Responding to the Light We Have
January 26, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Verse: Luke 11:29–11:36
“Responding to the Light You Have”
Theme: God gives additional light to those who receive His Word and blindness to those who reject.
Introduction: As we have seen in the previous section, Jesus identifies the hardness of heart possessed by the Pharisees and Scribes as they become desperate to discredit Christ for the undeniably divine works that He was performing publicly. They had seen things that are clearly possible only through Divine power – cp. John 3:1-2. Even as Jesus declared, He came to clearly reveal the glory of God by enlightening every man so that they might be saved. He declared that He came to reveal how to be rescued from sin – John 8:12. Nevertheless, the response of the Jewish people was to capitalize on everything they could get from Him without yielding their stubborn hearts to Him – John 11:47-50. What was happening that they so obstinately rejected Christ? In our text today, we will look at the blessing upon those who respond to the light and the bane of rejecting it.
I. The Cause Rejecting “Light” – 11:29-30
A. The Wickedness in Requesting a Sign – v. 29
- Carrying the tension further, Luke allows us to see that the “crowds were increasing” – all of them eager to see whether Jesus was going to provide some greater evidence of His power.
- The context follows on the unbelief that had caused some of them to accuse Him of overcoming demons by the power of the Devil while others “demanded of Him a sign from heaven” – cp. v. 16.
- In response to those denying that all of the evidences that He had already provided were insufficient, Jesus denounces them: “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign.”
- Jesus had cast out numerous demons causing his reputation to grow – Luke 4:37; had healed those with “various diseases” – 4:40; had amazed people with the miraculous catch of fish – 5:9; had healed lepers – 5:15; had healed the paralytic – 5:26; had healed the man with a withered hand – 6:10-11; had healed anyone who touched Him – 6:19; had “remotely healed the Centurion’s slave – 7:10; had raised the dead son of the widow on Nain – 7:16-17; had healed various diseases, afflictions, evil spirits, and the blind – 7:21; had calmed the sea – 8:25; had cast a Legion of demons out of the crazed man into the swine – 8:34; had healed the woman who touched Him out of the crowd – 8:47; had raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead – 8:56; had sent His disciples throughout the countryside to heal and cast out demons – 9:11; had fed the 5,000 – 9:17; had cast out the demons from the tormented son of a desperate father – 9:43; and had just cast out another demon – 11:14; all of which were public miracles and signs that were indisputable, verified, authentic exhibitions of the power of God with many other “signs” performed by Jesus – cp. John 20:30-31.
- God had provided innumerable “signs” and when people were willing to recognize it for what it was, God blessed them and gave them more light; but, when they clung to unbelief and responded by a “you gotta give us more than that!” God would not strive with them indefinitely.
- Jesus diagnoses their rejection of Him by diagnosing the cause – they were “a wicked generation” [πονηρός] - the majority of the people in Israel were morally worthless or base, degenerate.
- Wickedness is not only limited to despicable acts of corruption, but is even more base in what it does not do – honor the glory of God, by the rejection of God’s Word, grace, and Savior as here exposed
- They demonstrated their “worthless, base, wickedness” by perpetually or constantly rejecting God’s mercy by “seeking for a sign.”
- Jesus declares that in judgment they would not be “given” a sign – not that Jesus wouldn’t continue to demonstrate His power (eg. He would be raising Lazarus soon), but that God’s grace wouldn’t allow them to see it – they’d be darkened – “… and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.”
- “The sign of Jonah” was the analogy drawn by Jesus of Jonah’s miraculous deliverance from the three days in the depths of the sea while in the large sea creature especially prepared by God for the occasion, and His own deliverance from the “depths of the earth” when He would be brought forth from the tomb – cp. Luke 16:31.
B. The Wickedness in Rejecting the Sign – v. 30
- Jesus recalls the scenario of the occasion when Jonah went to Ninevah – “For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”
- Jonah, having been delivered from death, went to Nineveh and proclaimed a short, yet absolute message – “repent or you will be overthrown” (condemned & judged by God) – cp. Jonah 3:4.
- In the same way, God would not “play their game,” but would bring the Son of Man back to life through the resurrection and then declare: “repent or you will be condemned.” – cp. Acts 2:22-24, 38.
- The rejection of the resurrection would be the final nail in the coffin of any unbeliever – without repentance and faith in Christ in light of the resurrection, there is nothing to await being “overthrown” in judgment.
Do you tend to want God to prove Himself to you – putting out tests for Him to verify what His Word already says?
This past week have you found yourself doubting God and His credibility in anything you have experienced?
What more should God have to do for you to trust Him?
II. The Culpability for Rejecting “Light” – 11:31-32
A. They Lacked a Desire for the Truth – v. 31
- In light of the clear rejection that those who had heard Jesus’ message and had seen the signs of Jesus’ Messianic role, Jesus provides two counts of indictment against those who reject the truth.
- First, He indicts them because of the unforgiveable lack of desire for the truth.
- He intensifies this indictment by using an example of a Gentile woman who demonstrated the appropriate response of a person to the truth – “The Queen of the South will rise up with men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon.”
- “The Queen of the South” is a reference to the “Queen of Sheba” that came to Solomon – cp. 1 Kings 10:1-13.
- We are told that she responded to the truth with faith – cp. 1 Kings 10:7 and gave glory to God for having raised Solomon up – 1 Kings 10:9.
- This Gentile woman will stand in condemnation of the “men of this generation” [those who lived in Jesus’ day] and indicate that she believed with the limited exposure that she had enjoyed and they rejected at the extreme exposure that they had in Jesus the Christ.
- Their lack of interest was inexcusable and condemning because “behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
- What level of interest do you have when we even have greater revelation – a more sure word of prophecy provided us in the Word of God; does it sit dormant and unconsulted?
B. They Lacked a Deference to the Truth – v. 32
- Likewise, the second indictment is in yet more Gentile examples – “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah …”
- It may be that Jonah’s preaching extended beyond what was recorded in the book of Jonah – where he calls them to repent or they will be overthrown, but it didn’t come anywhere near the clarity and content that the Jews had received from Jesus.
- Again, their response to the truth caused a city-wide awakening and repentance, whereas the preaching of Jesus caused hardening, rejection, and unbelief, “… and, behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
- This is a similar indictment as Jesus provided to them earlier – cp. Luke 10:13.
What causes some people to possess an interest in the truth while others could care less?
Have you known the rebellion in heart that when you hear the Word of God that you completely dismiss it because it requires you to change?
How recently has this occurred – can you remember what it was about?
III. The Caution re: Rejecting “Light” – 11:33-36
A. The Intention in Providing Light – v. 33
- Jesus now provides clarity to God’s purposes in sending Jesus Christ who is “the Light of the World” – “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on a lampstand …”
- God Himself is light and He reveals that light through the Word of God, but the Lord Jesus Himself is the personification of the light.
- His point is that the intention of light is to illumine – it is ridiculous to light and lamp and then disable it from shining – “so that those who enter may see the light.”
- In this, He means that God’s desire is to enlighten every man – cp. John 1:6-9.
B. The Impairment in Perceiving Light – v. 34-35
- Nevertheless, the ability to see the light is dependent upon the condition of one’s eye – “The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light”
- “clear” [ἁπλοῦς] – refers to something motivated by singleness of purpose or without guile or deceit.
- Essentially, he is saying that if you look at something without a prejudice, faulty motive, or a contrary agenda, you will be able to see the truthy clearly.
- However, “… when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness” – “bad” [πονηρός] describes something that is morally worthless or vicious – the condition of unbelief and rejection.
- Jesus directly warns them – “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness” simply because of the refusal to face the facts of the truth – cp. John 3:19-21.
C. The Incentive for Perceiving Light – v. 36
- If however, a person is willing to honestly consider the truth – that salvation is not through human effort and legalistic performances, but through the grace of God in Jesus Christ and His work for us, then we will be entrusted with additional truth.
- This constant increase in exposure, embrace, and enlargement of truth is an ongoing cycle through one’s Christian experience – “If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”
- God gives light to those who respond to the light – the essence of “walking in the light.” – cp. Ephesians 5:8.
- The reason that the Jews were not able to see the glory of God in light of not only the works of Jesus but also through His words is because they were blinded by their unbelief, love for sin, and influences of Satan – cp. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6.
Why has God gone to the effort of communicating so clearly in His Word?
What enables a person to be willing to receive the Word of God for what it is?
Have you known the joy of gaining greater, deeper spiritual insights because you have submitted yourself to truth you have encountered in God’s Word?