Build a Bigger Table (Part 10)

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good morning friends how you doing today great to see you friends here friends at home online it’s great to have you with us as well for the last time we’re going to jump into our series build a bigger table that means that’s the last time you’ll get that catchy little tune and get to watch the donuts spin around um and you know it’s you’ll you’ll be okay teresa I loved your shameless plug in the announcements that could be our new selling point to get people to do announcements if you get up there you can plug anything you want it’s a sales tactic we are jumping into luke 24 what I’ll do is I’ll read some of what we looked at last week last week we followed two of Jesus earliest followers on what’s called the road to emmaus they left jerusalem got out of town perhaps panicked when Jesus was arrested and executed and Jesus tracks them down he reveals him to reveals himself to them during the course of this meal in

the breaking of bread and this passage follows on closely to that so let’s just continue from luke 24 33 if you’ve got a text in front of you this is the new international version any version that you have is just as good they got up and returned once to jerusalem there they found the eleven and those with them assembled together saying it is true the lord has risen and has appeared to simon the lord has risen what an incredible statement then the two who told them what had happened on the way and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread verse 36 this is our text for today while they were still talking about this Jesus himself stood among them and said to them peace be with you they were terrified startled and frightened thinking they saw a ghost he said to them why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your minds look at my hands and my feet it is I myself touch me and see a ghost does

not have flesh and bones as you see that I have when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet and while they still did not believe because of joy and amazement he asked them do you have anything here to eat they gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence he said to them this is what I told you while I was still with you everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of moses and the prophets and the psalms that he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures he told them this is what is written the messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at jerusalem you are witnesses of these things I am going to send you what my father has promised but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high let’s pray

together friends God as we open this book that you have given us we believe that you speak to us in the midst of our needs in the midst of our struggles in the midst of our successes in their midst of not being enough you reach out we thank you for this story that it is expansive and rich and deep and undergirds everything about this world for those of us that need to see this story in a new way would you show it to us for those of us that need to be reminded of our role within the story would you remind us and challenge us would you afflict the comfortable would you comfort the afflicted and would you do this in Jesus name amen so we meet these disciples again in this moment where Jesus has died the worst has happened they are unsure what to do some of them have flared some of them have locked themselves in a room and they’re left with this tension point well what what do we do now what’s the next thing for this story what what

are our hopes and dreams do we run do we believe that the romans won’t come after us after they came after our leader and killed him where does the story go here there is nothing particularly about what these earliest followers of Jesus do that suggests they are full of faith and full of hope for a good end to this story for the most part it seems like what we are seeing here is just some kind of panic and yet this moment we’re about to read is the pivot point around which the whole story will turn this is the moment that decides will the story stop here or will the story go somewhere else this is the moment that decides what role you and I play in this story and where the story goes in our own individual lives this is the moment where Jesus appears to his disciples and he sets the scene for everything that will come in the future for those of you that can track back to the beginning of the series we talked about how as a

community we’re going to wrestle with this book luke this narrative this biography of Jesus life this gospel or glad tidings good news and then we’re going to move on to this book acts the first is what Jesus did the second book second part of the series if you will is is really about what his followers did that incredibly includes you and I we are invited in to that big story but it all begins here this is the pivot point around which everything builds but my question for you I’d love us to start out with is this how would you rate the statement seeing is believing would you say that that statement is largely true would you agree with that or would you question whether seeing is truly believing it’s a fairly well-known statement if you see something I want to see evidence of it I want to see and then I’ll believe is what people might tell you and yet I wonder if seeing is believing occasionally we have moments where we experience something

that we say I I’m not sure if my eyes were telling me the truth I’m not sure if I really saw what I think I saw a few weeks ago I and some of the staff at south were in downtown littleton we were doing a scavenger hunt little team building and in the midst of that as we were walking through one of the parks we heard a groaning and then a large crack and then a bang and as we turned to look where it came from in the distance we saw this scene in one of the parking lots we went dashing over as you might imagine I ran into the parking lot and yelled something like does anybody need help I’m a pastor obviously failing to recognize that to most people I brought no discernible skill or ability to this troubling situation we found the lady who had parked a car just a couple of minutes before and then was sat in the pavilion next to it as this huge cottonwood came landing on a car crushing the seat that she had been sitting in just a few

seconds before I ran up to her and I said you know again I’m a pastor apparently I thought a second try might work and said is there anything that you need and she said I could really use a liquor store I wish she said if you have a fifth of scotch that would be great I was like I don’t and I’m with staff so if I did I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you but there was this moment where you look at this scene and you’re like wow did this really happen is this and for the lady the profoundity of man I was sat there just a few minutes ago am I really seeing what I think I saw maybe that’s true of scenarios like this maybe it’s true of just being out in nature some of you have been exploring and you’ve stopped for a moment and you’ve seen a scene that is just stunning and he said wow am I really seeing this can this be real this is stanage edge where my wife and I got engaged at the time it was so cloudy and misty you couldn’t actually see the edge

um but it was still wonderful we got engaged and that was wonderful but this is this english countryside and I couldn’t resist sharing this with you so bear with me for just a second this is the english countryside at this best and I’m just in the middle of reading this book called the remains of a day by a japanese author called katsu ishiguro and this is what he says about the english countryside I just I just couldn’t resist here we go and yet what precisely is this greatness he talks about how we call the country great britain what is so great about it if I were forced to hazard a guess I would say that it’s the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of island apart what is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty its sense of restraint it is as though the land knows of its own beauty of its own greatness and feels no need to shout about it in comparison the sorts of sites offered in such places as america though

undoubtedly very exciting would I’m sure strike the objective viewer as inferior in account of their unseemly demonstrativeness so if you’ve been looking for a new adjective for the rocky mountains unseemly demonstrativeness is apparently that new adjective rocky mountains home to unseemly demonstrative couldn’t resist there’s these moments where we see scenes and we’re like wow it’s just so beautiful maybe you’ve stood up I stood on genesee in genesee park on one of the summits and just looking at just the beauty in front of me and I know that there’s so much more to explore there is just something about natural beauty that grasps hold of us and we say am I really seeing this and how about one more there’s this story or rumor of mirage this is something a phenomenon called feta morgana it’s something that happens with the ocean and the way that the heat works that it makes things that are beyond the horizon

look like they’re floating above the horizon it’s legends like this that have given rise to stories like the flying dutchman a pirate ship that can float above the seas and can attack pira other ships at wim here’s another one of an oil tanker apparently just suspended in mid-air of course it’s not real and we know it’s real and yet our eyes tell us that we’re seeing something spectacular seeing is believing to a certain extent is true and yet we know time and time again one our eyes can mislead us and two will question what we’re seeing and then think about that in the context of these followers of Jesus who a couple of days after his death a couple of days after the worst day and now stood there and it seems like Jesus has appeared in their midst what is happening here can they believe this they got up and returned it once to jerusalem this is our emmaus friends again there they found the eleven and those with them assembled

together and say is saying it is true the lord has risen and has appeared to simon then the two told what had happened on the way and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread there is this rumor of resurrection these stories are starting to build some of the women have seen him peter has seen him these two on the road to emmaus has seen him and now these 11 and their other followers have seen him and yet the question still lurks under the scene yes they have seen him but what does this mean what would resurrection mean and on what terms has it happened what what even is resurrection in the first century there was a fairly robust debate about what the afterlife looked like to some people it was a nothingness it was a resting in peace to some people it was an ethereal one day in some distant place we will all be together on a spiritual level and yet for some there was a suggestion that real physical

resurrection might be a thing and so we watch here as Jesus does something very specific with his earliest followers it seems like he demonstrates to them what resurrection isn’t then what resurrection is and then what it means for them as individuals as a group he’s about to pull them into this story he’s about to unleash them in a new particular way and and not just them I would suggest but you and I as well while they were still talking about this Jesus himself stood among them and said to them peace be with you isn’t that just what you want to hear when your friend who was dead suddenly stands in your midst imagine the very real terror for some of them and yet Jesus comes and says peace the hebrew word for peace would have been shalom and this idea of shalom in this book luke is very linked to the idea of salvation of rescue Jesus essentially stands amongst his followers and says don’t worry I’m here with some good

news I’m here to rescue I’m here to bring you into something I’m here to bring you from your lowest point into something new into a new story for you and the rest of the world this message of peace is this important grounding for the textbook but it’s not enough for them at least on the surface they were startled and frightened thinking they saw a ghost this is one of the first potential errors that we could fall into about what exactly Jesus resurrection was he’s just a spirit he’s just here as some kind of ghostly figure that belongs now to a distant world this is the disciples first reaction and it’s probably understandable but it seems like Jesus is particularly keen to let them know that this isn’t what he means by resurrection it’s not what’s happening to him and it’s not what he’s promising them either he said to them why are you troubled and why did doubts rise in your minds look at my hands and my feet it is I myself

touch me and see a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have Jesus wants them to know that resurrection is physical it is practical is do you have enough to eat it is broiled fish it is an ability to touch it is still rooted in so many of the physical things we think about this world and yet it’s not that he’s just a dead body come back to life only to die again we’ve had this popularity right over the last maybe five ten years of zombie movies zombie tv series and there’s a potential that the disciples could fall into this era about this as well that he’s just a dead body who’s been resuscitated and yet that’s not what he’s talking about either Jesus is talking about something very particular he has this resurrection life that is both physical and yet it’s also different from the everyday physical that you and I live he appears through locked doors he can change his physical physical appearance and when the later writers on christianity

started to sketch out what you and I might hope for in terms of resurrection they start to talk about things like you will have a resurrection body like his your corruptable will take on incorruptable it is yes physical but a different kind of physicality to the one we experience right now no more of the deterioration that I just experienced for the first time really in my life just a couple of weeks ago that sudden sense of something isn’t working in this body the way that it’s supposed to work and what does that mean and how long can this body hold up every one of us will experience or has experienced that and Jesus offers a physicality free from that resurrection is about new life it is about practical physical things and yet it is beyond any quality that we can experience now he is very keen to make sure that they know he is not a ghost and he is not just a body raised from the dead he is living in a new resurrection way that is

particular and distinct and they are invited into that as well this is the extent of this good news that we’re talking about they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement isn’t it fascinating that this group of people seeing is not enough for them they see and they question are you a ghost are you maybe a raised body what what exactly is happening here but touching isn’t enough either they watch as he touches these physical things in front of them the bread and the the fish he takes it and eats it they are given the opportunity to touch the nail marks that are still present in his hands but that isn’t enough either even this offer of visual touching tactile it’s still not enough for them to believe that this good news is really true seeing is not enough for them touching is not enough for them they need something more Jesus intentionally provides counter proof to two possible understandings of his resurrection he’s not

just a ghost he’s not just a raised dead body he is living a new resurrection life that you and I are invited into as well but for these followers of his that’s a stretch how can they possibly re-up how can they ante up again how can they register faith again when they have followed this Jesus all through his incredible teaching they have lived with him for years they have watched as he’s done incredible things and now they’re being asked to believe again after hitting the lowest point after the worst case scenario after the death that they didn’t see coming and now Jesus stands in front of them and says there is a new story to come from this his followers have constantly wrestled with this part of his story they’ve never quite understood what it means for him to die every time he’s suggested it’s been met with responses by people like peter where he said things like no no no lord this will never happen to you you can’t possibly die their best

case scenario is that Jesus is around forever they’ve done some great things together people have been healed there’s a chance that they may even overthrow this roman empire there is always these are the stories that they hope for the story that they actually get in spite of being better is not one that they easily come to believe and especially when it comes to their part in it so we’ve seen them they’ve seen they’ve touched but something more is required what does Jesus say to them he said to them this is what I told you while I was still with you everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of moses the prophets and the psalms then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures within christian theology dogmatics there has been this constant conversation as to who starts the spiritual journey or who puts in most of the work some people have said it’s a human process of us investigating

and getting to know the God of the universe others have said it is simply about what God does God has to reveal to you himself and you are just a non-player you don’t get to make a decision and yet different parts of the bible will express different parts of those tension and what it seems to be is it’s the combination of the two ultimately there has to be some moment where God makes himself real to you and I there is some moment where maybe the language you’ve grown up using is things like born again I became saved I experienced new life somewhere within the bible our experiences just like that and somewhere within history are multiple experiences just like this he opened their eyes and they became aware of a story that they had never quite been aware of before I would suggest that two words are helpful for us in understanding this there is a difference between information and revelation there is all the

sorts of things that you can learn you can read you can study you can examine all of those different things you can read stories about Jesus life you can read proofs of the fact that it seems like he came back from the dead those are all useful important things to do and yet it seems like what Jesus suggests the biblical writer suggests is this there is a moment somewhere where all of that information maybe physically not but maybe in practice drops from somewhere here to somewhere here there is a moment where you come to understand that the story is not just historically true it’s not just that a man lived taught and then died and rose again it’s that the man who lived died and then rose again dramatically impacts your life and this world around us it’s this moment of these disciples coming to understand that it is not just good that they have their friend back but that friend’s story that spiritual leader story

undergirds every single story in this world this is a moment where they come to see that important point because I think up until this point if you’d ask them what their best case scenario and seeing Jesus again what their answer might have been is this if Jesus came back to life we get to just continue what we were doing right we were doing some good stuff we were traveling we were teaching people people were being healed if Jesus comes back we get our leader back we get to take a back seat again and he gets to do his thing and we get to support him but there’s this moment where in maybe a terrifying way these 11 men and few women start to realize that’s not what you’re talking about is it yes resurrection has happened but Jesus begins to reveal to himself to them actually now this involves me taking a step further back this actually involves me removing myself from the physical side of the world and now the story will

center yes still around me but now in terms of the practice in terms of the everyday activity now the story will be about what you do luke is a book about what Jesus did acts will become a book about what his followers did as they took his principles his life his message and shared it with the world this for these disciples is a pivot moment and I would suggest a terrifying one what does it mean for Jesus not to be there and what does it mean for him to say now now the story sits with you because it seems like Jesus has no plan b right there is no if these 11 men and few women don’t take the story I’ll come up with another solution everything about this story rests on this moment will it go anywhere outside of this room or will it just stop this is this wonderful tension point they need to see him yes they’ve had this appearance they have seen yes there’s been an interaction they have touched but then there’s this understanding it has

been revealed this is the moment where they realize Jesus story is not just good news for him it’s good news for them and it’s good news for the world and they begin to realize they have a role to play Jesus never gets into a huge amount of details about which passages in the old testament he believes point to him but he will say this is what is written the messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day everything about the old stories has been pointing to this story to this crescendo to this moment but now it’s on them to go and share so my question for us is this after all this has happened after Jesus has died risen again he’s sat with his followers he’s shown them that he really is alive where does he see the story going now how does he see their role what is he shaping them to do because I would suggest that that very thing is probably inch is probably helpful for us in learning how he sees our role today

Jesus sees this moment where there’s this gospel of repentance for forgiveness of sins that will be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning at jerusalem think about the boldness of that jerusalem is this tiny little backwater significant enough that the romans wanted to invade it but but not particularly important in terms of the geopolitical landscape and in this tiny room where these 11 men and few women have gathered Jesus is suggesting that the message that has been talked about there will spread from that point to the entire world he tells them that they will become his heralds is a great word the greek word is karisso and there’s a there’s an element of british politics that maybe will I can share with you that will help you understand this there’s this incredibly archaic role within british politics for this character his name unbelievably is black rod that is his title I’m not sure why actually I am he carries a black rod it’s

very very intuitive his one responsibility throughout the year is this he is to be a herald for the queen when the queen goes to open parliament he walks in front of her by a few minutes he bashes on the door and says the queen is coming to open parliament and because parliament is supposed to be free from the queen’s authority they open the door for him they say okay and then they slam it in his face in this act of theatrics and then he goes back and does nothing for the rest of the year sits in his comfortable office just having a great time on the public funds and all those types of things he is a herald he is a proclaimer of someone who is coming and it seems like Jesus understanding of one of his followers roles is this you are heralds and proclaimers of this message of this kingdom and of this king that will return again Jesus is very comfortable about the fact that the the story will not just stop on this world but this king will

return again one day to take up his rightful place he sees them as proclaiming in the same way that he saw himself proclaiming for those of you with good memories let’s go back to the very start when we started build a bigger table we talked about how Jesus outlined what he had come to do in luke chapter 4 he says this the spirit of the lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free to proclaim the year of the lord’s favor proclaim proclaim proclaim and now he says to these earliest followers this is what you will be doing now you will proclaim the repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all nations the very role Jesus had at the beginning of all this he now says I now hand to you you get to go and do this with one important addition as well I

mentioned to you that there’s been these questions lurking behind this text behind luke specifically that have been there from the beginning early on in luke we’re told that this message will not just be for those in the jewish world but for those outside as well early in luke in chapter two a man called simeon in the temple when Jesus is dedicated says this about what Jesus ministry and life will do at that time there was a man in jerusalem named simeon simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying sovereign lord you have promised and now you may dismiss your servant in peace my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all nations a light for revelation to the gentiles there’s been this idea that the story will expand to the ultimate degree the story will go everywhere and yet as we’ve watched throughout luke Jesus has spent almost a hundred percent of his time with jewish people yes

it’s been jewish people who live on the margins it’s been those that have been discluded it is a wonderful story it is a wonderful inclusion those that don’t belong now find a place to belong and yet this passage is lurked there from the beginning where’s the gentiles where are those that are really outside is the story as good as it can possibly go does it go the entire way does it include everybody and yet Jesus has spent time with jewish people jewish people even the occasional interactions with gentiles have been a little bit controversial a gentile woman comes to him and says can you help can you hear my child and Jesus says it’s not right for the dogs to receive the food from the children’s table yes the story ends positively for her but there has been this tension throughout the text where are those real outsiders when do they get included this is the moment where that begins to be resolved it seems like luke in his mind has this verse

in isaiah in the back of his mind it is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of jacob and bring back those of israel I have kept I will also make you a light for the gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth there is this moment where that ultimate story will become true they will be proclaimers that will go to all nations it will begin in this tiny backwater but we’ll go everywhere and as we as a community wrestle with acts we’ll see the beginnings of just how expensive that story gets when you look at this idea of mission worldwide when you look about outreach evangelism there were conversations about 250 a.d that was centered around what do we do when everyone in the world is a follower of Jesus the thing was growing so fast it was so dynamic that it felt like there would be no work left for people to do in just a few short years and then tragedy the christian faith became tied to the

roman empire constantine became the first christian emperor and he took his soldiers and said well I want you to be baptized as followers of Jesus but I want you to leave your hand and your sword out of the water because your hand and your sword still belong to rome Jesus as it were could have the rest of you but you still were a soldier of the empire and suddenly it became profitable or even good for your career to join the christian faith and things took a dramatic turn downwards but there was this moment where it was growing so fast the people were like this thing is going to be worldwide before we know it that movement that organic movement began in this room with these people that became these proclaimers these heralds of this news that was to come Jesus sees himself as creating this group of proclaimers of heralds they will take what he began to do and they will do it everywhere now not just to the jews anymore but

to the whole world but not just proclaimers something else as well another fascinating word that Jesus uses you are witnesses of these things Jesus says yes you will proclaim you will speak you will go and share this message but you’ll also be witnesses now the language of witnesses is probably familiar to us a little bit we think about courtrooms all those different things but there’s another way that I would like us just for a few moments to think about the idea of being witnesses it is in the realm of sports so how many of you have seen the new space jam movie maybe not many of you you shouldn’t because the real space jam has michael jordan in it I’m a child of the 90s and so jordan is king lebron isn’t jordan but if you want to go see it that’s fine it’s entirely up to you but think about lebron james for a second we’re just going to land on him think about his story he comes into the nba as an 18 year old he takes over as like a man

amongst boys he’s dominating everything and then think about the language that people used around this person who let us remind ourselves is paid money to play a game played money to play a game this is a poster that was put up in cleveland during the height of everything there’s lebron 23 we are all witnesses we are all witnesses what does that statement mean think about how else lebron james is described in the press at this point he is the chosen one the chosen one think about the religious aspect to that language and then what do they mean what do nike mean what does the cleveland cavaliers mean by we are all witnesses do they just mean we have seen lebron do some stuff they actually don’t they actually mean buy all of the shoes he wears buy the gear watch as many games as you can tell your friends about it spread the word something is happening here even in the world outside of church this idea of being witnesses is

more than just seeing something there is this involvement in this story and again this is around a man who plays a game for money this language is taken straight out of the bible and it’s maybe a little bit helpful for us in understanding that this is somewhat what Jesus is asking us to do when it says we are witnesses it is not simply you have seen Jesus alive when he was dead it is more than that it is take this story that is transformative for you and take it into the world around you tell others about what you have experienced in a non-physical sense where the clothing can buy the shoes but live this story out and take it with you wherever you go that explosively growing church that we talked about just a couple of minutes ago do you know what empowered it wasn’t great programs didn’t have any buildings had no money loads of resources that we would say today are very important didn’t have any of them what it did have

was hundreds and thousands of people that had a specific story about personal transformation and change and said this story is so profound for me I longed to share it with those around me this story was empowered almost completely by an organic thing that said this story means everything this story has changed me and I would love to spread that change I would love to tell of that change I would love to bear witness to that change what have you witnessed how has this story impacted you and I and what does it look like to share that the fascinating thing about this word witness is the extent to which it demands of us let me unpack that a little bit more the greek word for witness is martus it’s where we get the word martyr so many of the people that are sat right now in this room with Jesus a couple of thousand years ago they would get pushed to the choice what’s more valuable to me my part in this story my witness to this story

or my physical life on this earth most of the people in this room that were talking about they died for this faith now in america 21st century is that likely a choice you will be asked to make I would suggest it probably isn’t right now in other parts of the world is it still definitely a choice you’re asked to make a hundred percent it is regularly and often a choice that our brothers and sisters followers of Jesus make all the time but there may be other choices that you have to make maybe they’re less difficult maybe they’re more difficult I don’t know but there may be something that you have to lay down to bear witness to this story maybe something because one of the interesting things about this Jesus is that he takes second place to no one I say this somewhat carefully he does not take second place to your american-ness to my britishness it seems that he has no interest in that he does not take second place to your ethnicity to your

background he does not take second place to your political persuasions does not say take second place to your sexuality it seems that Jesus will take second place to nothing and to nobody his expectation of his heralds and witnesses is that he is the center of everything for them that is what shapes the story he is the center his story undergirds and grounds everything it seems like the one who laid down his life would soon be best represented by those who live as he lived on one hand that included taking his teaching and put it in putting it in to practice it’s why we have a big thing outside on a war that says that we are a group of people living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus but it might extend all the way through to a group of people who would lay down their lives as he laid down his ultimately the word witness it risks the possibility that you may have to surrender and sacrifice something to do it well and think

about that how that brings us back full circle to how we’ve talked about build a bigger table we’ve talked about build a bigger table as a series about reaching out for those that are on the margins it may mean that there are some difficult choices for you and I to make about who we let’s sit at our table about who we give access to our homes about who we call our friends and include in parts of our social group it may mean that there’s a push to change some of the ways that we have acted in the world in the past it may mean that we lay down some career promotions it means that we may mean that we have to give up some practical things that we thought would bring us a ton of joy it may mean that somewhere this story costs us something because the central part of the story is it costs Jesus everything this is the story that he invites us into and yet we have seen Jesus constantly throughout this series use his table to bring in

those in the margins we have seen him sit as an honored guest and somehow in some kind of transaction he has become the host and he is welcomed in those that find themselves on the outside and so when we think about becoming witnesses yes it may mean the ultimate of becoming a martyr but it still means that the table still matters we get to be part of this movement that takes this story from this upper room hidden away 2 000 years ago and we get to be part of it when we are heralds when we are witnesses to what this story means for you and I in matthew matthew will talk about this about being going and making disciples of all nations baptizing him in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit in mark he’ll talk about going into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation but all of them have that sense of it’s go let’s go let’s go where will you bear witness but here’s some final good news the

worship band are going to come back up in a second there is no expectation that you and I are supposed to do this in our own power and in our own strength let’s look at how Jesus resolves this passage you are witnesses of these things I am going to send you what my father has promised but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high luke and acts as these combined works are an account of how God has and is working in the world luke is what Jesus did acts will be what his followers did but they were never left to do it in their own strength and power and I would suggest that neither are you and I this is the audacious claim of Jesus about his followers this is the claim that the spirit inside you is greater than Jesus beside you think back to them again just for a second Jesus has been returned to them against all probability and there’s got to be a longing that he will stay because everything is better when

Jesus is there if only he would stay we could keep doing all of those things he would be our champion we would follow him life would be good and yet his message is I’m going I’m stepping back I’m relieving you not alone I’m leaving you empowered to continue this story and the spirit inside you is better than Jesus beside you you and I have something to do in the world we are called to be witnesses how will you be a witness to this story today and beyond let’s pray

Build a Bigger Table (Part 10)2022-02-09T15:47:28-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 9)

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well good morning friends wow I am so grateful to be here today and grateful that I am no longer sick I did this to dan just last month if you were here with us and you remember that he prayed for me wow I am really breathing into my mic today um but he graciously stepped in for me last month and then that sort of took away the um the opportunity uh to speak so although I would have never ever in my life wished that amount of pain on pastor alex or the fact that he would lose an entire organ so that I could be up here today I really am grateful to be with you today so if you have been with us you’ve been tracking within this process of building a bigger table this is our eighth week or sorry ninth week in a 10-week series and we’ve been going through the gospel of luke and finding Jesus and all the different moments that he has done

ministry around a table and with our heartbeat to emphasize hospitality and today um or actually if we remember if you were with us last week we saw Jesus in his very last supper so all of you should be a little bit inquisitive as to why are there two more in this series because didn’t Jesus already have his last supper and yet in this today’s text and in the one to come next week we see Jesus continuing to meet people at the table even after his death and resurrection and I don’t know how you have entered into this series maybe you were with us first week and pastor alex gave the example of building a bigger table and how his family literally takes a giant piece of wood and puts it on top of their table in order to extend and create more spaces around the table so have any of you bought a bigger table because of this series or or place a new you know bigger table I come from a large family and in our family we have a pink punk

table and so we just take that from downstairs and add it to the upstairs table and it does the same thing um so that’s one practical physical way that we could be applying this message because obviously we don’t stand up here just to talk and and hear ourselves talk like we want what we are sharing with you to be lived out and maybe for you in this series you feel challenged um by the fact that Jesus had some really interesting people show up to his table we’ve emphasized that he brings the marginalized he brings the outsiders he he talks to those that are kind of caught up in their own serving and he even sits down with religious leaders and biblical scholars and and confronts them in loving ways but nonetheless he’s had some interesting conversations and the way that maybe you’ve applied that in your life is just beginning to pray lord who might you have come to my table I’ve heard many of you share that

with me and maybe for you the way you’re applying this is that you’re actually inviting some people to your table you’re doing this and you’re breaking bread together maybe it’s people that you love and people that are easy to love but maybe also you are working up the courage to invite those people that aren’t normally at your table or who you might not really want to sit and have a dinner with we would be so encouraged if if those are the stories and you and that you’re taking a next step but I also wonder if there are some of you sitting out there today a little bit fed up with this series like you’re gonna talk about this hospitality thing again okay I get it you know and maybe you’re a little bit confused as to why we keep reiterating this story do you know there’s other times in in life in the church in life with God that that we hit points that we’re just confused where we don’t get it in times where things don’t really click together and

and we find ourselves maybe confused maybe disoriented or doubting that this is actually what I need to be hearing and today in our story that we look at we’re gonna actually meet two characters that find themselves in this place they’re a little bit confused they’re a little bit disorientated and and they’re kind of questioning they have some doubts and we find them in a state of actually feeling those doubts in to the extent that they feel defeat and I wonder if any of you have experienced that in your spiritual life or maybe you’re experiencing that right now but the story goes that they don’t stay in defeat by the end of the story in scene 3 we see that they are delighted they are energized they are full of life and they are taking a 180 turn and going with a message to declare something true that they’ve experienced and so in our lives I think we have to ask the question how did they get there what happened in the middle that

that changed them from a state of defeat to delight and so we’re going to open our bibles to luke chapter 24. we’re in the very last chapter and we’re gonna find out what is it that happens to these characters and how can that message and their discovery help us move from a place of defeat to delight before we get there let me just pray for us and ask the spirit to make his scriptures come alive and then I’ll give you some context to where our story picks up today Jesus we thank you for all the meals that you’ve had with people and all the ones that we’ve studied and whether or not our friends here today in their summer schedules have been with us or they’re just here for the first time lord I just ask that you would awaken us to your word awaken us to your scriptures that we might learn something today that might set us free I can’t set people free but you can and so I’m just asking lord that you would reveal more of yourself

and that you would do what you’re so good at doing and wake us up to the truth in Jesus name I pray amen amen so we turn to chapter 24 in the gospel of luke and in between last week and this week we have seen that Jesus had his last supper he was executed he was buried and laid in a tomb and so if you were any of the jewish followers of Jesus there’s a lot going on in jerusalem there’s a lot maybe that you’d feel in your heart and in your in your soul and it makes sense that you might be in a place of confusion and disorientation the chapter begins on the third day the third day there are women that go to the tomb of Jesus and they do not see him instead what they see is two angels who come to them and declare that Jesus is no longer dead they said yes we know that he was crucified that he has died and that he was buried here but you’re not going to find him here he’s actually alive and the women without seeing Jesus run

back to tell the story that he’s alive and peter and some of the other disciples that are in Jesus’s closest crew they run out to see him as well and the same story is true they don’t see Jesus and in verse 12 we end that little intro by having peter wondering to himself what had happened so we pick up in verse 13. they don’t make these microphones for girls with short hair I’m sorry I apologize for all the static okay now the same day we’ve two of them these are two that are not a part of the disciples closest inner circle but two of them were going to a village called emmaus about seven miles from jerusalem the city of peace they were talking with each other about everything that had happened as they talked and discussed these things with each other Jesus himself came up and walked along with them but they were kept from recognizing him Jesus asked them what are you discussing together as you walk along they stood still their faces

downcast one of them named cleopas asked him are you the only one visiting jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days what things he says about Jesus of nazareth they replied he was a prophet powerful in word and deed before God and all the people and then the chief priests and rulers they they handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel and then what is more on the third day since all of this took place in addition some of the women they’ve amazed us because they went to the tomb early in the morning and didn’t find his body they came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive then some of our companions also went to the tomb and they found it just as the women had said they did not see Jesus Jesus said to them how foolish you are and how slow to believe that all

the prophets have spoken did not the messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory and beginning with moses and all the prophets he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself end scene 1. here we have these two new characters on the scene we’ve maybe not met them ever before in the gospel of luke and they are purposely leaving the city of peace and they’re leaving it in a place of confusion disorder doubt and it seems like they’re verbally processing along the way you know how when you’re stuck in a place where you just maybe don’t get something and you you want to talk it through and and yet it doesn’t seem like you’re coming to any conclusion and here they are in the midst of their confusion they’re slow they stood still their faces downcast they’re spiraling in their state of defeat and in the midst of that place Jesus draws near they don’t see him perhaps because they

are so caught up in whatever they’re trying to process whatever emotional disturbance that’s in their heart they don’t see him perhaps it’s because he’s in a glorified body and it’s somehow weirdly different than they’ve ever experienced him before but obviously they’re disturbed and in that place they share with Jesus that that they had hoped they had hoped so this means that they actually did not disbelieve Jesus they knew that he was a prophet they knew that he was full of potential for the kingdom they knew that he was a possible messiah and savior and they had hoped that things would turn out differently I think it wasn’t that they had disbelief it’s that they missed belief they missed the whole story but how often is that where you and I sit in our spiritual journey sometimes we trust and believe that that Jesus is who he says he is he’s a prophet he’s good he’s great he makes me feel good when you know with the vibes on sunday I

don’t know um but then we think wait a second he didn’t come through I thought I had hoped that he would change my circumstances that he would redeem things in a way that that made it easier for me he would heal places inside of me that that I thought that he would how often do we do we sit in this place with Jesus in our spiritual life and and hope that he’s going to change the circumstances rather than changing us and so as Jesus delicately presses back and in and says are you slow to believe is your heart slow to open and to listen to what’s true to listen to what has been the message of the prophets of all along are you gonna get it and we enter scene two with the phrase as they approached and it’s like the intensity of the story rises as they approach are they going to get it are they going to see the light are they going to see that Jesus is right there in his resurrected body with them and he has always been with them but

instead of going to scene two we’re gonna jump to scene three just to play with you and at scene three they got up and they returned to jerusalem look at that they’ve had energy there’s movement they turn they make a 180 turn return to the place of peace and they found the 11 there who was with them and they were all assembling together and now the energy is no longer defeat the energy is joy the energy is delight the energy is we know it’s true the lord has risen and he’s appeared to even simon peter and so the two of them that a little bit of the outsiders which is not a surprise in luke’s gospel come in and say actually it happened to us too Jesus appeared to us and we recognized him in the breaking of bread in the breaking of bread they said we saw Jesus in the breaking of bread it’s all about the bread they saw Jesus in bread what in the world what do you mean by that you saw him in the bread I’m sure thank you joel I

like that right aren’t you a little I think if I were a part of the 11 I might be real confused what is it about the bread well let’s go back to scene 2 and find out what was there so as they approached remember that the village to which they were going Jesus continued on wait a second I thought they saw Jesus he continued on as if he were going further but they urged him strongly to stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over so he went in and stayed with them this has been the story all along in this series Jesus has been invited to the table and he has gone in to stay with them to sit and to have a meal at his table Jesus the rabbi was a traveling teacher and everybody would have known that he has great things to say and they would want Jesus the the great rabbi teacher potentially messiah to come and stay with them and to sit at their table to recline and when the religious leaders invited him in it was to

have conversations to figure out let’s let’s figure this theology stuff out who’s God and who’s the messiah and what are you really saying now sometimes they went with evil intent but that was very common for the rabbi to come in and to sit with them and they did he was at the table he was with them and he took the bread and he gave thanks after that he broke it and he began to give it to them and in an instant they recognized him and he disappeared in a moment he was seen and known and they got it and he was gone they saw and they didn’t see at the same time it’s a miracle it’s a paradox it’s a mystery it’s phenomenal and they were left there with bread in their hands all they had was the bread and they knew it was Jesus in the bread oh they having bread in their hands they asked each other we’re not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us how beautiful that this symbol

has been given to them and it and it calls back to their previous experiences now remember these two are not two that were a part of the twelve they would not have been at that last supper even when Jesus did this just last week a couple days ago in terms of the text right perhaps they would have actually called back to a place even further back the feeding of the 5000 where Jesus did the exact same thing he took the bread he gave thanks he broke it and he gave it to them and you know what happened then it multiplied so just like Jesus took these loaves gave thanks distributed it to those seated in the crowds in john 6. he then took the bread and gave thanks and broke it and gave it to his disciples the inner twelve and said this is my body given for you do this in remembrance of me the bread carried with it the gospel that Jesus himself actually took the very form of of a man being found in our likeness he was

obedient until death going through that suffering breaking his body and now the invitation was to pass it around to distribute it that we might also be a part and of receiving that good news do you know you think more about about the bread and you think bread is such an amazing thing I think every culture has bread bread has become a sustenance for life and so I spent some time with steve schroeder this week asking him about bread because he ran a bread business and even in the process of making bread is some truths about the gospel in the process of making bread you’re going to mix the ingredients and wait you add flour and salt punch it around a little bit and wait then you prep to rise same thing punch it around wait then you’re gonna heat it up in the oven and wait and then you can’t eat hot bread straight out of the oven you’re gonna burn your your tongue so you wait and then you can eat and enjoy so

even in the process of bread there’s this story the story that this gospel doesn’t just happen in an instant he doesn’t just change the circumstances he doesn’t just go and redeem israel in the place where they were it is a long process and we see that uncovering throughout all of history that this is a multi-step process of waiting with just a few ingredients crushed down undergoing pressure and heat to create something new and nourishing and if we go back to the bigger story we see at the very beginning that actually part of the problem in humanity and part of the curse was that the bread actually was going to take a long time adam would have to work for his bread but in the end we see the whole story that actually bread becomes a cross-cultural hospitality a heavenly provision a symbol of God’s presence a sign of victory receiving wisdom and Jesus comes and says I am the bread of life he’s the source he’s the nourishment he’s the

sustenance and he becomes daily provision for us as we get to participate in this gospel and also extend it to Jesus to those who don’t know so in an instant as these two characters are holding bread I wonder what they’re thinking about maybe they saw the method of Jesus breaking and and his body broken for them maybe they saw the process of making bread and how long it would take and how maybe they wouldn’t understand in the process and maybe they saw that Jesus was the bread of life coming to give sustenance and hospitality to all who would receive him and we too have an invitation to receive the bread we can discover the truth about bread that what moves us from defeat in our spiritual journeys to a place of delight and declaration is discovery about the bread and the gospel and there have been times in my spiritual journey that I have had to come back to the basics come back to the nutrients of just

the gospel the pure and unadulterated gospel that I am loved by the God of the universe and even though maybe I need to I feel like I need to work for my bread Jesus comes and it is free to take for me I can believe that in his sacrifice in his breaking he has paid the punishment and penalty for my sin and that he offers it to me he extends the invitation to receive him to come into him and then to share it with those around us and so I I hope and pray that God would continue to reveal more to you that you would discover more accept the full truth as your eyes are opened because I think it’s possible for us that our hearts burn when we come to church and when we hear the teachings of Jesus we can get really excited about getting more information about him and knowledge and and insight into his scriptures and his word but we have to do more our our hearts must do more than burn they must come alive they must open

up in order for us to do the same thing that the early church did when they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer they broke bread in their homes so this is not only just breaking bread of communion that’s always symbolic and full of metaphor and rich and yummy right it’s also breaking bread together with one another with hospitality showing everyone that they are invited to partake of the same gospel of the same truth of the same message and so I just want to pray that the lord would continue to flood through our hearts awaken the eyes of our hearts to discover him to be reminded of the pure gospel that we can also share that in hospitality with the world Jesus I just ask you that you would do a work in our hearts like I said at the beginning I can’t open the eyes of anybody’s hearts but you can and so lord we need more discovery of you more

understanding where we get it like those two disciples on the road to emmaus so awaken our eyes we pray and as you go from here let me encourage you that a part of awakening and discovering this gospel is actually doing the same thing that those two disciples did inviting Jesus to your table they didn’t invite Jesus to their table because they just thought it was cool like they invited Jesus to their table because they wanted to eat with him they wanted to learn from him they wanted to listen to him and sometimes I think in we need to sit long enough that we actually listen to him invite him to your table to listen and maybe if you can’t physically invite him to your table and you don’t necessarily know how to spiritually invite him to your table you could invite someone who has the jesusy way in them to your table and you could listen and you could learn from them you could also take this week and think about this think

about Jesus think about the bread sit and turn on that let your heart be opened to seeing the connections there and and allow that to open the eyes of your heart to discover the gospel and then maybe some of you your your eyes are already open to the gospel and what you need to do is you need to go share the story of bread you need to go tell people about it in order to re awaken your eyes to how amazing this is that we get to partake in Jesus in his kingdom and that one day he’s coming back and until that day comes we can continue to share Jesus as we share bread so let’s go from here sharing bread by sharing the good news let’s pray Jesus I thank you so much for coming as bread giving us this physical real tangible something that we can see your gospel and your truth in I thank you so much for what you did on this road to emmaus that these two random guys we don’t even know why you’re going to them and yet they

authenticate the fact that you rose from the dead they they spoke out and and preached to those who didn’t know the truth that you are alive and I thank you that one day you are coming again and until that day comes we pray that you would use this unique model of breaking bread together to fill our souls with spiritual life and vibrancy that would move us from a place of defeat to a place of true delight we pray this in Jesus name and by the power of his spirit amen

Build a Bigger Table (Part 9)2022-02-09T15:41:52-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 8)

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good morning friends how you doing today great to see you all it’s been a few weeks uh laura and I and the kids got to to go back to england see some family and one I’m just really appreciative of just the amazing team that just held stuff together some great preaching some great sermons some great services and all those different things so very thankful for that and and so many of you have been so welcoming in saying uh you know welcome back and and one of the questions that you’ve asked repeatedly is this do you feel rested well we flew about 12 000 miles and we traveled for about 50 hours altogether and we did it with three kids in the middle of covid and we had to get four coved tests and they cost eight hundred dollars so do I feel rested no but at the same time it was this wonderful experience we got to reunite with

some family my parents hadn’t seen my kids for a couple of years and so the joy of spending that time together was the better question might be this uh was it worth it was it worth all that effort yes it definitely was it was a joy to be with people that you love and and I grabbed a couple of photos just to share with you just see if you can feel like you participated a little bit you know not everyone’s traveling internationally right now so I just thought I’d show you a couple here we go so this is this beautiful picture of the cornish coast sat there in 65 degrees I got to do this hike that I’d wanted to do for maybe six years I just never quite got to do it and so just sat there on the end and I actually sent this picture to dan elliot and I said you know it’s going to be hard to leave this and he sent me a message back saying wait what there was a

slight panic if you can put tone into a text a little bit of a panic I was like just you know I’m just saying it’s hard to move not well I’m not coming back um but thank you to the person who did ask had I left apparently someone thought I’d gone um and then I took this photo of my mom and my dad and gigi who manages to get into almost every photo somehow just on one of the wilder cornish days and then of course because we stayed a little bit longer than we’d planned we ended up being there for the 4th of july now as you can imagine fourth of july is a little bit different in england than it is in america for multiple reasons right okay first reason it’s different it was not 90 degrees there on that day so this was us grilling 4th of july umbrella over the grill just making it happen we came up with a nice creative name for the day because you can’t call it independence day when you’re in in england obviously it has to have some other name so we

called it a national minor conflict on an obscure border that changed nothing day but we did I think we actually did a pretty good job getting into the spirit of things we even found a flag for laura and we even put some bunty up now it was a little bit easier because the american flag’s the same color as the british flag and so the bunting was easier to get hold of but the flag was an achievement and this was the final day that we were there and we gathered around a table and we talked and we laughed and we had those wonderful uh conversations that you get to have alongside a turn of emotion anytime you live away from family and many of you are in this boat you you have these questions when will I see these people again will I see these people again there’s a distance that is it’s it’s painful it’s both a joy and a pain and I always notice with my kids there’s always this tension my daughter gigi probably said about 60 or 70 times on the

last day why do we have to go home and then I realized this well when we’re here she sees her cousins every single day so she assumes if we lived here that would be the case then and I’m like well they get very annoyed with each other if that was the case uh they um you know have all of these different experiences I don’t work when I’m there we’re usually by the coast and so what they’re saying is we would long for this life where you don’t work and we get to be on the beach every day with our family I’m like well that’s not reality anywhere but there is this joy this joy of gathering together with those people especially around a table we’ve talked over this the life of this series about this commonality of food there is something that happens when we gather around food that is special and distinct it’s maybe the one thing in the gospels in these narratives of Jesus life and if you’re unfamiliar with church that’s fine but there’s these four

narratives of Jesus life and they all seem to focus on Jesus at the table especially this book luke that we’ve landed in in luke Jesus is always going to a meal at a meal or leaving a meal this food thing seems to to just fit in with his life and again it’s this one thing that maybe you and I would say I can resonate with that I I actually have that experience that is common to me as well so much of the rest of the bible is a mystery to us it’s a different context a different culture and this is this one thing that we’re like I I can understand that Jesus takes these table moments and he uses them in this distinctly practical way to bring in people that would not otherwise be included in this great story this great narrative we’ve used this as kind of like an anchor verse for our time luke chapter 4 verse 18 and 19 the spirit of the lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the

prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free to proclaim the year of the lord’s favor there is this idea that Jesus takes his time around tables and says I’m going to pull in people for whom there has not been much good news I have good news for people who are not used to or familiar with good news but as a way I was just contemplating this little passage a bit thinking about it and and it made me wonder a question we haven’t really addressed that may have occurred to some of you it’s this what does that mean for us it would be hard to categorize most of us as being poor if you have any money in the bank whatsoever you’re in the top 25 richest people on the planet there is something about the life we get to live that is unusual to most of the world we we were just uh driving through a neighborhood in my by my parents house which was somewhat impoverished and we looked at this apartment and

thought for a second how hard it would be to live in this high-rise building uh in a low-income area through covid and we started to say like how would we feel about living there and then we had this moment of reflection where I’ve got to travel to so many different developing nations and every single one of those people would love to have lived in a place like that we live lives that are beyond the imagination of most of the world how do we categorize ourselves as as poor and and if we’re not poor does that mean Jesus has nothing to say to us and as I reflected a little bit I started to think about this isn’t there all sorts of poverty yes there’s financial poverty some of us may have experienced that but it’s not most of us but there’s also physical poverty there’s also relational poverty there’s also spiritual poverty I was always amazed every time I would go to haiti as a nation I would spend time with people in church and watch as they

gathered afterwards no one was rushing off to go see a football game no one had dinner reservations there was this joy of being together and I watched people who were relationally rich I remember leaving one time and and calling laura and the kids and saying I can’t wait to see you but I wish you were coming here because I’m experiencing a quality of relationship that I’m not experiencing in america right now there’s different types of poverty maybe one of the things one of the challenges for you and I is to say where am I poor where is the lack in me I think what this passage what it gets to at the heart is this that that Jesus came for those that were willing to acknowledge that they needed him this group of people that were financially poor well they knew it they were very aware of their need for some new story something to happen and my question for you and I is this is the ways that we need a new story what if you

aren’t poor maybe it’s just simply a matter of recognizing that for every single one of us there’s areas that we experience poverty in our lives so we’ve got a couple of weeks left in this series we’re going to jump into this text in luke chapter 22. now embarrassing confession for a pastor I left my bible at home so I had to grab one from dan elliott’s office and it has the smallest text I have ever seen it’s borderline unreadable so we’ll just see what we can do now the feast of unleavened bread called the passover was approaching and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus for they were afraid of the people when satan entered judas scored a scary at one of the twelve and judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discuss with them how they might betray Jesus they were delighted and agreed to give him money he consented and watched for an

opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present this tension has been building between Jesus and the religious leaders for weeks and for months and now there’s this moment where this writer luke sets up the expectation that this tale is going to turn a little bit dark we know that there’s now judas this insider who is really an outsider and and he’s about to turn Jesus over to these priests that’s the context for everything we’re about to read verse seven then came the day of unleavened bread on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed Jesus sent peter and john saying go and make preparations for us to eat the passover where do you want us to prepare prepare for it they asked he replied as you enter the city a man carrying a jar of water will meet you follow him to the house that he enters and say to the owner of the house the teacher asks where is the guest room where I may eat the passover with my disciples

he will show you a large upper room all furnished make preparations there they left and found things just as Jesus had told them so they prepared the passover when the hour came Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table and he said to them I have eagerly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer for I tell you I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God after taking the cup he gave thanks and said take this and divide it among you for I tell you I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes and he took bread and gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying this is my body given for you do this in remembrance of me in the same way after the supper he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you but the hand of him who’s going to betray me is with mine on the table the son of man will go as it has been decreed but woe to

the man who betrays him they began to question among themselves which of them it might be that would do this thing so a lot in there let’s pray before we get into it Jesus as we look at your word that you’ve given us we believe that this book came on was breathed on by you we believe that is distinct and special we ask that you would speak to us perhaps you would reveal to us some ways that we are poor when we think we’re rich perhaps you would reveal to us some new ways in which we need you that we hadn’t realized would you comfort those that are afflicted today would you afflict those of us that are comfortable would you take this book that you breathed on and it came alive and would you breathe on us and make us alive in new ways amen okay so today as we look at this passage this is the passage of the last supper we’ll be taking communion again to together I know that it’s not our regular rhythm we usually take

communion the lord’s supper the eucharist on the first of the month but how can you teach on the lord’s supper without taking the lord’s supper together so if you’re at home watching online you can go and grab some elements to get ready and we’ll come to this table at the end if you’re unfamiliar with it I will explain it let’s go back to the start of the passage then came the day of unleavened bread on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed Jesus sent peter and john saying go and make preparations for us to eat the passover and Jesus is about to enter into this meal that is very common very familiar to everybody of his time and yet he’s about to do it knowing it will be his last meal knowing that he’ll be eating with his followers for the last time so my question for you to sort of warm us up a little bit is what would your last meal be if you were planning your own last me if you knew this was the last meal you would get to enjoy what

what would you eat some of you are like it’s definitely steak it’s definitely bacon there’s definitely some of you that will have an idea some of you might say I have no clue whatsoever maybe it’s a sentimental meal something you’ve enjoyed over the years something you remember for your childhood but the truth is that most of us never know when our last meal is coming there are some exceptions there’s a wonderful story that eric peterson the writer tells about his father the the writer of the message the bible translation eugene peterson uh he talks about eugene peterson walking towards death and he he talks about this moment where he they sat down with him and and said dad your your the rest of your life it will no longer be measured in months and years it will be measured in hours and days and they watched as he ate some peach cobbler which he loved and he looked at them and said this I’m okay with that

I’m okay with that there was this joy of a life well lived of a man who was eating his last meal and was very aware of this fact but was okay was was at peace that’s a rarity I think most of us we don’t know when that moment will come except societally societally there is this one exception to that right we know that historically it’s been tradition for prisoners on death row to get to choose their last meal the last thing they will eat before execution and there’s all these different stories about how people have chosen to use that privilege there was a story that I read about one man who ordered a 12-ounce steak three burritos two triple burgers a pint of ice cream and the list just went on and on and on and there’s some odd choices that I found here someone chose cheez-its and coca-cola as the last thing that they would choose to participate in as a meal someone else regularly options were burgers and fries and one person

said I just want a single olive single olive with no particular explanation and all kinds of psychological processes proceeds have been put on on this whole thing why do people choose what they choose and and is there any significance to it should it even happen some states have started to say no this isn’t a privilege that you should deserve if you’re receiving the death penalty but but there’s one thing that all of these things have in common what would you guess it was the meal doesn’t get eaten the one common theme is this people that know they’re eating their last meal they don’t eat it they may order it but they don’t eat it one death row lawyer ian sheldon said I do not recall a single instance in all my career of one of my clients eating their meal there is something about the finality of what they’re walking into that says this isn’t a time for eating and just think about how that works psychologically we know that

makes sense on a psychological level there is this idea that you have a sympathetic and a parasympathetic nervous system one controls your fight and flight one controls your rest and digest and so when you’re in that moment of tension in that moment of stress something about you says I don’t want to eat right now there is no desire to eat maybe you’ve experienced it sat on a plane in high turbulence or something like that and they they have these unappetizing meals they park in front of you as the plane shakes all over the place and and something about you says I don’t feel like eating right now for some reason I’m a little bit tense I’m a little bit uncertain we have that phrase the food turned to ashes in my mouth does something about moments of grief of stress that we say we don’t want to eat and then that’s then that’s the reason I find what Jesus is about to say just fascinating when the hour came Jesus and his

apostles reclined at the table and he said to them I have eagerly desired to eat this passover the thing that we’re about to do I have eagerly desired this moment there is something about it that is distinct and special and yet we know that Jesus is under incredible stress now as followers of Jesus and and again if you’re new to this let me help you walk through this a little bit we talk about Jesus as has been fully God and fully man what I’ve found historically is this most churches most denominations tend to focus on one side versus the other side some of us trend or tend towards thinking about the divinity of Jesus some of us tend or trend towards the humanity of Jesus and yet both are true and what we see in this moment is we see a deep revelation of Jesus humanity in a few verses he will pray this father if you are willing take this cup from me yet not my will but yours be done we see Jesus as his human self under this

incredible stress this incredible tension and surely having no desire to eat and yet he says I have longed longed to eat this meal with you he’s about to partake in something that he sees as special as important he’s about to enter his teaching mode he’s about to show us something so what meal is he eating he’s eating this passover let’s learn a little bit about that what is this old meal about Jesus is doing sorry Jesus is doing something very common every jewish person in jerusalem will be doing this same thing on this day they’re about to take a meal called passover which was the central moment of the jewish calendar and so we can go back to this book exodus chapter 12 and learn a little bit the lord said to moses and aaron in egypt this month is to be for you the first month the first month of your year tell the whole community of israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family one for each

household if any household is too small for a whole lamb they must share one with their nearest neighbor having taken into account the number of people there are you are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat then they had to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs that same night they had to eat the meat roasted over the fire along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast this is how you do I eat it how you are to eat it with your cloak tucked into your belt your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand eat it in haste it is the lord’s passover so some context to this this group of people sometimes known as the jewish nation as the children of israel this group of people have moved to egypt some 300 years before this passage that we’re reading it’s looked like a great relationship it’s

looked like something that will benefit both sides and it has turned from relationship to slavery they are now stuck there they have nowhere to go and this this right here is their moment of rescue this is a story that they will tell themselves for thousands of years this is the moment that in their lowest in their darkest point God the God of the universe stepped in and provided a way for them to escape this is this moment of celebration it will become deeply important to every jewish person and still is today on that same night I will pass through egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals man there’s a ton of tension in that passage that’s like a whole other sermon to get into how we feel about that and I will bring judgment on all the gods of egypt I am the lord the blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are and when I see the blood I will pass over you no destructive plague will touch you when I strike

egypt in this moment this group of people are told when you put the blood on the door frame this will be how death is delayed death will come for all of these people and it will not hit you if you do what you’re told and this group of people will leave egypt they will go out into the wilderness they’ll arrive at a mountain called sinai sinai is special it is this mountain that is special because nobody owns it because nobody owns this God who will come to them and say I’m going to make you my people I’m going to give you a way to live out my life in the world around you but it begins in this moment where the people are waiting to leave and destruction and death come and if they do what they’re told it will pass over and as they are obedient the people are set free and they go out into the wilderness and the story continues this old meal was a celebration of death delayed it was a celebration of the idea that death was coming and

for them when they were obedient it was delayed now here’s a question do any of these people believe that now they will never die no they don’t at some point the same story that is true of every single one of us the the same story that we will our lives will end in death is still true of them they they don’t believe that this is a permanent state but in this moment in this moment of risk of tension the angel passes over when he sees the blood and this is a celebration of death delayed it’s a good story it’s an important story and again it will be grounding for these jewish people for thousands of years and the festival changes a little bit some other things are added as other writers give their thoughts eventually it becomes this seven part meal with bitter herbs with sausage with roasted egg with roasted lamb with a kind of stew of potatoes and different things and a a spring onion and it’s this celebration moment

where they remember and tell themselves the story over and over again and then Jesus is about to enter into this moment does he believe in this moment that death will be delayed for him he doesn’t he doesn’t that is not the reason he is partaking in this that is not what he’s trying to teach us in this moment when the hour came Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table and he said to them I have eagerly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer I tell you I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of heaven Jesus is entering into this meal knowing that death will not be delayed for him knowing that he has to walk into and through death and that is part of his story so he then takes everything about this meal and he’s about to do what only Jesus has the privilege of doing he’s about to take this story and recast it around him he’s about to take a good story and he’s about to make it even better

when it’s about him and he took bread and gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying this is my body given for you do this in remembrance of me in the same way after the supper he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you in this moment of celebration in this highest point of the jewish calendar Jesus takes a couple of the elements and says let me tell you how these are centered around me let me tell you how this whole good story is now recast around me and we have some history of seeing festivals or special days or holidays start to be recast this is an example that may help you grasp what’s happening a little bit think about columbus day this day that was celebrated for I don’t know how long in october it’s this remembrance of columbus coming uh to america discovering the continent now in lots of places it has been recast as in indigenous people’s day now you may

love that change or you may hate that change it’s actually helpful for the illustration if you hate the change because think how the disciples might react to what Jesus is saying these are good jewish people who have celebrated this passover day for years it is central to everything that they know and they’ve come to know that Jesus is distinct Jesus is special but there’s got to be some sense of wait aren’t you going a little bit far aren’t you pushing this just a little bit you’re taking this thing that we have orientated around for the whole of our lives and you’re now saying that it’s primarily centered around you this isn’t the first time actually that Jesus has done this he’s done this with other religious festivals in john chapter 7 at the festival of sukkot it says on the last and greatest day of the festival Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink in the middle of a festival that was celebrated by

pouring out water a water festival Jesus says I am the only thing that can quench your thirst Jesus has a history of saying all of this centers around me whether you realized it or not some of you may have heard cs lewis idea that that really Jesus claims are so ostentatious they’re so over the top that either he is mad he is bad or he is he is who he said he is the claims are so incredible that only a madman or an evil person trying to mislead people could say them unless they happen to be true in which case he really is who he said he is the thing around which everything in life circles around Jesus takes this festival that has historically been about death delayed and he says I am now recasting it through this bread and this wine around me this is now a celebration of death defeated this is now a celebration of death defeated now it’s also about other things it’s also about forgiveness of sin it’s also about the hope of healing it’s also

about multiple wonderful stories but centrally today I would say this is the central point that this meal is a celebration of what Jesus will do that when he dies and raises again death is defeated it’s not the old story it’s a better story when the hour came Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table and he said to them I have eagerly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer I would suggest that as important as what he’s doing to Jesus is who he’s doing it with he has these 12 followers that he has lived life with and he knows that this story that their story is going to get very difficult he knows that their story will include brokenness failures many of them will deny him many of them will desert him and yet he knows that they’ll need this story he’ll need this they’ll need this story of hope of possibility but not just them us as well this is john chapter 17. now again for those of you unfamiliar with the text there’s matthew

mark and luke and they’re all pretty similar john is a different writer he gives us some different perspectives john gives us more details about what Jesus says and and we’re told in in john’s writing that Jesus goes into a deep prayer for all of the people that will follow him my prayer is not for them alone alone I also pray for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one father just as you are in me and I am in you may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one I in them and you in me so that they may be brought to complete unity then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me Jesus in this moment is doing something significant for every single one of us at a time in his life where he doesn’t feel like eating where everything about how his body works

will say I don’t desire this food yet he eats it because he knows that it teaches us something about the way the world works he knows it will be this meal that we can come back to time and time again in our worst moments he sits in his worst moment in his lowest point and says I’m gonna participate in this thing because it’s going to bring life to each and every one of you and we at our lowest moments we get to tap back into this thing that he did we get to come and bring all of our brokenness this is the writer jurgen moltmann hope is more than feeling hope is more than experience hope is more than foresight hope is a command obeying it means life survival endurance standing up to life until death is swallowed up in victory this central free theme for christians for thousands of years has been the idea that Jesus death and resurrection is the defeat of death that is the audacious claim of christianity it is not there is some life

somewhere in some distant celestial heaven one day it is real practical resurrection in a world somewhat like this in terms of its physicality that is the hope that we are called to it is extravagant it is extraordinary and the christian faith has never been shy of proclaiming this is what we hope for and yet each of us in our different struggles and our different moments have moments where that story can be so hard to believe we have moments where we fail where we we are broken moments of sin moments where relationships fall apart all sorts of different things and we come and we’re asked to come to this table even when we don’t want to be here we’re asked to come to this table and bring those things even when we’re not sure this story works Jesus in his worst moment sits at this table because he knows that we need him he knows that this new meal is a better story than the old story death delayed is a wonderful story

but death defeated is a different kind of story it is a story that each of us need and and so my question as we come to this table as a community is what do you need from this story today what do you need from it what is it that in your life at the moment is that point that you’re like I need to believe this story and yet maybe it’s difficult what burden is it that you are carrying what dark night of the soul what struggle is it that you need to bring to this table and trust that this story is big enough we are invited to bring our stories stories of brokenness pain fear and belief uncertainty lost hope death sickness poverty rejection failure injustice and sin and in that moment as Jesus I’m sure felt with no desire to eat we are invited to come to this table even when we don’t feel like eating even when we don’t feel like the story’s working and we get to trust that this story is big enough we are invited to bring them and participate in a meal we may

not feel like participating in I’m going to invite adam and the team to come back on stage and we’re going to take a slower approach to communion we’re going to create some space for contemplation I’m going to ask you that question again what do you need from this story today what is it that you’re carrying Jesus at the lowest point in his life walks in to this table because he knows that the end of the story is better than this moment what new hope do you need so I’m going to ask us to pray a prayer together now you’re free to do your own moment of contemplation you’re free to spend some time in this short space of just having a conversation with God but this is something that I put together for us to pray together if praying is something that you’re not used to so we’re going to say this is a community God we do not presume to come to this table trusting in our own goodness but in your great mercies we are not worthy to

gather the crumbs under your table but you are the guard of mercy we ask to come to your table bringing our stories knowing you have provided a better story through your death and resurrection this is a passage from 1 corinthians chapter 11. Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said this is my body which is for you do this in remembrance of me in the same way after supper he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the lord’s death until he comes as we come to this table bringing our different stories our different struggles we come and we say that Jesus story is more significant than what we are going through right now we come believing that his death and resurrection mean something they mean the forgiveness of sin you

in the ways that you are broken have the possibility of forgiveness it means the possibility of healing you and your sickness and your weakness may experience the healing hand of God they mean the defeat means the defeat of death that that moment that last moment that last breath is not the end it means that death is not the worst thing it’s just the thing before I’m going to invite your friends to stand with me for those of you that find yourself this morning feeling lost and certain of the pathway ahead this table is a place of orientation it is a fixed point of certainty however your emotions are today walking to this table is a proclamation of your belief in this better story you are deeply loved deeply and wonderfully loved

Build a Bigger Table (Part 8)2022-02-09T15:37:07-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 7)

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good morning good morning mike good to see you too good to see a lot of you I’d like to start by telling this story of a young boy who grew up in west africa one of eight children and let’s just call him em and at the age of 12 he had to make the most difficult decision of his life he heard from friends about Jesus and the gospel and the God who loves him came live dies and rose again and he realized that Jesus was calling him to be his disciple and he told his parents he wanted to become a disciple of Jesus and his parents said if you do we will kick you out of the house and he said to his parents he said mom dad I will honor you in every way but I must become a disciple of Jesus and so they kicked him out and at the age of 12 he was homeless no place to live stay source of food and that could have been a tragedy so my name is rob I grew

up in oregon and uh uh when I was in my let’s say I was 20 I was invited to france to lead a team to help plant a church in the paris area and that is where I met my wife martine who she also led a team but her team was from french speaking canada quebec and we were able to work together for six weeks to help plant a brand new church on the outskirts of paris and it was at that point that God opened my eyes to a number of things the french-speaking world uh the beauty of la long francaise and also the beauty of a woman by the name of martin and we were married four years later uh God brought us to quebec to be involved in church french speaking church planting uh over the last almost 20 years now and we’ve seen God do a lot of different things it’s been amazing um and just let’s see we won’t go there right right away but a couple of years ago while a few years ago we had the privilege of being here in littleton on furlough we’re

with worldventure and so we were here for a year and we were getting engaged with south fellowship and that is when I found out that I had cancer and so while we were here and I had the privilege of being on staff here and went through the process of biopsies and ct scans and pet scans and then chemotherapy and all of those things and this body here this family here you came around us you loved us you brought us food uh you um kept coming over when my wife wanted to be alone and all of these kinds of things and it was awesome uh to to be part of a community that loved us that much that they would just continuously check in on us and see how we were doing and um we went through that process came out the other side and uh found out that I went into remission and we thank God for that then we were able to move to france uh be involved there and then move to quebec and uh we’ve been back to littleton a

couple of times since then and and this this place has become home for us and for our children as well thank you uh for loving us through this uh this week we’ll be here for a few days and I’ll see my oncologist part of the ongoing at checkups to find out if it’s still in remission and um it’s a process of one day at a time one week at a time one month at a time and until Jesus says now you get to spend time with me so uh that’s the process we’re going through so thank you for loving us through that a coup a couple of things we’re living um outside of montreal quebec canada right now quebec is about the same size as alaska mostly french speaking and and quebecois french they speak french with a really cool accent I call it the australia of the the french-speaking world everywhere we go with our french accent people love us they just want us to say something else because they think our accent is really cool and so we’re welcomed

everywhere around the french-speaking world but here in this province most of the 8 million inhabitants have never heard the gospel there has never been a gospel movement that has engaged every inhabitant of quebec in its history ever but it’s not over the french-speaking world 275 million inhabitants some of the poorest some of the least reached by the gospel and because they love our accent and the quebecois have never colonized anybody outside of their own country when they hear us they know we’re not from france and they love us and so we just see that as God works and creates a movement of the gospel in quebec it ricochets and overflows to other parts of the french-speaking world and it’s a privilege to be there and it’s a privilege to work on that and so over the the last um couple of decades our ministry in terms of church planting we’ve had the privilege of being launching church plants uh coaching church

planters assessing mobilizing all of those things and we’ve had the privilege of seeing 52 different churches planted over that that time and what it is is it’s it’s basically Jesus transformed us and then we have the privilege of sharing him so other people can meet him they meet him they’re transformed and then somebody else’s and another in another and then there’s a group and they’re meeting in a house and that becomes a church and that grows and and that’s a church plant it’s a pretty awesome experience and so we’re basically doing the same thing that you’re doing we’re just doing it there in the french-speaking world and you guys are doing it here in littleton around colorado and we’re each we’re each living out the calling that God has for us in each one of our places and we’re grateful for that so our vision it really is that the gospel so uh inundates quebec in a comprehensible matter that every

inhabitant would be engaged by it to complete the initial missionary work that that every single person man woman and child would come into contact with the gospel be engaged by the gospel so that we could say the same thing that the apostle paul said in romans 15 when he said you know my work is is completed there’s no place left for me there that’s our passion that’s our dream for quebec and to see that overflow to other parts of the world that are also french-speaking and beyond so here we are at south and we’re in the middle of this series called build a bigger table which is God’s passion for us to invite people to his table through our tables and this morning we’re going to look in luke chapter 19 verses 1 to 10 and the story of zacchaeus which is a powerful story and we’re going to see four things this morning we’re going to see that Jesus first of all he sees the vulnerable secondly Jesus pursues the outsiders thirdly

Jesus honors the rejects and fourthly Jesus saves the lost let’s pray father thank you for coming to this earth living dying raising again to make for you a people a family a kingdom and that even if we live thousands of miles away from each other that we can be part of that same kingdom and have more in common together than anybody else on earth because we have you in common father I pray that this morning you would work powerfully through your word and through your spirit and that we would going from here today be overwhelmed by your extravagant generosity toward us and then that the power of the spirit would work through us overflowing to those others in our lives in our communities as well in the name of Jesus I pray amen a lot of what I’m going to share this morning comes from this book by making room recovering hospitality as a christian tradition by christine pohl it’s a great great book on the

history of hospitality throughout the church what it is and how to practice it and what scripture teaches about it and we need to learn more about this reality of hospitality henry nauen said this he said if there is any concept worth restoring to its original depth and evocative potential it is the concept of hospitality now hospitality in the united states in the west there’s an entire hospitality industry we’re talking about what these big buildings you pay to go sleep in or you pay to go eden yeah that that’s not hospitality from a biblical perspective or so so then we think about okay well we know that we understand that so what is hospitality and then we think wait hospitality is more when I invite my friends or my my small group over or my neighbors over is that and and partly kind of and and inviting these people over and living out the one and others of the new testament is essential to being a disciple of Jesus but hospitality goes a lot further

than that when we look at it in the biblical context and we realized that because when God extended hospitality toward us there is something pretty radical taking place that might be troubling to a lot of us this morning and Jesus has a tendency of being troubling doesn’t he hospitality it comes from two greek well one one greek two greek words put together to make one greek word philo xenia the term v philo is this this term brotherly love philadelphia phileo and inzenia is is the stranger it’s the outsider and in greek we put those two words together and that’s the word translated hospitality so hospitality literally means brotherly love for the stranger brotherly love for the outsider that’s what hospitality means in the new testament it’s the exact opposite of xenophobia and xenophobia is fear phobia of the stranger fear of the outsider and let’s be honest if we’re really really honest every one of us our natural tendency is

to be xenophobic that sounds really really bad doesn’t it but but in reality if we break it down a little bit we realize that if we were to back up 150 years here in colorado if we’re working on a homestead somewhere we haven’t seen anybody for six weeks and all of a sudden four people are riding up on horses it’s kind of cool to see people we’re not really sure who they are and so how do we welcome them well we probably we’re probably going to welcome him at the end of another shotgun who are you what are you doing here and there’s a fear there right you have the fear of the stranger the fear of the outsider and part of that is merited part of that is just trying to be safe in those kinds of things and so when Jesus talks about hospitality loving the stranger loving the enemy he necessarily grates against and goes against what our natural

tendencies are in all of us we have the same natural tendencies to be with people we understand and know and and they’re like us and Jesus pushes us in this other direction that is jarring to us but here we are in luke 19 and what we see in luke 14 15 16 that Jesus is is preaching on and explaining what it means to love the outsider to love the stranger who do we invite to our big feast days to our holidays how do we include people these kinds of things back then and I think um I think was dan the one that preached on that specifically in luke 14 and talked about Jesus was saying you know when you have these big events who do you invite to it and he’s explaining it but then here we are in luke 18 and 19 and Jesus is living it out he’s living it out with a rich young ruler and then he’s living it out with this blind beggar walking into jericho and then he’s living it out with zacchaeus and so we’re going to read luke 19 verses 1 to

5 to start us out and Jesus entered jericho and was passing through verse two a man was there by the name of zacchaeus he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy this man zacchaeus he wanted to see who Jesus was but because he was short he could not see over the crowd so he ran ahead climbed up a sycamore fig tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way a lot of us have the song going through our mind right and when Jesus reached the spot he looked up and said Zacchaeus you come down right for I’m going to your house today who is zacchaeus luke mentions tax collectors six times throughout his gospel and every one of them is in a positive sense which should be shocking to us because tax collectors they were not like irs agents I mean they kind of were because they gathered taxes but it was a lot more than that tax collectors were seen as traders to their country and here we are on the fourth of july right so

they were like benedict arnold they they were actively fighting or actively undermining the people around them so rome had come and they had brutally and violently put down israel they were occupying it with force and violence and they wanted to squeeze out as much money and resources as they could and so what they would do is they would hire these people who knew the local culture and language who would work there and they would extort the people for the romans to get money and resources and things to come out of it and that and so zacchaeus was one of these people he’s working for the occupying nation to extort the people to get resources out back to rome now there are varying degrees there are a lot of nuances we understand that but most people when they would look at zacchaeus in their mind they’re thinking that man is a disgusting traitor and I hate him we can make a parallel to when the nazis

invaded france and there were there was the vichy regime in france that was helping the nazis occupy and the the underground french opposition they were trying to overthrow the nazis they hated people who were collaborating with the nazis that’s who zacchaeus was and so we start to understand why people are responding so viscerally so emotionally in that moment we see this blind man that wanted to see Jesus we see this short man he’s trying to see Jesus this man who had been pushed to the outset outskirts of society one of them because he was a blind beggar the other one because he is actively involved in something that’s seen as despicable and Jesus sees them both because the reality is when I while I tend to overlook the most vulnerable around me Jesus sees them and it reminds me of another story back in matthew 14 14 when Jesus saw and and I first I was preaching in quebec in french one of my

earlier uh sermons in french preaching this story my kids still laugh at me about this because their french is perfect because they grew up there and I was preaching this story about Jesus seeing and and what happened is is that Jesus he’d been feeding the people he’d been teaching the people and then he receives the news that his cousin john the baptist had been executed had been murdered by the state and so I’m telling people this they said that Jesus receives the news that his cousin had been beheaded and so what was Jesus response I mean he didn’t just die he was beheaded Jesus is is overcome with grief and so he wants to to run away to a to a desolate place and be alone and just grieve the fact that his cousin had just died that his cousin had just been beheaded and then also never started laughing and and I keep going well his cousin had been beheaded and this is a really intense time and and the people in the

congregation where I was preaching they they just started laughing they’re snickering they’re whispering and I’m thinking man they can’t be quite they’re like really morbid people like ha ha you’re beheaded I would think in my mind I’m not I’m missing something here well later on um somebody explained to me well rob you didn’t pronounce the word right because the word for for for beheaded is is di capite but you said di capote exactly di capite is the word for beheaded and di capote is the word for a convertible so I had in this I said so his cousin he heard the news his cousin had been convertibled which is it’s kind of true everyone’s laughing at me but even when Jesus was overcome with grief and the people followed him into this desolate place so he couldn’t get away he couldn’t be alone to grieve and and they came and surrounded him he didn’t look at them the way I would and be irritated and say get away let me grieve for a while

it’s my cousin no no he looked at them he saw them and he had compassion and this is the God that we serve this is the Jesus that sees you he sees you so who are the most vulnerable the most vulnerable in christine paul she says this the most vulnerable strangers they’re detached from family or community or church work and polity and this condition is most clearly seen in the state of homeless people and refugees so when we talk about hospitality and the love for the other the stranger we’re talking about people who are on the outskirts they’re on the outside they’re these people who are detached they don’t have all of the resources all of the the connections and those kinds of things and and we’re talking about outsiders and immigrants and refugees and widows and orphans and single mothers and families of prisoners and ex-cons and the mentally ill and the elderly and and these are the vulnerable let’s reread

verse five when Jesus reached the spot he looked up and said to him zacchaeus come down immediately I must stay at your house today zacchaeus had climbed a tree like a kid that was not the dignified thing to do he was like I gotta see Jesus I don’t care about dignity I’m just gonna get up somewhere I gotta see this guy and what did Jesus say about having to become like a child that is exactly what zacchaeus did he threw away his dignity so that he could see Jesus Jesus sees zacchaeus he knows his name he knows his sheep by name and Jesus knows your name and in naming zacchaeus when he looked up and said zacchaeus Jesus was bestowing honor on zacchaeus this man who was regarded as the disgusting traitor Jesus was honoring him the first step in that honor he was transforming zacchaeus shame into honor and I don’t know what you’re struggling with in your life I don’t know what kind of shame is lurking

beneath that nobody knows about Jesus is able to transform that shame into honor and he’s the only one who can you see we tend to avoid outsiders I know I do my first reaction sometimes but Jesus pursues them john chrysostom he was a pastor uh in uh the fourth century in both antioch and both constantinople and he was he may have been the greatest preacher in the history of the church he preached in greek and every time he preached uh there were thousands of people that came to see him uh he he was a pastor in this city but basically the entire city would come out to listen to him preach they called him a golden mouth he was so good at preaching and he said this he was passionate about the subject of loving people who were on the margins he said chrysostom stressed the importance of a proactive approach to hospitality and commenting on romans 12 13 he noted that the phrase given to hospitality

suggests not waiting for those that shall ask for it well just ask it’ll get no but to run to them be given to finding them who are the people around that are in need the people who are on the outskirts on the margins who don’t have who are they where and running to them that’s how john chrysostom saw hospitality and then when I was reading john wesley john wesley had this to say and this kind of cut into my heart john wesley said one of the great reasons why the rich in general have so little sympathy for the poor is because they so seldom visit them and I read that I was thinking oh he’s talking to me Jesus is not like that Jesus is actively pursuing the people who are elsewhere who are different who are not able to come in and so he goes out to them this is the God that we serve this is the Jesus and he is pursuing you let’s go back to verse 5. reread it again and when Jesus reached the spot he looked up and said to him zacchaeus

come down immediately I must stay at your house today so he came down at once and welcomed him gladly and all the people saw this and began to mutter he has gone to be the guest of a sinner have you ever muttered I was muttered muttering yesterday when my flight was late incompetent mechanics no I’m kidding I have friends who are mechanics I love them but I don’t know I mutter sometimes impatient I look at somebody something this is what the crowd was doing I’d really like to see myself in zacchaeus and I often see myself in the crowd instead zacchaeus was going through a process of of repentance and gary brashears he’s the chair of the theology department at western seminary he says that repentance is fundamentally a change of allegiance where I my allegiance was to one thing and now I’m changing it and giving it to Jesus completely wholeheartedly unabashedly and unreservedly to

Jesus and Jesus alone that is repentance and it doesn’t matter what the other thing is if the other thing is good or bad or whatever the the problem with it is that it’s not Jesus so so if my allegiance is to something else whether it’s my own personal wealth or my career or or whatever that happens to be it could be my country it could be any of these things if that’s over and above allegiance my allegiance to Jesus then that is an idol and that becomes idolatry and that thing that may have been a good thing it may still be a good thing becomes something that has a nefarious impact on my life and so zacchaeus what he’s doing we see him making this allegiant switch he his allegiance had been to his own wealth to whatever led him to work for the romans to Jesus and to Jesus alone and then we ask ourselves why did Jesus invite himself to zacchaeus house like seriously isn’t that a little presumptuous because you know it’s just not

it isn’t just Jesus it’s like all of his disciples and all of his entourage and all of these people so I’m just imagining I’m just so sir in the very back with the blue shirt along the wall could I ask what your first name is yes larry so larry I’m coming to your house for lunch everybody we’re going to larry’s potato salad for everybody I hope you got enough thank you larry I didn’t want to embarrass you I appreciate playing along that’s what Jesus just did right he did that and it wasn’t just it was a big deal but why so Jesus when he called out zacchaeus in his name he was bestowing honor but but the issue of honor and hospitality in the middle east in the arab world is completely the opposite of what we experience here so what here when we invite people to our house now this is all subconscious and we’re talking about anthropology and I’m reading books on this you know and things like that so it’s not conscious but generally what happens is

when I invite somebody to my house here I am honoring the guest because I’m working hard to clean the house and make the meal and you know set all of these things and flour and so I’m just showing them I’m honoring them by my invitation that’s not true in the middle east in the arab world and so you ask the question why is it that the arab world is so extravagantly hospitable if you go to the middle east and you get away from some of the tourist areas I mean you’re going to be invited to house after house and these huge spreads of food and spend time with out people for hours and and them and their cousins and their aunts and their uncles and their neighbors and it’s this huge deal again and again and again you’re like man these people are crazy about hospitality like what is up with this and then he realized that oh it’s because in the arab world that they’re not honoring the guests it’s that when you show up at their house

you’re bestowing honor on them it’s a really hard thing to get around in my mind but they realize that it’s almost a competition like I want more honor for my house and for my family so if I could just somehow get dan to come over to eat oh man we’re gonna be honored this is going to be great and so all of the work that I do is is a little selfish I’m because I’m actually bringing honor to my house and my family is what I’m doing and so what Jesus did when Jesus said zacchaeus and I’m going to your house today he’s saying all of my honor I’m bringing it to your house and I am going to create an honorable place at your house and then we start to realize what everybody by everybody was so angry like wait a second I have been working really hard to follow all the rules and do everything the way it should be and then Jesus takes all of his

honor he thinks he can take it over to this disgusting traitor’s house so he gets all the honor and I don’t get any honor muttering and then we begin to realize like the story of the the two brothers the prodigal son the younger brother comes back in the older brother what’s his response why are you honoring him he ruined everything and he comes back and your response is to honor him why do you honor me I deserve honor he doesn’t it’s the exact same thing happening here with the crowd zacchaeus he doesn’t deserve anything I deserve the honor and then we realize you know what while I tend to mutter about rejects Jesus honors them so em he’s on the streets and then there is a christian family that they invite him in they invite him around their table he begins eating with them living with them they protect him they take him to school and and he becomes a part of their family and he begins to pray and pray

and pray and pray and pray and pray for his family his brothers his sisters his parents his aunts his uncles he’s praying for them and he’s living in this safe place with this christian family he had been invited to the table it was a family that had made the decision that we are going to follow Jesus and one of the the things that it means is that we’re going to open our table and build a bigger table for those in need and this young boy who’s 12 years old man well we’re going to protect him we’re going to be with him where he can be he can stay with us for the rest of his life and that’s what he did his entire childhood it’s interesting john chrysostom a couple of things about him he he urged his parishioners to make a guest chamber in their own houses a place set apart for christ it’s interesting because he didn’t say set apart for guests it’s set apart for christ and then as guests enter we don’t know which of those guests is christ coming so

we’re setting it up for christ a place within to which to welcome the maim the beggars and the homeless he made another comment also which is really interesting where where he saw a lot of people would have the objections saying well my church we’re doing a lot of things you know and and that’s great so as long as my church is helping the community I mean do I really have to help and and christian’s response is well the church prays a lot like do you say well they pray a lot do I really have to say no it’s part of the privilege of of being a disciple of Jesus is you pray and interact with God and every once in a while you get to welcome Jesus to your home just throw I’d like to throw a couple of a few principles uh that I was able to take out of the book by christine paul about this concept of um hospitality and just to say hospitality biblical hospitality and inviting strangers to your house and and outsiders and these kinds of things it can get

pretty scary and I know a lot of you are kind of sitting there kind of a little off balance right now maybe you’re just half clenched but on you know behind the chair so I can’t see it you’re like rob you’re kind of messing with me um well first of all hospitality what we see as we read and study throughout scripture in history it’s kind of like learning to drive a car you have to learn it one step at a time and how do you do it safely how do you do it well when do you hit your brakes and those kinds of things it’s something because we want to do it in a healthy safe secure manner but we do want to be involved in it and grow in it as we go it’s just for instance I mean driving a car with my kids the way I don’t teach them is driving down the freeway at 70 miles an hour and say here caleb hop over quick oh the gas is the right hand one like that’s that’s not what we do I know we start with steps we start with small we we we learn we talk we

invite them people over we and we grow in this concept so here are here are a few principles from her book first of all a life of hospitality begins with worship worshiping of God and entering into who he is and and why he his hospitality towards us number two the church is an ideal initial filter so as you meet people in need a lot of times instead of inviting them right away and saying come and stay at our house for the next 20 years like maybe a better way to do that would say oh here’s somebody in need here come to my church meet with my pastor meet with a couple of people let’s we want to help you with this need and realize that man I don’t have any idea how to help this person but but maybe we can work together and then learn and grow and and the church is kind of an initial filter in that sense since number three begin in public spaces churches parks schools to interact with people who are different uh

people who who are uncomfortable with people who we’re not sure how to interact with publicly number four long-term hospitality is only possible with an engaged network of people one family or one person we just can’t do it we burn ourselves out unless we have other people who are coming alongside and we’re working together in synergy with people who have the same passion number five partner with local professionals agencies and support groups as we’re facing all kinds of challenges we need help we need wisdom we as we’re interacting with people on the margins and that’s a that’s a good thing God has gifted us with people who have more experience and and expertise and and knowledge than we do number six commit to a stable job home and life so that we can invite people in so that so that as we we have stability in these areas then we have more margin to actually help and love people and that’s one of the

things that we in quebec where we’re we would love to to see more long-term stability to be more involved in this as time goes on number seven practice physical and spiritual renewal because as we’re investing in people it definitely does take something out of us and so we need to have routines that are constantly filling us you know as we’re spending time in scripture and with people and and hiking and learning how what God does to refresh us and renew us so that we don’t burn out and 20 years from now we can say this is joyful and this is a great thing number eight it’s not about having a beautiful home but making people feel included and valued and safe and that’s so you could say my home’s just not beautiful enough for this that’s not the issue the issue is to love people where they are value them and and have a place that’s safe number nine expect God to intervene in surprising ways he does and he will and number

10 you could say I don’t know if I could do a lot well take small steps because the same God who multiplied the loaves and fishes will multiply our small efforts too just like this family who took in this 12 year old boy and that’s kind of a big thing but at the same time it’s it’s not like change the world kind of thing you know and it’s in in a large sense it’s it’s it’s loving a boy where he is that’s what they could do at the moment and they were willing to open their doors to that and that was a great great thing let’s go go to back to our text in verse 8 as we end up finish up the text so but zacchaeus stood up and said to the lord look lord here and now I now give half of my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount and Jesus said to him today salvation has come to this house because this man too is the son of abraham for the son of man came to seek and save the lost

first of all he stood up this is the same word used of the tax collector a couple of chapters earlier when there was a story of the pharisee and the tax collector in the temple and he stood up and he beat his chest he said God forgive me a sinner same word zacchaeus is standing up and basically publicly repenting in front of everybody then he talks about giving half of his possessions to the poor radical changes now not later saying no now Jesus is my king Jesus you have everything of mine it all belongs to you now the question also could be um do I have to give away half of my stuff in order to follow Jesus am I required to do that and there are people all over the place that they they don’t because money in itself is not a bad thing however if it’s a big struggle the answer might be yes and what do we see we see that the rich young ruler was stuck on his money and then zacchaeus was unstuck so that he could cling to Jesus and that’s

the point isn’t it whatever that thing is in my life that I’m stuck to Jesus wants us to unstick us so that we can cling and receive life from him that’s the fundamental issue here because while I tend to justify my choices Jesus died to save the lost and the fear is that we could be like the the lawyer earlier who he said you know to justify himself well Jesus who’s my neighbor and then Jesus told the story of the good samaritan man I don’t want to be like the lawyer to justify myself and zacchaeus is just saying Jesus it’s all yours I’m a sinner it’s all yours now and what we see is that zacchaeus was not only free from the burden of his wealth but he was freed from being a burden many many many many many for people and families and children and in single women in jericho their lives are transformed because of what zacchaeus did right here and now when he met Jesus the ramifications of that are hard to estimate and here’s the reality Jesus

transforms me through the cross and his spirit when I was vulnerable Jesus saw me when I was an outsider Jesus pursued me when I was a reject Jesus honored me when I was lost Jesus died to seek and save me and now after we meet Jesus and he transforms us he fills us with his spirit because the reality is we are not able to live out biblical hospitality to love those different from us in our own strength we can’t do it it goes against the grain and so the reality is this is now through the power of his spirit in me Jesus sees the vulnerable through my eyes Jesus pursued these pursues the outsiders through my feet Jesus honors the rejects through my words and Jesus welcomes the lost around my table so here’s the story with em who had been invited into this family he grew up and over the years over the decades over about 30 years every single one of his family members his his brothers sisters parents um aunts and uncles everybody but

one has given their allegiance to Jesus and when I I talked to him about this a couple of weeks ago he said he didn’t dwell on the bitterness of being rejected by his family he said no you know what happened is that through that process God taught me to pray like I never knew was possible and God has transformed people throughout but even more than that we see this transformation bleeding into other areas of his life he went to bible school he eventually got his phd and he eventually started various mysterological programs in schools in the french-speaking world that he started a university that was gospel centered to train people uh who how to be gospel-centered in every aspect of society he started a mythological network throughout the french-speaking world m’s impact in the world is just almost unfathomable how God has used this man over the last 30 years but the family that didn’t welcome them and they

they didn’t know that dad no idea that would happen all they knew is there was a 12 year old boy 12 year old boy who’s in need we don’t know who we are welcoming to our table but God does and this is not an obligation you know hospitality is not like something I gotta do it it’s a privilege it’s a privilege because when we invite the vulnerable the outsiders the rejects the lost to our table we are unleashing the power of the spirit in ways that we never dreamed was possible and that’s why brother jeremiah he says we always treat guests as angels just in case and as we practice this we will be transformed us our families our communities our church our cities in ways we never thought possible and now what we’re going to do is we’re going to celebrate the lord’s table and the lord’s table is for us and you know who we are we were the vulnerable the outsiders the rejects we were the lost and now we’ve been found by Jesus let’s celebrate that together

Build a Bigger Table (Part 7)2022-02-09T15:30:01-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 6)

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hello hello anyone here you must be wally hi wally I’m steve yeah I’m looking for something to help me I don’t know just tell some of my friends about Jesus and invite them into his family and yeah you do have a lot of stuff here I see that okay yeah I’ll just look around and thanks for spiritual laws no that’s kind of handy it’s small I could carry one in my pocket and man I could get a whole stack of them and leave them at every restaurant I go to and leave them on my friend’s cars and I don’t know that word law though kind of turns me off I I’m not sure I want to use that a dvd of the Jesus movie perfect I could get a stack of these and give them as gifts to my family and my friends and surely if they watch the movie they would want to follow him I don’t know but what if they don’t watch it man this looks like fire and brimstone and people screaming and crying what are you supposed to do with that scare the hell out of people

scofield study bible now that’s a big bible surely if I would buy one of these and give it to my friend they would read it and hopefully they would follow Jesus but oh I don’t want to buy that that’s too expensive what’s this a megaphone I could stand on the street corners and say Jesus is the only way come follow Jesus I can tell you all about him I don’t know that’s not really my style either hey wally can you help me out a little bit here of all these gadgets that you’ve got which has been the most effective like over the years what has the best track record the what that table over there this but it’s just a table yeah you’re right Jesus used it I guess if it’s good enough for him it could be good enough for me but you know wally I’ve got my own table I don’t really need to buy your table I’ve got one in my room my dining room and there’s tables at the restaurants where I go hey thanks for the idea wally and he’s right Jesus had meals with

people he didn’t plan programs and run events and have workshops and seminars and conferences and projects he just shared meals not that meals themselves save people but a meal becomes an opportunity to have a conversation to be real to open up about ourselves and learn about the person across the table and over time those conversations can lead into something deeper and so we have this series building a bigger table and for weeks now we’ve been looking in the book of luke those different times when Jesus had a meal with someone he sat down he shared a meal he had food he was in someone’s home or on them on the mountainside eating with someone and it’s no different today we’re going to be in luke chapter 14 and he has a meal with some pharisees again we talked about another one of those last week and if you’d like to join me we’ll be in chapter 14 of luke and I’m calling it Jesus dinner

etiquette because he does most of the talking and he actually seems to kind of give a corrective he’s going to give a word to the host to the guests he’s going to say something about the seating arrangement this is Jesus dinner etiquette and when we talk about Jesus table I don’t want you to think about heaven I don’t think Jesus was as concerned about getting us into heaven as getting heaven into us like learning how to live in his kingdom with him every day here in this life before the next he said the kingdom of heaven is at hand it’s it’s it’s accessible it’s right here there’s that invitation in in revelation 3. I stand at the door and knock and if you open the door I’ll come in and dine with you we’ll enjoy a meal together give us today our daily bread Jesus taught us to pray or david from the psalms you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies now that wouldn’t be in heaven would it it’s a picture of of life with

Jesus now all that’s available to us a feast if we just take advantage of it you might think of of it this way Jesus setting up a huge banquet table out in the lobby just filled with all kinds of food and saying I’m ready you can eat at my table anytime or maybe a better illustration would be a catering truck that follows you all throughout your day and your week and at any moment on tuesday morning when things are hectic at the office and you’re just filled with worry and anxiety Jesus says stop can we push the pause button let’s have a meal together feast on what I have for you you don’t have to live in worry and anxiety and frustration I can give you peace right now thursday afternoon when the kids are getting hungry and you’re just climbing the wall and frustrated with with all of them Jesus says what catering trucks here let’s have a feast together that’s the image that I think Jesus would want us to understand as as we look at this

text together Jesus table so he’s going to teach a couple of things in his etiquette about what not to do and then a couple of things about what to do the first not is it’s not about being a rule follower here’s our text one sabbath when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent pharisee he was being carefully watched there in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body your text might use the word dropsy or edema it’s the swelling large swelling of the legs and arms Jesus asked the pharisees and experts in the law is it lawful to heal on the sabbath or not but they remain silent so taking a hold of the man he healed him and sent him on his way here’s another one of those sabbath stories we’ve come across many of those in luke already there was the time when Jesus healed the the man with the withered hand another sabbath when he healed a woman who had been crippled for 18 years there was

another sabbath when the disciples were picking the grain and eating them and the pharisees were so good as you know we’ve said many times about defining rules on how to keep the sabbath and what you can and can’t do even in last week’s story pastor dan shared with us how the pharisees were like hypocrites Jesus called them you’re good at cleaning the outside of the cup but inside you’re full of hypocrisy you don’t even follow your own rules our text says that he went to eat at the home of a prominent pharisee perhaps this was the leader of the pharisees in that region and then there were experts of the law there and this man who was sick right in front of Jesus now we don’t have pictures from back then but this as best we know this is how the pharisees would dress they were very proper there was a something that they had to wear and around their neck and on their head and these were religious men who were

proper and can you imagine setting up this meal if you’re the lead pharisee of course your home is very proper everything is set in its place because you obviously think that’s how you please God is doing everything according to the rules so all guys dress like this and maybe there’s the host and then the ones next to him and other seats but it becomes apparent when they invite Jesus that there’s a certain seat for Jesus and the text says right in front of him is this man who is sick it’s a setup I don’t think they would have invited this guy for any other reason and they probably wouldn’t have touched him I don’t know how he got there if someone else helped him or if he kind of stumbled his way into this house but somehow the pharisees had told him you come to our house for this meal and then they sat Jesus right across from him and it’s quiet and if our tech our english text doesn’t say this but if you were able to look at the

original in verse 3 it literally says Jesus answered saying no they didn’t ask a question in fact they were afraid to ask the question in fact Jesus asks the very question that they were trying to ask of him is it lawful to heal on the sabbath or not that’s kind of like the elephant in the room right and they’re all watching to see will he heal him or not what will he do with this man who is sick Jesus answered them saying is it lawful to heal on the sabbath and again they’re silent so the text says he reaches a cross touches this sick person on a sabbath which would they probably thought oh that would contaminate him right right away just touching him and he heals him and then extends him out the door he sent him away I think Jesus was saying you don’t need to hang out with these legalists go be free go enjoy your life and besides I’ve got some things to say to these guys that don’t don’t pertain to you anyway and then he said to

them if one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the sabbath day will you not immediately pull it out and they had nothing to say you know why they were caught he he had them right where he wanted them you put these rules together about what’s right and what’s wrong on the sabbath but you won’t even follow your own rules you say it’s work to pull someone out of a well but if your son fell in the well wouldn’t you pull him out even if it was the sabbath they were quiet Jesus is reminding us that rule following is not the way in his kingdom it’s not about finding the right rules how much should I read the bible or pray or what should I wear or how much should I give to the church or how should I spend my time the problem with rules is as soon as we get our list together of who we think is the ideal christian then we can start holding it up and figuring who’s in and who’s out according to my rules and we tend to

become legalistic which makes us hypocritical because we’re always the exception of our own rule like well that’s for them but I don’t need to follow that today or this week and God wants to be us to be free from that not it’s not that the bible doesn’t have rules but the rules are not to get to God or to impress God Jesus is saying if you want to follow my way here’s how you should live and we follow the rules not because we have to but because we want to we’ve discovered that his way is the best way I do trust him and so I want to follow what he says and besides living with rules being a rule person I don’t know it makes me too much like a pharisee and honestly when I look back on quite a few years of my life I feel like that was me I would have been I would have made a good pharisee maybe some of you as as well would say the same thing we kind of had our our rules and our idea of this is what a christian should look like

and obviously this is what they don’t look like well next Jesus gives a word about not promoting ourselves and this is a word to the guests look at what he notices they are picking the places of honor at the table he told them this parable when someone invites you to a wedding feast do not take the place of honor for the person more distinguished than you may have been invited and if so the host who invited both of you will come and say to you give this person your seat and then humiliated you’ll have to take the least important place but when you’re invited take the lowest place so that when your host comes he will say to you friend move up to a better place then you’ll be honored in the presence of all the other guests for those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted now I don’t think in our culture we can quite grasp the significance of this because we have dinners and and

meals and you know we just kind of let people sit where we want to sit maybe the only uh illustration that would be applicable in our culture is at a wedding there’s certain places where you have this head table and this is the chart if you want to know this is where you’re supposed to seat people at your head table but in their culture they had it all figured out it had to do with honor I remember talking with someone who had been a part of a of a meeting in a conference room in an asian culture and he said they spent the better part of an hour the first hour adjusting the heights of the chairs and moving chairs around so that everyone’s head would be exactly the same height then no one would be honored too much or dishonored too much it’s an honor culture that’s like what Jesus is dealing with here and he’s not saying that we can never show someone honor or give someone the honored seat what he’s talking about is this

attitude of presumptuousness I deserve that seat I should be honored and he’s saying don’t go there look at look at the emphasis here those who exalt themselves will be humbled but those who humble themselves will be exalted so remember the picture of the pharisees and their proper garb picture them coming into this dinner and they walk into the house and they all know this certain seed is the seat of the host the prominent leader of the pharisees he would sit here and then the person to his right and his left would be the next most important and then if they had other tables or couches or however they sat they all knew which were the honored places and generally the farther away from the host you sat the less important you were so can you kind of see these distinguished people walking in and kind of making their way close to the to the host’s table and you know maybe maybe just putting a hand on the chair like just I’m

having conversation but I’ve got my hand on the chair just signaling I’m going to sit here I’m I’m sure this one belongs to me not you right or kind of elbowing someone and pushing them aside and moving in and like I’m sure that this is my chair or maybe even sitting down and presumptuously taking seats and the text says Jesus noticed this this is what was going on between them as they were finding their seats what he says to them about not honoring yourself or exalting yourself they would have known from their old testament studies proverbs 27 let someone else praise you and not your own mouth an outsider and not your own lips proverbs 16 pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall paul continues to teach that in the new testament in romans 12. for by the grace given me I say to every one of you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought but rather think of yourself with sober

judgment in accordance with the measure of grace God has given you now that doesn’t mean that we should speak badly about ourselves like oh I’m a nothing I can’t do anything both extremes are wrong I’m great I can do everything great or I’m nothing and you shouldn’t even talk to me because in both cases where is our focus it’s on us right Jesus is saying don’t think first of yourself this would be what paul was teaching in philippians 2. don’t act out of selfish ambition or conceit instead humbly think of others as better than yourselves how do we do that so you spend time with someone and you begin to focus on them you ask them questions you don’t talk about yourself unless they ask where should we go out to eat where would you like to eat what would you like to do this afternoon or this evening see for Jesus it comes naturally just to think of others but for us it’s the reverse isn’t it what’s natural is that we think

of ourselves first and we want to tell people about our accomplishments why probably to try to impress them or manage their impression of us we want to tell someone if we’ve done an act of kindness or service that they don’t know about everything in us screams to tell them this is what I did for you I want you to know what picture do you have on facebook is it how you look right now or how you looked five or ten or twenty years ago right do we wanna put we wanna put our best face forward what about when we’re driving and we cut in front of someone there’s a little space right there and and even our actions and our driving can be presumptuous like that’s my space I deserve to be ahead of you getting to work to or to my appointment is more important than whatever whatever you’re doing and this ugly attitude shows up all over the place and if we want to practice a discipline this week on this one when you’re in

conversation with people try not talking about yourself unless they ask just continue to focus on them give them your undivided attention ask them questions learn about them and let’s be less concerned about managing other’s impression of us so there’s been a couple of things negative things at Jesus table it’s not about being a rule follower it’s not about self-promotion but it is about living generously this word he gives it says to the host so this is to the prominent pharisee Jesus said to his host when you give a luncheon or a dinner do not invite your friends your brothers your sisters your relatives or your rich neighbors if you do they may invite you back and so you’ll be repaid but when you give a banquet invite the poor the crippled the lame the blind and you’ll be blessed although you cannot they cannot repay you you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous now let me I want to put your heart at ease I’m I’m quite sure

I’m I’m 100 sure that Jesus is not saying we can’t ever invite our family for a meal you can’t eat with your grandparents or your grandkids or your friends he’s not saying that the bible even says anyone who does not provide for relatives and especially for his own household has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever but what Jesus is talking about is that natural tendency to play it safe to stay with people that are like us when’s the last time someone sat at your dining table is not a relative but they have a different skin color than you do or ethnic background than you do or a different socio-economic status than yours or different theological beliefs or different political beliefs Jesus wants us to get out of that comfort zone and open up our hearts and our tables and our lives to those around us who may be different than us and I see something here in this part of the text where Jesus once again notices a heart issue they’ll

invite you back you will be repaid they cannot repay you will be repaid Jesus is sensing that part of the reason they’re only inviting others is that there it’s a reciprocal relationship you do I do this for you you do this for me and he’s inviting them or at least teaching them at his table in his kingdom we live way more generously than that now you know it’s I think it’s almost ironic that one of the people that he said they should have been inviting was at their table a few minutes earlier and then he’s gone he wasn’t really invited to stay for a meal he was the object lesson to try to trap Jesus right and when I’m talking about generosity especially to those uh in need I’m not thinking primarily of going down to a homeless shelter and serving them a meal which is a nice thing to do and maybe many of us I’ve done that maybe many of us have done that do you know what we’re saying when we do that you are needy I am not you need me to serve you but

I don’t need you to serve me it’s way different when you sit down and share a meal across the table than being the one up here serving the one down there why does Jesus want us to live generously well several reasons come to my mind one would be that it reminds us that all the resources we’ve been given we’re simply managers we’re stewards of those things they’re not ours for a few years we get to manage those they’re really gods another reason might be that he wants the recipients of our generosity to get a picture of God first john 3 says in one of the paraphrases consider the kind of extravagant love the father has lavished on us that we would be called children of God so we’re generous with people and they say where did that come from why was she so generous why was he I wonder if God is like that being generous might help us to become less dependent on our stuff and our self and our sufficiency being generous

reminds us how much God cares for the outsiders the ones that generally aren’t able to care for themselves and often he wants to use those of us who have resources to provide for those who don’t I wonder if another reason he wants us to be generous with poor people is because he might say these are my people the bible says Jesus became poor he left all of the glory and the privileges in heaven to come down to be among us these are my people the bible says if you give to the poor you lend to the lord you know Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners how many of us are ever accused of that by the way thankfully you don’t need any of those gadgets to be a generous person and share Jesus with your friends a table will do just fine your dining table the table at the coffee shop the table at the restaurant can you imagine inviting someone this week to a meal that you you know they’ll never invite you back they don’t have

the means or they would never even think of that and if you invite them into your home and they offer to clean up the kitchen let them or are you too proud to be served by your guests when is the last time you threw a party for someone you don’t know very well a waiter or a waitress maybe a paper boy someone who comes to clint clean your house someone who does your dry cleaning someone who does fixes your latte on the way to work or mows your lawn whoever these people that we rub shoulders with the checker at the grocery store what would it look like to just be extravagant with them well the next word in this story that Jesus has is a word about welcoming outsiders and it’s a word to one of the guests in verse 14 Jesus had said just said hey if you invite outsiders you will be blessed and this courageous pharisee speaks up it’s the only in the way luke records this story it’s the only time any of the pharisees said

anything in this whole section and I can see him kind of raising his hand and puffing his chest out a little bit and saying you know well blessed are those who eat in the feast of the kingdom and what this is code let me unpack it for you what he’s really saying is we all know that when the end of time comes there will be what some call a messianic banquet a banquet put on the messiah who’s coming to save all of us jews and we all know that all of us jews will be the ones to be at the table sitting with the messiah we’re we’re blessed too Jesus you just said we’re blessed if we invite the outsiders but aren’t we also the blessed ones now this idea of a messianic banquet you could trace clear back to the the in the beginning in in genesis and in the beginning of the bible God leading them into the promised land it’ll be a land flowing with milk and honey there’s this picture of food um there’s a there’s a text in um isaiah on this mountain

the lord almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples a banquet of aged wine the best of the meats the finest of of wines there’s the passover meal celebrated every year there’s meals in the new testament there’s Jesus at the last supper it’s just so ingrained that you think of God you think of a meal that he would invite us to his table and so it doesn’t surprise us that this brave pharisee would say aren’t we all blessed too and Jesus replied a certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests at the time of the banquet he sent his servants to tell those who had been invited come now for everything is ready let me put a pause on there and tell you how their culture worked it’s a little bit like save the date cards today you would decide you’re going to have a banquet and you would send out to your invite list the announcement we’re going to have a banquet but it didn’t include the date it was it was

just putting you on notice that you are the you’re on the invite list and when the banquet’s ready we’ll come back and tell you but they alike begin to make excuses the first one said I’ve just bought a field and I must go and see it please excuse me and another one said I just bought five yoke of oxen and I’m on my way to try them out please excuse me and still another said I just got married I can’t come and the master told his servant he came when the servant came back and reported this the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant go out quickly into the streets and and the alleys of the town and bring in the poor the crippled the blind and the lame sir he said what you’ve orders been done we we already thought of that and we did that already and there’s still room then the master told his servant go out to the roads in the country lanes and compel them to come in so that my house will be full I tell you not one of

those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet ouch I think every pharisee in the room understood that Jesus was talking about them they are the invited ones they were proud of it they knew they were the invited ones they were anticipating that day when they would be the invited ones around God’s final table and Jesus is saying it won’t be you guys not everyone who is invited will be there the crippled the lame the blind the poor they’re the ones that will invite and they’ll come and do you know why do you know why we invite them and why Jesus wants us to invite them because we are they that’s the only way to get into the kingdom of God to humble ourselves to recognize that I can’t do life on my on my own I’m poor I’m needy I need Jesus I need him to save me and forgive me and free me and help me and until we can become like those we won’t enter the kingdom of heaven we won’t experience the life that he came to

give us these are the kind of people that we shouldn’t be inviting to our meals and these are the kind of people that share in God’s meal every day it says go compel them to come do you know why I think because they can’t believe they’re invited like no he doesn’t want me does he I’ve got this this limp I I’m so imperfect I’m so poor he doesn’t invite me at his table does he yes it says compel them he does the meal is set and you’re the invited guest and he does want you to come if we’re not feasting at his table it’s not his fault just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you’ll experience the banquet are you feasting at Jesus table daily have you found your way into the Jesus family and decided to follow him and be on hit on mission with him and in our world we’re all invited but it doesn’t mean we’ll experience the banquet we have to accept the invitation put aside those lame excuses and say okay I’m coming I would like to be a part of this

last week pastor dan shared a little story from tony campolo’s life he was a sociologist preacher he writes a story in the book the kingdom of God is like a party about a time when he was in hawaii and he was there for a number of days and it was like the middle of the night and he was awake and kind of hungry and so he left his room and went down some side alley and he found a little diner that was open 3 30 in the morning and he went in no one’s in there he sits at the at the up at the bar and pretty soon this big fat guy came and how can I help you and he’s wiping his hands on his dirty apron tony orders a coffee and a donut and the guy just grabs the donut with his hands and hands it to him and tony says he’s he’s drinking his coffee and eating his donut when all of a sudden some women start coming in eight or nine prostitutes 3 30 in the morning and it’s a small place so some of them are sitting on his right and some are sitting on

his left and he said the what they were talking about on the language they were using made me very uncomfortable but then I heard one of them on my right say something about hey and tomorrow’s my birthday I’ll be 39 and someone over here said yeah what’s it to you like what’s the big deal what do you expect us to do throw you a party or something and it gave tony an idea he waited until the women left and then he called the guy back from behind the counter and found out his name was harry hey harry who is this woman over here to my right oh that’s agnes she’s in here every night he said did you know that agnes said tomorrow’s her 39th birthday and she’s never had a birthday party what do you say we throw her a birthday party he kind of smiled he calls back to his wife behind the counter she’s in the back cooking hey honey there’s this guy out here that wants to throw a party for agnes tomorrow what do you say and

she comes out all smiles and tony says all right I’ll get the decorations I’ll pick up the cake and harry says no no I got the cake I’ll bake her a cake and so the next night 2 30 in the morning tony campolo walks back into this diner he’s got crepe paper and he’s decorating and he’s got this cardboard sign that says happy birthday agnes and right on cue at 3 30 she walks in the door and when she walks in he’s got everybody else ready to say happy birthday agnes and she’s just shocked she’s stunned she stands there and and then they begin to sing the song happy birthday to you and they get to the end and happy birthday dear agnes happy birthday to you and harry comes out with a cake with candles and she’s crying and he hands it to her and so here you go agnes blow out the candles and she can’t she she’s just stunned come on agnes blow out the candles or I’ll blow em out for you and finally he just blows about and hands her

the sets the cake down on the counter hands her a knife and says agnes got the cake so we can eat it and she just looks at it she says do we have to cut it right now can we can we just enjoy it a little longer and not cut it up oh I don’t care agnes you can keep the cake if you take it home if you want she said can I no one’s ever given me a birthday cake tony says she looked at me she looked at harry and she said I just live a couple a couple houses down I’ll be right back and the way tony says it it looked as if she was carrying the holy grail as she walked out with her birthday cake and as soon as the door closed there was this awkward silence as you can imagine and tony said I don’t know what got into me but I said how about if we pray and he said I prayed for agnes I prayed for her salvation and I prayed that God would bless her and harry came up to him later and said you didn’t tell me you were a preacher what kind of church

do you belong to and tony said I belong to a church that believes in giving parties to [ __ ] at 3 30 in the morning and harry said no way there’s no church like that if there was I’d be a part of it would you would you be a part of a church like that do you think Jesus wants south to be a part of it be a church like that what would it look like if we opened our eyes to people that are hurting and people that are around us and began to invite them into our lives and told them about Jesus what would it look like if we humbled ourselves enough to say I’m needy I’m poor I need a savior I want to feast at your table every day Jesus would you stand with me as we stand I’m going to invite you to just think quietly for a minute maybe if you want to close your eyes and and just ask you a couple of questions the first one is this who have you been having meals with lately and is Jesus bringing a face or a name of somebody in your circle of influence that

you should connect with this week someone at work someone that serves you in a in a restaurant or in in the grocery store someone there’s someone is there someone that’s not very much like you someone different than you that Jesus is saying what about her what about him can you see yourself inviting them into your home or meeting them at a coffee shop or a restaurant this week and the second question I want to ask you is have you been feasting at Jesus table are you living in his kingdom taking advantage of all the good stuff that he has the invitation’s out there but have you said yes are you continuing to say yes every day father we admit that we need you forgive us when we have not opened our tables big enough to people different than us to people that that are your kind of people people that you love remind us again today Jesus that we’re the poor we’re needy we’re weak we’re wounded we too have sicknesses and sores we too are thirsty thank you for inviting us to come to you amen

Build a Bigger Table (Part 6)2022-02-09T15:20:39-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 5)

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well good morning everyone that was pretty good yes that was good um it’s good to see you all this morning and um you know I I may be a surprise to some of you and I’ll just have to say first of all alex is on vacation isn’t that terrific and alex is actually in england so uh he and his family were able to go back there on wednesday and they’re going to have a terrific time over the next couple weeks um yvonne was supposed to preach today so for some of you are looking at me and saying you don’t look like a female um I apologize for that but uh uh yvonne called me later in the week and uh she got pretty sick so um I’m pinch-hitting for her and I just find it so ironic that God would have me preach on this passage that that yvonne was struggling with um because this is this passage which is uh kind of the woe passage woe to you so hang on and we’re gonna see what it has to say to us today um I’m looking forward to this but you know

what first let’s have a word of prayer and let’s pray for yvonne and her healing let’s pray father thanks so much for this morning thank you that you’re here and dear God I pray that you would teach us and instruct us from your word and help us to make some sense out of this but father we lift up yvonne we love her and we just lift her to you and we pray that she would know your healing strength that uh she would be able to be made whole again you’d uh relieve some of these cold symptoms and other symptoms that she’s experiencing thanks for her thanks for alex over there in england and laura and the kids give them a great time and lord give us a great time too we love you and we’re thankful that you’re with us I pray this in Jesus name amen amen you know this passage we’re going to look at is luke chapter 11. if you’ve got it you can open up to it I’ll be flipping it up on the screen as well but um in luke chapter 11 Jesus kind of

gets into this situation where kind of has this uh well he kind of offends some people um and and I had to think back and just ask the question have I ever had that experience of offending someone you know that’s about the last thing I want to do I like people to like me but um I do remember this time about a year ago a year ago in july we had a funeral here at the church and uh I carry these these things in my back pocket now this mask I’m looking forward to when I can just throw it away but right now I carry my back pocket in case anybody has some some issues that we need to wear this but back then things were just beginning to open up and we were able to have some services where we could be together at like this funeral we still had to be six feet apart we could wear masks in but at the time that the funeral was coming on we could tell people if you feel comfortable and would like to remove your mask once you’re in your seat you

can do so um I probably played that a little too heavy and said oh we’re so glad that you’re here and now that you’re seated if you just like to breathe again take your mass off and enjoy and um little did I realize that in the process I offended a few people um I went on vacation about a week later and while we were back east I got a phone call a rather serious phone call it was from tri-county health and and they said we understand um you said some things at a at a service giving people permission to remove the mask and I said um yeah and I gave them the date of when it was because four days after the funeral they changed the protocol where people had to keep their masks on once they heard the date they said okay we understand that’s fine it’s just that we got a report and um yeah we’re sorry to bother you you did what was okay back then but it struck me I offended somebody to the point where they would call up

and uh report south fellowship to the tri-county health oh isn’t this working okay sorry about that I think it’s my scratchy beard I’m not sure um we had that issue in the first service but um in in the passage that we’re going to look at today uh Jesus is going to offend some people and you know this is the series called building a bigger table and I have to admit when I read this passage after yvonne called me I just said oh goodness God first my first response was why did you even put this in the bible first off my second response was okay where do you want to take us on this so I pray that this would be helpful to us as we journey together and um let me just read the first verse to kind of set the setting that we’re going to look at as Jesus was speaking one of the pharisees invited him home for a meal so he went in and he took his place at the table his host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-

washing ceremony required by jewish custom and and I just focus in on that word amazed I think this translation is being rather gracious there um I think a better translation of it might be shocked or even offended this pharisee was opening his home to Jesus and Jesus came in and just sat down at the table to eat and this pharisee was kind of upset that he did not wash his hands according to the jewish customs okay that’s that sets the setting and um I just have to say as I dug into this you know you got to know first and foremost I love Jesus I do but when he does stuff like this I really like him um and we’re going to dig into why but but first let me just kind of set the setting of what this meal is you know we have Jesus and we don’t have any indication that his disciples were with him so I think Jesus was all alone and um he he was there with some pharisees now the pharisees it was interesting as I looked it up but you know we all

know about pharisees we all know the pharisees were kind of seemed like the enemy of Jesus but the pharisees were a non-political lay movement they didn’t want to get involved in politics it was it was lethal it was everyday common everyday guys who had jobs but they took upon themselves to be passionate that the law of moses be followed so they were concerned about every little detail of the law they wanted people to follow it they were passionate the traditions would be maintained and the reason for this passion they felt they were really moved by God in this direction they they honestly felt that if they could lead the nation to truly live in the way of the law and to satisfy the law that God would deliver them from the roman emperors from the roman conquerors so they took that upon themselves um now there’s another group at this lunch that we’ll see a little bit later on this was the experts in religious law or lawyers and I

probably don’t need to say much more um lawyers these were professionals these were professionals and they were focused on defining the law you know when the law was written I mean it didn’t address each and every situation and so these lawyers took it upon themselves to address each and every situation and to come up with how the law should be lived so when you put the pharisees and the experts together they worked hand in hand the experts came up with what to do the pharisees did it and they tried to get everybody else to do it as well and here’s Jesus who goes right to the table and starts eating and we may think oh these people were a little upset because of personal hygiene no it didn’t have anything to do with personal cleanliness that had to do with ceremonial cleanliness and this wasn’t the first time that Jesus and his disciples kind of got into trouble for this back in mark it tells us in mark chapter 7 they

noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the jewish ritual of hand washing before eating the jews especially the pharisees do not eat until they have poured water over their hands as required by their ancient traditions similarly they don’t eat anything for the market until they immerse their hands in water this is about one of many traditions hear that many traditions they have clung to such as their ceremonial washing of cups pitchers kettles and you could probably say et cetera et cetera um so this whole thing of ceremonial washing of the hands I just want to read to you to give you an idea of what went on this is from a commentator william barkley he’s got great insights into culture but he writes this the law laid it down before man eight he must wash his hands in a certain way and that he must also wash them between courses as usual every little detail was worked out large stone vessels of water were especially

kept for the purpose because ordinary water might be unclean now does that ring a bell anybody remember the miracle performed at the wedding of cana that was Jesus first miracle and they he called for these large stone vessels to be filled with water and these were the ceremonial water vessels they were supposed to be the clean water and Jesus turned him into wine isn’t that great how he makes a party out of stuff I like that these large stone vessels were purposely there for the ceremonial cleaning the amount of water used must be at least a quarter of a log and when I read that I’m going that’s pretty big until I read this that is enough to fill one and a half eggshells that’s a log first the water must be poured over the hands beginning at the tips of the fingers running right up to the wrist then the palms of each hand must be cleansed by rubbing the fist of the other into it finally water must again be poured over

the hand this time beginning at the wrist and running down to the fingertips to the pharisee to omit the slightest detail of this was to sin wow was the sin now here’s Jesus who full knows what the ceremonial requirements are and he just goes right down to have a lunch I like that I like that um and I don’t think he forgot to clean I don’t think that he was ignorant of what was required I think Jesus knew what was in the hearts of these individuals and he said it’s teaching time and it’s time to speak directly to what we have here um let me read to you what Jesus then said to this pharisee the lord said to him you pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish but inside you’re filthy full of greed and wickedness fools didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside so clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor and you’ll be clean all over how would you like to be at that lunch wow um what a challenge he throws

out and and you know as I think about it I can understand the greedy part I mean face it I think all of us in our culture struggle with greed from time to time but boy when he would say wickedness is in your heart wow that just stabs basically what he was saying to these men who were sitting around the table was guys if you were as concerned about what’s in your heart and what you put in your heart as you are about washing your hands you’d be pretty good guys now granted what we read sounds really negative and this is a passage where we’re going to look at a phrase called whoa um before we get into that I guess I’d just like to ask what would it be like if you went down to atlas down here at the end of our mark of our street or our shopping center or any other coffee shop and you ordered a cup of coffee your favorite coffee and the barista grabs a cup like this and it starts to pour in that cup and you say wait a minute wait a

minute that thing’s filthy and he says well it’s clean on the outside and this is good coffee and as I pour it in you’re not going to know the difference yeah we wouldn’t want that and you know what I don’t think God wants that either and that’s what’s going on here um I’ve entitled this message we’ve all got a little bit of pharisee and I think as Jesus speaks to the pharisees here I think he speaks to us today so I would challenge you to fasten your seat belt and realize Jesus loves you um when we look at this word woe woe to you I think I’ve always approached this passage and just thought man he is angry he’s really angry and you know there are people right here in our own church but people across christendom who seem to love the wrath of God and they kind of like this picture of Jesus sitting at this table with a bat ready swinging around blow to you I don’t think that’s what’s going on this word is interesting what the flavor of this

word and that’s the only thing I can figure out the flavor kind of the foundation of this word is sorrow this word comes out of sorrow the strong’s concordance defines this woe alas uttered in grief uttered in grief and I kind of like the way I’m I’m using the new living translation I’m sorry if it throws some of you off when when you compare what I have up here to what you have in your lap but the new living translation compares this and says it’s what sorrow awaits you and I really think what Jesus is saying here is come on guys you’re missing the mark there’s so much more for you the time’s going to come if you miss it you’re going to be so sorrowful that you spent your whole life going down the wrong path well that’s a loose translation but the love of christ coming through that kerry and I have kind of um received a word just recently called compassionate compassionate and it basically and I hope I don’t offend any of you here but uh

compassionate it comes from one of these exercise classes that kerry signed up for and the trainer always says compassionate and basically what it means is this person is saying I’m going to be compassionate when I’m really pissed off and that that is what I see is happening here with Jesus Jesus is frustrated as he sits at this table Jesus is angry as he sits at this table but compassion is coming to make him say something so let’s see what he says to these pharisees he has three particular woes to you what sorrow awaits you pharisees for you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens but you ignore justice and the love of God you should tithe yes but don’t neglect the more important things what sorrow awaits you pharisees woe to you pharisees for you love to sit in the seat of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplace yes what sorrow awaits you woe to

you pharisees for you are like hidden graves in a field people walk over them without knowing the corruption that they’re stepping on wow now those are our three kind of heavy statements so let’s just kind of kind of break them down I think what the first one is saying is they flipped the values they flipped the values here it’s talking about them making such fastidious efforts to tithe everything and if you’re hearing kind of on you don’t know what the word tithe mean it basically means a tenth and the old testament law said they should give a tenth of what they grow a tenth of what they earn to the temple to the temple worship these guys took it to the next level and everything they would give a tithe even to some of the my mute herbs I looked up you know in another translation it talks about mint and roux and I never knew what roux was I looked it up roux is a tiny little plant that’s grown in in in your garden and it’s for diarrhea

but anyway that’s just so we all know but mint and rue and tithing even to that aspect but but they neglect justice they neglect the love of God um when I think of that I think of the love of God but I think of justice as being as we look around and do we have enough love for the people around us to get involved in just things Jesus was approached by a teacher of the law and he said what’s the most important commandment in the law of moses and Jesus replied you must love the lord your God with all your heart all your soul and all your mind this is the first and greatest commandment a second is equally important love your neighbor as yourself the entire law all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments love God love others love yourself and here were the pharisees who were taking such fascidious care to look like they were righteous when on the inside they were filthy um a few years ago

there was a fella named tony cumpolo I used to love to go to hear this guy because you’d never know what he was going to come out with next but he wrote this book who switched the price tags who switched the price tags and it was all based upon a thing when he was a kid he and his best friend concocted this scheme they thought it would be great for them to go sneak into the five and dime in their town some night and spend the evening switching all the price tags so that when people came in the next morning they go there and there’s a radio for like five cents and there’s a bobby pin for 25.50 and they thought wouldn’t that be great he even said boy we just dreamed about what that would look like I don’t think he ever did it but in some ways I think we’ve done it to ourselves we have flipped the values of what’s important of why Jesus came in the first place I would just ask you you’re here this morning are you here this morning

because the worship is so good it’s fun to hear adam lead us in worship are you here this morning because it’s great to see each other or are you here this morning because God is here and he calls us to come into his presence I think Jesus can look at us and there’s a little bit of pharisee in each and every one of us this next slide that I’m not even going to look at is one my wife wanted me to include because this goes back in something in our marriage 35 years ago where I went to look for a bathing suit for carrie and as I went into the store I saw this bathing suit hanging up and it had a 50 off marker on it and I thought great and I love the look of the suit so I started going through the racks because that was a I mean they always put the smallest suits up on the up on their display so I’m looking through the rack trying to find my wife’s size and I finally found it and guess what it didn’t have 50 off and I’m thinking now wait a minute

that said 50 off this is the same suit so I switched the price tags and I was pretty proud of myself and I went home and I gave it to carrie and she loved the suit and two days later I just couldn’t keep it in anymore and I finally told her what I did and she said oh we got to take it back and so we did I thought they might even have pity on me but they didn’t they took it back and she doesn’t have that suit what’s the just thing to do you know how how did I get to that point where I said oh no I can justify this I can just do this I love Jesus yeah but I’ll switch the price tags um Jesus challenges us challenges us to the consistency of our lives it’s not just about what’s on the outside it’s what’s on the inside in our heart that counts and I would ask us again another thing our are do we care more about the biblical knowledge we can absorb than we care about the God who’s revealed in the bible because I think Jesus would challenge us right at

that point in fact he challenged the people in his day at that point in in john john chapter five you search the scriptures because you think they give you eternal life but the scriptures point to me yet you refuse to come to me to receive this light Jesus is about opening the door so that we can come into the presence of God himself it’s not opening the door to rules and regulations but it’s opening the door to his freedom that he has called us into woe to you pharisees woe to me pharisee there’s a little bit of pharisee in each and every one of us how do we deal with that here’s here’s the second thing he talks about and I believe it means that they’re focused on themselves what sorrow awaits you pharisees for you love to sit in the seat of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces what sorrow awaits you guys wake up before it’s too late because if it’s too late you’re going to be so

bummed that you missed this it’s not about you it’s about being able to come into a relationship with God that brings new meaning and wholeness into your life when I grew up I was in a baptist church I was a baptist pk and uh that means preacher’s kid sorry and we always used to have three chairs on the on the platform I don’t know if that was for the trinity I’m not sure why but we’d always have three chairs and I can remember my dad sometimes sitting up there sometimes the song leader sat up there sometimes the guy was gonna read scripture sat up there um sometimes and you know what there’s nothing wrong with that nothing wrong unless you’re sitting up there so people can see you um it’s not about us and if we come to worship this morning so people will see us and think we’ve got it all together you know we’ve missed what worship is all about and it’s all about God and God alone

I’ve told you before that when I work on a message I go through battle rattle and I usually get all uptight and you know I’ve come to the point to realize that’s just who I am I’ve had to ask I wonder why that is I’d like to think it’s because I want so much to treat scripture the right way and I want it to be handled correctly I also don’t want to be made a fool and when that comes to the surface I realize right there you know what I’m doing this for the wrong reason I shouldn’t be doing this so that people can come up and clap me on the back and say great job dan that was wonderful I mean I love hearing that but it’s about God it’s about Jesus and Jesus opened up this platform so that we could come into his presence the third one that he says and this is tough they corrupted the seekers see what sorrow awaits you for you are like a hidden grave in

a field people walk over them without knowing the corruption that they’re stepping on um now basically the picture of this is as people walk through there would be people buried in the ground sometimes um they would just walk and yeah they didn’t see any markings or anything they’d step right on the grave there was a a verse in numbers that kind of gave a little warning of this if someone touches a human bone or a grave that person will be defiled for seven days that means they were quarantined we all know what quarantine is they were quarantined for seven days if they stepped on a grave so the jews in order to protect each other they would mark their graves they would make sure that people could see that there’s a grave here they might outline it with white stones they might use whitewash itself to be able to mark that unmarked graves were grades that just look like the regular field and people unbeknownst

might be walking there and they might step on it and what happened they were defiled and and for seven days they had to stay away from everybody else um Jesus is looking at these pharisees and saying come on guys wake up before it’s too late because what you’re doing is actually defiling people it’s leading them in the wrong direction you’re corrupting because of all of these regulations that you’re trying to live out I want to tell you a story of this guy and I don’t know if I’ve got the pronunciation ignaz zemowise ignace zimmerweiss he was a doctor he lived in uh the 1840s 1850s 1860s is back when medicine was starting to come into that scientific realm where they were realizing you know diseases are caused more than by evil spirits there’s there could be germs behind this there could be something happening and so they started doing more scientific um uh methods to try to discover and they would do lots of autopsies

trying to sever what what killed this person uh ignis went through his medical training and then he had his first job at the vienna hospital in vienna in vienna austria and he was working in the maternity ward and this was a very large hospital had two maternity warrants one was run by doctors with medical students the other was run by midwives and as he looked at the results of both maternity wars he began to realize wow there’s something going on in this maternity ward where the doctors and the medical students are working because the mortality rate is really high among the women and they had something called childbed syndrome that usually would kill a woman in about three days after giving birth he looked at the midwives maternity ward and the women weren’t dying and he thought what is the difference so we started to try to observe and as he watched them he realized that the the midwives had the women give birth

by lying on their side whereas the doctors and the medical students would do it in the conventional way on their backs so he said okay doctors make the women lay on their sides and there was no difference women were still dying so he tried to observe again and he noticed that there was a priest after any woman would die on the doctor’s side this priest would go through with a bell and boom boom and pray out loud and he thought man that’s freaking the women out no wonder they’re dying they’re scared to death so he took the bell away from the priest he let him still go through and pray but he couldn’t ring the bell women still died and he went what is going on so he went away for a few weeks just to kind of cogitate to think to roll this over and when he came back he got the sad news that one of his cohorts had died of child bed syndrome and this was one of his male doctor cohorts and he thought wow so here’s a

male who died of child bed syndrome and he tried to look into what was happening and and they said well he was involved in an autopsy he cut his finger a little bit and three days later he was gone and so he began to ask that question could he have contracted this somehow through that autopsy and then he began to put two and two together and he realized that the medical students and the doctors would take the woman that had died take her in and do an autopsy trying to figure out why she died and they would be called out to give birth to a to a mother who wasn’t waiting sometimes they’d wipe their hands sometimes they’d rush over there because it was an emergency and so he started to say to the doctors okay guys it’s time to start washing your hands and putting chlorine on your hands and immediately the death count dropped and he became the father of antiseptic medicine in that discovery now you would

think that he would be proclaimed and acclaimed and he would be famous and yet I’m wondering how many of you have ever heard of him he was fired about three months later from that hospital because the doctors were so offended that he would point the finger at them as blame for these women dying he ended up dying a pulper I think the same thing’s going on here at this pharisees table Jesus is pointing to them and saying you know you’ve got good intentions guys but what you’re doing is killing people what you’re doing is is holding people back from the truth that they could have what was you I don’t want you to wake up too late and realize what the truth was Jesus stepped into that situation he stepped into that situation with a solution he stepped into that situation to bring the life that we could walk with God himself by sacrificing himself for us and yet as he would proclaim this to those men they

would reject it they would reject it because it spoke against what they believed in so strongly where do we go with something like this you know maybe what I would say to us is can I go back to where this started and ask ourselves the question what offends me what am I offended by because you know what happened here was Jesus went to a meal and someone was offended that he didn’t wash his hands according to ceremonial law and I wonder sometimes when we get offended by things is it just like a ceremonial law that we put up that we’re comfy with and Jesus said no no I’ve come for the whole world and sometimes you need to step beyond what offends you and sometimes you need to embrace the person that you say you would never come to he did and he stepped into this world for us and go on because you know I told you the pharisees were one group but there was another group there and this was the

religious experts and this religious expert says teacher said an expert in religious law you’ve insulted us too in what you just said and I go dawg and Jesus turned to this religious expert and started to talk to him and I share this when I came to this point I got a little uncomfortable and I kind of wished the guy had never said anything in the first place because like I said these were professionals these were men who did this for a living these were men who studied the law and tried to define it for everybody else these were men who were paid by the temple coffers and I realized dan you’re a religious professional and as I look out here sure maybe many of you are not getting paid but many of you are leaders within the christian world within our religious structure here at our church many of you have opportunities to teach many of you have opportunities to lead small groups and I think what Jesus is going to say here speaks to us to

watch out this is going to be a little bit longer passage but let’s look at the woes that he gives to the religious experts yes said Jesus what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law for you crush people with unbearable religious demands and you never lift a finger to ease the burden what sorrow awaits you for you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago but in fact you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did they killed the prophets and you join in their crime by building the monuments this this is what God and his wisdom said about you I will send prophets and apostles to them but they will kill some and persecute the others as a result this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world from the murder of abel to the murder of zechariah who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary yes yes it will certainly be

charged against this generation and finally a third woe what sorrow awaits you oh woe to you experts in religious law for you remove the key to knowledge from the people you don’t enter the kingdom yourself and you prevent others from entering so let’s take a look at these three woes they crushed the spirit of followers what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law for you crush people with unbearable religious demands and you never lift a finger to help I hope that’s never said of us here at south but sometimes it may happen you know we started with this thing of washing hands let me read you something from the mishnah now there was the talmud and the mishnah which were two books written by the experts in religious law trying to decipher just how to apply the law and this was one of the definitions they came up with uh when it came to washing your hands more water may be added to the second water

but more may not be added to the first water that makes sense when one pours water over one’s hands they need to be two pourings for the first pouring the water must go up to the joints which is interpreted either as the second joint of the fingers or the joint attaching the fingers on the hand and then it says we’ll see this in chapter 2 section 3. I’m going there’s another chapter about this the problem is that his fingers now defile the water that is on them so to fix the problem he then washes off the water with more water we’ll learn more about this process in chapter two if the first washing didn’t reach all the way to the joint he’s not allowed to pour the second pouring in a place where the first one didn’t reach rather he would have to redo the whole thing but if the second pouring didn’t reach the joint he can just add water to the spots he missed it goes on and on and on and I would tell you if I was in that culture I’d be

saying I give up you pile on burdens and you crush the spirit you crush these folks who want to know um I I had some friends who got involved in a church and they really loved it in the beginning and they called me and they were telling me about it and I said dan would just like to know what you think so I hopped online and looked at their website and it looked great looked like any other church you know I had enthusiastic worship looked like they had bible studies throughout it looked like it was a really good a good church and and then I I saw this one uh site that said recommendations and I thought well that’s interesting I wonder what that means so I clicked on recommendations and I was amazed to see the lists that I saw the first list was a list of authors and books that you were not allowed to read and I looked at these lists of authors

and books and realized wow I’ve read some of those and I’ve appreciated them and they were strong christians who wrote them but for some reason they didn’t quite jive with the people in this church then there was a list of music that you were allowed to listen to and not listen to and these were all bands that were christian bands and I’m looking at that saying ah I have to admit I got very frustrated and I wish I could say it was compassionate but I was just frustrated and I wanted to see the church change and I had to ask myself wow have we put burns on people that are totally unnecessary and if we have I would hope somebody would challenge us about that um I don’t want to be the kind of place I don’t want to be the kind of place that that just burdens people with one regulation after another regulation after another no Jesus was standing there before these religious leaders and he was saying I have come to free you from

that yes the law doesn’t speak about every aspect you’ve tried to solve that by coming up with rule after rule after rule after rule of how to live after the law and I’ve come to bring principle after principle after principle that will draw us to God and will try to free us from the bondage that you’re putting us in the second one is this one that’s a rather long passage they resisted the truth of messengers and it talks about yeah you build monuments for the prophets that your ancestors killed long ago but in fact you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did and what I believe he’s saying there is you know you’ve built these monuments trying to honor the prophets that your forefathers killed but unfortunately you’re doing the same thing when you refuse to hear the prophets that God sends to you right now and I believe very much as Jesus is saying this he is pointing to himself saying guys don’t don’t miss this this

news is good news and it’s for the whole world and you’re my people and you are leaders of my people and I want you to know the truth before it’s too late before you have sorrow that you missed it as I think about this I realize that God sent Jesus into the world not to judge the world but to save the world through him and I have to ask the question when we go into the world do we go in with the good news or do we go in with judgment the pharisees the religious leaders went in with judgment Jesus calls us to go in with his love and I’m challenged as I think of this as being a leader here at south do I listen am I open to those of you coming to me with challenges for me challenges about where my blind spots may be challenges where my love may need to be stretched a little bit more and I think Jesus has given us directives in scripture all of us together all of us together to understand this you must be quick to listen slow to speak slow to

get angry stop being defensive when someone comes and challenges us instead realize if they are moved by the love of God boy listen to this all of you dress yourself in humility as you relate to one another for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble so humble yourselves under the mighty power of God and at the right time he’ll lift you up in honor give all your worries and cares to God for he cares about you you know when I started working on this friday morning I was reading this these verses and I was going oh God how does this fit into build a bigger table because I’ve loved the the messages that we’ve had so far and just embracing and bringing people in love and eating together around a table boy this is an uncomfortable meal and yet I realized as I worked on this what better place than when we’re breaking bread together when we’re sharing food together to be able to share seriously what’s going on in our

lives as well it’s not just fun but it’s how do we sharpen each other how do we grow with each other how do we enlarge each other the last one they hindered the understanding of the seekers what sorrow what woe to you what awaits you experts in religious law for you remove the key to knowledge from the people you don’t enter the kingdom yourself and you re prevent others from entering and I just have to close by saying what in the world this key this key and I think it starts by asking the question what is going on inside of us right now as we come here to worship are you committed to Jesus christ do you see that Jesus is that way that opened up the doors for us to be able to come into God’s presence and be able to walk one and one with him and then his love to be able to flow through us to the rest of the world around us because that I believe is what Jesus came for and it’s the key to all knowledge and understanding the last thing

I would want is for something that we hold here at south to hinder you from approaching Jesus christ that’s why we we do things about spiritual formation we try to figure out what is it that can open us more and more to following Jesus it’s not legalisms it’s not rules and regulations it’s not something that cleans up the outside it’s something that deals with the heart issues that we have lord Jesus what do you want to clean inside of me it’s a question I think we all need to ask and you know I would tell you when you look at this history of the church and you start to read acts you know the pharisees yes I always see them as the enemies of Jesus but it’s interesting when you come to acts chapter 15 where the church is having a big meeting together it mentions how there were many pharisees who came to that meeting pharisees who were believers in Jesus christ and I believe that through the resurrection many of these pharisees had

their eyes opened before it was too late I’m not sure about the religious experts but I would just say for each and every one of us what is God doing in your heart what would he reveal that needs to be worked with what offends you and is it merely a man-made thing that offends you or are you really offended for God’s cause I would ask the band to come back up here and just ask us to take about a minute or so just to reflect I do believe that as Jesus approached these men around this table that day he approached them lovingly and compassionately yes he was angry and he was angry for good reason because he came to free us and here were his people who are enslaving us and Jesus calls us today to take his message of freedom first to our own hearts and then to hearts around us I would ask you to spend a little bit of time with that question maybe not a question that statement that king david said create in me a clean heart

renew a right spirit within me create in me a clean heart renew a right spirit within me let’s all say that together create in me a clean heart renew a right spirit within me create in me a clean heart renew a right spirit within me let’s close our eyes let’s seek God to create in us a new heart to renew us would you stand and sing with us

Build a Bigger Table (Part 5)2022-02-09T15:11:30-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 4)


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Good morning friends. How you doing today? My name’s Alex, I’m one of the pastors here. If you’re visiting, if you’re watching online, it’s great to have you here, I don’t know what has happened to this beautiful state that I move to, but this weather has become ridiculous, my English blood is boiling with inside of me, and I would love just as you can come to me. Find me after the service. If you have a house that faces West, what do you do to keep it cool, because we sat there last night and I’m a little bit of a stick of a turn in the air conditioning, and I like how you can open a window, so we open some windows, and it just got hot to an hour and attend, so finally, when it got to about 87 degrees in the house, I said, Fine, we can turn the air conditioning on, and it did nothing whatsoever, I just stayed the same.

So apparent, I got some trick to living here that you guys are all keeping to yourself, I would love to know what it is, just bring me in, I need to be included into this…So come grab me after the service. We’re in a series called Build a bigger table. We’re asking questions about hospitality, we’re asking questions about what it is to have people within our homes to build community, recognizing that the early church started this way, it started with people who are willing to open their homes for almost anyone, anyone. And we’ve been following Jesus through this book. Luke, if you’re new to church. If you’re new to the Bible, Luke is a biography of Jesus’s life. It’s one of four of them. Each of them have slightly different nuances. And Luke is fascinating, we’re gonna jump in with his story, and then we’ll talk about that a little bit more, so we’re just gonna open the text and see what God has for us, will read it together, and we’ll pray if you would like to turn to it in a paper Bible or on your phone or on an iPad, then we will be in Luke Chapter 10. We’re gonna start in verse 38, as Jesus and His disciples run their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him, she had a sister, court Mary, who saved the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made, she came to him, and as Lord, don’t you care my sister has left me to do the work by myself, the… To help me.

Math and math of the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but a few things are needed, or indeed only one, Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from half. Let’s pray together, friends.

God, I pray that you would speak to us. Would you take this passage that is in different ways familiar, but maybe with a hidden challenge lurking under it, would you use it as you do so often, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? Would you use it to help us more… Walk more fully in the way of your Son, Jesus and with his heart. And we ask this in His name, Amen. Okay, so on the surface, maybe some of you are familiar with the story, and I would say for years, this is my general understanding of the story that we’re talking about now, I would have said that I would generally understand the story in this way, this story is about the value of contemplation versus activity.

It’s about the value of contemplation versus activity. We’re told that Jesus says, very well done. You say, rested, you spent time with me, Martha, too busy. Too much service going on. You need to take a break from things.

Maybe you can quickly identify whether you have a math or a Mary type of personality, you might say… Yeah, I like to keep going. You might say, I like to sit and to rest, I had a professor, a seminary, a New Testament professor, who moved from India, very active sort of guy on one time he looked at me and he said, Alex said, my wife does the praying in our house. I have to be doing things, I can’t just sit around doing quiet times and things like that, and maybe you find that difficult, maybe the idea of in one language sitting at Jesus feet and learning from him… You would say that that is a challenge for me. I find it hard to build that rhythm, maybe you find it very easy, maybe to… Service comes very easy. Do you like to be practically doing things to help people, and for many years, we might have taken this story, this what’s called a pericarp and said, This is what is happening here. Jesus is saying, No, you as a people, you need to spend more time with me in relationship and less time doing things in the world around us, which again is that…

It’s a great lesson. If you find it hard to find a rhythm of spending time with Jesus, spending time reflecting, contemplating, I would say do that, that would be a wonderful change in your life if you learn nothing else from today. Take that away. Find a way to make that work for you. Maybe you’re a morning person and you love to get up early in the morning, which apparently is everybody in America, ’cause I keep getting breakfast requests for 6 o’clock in the morning

To wake… Hung, you add in shame to meet… Breakfast is like an 8 to 10 sort of thing, with the emphasis on 10, and I don’t like to be up that early, so maybe you love to get up early and that’s your rhythm, maybe you love to stay up late and you can contemplate those times, but find a rhythm and spend time asking God that you might know is present, if you’re not sure that he’s there asking to make himself not you… That is a great thing to take away. But I would ask question, is that what this passage is about? Yes, it’s an out-working that we could take, but I would suggest it’s not on the surface, what is central to this passage, this passage in its centrality is about hospitality, this passage is about hospitality.

Now we already know from just what we’ve learned so far, far that Luke has Jesus very interested in the act of eating and that we may well say Amen to… That’s a wonderful thing to see Jesus doing. You could even push this argument in Luke, Jesus is always going to a meal at a meal or leaving a meal, he is constantly around people and he’s constantly eating with them, he is constantly with people that it’s unexpected for him to be eating with… He sits and eat with tax collectors and sinners, in Luke Chapter 7, we’re told, the Son of Man came eating and drinking. And you say, here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors. And soon as Jesus was always around a table and he pulled in, as we’ve learned already over the last few weeks, pulled in people that wouldn’t usually get to sit at tables with religious leaders, there

Was something about this activity of sitting, eating that in first century language. It was like an endorsement of somebody, it said, You’re okay, you’re welcome in common good society, and Jesus sat with people to whom that was probably never said. And then more specifically in this sort of area that we’re in now, Luke chapter 10, this is how the whole chapter starts off, after this, the Lord appointed 72 of us, remember a couple of weeks ago, we talked about, he sent out 12 disciples and they started to do the things that Jesus was doing. Now he expands it, and he takes 72 of them and says, Go into all the villages that we’re about to go to, you’re gonna start the ball rolling for me to every place, every town where he was about to go, and then this is his advice to them.

When you enter a house, first say piece to this house, if someone who promotes pieces there, your peace will rest on them, if not, it will return to you, stay there eating and drinking whatever they give you. For the worker deserves his wages, do not move about from house to house, Jesus says to them, this is what I hope happens to you, go out into all these towns and find someone who’s willing to let you stay

And then almost take advantage of them. Allow that person to keep feeding you, you are part of what God is doing in the world, you are worth the higher worth the care, he tells them not to spread out the opportunity to give hospitality, to stay with the person who shows Himself to be willing and keep eating it, keep drinking what they give you, keep staying with that person. Keep building that relationship. Maybe there is this sending out that Jesus has for his 72 followers, he says, Go and experience hospitality, go and experience good and healthy hospitality. And then in between this and the passage, we’re about to read as the passage, the famous story about the Good Samaritan, again, about hospitality, the

Samaritan, the man is walking from Jericho to Jerusalem and only the Samaritan will care for him. We’ll tend to him, will provide for his needs, and that’s when we come to this story, right after that famous parable, as Jesus and these disciples were in that way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. So we read a story about 72 disciples who are on their way, people open their door to them, we read a passage about a man who was on his way, he is abused by someone who is robbed, beaten up, and someone cares through… And then we come to a story where Jesus and his followers themselves, they are on their way together.

And I love the way that they follow the disciples, they kind of just disappear from this story, it starts off, it’s Jesus and his disciples, and then it’s HIMSS him and Martha and Mary, they kind of just disappear from you and everything becomes centrally located around how they offer hospitality to Jesus himself, and yet the story is about hospitality in general, it’s about how Jesus would love hospitality to be shown to His followers and to him himself this story at its heart is about hospitality and about how you treat someone, so I’d love to start us with a question just to get you thinking about the story we’re about to read, have you ever fallen out with somebody while hosting a social gathering? Specifically, if you’re married or you share a house with somebody, you’re in a house share situation, have you done some co-hosting and had an argument, free people turning up or even during the time that people are there, and it’s just been awkward. You have this sense of, we’re gonna get into this afterwards, you and I are gonna… Saw some things that will keep smiling because there’s people in the house, the people present, we’ve gotta show like good social TIA, but inside you are…

You are boiling with rage at the other person, the right of the speaker, or the max Ocado tells a story about early in his marriage inviting a very significant professor to stay with them because he was in town, and as the man was coming over, he said, My wife gave me some cue, she gave me a verbal cue that said, We need to tie in the house, this guy is coming to stay, and then she gave me a physical cue when she got down on her knees and started scrubbing toilet bowls and cleaning floors and he said, I was never wanted to take the simple tasks.

Those things seem too mundane, so I decided to do something special, something that my wife would have value in, so during the afternoon as we were expecting this guy to arrive, I grabbed the box of photos from our wedding and began to cut the photos up to make a collage of our wedding day that we could display on the wall, and that would be this delightful token of love for my wife, is probably some poor guy that’s sort of sat here thinking, What did you do wrong. What was that a problem? Is that a misstep? He didn’t do anything practical to prepare, he just simply said, Oh, I’ll do something ridiculous, maybe this picture for some of you triggers some kind of trauma of some kind. There is this idea that sometimes when we’re hosting people, one person does all of the work and the other person sits around playing games on their phone, relaxing on the sofa or is nowhere to be seen, and it can be frustrating, disheartening, all of those different things. And sometimes people come over and lurking under the surface is, You know, I come alone in this…

I feel like I’m not getting all the support I need, and sometimes when the guitar explodes everywhere, this is somewhat what is going on in this story here, and we’re gonna try and look at the story from both their perspectives, but that’s a bit of an introduction. Let’s go back to the start, as Jesus and His disciples were on their way. He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened a house to him, she had a sister called Mary, so these characters come in and out of different… Of the biographies of Jesus life in different ways. We’ll see that they come into John’s Gospel, this is John Chapter 12, their brother Lazarus is mentioned here, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus lived, Jesus had raised from the dead here and dinner was given in his honor, Marauder. Lazarus was there reclining at the table with him. In this version, we read, Mary took a pint of pure nor an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus feet and white his feet with her hair, and

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. What we see in this family is these are a family that are deeply committed to Jesus, both Mary and Mar, and make some incredible statement, whether they’re verbal or physical, that reflect that they know something is happening in Jesus that is significant. Mara will say, Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life. She speaks about Jesus as doing something significant in the world, Mary will take part you and pour it over his feet to anointing for his dad, they are both deeply committed, deeply immersed in what Jesus is doing, and

Yet they were approached to it, as we’ll see, is incredibly different, and maybe controversially, Jesus is gonna come down very much on one side of the management in a way that for some of us, depending on our personality, it might cause us a little bit of tension, we might feel some unfairness in the story. So let’s start off with Martha’s story. Imagine for yourself that you live in a small town and hosting in this culture is very important, hospitality is important, and then you have this incredible opportunity, you have invited Jesus of Nazareth to and eat with you. This is a significant social moment, everybody is talking about Jesus.

He’s begun to travel around, he’s teaching is unlike anything anybody has heard before, His miracles are spectacular, people are starting to talk about Him as the Savior of Israel. It is an incredible moment, and you have invited him in and begin to prepare a feast to welcome him, to show him just how valuable he is.

And then in the midst of all of that preparation, the one person that you thought you could rely on to be supportive to help you in this journey. Suddenly is missing in action. The one person that you thought would participate, the one person that you thought would be on your side, suddenly you see a sitting… Just listening to what Jesus is saying. Your sister seems like she’s engaged in a active sabotage, this social moment, this meal should be talked about all over town, it should be this moment of joy, this moment of celebration, and now everything is falling apart because you… You’re doing this single-handed, sure, you’ve got the servants to help, you’re sending them out on errands to grab oil to help with the cooking, but the whole of the weight of it now is falling on you.

And you expected this one person who would stand up for you who be supportive, to be there for you in this time, and she’s gone, she’s missing, and even worse, she seems that she’s acting against you, she’s sabotaging the whole of the dinner were told that Martha opened her home to Jesus, this is this language piece that significantly puts her in a place that is usually occupied by a man at Upper rating as a patron, this word, this Greek word called PO dome, which is this idea of taking someone under your personal care.

It has this position of support sustaining. She’s taken Jesus in and she is giving him this place of Refuge, he could have offered this to anybody, this is a privilege, this is an incredible social status thing that’s happening here.

And we know from at a story that she deeply passionate about Jesus and His mission, and yet, the social piece can’t be missed, this is hugely significant. And in the midst of this, she is distracted by all of the preparations, she has so much to do and have to Jesus is Jesus come down on my side, tell Mary that she has a role to play here as well, I can’t carry this burden alone when we read the story from Martha’s perspective, it seems totally fair. Why should she have to do everything, why should she carry the burden… Isn’t service something that Jesus values? Isn’t this an important role to play, and yet Mary is just sitting there just listening.

We expect her… Maybe she makes this plea for Jesus to stand up for it and yet let’s think about the story and twist it from Maris perspective. Jesus has come to town. You have never heard anybody who teaches like this. And one thing that stands out about Jesus is this… Yes, the miracles are important. Yes, that the teaching is incredible, but what is different about Jesus, he seems on the side of those who find themselves on the margins, who find themselves diluted from what God has been doing, and here’s the truth, as a woman in the first century, you are excluded from what God is doing.

You’ve watched for years as these Rabbis have wandered around, gathering followers, and there’s one thing that they have in common, every single one of them is male, and you just wonder what would it look like, what would it be like not to… Sure. To sit and to listen.

What it feel like to be a disciple, to be invited into Jesus teaching into his conversation, and so you sit on the floor with the men and you begin to listen, and just in that moment, have been invited into that place for one person that you thought would be supportive to one person that you would think would be on your side is standing up, pointing you out and saying, You don’t belong their marry, you need to get on with serving, you need to get back to the kitchen. You don’t belong. We’re told that Mary sits at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, This language piece is distinct, it is this idea of becoming a disciple in this moment, Mary is included with the followers of Jesus, she is their learning, she is there taking a place that no woman was ever invited into something very significant is happening, and her sister is the one that he’s pointing around saying, You don’t belong there. Mary, I wanted to give you a picture of what this might look like in modern times, and this was the example that came to mind, This is Rosa Parks in her famous bus processed protested.

She sat in a seat where black women were told that they weren’t allowed to sit, people told her to move to the back of the bus, and she said, No, I’m staying here. I imagine in that moment, in that moment of protest, if another black woman had come to her and said, Rose, this seat isn’t for you… You

Need to come back with me. Let’s go back to the back of the bus. This is where you belong. Come sit back here. This isn’t your place in the first century context of Jewish life, this is exactly what’s going on here. Mary is taking a place as a disciple and another woman is coming alongside and saying, Mary, you don’t belong here.

You can’t sit at Jesus feet, you can’t learn from him directly, go back to the kitchen, you get to serve, you get to play a role, but it’s not this role, both of the women are actually offering hospitality of a kind, Mary’s hospitality is rooted in relationship, she is interested in being with Jesus, in listening to him and learning from him, Marais interest, it is serving him. There is nothing wrong with both of those things, but Jesus is gonna speak into this in a very particular way, Mary offers hospitality rooted in relationship. She is entirely focused on Jesus and what he has to say. She intuitively, perhaps understand what Jesus wants of her in that moment, He wants to sit at his feet, he wants to invite it into this possibility of being a disciple, he wants her to learn from him, and this part of the passage, this really gets to the tension between the two, Marsh had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, but Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made, maybe depending on our personalities, we feel a sympathy with each of the sisters.

Mary once relationship, Martha offers hospitality that is rooted in service. Now, what’s fascinating about this is all through Luke, as loris as he rates, as he records what Jesus said, says over and over again, You values service. He think service is wonderful, almost 100% of the time. This is a passage from Chapter Four, where we’re told that Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now, Simon’s mothering law was suffering from a high fever and they asked Jesus to help her, so we bent over a rebuke the fever and I left her, she got up at once and began to wait on them, same word, this idea of service. Deacon, this is where we get the word deacon. If you’re a church person, you know that we talk about deacons, of the people that are outside shoveling snow in the middle of winter, to the people that are caring for the building, it’s a role that the New Testament values to an incredible degree. Service in Luke is a wonderful thing. And in this mullet, when Simon’s mother-in-law gets up and begins to wait on them, the message of the neater is good for her.

That’s a wonderful thing. Service and Leadership in Luger often tied together. When we talk about leaders in chapter 22, Luke will say, Jesus will say, servants a leaders and leaders are servants. I, your leader, your master, I have served you. Almost 100% of the time in Luke, service is valued. And wonderful. Except in this passage.

Except in this passage, in this passage, Martha’s focused on service, and Jesus will say, Wait a second. You’re distracted matter. The service is the thing that has caught your attention, this has become maybe the idol… This has become the thing that you’re focused on. That isn’t where I want your attention. We might say that Martha serves at Jesus. Mary serves with him. Mary somehow intuitively understand what Jesus wants and how he wants to be served in that moment, and what he wants is not performance, what he wants is for it to sit and listen to what he has to say.

This whole idea of just how we do hospitality, I think is central to the passage, Luke is very interested in the how and not just the who of service. It doesn’t just want to say that hospitality is important, he wants to say there is a particular way to do this that makes a person feel valued, it’s not a task to be done, it’s a relationship to be lived in. And it made me think about some of the language that I heard growing up. This is an English parable that I’m gonna give you. An English man’s home is his car. An English man’s home is his care, so we’re gonna push this conversation from looking at Mary and how she is hospitality, looking at Maran, how sheet is hospitality, to asking some questions about us and how we might be called to do this, we might learn from the passage and Englishman home is his car.

So historically, my family, apparently, I’m told has a car all… I think I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll probably mention it regularly through you, back in the 11th century, we own reboot was a significant thing, but it’s gone now, so I brought in another car or for you to see one that I built myself with my kids and they got to show it off at their school, and I just felt like I didn’t get my show and tell opportunity, and really, when we do these things, what are we doing? But living vicariously through our kids, so I built this Casso, and it’s fascinating, and I think there’s so much that went into it, I love how it reveals some of the differences between my kids, maybe some of the Mary and Martha is of my kids, because Alana helped glue all of these little windows in place and she helped cut up the brick walls and wrap them around, and GG built a sea turtle that… That was her main contribution to what the cataloged like, which again, just says something particular about them.

But think about what you’re doing when you’re structuring a castle, everything about a castle is about these things, it’s about security. It’s about control. You get to decide who comes in and who goes out. You get to decide what the rules are in your car, so when I built this up apart, this is a mountain, by the way, in case it wasn’t clear, I’m just gonna run you through the different things, these are trees, and there’s this idea that it’s built up and it’s secure and it’s distant, and it can’t be a sale. The idea of an English man’s home is his castle. Is rooted in, I get to decide where the lines are. This is my safe space. This is where I am free to make all of the decisions, and

Yet, is that how we’re called to use our homes… There’s this other quote and a play on this, but someone came up with… If you’re a follower of Jesus, this is a challenge for you. A Christian’s home is God’s Hospital. As a follower of Jesus, your home is God’s Hospital. Another word, hospital could sound a little bit patronizing if you would say you’re not following Jesus, you like, What do you mean? I’m broken, I’m sick, I need to come to your hospital to be fixed, to be mended. In actual fact, the word hospital, it comes from a Latin word called Latin word hospital. It’s this place where when you go to a monastery, all of the monasteries that you might hear about, they had this rule that they had to offer hospitality to strangers, and they would have a building that was a sign for this… That building, the hospital, it was always the nicest place in the monastery grounds, it

Always had the best food you could possibly provide, the monks might be eating bread and water, but those staying in the hospital would be given the finest fair that was available. They would be cared for, they would be looked after to the… Absolutely agree. This was a space where you could come and you could find welcome, you could be… Now, I would suggest that often, we have operated our homes based on a car or principle about controlling who comes in and who comes out, and yet it seems like the pushes to use our homes in the way that a hospital was used in order to let people in, you could make an argument that the thing that drove Christianity or made Christianity spread like wildfire in the first, second and third century, was simply the Christians understood hospitality, and almost nobody else did, so almost every other culture hospitality was centered around people that were like… You and people that you knew, and if you were a Christian, hospitality was sent it around whether needed it… This is a quote from Rosario, but a field in a book called The Gospel comes with a house key radically.

Ordinary hospitality is this using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangest neighbors and neighbors family of God. It’s this invitation and we seek to have control, we seek to have control over how and who comes in, and yet the challenges that we’re not supposed to try and control it. I would suggest most of us, if we’re honest, become very careful about the image that we curate, we’re very careful about what we let people see as a question to sort of work through is I would say, how many people do you know that are allowed in your house, with no preparation whatsoever. With

No preparation whatsoever, we have some neighbors that we’ve become close friends with, and the other day we text them and we’re just talking about where after England, they said they could give us a lift to the airport, and as being the people that are… Are these wonderful people? They just came over to discuss it, they just wandered across the street, and this was Saturday morning, and the first thing they were welcomed by was Jude, and I was say Jude was not wearing any clothes, in actual fact, it would be fair to say that the judge wasn’t wearing a… Any clothes. He was just there in all of his Judas, and so that was their welcome as they walk through the door, and this almost decision moment, maybe an unspoken husband-wife conversation of, do we keep the door open or do we just lock it and just say, Sorry, we’re not open to have guests right now, and they wandered into us in all of our Saturday morning, unprepared us and all my son Saturday morning naked, and it was a joy to have them there, but we curate these images, we say We have these lines that are drawn and most people aren’t welcome in…

We treat our hospitality or we center a hospitality around the image of a castle, not the image that says, you are welcome here. Martha seems to have similar problems. She is so focused on all of the details, and this is one of these passages where however we feel about it, whether we like it or not, Jesus is going to come down… Determinate-ly decidedly on one side of the argument. He is gonna say, quite always, brutally, Mary, You are wrong, and Mary is right. I think about the number of times I try and several arguments from my kids, I wanna give them the sense most of the time that they’re both right. In different ways, I wanna hold that tension, I wanna speak good things over both, and Jesus in this moment is like, No, Martha, you’ve got this wrong. There is something you need to learn. Her marry has figured it out and you haven’t… Yes, there’s the being with Jesus, but remember, Jesus here is really talking about how hospitality should be for all of His followers, but everybody… It’s not just located in doing this for Jesus, it is for whoever needs it, hospitality became this vibrant Christian tradition and Jesus understanding of hospitality, it seems like it prefers the person over the performance.

It seems like it prefers the person over the performance, and we… By nature, can be performance people, we want everything to be just perfect, we want to curate the image, how many times have you sat in somebody’s house and they’ve been busy making things good for you, and you’ve had this tension of… I appreciate it, but I would love it if you would just sit and talk to me. I would love it if we could just have a conversation. I feel like we are missing some of this because you are so busy, for

Those of you that are parents, it’s a tension that we manage as our kids run around causing chaos as we’re trying to have a conversation, we’re trying to create that good image, trying to keep our kids in line.

There’s this wonderful little anecdote about the difference between French parenting versus British or American parenting, and at one point, an American woman talks about her experience in France, and she said, My kids were running around this playground acting like crazy people, and I would chase them down and I would run after them, and after a while, my French friend looked at me and said, You know, if you keep getting up and chasing your kids, how are we gonna enjoy our conversation together, there was this different sort of focus on it and we are so interested in curating what the world sees that we miss this invite into relationships, Martha has the same problem, she wants all of the details fixed, and Jesus says It’s not necessary. Few things are needed, and then he almost like to start with… He almost seems like he’s gonna give us this get out, he starts with the, you’re worried about many things. And there’s only a few things you need to worry about. And at that moment, the passage feels like it’s gonna give the get out of saying, Yeah, even Jesus is saying that there’s a few things that need to be done, there’s a level of service that has to be provided, even Jesus wants some quality of performance and then he’s like, Actually, no, just one.

Just win and Mary has picked it for one thing was to pay attention to your guest was sat in the room… That was the one thing that he was looking for. This thing, Jesus understanding of hospitality, it prefers the person over the performance and this tradition of Christian hospitality was what made the early church vibrant. This is Jesus follower Peter writing to people all over the word, cheerfully, share your home with those who need a meal or place to stay, it’s almost just this case, carefully share it. Find a space for people who need a meal, find a place to welcome people in, this is just how central it became, this idea of hospitality centered around knowing the people that come through the door and allowing yourself to be known, I would suggest most of us somewhere inside us internally, we have a deep longing to be known.

Now, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you may see different levels to which I can tolerate being around people, I need a break at times, and yet somewhere introvert or extra extra VEL, we love… We know, and that is why someone knowing our name the second or third time they meet us is such a high value actually say, Wow, you remembered me. When I was a youth pastor, I would have regularly parents come and say, Do you know we picked this church because you knew your kids names.

They would sometimes say, we gave them… We gave them a choice, we said which church that we’ve tried, do you prefer and where did you feel known, and these parents would say things like… Well, they said, Well, yeah, Alex knows me, he remembers me when I come through the door, there was something about being known that has this incredibly high value occasionally around America, there are these newspapers that have survived when newspapers shouldn’t… I’m not talking about USA Today or the New York Times, I’m talking about small local papers in tiny towns… This is one of them, this is the Carman con. It’s the local newspaper for came on the sea in California, apparently when Clint Eastwood was the mayor of carbonaceous, to use this all the time. As he’s like his pulpit, why? Because local people read it

And why did they read it? They read it because these local newspapers that survived, they used as many local names as possible, you could read through this paper and not only might you see your name, but you would see the names of people you knew, the

Editor of another newspaper that done daily record said this, I could publish the telephone directory in tomorrow’s addition, and people would read it to check that their name was there

When they made the moves of the Lord of the Rings, they did the big extended version with a special box set. And one of the things that was distinct about it was at the end there was 12 minutes of footage where they just cycled through every single name of The Lord of the Rings fan club, and you can go on the internet and find numerous accounts of people screen shutting their name and putting it on social media, because they checked to see if they were now.

There is something about being known that is central to who we are as human beings, we long to be known, and yet I would suggest our hospitality has trended towards serving at… And not knowing the person, this story is about hospitality, but not just about hospitality, it’s about how you show hospitality.

It’s about how you show hospitality, if I was to say that you could change self as a community by one simple action, most of you would say, I would love to do that. And I would say that junior, due to lots of other things, and one of the things that we struggle with that we miss is relational connection, there are so many people in our community that don’t feel now, and you… By thinking about one person, you could buy it into your table, one couple, one single person, one family, you could help change the community by that one simple action, just by allowing someone to be now… This process, this way of thinking is something that some of our outreach team, especially our food pantry people have thought about with the idea of redemptive compassion, there’s some different values, and I’m gonna show you the first three, the first value is number one, everyone has value.

Number two, we are called to invest relationally in each other, number three, everyone has a capacity and potential, this is this way of doing outreach and mission, so often the western church does that act people and not alongside people, and this process is, how can we do that for a relationship, how can we actually give people that sense that they… Unknown that a are valued. Hospitality in Jesus mind seems to be centered around knowing the person and not just serving at this story at it’s heart. It’s about hospitality. It starts off with how Jesus has shown hospitality, but central to it is how he longs every one of his followers to be shown hospitality, he has sent 72 out of them out into the world, and he longs for them to be received. This is a challenge to trust, how do we show hospitality to those around us, so have a challenge for you. I’m gonna invite the worship team start to make their way up on stage, I have a challenge for you and a piece of liturgy, I’m gonna invite you into the challenge is this one person or family to invite to your table to build a relational connection itself.

It might be someone that you say, we used to do church stuff all together, we used to connect all the time, and it’s been a while, man, covid has really rocked us in that respect, pick one person, one family, pick someone that maybe won’t get invited in by someone else, you could help change the culture of our community, just… I’ve been willing to invite people in, for some of you, you’ve got that tension already… I haven’t done this since covid started. It’s okay, invite them onto your deck, invite them onto your porch, invite them to a park, but find a way to invite somebody into your community to relationship, prefer the person over the performance for further passing over the performance. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to get everything right. You do have to value the person because we long long to be known.

So I’m gonna invite you to stand and we’re gonna pray a Prat together, we haven’t prayed together yet during the surface, we’ve prayed individually in this moment, I’m gonna you to pray as a community.

And we’re gonna say this out loud, hospitable, God, you invite us to a banquet where the last maybe first and the humble and the mighty trade places where all have a seat, let us share your abundance with the family of God and fear no scarcity. Let us greet strangers as angels you have sent… Let us notice the person above the performance, send your Spirit now so that we may find a place at your table and welcome others with radical hospitality. We pray in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. And these guys prepared to play, allow that challenge to sink in, allow God to speak to you.

Maybe you begin to ask Him who and how you should invite someone in, if you write down a name in your notes page. Start to ask him what next steps you might be challenged to me. And before these guys thing, I’d love to invite us back to our opening understanding of his passage. Yes.

This passage is about hospitality, and yet both Mary and Martha understand that Jesus is doing something very significant, they show hospitality to all these disciples, and yet Jesus becomes their focal point. I would love to take this passage and invite you into a relationship with Jesus, maybe you’re not walking with Him right now, you wouldn’t say you are a follower of Jesus, you trying to figure out, is there even a God… What is this big existential question that lurks in my heart. And whether you’re at home or whether you’re here, Jesus invites you in. Invites you to sit at this table, invites you… In whatever ways you are broken to sit at his feet to become his follower.

Mary and Martha both have this inkling that the story is going somewhere towards death, and then there’s the surprising news of resurrection that Jesus is alive again, watch as he walks through a meal, to a Crucifixion, resurrection. And then back to another meal, you’re invited to sit at this team, you are loved by the God of the universe, He has made a place for you, Jesus, death and resurrection were an AFF.

And so you were in your own high… In this moment, I can pray to him maybe for the first time and say, God, I would love forgiveness, I would love to be made whole, I would love to know that you’re would love to be empowered to fully… It’s a great… For her to start off a journey with Jesus, and we’d love to help you on that journey. If you wanna let us know that you read it.

Maybe this song as we sing will reflect some of your foes, it’s an invitation to run to the God of the universe with all of your brokenness, not to fix yourself, but to know that He loves you, and longs to be in your life. If God is working in your life, Eric InStar, join us and reaching others by partnering with us today, you can give online at solves dot org, hit or on the south Fellowship Church a. Thanks for this new South family. Have a great rest of your day.

Build a Bigger Table (Part 4)2021-09-01T16:19:03-06:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 3)


Good morning, friends. How are you doing today?   My name is Alex, I’m one of the pastors here. If you’re watching online, if you’re visiting for the first time, it’s great to have you here.  . We’re in the middle of a series that we call Build a Bigger Table, walking through the book of Luke. If you’re unfamiliar with the Bible, that’s fine. Luke is one of the books of biographies of Jesus’ life. Four people chose to write about what Jesus had done, and Luke is one of them, and so we’re following Luke, this incredible author, this historian, really, he goes,into incredible detail. We’re following it through. Sometimes with Jesus around food.. . . . . .

We specifically picked  that avenue maybe because we know that most of us love food, but also because there’s something about it that we still understand todayThink about all of the things that as you read this book that are foreign to you.  This is a different culture, one that you’ll never understand completely, and yet still today we sit, we gather around tables, we enjoy food together, and so we picked out every time that Jesus does this with a group of people, and we’ve just experienced how he teaches through that, how he uses that. He sits with enemies, they become friends.   He sits with people who are unlike him, he uses it for transformation and all of these wonderful things. So this is the adventure that we’re taking.  Today as well, we will take part in the Lord’s supper, communion and the Eucharist,, however you grew up knowing it, it’s this moment of remembering specifically that Jesus came to give us new life and   so just hold that in the back of your mind and think about how he inter-plays with this passage.

I’m gonna start us off with.a little snippet of Luke Chapter 9.   We’re gonna start in verse 4, and I’m gonna give you some more context as we go to the plan for today, We’re gonna start with the micro, and then we’re gonna kind of back up and ask, How does this affect me today?   what is the message God might have for me? And so we’re told this, “He said to his disciples, have them sit down in groups of about 50 each, the disciples did so.  And everyone sat down.         Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them that he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the: disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”

: We just read the story of the feeding of the 5000. We’re told 5000 men sat down to eat with just five loaves and two fishes, and there was enough to eat. This is one of the few stories that appears in every gospel account.. In the four biographies of Jesus, every single one of the writers chooses to focus on this incredible event.   we have 5000 men, maybe 10000 altogether, maybe 12000, 15000 sat down with just a few loaves and fishes and there was enough to eat.

As we started to jump into this book, Luke,  what we’ve discovered is this, this is kind of like an anchor passage,  when Jesus starts to describe to a group of people for the first time what His ministry will look like.    He says this, “Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”  Jesus is interested and has come for a group of people that find themselves living on the margins, people that society generally has rejected, pushed to the fringes, and Jesus uniquely is interested in them.   He brings good news to those who are not familiar with good news.  He’s interested in a group of people for whom society has nothing, no good message to share, and  Jesus comes and says, I have something specifically for you, and we’ve seen that start to unfold in the way that we have seen him do things.  In the start of Luke, we’ve seen that he sat with Levi, a tax collector who was generally despised by society.   He would be seen as that he turned his back on his own people.    He was in league with the Romans that were ruling the area.  Levi was rejected by almost everybody.   People didn’t  think much of the people who were employed by the Romans.     His own Jewish people didn’t think much of him. And we’ve watched as Jesus  sat down with this group of people and said, I’m gonna accept you, I’m gonna include you.   And the reaction of the religious leaders has been, why?    Why are you sitting with these people?    We’ve watched as he sat with an important person, a Pharisee, and the meal has been invaded almost by someone on the very fringes of society, by a prostitute, and Jesus has sat with her… And to think that in the first century to sit with someone over food was so much more significant than it is today, today we’ll sit with almost anyone… Yeah, in the first century society, there was this inclusion thing going on when you sat with someone, it was to say, You’re okay, you’re a suitable person for me to sit and eat with.    A religious leader would never sit and eat with a prostitute, yet,  Jesus is very comfortable, very inclusive in all of that, we’ve seen as Jesus has brought good news to this group of people considered as poor, and that term poor,  in first century context, was so much more than just monetarily poor, it was anybody who finds themselves on the fringes of society. Jesus says, I have come with good news for you, and that good news seems to be summed up in these words,” You are included in what God is doing:.

People on the fringes of society were not considered included in what God was doing because you knew who the blessed people were, the blessed were the rich… The blessed were those that had stuff happening,   . . . .the blessed were those with great families, the” Blessed”… The poor were not considered the blessed  but Jesus says, No, you are blessed because you’re included in this thing that I am doing. So we have seen Levi who sat with Jesus  and an unnamed woman who gathers with Jesus, and today we move on to this encounter with 5000 people that sit with Jesus, and to get us into this… I’m gonna ask you a question.

Have you gone somewhere  expecting food and found…there is no food?    Have you been invited maybe to a party that you assumed food was included in the process, and yet you found just maybe light finger snacks or something like that, and it’s just not as substantial   as you are hoping, have you had false expectations about just what was included in the invitation?   Have you been to an event of some kind and then find you are disappointed?      A few years ago, I was in the Philippines, and we had this tradition in the Philippines- – – – – I went with this group that went back every single year, and we planted lots of churches in the area. Now, what we found is that  these churches that were planted loved to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the church with us when we were there.

Now, the problem was this,We went on different dates every year and we found that while that was a problem to us as westerners, it was not a problem to people in the Philippines because they just changed the date.    There were churches that had had five or six different dates of anniversaries during the time we were there that were just delightful and it could include us.    And this would always come with a big party and all those different types of things. Now, that in itself had this humbling aspect to it, because they would always insist on providing  as much food as they could. And we knew that they couldn’t afford it. We knew that they were suffering for their kindness in lots of ways, that sometimes these parties that they would throw might be 1/12 of the income for the small community for the entire year,Iit was like a month living cost but they would always long to provide these feasts and we would travel hours and hours to visit these churches, some of them on tiny little islands where you would have to get a long coach, and you get a boat further out and It would take a long time to get there.

: So I remember this one distinct church driving for 6-7 hours along the Philippine Coast, finally getting on this boat and making this journey out to this tiny little island and finally arriving, expecting a feast and being so excited. And when we got there, I didn’t see it. But my question was, Where’s the food?  Food?

And the response is, Well, it’s still being cooked. It’s gonna be done in awhile.. Now, if you’ve traveled for seven hours, there’s a certain appetite that has built up, and I’m like, Okay, can we move this thing along? But it turns that they had turns out, they had chosen to slow cook a pig over a fire on a spit.

Now, this takes a certain amount of knowledge and some special system to cook this thing properly, so we finally, after many hours sat down to eat and I was excited about this process, and then they cut it, and I looked under the first cut, you take that sliver off the top, and I had this moment where I said, that’s raw, that is actually not edible in the condition that it’s in, and so then you start to calculate, well, how many hours will it take to cook it properly, and

am I willing to risk that it’s not going to damage me internally right now.   Do I eat it and just trust everything will work out fine, or do I say, Could you keep cooking it and we’ll eat it later on, and they were very sweet and said we’ll give you guys the most cooked part of it and stuff like that, and I’m like, Most cooked is not the verb that I want… Actually, cooked is what I want. And so I just sat for a moment in this tension of What do I do now, and I’ll leave you to imagine just how badly it goes when you choose to eat partially cooked pig in the middle of the Philippines and all of those different things, but there’s this expectation in this moment for me of there’s going to be food, and there was no food.    When I think about that in pop culture context, I grew up in the 90s, so one of the first movies I got to see was this movie Hook where they sit around a table, and Peter Pan has grown up in this story.   He’s no longer a child, and he goes to sit down with them to eat and he’s excited because for some reason it smells great, the steam coming out of everything, and then they sit down and start opening all the pots, and there’s nothing there.

And Tinkerbell, Julia Roberts, looks at him and says, Well, come on, eat, enjoy the food. And he has this response of Gandhi had  more than this, I want some real food, I want steak and I want eggs, and it’s not there, and you can feel his disappointment, and every time I watch the scene, it gives me a deep, deep, real hunger. I’m like, I’m actually getting hungry as I’m watching it, there’s something about the expectation that there will be food and not getting food that seems to drive us nuts,, And yet we’re  gonna talk about this passage where Jesus feeds 5000 people, We’re gonna talk about it in a world where we know  one million people don’t have enough to eat. 700 million people on this planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. We’re gonna talk about Jesus providing supernaturally food for 10,000, 12,000.many people, and yet we wonder why isn’t that happening today? Why  does it seem that there isn’t enough?.

I found this passage in a book called Rich Christians in the age of hunger, This was an interview with a woman, Incema DeSilva who said sometimes I think If I die, I won’t have to see my children suffering as they are, sometimes I even think about killing myself.  So often I see them crying, hungry, and there I am with not a cent to buy them some bread. I think, My God, I can’t face it, I’ll end my life. I don’t want to look anymore.

We wrestle with the tension about my feeling in the Philippines that I’m hungry, we wrestle with the tension of a scene in a movie that can make us physically feel hungry, and yet we wrestle with that and  realize that most of us in this room have never been hungry, we’ve never been hungry.    it’s just not a part of our experience, and we know a billion of our fellow creatures experience that on a regular basis, and so we wrestle with this question of, Is there enough?.. Why isn’t there enough?  and all of those different things.   This passage has a ton of tension, so we’re gonna go wrestling with that as a community together.

But here we go, Luke Chapter 9, verse 10, Then he took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him.   This is the preamble to the moment of the feeding of the 5000. These followers of Jesus, these 12 that He has gathered he’s, gathered them and said, Let me show you the way that I follow God . . . . .In our language today, the way of walking in the way of Jesus. . . .  he’s teaching them and say, copy me, copy what I… Do I’m gonna show you how to practice this, he’s gonna teach them, yes, but they’re gonna watch him and they’ve got a copy and they’re gonna learn from his behavior, and yet he’s constantly saying things like, I’m gonna take you off just by yourselves, we’re gonna get away from the crowd, we’re gonna have time, just the 13 of us, and it never seems to happen.

It’s always this deferred hope, there’s this moment where they say, we’re going to get away, and then the crowds always find them, always follow them, and because Jesus is for the poor, because he is gracious and kind, he always does this, he always welcomes them. And he speaks to them about the kingdom of God and heals those who need healing.   The disciples have their dream for this weekend or whatever it is, it’s gonna be time that we get with just us and Jesus/   Then, the crowds turn up, Jesus welcomes them and he begins to teach them.   He provides for their spiritual needs, he also heals them, He provides for that physical need of healing for those that are sick, those that need that, he provides that… But I feel like this question, this tension hovers over the whole event, because that becomes this moment where it’s something like this, Jesus heals and teaches. Will he feed them too? When you look at some of the other Gospel writers, specifically John, John will say at times, I’ll record Jesus saying ” Did you just follow me because I fed you food?”

It seems like there’s  always a crowd but Jesus is known for providing.   He will feed people who need feeding, so there may be a group that followed him because they wanted to hear the teaching, there may be a group that followed him because they wanted healing, but there is probably a group as well, that followed him, because Jesus was known as someone who provided a very basic element of food/   As this tension builds late in the afternoon,  they’ve been sitting all day in the hot sun, they’ve been learning things.   In the afternoon, the 12 came to him and said, Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place.    The disciples start to recognize this tension and they start to say, We’ve got to solve this. That’s their problem-solving solution to this . . . .we gotta get rid of the crowds, send them off, there are villages that they can go to so have them just go and provide for themselves.We have no solution to this problem, Jesus, they suspect doesn’t have a solution to the problem,so just send them somewhere else..

And then this is Jesus’ reply. This Is where it starts to get interesting. He replied,”You give them something to eat.”    Does Jesus believe on a natural level that they have food for  this crowd of people?    .Of course,  he doesn’t. He would know if they did, they have made this journey out into the wilderness, and if you think about the amount of food required for five, 10, 12000 people. Does he think that they have the resources to do this.   He is absolutely under no illusions that they have the physical natural resources to provide for five, 10,12000 people, but look at the disciples’ response because it’s fascinating in terms of how they understand Jesus.

“They answered, we have only five loaves of bread and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all of this crowd”   Jesus knows the resources they have, he knows the food they have, he knows the money they have, and yet they seem to question Jesus’ intelligence in this whole thing. Their response to him is like, Well, we don’t have enough of course, he knows they don’t have enough, that wasn’t the point, but this group of 12 disciples have become lost in this moment in this specific struggle to them in their minds, in the natural level, the task is impossible. Jesus has set them this task, He told them, This is what I have for you to do, this is. the requirement, or this is the request, or this is the dream for this next moment, you’re gonna provide food for these people, and their response is, it just can’t be done outside of us having a ton of money or having a ton of food… It can’t be done. We should send them away, they should provide for themselves.

Now, on the surface. I think most of us would say this, that’s fair, I don’t know that if I had a crowd of 5 to 10000 people and just a few loaves of bread and a few fish, my automatic response would be, I can’t provide for you. It would seem, at least on the surface, like something of a crisis, the fair response seems to be, Jesus, what do you want us to do? Yes, they’ve got to get food, but yes, we don’t have the resources, the best solution in my mind is for them to go and provide for themselves.   On the surface, it’s very hard to blame this group of 12 followers of Jesus for our response for believing that this task is impossible, except for a couple of things, they have already experienced, Jesus, doing these kind of things in multiple settings, and at some point, the message he seems to be conveyed to them is this.. . .When it comes to me, Jesus, the natural resources, they’re not the most important part of the equation, there is something else at play when I am operating that is beyond just what is in front of you.   Check out these couple of passages, and what I love about going through Luke, looking at the meals is how often other passages just get pulled into it, and we really get a good sample of the whole book.

So we’re gonna go back to the start of Chapter 9, ?When Jesus had called the 12 together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. And he sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Think about that Rabbi model for a while. Come copy me. Come see how I live. Now you go and do it. The things that I have done, you go and do now, it looks a little bit different with Jesus than other rabbis, because Jesus has this supernatural element to him, but now in real terms, Jesus says to them the things I have done, the things that nobody else has done. Now you go and do them.

And they go and they go with this premise, “Take nothing for the journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt, Whatever house you.enter, stay there until you leave that town. Go and do the things that I have done with the absolute minimal resources to do them

Actually specifically, he tells them to intentionally  take nothing but to go, simply believing that he will provide, and then they come back and report. That’s exactly what happened when the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.,    In one of the other gospels, the apostles report,
“even the demons obeyed us.. Everything that you said would happen, Jesus, it happened”. They have already experienced what it is for Jesus to say, go and do these things, and when they have gone, these things have happened.

How about this? In Luke Chapter 5, we’re told that    “One day as Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret , the people were crowding around Him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge, two boats left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

So to give you a picture of this culture, fishermen  were dependent on day-to-day catching, and this is an exhausting job. They would fish mainly at night because these fish could only be caught at night.  They  would throw these nets into the water at night time, the fish couldn’t see them, so they would swim into them.   In the daytime, the fish could see them, so they would avoid them, so they would fish through the night, and then in the morning, they would spend their time repairing a net, making sure that they were in good condition ’cause they got dilapidated really quickly,. Then they would go off and they would sell their fish at the market. They are dependent on this day-to-day fish that turns up with regularity, To give you a modern example, some of you may have been tracking with this story, there’s this story about the shipping container with oil and different things by SriLanka  that basically caught fire and sank.  Now, what’s happening with that maritime area around there is that the area is being destroyed by the oil leaking into the water by all of the other things that were on the ship.

And so you’re watching SriLankans  going to their usual fishing spot and seeing just less and less… Again, it’s that problem of what happens when a Western society creates some mess and these people that can’t afford to have a mess or having to deal with it, but this is a quote from one of the fishermen,” If we fish, money comes, if not, we are left hungry”   ( if we catch fish, we eat..if we  don’t catch fish, we don’t.eat).. That sort of culture would be very familiar to someone like Simon who is used to needing to catch fish every day to be able to sell them, that’s how he would provide a living for himself, that’s how he would provide a living for his family. But think, how all of that interacts with this story,” When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon  put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. Think about Simon who will later be called Peter, he knows Jesus is smart, he knows Jesus knows lots about lots of different things, but Peter knows fishing, he’s probably been fishing for most of his life, he knows that when you go out at night and don’t catch anything, if you just go back out in the morning, you’ll catch nothing again.he  knows more about..fishing than Jesus will ever know, almost to the point that for Peter that it could be kind of insulting.

Go and do this, go out and fish in the morning, even though you know practically… It will never work.

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink”  . Simon and the other followers of Jesus have had multiple experiences of Jesus where they have been told this over and over again. . . . .  The natural isn’t the most important part of the equation. When you are talking about Jesus, he has an ability to do things that other people don’t have an ability to do, and He has given that to them, He has sent them and the same things have happened, and yet to this group of disciples, the task appears impossible and yet their experience should tell them that nothing is impossible… Yes, the task seems impossible. But their experience of Jesus should tell them that nothing is impossible. Jesus gives them this challenge to feed these 5000, 10000, 12000 people.  They have had multiple experiences that tell them that Jesus is exactly the sort of person that can make this happen, and yet in this moment, they’re like, We can’t do it, we don’t have enough bread, and we don’t have enough fish.

And so Jesus takes over, they regress in their following of him, they’ve gone through the stages of
watch me do this thing”, and then you go and do it, and they have regressed back to watching him do it again, he gives them this opportunity to continue this journey ,  continue this faith growth, and yet they go back to watching him, but he said to his disciples,”have them sit down in groups of about 50 each.The disciples did so, and everyone sat down, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks, broke them. And then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people.  They all ate and were satisfied. And the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were leftover”    . I’m always intrigued by the different sort of understandings or readings people give to the 12 baskets, some people have said the 12 tribes of Israel in the 12 baskets. Because of the 12 tribes, I actually think it’s Jesus saying to the disciples, there’s one for each of you. I

told you it was going to be fine. It’s like this message of like, You didn’t think it was possible. Not only was it possible, it was more than possible, there’s something about the sort of ending with 12 that I think is just the delightful little twist, but what we do know is this meal, even with the left overs, is enough. In this moment, there is enough.  God takes this moment with five loaves and two fishes and 12,000 people.

In natural circumstances, we say that’s not possible, that there is enough… Interestingly, when you read different readings of the text, there is a sociological reading of this text, which I don’t subscribe to, because it’s very faith-removed, it’s a sort of reading that you might give if you believe that God doesn’t exist, so you have to interpret these stories in different ways, and this story or this interpretation would say, Well, they just shared, there’s all sorts of different groups of people in this gathering, there’s probably some people that are on longer journeys, they have a big supply of food, there’s some people that are there for the day they have no food, but as everything gets thrown together together, there is enough for everybody to have one meal.

Now, again, I don’t agree with the reading, but this part of me, just this little part that says, I actually wonder, which is a bigger miracle?   Is

It a miracle that the supernatural Son of God takes five loaves and two fishes and says, I just made more, rather than a miracle that says human people actually shared and filled each other’s,needs.    To me seems a stretch to believe more so than the five loaves and two fishes expanding, but

There is something about this that challenges us in that area..We ask questions about, Is there enough? And we read stories that say God can provide, but maybe we’re inspired to ask questions like, What do I have?

And what do I have in terms of having enough? And how do I steward what God has given me? Because again, one billion people don’t have enough to eat, and most of us have never experienced hunger, it at least challenges our understanding of how resources should be shared and what we should be doing with what we have on that micro-level, it makes us ask questions about food specifically, how do we make sure people have enough to eat, how do we mirror this?  Jesus says, I am on the side of the poor, and i say, I too, I’m going to be on the side of the poor. It’s at least a challenge in that area, but I think that this passage has bigger applications.

It has applications for everything that we do and everything that we need God to provide for us. I would ask you to ask this question, What has God given me to do?   God made you with distinct passions to do specific things. A good way of expressing that we used a couple of weeks ago is this, what is your deep passion, where does it meet the world’s deep need when those two collide… When they collide together, that’s your part to play, that’s your role to play in this world. What has God made you to do? What are you passionate about? When you enter into the things you’re passionate about, there’s something inspiring that takes place.  When you take those passions and fit them in with the kingdom of God and say, God, how would you use them, then it’s beyond just exciting— then the limits are off. As it were, what has God given you to do?

This is my friend Verrell,, a friend, even though we haven’t spoken for five years, because the moment I met him he felt  like a kindred spirit. Verall did something very dangerous.  He lives in Romania in the north west corner, and a few years ago, his kids went off to college, and so he sat there in his fairly empty house that is big by Romanian standards, not huge by American standards for bedrooms.

And he sat there and he said, God, what do you have for me to do with this house? It’s too big for me. It’s kind of empty. What do you have for me to do? And as he was praying, the news switched to a story about the homeless crisis amongst the elderly in Romania.  There’s this system in Romania where the state pension will give you enough to pay for either costs of food or costs of housing, it doesn’t give enough to cover both. So there’s all of these elderly Romanians that  have to choose food or lodging, and so many of them hae chosen food and now live out on the streets.

And so as he’s praying this prayer, He sees this story come up and he said, I felt very strongly God said to me, You need to house these people.   Where?  I have a four-bedroom house, but he said, I went out on the streets and I found three guys that were homeless, and I said, come home with me. So they came home to live with him.   The last time I spoke to him, he had 200 Romanian people living with him, 200!. And I remember saying to him,  Verell,  If you had known that it would look like this, when you started… Would you have said yes? And he looked at me and said, No, I would have  run away. And then he said something so poignant. He said this, he said, You know about the frog? if you put it in boiling water, it will jump out. If you put it in cold water and turn up the heat, it will let you boil it to death, he says, I have a frog, and God is boiling me to death. God is boiling me… This facility now holds 200 people, they have built all these extensions to…

the houses, all of these different buildings. There’s one area that they house 50 people with mental disabilities, Romania has no capacity in the state to deal with people with mental disabilities, and Varell provided a home for these people so that they get to live out some of the last years on Earth with dignity and they get to be loved. And he started with a four-bedroom house- – – – if that isn’t the equivalent of trying to feed 5000 people with a few loaves and fish, I don’t know what is, but he said, I felt like I was called…, I felt like it’s what God has given me to do. And yet he wrestles with this question, how can I believe there is enough?. To me, the story about going to a wedding with 100 people and seeing all the food that they were unloading to cook, and he had this crisis moment, he says, we feed twice this number of people three times a day, and this is so much food like… How do we provide… He said, I said to the people that cook, stop telling me what you need. Just buy it or just find it, but when I don’t know, I can believe God will provide when I know what we need.

My pain seems to disappear, and yet he tells these stories about going into a week saying, We just don’t have enough for this week, and miraculously boxes of meat will turn up at the doorstep, he sees God provide in these supernatural ways, but it started because he took what he had and said, I’m going to use what I have and then trust God to provide the rest. What we see with this group of disciples is, yes, God is moving, but suddenly the thing feels impossible. What has God given me? What has God given you to do? What is the thing he’s called you to..do that now seems impossible?. What is it that now seems impossible, maybe it’s something very simple, like I was called to a marriage, and it now seems so hard.   I’m not sure I can keep going. Maybe it’s raising a family. This was what I was given to do, and yet it seems difficult, Maybe you started a business and keeping it going now seems impossible.   Maybe it’s managing people, caring for a piece of property,.. Whatever you were called to do, maybe it started like, Okay, yeah, there’s enough… and now you’re having those questions, will God still provide, is there enough… How can I believe that is enough, this was the disciples question, it’s something that we wrestle with too, and yet when we read the New Testament, we see passages that looks something like this, this is a guy who is poor writing to a church in Philippi, “my God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” There’s this promise of provision for what we need.

I think this is something sort of embarrassing that I would confess to you or I believe this is true, If you apply( and by apply, I mean “ask” )  God will supply… If you apply God will supply.   The disciples,at no point in the story, when Jesus challenges them, think to say, Jesus, we need Your help or think to pray, it is simply “we don’t have enough”.

And if I’m honest in my life, there are times when I have a need. And  then  I think, did I actually ask God for what I need? There are moments where I say, I didn’t… I tried to figure out every natural way to solve that problem, I asked wise people… I did all of the work, and yet there’s times where I’m like, I didn’t actually stop and say, God, I have a need, I need you to provide in this situation, It seems that God is willing, and yet sometimes the thing is that we don’t ask.  This even comes up in James, you;ve got a whole group of people in the community that are memorizing James, which is a super cool test. “You do not have because you do not ask God.” It is  true for us that sometimes we just don’t ask… You just don’t ask…

I’m not trying to over-simplify the problem, but I am saying if you haven’t asked God for what you need, maybe  a good first step is to ask, but I think this sentence also can be flipped… Yes, I think that if you apply, God will supply, but God will supply if you apply… Think about my friend Verell, he took what he had and he used it. He took the resources that were available to him and he used them. And think about the story of the feeding of the 5000. And no point does Jesus say to this group of people, this group of disciples who are present,  with these five loaves and two fish, at no point as he say, Yeah, just throw those away, I’m gonna do a supernatural thing, I’m gonna make this work with other stuff that’s expendable stuff, just get rid of it, throw it to the side of the road.  He takes what they have, and he breaks it, giving thanks, and he begins to pass it around.   It starts off with the little that they have, and the supernatural comes from that.  I think the challenge for us as a community is, that we’re to ask, yes, we’re supposed to believe God will provide, but also we’re supposed to take what we have and use it well, If we apply, God will supply, God will supply.

What resources do you have? How are you using them? How might God take simple things that you have, like you did with Verell, and how might he boil you to death?.

We’re gonna move now to the time in our service where we’re gonna come to the table.  In the midst of doing that, I love the way that this story connects with the table. What we see Jesus do is this.

“Taking the five loaves and two fish. and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them, then he gave them to His disciples”  Jesus takes the five loaves, the two fish, the little that they have, and he takes them and He gives thanks, he breaks them, and He gives them to the disciples. Now, this wasn’t an incredibly unique practice in that day, but look at the symmetry in the language between this and Luke 22, where we see Jesus gather for the last time around a table with his friends, “And he took bread, and he gave thanks, and he broke it, and he gave it to them saying, This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. When we see this process, we see a meal in which everyone is satisfied, they all eat and are satisfied, this meal is enough, and this meal that you are about to partake in, is enough. This meal is enough, we’re gonna invite you to a table and we get to come and remind ourselves of what that Jesus story is and just what it means.

In this moment, I think we are closer to that original table, closer to that death and resurrection of Jesus than we are to yesterday.   There is something about the way time works in God’s economy, that we come and we come to this table and it’s Jesus’ real presence here with us. And you get to bring whatever you have in whatever ways you are living out a story that now seems impossible, you get to come and you get to remind yourselves of the way that God has provided in the past, and the ways that he might provide in the future.  You get to come and you get to remind yourself that when it comes to Jesus, natural resources are the most important part of the equation. There’s this idea about this table that I love.

Out on the Great Plains where they get these snow storms, incredible white outs so you can’t even see your. hand. In front of your face,

In these incredible snowstorms,  farmers would go out and they would get lost just a few feet away from the door, and so what the farmers with would do after a while, they would tie ropes around their waist, and they would carry a bell and when they got lost, when they got disoriented, the guy would ring the bell, and, the wife would start to pull on the rope, it was the way of finding their way back home. There’s something about this table that I think is like that story.

There’s something about this table that it’s like a rope around our waist and when we are out in the world, when we get disoriented, when we get lost, it’s something like ringing a bell, and this thing pulls us back into the story.  Wherever you are in your story, wherever you are in your brokenness, all of your heartache, all of your guilt , whatever task you feel God has given you, in whatever ways it feels impossible,. . .  with all of your doubt, with all of your fear, you get to come to this table… And you get to remember that the greatest need that any of us have  is the need for grace, for forgiveness, a need to be redeemed and need to have a relationship with God reconciled.  There was no provision for that until Jesus came along and said, I have provided a way for you in your brokenness. We come to this table, reminded of that story.  Take a step towards Jesus and find forgiveness and grace.  He will meet you at the point of your need and He is Enough!!

Build a Bigger Table (Part 3)2021-09-01T16:18:15-06:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 2)

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morning friends how are you doing today my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re watching online you’re at home it’s great to have you here today on this memorial day last week we celebrated baptisms for those of you that were with us and what a joy to see so many people make that decision to say there is a life change that has happened in me to jump not jump into a tank maybe not but to step into they did come out like wet dogs some of them I got soaking wet and I didn’t mind at all uh so if you would like you were inspired by that and you say I’ve never done adult baptism and you would love to jump in email dan at south fellowship I’d love to cause him a chunk of problems with emails to reply to we’ll be doing another baptism service in october and I’d just love to make it more of a a couple of times a year rhythm where we see people celebrating that moment of life change so that was last week this week I

feel like I became a little bit more coloradan just a little bit more I went on my first mountain biking adventure so I am going to become one of these people that has a bike more expensive than their car hanging off the back of their car which seems wise and and it was a joy to get out there and the reason I mention it is this one of the things I love is how relationships form over activities and that’s especially true for guys so during this summer season one of the things we’re going to be talking about is our groups of circles we’re going to be inviting you to take things that you love deep passions it could be something like mountain biking it could be something like playing golf it could be something like studying the bible together it could be almost anything and say we’d love to invite you to get together with people that are interested

in the same things and so we’ll be doing some signups but we’re still looking for people to run some of those groups we have quite a few already and I’m super excited to bring down the average age of the mountain biking group but also bring down the average ability to mountain bike of the mountain biking group and I’m sure I’ll cause some some humor uh with crashes and wipeouts and whatever but so far I’ve been looked after well so if you’d like to jump into that we’re in a series that we started last week called build a bigger table we’ll be walking through the books luke and acts together if you’re unfamiliar with the bible that’s fine luke is one of the gospels the biographies of Jesus life and acts is a book written by the same author about the early church movement now this same author with those two books combined wrote more of the book of the bible than the new testament anyway than any other author we get so much of

our knowledge of first testament of second testament history from him we get so much of our knowledge of the Jesus movement the thing that he started from him and so we’re going to spend a few months going through those two books one after another and in luke we’re going to focus not on the whole book but we’re going to pick out every time Jesus sits at a table I gave you this story last week about my parents table that I experienced growing up it always had room for somebody else to be added to it they had this great big piece of wood that they would fit over the top of the table that it would expand and make room for more and I just long to see a Jesus people that says our goal is to make room for more is to expand that table to reach out to people that don’t know that haven’t heard the story to share what we have with those people around us and so this is where the idea of build a bigger table came from there’s this

idea that when Jesus sits at the table sometimes he sits with friends sometimes with enemies sometimes with people he knows well sometimes with people he’s never met before but so often it is a transformer experience my prayer for us as a group of people is that we would become people like him that we would invite people to our table and we would see life change happen at that table so our takeaway from week one was is your table available the the gathering spaces that you have whether it’s on your deck whether it’s in your actual living in your dining area is it available for other people to gather at and this week we’re going to push it a little bit further we’re going to read a challenging passage expect to go away feeling like Jesus has maybe messed with you just a little bit asked some deep questions of you we’re in luke chapter 7 verse 36 for those of you that have a paper bible or electronic bible that you like to

sort of reference I’m just going to read this passage you can follow along it won’t come up on the screen yet but we’ll go back through it bit by bit and we’ll get to grips with what Jesus has to say when one of the pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him he went to the pharisees house and reclined at the table a woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the pharisee’s house so she came with an alabaster jar of perfume as she stood behind him at his feet weeping she began to wet his feet with her tears then she wiped them with her hair kissed them and poured perfume on them when the pharisee would invited him saw this he said to himself if this man were a prophet he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner Jesus answered him simon I have something to tell you tell me teacher he said two women two people owned money to a

certain money lender one owed him five hundred dinari the other fifty neither of them had the money to pay him back so he forgave the debts of both now which of them will love him more simon replied I suppose the one who has the bigger debt forgiven you had judged correctly Jesus said and then he turned towards the woman and said to simon do you see this woman I came into your house you did not give me any water for my feet but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair you did not give me a kiss but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet you did not pour oil on my head but she has poured perfume on my feet therefore I tell you her many sins have been forgiven as her great love has shown but whoever has been forgiven little loves little then Jesus said to her your sins are forgiven the other guests began to say amongst themselves who is this who even forgives

sins Jesus said to the woman your faith has saved you go in peace let us pray God as we open this book that you have given us we believe that you breathed on it it comes alive it speaks to us it challenges us and changes us we believe that you come into this space where we are you afflict the comfortable and you comfort the afflicted wherever we are in those groups of people may you do the work in us that you long to do may we listen for your voice those outside of the church new to the church those long-term members whoever we are challenge us and change us you breathed on this book and it came alive would you breathe on us and make us alive in new ways amen so to catch you up with where we’ve been we started with luke and I wanted to give you an introduction to just what is the heartbeat of this book what does luke say that is the heartbeat of Jesus ministry and what we see is this the spirit of the lord is on me because

he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor in luke’s understanding Jesus came to bring good news to a group of people that were not used to good news that there was very little good to say about luke and acts as these two books together there’s two giant surprises two big surprises that luke is wrestling with the first surprise is this it’s that Jesus died Jesus wasn’t supposed to die in most first century jewish understanding a messiah figure a savior should come and he should set the world to rights but he should do it through action not through death death is a defeat it was a surprise when Jesus died and an even bigger surprise when he came back to life again so luke wrestles with that first surprise Jesus died and then he came back to life what what does that mean but but this second surprise that is consistent throughout this luke acts text it’s the inclusion of the outsider we saw last week how Jesus took

those on the margins a tax collector called levi he pulls him in and says levi you’re going to be part of God’s story the margins the edges of the story are going to move closer to the center Jesus reaches out to those that find themselves on the fringes find themselves left out and pulls them in and that was a surprise when we get to acts it will be an even bigger surprise to a jewish community when the gentiles start getting included as well and the question might be phrased just how big is this table going to get just how big will it get we’ll wrestle with that with today’s text as we watch as Jesus interacts with someone who maybe is a level a step beyond where levi was maybe is even more unacceptable than we might say that levi was Jesus will constantly reach out to this group of people this idea of the poor the downtrodden those who find themselves on the margins Jesus will begin to pull them in and so to catch you up to speed

after this passage that we looked at last week Jesus has gone around and he has taught some of the 12 disciples that he has pulled in each of them kind of ragtag don’t fit not really acceptable he takes them and he teaches them on a plane he teaches them many of the things that we would describe as his way so we talk about living in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus here at south that’s exactly what he teaches them this is how I go about doing everyday life and you get to copy me in doing that he teaches them how to pray they say Jesus teach us to pray we don’t know we we’re still learning and he teaches them word by word how to pray and what we find is constantly he’s doing things amongst this group called the poor and in luke chapter 7 verse 11 what we read is this soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called nain now to understand the significance of nade is to understand that it is insignificant name is iowa it’s

iowa it’s a place that you drive through on the way to somewhere else I actually enjoy driving through iowa to be fair it reminded me of of england it’s got those wavy hills it was far better than nebraska which uh there’s nothing good to say about him and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him Jesus stops in a place that people didn’t usually stop at for any purpose other than resting or getting food it was a pilgrim journey on the way to jerusalem people would go from some of these larger towns and cities and stop there just as a breather let me get some some nutrients and then I’ll continue my journey perhaps we might say this that when Jesus said I came for the poor it’s not just the micro level of the individuals perhaps he came for those cities those towns that were left out of the general sort of sway of things as well and he lands in this place not just briefly but for some time and during his time there an

incredible event happens there is a funeral procession again not so incredible that there will be a funeral but what happens at the funeral is incredible this is Jesus interaction with the funeral experience he went up and touched the beer they were carrying him on the bearer stood still he said young man I say to you get up the dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother hold on to that phrase that phrase is important they were all filled with ore and praised God a great prophet has appeared amongst us they said God has come to help his people this news about Jesus spread throughout judea and the surrounding country as it usually does when somebody comes back from the dead this story would have thrown people back to another an older story there’s a story in a historical book called first kings if you like references 17 23 is your reference your address elijah an old famous prophet picked up the

child another dead child and carried him down from the room into the house he gave him back to his mother and said look your son is alive this language symmetry would have been unmistakable to a first century person who understood the history of the bible this is someone doing the same things elijah did for a nation a group of people that had said for 400 years there has been no voice of God there has been no presence of God everything else has gone wrong there’s this sort of idea that wow things are starting to turn we’re about to turn this sucker around we’re going to get this thing going this is exciting a prophet is on the scene again this is good news and so understandably when things like this are happening religious people are interested so we read in the start of our text today luke 7 36 when one of the pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him he went to the pharisees house and he reclined at the table Jesus

is a expected guest who this pharisee and we’ll look a little bit later about what exactly a pharisee is this pharisee finds Jesus to be acceptable he is excited to pull Jesus into his house he wants to ask him some questions there’s going to be this somewhat of a debate maybe luke follows this greek style called symposia so usually there’s a dinner there’s a sitting down at a table and then there’s a healthy hearty discussion that takes place afterwards and that’s exactly the framework we’ll see here Jesus is an expected guest and then there’s a twist and let me approach that twist by asking you this have you ever had an unexpected guest have you ever had someone who’s just turned up arrived on the doorstep and said in essence feed me find me a place to stay have you ever had that experience a few months ago a friend sent me a text it was just a screenshot of a map and it just looked like this the red dot is my house and the white

dot works well apparently there’s a chipotle there but I didn’t know really what else and I was left with this question wait are you guys in town because these friends live in michigan and let me add these are just the sort of people that would turn up unexplained unexpected and think that was really funny just to just appear on the doorstep so I’m left like wait are you guys are you guys here now usually that would just be exciting I a couple of really close friends I would be excited to have them stay but it just so happened we had somebody else staying that weekend as well so I was suddenly trapped in this moment of where do we put everybody if they turn up who do we ask to go and stay somewhere else some very close friends that we’ve spent a lot of time with over the last few years a guy on the other hand that was one of my groomsmen at my wedding he now lives in houston these two groups of people and I’m trying

to figure out who do I call and say do you want to put someone up for a couple of nights who do I reject who do I push away maybe you’ve had that experience of an unexpected guest but it becomes even more complicated when the unexpected guest doesn’t behave as you would want a guest to behave what if someone that’s unexpected who you have a history with then behaves in all of the ways you would expect this person to behave what if they live down to your worst expectations of what good behavior look like what if it’s the kind of crazy uncle that you feel like you have to keep inviting to weddings but he just keeps drinking too much wine and dancing on table shirtless and it’s just getting embarrassing and every time you throw out an olive branch like could we have some respectable behavior yet time and time again this person does exactly what you expect them to do this is what I would suggest is happening as

we get into the roots of this passage because this pharisee invites Jesus but Jesus brings with him all of the things that we find that Jesus continues wonderfully to bring a woman in that town who lived a sinful life the assumption there was that she’d had multiple husbands that she was an adulteress or that she was a prostitute learned that Jesus was eating at the pharisee’s house so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume as she stood behind him at his feet weeping she began to wet his feet with her tears then she wiped them with her hair kissed them and poured perfume on them so I just want to look for a second at the juxtaposition of pharisee and this woman that appears because that’s really relevant for how we understand the story the pharisees had one of four approaches to how they dealt with this big problem in jewish society the romans had invaded they had taken over everything many jewish people

were asking questions like how do we fix how do we fix the big problem how do we address the roman problem so when we asked the question who were these pharisees their whole approach kind of gives us the the details the lowdown on exactly who they are so one group the sadducees their philosophy their policy on the romans was well let’s appease them let’s try not to let them bother us too much we get the temple we have this place that we get to do worship so long as we get that well we’re good right and if we mess with the romans too much then they’ll come in in force they’ll really take over and and that’s not going to be good for anybody so let’s just let’s just hold off it’s like the the british approach to hitler early on in the second world war didn’t work well for us didn’t work well for them so that’s the sadducees then you’ve got the zealots these are some of Jesus group and there’s some pretty strong evidence that some of these guys were hoping Jesus would go down this line let’s gather some guys let’s get

some swords and we’ll fix the problem ourselves let’s go and and we’re going to go and make this sort of we’re going to get rid of this problem sadducees zealots different approaches another group called the essenes their their approach was we got to get out of here let’s go and hide somewhere let’s go into the desert we’ll pray a lot we’ll ask that God would come fix the situation somehow but we’re gonna keep ourselves very distinct very separate we’re gonna back up and then finally this fourth group the pharisees well they wanted to resist they want they wanted to make sure they were standing up to the romans on some level but not in an obvious way not with swords not with any sort of practical approach they were like if we just obey the law really really well if we make sure we’re a group of people that are keeping that right way of living well God’s going to bring his presence back and that will fix the problem that’s that general approach live the right life show that your lives have changed live life change

and then God will come and he’ll be faithful if we do all of this then God will eventually do his part so as a good pharisee your approach was this stay away from people that aren’t doing that keep yourself separate make sure you live the right kind of life God will ultimately well he’ll be faithful and so when a pharisee invites Jesus he’s saying Jesus I think you think the same way as me you seem to live the right kind of life I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen come to dinner because you fit and then someone turns up who doesn’t fit and does this as she stood behind him at his feet weeping she began to wet his feet with her tears then she wiped them with her hair kissed them and poured perfume on them now to us we’ve got a little bit westernized we read this passage basically with 2 000 years of history and what we might read is this wow she did a really nice thing for Jesus isn’t that wonderful she came into the room and

she she put perfume on his feet and this is this is just her showing her emotion and it’s genuine and all those kind of things that would not be a first century reaction to a first century jewish person who’s trying to live the right kind of life what they see is this here is a woman that we know lives a sinful life and she’s now here doing all the things I would expect her to do for a woman to let her hair down in public in the first century was an equivalent today of going around topless or something like that it’s hard to put in terms for you just how stark that would have been you did not let your hair down in public to use it to rub and wipe and massage someone’s feet was certainly ambiguous to a guy watching this he’s like what is going on here not only has she turned up but she’s turned up and she’s acting like this this is her living down to my low expectations this is what I would have expected however and this is why we do not

invite people like her into good and common society her actions are at best ambiguous but actually the the most obvious reading to a first century religious leader would be I cannot believe she would come and do all of these things she is infecting a good honest religious party with all of the things she is bringing here he would have been outraged furious especially because for the most part wealthy people that would throw dinner parties they were lived kind of in in public life most of the dinner dining space would open out into public area and so everybody that walked past would see this woman doing these things at his house and as a pharisee he’s like I just can’t have that there is something that she’s doing that is going to impact me and you understand this because you have lived the idea of infection for the last year and some number of months I read this list of all the things that originally we were told we

were supposed to do to make sure we didn’t get covered in our house so some of you might be still doing these things that’s fine some of you I know you you never did these things and that’s fine as well you gotta know your people you rebels this was the original idea right to make sure that the shopping doesn’t do damage to the house wipe down the cart commit to what you are buying don’t put anything back on the shelf plan what you will buy for at least two weeks of food to minimize to reduce minimize exposure once you leave the store throw away gloves and sanitize your hands before you touch the door handle of your car and enter your car if possible do not bring your groceries straight into the house consider holding non-perishable items in your garage breezeway porch or car for three days that’s a lot of time prepare a table or counter to receive grocery items by sanitizing it with a standard disinfectant and divide the

table or counter space into the dirty side and to the clean side so some of you did this and it’s fine if you did this some of you are still doing it it’s fine if you’re still doing it some of you thought it was ridiculous and it’s fine if you thought it was ridiculous but regardless we have been told what that language of infection is don’t bring this thing into your home take lysol and wipe down bags of chips for the first time in your life because that will make you safer it’s been a different world that we have lived in and if it works great and again not the whole point pharisees would have understood the language of infection well to give you another way of understanding this I brought you my laundry um so now my wife was very clear did not make it look like I’m bad at doing laundry so I was like I don’t even know what that sermon would look like my wife’s terrible at doing laundry like this that would not have looked good for me at all

but I brought you some laundry what I did is I just picked up random shirts to help you understand how a pharisee’s mind would have worked in this dinner party arrangement so I just have a bunch here this one is one that I got for free and it’s actually a woman’s extra large and my wife insists it doesn’t fit me and she’s probably accurate um that that might be clean this is one that somebody sent me uh mistakenly it’s an extra extra large a size that doesn’t exist in england and doesn’t fit me uh either this is a shirt that I wore to a wedding yesterday I got to go to a burundi wedding or a couple that come to the church it was a ton of fun I was the only one that gave a speech in english the rest was all in burundi and I have never enjoyed not understanding as much as I enjoyed it it was fascinating it was wonderful it’s like this experience of pure joy and I have no clue what was said I said to joe afterwards what did they

say and they said he said they just repeated you they just said what you said in burundi I was like I’m quite flattered really so that one was worn yesterday this one was the one I wore cycling and managed to make its way onto the floor probably one of the kids I would never do something like that I always put stuff in the laundry basket and make sure it’s in the right place but that one definitely isn’t clean um so don’t go near that one a workout shirt somewhere in here I haven’t worked out much since I’ve been in colorado uh but that one’s pretty clean uh this one I wore when I got back from the wedding I just changed clothes briefly probably fairly clean and this one definitely hasn’t been worn and this one definitely hasn’t been worn and then just for good measure there’s a south fellowship shirt you can have one of these and show it off to the world around you you know just a little marketing plug that one is clean now

depending on your comfort level you would say different things about these shirts I would go to them and sniff them and make sure that they were somewhat clean before maybe putting them back in a drawer or sending them to the laundry basket I did not suggest that you would come and sniff them because that would be dangerous but there are some that are clean and can be worn again there are some that are dirty and need to be washed yet if you have the right level of sensitivity you might say something like this by nature of mingling in with the dirty shirts the clean shirts are now no longer clean by nature of what the infection looks like you have had those shirts sitting in the same basket you need to wash them all where I to give you these shirts and say hey here’s some free shirts I would definitely recommend that you wash them all before wearing them just out of chance that I actually wore them for longer than I

remember but but this pile of clean and unclean to a certain person with the right level of hygiene would say no there’s not clean and unclean they are just all unclean that the infection has already happened they have mixed with the unclean shirts now that tells you a chunk about what you need to know chunk about what you need to know about pharisees in the first century jewish world mixing together was like infection you did not mix with people that were unclean that weren’t keeping all the rules because that impacted you that affected you that infected you so when simon the pharisee says if this man were a prophet he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner he can’t be a prophet in simon’s mind because if he was he would know who she was and she would know the effect that was having on him and the effect that was having on simon and the effect that was having

on the whole gathering simon believes he knows her story and and her story affects Jesus you might even say you might even go as far as to say her story infects Jesus everything that she brings to that room changes the experience of the room Jesus is infected by her simon is infected by her unless he does the right thing and make sure to push her away very publicly and very clearly and say I do not tolerate her I do not accept her she is unacceptable is exactly what is going on in this passage when the pharisee had invited him saw this he said to himself if this man were a prophet he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner Jesus answered him simon I have something to tell you tell me teacher he said there’s some delightful irony going on there because simon is now convinced Jesus cannot be a prophet and yet Jesus is being one right in front of him he knows exactly what simon is thinking

and he’s about to reveal the whole thing to him Jesus will function exactly as a prophet even though simon is not prepared for that fact tell me teacher he said and Jesus moves into his favorite form of teaching of parable two people owed money to a certain money lender juan owed him 500 dinari and the other 50 to give you sort of a frame of reference one day’s wages were about a dinar I so you’re talking about 500 days of pay median salary in colorado right now what 70 80 000 you’re talking about a chunk of money now which of them neither of them had the money to pay back so he forgave the debts of both now which of them will love him more simon replied I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven you have judged correctly Jesus said a parable in its nature is designed to mess with you it’s designed to present a bunch of characters and then ask you to answer where do I fit into this the hebrew word for

parable the hebrew version of parable is is a story form called marshall so there’s a famous one in the old testament a guy called nathan a king acts out acts in a way that wasn’t deemed acceptable a prophet turns up at his doorstep and tells him a story a certain man in a town had many sheep was very rich some unexpected guest comes to stay with him and in that moment he says I need to feed him he goes down to his neighbor steals the neighbor’s one small lamb that he owns and treats like a child kills it feeds his guest and nathan says what do we do what what’s the outworking of this david responds well we kill the man this is unacceptable behavior and nathan in this beautiful twist looks at david and says well you’re the man it’s you the story asks you to wrestle and place yourself within the story’s context it leaves you in that tension and if you don’t do the hard work you can walk away and say that was a pretty cute story that

somebody told I kind of liked it but if you wrestle with it it can become deeply challenging simon seems to have the intellect to be able to understand the story and understand what’s proper just like david but he hasn’t yet made the jump as to where he fits in with this story and Jesus is going to give him a helping hand he turned towards the woman Jesus turned towards the woman said to simon do you see this woman I came into your house you did not give me any water for my feet but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair you did not give me a kiss but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet you did not put oil on my head but she has poured perfume on my feet Jesus takes her un her ambiguous actions and reads them in the best light possible while at the same time saying to simon think about how you treated me because simon has referred to Jesus as teacher he’s

used all of these titles that suggest he honors Jesus and yet his actions have said he does the very opposite common courtesy would say that when a guest arrived at your door you washed their feet or provided a servant to do it the roads were dusty they were dirty there was all sorts of things on the road and when you turned up at a dinner party you reclined on a sofa an eight your feet were right up against somebody else’s chest and and to think that you would want to sit there for hour after hour with feet covered in all sorts of things from the street nobody wanted to do that and yet this is what simon has asked of Jesus he’s insulted him while calling him teacher there would be a tradition of giving a kiss to a guest of honor and yet simon hasn’t done this and oil was a sign of anointing sign of authority something you might do for an important person a teacher simon has done none of these things he said he honors Jesus and

he has allowed Jesus to be dishonored while claiming to honor Jesus simon has broken fundamental rules of social interaction he’s been deeply insulting and I love the humility of Jesus and the story that Jesus has sat through this and not said a word about it until this point Jesus has let this gone unobserved he’s simply taken the treatment that he received what an incredible statement of his character his ability to operate in the world do you see this woman is the question that he asks simon and the truth is simon doesn’t see her at least not really he thinks he sees certain things about a character he thinks that he knows a story but the truth is simon only sees her surface story and has missed how Jesus affects her story there is some story some backstory that luke doesn’t give us insight to at some point it seems that Jesus and this woman have interacted and we’re only left to imagine exactly what that interaction looked

like but we see this idea therefore I tell you how many sins have been forgiven what we are seeing here is the outworking of an experience of Jesus that has left her incredibly changed the only thing that makes her actions unambiguous is the tears the other things could be misread in the with the wrong heart the wrong attitude and yet the tears speak to something about her life that has changed deeply there is some encounter with Jesus that has left uh on this new road this new discovery and we might imagine that it looked something like this passage in john chapter eight it’s probably not the same woman geography’s fairly off they’re in different places but we read in john chapter 8 verse 3 the teachers of the religion of the law and the pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery they made a stand before the group they humiliated her in front of everybody by making a stand up and explaining just what she’d done and said to

Jesus teacher this woman was caught in the act of adultery in the law of moses in the law moses commanded us to stone such a woman now what do you say Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger when they kept on questioning him he straightened up and said to them let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her again he stooped down and wrote on the ground at this those who heard began to go away one at a time the older ones first until only Jesus was left with the woman still standing there Jesus straightened up and asked a woman where are they has no one condemned you no one sir she said then neither do I condemn you Jesus declared go now and leave your life of sin this is a story that may well be similar to this woman’s experience of Jesus but something has happened that says to a new life is possible she has received forgiveness and now she is

outpouring her experience of that forgiveness to the the Jesus that has offered it it connects back right to simon the parable simon’s received those who have been forgiven much they love much she is right in that moment I have been forgiven so much but at this table at this gathering there is a fundamental disagreement at the table as to who gets to experience God’s presence remember each of those groups we talked about they’re all talking about how do we bring God’s presence back to this nation how do we make things good again how do we get rid of the romans and everyone has different ideas about how it happens but there’s a fundamental disagreement as to who gets to experience God’s presence and what they need to do to experience it simon believes God’s presence follows life change Jesus seems to suggest that God’s presence can and should and that’s the wrong precede um no it’s not life change I

messed up one of the slides somewhere there’s this idea that Jesus says the presence happens first there’s some experience of God that you were invited into and that will change everything and yet simon says just the opposite and I wonder in the western church how do we approach this I would suggest that often we develop this idea that says this I would like to see you behave in a particular way and when I see your behavior looking in a particular way when I see you following a list of rules well then I’ll be willing to accept that you believe what you say you believe about Jesus and the way that the world works and finally when I’m convinced that you believe what you believe well then you get to belong then the doors open and there’s a place at the table for you that seems to be how simon operated and that’s how I would suggest a chunk of the church operates and yet it seems Jesus operated just the opposite way to Jesus you got

to belong you’ve got to sit at the table first and in sitting with him and learning from him in experiencing him something happened you became to believe in this Jesus who was just almost too good to be true who spoke words of life who ultimately would go to death and resurrection and in being with him something changed about what you believed and only after your beliefs changed did your behavior change we want to see particular actions come first and yet to Jesus it was just the opposite we want to see behave believe and then belong and yet Jesus was comfortable with belong and then believe and then behave last of all then Jesus said to her your sins are forgiven this is really his words he’s really speaking these words not for her she has already heard this he’s really speaking it for the group of people that are listening she is acceptable she has been forgiven she has been pulled back into proper society not because she

has done anything to deserve it but simply because the God of the universe has chosen to forgive her because he is good she is fine acceptable good all of those different things she is clean in the language of the shirts simply because he has said that of her she’s done nothing to deserve it just like you and I Jesus believes news stories happen at the table simon believes news stories precede not proceed precede the table it’s all a matter of where you think the action happens first does it happen with you or does it happen with God so here’s the difficult question the classic parable question for us to embrace which character do you identify with which character do you identify with perhaps you identify with a woman before she experiences Jesus perhaps you would own up to a life that seems kind of broken at the moment perhaps you would say I’ve been deeply successful I’ve have all these good things to talk about

and yet I feel like there’s something missing there’s something that I keep chasing after maybe there’s some sort of part of your story like what what’s the answer to this what’s next you’re invited into this table not because of anything that you have done simply because the God of the universe loves you and came for you and died for you and rose again he invites you into his story maybe you identify with the woman after her encounter with Jesus maybe you talk about this deep love that you have for him maybe there’s this experience of wow I have been forgiven so much but you’re wrestling with how you’re treated by those that seem like the insiders maybe there’s still a way that you feel like you don’t fit that your character isn’t quite acceptable that the suspicion based on some of your history maybe you’re struggling to find a seat at the table and the message for you seems to be that no you are welcome in here this

table is for you but I wonder if the challenge point for many of us is that we don’t at times identify more with simon I wonder if we start off identifying with this unnamed woman and yet so often broken sinners that find Jesus turn quickly into pharisees when we start to find that other people maybe don’t deserve a place at the table maybe we find reasons that they shouldn’t get a second chance and a fifth chance and a ninth chance maybe the grace of God seems like it should run out at some point maybe we start off like her the woman maybe we end up like pharisees I know I’ve wrestled with that tension in my own art who is acceptable here do you believe the right things is your theology correct all of those different things and yet Jesus sits at this table and seems fairly unconcerned with that he seems to invite in those that find themselves on the fringes the truth is we don’t always get to pick the parable we’re living

but we get to pick who we are in the parable is it the woman is it simon the pharisee and maybe the stretch for us is this maybe the challenge for us is this how do we get to go out into our everyday lives and not reflect those characters but reflect Jesus how do we get to play Jesus part in this parable that sees the table as this place where people might find acceptance might find belonging might come to believe in who Jesus is and might come to see life change happen maybe that’s the challenge point for us maybe we need to drop some of our language of infection of dirty of unclean of who fits and maybe we need to invite those into our tables into our spaces that don’t find themselves in the center of the story that find themselves on the margins my wife and I had this somewhat hilarious encounter some years ago we were vacationing in california and we ended up staying in malibu for the night we found an airbnb it

was a beautiful place it got you a couple of pictures here is this spanish-style villa with this beautiful rock pool and so we went off into the mountains and the couple that we stayed with seemed intriguing the lady said in her bio 70 years old mainly retired I just ride horses now my husband’s 75 he mainly writes and and that’s how we live our lives up in the mountains in malibu and so turned out she was english and we got there she made me a delightful english cup of tea and we we got to talking about different things and a husband who had been sick came downstairs and and he sat down with us at the table and I said so sue says you’re you’re a writer yep I was like okay um have you written anything recently yep just finished a project and I’m a little bit confused and I’m a question ask her by nature in case you haven’t noticed so I’m like hold on a second every other writer I know I know a few different writers once you get

them started talking about their books they never shut up like they literally go on about them forever and ever and here’s a writer that won’t talk about his writing um and and I’m trying to put this delicately turns out he wrote things that were designed for adults and not for children and that he had the biggest network of these writings and pictures and different things in the country and so we’re left with this awkward moment of oh my goodness what are we doing in what what is this place I think automatically and natural reaction goes to infection what’s going to happen to me for being here like a lightning bolt’s going to hit me on the road on the way down this this is like this den of sin that we’ve ended up in and what is the result that comes out of this that’s the pharisee response right I think the real reaction was supposed to be what effect could be had here because the the Jesus story says this you are made in God’s image and

that in coming to know Jesus and walking into relationship with him the spirit of God lives in you that wherever you go you bring life and you bring new stories and new possibilities and wherever you go that is true it doesn’t matter if it’s this weird palatial house in malibu with a couple of people that definitely find themselves on the margins of society the truth is whatever you wherever you go you take light and you take life and that is who you are made to be whatever table you sit at you are not infected you get to effect change you get to change the narrative and bring new stories so my final question for this for us as we move into a time of worship are you willing to look underneath the surface story and see new stories at your table who will you invite into the spaces that you have will it be people that are like you or will it be people that wrestle with their own brokenness who are trying different stories who have so

much history that they’re carrying so much baggage that they don’t know if they can ever belong will you invite in people that have tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and faired will you invite in those that don’t fit in nice spaces will you allow God to continue to use your table to bring about new stories in this world let’s pray

Build a Bigger Table (Part 2)2022-02-09T15:01:59-07:00

Build a Bigger Table (Part 1)


You may be aware that it’s Pentecost Sunday. This moment that has been talked about for a long time is really the birth of the church. It’s the moment 2000 years ago, when a group of people… A kind of small group of people, a scared group of people go from being just a sort of closeted group to this whole movement that you, if you’re a follower of Jesus today, are a part of. today, 2000 years later. This thing is still going. And so today on Pentecost, we’re gonna do what the early church did— Baptism. 3000 people joined them that day, now, that may not happen today, we may not have 3000 people flood the doors, but they did celebrate those people that came into the church community through this old process of baptism.  They probably used a river, I suggested the Platte River. Apparently, it was not a good idea, That didn’t go down well, but we do have a horse trough, no horses have been here, it is clean.  It is somewhat warm. We have a heater, I’m not sure it worked to its full capacity, so it’s… tepid is the word we are looking for. But these guys are students, most of them, they’ll get over it, and what we will do is we’ll celebrate these guys by dunking them in water, depending on how good they have been on what their parents say, We may bring them back up at one point, we may hold them back down a little longer, but baptism has these roots in something incredible, what these guys are doing today is special, but it is not special because of the ceremony, it’s special because that ceremony represents something that has already happened, there was a life change that has happened to them, there’s this moment where they responded to who Jesus is, and now we celebrate that through the ancient ritual of baptism, We celebrate the decision that each one of them has made, and so I’m hoping this becomes this grand tradition here at South when year after year on this Pentecost Sunday, this birth of the church, we celebrate that by welcoming new people into it through this incredible act of baptism, but first we have some teaching to do or I have some teaching to do you have some listening to do, and we’re gonna jump into a new series, going through this book of Luke.  Luke is one of the first biographies of Jesus’ life, if you’re unfamiliar with the Bible, that’s fine, you can jump in with us, and Luke is a particular type of story teller who loves his details. He’s the longest of all of the writers of the biographies of Jesus life. I wanna say biography, I don’t mean biography as you probably know, a modern biography really is just about capturing every detail of somebody’s life .An ancient biography was more interested in using that to story-tell. It would pick out particular moments and say, “These are the significant moments”, and Luke does that, but he, more than any of the others, says I’ve gone back to the start, because I want you to know for sure what you believe…

Let me read you the first couple of lines,

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those were the first eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of things that you have been taught”.

Maybe you can already capture from the beginning, this guy talks in some sophisticated language. Some of the other writers are a bit more sort of maybe ‘common’ is the word.  Mark, one of the writers, will say, “Jesus did this, and then he did this, and then he did this, and then he did this and this and this”.  . And it goes on like that,  whereas Luke is more… “Jesus was sitting by the side of the road, and whilst he was there,” whilst and whither and thither. . .. . , that type of language is very sophisticated,  a more detailed sort of biography, and he takes everything from the beginning and says, I’m gonna give you the details so that you can know these things you believe, this story that is so good. It almost seems too good to be true. You can know the basis that you’re believing that.  I want you to know how it began. He goes back and he searches through Jesus’ earliest moments, the birth, and all of those stories and takes them and gives us the details, we’re gonna follow this guy as he talks about Jesus’  life, but we’re gonna do it in a very particular way. We could go verse by verse, but that would take us years, and so maybe that’s a Bible study that you’d like to do by yourself, if it’s a thing that you’d like to explore.  We’re just gonna take one type of story from this Gospel account, from this biography, we’re gonna look at every time Jesus sits at a table with someone.

Think about how strange this book is to you, there are so many things in this book that you just can’t… I just can’t compute. It’s a different world, and yet, for thousands of years people have been gathering around tables.  We are gonna follow every time Jesus did this, and I think about all the occasions that you have gathered around the table, maybe there’s been moments where you’ve had a lingering conversation, you’ve talked and you said, I will be best friends with these people for the rest of my life, there’s something about them that I love… We’re gonna become close, just based on tonight,

Maybe you’ve had a romantic conversation, you’ve talked to someone one-on-one over a meal and said, “I think were destined to be together forever”. Maybe you’ve had one of those deep sort of conversations where your life has changed significantly, and maybe you’ve just had many of those times when you’ve gathered with friends, and you’ve always had a plan that the conversation will go from the table to a sitting area of some kind and yet you just never moved, and ours later, it feels like the moments have just have gone, it’s just been that joyous encounter, those conversations that have just meant so much.  Jesus has these different conversations with people  in this book of Luke.  Sometimes he sits with enemies, sometimes he sits with friends, sometimes he sits with people that are very different, and sometimes he sits with people that are very similar to him, but what we see time and time again is every time Jesus sits with someone, something life-changing happens, there’s something about his approach to this table that is life-changing, so we’re gonna jump into Luke chapter five in a couple of minutes, but before I do that, let me say this, over the next few months, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna  start with Luke, but we’re gonna move on to Acts because in your Bible that you have in front of you or on your phone or on your iPad screen, those are two books, but in reality, they’re one book,   They are written by the same author, Luke.  He wrote more of the New Testament than any other author.

When we think about the history of the early church, Luke gives us more words than anybody else, and he gives us this detailed information that tells us what Jesus did, but also what his followers did after him.  We get to learn from this master teacher. We get to embrace the things that he did, we get to watch how he lived his every day life, and then we get this challenge of How do I put that into action in my own life?   Luke gives us an account of how God has for years been working in the world, This writer, Luke, wants us to know God has done something very significant, Jesus has died and risen again.  That is spectacular in itself, and based on that, he’s taken a group of people who look just like you and me and is using them to transform the world around them. This is the central heart of this book, and I want to give you this little passage first to give you a snippet of what you can look for as we go through the series and what you can look for today, just how and who Jesus is trying to reach people.

This is Luke chapter four.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”

. This is how Jesus introduces everything that he’s going to do, and I want to pick out this little verse. . .”Good news to the poor”   Who are the poor?… In our understanding, right,? We think of people that don’t have any money, that’s our general definition of poor, and yet in this world, in this first century Jewish world, the poor means so much more than that, the poor is everyone who’s downtrodden, everyone who lives their life on the margins;  In this society women were classed as being part of the poor, people with bad jobs, jobs that no one else wanted, were  part of the poor; people that couldn’t get by who were struggling with everyday life, people who were rejected, the people on the margins were the poor.

Jesus says right at the beginning what he’s going to do, he says, I’ve come for those people, those are the people that need me… That is why I’m here.  I’m gonna bring the life to that group of people that weren’t used to good things, people that felt they were constantly rejected and kept on the outside of society.  Jesus uses this word potokus… which simply means downtrodden,  the people that feel like people are constantly stepping on them.

If you feel like that, the good news is that Jesus says that he has a message for you. And so for the next couple of chapters from Chapter 4 through to this passage, we’re gonna look at… In chapter 5, verse 27, Jesus does exactly that. He brings good news to the poor, he heals people that need healing. . . . they would have been considered poor. He releases people struggling with mental illness, they would have been considered part of the poor.  He lifts up people on the fringes of society, and then we come to this guy to a guy called Levi. And I think our question will be, Does he fit in that group?  “After this, Jesus went out and saw a toll collector by the name of Levi sitting at his toll booth” . Some of your Bibles may say tax collector, that’s fine, it’s not a huge difference,  toll is just a particular nuance.   Follow me, Jesus said to him and Levi, got up and left everything and followed him.

After this, Jesus went out and saw a “toll collector”. What do they do? So you guys understand tolls, right? You have that irritating movement, a moment where you’re driving down 470 and you get to the moment where it crosses I-25, and you’re like, Why am I paying money now to ride on a highway that the government paid for…It feels like I already paid for this, and yet you do… Apparently, some people are very unhappy about this, there was a whole petition to stop unfair 470 tolls to the east of I-25 in the Denver metro area. It got 15 supporters. So apparently, most people aren’t that upset, and if you are upset or you missed your window of opportunity, you could have really put in a good protest, but it’s passed, we’re gonna stick with this toll system forever. The ancient world was not that much different, there were official taxes, like head taxes and things like that, that the Jewish officials would collect, and then there were all these are the little detailed things, things that were a bit arbitrary, you might walk down a particular road and someone would claim a toll, you might have to cross a particular bridge and someone would claim a toll.

Now the Roman government, the people that ran everything in those days, they were very, very uninterested in doing the difficult work of collecting tolls.  That was way beneath them, what they wanted to do was find some people who would do that for them.

So they would put it out to contract, they would say how much total money do you think you could get us and you would say, I think I can raise this much, and then you would pay the Roman government to take that contract, and then you have to do the hard work of getting all of that money back. You had to start raising the money that you’d already spent buying the contract.

So the toll collectors were the people that did that.  How would you guess they were perceived by society around them?

Generally, these guys are the lowest of the low… The writer, Joel B. Green, who wrote a commentary on the Book of Luke, says these guys are like snitches.  I found Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch. For those of you guys remember, Huggy Bear, he’s considered a snitch in his time or an urban informant.  In his language, he’s like, I’m no snitch. And urban informant is different to that. A snitch wears a wire… A snitch is the scum of the information  industry.  a snitch has no soul. And we still have that language. They write snitches get stitches. We’ve told that to our daughter when she snitches on a younger sister and she’s like, No, they don’t… They get hugs, they get cuddles, they get rewarded. She’s already on the snitch side of things, but there’s this idea that there’s a certain type of people that we dislike, that we think are low characters.  That, in Joel B Green’s idea, is that’s exactly what toll collectors of the day were like… They were the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low. They made money by over-charging other people to walk on roads, they were the lowest of the low, nobody wanted them around, they were not invited to nice dinner parties, they were not invited to good conversations around the table, but my question from all of this is. . . . if Jesus says he’s come for the down trodden… Well, is Levi really downtrodden? chances are he’s pretty rich, chances are he’s making his money off good, hard working people. Is he really one of the downtrodden?   Jesus is interested in Levi when Levi, by nature, is probably one of the richer people in the area, just based on the way that he can abuse the system.

We know that these tax collectors are despised though, because when John the Baptist is doing his baptism stuff, even tax collectors came to be baptized. There’s this idea to Luke that I can’t believe these people, if they’re coming, surely anyone can come. Luke is baffled that these tax collectors will be coming to John for baptism, the are the worst, the lowest.   But when you look at this word downtrodden, this word Patokus, which I just gave you, it has this sort of underlying meaning at its heart, the word means “one who cowers, one who crouches down, one who doesn’t wanna be observed, one who feels despised”.    it’s all there in the root of this word, and when you think about how society perceives Levi, maybe he does fit the definition of downtrodden,  maybe someone who nobody wants to include.   We don’t know anything about Levi’s character.  All we know is that generally, as a rule, tax collectors, toll collectors, were sort of  manipulating the system, they were potentially stealing money from good, hard working people in order to make themselves rich, but we don’t know that was true with Levi particularly. What we do know though, is whether he is good in his character or bad in his character, he would be despised by everybody around him.

Maybe that is part of the definition, downtrodden, maybe been forced out into the margins is downtrodden,  if downtrodden means one who cowers, one who doesn’t want to be seen, one who feels abused, feels attacked, feels left out, and maybe he is included in that, as I try to give you a picture image of this, I thought about a hedgehog, What hedgehogs do is when they feel attacked, when they feel like they’re in danger, they wrap themselves up into a tiny ball, and when you put your hand on them, you find them to be prickly because they’re in a defensive posture.  I wonderif you have thought about any of the people that you’ve found in your encounters. . . “Man, this person is just a prickly character”  I wonder how much of it is about them being vicious or attacking, or how much is just a defensive posture.

And I wonder if some of Levi’s story is sort of caught up in that and I wonder how he feels he is treated by society and there’s a good chance that Levi feels like he knows what it is to live life on the margins.

This guy may not fit into the classic definition of poor, but he probably feels pretty rejected by those around him, and so that makes what Jesus does rather fascinating. After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at his tax booth. Follow me, Jesus said to Levi and Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. He makes, on the surface, this incredibly rash decision in a moment, as he gets up and leaves everything he’s ever known, leaves his income supply, all of those different things and says, I’m going to follow this itinerant rabbi who is wandering around the countryside, teaching people.  It seems like an audacious decision to make, but when we know something about the history, know something about what Levi can expect from life, it starts to make sense because Levi, as we’ve touched on already, as a guy who probably knows his place in the first century the Jewish education system said this, We’re gonna educate every male Jewish child, and around the age of 11, we’re gonna start to say, you don’t quite fit the academic standard, so you go and find an uncle, find your father, find someone who can teach you a trade and learn that trade, and then they do the same at about 16, 17 years old.  If you’ve done high school sports, it’s exactly the same process, it’s that vicious moment when you have to tell the students you don’t make it, you’re cut… You’re done, you can go and play JV, but you’re not Varsity. This is this moment that Levi would have gone through with all other Jewish boys, and they would take the cream of the crop up to 30 and educate them, and then they will become Rabbis themselves and go out and gather their own followers.

Levi knows by nature of the fact that he’s doing this job, no Rabbi is going to come and say “Follow me”.  You’re never be gonna be included in the elite of society, and yet here is Jesus, this guy who was becoming something of a celebrity in his local area, walking up to the tax booth and saying, Levi, come follow me, you can be involved in what I’m doing. Come learn from me, yes, listen to my teaching, but actually watch my action, watch how I act in the world around me, take all of that in, and then you go and do the same… And this Levi character, he seems pretty intuitive in how he’s gonna go about that. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. What’s the first thing that Levi has intuited from Jesus? The first thing he has learned by watching him is that Jesus cares about those on the margins.    Jesus is interested in those on the fringes, and Levi’s first action as he sits down with Jesus is to say,  ‘You on the outside, come in, there’s more room at this table. I’m gonna bring you in.”

Levi takes his table and he makes it available.  He takes his circle of influence, he takes the group that he has influence over and says, I’m gonna bring them in to what Jesus is already doing, and if those of you that have followed Jesus for a while, you may be familiar with the language of kingdom. What is a kingdom? When you think about it, a kingdom is the area that you have influence or rulership over, and the truth is that you… Each one of you, you have a kingdom, maybe not in the normal sense, but you have this circle of influence, this group of people that you have influence over, and coming into what Jesus is doing is really at its heart saying, I’m gonna dethrone myself from that, I’m gonna take myself from the center. And I’m going to place Jesus there. When Levi sits at his table and says, I’m gonna invite those on the margins, he takes his table and he makes it available, he copies what he has seen Jesus do already. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belong to their sect complained to His disciples, Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?   So any time you see this little line here, the teachers of the law, it’s talking about a group of people called scribes, this group of people whose job, their entire existence was to go through the detailed law that Jewish people already had and get all of the possible details out of it.  They are going to get to the very core of the very heart of the minute details that you have to follow to stay in check. You know some people like this, they’re the people that when you play Monopoly, have some really detailed rules about how you have to play, and they’re like, No, I’m gonna insist… We used to play that like that way when I was a kid, and we have to play that way now. I know because I have a bunch of family and friends that are watching online that are like, Yeah, you… You are that guy, you are the guy that always ruins the fun with these detailed little rules. That’s who these guys are, they wanna know why Jesus will bring in those from the margins.   Why does he care about them? And the question I have for us is, Why are they so upset? What about this process? What about Jesus simply sitting and having a meal with someone bothers them so much?   because  I’ll sit and eat with pretty much anyone. If you guys are paying for a meal, just let me know because I’ll be there, I’m pretty shameless. And I’ll even pay for some of you guys as well.  I just enjoy the process of sitting down and eating, and yet these guys above it by a meal I where they so bothered..

. Really, to understand this, we have to understand how important a meal was to an Eastern culture to To sit down with someone over a meal like this was to share intimacy,  to be involved in what they were doing and to suggest that they too were involved with you, that you are connected on some level in other Eastern cultures, that would be the language of. . . . you’ve shared my salt, once you’ve shared my salt, you can no longer betray me in any particular way.   For those of us that are Western people, it’s so important to understand, when Jesus sits at that table, the Last Supper, before he’s crucified, and He says to them, one of you that is eating with me, one of you will betray me- – – to an Eastern person that’s got this horror of weight, you’re sitting and sharing bread with him and you were about to betray him? The horror doesn’t compute to a Western world, but to an Eastern World, once you’ve shared bread,  you never go back on that, that’s why in many eastern cultures, even today, you might go out selling something on the streets and someone will be eating and you’ll stop at the door and he say, Oh, come in, have a bite to eat. There’s something sacred about the act of sharing food together that was ingrained in the society.

So when we read that Jesus is pulling in those that are sinners, those that are outside, eating with tax collectors and sinners, eating with the dregs of society and by nature of eating with them, you’re saying they’re included in what you’re doing. You’re saying that they’re okay, that they’re not outcasts. You’re pulling them in from the margins. To this group of people that is a horror. How can you do that? And yet this is Jesus response. “It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”.   Jesus’ response is, I’m here for those on the edge, for those on the fringe, for those that you never thought to include, for those that didn’t get an invite, for those that didn’t wake up early, for those that feel like they get left behind somewhere in the process,  for those that fall out, life is sort of passing them by and they don’t know how to keep up, that’s who I came for.   Luke and  Acts, this one big story,  has these two big surprises in it.   The first huge surprise is that Jesus died and rose again.

In their minds, Jesus wasn’t supposed to die, he was supposed to come as a conquering King he was supposed to overthrow the rule and he was supposed to make everything good again, and yet he dies and even more surprisingly comes back to life again. This is the one big surprise that Luke has to deal with, but the other big surprise is this, Jesus would start to include the outsider, Jesus would start to care and bring in those that were on the fringe, and this didn’t stop with him, this continued with his followers that would continue the tradition. After his going, these were people that were reaching out to the outsiders constantly, but it caused a ton of confusion. This is Acts chapter 10, next book in the series, when Peter said, “surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized” . He’s talking about a group of non-Jewish people that had said that they now believed in Jesus, they have had this experience where God has done something, they have experienced transformation. In the Bible’s language, the Spirit now lives inside of them, they are part of what is going on because God has said yes to them in some way, but the whole question is, what do we do to show that?… And Peter is like, Well, we dunk them in water, we baptize them just like we baptized everybody else.   These people that are on the outside, God has already spoken, he has said that they are included, and now we’re gonna show that publicly, we’re gonna do this thing that says, No, they are in as well, they are no longer on the margins, they are now in the center…

Surely, no one can stand in the way of them being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. So we order that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. There’s this moment, they’re like, Wow, the outsiders have been brought in, what can we do to stand in the way?   God has said, he’s bringing in people from the fringes, from the margins… We can’t stop that. It’s already happened. Luke deals with a surprise that Jesus died and rose again, but the baffling surprise that the outsides were now involved in what God is doing… So they said, It is my judgment therefore that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. They open the flood gates and the whole thing changes from that moment, it starts with the outside of Jewish, the downtrodden, the poor, the people that aren’t included, and he continues to the people that aren’t even Jewish, and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the table expands and expands and expands.

There is always room for more at this table, and one of the things I love about this is how I saw this work out in my parent’s life, in my family life, My parents had that interesting house, the door was always open.  Especially on Saturday, they never locked it really. at night… Yes, but in the day, it was just open and during Saturday, particularly, this sort of rag-tag bunch of maybe misfits with wander through the door at different times of the day, people that just weren’t included in most people’s invitation, they would wander in and if my parents were busy, they would stand and make themselves a cup of tea in very English fashion. Then they would sit at the table and maybe chat with some other people that were there, and this would happen over and over again though, there were always people just coming and going, and then occasionally  those people would stay for dinner, there would just be more people than could fit at the table.  So my parents had this moment, when they would say, Okay, we need to do something here, and the table would be gathered up, The table would be gathered up, and my dad would say to my brother and me to go down to the shed at the bottom of the yard, and I want you to go and grab this piece of wood that had been there for like time memorial; no one really knew why it was there, but he’d send my brother and me down and we would have to carry this huge thing, and put it over the top of the table.   And my brother and I would know at this point that this meant that there may not be enough food for us, but then this was the way that we would go about making room for more. Now, the interesting thing with this is that the table never looked quite as good at this point, but it was better, if that makes sense, it may not have been as neat, it may not have been as organized, everything may not be in the proper place, but there was this moment where now, suddenly there was room for more.  I saw this in my parent’s life over and over again, I saw people that the church itself often rejected, people that the church had said to them, you seem like you’re demon possessed or something, you seem like an outsider, you seem broken, I’m not sure you can be fixed. And I saw my parents invite these people, and I saw people that tried to commit suicide, that my parents sat with.  My parents in some real sense, helped rescue people.  I saw people that wouldn’t be alive today if my parents hadn’t had this open door and this table that could expand to make room for more. I saw the mirror, their own Rabbi Jesus, I saw the mirror, the way that he had made room for the outcast, that he had made room for those on the margins. I saw them operate their table as a church, but a church that functioned the way that it was supposed to function, that didn’t have a no entry sign for anybody;  that said, Anybody is welcome here, this table is open to everybody.

This is a passage from a book from a lady called Sarah Massey.  And she writes, this is a tribute to one of her friends, another author who passed away, and this is how she described this person’s character. .  . . it was she who pulled up more chairs to the table and scooted over to make room, who made us laugh and made us think, who was bold and courageous and kind, who would not be budged from her conviction that this Gospel is good news for everyone, who moved to the margins because she knew that this is the center of God’s story. I don’t know exactly what Jesus is doing when he sits with Levi and the other tax collectors, I don’t know if he’s moving from the center to the margins or he’s making the margins the center, and I don’t know that it really matters, but what I do know is that Jesus saw a group of people for whom there was no good news and said, I have good news for you. This is a brief summary of the Book of Acts and Luke that the writer Daryl Buck gives, ” Jesus is the Lord of all; so the gospel, the message and work of Jesus, well it can go to all that is, in a nutshell, what Luke and Acts is about.  Jesus is looking for anybody, it seems, that is willing to have him… How does all this connect with what we’re about to do in this horse trough over here, this ancient sort of ritual of baptism?   What we see is this group of outsiders as God acknowledges that they are accepted and included by giving them His Spirit, but literally coming to dwell inside, and that’s what we as followers of Jesus believe happens. There’s this moment when you accept Jesus, when He comes to dwell inside you, and it was shown in baptism, but there’s something else going on as well, it happened through the Spirit, it was shown through baptism, but it started at a table… It started at a table where Jesus sat with someone on the fringes of society, and just by sitting with him, included them in what he was doing, I saw this on a friend’s wall and it just captivated me, “Our tables will become our churches”. That is the dream of building a bigger table, this table that constantly expands when we are doing that, when we are nearing what Jesus did.

So my question for you as we move towards baptism is this. . . . is your table available?  How fixed is your circle, how willing are you for Jesus to take it and mess with it, how willing are you to find those that are outsiders, that are on the margins that nobody else is inviting, how willing are you for them to end up at your table or is your table too fixed?… There may not be a giant piece of wood down at the bottom of your yard behind a shed, but there has to be a plan to say, How can I make room for more? Because at this table of Jesus, there is always room for more. Is your table available? And who will you make room for? Will you make room at your table?

God is good.  He loves us very much indeed and He longs to welcome us to sit wit him at His table.

Build a Bigger Table (Part 1)2021-09-01T16:16:57-06:00
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