A Jesus for Family
Pastor Duane Smets
June 18, 2017
I. A Listening Family (v. 4-15)
II. A Legitimate Family (v. 16-18)
III. A Laboring Family (v. 19-21)
Well, summer is here in San Diego. The sun of God is shining and ain’t it good? I hope you are spending some time basking in its glory and making our city proud by getting a good tan. The water is warming up and it is awesome. I love it.
Summer time is such a fun season and its a fun season in our church and we’ve got some cool things going on I want to tell you about.
First, beginning next week, you may have seen this in social media this week already, but we’re moving to just one 10am service! People tend to favor the first service so they can get off to the beach and we think with some of the extra space we have since planting a church last year and some other things that we can make it work to all be together in one service, which is awesome. Two services are great and provides more options and space but it really is nice to all be together.
I know we’re pulling the trigger kind of fast on this but we’ve gone back and forth between one and two morning services a number of times through the years and we’ve learned that even when we give a month’s advance notice, it still takes everyone a few weeks to adjust. So it’ll be fine. We’ve got a food truck coming next week for after the service, so no matter when you come it’ll be good.
The second thing to tell you about is Man Day! It’s this coming Saturday from 9a-9p. This is what we’re doing this year in place of Men’s Retreat. And we’re pretty amped about it. We’ll start out the morning with a brief devotional, then we’ll play all day and then in the evening, we’re going to eat a whole hog, do some worship and have one teaching session on godly manhood.
Now here’s the really cool thing about this Man Day. It’s close, here in La Mesa so you don’t have to drive up to Big Bear. It’s at Nick Todd’s house who has a pool and a hot tub which is sweet and it’s going to be a great time guys who don’t know each other to hang and have some friendships develop. And also this year there’s some pretty cool things going on in the day. Bryan Kahlen is going to run a beer brewing workshop at 11am. There’s corn hole tournament at 1pm. And Bill Freese who leads our prayer ministry is going to run a tobacco pipe smoking workshop at 4pm.
So here’s what we want you to do. Two things: 1. You need to register. It’s just $10, so no sweat. You can do it right now on your phone. If you’re a dude, just be there, cancel whatever other plans you have going on and come. And if you’re a wife or girlfriend just make your man go, it’ll be good for him. 2. Invite some friends of yours. If you’ve got friends, especially ones who are not Christians, invite them to come for during the day time stuff for beer brewing, swimming, corn hole, the hog, pipes and stuff just to hang and party. If they want to stay for the evening great, if not, no worries. If they’re friends who are not part of the church, they don’t need to register no worries. Cool? You guys got it?
Alright, third annoucnement. They gave me a lot to talk about up front here before the sermon today. So last one, Theo 101. It started last week, but you can still get in and come today. It’s right after the second service in the Living Room. I’m teaching it. It’s a great fun class where we’ll interact and you’ll learn a lot God, the Bible, Jesus, church and our city. You need it to become an official member here which is a good thing you ought to do. So come hang with me today at 12:45 in the Living Room for an hour. I know it’s Father’s Day but it’ll be quick and then we’ll go play.
Whew! Ok, time to get to the Bible. The sermon for today is titled, “A Jesus For Family” from Luke 8:4-21. As we’ve been studying through the Gospel of Luke in the Bible this year what we’ve been seen is that Jesus is kind of ninja.
Jesus has this incredible ability to attract and draw all kinds of crowds and as people hear about him and cruise out to check him out what we see is Jesus reaching out to all kinds of different people telling them that there is a place for them to be welcomed into the kingdom of God. So far we’ve seen Jesus reach out to people who hate church, to people who are tired of the old and need change, to people who are judgmental, to people who are rich, to people who are poor, to marginalized and oppressed women. Jesus reaches out to anyone and everyone and says “you have a place.” We’re going to continue to see him do that in upcoming weeks as He reaches out to different races, places and individual people too.
This week, Jesus’ focus is family. In many ways one of the things you could say about Jesus is that His mission and goal in coming to earth was to get people to join in on becoming part of His family.
Family is critical to who we are as human beings. Not too long ago the New York Times published an article titled, “Stronger Families, Stronger Society.” What the article says is that despite all the questions today about gender identity, sexual orientation, marriage, politics and money, that… “The family is the nucleus of civilization and the basic social unit of society.”
Family is critical. Without families the future does not exist. That is true about the physical world we live in socially and economically and I believe it is equally true spiritually…that we will not make it spiritually if we don’t get connected into God’s family.
What Jesus tells us today in the text is how we can get in His family and why it’s so good. So with that, why don’t you stand with me in honor of the Bible being not only a great book but also being written for us as the very words of God.
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you, it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others, they are, in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer
Alright, so what we have here are two parables or story analogies from Jesus and then a summary statement of what they’re about that springs from this incident where Jesus’ blood family, his mother, and brothers show up. All three of these sections we’re looking at today in chapter 8 go together and are all about hearing Jesus, which He concludes by saying if you really hear me, then you become my family!
In light of that, I’ve got three points for us walk through today from this text, “A Listening Family”, “A Legitimate Family” and “A Laboring Family” and my one line take home piece is, “Being in Jesus family is good.”
I. A Listening Family (v.4-15)
This first point, “A Listening Family” comes from what is probably one of the most well-known parables of Jesus, but also one of the most misunderstood. If you look up this passage in a physical Bible or on your phone, it’ll have a paragraph title above it saying, “The Parable of the Sower.”
And here’s what you need to know. This parable is not about the sower! It’s about the soil. The whole point of the parable we’re going to see is that it’s about what kind of soil you are. The point of the parable is not to go out sowing seeds, not that that’s a bad thing.
So you need to know that from the outset and you need to know those paragraph titles were just added by Bible printers to make the Bible more accessible and easier to read, those paragraph titles were not in the original and definitely not considered inspired by God.
Okay, let’s go through “The Parable of the Soils”. First off, Jesus starts with someone very common and well-known in their society of that day and age, it’s a farming analogy. Back then you were pretty much either a farmer, a shepherd, or a fisherman. So Jesus is using a story here of something everyone would be familiar with.
Anybody here a farmer? Didn’t think so. We live in the city. So this story would be more like talking about driving a car or something to us.
Jesus takes this story from everyday life to talk about something deeply profound about the meaning of life, who He is and what we as human beings long for and need. Here’s what He says, there’s seed which He says in verse 11 is “the word of God” that’s scattered across all different places, so it goes out to all kinds of different people. Once it lands Jesus says one of four different things that can happen to it.
1. Seed on the Path
v. 5 - “Some fell along the path and was trample underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.”
v. 12 - “The ones along the path are those who have heard’ then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”
You guys know the ole’ saying “in one ear and out the other”? That’s what this one is about, the difference between hearing and listening. It happens all the time with our kids at home, where we ask them to do something, “Like hey, time for dinner!” And there’s no response, they just continue playing or doing whatever they’re doing. So we have this saying in our home, “Obey right away without delay.”
We know this happens in common everyday life. Experts actually say unless someone is really listening it takes them hearing it seven times before it sticks.
What Jesus is saying here is that when it comes to spiritual things having to do with God, the stakes are even higher. Jesus says there is a spiritual battle going on when people hear the Word of God and the spiritual battle really is for one’s soul.
Now I know normally whenever we see and hear the word devil or Satan we tend to think of horror films. But the devil or Satan is actually a lot more crafty and subtle.
J.C. Ryle was the first Anglican pastor in Liverpool, England in the late 1800’s. Many years ago he wrote this,
“Nowhere does the devil labor so hard to stop the progress of that which is good, and to prevent men and women from being saved, than in wandering thoughts, roving imaginations, listless minds, dull memories, sleepy eyes, fidgety nerves, weary ears and distracted attention. In all these things Satan has a great hand.”
That means, right now, while I’m preaching there is a battle going on in your mind. I’ve seen this a hundred times, where someone will hear me say something, consider it, we may even have a discussion about it. But then some other idea, belief, or desire is greater and they end up dismissing the brief moment when they were considering the plausibility that Jesus might actually be good and true.
The beliefs of a different family ends up being more persuasive and sounds better.
2. Seed on the Rocks
v. 6 - “Some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.”
v. 13 - “The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.”
There’s a couple things going on with this one. First, any seed needs water in order to grow up and mature. The way that God has designed for us to grow up and mature is through relationships with other people.
You will not grow spiritually as a Christian apart from Christian community. That’s why we push community groups so hard. Because if you just come on Sundays and never get connected to anyone else relationally where you can have real conversations, you most likely won’t stick around…here at the church and maybe even with God.
What happens is that sooner or later in life all of us hit trials or what Jesus calls “testing” here. Difficult things will happen in life. It’s the result of living in a fallen and broken world and with bodies that eventually break down and die. And when you hit tragedy or when something bad happens you will not be able to make it through it spiritually alone. God has designed us to be a support system and community who comfort and encourage and help one another in our times of need.
That’s the first thing going on with this one. The second thing is this line where Jesus says at first, “they receive it with joy.” This is what I call the jump in fast jump out fast scenario.
Anytime someone comes along and it’s like their first or second Sunday and I meet them and they’re like, “Oh Pastor Duane, this is the greatest church I’ve ever been to. That was the best sermon I’ve ever heard in my life.” That happens. I’m like ding ding ding. Red flag. If they keep coming a few months down the road we’re going to be the worst church they’ve ever been to and I’m the worst pastor they’ve ever heard and so they leave.
It’s one of the many reasons we do membership with an 8-week Theo 101 class. It’s so we can date a bit before we decide to get married. We don’t want you to jump real fast into this church because then you’ll be likely to jump fast out of it. Following Jesus and really being part of one of His churches is a really big deal. It’s a big decision.
We want you to join in. We love being the church together. We need each other. It’s a special family. That’s why it ought to be taken so seriously. And on top of it, the kind of relationships that are going to help in times of trouble are relationships that just take time to form.
3. Seed in the Thorns
v. 7 - “Some fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.”
v. 14 - “What fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”
Oh man. This one is tough. Once again, we see this a lot. One of our emeritus pastors, Pastor Ron Broersma used to call it, GBO, got a better offer. That there is always something better or more important than church or community group.
We were talking about it a couple Sunday nights ago as a group here about Sunday Funday, where Sunday is seen by most as another weekend day as the end of the week, so there’s always something better to do than church. But according to God, it’s the first day of the week, the peak start off of our week.
I’ve seen this one happen so many times. Where the need to work, or kids sports, or this friend’s birthday thing or this family thing or this thing or that thing come along to where you miss church and you miss community group and you miss and you miss and you miss. Then what happens hears what we hear, “I just don’t feel very connected anymore” and people leave the church and often end up leaving God. That’s how it happens.
I’ll use J.C. Ryle here again because he’s good on this, remember nothing has changed in our culture and society today, we’re still just as busy as ever. This was written in the late 1800’s.
“The things of this life form one of the greatest dangers which beset a Christian’s path. The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world, are so many traps to catch souls. Thousands of things, which in themselves are innocent, can become, little better than soul-poisons, and helps to hell. In the midst of our families, and in the pursuit of our lawful callings, we have need to be on our guard. These temporal things may rob us of heaven, and smother every sermon we hear. We may live and die thorny-ground hearers.”
Earlier I said you would not grow as a Christian without being in community. Here’s the other thing, you will not grow as a Christian and likely not stay a Christian unless you are regularly in church hearing God’s word as part of Jesus’ family. It’s just the way God designed your soul to work.
It’s our expectation here for our members that you’re here every Sunday unless you’re sick or have a planned vacation (not last minute). Not because we’re all about rules or something but because we believe that is how you will grow and be happiest in this life. That we’re a family and if we don’t see each other regularly, you and the family will suffer.
4. Seed in the Good Soil
v. 8 - “Some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.”
v. 15 - “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
Ah. This is what we all want right? To bear fruit. To have a good life. To have a good and honest heart. What Jesus says here is the way that happens is by hearing His Word, really taking it in, honestly believing and moving forward step by step, day by day.
You see here’s the thing. You know how long it takes for a seed to make it to becoming a tree? Five to thirteen years. Can you believe that? From a time a seed is planted, it takes five to thirteen years until it will start to bear fruit. Think that requires some patience and hard work? Um. Yeah. Fruit never happens over night. It takes time.
That’s why hearing His Word and believing in Jesus is not a one-time thing and not a solo thing. It takes a lot of time, honestly wrestling with your heart, with His words, it takes the watering moisture of other people, it takes the regular hearing of His Word in church, it takes a lot. But the result? The result is grand.
Psalm 1 says the man or woman who is blessed and happy in this life is the one who plants themselves by a stream of water and then they bear fruit in due season. Jesus and His family are waters of life.
Jesus' call here in this parable is to plant yourself in Him, to become a part of His blessed family, one that bears good fruit and lasts forever. And here is the really cool thing, He offers this to everyone.
I kind of skipped over how Jesus shares the parable and shares it again explaining it. He does that because one of His disciples ask Him why He spoke in these riddling parables? When He answered He didn’t pull the disciples aside and speak to just them. He spoke to the whole crowd saying, verse 10, “To
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God.”
The reasons it was to them is because Jesus is right there as the Son of God, the King of the Kingdom and He has the secret and is telling it to everyone! And it’s the best secret of all…that no matter who you are, what you’ve done, what you've lived through…you can be included in the special family of God…all simply through hearing Jesus and believing in and following Jesus as the Savior of your life!
Jesus is saying that His family is good and you can come into the family. So come in. Being in Jesus family is good. So good. Are you in the family? Do you want to be? You can. Jesus is inviting you today to hear Him, to believe, to keep believing, to bond with His other family members and in due season to bear much fruit in your life!
Well, this sermon is a little lopsided because the first point deals with three times as much text as the second two points combined. So let’s move on and look at these two other shorter points, “A Legitimate Family” and “A Laboring Family.”
II. A Legitimate Family (v.16-18)
First, this “Legitimate Family” point comes from this little analogy gives about a light being covered up. And I’ll be honest with this one, it confused me. I didn’t get it. I had to go read some stuff and study it until it made sense.
What I discovered is I think what confused me is an old song about sharing Jesus with other people, “This little light of mine, I’m going let it shine, This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Don’t let Satan whoo it out, I’m going to let it shine, Don’t let Satan whoo it out, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
What’s funny is that neither the parable of the soil nor this little analogy has anything to do with sharing Jesus with other people, though that’s a good thing we ought to do. What Jesus is getting at here is saying that it is really difficult to cover up a light that is shining. Light always escapes.
So for example, have you ever been at a hotel and the bedside light is just a little too bright. And you want some mood lighting or something? I’ve done that. I put a t-shirt on one once and it caught fire. That’s kind of the picture here.
Jesus’ point is verse 18, “Take care how you hear” because eventually, in time, whether you really listened and believed or not will show itself. Whatever is in there, the light will get out. It’s kind of like the old adage, “your sins will find you out.” Only here it’s “your belief or lack of real belief” sooner or later will show itself.
You see Jesus is after real conversion, not just after people trying to be good people and do the right thing by believing in Him. He wants people to truly encounter Him and to experience real change and goodness in their lives. He’s after people seeing their identity changed so that their core identity becomes one who is a member of His family.
And we here at The Resolved Church believe that Jesus still does this and that it does happen and can happen to anyone, regardless of their background, their beliefs, their age, their gender or their sexual orientation. So today I’m delighted to share with you a video interview with a man named Stephen Porter whose a member of our church that became a Christian and who’s life over the years has truly changed, He’s a different man and is now bearing fruit, showing Himself to be a legitimate Christian. Here it is:
It’s that wonderful. Stephen and I met in my office that was in my garage at the time many years ago. His number one question was if he had to stop being gay in order to come to church and we just focused on what it would look like for him to find his identity in Christ and became part of the family. And God used that and worked through it. So if you see Stephen, don’t make him feel weird. It took a lot of courage for him to share his story and I’m so proud of him. Just encourage him. Tell him you love him and are so proud of him and glad to have him as part of our family! Okay?
Being in Jesus family is good. So good. It’s so great that we get to be family together with incredible people like Stephen.
Alright, let’s move on to our last point for this morning, “A Laboring Family.”
III. A Laboring Family (v.19-21)
So this last point and verses are sort of the culminating cap on this whole section we’ve been going through. This whole section of this encounter with Jesus and His teaching has been about hearing.
v. 8 - “Let anyone who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
v. 10 - “So that…hearing they don’t understand.”
v. 12,13,14,15 - “Those who hear…” (various forms) x4
v. 18 - “Pay attention to how you listen.”
v. 21 - “Those who hear the word of God.”
How Jesus caps off this whole teaching is by saying whoever really listens to Him, hearing His Word, believing it and following it, gets to be in His family! Which is huge!
So we gotta think a little bit about Jesus’ family and what we’ve been told about it so far in Luke.
First, here in verse 20, we’re told some of Jesus blood family relatives show up, His mother and brothers. I was reading this passage to my kids the other night and they were like, “What? Jesus had brothers and sisters? And I said yeah!”
So here’s a passage from another book in the Bible, The Gospel of Mark where some of the top teachers of the day were amazed at the wisdom in Jesus’ teaching. Here’s what they say,
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” - Mark 6:3
So Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. However, what we have learned about Jesus so far in the Gospel of Luke is that Jesus was born from Mary, who was impregnated supernaturally by God’s Holy Spirit while being a virgin. When Jesus was born all this supernatural crazy stuff goes down with angels and stars and stuff. Then even when Jesus is like 12 years-old He’s calling God His Father and when He starts His ministry He’s baptized and voice from heaven says,
“This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”
The picture of Jesus so far in Luke is that He is the unique Son of God, whose Father is the God the Creator but was born of a human woman. So the picture is of Jesus is that His family is different, special, divine. And here in verse 21, He invites anyone who hears Him to be a part of His special divine family. Incredible.
And this really is the universal teaching of the Bible. That Jesus is God’s Son and whoever believes in Him gets adopted into His family, wherein we get God as our special father.
I wasn’t here but I listened to Pastor Buss’s sermon last week and he did an incredible job explaining what a benefit it is to have God as our Father. This whole thing, this whole Christianity thing is a relational thing, it’s family thing. It’s what we’re born into longing and needed and it is the deepest desire of our hearts and lives, to have the smile and approval of our Father and to learn how to smile back to Him.
It’s the best thing anyone could ever offer us. Being in God’s divine family, inheriting all the blessings of His kingdom.
Now, here’s the way Jesus says it works. We believe and receive this and that gets shown in action. Look again at verse 21,
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
You see those two words at the end, “do it”? Those are important. There’s a doing involved. This isn’t just a sit-back-and-watch-the-show thing. There’s joy in it, it’s enjoyable. But the joy gets expressed by jumping in the game and doing some stuff. It’s the follow through.
Being a church family, doing church together takes work. And we’ve got some work to do as a family. So I’m going to throw some numbers at you. Right now only about a third of our people who regularly come serve in any way. Now for some of you, that’s okay, you’re still figuring out whether or not this is the church for you and that’s fine.
But if you have settled on this being your church family, I’ve got to tell you it’s not okay just to sit back and be a consumer. There’s stuff to do.
Now, normally I don’t really like talking about needs. Because when we say “we need this, we need that” it can sound pathetic and not exciting, so normally we speak from a place of talking about opportunity.
But here’s the truth. We’ve got a real need as a church. We have an extremely robust family ministry here called “R | Kids”. On an average Sunday, we have 55-65 kids check in to sing songs, learn a Bible lesson, play some games and make friends. That’s incredible! Children are a blessing. Church is a family and we’ve got lots of families in our church. Thanks be to God.
We take that seriously. A few times a year we do baby dedications and/or baptisms and on those special Sundays we publicly and verbally covenant as a church to help these parents raise their children in the ways of the Lord Jesus. So the kids that come through is a responsibility thing we as members of the church have committed to.
So here’s the need, responsibility, and opportunity for us. Moving to one service for the summer is going to require some extra hands for the R | Kids. It’s great fun to learn how to work with kids, learning a love for kids and how to do spiritual lessons with kids and to work with a team of people doing it together.
Right now we have 28 people who serve in our kids. Everybody only serves once a month, so it’s not a big deal commitment wise and there’s training and all of that. What we would like to do and see is another 25 people join in. And we think that’s a very doable number. We haven’t given the R | Kids ministry a whole lot of attention in a while, so I am today because it’s a vital part of our church and Jesus is talking family.
If you’re a parent who regularly comes, at least one of you should be serving. Only a little more than half of the parent units actually serve in the R Kids ministry. Then, if we look at two-thirds of our entire congregation who isn’t serving, this can easily be handled.
In another place, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” We want to have a vibrant and healthy family ministry at our church and we need you to make that happen. So would you consider serving in the R Kids? If so, here’s what I want you to do: visit theresolved.com/kids and sign up to volunteer.
Deal. Now the “do” Jesus may be calling you to may not be working in the R Kids ministry and if it’s not that okay. But being in His family does mean we do. So be open and ask God what He would want you to do with your gifts, talents and time.
Being in Jesus family is good. It’s good and it’s fun to work together in His family.
Let’s conclude and prepare to respond and come to the table of Jesus. We started out by saying family is critical. Without families, the future does not exist. It is true about the physical world we live in socially and economically and what Jesus has told us today is that it’s true spiritually…that we will not make it spiritually if we don’t get connected into God’s family through Him.
They way Jesus gets us into the family, why believing in Him and His Word is key, is because He came not only to tell us about it but to die on the cross for all the things that can’t be in His family. Jesus’ family is a pure and holy and totally good family.
We often are not, we have sins, faults, failures, fears, shame, guilt, so Jesus went to the cross to die for all those things so those things wouldn’t be barriers. On the cross Jesus’ pays the adoption fee, so we can be freed and forgiven and welcomed in.
The way we remember, celebrate and re-experience that gift each week is by coming to one of these tables where we take a piece of bread as Jesus’ perfect life and dip in the wine or the juice as His blood shed on the cross.