sermon notes – Luke 12.32-34

I typically do not type or write out my sermons ahead of time in manuscript form; I just imprint them in my mind. However, this morning’s sermon was an exception. Here’s what I carried with me into the pulpit today.

that’s the Spirit: it’s what you give
Sun.; January 27, 2019; 10:30 a.m.
Driving south on Thompson Rd. from I-10 – just before I came to Daniel’s Meat Market – my eyes were drawn to a huge billboard nearby. It was an advertisement for whiskey. Not just any whiskey, you understand, but Crown Royal. It says:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

Now drink that in! For it sounds an awful lot like what our Lord says to us! “It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

Our Lord preached proverbial wisdom: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It simply cannot be any other way: inevitably, our heart is about we you treasure. It cannot be otherwise. One gives witness to the other.

Our Lord preached that if our heart is after God’s heart, that is, that it treasures what God treasures, our actions will show. And since what God treasures is people, then if God is our treasure, we will be rich in blessing people. That is his program, and so will be our life’s program. As our Lord put it: “Sell your possessions, and give alms.” Taking good care of people and our heart is no small thing. The application of what Jesus said can be a fearsome thing indeed!

And that is why our Lord, the Prince of Peace, preached peace and promise to us as he did: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Where’s that found? You can read it for yourself from the same book we’ve been reading this past week as a church family, Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 12.32-34, to be specific). Luke’s entire Gospel can be well summed up with these words:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

For no writing in the NT speaks more frequently or more fervently about our attitude toward, and our actions with, money and possessions, than Luke’s Gospel. The subject is specifically noted often. Here are five examples. Hear them all with these words in mind:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

• Lk. 3.11-14 – when people approached John the Baptist as to how they should respond in light of his preaching, all of his answers involved how they handled money – [crowds in general:] “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise. …” [tax collectors:] “… collect no more than the amount prescribed for you …” [soldiers:] “Do not extort money from anyone … and be satisfied with your wages.” [They were all challenged to consider: “It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”]

• Lk. 5.28 – When our Lord called Matthew (aka: Levi), Levi “got up, left everything, and followed him.” [“It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

• Lk. 8.1-3 – Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and others sustained Jesus/his disciples “out of their resources.” [“It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

• Lk. 19.1-10 – when Zacchaeus stood and announced his fruits of repentance to our Lord, he said: “‘Half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’” [He was about: “It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

• Lk. 21.1-4 – and when “Jesus saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins and he said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all.’” [She was thinking: “It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

That’s the Spirit! Surely Luke would have smiled at that sign if he had been in the car with me and seen that billboard. This much is certain: our Lord does. I know because he gave it all, and still does, for you and me.

Are you taking good care of your heart? Is God’s program – people – your program? Is how you give in any and every way, in any and every place, geared to bless people, and so praise and love the God who made them, and you? Does your heart rest in his promise of his ruling care over your life? Do you need to give up some things, or embrace some things afresh in your heart? Think about your treasure.

Well, that’s what this time of invitation is for – for you to carefully and deeply consider Christ and his good news, namely:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

chiasm: Luke 9.48

In the Gospels, Jesus’ self-awareness and self-claims saturate everything he says. Sometimes his claims are grand and “in your face” (e.g. – “I am the resurrection and the life”). And sometimes they are much more subtle and glow, such as in this instance.

Recognizing the chiastic structure of this tender, well-known text helps us grasp more of what Jesus is saying and doing (i.e. – he is the greatest among them).

Chiasm-Luke-9

chiasm: Luke’s travel section

My favorite book of the Bible is Luke’s Gospel. The heart of Luke’s Gospel is what is commonly known as “the travel section” (Luke 9.51-19.44), Jesus’ ministry as a journey to Jerusalem. Great emotion bathes much of the narrative, from its start to its end:

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (9.51)

“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it …” (19.41)

And what is the purpose of this section? As one journeys with Jesus in the reading of Luke 9-19, the reader learns of the heart and soul of what it means to be a true follower of Jesus. And Luke structures his narrative of Jesus’ teachings and doings regarding our formation in Christ in chiastic form. Due to the size and depth of this chiasm, the following diagram depicts only one “leg” or “side” of the chiasm; note the double Scripture references at the end of each line to see the texts that correspond (e.g. – “C” – Luke 11.1-13 and 18.1-14 play off each other).

Chiasm-Luke-travel-section

The deadly seriousness of this business we call “discipleship” forms the tip of the spear of Luke’s narrative:

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. [emphasis mine, DPS] When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13.22-30 NRSV)

Credit: The Way According to Luke by Paul Borgman (Eerdmans, 2006); pp. 78,203