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Lesson 18: Jesus The Lord (Matthew 8:18-34)

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This lesson on Matthew 8 was preached by Alex Strauch in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 4/28/2013.

Related Topics: Christology

Lesson 19: Jesus Forgives, Calls And Eats With Sinners (Matthew 9:1-17)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       In chapters (8 and 9) we see Jesus demonstrate his authority.

i.  The sermon on the mountain ended with a segwey statement on Jesus’ authority.

ii.                        The crowds were astonished by His teaching and in particular, His authority.

iii.                      Mathew is making the case for Jesus’ authority.

1.      Clearly He taught with authority, but look what else He did...

2.      He is mighty in word AND deed.

b.      We have seen Jesus

i.  Heal a Leper (8:1-4).

ii.                        Heal a Gentile (8:5-13).

iii.                      Heal a Peter’s mother-in-law (8:14-17).

iv.                      He calms a storm.

v.                         He heals two-demon possessed guys.

c.       Intro:

i.  In this passage, He heals a paralytic, but Matthew deliberately showcases Jesus ability not only to heal, but to forgive.

ii.                        Jesus forgives, calls, and eats with sinners.

iii.                      He came for sinners, not the righteous.

iv.                      We get a window into the heart of Jesus’ ministry here.

II.                      Jesus Forgives Sinners (9:1-8).

a.       Jesus crossed back over the Sea of Galilee to head back to Capernaum.

b.      Immediately we see Jesus in someone’s home.

i.  We know from Mark and Luke, that the home was crowded with people.

c.       And this paralytic is lowered through the roof by his friends.

i.  Good friends brings their friends to Jesus.

ii.                        They all obviously believed Jesus had the power to heal.

d.      Jesus says to him, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

i.  Imagine Jesus saying this to you?

ii.                        Notice how Jesus puts the man at ease.

iii.                      There is this sense, that “everything is gonna be alright.”

e.       “Your sins are forgiven…”

i.  This is unusual.

ii.                        Why does Jesus say this?

f.        The Scribes are talking to themselves saying, “This man is blaspheming.”

i.  The Scribes are the guardians of the Law.

1.      They are the keepers of the Law.

2.      They spend their days thinking about theology.

ii.                        They realize that this is a claim of deity.

1.      Only God can forgive sins, and any other claim is pure and utter blasphemy.

iii.                      Only God can forgive sins, and Jesus is making that claim.

iv.                      To their credit, they were theologically right on.

v.                         The irony however, is that the Pharisees and Scribes are the real paralytics.

g.      Three reasons Jesus says this:

i.  He does it to show the paralytic that his primary need is forgiveness of sins.

1.      He is speaking in the present tense.

2.      His sins are forgiven NOW, not later.

3.      Much like the OT saints had true forgiveness of sins based on the future work of Christ, this man is forgiven sins based on the near future work of the cross.

ii.                        He does it to show that He is Himself God.

1.      This is a clear statement of the fact that He is God.

iii.                      He does it demonstrate that He not only has the authority to heal, He has the power to forgive sins.

1.      Remember this section is about the authority of Jesus.

a.       8-9 is about the authority of Jesus.

2.      Maybe the healing was contrived?  Maybe the healing was a hoax?

3.      Anyone can say “your sins are forgiven.”  You can’t see it.  You can’t feel it.  You can’t touch it.  It’s not empirical.

4.      But no one can say to someone who is obviously and verifiably paralyzed, “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

5.      The salvation that Jesus brings is comprehensive.

a.       It’s isn’t just healing for the body, it’s healing for the soul.

h.      The reaction to the miracle(s).

i.  They were afraid.

1.      The word is “phobia.”

2.      They were struck with phobia.

3.      Or, “They were awe-struck.”

ii.                        They glorified God.

iii.                      They reacted as someone would who was in the very presence of God.

iv.                      They marveled that God has distributed his authority on earth, not just in heaven.

v.                         Literally, heaven came down, and glory filled their souls.

III.                   Jesus Calls Sinners (9:9)

a.       Jesus calls Matthew the Tax Collector (or Levi, in the other gospels).

i.  At this time in world history the Romans were the big guns.

1.      The Romans government was innovative, but ruthless.

2.      And one of the black eyes of the Roman government was its heavy taxation.

3.      There were two main taxes:

a.       Toll tax= which was basically like income tax.

b.      Property Tax.

4.      The elite (senators and rich folks) could buy at a public auction, the right to collect the toll taxes in a given area, at a fixed rate for a five year period.

5.      Whatever was collected beyond that fixed rate was profit.

6.      So if you held the rights to a specific area, you would then hire people to actually collect the money.  And you would usually hire people citizens of that country or regions to collect the money.

7.      And any money they collected, above and beyond their requirement, was profit for them.

8.      So there was a HUGE incentive to tax as much as possible, AND you had the backing of the Roman government and the Roman army.

9.      So naturally, if you are a Jew collecting money for Rome, at a rate that handsomely pads your wallet, you are not going to win the popularity contest at the local synagogue.

10.  Usually tax collectors were not allowed in the synagogue.  Rabbis did not associate with them.

11.  In fact they were seen as traitors.  They were on the same level as prostitutes and Gentiles.

12.  That’s Matthew. He is a tax collector and Jesus calls Him to be one of his 12 disciples.

b.      Matthew was an outcast.

i.  Matthew was a political outcast.

ii.                        Matthew was a religious outcast.

1.      Tax Collectors were unclean.  They were banned from all synagogue services.

iii.                      Matthew was a social outcast.

1.      He’s basically like a political, religious, and social terrorist.

2.      People would no more have a meal with Matthew, than a US patriot would want to have a meal with the Boston Bombers.

3.      These guys come to our country, leech from our taxes, and inflict injury on our people.

4.      It’s outrageous!

5.      In Matthew’s case it’s even worse.

6.      He’s a traitor.  He’s working for the enemy to exploit his own race.

c.       Jesus calls Matthew:

i.  He sees Matthew sitting at a tax booth, and he says, “Follow me.”

ii.                        This is the same thing he said to the other disciples.

iii.                      Matthew knows that this is not some trivial call to follow him across the block.  This isn’t a playground game of follow-the-leader.

iv.                      This is a call to discipleship.

v.                         This is a call to leave your life of sin and corruption, and repent.

vi.                      This is a call to completely change your life.

vii.                    In Matthew’s case, this was a call to leave a life of wealth and prosperity, and become poor.

viii.                  Further more, there is basically no way Matthew could find another job.  Who would hire him?

ix.                      Fisherman could buy some boats and start fishing again, but not tax collectors.

x.                         This was major!

xi.                      Luke’s gospel says he “Left everything.”

d.      Matthew rose and followed Jesus.

i.  Matthew is truly converted:

e.       Lesson: Matthew models true discipleship.

i.  True discipleship is for anyone.

1.      Notice Jesus calls a totally unlikely candidate.

2.      Some people might be tempted to think that being a true disciple of Jesus means you need to be seminary trained.

3.      Or being a true disciple only applies to those in their 20’s and 30’s, not for those in the 80’s and 90’s, and certainly not for teens.

4.      Others might be tempted to think that true discipleship is for those who have their lives together, but it’s not for someone like themselves who have lived in sin and done unspeakable things.

5.      Matthew is a lesson for us all that true discipleship is for all people, not just for the most likely people.

ii.                        True Discipleship is more than just naming Christ.

1.      Notice Matthew actually rose up and followed Jesus.

2.      He didn’t just sit at the Tax booth and change his shirt to say, “I’m a Christian.”

3.      Many people think that following Jesus mean wearing a t-shirt, or updating your Facebook status, or listening to K-Love.

4.      Others think that being a disciple of Jesus means you name Christ.  You speak of yourself as a “Christian.”

5.      Hear me—just because someone claims Christ does NOT mean they are Christian.

6.      Being a Christian the same as filling out your political party affiliation.

7.      Millions of people are under a false sense of security that because they name Christ as their own that all is well.

8.      They feel no real need to stop sitting at the Tax Booth.

9.      They feel no real need to stop downloading porn.

10.  They feel no sense of urgency to leave their old life behind.

11.  They feel no real need to devote themselves to prayer.

12.  They sense no real pressure to fellowship with God’s people or take the Lord’s Supper or get baptized.

13.  The teachings of Jesus and the apostles are more like good ideas and suggestions, but not something that absolutely needs to be applied.

14.  And so they name Christ and they never leave the tax booth.

iii.                      True Discipleship involves leaving some things behind.

1.      Matthew left a lucrative lifestyle and career behind.

2.      Matthew left the corruption and greed behind.

3.      Titus 2 says that the “grace of God trains us to renounce ungodliness.”

4.      Matthew experienced the grace of God, and it made him renounce his old life.

5.      Kent Hughes tells the story… “When El Nino’s rain dominated Southern California one winter, mudslides became an issue, as well as a nightmare for one particular family.  While the family was still in their house, a massive wave of mud tore through the home, severing it and sweeping their sleeping baby out into the night.  The parents began to search through the middle of the night and in the darkness for their child.  Tromping through the mud and the mire that had descended upon their whole neighborhood, they searched, dug, and called for their child throughout the long night—but nothing...  When the morning came a rescuer, himself covered in mud, came to the parents with a mud-caked bundle in his arms—the baby filthy, but alive.  You know what the mother did?  She clung to her child despite its filth, washed the muck away, and determined to keep the child out of the mud in the future.”

6.      What does this have to do with grace training us?

a.       V. 14 says that He has redeemed us to be godly people of good works…

b.      So why should we really care about good works, if good works are irrelevant when it comes to saving us and we are saved by grace?

7.      BECAUSE, (says Kent Hughes) when the filth of my sin was sweeping me in my helplessness to eternal death, God covered Himself with the muck of this world to rescue me, embraced me, saved me.

8.      It only makes sense that He would want me to stay out of the mud!

9.      He doesn’t want us playing in the mud!

10.  His grace changes me!

11.  His grace trains me to renounce the filth, renounce the mud

12.  “Biblical grace makes us intolerant of evil in our lives.”  Hughes.

13.  Grace doesn’t make room for MORE sin.  It doesn’t makes sin more tolerable, it makes it LESS tolerable.  It makes it repulsive.

14.  It’s counterintuitive.

15.  Part of living the Christian life is leaving some things behind.

a.       The first step in living the Christian life is leaving and denying the old life.

b.      “We are surrounded by a world that says, ‘no’ to nothing.  When we are surrounded by this sort of mentality…then suddenly to be told that in the Christian life there is to be this strong negative aspect of saying ‘no’ to things and ‘no’ to self, it must seem hard.  And if it does not feel hard to us, we are not really letting it speak to us…Of course, this environment of—of not saying no—fits exactly into our natural disposition, because, since the fall of man, we do not want to deny ourselves…”  Francis Schaeffer.

16.  This is a major hang up for people who ride the fence of Christianity.

a.       They are unwilling to renounce certain things.

b.      We need to renounce idols and the reject cultural diseases around us.

c.       The things that need to be renounced may not even be inherently evil things, but they are part of your old life and they need to be renounced.

iv.                       True Discipleship involves a total life change.

1.      True discipleship means a total change of life.

2.      I’m always leery of a new profession of faith until I can see some changes happen.

3.      Grace that doesn’t change a person’s life is a fraud.

4.      Grace that’s doesn’t make a person stop doing certain things and start doing certain things is worthless and fake.

5.      A grace that doesn’t cause change in people’s minds and lives is an imposter.  A fraud, a fake imitation of grace.  It’s not the real thing.

6.      True grace will make a difference in a persons life.  Period.

7.      You might be sitting here thinking, “There really hasn’t been any change in my life since I became a Christian, I wonder if I’m actually a Christian?”  And you would be perfectly right to ask that question.

8.      The apostles beg people to ask that question, because the worst thing that could happen to you is to have a false sense of security that you are saved, when you are not.

9.      Matthew’s example of a total life change is an example to us of what true discipleship is.

10.  I am burdened today by a rise of nominal Christianity.

11.  One of the blessings of the tsunami of secularism we see today is that it will weed out the fake Christians. The posers.

IV.                    Jesus Eats with Sinners (9:10-17).

a.       After calling Matthew, Jesus reclined at a table. (9:10)

i.  Mark and Luke mention that this is Matthew’s home they are in.

ii.                        Matthew apparently invites Jesus to his house and the have a meal together.

b.     Many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus.” (9:10)

i.  He is eating with sinners.

ii.                        He is associating with sinners.

iii.                      Here is Jesus again with many folks of questionable character.

c.       “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (9:11)

i.  The Pharisees see this and are appalled by this spectacle.

ii.                        Here is a teacher of the Law, and yet he clearly doesn’t understand the Law.

iii.                      “This is scandalous!”

d.      “But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (9:12-13)

i.  Here Jesus drives homes one of His main purposes in His ministry.

1.      He came for sinners.

2.      He’s a friend of sinners.

ii.                        “Those who are well have no need for a physician.”

1.      When’s the last time you went to a Doctor when you felt perfectly well.

a.       “Yea, I’m here to see the Doctor.”

b.      “What will your appointment be about?”

c.       “Nothing, I just wanted to see him….Just wanted to chit chat.”

iii.                      In other words, Jesus is saying, of course the sick flock to the doctor!

1.      And of course, sinners flock to the Savior!

2.      Doesn’t it all make perfect sense?

3.      That’s why I am surrounded by sinners and Tax Collectors.

iv.                      He then rebukes the Pharisees and their lack of care or concern for the sinners.

1.      He quotes Hos. 6:6, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’”

2.      Hosea looks to the Lord’s people to show steadfast love and mercy as opposed to the rote religious motions of sacrificing a bull.

3.      Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for rejecting the outcasts instead of showing mercy to them.

4.      The Pharisees are more interested in washing their hands than they are welcoming the outcasts and sinners.  And Jesus rebukes them.

v.                         Jesus is ironically implying that the Pharisees are the ones who are sick.

1.      The sinners and Tax Collectors know they are sick.

2.      The Pharisees think they are fine.

vi.                      The simple truth:  Don’t be self-deceived about your need for Jesus.

1.      Jesus come along and claims to be God, does the works of God, and forgives sins, and some believe Him and some don’t.

a.       The reason some believe Him is because they are sick.

b.      The reason others don’t is because they are healthy.

2.      OH!  May God’s grace come to you and reveal your sickness!

3.      May the Lord be gracious to you and show you your poverty!

4.      May the Lord make you poor in spirit!

vii.                    These sinners and Tax Collectors had responded to Jesus

1.      They realized they were sick.  That’s why Jesus was precious to them.

2.      They irony is that the Pharisees are sick, but they despise Jesus.  Jesus is not precious to them.

3.      Jesus will only be precious to you, if by God’s grace, you see that He is like a Physician and you are like a paralytic.

4.      Otherwise, why would you come to Him?

5.      God uses even our sin, to show us our need to Him.

V.                       Lessons about food and Jesus and the Kingdom.

a.      #1- Eating around a table with sinners was perfectly appropriate for Jesus.

i.  Right after this dinner party with the outcasts, John’s disciples came and asked Jesus about fasting. (9:14)

1.      They are basically saying, “Our disciples are fasting, but your disciples are feasting, why?”

2.      In New Testament times religious Jews fasted on Monday’s and Thursday’s, and maybe more for special occasions.

3.      Fasting was seen as somewhat meritorious practice.  People thought they could gain the favor of God by denying themselves food.

ii.                        Jesus returns the question with a question (9:15)

1.      You don’t fast at a wedding.  Fasting at a wedding isn’t only inappropriate, it’s impossible.

2.      There are times to fast.  Weddings are not the time or place to fast.

3.      When I go to a wedding, I want to celebrate, I want to eat, I want to enjoy the celebration.  I don’t want to fast. No one does that, especially Jews.  You mourn at a funeral, not a wedding.

4.      Jesus is saying that the Bridegroom of the wedding is among them.

a.       What wedding?  What feast? 

i.  The Marriage Supper.

ii.                        The Coming Kingdom.  The Coming Feast, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

5.      Not only does Jesus find Himself eating with sinners around the table, He describes His current presence as a celebration.

6.      He says it would be unfitting for the disciples to fast when the Bridegroom (Himself) is among them.

7.      The Kingdom of Heaven had come to earth in the Person of Jesus.

8.      What Jesus says next is a little obscure for us today, because most of us don’t sew, and none of us use goat skins to store wine. We prefer glass bottles and cork.

iii.                      Jesus illustrates the metaphor further and talks about patches and wineskins (9:16-17).

1.      You don’t patch your clothes with a brand new piece of fabric.

2.      Everyone know that you don’t put new cloth on old cloth, otherwise you will ruin it.  Once it shrinks, it will tear the old fabric apart.

3.      The new cloth is unsuitable for the old cloth.

iv.                       The same is true with wineskins.

1.      New wine that is fermenting, needs to be put in fresh wineskins.

2.      If you put bubbly wine in old wine skins, it will crack and drain.  It’s not suitable.

3.      You need something new.

4.      The new wine is unsuitable for the old wineskins.

v.                         In both of these illustrations Jesus is saying the same thing-- the kingdom Jesus is bringing is unsuitable for the religious Jews of the day.

1.      Jesus is not bringing a revised or refreshed Judaism.  This isn’t Judaism 2.0.

2.      This is something brand new.  He is not rejecting the Torah, He fulfils the Torah, but he is rejecting Judaism.

3.      He is ushering in a New Covenant.

4.      He isn’t negating the Old Testament, notice in verse 17, “and both are preserved.”

5.      He isn’t cancelling the Old Testament, but He is brining something totally new.

vi.                      So to summarize this point, it is perfectly appropriate for Jesus and His disciples to feast instead of fast.

1.      The party had begun.

2.      The Kingdom of God had arrived in the Person of Jesus.

3.      Pop the cork.

4.      D.A. Carson calls this section on fasting, “The dawning of Messianic joy.”

5.      It’s appropriate to be joyful around Jesus.

b.      #2- Eating around a table with sinners illustrated His entire purpose of ministry.

i.  There are three different ways that the Son of Man is described coming:

1.      “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45)

2.      “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)

3.      “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” (Luke 7:34)

ii.                        The Son of Man came eating and drinking.

1.      In the Gospel’s it’s almost as if Jesus is always eating.

2.      He is either going to a meal, coming from meal, at a meal, or making a meal.

3.      In Luke’s gospel this is seen most clearly:

a.       Luke 5- Jesus is in Matthew’s home eating with sinners.

b.      Luke 7- Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon over a meal.

c.       Luke 9- Jesus feeds 5 thousand.

d.      Luke 10- Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary

e.       Luke 11- Jesus condemns the Phatisees and religious lawyers over a meal.

f.        Luke 14- Jesus is eating a meal and telling others to invite the poor rather than their friends, to a meal.

g.      Luke 19- Jesus invites himself to have a meal with Zacchaeus.

h.      Luke 22- Jesus has a Passover Last Supper meal with His disciples.

i.        Luke 24- The Resurrected Christ has a meal with two disciples, than makes a fish breakfast for some other disciples.

iii.                      Eating meals in Jesus’ day was a serious deal.

1.      Meals were important.

2.      Meals implied a deep unity and solidarity and friendship.

3.      Think about it, you don’t eat meals with your enemies.  You eat meals with your friends.

a.       In fact the word companion is a word that comes from two different Latin words:

i.  “cum” = “together”— “Pani” = “Bread”

ii.                        “Together around bread”

iii.                      Food connects people.  It welcomes people.  It creates solidarity.

iv.                      If you want to get to know someone—eat food with them.

iv.                      The ministry of Jesus is characterized by eating and drinking.

1.      His evangelistic method was feasting over a long meal with outcasts.

2.      To the point where His enemies accused Him of doing it to excess.

3.      He was known for it.

4.      There is something for us to learn here.

v.                         Why did Jesus do this?

1.      He was deliberately making peace with sinners.

2.      He was calling and fellowshipping and dining with sinners.

3.      Matthew starts off his gospel describing Jesus as one who would “save His people from their sins.”

vi.                      This is a major lesson in Matthew.

1.      Jesus came for sinners.

2.      J.C. Ryle, “No one is too bad for Christ to call.”

3.      Jesus hangs out with “sinners.”

a.       “Sinner” meant anyone who didn’t care about the law. (Adulterer, murderer, tax collector)

b.      Are you willing to eat with “sinners?”

vii.                    This is a major lesson in the Bible.

1.      The example of Paul.

a.       If Paul can be saved, anyone can be saved.

2.      The call of Jesus is only relevant for the sick, for the sinners.

a.       You need to be poor in spirit to appreciate Jesus.

b.      The two groups of people in the bible.

i.  The sick.

ii.                        The healthy.

1.      The sin of “self-sufficiency” is the most incurable of all the sins, and the most dangerous.

3.      The best prayer you can pray is, “Jesus I need you!”

c.       #3- Eating around a table with sinners pointed to heaven.

i.  Another reason Jesus eat with sinners is because it foreshadows the future Kingdom.

ii.                        These meals should be seen as a foretastes of the Millennial Kingdom.

iii.                      There is no question that these stories are purposely meant to foreshadow the Lambs Supper.

iv.                      Jesus describes heaven as a meal.

v.                         Mat. 8:11, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…”

vi.                      The Kingdom of God is compared to a Great Banquet.

vii.                    I love Great Banquets!

viii.                  I love parties!  Not in the High school debauchery sense, but in the joyful wedding sense.

ix.                      And that’s the metaphor Jesus uses to describe what’s about to happen!

x.                         So His eating and drinking was a theological pointer to the coming Kingdom.

d.      #4- Eating around a table with sinners is what we do at the Lord’s Supper.

i.  The Bible starts with a wedding and it ends with a wedding.

ii.                        The Bible starts with a meal and it ends with a meal.

iii.                      You could tell the story of the Bible by using meals.

1.      The Passover leads to the Last Supper leads to the Lord’s Supper leads to the Lamb’s Supper.

iv.                      Jesus refers to Himself as a Bridegroom and refers to His Kingdom as a dinner party.

v.                         It only makes sense, then, that Jesus commands His Church, His Bride, to remember Him with a meal.

vi.                      The Lord’s Supper is jam-packed with meaning and significance.

vii.                     The Table speaks of peace.

1.      The table is no longer an altar.

a.       Stott.  “The altar has been turned into a table.”

2.      The table becomes a place of fellowship and communion with God and other believers.

3.      Think about the table at your home.

a.       It is most likely the place where discussions, updates, laughter, and communion take place.

b.      THAT’s what Jesus invites us to!

viii.                  The Table speaks of celebration.

1.      The Lord’s Supper is a victory meal.

a.       The Passover meal was a celebration of God’s salvation that He gave to Israel from the slavery of Egypt.

b.      The Passover was a meal, and Jesus is the Passover Lamb that God provided.

c.       We celebrate God’s victory.

d.      This supper is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet when Jesus pops the cork.  The marriage supper of the Lamb.  Jesus promises to not drink any wine until that day, when we are all together. 

e.       You think you will be happy then?  With the Lord sitting on the throne, reigning, and ruling.  You think that will be a little exciting?  The Lord’s supper looks forward to that meal, and to that day.

f.        We celebrate now, what we will celebrate for all eternity.

2.      Wine itself speaks of celebration.

a.       It could have been bread and water, but it was bread and wine.

b.      Wine is not a drink of nutrition, it’s a drink of celebration.

3.      Wine symbolized victory.

ix.                      The Table speaks of provision.

1.      The table was symbolic or figurative of provision and plenty.

2.      He provided in the OT.

a.       God provided manna in the wilderness.

b.      God fed the 5000…

c.       His table speaks of His provision for us!

3.      He has amply provided for us in His Son.

a.       We are not fed rations.

b.      He wasn’t cheap and He didn’t skimp. 

c.       He is our Provider and He provided everything we need for salvation. 

d.      He lavishly provided for our salvation.

i.  God doesn’t just forgive, He justifies, He sanctifies, and He glorifies.  He doesn’t do things half-way.  He lavishly finishes the job.

ii.                        Eph. 1:3, “…who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

iii.                      Blessing in the OT meant wealth, land, food, abundance.

iv.                      Blessing in the NT means spiritual wealth beyond comprehension in Christ Jesus for eternity.

v.                         Phil. 4:19 “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches and glory.”

x.                         The Table speaks of nourishment.

1.      We need Jesus like we need food.

a.       Food is an illustration of our dependence.

i.  Eating is a powerful illustration.

ii.                        We regularly eat food.

iii.                      We can’t NOT eat.

iv.                      It’s enjoyable to eat.

v.                         Yet, God provides it.

vi.                      WE NEED GOD!

b.      We are commanded to remember the Lord by eating food.

i.  Food is necessary.  It is needed.  Our physical bodies need nourishment.

c.       In the garden, God completely provided everything Adam and Eve needed.

i.  Adam died by eating from the tree of life, we live by eating the fruit of the tree of death.

2.      Jesus satisfies our deepest needs like food.

a.       We feast ourselves on Christ.

b.      He has provided everything we need.

c.       We come and we satisfy ourselves Jesus Christ.  Nothing else will do!

d.      The table is where our physical and spiritual needs are met.

e.       Nourishment.

f.        The Lord’s Supper speaks of spiritual nourishment.

i.  Vine and the branch. (John 15)

ii.                        We feast on the sap of our Lord.  As we abide in Him and feast on Him our souls are nourished.  He is EXACTLY what we need.

iii.                      As our physical bodies are nourished by the food before us, we remember that our souls are nourished by the gospel of grace.  The Person and Work of Christ.

3.      In heaven we will eat food and know exactly Who provides everything.

a.       He made the Table, He made the feast, He is Lord of the banquet, He provides everything we need.  He is everything we need.

VI.                    The Gospel.

    1. Illustration of grace:
      1. There's a wonderful story by Isak Dinesen called Babette's Feast, about a strict, dour, fundamentalist community in Denmark. Babette works as a cook for two elderly sisters who have no idea that she once was a chef to nobility back in her native France. Babette's dream is to return to her beloved home city of Paris, so every year she buys a lottery ticket in hopes of winning enough money to return. And every night her austere employers demand that she cook the same dreary meal: boiled fish and potatoes, because, they say, Jesus commanded, "Take no thought of food and drink."
      2. Furthermore, it is a community that has grown increasingly hostile towards one another.  Bitter towards one another, gossip, greed, the deeds of the flesh were less and less restrained.
      3. One day the unbelievable happens: Babette wins the lottery! The prize is 10,000 francs, a small fortune. And because the anniversary of the founding of the community is approaching, Babette asks if she might prepare a French dinner with all the trimmings for the entire village.
      4. At first the townspeople refuse: "No, it would be sin to indulge in such rich food." But Babette begs them, and finally they relent, "As a favor to you, we will allow you to serve us this French dinner." But the people secretly vow not to enjoy the feast and instead to occupy their minds with spiritual things, believing God will not blame them for eating this sinful meal as long as they do not enjoy it.
      5. Babette begins her preparations. Caravans of exotic food arrive in the village, along with cages of quail and barrels of fine wine.
      6. Finally the big day comes, and the village gathers. The first course is an exquisite turtle soup. The diners force it down without enjoyment. But although they usually eat in silence, conversation begins to take off. Then comes the wine: Veuve Cliquot 1860, the finest vintage in France. And the atmosphere changes. Someone smiles. Someone else giggles. An arm comes up and drapes over a shoulder. Someone is heard to say, "After all, did not the Lord Jesus say, love one another?" By the time the main entrée of quail arrives, those austere, pleasure-fearing people are giggling and laughing and slurping and guffawing and praising God for their many years together. This pack of Pharisees is transformed into a loving community through the gift of a meal. One of the two sisters goes into the kitchen to thank Babette, saying, "Oh, how we will miss you when you return to Paris!" And Babette replies, "I will not be returning to Paris, because I have no money. I spent it all on the feast."
    2. Our Lord has spared no cost on the feast.  And as a result, Matthew shows Jesus forgiving, calling, and dining with sinners.
      1. Praise God from who all blessing flow.

BI: Jesus forgives, calls, and eats with sinner.  He came for sinners, not the righteous.

Related Topics: Christology, Forgiveness

Lesson 20: Jesus The Compassionate (Matthew 9:18-38)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       It’s been said that studying God is like studying a diamond.  Each facet has it’s own splendour.  And each facet comes together to display something of glorious worth.

i.  This morning we are looking at Mathew’s gospel where He displays the glory of Jesus in His compassion and mercy on the desperate.

ii.                        Indeed, He is Jesus the compassionate.

iii.                      That’s the simple message of this Matthew’s gospel in this section.

iv.                      Jesus is compassion in the flesh.  He pities the pitiful and the helpless and the hurting.

b.      This will be enouraging to those who are hurting.

i.  Has anyone among us not felt beaten down and in dispair?

ii.                        Has anyone among us never been miserable?

iii.                      Some of you are hear this morning with heavy hearts.  Maybe fighting back the tears because of pain and hurt, and dissapointments.

iv.                      This is for you.

v.                         The message Matthew is preaching is that Jesus doesn’t just bring a message, He IS the message, and that’s the message.

vi.                      You don’t just need compasssion, you need Jesus who IS compassion.

c.       B.B. Warfield is one of America’s premier theological scholars.

i.  He was a professor of theology at Princeton in the late 19th century and early 20th.

ii.                        There’s an old story about Dr. Benjamin Warfield. 

iii.                      While he was still at the height of his academic powers, his wife got sick. In fact it happened on their honeymoon.

iv.                      The newlyweds travelled to Germany and were hiking on top of a mountain when Mrs. Warfield was struck by lightning and she became an invalid. He took care of her the rest of her life and it was reported he rarely (although some have said never) spent more than 2 hours away from his wife. Even though she was handicapped, she still loved to read. And so Dr. Warfield would sit at her bedside day after day. And read to her. He was always gentle and caring with her. 

One day, someone asked him, "Have you ever thought about taking your wife to an institution?" Then you could write bigger books and have a bigger ministry." But Dr. Warfield said, "No way. My wife is my ministry. I will never leave her side. I am going to love her and take care of her as long as God grants us life."

v.                         Maybe that’s what makes Warfield’s career as a theologian and thinker even more impressive?

vi.                      It was during this time he wrote books and continues to teach.

d.      One of Warfield’s most important book is called “The Person and Work of Christ”

i.  There is a chapter in that book is entitled, “The Emotional Life of Our Lord.”

ii.                        He tried to synthesize the biblical passages that spoke of the emotiuons of our Lord Jesus.

iii.                      He stated, “His whole life was a mission of mercy...His entire ministry is summed up as going around the land and ‘doing good.’”

iv.                      The world that best summarizes Jesus our Lord is no doubt the word “compassion.”  It is the emotion most frequently attributed to Him.

v.                         Personally, I prefer the synonym “pity.”  He went around and felt pity on people.

vi.                      He pities and relives the miseries of His people.

e.       That is what we will see this morning as we study Matthew’s gospel.

i.  At once we will see a Jesus who is moved with pity on the suffereing and the desperate.

II.                      Out of compassion Jesus Heals (9:18-34)

a.      Out of compassion the dead are made alive (9:18-26)

i.  “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”

1.      This man’s name is Jairus, although Matthew doesn’t mention his name, Mark and Luke do.

2.      He’s a synagogue ruler.  He’s a popular man.  A man of influence, and an unlikely candidate to come and plead to Jesus.

3.      Clearly he is desperate.

4.      He knelt before Him, in a posture of humility.

5.      “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”

ii.                        Sandwiched in this story is another story, a story of a woman in desperation.

1.      On his way to Jairus’s house, Jesus meets a woman who has been hemorrhaging blood for 12 years.

2.      She came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment.

3.      She is ceremonially unclean.  Like a leper, she was cut off in some ways from her community.  She certainly couldn’t touch anyone or be touched.

4.      She was desperate.  She believed that if she could just touch Jesus, she’d be healed.  She had faith.

5.      Luke’s gospel tells us that “no one could heal her” and “she had spent all her living on physicians, but no one could heal her.”

a.       You can just feel the emotion in this story.

b.      How many people can identify with this?

c.       She has an incurable problem.

d.      Doctor’s can’t help her.

e.       She has depleted her savings account on medical bills.

f.        This woman is sick and tired of being sick and tired.

6.      Nonetheless, in faith she sneaks up behind Jesus touched his cloak…

7.      Jesus says to her, “Take heart, my daughter.”

a.       This is similar to what Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son.”

b.      Jesus comforts her.  I’m sure she was scared.

c.       Jesus calls her his daughter.

d.      Ladies, imagine Jesus calling you His daughter.

e.       You realize you are, right?

f.        If you are “in Christ” you are His daughter, part of His family.

g.      On the inner circle.

8.      She is instantly healed.

iii.                      When Jesus gets to Jairus’s house there’s a crowd of people and great commotion.

1.      The professional mourners are already there, playing their instruments and singing away.

2.      Hebrew law stated that, “Even the poorest in Israel should hire not less than two flutes and one wailing woman.”

3.      The first time I witnessed such a site I was in Africa and got off a plane in Eldoret Kenya, got off this small little plane in the middle of rural Kenya, and walked outside this shanty of an airport and right to my left I heard this loud wailing and I could immediately see it was a funeral of some kind.  But it was different than anything I had seen. Loud wailing and mourning.  There was no holding back of emotions, but pure unfiltered and raw.  Bodies flung up and down near the casket, which was still above ground.

4.      I imagine this to be a similar scene to what we see in this passage.

5.      Emotions are high.  People are weeping and mourning and music is playing.  There is a great commotion.

6.      Jesus gets there and says, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.”  This was euphemism.

7.      …and they laughed at Him…

a.       The so-called healer has arrived, but He’s a little too late!  Maybe He could have healed, but now the little girl is dead.  The story has ended.

b.      This is comical to them.

c.       The laughter serves to underscore the greatness of this miracle.

8.      Jesus goes inside, takes her by the hand, and the girl arose.

a.       The girl who was dead, is now alive.

9.      And this was reported all through the district.

10.  Imagine how the parents felt…

a.       From the deepest fear and pain, to the heights of joy and celebration.

b.      Their little 12 year old girl is back from the dead!

iv.                      These two stories highlight some of the two most painful experiences of human existence.

1.      Parental love.

a.       I have never lost a child to death.  But I get it.  I cannot imagine the pain and the loss.

b.      Even the thought of my child going though pain evokes some of the strongest emotions that I have ever felt.

c.       How many parents would gladly take the pain or the place of their son or daughter?

2.      Chronic pain.

a.       Then you have this lady who has gone through doctor after doctor to the point of depleting her finances.  No help.

b.      Not to mentioned dealing with a chronic, never-ending problem that not only leaves her sick, but leaves her alone.  This is horrible.

c.       How many of you have chronic pain, or know someone who lives with chronic pain?

d.      How many of you have physical problems that the Doctor’s cannot diagnose or figure out, or know someone who has physical problems that have not been diagnosed?

e.       I was talking to one Doctor in the Emergency Room who told me, “You would be shocked to hear how many people come to the ER and we never get to the bottom of their problems.  There is so much we don’t know.”

f.        Or a neurologist who said that 80% of the people who come to her office leave without a diagnosis.

3.      These two stories illustrate the some of deepest possible pains and hurts that humans can experience.

a.       Again, I just think of my kids…I am a man who seriously struggles with Jesus’ command to not love son or daughter more than Him.

b.      “Whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

4.      Others of you are sitting here, and you are desperate.

a.       You may have a smile on your face, but inside you are barely keeping it together.

b.      It could be health.  It could be medical bills.  It could be your family is falling apart.  It could be secret sin.  It could be people you care about who are suffering.

5.      But one thing we see here is that our faith will only grow in proportion to our desperation.

a.       Their desperation led them to Jesus!

b.      The greatest thing that could happen to you is for you to sense your need for Christ.

b.      Out of compassion the blind receive their sight (9:27-31)

i.  These two blind men follow Jesus, and cried out!

1.      They call Him “Son of David” which implies his messianic authority to heal.

ii.                        Jesus walks into the house and the blind men follow him inside!

1.      Even though they are blind—they can see, in a sense.

2.      It’s Ironic, they see before they can see.

3.      They call Him Son of David and when Jesus asks them a question they say, “Yes, Lord”  They perceive that He is the Lord!

iii.                      Jesus asks them what they believe…

1.      He doesn’t ask them what they want, that’s obvious.

2.      What do you believe?  “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

3.      They said, “Yes, Lord”

4.      And their eyes were opened.

iv.                      Jesus tells them to keep it a secret, because (I think) he doesn’t want the miracles to eclipse the cross.  He wants a mob of proclaimers after, not before, the cross.

v.                         Understandably, these two men, after they can see, tell everyone they meet.

vi.                      They displayed faith, but evidently lacked obedience.

1.      A great little illustration of people who like what they hear from Jesus and like what they receive, but are not willing to obey His Words.

vii.                    Nonetheless, the blind can now see.

c.       Out of compassion the mute can talk (9:32-34)

i.  Evidently, the reason this man couldn’t talk was because of a demon.

1.      We should note that we live in a world that thinks anything supernatural is phony.

2.      But Jesus and the Bible couldn’t be more clear that demons are real.  Satan is personal.  There is a power of darkness that comes over people and in some case possesses people.

3.      This man couldn’t speak and it was because of a demon.

ii.                        Jesus casts the demon out, and the man starts talking.

iii.                      The people see this miracle as unprecedented.

iv.                      The Pharisees, however, see this as evidence that Jesus is demon-possessed.

1.      They ascribe this miracle to Satan.

2.      Notice, they can’t deny the reality of what they have just seen, but they do deny that Jesus is empowered by God.

d.      Think about these three stories, what does Matthew want us to observe?

i.  #1- These stories illustrate salvation:

1.      The woman, for instance.  She is unclean, isolated, and hopeless.

a.       That’s all of us without Christ.

2.      We are unclean because of our sin.

a.       Is. 6:5

3.      We are isolated because of our sin.

a.       Sin isolates us from God and others.

b.      Sin thrives in isolation.

c.       Is. 59:2

4.      We are hopeless because of our sin.

a.       Eph. 2:1

ii.                        #2- Desperation and need lead us to Jesus.

1.      Weakness doesn’t get enough press.  We give way too much credence to giftedness, sufficiency, talents, and abilities.  It’s way overated.  In fact, it can be a distraction.

2.      Need and poverty and desperation are the place of blessing.

3.      The best thing that could happen to you is to be led to Jesus because of your need!

4.      These people would have never come to Jesus if all was well.

a.       Jesus would have never been precious to them!

b.      The ruler never would have come to Jesus.

c.       The woman never would have reached out to Jesus.

d.      The blind men never would have followed Jesus.

5.      The sickness, the death, the blindness made them poor in spirit and needy.

6.      Their deperation was GOOD and designed by God.

7.      The worst thing that could happen to a person is to sense no need for Christ.

8.      The worst thing that could happen to you is to sense no deperation for Jesus.

9.      When we lose our health its as though God is pulling back the mask!

a.       We suddenly see things more clearly!

b.      We become poor in spirit.

c.       We are needy, and Christ is rich.

d.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.



iii.                      #3- Jesus is merciful.

1.      Phil Ryken tells a simple but marvelous illustration of a merciful love took place during a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals during the 2009 pennant race. Phillies fan Steve Montforto was sitting with three-year-old daughter Emily when a foul ball curled back into the upper deck. Montforto leaned over the railing to catch his first and only foul ball—every fans dream. But when he handed the ball to little Emily, immediately she threw it back over the railing and down into the lower deck. Everyone gasped. Monforto himself was as surprised as anyone to see her throw the ball away. But rather than getting irritated with his little girl, he did what a merciful father would do: he wrapped his daughter up in a tender embrace.

2.      “This is the way God loves us. He puts gifts into our hands that we could never catch for ourselves. Without realizing what we are doing, sometimes, we throw them away. Yet rather than getting irritated with us, he loves us again. Then he gives us the freedom to go love someone else with the same kind of love. He even gives us the grace to go back to people who throw our love away and love them all over again.”

3.      That’s the kind of mercy and compassion Jesus gives and fosters.  He’s merciful.

iv.                       #4- Jesus is Lord over death, Jesus is Lord over disease, and Jesus is Lord over the Devil.

1.      Jesus has come to reverse the curse!

2.      Jesus has come to right the wrongs of the curse!

3.      Jesus has come to introduce the Kingdom!

4.      Jesus is doing something new!

5.      Death is defeated!  Disease is defeated!  The Demons are defeated!

6.      Crawford Loritts, “100% of the people Jesus healed and raised and delivered all died.  The point is not the miracles, the point is the Messiah.”

7.      All these miracles point to the coming Kingdom.

v. #5- There is no person or circumstance that is beyond the reach of the Savior.

1.      Crawford Lorritt’s tells the story of a man who was a master chess player who was walking down the streets of Manhattan and looking at store windows and he saw in the store window of an art gallery a painting of two players playing chess, and the name of the painting was “check-mate.”  It was a picture of two men playing chess.  And the pieces on the board were arranged in such a way in which it appeared the one player was in check-mate.  And the chess player kept looking at this piece and something just wasn’t right.  And left and he came back.  And it bugged the dickens out of him.  Three times he did this.  Then he finally said, “you know, that painting is wrong…There is one more move.”  God always has another move…And other move…Another move.  God is never out of options.  Our problems are nothing to Jesus.  God’s solution to all of our problems is Jesus.”

III.                   Out of compassion Jesus prays for workers (9:35-38).

a.      Summary: V. 35

i.  First of all I want you to see that Matthew summarizes the ministry of Jesus in V. 35.

1.      The inclusio:

a.       Mat. 4:23-5:2 and Mat. Mat. 4:23-5:2 and Mat. 9:35-10:4.

b.      We have seen Jesus authority in his words (5-7) and in His deeds (8-9).

2.      This section began at 8:1, and ends here.

3.      We have seen Jesus heal leprosy, paralysis, fever, demon possession, blindness, and muteness.  Not to mention He raised a girl from the dead.

4.      This was all done out of compassion.

5.      These miracles were not so much about the felt needs, as they were about God’s ultimate deliverance from sin and it’s affects.

6.      All the people Jesus healed eventually died.

7.      Sin is the root of all the problems in the world.  Jesus is dealing with it, and will ultimately deal with it on the cross.

ii.                        Summary of Jesus ministry:

1.      Teaching.

2.      Preaching.

3.      Healing.

a.       He taught out of compassion.

b.      He preached out of compassion.

c.       He healed out of compassion.

iii.                      His entire ministry is summed up by the word “compassion.”

b.      His ministry is summarized by compassion (9:35-36).

i.  “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them.”

1.      “They were harassed and helpless.”

2.      “They were like sheep without a shepherd”

ii.                        Jesus has compassion:

1.      Mat. 14:14, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

2.      Mat. 15:32, “Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

3.      Mat. 18:33, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’”

4.      Mat. 20:34, “And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”

5.      Jesus has compassion on the desperate…

c.       His prayer for world missions is motivated by compassion (9:37-38).

i.  World missions is directly connected to compassion.

1.      Notice, right after he sees the crowds and feels compassion, he prays for workers.

2.      We have seen Jesus compassion for sick and outcasts, now we see it for the harvest.

a.       Jesus sees the crowds because they were harassed and helpless, and then He prays for laborers to show them mercy

b.      This is a prayer for world evangelism.

c.       This is a call for missions!

3.      This prayer comes from a heart of compassion!

4.      Out of compassion workers are called.

ii.                        As much as this is a prayer for workers, this is a prayer that compassion would be instilled in the disciples.

1.      Jesus wants to awaken a similar compassion in His disciples.

2.      Jesus has compassion on the people and He wants His disciples to have compassion on the people.

iii.                      Pray!

1.      Jesus seems to be saying that prayer matters!  Prayer does things!  This isn’t a disingenuous command because God’s just gonna do it anyways!  This is a call to pray!

2.      This is a call world the gospel to go out to the nations!

3.      Jesus says this as though prayer is actually effectual and changing things, because it does.  God uses means to bring about his purposes, and prayer is one of these means.

iv.                      Why should we be concerned with world missions?

1.      Because God is!

2.      Because He tells us tp pray about!

3.      Because He tells us to pray for workers!

4.      Because He tells us to develop and cultivate a compassion for the lost.  For the helpless.

v.                         How do we cultivate a heart for the helpless?  How do we cultivate a heart of evangelism?

1.      Think about how lost you were with without Christ.

2.      Think about the reality of heaven and hell.

3.      Pray to God that you would Fear God more than you fear man.

4.      Ask for God to increase your heart for the lost.

vi.                      We will see this more in the weeks to come starting in chapter 10 where Jesus begins a discourse on discipleship and what it means to follow Him.

IV.                    Application: Two Lessons…

a.      Jesus is compassionate:

i.  Jesus is not far from the brokenhearted.

1.      Even if you feel your issues don’t warrant the attention of the Most High.  The Lord knows our frame.  He knows our weakness.  He sympathizes with hurting and the outcast.

2.      He is near to the poor in spirit.

ii.                        Notice how in many of these stories in chapters 8-9 Jesus touches the people.

1.      Jesus stretches out His hand and touches the leper.

2.      Jesus touches Peter’s mother in law and her fever is healed.

3.      Jesus took the little girl by the hand.

4.      Jesus touched the eyes of the two blind men.

iii.                      He is not afraid our put off by our deformities and inadequacies.

1.      He is drawn to the hurting and the needy.

2.      If you are miserable.  If you are poor in spirit.  If you have no other options.  Than know this.  Jesus cares.  Jesus has pity.  Jesus takes thought of you.

3.      Is your heart heavy?  Are you burdened?

4.      Jesus cares.  Jesus cares.  Jesus is merciful.  Jesus will provide you with rest for your souls.

iv.                      Illustration:

1.      John Knight and Denise Knight were happily anticipating the birth of their first child, a son. They had already decided to name him Paul. But when Paul was born, there was a big problem: Paul was born without eyes. John and Denise would later discover that their son had other serious issues, including severe autism and a growth hormone deficiency.

2.      Two months after Paul's birth, as John was looking at his son hooked up to tubes and sensors and surrounded by medical professionals, he quietly told God, "God, you are strong, that's true, and you are wicked. You are mean. Do it to me—not to this boy. What did he ever do to you?" Shortly after that prayer, John and Denise stopped going to church.

3.      But one couple from the church refused to give up on them. Karl and Gerilyn never pressured John and Denise about spiritual issues. Instead, they would often stop by and leave simple gifts, like a loaf of fresh bread or a basket of soap and shampoo for Denise. John said that it was like Karl and Gerilyn were saying, "I notice you. I see you. I know you're hurting and I love you."

4.      Eventually John and Denise accepted a dinner invitation from Karl and Gerilyn. During dinner John told Karl, "You can believe whatever you want. I don't care. I have evidence that God is cruel." Karl softly replied, "I love you, John. I have regard for you, and I love your boy."

5.      Karl and Gerilyn's four children also showed and lived unconditional love for their son. John described it this way:

a.       They'd throw [my son] up in the air and make him laugh and do funny bird sounds and—and that was confounding, because most people, most adults couldn't do that. And so I would have this extraordinary expression of love and affection at the dinner table here, and I would turn to my left—and there would be at least one of these children playing with my boy like he was a real boy. I wasn't even sure he was a real boy at times.

v.                         This family illustrates the accurate kind of love and compassion that Jesus has for us.

vi.                      Jesus is compassionate!

b.      Jesus is calling His disciples to be compassionate.

i.  Compassion marked Jesus, it should mark His disciples.

1.      Jesus even prays that His followers with be moved with compassion like He was.

2.      If one of the chief characteristics of Jesus was His compassion, is it going to far to say that the same should apply to His disciples?

3.      If Jesus was known for His compassion, is it a stretch to say the same ought to apply to His followers?

4.      If we claim to be disciples of Jesus we are called to be compassionate.

a.       We are to have a heart for the hurting and the lost.

5.      This means, among other things, that we will spread the gospel out of compassion, not compulsion.

a.       We have a gospel of compassion.

b.      No compassion equals no mission.

c.       No compassion equals no evangelism.

d.      No compassion equals no church planting.

ii.                        Compassion adds validity to the gospel.

1.      Illustration:

a.       In 1967 Doug Nicols was doing missions work in India when he contracted tuberculosis and was committed to a sanitarium for several months. In the TB sanitarium, Doug found himself in a lonely, confusing, and troubled place. He did not know the language of the other patients, but he wanted to share the Good News of Jesus with others.

b.      All Doug had in the sanitarium were a few gospel tracts in their language, Parsee. He tried to pass them out, but nobody wanted them. Then one night, Doug woke up at 2:00 AM, coughing so violently that he could not catch his breath. During this coughing fit, Doug noticed a little old emaciated man across the aisle trying to get out of bed. He was so weak he could not stand up. He began to whimper. He tried again, but to no avail.

c.       In the morning Doug realized that the man had been trying to get up to use the bathroom. The stench in the ward was terrible. The other patients were angry at the old man for not being able to contain himself. The nurse cleaned up the mess and then slapped the man.

d.      The next night, again Doug saw the old man trying to get out of bed, but this time Doug got out of bed, iced up the old man, and carried him to the toilet (just a hole in the floor) and then brought him back to his bed. The old man kissed Doug on the cheek and promptly went to sleep.

e.       Early the next morning, Doug awoke to a steaming cup of tea beside his bed. Another patient had kindly made it for him. The patient motioned that he wanted one of those gospel tracts. The next two days, one after another patient asked, "Could I have one of those tracts too?"

2.      World magazine last year had as their “book of the year” a book by a sociologist Rodney Stark.

a.       I don’t know whether or not Rodney is a Christian.  The book is not written from a Christian perspective, but from a historical and sociological perspective.

b.      Rodney asked the question, “How did the birth of Jesus change the world?” 

c.       Stark argues that there was one huge factor that helped capture the attention of the ancient world—Christianity's revolutionary emphasis on mercy.

d.      Stark writes:  In the midst of the squalor, misery, illness, and anonymity of ancient cities, Christianity provided an island of mercy and security ….. It started with Jesus ….

e.       In contrast, in the pagan world, and especially among the philosophers, mercy was regarded as a character defect and pity as a pathological emotion: because mercy involves providing unearned help or relief, it is contrary to justice …. [Thus] humans must learn "to curb the impulse [to show mercy]"; "the cry of the undeserving for mercy" must go "unanswered." "[Showing mercy] was a defect of character unworthy of the wise and excusable only in those who have not yet grown up."  This was the moral climate in which Christianity taught that … a merciful God requires humans to be merciful.

iii.                      LBC, this passage is a call for us to be known for our compassion.  Let us be know for being merciful.

1.      Not only in our ministries (like drilling water wells in Central America), but in our neighborhoods and our workplaces.

2.      This is a reminder to seek to cultivate a life of compassion and mercy.

3.      If you don’t naturally have this, pray for it!

4.      If you do naturally have this, pray for more!

5.      Our compassion is directly connected to evangelism.

a.       If you have no compassion for people, why would you feel compelled to share the gospel?

6.      Is there suffering you can help alleviate?

7.      Is there spiritual needs around you?

8.      Are their sick people around you?

9.      Are there lonely people around you?

10.  Be a man, be a woman, of mercy and compassion.

V.                       The Gospel.

a.       The Good News of Christianity.  The Good News from God to us.  Is that God has had pity on us.  God has pitied you.  God has had compassion on you.

b.      He loves you.  He pities you.  He feels for you.

c.       And He sent His Son to redeem you and purchase you.

d.      Respond to Him today!

e.       Respond with faith and repentance and thanksgiving!

BI: Jesus is compassionate.  There is a direct connection between the Great Commission and mercy.

Related Topics: Character of God, Christology, Discipleship, Love

Lesson 21: A Manual For Short-Term Missions (Matthew 10:1-15)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       This is the second discourse of Jesus that Matthew records.  The first one was the Sermon on the Mount.

b.      Matthew has already showed the credentials of Jesus.

i.  His birth, His baptism, His temptation, His words and His deeds all lend credibility to Who Jesus is and Who He claims to be.

c.       So when we get to chapter 10 and He says “Go.”  The disciples go.  Jesus means business.  He’s the Lord.  We do what He says.

d.      I should mention that this section is tailored for the first disciples. 

i.  There are elements in this short-term mission trip that are universal, and elements that are not. 

ii. There are dispensational elements that we will see, like when He tells the disciples to NOT share the gospel with Gentiles and Samaritans, but only the Jews.

e.       So this was the first short-term mission trip and there is a lot for us to glean.

i.  Outline:

II.                      The Disciples are called and given authority (10:1-4).

a.       Matthew’s gospel has been building and building for this moment.  Jesus is about to recruit some men for the mission.  These are the men who would carry on the work after He left.  These are the men who would perpetuate the vision and mission that Jesus cast.

b.      A couple observations:

i.  These are 12 very ordinary men:

1.      These are 12 very ordinary men.  Nothing special about them.

2.      None of them have wealth, degrees, social prowess.

3.      These are common men.  Blue collar.

4.      God doesn’t need special people.  He doesn’t need people of great influence.

5.      He needs jars of clay.  He needs ordinary people who are weak so that He can display His power and glory.

6.      These are not the folks you pick for a team.

7.      But they are the team that Jesus picked after much prayer.

ii.                        This is a mixed bag of guys.

1.      Matthew and Simon the Zealot.

c.       Jesus just finished praying for workers, now He sends His workers.

i.  Jesus has been in prayer for Israel, because they are like sheep without a shepherd.

ii.                        These 12 apostles are symbolic for the 12 tribes of Israel.

iii.                      The 12 apostles are to provide the leadership that Israel needed, but didn’t have.

d.      Who are the 12 apostles?

i.  (Simon) Peter.

1.      Peter is listed first, as he is in every list in the Bible.  He was most certainly the first among equals.

ii.                        Andrew

1.      Brother of Peter.  Fisherman

iii.                      James the son of Zebedee.

1.      Fisherman.

iv.                      John the son of Zebedee.

1.      Fisherman.

2.      Both James and John, along with Peter, witnessed Jesus Transfiguration.

v.                         Phillip

vi.                      Bartholomew

vii.                    Thomas

viii.                  Mathew the Tax Collector.

1.      Matthew had to be the least popular.  This guy was a traitor.  A snake in the grass.

2.      Matthew is the author is this gospel.

3.      Ever think about how incredible it is that we are reading a book written by a close personal friend of Jesus?

ix.                      James the son of Alphaeus

x.                         Thaddaeus

xi.                      Simon the Cananaean

1.      Also called “Simon the Zealot”

2.      Zealots were extreme patriots.

3.      Simon is the exact opposite of Matthew, who sold his soul to the Romans to make a buck.

4.      Zealots were trained and prepared to assassinate for the sake of Israel.  They were extremists.  The were like religious Navy Seals.

5.      Had Simon met Matthew in a back alley he probably would have stabbed him.

xii.                    Judas Iscariot.

1.      Who betrayed him…

2.      Judas is always last in all the lists in the gospels.

3.      Both the first in the list and the last on the list betrayed Jesus. 

4.      Only one repented.

e.       He called them and gave them authority (v. 1).

i.  Authority over unclean spirits

ii.                        Authority over every disease and affliction.

iii.                      Ordinary people, but extraordinary authority.

f.        True disciples are willing to give of themselves for the ministry:

i.  At 3 o'clock on a cold morning in the winter, a missionary candidate walked into an office for an appointment with the examiner of a mission board. The examiner had told him to report at 3 in the morning. The examiner arrived at 8 a.m., five hours later. The examiner, without saying a word of explanation, sat down and said, "Let's begin. You want to be a missionary with this agency, and I'm going to ask you some questions. First, please spell 'baker.'" The young man said, "B-A-K-E-R." The examiner replied, "Very good. Now let me see how much you know about figures. How much is twice two?" The young man said, "Four." The examiner said, "Excellent. I'm going to recommend to the board tomorrow that you be appointed as a missionary; you have passed the test." Then he left.

ii.                        At the board meeting, the examiner spoke so highly of the applicant, saying he was one of the finest young men that they had seen as of yet. He said, "He has all the qualifications of a missionary! First, I tested him on self denial; I told him to be at the office at three in the morning, in the cold. He left a warm bed and came out in the cold and never had a word of complaint. Secondly, I tested him on punctuality, and he was there on time. Thirdly, I examined him on patience by making him wait five hours to see me. He didn't even question why I was late. Fourth, I tested him on temper, and he didn't show any sign of it. Fifthly, I tested his humility by asking him questions that a little child could answer, and he showed no offense. He meets the requirements."

III.                   The Disciples are sent on a mission (10:5-6).

a.       “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them…”

i.  In other words, they were under orders from their Commander in Chief.

ii.                        They were not on their own.  This was not their mission.  This was God’s mission and they were now God’s men.

iii.                      They were the ones being sent.  By Jesus Himself.

iv.                      They were not to make their own choices.  Call their own shots.  Do their own thing. 

v.                         There were given authority, but they were under authority.

vi.                      They were representatives of Christ.

vii.                    This is fundamental to remember:

1.      We do not have the luxury of inventing our own ideas and priorities.

2.      We are not independent agents.

3.      We do not craft our own message.

4.      We are sent out, and we receive our orders from Jesus.

5.      He is our Chief Shepherd!  He is the Head of the Church.

6.      Where do our instructions come from?

7.      Who is our Lord?

8.      From Whom do we take orders?

viii.                  This is a rebuke to the modern notion that we need to change the message or downplay the Word to make it more palatable for people.

1.      We cannot “do missions” any which way we like.

2.      We cannot “do church” any which way we like.

3.      We cannot “rewrite the Bible” to fit the cultures sensibilities.

ix.                      We receive our instructions from Jesus…

b.      “Go nowhere among the Gentiles…or the Samaritans.”

i.  Notice they are NOT sent to any Gentiles or Samaritans.  Why is this?

ii.                        We know that Jesus loves the Gentiles.

1.      He has already healed a Gentile.

2.      In John’s gospel we see Jesus has already talked to a Samaritan woman at a well.

3.      Matthew’s gospel starts off by alluding to the coming reality that Jesus will die for Jew’s and Gentiles.  His gospel is for all people.

4.      So why this command for them to NOT go to any Gentiles yet?

iii.                      The answer: The Kingdom promises were promised to the Jews.

1.      Abraham had Isaac.  Isaac had Jacob.  And Jacob had 12 sons which became the 12 tribes of Israel.

2.      It was to this family.  This nation.  That a coming kingdom was promised.  In no uncertain terms.

3.      No doubt, it was through this nation that the whole earth would be blessed.

4.      But before it is offered to all nations.  It must first be offered to the Jews.  They were the ones, after all, who God made the promise to.

5.      The Jews were God's chosen people and they were the ones to whom were given the covenants, the promises, and the law.  So in the line of God's plan, they were to be offered the Kingdom first.

6.      There has always been a “Jewish priority” in God’s plan.

7.      Even Paul in Rom. 1:16 keeps this.

a.       “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

iv.                      This is a dispensational command.  This was not to be binding.

1.      This no longer applies to us.

2.      The command to ONLY preach to the Jews was for that dispensation.

3.      In just a few years Jesus will make it abundantly clear that the gospel is to be offered to all people.  Jews and Gentile.

4.      But RIGHT NOW, in Matthew’s gospel, the kingdom is being offered only to the Jews.

IV.                    The Disciples are given a message (10:7).

a.       “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

b.      They are people with a particular message.

i.  Not a general message about God.  Not some generic message about God’s love.

ii.                        It’s the same message that Jesus preached.

iii.                      It’s a message of repentance because God’s kingdom of heaven had arrived on earth.

iv.                      The Kingdom that Daniel prophesied.

v.                         The earthly, geo-political kingdom was being offered.

c.       The Kingdom of Heaven is seen three ways:

i.  in conversion,

1.      When men enter the Kingdom.

ii.                        in consecration.

1.      When we live out the Kingdom (Romans tells us that the Kingdom is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, joy, and the Holy Spirit).

iii.                      in consummation.

1.      when the Kingdom comes to earth in its millennial form.    Until that time, we preach the Kingdom.  Jesus taught His disciples nothing but that, the principles of God's rule: that He is Lord, that men are to submit and obey, because God rules.  Even after His resurrection, Acts 1 says Jesus taught them things pertaining to the Kingdom for forty days.

iv.                      John MacArthur tells the story,

1.      “I was traveling with a team in Mississippi, preaching Christ in black high schools at the time that Martin Luther King was assassinated.  We were going to two or three schools a day, holding assemblies and preaching Christ, and we had a great time.  One night after finishing an assembly in which the Lord had blessed in a wonderful way, we visited with a family in a rural area.  It was late when we left, and we noticed someone following us.

2.      We were in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road about ten miles from where we were staying.  Suddenly blue lights started flashing behind us and the car pulled up beside me, so I stopped the car.  A great big man wearing a sheriff's badge got out and said, "You went through a stop light."  I said, "What?  There are no stop lights around here."  It's a dirt road, and it's 11 o'clock at night in a farm area.  I said, "You must be mistaken."  He said, "I'm not mistaken.  You went through a stop light."  I said, "I didn't go through a stop light."  He then reached for a club in his belt and I said, "You're right; I went through a stop light."  I wasn't going to argue about it!  He said, "Follow me. We're going to the jail."

3.      We followed him for ten miles to the jail.  He took us in and collected our money as collateral, I guess for whatever was going to happen.  He asked, "What are you telling kids in your school meetings?  Do you tell them about civil rights?"  I said, "No."  Then he asked if we were telling them about marches, protests, or boycotts.  I said no to all those things.  Then I said, "We're telling them about Jesus Christ.  We would be happy to tell you about Him, too."  He said, "I'm already the Sunday School superintendent.  I don't have any need to hear about that."  It was an interesting night, to put it mildly.  There were many so many people like him in that area who called themselves ministers but who were not talking about Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven.  It's no wonder some of those people were paranoid.

4.      Satan is not stupid.  The best way to render the Gospel of no effect is to make sure no one knows what it is. 

5.      It is the message that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; that imminently and available to every person is the rule and reign of God in their lives, here and now, as well as earthly, millennially, and eternally.  That is our message. 

d.      We have been given a message!

i.  It’s not politics.

ii.                        It’s not entertainment.

iii.                      It’s not amusements laughter.

iv.                      It’s not self-help and self-improvement.

v.                         It’s not social justice and good deeds.

e.       It’s the message of the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

i.  Repent and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

ii.                        Come under His rule and His reign NOW!

iii.                      Cast yourself upon Christ!

iv.                      Bend the knee to Jesus!

v.                         Receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ, today!

f.        Application:

i.  Application: Just like the early disciples, we are to have a Gospel-focus.

ii.                        We have a mission.

iii.                      We have a message.

iv.                      We have been given a focus.

v.                         We have been given marching orders.

vi.                      We have been given direction and instructions from the Lord Christ.

vii.                    They received their instruction from the Lord…and so do we!

viii.                  We are sent by God on a mission to share the gospel.

ix.                      The normal means of doing this and the normal result of doing this is by planting churches.

x.                         We are not at liberty to set our own agenda or draft our own message.

g.      In an essay in the book A Place for Truth, Tim Keller claims that he often hears people say, “I don’t know which religion is true” or “No one can know the truth.” According to Keller, this often leads to a conversation that goes something like this:

i.  I’m talking to someone who does not believe in Christianity or Christ. At some point he or she responds to me suddenly, “Wait a minute, what are you trying to do to me?”

ii.                        I respond, “I’m trying to evangelize you.”

iii.                      “You mean you’re trying to convert me?”

iv.                      “Yeah.”

v.                         “You’re trying to get me to adopt your view of spiritual reality and convert me?”

vi.                      “Yeah.”

vii.                    “How narrow! How awful! Nobody should say that their view of spirituality is better than anybody else and try to convert them to it. O no, no, no. Everybody should just leave everybody else alone.”

viii.                  “Wait a minute …” I say. “You want me to adopt your take on spiritual reality; you want me to adopt your view of all the various religions. What are you doing to me? What you’re saying is, you have a take on spiritual reality, and you think I would be better off and the world would be better off if we adopted yours. I have my take on spiritual reality and I think mine is better than yours, and I’m trying to convert you to mine …. If you say, ‘Don’t evangelize anybody,’ that is to evangelize me, into your Western, white, individualistic, privatized understanding of religion.”

ix.                      Keller concludes by stating,

1.      Who’s more narrow? It’s not narrow to make an exclusive truth claim because everybody makes an exclusive truth claim …. Everybody has a take on reality. Everybody thinks the world would be better if those people over there adopted mine. Everybody …. Narrowness is not the content of a truth claim. Narrowness is our attitude toward the people who don’t share our point of view.

V.                       The Disciples are given power to display the Kingdom (10:8a).

a.       The disciples were given special authority from Jesus to:

i.  Heal the sick.

ii.                        Raise the dead.

iii.                      Cleanse the lepers.

iv.                      Cast out demons.

v.                         (Power over sin and death)

b.      The types of miracles they were given to do all had to do with compassion.

i.  They were not given power to do neat tricks.

ii.                        It was power to show the heart of God—that He cares about the poor and the sick and the desperate.

iii.                      These were apostolic miracles.

1.      Some of these words no longer apply.

a.       For instance, they are told to not share the gospel with Gentiles, but we are.

b.      They are were given authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse leper, and cast out demons.

2.      So the types of miracles we see happening here is categorically different than anything we see today.

3.      We are not living in an apostolic era. We no longer have apostles.

4.      This mission marked the beginning of a new era.

5.      And in the Bible every age is inaugurated by great signs…

a.       When Israel was led out of Egypt it was with great signs and wonders.  It was an inauguration of something new.  But then there were years where there are no recorded signs and wonders.  Then came Elijah and Elisha, and there were more concentrated occurrences of supernatural miracles.

b.      But then there were long periods of time when no miracles seemed to take place.

c.       So part of these signs were to demonstrate the authenticity of the message.

i.  This is why Jesus ministry was full of signs and wonders.

ii.                        It signified the same thing that happened during the Exodus and during the ministry of Elijah and Elisha.

6.      The major purpose of miracles was not to heal as many people as possible (if so, the early church including Paul himself didn’t experience this), the major purpose was to authenticate this new message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

7.      Manifestations such as tongues, prophecy, and messages of knowledge and wisdom have gone through modifications with the cessation of apostles and prophets.

8.      The disciples were given special power to authenticate the message of the kingdom.

c.       Principle: Compassion goes hand in hand with the gospel.

i.  These disciples went around doing good and in Jesus’ Name were healing people and reversing the curse.  The Kingdom had arrived in the person of Jesus.

ii.                        Their activity lent credibility to the gospel.

iii.                      Mercy ministry lends credibility to the gospel message.

iv.                      For us today this means that short-term missions should or could include compassion of some kind.

VI.                    The Disciples are to be above reproach with money (10:8b-10).

a.       Jesus lays out four principles surrounding money and the gospel in verses 8-10.

i.  #1- The Lord’s Disciples need to be above reproach with money.

1.      Part of being a laborer for the Lord.  Part of being a disciple and a worker in the harvest, is that you are above reproach with money.

2.      Any kind of financial immorality would immediately discredit the mission.

3.      Jesus is calling His disciples to be above reproach with money.

4.      Money is mentioned many times in the book of Acts.

a.       Acts 20:33, Paul says to the Ephesian Elders, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.”

b.      Acts 3:6, “But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

5.      False teachers are known for their love of money:

a.       The wolves that Jesus warns about are all about money.

b.      Instead of being poor and making many rich.  The false teachers are rich making many poor.

c.       Their ministries are usually marked with large 1800 numbers pleading for donations.

6.      Jesus is warning against the temptation to be consumed with materialism, so He says to not take anything along for the journey.

7.      He wants them to learn that everything they need comes from Him.

ii.                        #2- The Gospel is free.

1.      “You received without paying; give without pay”

2.      “Freely you have received, freely give.” (KJV)

3.      The gospel should ALWAYS be offered free of charge.

4.      They are not to charge money for their ministry.

5.      People should never confuse money with the gospel.

6.      One time I was inviting some people to our Easter service.  These are people who rarely go tot church.  And I said, “you should come”  and they said, “well, we don’t have much money to give.”

a.       As though they needed to give money.

b.      I laughed.

c.       I told them I have no idea who gives and who doesn’t.

d.      In fact, we don’t want you to give.  We want to give to you.

7.      Charles Spurgeon and Barnum

a.       At the time when Charles Spurgeon was preaching in London, P.T. Barnum was in the circus business.  His job was to get a crowd too, to fill up his tent.  He heard about this young preacher in England who was packing out huge buildings and gather massive crowds of people and Barnum wired him an offer for Spurgeon to come to America ad speak in his tent.  He wanted Spurgeon to gather a huge crowd for him.  So P.T. Barnum offered him an enormous amount of money to come speak at his circuses and Spurgeon wired back one verse of Scripture, “Read Acts 8:20.”  That’s it.  That’s all he said.  Which says, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”

8.      You can’t put a price tag on ministry:

a.       I get to fly to different places and speak to groups.

b.      It’s always a privilege.

c.       Sometimes people pay me and sometimes they don’t.

d.      The gospel is free.  It’s not for hire.

e.       One time I preached 27 messages for a group in Europe and they couldn’t really afford to pay me, but they gave me a bottle of wine.

f.        It was fine with me.  It was a privilege to preach the Word.

g.      Other times I get paid way more than I am worth.

h.      The money doesn’t matter.

i.        Everything.  Everything I have received from God.  Freely we give.

j.        The Lord provides for all my needs.  Always has.

iii.                      #3- The disciples are to rely on the Lord.

1.      They are sent out with nothing as an object lesson of God’s sustenance.  God will provide.

2.      They needed to learn the lesson of trusting God for their support.

3.      Money will not sustain you in the mission.  Only God will.

4.      The Disciples are to rely on the Lord for all of their needs (10:10).

a.       They are to take nothing with them.

b.      They are to live simply.

c.       They are not to be overly concerned with material things.

5.      Hudson Taylor…

a.       George Muller…

iv.                      #4- Workers need money to live.

1.      “The laborer deserves his food”

a.       The Lord will provide, but it will be by the people who respond to the gospel.

b.      The way that God will supply for them is through the people who respond to the message.

2.      Luke 22:36 (Later on they were told to bring provisions)

a.       “And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

b.      Before, God supernaturally provided for their needs, but now they are to use the normal means God uses to provide and protect.

3.      Paul never asked for money, but gratefully acknowledged the provision he received from those who responded from the gospel.

a.       1 Tim. 5:17-18, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

b.      1 Cor. 9:14, “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”

b.      The bottom-line application: disciples are to maintain credibility in our witness.

i.  Namely with money!

ii.                        How we make and spend money is a key factor to our discipleship.

iii.                      Our discipleship to Jesus has a bearing on our finances.

iv.                      Our lives should reflect that Jesus, not possessions is our primary focus.

VII.                The Disciples are to expect mixed reactions (10:11-13).

a.       There will be two responses to you and the message:

i.  Some people will receive you and the message.

ii.                        Some people will not receive you or the message.

b.      “Whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay there until you depart.”

i.  Hospitality was very different in the ancient world.

1.      Unlike today where people cocoon in their homes and want nothing to do with the gospel message.  The thought of knocking on the doors to tell someone about Jesus is seen more as a cult than anything else.

2.      But not in the ancient world.  People were polytheists.  They were curious about different views of religion.

3.      So when strangers came into a town or village, there would be people who would take them in.  To not do so, would be a crime (almost).

4.      Motels and Inn’s were very uncommon.  You didn’t stay in a motel, you stayed in a home with someone.

ii.                        The idea is that you don’t want to stay at a home with questionable morals.

iii.                      You don’t want to stay in a home that has a prostitution ring.

iv.                      You don’t want to stay in a home that is known for dealing illegal drugs.

v.                         Because it will invalidate the credibility of the message.

vi.                      Do whatever you can to maintain the credibility of the message.

vii.                    Stay in a worthy place:

1.      Don’t confuse the message of the gospel by staying with questionable folks.

c.       “Stay there until you depart”

i.  Sometimes I will stay at a place and it’s very humble, very modest.

ii.                        Then someone will say, hey come stay with us, we have a huge house, etc.

iii.                      This just happened to me recently.

iv.                      I stayed in very modest accommodations, then another family offered to have me stay with them and they mentioned all kinds of neat recreational vehicles.

v.                         Jesus is saying here, “Be content and focus on the gospel.”

1.      The Lord will provide for you.

2.      If he had wanted you to stay at the nice house, then they would have asked.

3.      Everything you need, the Lord will provide.

4.      Be content in whatever circumstance you find yourself in.

d.      When you travel to Guatemala.

i.  The Lord will go before you.

ii.                        The Lord will open doors.

iii.                      Be content with what’s placed before you.

iv.                      Do whatever you can to lend credibility to the gospel with your life.

e.       AND…focus on the people who are receptive.

i.  If anyone hates the message, shake the dust off your feet.

ii.                        If anyone is open to the message, pour yourself in to them.

iii.                      Most people will not like the message.  The road it wide that leads to destruction.

iv.                      Most people will reject you and the message.

v.                         But some people may be open.  Poor yourself in to them.

vi.                      Study the Bible with them.

vii.                    Pray and disciple them.

f.        If anyone will not listen, take back the blessing.

i.  That was an Oriental expression; they would give their peace, but if the house wasn't worthy, they'd take it back. They would come to a home and say, "Peace be unto you in the name of Christ." If the home was vile or rejecting, they would say, "We take back our peace. This house is unblessed."

ii.                        They would actually say this.

iii.                      They would confront the situation and declare the reality of the situation.

iv.                      So He says, "If you find a place where they are not worthy, then let your peace return to you. Don't waste it on them, take it back. Don't give them God's benediction if they're not worthy of it. Don't tell them God will bless them."

v.                         Don’t tell people that God loves them and everything will pan out for them.

vi.                      If they reject the gospel, warn them.

vii.                    If they reject the message, tell them what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.

g.      Being frank about the truth:

i.  I remember staying in a mud hut in Kenya and the family I was staying with was a Christian family.  The man had two wives, and was later saved.  So he still had two wives, and lots and lots of kids.  Around 50.  Many of whom were adopted because their parents were lost to AIDS.

ii.                        Anyway the father, who was a very good Christian man and great preacher.  (Although not an elder because he wasn’t the husband of one wife.)  He would go around his farm and introduce me to the family members.  “This is so and so, he is born again.  This is so and so she is born again.”  Then he came to one of his sons, and said, “This is Daudi, he is not born again.”  And his son nodded and agreed, then shook my hand.

iii.                      I remember thinking:  This would never happen in the US.  Many people would be appalled to not be considered an actual Christian.

iv.                      Or they would say, “What do you mean I’m not saved!!”  There is a strong sense of delusion that many people are comfortable with here.

v.                         But I appreciated the frankness.  I appreciated the integrity of acknowledging that they have not bended the knee to Christ and if they were to die right now, they would be forever lost.

h.      The disciples were like that.  They were frank and honest about the reality of future judgment and lostness.

VIII.             The Disciples are to warn people of future judgment (10:14-16).

a.       “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”

i.  Seems kind of harsh, doesn’t it?

ii.                        I mean, if someone didn’t listen to me, I wouldn’t take my shoes off, and shake the dust off.

iii.                      The difference is that those who reject the message of Christ are rejecting Christ Himself.

iv.                      It’s a very serious matter to deny the King and His Kingdom.

v.                         They will find themselves in a very difficult situation come judgment time.

b.      “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

i.  This past week the new Pope made the headlines by making the claim that all people are redeemed.  Not all could be redeemed, but all people are redeemed.

ii.                        "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists…‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

iii.                      That may be the message of the Pope and Catholic Church.  But that’s not the message from Jesus and the apostles.

iv.                      Indeed, a great Judgment is coming, and Jesus calls all people everywhere to repent.

c.       Look, it’s not hard to go to hell.

i.  All you have to do is…nothing.

ii.                        Hear God’s word…and do nothing.

iii.                      Hear the call to repent and believe the gospel…and do nothing.

iv.                      Come to church, listen to the Word…and do nothing.

v.                         In the list of the apostles both the first person in the list and the last person on the list betrayed Jesus. 

1.      Only one repented.

2.      We plead with you:  Be reconciled to God!

a.       2 Cor. 5:20

3.      Your only hope is Christ.

d.      Sam Storms is a pastor in Tulsa OK.  He recently wrote an wonderful article in the aftermath of the Tornado that hot Oklahoma this past week.

i.  Events such as this should remind us that no place on earth is safe and that we will all one day die (unless Jesus returns first). Whether by a peaceful natural death at the age of 90, or by a sudden heart attack at 50, or in a car accident at 15, or by a slow battle with cancer at virtually any age, we will all likewise die. We are not immortal. The only ultimately and eternally safe place to be is in the arms of our heavenly Father from which no tornado or earthquake or tsunami or cancer or car wreck can ever snatch us or wrench us free.

e.       Our message ends this morning in verse 15 ends with the anticipation that there will be much animosity to the Christian gospel. Which we see in the rest of chapter 10.

IX.                    The Gospel.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Evangelism, Missions, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 22: Sheep Among Wolves (Matthew 10:16-33)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       This is the second discourse of Jesus that Matthew records.  The first one was the Sermon on the Mount.

b.      Jesus sent them out on a short-term mission, and he gives his disciples instructions on their short-term mission, but his message here seems to drift more into the long-term mission.  Which makes this somewhat tricky.

i.  How do we apply this?  Who is the audience?  When will this happen? 

ii.                        I think it’s helpful to say that chapter 10…

1.      It was happening.

2.      It has happened.

3.      It will happen.

iii.                      The words from Jesus here are telescoping.  It’s a telescoping prophecy.

1.      Persecution was happening to them.

2.      Persecution will happen to them more.

3.      Persecution will continue to happen to His disciples.

c.       In this section Jesus envisioned a long period of time when His disciples would be persecuted and yet witness to the Truth.

i.  He starts off with speaking about this mission that the 12 are about to go on, then he pans out to include all believers, and even including the Great Tribulation.

ii.                        Jesus forecasts the global holocaust that is coming upon His Church and His disciples.

iii.                      This type of telescoping prophecy is common in Scripture.

iv.                      Often times a writer will prophecy two events at the same time.

d.      This message has one point:  Expect persecution and don’t live in fear.  And that’s the outline.

II.                      Principle #1- Expect Severe Persecution (10:16-25, 34-36).

a.       The main point of this section is pretty simple: We are like sheep among wolves (10:16).

i.  This is an interesting metaphor that Jesus picks.

1.      Normally, a shepherd would protect his sheep from wolves, but Jesus is sending His sheep into the wolf pack.

2.      This is a call to the cost of discipleship.  Be prepared to live like a sheep among wolves.

3.      Acts 20:29, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…”

4.      Mat. 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

5.      Jesus sends them out as defenseless sheep among evil, wicked, vicious, God-haters.

ii.                        This was a promise of difficulty and tribulation and persecution.

1.      It’s like what Winston Churchill said to Great Britain after a heavy setback for the Allies,  “All I can offer you is blood, sweat, and tears” Winston Churchill.

2.      Jesus is promising that life as a disciple of His, would be like a sheep amidst wolves.

3.      Between the first and second comings, things will be bad.

b.      This promise of persecution was actually made many many years ago:

i.  The prophet Daniel predicted successive governments that get worse and worse until the Christ comes back.

ii.                        Jesus referred to this time as the “time of the Gentiles.”  Gentiles, not Jews would be large and in charge.

iii.                      The times of the gentiles would be marked by a tension between the State and God’s people.

iv.                      In the book of Daniel, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego illustrates this.

1.      These three guys are commanded to bow down and worship a statue, which represented the State.

2.      But they wouldn’t bend their knee; and they are persecuted for it.  They are thrown in to a fiery furnace.

3.      It’s an illustration for us of what life will be like for God-fearing people until Jesus comes back.

4.      The King is coming back, but in the meantime, things will not go well for followers of Jesus.

c.       So, how do we live in a hostile world?

i.  “Wise as serpents…”

1.      serpents carried the idea of clever.

2.      Be prudent.  Sensible.

3.      Don’t be naïve.

4.      Don’t be inflammatory.

5.      Avoid conflicts and attacks.

6.      Have a sense of appropriateness.

7.      Don’t be an idiot.

8.      Car dealer who was a Christian.

a.       He was committed.  He knew His bible.  But the other workers couldn’t stand him.

ii.                        “Innocent as doves…”

1.      “Innocent” lit. means “unmixed”

2.      Be different from the world.  Be holy.

3.      Prudent and innocent.

4.      Many missionaries need to practice this to literally stay alive.

5.      This saying of doves and serpents would mean that when missionaries go into a hostile situation they need to live upright morals lives, while not necessarily divulging their motives to see people saved from their sins with the Good News of Jesus.

iii.                      Bottom line:  we want to win people!

1.      1 Cor. 9:19, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”

d.      Persecution will come from four areas:

i.  #1- Persecution from Religion. (10:17).

1.      “they will flog you in their synagogues.”

2.      Jesus experienced persecution from the religious folks.

3.      It was the religious people of the day who put Him to death.

4.      The early church was almost entirely persecuted by Jews for the first few decades.

5.      Paul is persecuted by idol makers Acts 19.

a.       Paul upset the silversmiths who made idols for Diana because they were running out of business.

6.      We know that in the end times there will be a global religious system.

a.       Babylon the Great will be a worldwide religious system.

b.      Rev. 17:5, “And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

7.      What about today?

a.       Islam is increasingly a threat to Christians all over the world, and of course not only Christians, but anyone who will not submit to Mohammad and the Koran.

i.  Just last week in London a British soldier was beheaded in the middle of the day.

ii.                        The two men who did it were Muslim and were quoting the Qur’an.

iii.                      They were Muslim street preachers.

iv.                      I just ordered a book called “What every Christian needs to know about the Qur’an.”

v.                         Make no mistake about it.  For folks who believe the Qur’ran, they desire to bring you under submission to Mohammad, or else behead you.

vi.                      Maybe we will see more of this as time goes.  But Jesus certainly prophesied this would happen.

b.       Newsweek Magazine, Feb. 13th 2012, had as it’s cover “The War on Christians”  The title of the article was “The rise of Christophobia: From the one end of the Muslim world to the other, Christians are being murdered for their faith.”

1.  “We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny.  But in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives.  Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion.  It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm…From blasphemy laws to brutal murders to bombings to mutilations and the burning of holy sites, Christians in many nations live in fear.”

c.       The world is a dangerous place.

ii.                        #2- Persecution from Government (10:18).

1.      “you will be dragged before governors and kings…”

2.      In the past 2000 years much of the persecution that has come against Christians has been through the State.

3.      The State has been responsible for millions of deaths.

a.       Communism and Socialism hate Christianity.

b.      “Government is ordained by God but manipulated by Satan.” MacArthur

4.      Foxe’s book of Martyrs says that the only apostle who escaped a violent death from the State was the Apostle John.

a.       He starts with Jesus, and tells the stories of persecution of the apostles from the Roman Empire, then on to the other emperor’s.  Then the persecutions and martyrs on Christian from the Catholic church on folks like Wycliffe and John Huss and Tyndale.

b.      It’s a massive chronicle of how Christians have been beaten and killed.

5.      But this persecution was promised by God.  We will be persecuted.

6.      The world will hate Christians because the world hates Christ.

a.       If you claim Christ, you have just made yourself a target.

b.      John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

7.      What about today?  How can we expect the State to persecute us?

a.       Well, first off, Paul tells us to pray for freedom and peace.  But if the Lord instead chooses to judge our nation, which we see happening, then I think we can expect:

b.      A persecution through the courts.

c.       Reckless laws will be passed.

d.      Tax-exempt status’s for churches and charitable giving will be denied.

e.       Hate-crimes will be applied to preachers who condemn the sin of homosexuality.

f.        Or, more mildly, churches will lose tax-exempt status for taking a stand on biblical principles.

g.      Maybe jail for preaching the Word?  Why not?

8.      But the Holy Spirit will direct us as we go.

9.      And for us, as Americans.  We enjoy a great measure of freedom, but are we prepared to not bend the knee to the State, if the State ever asks us to go against our conscience and the Word of God?  I hope it doesn’t, but that day may come.  And if history repeats itself, then that day WILL come.

iii.                      #3- Persecution from Family (10:21-22, 34-36).

1.      Brother will deliver brother…

2.      This may be the most difficult form of persecution.

3.      To be ostracized from your family because of Christ is no easy thing.

4.      In some places in the world, people will hold a funeral for a family member who has converted to Christianity.

5.      Even worse, they will deliver you over to death.  Brothers and fathers and mothers will do this.

6.      Jesus says, “a person’s enemies will be those of his own household…”

7.      Conflict will come on account of Jesus.

iv.                      #4- Persecution from Society (10:22).

1.      “and you will be hated by all”

a.       He isn’t implying all people, literarily, even Christians.

b.      He is saying all people, generally.  Society as a whole.

2.      The Bible makes it clear that we will true Christians will not be cool in the worlds eyes.  This is a tough pill to swallow, but the sooner you do, the better.  Christians will never be the cool kids on the block.

a.       1 Cor. 4:9-13, “…we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”

b.      Rom. 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

3.      Homosexuality?

a.       The “Atlantic” this week made headlines with, “Support for Same-Sex Marriage has doubled since 1996.”

b.      After 103 years The Boy scouts lifted their previous ban on homosexuals and now allow gay boys to be members, although they did not lift the ban on gay leaders.  Which shows the hypocrisy of the decision.

c.       “The church’s engagement with the culture involves a host of issues, controversies, and decisions–but no issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality.” Al Mohler

4.      Hollywood and the media.

a.       Will not portray Christians in a positive light.

b.      We will be seen as haters.  As bigots.  As intellectually inferior.

c.       Colleges and Universities and schools will continue to disparage Christians.

5.      The hatred and hostility will come from “all” of society and it will go from bad to worse.

6.      But let’s not play the victim, my brothers and sisters!  Let’s not cry foul and pout our way to the Promised Land!

7.      Let’s proudly bear the Name of Christ!

8.      Let’s thank God that we are considered worthy of suffering for His Name!

9.      And honestly, our suffering is nothing compared to the suffering going on in the rest of the world!

10.  Is America heading south down a moral sewage pipe?  Yea!  But why should that alarm us?  This was never meant to be a Utopia, and we are not home yet!

11.  I love America, but I love heaven more.  Maranatha!

e.       The one who endures to the end will be saved (10:23).

i.  Only those who last; only those who persevere will be saved.

1.      1 Cor. 15:1-2, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”

2.      Heb. 2:1, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

ii.                        “When they persecute you, flee”

1.      Don’t take it like a man if you don’t have to.

2.      Run away!

3.      You are not obligated to get arrested or imprisoned if you don’t have to.

4.      Paul did this.  When persecution became too intense, he left for another region.

iii.                      “until the Son of Man comes.”

1.      (v. 23) “This verse is among the most difficult of the NT canon.”  Carson

2.      Some feel this statement “the Son of Man comes” is the same as saying “The kingdom of God has come.”

3.      This is a clear eschatological statement.

4.      Even during the end times, during the Great Tribulation when the 144,000 Jewish preachers are preaching all over the globe.

f.        Expect Persecution because Jesus was persecuted (10:24-25).

i.  Beelzubul means “head of the house”

ii.                        It was a common name for Satan or “Prince Baal”

iii.                      Jesus was called Satan.  He was criticized for casting out demons by the prince of demons.

iv.                      We shouldn’t expect anything less.

1.      “Lord of the flies”  novel by William Golding is required reading in most High Schools and Universities.

a.       They made a film which my wife and I just watched a few months ago, a black and white, made in 1963.

b.      tell the story…

i.  In Lord of the Flies, British schoolboys are stranded on a tropical island. In an attempt to recreate the culture they left behind, they elect Ralph to lead, with the intellectual Piggy as counselor. But Jack wants to lead, too, and one-by-one, he lures the boys from civility and reason to the savage survivalism of primeval hunters. In Lord of the Flies, William Golding gives us a glimpse of the savagery that underlies even the most civilized human beings.

ii.                        These English schoolboys turn in to a pack of vicious wolves.

c.       The British officer arrives to discover the depth of their depravity.

i.  Factions, gangs, jealousy, murder, hatred.

i.  Moral of the story is that they couldn’t fix themselves.  They needed to be delivered from without.  Salvation comes from the outside.  

2.      That’s a bit of a picture of the world we live in.  It’s hostile to God.  It’s anti-Christ.  It hates God and would gladly put Him to death.  It did!

3.      So in verse 25 Jesus is telling his disciples to not expect anything less.

4.      If the world hates Jesus, and it does, then the world will hate you.

v.                         Expect persecution from religious people, expect persecution from the government, expect persecution from your family, and expect persecution from society.

vi.                      You will be like sheep amongst a pack of wolves in this world.

III.                   Principle #2- Don’t Live in Fear (10:26-33).

a.       Such statements about persecution might have freaked the disciples out.  Statements about being dragged in front of governors and kings and having family members hate you might cause some people to fear.  Starting in v. 26 Jesus tells them they need not fear.

i.  Jesus calls His disciples to be fearless, but not foolish.

ii.                        Disciples shouldn’t seek out persecution.

iii.                      Disciples shouldn’t be provocative, they should be prudent, wise as a serpent.

iv.                      BUT, there may be circumstances when they need to pick up and move town?

v.                         Maybe they thought that they needed to stockpile weapons?

vi.                      Believe it or not, Jesus seems to imply that both of those may be legitimate options…

vii.                    Just a few verses earlier Jesus tells them than moving towns because of persecution may be the right thing to do.

1.      “when they persecute you in one town, flee to the next”

viii.                  Jesus also tells the disciples in Luke’s gospel to be prepared to defend themselves.

1.      Luke 22:36, “And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

2.      BUT, they should NOT move out of fear, or purchase a sword out of fear.

3.      Jesus gives three reasons why they need not fear.

b.      Don’t fear people because the truth will prevail (26-27).

i.  The disciples will be vindicated.

ii.                        Teach publicly what you learn privately.

iii.                      Jesus describes the coming judgment as a time for disclosing all the secrets of individuals’ lives.

iv.                      The truth will prevail, and every knee will bow.

v.                         The gospel which was suppressed and ignored and covered by some, will be revealed and exposed.  The light will expose the darkness.

vi.                      So don’t fear.  Believers will even take part in judging unbelievers as 1 Cor. 6:2 says.

vii.                    Don’t fear, rest in the truth.

c.       Don’t fear people because God is more powerful than man (28).

i.  Physical death is nothing compared to spiritual death.

ii.                        They can take your body, but they cannot take your soul!

iii.                      I must quote William Wallace here,

1.      William Wallace: I *am* William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men... and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?

2.      Veteran: Fight? Against that? No! We will run. And we will live.

3.      William Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!

4.      [Scottish army cheers]

iv.                      Little bit of a stretch but you get the point.

v.                         We are to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.  But no matter what happens, they can’t take our souls away.  They can take our bodies, but they can’t take about our freedom!

vi.                      Our eternal destiny is secure!  Have no fear.

vii.                    Prov. 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

1.      Fear God, not man.

2.      Fear God, not governments.

3.      Fear God, not legislation that persecutes.

4.      Fear God, not family members who hate you.

5.      Fear God, not society.

6.      Fear God, that’s wisdom.

d.      Don’t fear because God is sovereign (29-32)

i.  “not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father.”

1.      This is staggering!

2.      The dust in the air!  The flight of the sparrow.  The cry of the baby.  The division of cells.  The rotation of the sun.  The growth of cancer cells.  The election of a President.  The loss of a job.  The path of a tornado.  The flight of an asteroid.  All do not take place without the knowledge and decision of the Lord.

3.      Prov. 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

4.      Prov. 21:1, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”

5.      Ex. 4:11, “Then the LORD said to [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”

a.       Family in Michigan who’s child has spina bifida.

b.      This verse was an encouragement.

6.      Eph. 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

ii.                        “you are of more value than many sparrows.”

1.      God cares about the birds…

2.      That thought alone should really encourage us.

3.      You are more valuable than the birds!

iii.                      This ought to give us an enormous amount of confidence even when we are like sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves.

1.      Martin Luther…

a.       Luther was n stranger to controversy.  He was like a sheep among a pack of wolves.  He lived much of his life on the run, being smuggled by friends from here to there.  Living in hiding, but not living in fear.

b.      Translating the Bible into German while he was on the run.

c.       These reformers were like sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves.

d.      Many of them were burned at the stake for such crimes as, translating the Bible into English, and other horrifying crimes.

e.       But they clung to the Providence of God.

f.        Luther rested in the promise that, “God created the sparrows; this is why not one of them will fall to the ground without His will.  God not only created human beings but also let His Dear Son suffer for them.  Therefore He will and must care for them far more than He does for the worthless sparrows.”

g.      There is no reason to fear, God cares for you more than the sparrows!

2.      Stonewall Jackson:

a.       When Phil Johnson was here last month we asked him who his favorite theologian was and he said it was R.L. Dabney.  I had heard of Dabney, and knew Phil liked him, but didn’t know much about Dabney.

b.      I was surprised when Phil mentioned that Dabney was a close personal friend of Stonewall Jackson and his chaplain during the Civil War and actually wrote Jackson’s biography.

c.       Stonewall Jackson has sort of been labeled a religious fanatic, but the reality is that he was a very committed Biblical Christian with a high view of God and His Word.

d.      His favorite pastime was to discuss theology.  He lamented fighting on Sunday’s. although he did do it, reluctantly.

e.       The NY Times had an article on Jackson a number of years ago and it said,.

i.  “Theology was the only subject he genuinely enjoyed discussing. His dispatches invariably credited an ever-kind Providence. Assigning his fate to God's hands, he acted utterly fearlessly on the battlefield -- and expected the same of everyone else in Confederate gray…it was said he preferred good Presbyterians to good soldiers.”

f.        Stonewall Jackson is legendary for his fearlessness.  In fact his name nearly synonymous with courage and bravery.  Both the North and the South acknowledged this.  Little kids grew up wanting to be like Stonewall Jackson.  He became a household name.

i.  “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.... That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.” Stonewall Jackson

e.       Summary:

i.  Expect persecution.

ii.                        Don’t live in fear.

iii.                      We now live in a day and age when we need to think seriously about what it means to be a Christian in the 21st Century. We are like sheep among wolves, and the wolves are only getting hungrier.

1.      What does it mean to not live in fear?

a.       Does it mean stockpiling and self-defense classes?  Maybe…  But much more I think it means we pray for boldness and clarity and conviction and compassion.

b.      While the wolves religion, government, family, and society howl and attack and persecute, let us trust in a sovereign God who cares more about us than He does the sparrows.

c.       He is a God competent and able and coming back with a rod of iron.

d.      The Son of Man will come.  But will we be ready and will we be faithful in the meantime?

2.      “Studdard Kennedy was a chaplain during World War II.  He was often thrust into the frontlines of battle, ministering in the places of danger to his life.  One day as he was going through France, he wrote a letter to his son, who was about ten years old.

a.       “The first prayer I want my son to say for me is not, ‘God, keep Daddy safe,’ but ‘God make Daddy brave.  And if he has hard thing to do, make him strong to do them.’

b.      Son, life and death do not matter.  But right and wrong do.  Daddy dead is still Daddy still, but Daddy dishonored before God is something too awful for words.  I suppose you would like to pray for safety too, and Mother would like that, I’m sure.  Well, put it in afterwards, for it really doesn’t matter nearly as much as doing what is right.”

IV.                    Closing:

a.       “whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

i.  Some of you may remember that name. He was one of the founders of Youth for Christ, along with Billy Graham. And he was believed at that time to be the greatest of the preachers. Billy was kind of the second preacher. He was the great mind, he was the great presence, he had all the drama. He had it all--brilliant mind, all of that, and he became a great preacher and a great evangelist and preached to stadiums full of people and he was carrying the weight of that kind of Graham/Templeton duo in the early years. And people fell at his feet. People loved to listen to him. He was...he was basically targeted for massive success.

ii.                        Little by little it began to surface that he misrepresented Scripture. And he began to a little more, a little more out about what he thought about Scripture. It all came to a culmination when he wrote a book. The title of the book is a biography of his spiritual journey, and the title is Farewell to God by Charles Templeton. He ended up a journalist in Canada, a novelist, writer, television personality; Farewell to God.

iii.                      He first professed faith in 1936 and became an evangelist that same year. In 1945 he met Billy Graham and the two became friends, rooming and ministering together during a 1946 YFC evangelistic tour in Europe.

iv.                      But by 1948 Templeton’s life and worldview were beginning to go in a different direction than Graham’s. Doubts about the Christian faith were solidifying as he planned to enter Princeton Theological Seminary. Less than a decade later (1957), he would publicly declare that he had become an agnostic.

v.                         In his 1996 memoir, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith, Templeton recounted a conversation with Graham in Montreat prior to entering seminary:

1.      They discussed the Bible, and Templeton now rejected it.

vi.                      Fifty years later, Lee Strobel had an opportunity to interview Templeton, who had just a couple of more years to live. He was in his 80s and suffering from Alzheimer’s, but still a clear conversation parter. In A Case for Faith, Strobel recounts the ending of their wide-ranging conversation.

vii.                    “And how do you assess this Jesus?” It seemed like the next logical question—but I wasn’t ready for the response it would evoke.

viii.                  Templeton’s body language softened. It was as if he suddenly felt relaxed and comfortable in talking about an old and dear friend. His voice, which at times had displayed such a sharp and insistent edge, now took on a melancholy and reflective tone. His guard seemingly down, he spoke in an unhurried pace, almost nostalgically, carefully choosing his words as he talked about Jesus.

ix.                      “He was,” Templeton began, “the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my readings. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world. What could one say about him except that this was a form of greatness?”

x.                         I was taken aback. “You sound like you really care about him,” I said.

xi.                      “Well, yes, he is the most important thing in my life,” came his reply. “I . . . I . . . I . . . ,” he stuttered, searching for the right word, ‘I know it may sound strange, but I have to say . . . I adore him!” . . .

xii.                    “ . . . Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus. Yes . . . yes. And tough! Just look at Jesus. He castigated people. He was angry. People don’t think of him that way, but they don’t read the Bible. He had a righteous anger. He cared for the oppressed and exploited. There’s no question that he had the highest moral standard, the least duplicity, the greatest compassion, of any human being in history. There have been many other wonderful people, but Jesus is Jesus….’

xiii.                  “Uh . . . but . . . no,’ he said slowly, ‘he’s the most . . .” He stopped, then started again. “In my view,” he declared, “he is the most important human being who has ever existed.”

xiv.                  That’s when Templeton uttered the words I never expected to hear from him. “And if I may put it this way,” he said as his voice began to crack, ‘I . . . miss . . . him!”

xv.                     With that tears flooded his eyes. He turned his head and looked downward, raising his left hand to shield his face from me. His shoulders bobbed as he wept. . . .

xvi.                  Templeton fought to compose himself. I could tell it wasn’t like him to lose control in front of a stranger. He sighed deeply and wiped away a tear. After a few more awkward moments, he waved his hand dismissively. Finally, quietly but adamantly, he insisted: “Enough of that.”

V.                       The Gospel.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Faith, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Lesson 23: Family & Priorities & Family Priorities (Matthew 10:34-42)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Chapter 10 is the second sermon of Jesus and He wraps it up here.  The sermon started with instructions for the short-term mission trip, then morphed into a general warning about persecution and violence which will come from religious folks, the State, your own family, and all of society.  This will get progressively worse until the Son of Man comes back.

b.      But all this hostility shouldn’t freak them out or cause them to live in fear.  Rather, Jesus give three compelling reasons why they don’t need to live in fear.

c.       In this final part of Jesus sermon in chapter 10 Jesus highlights three major points:

i.  There will be Family Hostility.

ii.                        There needs to be Family Priorities.

iii.                      There will be Eternal Rewards.

d.      Jesus gives some revolutionary and radical instructions for individuals and families.

II.                      Family Hostility (10:34-36).

a.       Jesus will ultimately bring peace, but not right away.

i.  This has to be one of the most striking statements that Jesus has ever made.  Isn’t this a contradiction to what the angels said at the birth of Jesus, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

ii.                        Jesus is even called the Prince of peace.

iii.                      Blessed are the peace-makers, for they will be called the sons of God.

iv.                      God is a peace-maker.

v.                         His gospel is called a gospel of peace.  A gospel of reconciliation.  It makes reconciliation not only between sinners and God, but between sinners and sinners.

b.      What is meant by the statement “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

i.  It means this… “The sword is the effect of His coming, not the purpose of His coming.” F.F. Bruce

ii.                        Just like many people thought the return of the Messiah would bring them peace and prosperity right then and there, many people today think that the Messiah is supposed to bring peace and prosperity right now.

iii.                      Jesus says in effect, “I have not come to bring your best life now, but I have come to bring your worst life now…Your life might be miserable because of your attachment to me…People hate me, and they might hate you too.”

iv.                      Even though Jesus is the Prince of Peace, people treated Him with hostility and murder.  He didn’t experience peace, He experienced death.

v.                         They same will happen to His followers.

c.       The Main Principle- There will be family hostility because of Jesus.

i.  There will be hostility in the family.

1.      John MacArthur tells of a young lady he met at a Christian conference who said she has become a Christian from a totally pagan family and she said my father will not speak to me. He will not have anything to do with me. He will not even talk to me if I call him on the phone, he hangs up. And then she said - I..I would think that he would be happy that I'm not an alcoholic, I'm not a drug addict, that I'm not a criminal, and not walk in the streets like a prostitute, that I'm not...haven't been in some terrible accident, crippled, or injured. I've never had such joy in my life and he won't talk to me. And I said that's because of the sword.

2.      “Just because you were born into this family doesn’t make you family.”  2 Pac

3.      Many people have felt the sword at school or at the University or at the workplace.

4.      The division and hostility that comes from being identified with Jesus.

ii.                        There will be hostility in the marriage.

1.      1 Cor. 7:14, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

2.      Paul is basically working out the details of Jesus’ words here.

3.      There will be a metaphorical sword in some marriages because of Jesus.

4.      There will be conflict and aggression because of the gospel for some marriages.

d.      These statements by Jesus tell us that we should not expect peace and tranquility:

i.  Luther, “If our gospel were received in peace, it would not be the true gospel.”

1.      If people are never offended or upset by your message, then you might want to rethink if you are actually presenting the true gospel.

2.      The call for sinners to repent many times does not jive with the hardened.

ii.                        Expect hostility….

1.      Religion.

2.      Government.

3.      Society.

4.      Family.

a.       I mentioned that this would be the hardest type of persecution.  Maybe that’s why Jesus addresses it again here.  He already mentioned it in verse 21.

b.      This kind of persecution is the hardest.  Especially for tight night communities and families that the Jews typically had.

c.       This was a hard saying for this audience. 

e.       Family dynamics can be interesting.

i.  I’ll use my own family and brothers here as an example.

1.      By God’s grace my own immediate family are all saved and have been born again, but growing up we still faced conflict for us brothers and it usually revolved around sports of some kind.

ii.                        We grew up with a love for competition, even if we weren’t good, which was usually the case.  The sport didn’t matter.   It’s in our blood and was clearly passed down from the Anderson side of the tree.  Between cousins and immediate family members we have a unusually high level of intensity with games, even board games.

iii.                      Outsiders would be either intrigued our appalled.  Usually the latter.

iv.                      For instance, for our extended family we actually drafted a 7-paged rule guide for Cornhole.

v.                         The worst thing that could happen would be to play a game without having a clear set of rules by which to adjudicate.

vi.                      I jokingly have said that whenever I play badminton I need to temporality step down as an elder.  Badminton is my weakness.

vii.                    My first first-fight was over a game of badminton with my brother Luke.

1.      I remember my poor mother crying, and asking, “Are other families like this?”

viii.                  Thankfully there has never been any jealousy or comparison between my brothers.  We get along really well.  There is only one area of severe competition.  Sports.

ix.                      But there is one area we both love and is our downfall.  Competition.

1.      Basketball.

2.      Cornhole.

3.      Pingpong.

4.      Tennis.

5.      Even Running.

x.                         It’s one thing to have hostility over sports.  Usually a few hours later we are friends again.  But a division and hostility over the Lord Jesus and the gospel, would be something too awful for words.

xi.                      A hostility and division between sibling and parent because of Jesus would be painful beyond words.

xii.                    Many of you, and much of the world, know this personally and painfully.

xiii.                  Jesus and His gospel have resulted in a sword.

III.                   Family Priorities (10:37-39).

a.       Mat. 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

b.      Principle #1: Ultimate love and loyalty belongs to Jesus alone.

i.                        Jesus demands this when He summarizes the Law.

1.      Mat. 22:34-40, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

2.      Our number one priority is to love God above everything else.

3.      Our first priority is to God.

a.       Jesus sets the terms for discipleship, not us.

b.      We are not at liberty to alter and change His words or His demands.

c.       Jesus says that our love and allegiance and loyalty to Him is to supersede every other relationship.

ii.                        Jesus is to come first.

1.      Charles Spurgeon’s wife sad about his distraction.

a.       Charles Spurgeon before he got married, he had picked up his fiancée to take her to a place where he was going to preach. And when they arrived they were separated by the massive crowd of people.  Spurgeon was a bit of a celebrity, even as a 20 year old.  And thousands of people were pushing in to hear him preach. And so he sort of pushed his way up to the platform and after the meeting was over he couldn't find her anywhere, so he just went over to her house. And he found her there and she was sort of pouting and crying. And she said, "Charles, you left me in that crowd all alone and you weren't even concerned where I was."

b.      This is what he said, "I'm sorry, but perhaps what happened was providential. I didn't intend to be impolite but whenever I see a crowd like that waiting for me to preach, I'm overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility, I forgot about you. Now, let's get one thing straight, it will have to be the rule of our marriage that the command of my Master comes first; you shall have the second place. Are you willing as my wife to take a second place while I give the first place to Christ?"

c.       He loved his wife, he loved her to the death; he never made a god out of her. His God was the true God.

iii.                      Jesus demands this in His Church.

1.      Revelation 2:1-6:  

a.       ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

2.     Lovelessness is a serious matter to Jesus.

3.      They had abandoned love and loyalty and devotion to Jesus.

iv.                      Jesus is worth our utmost loyalty and devotion.

c.       Application: What does this look like?  How do we give ultimate priority to Jesus, while at the same time love our families?

i.  Families are to prioritize the Lord Jesus Christ.

1.      The number one priority for the family is to love and prioritize God.

2.      All other relationships, even the closest family ties, become idolatrous when Christ is not loved first and foremost.

3.      So the family needs to centralize and prioritize The Lord God.

4.      Deut. 11:1, “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.”

5.      18-22, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him.”

6.      Part of loving God first and foremost is a family dynamic.

7.      Families (not just individuals) are to prioritize the Lord God, but how do we do this practically?

8.      Let me suggest three ways we can offer loyalty to the Lord.  Three ways to give Him His proper place.

ii.                        #1- Families are to prioritize family worship.

1.      Family Devotions.  Family Worship.  Bedtime stories and prayer.  Whatever you want to call it.

2.      It is a time when parents model and give instruction on prioritizing the Lord God.

3.      Parents want to try to model that Jesus comes first in the family.  He is Our Leader and our Chief Shepherd.

4.      I hesitate to give myself as an example here for two reasons:

a.       I don’t feel as though I am a very good example.  Or to say it differently, I wish I was a better example.

b.      Second, I want to guard from a legalistic spirit by using personal examples.  I don’t want to make myself or our family a standard whereby others feel guilty if they fall short of what we do.

c.       So keep those two things in mind:  There is a lot more we could be doing; and, don’t measure yourself against us and feel guilty or like a failure.

5.      That being said, with a bit of trepidation here is what we do to promote a Christ-centeredness in our home:

a.       We do a children’s catechism.  50 easy to recite Q and A.  Based off the Shorter Westminster Chatecism.  The kids love it too. 

b.      We sing a few songs.  Try to teach them some of the old hymns to let them know what we sing, others have sung for years.

c.       We read the Bible.

d.      We pray.

6.      It’s usually messy.  It doesn’t happen every single night.  But goal is to keep the Lord Jesus Christ number one in our family,  Give Him the first place.

iii.                      #2- Families are to prioritize corporate Church.  (The Church gathered).

1.      When a family stops going to church they are taking themselves out of the ecosystem that the Lord Jesus Christ has instituted.

2.      When a family only occasionally attends, or slowly disengages to prioritize others things. Even if it’s their own leisure or sleep, they are depriving themselves from the very thing they need most.

3.      Recently, American Christianity has done a good job downplaying the importance of meeting together as a Church.

4.      Many Christians feel no sense of commitment to a local church, or just stop going altogether.

5.      The result is spiritual emaciation. 

6.      Make no mistake about it.  We all prioritize something.  The question is what do we prioritize and value.

7.      Church attendance is oftentimes an indicator.

8.      Church.

a.       This is not because I am a pastor.

b.      Mike Douglas on male headship.

c.       Loyalty to Jesus is expressed in loyalty to His people.

i.  Mat. 12:48-50, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

d.      It’s almost like Jesus is saying that when you become a disciple, you not only get new priorities, you get a new family.

i.  This is certainly true and is implied, but it’s also stated in the final paragraph of chapter 10.  “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives Him who sent me.”

ii.                        Our priority is to give a “cup of cold water” to the Lord’s disciples.  That’s our new family and that’s our new priority.

9.      “Although there are many, is there one lesson the Lord has taught you that you would care to share with us? (Table Talk asking Al Mohler-Pres of Southern Seminary- TIME mag. Most influential Christian thinkers)

a.      I think the one great lesson the Lord has taught me over these years is that the importance of the family and the local congregation supersedes every other relationship to which the Christian is called.

10.  In other words, our loyalty to Christ will manifest itself in a loyalty to His people, the Church, other Christians.

iv.                       Families are to prioritize private worship.

1.      What I mean by this is that families should value and hold high the time and opportunity for the spouse or children to have individual time with Jesus.

2.      As a family, you value and your spouses prayer time.

3.      As a family, you value and your spouses time in the Word.

4.      And your kids.

5.      Their allegiance to Christ comes before their allegiance to you.

v.                         What this passage NOT mean:

1.      When Jesus says calls for loyalty above and beyond family members he is not telling us to NOT love our kids a lot.

2.      This doesn’t mean we don’t really love our kids.

3.      This isn’t a call to neglect or downplay your love to your family.  On the contrary.

4.      The reality is that you actually love your family the most when you love Jesus more.

5.      The best thing you could do for those around you is to impress them with Jesus.

6.      The nicest thing you could do for your kids is point them to Jesus.

7.      The best think you could do for your kids is to demonstrate joyful, meaningful Christianity.

8.      This passage does not mean we are to neglect our families.

9.      “Devotion to family is a cardinal Christian duty but must never become absolute to the extent that devotion to God is compromised.” Blomberg

vi.                      What about mothers?  How are they supposed to value their time with Christ above their children’s needs?

1.      Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of preschool-aged children does not have time and emotional resources.

2.      It is important to recognize, too, that there are stages of life where you really don’t have time to do much, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Children will sap you. If you have three children under the age of six, forget serious reading unless you have the money for a nanny. When our youngest finally went off to kindergarten, we celebrated that day—I took my wife out for lunch. Only then could she get back into reading again. It’s the way life is. You have to be realistic.

3.      D.A. Carson

vii.                    Follow-up comments:

1.      I will be the first person to say that there are seasons in which we mommies need to be gracious with ourselves.  As a homeschooling mother of four children (and one on the way!) I know fatigue and busyness firsthand.

2.      However, in contradiction to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, I maintain that even we mothers of preschool children have time to do the things that we love.

3.      Let us be very cautious against tolerating long periods of no Bible study. Our Bible times may look different after just having had a baby, or staying up with sick sweethearts night after night,  for instance, but let us never forsake God’s Word altogether. I have been known to use bathtime for quick devotional reads and nighttime nursing periods for Bible reading. (God gives us a natural half-hour period or more in those early days in which we have to be awake anyway—why not try reading then? I was completely astounded at how feasible and even enjoyable a time it was to read at 3 am!)

viii.                  It’s tough to find a balance without being too rigid or too lax.

1.      It’s safest to stick to the principles.

2.      Ultimate loyalty belongs to Jesus.  He comes first.

3.      The bottom line is that love for Christ must exceed every other kind of love.

d.      Principle #2- Ultimate love and loyalty belongs to Jesus alone, above family, and above self.

i.  “Take up your cross…” (38).

1.      We will live for Christ, or we will live for ourselves.

2.      This statement of “take up your cross is not a common metaphor for us today.  Other than the Lord’s cross, we don’t think much about crosses.  But Jesus’ audience did.  They would have seen men pick up a wooden cross to their place of execution.  And when that man walked off with a cross on his shoulders followed by a few Roman guards.  He was not coming back anytime soon.  It was the end of him.

3.      So this saying of “taking up your cross” would have implied a complete renunciation of oneself.  It was a death to the self-life and the beginning of a completely new life.

4.      Jesus demands this of all of His followers.

5.      “follow after me” meant follow the teacher.  Disciples usually walked behind their teachers.

6.      This isn’t an addendum to your life.  This is a nice add-on.  Following Jesus isn’t like changing your political affiliation or picking up a new hobby.  It’s a call to deny yourself and your priorities and adopt the priorities of your Master.

7.      It’s a complete life-change.

8.      It’s a 180.

9.      And you don’t understand that, than you need to examine yourself with the words of Jesus here.

10.  In the words of David Platt, it’s a “Radical” call to discipleship.

11.  There is a willingness to forsake everything, even ones own life, for Jesus.

12.  Mat. 16:24-25

ii.                        V. 39 “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

1.      There used to be a board game in the mid-50s, made Parker Brothers, and it was a game for church families. It was called "Going to Jerusalem."

2.      The playing piece little plastic man with a robe, a beard, some sandals, and a staff.  In order to move across the board, you looked up answers to questions in the little black New Testament provided with the game.

3.      You start in Bethlehem, you make your way to the Mount of Olives, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and on.

4.      If you rolled the dice well, you went all the way to a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But you never got to the Crucifixion or Resurrection.

5.      There were no demons or angry Pharisees. You only made your way through the nice stories. It was a nice safe adventure, perfectly suited for an American audience.

6.      There weren’t any cards or stops that said, "Take up your cross, and follow me."  Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois

iii.                      Story of missionary:

1.      “I think the most vibrant missionaries I have met are medical doctors serving in lonely outposts of the Arab world. These physicians and nurses are aware that in winning a Muslim to Christ, they condemn their converts to ostracism and persecution—even martyrdom.

2.      One doctor said to me, "How do you think I feel in longing to lead people to Christ, knowing that the moment my patients receive Christ they face a life-and-death contempt in this culture?"

3.      "It must seem pointless," I said.

4.      "Pointless?" he said. "This is the point of the gospel—the cost and consequence of receiving Christ is the entire point of Luke 9:23: 'Take up your cross and follow me.'"  Calvin Miller.

iv.                      C.T. Studd saying to his three daughters on his death bed, “I wish I had something to give you, but I gave it all to Jesus a long time ago.”

v.                         Henry Martyn

1.      A missionary who has influenced my life greatly because of what I read is a man named Henry Martyn. He went to India and spent a lifetime, really, there. Already in India he had done more than his share of missionary service when he announced that he was going to go to persia because God had laid it upon his heart to translate the New Testament and the Psalms into the persian language.

2.      By then he was an old man.

3.      They told him that if he stayed in India he would die because of the heat. And then they told him that persia was hotter than India. But he went nonetheless. Studied the persian language. Translated the entire New Testament and the Psalms in nine months. And then he was told that he couldn't print it or circulate it until he received the Shah's permission. So he traveled 800 miles to Tehran, and he was denied permission to see the Shah. He turned around and made a 400 mile trip to find the British ambassador. The ambassador gave him the proper kinds of papers and so forth and sent him back to the Shah. And so he traveled another 400 miles...that makes l?0O miles. He rode this at night on the back of a mule, and rested during the tudied the persian language. Translated the entire New Testament and the Psalms in nine months. And then he was told that he couldn't print it or circulate it until he received the Shah's permission. So he traveled 800 miles to Tehran, and he was denied permission to see the Shah. He turned around and made a 400 mile trip to find the British ambassador. The ambassador gave him the proper kinds of papers and so forth and sent him back to the Shah. And so he traveled another 400 miles...that makes l?0O miles. He rode this at night on the back of a mule, and rested during the daytime...protected only by a strip of canvas from the sweltering desert heat.

4.      He finally arrived and was received by the Shah who gave him permission for the Scriptures to be printed and circulated in persia.

5.      Ten days later in he died. But shortly before he had written in his diary this statement: "I sat and thought with sweet comfort and peace of my God. In solitude my Companion, my Friend, and Comforter."

6.      Certainly not a life of ease but a life worth remembering.

7.      Bound up in the spirit of Henry Martyn is the key to genuine discipleship. It is to be so utterly consumed with the cause that you have no thought for your own life. Look with me at verse SS of Matthew 10. "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it. And he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it."

vi.                      Part of following Christ is saying goodbye to your old life:

1.      If a person is unwilling to lay down His rights or opinions, than he or she cannot follow Jesus.

2.      If a person says, for instance, I want to follow Jesus but I am unwilling to stop living my lifestyle, or I am unwilling to stop sleeping with my girlfriend, or I am unwilling to give up immorality.  Than that person cannot be a disciple of Jesus. 

IV.                    Eternal Rewards (10:40-42)

a.      This world may be hard for you as a Christian, but you will be rewarded.

i.  The blessings of the future kingdom will offset the sacrifices made here in this life.  The loss of losing parents and children due to the gospel is painful.  The persecution experienced is painful.  The hostility because of being attached to Jesus is painful, but all of that pain will eventually be offset in the coming Kingdom.

ii.                        You will be rewarded for your work as a disciple of Jesus.

1.      “he will by no means lose his reward.”

iii.                      This is a lost doctrine.  A forgotten doctrine, and a minimized doctrine.  Much to our regret.

1.      The vast majority of Christians today think very little about eternal rewards.

2.      How you serve him in this life determines how you will serve him in eternity (1 Cor. 3:10–15).

b.      Even the smallest gestures towards the Lord’s people will be taken into account.

i.  A cup of cold water was a gift that even the poorest person could give.

1.      Even menial tasks will be taken into account.

2.      Anyone can do this.

ii.                        None of us have met Jesus in the flesh. 

iii.                      We have not met Him personally, in that sense.  But we have met his disciples.

iv.                      In fact, most of us have come to Christ because someone told us about Him and the gospel.

v.                         Jesus is saying in three roughly equivalent ways that those who receive his followers, because they accept what those individuals stand for, will in turn be received by God.

c.       Story of deny self for the gospel:

i.  I read this article this week and it illustrates this…

1.      “We were having lunch together and I was praying like mad. My friend had been in a committed same-sex relationship for about 15 years. He was interested in Jesus; attracted to his teaching and message. But he wanted to know what implications becoming a Christian might have on his practicing gay lifestyle.

2.      I had explained, as carefully and graciously as I could, that Jesus upheld and expanded the wider biblical stance on sexuality: that the only context for sexual activity was heterosexual marriage. Following Jesus would mean seeking to live under his word, in this area as in any other.

3.      He had been quiet for a moment, and then looked me in the eye and asked the billion-dollar question: ‘What could possibly be worth giving up my partner for?’

4.      I held his gaze for a moment while my brain raced for the answer. There was eternity, of course. There was heaven and hell. But I was conscious that these realities would seem other-worldly and intangible to him. In any case, surely following Jesus is worth it even for this life. He was asking about life here-and-now, so I prayed for a here-and-now Bible verse to point to. I wanted him to know that following Jesus really is worth it – worth it in the life to come, but also worth it in this life now, no less so for those who have homosexual feelings. Yes, there would be a host of hardships and difficulties: unfulfilled longings, the distress of unwanted temptation, the struggles of long-term singleness.

5.      But I wanted him to know that following Jesus is more than worth it, even with all it entails for gay people. And I also wanted to tell him that I had come to know this not just from studying the Bible and listening to others, but from my own personal experience.

6.      Homosexuality is an issue I have battled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God’s good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, rather than less.

7.      It is only in recent months I have felt compelled to be more open on this issue. For many years I had no intention of being public about it – it is, of course, very much a personal matter. I am conscious that raising it here may lead to any number of responses – some welcome, some perhaps less so. But over the last couple of years I have felt increasingly concerned that, when it comes to our gay friends and family members, many of us Bible-believing Christians are losing confidence in the gospel. We are not always convinced it really is good news for gay people. We are not always sure we can really expect them to live by what the Bible says.

8.      Well, as my mind raced that lunchtime God gave me a verse to share with my friend. It demonstrates precisely why following Jesus is worth it, in this lifetime, and even when we have to give up things we could never imagine living without:

9.      Peter said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!”

10.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much as in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:28-30).

11.  Following Jesus involves leaving things behind and giving things up. For gay people, it involves leaving behind a practicing gay lifestyle.

12.  But however much we have to leave behind we are never left out of pocket. Whatever is given up Jesus replaces, in godly kind and greater measure. No one who leaves will fail to receive, and the returns are extraordinary – a hundredfold. What we give up for Jesus does not compare to what he gives back. If the costs are great, the rewards are even greater, even in this life

13.  There is a huge amount to say on this issue, but the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it.

V.                       The Gospel.

a.       Are you willing to give up your life to follow Jesus?

b.      How do we get peace with God?

i.  #1- Understand and recognize that there is hostility (in the world, and in your heart), and turn to God.

ii.                        #2- Believe the gospel.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Faith, Fathers, Mothers, Rewards, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Lesson 24: Jesus And John The Baptist (Matthew 11:1-19)

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This lesson on Matthew 11 was preached by Alex Strauch in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 6/16/2013.

Related Topics: Christology, Kingdom, Law, Prophecy/Revelation

Lesson 25: And You Will Find Rest For Your Souls (Matthew 11:20-30)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Up to this point in Matthew’s gospel the hostility towards Jesus has steadily increased.  Jesus has gone around Israel proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, displaying with healings and resurrections and miracles.  Like John the Baptist He is calling people to turn from sin and turn to God and escape judgment.

i.  John the Baptist is now in prison and beginning to wonder if in fact Jesus was the Messiah…

ii.                        Mat. 11:4-6, “And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

b.      People were increasingly irresponsive to Jesus.

i.  You’d think it would have been the opposite.

ii.                        You would think that people would be excited and happy about these signs and miracles.  But that’s not the case.  There was an increasing hostility toward Jesus.

iii.                      Even though the masses followed Jesus, the masses did not understand that Jesus was the King and the Kingdom had arrived because the King had arrived.

iv.                      So they never repented.  They felt no need to repent.

c.       In this first section Jesus begins to denounce the cities He had travelled through and displayed the power of the kingdom, because very few repented and followed Him.

i.  It’s as if Jesus is surprised.  He’s almost seems shocked that the people were so stubborn and hard-hearted.

d.      In this passage, Jesus confronted Israel’s disbelief more openly than ever.

i.  He had done all kinds of open, public ministry, displaying the kingdom, but they overwhelmingly rejected it.

ii.  They were terrible at discerning reality.

II.                      A Warning of Judgment (11:20-24).

a.       #1- Jesus is Judge (11:20-21), “Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

i.  “He began to denounce…”

1.      What does denounce mean?

2.      Part of Jesus ministry was denunciation.

3.      “woe to you”  “woe to you”

ii.                        Why did He denounce?

1.      They were given so much revelation, but they hardened their hearts.

2.      They did not repent.

3.      They did not repent in light of the revelation given to them.   The “mighty works.”

4.      Both these Galilean villages would have witnessed Jesus’ ministry firsthand.

5.      They have seen the miracles of Jesus; they have heard the teachings of Jesus.

6.      They have been first-row spectators to His words and deeds.  They have marveled at His authority.

iii.                      Jesus is a Judge:

1.      Jesus is a Teacher, Jesus is a Savior, Jesus is a Healer, Jesus is a Miracle-worker.  Yes.  All of that is perfectly true.

2.      But Jesus is also a Righteous Judge.

3.      The Israelites, like us, were terrible at discerning reality.

b.      We are terrible at judging ourselves:

i.  There is a fairly recent DOVE soap commercial where a women walks into a warehouse and there is a artist sketcher behind a sheet and he asks her to describe her face. 

1.      He can’t see her so she describes her nose and describes her chin and describes her lips and her forehead and her freckles and he does his best to draw it.

2.      Then he brings in another lady who only recently met this lady who was sketched by the artist and she does the same thing.  The artist asks this stranger to describe the lady she only recently met.  So she describes her features.  She describes the ladies nose and chin and hair and ears and forehead.

3.      The big moment is when the lady, who has now been drawn two times see both sketches side by side.

4.      The sketch that she describes of herself of somewhat distorted and pronounced and exaggerated.  It’s doesn’t look that nice.  But the portrait that was described by the stranger is much better looking.

5.      The point Dove is trying to make is that women tend to be too hard on themselves.  They are out of touch with how beautiful they really are.

ii.                        There was a parody on this heartwarming commercial where they did the same thing with guys.

1.      A guy walks into a warehouse and describes himself to an artist behind the veil and the men describes themselves in glowing terms.

2.      “People have said I have incredible hair.”  “My jaw is pretty square.”  “I have bold, dark eyes, sort of like a milk chocolate color.”

3.      And the sketches all come out looking like George Clooney.  Brad Pitt.  Movie stars.

4.      Then they have women describe the men and it’s the complete opposite/

5.      “His eyes sort of protrude like a grape, if that makes sense.”

6.      “His chin is sort of…well…not there….”

iii.                      It’s all sort of a hilarious parody on how women tend to be too hard on themselves and men tend to be too easy on themselves.

iv.                      Both sexes are out of touch with reality.

c.       The following statement of Jesus is not en vogue:  “Repent, or you will likewise perish.”

i.  Jesus as Judge rubs against our cultural sensibilities.

ii.                        This is offensive.  And It was offensive to them as well.

iii.                      Jesus says, in this text, “Blessed are you if you do not take offense to me.”

iv.                      Many people will hear the words of Jesus and walk away.

v.                         The reason they will walk away is because of unbelief.

d.      #2- The sin of Unbelief (11:20b).

i.  “because they did not repent…”

1.      They heard the good news of the Kingdom.  They even SAW the good news of the kingdom.  But they did not feel the need to turn from their sin.

2.      Jesus had done all kinds of miracles and He expected people to acknowledge that these were Messianic miracles.

3.      They should have recognized that God had arrived.

4.      But they refused to believe it.  They even said that Jesus was of the Devil.  They didn’t deny the power, but they refused repent.

5.      The kind of repentance Jesus was looking for was a complete change of life.  A change of thinking and a change of behavior.

6.      They should have responded to Jesus as the Lord and King and followed Him and renounced their lives.

7.      They should have bent the knee to Christ as Lord and King.  They should have bowed down.

8.      But they didn’t.

9.      They refused to repent.

ii.                        Story of not repenting:

1.      “Some years ago a murderer was sentenced to death. The murderer’s brother, to whom the State was deeply indebted for former services, besought the governor of the State for his brother’s pardon. The pardon was granted, and the man visited his brother with the pardon in his pocket. “What would you do,” he said to him, “if you received a pardon?”

2.      “The first thing I would do,” he answered, “is to track down the judge who sentenced me, and murder him; and the next thing I would do is to track down the chief witness, and murder him.”

3.      The brother rose, and left the prison with the pardon in his pocket…

4.      If there is no repentance there is no pardon.

5.      Woe to you Chorazin!  Woe to you Bethsaida!

iii.                      What is unbelief?

1.      Unbelief is not intellectual, it’s moral.  It’s closely connected to disobedience.  If someone does not believe the gospel it is usually not for intellectual reasons.  It is for moral reasons.

2.      Unbelief is a moral disobedience, not a intellectual skepticism.

3.      “Disobedience is the root of unbelief. Unbelief is the mother of further disobedience…It lies in the moral aversion of human will and in the pride of independence, which says, "who is Lord over us? Why should we have to depend on Jesus Christ?...the less one trusts, the more he disobeys; the more he disobeys, the less he trusts.”  Alexander Maclaren.

iv.                      Unbelief is different than doubt.

1.      Doubt can actually be a good thing.

2.      Skepticism is actually a good thing in many ways.

3.      It’s not a virtue to be gullible.

4.      We should have a filter.

5.      Jesus tells us to be wise as serpents.

6.      One of the marks of Evangelicals in the last 100 years has been an almost comical gullibility and lack of thinking and discernment.

7.      There is a difference between blind faith and reasonable faith. 

a.       We certainly have to display faith.  There are things that we cannot see.  But we are always believing and trusting based on historical facts.

8.      Anthony Flew:

a.       The equivalent of Richard Dawkins today.  Renowned atheist in Great Britain.

b.      After years of being an atheist, late in life he finally acknowledged that there must some Intelligent Designer of this world.

c.       “An honest man will follow the evidence….I have found the case for the empty tomb to be very convincing.”

9.      Christianity isn’t just “BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE!”  Don’t ask questions, just believe!

10.  No, this is historical, and true, or it isn’t, and if it isn’t historically true, and you still believe it, there is nothing virtuous about that.  In fact, it’s foolish.

v.                         These town should have repented, but they sinned the sin of unbelief.

1.      Jesus says that they should have responded with sackcloth and ashes, but they actually responded with hostility and accusations, saying Jesus is empowered by Satan.

2.      Jesus is judging and rebuking them for their unbelief.  But it might help to articulate more about what this unbelief looked like.

3.      Jesus rebukes unbelief.  He has a particular disdain for the sin of unbelief. Why?

4.      Eternity is contingent on our response to Jesus.

5.      What is repentance?

a.       “Sackcloth and ashes” were common public tokens of repentance in antiquity. One who wore sackcloth donned a coarse undergarment, often made of camels’ hair. Ashes were sprinkled on one’s head

6.      What does it look like?

7.      The sin of unbelief:

a.       This is the worst sin.

b.      This is the unpardonable sin.

8.      Os Guiness gives a very helpful definition of doubt in his book “In Two Minds.” He says, "When you believe, you are in one mind and accept something as true. Unbelief is to be of one mind and reject that something is true. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and disbelieve at the same time, and so to be in ’two minds.’" That is what James calls, in Chapter 1, a "double minded man," or as the Chinese say, "Doubt is standing in two boats, with one foot in each."

9.      So unbelief essentially says that God cannot be trusted!

10.  Unbelief is a refusal to submit to the truth.  It’s a suppression of the truth.

11.  The truth is like a giant spring and unbelief tries to hold that spring down.  Unbelief tries to suppress the truth (Rom. 1).

vi.                      John MacArthur tells this story “In 1984 a Boeing jet crashed in Spain.  Straight into a mountain.  Investigators studied the sight and recovered the little black box.  They made an eerie discovery.  The black box had in it a voice recorder which recorded the final minutes before the fatal impact.  What they heard was an automated recording of the planes automatic warning system saying, “Pull up! Pull up! Pull up! Pull up!  Then, astoundingly, the voice of the pilot was heard snapping back, ‘Shut up Gringo!’ and he switched the system off.  In a matter of minutes the plane crashed into the side of the mountain and everyone was killed.  This is a parable of an unbelieving heart.

vii.                    “Sin blinds people from properly perceiving what is significant.” Darrell Bock

e.       #3- There will be a final day of judgment (11:22-24). “But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”

i.  The day of judgment is inevitable.

1.      That day will come.

2.      Jesus is saying here that there is a heaven and there is a hell and all of us go to one of two places.

3.      You will either spend eternity in heaven or hell.

4.      We will all stand before the judgment seat.

5.      The judgment is coming.

6.      The Day of the Lord is coming.

7.      Pages and pages of scripture warn about this day!

8.      Almost every author in the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, warns of a the coming day of judgment.

9.      1992 referring to an event in 1985.  Early 20’s.  “1985 I wonder whether you remember me sitting in your office wondering if God would have to use a car accident or some other awful event to get my attention.  And you pointed out that the consequences of my deliberate choice to continue sinning would be nothing short of hell itself.  No one had ever told me that I was headed for hell.  Missionary kid that I was.  Saved at the age of six.  It was a turning point in my life, and I have wanted to thank you and tell you that ever since.  Every single year since 1992 I have received a Christmas card from this young lady thanking me for warning her of hell if she did not get out of this relationship.’”

10.  Are you ready to meet the Lord?

a.       Are you willing to risk your eternity on a hunch?

b.      Many people would never risk swimming with sharks, or risk their finances on gambling, or risk walking on a tightrope, or risk running a red light, but how many billions of people risk their eternal destiny on a hunch, or on your own good life?

ii.                        The day of judgment will result in degrees of punishment.

1.      “more tolerable.”

2.      “But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.”

3.      Jesus is saying that there are degrees of punishment in hell.

4.      It is also true that there will be degrees of reward in heaven.

5.      The Lord is just and He will discern the degrees of punishment or reward on that day.

6.      Colin Smith talks about the day of judgment, and says…

a.       “You may say, "Wait a minute. How can any sin deserve everlasting destruction? If God is just, how can he punish like this?"

b.      The best answer I ever heard to that question was given by a friend of mine who is a middle school pastor. He outlined the stages of the following scenario:

i.  Suppose a middle school student punches another student in class. What happens? The student is given a detention.

ii.                        Suppose during the detention, this boy punches the teacher. What happens? The student gets suspended from school.

iii.                      Suppose on the way home, the same boy punches a policeman on the nose. What happens? He finds himself in jail.

iv.                      Suppose some years later, the very same boy is in a crowd waiting to see the President of the United States. As the President passes by, the boy lunges forward to punch the President. What happens? He is shot dead by the secret service.

c.       In every case the crime is precisely the same, but the severity of the crime is measured by the one against whom it is committed. What comes from sinning against God? Answer: Everlasting destruction.

III.                   An Invitation to Rest (11:25-30).

a.       Starting in v. 25, we see Jesus now respond to the growing hostility.

i.  He responds with prayer and with an invitation.

ii.                        He finds comfort in the sovereignty of God.  He trusts His Father.

1.      “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”

iii.                      Then He continues to invite people to come to Him and be a part of the Kingdom.

iv.                      This is obviously connected to the previous section where He denounced entire villages for NOT coming to Him in faith and repentance.

v.                         These five verses are an invitation to come and find rest in Jesus.

b.      #1- The invitation is for all people (11:25-26, 28).

i.  “you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding”

1.      These people are the achievers.  The PhD’s.  The intellectual elite.

2.      They have wisdom and learning, but their self-sufficiency has made it more difficult for them to rely on God’s wisdom, and not their own.

3.      Obviously many wise and learned people do know the truth of the Kingdom, but the point Jesus is making is that if anyone comes to the saving knowledge of the truth, it’s not by their own intellect and brain prowess.

ii.                        “and revealed them to little children”

1.      “Little children” refers to the most simple.  The humble.

2.      The Lord never intended for the gospel to only be understood by the smart folks.

3.      Jesus is deliberately making the point that the gospel is for all people.

4.      So the contrast is not literally between smart folks and children, but between proud people who have no need of Jesus, and humble people who do have need of Jesus.

5.      If you are proud, then Jesus won’t mean much to you.  You see yourself as spiritually rich.  You have no need.

6.      But if you are poor in spirit.  If you are like a child, who has needs, then Jesus will be precious to you.

iii.                      “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden.”

1.      This is a universal call.

2.      This is a call to whosoever wants it.

3.      Jesus invites all people to come to Him.

4.      Jesus just gets done rebuking people for not repenting, then he reiterates the fact that all people are welcome.  All people are invited.

5.      “no one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

6.      The whole purpose of salvation is to know the Father and the Son.

7.      The invitation to salvation is an invitation to Christ.

8.      The invitation to rest is an invitation to Christ.

9.      The invitation to the Kingdom is an invitation to Christ.

10.  The invitation to Eternal Life is an invitation to Christ.

11.  Jesus is inviting all people to Himself.  To God.

iv.                      There is a universal element of Jesus’ invitation.

1.      John 1:11-12, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”

a.       That is exactly what we see happening in this section.

b.      He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.

c.       He came to the cities of Bethsaida and Capernaum, but they rejected Him

d.      But to all who labor and are heavy laden, to all who are poor in spirit, to the little children, He gave them the right to rest in Him.

v.                         The heresy of hyper-Calvinism was that we didn’t know who the elect are, so we need not offer the gospel to all.

1.      That’s nonsense!

2.      The gospel is for all!

3.      Jesus tells the disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel to go to all nations and proclaim the gospel to everyone!

4.      The invitation from Jesus here could not be more clear… “All!” “All!”

c.       #2- The invitation to know God is revealed by Jesus (11:25-27).

i.  Twice Jesus says that knowledge of the gospel is revealed to some people.

ii.                        “whoever the Son chooses to reveal him” (11:25, 27)

iii.                      We have here a theological tension here.

1.      In one sense, God clearly calls all people.

2.      In another sense, God is only revealed to some by the Son, whoever He chooses to reveal the Father to.

iv.                      The tension of Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility:

1.      The tendency is to emphasize one or the other.

2.      But Biblical Christianity needs to hold both in tension.

3.      Scripture regularly and without any sense of contradiction juxtaposes the themes of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

a.       Phil 2:12–13, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  {Gen 50:19–20; Lev 20:7–8; Jer 29:10–14; Joel 2:32}

4.      D.A. Carson:

a.       “God is absolutely sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions in Scripture to reduce human responsibility.

b.      Human beings are responsible creatures—that is, they choose, they believe, they disobey, they respond, and there is moral significance in their choices; but human responsibility never functions in Scripture to diminish God’s sovereignty or to make God absolutely contingent.”

v.                         The general invitation is to all people.  And if they ignore the call, they onus is always on them.  God is never responsible for someone’s unbelief.

vi.                      The effectual call is only to those who respond to the gospel.  And the reason they responded to the gospel, is because the Son chose to reveal it.  V. 27 is a crystal clear statement of God’s election unto salvation.

vii.                    Don’t ask me how this works because I don’t know.

viii.                  But Scripture says it’s compatible.  Divine sovereignty and human responsibility are compatible.

1.      And we always get weird when we emphasize one and not the other.

2.      Scripture emphasizes both and so should we.

ix.                      Why don’t some people believe the gospel?

1.      Answer #1-  They are blinded by Satan.

a.       (2 Cor. 4:3–4).

2.      Answer #2- The refuse to believe.  Unbelief.

3.      Answer #3- The Son has not been revealed to them.

d.      #3- The invitation is to rest in Jesus. (11:28)

i.  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

1.      These are some of the most precious words in the Bible.

2.      These words sounds like an invitation to a spiritual Spa.

3.      Jesus equates the Christian life with spiritual rest.

ii.                        “labor and heavy laden”

1.      had the idea of someone carrying a pack all day, and they are tired.

2.      In this case Jesus is directly confronting the Pharisaism with all it’s extra rules and oddities.

3.      These extra rules were not part of the Law.  They were not Torah.

4.      Jesus is attacking the Pharisees here.

a.       The Pharisees were strict keepers of the Law.  But the actually developed a Law around the Law called the Talmud.

b.      It was a hedge.

c.       The OT had a total of 613 commandments, but the Talmud went above and beyond.

d.      For instance, the Torah says, “Don’t muzzle the ox.”  The Talmud had all kinds of rules and regulations to help you avoid breaking the Law.

i.  “don’t feed you Ox past 8pm.”

ii.                        How to wear your hat.  When to cut your fingernails.

iii.                      This was a highly traditional environment filled with external religion.

iv.                      This is a heavy load.  It’s a heavy yoke.

iii.                      So Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you…”

1.      The Pharisees yoke was heavy and burdensome.

a.       This is what Israel had become.  A heavy yoke of rules and regulations that created utter hypocrisy and emptiness.

b.      No one could do it!

c.       The absurdity of the Pharisees is seen in no better story than when they rebuke Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.

d.      They don’t deny the healing, but they dispute when He did it.

e.       Jesus basically says, “are kidding me?”

f.        You have totally neglected the weightier parts of the Law and you have missed it.

g.      Mat. 23:4, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (Acts 15:10)

iv.                      Jesus’ yoke is different.  An easy yoke and a light yoke. (v. 30)

1.      It’s still work, but it’s not a burden.

2.      It’s still work.  But it’s not an exhausting drudgery of existence.

3.      1 John 5:2-3, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

4.      In other words, it’s delightful.  It’s pleasant.

5.      The Pharisees would do and then rest.  We rest and then do.

6.      We work hard not to get salvation, we work hard because we have salvation.

7.      We are people of the Spirit.

8.      John Bunyan said it well, “Run, John, run, the law commands.  But gives us neither feet nor hands,  Far better news the gospel brings: It bids us fly and gives us wings”  John Bunyan

9.      Jesus doesn’t take the yoke off.  He doesn’t say come and rest and do no work.  If anything, the one who rests in Christ does more work!  But the motivation is different.  It’s a work that is not only enabled by the Spirit, but it’s a work of gratitude not merit.  It isn’t “work hard to get salvation, but rather, work hard because you have salvation.

10.  Nonetheless, it’s so easy to put the heavy yoke of works-based righteousness back on!

e.       Story of Toronto’s Jewish community:

i.  As is the case in many large cities, Toronto's Jews have access to Hatzoloh, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to respond rapidly to emergency medical situations in Toronto's Jewish community. Though they cannot transport patients to hospital, they are able to respond to calls and to assist paramedics in providing emergency services and language translation. Though they are on-call and available 24 hours a day, there is one small change in their operations on the Sabbath when driving a vehicle is forbidden. Their job is to extend mercy and prolong life and, according to Talmudic interpretation, responding to calls does not violate the Sabbath. However, once a call is complete, they are no longer on a mission of mercy and would be in violation of the Sabbath if they were to drive. What they do instead is employ a service run by non-Jews who will drive both their vehicles and the emergency personnel back to their homes.

ii.                        The glimpse of the community that fascinates me most is the one which begins with Murray responding to a call on a hot, summer Saturday afternoon. After he completed the call and was walking back to his ambulance, he saw a man outside a neighboring home waving him over. This man led Murray into a very hot home and explained that his mentally disabled son had inadvertently turned off the air conditioning and they could not turn it back on without violating the Sabbath laws. He pointed to the thermostat and asked Murray, "Could you please turn it back on?" Murray flipped the little plastic switch and the air conditioner immediately came back to life. The man and his family were exuberant in their gratitude.

iii.                      As Murray spoke to this man, and as he speaks to other members of the community, he sometimes asks whether he should become Jewish. Wouldn't this be the path for him to live in obedience to God and to experience divine blessing? The answer is, "No! Don't become Jewish! If you become Jewish you will have to obey the law--the whole law." And the law is a heavy burden.

f.        There are other examples of this too.  Of heavy yokes and external religiosity.

i.  Roman Catholicism.

1.      Rules and regulations.

2.      It’s a works-based system.

3.      Have I done enough?  Have I done enough?  Have I done enough?

4.      “Will the scales tip in my favor?”

5.      Candles and beads really only gets you less time in purgatory.

ii.                        The same with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1.      There are only 140,000 and they are all trying to be part of that.

2.      Good luck with that.

3.      The same could be said about Mormons.

4.      Heavy guilt.  Huge burdens of works based righteousness.

iii.                      Islam is probably the best example of modern day Phariseeism. 

1.      It’s a religion of deeds and works.

2.      It’s all based on a scale.  Weigh the balance.  Do the 5 pillars.

3.      It’s works based religion pure and simple.

4.      Sharia Law—is all about rules and regulations.

g.      What about us? Biblical Christians.  Do we do the same?

i.  We have the same tendencies!

ii.                        We can create a law around a law.

iii.                      These become “Sacred cows.”

1.      Debates over musical instruments.

2.      How we do the Lord’s Supper.

3.      Some churches even insist you need a seminary degree to preach.

4.      And what happens is that many times the sacred cows become more important than the Bible. 

5.      People are willing to let the whole church die than break with traditions. 

6.      The tradition becomes their religion.

h.      Let me give you another example:

i.  Greg Johnson of St. Louis Center for Christian Study wrote an interesting article entitled “Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt” (link).

1.      “That half hour every morning of Scriptural study and prayer is not actually commanded in the Bible.”

2.      He goes on to say, “As a theologian, I can remind us that to bind the conscience where Scripture leaves freedom is a very, very serious crime. It’s legalism rearing its ugly little head again. We’ve become legalistic about a legalistic command. This is serious.”

3.      We have somehow allowed our quiet time, in its length, depth or consistency, to become the measure of our relationship with God. But “your relationship with God—or, as I prefer to say, God’s relationship with you—is your whole life: your job, your family, your sleep, your play, your relationships, your driving, your everything. The real irony here is that we’ve become accustomed to pigeonholing our entire relationship with God into a brief devotional exercise that is not even commanded in the Bible.”

4.      We are so naturally bent towards this.

ii.                        Jerry Bridges called this the Performance Treadmill.

1.      “My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever “well” is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance….

2.      Living by grace instead of by works means you are free from the performance treadmill. It means God has already given you an “A” when you deserved an “F.” He has already given you a full day’s pay even though you may have worked for only one hour. It means you don’t have to perform certain spiritual disciplines to earn God’s approval. Jesus Christ has already done that for you. You are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. He loves you strictly by His grace given to you through Jesus.

3.      To live by grace is to live solely by the merit of Jesus Christ. To live by grace is to base my entire relationship with God, including my acceptance and standing with Him, on my union with Christ. It is to recognize that in myself I bring nothing of worth to my relationship with God, because even my righteous acts are like filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). Even my best works are stained with motives and imperfect performance. I never truly love God with all my heart, and I never truly love my neighbor with the degree or consistency with which I love myself.”  Jerry Bridges

i.        Jesus says, “enough of that…come to Me all who are burden and find rest!”

i.  “rest for your souls”

1.      Those who take on the yoke of Christ.  Those who are come into a partnership with Christ, and satisfied in their souls.

2.      They find rest and relief.

a.       It’s a future rest in heaven.

b.      It’s a present rest on earth.

c.       And it’s a rest from works-based salvation.

d.      Rest from the burden of sin and guilt.

e.       A rest in the satisfaction of the finished work of Christ.

ii.                        He doesn’t tell them to come to His teaching.  Or come to His come to His doctrinal statement.  Or come to His house.

iii.                      The invitation is to come to Him.  Learn from Him.

1.      Examine His gentleness and humility.

IV.                    The Gospel OF GRACE

Related Topics: Faith, Law, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 26: A Bruised Reed He Shall Not Break (Matthew 12:15-21)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Chapter 12 shows us the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.

b.      The entire chapter is a conversation between the antagonistic Pharisees and Jesus.

i.  “He said to them…He said to them…He said to them…He answered them…”

c.       Matthew is comparing and contrasting the differences between Jesus and the Pharisees.

d.      In light of Matthews’s method, I want to follow suit and show the differences between the Pharisees and Jesus.

e.       I thought I would pick up from last week where we left off.  Where Jesus invites all people to come to Him and find rest in Him. 

i.  It’s an open invitation for all who are poor in spirit.  “To learn from Him.  He is gentle and lowly of heart.”

f.        This morning, I want us to do just that.  I want us to learn from Jesus.  In what way is He gentle and lowly of heart.

i.  Let’s take Jesus’ words to heart when He says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”

ii.                        There is tremendous instruction, encouragement, and application here.  Especially as we consider what lies ahead for us as an assembly of believers in the near future with going to two locations.

g.      Next week, we will look at the Pharisees and their sheer hypocrisy.  But this week I wanted to just focus in on Jesus.  Remember, the context of the chapter is contrasting of the Pharisees and Jesus.

h.      The passage I want to dial in on is Mat. 12:15-21.  It’s a quotation from the prophet Isaiah.

i.        The immediate context:

i.  Jesus just gets done teaching the Pharisees that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, “I tell you something greater than the Temple is here.”

ii.                        Then he heals a man who has a withered hand on the Sabbath.

iii.                      These two things combined were enough to flip the Pharisees out of orbit.

iv.                      They now conspire against him V. 14.  Conspire to kill Him.

1.      The act that makes them want to kill Jesus is that He healed on the Sabbath.

v.                         As a result of this hostility, Jesus withdraws and goes away.

vi.                      Mathew picks this up in verse 15.

j.        Jesus is different from the Pharisees.

i.  Matthew is deliberately showing the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.

ii.                        The differences:

1.      The Pharisee cared about externals.  Jesus cares about internals—the heart.

2.      The Pharisees were public and wanted attention for their deeds.  Jesus retreats, and tells people to keep quiet.

3.      The Pharisees were merciless, and created all kinds of extra rules for people.  Jesus merciful and offers rest for the soul.

4.      The Pharisees yoke is heavy and burdensome.  Jesus yoke is easy and light.

5.      The Pharisees are conspiring how to kill; Jesus is conspiring how to save.

6.      The Pharisees are plotting how to bring injustice; Jesus is bringing justice.

k.      Matthew is showing us that Jesus was the Perfect Servant.  He was God’s choicest pick.  He was Heaven’s Best. And He was totally not what they were expecting.

II.                      The Perfect Servant was Predicted (12:17).

a.       This is the 9th time Matthew has quoted the Old Testament. 

i.  This also happens to be the longest quote.

ii.                        In every single one of these OT quotes, Matthew is proving something.   That Jesus was predicted. 

iii.                      He is the Predicted Prophesied Messiah.

iv.                      He is the One we’ve been waiting for, as the song goes.

b.      Why did this matter?  It matters for a couple reasons…

i.  Matthew is showing that this gospel is entirely based on the Word of God.

1.      God, through the mouth of the prophets foretold what kind of Messiah God would bring.

2.      He would be humble.  He would be gentile. He would bring justice and hope to the Gentiles.

3.      All of these things were exactly true.

ii.                        Matthew is connecting Jesus to the Suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah.

1.      Isaiah has four prophesies about the coming Messiah and he prophesies that the Messiah will be a God’s chosen servant, but He will be a suffering servant.

2.      He will be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.

iii.                      The fact that Jesus was predicted also mattered in the sense that we no long need to look for a different Messiah.  The Messiah has come.  And the same Messiah is coming back.

1.      The entire Jewish system today is around because they are looking for a different Messiah.  Even if some thing it’s not an actual person, they are all in agreement that it’s NOT Jesus.

2.      But Matthew, the Jew, and the Apostle of Jesus is deliberately saying this IS the Messiah.  This Perfect Servant was predicted.

III.                   The Perfect Servant is Choice (12:18).

a.      Behold, my servant whom I have chosen.”

i.  That’s the point of this message, and that’s the point of the Bible, and that’s the point of your life.

ii.                        Behold the Servant Whom God has chosen.  The Lord God who has served you.

iii.                      It’s as though God, through the prophet Isaiah, then through the apostle Matthew, is getting our attention and saying, “Behold everyone.  May I have your attention.  Please look with Me.  Please gaze with Me.  Please admire with Me, my Chosen Servant.  My Son.”

b.      “my servant whom I have chosen”

i.  He is the chosen one.  He is choice.  Precious.

ii.                        This Servant is loved by God (Heb., “my chosen one”).

iii.                      He is the delight of the Lord.

iv.                       “In this we may see the sweet love of God to us, in that he counts the work of our salvation by Christ his greatest service, and in that he will put his only beloved Son to that service.” Sibbes, Richard. The Bruised Reed

v.                         I’ll never forget shopping for a ring for Lonnalee before we were engaged.

1.      I remember when I decided I wanted to marry Lonnalee and got the thumbs up from Mr. Bartlett.  I started researching rings.  It was a high learning curve as I had no idea about such things.

a.       The irony, later on, is that Lonnalee didn’t really even want a diamond ring, but that’s a whole different story.  It didn’t matter, I was excited to surprise her with the best I could do.

2.      The whole system seemed like a racket to me.

3.      As I travelled around to different jewlers and quickly learned about the 4 C’s.

a.       Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color.

b.      If you sacrifice on the quality of any of the four C’s, the price comes down.

c.       The better each of the 4 C’s, the more choice the diamond.  The more choice the diamond, the more expensive it is.

4.      I will never forget talking to a jeweler about rings and I lamented the cost of such a tiny little rock.  I made mention that the fake Cubic zirconium looked more and more like a good option.  Joking of course.

5.      Then he looked at me straight in the eyes, and said, “It happened…A man came in here about a year ago and really nice band, and then later put in a cubic zirconium…a year later his wife came in to get her ring cleaned and I had to tell her she had a fake ring.

a.       “Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned.”

6.      He didn’t give his wife a “choice” diamond, he gave her an imposter.

c.       “my beloved, with whom I am well pleased”

i.  Jesus is the beloved of God.

ii.                        Jesus is not only choice.  He is God’s delight. 

iii.                      “With whom I am well pleased.”

1.      At His Baptism…Mat. 3:16-17, “…the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

2.      At the Transfiguration…Mat. 17:5, He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

3.      Jesus is the apple of the Father’s eye.

4.      “This is a significant connection, God’s love and his choice are never separated. In fact, they are almost synonymous.”

iv.                      The Father, out of infinite love, consistently points people to His Son.

v.                         This is what we do at the Lord’s Supper:

1.      We behold Christ.

2.      We enjoy Christ.

3.      We dine with Christ and we fellowship with Christ.

4.      We thank Him and we delight in Him.

5.      We want less sharing and more delighting.

6.      Less horizontal and more vertical.

d.      Could you say the same about Jesus?

i.  Is He well pleasing to you?

ii.                        Is He choice, to you?

iii.                      Is He worthy of your adoration and attention?

iv.                      Is He worthy of beholding?

v.                         Do you delight in Him?

vi.                      Does He fascinate you?

e.       Jesus is Heaven’s Best.

i.  Like a perfect diamond, the more you examine Him and study Him, the more spectacular He becomes.

1.      Unlike biographies, the more you learn about a person, the more you dig in, the more you find out, you discover failures, oversights, fatal flaws.

a.       You read Spurgeon—he smoked.

b.      You read Luther—was a wee-bit anti-semetic.

c.       You read Wesley—he was a horrible husband.

d.      You read Strauch—he was an alcoholic.   (jk)

2.      Not with Jesus.  The more you behold Him the more well-pleasing He is.

3.      Even the Father, who is infinitely wise and infinitely discerning, and Infinitely Holy, says that He enjoys beholding His Son.  His choice servant is well pleasing to Him.

4.      He enjoys His submission and His obedience and His humility.

5.      The Father delights in the Son.

6.      Don’t take my word for it.  Take God’s word for it!  Jesus is Choice.

ii.                        He is excellent at everything He does.

iii.                      He is excellent as a King.

iv.                      He is excellent as a Savior.

v.                         He is excellent as a High Priest.

vi.                      He is excellent as a Servant.

vii.                    He is excellent when He loves.

viii.                  He is excellent when He forgives.

ix.                      He is excellent when He restores.

x.                         He is excellent when He rebukes sin and evil and wickedness.

xi.                      He is excellent as a Judge.

xii.                    He is perfect in holiness.

xiii.                  He is perfectly in humility.

xiv.                  He is inexhaustible in all of these attributes and descriptions.

xv.                     “Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again, you will never come to the bottom of these depths. How many millions of dazzling pearls and gems are at this moment hid in the deep recesses of the ocean caves! But there are unsearchable riches in Christ. Seek more of them. The Lord enrich you with them. I have always thought it a very pitiful show when great people ornament themselves with brilliants and diamonds; but it is truest wisdom to adorn the soul with Christ and His graces.” - Robert M'Cheyne

IV.                    The Perfect Servant Saves (12:18b, 20).

a.       V. 18 says that the Father put His spirit upon Him. 

i.  This happened at His baptism.

ii.                        His divine nature was eternally one with the Spirit, but a special impartation came upon His human nature.

iii.                      The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach good news to the poor!

iv.                      Luke 4:18-19, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

b.      He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

i.  His death and resurrection made it possible for God to be just and the Justifier of those who trust in Christ for salvation.

ii.                        We proclaim the justice of God in the cross.

iii.                      The Perfect Servant saves!  And He does it through the justice of the cross!

c.       And it’s for all the earth!  Jews and Gentiles.

i.  God plan has always included Jews and Gentiles.

ii.                        When God made a covenant with Abraham it was to be for “all of the families of the earth.”

iii.                      Israel was to be a light to the nations.  A light to the Gentiles.

1.      But they didn’t and they weren’t.

iv.                      Jesus comes along, and is fulfilling God’s covenant with Abraham and He reaches out to the Gentiles.

d.      Matthew reminds us that Jesus has come to bring justice and to save.

i.  1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

V.                       The Perfect Servant is Humble (12:19).

a.       “He will not quarrel or cry aloud, no one will hear His voice in the streets.”

i.  “Quarrel” means to hassle, wrangle, brawl.

ii.                        “Cry aloud” means shout or scream like a madman.  Like a dog barking.

iii.                      In other words He didn’t intimidate people, unlike the Pharisees.

iv.                      He humbly proclaimed the truth.

b.      Isaiah is emphasizing the humility of the Messiah.

i.  He doesn’t stir up the crowds with rhetoric.

ii.                        No, He willingly endures the evil accusations. 

iii.                      He will ultimately endure a cross.

iv.                      1 Pet. 2:23-24, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”

c.       Jesus modeled humility.

i.  Unlike the Pharisees, He is humble and lowly.

1.      He is totally different than the worlds leaders.  He is totally different from the Pharisees.

2.      He avoids the fanfare and publicity that you might expect from a Messiah.

3.      He will ride into Jerusalem, not on a horse, but on a donkey.

4.      This King is totally different from other kings.

5.      This King came not to be served, but to serve, and offer up His life as a ransom for many people.

6.      He quietly does His work, while the others make noise.

ii.                        He invites us to learn humility from Him.

1.      Mat. 11:29, “…learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…”

a.       “Be like me.”  “Imitate me.”

2.      Phil. 2:3-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

d.      Jesus taught humility:

i.  There was never someone so overqualified to teach on humility than Jesus.

ii.                        Jesus models this in John 13 when He takes up the towel:

1.      John 13:4-15, “…rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him…

2.      When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

e.       Application for us as an assembly.

i.  As you know, we are embarking on the single biggest move as an assembly since it’s start, 50 years ago.  The elders have prayerfully casted a vision of growth through the multiplication of churches.  We see church planting as the normal means of and result of the Great Commission.  And we are excited about this.

ii.                        This fall, we will start with another location.  Initially we will remain one assembly-two locations.  We have called it a multi-site, but really it’s a green house for a church plant.  It’s a slow motion church plant.

iii.                      As elders, we have been overwhelmed with your response.  Virtually everyone is excited.  Particularly those looking to serve.  This has opened up a vast chasim, and it’s been awesome to see people begin to fill the gaps and put their shoulder to the plow.

f.        However, at the same time, almost everyone has anxiety in one way or another.

i.  If you are one of the ones going, you may have experienced some different emotions:

1.      There might be anxiety about who is going, and will we have enough people to serve in the Sunday school, as greeters, as deacons, as elders.  Will we have enough resources?  Will the building be ready?  When will it be ready?  Will people help give and serve? What will we do when we become independent?  Do I want to be a part of a different church?  Do I want that for my kids, etc.?

ii.                        If you are staying you may have different emotions.

1.      First off, it may feel like this vision is being imposed on you.  Change is hard, especially when it’s imposed on you.  It’s easier to go, in that sense, because it’s your decision.

2.      So maybe you don’t want people to go!  The thought of seeing some leave, even if it’s for the mission field, is hard.  Some of them going are your kids or grandkids.  Or in my case, my parents and my brother and his family are going.  And most of my in-laws. (It’s hard not to take it personal---jk!)

3.      It reminds me of how the disciples were called.  It was a call to prioritize Christ above all other relationships.

4.      There may be anxiety on needs that will arise here.  Will we have enough musicians?  Will we have enough pastoral coverage?  Will we have enough resources when we decide to go independent?

5.      What will the Sunday School be like?

iii.                      To make a long story short, if you are invested in LBC, than most likely the emotions are high.

1.      I want to apply Matthew 12 to us.

2.      We need a clarion call to learn from Jesus here.

iv.                      One of the major threats to our assembly as we grow and as we multiply have to do with improper attitudes and selfishness.

1.      Multiplying can easily turn into a resource grab.

a.       One brother who had some changes in his business told me recently how in his business, when resources were divided up and people went their separate ways, there was a “resource grab.”

i.  “How come they got that?!  I didn’t get that!”

ii.                        Sort of like an Easter egg hunt.  Every man scavenging for themselves.

b.      Or fleshly attitudes of rivalry.  Like a High School that outgrows it’s facility, and the new high school is formed just a few miles away.

i.  Usually those high schools become bitter rivals, not best friends.

ii.                        But my brothers and sisters, we are not rivals.  We are brothers and sisters on a common goal to make Jesus known!

iii.                      We desperately need to be committed to one another.

iv.                      We desperately need to imitate our Lord, who counted his own needs as nothing!

v.                         It’s human nature to look out for oneself and “cry aloud in the streets” to use Isaiah’s words.

v.                         To say it positively, what attitudes should we have as we move forward with two locations, then a church plant?  Then church plants.  What relevant lesson can we learn from the description of Jesus here in this passage?

1.      We need an attitude of generosity.

a.       The Lord was generous when He gave us His Son.

b.      I’m not just talking about giving money to help churches, I’m talking about giving gifted people.

c.       Both locations need to be generous with each other.

2.      We need at attitude of service.

a.       We need to commit and recommit to taking up the towel for good of each other.

b.      We need to commit to doing what’s best for others.

c.       We need to commit to putting the needs of others before us.

3.      We need an attitude of humility.

a.       Let’s learn from and obey the teaching and example of Jesus.

b.      He was humble of heart.

i.  Let’s take Jesus’ words to heart when He says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”

ii.                        Let’s learn from our Master and reject all species of pride and self-love.

iii.                      Let’s take up the towel and serve one another.

c.       Robert Chapman’s example.

i.  One of the most striking examples of humility I have ever heard of is from the life R.C. Chapman, circa late 1800’s.

ii.                        When Chapman 29 he became the pastor of a small, dysfunctional Baptist congregation at Ebenezer Chapel in Barnstaple, England.  He had been a believer for about 10 years.

iii.                      Ebenezer had gone through three pastors in 18 months.  It was a pastors graveyard.

iv.                      The congregation had all kinds of internal factions a few years after Chapman arrived there was an internal group that left the church.  Not long after that they demanded that Chapmen and the rest of the church move out, because the building was not being used according to the practices of the Particular Baptists.

v.                         Chapman looked over the deed to the building and saw no contingency that the building be used according to these Particular Baptists, but the group persisted…

vi.                      Chapman thought and prayed and came to the conclusion that the Christ-like thing to do, is to give them the building.  Sort of like giving up your cloak to someone who demanded it.

vii.                    So Chapman’s group, which was way bigger than this small group of dissenters, gave up their legal rights to the building.

viii.                  They rented a place for a few years, then found an ideal property, bought it, closed on the deal, only to find out the Church of England wanted to buy the property and was hoping to build on that lot.

ix.                      So the group prayed about what to do, and they were led to Phil. 4:5, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…”  or “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.”

x.                         Chapman advided the congregation to give up the building to the Church of England, and they did.

xi.                      Despite all this, the fellowship continued to grow as did their reputation of Christ-likeness.  The Lord was honored.

xii.                    “Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the secret of division.” Chapman

xiii.                  Read about the life of R.C. Chapman’s in Agape Leadership.

4.      We need an attitude of unity.

a.       The Bible never speaks of creating unity, but rather maintaining unity.

b.      We already have unity in Christ.

c.       When LBC is in two locations we have unity in Christ.

d.      When LBC launches an independent assembly, we have unity in Christ.

e.       There is absolutely no question in my mind that LBC is doing the Christ-honoring thing by planting churches.

f.        There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has led the elders.

g.      Nonetheless, we need to maintain a spirit of unity among the believers.  Both today, this fall, and 20 years from now…if the Lord hasn’t returned.

VI.                    The Perfect Servant is Gentle (12:20).

a.       “a bruised reed he will not break…”

i.  Isaiah is talking about a marsh reed.  They were everywhere.  They were common.  They were fragile.  They were helpless and fragile. 

ii.                        A reed was actually used for a flute, a measuring rod, a pen, and a number of other things.

iii.                      Reeds had many uses, but once a reed was broken, it was quickly thrown away and replaced for a better one.

iv.                      A bruised or broken reed represented weakness and helplessness, something the world would quickly toss away, not pay any attention to.

b.      “a smoldering wick he will not quench…”

i.  a smoldering wick was annoying.  Not only did it not give much light, it produced smoke.

ii.                        Naturally, you would snuff it out and be done with it.

iii.                      A little flax was cheap, so you just replaced it.

iv.                      Most people would discard a broken reed or a smoldering wick…but not Jesus.  Jesus is gentle with those who are tender and fragile.

v.                         Jesus was sensitive and in tune with the broken and needy.  He had ears to hear the poor in spirit.

1.      “Just last week, on a vacation in the Canadian north, I swam in a clear, remote lake during the evening hours. At one point, when I paused for a moment, I noticed that everything around me was perfectly still. I could hear every tiny sound, even from far away. It occurred to me that this is what we are to be as Christians, spiritually speaking: fully alert, fully alive, fully attuned to what goes on around us. We are to be people who truly hear, see, feel, and touch. I believe this is what Jesus was–completely in touch with the world around him. May you and I be the kinds of people who are sensitive to God and others–people who have eyes to see, ears to hear, people whose hearts beat for God, care deeply for others, and yearn for the salvation of the lost.”  Andreas Kostenberger

vi.                      That’s Jesus.  He is hyper-senstative to the bruised reeds and the smoking flax around Him.  He has an open seat next to His table for all who are poor in spirit and hurting.  Unlike the world, He LOVES the lowly.  He is drawn towards the hurting.

1.      Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people who are broken and needy.

2.      Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people worn out and tired and exhausted with life’s circumstances.

3.      Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people are neglected by the world, but accepted by Jesus.

a.       There are no “worthless” people to Jesus.

vii.                    “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

1.      “But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (9:12-13)

2.      He came for sinners, and spiritually speaking, that’s ALL of us!

a.       If you don’t get the fact that you are bruised reed, than the person and work of Jesus will be very bland and boring.

b.      But if you see Him as Choice.  As Heaven’s Best.  Than you will respond with a life-change.

3.      Jesus is gentle with the poor in spirit.

a.       He is gentle to the bruised reeds.

c.       Application for The Church Plant.

i.  Let us promote and display a tenderness to each others needs.

1.      We have already seen this and it’s marvelous.

2.      You are to be encouraged.

3.      Sometimes it’s appropriate to warn, or correct, or even rebuke, but in this you are to be encouraged.

4.      I haven’t talked to one person who hasn’t been willing to be put to work, and serve, wherever that may be.  I am so encouraged by this.

ii.                        Let us take special note of the bruised reed and the smoking flax in our midst.

1.      Let me give you an example of what this does NOT mean…

a.       In May of 2009, on the Haizhu bridge in Guangzhou, China, a disturbed man in deep financial debt was poised on the edge of the bridge contemplating suicide. Because of him police had closed the bridge, disrupting traffic for five hours. People stood watching the police to see what he would do. Suddenly a 66-year-old man pushed his way through the police lines and walked up to the man considering suicide. He reached out and shook the hand of the troubled man. Then he pushed him off the bridge.

b.      Later he explained why: "I pushed him off because jumpers like [him] are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest. They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."

c.       Fortunately, the police had spread an inflatable emergency cushion beneath the bridge, and as a result the suicidal man was injured but not killed.

2. Compare that with a story I heard just this week…

a. The article was entitled, “The Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge”

3. The Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge.

a.       “San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge may be beautiful, but the landmark has become just as famous for its staggering suicide rate as its International Orange spires.  Over 1,500 people have jumped from the bridge in its 75-year history, making it one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world. A recent spike has only made the number more daunting.  But this article and video told the lesser-told story of the countless lives saved by suicide prevention experts.  In the six-minute video, Yahoo! profiled CHP Sergeant Kevin Briggs who has saved hundreds from leaping over the railing in his 26-year career.  "I've never actually counted the number, but it's been numerous people," said Briggs in the video. "Maybe two a month.”

b.      Locati recounted another incident between Briggs and one distraught man that lasted over seven hours in the middle of the night. Eventually, the man climbed back over the railing.

c.       "We asked him, 'What was it finally after all those hours that you finally decided to come back?'" recalled Locati. "He just said, 'Kevin wouldn't give up.'"

4. Some of the Sergeant's words stuck out…

a. "When I talk to someone, I try to dig into them and see whats going on."

b. "I try to get them to raise their head up."

c."I actually went down on my knees and said, "Look, I got nothin'.""

d. "Hey, I've been through some of this also."

e. "I like to lead them with dignity."

f. "That's what we do, that's why we're here."

d.      Application for Individuals:

i.  Let’s take Jesus’ words to heart when He says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”

ii.                        Let’s learn from our Master and reject all forms of pride and self-love.

iii.                      Let’s take up the towel and serve one another.

VII.                The Gospel OF GRACE for Bruised Reeds…

Related Topics: Christology, Prophecy/Revelation, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 27: The Pharisees Reject Jesus (Matthew 12:1-14, 22-37)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       In our section this morning, we will examine the Pharisees coming at Jesus with three different accusations…

i.  #1- The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath violation (12:1–8).

ii. #2- The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath healing (12:9-14).

iii. #3- The Pharisees think that Jesus is Satanic (12:22-29).

b.      But I want to spend the majority of time on the major point, which is their hypocrisy and rejection of Jesus the King.

c.       The big idea of chapter 12 is that the hypocritical Pharisees reject Jesus as King.

i.  And they come after Jesus with three accusations…

II.                      The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath violation (12:1–8).

a.       Jesus and His disciples get accused of doing that is unlawful on the Sabbath (12:1-2)

i.  Now the Law made it clear that work should not be done on the Sabbath.

ii. The Sabbath was a big deal for Jews.  If you remember, the whole reason Israel went in to captivity in Babylon was because they rejected the Sabbath.

1.      In fact, God said they would be in captivity for every Sabbath year they neglected.

2.      So after the Captivity, as you can imagine, the Jews were very strict about keeping the Sabbath.  You can see why.

iii. It was one of the 10 commandments:

1.      Ex. 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…”

iv. So, the Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples of doing work on the Sabbath.

1.      According to the Pharisees, plucking wheat from its stem is reaping, rubbing the wheat in the palm of your hand is threshing, and blowing away the chaff is winnowing!

2.      That farming on the Sabbath.

b.      Jesus answers the Pharisees accusation with three examples.

i.  #1- The example of David (12:3-4).

1.      When David was hiding from Saul he asked for bread, and the only bread available was the bread that was used in the Tabernacle.

2.      This bread was normally reserved for the priests alone (Lev. 24:9).

3.      But David and the priest believed that preserving his life was more important than observing a technicality.

4.      Jesus agrees.  Mercy is more desirable than sacrifice.

ii. #2- The example of the priests (12:5).

1.      The priests in the temple were employed with work on the Sabbath.

2.      They had to work on the Sabbath.

3.      And yet they were considered blameless.

4.      So they worked on the Sabbath.  Some work had to be done on the Sabbath.

iii. #3- (The third example is Jesus, Himself) Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (12:6-8).

1.      “I tell you something greater than the temple is here…”

a.       This would have been about as shocking as saying, “Before Abaraham was, I Am.” 

b.      Or, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me…”

c.       Or, “I am the Bread of Life.”

d.      This is quite a statement.  Something greater than the temple is here.

2.      “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

a.       In other words, “I am greater than David, I am the Lord, and I can control what can and cannot be done on it.”

b.      Yikes!  The Pharisees should have repented right then and there with sackcloth and ashes, but they didn’t!

c.       Hey guys, I make the rules here, and not only am I Lord of the Sabbath, I AM the Sabbath.

d.      As Hebrews tells us Jesus actually IS our Sabbath rest.

e.       Whether or not we should observe the Sabbath remains a conscience issue, as Paul says in Romans Rom 14:5–6.

i.  “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

c.       The purpose of the Sabbath (12:1–7): The Sabbath was made for man, and not the reverse!

i.  Matthew doesn’t quote Jesus as saying that, but Mark does.  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

ii.                        Further more, the purpose of ANY day should be mercy towards people.  Let’s get our priorities straight.

iii.                      We will see this more clearly in the next story…

iv.                      Jesus quotes the book of Hosea.

1.      God wants them to be merciful; he doesn’t care that much about their sacrifices.  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So mercy is wrapped up in the heart of the Sabbath law. It’s part and parcel of the whole purpose of the Sabbath.

v.                         In other words, the Pharisees missed the point with their technicalities about reaping, threshing, and winnowing.

vi.                      They missed the point that God has designed mercy for His people, not burdens.  He has compassion for people’s basic needs unlike the Pharisees.

III.                   The Pharisees are upset about a Sabbath healing (12:9-14).

a.       Jesus notices a man with a deformed hand.

i.  Jesus is now about to enter the synagogue and he sees a man with a deformed hand.

1.      One has to wonder if the Pharisees didn’t plant the man there to see what Jesus would do.

2.      And the Pharisees ask Jesus whether it’s legal heal on the Sabbath. 

3.      They are trying to trick Him.

4.      Notice, there is no question that Jesus can heal.  It’s almost comical.  They have no doubts that He is doing supernatural things.  They have personally see this now a number of times and have heard the reports.  They have moved beyond the authenticity of his healings.

5.      Now they tests Jesus theologically.

6.      Sure, He says He loves the Law, but the Law says not to do any work on the Sabbath…

7.      What will He do…?  They want to accuse Him!

ii.                        The answer (12:11–12):

1.      Jesus replies by asking them if they would rescue a sheep on the Sabbath.

2.      He says, “Of course you would! If you had a sheep hanging from it’s tongue from a barbed wire, you would do everything you could to help the lamb!

3.      This is common sense.

4.      And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep!!!

a.       It’s the classic argument from lesser to greater.

5.      Are you asking me if it’s lawful to show mercy and do good on the Sabbath?!?!

6.      Then yea, it’s appropriate to do good and show mercy on the Sabbath.

iii.                      Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand…”

1.      And the man is healed…

2.      Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

3.      Jesus wants what’s best for His sheep.

4.      Jesus does good on the Sabbath, and on every other day…

iv.                      The Pharisees conspire how to kill him…

1.      This has to be the sharpest contrast in the NT between Jesus and the Pharisees, except for the cross of Calvary.

2.      Jesus heals a man, and they want to kill Him.

3.      This is the world’s response to Jesus.  They reject Him!

4.      This is the human hearts response to Jesus, rejection!

5.      This is a parable of a heart that the Holy Spirit has not made alive.

6.      Unless the Holy Spirit does a work in our hearts, we will reject the King.

7.     R.C. Sproul, in his book, “The Holiness of God” has a chapter titled, “God in the hands of angry sinners” and he says,

a.       “By nature, our attitude toward God is not one of mere indifference. It is a posture of malice. We oppose His government and refuse His rule over us. Our natural hearts are devoid of affection for Him; they are cold, frozen to His holiness. By nature, the love of God is not in us.… it is not enough to say that natural man views God as an enemy. We must be more precise. God is our mortal enemy. He represents the highest possible threat to our sinful desires. His repugnance to us is absolute, knowing no lesser degrees. No amount of persuasion by men or argumentation from philosophers or theologians can induce us to love God. We despise His very existence and would do anything in our power to rid the universe of His holy presence. If God were to expose His life to our hands, He would not be safe for a second. We would not ignore Him; we would destroy Him.”

v.                         The Pharisees are just like King Herod:

1.      He is terrified and wants to kill Jesus.

2.      The right king would have rejoiced to see the King of Kings, but King Herod wants to kill him.  He sees Jesus as his mortal enemy.

3.      Herod is more interested in saving his throne than saving his soul!

4.      Herod hears of these wise men who have come to worship a king, and he is immediately threatened.

vi.                      The sheer hypocrisy is staggering:

1.      These Pharisees wouldn’t dream of eating pork or lobster, but they are willing to put Jesus to death because He healed a guy on the Sabbath.

2.      These Pharisees would never over-eat or over-drink or cuss, but they conspire to kill Jesus because He healed a man on the Sabbath.

3.      This is external religion.  It’s hypocrisy.

vii.                    In his book When a Nation Forgets God, Erwin Lutzer retells one Christian's story of living in Hitler's Germany. The man wrote:

1.      I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because what could anyone do to stop it?

2.      A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!

3.      Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us.

4.      We knew the time the train was coming, and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.

5.      Years have passed, and no one talks about it anymore. But I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me; forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene.

viii.                  The Pharisees would rather see a man sick than healed on the Sabbath.

1.      It’s total hypocrisy.

ix.                      James Emery White tells the following story about his visit to the Eagle and Child pub in Great Britain, the place where C. S. Lewis and his friends used to meet.

1.      One day, as I sat at my favorite little table, and another stream of tourists entered—and left—I heard the manager muttering, "Bloody Christians." I was enough of a regular to feel comfortable asking him what he meant.

2.      "Take a look at this," he said, holding up a menu.

3.      "They cost me two pounds each. Two pounds! I ordered hundreds of them, and now I only have ten because they keep getting nicked."

4.      "You mean people are stealing them?" I asked incredulously.

5.      "Yeah, the bloody Christians take the menus, while the bloody students take the spoons and ashtrays."

6.      Understanding students' obvious need for utensils, I couldn't help but ask, "Why the menus?"

7.      "I don't know, it's what they can get their hands on, I suppose," he answered. "It got so bad I started making copies of the menu that they could take—for free—but they still take the good ones."

8.      "I'm surprised they don't try and take what's on the walls, then," I mused, looking at the pictures, plaque, and particularly the framed handwritten letter from Lewis, Tolkien, and others commemorating the day they had drunk to the barmaid's health.

9.      "Oh, those aren't real," he said, "just copies. They still get taken. I'd never put the real ones up."

10.  He paused a moment, and then said, "What gets me is that all these people who come in for Lewis are supposed to be Christians, right?"

11.  Yes, I thought to myself, they are.

12.  The irony is bitter; the manager of The Eagle and Child pub holds Christians and, one would surmise, Christianity itself, in disdain because of the behavior of the Christians who flock to pay homage to Lewis. Many wouldn't dare drink a pint [of beer], but they will gladly steal.

x.                         It’s true, many Christians wouldn’t dare smoke a pipe or drink a pint, but they have no problem with abject materialism and greed.  No problem with spiritual laziness and gossip.

IV.                    The Pharisees think that Jesus is Satanic (12:22-29).

a.       By now the hearts of the Pharisees are set against Jesus.  They don’t want Him gone, they want Him dead.

i.  Starting in verse 22 we read of a demon-oppressed man who is blind and mute.

ii.                        Jesus heals him and there are two responses:

1.      “Can this be the Messiah?  Is this the Son of David?”

2.      Or (from the Pharisees)

3.      “Jesus did this because He’s empowered by Beelzebul.  Jesus is Satanic.”

4.      The first time the Pharisees claim that Satan is the source of Jesus’ miracles is in chapter 9.

b.      Jesus answers the Pharisees (12:25-29).

i.  His argument:

1.      “A city or home or kingdom divided against itself won’t last long” (12:25).

a.       How can Satan cast out Satan?

b.      “If Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting against himself” (12:26–29).

c.       Jesus confronts their unpardonable sin (12:30-32)

i.  The unpardonable sin:

1.      J. F. Walvoord captures the sense concisely: “attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God”

2.      The unpardonable sin is not murder, adultery, incest, or divorce.

3.      The unpardonable sin is an unrelenting rejecting of Jesus.

4.      “The essence of the “unforgivable sin” is a refusal to accept forgiveness from Christ in the face of evidence that Jesus is the Christ. The unforgivable sin is deliberately and knowingly attributing the works of the Holy Spirit in the Messiah-Christ to Satan.”

5.      You see, if you reject Christ, the Spirit by which He saves, then you cut off the only branch that can save you.He He

6.      Moreover, professing believers who fear they have committed the unforgivable sin demonstrate a concern for their spiritual welfare which by definition proves they have not committed it.

7.      Anyone who desires God’s forgiveness for anything will receive it. Therefore, the only truly unforgivable sin is one for which the sinner refuses to seek forgiveness.

8.      It also follows that the unforgivable sin exists only for the person who maintains his refusal of God’s forgiveness throughout his lifetime. If at any time he changes his mind and desires forgiveness, Jesus’ warning no longer applies to him.

ii.                        Can I commit the unpardonable sin today?

1.      Yea, just reject the gospel.  That’s unpardonable.  Unbelief is the common denominator in hell.  It’s unpardonable.

2.      Remember unbelief is not intellectual, it’s moral.  It’s a moral refusal to bend the knee in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

d.      Jesus condemns the Pharisees.

i.  They are corrupt fruit trees (12:33).

1.      A tree is known by its fruit.

2.      The tree is nice and green and the fruit looks good on the outside, but then you take a bite and you nearly vomit.

3.      That’s the Pharisees, they look good on the outside.  They are great at externals, but their hearts are hard toward God.

4.      They have rejected the gospel.

ii.                        They speak and condemn Jesus out of the overflow of their hearts, and Jesus says things will not go well for them at the Judgment.

V.                       Application:

a.       As I think about what to draw out of Matthew 12, I think of two main things.

i.  The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

ii.                        The Rejection of Jesus.

b.      Hypocrisy:

i.  The Pharisees were hypocrites:

1.      The name Pharisee is nearly synonymous with hypocrite.  For good reason.

2.      The Pharisees were examples, par excellance, of hypocrisy.

3.      Luke 18

4.      We gamble and cheat, but we balance it out with good works.

ii.                        The Pharisees cared about externals.

1.      They were in to image management and externals.

2.      They represented works-based system of religion.

iii.                      Religion by works

iv.                      Sheer hypocrisy

1.      They would rather have a man keep his withered hand than be healed on the Sabbath.

v.                         We need to careful not to be like the Pharisees:

1.      Many Christians today are totally fine partying or getting drunk, but their spiritual life is dead.

2.      Externally, they may have the appearance of being religious.  They may faithfully attend church, home group, but their spiritual life is diseased and nearly dead.

3.      It’s hypocrisy.

vi.                      OR, there can be a pride about the things we believe.

1.      I go to the right church.

2.      I take the Lord’s Supper every week.

3.      I believe in expositional preaching.

4.      I believe in a plurality of elders.

5.      I believe in church planting.

6.      I believe in a high view of Scripture.

vii.                    BUT internally, there is no life.  It’s all about the externals, but very little internal.

1.      Charles Swindoll in his book on Grace puts it this way, "You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here’s how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do’s and don’ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately . . . yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur." Charles Swindoll.

viii.                  There is another form of hypocrisy:

1.      It’s a hypocrisy under the guise of “authenticity.”

2.      A few years ago in Texas there were two men who robbed a bank. One wore a ski mask and the other did not. They both were captured and ultimately appeared before the judge for sentencing. The one without the mask could have stated, "Look, I know that robbing the bank was the wrong thing to do, but at least I was not hypocritical about it. I didn't try to cover up who I was. I was open and honest. That should be worth something as far as leniency is concerned." The judge sentenced both men to the same time in prison.

3.      Some people display hypocrisy under the guise of authenticity.  I’m just being real.  Or, I’m just being myself.  "I know I'm not perfect, but at least I'm not hypocritical about it."

4.      That’s the worst kind of hypocrisy.

ix.                      Jesus cares about internals—the heart.

1.      Robert Redford was walking one day through a hotel lobby. A woman saw him and followed him to the elevator. "Are you the real Robert Redford?" she asked him with great excitement. As the doors of the elevator closed, he replied, "Only when I am alone!"

c.       The Rejection of Jesus.

i.  This is really Matthew’s main point in chapter 12.  Jesus is rejected.

1.      Not much has changed today.

ii.                        We can trace the rejection of Jesus all the way through Matthew’s gospel.

iii.                      We see hostility and rejection at Jesus’ birth.

1.      Not only was there no place for Him in the Inn, but the world’s leaders wanted to kill Him.

2.      Herod, representing the world’s leaders, wanted to kill Jesus, and he ends up killing an entire village of children in the process.

iv.                      We see hostility and rejection foretold in chapter 5, in the Beatitudes.

1.      “blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”  Mat. 5:11

2.      It’s as though Jesus is priming the pump for what life will be like as His disciple.

v.                         We see it in chapter 9 when Jesus heals a demon-oppressed man who was mute.

1.      When the mute man spoke, the crowds saw it and all exclaimed, “Nothing like this has ever been done in Israel!”

2.      The Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons…”

vi.                      We see it in chapter 10, when Jesus sends them out and tells them that persecution will come.

1.      It will come from Religious people.

2.      It will come from the State.

3.      It will come from family members.

4.      It will come from all of society.

5.      Again, Jesus is clearly preparing his followers for a choppy ride ahead.

6.      John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

vii.                    In chapter 11, John the Baptist is a little disillusioned with Jesus because John is stuck in prison.

1.      He’s thinking, “So is this the plan?...Here I sit in prison”  “why all the hostility?”  “Why all the persecution?”  “If Jesus is the Messiah, is this how things go?”

2.      “Why is the gospel to unpopular?”   “Why isn’t it more well received?”

3.      Later in chapter 11 we see Jesus denounce entire towns because they heard the gospel, and had seen him do signs and wonders, but rejected Him and the News.

4.      “Woe to you!  Woe to you!”

viii.                  But we especially see it in chapter 12.  It’s in this chapter where the Pharisees conspire to kill Jesus.

1.      This is the height of craziness and moral insanity.

2.      Rather than fall down and worship Him, they reject Him.

3.      After He heals a man with a withered hand, they conspire to kill him.

4.      The Jesus heals another demon-possed man who is blind and mute, and the Pharisees say it’s Satanic!

5.      They reason Jesus could do this is because He’s possessed by Satan.

6.      It doesn’t matter how much information they are given.

7.      It doesn’t matter how much proof they are given.

8.      It doesn’t matter how much evidence they are given.

9.      It doesn’t matter how much they hear and see.

10.  Rather than bend the knee, they sharpen their swords.

11.  If we think about it, Matthew has been showing the rejection of Jesus from the very beginning of his gospel.

12.  He is telling the story of the Good News, but the Good News wasn’t well received.  And it still isn’t…

ix.                      This hostility and rejection is all building up for chapter 13.

1.      Matthew is clearly displaying something.

2.      He is preparing for chapter 13.

3.      Where he starts speaking in parables and explains that the Good News of the gospel will have mixed reviews.

4.      The seed will be scattered.  The seed is the Word of the Good News.  But most people will not respond positively to it.

5.      The age of sowing the seed will be marked with indifference and hostility.

6.      We might be tempted to become disillusioned like John the Baptist was.

7.      “Why aren’t people responding?”  “Is this how it’s supposed to go?”

8.      Jesus is preparing them and US, for hostility and rejection.

9.      That’s the dispensation we are in now.  And age of sowing the seed, and having people yawn.  Or worse, persecute.

d.      The Rejection will be cultural.

i.  The truth will be met with more opposition and antagonism.

ii.                        This will steadily increase until the Lord returns.  It was predicted.

iii.                      Science:

1.      Think about how much we know today.  It’s marvelous.

2.      Christians should love science.  It’s the unfolding back of the curtain of God’s revelation.

3.      We know so much more about the universe than we did 100 years ago.

4.      The size of the universe.

5.      The complexity of the cell.

6.      DNA.  It’s all incredible.

7.      But has all of this revelation led to more belief? 

8.      No, it’s led to more of a rejection!  It’s led to a further hardening.  A further antagonism.

9.      It’s similar to what the Pharisees did.

a.       They were given all this revelation, from God Himself in the flesh, but they reject it.

b.      They rejected God.

iv.                      God is also being rejected in our Laws.

1.      Maybe you heard the filibuster heard ‘round the world this past week.

2.      Wendy David, State Senator from Texas, gave an 11 hour filibuster to delay the passing of a particular bill that would stop late-term abortions.

3.      She is now seen as the gladiator for feminism.

a.       There was an excellent article written by Kirsten Powers:

i.  “It’s amazing what is considered heroism these days.  A Texas legislator and her pink sneakers have been lionized for an eleventh-hour filibuster against a bill that would have made it illegal for mothers to abort babies past 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of severe fetal abnormalities or to protect the life or health of the mother.  People actually cheered this.

ii.                        According to the Parents Connect website, if you are in the 25th week of your pregnancy, “Get ready for pat-a-cake! Baby’s hands are now fully developed and he spends most of his awake time groping around in the darkness of your uterus. Brain and nerve endings are developed enough now so that your baby can feel the sensation of touch.” Let’s be clear: Davis has been called a hero for trying to block a bill that would make aborting this baby illegal.”

b.      This is moral insanity, but it’s no more insane than hearing and seeing the words and works of the Messiah, and rejecting it.

v.                         That story, on the heels of the other story of the Tsunami of homosexuality and visceral antagonism to Biblical principles regarding marriage.

e.       What should be our response?

i.  We resonate with John the Baptist and ask, “Is the Good News working?  Or shall we propose another?”

ii.                        American evangelicalism has had an insecurity problem for a while.  We have tried to fight fire with fire and put our best efforts forward in politics and lobbying and legislation.

iii.                      Now.  Laws matter, especially if you a helpless baby in a womb.

iv.                      But the Church’s response to the culture, should not be with legislation and lobbying.  But it should be to cast out the seed of the Good News.

v.                         Our response to Wendy Davis and Same-Sex marriage should be, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”  Knowing that most will reject it, we may even be hated for it, but that’s what the Lord has called us to!

vi.                      We are in the age of sewing the seed of the Gospel!  And we should expect antagonism on every front!

f.        The rejection will be personal as well.

i.  During WWI one of my predecessors at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Donald Grey Barnhouse, led the son of a prominent American family to the Lord. He was in the service, but he showed the reality of his conversion by immediately professing Christ before the soldiers of his military company. The war ended. The day came when he was to return to his pre-war life in the wealthy suburb of a large American city. He talked to Barnhouse about life with his family and expressed fear that he might soon slip back into his old habits. He was afraid that love for parents, brothers, sisters, and friends might turn him from following after Jesus Christ. Barnhouse told him that if he was careful to make public confession of his faith in Christ, he would not have to worry. He would not have to give improper friends up. They would give him up.

ii.                        As a result of this conversation the young man agreed to tell the first ten people of his old set whom he encountered that he had become a Christian. The soldier went home. Almost immediately--in fact, while he was still on the platform of the suburban station at the end of his return trip--he met a girl whom he had known socially. She was delighted to see him and asked how he was doing. He told her, "The greatest thing that could possibly happen to me has happened." "You're engaged to be married," she exclaimed. "No," he told her. "It's even better than that. I've taken the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior." The girls' expression froze. She mumbled a few polite words and went on her way. A short time later the new Christian met a young man whom he had known before going into the service. "It's good to see you back," he declared. "We'll have some great parties now that you've returned." "I've just become a Christian," the soldier said. He was thinking, That's two! Again it was a case of a frozen smile and a quick change of conversation. After this the same circumstances were repeated with a young couple and with two more old friends. By this time word had got around, and soon some of his friends stopped seeing him. He had become peculiar, religious, and -- who knows! -- they may even have called him crazy! What had he done? Nothing but confess Christ. The same confession that had aligned him with Christ had separated him from those who did not want Jesus Christ as Savior and who, in fact, did not even want to hear about Him.   J.M Boice, Christ's Call To Discipleship, Moody, 1986, p. 122-23.

g.      Stop rejecting Jesus!  It’s not too late!

i.  Stop rejecting Jesus!  It’s not too late!

1.      “On August 30, 2005 Coast Guard Lieutenant Iain McConnell was ordered to fly his H46 helicopter to New Orleans and to keep that machine flying around the clock for what would turn out to be a heroic rescue effort. None of his crew were prepared for what they were about to see. They were ahead of every news crew in the nation. The entire city of New Orleans was under water. On their first three missions that day they saved 89 people, three dogs and two cats.

2.      On the fourth mission, despite twelve different flights to New Orleans, he and his crew were able to save no one. None! They all refused to board the helicopter. Instead they told the Coast Guard to bring them food and water. Yet they were warned that this extremely dangerous. The waters were not going to go away soon. Sadly, many of those people perished because of their refusal to be rescued.”

VI.                    The Gospel.


Related Topics: Christology, Cultural Issues, Soteriology (Salvation), Suffering, Trials, Persecution