“A man who wore no clothes, lived in the tombs among the dead, and had a long rap sheet hardly seems like a good candidate to be the first to preach the news in this territory awash in paganism. He was a multiple offender whom the authorities had at long last given up trying even to restrain. But like Mary Magdalene, who had been delivered from seven demons (8:2), he was redeemed from his condition by Jesus’ powerful word and restored to wholeness.
It has happened to many whose condition is not quite so obvious or public. C. S. Lewis describes his condition before his conversion as ‘a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.’ Using the imagery of the parable of the soils in the previous unit would seem to suggest that persons such as these are hardened, unproductive soil to hear the Word of God and not worth wasting seed by sowing it among them. But the power of God’s Word can transform even this kind of soil. It can bring salvation, deliverance from the legion of personal demons that assail individuals, and transform the person into a productive proclaimer of the gospel.
The problem is that Christians might tend to avoid the dark haunts where these lost and desperate people may gather. Their scary behavior, as a result of years of maltreatment at the hands of others and their own self-abuse, may make them seem irredeemable, and so they never hear the message of salvation. Jesus is prepared not only to use anyone committed to him to proclaim the gospel, but he is also ready to go anywhere to proclaim it. The whole world, not a small portion of it, needs to be restored to wholeness.
Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
From our current sermon series on Luke.
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
It takes quite a bit of time, internet-wise, to upload a sermon. I noticed that we are very far behind in this task, and hope to upload the rest of the Ephesians series, and the sermons for the rest of 2015.
This might be a good place to put in a plug for a volunteer: If you live in the Hamilton, Ontario area, we could use a sound engineer to help with the recording and uploading of sermons. By “helping,” I mean, “doing basically the whole thing.” As it stand right now, I record my sermons on my smartphone, then transfer them to the computer, and rename them for uploading. Then upload them.
So, the first two sermons in the “Hard Sayings of Jesus” series are now up. Just click here.
And if you’ve been clamouring for the sermons, I apologise, and thank you for your patience. If you haven’t exactly been clamouring, but just wondering, now you know: the uploads have been put on the back burner.
Scott Jacobsen, Minister, Mountain View Christian Church.