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57: Misunderstandings on the Way to Jerusalem

May 14, 2009

Major Text: John 7:2-9; Luke 9:51-62

Harmony Texts:

Luke 9:51-56      John 7:10
Matt. 8:19-22     Luke 9:57-62

Outline:

  1. Family Misunderstandings John 7:2-9
  2. Cultural Misunderstandings Luke 9:51-56
  3. Discipleship Misunderstandings Luke 9:57-62

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Jesus’ ministry in Galilee is finished. We are about six months away from His crucifixion. Jesus is leaving Capernaum for Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. He evidently stops to see His family and His brothers who encourage Him to pilgrimage with them and “show off” His miracles. He refuses saying the time is not right. He desires to travel in a more private manner, not wanting to draw attention to Himself. After all, Jerusalem is “enemy territory” as far as He is concerned.

Jesus and His disciples evidently travel to Jerusalem via Samaria. Most Galileans would travel around Samaria via the Jordan River to Jericho and then go west to Jerusalem. Jesus sends some of the disciples, probably James and John, to arrange for lodging at a Samaritan town. They are refused because they are Jews on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jews refuse to associate with Samaritans and this Town refused to associate with Jews even if it made monetary sense. Evidently the news of Jesus’ offer of living water to another Samaritan community did not reach this town. Their outright rejection without listening to who was visiting meant they missed out on their opportunity to hear the Savior for all people, including the Samaritans. Jesus does not judge them even though James and John suggest it. They are spared and, perhaps, will be given another chance to welcome Jesus into their hearts and their town.

Jesus and His disciples leave Samaria and are joined by at least three men and maybe even more. Groups traveled together for fellowship and for safety reasons. Obviously Jesus and His disciples are witnessing to these people as they travel.

One man asks to be a disciple and Jesus cautions him that he will not have a home. We don’t know if this discouraged the individual or if his request was insincere. I suspect the later. I say this because the man initiates the request. He wants to believe in something but that is as deep as it goes. His heart is analogous to the shallow soil [see Mark 4:1-20]. When he hears another teacher and likes what that person says, he is apt to change his allegiance. When Jesus asks in so many words how committed he is, the conversation stops. The other two men are asked to join but they have excuses. Their hearts seem to be analogous to soil that would allow thorns to crowd out the growth of good grain [see Mark 4 again]. Jesus asks them but they are willing only on their terms and on their timetable. They have other priorities. They were not interested enough to make the commitment Jesus desires. None of these men were candidates for the Kingdom of God at this time. Hopefully each of these men had another chance to become a disciple of Jesus.

Lessons/Application:

1. Ask, don’t tell. Never assume you know what the Lord’s will is before you ask. He leads us day by day. We are His servants, not His advisors.

2. Expect hatred when pointing out wrong-doing and evil. Identify the acts but don’t condemn the person. Hate the sin but love the person. This is difficult to get across to those who do wrong and, therefore, requires great wisdom and tact. But then sometimes one must just confront and accept the consequences.

3. Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee hospitality or acceptance by others. More often it means just the opposite.

4. Avoid conflicts. We preach Christ crucified to open hearts and minds. We are to stand firm without being bullish. When in doubt, move on and don’t fight.

5. If we claim to be a Christian, Christ is indeed first and everything else is a distant second. Refusing His call will have eternal consequences. Accepting His call results in hardship on earth and hoopla in heaven. Discipleship is like a home insurance policy. You pay now in order to be saved from devastation when destruction comes. Waiting is risky. Consider the cost but don’t delay. The benefits are humongous.

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