Grand Humility

Posted: January 8, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 9:37-50, “Grand Humility”

Every once in a while, we all have bad days.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with our poor decisions. We all know what it’s like to be boneheaded – to know the right thing to do, but instead totally forget about it and screw up.  Not even the apostles of Jesus Christ were immune, as is exampled in our text.  First, they lack the ability (and faith) to cast out a demon – something that they’ve done before.  Then, they lack the courage to ask Jesus a question about something they don’t understand.  Next, they argue about their own greatness (in light of the Son of God standing in front of them).  Finally, they take pride in shutting down an effective ministry simply because it didn’t fall within their jurisdiction.  That day, it wasn’t a good day to be an apostle of Jesus!  All of us have room to grow, and the disciples were no different.  Their pride got in the way of their faith, and they tripped up in the process.

There are four brief vignettes here, as Luke’s account of Jesus’ Galilean ministry comes to a close.  It begins & ends with accounts of demon exorcism, and has much to say about Jesus’ grand humility in-between.  To walk in faith is to walk humbly with Christ – and to be humble & honest in regards to Christ is to receive Him in faith.  The two go hand-in-hand, and Jesus Himself modeled it.  Because He humbled Himself to the point of going to the cross, Jesus also wielded great authority in faith.  We can do likewise, if we only walk in grand humility.

Luke 9:37–50

  • Event #1: Casting out a demon

37 Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him.

  • The next day”: After what?  The Transfiguration.  Recall that Peter had given his grand confession of faith, proclaiming Jesus to be the Christ of God (9:20) when Jesus gave His first (formal) prophecy of the coming cross.  He clearly spoke of His coming rejection, death, and resurrection, and went on to speak of how His disciples would follow Him in similar fashion.  Jesus would eventually come in glory, and in fact, a few of the disciples standing among them would actually live to see Jesus come in the kingdom of God.  That event came barely 8 days later when Jesus went up on the mount and was gloriously transformed in front of Peter, James, and John.  Jesus was visibly endued with the shining glory of God, and physically spoke with the ancient prophets of Moses and Elijah.  The disciples were understandably overwhelmed and confused when the audible voice of God the Father spoke from heaven declaring Jesus to be His beloved Son – the disciples needed to hear Him and pay attention to this Man!  It was an amazing encounter, and one that surely left the minds of the three disciples reeling.  Although the other Synoptic gospels record a bit more of the following conversation, Luke leaves it here and shows the group descend the mountain.
  • So imagine it all in-process.  There’s no break between the events.  Jesus comes down from the mountain, and what does He find?  “A great multitude” awaiting Him.  Only Jesus and three of His disciples were on top.  Apparently everyone else knew where He was & eagerly awaited His return.  (It seems somewhat reminiscent of Mt. Sinai with Moses & Joshua on top, with the people below…)  The people hadn’t known what took place on the mountain – they just knew things weren’t going well at the base.  There was a problem, and they needed the Person of Jesus to solve it.

38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.

  • A voice rang out from the midst of the multitude.  A father was there, pleading & imploring Jesus on behalf of his son.  This was his “only child,” literally, his “only-begotten son.” (Different context from the gospel of John – but still stresses the importance.)  Interestingly, only Luke mentions this detail.  Obviously parents love each of their children, but in a culture in which a person’s retirement (so to speak) depended upon their offspring (instead of the government), an only child was of particular concern.
  • The man’s son was possessed by a demon, which treated the boy viciously!  It was as if the boy was physically assaulted each time the demon rose within him.  The boy was seized, shaken, and made to salivate.  Each gospel writer describes it a bit differently, but all have the same general idea: this was a violent attack.
  • Note that this is a demon.  This is no mere mental illness or ignorant superstition, as supposed by some.  Could these symptoms have been physically, medically, or mentally caused?  Certainly.  With other people, that might have been the case, but this was different.  Similar symptoms are seen in people who suffer grand mal epileptic seizures, but that’s not what happened here.  This was demonic.  It’s telling that although Luke was himself a physician, he makes no attempt at a medical diagnosis here.  More importantly, even Jesus recognized this as demonic & treated it as such.
    • Have there been times in the past where medical and mental conditions were wrongfully treated as demonic?  Without question – abundantly so.  But a history of past misdiagnosis doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist.  People have been, and still sometimes do, get possessed by evil demons. We need to be careful not to dismiss this sort of spiritual warfare too soon.  Our problem today (at least in the western world) is not misdiagnosing medical problems as demonic; it’s the reverse – we misdiagnose demonic issues as medical or mental, and end up overmedicating people who simply need the freedom Jesus offers.
    • BTW – this totally fits the motives of Satan.  He comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  Certainly he did it with that boy & also with the boy’s father as he looked on.  Satan will do it with us as well, if we’re not careful.  Thankfully, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we are protected from Satan’s eternal possession of us – but the devil can (and does) still attack us from time to time.  And for those who do not belong to God through Jesus, the devil and his demons can spiritually possess them.  The devil cares not how humans suffer, nor if we ever acknowledge him.  He just doesn’t want us to acknowledge the true God and come to saving faith in Jesus.  Whatever Satan can do to keep our eyes off of Christ, that’s what he’ll do.
  • In any case, there was an immediate and urgent need.  Sometimes when we speak of ministry opportunities, we speak in theoretical terms – we plan out our strategies for hypothetical situations.  That’s not what was happening here.  A boy was suffering, entrapped by an embodiment of evil as this demon tormented him mentally, emotionally, and physically.  What could be done?  The boy’s father did all he knew to do: bring his boy to Jesus, or at least Jesus’ disciples since Jesus was absent at the time.  Unfortunately, they offered little help.  Vs. 40…

40 So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”

  • The disciples failed at their attempt at exorcism – something they had been earlier empowered by Jesus to do (Mk 6:8,13). Now, they seemingly lacked the ability.  What happened?  It wasn’t ability they lacked; it was faith.  Actually, we might ask the question: who lacked faith in this situation: the disciples or the father?  Both.  Luke lumps them in together, showing Jesus using the plural pronoun “you” (y’all), but the other Synoptics tell the story.
    • In Matthew, it is the disciples who lack faith.  The disciples went to Jesus later, asking why they couldn’t exorcise the demon, and Jesus specifically tells them it was because of their unbelief. (Mt 17:20)  A little faith could move mountains, but they didn’t even have that much.
    • In Mark, it was the father.  He had been discouraged that Jesus’ disciples were unable to help, and he said that “if” Jesus could do anything, to please do it.  Mark 9:23–24, "(23) Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (24) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”"  What a great response!  It wasn’t good that the father lacked faith, but it was good that he knew Who to ask about it.  Jesus could help his boy…he just needed Jesus to help him know that Jesus could help his boy.
    • Christian: when we lack faith, we’re handcuffed.  It’s not that God is limited from doing anything He desires to do – but we’ve hindered ourselves from seeing it take place.  Can God work miracles?  Absolutely!  But sometimes more than one miracle needs to take place – the first being the work in our own hearts helping us believe anything else is possible.
    • Keep in mind that having faith in Jesus’ power does not mean that we have power to command Jesus around.  This is where the “name it & claim it” crowd goes wrong.  We aren’t the boss; Jesus is.  He is the King.  God’s God, and we’re not.  Faith is taking our need to Jesus, and trusting that God is going to do what is best.  Faith is believing in God’s goodness, no matter what.  Faith is surrender and submission to His will.  Sometimes that means we take chances on things we don’t quite understand – sometimes it means sitting still and waiting – sometimes it means being bold.  At all times, it means being directed by God.  We don’t direct Him; He directs us.  We take our requests to Him and trust Him and His will.
  • According to Luke (and Matthew), Jesus didn’t just describe this generation as “faithless,” but also “perverse.”  They were distorted/crooked.  They had taken the promises of God, and twisted them to the point that they were deformed.  It wasn’t just His disciples, or the father of the boy, but the whole “generation” of people at the time.  They had been given the promises of God regarding His goodness, graciousness, the Messiah to come, etc., and these promises had been ignored & disbelieved.  The command of God to love had devolved into legalistic traditions.  What happened here with the disciples and the father was symptomatic of the whole nation of Judea.  They simply were not walking with God as His trusting, submitting people.  
  • Question: was Jesus just complaining?  Was He simply in a bad mood & moaning about it?  No.  (1) What Jesus said was the truth.  They were faithless & perverse…just like their fathers before them, and just like the generations that followed (which sometimes includes us!).  (2) Jesus well understood that His earthly time with them was limited.  He would not always be present with them to do these things for them.  They needed to have faith.  Without it, they would be just as lost as they ever were.  Where was the faith of the centurion who simply needed Jesus to speak the command for his servant to be healed?  Of all people, a Gentile Roman understood that Jesus didn’t have to be physically present for Him to have power.  This is what the Jews (including all of Jesus’ disciples) needed to grasp.  They needed the faith to walk by faith, trusting that God was with them at all times.
    • Do you have faith to walk by faith?  Maybe you need to pray, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!”  Trust your God…He is trustworthy!
  • BTW – how can we know that Jesus didn’t simply complain?  Because He acted.  If Jesus had just been in a sour mood, He could have easily walked away.  But He didn’t.  His disciples and the father of the boy may have lacked faith, but there was still an urgent need.  The boy was still suffering & in danger.  He needed to be rescued, and Jesus wasn’t about to leave him in that condition.  Vs. 42…

42 And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. …

  • That the demon tormented the boy as the boy was being brought to Jesus tells us something about the sinister character of the evil spirit.  It knew it was about to be cast out.  Demons commonly recognized Jesus when they saw Him, and they often complained against Him.  Surely this spirit was no different.  He would have known his fate at the hands of Jesus, yet instead of going out quietly, he engaged in one more violent attack upon this boy.  All he wanted was to inflict as much harm as possible for as long as possible.
    • What does this tell us?  Demons aren’t to be trifled with.  It’s amazing how casually some people treat the demonic – how much they embrace it.  All it goes to show is that they don’t truly believe that it’s real.  If they really knew the evil and hatred of Satan towards them, there’s no way anyone would worship him or take satanic imagery to themselves.  If people really understood the extent of demonic evil, they wouldn’t play around with Ouija boards or séances or any of the like. 
  • What was impossible for the disciples was easy for Jesus.  Luke provides quite the contrast!  The disciples showed themselves impotent against the demon; Jesus simply rebukes the spirit, heals the child, and it was all over.  From the other gospel accounts, we find a bit more to the story, but Luke makes it short and simple.  Why?  Probably because he is contrasting the grand power of Jesus as the Son of God with the weakness of men.  Jesus was just seen on the mount of Transfiguration receiving the blessing of God, and receiving more glory than the two greatest prophets of Israel’s history.  He was once more identified as being God’s very own Son.  Surely no demon is an obstacle for Him!  Not even Satan proves to be a difficulty for Jesus!  The book of Revelation tells us that when Jesus allows Satan one more brief time of rebellion after 1000 years of the perfect Messianic kingdom, that God will quash Satan once & for all, forever condemning him to the lake of fire. (Rev 20:10) Jesus needs no sword to battle the devil; He just needs to show up.
    • Christian: never forget that you serve Jesus!  You belong to Almighty God, have been sealed and empowered by God the Holy Spirit, all through the work, grace, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He is the all-powerful God – He is the ever-gracious God – He is the amazing God who loves you & cares for you.  There is nothing He cannot handle, nor will not take you through as long as you cast yourself into His hands.
  • What was the response of the people?  Awe – amazement – wonder…and rightly so!  They were amazed at His “majesty,” the manifestation of His great power. The things that are impossible for men are possible with God, and Jesus just proved it.  If Peter, James, and John were the only disciples who witnessed the visible glory of God on the mount, all of the people witnessed the glorious actions of God the Son below.
  • Event #2: The humility of the Son of Man

… But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, 44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”

  • FYI – vs. 43 is a textbook example of the fact that the verse numbering is not inspired.  Versification is helpful, but be careful in getting too tied with it.  Originally, the Greek did not have punctuation (or even lower-case letters), so it’s understandable that sometimes it’s difficult to see where to place a sentence ending or a verse division – even a chapter division.  The key is to keep your eye on the text.  The other stuff on the page (paragraph headings, verse numbers, etc.) are helpful, but not inspired.  Only the text itself is the inspired word of God.
  • In any case, Luke shows us that these next words go hand-in-hand with what just happened.  That’s not as obvious from the other gospel accounts, and Luke doesn’t necessarily imply that chronologically this was spoken in the next couple of minutes after the demon was cast out.  What is apparent is that Jesus’ statement needs to be read in light of the miracles that just took place.  Jesus is the all-powerful, glorious Son of God.  He is the One who has all power over creation, both things physical and spiritual.  And yet, this same Jesus is about to be “betrayed” – literally, “given over into the hands of men.”  The other two Synoptics record Jesus going into much more detail about His passion, death, and resurrection; Luke keeps it simple.  All Luke records is Jesus’ prophecy of betrayal – being turned over.  Why?  The contrast: the ever-glorious Son of God was about to humble Himself in the grandest way imaginable.  The Son of Man was about to be in the hands of men.  The King of kings was willingly giving Himself over to rebels and traitors…all in order that they might be saved.
  • It was important that the disciples understand this.  They needed to “let these words sink down into [their] ears.” They needed to listen up – let this penetrate their minds.  This is crucial to the work of Christ!  Without the cross, we have no salvation.  Without Jesus’ humble submission into the hands of men, we have no hope.  God could not sit in heaven and simply declare our sin to be gone without any action.  If He had, His perfect righteousness would have been left eternally unsatisfied.  Something had to be done.  That something was the willing sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus laid aside His own glory, becoming a sacrificial substitute for us, so that we might be saved.  The disciples needed to listen close, and so do we.  Of all the works Jesus performed, none is of more importance than the cross & resurrection.  This was the very reason for His ministry.
    • This was also the example set for the apostles.  If Jesus was willing to humble Himself in this way, those who follow Him as disciples needed to do the same.  This was the hard part.  The cross is offensive & a stumbling block to those who lack faith, but at the same time, it’s glorious welcome news to those who desire to be saved.  Yet it’s one thing to welcome the humility of Jesus; it’s another thing to humble ourselves.  This was a lesson that would take time for the disciples to learn – just as we are all still learning it ourselves.
    • BTW – this is also something that comes down to faith.  If we truly trust God, then we will have no problem humbling ourselves.  After all, if we trust that God is sovereign & on His throne, then we have the assurance that nothing anyone will do to us will be something that God does not sovereignly allow.  If we trust that God reigns, then we can trust God’s will.  But it takes faith.  (Where you lack it, ask!)

45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.

  • Why didn’t the disciples understand it?  Because they’re just like us!  The truth “was hidden from them,” but it’s not necessarily God who purposefully blinded their eyes.  They were blinded by their own humanness.  What Jesus just told them was inconceivable. [Princess Bride J]  How can God be given over to men?  How can God be betrayed, tortured, and crucified?  The confusion is understandable, but that’s because we are not accustomed to this kind of infinite love and grace.  The way of the cross is so foreign to our line of thinking, that it’s hard for some people ever to comprehend it.
    • Yet it’s true!  This is what Jesus did for us.  He gave Himself in order that you might live.  Amazing love!
  • The tragedy here isn’t the disciples’ blindness or lack of comprehension (that’s all understandable); it’s their unwillingness to ask Jesus about it.  They had questions, and Jesus had answers, but they were too “afraid to ask Him about this saying.
    • We have answers in the word of God!  We have a teacher in the Holy Spirit!  We have a Jesus who loves us, and a Father who delights in us!  Why are we afraid to ask God the tough questions? God’s ways are not our ways – His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  God knows our limitations & doesn’t expect us to understand everything.  We certainly do not offend Him by asking.  (So ask!)
  • Event #3: Jealousy among themselves

46 Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest.

  • Nothing says “humility” and “reverence” in response to the cross quite like a bunch of intramural bickering about greatness in the kingdom. L  If nothing else, it’s proof that the apostles were just like the rest of us.  None of the apostles walked around with little halos over his head showing his supposed-perfection…neither do we.  Any one of us can be egotistical and small-minded.  There Jesus was, talking about His suffering – and the disciples skimmed right over it to see what they were going to get out of the deal.
    • Isn’t that so often how we are?  It’s not that we intentionally belittle the plans and glory of God, but we tend to look for ourselves in it.  ‘What benefit is it to me?  What do I get out of it?  What’s my gift and my glory?’  That’s not the way it ought to be!  Our response to the work and grace of God ought to be reverence, love, thankfulness, and humility.
  • Mark’s gospel tells us that the disciples attempted to hide the dispute from Jesus, but they were unsuccessful.  It’s no wonder: (1) There were only 13 of them in the main group – it’s not like Jesus couldn’t overhear a bunch of heated whispering.  (2) He’s God.  Of course He’s going to know the argument!  Luke skips over the attempt to hide, and picks up with Jesus exercising His omniscience in order to deal with the problem.  Vs. 47…

47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”

  • It was the 12 apostles who consistently followed Jesus from place to place, but they weren’t the only people present.  It was common for other people to be around, and only natural that children would be among them.  With these kids around Him, Jesus chose this to be the time for a bit of an object lesson.  The disciples were arguing about greatness, so Jesus chose someone that none of them would consider great: “a little child.”  Don’t misunderstand: it’s not that people of the day disliked children, but culturally speaking, they didn’t carry much weight.  Neither do they today.  As much as it seems that that so much of the lives of parents revolve around their children, kids don’t carry much greatness in the eyes of the community.  They can’t vote, sign contracts, provide endorsements, etc., and rightfully so!  They are still maturing, and need much help simply to get through life.  Children are completely dependent upon their parents, and one of the primary goals of parenthood is to help your kids reach a point of independence.  So Jesus picked up this immature little child, and held the boy up as an example.  Greatness requires humility.  If the disciples wanted greatness for themselves, then they needed to stop thinking about themselves, and start thinking of how they could be mindful of those who were the very least among them.
  • How were they to do it?  By receiving them.  The word for “reception” is used four times in this one sentence, which means Jesus drove home this point.  The idea is more than simply taking hold of something, such as when we receive a gift or a package; it’s one of welcome.  When used in the Greek translation of the OT (LXX), it was sometimes used of how the people were receive the word of God (Dt 33:3) – other times, of receiving God’s correction (Jer 2:30).  IOW, this isn’t necessarily speaking of physical hospitality, but true welcome & acceptance.  How could the disciples get past their egotistical desire for greatness?  By welcoming the people that others deemed least important.  Even simply looking past themselves to the little children was the act of welcoming them.  And what would be the result?  It would be as if they welcomed Jesus Himself.  To receive the least is to receive Christ, and to receive Christ is to receive His Father.  It’s reminiscent of what Jesus would later teach of the judgment of the nations, in which the people who ministered to those who suffered in Jesus’ name actually ministered to Jesus Himself.  Matthew 25:37–40, "(37) “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? (38) When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? (39) Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ (40) And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’"  This isn’t a method to earn salvation through our good works; it’s simply a recognition that Jesus lives in His people.  If we love those whom Jesus loves, then we’re loving our Lord Jesus.  Conversely, if we hate them, push them aside, and seek only our own interests, what does that say about our love for Christ?  We’ve pushed aside any opportunity we had to minister directly to Him. 
    • Keep in mind that Jesus did not die for our theology; He died for people.  When Jesus picked up this child among the disciples, He did it to make a point.  They were so consumed with themselves & the theological promises they were inheriting, that they were missing out on what God had for them at the moment.  There were people who needed to know the love of God – there were people who needed to experience the hands & feet of Jesus…the disciples were to provide it.  And as they did so in humble faith, it would be as if they provided this service to Jesus Himself.
  • The result?  The least would be the greatest.  It may be a paradox, but it’s true.  Christians who consistently seek for their own interests aren’t really seeking the kingdom of God.  Those who are always looking out for themselves aren’t looking out for Jesus.  We are called to make ourselves small, and let God be the One who makes us great.
  • Event #4: Jealousy regarding others

49 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”

  • So much for humility & gracious reception!  John may be known today as “the apostle of love,” but that wasn’t always his nickname.  He and James were known as the “sons of thunder,” (Mk 3:17) something which is truly on display as Chapter 9 continues.  The same tendency is seen here.  It’s as if John didn’t hear anything Jesus said about welcoming the least – he starts boasting about how he did the opposite.  The disciples had heard about a man engaging in ministry in Jesus’ name who wasn’t actually among the 12, and they took swift action to shut it down.
  • There is nothing in John’s report that suggests this man wasn’t a believer.  He may not have been among the 12, but he was actually “casting out demons” – presumably successfully, all in the “name” of Jesus.  Keep in mind that Jesus’ name is not a magic word or talisman.  Just throwing around the name of Jesus doesn’t do anything.  The book of Acts tells of the sons of Sceva who attempted this sort of thing, using the names of Jesus and Paul to exorcise demons, and they ended up getting beaten up & had to run away naked & bleeding. (Act 19:13-16)  So for this man to be successful at it meant that he had to actually believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and thus have the true spiritual authority to cast out demons.  Ironically, this was the very thing the disciples recently had problems doing.  It’s no wonder they were upset. Vs. 50…

50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

  • It didn’t matter if the man didn’t follow with the disciples; it mattered if he didn’t follow Jesus at all.  Several people who believed in Jesus didn’t follow Him alongside the disciples.  In the case of the man formerly possessed with the legion of demons, Jesus specifically told him not to physically leave his home and follow with the disciples – the greater mission field was for that man to remain where he was & to proclaim Jesus there.  Ultimately, this was an issue of pride & control.  John (and presumably the others) wanted the man to be where they could see him, being that they were likely jealous this man was successful at the very thing they had proved themselves impotent.
  • Jesus had no room for this sort of pettiness.  The disciples may have been unhappy of this man’s ministry, but that wasn’t their call; it was Jesus’.  If God allowed this man to minister in the name of Jesus, that was God’s business.  The man’s ministry may have looked a bit different than the ministry of the apostles, but that was OK.  As long as it was done in true faith in the name of Jesus, that’s all that mattered.  The man wasn’t working against Jesus, and because he seemingly did things in the will of God for the glory of God, he was on the same side as Jesus.  The disciples needed to get over themselves & get on with the program.  They needed to extend courtesy, grace, and love to those who were different.
    • So do we.  All too often, we get caught up in meaningless intramural arguments against other Bible believing Christians, and we end up fighting the wrong battles. We do have an enemy, but our enemy isn’t each other.  Someone else might go to a different church, they might worship in a different way, they might even believe differently about some minor doctrines…we have no business fighting them.  If they aren’t against Jesus, they’re for Jesus.  Who cares what name they have on the front of their building if they’re still preaching the gospel of Christ?  What does their denomination (or non-denomination) matter if they truly live out the love of Christ towards one another and the world, proclaiming the kingdom of God?  We need to fight the right battles, and that means discerning our friends from our enemies.
    • BTW – Jesus does not here endorse ecumenicalism.  He does not endorse interfaith, universal religion.  What He does do is help clarify what ecumenicalism is & is not.  It isn’t an Arminian and Calvinist going to the mission field together.  It isn’t a Pentecostal and Cessationist attending a conference together.  It isn’t all the usual things we get our knickers in a twist about.  As long as the essentials of the faith are preached – as long as the gospel is proclaimed – that’s all that matters.  Ecumenicalism is different.  That’s when we join arms with people who don’t believe the gospel, or the sufficiency of Scripture – who twist salvation by grace into a methodology of good-works – or who aren’t truly believers in Christ at all.  That’s where we ought to rightly draw the lines.  Not to hate them, but to treat them as the non-believers they are, and to share the gospel with them.

Conclusion:
It may have been a bad day (or couple of days) for the apostles, but they learned some pretty important lessons along the way!  Jesus called them to walk in grand humility with Himself, thus walking in immense faith.  They (like us) sought glory & sought it to the exclusion of others, but true glory is to be given by God alone.  It’s only when we seek Him in humble faith that He gives us the rest. (And at that point, with the right heart & attitude, it’s doubtful we’ll care much about personal greatness anyway!)

Where do you lack faith?  In what areas do you have trouble believing the promises of God?  Submit yourself to your heavenly Father, asking for the faith to have faith.  Ask for help in believing His word, so that it isn’t twisted & perverted in your life.

Where do you lack humility?  Are there people of whom you’re jealous, or people who you ignore?  Look to the example of Jesus.  He humbled Himself to the greatest extent, allowing Himself to be turned over into sinful hands such as ours.  He gave Himself as a sacrifice for us.  Surely if He can do that for us, we can humble ourselves in the sight of others.  Again, ask God for help.  Ask Him for the faith you need to walk humbly in His will.

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