AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
January 16, 2005
LIVE BY THE POWER OF GOD, LOOKING FOR
A BETTER RESURRECTION
I THE THREE REJECTION SLIPS
A. The Rejected One, the Stone that Crushes Luke 20:1-18
Christ met their attempt to seize Him in asking Him His authority, by asking them what they conceived that of John the Baptist to be. Unless they answered that, neither would He answer their question. His time had not come, and therefore He merely left them poised and unable to answer, the facts being utterly clear; for JOHN has declared that He, Jesus was the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), the Messiah of Isaiah 53 in other words. If they rejected this approach of John, or its very base, then people who revered John, would become difficult. If they accepted it, then Christ would ask them, perhaps, if they agreed!
He then told the parable about the vineyard which had such strong overtones and symbols that the blind could see, so that they were stirred up – indeed in Luke 11: 52-54, you see just HOW stirred up they could become. A wilful people was refusing to give glory to God, and even to recognise His Son.
Christ warned them, in terms of the stone which the builders rejected, a Messianic prediction from Psalm 118:22, that to fall on that stone, Himself the Rock, would mean to be broken; but to have it fall on you, would mean you would be crushed to powder. This shows that as God, Christ is invincible, and how often do people imagine Him weak because of suffering, when – this being His role for redemption of all in our race, indeed in heaven or on earth, who have sinned – in fact it became a testimony to vast strength. This strength does not wane and is always present for the Christian (Ephesians 1:19, cf. Matthew 28:19-20) through the Spirit of Him who showed it Himself in Person.
B. The Rejected Lord – Caesar mere emperor Luke 20:20-26
Flattering Christ, that He feared none, they then asked Him whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Would Christ act as a revolutionary and proclaim NO! Instead, He asked them a question: Whose superscription appears on the coin ? Why Caesar’s! Then provide Caesar with what belongs to Him, and God with what belongs to Him. In other words, there is a structure of order and facilitation of human affairs, government; but there is also an avenue of worship and honour to God: do it!
C. The Rejected Downgrade of the Resurrection Luke 20:27-40
Next in their trap questions came talk of an almost comic kind, showing the state of the questioner. Which of seven wives married by a man who had successive spouses die, would be his wife in the resurrection ? Showing the resurrection beyond this sort of question, as they were to be like the angels, Christ reminded them that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – not WAS, but IS! They were downgrading the very power of God in their surmises, as well as showing ignorance of the scriptures. The eternal God has apt bodies for resurrected saints, and of each of His people is God for ever.
Christ having rejected such rebellious attacks, the result came that they rejected Him, even those in authority and power: Luke 20:19 (John 11:48ff.). It was Himself, their God in flesh, that they rejected, and this was a crucial rejection notice, like a volcanic outthrust, burning into their history.
II CHRIST’S COUNTER-CHALLENGE Luke 20:42-47
Scriptural 20: 42-44
Christ pointed out that in Psalm 2, the Messiah is addressed as MY LORD by David, in saying, “Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool”. How then, He asked, could David call Him Lord, if He were his SON! In other words, there was a dimension which is above man, so that the One who is a descendant of David in body, is nevertheless the Lord of that same David! They could not answer.
If then He were to fulfil this, the verified Messiah in word and deed, what else could they expect but that HE would be the Rock! And why, the implicit question raced into their midst, WHY REJECT HIM! But they did! (cf. Luke 20:19), and tried to grasp Him in their power! Men rather than God were their aim.
Christ then denounced to His disciples the grasping hypocrisy of the scribes, officious religionists, who would “receive greater condemnation” for their greedy ways and listless souls, leaders in name only.
How crushed were these Jews, proud and self-righteous (cf. Romans 10), who were in power at that time! We read of 100,000 being sent by the Romans to Egypt to work as slaves in mines, when the end came some 40 years later, while many more were distributed to various amphi-theaters “to be slaughtered in spectacles” – as the Story of the Bible World puts it. Meanwhile the Roman commander Titus ordered Jerusalem completely levelled, yes the great city of the great Temple, that took 46 years to build. This, unhappily, reminds one of Adelaide, “the city of churches” now seeming to fall, if possible, through the very floor of faith in so many defilements of truth, in government as in many churches, whether in doctrine or often enough, in moral principles openly proclaimed.
For Jerusalem, there did indeed come a crushing to POWDER! How crushed have the Jews been in so many pogroms and inquisitions, fleecings, discriminatory laws and rank thefts of life, money and valuables! How blessed however was the new beginning in the Christian Church, commenced with thousands of Jews converted as you read in the first chapters of Acts! These had been careful not to fall on the stone, and not to trip on it at all, but to be founded on it! (Matthew 16, 7:21ff.). Forsaking vain tradition, they trusted Christ.
How hopeless the murder method applied to God! He even used it in order to make His own sacrifice available to faith, and added His own resurrection to show that death is no barrier to the Creator of human life. And this, He did it not in the abstract, but in Person! That is how He could say (John 11):
“I AM THE RESURRECTION and the life, He who believes in Me though he die, yet will he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
Here are words of the most choice delight, for life without eternity is like a sea without water, an ocean without waves or the world without atmosphere.
Thus it was that Christ foretold the devastation to come on Jerusalem (Luke 21:3-4); and in parallel He has foretold what is to come to this whole world (Luke 21:25ff.), including the Gentiles so many so self-assured in their so clever unbelief, that they resemble the Sadducees who questioned Christ to the T!
So then let us follow the example of those who believed, walking with the Lord as they did in the early Church, those who put CHRIST above JERUSALEM. Let us likewise put HIM above our most strenuous desire, or keen ambition. If you cannot trust God, after all, you simply do not belong in the Church, in the body of Christ, or in the realm of faith at all! By His Spirit He moves in His body, and it is with power, grace, love and abundance of life that He acts. Rely on Him, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you!
If you DO, however, be practical and get it done, not leaning to lust of pleasure, money, power, post or position, to ‘necessary prerogatives’ or ‘essential preferences’ which are no more of God than is the dust on the tyres, part of your car. Instead, expecting from God your task, finding in Christ your rest, do not cease while the Lord spares you on this whirling globe, to seek to finish His work for you with joy, seeking to be an example and a salty morsel of humanity, fearless and faithful, and to love one another with the love with which He loved you (John 13:34-25):
new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you,
that you also love one another. By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.”
Talk of love is torrential; the walk of love is influential, and it is in the truth. Let resentment and rebelliousness die, let kindness and compassion live in the growing life He has given you.