A New Generation

Scripture: Luke 9:1-10

Title: A New Generation

Structure:

  • Introduction
  • Jesus creates a new generation
  • Conclusion

Introduction:

Over the past couple of weeks we have been working through a sermon series for the Tranzsend Self Denial campaign called Made New

–         Jesus came to make all things new and that newness begins with the initiative of the Holy Spirit

–         Last week we heard how Jesus gives us a new perspective

–         Today we conclude the Self Denial series by looking at how Jesus creates a new generation  

Please turn with me to Luke chapter 9, verse 1 – page 89 toward the back of your pew Bibles

–         In today’s reading we hear how Jesus empowers the new generation of his disciples to heal the sick and preach the gospel

–         From Luke 9, verses 1-10 we read…

Jesus called the twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. Then he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick, after saying to them, “Take nothing with you for the trip: no walking stick, no beggar’s bag, no food, no money, not even an extra shirt. Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that town; wherever people don’t welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.” The disciples left and traveled through all the villages, preaching the Good News and healing people everywhere.

When Herod, the ruler of Galilee, heard about all the things that were happening, he was very confused, because some people were saying that John the Baptist had come back to life. Others were saying that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. Herod said, “I had John’s head cut off; but who is this man I hear these things about?” And he kept trying to see Jesus.

10 The apostles came back and told Jesus everything they had done. He took them with him, and they went off by themselves to a town named Bethsaida.

May the Spirit of Jesus illuminate this reading for us

Jesus creates a new generation:

We are talking this morning about how Jesus creates a new generation, but what do we mean by the word generation

–         Well, as a verb (a doing word) generation means producing something or bringing something into being

–         As in generating power or producing a crop or getting a project underway

 

But as a noun (a naming word) generation refers to a group or cohort of people born about the same time

–         As in generation X or baby boomers or millennials

 

We see both senses of this word generation in our reading from Luke 9 this morning

–         By empowering the disciples and sending them out to heal & preach Jesus is generating something new, he is creating a new movement

–         Also the disciples represent a new generation of God’s people

–         Just as there were twelve tribes of Israel, so too there are twelve disciples representing a new generation of leadership

 

Jesus does a number of things to create this new generation

–         Firstly he calls the disciples – inviting them to leave their old lives and follow him, learn from him, become his apprentices

–         We read how Jesus called his first disciples in Luke 5

 

Then, once Jesus has called the new generation, he shows them what to do by his own example – Jesus gives the disciples a model of how to do ministry

–         When we think of education we might think of sitting in a class room but the disciples learned by being with Jesus 24-7

–         Prior to Luke 9 the disciples have been following Jesus around everywhere, looking & listening, soaking up his way of doing things

–         I call this the tea bag approach to learning – Jesus’ example is like a tea bag and the disciples are like the water

–         As the disciples spend time with Jesus his way of doing things is infused into them, like tea is infused into water

–         This kind of learning happens without us necessarily being aware of it

–         The next generation (the children in our midst) are having our example infused into them, so we need to be careful of the model we provide

 

In Luke 9 Jesus takes the next step in creating this new generation of leadership

–         At this point the disciples have a clear picture in their mind of what preaching & healing the Jesus’ way looks like but they haven’t actually done it themselves

–         They know it in their head but they don’t yet know it in their hands

 

Last Tuesday night 14 of us gathered in the church lounge to learn how to operate the defibrillator

–         Amy from the Wellington Free Ambulance explained some procedures to us and then demonstrated on a manikin what to do if someone has a cardiac arrest (if their heart stops)

–         After showing us by her example, Amy then got each of us to practice on a manikin as well

–         It’s one thing to watch someone demonstrate a certain technique

–         It’s quite another to actually do 100 chest compressions a minute for over 2 minutes – watching and doing are quite different

 

Having shown his disciples what to do Jesus then gives them the opportunity to have a go themselves

–         But before sending them out Jesus first sets them up to succeed by giving them power & authority over demons & disease

–         No point in taking a knife to a gun fight – I imagine Jesus wants his disciples to have some wins, to get some runs on the board, because that will help generate confidence

 

Power & authority aren’t exactly the same thing although they often go together

–         Power is the ability to do something while authority is the permission or license to do it

–         I might have the power to drive a bus because I have the key but I don’t have authority to drive unless I have a license

–         I might have the power to cut down a tree because I have a chainsaw but I don’t have authority to cut it down unless it’s on my property

–         Jesus deputises his disciples with both the ability to drive out demons & heal disease as well as the license to do it

 

Demons are a manifestation of spiritual evil (the minions of Satan if you like) and disease is a manifestation of physical evil

–         What we observe here is that Jesus has jurisdiction over both the spiritual realm and the physical realm – there is nothing beyond Jesus’ reach

 

We also observe that Jesus shares his power & authority with those he trusts

–         Jesus doesn’t do it all himself, he uses a team approach

–         At the defibrillator training the other night Amy underlined the importance of using a team approach

–         You don’t try to do everything yourself – you get someone to ring 111 while you do chest compressions and you line up one or two others to help you do the chest compressions like a tag team

–         Later in Luke’s gospel we read how Jesus sends out the 72 in pairs

–         By using a team approach Jesus creates a new culture of cooperation & partnership, in contrast to the old culture of competition & one-up-man-ship – the new generation has a new culture

 

Another thing we notice is that Jesus gives the new generation a new focus and a new purpose

–         The old generation had been focused on things like politics and money and military might, because those things enable one to control people

–         But Jesus doesn’t give his disciples power & authority to control people

–         Rather he gives them power & authority to drive out demons & disease

–         Therefore Jesus’ focus, and the focus of the new generation, is to set people free from the forces of evil – both physical & spiritual

 

Most people have no difficulty understanding what is meant by physical disease – science has provided helpful insights into physical illness

–         Unfortunately we don’t understand as much about spiritual dis-ease

–         Demons are beyond the reach of science – in fact a lot people today would want to deny the existence of spiritual forces

–         However, just because we can’t look at it under a microscope doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist

 

When I was about 15 I was asked to sit in on an exorcism and provide prayer support (because you don’t do an exorcism on your own).

–         I was a relatively new Christian at that stage

–         The woman was having the exorcism because she had been a witch, part of a coven and all that goes with that

–         Witchcraft is the opposite of setting people free – witchcraft is about controlling or manipulating people

–         The sad reality is that when we seek to control or manipulate others we open the door to forces of evil that end up controlling us

–         At first this woman appeared quite normal – you wouldn’t know she was any different from anyone else

–         But as we started praying her behaviour changed – strange stuff happened to her, stuff she wasn’t in control of, stuff I can’t explain

 

I went away from that experience realising that demons are real – there are forces at work which we don’t understand and often aren’t even aware of

–         But we do not need to be afraid – Jesus has defeated Satan

–         If we have trusted our lives to Christ, if we have placed ourselves under his Lordship, then we are under his protection

 

We talked a couple of weeks ago about the human spirit being like a cup and the Spirit of God being like communion wine or fresh clean water

–         If the cup of our human spirit was designed to hold the water or wine of God’s Holy Spirit then we could say that demons (or evil spirits) are like dirty water or poison in the cup of our human spirit

–         To caste out a demon then is to clean out the cup of our spirit – to remove the dirty water, extract the poison, sort of like vomiting removes a stomach bug

–         Science can find cures for many physical diseases but only Jesus has the cure for what ails us spiritually

 

Now in talking about the spiritual realm and the physical realm, demons & disease, I don’t mean to imply a false dichotomy

–         While the spiritual & the physical are different by definition, they are not separate or mutually exclusive

–         There is some kind of inter-relationship between the spirit and the body

–         I’m not going to say much more about that relationship because I’m not sure I really understand it – for me it is in the realm of mystery

 

The other thing I want to say is that medical science doesn’t stand in opposition to Jesus, nor in isolation from him

–         Historically speaking science owes its existence to Jesus and the church

–         As I see it medical research to cure disease can be as much a part of God’s work of healing as the laying on of hands in prayer

–         Jesus takes a team approach – he often uses both doctors and our prayers to heal people

 

Take cataract operations for example

–         If left untreated cataracts can make a person go blind

–         They didn’t have cataract operations in Jesus’ day (that we know of) so Jesus simply healed by saying a word

–         Later in history God gave us the knowledge we needed to safely remove cataracts and restore people’s sight – that’s the sort of thing we would expect to happen under the reign of God.

–         These days thousands of cataract operations are performed every year, so it doesn’t seem miraculous to us anymore – it seems routine & mundane

–         We still pray for someone when they have a cataract operation though because we are depending on God, not just the surgeon

–         We acknowledge that healing comes from God and God is free to heal however he wants, whether that’s through science & doctors or in some other way – nothing is beyond Jesus’ reach

 

We also acknowledge that God is free not to heal

–         So if we pray with sincerity and in good faith for God to heal and nothing happens, it is no reflection on us or our prayers

–         It just means God has said ‘no’ on this occasion

–         God said ‘no’ to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed to avoid suffering

–         God had a far bigger purpose in mind – the redemption of creation

 

In Luke 9, Jesus empowers his disciples to heal disease and exorcise demons because it served the immediate purpose of setting people free, as well as the bigger purpose of showing people that the Kingdom of God was near and had in fact arrived in the person of Jesus

 

I think it was C.S. Lewis who said, ‘Miracles are for beginners’

–         When we are just starting out, when we don’t yet know Jesus, miracles can serve the purpose of making us aware that Jesus is the real deal, he’s not fake or an imposter – miracles can ignite faith, get it started

–         But once we accept Jesus by faith the miracles are no longer necessary – just as sign posts are no longer necessary once you have reached your destination, or matches are no longer necessary once you have lit the fire

–         Yes, miracles are nice to have and God still does miracles today, even if we might take them for granted, but they are not the main thing

–         Jesus is the main thing, the Kingdom of God is the main thing

–         God doesn’t want us to rely on miracles, he wants us to rely on Christ

 

So if Jesus and the Kingdom of God are the main thing what does it mean then to preach the Kingdom of God, as the disciples are instructed in verse 2?

 

Well, the Kingdom of God refers to the reign of God, as in the government of God. The kingdom of God is what life is like when God is in charge

–      When God is in charge we have justice & mercy, we have truth & grace, we have healing & deliverance, we have peace & joy, we have freedom – not freedom to do what we want, but freedom to do God’s will, freedom with righteousness and we have abundant life

 

In verses 7-9 of Luke 9 we read about Herod, the ruler of Galilee

–         The reign of Herod stands in stark contrast to the reign of God

–         Under Herod, righteous men like John the Baptist were beheaded

–         Herod would later involve himself in the plot to kill Jesus

–         But under God’s reign there is justice so that Jesus (& those who belong to him) are resurrected to eternal life while Herod reaps what he has sown

–         In Acts 12, verse 3 we read how an angel of the Lord struck Herod down and he was eaten by worms

 

The disciples were sent to preach the Kingdom of God – to tell people that God’s reign was beginning – and that was good news for those who were oppressed by evil

 

One of the things we notice here is that Jesus sent his disciples throughout the villages of Galilee

–         Villages indicates smaller settlements, as opposed to the more populated cities – we might imagine villages to be the sorts of places most people pass through on their way to somewhere else

–         And the region of Galilee was considered a bit inferior, at least by those in Judea & Jerusalem

–         The poor in the villages of Galilee are visited by Jesus and his disciples, while Herod the ruler misses out

–         So this is a case of the last being first and the first being last

–         On this occasion Jesus sent his disciples to the least on the margins, before sending them to the greatest at the centre

 

Last Thursday Sarah Harris, a lecturer from Carey College, came to Wellington to speak to a group of Baptist pastors, and over lunch she told us a true story

–         A couple of years ago Sarah arranged a trip to Israel and on this trip there was a woman who was hearing impaired, practically deaf

–         The woman wasn’t sure about going, she was anxious about whether she would fit in – being deaf you tend to miss out on a lot of the conversation

–         Anyway one day on the trip they paused at a certain holy place for a while before moving on

–         Later that evening the woman said to Sarah, wasn’t that beautiful music we heard earlier today (presumably the woman had some hearing)

–         And Sarah replied, what do you mean? There was no music.

–         Yes there was – it was like nothing I had ever heard before

–         Sarah said again, we didn’t hear any music

–         Then the woman said, so you’re saying that I was the only one in the group who heard music and yet I’m deaf?

–         At that moment they both realised God had done something quite special just for her. She was deeply touched and her anxiety was relieved

 

God didn’t permanently heal the woman’s deafness, she was still hearing impaired, but he did let her hear a small sample of his Kingdom

–         It was like God was saying to her, my Kingdom is coming and this is what it sounds like

–         I expect no one appreciates the sound of heaven more than someone who is deaf

–         The disciples’ short term mission trip was giving people a taste, a glimpse, of the reign of God (this is what’s like when God is in charge)

 

One of the striking things in Luke 9 is the paradox of power & vulnerability

–         On the one hand the disciples are given incredible power, to cast out demons and cure disease, but at the same time Jesus says to them,

–         “Take nothing with you for the journey: no stick, no beggar’s bag, no food, no money, not even an extra shirt. Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that town; wherever people don’t welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.”

 

Jesus has called his disciples

–         He has given them an example to follow,

–         And he’s given them power & authority to do the job – to set people free

–         Now he gives the new generation wise advice specific to this situation

 

By telling the disciples to travel light Jesus is saying, go in weakness, make yourselves vulnerable

–         To be vulnerable is to be exposed to the possibility of harm – to be in need of protection, care or support. The disciples went without a staff to protect themselves and with no money to pay for lodgings or food. They were are the mercy of strangers. They were vulnerable.

Vulnerability protects against the corrupting influence of power

–         They say, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

–         But when we find ourselves in a position of needing others’ help we are less inclined to abuse our power or misuse it for selfish ends

–         Yes, the disciples have power to deliver and heal but the people to whom they come also have power – power to welcome & provide, or not

–         The disciples go to help people in need, having needs of their own

–         This sort of power with vulnerability fosters interdependence (or reliance on each other) and interdependence has a way of distributing power

 

It’s like Jesus is saying:

–         Don’t abuse the power I’m giving you by shopping around for the best accommodation in town, honour your host by staying in the first home that welcomes you

–         Don’t abuse your power by retaliating against those who reject you – don’t make a big fuss, just quietly dust your feet off as a warning against them and leave judgement in God’s hands

 

Jesus is the very picture of vulnerability both at Christmas and at Easter

–         Born in a stable to poor parents during a time of violence

–         Becoming a refugee to escape the sword of Herod

–         Growing up under Roman occupation

–         Coming from Nazareth where it was presumed nothing good was found

–         Being misunderstood by those he came to save

–         Then being nailed to a cross, naked & bleeding, for all the world to see

–         The vulnerability of Christ has the power to open the human heart

 

It should be noted that Jesus’ advice to travel light was for a particular short term mission situation and doesn’t necessarily apply for all time

–         Later in Luke chapter 22, Jesus says to his disciples…

–         When I sent you without purse bag or sandals, did you lack anything?

–         “Nothing” they answered

–         He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one…”

–         Travelling light is not always the right approach – different situations call for different strategies

 

In verse 10 we read how Jesus cares for his disciples by taking them away by themselves to debrief and refresh – a sort of spiritual retreat I suppose

–         Jesus is teaching the disciples to care for themselves

–         Alongside self-denial we also need self-care

–         We can’t be on the job all the time, we need to have a break every now & then so we don’t burn out

–         The new generation is not a disposable object to be thrashed & thrown away – Jesus wants his disciples to go the distance

 

Conclusion:

This morning we have heard how Jesus went about creating a new generation to lead God’s people

–         This new generation of disciples wasn’t just a carbon copy of the old one

–         The new generation has a new culture, a new approach and a new purpose

–         The culture is one of team work and cooperation

–         The approach involves power with vulnerability

–         And the purpose is setting people free to enter God’s kingdom

 

Questions for discussion or reflection

1.)    What stands out for you in reading this Scripture and/or in listening to the sermon?

2.)    What do we mean by the word generation?

3.)    How does Jesus go about creating a new generation to lead God’s people?

4.)    What example are we setting for the next generation?

5.)    Jesus gave his disciples power & authority to drive out all demons and to cure disease

–         What do we observe from this? (What does this tell us?)

6.)    Why do you think Jesus told his disciples to take nothing with them (to travel light) on their journey?

7.)    Has God ever showed you a glimpse of his Kingdom? What happened?

8.)    In what ways is Jesus’ new generation different?

–         (Think culture, approach & purpose)

9.)    How is the balance in your life between self-denial & self-care?

–         What strategies do you have for looking after yourself?

10.)       Take some time this week to reflect on the vulnerability of Christ

 

https://soundcloud.com/tawabaptist/18-march-2018-a-new-generation

 

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