Summary: This sermon’s purpose is to move people to align themselves with God’s purpose of populating heaven.
[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]
I want to talk to you for these next five weeks about the three chapters in the Bible that most changed my life. If these three chapters were not in the Bible, there might not be a New Song Church today. So this weekend, I want to talk you through Luke 14, and then for the next two weeks we’ll take apart Luke 15, which is my personal favorite chapter in the Bible, and then for the final two weeks leading up to our Anniversary, we’ll be talking about Luke 16. If you show up for this entire series, I guarantee, you will understand the heart of New Song Church – AND, you will understand God’s intentions for your life as well.
Luke 14-16 are the deepest roots of New Song Community Church. It all started one morning with a surprise experience I had while reading Luke 14 in the N.T. If you’d turn there now, I want to read a passage with you that has marked me for life.
Turn to Luke 14.
Many of you know that it is my custom to read a portion of the Bible every morning. Usually I try to pick a book of the Bible and read it straight through a chapter or two each day until I’ve read the whole thing, and then I’ll move on to another book.
Well, 13 years ago, I was reading through the NT book of Luke. And one morning, while sitting at my desk in my office in a church in Colorado, I opened up to chapter, Luke 14.
Here’s what I read there. (Read Luke 14:1-6)
Jesus looks at all the fellahs, looks down at this guy in need and says, “Okay, I get it. You brought me here as a test. You all believe that it’s wrong to do any kind of work on the Sabbath, including healing.” He’s mad, because these guys obviously don’t care one whit about the dropsy guy or his condition. They don’t care that he’s dying, or that his family will soon be without a father. They don’t care about the pain he’s in, or the embarrassment he’s now suffering as he stands in front of them all. He’s just an object to be used to get at Jesus.
So Jesus says, “Listen, I know what you’re all thinking. You all believe that it’s a sin to do good on the Sabbath. But you do good on the Sabbath if it suits your purposes. If your son falls in a well, you don’t say, “Oh, sorry son, hope you can tread water down there until tomorrow! I can’t pull you out today because that would be work, and you know, God doesn’t like it when we do work on the Sabbath!”
“Come on, guys, if your ox stumbles into a hole on a Sabbath day, you all go get your pulleys and wenches and you call all the neighbors to come heft him out, because you don’t want it to suffer and because your economic prosperity is at stake. So don’t tell me that I should keep from healing this guy on a day like today. God is far more interesting in loving people than keeping rules.”
I was thinking to myself, “Go get ‘em Jesus!” When God’s Holy Spirit said to me, “Hal, find yourself in this story.”
So I mentally imagined the scene: one Sabbath day, Jesus gets invited to a party. As He strolls up the front walk, He notices that all the other guests have arrived early – kind of like at a surprise party, where all the normal guests are told to arrive at 6:00, and the guest of honor is told to arrive at 6:30, so they can arrange everything before he gets there.
Only instead of everybody being huddled inside the house to surprise him, all these guests are waiting for him out on the front lawn. I pictured them arrayed in a semi-circle, with their arms folded in front of them, and dead-center of the semi-circle is a guy who’s out of costume with the rest of them. He’s not dressed as nice, so he’s probably not from the same social class as the rest of them. And upon closer inspection, Jesus notices that his legs and arms and neck and cheeks are all swollen. The man has edema – or “dropsy,” as the text says. His body’s tissues have been absorbing excess fluids, probably because of kidney damage, so he’s all puffy. He’s obviously in pain, and he’s obviously going to die in the next few months or weeks if he doesn’t get some help.