An Encounter With Jesus
If you could meet anyone in the world – whoever you’d like, alive or long gone – who would you choose to spend time with?
There are a couple of people that I’d really love to meet. Elon Musk for example. He was born not too far from here, in Pretoria. One of the greatest entrepreneur, inventor, investors alive today; he’s monetarily worth over 100 billion rand. I can imagine spending 5 minutes would him would be life-changing, but you’d also really struggle to keep up with his 100hr week work schedules.
I’d like to have met Nelson Mandela. I think his ability to live a forgiving life was profound.
I’d like to meet John Maxwell; one of the top leadership experts in the world today.
There’s many people in the world I’d really like to meet. But absolutely top on my list, I’d love to meet Jesus.
Now, before you start grumbling things like, ‘Jesus juke’, and ‘Well, you’re a pastor, you have to say that’, I’m going to explain why meeting Jesus would be unlike meeting anyone else who ever lived, anyone who’s alive today, or anyone that will ever live.
Let’s turn together to Luke 2, and read together from vs. 41-52.
While you’re turning there, I’ll give you a little context. This is our tenth week at looking at Jesus’ journey from Luke’s perspective. (John, Jesus)
We’ve spend the last several weeks looking at Jesus as a baby, how He was circumcised on the eighth day and then presented at the temple on the fortieth day; and how that ‘everyday event’ was interrupted by two godly people with prophesies about Jesus, a man called Simeon and an old lady called Anna.
After his dedication in the temple, Joseph and Mary took Jesus back to Nazareth where he grew up. What Luke doesn’t record, which Matthew does, is that in between vs. 40 and vs. 41 of our chapter tonight, the family spent a number of years in Egypt to protect Jesus from a tyrannical king who wanted Jesus dead. But when Herod died, the family moved back to Nazareth and Jesus continued to grow and become strong, to be filled with wisdom, and enjoy the grace of God upon him.
At the time of our passage tonight, Jesus is 12 years old. So while I’ve called this series, ‘Walking With Jesus’, after 10 weeks this is the first time we see Jesus actually old enough to be walking…and talking.
And as I started this message asking you to wonder what it would be like to encounter someone great, I want you to not just read the words of this text, but to imagine yourself in the story. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes – she was probably the one telling this story to Luke for him to record it. So put yourself in her shoes and really feel what she felt and see what she saw.
Let’s read together.
JESUS AMAZES THOSE WHO HEAR HIM
My first point tonight is that Jesus AMAZES THOSE WHO HEAR HIM.
Tonight I really want to focus on the picture of Jesus sitting in the temple court, among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
When I think of that picture, I think that Jesus must have been a truly remarkable sight. Over the last couple of years in children’s ministry I’ve met some kids who stump me with the innocence of their questioning, or with the correctness of their answering; but Jesus was stumping learned doctors with his questioning, answering, reasoning (understanding).
I think the wisdom of God in a man would have been profound enough, but the wisdom of God in a 12 year old boy – mind-blown!
Can you picture it?
We don’t know what Jesus was asking or answering to these teachers, all we know is that whatever He was saying astonished those who heard Him.
As I was thinking about this, I began to also think about Jesus’ other interactions later in life – times when we have a clearer insight into what might have been going on here. Jesus continued to be a marvellous teacher. Look at some other passages:
Luke 4:22 “And all spoke well of him and marvelled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Luke 4:32 “…and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.”
Mark 1:21-22 “…when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”
John 7:14-16 “Jesus [went] up to the temple courts and [began] to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me.’”
John 7:45-46 “Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’ ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards declared.”
JESUS GOES DEEP
What makes Jesus’ interactions with people stand out? Why was what He said so astonishing?
I believe it is because JESUS GOES DEEP.
When Jesus speaks to people, His questions and answers delve deep into the soul, they bypass surface issues and address the heart issues.
We might try to put on a façade, but Jesus slips under the façade that we present to others, and He sees and shows who we really are.
As one commentator I read said, “Jesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer; instead He used questions the way a surgeon uses a scalpel, to delicately cut into a new level of understanding.”
When we interact with incredibly smart people, our intellect can be challenged. When we interact with incredibly creative people, our imaginations can be challenged. But when we interact with Jesus, He addresses exactly where we need to be addressed.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
We’ve seen how Jesus’ words amazed people, this is why.
Jesus’ Encounter With Simon the Pharisee
Turn with me to Luke 7:36-47 [Read]
Do you see how Jesus addressed the heart of Simon the Pharisee? Jesus correctly discerned not just the surface issue of this woman’s obviously sinful past, but He discerned and addressed the hidden, buried heart issues of both the woman and the apparently righteous Pharisee.
Jesus’ Encounter With a Rich Ruler
Jesus’ encounter with a rich ruler gives us another glimpse into how Jesus addresses the heart.
A rich man apparently hears that Jesus has insight that no one else does. So he comes to Jesus to ask Him a question that has been burdening his heart for some time: “How can I get eternal life?”
Jesus tells him that if he wants eternal life, he just needs to keep the commandments. This rich man proudly says, ‘Okay, okay, that’s easy enough. I’ve done all that since I was a child.’
This rich ruler appears to those around him to be doing really well. He keeps God’s commandments, and appears to have the favour of God on his life because of his riches. He seems to have it all together.
But Jesus discerns this man’s heart. He sees that this rich ruler cares more about his earthly riches than about God. So he poses a challenge to the rich man that He knows will reveal his hidden heart thoughts.
He says, “You still lack one thing. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
I wonder if you’re starting to realise that Jesus doesn’t deal with simply surface issues. When Jesus interacted with people during His life time he always delicately cut to the heart and revealed it for what it really was.
Why would He do that? Sometimes cutting to the deeper heart issues can be painful – sometimes it requires us to look at and accept places of hurt. Why would God want us to go through that pain?
Do you know that if He didn’t do that, we would never grow? Jesus longs to heal the hurts of the heart, but to do that requires some complex surgery that only He can perform.
Imagine you went to a doctor who diagnosed you with cancer in the kidney and prescribed weekly pamper parties? You’d get a head, neck and back massage, and a face-mask. It might make you feel better afterwards, but it won’t do a thing to address the problem.
I could say it this way: There is a big difference between, ‘How are you?’ and ‘How are you really?’
The first question is a greeting without any pressure or expectation of deep interaction, but
The second question provokes more than that. It calls for a willingness to be vulnerable, a willingness to speak about what’s really on the heart.
That’s how Jesus interacted with people in the gospels. THAT’S HOW JESUS WANTS TO INTERACT WITH YOU AND ME TODAY.
Often our quiet times are more the ‘How are you?’ type than the ‘How are you really?’ type. We quickly read the Bible or pray over the matters of the day with little or no concern for really being vulnerable and open to Jesus’ penetrating search.
What I’m hoping to challenge you with this evening is to begin to encounter Jesus in your quiet times.
In a sense I want to challenge you to become dissatisfied with half-hearted spiritual activities. Start to see that our interactions with God can be and ought to be astonishing, and leave us in wonder and awe.
There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between ‘reading the Bible’, and ‘meeting with God through the Bible’; between ‘singing during worship time’, and ‘worshipping God in song’. There can also be a BIG DIFFERENCE between ‘praying’, and ‘sharing my heart with God in prayer’.
I’m going to ask the worship team to come up for the last song. And while they’re coming up I want to challenge you to make this time of singing more than just a time of singing, but use it as an opportunity to speak to God, and allow Him to speak back. Allow Him to delve deeper into your heart.
I don’t know about you, but oftentimes my spiritual activities can feel dry and empty. At those times it can be really helpful to remind myself that I am not here simply to sing, simply to pray, or simply to read. But I am going to seek God in this time and place.
Let’s have a time of worship.