A man once dreamed that he was traveling down a road. As he walked along that path he came to a tall white church. Upon the roof of the church there was a demon laying sprawled out, fast asleep. Further down the road he went and he came to a log cabin, and it was surrounded by a multitude of devils. These though were all wide awake and bustling about in a flurry of commotion.
A spirit replied, “The fact is that that whole church is fast asleep and one demon can take care fo them all. But in this house lives a man and a woman who pray, and they have more power than the whole of that church.”
Though this was a fictitious dream, I do not in the least doubt the truth of it. The Scripture says that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. I believe that this is the Bible’s way of saying that prayer causes the demonic world a great deal of consternation.
That is why our passage this morning is so important. Here in this passage the Disciples call upon Jesus for instruction. They ask the Lord for guidance in the art and craft of prayer. And I would like us also to sit in the school of prayer. I want us to take heed to what is said here so that we might graduate with honors in this trade. We must become more apt in prayer. For if we do not hone our skills in this work, then we will allow devils to yawn or go fight their battles elsewhere.
There are three simple truths that I believe our passage addresses about prayer. It tells us why we should pray, what we should pray, and how we should pray.
I. Why we should pray [1, 11-13]
Our passage gives us two reasons why we should pray. The first of which is seen in the very first verse. At the outset of our passage we are told that Jesus himself was off in prayer.
This is perhaps what gave rise to the disciples asking for prayer. They saw that Christ was a master at prayer, and they are moved to ask him about it.
But think about this. If the Eternal Son of God found a need to pray, then how much more should you and I be giving ourselves to it?
He who was very God of very God found it necessary to carve out time in his day to pray. If anyone could go without it, we would assume it would be Jesus. But it was a high necessity for him. And we should think that such should be the same for us!
Another reason why we should pray is that we should expect our prayers to be answered.
In verses 11-13 he promises that our prayers will be answered. Jesus tells us of this child who asks his father for a fish. Will his father torture him and give him a snake or scorpion? Of course not! Even earthly fathers, with all their sin, usually treat their sons with respect. How much more, says Jesus, should we expect our heavenly Father to give us grace and favor?
Here we learn that God is good! He is the infinite spring of blessing and he is ready to open the storehouse of heaven and pour forth his favor upon those who ask.
Now, I know that some people will object to this. They say, “If you believe that God already has everything predestined and set in place, why pray?” They will say that prayer is a fruitless thing and a waste of time if God has already written the end from the beginning.
The answer to that is right here in our text! God says he will answer our prayers. That means that he has ordained our prayers. Our prayers are part of his grand scheme. They are the means by which he works out his divine decree.
This always blows my mind! I don’t fully understand it, and I’m sure I never will. There is as much mystery here as there is with the Trinity or the two natures of Christ. But God has somehow orchestrated things such that you and I play a vital role in the outworking of history.
And really, when we come to grasp this grand concept, the question will no longer be “Why should we pray?” It will be more, “Why am I not praying!?”
Such should certainly move us to prayer!
But, of course, it is not enough just to pray. We need to pray aright. That’s why Jesus directs us as to what we should pray in verses 2-4.
II. What we should pray [2-4]
When it comes to what we should pray, there should be no question. That’s because in verses 1-4 you see that Jesus basically composes a prayer for you.
He says, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
Now, there are a lot of things that I could say about this passage. I actually thought about having a series of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer and developing each petition of the prayer. But I decided against that.
What I want you to notice is that this is what Jesus wants you to pray. He is essentially putting the words in your mouth. The Lord composes a simple prayer—it is only around 40 words in length—so that you can commit it to memory and easily recite it at any time.
It might sound rather silly at first, and you might think that it would be pious to compose your own prayers. And certainly there is a place for that. But I want you to remember that Jesus said, “Pray this. This is what you should pray.”
Throughout Church history the people of God have understood that Jesus wants us to simply recite and repeat these words. Some of you might have grown up in churches where they recited the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday during their service. That used to be one of the most basic components of a church’s service. That fell by the wayside with the seeker sensitive movement a few decades ago. But it used to be a staple among Protestant churches.
I believe that it was Martin Luther who said that you should begin and end each day by reciting the Apostle’s Creed, the 10 commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. That was one of the disciplines he prescribed for his congregation.
One Puritan minister (Lewis Bayly, by name) commended his congregation to pray the Lord’s prayer 5 or 6 times a day. Once when you woke up, once after each meal, and once before you went to bed. That was his way of trying to help his people spend the whole day in prayer.
I don’t know if we need to go to that extreme, but I think the idea is right. We should be praying the prayer that Jesus gave us.
I understand that there is some danger in simply reciting rote prayers. It can be a mindless thing, and considered a vain babbling that simply annoys God. We do not want to be like the Catholics with their Hail Mary’s and their rosary beads.
Yes, we should guard against that. But that should not hinder us from praying as he taught us to pray. I mean, what better thing to pray than that which he wants us to pray? Isn’t he more likely to give us these things?
If you go into a restaurant, what is it they say? Ask for anything on this menu and we will give it to you!
Jesus is saying, “Pray this because I will be glad to give these things to you.” By praying “hallowed be your name” pray for our greater sanctification. When we say, “Your kingdom come” we are petitioning the Lord for the expansion of his church through missions. We seek him for our physical needs when we ask for bread. We seek him for our spiritual needs when we pray for forgiveness and protection against temptation.
This is a monumental prayer! And we shouldn’t shy away from just offering up this prayer as it stands. After all, Christ said, “When you pray, pray this.”
We now know why we should pray and what we should pray, but let us not miss what Jesus says about how we should pray.
III. How we should pray [5-10]
In verses 5-10 Jesus tells us that boldness and persistence are two traits that ought to mark our prayers.
A. With boldness
The boldness with which we should pray is seen in the little story that Jesus tells in verses 5-8. Here is a guy who comes to his friend in the middle of the night and asks for some bread. He’s had some company drop in on him and he hasn’t had a chance to get to the grocery store yet. So he runs over to his friend’s house and starts banging on the door.
Now, you should be thinking, “How rude!” And that is something of what the text says in verse 8. Jesus says, “he will get up and give something to his friend not because he is his friend, but because of his impudence.” The word “impudence” is not one we use a lot. The Greek word is a little more illustrative. The Greek word actually mean not-bashful. In other words, he is bold! He is forward. You can see the guy walking up to the house with determination and noisily banging on the door in order to wake the fellow out of his slumber and coax him out of bed.
That is the way Jesus wants us to approach the Lord. He does not want us to cower or back away. He wants us to come to the Lord with confidence and let nothing hinder us in seeking His favor.
I know that there can be all kinds of reasons why we shirk back in prayer. Our sins are many, and we can say, “We don’t deserve to come to the Lord.” And you are right. We don’t deserve it. But Jesus says, “Come anyway! Your sins are covered by his blood.”
There are other times where we think, “I haven’t spent much time in prayer, and all I do is ask for things. I never really spend any time praising him or thanking him for his gifts.” And so we might shy away from our petitions. And Christ says, “Yes, you should spend more time with adoration and thanksgiving. But come anyway!”
My children know that when the door to my office is shut, they should not bother me because I am working. But that never stops our 2 year old. Sometimes she sneaks away from her sisters and makes her way to the doors. She works it open and starts to head in. My daughters catch her and chase after her, calling to her “Don’t bother Daddy!” That’s when she gets “the face.” She knows that she is going to be pulled away and she gets the look of bursting into a screeching fit.
She will not be stopped. She will not be hindered. She will do anything within her power to get onto daddy’s lap in his office.
That is the same boldness that ought to characterize your prayers
But it is not just boldness that ought to characterize our prayers. Our prayers should also be marked by persistence.
B. With persistence
That’s what verses 9 and 10 are about. It says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” The verbs here are actually more clear in the original language. They should be translated, “keep on asking, and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened.”
The idea is that of a relentless pursuit. Here is what Matthew Henry says,
“Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Those that would be rich in grace, must betake themselves to the poor trade of begging, and they shall find it a thriving trade.”
That imagery of a beggar that Henry uses is perfect. Isn’t this what a beggar does? When he is desperate, he comes to you and makes his case. When you blow him off that doesn’t deter him, does it? He merely asks again and pleads his case again.
When my wife and I were first married we took a day trip into Chicago. We set off to see the Sears Tower. Of course, we looked like we just stepped out of the sticks by the way we were staring up at all the tall buildings. We were obviously tourists. A panhandler had us tagged right away. He came up to us and said, “You guys are looking for the Sears Tower, aren’t you? It is just up two blocks and to the right. You can’t miss it.” After giving us this handy advice he went on to say, “Now, I work for the city of Chicago. I am commissioned by the mayor to help people. Now, I don’t take any remuneration, but if you would like to make a donation, I would certainly appreciate it.”
We got the picture. He was trying to hustle us. We thanked him for his time and proceeded on our way. However, he stepped in front of us, and made his request again. This happened twice more.
The man was persistent. He would not take no for an answer.
That’s what the Lord wants you to do. Show the Lord that you know that he is the only remedy for your soul! Remind him that he is the only source by which your desires can be achieved.
Do not fear his lack of answer. That should just be all the more reason for you to pray. If there is silence on his end, then there should be none on yours. Let your words be spoken, and—if need be—let them be spoken again.
That is how Jesus wants you to pray. Jesus wants you to be bold and persistent in prayer.
It is said that the Queen of England trembled when John Knox went to his knees in prayer. One time she even exclaimed that she feared Knox's prayers more than an outfitted army.
Why was she so shaken? It was because Knox believed that God worked through prayer. This was no simple assent to a truth. Knox acted on his belief. He would boldly come before the throne of grace like no other, throwing his petitions repeatedly at the Father's feet.
Author Larry Christenson attests to this in his book The Christian Family. As a matter of fact, Christenson almost goes so far as to attribute the whole reformation of Scotland to Knox's prayers. He writes,
"[Knox] prayed with such power that all Scotland was awakened. 'Lord, give me Scotland or I'll die!' he cried. And he prayed with such intensity that the Lord answered."
Our God has indeed incorporated our prayers into his divine plan, and he has laid out a simple prayer outlining the things he is most willing to give. Ought we not then to come to him with that same kind of boldness?
May we pursue our God in prayer in the same manner until he sheds forth the abundance of his blessing unto us.
We have some friends who live down the street from us. They have a white dog that they take for walks every day. When you look at this dog there is something beautiful about it…at least when you look at it during the summer. You see, the dog looks perfectly white during the summer months. But during the winter months, not so much.
That’s something of what I hope will happen today as we look at this parable. I hope that our discussion today will be something of a revolution for you. I hope that today’s message will help you see this passage of Scripture in a different light and get a whole different perspective on what you’ve probably been taught throughout your life.
As a matter fact, yesterday I was visiting with some of my wife’s family. One of her uncles came over and we started talking. He asked me about what I would be preaching on today. When I told him it was the Parable of the Good Samaritan, he perked up and asked, “What will you be saying about it?” I responded by saying, “Not what you think I am.” He said, “Well, now I’m very interested in what you have to say.” So I asked him, “What do you think it is about? And he went on to give me the typical answer, and we had some fun talking about what the parable really is about.
I hope that you really pay attention to this message today. I really believe we need to revolutionize the way we understand what is said in this text.
I even would like to challenge the heading that you Bible may likely have here. I’d like you not to think of it as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I would prefer that you think of it as the Parable of the Ignorant Lawyer. If you think about it as the Parable of the Good Samaritan, then I think you may already be on the wrong track. You might already be drawing a particular conclusion about what this passage is supposedly telling you.
No. I’d like it if you thought of it as the Parable of the Ignorant Lawyer. Because, if you are going to rightly understand this passage, you got to start by looking at the cause or context of parable.
I. The cause & context of the parable
We began our reading in verse 25 and there we see that what gives rise to the parable is this lawyer. This lawyer wants to put Jesus to the test and so he asks this question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life.”
Now, if you don’t start there, then you’re not going to get what this is all about. If you don’t start in verse 25 and understand the conversation Jesus has with this lawyer, then you’ve already missed the intent of the parable.
And that is what most people do. They don’t understand this passage in light of its context, and they walk away thinking that this passage is all about loving your neighbor.
In other words, most people use this passage to push a social gospel. To them the focus of the passage is what we must do as Christians to improve ourselves, our neighborhoods and the far reaches of the world.
Some have even gone so far as to make that as a summary of the gospel. They say, “The sum and substance of Christianity is the parable of the Good Samaritan.” And what does the parable of the Good Samaritan teach? Well it teaches love to your neighbor. That’s real Christianity, so they say.
Christianity is reduced to ethics and morals and doesn’t have a lot to do with doctrinal distinctions. And you will hear people of this stripe saying things like, “We don’t need to be overly concerned with our doctrine. Jesus wasn’t concerned with that. He told us the parable of the Good Samaritan, and that was all about love. We should focus on love and not be so finicky about doctrine.”
Now, I agree that we need to develop a sound ethical system. Christianity does teach that we are to love one another. But we have to be careful that we do not reduce the faith to simply ethics and love. As you read through the Scriptures, you will find that it has a very high emphasis on doctrine, and it is very finicky when it comes to precision in our beliefs.
And again, this is why we need to pay attention to the context of our parable. For this parable isn’t teaching a social gospel. It is not teaching you the importance of loving your neighbor. And we will start to understand that if we look at what is going on in verses preceding the parable.
Now, notice the question that this lawyer is asking here. He wants to know what he has to do to inherit eternal life. The question itself is an oxymoron. You don’t typically DO anything to inherit something. Usually an inheritance is bestowed upon you. It is a gift that is given and isn’t dependent upon any certain conditions that have to be met.
But this lawyer (who you kind of wonder already his expertise in the Scripture) wants to know what he must do.
So Jesus points him to the Bible and says, “What is written in the law?” And the lawyer gets this right. This is elementary stuff. He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus responds and says, “good boy! You got it. Do this and you will live.”
You got that? That’s all you have to do. If you want to have eternal life, then all you have to do is love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor perfectly. That’s all you got to do.
This is like you coming up to me and saying, “What do I have to do to get to the other side of Charles Mill Lake?” and I respond by saying, “Jump.”
You see, once you understand the context of this parable, then you will have a whole different view of what this parable is all about. It is not about loving your neighbor. It is about what it takes to get eternal life.
Jesus certainly isn’t telling you that all you need to do in life is love your neighbor. He’s not saying, “Just give it your best shot.” He’s pointing out how far short we fall of the Glory of God.
If you don’t get anything throughout my ministry, make sure that you get this: In order to get to heaven, God requires absolute perfection. Without that—without a perfect record of obedience, then you can’t have eternal life.
I was once talking with a young lady about this kind of thing. I asked her if she was a good person, and she responded by saying, “Yes.” So I asked her if I could put that to the test. And I said, “Have you ever told a lie?” She said yes. And I asked her, “What does that make you?” She said a liar. I asked her, “Have you ever stolen anything?” She admitted that she had pirated some stuff off the internet. I said, “What does that make you?” A theif. I asked her if she ever said, “OMG.” And I told her that was taking God’s name in vain. It was blasphemy, a very serious offense in the Bible.”
I then said to her, “So by your own admission you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer. If you were to come before God and he were to judge you, would you be innocent or guilty.” The answer is that she would be guilty, right? So I said, “Would he send you to heaven or to hell?”
At this point she got very queasy. She said, “Well, if that’s your standard, everyone is going to hell! Who hasn’t told a lie?!”
Exactly! That’s the point that Jesus was trying to make with this lawyer. You cannot do anything to inherit eternal life. By virtue of the life you’ve led and the sins you’ve committed, you’ve forfeited your rights to eternal life.
Unfortunately, this lawyer didn’t get it. For having supposed to have been and expert in the Law and the OT writings, he didn’t get it. It blew right past him.
Perhaps that was because he was more interested in a theological debate. You see, the passage goes on to say in verse 29 that he wanted to justify himself. And so he asked, “who is my neighbor?”
Back then there was a big debate on the idea of neighbor. And the prevailing notion was that anybody who was a Jew was your neighbor.
So Jesus says, “Ok. You didn’t get it, but I’ll play along. You want to know who your neighbor is? I’ll show you.”
And that brings us to the content of the parable. Now that we understand something of the cause and context of the parable, we can talk about what the parable actually says.
II. The content of the parable
As you heard, the parable is about this guy who is on his way to Jericho, who gets mugged and left for dead. Then there come upon him 3 different travelers. The first two are two religious leaders, a priest and a Levite. Now if anyone should have helped these guys, it should have been these guys. They were sort of the pastors of their day. They were to be the most kind and godly people. But what does the text say? It says that they each passed him by.
Some say that it might have been for reasons of ceremonial cleanliness. You know, the OT specified that a certain amount of time that had to be designated for cleansing if you came into contact with a dead person. And that was an inconvenience. So they thought that it would be better just not to touch the guy at all.
Or it might have simply been that they saw this guy laying there and thought, “If I stop and help, what might happen to me? What if the bandits are still in the area?” Whatever the reason, they chose to keep on keeping on.
At long last, this Samaritan came along. Now remember what we said about Samaritans and Jews. They hated each other. They Samaritans were half breeds and theological heretics. In the eyes of the Jews they were a freak of nature when it came to their race and their doctrine.
But it was this Samaritan who came along and took care of this guy. You notice the details that Jesus adds in verse 34 and following. Jesus tells us that the first thing he did was bind up his wounds and then poured some oil and wine on it (that was like the Neosporin of their day). But he didn’t stop with just some simple first aid. He went above and beyond the call of duty by taking the guy to a hotel and setting him up there. He even said, “If there are any other expenses, charge it to my account. I will pay it when I come back through.”
You know, Jesus talked about going the extra mile in another place. And that is exactly what this Samaritan does. He was ready to do whatever was within his power to see to it that this guy was nursed back to health again. He went way out of his way to attend to his needs.
And that brings us to the end of the parable. Jesus looks at the lawyer and says, “Who was the neighbor?” And you can almost see the guy seething. He is so disgusted—he hates the Samaritan so much he can’t even say his name. He just says, “The guy who showed mercy.”
And Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”
You see how Jesus played along with this lawyer? The lawyer asks, “What do I have to do to inherit eternal life.” Jesus says, “Oh, I’ll show you what you need to do. You need to demonstrate a supreme and undefiled degree of love. You even have to go so far as to fulfill your duty to your enemies. You can’t just turn a blind eye to their needs. It can’t just be your family. It can’t just be people you like or are like. God requires liberal benevolence to all humanity.
What Jesus does is press the full extent of the law’s demands. He basically says, “If you want to inherit eternal life, this is the standard to which you are held.
Now, we are not told whether or not the lawyer man got it or not. But we are brought to one conclusion. If we really consider the context and the content rightly, this parable brings us to one conclusion.
III. The conclusion & culmination of the parable
And that is this: There is no possible way we can do anything to inherit eternal life. Our conclusion has to be that there has to be some other way to get to heaven than by our own works.
You see, the point of this passage is to drive us to Christ. The purpose of this parable is simply to render us helpless and make us seek the one who can provide the way of salvation.
That’s why this parable really culminates in Jesus.
And that is why this passage cannot be understood rightly apart from Jesus. You see, Jesus is the Good Samaritan. He is the one who has compassion on poor miserable wretches like us. He is the only one who ever loved perfectly and fulfilled the full demands of the law.
And, I don’t think that it was an accident that Jesus used a Samaritan—someone who was despised by the Jews—as the hero of the passage. Because Jesus too was despised. He was hated, so much so that he was eventually crucified.
Earlier I talked about the conversation I had with a certain young lady. I asked her about how good she was. I asked her if God were to be her judge, whether she would be guilty or innocent and if she would go to heaven or hell. And I said she was in a frizzy because if that’s the standard, we’d all go to hell.
Well it is here that we have good news. We do deserve to go to hell. But God has provided a way of Salvation. Jesus fulfilled the law and merited for us the righteousness we need, and in his death on the cross he underwent the punishment that we deserve.
And that is the gospel. The gospel is not go and do your best. The gospel is the answer to the human dilemma. You have offended God. You have forfeited your rights to eternal life. But God has provided a way of salvation in Jesus.
And all you have to do is own up to your sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to inherit eternal life, then look to Jesus. He is the Savior.
“Love and marriage, love and marriage. They go together like a horse and carriage.” This was the grand insight of that wise sage Frank Sinatra.
We are here today because you guys are pledging your love to one another. In a few moments you are going to take some vows saying, in essence, that you are going to love each other for the rest of your lives.
People talk of it in all different ways. Here are some ways that I’ve heard it talked about just recently. One person said that “Love is a war!” Well, that might define some people’s marriages, but I’m not quite sure that’s exactly what love is. I have also heard one say that “love is our destiny.” Frankly, I haven’t a clue what that means. Here’s the one I really like. Robert Frost once said that “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Again, I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like something you might tuck away for your honeymoon.
It would seem like people are coming up with all kinds of definitions of love and always trying to grab this nebulous thing.
But if you really want to understand love, the best place to go is the Bible. As a matter of fact, the passage I just read gives us a perfect description of love. We are told in this passage how love really expresses itself.
The whole passage is worthy of consideration, and I would commend that you both take time to study it. But I want to highlight just portion of the text. I want to consider this little tidbit that says “love is kind.”
Now, we have an idea what kindness is. It means that we are to do good to one another, right? We have what we call “Random acts of kindness” day here in America. And that is supposed to be a day where you go and do nice things for people at random.
The word here in the Bible is actually an interesting word. It comes from a word that means “useful.” So, there is a sense in which you could translate this “Love is useful.”
And this is the way you need to see yourself in the context of your marriage. You must be kind to one another. You must make yourself the most useful to one another.
Perhaps you guys have seen the little cartoon of the cave man who has fallen in love and taken a wife. In one hand he carries a club; in the other he grasps her hair, dragging her behind him.
This may be a silly depiction, but it actually expresses very well the way most people see love and marriage today. “Me got wife. Me got slave. Me got someone to make me happy & do dishes.” “Me got someone useful to me.”
But this isn’t the way you are to perceive one another. Nate, it is not so much that she is useful to you, but that you are useful to her. The same is true for you, Jess. You are to go out of your way to do that which makes your spouse happy.
This is why kindness is so often thought of in terms of being courteous and using proper manners. When you say, “Can you please pass the butter,” what you are doing is speaking in a kind way. You are speaking in a way that pleases the other person and gives them no reason for offense. You could say, “Give me the butter!” Or, better yet, you can reach past their nose and stick your armpit right in their sandwich and get the butter yourself. But what does that do? That’s a real turn off. That makes the other person all kinds of disagreeable. Why so? Because that kind of behavior is not kind (it is not of any use to them—or any good use).
And that is one of the things that is incumbent upon each of you as you come together as husband and wife. From this point forward both of you need to make it your aim to fill your home with kindness.
So, Nate you need to recognize that you have an obligation to be kind to Jess. You are to seek Jess’s welfare. To be useful to her by being courteous, gentle with her, patient when she might be a little irritable. You are to be kind to her in that you give her the attention she needs, even when the game might be on.
And Jess, you are to do whatever is within your power to be useful/kind to Nate. When he biffs it, you need to control your tongue and have a forgiving spirit. You need to support him and do whatever is within your power to help him be the man he needs to be.
Now, I don’t doubt that I have not said anything overly surprising so far. Like I said earlier, we have an idea what kindness is.
But I would say this. We still don’t have a full understanding of love. It is still somewhat vague. We still don’t have a clear concept of what kindness is, and we will never have a clear picture until we come to grasp it as it is defined by Jesus.
You see, guys, we are sinners. By nature we are not kind. That’s the quirky thing about Random Acts of Kindness Day. Somebody made up this holiday because they recognized that we don’t show kindness as we really should.
And so that’s why we will never really know kindness apart from Jesus. And we will not really be able to show real kindness, until we come face to face with Jesus.
You see, Jesus has demonstrated the greatest kindness. He made himself useful in that he came down to earth to provide a way of salvation. And he did that by dying on the cross—by taking the penalty that we sinners deserve.
And if you look to him, he promises that he will do something amazing. He will not only do you the favor of forgiving you for all the unkind things you have done in your life.
A few weeks ago I had a chance to talk with some friends of mine, and they told me about their experience with kindness. My friends said that throughout much of their marriage they were yellers. It’s not that they didn’t love each other. It’s just that they weren’t very good at it. They yelled a lot, at each other, and they yelled at their kids. It was just their nature to yell.
You know what though? Things are different now. They have grandkids that come over quite a bit now, and they are just as sweet as anything with those kids. Some might attribute that to the fact that they are older now. You know, with age they’ve mellowed out. I don’t think so though. I attribute it to the fact that they have in recent years become Christians.
Their marriage completely changed because they themselves had been completely changed by the goodness and kindness of God.
Nate and Jess, my prayer is that as you are united today in marriage, you (like my friends) will also united to the Lord Jesus Christ, so that a fountain of kindness may ever flow in your home.
What was common and crude to me though, was obviously resplendent to him. He picked up each one and gave me a recitation of where he had found it and explained some of its nuanced features. He had an obvious affection for each and every one of these little pieces of earth.
I cannot help but think that such is the way it is with the people of God. When we look at the church, we see nothing of real value. We see people who are poor and despised, crude by the world’s standards. But to God, they are the objects of great delight. God has placed a great deal of affection upon those things that are the weakest and most lowly in this world.
Indeed, something of that is spoken of here in our passage today. Our passage is linked to the passage that we studied last week. You remember that Jesus had sent out a mission team to extend the reach of the gospel ministry. And there was a tension in that passage—a tension that we really did not talk about. There was, on the one hand, the promise of a great harvest. There was the wonder of having your own name written in the book of life. But on the other hand, there was also the reality of hostility against Christ. The mission team was sent out as lambs among wolves. There would be those whose judgment would be worse than that of Sodom.
Our passage today picks up right there. Jesus here in this passage contemplates this wonder. In this passage he reflects on how God reveals his salvation to us.
And this morning we are going to spend some time doing the same. We are going to reflect on our salvation. And hopefully, as we do so, we will share in some of the wonder.
As we think about our salvation, the first thing we should talk about is its foundation.
I. The glory of it 
In verse 21 we see something of the glory of this salvation. Jesus says, “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.”
What is this verse communicating? It is telling us why some people believe and others don’t. The glory of our salvation is that it is based solely in the sovereign plan of God. It is based upon his will and his will alone.
It is not because someone is wise. The verse tells us that God actually hides it from the wise. For all their intellectual acumen, they can’t discern the way of salvation. If they could, then they would have something to glory in.
And the verse tells us that it is not because of someone’s personal competence or physical ability. It says that this salvation is revealed to “little children.” Babies! One’s that do not have any sort of power or proficiency to do anything of their own accord.
So what does this saving grace rest upon? It is due to God alone and to his will. In his all wise plan he chose to hide it from some (that is to say, he chose to pass over some people and allow them to remain blinded by sin), and he chose to reveal it to others.
J.C. Ryle puts it this way in his commentary, “Why is it that some around us are converted and others remain dead in sin, we cannot possibly explain. Why England is a Christian country and China buried in idolatry, is a problem we cannot solve. We only acknowledge that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ supply the only answer that mortal man ought to give: ‘Even so, Father, for it seemed good in thy sight.”
This is nothing other than the doctrines of election and reprobation. And I understand that these are doctrines that many people dislike. Some react to them with great displeasure [I know that I did when I first encountered it!] But it is interesting to see that while these doctrines are offensive to many people in our day, they are doctrines that cause Jesus to rejoice.
The beginning of this verse says, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” And he said, “I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” Now you don’t typically hear the Scriptures say anything about Jesus being happy and yukking it up with his disciples. Normally, he is painted as the Man of Sorrows. There are a couple places in scripture where it talks about him weeping. There are a number of places that you can point that describe him as angry and full of rage.
But when it comes to his joy, you can’t really find a lot of verses that talk about it. As a matter of fact, this is the only place in the NT where it talks about the Joy of Jesus! And the English versions actually make it sound tame. The Greek word literally means “to jump with joy!” Jesus is kicking up his heals at this!
And it should not go unnoticed that the only place in Scripture that talks about Jesus being this fired up with glee is right here—in the context of the doctrine of election and reprobation. And it should be something that causes you to do the same!
One minister was once asked why Jesus chose Judas. You can understand the reason behind the question. Judas was a vile man; a traitor! He betrayed the Lord Jesus!
The minister responded, “Actually a better question is, ‘Why did Jesus choose me.”
When you understand that, you understand the real glory of this salvation.
But as you look at this passage you shouldn’t just think of the glory of this salvation, you should hear what Jesus says about its grounding.
II. The grounding of it 
In verse 22 Jesus goes on to say that this salvation is grounded solely in him.
Look at what he says. He says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son choses to reveal him.”
Jesus is saying that there is no other way you can come to salvation except through him. The only way that you can have a relationship with the Father is through Jesus Christ.
Our culture will tell you that there are many ways to heaven and that all religions are basically the same. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
And Jesus explains why. He says, “No one knows the Father.” We are completely oblivious to the Father. Because we have rebelled against him and been sent away from his presence, we are not able to have a relationship with him.
But Jesus does have a relationship with him. As a matter of fact, he has a unique relationship to the Father. He is one with Him. By virtue of his Trinitarian relation, he knows the Father in a full and intimate way. And because God the Father has given him the authority to do so, Jesus is permitted to reveal the Father to whomever he wants.
That of course means that if you want to know the Father, then you have to yield yourself to Christ and to his word. If you want salvation, then there is only one place to find it. Salvation is grounded in the unique person of Jesus, and him alone.
When it comes to the salvation that is revealed to us, Jesus also talks about the grandeur of it.
III. The grandeur of it [23-24]
In verses 23-24 it says that Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them 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!”
Jesus is here rejoicing in the fuller revelation that these disciples are receiving. These disciples have a privilege that the great patriarchs in the faith did not have.
You remember that up to this point the saints had been given truth about salvation and the coming Messiah, but it was always in shadows. It was not the full manifestation of Christ. They had the sacrifices and circumcision and the holy feasts. They had pictures, promises, and prophecies—all of which were sufficient to impart truth and build up their faith in the coming messiah. But nevertheless, it wasn’t the full revelation. It was still hidden to some degree.
But ever since the time of Christ, we have a greater understanding. The truth is more clear to us than it was for those who lived under the old covenant.
Think of it this way: Imagine that you’ve woke up very early one morning, while it is still dark. Not only is it dark, but there is a heavy fog that had come in during the night. Now, you get in your car, turn the headlights on, and start to drive down the street. Up the street a couple of blocks you see some figure crossing the road. You can’t see it perfectly, but you can make out the silhouette. There is definitely a person crossing the road. It might be a guy or a girl, you can’t tell what they are wearing, but you definitely see something through the fog. That is a real and true knowledge. But it is not a full knowledge.
If you were to stay there a while, you know what would happen. The sun would come out and the fog would be burned off. And as you pulled closer to the person, you’d be able to make out that it was grandma out in her jammies fetching the morning paper.
That is what it is like living in our present day. We have the privilege of seeing Christ in a fuller and more glorious manner. No longer are we in the shadows, but he has come and we have heard about him through the preaching of the word. The sacraments we have today are nothing much, but they give us a fuller understanding of his person and work.
I like what JC Ryle says on this verse. He says this, “No doubt the OT saints looked to a coming Savior by faith, and believed in a resurrection and life to come. But the coming and death of Christ unlocked a hundred Scriptures which were before closed, and cleared up scores of doubtful points which before had never been solved.”
We have the fullness of this revelation. It is better to be a saint today than one living in 500 years before Christ. Our situation is even better than those who lived 3-4 years prior to Jesus birth. Even though we might be well removed by a couple thousand years, our understanding is deeper and more vivid than those saints before.
As we’ve talked about this salvation, we’ve considered the glory of it: It is founded in God’s sovereign election. We’ve noticed that it is grounded in Christ alone. We’ve seen something of its grandeur. But it would not be complete if we did not talk about the giving of it.
IV. The giving of it
The whole point of this passage is that our Lord does give salvation. And he gives this salvation to anyone who would be willing to receive it.
If you would like to have your sins forgiven and enjoy eternal life with the Lord, then all you have to do is turn from your life of sin to the Lord Jesus. The moment you do that, you can rest assured that you will be saved.
In the reign of Charles I a prisoner was brought to trial. The jury eventually found him guilty of all the charges that were against him. Throughout the proceedings the man remained calm and unconcerned, even when the sentence was passed against him he said nothing. When all was said and done, he produced a piece of paper from his pocket. He handed it to the judge. It was the King’s full pardon. Because of this, he had to fear nothing in the Day of Judgment.
So it is with those who look to the Lord Jesus. The Lord will give his full pardon and he will be saved in the Day of Judgment.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.