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Lesson 11: "But I Say To You..." Jesus' Six Commandments (Matthew 5:21-48)

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This lesson on Matthew 5 was preached by Tom Sorensen in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 2/24/2013.

Related Topics: Grace, Kingdom, Law

Lesson 12: The Practice Of Righteousness (Matthew 6:1-18)

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This lesson on Matthew 6 was preached by Lars Anderson in continuation of David Anderson's expository series in the gospel of Matthew at Littleton Bible Chapel on 3/3/2013.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life

Lesson 13: Mammon or Jesus? Crisis Of The American Christian (Matthew 6:19-24)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Recap—Things to keep in mind as we go through this sermon on the mountain.

      1. Seek the Kingdom!
        1. One of the key statement in this sermon is: Mat. 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom…”
        2. This is the overarching priority of the Sermon on the Mount.
        3. There are two things that can rob you from seeking first His kingdom:
          1. Money.
          2. Worry.
        4. They are to seek perfection (5:48) and the kingdom (6:33).
          1. As they do this, there will arise some competing concerns and challenges.
          2. Wealth and worry.
      2. Jesus is interested in internals, not externals.
        1. Jesus challenges our priorities, our vision, our security, and our very lives in this section.
        2. Jesus warns against public prayer that is merely external.
        3. Jesus also warns against an external life that is just concerned with material things.
    1. Outline:
      1. Two Kinds of…

II.                      Two Kinds of Treasures (6:19-21)

a.      Earthly Treasure (19).

i.  What is earthly treasure?

1.      This is a broad term.  It includes a lot.

2.      It could be anything from applause from people, recognition, status, earthly security, property, possessions, money, clothes—which were expensive, but could be ruined by moths.

ii.                        Earthly treasure doesn’t last.

1.      Clothes were extraordinarily expensive. Silk was worth its weight in gold.  Only the wealthiest could afford it.  It was mostly for royalty.  Some people would save for years to reach the status of purchasing and wearing some purple silk.

2.      But the larva of the moth could destroy it in one night’s sleep.  Or someone would just break in to your house through the clay wall and take it.

3.      It doesn’t last.  It’s fleeting.

4.      All this world has is going up in smoke.

iii.                      Earthly Treasure has a tendency to distract your heart away from God.

1.      It will pull your heart away from God.

2.      When the stock market crashed in 1929, J.C. Penney lost almost all of his material assets. Worry and anxiety set in. He became physically ill and deeply depressed. As a result, he had to be hospitalized.

a.       His earthly treasure had consumed him and distracted Him from a different kind of treasure.

3.      Penny became so sick that on one particular night he thought he was dying. When he woke up, he realized he was still alive. As he walked down the hospital corridor that day, he heard singing coming from the hospital chapel. The words were “God will take care of you, through every day, o’re all the way.”

4.      That marked a complete life turnaround for him, actually.

iv.                       Earthly treasure appeals to our base nature, and pulls us away from God.

1.      A couple years ago I tried my hand in the market and attempted to trade stocks.

2.      I quickly learned that, (although not quickly enough) not only was I incompetent, it was a major distraction.  I would wake up in the morning in a cold panic and look at the futures market.

3.      My heart became divided.  I found my heart pounding harder for the Dow Jones than it pounded for the precious gospel entrusted to me.

4.      I’m not saying those who invest and trade need to follow my lead.  Obviously some people do quite well in the market.  But trading, for me, was wrong, and it divided my heart.

5.      Money has a tendency to create problems…

a.       Marriage counselors say that the number one issue in marriages is money.

b.      There may be heavy hearts in here right now because of the way some have gained money and used money.

c.       People have been DESTROYED by money!

d.      Money can ruin you.

e.       Money has the power to ruin your life, your marriage, your future!

f.        Satan sticks his claws into us regarding money than maybe anything else.

g.      Money tempts us into pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, self-indulgence.

6.      Puritan Richard Baxter said, “When men prosper in the world, their minds are lifted up with their estates, and they can hardly believe that they are so ill, while they feel themselves so well.”

v. Earthly treasure has a tendency to foster greed and covetousness.

1.      Money, possessions, land, are all good things.  They aren’t bad things.

2.      But our flesh has a tendency to love ourselves and prefer ourselves more than we love God and more than we love our neighbors.

3.      A little boy was walking to church with two quarters in his hand, one for the offering and one for a candy-bar after church.  When he was crossing the street he tripped and fell and one of his quarters went rolling out of his hand and went right down into the sewer, ker plunk.  He told his dad what happened and his father asked him if he “put the other quarter in the offering.”  The little boy said, “No, God’s quarter went down the sewer.”

a.       Truth be told, God’s quarter usually gets thrown down the sewer.  He is usually the last one to be given to.  He gets the left-over’s.  Our priorities lie else ware. And that’s exactly the point Jesus is making.**

b.      And the end of the day and at the end of our lives, the monopoly money gets put back in the box and it goes up in smoke.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.

4.      Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells of a farmer who reported happily to his wife that his best cow had given birth to twin calves, one red and one white.  He said, “You know, I have been led of the Lord to dedicate one of the calves to him.  We will raise them together.  Then when the time comes to sell them, we will keep the money from the one calf and give the money from the other to the Lord.”

5.      His wife asked which one he was going to dedicate to the Lord, but he answered that there was no need to decide that now since he was going to treat them alike.  Several months later he came into the kitchen looking very sad.  When his wife asked what was troubling him he answered, “I have bad news.  The Lord’s calf is dead.”  “But you had not decided which was to be the Lord’s calf,” she objected.  “Oh, yes,” he said.  “I had always determined that it was to be the white one, and it was the white one that has died.”

vi.                      Earthly Treasure tends to be accumulated—turned into greed.

1.      A 2012 article from The Atlantic observed that over the past 100 years and how we have turned luxury products into necessities.

a.       In 1900, less than 10 percent of families owned a stove, or had access to electricity or phones

b.      In 1915, less than ten percent of families owned a car

c.       In 1930, less than ten percent of families owned a refrigerator or a washer.

d.      In 1945, less than ten percent of families owned a clothes dryer or air-conditioning.

e.       In 1960, less than ten percent of families owned a dishwasher or color TV.

f.        In 1975, less than ten percent of families owned a microwave.

g.      In 1990, less than ten percent of families had a cell phone or access to the internet.

h.      The article concluded by noting, "Today, at least 90 percent of the country has a stove, electricity, car, fridge, clothes washer, air-conditioning, color TV, microwave, and cell phone. They make our lives better. They might even make us happier. But they are [never] enough."

i.        Derek Thompson, "The 100-Year March of Technology in 1 Graph," The Atlantic (4-7-12)

2.      Our hearts are prone to wander.

b.      Heavenly Treasure (20).

i.  What are treasures in heaven?

1.      Treasures in heaven should be defined very broadly.

a.       It’s basically anything you can take with you into paradise.

i.  Holiness, humility, love to the saints, discipleship, faithfulness to the Word.  Souls won to Christ. 

ii.                        Righteous deeds of love and selflessness.

2.      Your growth in prayer.

3.      Your growth in evangelism.

4.      Your growth in holiness.

5.      Your attempt to faithfully share the gospel with your friend.

ii.                        Heavenly Treasure are never corrupted, lost, or stolen.

1.      It’s a guaranteed investment.

2.      They are treasures that don’t get taken away.

3.      They are true riches.  They are better.

iii.                      Heavenly Treasure pulls your heart towards God and away from the worldliness.

1.      If I am invested in something, I take a vested interest in it.

2.      If I am investing in the market, then mostly naturally I will want to follow the news of the market.

3.      If my life is dictated by the ups and downs of the Dow Jones, S&P, and the NASDAQ, then I will wake up every morning and check the paper and read the news.

4.      This is the normal behavior of anyone who is vested.

5.      But if my investment is in heaven, then so is my heart!

c.       Here’s the Main Point:  Where’s your heart?

i.  Your heart is the center of your affections and commitments.

1.      How you use money says a lot about you and your heart.

2.      What you think about says a lot about you. 

3.      What you daydream about says a lot about you.

ii.                        If this passage is a heart monitor, then the American Church is on life-support.

1.      This passage is a rebuke of American materialism.

2.      It is the responsibility of the Church to call out and identify the cultural idols that lure and tempt and tease the Lord’s people.

3.      It is the responsibility of the Church to call out the idolatry that creeps in to the church unnoticed.

4.      Let’s not pacify the words of Jesus here.

5.      He is confronting and exposing the hearts of Christians and churches.

iii.                      Where is our heart!?

iv.                      Where are our affections!?

v.                         Where is your treasure!!!!!

III.                   Two Kinds of Eyes (6:22-23)

a.       What does this example of “eyes” mean?

i.  Jesus is really saying the exact same thing as He said in vv. 19-21, but he is expanding it a bit using a slightly different metaphor.

ii.                        The heart has to do with the emotions and priorities.

iii.                      The eye is illustrative of the whole person.  It represents the entirety of a person.

iv.                      He compares our eyes to a lamp.  And says that if your eyes are good, your whole body is filled with light and if your eyes are bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.

v.                         If we lose our vision, or if our eyes go bad, then everything goes gray or black, and we stumble and flounder.

vi.                      But if we see things as they are.  If we see things clearly.  If Jesus is our vision, then it will inform all of our life.

vii.                    A.W. Tozer asked, “What do we value most? What would we most hate to lose? What do our thoughts turn to most frequently when we are free to think of what we will? And finally, what affords us the greatest pleasure?”

viii.                  Jesus is our spiritual optometrist.

b.      Bad eye:

i.  The bad eye is blind to the things of God.  Blind to God’s Kingdom.

ii.                        If your eye is always looking to materialism it will blind your whole life!

iii.                      If your eye covets, then you are blind.  And an idolater, Paul says.

iv.                      If you have one eye on material riches and another eye on the kingdom, you have double-vision.  Divided interests.

v.                         It is blinded by material possessions. 

1.      It is blinded by money. 

2.      It is blinded and distracted by the pleasures and entertainments of this world.

vi.                      When it looks at an opportunity for God, it doesn’t see it.

1.      It looks, but it can’t see.

vii.                    When it looks at an opportunity to store up treasures in heaven, it sees right through it.

viii.                  When it looks at an opportunity to speak up for Christ, witness for Christ, suffer for Christ, serve for Christ, it misses it, because he can’t see it.

ix.                      His eyes are blind, and so is his whole life.

x.                         Blinded and distracted and ignorant of what really matters.

xi.                     

xii.                    The bad eye is lulled and distracted by the worthless TV shows that make you dumber and more worldly every time you watch.

xiii.                  The bad eye is lulled and distracted by every kind of entertainment and amusement that keeps you and your family away from prayer and the Word.

xiv.                  If you eye is gazing and obsessed with the next car, or the next iPad, or the next purchase, you have bad vision.

xv.                     Covetousness and greed blinds people to a kingdom vision.

      1. A.W. Tozer said, "Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that you can take two small ten-cent pieces, just two dimes, and shut out the view of a panoramic landscape. Go to the mountains and just hold two coins closely in front of your eyes--the mountains are still there, but you cannot see them at all because there is a dime shutting off the vision in each eye."

c.       Healthy eye:

i.  The healthy eye can see the things that matter.

ii.                        The healthy eye can perceive what really matters in life.

iii.                      The healthy eye is single-minded and focused on eternity.

iv.                      The healthy eye sees an opportunity to store up treasure in heaven.

v.                         The healthy eye sees an opportunity to speak up for Christ, witness for Christ, suffer for Christ, serve Christ, and he does it, because he sees it.

vi.                      His eyes can see, and so His whole life is directed and led by a clear vision Christ and His Kingdom and what really matters.

vii.                    He sees things in light of eternity and he sees things in light of making Jesus look good and attractive and compelling, as He is.

viii.                  “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” Jonathan Edwards.

1.      In other words, may my vision be Christ and His kingdom!

2.      Lord, give me spiritual eyes!

ix.                      Good eyes at work

x.                         Good eyes at home

xi.                      Good eyes in self-discipline.

xii.                    May God grant us good eyes so that Jesus is our vision.

d.      Main Point:

i.  “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”

ii.                        Jesus and His Kingdom are to be our Vision!

iii.                      If He is not, then we will stumble through this life completely missing the things that matter, like souls, and sanctification, and salvation.  Church, discipleship, fellowship, and love.

IV.                    Two Kinds of Masters (6:24).

a.       The third illustration that Jesus uses is that of a Master and Slave.

i.  Slaves in Jesus’ day did not work for two different masters. 

ii.                        A slave was the property of the master. 

iii.                      He did the bidding of the master day or night. 

iv.                      It was a full-time, all-consuming job. 

v.                         He did not have the luxury of doing something else. 

vi.                      He was totally dedicated with single-mindedness to his master.

vii.                    “Master” speaks of something that requires total allegiance and loyalty.

1.      Jesus dials in on our loyalties…

a.       All of us are loyal to something.

b.      All of is idolize something.

c.       Everyone has an ultimate loyalty to someone or something.

d.      We all idolize something.  Either God, or something else.

e.       Our loyalties tell us a lot about ourselves.

2.      Is it possible to love both material things AND God?

a.       Jesus says no.

b.      One of the two will ultimately be neglected or prioritized.

b.      The Bad Master: Mammon.

i.  I like the word Mammon, even though no one uses it.  It’s slightly broader than just “Money.”

1.      The word essentially means money.  “worldly wealth” like property, stocks bonds, cash, real estate. 

2.      The NIV just translates is as “Money” with a capital “M” because it is an idol.  A competitor with God.

3.      His point is that we can’t have it both ways.  Our hearts have but one home.

ii.                        Warnings about Mammon and Money in the Bible.

1.      Col. 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

2.      1 Tim. 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

3.      2 Peter 2:3, “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

4.      Luke 14:18-20, “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”

5.      Luke 8:14, “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

6.      Luke 12:15-21, “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

7.      Luke 18:24-25, “Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

8.      Psalm 49:16-17, Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.”

iii.                      The Master of Mammon is a mirage.

1.      Mammon makes you feel powerful.

2.      Mammon makes you feel secure.

3.      Mammon makes you feel independent and self-sufficient.

4.      Mammon feels good, tastes good, and looks good.

5.      Mammon is your best life now.

6.      Mammon is tied to shopping.

a.       There is a cycle of shopping, buying, consuming, accumulating, discarding, and more shopping.

b.      “In a discussion about what lies at the heart of American culture, scholar David Henderson says, "America's favorite tourist attraction, beating out Disney World and drawing nearly ten times as many people as the Grand Canyon, is the Mall of America outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, a shopping mall complete with more than four hundred stores, an amusement park, and a full-size roller coaster." In 2011, what some have called the "mecca of materialism" drew over 40 million visitors, while Disneyland drew just 16.1 million and the Grand Canyon just 4.2 million.

c.       David Henderson concludes, "America is a land of compulsive shoppers …. The mall is our home away from home and our national pastime."

d.      There is a cycle of shopping, buying, consuming, accumulating, discarding, and more shopping.

i.  And all of that complexity keeps us from the simplicity of One Master.

iv.                      Mammon ties us down:

1.      Property and wealth and pleasure have a tendency to tie us down.

2.      They can consume us and rob us from time and emotional energy.

3.      The person who has nothing is FREE.

4.      They don’t stay up at night wondering if someone will rob the boat they don’t own.

v.                         Mammon is a threat to discipleship to Jesus.

1.      “Many perceptive observers have sensed that the greatest danger to Western Christianity is not, as is sometimes alleged, prevailing ideologies such as Marxism, Islam, the New Age movement or humanism but rather the all-pervasive materialism of our affluent culture. We try so hard to create heaven on earth and to throw in Christianity when convenient as another small addition to the so-called good life. Jesus proclaims that unless we are willing to serve him wholeheartedly in every area of life, but particularly with our material resources, we cannot claim to be serving him at all.”  Blomberg

vi.                      Mammon can kill you (and your soul.)

1.      In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.

2.      Collectively, these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the United States Treasury, and for years newspapers and magazines had been printing their success stories and urging the youth of the nation to follow their examples.

3.      Twenty-seven years later…

a.       (1) CHARLES SCHWAB—the president of the largest independent steel company—lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life, and died penniless.

b.      (2) ARTHUR CUTTEN—the greatest wheat speculator—died abroad insolvent.

c.       (3) RICHARD WHITNEY—the president of the New York Stock Exchange—was released some time ago from Sing Sing.

d.      (4) ALBERT FALL—the member of the President’s Cabinet—was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.

e.       (5) JESSE LIVERMORE—the greatest bear in Wall Street—committed suicide.

f.        (6) LEON FRASER—the president of the Bank of International Settlement—committed suicide.

g.      (7) IVAR KRUEGER—the head of the world’s greatest monopoly—committed suicide.

4.      Quotes from the rich:

a.       John D. Rockefeller, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness. I would barter them all for the days I sat on an office stool in Cleveland and counted myself rich on three dollars a week.”

b.      W. H. Vanderbilt said, “The care of 200 million dollars is too great a load for any brain or back to bear. It is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.”

c.       Andrew Carnegie, the multi-millionaire, said, “Millionaires seldom smile.”

vii.                    We have competing masters…

        1. Our money says we trust in God, isn’t it ironic…
        2. Our national sin is that we trust, worship, and serve our money, not God.

c.       Good Master: Jesus

i.  The point that Jesus is making is painfully clear.  Jesus demands single-minded devotion.

1.      You cannot have two masters.

2.      It’s either money, or it’s Jesus.  But don’t pretend it’s both.

ii.                        Jesus is calling for a spiritual audit:

1.      Look at your bank account…

a.       What is it you prioritize?

b.      Dining, lattes, shopping?

2.      Look at your time and recreation account…

a.       How do you spend your time?

b.      Entertainment, leisure, pleasure…

3.      Look at your ministry outlet account…

a.       When do you serve?  Who do you serve?

b.      The point of this is not to crush us with more guilt.

c.       But we need to let the words of Jesus sting…because they do!

4.      Jesus is saying that there are competing forces, competing masters, and your life will display one or the other.  A mixture of devotion is a mirage of deception.

5.      You can’t have it both ways.

iii.                      Is Jesus better than money and possessions wealth and pleasure?

1.      That’s the (million-dollar) question.

2.      “You cannot serve God and Money”

3.      Money and possessions are a rival god.

4.      At the heart of this passage is this question, “What will bring you the most pleasure?  God or things?”

5.      Phil. 3:7-11, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

6.      Mat. 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

d.      You cannot serve God and Money:

i.  What Jesus is NOT saying:

1.      He is not saying it’s wrong to be rich.

2.      He is not telling them to give away riches or not make a profit.

a.       Paul acknowledges the rich people in the church in Ephesus. 

b.      He doesn’t rebuke them for being wealthy, and he doesn’t tell them to give all their money away.  But he does tell them to be generous to God’s people and the poor.

3.      He is not saying you cannot be rich and be a Christian and money is bad.

a.       Yes. Jesus isn’t rebuking rich folks.

b.      It is not a sin to have money, it’s a sin to serve money!

        1. Money is morally good.
          1. “Money is fundamentally good and provides many opportunities for glorifying God, but also many temptations to sin.”  Grudem “Business for the Glory of God:  The Bible’s teaching on the moral goodness of business.”
          2. Is money the root of all evil?
            1. 1 Tim. 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
        2. Money can be used for good.
          1. This is an understatement.
            1. The Creator God intended material things to be enjoyed appropriately and used constructively.
            2. You can do an enormous amount of good with money.
            3. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have generously used their wealth to alleviate suffering and hunger and Malaria.  This is good.  It’s not neutral, it’s good.
            4. “Nevertheless, most all people who are able to save and invest experience the temptation drastically to overestimate their genuine needs and/or to try to secure their futures against all calamity. Meanwhile, the truly destitute of the world continue to grow poorer.”  Blomberg

e.       There is one main point to this message that Jesus is preaching.  And it’s this:  Jesus needs to be prioritized above everything else.

i.  What are your priorities?

ii.                        Where are your priorities?

iii.                      Our Highest Priority NEEDS to be Jesus and His Kingdom.

iv.                      Hunger and thirst after righteousness.

v.                         Rearrange your lives to be focused on the Lord.

vi.                      What are your priorities?

vii.                    What should your priorities be?

viii.                  You can’t have it both ways:

1.      “I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.  Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.  I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust.  I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.  I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation.  I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell.  I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.  I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please.” D.A. Carson (commentary on Philipians)

f.        Challenge for LBC and for us as families and individuals: Confess the sin of materialism as a heart issue.

i.  Let’s reject it in our church building.

1.      We spend money on ourselves or our churches.

2.      50 million dollars spent on buildings?

ii.                        Let’s reject it in our families.

1.      Take an inventory:  Where has materialism blinded you?

2.      Examples:

a.       Women—is it in clothing.  Design.  Fashion.

b.      Men-- Technology.  Hunting gear.  Gadgets.

c.       Or is it in homes, furniture, cars, savings and retirement that looks more like hoarding than it does prudence.

d.      It’s amazing how easy it is to justify spending on ourselves or our family.

e.       It’s cloaked under the guise of “I’m providing for my family.” “I’m just showing love to my kids.”

iii.                      What’s the solution?

1.      Simplicity and contentment:

2.      Let’s reject materialism by being simple and being content.

iv.                      Let’s reject materialism by being sacrificial and generous.

1.      We can think about money and ask ourselves two very different questions:  God, how much do you get?  Or God, how much do I keep?

2.      It’s all His anyway.

3.      Let’s spend money in such a way that tells that world that God, not Mammon is our idol.

V.                       The Gospel:

 

Related Topics: Cultural Issues, Finance

Lesson 14: Consider The Lilies: Trusting God Instead Of Controlling God (Matthew 6:25-34)

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I. Recap:

a.       Two kinds of treasures.

b.      Two kinds of eyes.

c.       Two kinds of masters.

d.      Main Point: Jesus needs to be prioritized and valued above all else.

i.  Pleasure, earthly security, wealth, and status all need to take a back seat to Jesus.

ii.                        The Master of Mammon is incompatible with the Master Jesus.

iii.                      It’s one or the other, but it won’t and it can’t be both.

e.       The result of proper priorities.  The result of a single-mindedness to Christ.  The result of all this is a freedom from anxiety and worry.

II.                      Intro:

a.       One main point:  Don’t be anxious, but trust the Lord.

b.      This entire section has to do with “worry.”

i.  It is mentioned 6 times.

ii.                        The word is actually ties to insomnia.

c.       Good worry and bad worry:

i.  Good worry is more like a concern.

ii.                        Bad worry is self-focused.

iii.                      I should be concerned that this sermon shows us Jesus and confronts us with truth,

iv.                      I shouldn’t worry if people like it or not.  My reputation.  Accolades.  That’s a self-focused worry. 

v.                         It is this self-focused anxiety and worry that Jesus confronts and rebukes.

III.                   The Realm of Anxiety (6:25-29).

a.       “Therefore I tell you”

i.  This section is tied to the previous section on money.

ii.                        This is the result of the previous section.

1.      The result of seeking worldly treasure.

2.      The result of having your vision blinded by money.

3.      The result of serving the god of Mammon…is worry and anxiety.

4.      BUT…

5.      The result of seeking treasures in heaven.

6.      The result of having a clear vision of eternity and have eternity stamped on our eyeballs.

7.      The result of rejecting the idol of Mammon and trusting in a better Master…is peace.

 

 

iii.                      “Therefore”

1.      If we haven’t come to grips with the pervious section, we are hopeless when we get to this section.

b.      “don’t be anxious about your life…”

i.  Jesus lays down the main point and principle:  Don’t worry about your life.

ii.                        Jesus is saying the exact same thing he said when he talked about earthly treasures: Don’t depend on them.

iii.                      Jesus is warning against the same sin as the pervious section: dependence on earthly things.

c.       The Lord rebukes worry:

i.  In the same way that it’s impossible to serve Money and God at the same time, it’s impossible to worry and trust God at the same time.

ii.                        If you are worrying, you are not trusting.

iii.                      The person who worries is basically sinning the sin of unbelief.

iv.                      The person who worries is essentially saying, “God, I don’t trust that you are competent or have my best interests in mind.”

v.                         “I know better than you do.”  Or, “I’m not totally convinced that you know best.”

vi.                      And so instead of trusting God, we try to control Him.

vii.                    Instead of peace and serenity and, we nervous with anxiety.

viii.                  We will either try to control God or Trust God, but we can’t do both.

ix.                      Worry and trust are as incompatible as the Master of Mammon and Master Jesus.

x.                         Luke 10:41, “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

xi.                      Phil. 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

d.      Consider the Birds (v. 26) “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

i.  Consider the birds:

1.      They don’t sow, they don’t reap, they don’t gather…

2.      The Father feeds them.

ii.                        You are more valuable.

1.      Said the robin to the sparrow:

2.      ‘I should really like to know

3.      Why these anxious human beings

4.      Rush about and worry so.’

5.      Said the sparrow to the robin:

6.      ‘Friend, I think that it must be

7.      That they have no heavenly Father,

8.      Such as cares for you and me.’

e.       “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

i.  It’s an argument of absurdities.

ii.                        Anxiety is nonsensical.

iii.                      One statistician said that an average person's anxiety is focused on :

1.      40% -- things that will never happen 


2.      30% -- things about the past that can't be changed 


3.      12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue 


4.      10% -- about health, which gets worse with stress 


5.      8% -- about real problems that will be faced.

iv.                      A woman who had lived long enough to have learned some important truths about life remarked, "I've had a lot of trouble -- most of which never happened!" She had worried about many things that had never occurred, and had come to see the total futility of her anxieties.

f.        Consider the Lilies-- “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…”

i.  The Lord clothes the lilies.

ii.                        The Lord cares about the lilies!

iii.                      Take a nature walk and consider the lilies.

1.      This is divine instruction to be a birdwatcher.

a.       There are probably billions of birds on the earth.

b.      They are all provided for. They sing in the mornings.

c.       They don’t give a care to the world.

2.      The Lord cares about His creation.

3.      I will never forget when I was in seminary at Denver Seminary, we had a visiting speaker who was a theologian of high esteem.

4.      I don’t remember his name, but I remember a story he told.

5.      He told of one day when he was at the seminary, it was a nice summer day, and he went outside to the campus lawn, and noticed some flowers.

6.      He laid down on his stomach and starting looking at this flower.

7.      He considered the lilies…and he did it…for four hours.

8.      Spurgeon: ‘Lovely lilies, how ye rebuke our foolish nervousness!’

iv.                      You don’t have to have a PhD in Applied Theology to know that God takes care of his creation.

1.      Take your kids on a nature walk.  Become an ornithologist!

2.      Slow way down…and…consider…

v.                         You are more valuable than lilies.

1.      The Lord cares for His creation and He cares for you!

g.      There is a textual connection in these two passages between materialism and complexity and anxiety.

i.  The more things you have, the more complex your life will be.

ii.                        The more complex your life is, the more reason to worry.

iii.                      The gospel of Jesus brings a simplicity.

iv.                      There is less of a focus on things.  Less of a focus on Mammon.  And more of a single-minded focus on Jesus which brings a measure of simplicity.

v.                         Single-mindedness to Jesus equals more, not less, simplicity.

vi.                      At the airport, Hugh Maclellan Jr. saw an acquaintance who looked troubled. “What’s the matter?” Hugh asked. The man sighed. “I thought I was finally going to have a weekend to myself. But now I have to go supervise repairs on my house in Florida.” Dejected, he sat waiting to take off in his private jet.  Here’s a man with everything he needs, and with resources that most people only dream of, yet he can’t even enjoy his weekend because he is enslaved by his possessions.” Alcorn

h.      There is a connection between mammon and anxiety:

i.  “Materialism is the mother of anxiety….People lay up treasures on earth rather than in heaven not only because of greed and selfishness, but also because of fear and insecurity. Yet putting our hope in earthly treasures does nothing but multiply anxiety. Why? Because earthly treasures are so temporary and uncertain.”  Alcorn, Randy

ii.                        There is a reason these two sections are connected…by the word “Therefore.”

iii.                      My wife and I have lived in the same house for twenty-five years. For the firsst nine years, we had an ugly, old, orange carpet. We didn’t care what happened to it. Finally it wore through to the floor, so we replaced it. The first day we got our new carpet, there was an accident that burned a hole in it. Any day previous to that one we wouldn’t have cared. But now our emotional energy was poured into regret and anxiety about the carpet. It takes time to hover over our things, and that time must come from elsewhere—from time we might spend cultivating intimacy with God, from time in his Word and prayer, time with family, time visiting the needy, time with people who need Christ. Every item I add to my possessions is one more thing to think about, talk about, clean, repair, display, rearrange, and replace when it goes bad. I can’t just buy a television. I have to hook up an antenna or subscribe to a cable service. Then I buy a DVD player and start renting or buying movies. Then I get surround-sound speakers and a recliner so I can watch everything in comfort. By then my neighbor has purchased a bigger screen TV, so it’s my turn to upgrade.  Alcorn, Randy

i.        It’s a sick cycle of complexity:

i.  Do you know what the best selling genre of literature in the world is?

1.      Amish Romance Novels.

2.      I can see why!  People want simplicity!

3.      Put your bonnet on, Churn some butter, sing a hymn, and go to bed.

j.        The Realm of worry (Three areas of worry).

i.  Anxiety about the body.

1.      We worry over the length of our lives and the state of our health.

2.      We are a culture obsessed with body image.  Body perfection.

3.      We are worshippers of the body—our own, and others.

4.      We give our time and energy to our bodies!  We serve it like faithful worshiper.

5.      Our body is a temple—not a god.

ii.                        Anxiety about food.

1.      Jesus mentioned anxiety about food.

2.      We worry over what we will eat and drink, over diets and fats and carbohydrates.

3.      Some of this is good.  Because we are surrounded by so much junk and processed oil.  We live in Fast-food nation.

4.      But the opposite is true too!  It’s possible for many people today to obsess over organic.  Losing sleep over anything that might taint the body!

5.      There can be a great deal of anxiety surrounding food.

iii.                      Anxiety about clothes.

1.      Style, fashion, and design are overrated, are frivolous at best in the long-term, and vain at worst.

2.      We worry about being in fashion or out of fashion.

3.      Not that design, and beauty, and clothing are arbitrary.  And I am not suggesting we should take all thought out of it and all wear the same clothes.

4.      But let’s be honest, the opposite is true.

5.      We are concerned with being individuals!  Image.

6.      And so we put more thought into what we look like on the outside while we are laden with dirt on the inside.

7.      That’s the kind of Phariseeism that Jesus rejects!

8.      Not only is it backward, it’s also time-consuming!

9.      And so you are left with a day that is frittered away with the details of body, food, and clothes, with no time for prayer, Bible-reading, or hospitality.

k.      Could it be, that the reason for at least some of the anxiety in the world, is because of the complexity of our lives?

i.  Harvard psychologist and researcher Daniel Gilbert says, “The human is the only animal that ….thinks about the future …. [Human beings] think about the future in a way that no other animal can, does, or ever has, and this simple … ordinary act is the defining feature of our humanity.

ii.                        The average adult spends 12 percent of the day thinking about the future, roughly one of every eight hours. We can imagine events years into the future …. If more than several minutes are involved, no animal can keep up with us.

l.        We think about the future, but WHAT do we think about the future?

i.  Is it a future where God is in control?  On the throne?  Sovereign?

ii.                        Or is it a future where I am in control?

iii.                      Is it possible that part of the reason we worry is because we try to control God instead of trust God?

m.    We live in a day when tranquilizer pills are wildly popular.

i.  One pharmacist I talked to said about half of the prescriptions that come out of his office are tranquilizers.

ii.                        I am not against prescription medication!

iii.                      In her article titled "Listening to Xanax," reporter Lisa Miller chronicles "how Americans learned to stop worrying about worry and pop its pills instead."

iv.                      According to psychologist Robert Leahy's book Anxiety Free, "The average American child today exhibits the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient did in the 1950s."

v.                         As psychologist Robert Leahy puts it, "We live in the Age of Anxiety …. We've become a nation of nervous wrecks."

n.      Could there be a connection between money and anxiety??

i.  Is the realm of anxiety a possible indication of the root of anxiety?

ii.                        Is Jesus on to something when He mentions the body, food, and clothes???

o.      Main Point:  God abundantly takes care of creation, how much more His disciples.

IV.                    The Root of Anxiety (6:30)

a.       What is the root of anxiety?

i.  “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

ii.                        Did you catch that?

iii.                      The root of anxiety is unbelief.  Period.

1.      Anxiety is connected to “little faith.”

2.      It is connected with faith (trust).

iv.                      In other words, the root of our anxiety is that we trust something, or someone more than we trust God.

v.                         In the same way that Mammon and Jesus are two competing Masters, so is Worry and Jesus.

vi.                      You can’t serve God and Money at the same time—it’s impossible.

vii.                    And you can’t Trust God and Worry at the same time—it’s impossible.

viii.                  You will idolize one or the Other.

b.      There is a connection between idolatry and Anxiety.

i.  When we worry, we replace God with a lesser God. An unstable god.  A capricious god.

ii.                        Idolatry is way to understand all sin.

1.      Luther on idolatry:

a.       The Ten Commandments begin with the command to not have any idols.

b.      Why does this come first? 

i.  Because the fundamental motivation for every other sin is idolatry.  We never break the other commands without breaking this one first.

c.       Lying:  why do we lie?  We wouldn’t lie unless we first made something—human approval, reputation, power over others more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God.

c.       Identify your idols.

i.  Idolatry is not merely bowing down to a statue or a piece of wood.

ii.                        Definition: “When you look to some created thing to give you what only God can give you that is idolatry.  An idol is anything in your life that is so central to your life that you can’t have a meaningful life if you lose it.” (Keller)

iii.                      How can you identify an idol? (Three ways)

1.      What do you enjoy daydreaming about?

a.       Where are your strongest affections?

b.      Dream home.  Potential relationship.  A man or a woman desiring you?

c.       An idol controls your life, your emotions.  It absorbs your heart and imagination.

2.      What do you spend your money on?

a.       Clothing, children, status symbols like cars and houses boats?

b.      Kent Hughes was a pastor at College Church in Wheaton ILL for many years; he told story of going waterskiing with a friend of his who had a huge, beautiful ski boat.  And on the side of the boat it had the words, “Mat. 6:33”  “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you…”

c.       There has got to be a better verse…

3.      What do you fear?  What are you anxious about?

a.       When you pray for something and don’t get it?  Do you respond with frustration?  Anger, tears, despair?

b.      What devastates you?  What could devastate you?

c.       What about uncontrollable emotions?

i.  Is there something SO important, that if it doesn’t happen or it does happen, it makes you sooo mad, or soo sad?

ii.                        What makes you angry? Anxious?

iii.                      That’s an idol.

d.      Look at your nightmares.

i.  What do you fear the most?

ii.                        What, if you lost it, would make life not worth living?

iv.                      Examples of idols:

1.      Is your idol Mammon?

a.       Greed.

b.      Materialism--Bigger home--Bigger car

c.       Security

d.      Pleasure?

2.      Is your idol:

a.       Beauty—Body Image?

b.      Romantic love.

3.      Is your idol control?

a.       So you micro manage.  When things don’t go your way it’s devastating.  You tend to get really frustrated.

b.      The reason for the frustration is because your idol isn’t doing its job.  It’s a false god, and it’s fake!

c.       You try to control God instead of trust God—and so you are anxious.

4.      Tim Keller tells the story of a woman names Anna.

a.       She desperately wanted to have children, the doctors told her she couldn’t, but she eventually did get two healthy kids.  But here dreams did not come true.  Her overpowering drive to give her children the perfect life made it impossible for her to actually enjoy them.  She became overprotective, fearful, anxious.  Her need to control every detail of her children’s lives made the family miderable.

b.      Her idol was to have to have the perfect family, but it never delivered.  The idol didn’t satisfy.  In fact it actually caused all kinds of emotional issues in her kids.

c.       Anna, who was runining her children’s lives did not “love her children too much,” but rather loved God too little in relationship to them, as a result her kids were crushed under the weight of her expectations.

d.      “If I really knew God’s love—then I could accept less-than-perfect kids and wouldn’t be crushing them.  If God’s love meant more to me than my children, I could love my children less selfishly and more truly

5.      Achievement.

a.       “My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre.  Always pushing me, pushing me.  Because evn though I’m somebody, I still need to prove that I’m somebody.  My struggle has never ended and probably never will.”  Madonna

b.      “Achievement is the alcohol of our time.”  Mary Bell

i.  Parents wanted their kids to be the best.

6.      Influence.

a.       This is a deep sin of evangelicals.

b.      They want the world’s approval.

7.      Health

8.      Popularity.

9.      Family.

10.  Power.

11.  Success.

a.       Successful life

b.      Successful church.

12.  And so we have workaholics, perfectionists, chronic indecisiveness.

13.  These behaviors all stem from our idols.

a.       But these idols never deliver, they never satisfy, they never bring joy.

d.      The root of anxiety comes from unbelief about God.

i.  You are trusting something else, other than God.

V.                       The Remedy of Anxiety (6:30-34).

a.       Don’t be anxious--

i.  “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

b.      The Gentiles seek after these things…

i.  The “idolaters” seek after these things.

ii.                        =the polytheists.

iii.                      The Gentiles give their time and energy and worry about these things…but not you…

1.      Those without God give their time and energy to these things.

2.      Unbelievers worry about these things because they don’t have God.

3.      They don’t have a heavenly father who knows all their needs.

4.      Their practical atheism drove them to take control of their destinies.

5.      God, is the ultimate source of trustworthiness.

6.      God, not money, not and our own right hand, is the Ultimate source of trusthworthiness.

7.      R. Mounce says, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”

iv.                      It makes sense that the Gentiles are anxious.  It makes sense that unbelievers are anxious, but not you!

1.      Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of a capricious and despotic deity who constantly had to be appeased. In its modern, irreligious garb, pagan anxiety displays a great preoccupation with physical exercise and diet without a corresponding concern for spiritual growth and nutrition. Verse 32a recalls the logic of 5:47; v. 32b parallels and recalls 6:8b.

c.       You don’t need to be anxious:

i.  The Gentiles obsess over these things.

ii.                        Your heavenly Father knows what you need.

iii.                      “He was asking, “Do you trust your Father or not?”—not with a slap in our face, but with an arm around our shoulder. Jesus was not belittling his disciples; he was encouraging them upward.” Holman

iv.                      Trust and Obey:

1.      There is, in the life of the fourteenth-century German Christian Johann Tauler, a remarkable story that shows something of the attitude Jesus was looking for in his disciples. One day Tauler met a beggar.

a.       ‘God give you a good day, my friend,’ he said.

b.      The beggar answered, ‘I thank God I never had a bad one.’

c.       Then Tauler said, ‘God give you a happy life, my friend.’

d.      ‘I thank God’, said the beggar, ‘that I am never unhappy.’

e.       In amazement Tauler asked, ‘What do you mean?’

f.        ‘Well,’ said the beggar, ‘when it is fine I thank God. When it rains I thank God. When I have plenty I thank God. When I am hungry I thank God. And, since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?’

g.      Tauler looked at the man in astonishment. ‘Who are you?’ he asked.

h.      ‘I am a king,’ said the beggar.

i.        ‘Where, then, is your kingdom?’ asked Tauler.

j.        The beggar replied quietly, ‘In my heart.’

v.                         The spiritual life of the kingdom has come!  It is among us!  The Lord is king!

d.      The Remedy:  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

i.  The remedy is to think about and be preoccupied with the coming Kingdom.

1.      The gospel.

2.      Our number one priority--Seek first His kingdom and Righteousness:

a.       How?

b.      Kingdom—

i.  Seeking first the righteousness of the kingdom implies obedience to all of Jesus’ commands and shows that the thesis of 5:20 continues to be advanced.

ii.                        “and His righteousness”

1.      This does not mean justification.

2.      It is a practical righteousness that is basically a conformity and submission to the will of God.

3.      Such a life could lead to persecution, etc.

4.      It’s a restructuring of our lives.

5.      Example of Nehemiah.

6.      Examples:

a.       The Church

b.      The Church-Plant

c.       Sending

d.      Going.

e.       We are people on mission.

f.        Bible studies at your work place.

iii.                      The results…             

1.      The result of seeking worldly treasure.

2.      The result of having your vision blinded by money.

3.      The result of serving the god of Mammon…is worry and anxiety.

4.      BUT…

5.      The result of seeking treasures in heaven.

6.      The result of having a clear vision of eternity.

7.      The result of rejecting the idol of Mammon and trusting in a better Master…is peace and more simplicity.

8.      “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” George Muller.

9.      Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of what is today known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, gave this excellent advice: "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God's] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about."

e.       “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

i.  Jesus is saying that tomorrow will have trouble.

ii.                        There is no magic bullet to escape trouble in this world.

iii.                      Don’t naively live like once you get a promotion, you won’t have any trouble, or, once I get married, I won’t have trouble, or once I retire I won’t have trouble.

iv.                      Tomorrow will have cares no matter who much worry about it today.

v.                         AND…it will sap the single-minded enjoyment of Christ TODAY!

vi.                      It’s like filming your kids opening presents and fumbling with the buttons, and completely missing the moment.

f.        Warning:

i.  This does not mean that Christians should not work hard.

1.      We should sleep like a Calvinist and work like an Arminian.

a.       Or, in the words of Augustine, we are to “Work, as though everything depends upon us, and pray, as though everything depends upon God.”

b.      Paul says, “I worked harder than all of you, though not I, but Christ in me.”

2.      This doesn’t mean that food and clothing will appear out of thin air while we sit and watch TV.

3.      We cannot sit back in an armchair, twiddle our thumbs and mutter that ‘my heavenly Father will provide’ while we do nothing.

4.      God uses means.

5.      We have to work. As Paul put it, “If anyone will not work, let him not eat.”

6.      Luther writes: ‘God … wants nothing to do with the lazy, gluttonous bellies who are neither concerned nor busy; they act as if they just had to sit and wait for him to drop a roasted goose into their mouth."

7.      Hudson Taylor learnt this lesson on his first voyage to China in 1853. When a violent storm off the Welsh coast threatened disaster, he felt it would be dishonouring to God to wear a life-belt. So he gave his away. Later, however, he saw his mistake: ‘The use of means ought not to lessen our faith in God, and our faith in God ought not to hinder our using whatever means he has given us for the accomplishment of his own purposes.’

8.      The point Jesus is making is not that his disciples should be lazy and give no care to their needs, like the birds and the grass, but rather that God is abundant in His providential care.

a.       Just look at nature.  God’s cares for His creation.  How much more, His creatures.

ii.                        This passage does not mean that Jesus disciples won’t endure hardship.

1.      This isn’t some kind of Disney “Hakuna Mattata”

2.      We may be free from worry, but not free from trouble, persecution, and hardship.

VI.                    Application:

a.       Replace the idol of anxiety with God.  And while we are at it, let’s replace the idol of materialism and mammon with God as well.

i.  Let the grace and favor of God be more important to you than anything else!!!

ii.                        Sheer willpower doesn’t work.  Simply identifying idols and feeling bad isn’t enough.

iii.                      Our idols need to be replaced.

1.      Remember, these things are most likely not even bad things, they are most likely good things are taking the place of preeminence in your life.

2.      Identifying is part of it. Acknowledging the sin is part of it.  Turning away from those idols are part of it.  But they are not enough.

iv.                      Let the grace and favor of God be more important to you than…

1.      Food

2.      Clothing

3.      Your body

4.      Acceptance from other people.

5.      Having perfect kids.

6.      Having your health.

7.      Having things.

8.      Design and beauty.

9.      Shopping, accumulating, and discarding.

v.                         Let the Words of Christ, and the grace of God, be more important to you than the hurtful thing someone said or did to you last year.

b.      The way out…the answer…the remedy…is turn your gaze upon Jesus…look full in His wonderful face…and let the words, and things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

c.       You can only have one idol.

i.  It’s either Christ Jesus—which will lead to peace and simplicity.

ii.                        Or it will be Mammon—which will lead to anxiety and complexity.

VII.                The Gospel:

Related Topics: Discipleship, Faith, Finance, Spiritual Life

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.      AND...one 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 points...it 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."  http://www.gojohnnies.com/football/jg.htm, 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.”

iii.                     

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

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