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Lesson 15: The Golden Rule Of Relationships (Matthew 7:1-12)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       This section is about relationships.  Sin has so infected us, and jacked up our relationships, and Jesus zeros in on it in this section.

b.      It’s actually a tricky section of Scripture, in terms of outlining.

c.       The logical connection between these paragraphs are tough to see at first.

i.  “What does judging people have to do with prayer and what does that have to do with the Golden rule?”

ii.                        Some people think Matthew is just cutting and pasting things together...

iii.                      Some people see this sermon as a collection of sermons with little relation to no relation to each other.

d.      I think the best way to view this passage (7:1-12) is to view it through the lens of verse 12.

e.       He is dealing with relationships in these 12 verses.  The Golden Rule of Relationships.

f.        I see the first six verses focusing on the negative aspects of a self-righteous, judgmental spirit.  And the next six verses, 7-12, focus on an attitude that is humble, trusting, and loving, like the Golden Rule.

g.      What is the Golden Rule?

i.  The golden rule not only summaraizes our passage, it summarizes the Sermon on the Mount.  And it not only summarizes the Sermon on the Mount, it summarizes the Law and the Prophets.

ii.                        It’s the end of the section (inclusio) that started in Mat. 5:17.

II.                      The Golden Rule Gone Wrong (7:1-6).

a.      Don’t be a judge (7:1-2).

i.  Don’t be like the Pharisees, who judge.

1.      The Pharisees were hypocritical, self-righteous, and arrogant.

2.      Their motive was not to help people, or love people, but to condemn them.

3.      Key point: What Jesus is forbidding is this Pharisaical, self-righteous, hasty, unmerciful, prejudiced critisism.

4.      The critical spirit.

5.      It’s the opposite of someone who is poor in spirit and meek.  A peacemaker.

ii.                        Judging put ourselves in the place of God (7:1-2).

1.      When we Judge we are putting ourselves in God’s place.

2.      When we judge, we are acting like God.

3.      But we are not the Judge, we are the judged.

4.      Jesus is telling his disciples to resist the temptation to put yourself in the place of God.  It’s crazy.

5.      Don’t be a self-righteous critic.  It’s nonesense.

6.      We are not superiour to others.

7.      When we judge we are placing ourselves above others.

8.      If we don’t practice what we preach...

iii.                      Illustration:

1.      By the very nature of the business, L.A. County traffic cops receive plenty of complaints about their work. After all, most motorists don't think they deserve a ticket. Each complaint gets documented and placed in the officer's personnel file.

2.      But, surprisingly, over the past 20 years, L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Elton Simmons has made over 25,000 traffic stops and cited thousands of motorists with traffic violations without a single complaint on his record. When his supervisor Captain Pat Maxwell started looking through Simmons' file, he was stunned. Maxwell found plenty of commendations but not a single complaint.

3.      It was such a shocking story that a CBS News crew was assigned to follow Simmons in an attempt to learn his secret. First, they noticed Simmons' "pitch-perfect mix of authority and diplomacy" without a trace of arrogance or self-righteousness. Of course Simmons still hands out plenty of tickets; they just don't come with the standard guilt trip.

4.      Here's how Simmons described his approach: "I'm here with you. I'm not up here" (he motions his arm up towards the sky). One thing I hate is to be looked down on—I can't stand it—so I'm not going to look down at you."

5.      A driver who got a ticket from Simmons agreed. The driver said, "You know what it is, it's his smile. How could you be mad at that guy?"

6.      "Apparently, you can't," concluded the CBS News team. "Time after time, ticket after ticket, we saw Officer Simmons melt away a polar ice cap of preconceptions. And his boss [claims] there's a lesson in there for hard-nosed cops everywhere."

iv.                      Don’t put yourself “Up here!”

1.      We watch the news and we comment on the “stupid” people.

2.      We read a political article and note “how ignorant people are.”

3.      Waiter spills your food, “incompotent waiter.”

4.      We natually think more of ourselves than we ought!

v.                         What this does NOT mean:

1.      This has got to be one of the most well-known, most quoted verses in the world.

2. of the most misused, taken out of context, verses. Ever.

3.      This verse does not mean we are not to use discernment.

4.      This verse does not mean we are to never criticize anything.

5.      The world today loves this verse because they see it as a pass for their wickedness.

6.      They think they are clever when they quote Scripture as a justification for their own behavior.

7.      How many of us have been in a conversation when we are talking with an unbeliever and they quote this verse like its a trump card.

b.      Jesus’ Disciples are called to test everything!

i.  Use your brain and use God’s Word.

1.      “The biggest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment.” MacArthur.

ii.                        How do we test? 

1.      With Scripture.

2.      Acts 17:11, “{The Bereans} received the word daily with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

iii.                      A few years ago I mentioned the Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

1.      A self-proclaimed miracle worker.

2.      He kicks people in the face and says God told him to do it.

3.      I watched a sermon where he literally kneed a man with a cancerous tumor in the gut because God told him to do it.

4.      He cusses and runs around the stage.  It’s sick.

5.      Almost ANYTHING goes in these churches except rational truth and Bible exposition.

6.      Heb. 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…”

7.      “We increase our scrutiny of people like Hugh Hefner, and we decrease our evaluation of people like {Todd Bentley} just because he comes in the name of Jesus,” Tullian Tchividjian told The Good News. “Hugh Hefner is not nearly as dangerous to the church as someone like this.”  “I would pay much more attention to those people who have stood the test of time. I would pay very little attention to anyone who comes and says, ‘God told me something that he’s never told anyone else, and you can’t find it in the Bible.’ It’s a lie, it’s that simple.”

iv.                      Leadership Magazine:

1.      Interviewed a very influential pastor.  Asked him all kinds of questions about his ministry and the types of churches they are producing.

2.      This influential pastor said, “If people aren’t laughing within the first five minutes of coming in to the building we have failed.”

a.       Really?

b.      Blessed are those who mourn…

c.       Self proclaimed pragmatist—“if it brings people in, it must be of God.”

d.      Unapologetically building the “ministry” with entertainment.

3.      Is entertainment how we should build the Church?

v.                         Christians ARE to discern and evaluate. (Not in a self-righteous way, but in Berean way.)

1.      Jesus commanded that we judge false teachers and false teaching.

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

b.      We are called to expose false teaching and false teachers.  The wolves who sneak in.

2.      The apostles of Jesus commanded that we judge false teaching and false teachers.

a.       Gal. 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

b.      2 John 2:10-11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

c.       1 Thess. 5:21, “...but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

i.  This flies in the face of many churches that discourage doubt, discourage evaluation.  Where testing everything is seen as a “lack of faith.”

3.      Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for not judging sin.

a.       1 Cor. 5:11-13, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

b.      Paul is rebuking the Corinthian Church because they had become passive and because they DIDN’T judge!

4.      Jesus tells his disciples to confront sin.

a.       Mat. 18:15-17, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

5.      Mat. 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

a.       It’s somewhat ironic that the passage on “not judging” is immediately followed by a verse that says to “judge the dogs and pigs.”

b.      We are commanded to discern and judge the pigs and the dogs!

c.       Don’t be gullible (7:6).

i.  Jesus swings to the other extreme here.

1.      He warns His disciples against be critics like the Pharisees.

2.      But then He warns from the opposite extreme of being a gullible sucker.

3.      Both problems still exist by the way.

ii.                        Dogs:

1.      Dog’s in Jesus’ day were not pets.

2.      The thought of sacrificing a holy sacrifice of a Bull and then taking part of that holy sacrifice and throwing it to the dogs to eat, would be the height of desecration.

iii.                      Pigs:

1.      Were unclean.  Jews hated pigs.

2.      Antiochus Epiphanes desectrated the Temple by placing a pig on the altar.

3.      Both dogs and pigs were unclean and were scavengers.

4.      If you came between them and their food, you would get trampled.Jesus gives a balance to this teaching on self-righteous judgmentalism, when He exhorts His disciples to have discernment.

5.      If you threw your pearls before a pig, he wouldn’t recognize its value.

6.      God’s Holy Word is like a string of pearls.

iv.                      It’s noteworthy that Jesus did not always give all of His teaching to everyone.

1.      He spoke in parables to reveal the truth to those had ears to hear, and to conceal it from the self-righteous.

2.      When the gospel is mocked, the Word of God is abhored, and people refuse to listen, then you stop sharing the gospel.

3.      You stop casting the pearls of God before the swine.

4.      It may be time to take the pearls of God elsware.

5.      Plenty of people need the pearls.

6.      Plenty of people are willing to handle the pearls and think about the pearls and talk about the pearls.

7.      Showcase the pearls to them.

v.                         This doesn’t mean we stop praying for the hard-hearted.

vi.                      This doesn’t mean we stop loving the hard-hearted.

vii.                    This doesn’t mean we don’t try to show the pearls to our neighbors and friends and co-workers!  We do!

viii.                  But when antagonism comes, take the pearls to the poor in spirit, not the pig in spirit.

ix.                      The Two Extremes:

1.      One extreme is that we are gullible, spineless, and naive.

2.      The other extreme is that we are self-righteous critics who look down our noses at others.

3.      Neither extreme brings about the Goldren Rule.

d.      Don’t be a self-righteous hypocrite (7:3-5).

i.  Jesus humerously illustrates hypocrisy with the speck and the log.

1.      Jesus has already warned of hypocrisy (6:1-18)

a.       The clasic warning is in Luke 18:11.

b.      When you have a high view of yourself, you have a low view of others.

2.      Hypocrites can’t see reality!

ii.                        Jesus is saying that self-righteousness leads to a faulty view of ourselves (7:3-5).

1.      We can’t see the giant log in ourselves!

2.      We are blind to our own sinfulness!

3.      So the self-righteous person rejects the gospel because they don’t believe they need it.

4.      Meanwhile they are annoyed with the petty sins of others!

5.      If you are here today and you sense no real need for Christ, then you have a giant log in your eye and you don’t even know it.

e.       So what do we do?  What’s the solution?

III.                   Application: Apply the Beatitudes!

a.       I want to do a little review here, because this is direct application for how NOT to be a judge.

i.  The opposite of this judgmental critical hypocrisy is someone who is poor in spirit, mournful, and meek.  Someone who is a peacemaker!

ii.                        So, the application for NOT being judgmental. 

iii.                      For not being a self-righteous critic comes back to the Beatitiudes.

b.      If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be poor in spirit.

i.  Do you feel entitled?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

ii.                        Do you feel like God owes you?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

iii.                      Have you repented, and do you continually repent?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

1.      “When a Christian sees prostitutes, alcoholics, prisoners, drug addicts, unwed mothers, the homeless, refugees, he knows that he is looking in a mirror. Perhaps the Christian spent all of his life as a respectable middle-class person. No matter. He thinks, Spiritually I was just like these people, though physically and socially I never was where they are now. They are outcasts. (Spiritually speaking) I was an outcast.”  Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy (P & R Publishing, 2007), p. 60.

c.       If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to mourn. (Blessed are those who mourn)

i.  We mourn and lament because of our own sin.

1.      Just examine yourself against the Word.

2.      Examine yourself in light of the Scriptures and what Jesus and the apostles expect.

3.      If you are not immediately led to mourning, there is something very wrong.

4.      Sins of omission and sins of commission:

a.       What are the things I did and said today that were sinful?

b.      What are the things I didn’t do and say?

c.       The list begins to pile up and it’s depressing.

d.      There is something in me that is prone to wander.

e.       I am conflicted in myself.  There is a war inside me.

f.        This causes the Christian to mourn.

5.      This takes a little of the swagger out of our judgmentalism!

ii.                        We mourn and lament because of the sins of other people.

1.      We see other Christians in sin, and it makes us mourn.

2.      We see people ruining their lives with sin, and it hurts.

3.      We see the affects of sin and how is destroys lives and ruins relationships and makes people miserable and relationships estranged, and we lament.

iii.                      We mourn and lament because of the world’s sin and its lostness.

1.      The world is in state of darkness.

2.      Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers and people are deceived.

3.      Billions of people live in misery.  Not physically impoverished, but spiritually impoverished and dead and miserable and wicked.

4.      And sin is compounded on sin and misery is multiplied.

5.      If you don’t lament your sin, if you don’t grieve over your sin, you are not born again and you are not part of the kingdom.**

d.      If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be meek:

i.  This person is humbled.  Happy to be a servant. 

ii.                        Not easily offended.  Not sensitive and always getting hurt.  Because he views himself in a low regard.

iii.                      Who I am anyway?  I’m just happy to be part of the family of God.  I’m just happy to be a servant.

iv.                      Nobody can overly-offend him or hurt him our crush him, because the cross has already done it.

v.                         The cross of Jesus has said all of those things, and more.

vi.                      The meek person is a person who has come under the weight of the condemnation of the cross, and agrees with its verdict.  That Jesus died for sins…MY sins. 

vii.                    That takes the swagger out of our step, and makes us humble, and humbled.

viii.                  What is meant?

ix.                      Meek lit. means “humble, modest, unassuming, gentle”

x.                         Jesus is teaching the very opposite of what the world teaches.

xi.                      Rather than trust your own abilities and powers, rather you trust in the Lord.

xii.                    Psalm 37:7, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

xiii.                  Mat. 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

xiv.                  Meekness doesn’t not mean weak, or spineless, or pathetic.

1.      It doesn’t mean niceness or someone who’s a pushover, or a wallflower.

2.      It really means power under control.  Like a tame horse.

3.      It means to be “Humble, gentle, not aggressive—but trusting and waiting on the Lord to act”

xv.                     Illustration:

1.      When you get pulled over for driving too fast, and the police officer tells you that you were driving 20 miles over the speed limit, and the ticket should be over $400, but he has decided to let you go, and your jaw drops and you feel like giving him a hug…here is the question:  How do you drive off?

a.       Do you squeal your tires?  Do you spray gravel and lay some rubber?

b.      Or do you drive away slowly?  Because you have just been shown the law, and you have violated the law, but you have been shown mercy and comforted.  How do you drive off?  You drive off in meekness…

e.       If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be peacemakers!

i.  The New Testament calls for all believers to live in peace with one another and with all people:

1.      Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)

2.      If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom. 12:18)

3.      Live in peace [with one another]. (2 Cor. 13:11)

4.      Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thess. 5:13)

5.      Furthermore, they learned that all believers—not just those in positions of leadership—are called to intentionally and actively pursue peace:

6.      Let us pursue what makes for peace. (Rom. 14:19)

7.      Strive for peace with everyone. (Heb. 12:14)

8.      Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11)

9.      So flee youthful passions and pursue . . . peace. (2 Tim. 2:22)

10.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Col. 3:15)

ii.                        The opposite of peacemaking is criticism and fault-finding.

1.      Someone who is divisive:

a.       Careless with words.

b.      Complainers.

c.       Grumblers.

d.      Gossips.

e.       A trouble-maker.

f.        Critics.  Fault-finders. 

iii.                      The peacemaker is not concerned with the self-life, but the critic judge is!

1.      The best way to understand this is in terms of understanding the self-life.

2.      The opposite of the peacemaker is the person who is self-focused.

3.      They are concerned with their own rights, their own lives, their own needs, their own feelings.

4.      For instance:

a.       In a family, you might have tensions.  You might have disagreement.  You might have conflict.

b.      The reason for conflict is because someone feels he or she is not getting fair treatment.  Or their rights are being overlooked.

c.       They are concerned about defending their rights, their voice, their opinion.

d.      They are zealots for themselves.

e.       The reason for family disputes, invariably, is because people feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.  Something has happened to THEM, they they don’t like.

i.  Something was withheld from THEM.

ii.                        Something was said to THEM.

f.        When that attitude of the self-life prevails, the result is conflict and animosity and hurt feelings.

g.      A peacemaker looks at what is best for the family.

5.      The peacemaker is someone who sees himself as a worm.  He is poor in spirit, he has mourned over his sin and laments it, he is happy to be a servant, and now he is freed up to focus on others!

6.      The pathway to becoming a peacemaker starts with being poor in spirit, lamenting yourself and your sin, seeing yourself as a servant, humble and meek.

7.      This is the foundation for becoming a peacemaker, like God.

iv.                      The peacemaker absorbs the conflict and suffers long (on behalf of others).

1.      I am NOT saying there aren’t times when conflict needs to happen.  Conflict can be good.

2.      I am talking about the unnecessary conflict.

3.      Peacemakers consider the needs of the group, not their own preferences.

4.      Peacemakers absorb

v.                         Stop the criticism and judging!

1.      In September 2011, The New York Times ran an article about a small town in Missouri called Mountain Grove. Gossip and rumors have always existed in this tight-knit community, but before the days of anonymous social media sites, people traded stories at the local diner called Dee's Place. At Dee's Place you could usually find a dozen longtime residents who gathered each morning to talk about weather, politics, and, of course, their neighbors.

2.      But of late [the article reports], more people in this hardscrabble town of 5,000 have shifted from sharing the latest news and rumors over eggs and coffee to … a social media Web site called Topix, where they write and read startlingly negative posts, all cloaked in anonymity, about one another. [Unlike sites like Facebook, which require users to give their real names, Topix users can pick different names and thus remain anonymous.]

3.      And in Dee's Place, people are not happy. A waitress, Pheobe Best, said that the site had provoked fights and caused divorces. The diner's owner, Jim Deverell, called Topix a "cesspool of character assassination." And hearing the conversation, Shane James, the cook, wandered out of the kitchen tense with anger.

4.      His wife, Jennifer, had been the target in a post … which described the mother of two, as among other things, "a methed-out, doped-out [addict] with AIDS" Not a word was true, Mr. and Mrs. James said, but the consequences were real enough …. Now, the couple has resolved to move. "I'll never come back to this town again," Ms. James said in an interview at the diner. "I just want to get … out of town."

f.        Summarize:

i.  The Two Extremes:

1.      One extreme is that we are gullible, spineless, and naive.

2.      The other extreme is that we are self-righteous critics who look down our noses at others.

3.      Neither extreme brings about the Goldren Rule.

IV.                    The Golden Rule Gone Right (7:7-12).

a.       Jesus moves from talking about being a critic to talking about prayer:

i.  I think He does this for two reasons:

1.      We need God’s help to follow the Golden Rule.

a.       We need God’s help to not idoloze money.

b.      We need God’s help to not worry.

c.       We need God’s help to not be a self-rigteous judge.

d.      We need God’s help to get over our self-prone superiority complex.

e.       We need prayer to do this.

2.      Jesus is describing how God models the Golden Rule to us.

a.       He is good to us.

b.      He doesn’t give us a rock when we ask for bread.  He doesn’t trick us or despise us.

c.       So this section on prayer needs to be interpreted in light of the Golden Rule in verse 12.

d.      All that being said, this is one of the most enocuraging sections in all of the Bible regarding prayer and God’s tender loving kindness towards His children.

b.      God never tires of us (7:7-8), “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

i.  This isn’t a blank check.

1.      God isn’t a Magic Genie who is dicated by our prayers.

2.      That would make us God, and God our servant.

ii.                        When Jesus says, “ask, seek, knock” he is saying we should never grow tired of asking because God never gets tired of hearing and answering.

1.      In other words, “Don’t be shy! Ask away!  God is a Good Father.  He loves to give good gifts more than you do to your kids!”

2.      Jesus is not suggesting vain repetition.  He has already rebuked that in chapter 6.

3.      We shouldn’t drone on and on with many words as if that helps.

4.      His point is that God never tires of us.

iii.                      God is good, and you can ask Him!

1.      James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

2.      1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

3.      “If you don’t spend much time in prayer it is almost proof positive you don’t know Him…If you knew Him you’d ask!”  John Piper

a.       Imagine being a leper…and not asking the Doctor for antibiotics.

b.      The Samaritan woman at the well:  Jesus said, “If you knew who I was you would have asked me…”

iv.                      God is good, and He models to Golden Rule to us when we pray.

1.      God has practiced the Golden Rule to us.

c.       God is like a Good Father (7:9-11), “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

i.  Something we must continually battle until the Lord returns are misunderstandings of God.

ii.                        Eph. 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

iii.                      “You then who are evil”

1.      Jesus is not speaking of specific fathers who would do this, but of all fathers.

2.      Jesus is making a catagory diliniation between the heavenly Father (who is holy) and earthy fathers (who are evil)

3.      But even sinful human fathers like myself, would never dream of tricking our kids with a live snake for their food.

4.      We would do anything for our kids.

5.      And yet, even this STRONG love isn’t to be compared with God’s love for His children.

6.      God will infinitly outdo us in love and benevolence.

iv.                      Jesus Christ has been the supreme example of the Golden Rule.

1.      Jesus suffered and died in our place.

2.      Jesus loved us by denying Himself.

3.      Jesus put our needs before His needs.

v.                         The point: If God loves us like this, then we should love others the way that we would like to be loved.

d.      The Golden Rule (7:12).

i.  The logical flow of the Scriptures here go like this:

1.      Don’t be a self-righteous judge with a superiority complex.

2.      Rather be like God, who has loved you like a Generous Kind Father.

3.      In light of that, you now have the emotional strength to happily apply the Golden Rule.

ii.                        The Golden Rule is positive, not negative.

1.      This type of ethic was not invented by Jesus.  Other teachers and Rabbi’s said similar things.  But they always stated it negatively.

2.      Confusius, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

3.      The stoics, “What you do not want to be done to you, do not do to anyone else.”

4.      Jesus comes along and totally turns it around.

iii.                      The Golden Rule is a summary of the Sermon on the Mount:

1.      The Golden Rule here not only summarizes our section, it summarizes the entire Sermon on the Mount up to this point.

2.      “This truth settles a hundred different prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases.” J.C. Ryle

iv.                      The Golden Rule summarizes the Law and the Prophets:

1.      Mat. 22:39, “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.      Lev. 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

3.      Rom. 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

4.      Gal. 5:14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

5.      Mat. 22:37-39, “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.”

6.      Mark 12:28-31, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

v.                         Love is the New Commandment that Jesus gave:

1.      John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

2.      Rom. 5:5, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

3.      1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

e.       Illustration:

i.  Coach John Gagliardi, of Saint John University, is the winningest coach in college football history with an astounding 421-117-11 record. To say that he's done it in an unconventional way is an understatement. His "winning with no's" approach is noteworthy: No blocking sleds or dummies; no scholarships; no spring practices; no compulsory weightlifting program; no whistles; no "Coach" (players call him John); no tackling in practice (players wear shorts or sweats); no long practices(typically an hour and a half or less).

ii.                        Donald Miller comments on the genius of his approach, "Players are asked to treat their teammates in the way they would like to be treated, with kindness, graciousness, and altruism. The players work as hard as they want to work, and when they come to practice they do exactly as the coach asks them to do, not because their positions are threatened, but because they care about one another, work as a team, and love their coach because they sense his love for them.", and Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What, (Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 139; submitted by Scott McDowell, Nashville, Tennessee

f.        What is love?

i.  Selfish criticism isn’t love.

ii.                        Gossip isn’t love.

iii.                      Venting about people isn’t love.

iv.                      Placing yourself in the place of God and evaluating others motives isnn’t love.

v.                         Thanklessness isn’t love.

V.                       Bottom Line Summary:

a.       Who are we? 

i.  It is utter nonesense to act like self-rightouess critics in light of all God has done for us.

b.      God is a good father, who loves His children, and constantly is doing what’s best for them.

c.       Let’s imitate Him and fulfill the Law and the prophets and do to others what we would want done to us.

VI.                    The Gospel:

a.       Maybe you are here today and don’t really feel the need for Christ? 

b.      Maybe you are here today and don’t feel much urgency to be reconciled to God?

c.       Maybe you are here and don’t really sense your sinfulness?

d.      Let me tell you then, that you have a giant log in your eye!

e.       You cannot see it, because you are not poor in spirit!

f.        You cannot sense it because you are not broken over your sin and mourned!

g.      You cannot feel it because you are not meek.

h.      If that is you, confess your self-righteousness which has blinded you for your need of Christ.

i.        Make yourself low, and come to a Good Father, who gives the gift of life and forgivenss of sins to those who ask.

Related Topics: Fellowship, Spiritual Life

Lesson 16: Sermon On The Mount: Decision Time (Matthew 7:13-29)

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This lesson on Matthew 7 was preached by Jonathon Newcome in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 4/14/2013.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life

Lesson 17: Jesus The Healer (Matthew 8:1-17)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Get ready to become more and more fascinated with Jesus.

i.  Isn’t it good to be in the gospel’s just listening to Jesus, watching Jesus, learning from Jesus.

b.      The first great section of the Gospel has been concluded.

i.  It has dealt with the beginnings of the good news, the birth and early years of Jesus, the inauguration of his ministry, and the manifesto of his kingdom.

c.       The sermon on the mountain ended with Jesus calling people to make a choice.  There are two options:

i.  Repentance or hard-heartedness.

ii.  The narrow road or the wide road.

iii.                   The rock foundation or the sandy foundation.

d.      In these next two chapters (8 and 9) we see Jesus demonstrate his authority.

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

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

iii.                      Jesus was not like other teachers.  He didn’t need to quote others.

iv.                      “You have heard it said, bit I say!”  And this authoritative teaching is what stood out to the listeners.

v.                         However, people still doubted the legitimacy of Jesus, so Mathew now launches in to prove this authority.

vi.                      He does it in a number of ways, but in our passage, Matthew shows the authority of Jesus in his power to heal.

vii.                    His Word’s carry the weight of authority.

1.      8:3, 8:8, 8:13, 8:16.

2.      This reminds us of the power of the Creator, who spoke the universe into being with a word (Gen. 1)

3.      He is mighty in word AND deed.

e.       Outline:

i.  BI: Outcasts and outsiders love Jesus.

II.                      Jesus Heals a Leper (8:1-4)

a.       “behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him...”

i.  Leper was a generic term for skin disease.  So it could have been a number of things.

ii.                        But if it was leprosy in the proper sense, Hansen’s disease, this story makes more sense.

iii.                      By Jewish law he was an unclean man. 

1.      The priests would determine is the skin disease was lereperous or not, but if it was, you would have to be seperated from those who are clean.

2.      But the real issue is the isolation.  He would live alone.  He would die alone.

iv.                      And if you ventured out, you had to cover the lower part of your face and yell as you walked along, “Unclean! Unclean!”

v.                         Skin disease is one thing, but seperation from your community, your family, your life, is another.

vi.                      Evidently he has heard aboiut Jesus healing ministry and because he is desperate he comes and kneels down in front of Jesus.

vii.                    Feel the emotion of this!

1.      This is desperate and miserable and lonely suffering man!  His family has left him.  His friends have left him.

2.      This is a man who has been born into sin and is living with the results of sin.

3.      The Curse has cursed him!

4.      Sickness and death have him by the throat!

5.      And in a moment of brave desperation he comes before Jesus.  He encounters Jesus!  He has heard about Jesus, and now he sees Jesus!

6.      And he says...

b.      “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

i.  Notice and learn from this lepers question.

ii.                        He doesn’t dictate to Jesus what to do.

iii.                      He doesn’t test Jesus.  He doesn’t presume.  He doesn’t name and claim and demand healing.

iv.                      He lays before Him, in humility, his request.

v.                         He knows Jesus can heal.  He believes Jesus can heal.  He wants Jesus to heal.  But he rests in the sovereign providence of Jesus and leaves it to Him.

vi.                      “Lord, if it be your will.”

vii.                    Are we comfortable with His will?

1.      Oftentimes we pray in such a way that says, “If it be your will” but inwardly we resent anything other than our own will.

viii.                  This is a great way to ask God!

c.       “I will; be clean”

i.  I don’t know if there is a more encouraging verse in all the Bible.

ii.                        I am willing!

iii.                      Normally a person would be contaminated and made unclean, but not Jesus.  At the touch of Jesus the defiled becomes cleansed!

d.      “And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”

i.  He is not only willing He is capable!

ii.                        Other diseases needed to be ‘healed’, leprosy and leprosy alone needed to be ‘cleansed’.

iii.                      The problem was that folks with leprosy did not get healed! There was no known cure.

iv.                      So there is an appropriateness in the fact that the first mighty act of Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, is the cleansing of a man with leprosy.

v.                         We not only need to be healed, we need to be cleaned.

vi.                      And He is willing!

e.       The Messianic Secret (8:4)

i.  Why keep this a secret?

1.      There has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about why Jesus does this over and over.

2.      Why does he tell people to not tell anyone, but go to the priest?

3.      Why not proclaim it from housetops?  Why not tell people to go show and tell?

4.      Different thoughts:

a.       The gospel writers added this in for some reason.

b.      Jesus didn’t want to be known as a political figure.

c.       Jesus is gaurding against confusion about the primary message.

i.  He doesn’t want to be known pirmarily as a healer

ii.                        He is not just a healer, he is the savior!  And his healing serves to validate the saving.

iii.                      During Jesus’ ministry he is constantly telling people to keep a secret, but then after his death and resurrection.  After He had made provision for forgiveness and peace with God, he tells them to tell everyone.

iv.                      Before the cross—“Keep your mouth shut”

v.                         After the cross—“Don’t shut your mouth” 

5.      Today, we are people with a message.  A unique message.  That Jesus is Lord and He is Savior.  Receive peace with God through Jesus Christ.  Settle with Him outside of court!

6.      He is a Healer, but His healing serves to illustrates His saving and His cleansing.

ii.                        Why go to the priests?

1.      Jesus said this would be a testimony to the priests. And so it was, for in the entire history of the nation there was no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Num. 12:10-15). One can imagine the dramatic impact when this man suddenly appeared at the temple and announced to the priests he had been cured of leprosy!

2.      Here perhaps nothing more is implied by Jesus’ words than that the newly cleansed leper should not be distracted from his responsibility to follow the procedures of the law (as set forth in Lev 14:1–32).

3.      He could easily have been so overjoyed, telling everyone what had happened, that he would not have obeyed God’s commandments. Until Jesus’ death and resurrection, the sacrificial laws remained God’s will for his people; Jesus never encouraged anyone to contravene them during his lifetime.

4.      Indeed, someone greater than Moses is here.

III.                   Jesus Heals a Gentile (8:5-13)

a.       The Centurion comes to Jesus and pleads (8:5-6)

i.  This man was a Roman soldier.  A Captain and leader of men.

ii.                        It’s inetresting that every mention of a Centurion in Scripture is positive.

iii.                      He is a leader of a century of people, or about 100 people. 

iv.                      His servant is in misery, and he loves his servant, and He asks Jesus to come and heal Him.

b.      Jesus says He will come and heal his servant (8:7)

i.  “I will come and heal him.”

c.       The Centurion responds to Jesus (8:8-9)

i.  He obviously understands the Jewish customs well enough because he tells Jesus to not come to his house, which was forbidden, but to just say the word.

ii.                        He displays humility.  He ackowledges Jesus superiourity. He displays faith.  He also calls Jesus Lord. 

iii.                      In others words, He recognizes what the Jewish Religious leaders of the day refused to recognize.

d.      Jesus comments on the Gentile  (8:10-12).

i.  A number of interseting things happen here:

1.      A Gentile man is desperate.

2.      Jesus breaks custom by interacting with him.

3.      Jesus heals from a distance.

4.      The man Jesus heals a Gentile.

5.      The Gentiles are offered inclusion to the Kingdom of God.

6.      The Jews are warned of exclusion is they don’t repent.

a.       The gospel was ‘first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’.  But both Jews and Gentiles males and females are called to respond with faith and repentance to Jesus Christ.

b.      This was both staggering and appalling to many of the Jews!

c.       We don’t need to repent!  They thought!  I’m in the right group!

ii.                        But Jesus rattles their false sense of security .

1.      Jesus was surrounded by people who thought that because of their ethnicity and heritage that they were sons of the kingdom.

2.      Jesus was surrounded by people who thought that all was well with their souls, when all was not well.

3.      Jesus was surrounded by people who flattered themselves with the notion that hell was for the outcasts, but a great feast awaited them.

iii.                      So Jesus goes for the juggular of any kind of false sense of security.

1.      Those who thing they will automatically gain entrance because of their religious backgrounds would not find entrance.  Instead they would be cast into judgment.

2.      As Bruner provocatively warns, “Hell is not a doctrine used to frighten unbelievers; it is a doctrine used to warn those who think themselves believers.”

3.     Jonathan Edwards, “Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it.”

iv.                      Today we have a similar problem.

1.      We have millions of people who wrongly assume that because they have prayed a prayer or stood up in an Easter service to receive Christ, or been baptized, or walked an isle to the altar, of signed a card to become a Christian, that they are sons and daughters of the kingdom.

2.      Others assume that because they have grown up on the church, or their parents were missionaries, that they are sons and daughters of the kingdom.

3.      As we saw last week in the Sermon on the Mount, “not everyone who claims the name of Jesus will be saved!  He may say, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

4.      The lesson from the outsider Centurion is instructive!

5.      Lay yourself low before the King!  Acknowledge your sinfulness and lowliness and acknowledge His power to heal and to save and call upon His Name!  He has the power and authority to save!

e.       The servant is healed (8:13)

i.  That very moment the servant was healed.

ii.                        The healing isn’t in proportion to his faith, it isn’t caused by his faith, the healing is in response to his faith.

iii.                      It’s not our faith that saves us or heals, it is the object of our faith that saves and heals.

iv.                      Matthew’s point is not “what an incredible Gentile,” but rather, “what an incredible Jesus.”

v.                         It’s the authority of Jesus that is powerful.

vi.                      It’s the compassion of Jesus that is comforting.

vii.                    It’s warning of the hell of outer darkness that is terrifying.

IV.                    Jesus Heals a Woman (8:14-17).

a.       Here Matthew records another vingnete of Jesus healing people.

b.      Jesus enters Peter’s house and sees his Mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.

c.       Jesus touches her hand, and the fever left.

i.  The healing is immediate.

ii.                        The healing is total.

iii.                      The healing results in service.

d.      She gets right up and starts serving.

e.       Later that evening demon-possessed people and other sick people are healed.

f.        Behold, Jesus the Healer.

V.                       Application:  We are help the outcasts and the powerless.

a.       None of these three groups, the leper, the Roman, or Peter’s mother in law, could have entered the Temple courts.  In a sense they were on the margins.  They had no religious status.

b.      Just look at Jesus’ genealogy!

c.       Jesus is a friend of sinners and He is a friend of the outsider and the outcast!

i.  He came for the Jews AND the Gentiles.

d.      He came for sinners, and spiritually speaking, that’s ALL of us!

i.  If you don’t get this, then Jesus will be nothing more than a magician to you.  He will be nothing more than someone who does some neat tricks.  You will simply be a spectator not a particpiant.

ii.                        The point Matthew is making is that Jesus has come for outcasts, and WE are the outcasts.

iii.                      The one theme throughout chapters 8–9 is that all these people were helpless to address their own need.

iv.                      All of them needed someone outside themselves to help them.

v.                         Our helplessness, whether recognized or not, is the great equalizer before God.

vi.                      Jesus loves helpless people.

vii.                    Blessed are the POOR in spirit and those who mourn.

viii.                  Because that’s the place of blessing.

ix.                      These people would have never gone to Jesus is they were not in need.

e.       Who are the powerless or the outctast today?

i.  The sick.

ii.                        The elderly.

iii.                      The lonely.

iv.                      The disabled.

v.                         Jesus says when you throw a party, don’t invite the popular and the impressive and the educated and the folks who know their manners.  Invite the fringe folks.  Invite the rough-around-the edges folk.  Invite the univited and the unpopular.

f.        Pracically:

i.  Teach your kids to pursue the outcast.

ii.                        Pursue the lonely.

iii.                      Befiend those with no friends.

g.      The Messianic Secret is also instructive for us.

i.  Our message is NOT that Jesus is just a great healer.

ii.                        Our message is that Jesus is a Great Savior.

iii.                      And we are to share this people with anyone who is poor enough in spirit to hear it.  Anyone willing to listen.  Any who recognizes he or she is a spiritual outcast.

h.      Church planting:

i.  We are looking at starting another site which will eventually turn in to its own church.

ii.                        This creates room here and it will create room there.

iii.                      We need people to go and we need people to stay.

iv.                      Those who go provide opportunities for those who stay and those who stay provide opportunities for those who go.

v.                         We are all people on mission.

vi.                      Let me say it again.  Every single one of us has a mission from God to reach people.

vii.                    It is no different if you go or stay.  We have a Great Commssion to make disciples.

viii.                  One thing to keep in mind as we make disciples is to be people who reach out to the outcasts.

ix.                      As we fulfill the Great Commission.  As we learn to be disciples of Jesus, it’s as though the Word of God is telling us to keep an eye on the outcasts.

1.      At your workplace—pursue the outcast.

2.      At your college—pursue the outsider.

3.      At your school—pursue the outcast.

4.      In your neighborhood—pursue the outsider.

5.      Invite them to your home, invite them to church, show them love.

VI.                    Application: Six things to keep in mind if you are sick.

a.       How do we procress sickness?  How do we not despair?

i.  The most trying times in my life and my marriage have centered around health.

1.      And our trials have been nothing in comparison to others.

ii.                        Many of you could say the same.

1.      Many of you suffer with your own health, or are suffering with the health of someone you love...

2.      This is real.

iii.                      Praying for Daniel Losey.

1.      Daniel is 9 years old and he needs a heart transplant.

2.      This is weighty.

iv.                      Praying for Daniel Good.

1.      Trench foot in China.

2.      Young man serving the Lord, and gets sick.

3.      This is a trial.

v.                         Both of these families are incredible.  They are trusting God.  They are clinging to his promises.

vi.                      Psalm 61:1-2, Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I…”

vii.                    I am burdened and my heart is heavy as I, with the elders, try to shepherd folks through sickness.

viii.                  How do we do it?

ix.                      How do we process this?

b.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.

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

1.      Jesus would have never been precious to them!

2.      I bet the leper was praising God that he had leprosy because He never would have met Jesus.  It brought him to Jesus!

ii.                        Their sickness made them poor in spirit and needy.

iii.                      Their deperation was GOOD and designed by God.

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

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

vi.                      Tim Keller gives a good illustration on the purpose of sickness (and suffering).

1.      Do you remember when your mother used to say, "Don't eat candy before meals?" Why did she say that? Because she knew it would ruin your next meal. The trouble with eating candy is that it gives you a sugar buzz, and then you don't feel hungry. Candy masks the fact that your body needs proteins and vitamins. The sugar buzz from candy masks your hunger for the real nutrients that you don't have.

2.      Things like sex, power, money, and success—as well as favorable circumstances—act like spiritual sugar. Christians who have these spiritual candies may say, "Sure, I believe in God and I know I'm going to heaven," but they're actually basing their day-to-day joy on favorable circumstances. When the circumstances change, it drives us to God, because when the sugar disappears, when the candy gets taken away, we're forced to pursue the feast that our souls really crave. We'll hunger for the spiritual nutrients we really need.”

3.      Sickness has a way of taking off the mask.

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

1.      We suddenly see things more clearly!

2.      We become poor in spirit.

3.      We are needy, and Christ is rich.

4.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.

viii.                  When Paul was sick, it led Him to Jesus.

1.      Here is Paul.  The cheif of the Apostles.  The Mouthpiece for Christianity.  And he is sick.  He is in misery.

2.      Sickness taught Paul us that God’s grace is sufficient.

3.      2 Cor. 12:7-10,  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

c.       Sickness is not always healed.

i.  In the early Church many stayed sick for long periods of time.

1.      Galatians 4:13-15 Paul was ill

2.      2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul was afflicted

3.      Philippians 2:25-30 Epaphroditus was ill (A.D. 60)

4.      1 Timothy 5:23 Timothy was ill (A.D. 62-3)

5.      2 Timothy 4:20 Trophimus was ill (A.D. 64).

ii.                        Ryle says, “There is a proverb that says, ‘A man’s home is his castle;’ but there are no doors and bars which keep out disease and death.”

1.      You cannot escape it.  It is among ALL people.

2.      We all get sick, and we all die.

iii.                      Matthew quotes Isaiah 53 and says that this was a fulfillment of a prophecy, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

1.      This verse should not be used to justify healing on demand.

2.      While it’s true that healing is part of the atonement, some folks have misused this verse to name and claim healing.

3.      It’s also true that our resurrection bodies are included in the atonement as a promise, but we obviously don’t have that yet.

4.      So the cross is the bases for our healing AND our saving, BUT that’s doesn’t that all of the benifits of the cross will come before the Lord returns.

iv.                      We see accounts of three different people getting healed, then later a bunch more.  But we never see entire villages healed.

v.                         Even in Jesus’ day, many paralytics stayed on their beds, many blind remained sightless, and many demons remained unexorcised.

vi.                      Jesus did as many miracles as necessary to validate his identity and his message, that the deeper spiritual need of mankind might be addressed.

vii.                    Why are some healed and other not?

1.      The short ansewer is that we don’t know.  God is God and we are not.  God is does all things well, and we don’t see the big picture.

2.      The longer answer is that we are between two worlds.

a.       Already/Not Yet.

b.      The Kingdom God has arrived with Jesus, but it is not yet.

viii.                  Nonethless, How should we pray for healing?

1.      First of all, it is good to pray for healing.

2.      James 5:14-15,  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

d.      Sickness enables us to minister and have compassion on others.

i.  Our sicknesses enable us to have compassion and minister to others.

1.      Food poisoning…(new way of cooking chicken)

ii.                        2 Cor. 1:3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer…

e.       Sickness can be a means of God disciplining us.

i.  1 Cor. 11:30, “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”

ii.                        Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”


iv.                      Luke 15:16-18- the Pridigal found himself eating pig food.  God using this trial wake him up.

v.                         Heb. 12:5-12, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

f.        Sickness can make us more sanctified.

i.  The misery of illness can purify our faith, as Peter says.

ii.                        The story is Job is insightful:

1.      Job 5:17, “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

2.      Job learned to trust God in the midst of tremendous suffering.

iii.                      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Gulag Archipelago “Bless you prison, for ever having been in my life.”

iv.                      James 1:2-4, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

v.                         Rom. 5:3-5, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

vi.                      In other words, the sickness you have can not only be used of God, but designed by God.

1.      God the Almighty, as we see clearly in the Scriptures, it totally and comprehesivly sovereign over all things, which includes your sickness.

2.      Charles Spurgeon, “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.  The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

3.      This is a mountaintop truth that will encourage you.

4.      This is a Rocky Mountain top truth that cannot be assuaged.

5.      If you are in Christ, even though you suffer with illness and infirmities, God in Christ is for you, not against you, and He is not aloof in what He allows and doesn’t allow in your life.

6.      He is a good Father with good purposes and good plans.

g.      Sickness breaks the heart of Jesus.

i.  The Story of Lazarus:

1.      Jesus delays in coming.

2.      He waits four days.

3.      John emphasizes this by pointing out that Lazarus had been dead and buried for 4 days.

ii.                        The sisters are distraught.

1.      In their minds.  What’s done is done.  They have seen this before.  People get sick, then they die.  It’s sad, if Jesus was there earlier He could have healed him.  They knew he had the power to heal.  Why was he so slow?  Was he aloof?  Was his mind somewhere else?

2.      Why didn’t He use His power to heal?

3.      Is the heart of Jesus cold?

iii.                      Jesus weeps (11:28-37)

1.      Jesus is broken over the reality of the situation.  He sees the curse of sickness and fruit of sickness and this death and He weeps!

a.       This is the fruit of Sin.  Sickness and now death.

2.      Jesus is tenderhearted and he weeps!  He mourns with them.

3.      Jesus is not far from the brokenhearted.

4.      Here is a glimpse of the heart of our Lord.

b.      He is not unaffected or unmoved with our infirmities and sicknesses and death.  He weeps.

b.      Britt Merrick story:

i.  Calvary Chapel Bible teacher in Santa Barbara CA.

ii.                        Daughter Daisy gets a cancerous tumor in her stomach when she is about three years old.

iii.                      Just died at 6 or 7 years old.

iv.                      He gives a sermon a few days before she died saying how hard it’s been and the despair, etc.

v.                         The turning point for him was when he stopped asking “Why?” and started asking “Who?”

VII.                The Gospel.

Related Topics: Christology, Evangelism, Soteriology (Salvation)

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