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Jun 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 26, 2011

No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lamp stand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, you whole body is full of light; but when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. Luke 11:33-34 (read verses 14-36)

INTRO: My plan was to begin our study this morning talking about distractions

But trying to come up with an illustration to introduce distractions became frustrating. So I browsed the Internet searching for ideas. I came across a couple of interesting news articles, but realized I was wasting time, panicked, and came back to my notes. I experimented with a couple of illustrations, but they were stupid so I got frustrated again. Then I opened my email to see if I had any new messages. Soon I panicked again because I still didn’t have an opening for the study, came back to my notes, but still no luck. I thought, maybe if I got myself a soda it would help–put some caffeine in my brain. But I still couldn’t think of a way to illustrate distractions and how they keep us from doing what needs to be done.

Some people are able to resist distraction through self-discipline
– the rest of us have to settle for reigning in our minds and returning to our work

This passage has a definite center and Luke keeps bringing us back to it

Verse 14, A sudden scene-change

Last week I brought up the setting of a story and how it creates atmosphere
– take a moment with the way this story opens in verse 14
– what sort of atmosphere does this create?

A strange place to go immediately after Jesus’ teaching on prayer
– but here Luke quickly shifts to an exorcism
– this is not about our Father, friends, and giving good gifts

Maybe there is something we’re supposed to see in the contrast between our Father who gives the Holy Spirit and Jesus “casting out a demon”

Verses 15-16, Two issues are raised by the crowd

To understand this passage, we have to keep sight of both

The first issue: An accusation
Luke has highlighted the crowd’s speculations regarding Jesus’ identity (Lk. 9:7-8, 18-19)
– until now, their speculations were drawn from positive images from Israel’s tradition
– here, for the first time, a few people link him with something sinister
The speculation had been about “who” (he was) but now is about “how” (he worked miracles)
– this is not really speculation, but accusation – i.e., he made a deal with “Beelzebul, the ruler of demons”

What lies behind their accusation? In essence, they were saying that Jesus was a magician
John Welch makes an interesting argument that “magic” was the legal ground for Jesus’ arrest

“Magic typically tries to command, control, or manipulate the supernatural by esoteric knowledge, imprecations, or special communication with deity.”

Magic was outlawed in both Jewish and Roman law

What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? I know who You are–the Holy One of God! (4:34)
Demons were also coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ (4:41)

– the demons knew who Jesus was and this could imply a relation to him

The second issue: A demand
Some in the crowd were demanding a sign from heaven
– this is ironic because the crowd had just been amazed by the exorcism
Why does Luke mix these two issues together?
– a sign from heaven would disprove the accusation that he was in league with Beelzebul
– “Prove to us that you are from God”

Verses 17-26, Jesus responds to the accusation

(17-18) He points out a logical flaw in their accusation
– a divided kingdom is laid waste and a divided house falls
– this also gives us an insight into their concept of Satan (i.e., that he ruled a kingdom)

(19) He points out another logical flaw in their accusation
– they also had exorcists (Josephus tells a famous story of Eleazar, whose methods look a lot more like magic than Jesus’ simple command)

(20) Jesus presented an alternative explanation
– not Beelzebul, but “the finger of God”
– this phrase echoes Exodus 8:19 – the plague of gnats
-Pharaoh’s magicians (who could not reproduce the plague) were the ones who said, “This is the finger of God”

This leads, logically, to a different conclusion, “kingdom of God has come upon you”
– Satan’s kingdom was not the only kingdom present
– Jesus uses the contrast as an alternative explanation to their accusation
– this is a more reasonable explanation than divided kingdom

(21-22) Jesus illustrates what the presence of the kingdom of God looks like among people
– “someone stronger”
– a beautiful picture of Jesus stripping Satan of his armor

(23) Jesus has clarified where he stands
– two kingdoms in conflict; two strong opponents
– now Jesus shifts the crisis point from himself to them
– they don’t have to reach a decision re: where Jesus stands, but where they stand in relation to Jesus

(24-26) A peek behind the curtain
– this insight intensifies the pressure of the decision they have to make

Verses 27-28, Another voice from the crowd

This time, a woman’s voice
– mothers derived status from accomplishments of their sons
– Jesus has already demonstrated his break from cultural norms

What about woman who never had a son?
– Jesus secures a blessing for her and everyone else
– the criteria: “hear  the word of God and observe it,” which he repeatedly stressed (8:21)

Why does Luke insert this story here? (separating the two issues)
– why interrupt the flow of Jesus’ speech with this interruption?
– this is the mid-point of the passage and Luke is returning us to the heart (the center) of the issue
– that is, Jesus and the word he proclaims

Verses 29-32, Jesus responds to the demand

“Generation” is a subset of a larger group that shares particular characteristics
– wicked is the same word translated evil in v. 26 and bad in v. 34 and should be translated the same
– they were seeking a sign rather than truth, rather than God
– what God had given them was Jesus (“behold,” vv. 31 & 32)
– Jonah had not worked any miracles

Something greater than preaching that brought Nineveh to repentance
Something greater than what drew the queen from the south to hear wisdom of Solomon
– their failure to join Jesus left them swept and empty (v. 26)

Why couldn’t they see God’s answer in Jesus? We’ll see in the next section
– poor eyesight

Verses 33-36, How to secure our safety: get eye examined

When we say the light has gone out in someone’s eyes, what do we mean?
– that something inside has died
– here the healthy eye takes in light and illuminates the whole person

Walk around your house in dark – then switch on light
– everything is seen for what it is – the path you have to take becomes clear to you

“Watch out,” skopeo, “scope out” or “see to it” – open your eyes, be attentive, notice
– Jesus points out something and says, “Behold”
– put your attention there – that’s what is important today, that is what you need to observe and do

CONC: Now we can take an ariel view of the whole passage

Each challenge that comes finds its resolve in Jesus

  • The accusation resolves in Jesus working by the finger of God and bringing the kingdom of God
  • The alternative explanation resolves in “Someone who is stronger”
  • The demand for a sign resolves in “Something that is greater”

Our interest, energy, and resources goes after all sorts of things
– what we have to do is regularly bring ourselves back to Jesus
– never be without time for Jesus
Whatever gets to you, Jesus is stronger and greater
– he will be to you, your blessing and your light

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