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Sunday, June 19, 2017

posted Jun 19, 2017, 8:19 AM by Site Administrator   [ updated Jun 22, 2017, 7:20 PM ]

WHOEVER WELCOMES THIS LITTLE CHILD IN MY NAME...

 

Luke 9:37-50

Key Verse 9:48

 

 Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."

 

First, "O unbelieving and perverse generation!" (37-42) In the previous passage, we studied about Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration. The three disciples saw Jesus in glory, and heard God the Father saying to them, "Listen to him." Even though there were many voices in the world, they must listen to what Jesus had to say – the Christ must suffer, die and rise again. Even if there were many voices in themselves, a voice from their own human ambition, a voice from their humanistic way of thinking, and a voice from their emotions and feelings, they must listen to the voice of Jesus that says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." They must accept the way of the cross, because it is the way of life, the way to glory God has prepared for them. After experiencing this glorious moment, they began to consider the way of the cross seriously. Now when they came down from the mountain, as a usual, problems were waiting for them.

 

       Look at verses 37 through 40. The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not." This boy was possessed by an evil spirit. This kind of symptom the father describes is called, "seizure," and is defined as "temporary abnormal electrophysiological phenomena of the brain, resulting in abnormal synchronization of electrical neuronal activity." Like this boy’s case, if it is recurrent, it is diagnosed as a disease, called, "epilepsy." Modern day, about 50 million people are suffering from this disease. Epilepsy is controlled, but not cured, with medication. By the way, what causes that temporary abnormal electrophysiological phenomena of the brain? Modern science or medical knowledge does not give any answer. So, there is no cure for this disease. But today’s passage talks about an evil spirit as one of the direct causes of this symptom and disease. Probably, when people come back to the Bible, they will find the real solution for many mental and physical problems they suffer from.

 

What was Jesus’ response? Look at verse 41. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."

 

       "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" Jesus rebuked the entire generation. Probably, this boy was demon possessed because he played violent video games too much. Or he was demon-possessed because he was sexually promiscuous. Or probably, he opened his heart toward the evil spirit because of great sense of betrayal or anger. It seemed that Jesus had to rebuke the boy for living such a terrible life, or opening his heart to the evil spirit. It seemed that Jesus had to rebuke the father for not disciplining his son properly while he was young. But Jesus, instead, rebuked and blamed the entire generation, saying, "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" In Jesus’ eyes, the boy’s problem was caused by the unbelief and perversion of the people of that generation. Jesus was angry at the people of that entire generation, because, due to their unbelief and perversion, this boy was suffering from the demon-possession. The unbelieving and perverse generation was causing such a serious problem, and now the boy became simply a victim to it. It is an amazing view that one boy’s demon-possession was the direct result of the unbelief and perversion of that entire generation. And it is really true.

 

       Because this generation through TVs, movies, magazines, and sports promotes pleasure-seeking lifestyles, so many little girls fall victim to the corruption of the society, becoming teenage single mothers. People talk about a serious gang problem. But what is the cause of this gang problem? Its cause is a broken family; its cause is materialism; its cause is all violent video games, movies and TV dramas. Its cause is the laws and regulations that allow these materials and programs circulate freely. Its cause is parents who watch TV too much. The whole society that has produced that kind of culture, lifestyles, and value system is responsible for it. Modern day, many people say, "You eat your bread; I eat mine." There is a commercial, I think, "Carl’s Junior," that says, "Don’t bother; I am eating." This is called "rugged individualism." But this is not something new. It is exactly what a rebellious sinful man, named Cain said. When God asked him, "Where is your brother, Abel?" he said, "I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?" Each and every day, people are dying and going to hell. Each and every 18 minutes, one person in America commits suicide. Each and every day, we encounter mental patients, suffering from terrible nightmares, schizophrenia, and horrible visions. Who are responsible for the suffering of these people? Jesus says, "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" All people in this generation are responsible.

        

       People do not think of unbelieving that seriously. They think that it’s okay as long as they do not do what is wrong positively. So they utter unbelieving words freely. But unbelief is sin. It is the true cause of misery, pains, and sorrows. Romans 14:23 says, "everything that does not come from faith is sin." Unbelief gives bad influence to the society; it is a direct cause of perversion. We must not be unbelieving. We must see things with believing minds and utter believing words. When you are asked, instead of saying, "It’s impossible," say, "I think we can do it." Instead of saying, "Why is the world so horrible?" say, "The world is full of God’s glory and everything is going on according to God’s will." Instead of saying, "I don’t know what God wants me to do," say, "From now on I will give my life to God; I will save souls."

 

       According to the American Heritage dictionary, the word, "perverse" means, "directed away from what is right, proper or good," or "obstinately persisting in an error or fault." During Noah’s time, every inclination of peoples’ heart was only evil all the time – that is perversion. So what did God say? He said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal." It means, "I can’t stay and put up with man any longer." So God left man alone to do whatever they wanted. God did not bother them any longer. Pleasure-seeking life is perversion. Today, still perversion is trend in the world. Instead of keeping what is right, proper or good, instead of loving God and obeying God’s command, people devise so many corrupt ways of life only to their own destruction. God has been witnessing this perversion throughout history, and he shouts, "How long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" Now is the time that we must stop our disobedience, our rebellion and turn to God and serve Him. Today, don’t pervert your way, but keep what is right, proper or good – Love God and obey His command, and God will give you the Garden of Delight and you will enjoy a delightful life.

 

       Look at verse 42. At Jesus’ command, the boy was coming to Jesus. But the evil spirit threw him to the ground in a convulsion. The boy fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. It seemed the situation got worse. Maybe, the father was afraid thinking that only because he came to Jesus, his son’s condition got worse. That’s the demon’s deception so as to keep people from coming to Jesus. The evil spirit was deceptive and rebellious. But Jesus rebuked it, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

 

       Second, "Listen carefully what I am about to say" (43-45). Look at verses 43 and 44. Let’s read these verses together:

 

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men."

 

       People were amazed at what Jesus had done; everyone was looking at him with awe. Then, grabbing a chance, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." The key point of the second semester is the way of the cross. Whenever Jesus got a chance, he taught them the way of the cross whether they accepted it or not, because it was the matter of life and death for them; if they accepted it and lived by it, they would save their life; otherwise, they would lose it. What good was it that they gained the whole world, yet forfeited their very self? So, Jesus taught them about the way of the cross over and over again, whether they understood it or not. When you accept Jesus as the Christ of God, then, the next thing is to know the way of the cross, accept it and live by it. Jesus our Christ shows us the way of life, and because we believe in him, we can and we must accept it and live by it so that we may save our life. If not, then, what is the meaning of us saying that we believe in Jesus, while rejecting one single message he really wants us to accept? The way of the cross is the focal point of Christian life.

 

          What was their response to the message of the cross this time? Verse 45 reads: "But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it and they were afraid to ask him about it." The way of the cross was something they could not even imagine - no priest, no Pharisee, no teacher of the law, no synagogue ruler preached that kind of message at all; no other God worshiping Jew lived that kind of life - totally unpopular, totally controversial. So, even if they honored Jesus highly, and even if God Himself spoke to them directly, they did not understand what Jesus was talking about. In this situation, Jesus struggled hard to plant this message into their hearts, because it was the matter of life and death to them - the absolute truth, which they had to accept and live by.

 

       About the Christian way of life - the way of the cross -, no pastor or no theologian, no evangelist emphasizes. Instead, they just talk about "salvation by faith in Jesus Christ," or living a moralistic life or doing some good things such as taking care of homeless people. So, most Christians don't know it, let alone living by it; even if they read this passage, they don't understand anything. As a result, God believing people do not know what to do and how they must live their life. Even after finally accepting Jesus as the Christ, even after repenting of their sins and turning to God, they wonder, saying, "So now, what?" When they do not know the way of the cross, Christians way of life is hidden from them. The way of the cross is the real Christian way of life. When you accept it and live by it, you are really dedicated to God's kingdom work, and you pursue Jesus wholeheartedly, willing to let go of all things in this world for his sake. You live a real Christian life, and you will be truly satisfied in Jesus.

 

       The last part of verse 45 reads, "and they were afraid to ask him about it." They knew what Jesus would tell them about, if they asked him for further explanation of his teaching - the way of the cross, which was burdensome to them. So, they did not ask. Even if they did not understand or accept the way of the cross yet, they were thinking about it. Thanks to Jesus' struggle, their attitude toward this message was improving.

 

Third, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me" (46-50). Look at verse 46. "An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest." While Jesus was so concerned about his coming pains, sufferings and death, they were talking about who should be the prime minister in his kingdom. What a frustrating moment it must have been for Jesus! They were not spiritual at all, but so ignorant and blind. How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 47 and 48. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."

 

       Amazingly, Jesus was not frustrated; he didn’t rebuke them either. Instead, accepting their desire for greatness, he showed them how they could become truly great. Our Lord Jesus is truly great that he embraced all these blind and childish disciples in his heart. He was a mother-like shepherd.

 

Everyone wants to be great: this desire for greatness is expressed as being recognized by others, or being popular or being respected and honored. No one wants to be ignored; no one wants to be despised or mistreated. We all, men and women, young and old, want to become great, at school, at home, at work, in the church, even in the kingdom of God. At home, if wife does not respect her husband, he feels so bad, and visa versa. This is the expression of our desire to become great. God created us in his image, so all humans have a great potential to become great. It means we can become great, I mean, really great. That’s why God said to Israel people in the Old Testament, "Be holy as I am holy!" That’s why Jesus says to his disciples in the New Testament, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect!" The first modern time missionary, William Carey, said, "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!" Jesus welcomes our desire for greatness.

 

Now, the question is, "How can we become great?" The disciples thought that greatness was the matter of gaining great titles or occupying high positions. As a result, they ended up brining more burden to Jesus. Now Jesus showed them how they could become truly great. Jesus took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then, he said, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest." Shockingly, greatness is expressed in the matter of welcoming Jesus. According to Jesus’ explanation, those who welcome Jesus are great. We are shocked. It seems that everyone welcomes Jesus, because everyone says, "I love Jesus." Are all people who say, "I believe in Jesus," are great?" It seems not! Even on the bump stickers, it says, "O God, please, save the Christians."

 

          What does it mean to welcome Jesus? "How can we welcome Jesus while he is in heaven and invisible?" Jesus here shows us how we can welcome him, saying, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me." The word, "welcome" means great hospitality with bright smiles, open arms, spending a lot of time, money and effort. Let's say, Mother Barry visits us. We really welcome her. How? By cleaning the whole church, doing new decoration, preparing special program with many different dances, special songs, rap songs, with great food as well, most likely, rib eye steaks not only for her, but for the whole church; in this way, in order to welcome her, we are willing to pour out great amount of time, money and effort. In those days, children were ignored and despised. But you welcome a little child in Jesus' name, willing to pour out such great amount of time, money and effort, because of Jesus' will and desire. That's how you can welcome Jesus. We look for sheep on our schools. We spend 100 hours to find one sheep, willing to go through rejection after rejection, under hot scorching Sun, being despised and ridiculed; yet, still we are willing to spend that much time and effort all on our own, because we highly value one sheep in Jesus Christ. And then, for their salvation, we are willing to spend maybe, 1,000 hours, a lot of gas money, through Bible studies and wrestling with them,...

 

       When we do that, how does Jesus see it? He perceives all our efforts and struggles for one sheep as "welcoming him." He sees how much we honor him, value him and love him. That way, we welcome Jesus. Many people say, "I love Jesus." Or they say, "When he comes again, I will welcome him." But Jesus, here, shows us how we can really welcome him - by welcoming a little child in his name, willing to spend a lot of time and money for that little child. His understanding of welcoming him is very practical and real, not just words of mouth or vague feelings. Do you want to welcome Jesus? Then, look for sheep on your school, as if you are looking for the most precious and important person in the whole world, spending tons of time and willing to spend a lot of gas money, parking fees and lunch money. When you do that, Jesus will be really pleased with you, because you welcome him, and thereby, he too will treat you in the same way, and reveal himself to you. When you welcome Jesus this way, how does God the Father perceive it? He sees that you are welcoming Him. By welcoming one little sheep, by looking for one little sheep on your campus, by pouring out your time, money and strength for one sheep, you please Jesus your Master, and God the Father. Indeed, your struggle to serve sheep on your campuses is not in vain at all; instead, Jesus is happy with you, because you really welcome him; and God is happy with you because you welcome Him with great hospitality.

 

       As a conclusion, Jesus says, "For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest." Here, Jesus shows how come this person can welcome a little child in his name, willing to spend a lot of time, money and effort. The reason or secret is that he does not consider himself so highly, and thereby, he does not consider his time so valuably compared to the preciousness of that little child. He considers himself - his time and his money and his effort - least important. His 100 hours for the sake of finding one lost sheep - he does not consider it as loss. So, he has no reason to look for a better method; instead, he pours out his time and energy for one little sheep endlessly - in his eyes, simply sheep is worth it. Such a person welcome Jesus really, by welcoming a little child, by pouring out his time, money and effort, by even willing to sacrifice his life for the sheep. Such a humble person is great in Jesus' eyes. Such a dedicated person to serving God's mission, such a dedicated person to serving sheep is truly great in Jesus' eyes. Such people are the ones who welcome Jesus really. This is how you can welcome Jesus; this is how you can be truly great in Jesus' Christ. This is the true greatness Jesus wants us to pursue today and tomorrow. Your own person becoming truly great, this is what Jesus wants you to pursue.

 

The disciples thought that being great was the matter of occupying a high position. So they were competing with each other. But now Jesus showed them that the greatest among them was the one who considered himself as the least among them all, and welcome all others as very great and valuable people, deserving his time and service. This person does not think that he is greater than others at all; instead, he thinks that others are great, deserving his honor and respect, even his obedience and loyalty. So, he listens to other servants very well, and obeys them. Such a person is truly great. The disciples pursued to go up and up, but now Jesus showed them that they must struggle to go down and down, considering others better than themselves.

 

When the apostle John heard this, he was convicted, being reminded of a certain thing he had done. So he brought it up, saying, "Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." Jesus said to him, "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you." The disciples needed to welcome even a nameless servant in Jesus' name.

 

One Word:      Welcome A Little Child In Jesus’ Name 
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