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Sep 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 25, 2011

And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. Luke 18:15 (read vv. 15-43)

INTRO: This passage is about gatekeepers, followers, and being “saved”

Verses 15-17, Children are frequently blocked at the gate

Parents were bringing their children to be touched by Jesus
– his healing ministry began with touch (Lk. 4:40; 5:13) and power was released through him by touch (8:46)
– these parents wanted a blessing for their children – in some cases, a healing
I suffered many childhood illnesses, and each time, my grandmother came to pray for me
– I can still feel the gentle pressure of her hand on my forehead
– imagine the fingertips of Jesus on your forehead, or his palm on the top of your head

Growing up, we were given the impression, to be an adult was something important
– many privileges are placed out of the reach of children
– children are excluded from adult conversations and activities
– it is possible to be in conflict with ones own childhood
– when we become adults, we tend to treat children as we were treated
– we tend to ignore them and not take them seriously

Children were the least valued and most vulnerable members of society
– they were considered a liability until old enough and strong enough to be useful
– small and defenseless, even today they make easy targets

The disciples acted as gatekeepers to keep these insignificant “little ones” and their pushy parents away from Jesus

We have to pass through gates to get to Jesus – internal and external
– internal: our own doubts, ego, and willfulness
– external: Christians – demands they make, or their exclusiveness, or their poor example
– the gate swings on these two words, ‘permit’ and ‘hinder’
– there are gatekeepers who open gates and those that close them

Sometimes, we internalize the gatekeeper, repeating to ourselves what we have been told by others
– “I am not good enough to be accepted by God”
– “God wouldn’t want someone like me”
– can we get inside our minds, open those gates, and allow our souls to run to Jesus?

Jesus said we can learn two revelations about the kingdom of God from children
1. It belongs to them
2. We learn from them how to enter the kingdom of God
– we hear that children are trusting, innocent, and dependent, but try to remember how the world looked and felt to you as a child
– we experienced it directly as it is and with a sense of wonder
– that sense of wonder is the first stage of worship
– we are not really experiencing life, we’re just getting older
– few of know how to settle into the moment and savor the sensations of life
– and this is exactly why we are constantly missing God — he is present to us only in the moment

Verses 18-30, Some people stop at the gate

(Note that eternal life and the kingdom of God are interchangeable in this story)

In all three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this story follows the story of Jesus and the children
– the ruler watched Jesus with the children and heard what he said regarding the kingdom of God
– something about it all convinced him that Jesus could give him the answer he needed to his most pressing question
– at that point he went from being an observer of Jesus’ story to a participant in it

It isn’t immediately clear why Jesus made a big deal out of the fact that the ruler referred to him as “good”
– he was not denying he was good – or that he was God
– Jesus did not give the ruler a chance to answer his question about why he called the Lord good
– that’s because Jesus was not asking a question so much as making a point
– he was laying the groundwork for a condition to inheriting eternal life

All five commandments Jesus listed are relational and specific to dealing with other people
– notice how the same question in Luke 10:25 is resolved in love as the answer to which the commandments point

“One thing” – like Mary (10:41-42), there is one essential thing that matters most
– keeping the commandments is great, but something else comes before that
– something that is deeper in the soul than sheer obedience
– there is the total abandonment of ones self to God

“Follow Me” – what had he seen Jesus doing?
– giving away what he had to the poor and the least (children)
– to follow is to fall-in with Jesus – a life of companionship with him
– learn by experience the value of what Jesus brings to a person’s life

“Very sad” – he would lose his place and privilege in the world
– “treasure in heaven” is not as appealing if we are oriented to treasure on earth

This was shocking news to those standing around, “Then who can be saved?”
– they still held to the old idea that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing
– the wealthy were free to go wherever they wanted
– they were already “saved” – they were spared many troubles and discomforts
Poor people would find Jesus’ teaching very encouraging
– wealth does not automatically  get a person through the door, but it can, in fact, become an obstacle that gets in the way
– you can’t follow Jesus carrying all that stuff

Now we get to Jesus point, that only God is good
– if you try to get through gate by commandments, you won’t make it
– that would require something that humans don’t have
– only God is good — that is to say, only God is that good
– but, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God”

Peter suddenly realized they had done what Jesus required
– they had left their stuff, and followed him
– Jesus promised them a wealthy person’s reward and eternal life

Verses 31-34, Jesus tries to open the eyes of the disciples

“Behold” – as if Jesus were saying, “Look at our situation and what we’re going into”
– if they were following him for a reward, they needed to see what lay in the future

Jesus predicted an event, but he did not explain its meaning
– the event, however, is the hinge on which everything opens
– it’s because Jesus abandoned himself to God’s will that people can be saved

The disciples heard the Lord’s words, but they remained clueless
– Luke emphasizes fact that they didn’t get it with three observations:

  • “the disciples understood none of these things”
  • “this statement was hidden from them”
  • “they did not comprehend the things that were said”
    – they were following Jesus, but they were following him blindly
    – Jesus is left to carry this burden alone

Verses 35-43, A blind man who has it all

That the story of Bartimaeus should come exactly here is symbolic
– it connects immediately with the disciples’ blindness
– though he is blind, he has more spiritual insight than most, for this is the first time someone has publically referred to Jesus as “Son of David”

The gatekeepers are here again as they were when parents came with their children
– the blind beggar was also among the least valued and most vulnerable members of society
– but he is exactly like the person Jesus described in first parable, persistent in prayer – he will not be silenced or stopped at the gate

Bartimaeus has everything this chapter teaches and describes, including salvation
– “your faith has saved you”
Contrast Bartimaeus (a blind beggar) with the wealthy ruler
– Jesus did not tell Bart to sell his possessions
– Jesus did not invite him to follow him – yet he did

Receiving his sight, he opened everyone else’s eyes (v. 43)

CONC: Why does the Christian religion continue to produce Pharisees?

Even though everything in the gospels tells us not to become Pharisees?
– why do all religions produce Pharisees?
– and why are we always in danger of turning into Pharisees?

Because something in our human nature tells us we must save ourselves
– but, since only God is good, we need to create other systems of salvation
– systems of rules, methods, or formulas for Christian living — systems that we can master

What have we learned this morning?
– that the way of Jesus is not about having it all together
– it’s about having enough insight to call on Jesus
– having enough faith to persist – to get through all the gates and past all the gatekeepers
– it’s about coming to him as children, as beggars, as the broken people that we are

And it’s about following Jesus

If you feel lost
– like you’re so far behind Jesus you can’t see him to follow him – then here is what you can do to catch up to him:
Love God,
Love love your neighbor,
And love someone who is in need by sharing what you have
– treat someone the way you wish others would treat you

Do this, and you will soon catch up to Jesus – you will have learned the secret of following him

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