Luke 9:37-56 by Pastor Dan Walker
The values of the Kingdom of God are opposite the values of the world. All of us have a strong tendency to follow worldly values. The problem is that when we follow worldly values, it robs us of blessing and brings judgement into our lives. In this message, we look at Jesus' disciples following worldly values and failing multiple times. You can learn from Jesus' training of His disciples how you can avoid their mistakes and live in God's blessing and power.
Duration:38 mins 11 secs

Today, we’re going to be talking about Upside Down Kingdom Values. The values of the kingdom of God are opposite the values of the world. All of us have a strong tendency to follow the values of the world. Why is it important for you to learn about kingdom values?

Because when you’re a part of the kingdom of God and you live by kingdom values, you will be blessed. When a person lives by the world’s values, the Bible calls that sin. Sin not only robs you of blessings, it also brings curses into your life. God desires for each person to be blessed and spread the blessing of the kingdom to others.

Luke 4:43 (ESV) but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Jesus’ teaching was first and foremost about the kingdom of God. When a person becomes a believer or follower of Jesus, they enter into and become part of God’s kingdom. However, they do not automatically live by kingdom values.

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In Jesus’ instructions to his disciples, including us, new believers needed to be taught to obey everything He had commanded. What had Jesus’ commanded? That His followers live by kingdom values. For that to happen two things must take place. First of all, a believer must be taught what God’s Word commands us concerning kingdom values. But being taught and knowing kingdom values is not enough. After knowing about kingdom values, we must observe and obey God’s commands. That is when the blessing of God is released into our lives.

Today, we’re to see Jesus’ disciples failing in multiple ways to live by kingdom values. The problem for them and for us is that we have been engrained with worldly values. These worldly values seem right to us, but kingdom values are upside down from them. We’re going to learn from Jesus’ disciple’s failures, how we can live by God’s upside down kingdom values.

The more we live by kingdom values, the more blessing and power there will be in our lives. The blessing and power of the kingdom are released to us so that we can use it to advance the kingdom of God. We are blessed to be a blessing to others.

Faith Releases Kingdom Power

Luke 9:38-39 (ESV) And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him.

Here we have the sad case of a young boy who has been oppressed by demons. The evil spirit causes the boy to scream and go into convulsions for a time. The father knew that this behavior was not due to a disease, but due to a demon. So, he came to Jesus’ disciples for help in casting out the demon.

Luke 9:40-41 (ESV) And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”

Earlier in chapter nine of Luke, we saw how Jesus gave his disciples power over demons and sent them out to deliver and heal people. Yet now, these same disciples were not able to cast the demon out of the boy and bring healing. So, now that Jesus had come down from the mountain, the father was begging Jesus for help.

Jesus’ answer begins “O faithless and twisted generation.” The question is, who is Jesus addressing as faithless and twisted? He is certainly not addressing the father or the son. So, Jesus’ answer was addressing his disciples who failed at healing the boy. We read more details about this failure of the disciples in Matthew and Mark. In those gospels, the disciples’ failure is due to lack of faith and lack of prayer. They should have been able to cast the demon out, but their lack of faith caused them to fail.

Luke 9:42-43a (ESV) While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

As the father brought the boy to Jesus, the demon began to manifest again, throwing the boy into convulsions. Jesus cast out the unclean spirit by commanding it to leave. This deliverance was called a healing of the boy. Everyone around was amazed at the power of God bringing freedom to the boy. It requires faith to release kingdom power.

The first take away from this story is that even Jesus’ disciples failed at doing miracles. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see healing for every person you pray for. We need to learn from Jesus’ pinpointing the reason for the disciple’s failure. It was their lack and faith and prayer.

You see, faith and prayer are intimately connected. If you don’t pray much, you will have very weak faith. The more that you pray the more faith you will have. And, the more faith you have, the more you will pray. The prayer Jesus was talking about was not the prayer over the boy. The prayer the disciples lacked was their prayer time throughout life that would have prepared them to bring deliverance to the boy.

How much should you pray? The answer is that we should pray without ceasing or continually. Prayer builds faith and faith releases kingdom power.

Embrace Kingdom Humility

Luke 9:44-45 (ESV) “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Jesus again tells his disciples what is going to happen to him. He is going to be arrested, which will ultimately lead to his crucifixion. The disciples probably thought this was not a good thing, but they really didn’t want to know the details. Why? Because it did not fit into their idea of what Jesus was going to do. And it didn’t fit into their thoughts about what the future held for them.

Luke 9:46-47 (ESV) An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side

Now, the disciples, who had just failed miserably at casting out a demon were arguing among themselves. And if that was not bad enough, they were arguing about which disciple was the greatest, the greatest of all time. Jesus is going to teach his bumbling disciples another lesson. So, he brings a child next to him, before he addresses the disciples.

Luke 9:48 (ESV) and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Why did Jesus draw the disciples’ attention to a child at this time? The disciples were arguing about who was the greatest. How would they have perceived this child? Certainly not the greatest. They would have perceived the child as the least important person there. Jesus is instructing those disciples the importance of receiving the least among them. Of giving priority to the needs and desires even of children.

When one receives or welcomes a child, one is in effect welcoming Jesus. In a child, the least important in the eyes of the disciples, one sees Jesus at work. Jesus concludes by saying, the one who is least among the disciples is the greatest. A true disciple of Jesus is not proud, seeking to be the greatest. A true disciple is humble, seeing God at work and welcoming those who are the least. We must learn to embrace kingdom humility.

So, we can learn two things from this second failure of the disciples. First of all, as followers of Jesus, we are not to seek after greatness. The desire to be seen as great in the eyes of others is a symptom of pride. Rather we are to cultivate an attitude of seeing worth in those that the world deems as the least. Jesus uses a child as an illustration of the least in the eyes of many.

Today, who is the least in the eyes of our culture? It is again a child, a baby in its mother’s womb. For at least half or more of the country, this unborn child’s life is not even worth saving. As believers, we must speak up for those unborn children whom God brought to life. As we each do what we can to show the value of the unborn children, God will bless us. He will show us ways to help those mothers who don’t know how they are going to care for those children. Those who care for the least are those who are the greatest.

Practice Kingdom Cooperation

Luke 9:49-50 (ESV) John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

 One of the disciples, John, had noticed that others were beginning to do the same thing the disciples were going, casting out demons. In fact, they were casting demons out in Jesus’ name, but were not among the twelve disciples. The disciples thought that they had a monopoly on the casting our demon franchise. So, they tried to stop this other person and proudly told Jesus about their loyalty.

Jesus was not impressed with the disciple’s behavior again. He told John, don’t try to stop this person from casting out demons. Why leave him alone? Because this person is not against you, he is actually for us. This person had learned from Jesus and his disciples and were helping them defeat the common enemy of Satan.

Luke 9:52-53 (ESV) And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

The Samaritans did not worship at the temple in Jerusalem and had different believes then the Jews. So, as Jesus had sent messengers ahead to this Samaritan village, they were not received. These Samaritans didn’t want anything to do with Jesus, they didn’t receive Him. What was the response of Jesus’ disciples?

Luke 9:54-55 (ESV) And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them.

The disciples did not have enough faith to cure a demon-possessed boy. Now they thought they had faith to call fire down from heaven and incinerate an entire village. Jesus rebuked them and told them this was not what they should do, nor have such an attitude in their hearts. Jesus had previously instructed them what they were to do when not received in a town. They were to shake the dust off their feet and leave the place that did not receive them and go on to another place. Leave judgment to God and pray that people’s hearts will be changed. Practice kingdom cooperation.

Here is see some more of the disciple’s bad attitudes toward those not in their inner group or who did not receive their message. We must again learn from the failure of the disciples to check our own attitudes. There are many types of followers of Jesus in the world. Some are of lesser maturity and some are in organizations that do not understand God’s Word correctly in important areas.

We must have an attitude to cooperate with all those who are believers. I believe we must also cooperate with those who are not believers but who are seeking to advance kingdom principles. It is certainly possible for people to follow biblical principles in some areas and not be saved. For those who will not receive our message as believers, we are to lovingly move on to others who are more receptive. Perhaps in time, the hearts of those who are unreceptive will be changed. We are to practice kingdom cooperation in a spirit of love and acceptance.

 Today, we’ve seen the disciples as very fallible human beings. I trust it’s given you hope, that as a follower of Jesus, you don’t have to be perfect. Jesus didn’t give up on his disciples and he won’t give up on you. Why did the disciples have such a rough time? They were reacting based on worldly values rather than the upside-down kingdom values of Jesus.

Jesus taught us today about the power of kingdom faith, grown through prayer. We learned the importance of embracing kingdom humility and paying attention to the least among us. Finally, God desires for us to practice kingdom cooperation,  orking with those who seek to promote kingdom values. May God help us to continue learning and practicing these upside-down kingdom values.