Coming Near to God

 What do a Roman centurion, a tax collector, and a blind man have in common? And, no, this is not a setup to a bad joke. They each teach us a lesson about how to approach God.

Tonight we are going to mainly in the Gospel of Luke and will be studying three the three texts where these persons are found.

I. The Roman Centurion:

1.   The account of the Centurion is found in Luke 7:1-10.

a.  This event takes place right after Jesus concluded the sermon on the mount in Luke’s account (Luke 7:1).

b.  It is about a Roman Centurion’s servant who was critically ill (Luke 7:2).

c.   This account illustrates for us the primary character trait needed to come near to God.

2.   The events of the healing.

a.  Jewish elders are sent to Jesus because the centurion had heard he was in town (Luke 7:2-5).

b.  The Centurion’s friends are then sent to Jesus (as He was approaching the house) (Luke 7:6-8).

c.   The Servant is healed (Luke 7:9-10).

3.   The lesson:

a.  Note the first group and their estimation why Jesus should heal the servant.

i.    Luke 7:4-5 “And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.””

ii.  He is worthy. He has done something to earn this!

b.  Note the message of the Centurion sent by his friends.

i.    Luke 7:6-7 “Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

ii.  I am not worthy to be in your presence!

iii. Just say the word and I know it will be done (Luke 7:7-8).

c.   Lesson: None of us are worthy to come before God.

i.    It takes us recognizing this fact first before we can come before Him.

ii.  Matthew 5:3 ““Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

II. The Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

1.   This parable is found in Luke 18:9-14.

a.  Jesus, Luke tells us, taught this parable because Luke 18:9 “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:”

b.  Right at the start we know this is going to have something to do with our own estimation of ourselves when it comes to approaching God.

2.   The Parable Luke 18:8-13.

a.  The Pharisee and Tax Collector go to the temple to pray (Luke 18:10).

b.  The prayer of the Pharisee: I’m just the best. Thank you God that you made me as your gift to mankind. (Luke 18:11-12)

c.   The prayer of the Tax collector: I am a sinner in need of mercy (Luke 18:13).

3.   The lesson:

a.  From Jesus, Luke 18:14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.””

b.  One needs to approach God with true humility not with self-righteous pomposity.

i.    1 Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

ii.  Psalm 51:16-17 “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.”

III. Blind Bartimaeus

1.   The account of Bartimaeus is found in Luke 18:35-43.

2.   The events of the healing:

a.  This takes place right before Christ enters Jerusalem before the last Passover. Near Jericho (Luke 18:35).

b.  Bartimaeus asks what the commotion is near him (Luke 18:36-37).

c.   His reaction when he learns that it is Jesus coming by (Luke 18:38-39).

i.    “Cried out” – Lit. to exclaim. He is yelling.

ii.  Crowd tells him to be quiet.  Which leads him only to cry out all the more.

iii. His cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

d.  The healing.

i.    Jesus comes near and asks “what do you want Me to do for you?” (Luke 18:40-41a).

ii.  To receive my sight (Luke 18:41b).

iii. Bartimaeus receives his sight and follows Christ (Luke 18:42-43).

3.   The lesson.

a.  God desires that those who sill stop at nothing to come to Him.

b.  Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Conclusion:

1.   Who may come near to God?

2.   From these three accounts we’ve learned:

a.  It is not those:

i.    Who believe themselves worthy.

ii.  Who are self-righteous.

iii. Who would not permit another to come.

b.  It is those who:

i.    Know their condition before God.

ii.  Who seek Him with humility.

iii. Will stop at nothing to get to Him.

3.   So let us seek God, stopping for nothing, with all humility, knowing it is only by His grace we can come before Him

a.  Hebrews 10:19-22 “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

b.  That confidence is for the Christian. It is their promise and their hope.

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