There were thousands of people who heard and saw Jesus, but our passage in Luke demands that you hear Jesus and obey him. In fact, that comes from Jesus himself.
He’ll demonstrate how and why he has authority over demons. And he’ll call you to do more than show interest in him – you can and must respond – hear, obey.
And we’ll even be challenged on what you choose to spend your time focussed on which, as it happens, becomes a challenge for the church too. We start with a very good reason to hear Jesus and obey him.
Jesus brings you life (14-28)
Read Luke 11:14-16.
- That was a pretty big day for that mute man, but he drops out of view straight away. Our focus is Jesus.
- Two things come up: First is where Jesus gets the authority to drive out demons; second, some people wanted signs from heaven.
- V17-28 deal with the demons issue, and then later we’ll come to v29-32 to look at the demand for signs.
They’re accusing Jesus of driving out demons by “Beelzebul” – another name for Satan. It’s like saying Jesus is getting a drugs baron to deal with a local dealer. That would be bad for business.
- A house divided against itself falls.
- So Jesus makes the simple and obvious point that what they’re saying doesn’t make sense.
That’s a great way to respond when someone questions your faith. If what you believe is the truth, they must believe a lie.
- Asking questions can help point out their inconsistencies.
- That’s what Jesus did next: Read Luke 11:19.
But then he goes more on the front foot: He teaches them.
- Read Luke 11:20-23.
- He’s making quite a claim.
- A demon-possessed man is under the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of darkness.
- But Jesus is stronger than Satan. Jesus has entered enemy territory to take on Satan and defeat him.
- Jesus is the stronger man; Satan is defeated.
- And when Jesus defeats evil, the kingdom of God has come upon you.
See what Jesus is claiming? When he drives out a demon he is bringing the kingdom of God to someone and overcoming Satan.
It’s a pocket-sized version of what he has come to do in the whole earth.
Which is why he says “Anyone who is not with me is against me” – because you’re either in the kingdom of God, or not; with Jesus, or not.
Empty or full?
But then he says something surprising to us, raising questions about how he leaves someone once he’s driven out a demon: Read Luke 11:24-26.
- Is that what happens, when Jesus drives a demon out of someone?
- Would that mute man end up worse after Jesus moved on?
- Clearly not, which is a clue to how Jesus leaves you.
Before someone becomes a Christian, even though they (probably!) weren’t possessed by a demon they were still in the kingdom of darkness, ruled by Satan, sin, and death. Funnily enough, people find it easier to believe in forces of evil than good – though they generally assume they’re not affected.
But when you bow the knee to Jesus, the living Son of God, you are transferred to the kingdom of light: Jesus is your king. And you are then indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. And he doesn’t room-share with evil spirits. When you’re his, your his. We’re reading Luke’s gospel in the light of Acts, so we know.
But knowing all this in your head isn’t enough. Read Luke 11:27-28.
The woman spoke earthy, motherly language. Jesus’ mother must have been blessed to spend so much time with such a boy! But no, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”
- Jesus has come into the world to destroy the works of Satan on his own patch, and to establish the kingdom of God.
- For that kingdom to be established in you, you must hear the word of God and keep it.
Don’t just stand back and admire: Hear Jesus and obey. If I gave you a million-pound house you wouldn’t just stand in the garden and admire it – you’d go in and enjoy it.
Likewise, hear Jesus and obey. But how, exactly?
Repent and live (29-32)
Jesus picks up on the other thing people were talking about:
16 And others, as a test, were demanding of him a sign from heaven.
Jesus has just delivered a man from demon possession and brought the kingdom of God to earth – and they ask for a sign from heaven? He brings two Old Testament examples:
- The prophet Jonah left his home country, spent 3 days and 3 nights in a large fish (or whale), and later travelled 400 miles to Nineveh to warn them of God’s judgment.
- In contrast, the Queen of the South (Queen of Sheba) travelled from her home to come to Jerusalem to learn godly wisdom from King Solomon.
Jesus, like Jonah, has ‘travelled’ to warn of God’s judgment. The crowds have gathered around Jesus as the Queen of the South gathered to Solomon.
But Jesus is greater than Jonah and greater than Solomon. So will the crowds listen, like the Queen of the South did? Will they repent, like the people of Nineveh did? Read Luke 11:29-32.
No, they haven’t come to learn from him. They’ve come to nose, not to know.
- Even today, knowing that Jesus rose from the dead, our own generation refuses to believe.
- Many will talk about the resurrection without believing it.
- If you believe it happened, you need to respond.
Don’t just stand back and admire Jesus’ teaching, or his people, or anything else of the sort: Hear Jesus and obey!
This isn’t just for ‘other people’
We are all very much part of our evil generation.
- God’s laws are rejected so much it’s normalised.
- We elect people to government who aren’t good for us, who don’t care for the poor, the weak, the vulnerable as much as they care about wealth and power.
- Parents can opt for the lives of their unborn children to be terminated – and it’s called healthcare.
- We consider rich people to be heroes and role models.
- Famous people are regarded as gods to be idolised and worshipped, rather than simply entertainers to serve us.
- These are hardly the marks of a God-fearing godly society.
As a country, we enjoy the double bank-holidays at Christmas and Easter, but most people don’t look any closer. Like the crowds gathering around Jesus as a phenomenon, but not really wanting to believe in him or commit.
So what did the Queen of the South do right? She came to Solomon for godly wisdom. And Jesus is greater than Solomon: You go to him.
And what did the people of Nineveh do right? They heard the message of judgment resulting from their sin, and they repented. You, then, turn to Jesus for truth.
Repent of your sin and call out to him for forgiveness. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, people like you. Only Jesus brings you life. Repent and live now.
He gives you another image to visualise, to help you see rightly:
Look to Christ’s light (33-36)
The image we’re given is as if you’re hollow and your eye is a tiny window. When you point your eye at a light, you’re lit up within. If you look into darkness, you’ll be dark inside.
Read Luke 11:33-36.
What light should you point your eyes at, then? 1 John 1 tells us that God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.
- To understand the purest, loveliest light of all, look to God.
- What do we mean by ‘light’?
- Purity; knowledge; wisdom; perfection.
- Nothing hidden, or needing to be.
- Life-giving, illuminating, strengthening.
- And whereas the sun gives off light from countless chemical reactions going off all the time, God is light in and of himself – light is his nature.
That’s an antidote to contemplating the misery of the world we’re in. Will you look at the cesspit, or the flowers growing nearby? Would you rather face the world in all its chaos and uncertainty, or gaze at the perfect brilliance of the One who is light itself? Is your life darkness in need of light? Guilt in need of forgiveness?
How can you see him?
- Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1).
- He is the exact expression of God’s nature and the radiance of his glory (Hebrews 1).
- He who has seen the Son has seen the Father.
- Jesus is the light of the world, though the world has not understood it.
Naturally, you’re in the kingdom of darkness. When you call out to Jesus for forgiveness of sin, you are transferred to the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God.
The darkness within you becomes light as you gain better and better understanding of Jesus himself. We become like what we worship, so look to Jesus and become like him.
Real-world, everyday stuff
For some of you, this might sound a bit abstract. You’ll go back to work tomorrow and you need to know how any of this is relevant.
So here it is:
- When you go to work tomorrow, Christ will be with you.
- You’ll still be a part of this church, certainly. But you won’t be here singing hymns etc, you’ll be reading emails and talking to colleagues.
Church is to equip you for the real world, and reminding you to trust in Christ, to look to him, is the best equipping we can do. The less a church really grasps and marvels at the glories of Christ, the more we’ll want to compensate with grand architecture, art, icons, music, light shows, incense,… Worse, the more we do that, the more we create a disconnect between ‘Sunday church’ and ‘Monday work’. But just as your heart can engage with Christ here on Sunday so too you can engage with him Monday-Saturday.
The world around you is dark. If you’re to have light within you, the world won’t give it to you. You need to look to Jesus, the light of the world.
Don’t be empty inside; be filled with Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Don’t be dark inside; be lit up by looking to Christ.
Look to Jesus
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
So, only Jesus has come to destroy the works of Satan and establish the kingdom of God. Jesus brings life to everyone who hears the word of God and keeps it – and that means you.
Therefore, don’t be a spectator, vaguely interested in church and stuff about Jesus:
- Like the Queen of the South, go to Jesus for life.
- Like the people of Nineveh, repent of your sins before God and live.
And Take care, then, that the light in you is not darkness.
- Look to God revealed in Jesus for your life and salvation.
- And continue to look to him for holiness of life.
- All around you is darkness, but as you continue to look to him you fill your heart with hope, life, love, and faith.