Summary: This message was designed to help people understand that God desires humility in the innermost being. It was written to move its hearers to examine themselves in order to determine what pride issues in their lives exist and need to be changed.
What Matters To Jesus?
Part 1 in the series, The Journey To Jerusalem
March 10, 2002
This morning we are precisely four weeks out from celebrating the single greatest event in mankind’s history. In four weeks we will celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. Today, however, we begin a series entitled, The Journey To Jerusalem. During this four week journey we will observe the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. We will walk with our Lord down the dusty roads of Samaria & Galilee, Jericho, Bethphage & Bethany until we finally end up in Jerusalem.
We will see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears the amazing things that Jesus does even as the shadow of His own death looms overhead. Keep your eyes on this God-man each step of the way because if you take your eyes away for even a moment… if you dare to blink, you just might miss the wondrous works of this carpenter from the backwoods of Nazareth.
If you have your Bibles turn with me to Luke 18:31-34:
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.  "For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon,  and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again."  But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.
In Luke chapter 18 we find Jesus making His final journey from Capernaum, his base of operations, to Jerusalem where He would fulfill His ultimate mission. Along the way Luke records some very special events. To begin with Jesus heals 10 lepers. Nine of these lepers were Jews the other was a Samaritan. They approach the Lord and call out for Him to heal them which Christ does, however, something unexpected happens. Of the ten men who were healed, only one returns to acknowledge Jesus for Who He truly is, yup, it’s the Samaritan, one of the people for whom the Jews held great disregard.
Isn’t it interesting that despite the tension between Jews and Samaritans, the one place we find them freely interacting with one another is on the fringes of society where the outcasts and lepers lived. I gave this story some thought and it occurred to me that God desires us to be like the leper in that as outcasts, we are broken and contrite of heart and God loves a contrite heart. Psalm 51:17 says: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Last Sunday we talked about the pain principle and how pain has a clarifying effect on us if we allow God to use our pain. As lepers, these 10 men were total outcasts. Separated from family members, unable to hold their children near, embrace their wives, these men knew what it meant to suffer. Along comes Jesus and our Lord immediately recognizes their pain and honors their request for healing. Why? Well, at least part of the answer was that their spirits were broken before the Master and the Master was touched by this. In other words, these lepers had not allowed their pain to embitter them, rather they allowed their pain to humble their hearts before God. May we allow God to use the pain in our lives to humble us and lead us into an ever deepening relationship with His Son.
After healing the lepers, Jesus and His disciples move on down the road. As they travel Jesus tell them a parable or story about a judge. This particular judge did not fear God nor respect people. In the same city as this judge lived a widow. This poor widow was being oppressed by her opponent and she approached the judge to ask him for his help in procuring justice. Although the judge was unwilling to assist her at first, she finally wore him out and he chose to help her.
Contrary to public opinion, this parable was not intended to teach us that if there is something we want or need, that if we constantly pray and pray and pray, that God will eventually honor our requests. This parable was intended to demonstrate that when we are suffering persecution, as is promised to those of us who follow Christ, if we remain faithful and cry out to God for justice continually, He is faithful and will come to our aid. Once again we see that many of Christ’s lessons are not lessons of promised sunshine and joy, but of promised difficulty and pain.