesus that can set him free. “Religion” will fail every time. (This was Carmen’s point from our teaching team)
  5. As Christ followers we need to be on our guard- the enemy can harass us. (Eph. 6:10-20)
One final comment:
Sometimes it is not through our strengths but through our failures that God is most glorified. We often think of needing to be strong, but this text demonstrates that even in my failure, my brokenness, selfishness, and confusion, God can be glorified. At times, God works in spite of me, not because of me. The boy is healed, the father is delighted, the people are amazed and there sit the disciples… embarrassed. What is interesting about this event is that after this event no one is talking about how great the disciples are, they are talking about Jesus. The ultimate goal of Bethel is to get people talking about Jesus - I am not amazing, listen to Him!
Maybe our prayer needs to be “Thank you Father for working through my brokenness, advancing your kingdom even when I blow it, accomplishing your purposes even when I stink the joint out.” This story does not give us permission to stay where we are, but it reminds us we have a Saviour who can work through us wherever we are at.

Here is a creed you may want to reflect on, not in self-flagellation but as a sober reminder of our feet of clay and the One to whom our lives need to direct people.

I am not amazing, listen to Him.
My weaknesses are numerous and my faults are obvious - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
My track record is not perfect and those I have disappointed are many - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
I have at times brought people down, not up, been a poor role model to follow - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
There have been days that instead of taking two steps forward, I have taken three back - I am not amazing, listen to Him.
I attend a church that is so much like me - broken in some ways, growing in His Way - We are not amazing, listen to Him.

However, I thank God for His grace, for a chance at a new day. His words give me hope, His Spirit gives me life. His righteousness gives me a new identity and destiny and His transforming work in my life give me the privilege of speaking humbly into people’s lives.

He is amazing, listen to Him.


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