Australian Bible Church May 27, 2007  

 

A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES
 
 

 

CONSECRATED TO DESTRUCTION,

DEDICATED TO DELIVERANCE:

THE GRAND CONFLICT

Luke 20-22

Consecrated to Destruction

As you read these chapters of Luke, you see repeatedly the Machiavellian machinations of the priestly, official foes of Christ. Not once, not at any one stimulus, but incontinently, they scheme and scramble, ruminate and ramble: HOW to DESTROY Him! Thus in 20:19, we read that these vested interest parties "the same hour sought to lay hands on Him: and they feared the people..."

Why ? It was because firstly, they had challenged Him as to His source of authority, and He had answered them by asking them first to tell Him what they thought of John the Baptist. If they said, Of God, then Christ could ask them, Why then did you not believe him ? (that is, when John identified Jesus as the Messiah). If they denied divine authority to John the Baptist, then the people would be roused to fury, for they held him a prophet indeed. They replied that they did not know, showing just how much authority and finesse they possessed, time servers! Christ then told the parable of the vineyard in which those to whom a long term lease was given on it, refused to give the share of the fruits of it to the messengers sent from the owner, and at last, when he sent his own son, they killed him, hoping in this way to gain the inheritance for themselves, though they were only tenants, adding theft to murder in this way.

They were not satisfied with this disaster in human relations and public performance. So "they watched Him, and sent forth spies, who would feign to be just men, that they might take hold of his words" (Luke 20:20), and catching him out on some point of law, deliver Him to the authorities for action. So they asked him to see if some populist surge in Him might give them a chance to accuse Him. Should we pay taxes to Rome ? Christ answered by asking for a coin, and requesting them to note the superscription of Caesar on it, told them to pay to Caesar what was Caesar's, and to God what was God's. As to that, it was apparent that the irony was intense: HE as the direct expression and only begotten Son of God was THERE THEN, and to HIM therefore they should pay the listening ear, the open heart, the willing spirit, as to Creator-Redeemer. But while they pretended concern at taxes, they were rebels from God Himself.

His wit and wisdom astonished them; but they did not relent.  They asked Him about the resurrection, in the case when a woman had 6 husbands each of whom died, and the seventh then came and his death followed. Whose wife then does she become, in the resurrection ? So they sought to strangle Him in spirit, before the crucifixion, but His reply was to the effect they knew neither the scriptures nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29).

Christ also declared that in the resurrection marriage is not an event or an issue, and pointed out that as to the resurrection in which many then, as now, did not believe, to the condemnation of their alienated souls, when God identified Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He did not put it in the past. The living God was STILL their God, and they were still with Him - a point made most vigorously in John 8:58.

He applied pressure: When David calls the Messiah 'Lord' in Psalm 110, how is He then David's son, since the father scarcely calls his son 'Lord'!

In Luke 21, we see the survey of the complex and slowly developing world scene, which now is upon us, before His return, an event to precede something else which in due course would follow. That ? He indicated that the very heaven and earth would pass away, but not His words (21:33). There is a terminus for the seemingly interminable consecration to destruction which man makes, when only judgment mirrors its mode and meets its animus.

In Luke 22, the Passover arrives, and the "chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Him: for they feared the people." Still the scheming, the playing off of one power against another, and it reminds intensely of Solzhenitsyn's letter to the Russian Orthodox Church, some years ago, in which he chastised them for their failure to look after the faith in the Communist era, rather looking after their own ways! Satan, we now see, enters into Judas (22:3), and the motivation of the priests joined with the man for the moment, Judas, brought an evil tornado to the city.

That torrent or tornado of evil was, in due course, to destroy the city entirely, just as Jesus had predicted (Luke 22:24 cf. Matthew 24:1ff.). The priests' agent, the apostolic mole, their servant Judas, already one of the leaders, now sits at the Last Supper, and Christ declares, "Behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table."

So did the evil ones consecrate themselves viciously to destruction, as they had done for long, as you see in Luke 11:52-53, much earlier. Denouncing the hypocrisy and self-serving pretensions of the scribes and Pharisees, yes and 'lawyers', men of acute knowledge of the law and its application, Christ declared: "Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."

It was much as it is today, although the culture had a different twist towards the same result. They had all their traditions and ridiculous ways of comparing notes and ideas, when the plain text was what was needed. It was necessary to apply it in simplicity and live by it in fidelity, not show 'cleverness' in achieving scholarly seeming impediments, masking the truth and exalting themselves, as if obscuration were a blessing, and fog on glasses were a gain.

Naturally they were infuriated; but the remedy of cancer is not fury, but function, not anger but action to remove it. They would not remove it, so they planned to remove Him, only to find, in due course, that their action ensured that the Lord removed their very city, the temple of their importance and the place of their pride.

We read in Luke 11:53-54 of their incensed hostility:

"... the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently,
and to provoke Him to speak of many things:
laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth,
that they might accuse Him."

 

Dedicated to Deliverance

Christ, however, did not turn or squirm, dodge or duck, weave or writhe. He told the truth without fear, or seeking favour of men. The more they sought to kill Him, the more He showed them the truth which alone could deliver them. The more He laboured for clarity and showed charity in good works and grace, exalting little things of good spirit, such as the widow's minute offering (Luke 21:2), on which He placed more value than on the offerings of the rich and the mighty! the more they lusted to kill this countervailing Christ. While His eyes sought truth, not pride of place, they sought convenience, convention and coercion. In our present world, they would not be ... rare!

How DARE He fear God only, and not their power to destroy His earthly life! It was an affront, as perhaps was the action in some respects, of the Russian recently murdered, Litvinenko! How dare he not fear some of his adversaries! Perhaps the plutonium was to set forth in the grand scale, the concept that there are some who WANT to be feared, and so do fearful things to make the point! Thus the plotting and schemes of Pharisees, Scribes and priests were adventurous...

The truth He showed whatever they said, in threat, in vehemence, in cunning threat, in intimidatory tactics, in caustic words, in dismissal. He did not vary, and virtue continued from His mouth as from His very hands (cf. Luke 8:41-48), the latter seen in the example of the woman who spent all her money on futile medical efforts, only to be healed of an inner haemorrhage by touching Jesus' garments, in faith. 

Christ looked to the future past present ghoulish woes from religious hypocrites; and it was just like the case in the sects, where the NAME of God is used, but the word of God is abused. In the case of Christ on this earth, He was then AVAILABLE for an abuse which was an actual murder, and not merely a confused suppression of truth! When truth walked on earth, they nailed its feet, to walk no more, and its hands, to heal no more; and earth has sulked in the stupour of meaninglesness, of which it complains, and of the vast platform without wisdom in which they now rambunctiously, now sullenly sit: but they do not yet repent.

Far from turning from the concept of minimising the Director, to the action of receiving Him, so solving all questions, and finding in truth His pardon, and in pardon, His peace, instead they flounder and force, now with this fiasco, now with that phoenix newly returned to ashes.

Without truth, they all perish (Luke 13:1-3). It was so, is so and continues to be the resultant, when disdain or indifference dispels the truth which is in Christ Jesus, and makes life a matter of pleasure, leisure, laxity, neo-morals or other breach of deity who made it, and sent salvation for those fallen. Fixed with the crucifixion, this world fails to find the resurrected Christ, and hence courts disaster with passion, the fruits of which litter the earth.

So in that day, amid a splatter and then a welter of ill-will and evil, they killed the cure. To be sure, this made it effective, the sacrifice thus performed to cover sin; but their hearts were in the death.

 

THE GRAND CONFLICT

Ever since, as you see so dramatically depicted in Revelation 12, the devil has spewed out a flood in which to drown the faithful, and for his point of view, the faith. And who outside the USSR and China in OUR OWN TIME (or at least mine!), have shown more of the blistering, delusive, derogatory and intrusive spirit of antichrist, as they have sought to CONTROL the Church by registration, or to break it by refusing licence to build and sending in spies to accuse, just as the Sadducees sought to trap Christ in His words.

How little  have things changed! It is the grand confrontation. This conflict is entire, total, involving all of life; and it is that between the Creator and the Incinerator, that Satan who burns and  scorches and scalds and shames and confuses his participants, like Judas. They do not all, like him, who had his bowels spewed onto the ground, share that experience; but what of judgment to come! Judas showed no compassion for the truth, and that was the point. Even if all who did likewise shared his earthly horror, alas, that would not change their eternal destiny!

It is at least one consolation for them, that until He returns, there is hope; and as Peter was feeble in confrontation  AT  FIRST, but then repented, recovered and lived indeed in the truth, so many more may do the same. It is on the Lord that the CALL must be made; for He has called on this earth, in Person, even becoming incarnate for the purpose of enduring death as a man. In this, He showed in manhood the love of God and His power and mercy: and it is on HIM we all must call! It is like a delightful dance, in which the first step is already taken, and now it is for the sinner to move to Him, in gratitude and repentance, to receive His mercy, the next step, by faith.

It is then that it is like an engagement with the ring of truth, and the commitment of the Cross.

Next Sunday, Lord willing, we are to have a Communion Service, and in this there are many matters to consider.

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One is our gratitude that like Peter, we have been enabled to respond from earlier errors,
and to find in Christ the rest from mere wrestling, and the grant of cover from sin (II Corinthians 5:17-21), with the power of righteousness as His gift.
 

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Another is this, that the Saviour did not rest from wrestling with the evil,
and dominating it as Lord, so that we might find this gift of rest in Him, our Redeemer.
 

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A third ? It is that despite the reviling and insults, the slanders and libels,
the false attributions and the devious dealings we suffer because of fidelity in faith
to the Father and love of the Son of God, our Christ is resurrected and we live in His life.
It is  in His power that so raised Him, that we are currently enabled,
now as ever, to continue in the faith, in the heart of truth and in the peace
that passes all understanding (Ephesians 1:19, Philippians 4:1ff.).

Let this then be a time of ardent gratitude, as we seek for more grace, that we might GROW in grace as in knowledge of the Lord, who having given Himself for us, has won the complete confrontation and gives the victory to His people, first now in living, and then, the grand theme fulfilled, in the resurrection of His vastly enlarged family,  at His coming.

Wait for it! it will surely come.