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Missing Opportunities to Glorify God

April 19, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Gods Glory Verse: Luke 12:49–12:59

Theme: Inattentiveness to redemption brings disaster.

Introduction: There is a phrase in Latin: carpe diem which means seize the day! Missed opportunity is the universal regret. There are missed job opportunities, educational opportunities, relationship opportunities, parental opportunities, any of which causes varying levels of regret and even remorse. Yet, once the opportunity passes, it is past and regardless of how much you might wish you could have a do-over, the failure to “seize the day” cannot be rectified. Perhaps there is no greater “missed opportunity,” than to fail to respond properly to the Truth. There are countless examples throughout Scripture of such – consider Cain, the people who perished after the years of Noah’s preaching, the Egyptians at the word of Moses, the Israelites in the wilderness, the people of Israel at the preaching of Jeremiah. You might be able to sit and reflect on your greatest regrets at some missed opportunity. What opportunities would you like to have back? Now multiply that regret to the 10th power and you will still fall short of the eternal regret that those who miss the opportunity to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The greatest example in Scripture of missing opportunity is the generation who missed THE opportunity of all time when Jesus came preaching repentance for the Kingdom of God was at hand! In our text today, Jesus appeals to that very generation – and by extension to us - that they (or we) might not miss the opportunity to repent and believe in Him as the Messiah. As we will see, they unfortunately failed to “seize the day,” and were rebuked by Jesus for their inattentiveness to Him and His message. He had come to provide opportunity to men to believe and clearly states that there will an eternal differentiation between those who believe and those who fail to believe, who “miss the opportunity” – cp. John 3:17; Luke 19:10. In our text this morning, Jesus emphatically emphasizes that inattentiveness to redemption brings disaster!

I. The Distinguishing Influences of Redemption – 12:49-53

A. The Gospel Distinguishes the Saved – v. 49

  • Having just completed the admonitions concerning the need to be prepared for the day of accounting is imminent as the Lord promised to return – to render to everyone according to their faith, Jesus now continues to admonish the crowd for what He knows is their unbelief.
  • He continues His monologue from the earlier section – “I have come to cast fire upon the earth …”
  • The phrase “I have come to …” is a technical phrase used repeatedly by the Lord to speak of His mission of redemption – cp. Matthew 9:13; John 6:38; John 18:37.
  • Hence, Jesus is here providing clarity on yet another reason that He has come – the enable judgment to distinguish the saved from the lost.
  • “Fire” is a most commonly used in Scripture as a reference to judgment … or “punishment” – cp. Luke 3:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.
  • “Fire” is also used in Scripture as a reference to the refiner – purifying – 1 Corinthians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 1:7.
  • When Jesus says “… to cast fire upon the earth,” it is a reference to His work of redeeming the righteous and judging the wicked – to bring the work of redemption to consummation at the end of the age.
  • Nevertheless, His aspiration is something that must unfold within the time of God’s intention – and cannot begin until the basis for judgment is settled.
  • This is why He says “… and how I wish it were already kindled” – a reference to what will provide the basis for distinguishing the saved from the unsaved – the cross.
  • The wood of the cross becomes the figurative kindling for the judgment of God upon sinners – what a person does with Christ determines whether the fires of judgment will “punish” or “purify.”

B. The Gospel Distinguishes the Savior – v. 50

  • However, before judgment can begin, it is necessary for Christ to accomplish His work of providing deliverance through enduring the punishment for sin – “But I have a baptism to undergo …”
  • “Baptism” in this context refers to Jesus being “immersed” under God’s judgment for sin – cp. Mark 10:38.
  • Before He judged unbelievers for their sin, Christ Himself was judged by God for the sins of sinners.
  • This judgment where Jesus died for our sins – the just for the unjust – was a horrific experience – as Jesus demonstrates in what He says here: “… and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!”
  • “distressed” [συνέχω] – a term that literally refers to hold together or to press together and describes a soul that is consumed without freedom to consider alternatives.
  • Jesus describes Himself as consumed with the reality of the suffering that He will endure when punished for our sins.
  • This distinguishes Jesus in two ways:
  1. He is totally devoted to the will of the Father and will not allow Himself to be swayed from it – cp. John 12:27.
  2. He is totally devoted to saving us – “… until it is accomplished” – [τελέω] – the same word used by Jesus upon the cross when He declared: “It is finished” – cp. John 19:30.
  • In this way, Jesus is distinguished as our Savior – obedient to the plan of God and committed to the pain of God’s wrath.

C. The Gospel Distinguishes the Schism – vv. 51-53

  • Jesus knows that the atonement that He provides when He suffers for sin will be accepted by some and rejected by others. 
  • We understand that those who accept it are the elect – chosen by God and saved by His grace.
  • Those who reject it will seek to separate themselves from the godly – refusing the tolerate their faith in Christ Jesus.
  • Hence, Jesus declares: “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.”
  • The peace that Christ provides is primarily a “peace” “with” God, and a peace among those who have “peace” with God – Luke 2:14; John 16:33.
  • “division” [διαμερισμός] - will result from the Gospel as those who reject Christ will reject those who follow Christ – cp. John 15:18. 
  • As a result, even the most intimate of earthly relationships – those of a family – will not endure – “for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
  • This is current reality – the Gospel distinguishes the schism even within families as the offense of the Gospel often causes those who reject and hate Christ to make outcasts of family members who follow Him.

Application:

  1. How should the awareness of Christ’s promise to judge sin cause adjustments to your perspective?
  2. How should your awareness of Jesus’ death for your sin affect you? 
  3. Are there any relationships that stand in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What can you do about that?

II. The Damning Inattentiveness to Redemption – 12:54-59

A. The Inattentiveness Despite Proofs – vv. 54-56

  • However, Jesus must not be viewed as in any way “cavalier” in His perspective on those who reject Him – He truly cares.
  • Just before He goes to the cross, the heart of the Lord toward those who reject Him is displayed – cp. Luke 13:34; 19:41.
  • Consequently, He appeals to the people to be attentive to what is happening – “And He was also saying to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “A shower is coming,” and so it turns out.’”
  • Essentially, with very minimal indications aside from trends, they pay attention to the weather – He continues: “And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way.”
  • Jesus is saying that they care about the weather and how it will affect them and so they strive to pay attention in order to make their plans.
  • Yet when it comes to spiritual realities – particularly in light of Jesus warnings – they remain calloused, apathetic, and skeptical.
  • Jesus denounces their inattentiveness: “You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?”
  • He calls them “hypocrites” because they have even more evidence of what to expect than when the predict the weather, but they cared more about the weather.
  • They were claiming that the “proofs” that Jesus had displayed, and the clarity of His message of repentance and judgment Jesus preached were insufficient to know what they should do.
  • The “present time” of opportunity was being completely neglected to their own destruction and they didn’t care.

B. The Inattentiveness Despite Peril – vv. 57-59

  • He rebukes them for their failure to discern what was so very clear right before them: “And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?”
  • They ought to have been convicted in response to the clarity of Jesus’ ministry and yet they were too inattentive to make personal application to themselves.
  • So Jesus illustrates for them yet again by referring to a person who is guilty of a debt and is being taken to court – “For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on you way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.”
  • Without going into the details of the judicial process here (that is not Jesus’ point) – Jesus appeals to them to discern their guilt and take the opportunity to settle the matter through repentance before they are held accountable by the judge – Amos 5:6; Isaiah 55:6.
  • If they do not – Jesus warning to us is clear: “I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent” – something impossible since there is nothing that we can do to atone for our sins before God.

Application:

  1. What more would Jesus have to do to “prove” Himself to you as the Savior and Lord?
  2. When was the last time that you sensitized your heart before God’s Spirit for Him to identify and convict you of sin?
  3. Jesus refers to our own initiative causing us to “judge what is right” – are you motivated to pursue righteousness? 

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