Jesus Attracts the Masses!
God Saves Gentiles! Luke has Good News!
Title: “Jesus Attracts the Masses!”
Text: Luke 6:17-26
Jesus has a place in most religious systems, not that they accurately understand who He really is, but at least they give Him lip service. Jesus is attractive, and difficult to ignore, especially when people begin to investigate Him. When folks take the time to check out the facts, they are either drawn to Him, or distance themselves from Him. One group wins, the other loses. They (YOU) choose.
I. Jesus Attracts a Diversity of Curious Listeners (Vv. 17-19)!
v There are three, possibly four, subsets of “listeners” who gather around Jesus. The size and diversity of His audience is impressive!
1. There are the official twelve (“them”) who were just placed on staff with Jesus to help Him accomplish His mission.
2. There is a huge crowd of “learners” from whom He had just selected the twelve disciples/apostles.
3. There is a great multitude of people, a good number of whom are Gentiles from the surrounding nations!
4. There were also some who were tormented by demonic influence, something with which the western world is unfamiliar.
v There are two basic reasons why so many kinds of people are attracted to Jesus (v. 17b-18).
1. They have come to hear what the Teacher says; some seek to honestly understand Him, others merely to critique and find reasons to ignore or disregard Him.
2. Some have come to be healed physically and others to be released from spiritual oppression. All were healed!
v There is an overwhelming desire to connect with Jesus (v. 19).
1. It is difficult to assess motives for people wanting to “touch” Jesus. But we are assured that Jesus relieved both the spiritual afflictions and physical maladies of ALL who came!
2. But how did He accomplish such amazing feats? “We are to understand the ‘power’ that ‘came out from Him’ as the healing work of the Holy Spirit manifest in His ministry.” (Green)
“Before the demands that come in His teaching, Jesus exhibits God’s grace and power by healing all without discrimination.” (Bock)
II. Jesus Addresses Spiritual Situations and Gives Hope (Vv. 20-26)!
v Just a few helpful insights before we officially proceed!
1. Jesus is speaking to His disciples with the obvious intent that the rest of the crowd would listen in on what He’s saying to them.
2. We cannot assume that He’s referring merely to socio-economic categories. He is more concerned with spiritual categories!
3. There is a clear link here. “Luke seems to move from a general condition (poor), to a result (hunger), to a response to the result (weeping), to a cause (persecution).” (Bock)
4. “One should be careful not to take these generalized beatitudes and absolutize them, as if one’s bank account or social status automatically determines one’s spiritual state.” (Bock)
v Jesus first addresses the vulnerable, the most likely to respond to Him and His ministry positively (vv. 20-23)! (The others are listening.)
1. Those who have nothing now and are therefore desperately and honestly open and seeking Jesus are the ones who have an enduring inheritance (v. 20).
2. “The poor in Judaism referred to those in desperate need (socioeconomic element) whose helplessness drove them to a dependent relationship with God (religious element) for the supplying of their needs and vindication.” (Guelich)
3. Their sorry plight will be reversed; they will be satisfied and they will rejoice (v. 21). They have chosen to believe and follow the One who provides hope and comfort to the vulnerable!
4. They are to be congratulated because they have been markedly identified with Jesus the Messiah, the Son of Man, resulting in sharing His lot; hated, excluded, reviled, and written off as pathetic losers (v. 22)!
5. They’re told to celebrate and anticipate a reward for identifying with Messiah; they are in good company (v. 23)! (The words of comfort are also words of warning to others.)
v Jesus then addresses the self-sufficient proud bystanders (vv. 24-26)! (They’re already “blessed;” they’re wealthy, stout, and happy!)
1. Those who have everything they need now and see no need for Jesus will suffer a dramatic and devastating reversal, not to mention a major surprise (vv. 24-25)!
2. “The rich are not excluded as a class or for merely belonging to a certain socio-economic group, but for an attitude they often display.” (Bock)
3. They’re told not to put too much stock in man’s appraisal of their relationship with God (v. 26)! The “evidence” of God’s blessing moves men to speak well of you.
4. The false prophets gained “popularity by claiming to be God’s mouthpieces, but they speak only what people want to hear as to further their own careers.” (Garland)
5. But men often misrepresent and misread the evidence, praising each other for affirming man’s standards as God’s!
6. “People of the old order speak well only of those who follow its routines and its canons. Those whose behaviors are grounded in a contrary worldview can expect defamation.” (Green)
7. A person’s outward appearance, what they’ve accomplished or accumulated, is never a flawless indictor of his or her standing before God!
But the Lord said to Samuel,
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)