An Epidemic of Human Nature

43 And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples, 44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, 48 and said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

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Second warning. An epidemic of human nature. The appearance of “denominations” and the Lord’s response.

Twice in Luke 9 Jesus told the disciples plainly that He was going to be executed, in verse 22 and again, more forcefully, in verse 44: “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”

This time, in verse 45, we read, “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.”

What’s going on here? Did God hide knowledge of an imminent, pivotal, earth-shaking event that was going to affect the disciples more directly than any other people on earth? If so, why?

Maybe because they weren’t yet focused on their mission. Didn’t even understand yet what their mission, or Jesus’ mission, was and wasn’t. Maybe because, at that point, if they had understood that their leader was going to die, was going to submit to nothing less than death by crucifixion, their nerve might have failed.

Maybe because they had not, at that point, sufficiently or at all “put off the old self” – “that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24) The point is, God withholds knowledge from His enemies and from His disciples, for His own purposes. Not to be vindictive, not from some lunatic whimsy, but for reasons that perhaps only He knows.

Immediately we see an example of the disciples’ old-man, fallen human nature breaking out: “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.

Jesus very gently but definitely adjusted their perspective: “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 it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’ ”

There was still more of the fallen human nature in the disciples that had to be dealt with: pride. What we might call “team spirit” or denominations:

” ‘Master,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.’

‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’ ” (Luke 9:49-50)

They had to learn. Walking with Jesus day after day, they learned the only way it seems that any of us learn anything: the hard way. Making mistakes, sinning, making fools of themselves, being very poor examples of disciples of Jesus. This should be an encouragement and an exhortation to us, friends. When we fail, when we sin, we need to confess it to God, make it right with anyone we know we’ve injured, and then heave our sorry carcasses off the ground and try again, asking for and depending on God’s Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our areas of weakness.

We who are believers in Jesus do not have the right to quit, because we know what the entire world desperately needs to know: faith in Jesus is the only way to have our sins forgiven, be granted citizenship in Heaven, and begin the process of being transformed into “the image of the Messiah”.

“Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood! Power in the blood!
Would you over evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood!
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb!

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood!
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide!
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb!”

God changes our lives, our hearts, our deep-down sinful human nature through our faith in Jesus. It’s there for us as it was for them. And it doesn’t stop with salvation. That’s only the beginning!

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