Last week, we saw that the Pharisees were hassling Jesus about not observing the Sabbath in strict accordance with the Jewish Law. As we pick up in chapter three, we see that this debate isn't over yet.
Now Luke tells us,
Luke 6:6 And it came about on another Sabbath, that He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The Greek here says "which had his hand withered," and Luke tells us that it was the man's right hand. There was some sort of accident, and his hand was atrophied. He was no longer able to do the things that he had once done.
Jesus said,"Rise and come forward." Two things to get yourself healed: quit sitting on your behind - get up, stand up. Then come forward to Jesus. As James said,
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you...
The second thing He told the man to do was to stretch out his hand. Of course he hadn't been able to do that since his hand was withered. Jesus was asking the impossible from him. But the man did stretch it out, and it was restored.
There were strict rules and regulations that the Jews made up in regards to the Sabbath - defining what was and was not work. This included healing - if a man was bleeding to death, you could apply a tourniquet on the Sabbath, but no ointment to heal his wounds.
Mark tells us that Jesus was angry. Angry at the hardened condition of these men's hearts. When we live a religion of bondage instead of relationship of grace, God is angered.
The Herodians were the Jews that welcomed the Roman occupation of the Jews' land. The used that friendship to rule over the people politically.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, desired to rule over the people religiously. The two groups wee very much opposed to each other. Until this time, when they found a common enemy. This is because Jesus was becoming the ruler of the people divinely.
The Pharisees wanted to see Him dead. But one problem: the right of capitol punishment had been taken away from the Jews by the Romans about twenty years before. Remember in John 18,
John 18:31 Pilate therefore said to them, "Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law." The Jews said to him, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death,"
So they figured that they had to trap Jesus by breaking the Roman law to have Him put to death.
This is not going to be a successful partnership. We find that the only time the Pharisees and Herodians can agree on how to attempt this is in Matthew 22.
Matt. 22:16-22 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away.
This was the best that they could come up with, and it fails miserably. Fortunately, we can learn from their mistakes. The Pharisees turned to the world and to politics to solve their problem. The Pharisees also compromised their principles and became unequally yoked with people who were not like-minded to solve their problem. When we do these things, we are in the flesh and doomed to failure.
Jesus' ministry is growing in popularity with people from all over the place. But as we've discussed for the past two weeks, the crowds were coming for the miracles, not the teaching.
The Pharisees had lined up with the Herodians, now Jesus chooses His team. Only God doesn't pick teams like the world does.
1Cor. 1:25-29 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.
Jesus had already called four fishermen and a tax collector to follow Him. Now He calls the twelve guys who will be the first leadership in His church.
The choosing of church leadership has become so corrupted throughout the centuries. People buy their way into the church leadership, they get elected democratically into church leadership based on their popularity with people. But the church isn't a democracy. It is a theocracy. The leadership of the church is to be appointed by the shepherd, who is to be directed by God. Paul told Titus,
Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you
Pastor Titus was to appoint the elders, not hold elections. Jesus, too, appointed them. But not based on who He liked best - it was based on who God directed Him to appoint. We read in the gospel of Luke,
Luke 6:12-13 And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles
Democracy might work well for American politics, but it has no place in the church.
Jesus sent these apostles out to preach, and gave them authority to cast out demons. Amazing. But even more amazing is the fact that Judas Iscariot was one of those guys! Judas preached, Judas cast out demons - the guy who wasn't saved, who betrayed Jesus for a handful of money, the guy who ended up killing himself. What that tells me is that miracles and power are not God's stamp of approval on a man.
Whether we're talking about spiritual gifts, popularity, etc. - God doesn't say to evaluate them on their abilities and miracles. Why, even the antichrist will come on the scene with power and miraculous ability.
Balaam was a powerful prophet with a miraculous gift, but he used it to go against God's will. Many people have been given talents, abilities, and power by God, but they don't use them to the glory of God. So we are not to judge someone's ministry based on the huge numbers or the miracles and healings. Jesus said,
Matt. 7:20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits.
How do I know if God is in this? By the fruit evidenced:
Gal. 5:22-23 ...The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...
I don't care if everyone's being "slain in the spirit," speaking in tongues, healings and miracles going on all over the place, that's not the evidence of the Holy Spirit. The evidence is love manifested in these things.
When you're following after God, your priorities become out of whack with the the world's priorities. The world tells you, "Take care of yourself, look out for number one." But in ministry, you're serving people. The bigger the ministry, the more people you're serving, and the less time and energy you have to devote to yourself. Jesus and the disciples didn't even have time to eat. His family said, "He's gone nutty. He's not even eating!"
When you follow God's path, people will thing that you've lost your senses. When you sell everything to go be a missionary. When you spend your vacation preaching the gospel instead of going to Ft. Lauderdale. When you give the little that you have to someone who's got nothing, the world thinks you're truly out of your mind.
Not wanting to admit that Jesus was from God, but not having any other explanation for the miracles He was effecting and the demons He was casting out, they decided to say that He was doing this by the power of satan.
Jesus takes this opportunity to share one of the most important messages to all mankind. That every sin committed will be forgiven everybody. Remember that John the Baptist said,
John 1:29 ..."Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
All sins will be forgiven everybody except one: Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It is amazing that a person can blaspheme all they want against Jesus Christ, but He warned that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable.
What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? It is refusing to allow the Spirit to testify of Jesus Christ in your heart. Jesus said of the Spirit:
John 15:26 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me."
John 16:13-14 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you."
The Holy Spirit is the One Who draws you into faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And, Jesus said,
John 16:8-9 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;"
So, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of sin, and to reveal the forgiveness for their sin, Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God bears witness to us of Jesus Christ. Now, you may have rejected Jesus Christ many times, as the Spirit was drawing you in, but you refused to listen. Aren't you glad God didn't forsake you when you rejected Him the first time He called you? Aren't you glad that Jesus said,
Luke 12:10 "...everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him..."
But, if you continue to reject the Spirit's drawing you to salvation in Jesus Christ, there is no way for you to be forgiven. Rejecting the Spirit drawing you to Jesus Christ is the one sin that you cannot be forgiven for.
Some people believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. But after Jesus was born, Mary did in fact have other children, Jesus' half brothers and sisters. In Matthew 13, Jesus amazed the people in His hometown with His preaching. They said,
Matt. 13:54-56 ..."Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
Now we know that until the resurrection, these brothers didn't think that He was God. John tells us,
John 7:5 ...not even His brothers were believing in Him.
When Jesus' mother and brothers came looking for Him, some people in the crowd said, "Hey, your mother and brothers are here." He asks the rhetorical question, "Who are My mother and My brothers?" Obviously, He knew who they were, but He was drawing a greater picture.
If you do the will of God, then you are closer in relationship to Jesus than Mary and Jesus' brothers were at this point.