True love- A journey to the Cross
The unchanging love of God.
Luke 9: 1-62
With Peter Veysie
21st March 2021
9 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill. 3 He told them: ‘Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, ‘I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?’ And he tried to see him.
Jesus feeds the five thousand
10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.’
13 He replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’
They answered, ‘We have only five loaves of bread and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’ 14 (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah
18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’
19 They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’
20 ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah.’
Jesus predicts his death
21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’
23 Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 ‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure,[a] which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’ 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Jesus heals a demon-possessed boy
37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.’
41 ‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.’
42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
Jesus predicts his death a second time
While everyone was marvelling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 ‘Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.’ 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and made him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’
49 ‘Master,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.’
50 ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them[b]?’ 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
The cost of following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’
58 Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
59 He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’
But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’
60 Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’
61 Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’
62 Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’
Peter Abelard was born in 1079 and he was convicted by the Lord that the gospel was for everyone. He was a deep thinker and theologian and ministered in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Hundreds of Parisians would come to hear the great Abelard speak until he fell in love with Heloise and had a child and from then on he was persecuted by the Uncle of Heloise, a Canon of the Cathedral. He was then emasculated and seperated from his beloved Heloise. He bacame a monk and she became a nun,but they continued to write to each other, not only love letters, but deeply profound theological thoughts.Abelard was branded a heretic for his theology on the unchanging love of God and he wrote on the Moral influence of the Atonement and a Commentary on Romans.
His deep thought which really intrigued me was the powerful concept on the unchanging love of God and how this influences our theology on both the cross and hell.
- Love is a doing Word -God’s intended destiny for humankind and the fall leading to the cross.All of the work of the Lord is about the care of others and this scripture starts with Jesus sending out the 12 to share the love and the good news aware of the threat of Herod. Much later in the story he feeds the 5000. He asks the question – Who do you say that I am? A profoundly theological and personal question that will define the way we look at the Cross, the church, our mission on earth and everything else that we do in life. For me it is completely defined in the word LOVE – others deeply and God intimately.Deny self, take up cross and follow me !!!! The healing of the boy and giving him back to his father. THE TRANSFIGURATION !!! Opposition from the Samaritan’s.
- Delivered into the hands of humanity. – they did not grasp it and possibly nor will we.It is the hands of humanity who are unable to grasp who he is that lead him to crucifixion.
- Jesus is sharing his heart and the challenges around the reality of his bleak future and the disciples are working out who will have important places and who would be the greatest. Become like a little child. I think that we all might find ourselves in the grip of our theology of the cross being self absorbed by what we are doing for humanity or Jesus and our addition of points so to speak made up by us and not the Lord. Becoming the least is very difficult in our day and age but this is what it’s all about. Not whether we go to heaven or hell, or who goes but rather how resolute we are to follow unconditionally !!!
- Whoever is not against you is for you. Driving out demons.It’s so easy to write off a brother or sister in another community of faith that may be different to yours, but the reality is that the cross will bring us together and into deeper working together if we just see the blessing of each other. My fraternal buddies.
- Jesus resolutely turned and set out for Jerusalem.Remember, when you think of Jesus’ resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this and set his face towards Jerusalem and the crucifixion was not easy. It was hard.”Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).Jesus, who was the very embodiment of his Father’s love for us, saw that the time had come and set his face to fulfill his mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake. “No one takes my life from me (he said), but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).
- So Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, and it says in the text that “he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem.” It doesn’t really matter whether this rejection is just because Jesus and his companions are Jews and Samaritans hate Jews, or whether the rejection is a more personal rejection of Jesus as the Messiah on his way to reign in Jerusalem. What matters for the story is simply that Jesus is already being rejected, and then the focus shifts to the disciples’ response, specifically the response of James and John.James and John ask Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (verse 54). Jesus had already named these brothers “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).
- Sons of thunder If Jesus had come to execute judgment and take up an earthly rule, then it would make sense for the sons of thunder to begin the judgment when the final siege of the Holy City starts. But if Jesus had come not to judge but to save, then a radically different form of discipleship is in order. Here is a question put to every believer by this text: does discipleship mean deploying God’s missiles against the enemy in righteous indignation? Or does discipleship mean following him on the Calvary road which leads to suffering and death? The answer of the whole New Testament is this: the surprise about Jesus the Messiah is that he came to live a life of sacrificial, dying service before he comes a second time to reign in glory. And the surprise about discipleship is that it demands a life of sacrificial, dying service before we can reign with Christ in glory.. Luke 9:23, 24 reads: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” When Jesus set his face to walk to Jerusalem, he was not merely taking our place; he was setting our pattern.
- An alternative dream—a dream of breaking loose from the shackles of this self-serving, consumer culture in which we live—a dream of doing something radical. Something radically loving with your house, something radically loving with your portfolio and your income, something radically loving with your free evenings, something radically loving with your job. Some of you are discovering such wonderful freedom from the love of things. And hand in hand with that comes an amazing freedom from vengeance. The more secure you are in God rather than things, the less inclined you are to return evil for evil and the more open you are to nitty-gritty involvement with those who are least lovely and most needy. The more this happens, the more striking and fruitful will be the witness of this church to Jesus.
I can only say that the journey to the cross led Jesus into the space of deep love for humanity and not retaliation. The deep love of Christ in us will demand a lot of self-sacrifice and this is not easy due to our own humanity, but like Abelard, may we find ourselves being moved and touched deeply by the cross to serve and to love with an unchanging love in spite of our emotional ups and downs.
God’s love is unchanging.