Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Is Your Mind Ready for Jesus?
Jesus has just sent 70 men on a short term mission trip to towns where the Master planned to go. They were told to focus on the mission, be aware that they would find opposition, but preach the gospel anyway. To those who accepted it, there would be healing. To those who did not, an expectation of God’s judgment.
When the 70 returned they rejoiced because the real enemy to the gospel: Satan, was powerless against the name of Jesus. The Lord replied that it is true—those that belong to Jesus will not be victimized by Satan and his minions and the power of the gospel will overcome no matter what the enemy throws against it. But He said that the disciples focus should not be on fighting the enemy but on loving the Lord and rejoicing that they have grasped the things of the gospel.
We heard a lot about the attitude of those who reject the gospel. But what about the attitude of those who are getting ready? That’s what we’ll see today. Jesus focuses on just how special it is to know and understand the person and mission of Jesus, and then illustrates the change of thinking that must take place to prepare a mind to embrace Him.
Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” Luke emphasizes the Spirit’s role in the mission of Jesus at regular intervals. The Spirit inspires Jesus to speak, and here He wants Jesus to remind His disciples of the kind of mind-set that’s needed to be open to the gospel.
So Jesus relies on the Spirit, and praises the Father, who sent Him on this mission. Why is Jesus rejoicing? Because the Father has chosen to hide the gospel from those that are wise in their own eyes, like the people of Capernaum, which Jesus chided at the beginning of the chapter for exalting themselves to heaven. Such people don’t think they have any needs, so they will not accept a gospel that declares we need a Savior. Instead, Jesus rejoices that the Father has chosen to reveal His plan of salvation to “infants.”
This goes along with what Jesus said back in Chapter 9 verse 48 when He said that it is the attitude of a little child that welcomes the Master, not of those seeking greatness. More than that, Jesus acknowledges that it was the Father’s “good pleasure to do so. Why is this important?
The Apostle Paul amplified this in his letter to the Corinthians:
1Cor. 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written:
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.
20 Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
This age thinks it is foolishness to think that you are a sinner and must be rescued by the death of one man. This age thinks you need to do it yourself—make yourself better either by wisdom and philosophy, by hard work, or by an endless string of do-overs. But God knows those are only traps to get us to think like Satan, who thought himself better than God.
So Jesus goes on to talk about the exclusivity of this wisdom:
What this reveals is a line of revelation that comes from the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, and goes not to the best and brightest of this age, but solely through Jesus the Son.
Jesus Himself said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
So no one can understand God except through Jesus, and no one can come to God except through Him. This is an entirely exclusive claim. You cannot come through Buddha or Krishna or Joseph Smith or Mohammed. It is a binary choice—black or white, yes or no, Jesus or nothing. If that doesn’t get your attention, you aren’t paying attention.
Now you might think: you mean Jesus arbitrarily reveals Himself to some and not others? Isn’t that unfair? Well, while I don’t pretend to understand God’s ways, who are we to question Him on fairness? I think it’s likely that Jesus reveals Himself to hearts that are open. But we know that God wants everyone to know Him (1 Timothy 2:4).
23 – 24
For millennia there were those who desired more than anything to experience this wonderful plan of salvation that God hinted at in the Old Testament. But to see Jesus physically, to watch Him heal someone, deliver someone, raise someone—wow! And to hear His actual voice through His human vocal chords speak as the Word of God—what an awesome privilege. Kings like David longed for that day (Psalm 17:1), and the prophets as well. Daniel, for instance, inquired of the angel about this incredible plan God laid out. He was told to keep it a secret, and that he would die prior to these wonderful things taking place (Daniel 12).
The point is—though we don’t hear Jesus audibly, we have His Word. Though we don’t see Him physically, we have the eye witness testimony of those who did, and we have the testimony of those today whose lives are forever changed.
It is a privilege not to be taken lightly.
So apparently an expert in the Law of Moses overheard the things Jesus had said and wondered to himself about being justified in God’s sight. Many Jews, and especially the religious leaders, felt that they got a “pass” just by being Jewish and that as long as they appeared to follow the Law of Moses, they had no worries.
He makes the mistake of thinking so highly of himself that he asks Jesus to justify him. He was just wanting something for himself, but I’m certainly glad he asked the question because of the answer Jesus gives.
25 – 29
An expert in the law was a scribe. Often they were Pharisees. He tests Jesus by asking how to “inherit” eternal life. To “inherit” meant to “receive an allotted share.” The Pharisees thought that because of their bloodline and good deeds, they were basically willed eternal life like a firstborn son would inherit from his father’s estate.
As is often the case, Jesus asks the man to answer his own question. This reveals a lot about the state of mind of the asker. Jesus asked him to answer according to his own expertise—the Law. The man cites Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. The Law calls on us to love God with our whole person and love others as we love ourselves. The man answered the question correctly, but it wasn’t a justification. In fact, only Jesus could perfectly love God and perfectly love others.
This idea of “what makes me good” or “how can I be acceptable to God” is something that rolls around in the minds of men and women, boys and girls. If we would just realize that any thought that isn’t in line with the character of God is enough to make us unacceptable to God and not good—we would be more ready to receive the gift that the only perfect Man offers—eternal life and acceptance by God for free because He paid the penalty due for violating God’s character.
But the man isn’t done. He thinks that by following the “letter” of the Law that he loves God—but wants to know just who else he should love. “Show me the parameters”. We often want to know how far we can go into the flesh without sinning. The trouble is, God is far purer than you can imagine and we are far more sinful than we like to admit.
So Jesus tells a story to illustrate His point that parsing who we should love is just another symptom of the fallen human character.
30 – 37
This is among the most famous stories in the Bible. The Good Samaritan is a part of our vernacular and stands for a person who stops to help another.
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was only 17 miles long, but fraught with danger. Along the 3,000 descent were bands of robbers who would attack people, rob them, injure or perhaps even kill them. In this story a priest and a Levite come upon a man who had been attacked but walk along the other side of the road. They did it either because perhaps they thought the man was dead, and they didn’t want to become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body, or perhaps they thought it was a ruse—like faking a flat tire on the freeway to get someone to stop so they could rob or hurt them.
But in the story a Samaritan—a person the Jews would consider NOT their neighbor, stops and helps and even offers to pay for any expenses for the man’s recuperation. To the Jews, Samaritans were half-breeds and idolaters and not worthy of God’s acceptance. The fact that a Samaritan helped an injured Jew would have brought great shame to the Jews who shunned him.
The scribe had no choice but to answer that it was the Samaritan who was the good neighbor. It’s a huge irony that someone the Jews would hate automatically would fulfill the Law of the Jews when highly regarded Jewish officials would not. They were supposed to represent God to the people but in fact were further from God’s character than a stinking Samaritan.
Jesus reveals how far they are from God by showing them their prejudice.
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
The Jews considered Samaritans enemies so they didn’t have to love them. God’s character is not this way. You see, if God only loved those that loved Him, none of us would have a chance of being justified in His presence. God Himself employs this verse.
Romans 5:8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
I think that this section can really be boiled down to two principals.
- Don’t be too impressed with yourself.
We see this clearly with the scribe. He thought he was already “in” with God and just wanted some justification. Jesus pressed him into revealing his true nature—that he was all about following the Law until it inconvenienced him.
As we go along, most people think they are okay. It’s part of the self-justifying portion of our minds. We really treat morality as a relative thing—that is, what’s important is what I think is moral, what works for me. But Jesus forces us into an objective view of ourselves in comparison with the purity of God’s character.
Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly”
2. Be very impressed with Jesus and the fact that He loves you and has revealed Himself to you.
I love the fact that God made it super simple—just one way through one Man. And we don’t have to earn God’s love in any way. In fact, we can’t earn it. Come to Him in humbleness and gratitude and you’ll be just fine!