CAUTION AHEAD: Fear and Denial Luke 12:1-12

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1 CAUTION AHEAD: Fear and Denial Luke 12:1-12 "We are all beggars. This is true" Martin Luther Intrductin: There are certain things I want my kids t fear, and thers I d nt. I want them t be cautius when it cmes t the pitfalls f driving, pressure frm their friends, and being ruled by their emtins. Hwever, I certainly d nt want them t be afraid f trying smething new, risking fr the sake f the gspel, r lking flish when n ne else is willing t try. We cme t a sectin where Jesus tells His disciples t be aware, which carries the idea f bth "be aware f" in yur understanding and thinking", as well as "be wary t avid" in yur actins and cnduct. This is such an imprtant cncept that Jesus devted a whle discurse t it in Luke 12. The reasn it is s imprtant is that the nature f the gspel, the nature f the respnse t the gd news, is a change f nt nly my life tward sin and hliness, but a new rientatin f lyalty. In ther wrds, whatever system I was invlved with befre, I turn frm that t a radically new ne in fllwing Christ. This is where we ften fall shrt in ur misunderstanding f the transfrmative nature f the gspel. We think it just affects ur thinking, r ur belief, r ur smething segmented ut frm the rest f life. That's why peple think they can have and their frmer life, serve Gd and never change, and gain salvatin and lse nthing. Jesus cautins us that this type f thinking is nt nly wrng, but destructive. Be Aware f the System that Seeks t Cntrl (12:1-3) Luke 12:1-3 In the meantime, when s many thusands f the peple had gathered tgether that they were trampling ne anther, he began t say t his disciples first, "Beware f the leaven f the Pharisees, which is hypcrisy. 2 Nthing is cvered up that will nt be revealed, r hidden that will nt be knwn. 3 Therefre whatever yu have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what yu have whispered in private rms shall be prclaimed n the husetps. This was a turning pint in Jesus ministry. He had just been invited t have a meal with a Pharisee, where he levied a series f six wes that cncluded with a pinnacle cnclusin: they nt nly were excluded, but tk away the key f knwledge frm the peple. This meant that they carried respnsibility fr leading their fllwers astray. Frm that pint n, the Pharisee s went frm inquisitive and crdial questin asking t practive prvcatin t try t catch Jesus in smething He said that they culd prsecute Him fr (Luke 11:53-54). After calling ut their system and practice, a large crwd gathered arund Him. He began a discurse that the crwd culd hear, but clearly directed this cnversatin t His disciples. They nt nly needed t knw what they were up against, but needed t be clear what fllwing Him truly entailed. Over the next several weeks we will hear cautin abut ur treasure, heart, and readiness. But the area that Jesus began with had t d with FEAR, smething that plagues us all. A Hypcritical System Jesus tld His disciples t be aware f and avid the hypcrisy f the Pharisee s. Typically when we think f hypcrisy, we think f smene wh says ne thing and des anther, a fake, r ne wh hides behind a mask. We think f it in terms f individuals and can even assign mtivatin behind hypcrisy. 1

2 In ther wrds, smene must knw they are being fake but cntinues dwn a path anyway fr sme insidius reasn. But what Jesus is addressing here is nt simply individual hypcrisy, but that f a whle system. The hallmark f this type f hypcrisy is that it ffers hpe t life s mst imprtant questins, (i.e. why am I here, what is the purpse, is there a future, what happens when I die, hw d I knw) but cannt deliver. In the case f Judaism in Jesus day, they fcused n keeping the rules they created t keep the Law Gd gave in rder t be righteus, missing the whle pint. Only Jesus culd fulfill the Law, and nly Jesus culd be bth just and the justifier f thse wh wuld believe (Rm. 3:26). The ther hallmark f a hypcritical system is that thse within it truly believe they are right, r are really helping peple. The Pharisee s, thugh nt wanting t yield cntrl r their place, still believed they were ding right by Gd (Rm. 10:2; Paul s wn example in Philippians 3:2-6 and trying t wipe ut the church itself Acts 8:3). Undubtedly there are thse wh have ulterir mtives, but mst truly believe they are right and are trying t help peple. A Hidden System But this system was nt nly described at hypcritical, but als as leaven, r yeast in bread. Yeast is an interesting ingredient, since it is almst tasteless and disslves int whatever dugh yu are making. But it is als pervasive, spreading stealthily and cmpletely thrugh the mixture, affecting the whle. A religius system that says it has answers eternal questins but ffers nne is dangerus because it invades individuals, hmes, churches, and cultures. This was true in Jesus day where yu culd nt separate religius cmmitment frm family, scial activity, and even int gvernment. Tday we see it bth in rganized religin such as Islam, Mrmnism, and even Cathlicism, where the system can cntrl nes life, and breaking away frm it wuld be detrimental. I talked last week t Matt Higby abut the pervasive system f cntrl in Japan, bth f ancestr wrship and an hnr/shame based culture that keeps peple away frm seeing the need fr lve, Christ, and a Gd wh cares. It is a system put int place t veil the minds and hearts f the well intentined peple within the system itself. We als see it in infrmal religin such as what pst-mdernity has adpted in a frm f mral relativism. What ffers freedm t d whatever we deem right is really a system that enslave a persn in their wn passins. We have a pervasive, insidius system all arund us that values the life f an animal mre highly than that f an unbrn life, sexual freedm mre than sanctity f marriage, and what smene feels abut themselves is mre imprtant than the law written n their hearts (Rm. 2:15). It is this type f thinking that has becme pervasive in ur culture, systematically getting rid f Gd, His Wrd, abslutes, and any standard f bjective reality. This creates tensin and pressure fr us. It is this type f system that Jesus cautined His disciples t beware f. A Temprary System (2-3) As pervasive as it is and as hidden as its becmes, it will nt stay hidden. All things will be revealed ne day, bth mtives and applicatin. The system will be expsed alng with its shrtcmings and dwnfalls. There will cme a day when the light will expse nt nly the individual intentins f ur hearts, but the systems that are in place t blind ur eyes t the truth f Jesus. 1 Crinthians 4:5. Therefre d nt prnunce judgment befre the time, befre the Lrd cmes, wh will bring t light the things nw hidden in darkness and will disclse the purpses f the heart. Then each ne will receive his cmmendatin frm Gd. 2

3 These are the reasns t be wary and Jesus knew the plight f ur human cnditin is t let fear drive us when there is a system that puts pressure n us frm withut. That is exactly what He addressed next, which is ur ptential negative respnse t pressure. Be Aware f the Fear that Wants t Cntrl (12:4-7) Luke 12:4-7 "I tell yu, my friends, d nt fear thse wh kill the bdy, and after that have nthing mre that they can d. 5 But I will warn yu whm t fear: fear him wh, after he has killed, has authrity t cast int hell. Yes, I tell yu, fear him! 6 Are nt five sparrws sld fr tw pennies? And nt ne f them is frgtten befre Gd. 7 Why, even the hairs f yur head are all numbered. Fear nt; yu are f mre value than many sparrws. Reasns Why Fear is Real - Jhn 9 Fear is real and its smething we all face, with sme f us willing t admit it mre readily than thers. T illustrate the nature f the cntrl the system had ver the disciples wh cnsidered fllwing Jesus, we lk at Jhn 9 and the stry f a blind beggar wh was healed by Jesus by putting mud n his eyes and washing at the pl f Silam His disciples asked why this man was brn blind (with the thught that smene had t have sinned fr this t happen). Jesus answered that n ne sinned, but this man was brn this way s that "the wrks f Gd might be displayed in him." (9:3). After receiving his sight, he did what yu wuld expect: began telling peple abut it. The respnse was mixed: disbelief, explaining it away, and acceptance. The Pharisees brught this man in t questin him, and he simply tld the stry again. Then they brught his parents in t find ut if it was all real. His parents said it was their sn, he WAS brn blind, but culd nt say hw he was healed. And here is the key text: "His parents said these things ('ask him; he is f age. He will speak fr himself) because they feared the Jews, fr the Jews had already agreed that if anyne shuld cnfess Jesus t be Christ he was t be put ut f the synaggue. Jhn 9:22 Nw fr us, that might nt be a big deal. If we dn't like the church we are a part f, we simply find ne dwn the street that we d (t the stifling f ur wn grwth). But the Pharisee's cntrlled nt nly wrship lcatin, but mst majr parts f life, and t g against them t fllw Jesus wuld have affected these areas: Scial - Synaggues were scial hubs, nt just fr entertainment, but scial standing in a cmmunity. One's name and reputatin was tied t his standing in the synaggue, and being dispelled frm ne wuld have cnsequence t the ther. This is NO DIFFERENT than tday. I wuld venture t say that nne f us has feared fr his life fr cnfessing Christ, but many/mst f us have feared fr ur reputatin, what smene wuld have thught f us, r hw it wuld change the relatinship. Fr ur yunger generatin where pinins are knwn and perpetuated in scial media while devid f real relatinship, standing firm fr abslutes, fr truth, and fr salvatin thrugh Jesus alne are nt nly unppular, they put yu in a categry f narrw minded, unlving, and judgmental, which casts ne ut f the main stream. This fear is real and pervasive. Familial - Ntice that this man's parents were willing t thrw him under the prverbial bus because they feared that cnnectin with their sn wuld change the rest f their lives. T fllw Jesus, this man risked being cast ut frm his family. This fear is real, and smetimes 3

4 fllwing Jesus changes family relatinships. I have friends and family members that their decisin t fllw Jesus meant they were excluded frm the family they were brn int, ften in heart wrenching sadness. But Jesus made it clear that this was abslutely the case in fllwing Him (Luke 12:49-53; Matt. 10:37-39). Religius - Mre than family pressure, there is religius pressure. Being put ut f the synaggue meant that peple wuld treat like ne cndemned, utside f the cvenant. This was the dividing line faced by thse wh fllwed Jesus: they had t turn frm what they had been taught t fllw the One wh culd really saved. This is the decisin t fllw a Persn in Jesus mre than a system f religin, since salvatin is fund in Christ alne, nt a Church. Financial - Finally, ne wuld face financial implicatins if they were put ut, since their livelihd was tied int their cmmunity standing. If yu had much t lse financially, fllwing Jesus wuld have been difficult, since it wuld require giving up what yu had (which is what we will talk abut next week) These fears were real and they are relevant tday. Fllwing Jesus means a shifting f lyalty, a changing f systems, and a willingness t embrace ur fears. The questin we all need t answer: what are we afraid f? Reasns t Overcme Fear: Pwer & Value POWER - D nt fear thse wh can nly d physical harm t yu, but fear Him wh has authrity ver yur sul. If this is nt an argument frm lesser t greater, I dn't knw what is. The fear f man is pwerful because it exists temprally and affects ur day t day. In ur sin nature we have a built in capacity fr insecurity, meaning we d nt want t be cast ut frm the masses and be left alne. But it is clear the pint that Jesus makes. Fr a fllwer f Jesus, the MOST smene can affect is ur life in this wrld, while Gd has a say ver ur life nw an in eternity t cme. NOTE here that hell is viewed as a real place that peple will g, and is viewed as far wrse in degree than simply being killed. We live in a fear f Gd wh cares fr ur existence but hlds ur eternity as well. When we knw that ur life is secure, hidden in Christ, death is nt t be dreaded r feared, since ur future is secure (Cl. 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3-5). VALUE - If the first reasn was extreme in its finality, the secnd reasn is extreme in its vitality. We are mre valuable than the sparrws. Five sparrws wuld have fetched a price f abut an hurs wage (at least befre the minimum wage hike). Ntice what Jesus' pint: thugh they are wrth almst nthing, Gd remembers them. He knws us s well that He knws the number f hairs n ur head (which sme heads may be easier t cunt than thers). He des all f this because He values us highly. He is the ne wh calls us ut f a wrld system, calls us ut f death (Eph. 2:1-3), and sets us in ppsitin t the wrld. Suffering, persecutin, and trials are NOT ways that Gd has frgtten, but ways in which he calls us t live fr Him presently. Our fears call us t feel alne, t feel like n ne understands, r that n ne cares. We stay in false systems because we dn't want t be cut ut. But Jesus lvingly reminds us that Gd values us highly, will prvide fr us, will nt leave us r frsake us, and will finish what He cmpleted in us (Phil. 1:6). He valued us s much that He was willing t sacrifice Christ n the crss t buy us back. He died fr yu. He lves yu. He secures yu. We d nt need t fear the persn wh mcks us, the ne wh calls us narrw minded, r the ne wh shuns us. We cling t the ne wh hlds the whle universe and ur life in His hand. 4

5 In anticipating hw fear affects us, Jesus addresses the lgical prgressin f fear, and it has t d with ur verbalizatin f Jesus, ur willingness t acknwledge Him befre man. This is a serius thing fr us, because when we are afraid, we tend t say nthing. Befre new wnership, when I'd g t Ddger stadium t watch them play the Giants in the pavilin, I wuld stay silent abut my rting interest in my team. I was afraid f the fallut, and n team is wrth that type f injury. Fear causes us t stay silent, and in that silence is denial. Be Aware f the Spirit that IS in Cntrl (12:8-12) Luke 12:8-12 "And I tell yu, everyne wh acknwledges me befre men, the Sn f Man als will acknwledge befre the angels f Gd, 9 but the ne wh denies me befre men will be denied befre the angels f Gd. 10 And everyne wh speaks a wrd against the Sn f Man will be frgiven, but the ne wh blasphemes against the Hly Spirit will nt be frgiven. 11 And when they bring yu befre the synaggues and the rulers and the authrities, d nt be anxius abut hw yu shuld defend yurself r what yu shuld say, 12 fr the Hly Spirit will teach yu in that very hur what yu ught t say." What Fear Prduces: Silent Denial Nt many here this mrning have actively denied Jesus (at least, I'm pretty sure that is the case). Yu've never verbalized that yu d nt believe that there is a Jesus, r that He exists, r that He died. But I'd put frward that mst f us have been tempted t deny Jesus by failing t acknwledge Him befre peple, unwilling t let peple knw that we believe, that we fllw Him, and believe He is the way f salvatin. Jesus minces n wrds here. We fllw thrugh and talk abut what we truly believe, and we believe that fllwing the wrld is mre imprtant than Christ when we clse ur muths abut Him. If we fail t acknwledge Him, He will d the same. Denial f Jesus means His denial f us. A fllwer f Jesus will be ne wh spreads the news abut Him. T bring cmfrt and hpe, Jesus als said that thse wh spke against Jesus can be frgiven, while thse wh blaspheme the Hly Spirit will nt be. We have great examples f thse wh spke against Jesus in Peter and Paul, the first while he was a disciple and the secnd befre he was. Peter swre that he did nt knw Jesus, fearing the fallut f Jesus ging t the crss when talking t a yung girl. Paul denied Jesus by trying t wipe ut His church. These were frgiven. But thse wh had persistently denied the wrk f the Spirit thrugh Jesus, particularly His miracles while attributing them t Satanic wrk (Luke 11:14-26; Matt. 12:31-32) wuld nt be frgiven (nr wuld they seek it). What the Spirit Prduces: Bldness Jesus reminded His fllwers that there was a time cming when they wuld be questined befre these religius/plitical leaders, and they wuld be tempted t shy away in fear. He reminded them that they did nt need t be anxius because the Spirit wuld emblden them t speak, recalling Scripture and the wrk f Jesus in their life as they wuld give testimny. This is seen clearly and pwerfully in Peter's speech befre the Pharisees in Acts 4:5-13. "By what pwer r by what name did yu d this? Then Peter, filled with the Hly Spirit, said t them, 'Rlers f the peple and elders...let it be knwn t all f yu and t all the peple f Israel that by the name f Jesus Christ f Nazareth, whm yu crucified, whm Gd raised frm the dead, by him this man is standing befre yu...and there is salvatin in n ne else...nw when they saw the bldness f Peter and Jhn, and perceived that they were uneducated, cmmn men, they were astnished." 5

6 This did nt mean the disciples were nt prepared r intelligent, but they were reliant n the pwer f the Spirit, and that gave them bldness in the midst f intimidatin, threats, and vilence. We are nt saved t stay silent, but t be bringers f the gd news. I take yu back t the blind beggar wh culd nw see. He was brught befre the Pharisees nce, where he gave testimny f what Jesus did. That was nt sufficient fr them s they drug him back a secnd time. Nw he was shrt and t the pint, "Whether he is a sinner I d nt knw. ONE THING I d knw, that thught I was blind, nw I see." When they pressed him fr the stry again, he std by his stry and asked simply "D yu als want t becme his disciples?" They tld him they weren't sure abut this Jesus, t which this uneducated beggar put them t shame: n ne but smene frm Gd culd d this, yet yu are blind t it. I was blind, but I see, why can't yu. At this, they had enugh. Called him an utter sinner, and cast him ut. This man had nthing but news. Nthing but the fact that he was blind and nw he culd see. He did nt try t take dwn the establishment r call the system int questin, but simply tld the news f what happened t thse wh had nt heard and culd nt understand. This is what speaking bldly in the midst f a fearful system lks like. Fur thughts fr us abut fear and denial: We fear because we have much t lse - Often we believe we have t much t lse, t much stred up here n this earth (materially, scially, r financially) t risk speaking penly abut Jesus We fear because we frget we are simply sharers f news - The aplgetic f the man in Jhn 9 and Peter in Acts 4 was nt t ut argue the ppnents, but t declare the reality f the news. They bth were willing t share what happened, "I was blind, nw I see", and what was true, "There is n ther name by which man can be saved except Jesus" We fear because we frget Gd's pwer and care - Our fear reveals wh WE actually value. D we value ur wn cmfrt, reputatin, and well being, r the name that is abve every name. What are yu afraid f? That is nt nly a questin t answer, but the answer is indicative f hw we will live. We fear because we frget we are beggars - Much like the man in Jhn 9, we t are mere beggars. This is what Martin Luther was said t have scribbled n his death bed "We are beggars, this is true." and what D.T Niles picked up t say, "A Christian witness is nt like a rich man wh has a lt f bread which he hands ut t the pr beggars wh have nthing. He is rather like ne beggar wh tells anther beggar where he has fund bread." When we remember this, it is pssible t share the news. Questins t discuss: What are the systems f cntrl arund us tday that keep peple blinded t the light f Jesus (think bth rganized and infrmal religins)? Hw d these cause peple t fear? What areas f imprper fear d we face (especially in scial, family, and financial ways)? Hw d we vercme ur fear, especially in areas f sharing the news? In what ways, subtle ways, can we deny Jesus with ur wrds (r lack theref)? What wuld a BOLD witness lk like in ur culture? 6

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