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THE TOWN THAT CLOSED ITS DOORS TO JESUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, April 21, 2002


"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51-53).

Two incidents in the life of Christ come directly before the one we are focusing on this morning. First, the Disciples were reasoning and talking about which of them would be greatest. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He took a child and set the little boy near Him. He told the Disciples that they should receive the child, and by receiving him, they were receiving Christ, "for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great" (Luke 9:48). This was an experience meant to humble the Disciples.

Then John told our Lord that he had seen a man casting out demons and had told him to stop doing this, because the man was not one of Jesus' immediate disciples. Jesus answered by saying, "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:50).

Both of the incidents were used by Jesus to teach humility and Christian love to His Disciples. And these experiences should teach us a great deal about how to live the Christian life as well, because Luke's gospel was given to "instruct" us (Luke 1:4). We are to be kind and patient with little children, and we are not to oppose those who are doing the true work of evangelism, even though they are not members of our local church. If you find someone who is truly seeking to win souls to Christ, do not oppose him. Encourage him, as our Lord taught us. But now we come to the text of our message, in Luke 9:51-53. Here Jesus teaches us the lessons of humility in an even deeper way. We will also see two very important points concerning salvation.

I. First, notice the readiness of Jesus to save sinners.

Notice the words of our text which say,

"When the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51).

Pay attention to the fact that a certain time was fixed for the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, and He knew very well when that time was. He had an appointment to die on the Cross on a certain day, and He knew when that day was.

It was no surprise to Him when He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, or when He was crucified the next day. He knew about these events far ahead of time. And yet as the date came closer, Christ became more active. He did even more ministry, because He knew He had only a short time left on earth.

Then our text says, "When the time was come that he should be received up…" When He saw the preordained date of His death getting closer, Jesus looked beyond His coming crucifixion to the time when He would be "received up into glory" (I Timothy 3:16).

A few days earlier, on the Mountain of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah had appeared to Jesus, and they spoke to Him of His "decease" (Luke 9:31). Undoubtedly one of the reasons that Moses and Elijah were sent back from Heaven to speak with Him was to remind Him of the glory and joy of Heaven, when "he should be received up." They had just been in Heaven themselves, and were doubtlessly sent to remind the Saviour of "the joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12:2). This reminder by Moses and Elijah would greatly comfort Jesus as He went through the sufferings and crucifixion that were ahead.

Furthermore, it made Jesus happy to think about being "received up." He knew in advance that He would rise from the dead and ascend into Heaven. He had told the Disciples all about it ahead of time:

"For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him"

(Mark 9:31-32).

Jesus reminded them of the gospel again, here in Luke 9:44-45, but again, "They understood not this saying." The Disciples had no understanding of the gospel at this time. But Jesus Himself understood very well that it was His duty to go to Jerusalem and die. And He also knew very well that "he should be received up" (Luke 9:51).

This "receiving up" has an application to His resurrection from the dead. He could not have been received up if His physical body had not been resurrected. But the complete fulfillment of it lay after the resurrection, in His ascension back to Heaven. Jesus looked forward to that day when He would go up and be "taken up" into Heaven (cf. Acts 1:10-11). The words translated "that he should be received up" are really the translation of only one Greek word, which means "ascension." He looked forward to being caught up in the clouds to be with God, to go home again. It is good to come home to family and friends when you have been gone a long time. Jesus was sent to earth from His home in Heaven. Now He was going back home, and He knew it. No wonder the Bible says of Him,

"Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…" (Hebrews 12:2).

He joyfully anticipated being "received up" - back to His home in Heaven.

But there is a further expression in verse fifty-one that we should notice, "he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." This is literally translated from a well-known Aramaic expression. Aramaic was the language that Jesus spoke. This well-known Aramaic expression meant, "He set his face like a flint to go to Jerusalem" - there was determination in His face as He went to Jerusalem. His face showed that He meant business. He was serious. He had His mind made up. He was going to Jerusalem to die for our sins and then to ascend back to Heaven.

All of this is very important, because most people today think that Jesus' death was a terrible mistake, a very unfortunate incident, a great shame. But the crucifixion of Christ was none of those things. It was predetermined in the foreknowledge of God, and prophesied many times in the Old Testament. And Jesus knew all about His crucifixion ahead of time. When He was in the Garden of Gethesemane, before they arrested Him, He said, "For this cause came I unto this hour" (John 12:27). So, we have seen in verse 51 the readiness of Jesus to die for sinners and to save all who will come to Him now that He is resurrected and in Heaven. He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins.

II. Second, notice the rudeness of the sinners who rejected Him.

Jesus is ready to save sinners. But most sinners rudely reject Him. Look at verses 52 and 53:

"And [Jesus] sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:52-53).

The "messengers" Jesus sent were probably John and James, possibly Peter, but certainly some of the Disciples. It was necessary for the Lord to send them in front of Him by this late period. This is about six months before His crucifixion. By now a large group of people follow Jesus wherever He goes. It is possible that many of them never leave Him, now that the number of His deadly enemies is increasing.

This is the journey that Jesus made just before the end of His earthly life, a journey He made in going to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, during which He would be crucified. This journey lasts about six months, as Jesus and the crowd that followed Him slowly travelled down from Capernaum, through Galilee, making His way toward the capital at Jerusalem.

The crowd was large that followed Him as He travelled. Out of courtesy, Jesus sent these Disciples as "messengers" to tell the people in this Samaritan village that He was coming. He did this so that His coming would be no surprise to them.

But notice how rude these people were to Him:

"And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:53).

They would not allow Jesus to come into their village, but ordered the soldiers that kept watch to keep Him out. He would have paid for all that they would have used in the village. He would have healed many and done them good. He would have preached the gospel to them, and many would have been saved. He would have been the greatest blessing that ever came to that village, even to this day! Yet they shut Him out, and would not let Him come into their village. Astonishing!

Now why did they reject Him? The stated reason was because they knew He was going to Jerusalem,

"And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:53).

These Samaritans were the descendants of a mixed race brought from Babylon and other places by the Assyrian kings to replace the Jews who were carried away as captives there. They worshipped Jehovah, and when the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity they sought to rejoin them. The Jews rejected them when they rebuilt the Temple (cf. Ezra and Nehemiah). The Samaritans then built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, and became an heretical sect. They continued in a state of deadly hatred toward the Jews. This bitter hatred of the Samaritans for the Jews is mentioned in the Gospel of John, when the woman of Samaria said to Jesus:

"How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9).

This hatred was not shared by Jesus. He extended salvation to several Samaritans and was kind to them.

But the people in this Samaritan village rejected Jesus completely. "No - you can't come here! You can't even spend the night here," they said. I think there are several reasons that the Samaritans in this village turned away the Son of God.

First, they were racial bigots. I have found in my already long life that most people are racists. Most white people are racists, and so are most black people. Orientals are the most racially bigoted of all. And Hispanics, though they like to think otherwise, are quite bigoted against other ethnic groups.

Many of our churches are very interested in missions. But many are not interested in missions within the United States. They send millions overseas, but almost nothing to reach the vast hordes from those foreign lands who live in our great American cities. Why? Because they are too close to "home"! "After all, we don't want to get too involved with those foreigners!" So, the great cities of North America remain unevangelized, while our churches send millions to "foreign missions." I think this comes partly out of racism, not wanting anything to do, of a "close" nature, with another race. On the other hand, many Pentecostal groups are warmly interracial, and reap great benefits from this, with large churches in big cities bringing in millions of dollars.  The Pentecostals are wrong on other things, but our churches could learn a great deal from the Pentecostals about interracial churches, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that are lost by not doing so - and the great cities that are left unreached and unevangelized by not doing so.  Racism is a great evil that harms home missions and prevents churches from evangelizing people in their own neighborhoods of another race.  Many of our churches die as a result of racism when their neighborhood changes.

Racism is a result of sin, and it is a sin. It is sinful to be racially bigoted. How do I know? By Christ's kind treatment of the woman of Samaria (John 4:6-39):

"And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world"

(John 4:39-42).

These Samaritans overcame their racism, and received their Jewish Messiah and Saviour. But not so with those bigots in the Samaritan village in our text. They shut out the Son of God because He was of another race. Shame! Sin! Damnation! They did not receive Christ, I think, because of His race.

Then, they were rude to Christ because of His religion. Jesus was a Jew and the Samaritans were deeply prejudiced against the religion of the Jews. One of the great problems in the world today is religious intolerance. Look at the newspaper headlines and you will see it, virtually every day. Islamic intolerance of other religions is behind much of the trouble and unrest in the world. The Koran plainly teaches religious intolerance. This makes the Koran quite different from the New Testament. Jesus taught tolerance. He taught us to turn the other cheek and to show love even toward our enemies. Christ did not teach us to convert people with the sword, as the Koran and modern Islam teaches.

Tolerance of the beliefs of others is a Biblical Christian virtue. To be sure, not everyone who has called themselves Christian has been tolerant in the past. The Catholic Church has been very intolerant at times in history. But they were intolerant in spite of the teachings of Christ about loving your neighbor. The Koran does not teach Muslims to love their non-Muslim neighbors. It teaches conversion by the sword, by threat and intimidation.

Tolerance means that we as Christians are supposed to let others believe what they want, without trying to force our religion on them. Baptists have taught religious tolerance for hundreds of years, because that is what Jesus taught. Tolerance doesn't mean that we accept the religious views of others - but it does mean that we want them to have the freedom of choice.

As Bible believers, we must never attempt to force others to accept our views. We must give them the freedom of choice. That is a great American virtue, and it comes down to us directly from Baptists and other Protestants who founded our nation. We preach the gospel to everyone - and then let them choose whether to believe it or not. We believe the old saying,

A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.

We want to convince you to believe in Jesus and come to our church. But we will not force you to do so. That is your personal choice. We hope you will make what we believe is the right choice, but we will not use force to get you to do it.

Now, the Samaritans in this village were not tolerant. "They did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:53). They knew that Jesus was going to Jerusalem to worship in the Jewish Temple there. He was not coming to worship in their Samaritan temple. He had a different religion, so they did not receive Him.

I find this sad religious intolerance toward Jesus even among some people who come to our church. Some people say, "I'm a Catholic, I'm not going to come back to hear you preach the gospel of Christ." "I'm a Buddhist, I'm not going to come back and hear about Christ." "I don't believe what you people in this church believe. I'm not coming back." That's very sad. If you think that way you are like the Samaritans in this city who would not receive Jesus because they had a different religion.

If you close your heart to Christ, you will miss a very great blessing.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

God loved the whole world. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross, to pay the penalty for sin. That's why He raised Jesus up from the grave and drew Him up to Heaven. That's why Jesus is now seated at God's right hand in Heaven praying for you to get saved and become a real Christian. It's all because God loves the whole world, and because God loves you so much He wants you to trust Jesus and be saved from sin, Hell, and the grave. The gospel of Christ is all about the love of God for sinners.

But you can reject the love of Christ. It is said of the Samaritans in that city, "And they did not receive him" (Luke 9:53). I hope that you will not be like them. I hope and pray that you will receive the Son of God. The Bible says:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God..."(John 1:12).

Those Samaritans "did not receive him" (Luke 9:53). So, they missed out. They did not "become the sons of God" (John 1:12). I hope you will learn from their bad example. I hope you will put away your religious bigotry and false ideas. And I hope that you will receive Jesus into your life and become a son or daughter of the living God!

There are two other points I want to bring out from this passage. The first is this - the people in this Samaritan city never had another chance to receive Christ, either into their city, or, it seems, into their lives. Jesus was passing by their city on His final journey to Jerusalem. He would never come that way again. This was their only opportunity to hear Him preach and believe in Him.

There are many of you visiting our church this morning who are in the same condition as those people. You will never come here to church again. For some of you, this will be the one and only opportunity in your entire life, to receive Christ and be saved by Him. You should take this opportunity, right now, to find Christ and receive Him. You may never have another chance. The Bible says:

"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

Jesus was very near that Samaritan village, but they did not "Seek…the Lord while he [could] be found." They did not call upon Him while He was near. So, Jesus passed by and they never saw Him again. They never again had the opportunity to be saved by Him. How about you? Will you let this time in church pass by without seeking Jesus while He may be found? Will you let these few minutes pass by without calling upon Him while He is near? Jesus is very near this morning. He may never be this near to you again. Will you receive Him - or will you let this important moment pass, a moment that you may never again have in your entire life? I hope you will come and talk with me at the end of this sermon, so I can show you how to receive Jesus Christ and be saved.

And, then, there is the last point. It comes right after our text in Luke 9:51-53. The Disciples James and John saw how rude these Samaritans were, and they said,

"Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias [Elijah] did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village" (Luke 9:54-56).

If you reject Jesus this morning, we will not curse you or condemn you. Jesus has not come to destroy you, but to save you. We will be sad if you don't receive Christ and come back to church. After all, why be lonely? Come home - to church! We will be sad if you don't come back and receive Christ. But we will not hate you or condemn you. We will pray for you.

But, oh, I pray that you will come to Christ! Oh, I pray that you will receive Him. Oh, I pray that you will have your sins washed away by His Blood so you can go to Heaven with us. Please come and talk with me for a few moments in my office right now. I would love to tell you more about Jesus, the Saviour of mankind.


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan Before the Sermon: Luke 9:51-56.
Solo Sung by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith Before the Sermon:

"Too Long I Neglected" (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



THE OUTLINE OF

THE TOWN THAT CLOSED ITS DOORS TO JESUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51-53).

(Luke 9:48, 50; Luke 1:4)

I.   The readiness of Jesus to save sinners, Luke 9:51;
I Timothy 3:16; Luke 9:31; Hebrews 12:2;
Mark 9:31-32; Luke 9:44-45; Acts 1:10-11; John 12:27.

II.  The rudeness of the sinners who rejected Him, Luke 9:52-53;
John 4:9; John 4:39-42; John 3:16; John 1:12;
Isaiah 55:6; Luke 9:54-56.