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A JESUS WHO REACHES OUT

Sep 17, 2017

A Jesus Who Reaches Out

Luke 10:1-24
Pastor Duane Smets
September 17th, 2017

I.   The Work and The Workers
II.  The Receptive and The Resistant
III. The Justice and The Joy

Well good morning! It’s great to be back in San Diego! I’ve spent the last 10 days in the Basque country meeting with a number of missionaries there to see what they are doing and what it might take to get a church started there. The Basque people are a very unique people. They have their own original language that isn’t a derivative or dialect of any other language. They have their own unique culture and customs and their own unique history.

Currently their country is ruled by Spain and France and most of the Basque people are not happy about it at all. It’s been that way for years and years as a result of political and religious wars that spread through their land. Because of that they have a very negative view of church and Christianity and there is not nor has there ever been a single Basque speaking church in their country.

But God has been good and gracious and there are a handful of Basque people who have become Christians. Mostly surfers…the Basque region has great surf, it’s a beautiful country…and God is doing some wonderful things in opening up the Basque people to the goodness of Jesus. So I was there surfing, getting to know these guys and gals and their friends and their culture to see what we as a church might be able to do to help.

I’m pretty excited about it. I met one couple at a town party dancing and they just really liked us and ended up having us over for dinner one night. We got talking, one of them was a pro surfer, one worked in television and they are really interested in coming to the states to learn more and maybe even have me marry them. There is an openness to Jesus among several of the Basque people I was astounded with. So you’ll probably be hearing more and more from me about the Basque this year and about maybe hosting a group of them here for a couple weeks and then maybe doing some kind of summit there to try to bring the Christian Basque leaders and those interested in Jesus together and maybe eventually get a church started.

There’s a lot more I could tell you. I thought about just bailing on our Luke sermon for today and just telling you all about my trip but the really amazing thing is that when we set the calendar for this year and all the sermons we would do from Luke, it just so happens that the text we had planned long ago for this Sunday is all about going into other countries and towns and seeing the Kingdom of God spread in the hearts and homes of people through the word of Jesus.

I think you’ll see what I mean, our text really goes hand in hand with what I’ve actually been living the last 10 days. And my prayer is that God would use both of those things together to inspire you and us as a church for the work of the Gospel among the people of our own city as well.

So let me go ahead and read our text for today. And I guess I should say welcome and who I am in case you’re new. I’m Duane, I’m one of six pastors here and I’m the preaching pastor who is up here most Sundays of the year for our sermon time. We’re taking this year and most of next to read and study the Gospel of Luke together. It’s one of the best books ever written about Jesus and how He engages people and teaches us to engage. So if you’ve come today or in the last couple weeks for the first time, welcome, I’m so glad you’re here.

Okay, let’s stand in honor of the Luke’s words not only being His own words but words directed by God the Holy Spirit to be put in the Bible. We’re in Luke 10:1-24 today.

Luke 10:1-24

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.  And he said to the them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty workers done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

In that same hour he rejoices in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or the who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
Pastoral Prayer

I titled my sermon for today, “A Jesus Who Reaches Out.” Have you ever had dinner with someone and you sit down and you’re talking and you’re trying to be friendly and ask questions about their life, their work, their family, what their into, whatever and they talk and talk and talk but then they never ask you any questions? You ever had that happen? It’s kind of odd and oddly frustrating. It doesn’t feel good does it?

How about the contrary? Have you had those times where people seem to be genuinely interested in you and your life and they ask you questions and follow up questions and really care? It feels good doesn’t it?

I’ll never forget when I first met the girl who became my wife. I couldn’t believe she was interested in me. She would call me and wanted to hang out with me. Usually I felt like I was always pursuing girls who weren’t that into me. It was great to finally have it the other way around! She’ll probably disagree.

But I remember. It was 1997 when we met. One of our very first dates was just down the street at the donuts and yogurt place. We sat at a little table outside and had frozen yogurt and I had a bran muffin. And she asked me questions! And we talked and we laughed and it was good. There was a reaching out to each other that was taking place.

What we’re going to see from Jesus today is that He is a Jesus who reaches out. God, through Jesus the Son, reaches out to all people everywhere.

Perhaps one of the most famous painting ever done is the one on the roof of the Sisten Chapel by Michaelangelo. It’s the picture of God reaching down to man with all the length and strength of His arm. That’s what we’re talking about today. If there’s one thing I hope you’ll walk away thinking about this morning it’s that God wants to know you. God wants to know you. God wants to know you.

I’ve got three things from our text today to work through from this story about Jesus reaching out and what it teaches us about the God who wants to know us. My three points are, “The Work and The Workers”, “The Receptive and The Resistant” and “The Justice and The Joy.”

I.  The Work and the Workers

With this first point, “The Work and The Workers” I want us to think about this line where Jesus says, but “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” What Jesus is doing with this statement is comparing people to farming. People are God’s work. He planted them like seeds by creating them and He cares about them. And like a good fruit people need to be harvested.

And one of the most amazing things to me about Jesus is that He invites us into that work. As God He doesn’t need anything. He has an infinite amount of resources at His fingertips. He can create by fiat, with the power of a word. But He chooses to involve us in His harvesting work. It’s a great privilege and by us being involved in it we come to see the great wonder of what God does.

There’s some pretty incredible things going on here. First, Jesus selects 12 disciples as His primary apprentices. Many have recognized that this is not coincidence in that there are 12 tribes of Israel, the Jewish people, through whom God first revealed Himself and promised to bless all the peoples of the world to in Genesis 12.

Earlier in chapter 9, He sent out just His 12 disciples on a similar mission. Now here in chapter 10 He sends out 72, which is the number of recognized countries there were on the earth when this was written. So this mission of the 72 represents Jesus’ desire to reach out to all the peoples of the world!

When Jesus came to earth it was work. He went to work. And reaching people, gathering the harvest requires work.

One of the places we stayed was at a vineyard, where our team had the chance to help out with the harvest of a special Basque grown grape they use to produce the most popular Basque drink called “txacoli”. It’s basically a very, very good, slightly carbonated white wine.

I forget how many kilos they said they harvest in a day but when they do, the guy’s vineyard who we stayed out, his name was Chavy, he said all his town friends and family and extended family come out to help. And there’s a big party with about 50 people who all work together harvesting grapes and drinking wine all day which ends in a great meal. I had to get on the plane before the meal, but here’s Chavy and some of the harvesting…

The things Jesus says here are so true. They harvest once a year. So it requires time. That’s why Jesus says in our text not to rush from house to house but stay in one place. Develop relationship. Work together and in the work God works.

There’s money risk involved. Jesus says not to take a money bag or an extra pair of shoes. With grapes, no amount of money and planning can make it go well. The whole reason they had to harvest when we were there was because the weather kept changing and Chavy said if they didn’t harvest that day they would lose a quarter of the vineyard. So there’s a dependance on God thing going on. Basically don’t overthink it, just go to work and trust God.

And then it requires an intentionality. The work requires work and not getting sidetracked. That’s why Jesus says not to stop on the road. Don’t get sidetracked. Keep the goal in front of you.

I was amazed about how many steps there are to harvesting the grapes. All year there things like watering, pruning, testing, and then once the grapes are picked there’s de-stemming, pressing, fermenting, mixing, refermenting, bottling, corking, labeling. All so that a bottle of good wine can be at a table for dinner. Which by the way, Chevy’s wine has been nationally awarded in the Basque country.

God’s goal in harvesting is that people would come to know Jesus and His goodness. But there’s a lot of work involving time, money, patience and intentionality in order to show people that. That’s why Jesus says “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” People are longing to know God and His goodness but few will do what it takes so that they can come to see it and experience it.

Most of us get so easily caught up in our own life goals and missions, so much so that we just don’t have time for God’s. And that’s why Jesus says to pray. He says to pray for God, the “Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

What Jesus is basically saying is that God has to change our hearts, so that we actually care about other people instead of just ourselves. God has to change our hearts so that we are willing to work…willing to give our time and our money and to strategically and intentionally seek out relationships with people so that they might be gathered into God’s kingdom family.

What Jesus says here isn’t rocket science. It’s just basic Christianity and basic Christian mission. Too often we just want fast easy solutions that don’t require any sacrifice, where we can just offer a token of our lives and not really get our hands dirty.

How does that hit you? I think there’s probably three different ways it might.

One, the best one is that it inspires you. I’m hoping that hearing Jesus’ words today would stir something in you to want to be like, “I’ll be a laborer Jesus!” I’ll go to work for you. And you’re willing to get serious about trying to reach out to and gather some people into God’s church in our city.

Two, another good way it might hit is to encourage you. Maybe you’ve been on mission for people, laboring, trying to harvest but it’s been slow hard work. If that’s you, you should be encouraged today. Jesus said it wouldn’t be easy, so keep it up! You’re on the right track. Your money, your time and your efforts are worth it. God will honor it. You’re doing good work.

The third way it might hit you is to maybe make you think, “Oh crap! I’m not really doing anything.” And maybe somehow Jesus’ words today have put a fire and a desire in you to want to step up and sign up to be a missionary here in our city with so many of us here at The Resolved Church.

That’s one of the things we talk about in our membership class and that we commit to in becoming a member here. Each one of us who is a member of this church sees ourselves as missionaries whom God has sent into this city to gather a harvest of people who are longing and needing to know Him and His goodness.

I’m encouraged today, because when I look out at all of you I see so much potential. I can only do so much, but together we can accomplish a lot and the end result is we get to drink good txacoli together! Sound good?

And maybe you’re here and you’re not yet a Jesus follower. I want you to know that we’re glad you’re here and we’d love to have you drink with us too. God wants to know you. He wants to know each of us and He wants to use us to reach out with the love and care He has shown to us through Jesus.

II.  The Receptive and the Resistant

Alright, let’s move on to our next point, “The Receptive and The Resistant.” With this I want to talk a bit about the section where Jesus says this reaching out will sometimes be dangerous, like being lambs among wolves and then gives some instructions for how to deal with the different reactions to Jesus that people have.

First off, wolves are scary. I can’t imagine encountering a wolf in the wild but I don’t even like dogs ever since one bit me as a kid. But I appreciate Jesus’ honesty here in telling us that reaching out to others with His love is dangerous and that we might get bit.

Most often it comes in the form of unkind words, withdrawn relationship and in the worst cases physical harm. But despite the danger Jesus says it’s worth it. Look with me how He says it.

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off…” - Luke 10:5-11 

Since I was going to be out of the country, Molly Hopkins, who many of you may not know, has been graciously serving our church as an office assistant, she copied off hundreds of pages of commentaries for me so I could read on the road.

When I was studying this whole “Peace to this house!” and “Son of peace” thing here’s how one Bible scholar explained it, he said a “son of peace” is someone who’s heart is open to receive the kingdom message (Liefield).

It’s the craziest thing, I’m not making this up. Chavy, the wine guy I was telling you about, wanted to have us over for dinner the first night. And he refused to let us pay for anything because we were his guests. We had this huge meal.

Chavy is not yet a Christian but he’s close. He met our team leader because he came to the states through an exchange program to learn English. So we were eating and talking and he got real serious for a minute and I’m not lying this is what he said, “I’ve learned so much from you. And now my heart is open. Before it was closed, but now it’s open and I love having you here.” Does that sound like a son of peace to you?

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a more hospitable people. And there were others like this guy Ernesto and his family. They just welcomed us in and because of the friendship and relationships that are being built and the peace they are experiencing they are becoming “open” to the people of Jesus the message of Jesus.

But it isn’t easy. A few of the missionaries we met were actually pretty discouraged. There’s not church and they can barely even mention the word because it has such negative connotations with the Basque people.

So this is Jonathan. His wife is from Indiana and he’s from Australia and they’ve opened a craft beer, craft sardines, surf, clothing and art gallery store in this little town called Gettaria.

This is another John, Johnny Wong. He went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and has started an English school called Solid Rock Academy in a surf town called Zarautz.

This is Joseba. He’s actually a Basque surfer who became a Christian, led His family to Jesus has an immense heart to see His people come to know Jesus. He bought a bunch of farm land and is spending his and his parents every last dime to transform this old building with the roof caved in to become a retreat and conference center so people can spend time to get away, take classes and explore spiritual goodness of Jesus and His people.

But they feel alone. Apparently they’ve gotten a lot of flack from US pastors and churches that think they should just set up shop with a band, a choir and start preaching through a PA. And on top of it some of the Basque people don’t like them and are skeptical of their motives thinking they want to take away the uniqueness of Basque people, exploiting them like Spain and France has over the years.

One of the best parts of the trip was to just encourage these brothers and their families that they are doing good work, to keep it up and that God is proud of them.

Essentially what Jesus says here is, “Hey, sometimes it’s going to good and sometimes it’s going to go bad.” When it goes good, it’s great. There’s peace and do your best to help. Administer healing. That’s doesn’t have to be some supernatural miracle. Ultimately all healing is a healing of the human heart. And we can be instruments of God’s grace to give that to people.

When it goes bad, Jesus basically says, “Don’t get to worked up over it, it’s okay, just kick the dust of your feet.” If someone doesn’t like you, thinks or says something about you, just shake it off. It’s okay. Remember ultimately everyone ended up not liking Jesus and put Him on a cross so we can put up with a little rejection now and then.

The cool thing is that when we go to work God’s kingdom is near. We see it and experience it and there’s nothing like it. That’s what we want. That’s what’s good.

We can either be receptive or resistant to Jesus and His message. And here’ the truth, it’s so much easier to just embrace God and His work and to get on board with what He’s doing. When we’re resistant it just wears us out like brakes on car, we just get worn out pushing God out and trying to control our lives. It’s so much better to go along with the flow of what God is doing and to embrace Him.

God wants to know us. He wants to know you. He reaches out. He uses others to reach out with His love and peace, offering the goodness of His kingdom. When we’re receptive He works in that. If we’re resistant then we’ll just keep on fighting it the rest of our lives. Because of that we can rejoice when things goes well and let it go when it doesn’t.

So where are you at today? Are you receptive to God and His reaching out to you or are you resistant? Are you an instrument of God’s peace or are you just getting in the way causing trouble? Do you get frustrated with others when you reach out or are trusting God and His working?

May God help us to be receptive to Him and to be a people extending the peace of His kingdom.

III.  The Justice and the Joy

Well, the last thing I want to talk about today is some of the pretty dark things Jesus says in this passage followed by some of the most wonderful things He ever says in this final point I’ve called, “The Justice and The Joy.”

First off, let’s just get it out of the way and acknowledge that Jesus says some pretty gnarly things here. Everything with Jesus wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine.

He talks about these towns like Sodom, the proverbial evil city, Chorazin, Bethsaida where He did miracles and Capernaum, His hometown basically says the people there are going to hell for rejecting Him. That’s what Hades is there in verse 15.

So here’s what I’ll say…We’re going to cover a ton of ground really fast and if you want more take the Theo 101 membership class. See, that’s nice it rhymes. We get into it deep in the class and it’s a class where we can have discussion and questions, which works well for hard topics like hell.

So here’s the deal, the Bible and Jesus Himself teaches that heaven and hell are real places and that everyone goes to one or the other forever. One’s good and one’s bad. No one deserves to go to heaven, could ever be a good enough person or do enough good things to go to heaven and God is not obligated to give anyone heaven or even the opportunity to go to heaven.

Everyone actually deserves justice for not loving God, wanting to be gods, not loving others which should be hell. But God is good and gracious, so He sent Jesus to make a way and that’s what Jesus all about…reaching out to God’s children so that they might be saved. See, it’s simple right? None of you have any questions about that right?

I get it, that’s heavy stuff. Take the class. What I want to focus on is how Jesus Himself explains these difficult scathing things He says. Look at verse 16 again with me.

“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” – Luke 10:16 

The principle here is that with great opportunity comes great responsibility. It was an incredible privilege the people of these towns had to see Jesus face to face, to hear His words with their ears, to watch Him perform miracles as the Son of God and then to reject Him. It’s a serious thing to reject the Son of God. There are serious consequences to it.

And God would not be a good God, a good Father for letting people get away with despising His only Son who came to give His life for them. It would be criminal for God to do so which is there is this day of judgment Jesus talks about where we will all give an account to God for how we have responded to Jesus.

So that’s the justice part. But it doesn’t end there. Jesus goal and desire is not justice. 1 Peter 3:15 says God is “not wanting any to perish”. Jesus isn’t excited about people getting their due. What He really cares about, what He’s really after is as many people as possible coming into His special family as God’s children and being filled with joy.

So now, let’s look at that part.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

 In that same hour he rejoices in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or the who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” – Luke 10:17-24

Do you see the joy? Can you hear it? The 72, representing the nations of the world have joy. And Jesus Himself rejoices in the Holy Spirit, thanking God the Father for not just being a God of justice but being a God of grace. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all three members of the Holy Trinity are here in Jesus’ prayer rejoicing the people being gathered into God’s family as His children.

Jesus’ joy here is extreme. He’s overflowing with it. In verse 24, He tells the disciples that the grace of Father that comes to people through Him is something that kings and prophets longed for many many years.

The key line is verse 21 where He says that those who get it, the ones who believe and receive are children. That means you can’t reason or earn your way to heaven, you receive it as a gift from the Father, through Jesus the Son.

And it’s a permanent gift. Those whom God bestows this gift have their names in an book that the Bible calls the book of life that verse 20 says is “written in heaven.” No gift could ever match the goodness of such a gift. It’s joy, permanent, deep down joy where the soul knows and rejoices in knowing that God loves you and receives you as a son and a daughter.

And that’s why Jesus came, Jesus came to reach out because God wants to know us as His kids. God wants to know you. Do you know Him? Do you know the joy of having Him as a Father who loves you no matter what? I believe with all my heart that’s what Jesus wants us to experience today.

Conclusion

We’ve worked through a lot today…that there’s work to do, that we can be either receptive or resistant and that there’s either justice or joy.

But maybe you’re sitting there wondering how this all works? How can God still be just and give us this joy? The answer is in that line where Jesus looks forward in time to the cross where Jesus was victorious over Satan and essentially says that His workers’ harvest is the firstfruits of what He would win there.

You see since the beginning of the story of the Bible Satan has been the snake who comes to draw God’s children away from Him. On the cross Jesus trampled the snake just as God promised, so that nothing could ever separate God’s children from His love ever again.

On the cross Jesus took upon Himself the justice we deserve for rejecting and wandering away from God, He took on Hell for us, so that instead we might be welcomed into His house, the house of heaven.

My friends, Jesus is really really good. That’s why we call His message good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and why we cannot help as His followers to tell as many people as possible about Him.

We’re going to end this portion of our service the way we always do here at The Resolved Church, by coming to one of these tables and receiving a tangible token of God’s love given to us from Jesus Christ. We take a piece of bread as Jesus perfect life and dip it into the wine or the juice as His blood shed on the cross for us.

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