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All The Difference In The World

All The Difference In The World

Matthew 14:22-33

Let me ask you, do you know the difference between these two:

There is a big difference isn’t there?

I believe that this story that ___________ read illustrates that…that there is a big difference in believing in Jesus and believing Jesus…and that difference is what actually determines what real, sincere faith is…and we all know how important faith is…because “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

So let’s look at this story and see what the difference is between believing in Jesus and believing Jesus. Notice first of all verse 22:

And immediately He made the disciples get into the boat…

Now look at verse 23: And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening He was there alone.

 Verse 24: But the boat was already many stadia away from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.

So they are out here on the sea and the wind picks up and their boat is being battered by the waves and as you can imagine these disciples are probably rowing as hard as they can and bailing water as fast as I can.

Now verse 25: And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.

Now let me make two quick points here.

One: Many Christians have the idea that obedience to God always produces “smooth sailing”, but this is not true.

 And then number two: Notice that Jesus walked on the water? Why do you think He did that?

Verse 26: And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried for fear.

Let me ask you this, just a few days before this took place what have these disciples been doing?

And now they are out here on this sea, the waves are battering the boat, the wind is strong, it is early in the morning, and they look up and see what they think is a ghost… And they cry for fear!

Now these disciples think Jesus is a ghost.

Verse 27: But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Verse 28: And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And he said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

 Verse 30: But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

 Look at verse 31: And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

You know a lot of people criticize the other disciples in this story because they didn’t get out of the boat.

Look at verse 32: And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

 Now verse 33: And those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, you are certainly God’s Son!”

You see there is a huge difference between the two and that difference is what actually determines what real, sincere faith is.

Now, let me give you some teachings and as I do ask yourself if you simply believe in Jesus or if you really believe Jesus:

“I tell you, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3.

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

“For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ in God” Ephesians 5:5

 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” John chapter 5:28 and 29.

 “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sand; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38.

 You could go all the way through the New Testament and look at all the teachings and commandments of Christ and what you will find is a lot of people believe in Jesus but comparatively only a few really believe Jesus.

 

 

Give Him What You Have

GIVE HIM WHAT YOU HAVE

Matthew 14:13-21

I would like for you to look at verse 16 again.

As disciples’ of Christ we have been commissioned by Christ, “to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded…

And what about here in Brady…there are a lot of people in this town that are in need of the word of God.

Well, here in this story about the feeding of the 5000 Jesus is going to tell us.

If you look at the accounts of this story in Mark, Luke, and John the disciples had been sent out by Jesus to preach, and heal, and cast out demons.

And so they come back to Jesus to give Him an account of all they have done.

So Jesus says, “Let’s go to a lonely place where it is quiet and so you can get some rest.”

So what do you do?

Well, look at what Jesus does in this situation. Look at verse 14.

And one thing that each of us as disciples has to ask ourselves this morning is, when we are in a situation like this…

Jesus felt compassion for them…and so Jesus spends the day with them, compassion pouring out of His soul for them…but notice what His disciples do?

Vs. 15, it is late in the day and the disciples say, “Lord this is a desolate place and the time is already past so send them into the villages that they may buy food for themselves.”

And it is the same for us today.

And don’t misunderstand me.

But there is another response to human need and it isn’t nearly as popular.

Look at verse 16.  Look at what Jesus says.

Jesus is saying to His disciples, “NO, NO. Don’t send them away. You do something for these people. You meet their needs.”

And you say, “Well that is absurd Jesus.

Don’t you remember what these disciples have just been doing?

You see, what Jesus is doing is he is putting them to a test saying, “God has been doing all these impossible things through you yesterday and the day before that.

And He says the same thing to us.

And what do we do?

That is what the disciples said here in verse 17.

As a church, we sometimes do the same thing don’t we?

But you know, when we do that we are doing the same thing these disciples did.

But do you know what?

What are you going to do when Jesus puts an incredible need in front of you?

OR you can hear what Jesus says in vs. 18.  Look at verse 18: “Bring them to Me.”

Look at what happens next starting in verse 19:

And Jesus says, “Pick it up.”

I don’t think so.

Here is the answer to fulfilling those overwhelming tasks that we are faced with.

On your own, you can’t do it.

But what we need to understand is, success doesn’t depend solely on us.

Here we are, we are the Lord’s church…and unfortunately we are like the elephant in the circus that is tied to a little stake in the ground.

An Unpleasant Surprise

AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE

Matthew 11:20-24

I read a story this past week about a high school student who took a math test…and the reason his story caught my attention is because I have done the same thing.

Well, the teacher started handing back the test papers…and as she did the student glanced over and saw the grade of the student next to him…and it was a D-.

About that time the teacher put his paper upside down on his desk. He turned it over expecting to see a nice, big “A”…but instead, it said, “37%, “F”!

Here in this passage that was read we find some people who had an even more unpleasant surprise!

If you remember John the Baptizer is in prison and has been there for about 12 months.

Well, Jesus sends back confirmation to John that He really is the “Expected One” and for John to remain faithful to Him no matter what happens.

But then Jesus makes a comparison in verses 16-17.

Look at verse 20: Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.

And notice why He is reproaching them: They had seen the miracles…not just a few…but “most of His miracles”…we don’t know for sure how many but John says in John 20 that there were “many that were not even recorded.”

As a result, look at what Jesus says next:  21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 “Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you.

23 “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 “Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” 

Now, let me go back and point out a couple of things.

Back in verse 21 Jesus mentions Tyre and Sidon…and in verse 23 He mentions Sodom.

I don’t think that is what Jesus is saying here.

If you go over to Isaiah 23 and Ezekiel 26-28 and Amos 1:9 and Joel 3:6 the people of Tyre and Sidon were some of the most money-mad and cruel people you will ever find.

And we know what the Sodomites did.

Now, notice the end of verse 22: “Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you.

And look at verse 24:  “Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

Are there different degrees of punishment in hell…is there punishment level 1, and punishment level 2, and punishment level 3?

I don’t think so.

I believe that what Jesus is doing here is He is emphasizing how far God has pulled away from these people…how revolting they are in the sight of God…how disgusting they are to God!

Why? Because in spite of all the evidence…in spite of what the prophets of old said…in spite of what John came preaching…in spite of all the miracles…in spite of people being raised from the DEAD…they hardened themselves…would rather believe a lie instead of the obvious truth…

And I don’t mean to be negative, but isn’t this what a lot of people do today?

Catholic Church taking a softer stand on same sex marriages and abortion.

Now, we can look at this passage and say it is so negative…talking about the judgment!

So, let’s look at it from a positive point of view…this passage manifests Jesus’ love for all because He is warning those who are in danger and calling them to repent and be saved.

Matt 11:25-30   At that time Jesus answered and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. 26 “Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  30 “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” 

On a regular basis I meet people who are good people…they are smart, intelligent, well- people.

But some day, they will stand before the Lord, and they might snicker at what others receive…but because they have rejected Jesus…because they didn’t need Jesus…because they only wanted the parts of Jesus they liked…because they think they can do it on their own…or because they want to continue to live a life of sin…when the verdict is read…they will be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Vindicates John

JESUS VINDICATES JOHN

Matthew 11:7-19

Have you ever been accused of something that you didn’t do or of something that wasn’t true?

In this passage that was read Jesus is going to vindicate John the Baptist.

But in spite of Jesus reassuring John that He was the “Expected One” some of his opponents would pick up on John’s question and use it in an attempt to discredit John.

Well, here in the verses that were read Jesus vindicates…He substantiates…He refutes the accusations that might be made…and He confirms John to be the faithful servant of God that he actually was.

Now, as Jesus vindicates John in this passage I found myself asking, “What would He say about me? And what would He say about you?”

Look at what Jesus says about John starting in verse 7: And as these were going away, Jesus began to speak to the multitudes about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?

We have all seen reeds along the bank of a creek or pond…and what happens when the wind blows? (They just sway back and forth…whatever direction the wind is blowing that is the way they are going to go…there is no rigidity…whatever influence is on it that is the way they go.)

There is an old Jewish fable that is about a reed and an oak tree…and the reed was boasting to the oak tree saying, “Because of my ability to compromise I will survive…it doesn’t matter how hard or what direction the wind blows…I just bend and go with the flow! But you old oak tree…when a big enough storm comes along you are going to fall over…you always speak about how strong  you are…and all the shade you give to others…how valuable you are to the birds…but someday you will fall.”

When these people went out to see John in the wilderness they saw a man that stood for what was right in the sight of God…they saw a man that stood strong against the “winds” of evil and unrighteousness…they saw a mighty servant of God who was willing to be imprisoned for standing up for the truth…and for what was right in the sight of God.

Look at vs. 8: “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces.

 What they saw in John was someone who stood up to the king and even rebuked him instead of flattering him.

Look at vs. 9: But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.

But he was “much more than a prophet”…he not only foretold the coming of the Messiah but his own coming was foretold (Mal. 3:1).

And as I look at what Jesus says here about John, would He say that I am much better than kings or those who compromise in order to wear soft clothing?

Now, look at verse 11:  “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

When Jesus speaks these words He has not yet established His kingdom, so John was not in the kingdom.

So would Jesus look at me and say that I am greater than John because I am in Christ’s kingdom…or would he look at me and say that I am still living under the Law….a system that was made obsolete by Christ? (Heb. 8:13) A system of justification by works and performance or a system of justification by faith and grace?

Look at vs. 12: From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

Satan is a mighty adversary and he has a large army of helpers to block the way into the kingdom.

And when Jesus looks at me would He say that I am pointing people to the Messiah and the kingdom too that they might seek it and find it?

Look at vs. 14: And if you care to accept it, he himself is Elijah, who was to come.”

Would Jesus say that same thing about me…or about you?

So Jesus vindicates John here and in verse 15 He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

John comes along neither eating nor drinking and they say, “He has a demon!”

 And once again…would Jesus say this same thing about me…or about you?

Look at verse 19: Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Now I want to show you something…in this passage Jesus vindicates John against the potential criticisms and accusations that the people might have.

But let me show you something…turn if you would to Romans 8: 33. The apostle Paul says, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?”

 Look at the beginning of verse 34: “Who is the one who condemns?”

But look at the end of verse 33 again: God is the One who justifies!

 The difference between us and John is John was being accused falsely by men.

Satan says, “Virgil is a sinner…he has done this and he has done that!”

You know, it is a very frustrating thing to be accused of something and not be able to prove yourself innocent.

 

The Kingdom Of God

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Matthew 13

We are in the study of the gospel of Matthew…and this morning we are going to look at Matthew chapter 13.

Now, here in Matthew 13 Jesus once again talks about the kingdom of God.

So, let’s look at these parables…we won’t have time to cover every lesson that is contained in them but we will cover those lessons that are primary.

Now, the first parable is very familiar to most of us…we often call it the “Parable of the Soils” or the “Parable of the Sower.”

But now look at verse 18. Jesus gives the explanation of the parable.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, (the “word” is relative to the kingdom…it is what guides one into the kingdom of God…if you want to enter into the kingdom of God here is the instructions on how to get there) and does not understand it (this isn’t talking about not understanding what a verse might say. This is talking about someone who chooses not to understand it. It is the individual who is calloused against the word…who is unresponsive to it…who has no desire to know what the word means), the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it (he accepts it, he is open to it, he desires to know what the word means); who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” 

And the primary lessons from this parable are three fold:

Now, look at the second parable starting in verse 24:  He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 “But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. 26 “But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 “And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 “But he said, ‘No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. 30’Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘ ” 

Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He answered and said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 “Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. 

Now, there are a couple more lessons from this parable to learn:

Now, look at verse 31:  He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

 More than likely though, what Jesus is doing here in this parable is teaching His disciples that His Kingdom will be glorious in spite of its weak, despised meaning.

Look at verse 33: He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.” 

 Jesus told two more parables starting in verse 44:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. 

 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 

Jesus’ point here is the kingdom of heaven is worth all that you possess…even life itself…and it will bring you joy that will never fade away.

And now verse 47: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49 “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But this parable also speaks of the final judgment.

So, what has Jesus taught us?

  1. Not everyone is going to accept the “word of the kingdom.”
  2. Only those who do accept it will be “in the kingdom.”
  3. We need to learn of and teach our children to follow Christ because He produces “good seed.”
  4. We are to co-exist with the “tares” in this world and it is not ours to conduct an inquisition.
  5. Neither are we to withdraw ourselves from the “tares” of the world.
  6. We need to, while we have time, decide if we are a “tare” or “good seed.”
  7. Glorious things come from small beginnings if we will only plant the seed.
  8. You plant the kingdom in the hearts of a few and you never know where it will go to.
  9. The kingdom is worth all that you have including life itself.
  10. What kind of fish are you?

Who Do You Say Jesus Is

WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS

Matthew 12:22-29

I think most of us have seen the TV game show Jeopardy.

As I thought about that I found myself thinking that when it comes down to eternal life…when it comes down to being victorious…when it comes down to obtaining the prize of heaven…it all comes down to one question…”Who do you say Jesus is?”

Here in this passage that was read the Pharisees are faced with this question…and the answer they give is rather interesting.

So, let’s look at the passage…in verse 22 a man who was possessed by a demon and who was blind and dumb is brought to Jesus…and Jesus heals him.

Well, look at their answer in verse 24: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”

They say, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul” or in other words, “He is in partnership with the devil.”

25 And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 26 “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27 “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.  30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

The first thing I want you to notice is what Jesus thinks of Satan.

In this passage Jesus says that Satan is a real, malevolent being that is as intent on destroying you as Jesus is on saving you.

There is something else implied here in what Jesus says.

Let’s get back to the major point of the lesson.

Jesus says two things here: If Satan doesn’t wage war against himself…if Satan doesn’t cast out demons…

And, not only that, if Satan is the strong man…but no one enters the strong man’s house and plunders his property unless He first binds the strong man…then Jesus is stronger than Satan.

And look at verse 30: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Now, look at what Jesus says in verse 31:

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.

Now, the question is not the existence of an unforgiveable sin…Jesus says here that there is one.

And we have all heard lessons on it.

I think the key for understanding what Jesus is talking about when He refers to an “unforgivable sin” is found in verse 28.

Now, when Jesus came and proclaimed to be the Messiah or the Son of God a lot of people misunderstood Him…and some simply denied Him and rejected Him.

But when the Holy Spirit confirmed who Jesus was…when the Holy Spirit through the miracles testified that Jesus was the Son of God…when the Holy Spirit set Jesus apart from all the others who claimed to be the Messiah or a Rabbi…

Let me show you something.

20 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

You were supposed to learn something and believe something when you watched Jesus drive out demons.

And the eternal sin is fundamentally this: it is the “willful and deliberate rejection of the Holy Spirits witness concerning the divinity of Jesus.”

Can a person do that today?

This text is not about God’s refusal to forgive sin.

This text is about men’s refusal to accept Jesus once they have been exposed by the Spirit of God to the truth of who He is.

There are only two possibilities…eternal life and eternal condemnation.

And some people will say, “I don’t believe there is an eternal sin and I don’t believe there is an eternal judgment.”

The question of “who Jesus is” is not one about which men can remain neutral.

Let me tell you a story. Just a few years ago, Dr. Leo Winters, one of the most respected surgeons in the mid-west, woke up to a phone call at 1:00 in the morning, at his home in Chicago. He picked up the phone and they said, “Dr. Winters, there has been an accident and a little boy has been seriously hurt. We need you to come do surgery.” He said, “Can’t someone else do it?” And they replied, “No, Dr. Winters, you are the only one skilled enough in this region to save his life.”

So, Dr. Winters threw on some clothes, and he got in his car and drives through a tough part of town on the south side of Chicago because it is the quickest way to get to the hospital. And Dr. Winters didn’t have his doors locked when he came to a stop at a red light, and a man rushed up in a flannel shirt and an old grey hat, and he threw the door open, and grabbed Dr. Winters and threw him in the street and said, “I need your car”, and before Dr. Winters could explain where he was going, the man took off and left Dr. Winters behind.

It took Dr. Winters 45 minutes to find a phone and call a taxi and get to the hospital. When he arrived a nurse met him and said, “Dr. Winters, the boy just died. His father is in the chapel…and he is upset…He doesn’t understand why you didn’t get here sooner. Could you go and talk to him.

Dr. Winters goes down the hall…and goes in the chapel…and there in the front, kneeling and sobbing was the man in the old gray hat and the flannel shirt. The man  who had pushed away the one who could save.

What do you say about Jesus?

 

 

 

 

Faithful No Matter What

FAITHFUL NO MATTER WHAT

Matthew 11:1-6

When we read this passage of scripture I am not sure we really understand what God is trying to teach us here. We may just read over this and not really grasp the lessons.

Look again at the passage that was read…look at vs. 2-3:  Now when John in prison heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

Prior to this John had no doubts about Jesus being the “Expected One.”

And remember in John chapter 1 when John saw Jesus coming to him at the Jordan River, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

And John was there when Jesus was baptized and the voice from heaven declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

But now things are different. John is asking, “Jesus, are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

Well, I think there are basically two things that have made John doubt and wonder…and I think they are the same two things that make a lot of faithful Christians have doubts at times as well…and may cause some of us to doubt in the future and those two things are “Hardships and Misunderstanding.”

Look at verse 2 again.

Now when John in prison…

And let me tell you, in Bible days prisons were much different than they are today.

And John was familiar with difficult circumstances…he lived in the wilderness and wore camel skin and ate locust and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4)

We read this and we think, wow! Prison is not where John should be…after all he has lived his entire life for the Lord!

 And isn’t that true for us as well? Don’t our hardships cause us to question God? Question Christ?

 But it wasn’t only the hardships that made John doubt…he apparently misunderstood what he expected the “Expected One” to do.

And in  Matthew 3: 10 he said , “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “

And then in chapter 3:12 John spoke of the Messiah as having “His winnowing fork in His hand, thoroughly clearing His threshing floor; and gathering His wheat into the barn, but burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

But when John hears of the works of Christ…when he hears of the miracles of mercy and the words of grace that were coming from the lips of Jesus…this may have very well not harmonized with what John was expecting.

And so the combination of the hardship that he is enduring and some wrong ideas of what he expected…is causing him to doubt…and so he asks, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

You see, hardships alone can cause faithful people to doubt but combine those hardships with some misunderstanding of the will of God and you get what you have here with John.

One of the most popular misconceptions that people have today, including perhaps some of us, is the idea that “I believe in God…I am faithful to God…therefore bad things shouldn’t happen to me.”

Well, look at how Jesus responds to John’s question, vs. 4:  And Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

But, the prophet Isaiah also said that the Messiah would “give sight to the blind, heal the lame, cleanse the lepers, cause the deaf to hear, raise up the dead, and preach the gospel to the poor.”  

 Because of John’s misunderstanding of what he thought the Expected One was to do….because of his misunderstanding of the will of God…John struggled with doubt.

 Now there is something else here…Jesus says, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

And look at verse 6 because this is, what I believe the all important lesson to be learned from this. Jesus says, “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”

      They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a        stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Many of the Jewish religious leaders, the scribes, Pharisees, the Priests, and Rabbis stumbled over Jesus.

 Jesus is saying to John…and to all of us…”You be faithful no matter what.”

For the past couple of months Lonnie Jameson has been teaching a class on “The Creation vs. Evolution” and I am confident that we all believe that God created the “heavens and the earth and all things in them.”

 There are a lot of things going on in our world…in our society…in our lives that we don’t fully understand…but regardless…you stay faithful to Christ.

 

 

 

Getting The Word Out

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Matthew 10  (Read 5-8)

When you get to chapter 10 here Jesus has been “going about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”

Well, look at verse 1 of chapter 10: And having summoned His twelve disciples…

Jesus has always turned to His disciples to get the “good news” of His kingdom out…and it is no different today.

First, notice in verse 7 what the disciples were to preach…they were to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Now, just think about all the different things the disciples could have spent their time preaching about.

And it is the same with us today…there are so many things we could preach about in our world today.

We could preach all kinds of things but what is it that Jesus has commissioned us to do: “Go and make disciples…baptizing them…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

 So the disciples were sent to preach the kingdom of heaven….we are to go and make disciples…or followers of Christ…we are to preach the gospel to all creation and not get sidetracked on all these other issues.

I also want you to notice from Matthew 10: 5 that the assignment to preach belonged to every disciple.

A baseball team went out to play a game of baseball. Just as the umpire was saying, “Batter up!” the catcher for the home team arrived and took his place behind the plate.

Like a baseball team, we as disciples’ of Christ can’t effectively do what we are to do unless everyone does their part.

Notice verse 8 again. The disciples were sent to “heal the sick.”

 Now, we as disciples’ of Christ are not able to heal in the same sense that the apostles were able to heal.

And look at the very end of verse 8. Why in the world would any one accept the commission that Jesus has placed upon us?

As disciples’ of Christ we have been commissioned by our Lord to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

But now, as you go forth on your mission assignment you need to learn some other things here from Matthew 10. Look at vs. 14: And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet.

There are going to be people who will not listen.

Not only will there be people who don’t want to listen to our message but some people will be combative…look at verse 17:  “But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

 And when they persecute you…look at verse 28-30:  And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 “Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Jesus has always depended on His disciples to “get the word out” and it is obvious that people need to hear it.

Justice of the Peace: Committed suicide…”better off.” No, he is not! But that is what most people think.

And we need to be talking to our friends, our family, the people we come in contact to about the death, burial, and crucifixion of Christ…not in a smug way…not in an arrogant way…but with love and grace…reassuring them that salvation can be theirs if they will repent and come to Christ.

The Compassion of Jesus

THE COMPASSION OF JESUS

Matthew 9:35-38

At the first of the year the challenge that was extended to all of us was to “Learn More About Jesus.”

A lot of people are converted to a way of thinking (We stand and pound doctrine and ritual); a lot of people are converted to the church (they are actively involved in the activities of their church); a lot of people are converted to baptism (baptized because that is what it takes to be saved); people are converted to a lot of different things…but unless you are converted to Christ…unless you truly become His disciple…unless He sincerely becomes  your Lord…you have nothing!

So, let’s look at the passage that was read…and let’s each one dedicate ourselves to be more like Jesus. Look at verse 35 again:

35 And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

But there is something else here. Look at this found in Luke 4:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,  Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are downtrodden, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” 

Now, let’s learn something else about Him…look at verse 36: And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.

The word “distressed” or “harassed” comes from a Greek word that means to “flay” and it means to “strip off the skin”…”to strip away”…to strip away their money, their possessions…to strip away their dignity…to criticize harshly…it is to harass.

And notice that they were “downcast” or “helpless.”

So basically the people that Jesus has compassion on here are those people who have been “stripped of everything” and just “tossed aside” as if they had no value….they are the poorest of the poor. (“Get out of the way, we don’t want you around us, just get!)

You see the Pharisees became the religious police and they became the standard bearers of what was acceptable, what was clean and unclean, and who could come to the synagogue and who couldn’t.

And it wasn’t only the blind, deaf, or paralyzed or diseased and sick who were declared “unclean” there were others.

But look at verse 36 again: “And seeing the multitudes He felt compassion for them…”

Now I want you to look at this…there is a great verse in Isaiah 65:2

2 “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,

 Jesus says it this way in Matthew 23:37:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

 Who else would do this for you? Who else would reach out like this to give you hope…to add you to the kingdom of God…to restore you back into full relationship with God…to save you from the condemnation of your sins?

Jesus is before you with His hands and arms stretched out…you will find no greater love for you.

 

 

 

Sad, Shrunken, and Stretched

SAD, SHRUNKEN, AND STRETCHED

Matthew 9:14-17

Here is the title to today’s lesson: “Sad, Shrunken, and Stretched.”

Now remember when we left last week Jesus has concluded the Sermon on the Mount, large crowds followed him down off the hillside, and as He moves on He is interacting with a lot of these people from the hillside.

And the guest list, other than Jesus and his disciples, includes other tax collectors and sinners.

Now the spiritual leaders of this area, the rabbis and the Pharisees, see Jesus and his disciples eating in Levi’s house with this crowd and they are very unhappy about it and feel critical and judgmental that Jesus would eat with such people.

Vs. 14: Then the disciples of John (John the Baptist) came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

Now initially this sounds like a fair question but actually it has veiled criticism.

They also fasted to show how “holy” they were.

And remember back in chapter 6:16 how they would fast and “put on a gloomy face and neglect their appearance in order to be seen by men.”

And also notice, they say, “Why do your disciples not fast?”

Well look at vs. 15 at Jesus’ response: “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them can they?” (Is a wedding time for morning?) But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.”

The Pharisees and the scribes and the disciples of John couldn’t stand it.

But Jesus says here that His time here on earth…and His spending time with His disciples and teaching them and showing them the kind of heart they should have, and healing people…and showing mercy and grace is no time to mourn!

You see, that is what is “sad” here…these scribes and Pharisees preferred “sacrifice…ritual” more than “mercy.”

Well Jesus follows this up with two parables, very simple, very brief.

Verse 16: “No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the worst terror results.”

So what you have here is actually the idea that you have an old worn-out garment and it has a tear…and you patch it with a piece of new cloth…

Then in verse 17 you have the next parable; the stretched. “Nor do men put new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the wine skins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

So, what do these two parables have to do with the Pharisees and scribes being upset with Jesus’ disciples not fasting?

Many scholars think that Jesus is making a comparison between the old and new as in the old covenant and the new covenant, the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Temple and the church, Judaism and Christianity, Law and grace.

But I don’t think that is what Jesus is talking about here.

In both parables Jesus says that putting the “new” on the old just won’t work.

But here Jesus is bringing a new way of thinking…bringing new teachings…He is humble…He is showing mercy and compassion, and understanding, and He is reaching out to sinners and outcasts…and what Jesus is doing with these two parables is He is making a statement about the Pharisees and the scribes…

And that is what He is saying to me…and to us…either my mind is open and my heart is soft or my mind is closed and my heart is hard.

You see, I have to ask myself…and maybe you do to…just how receptive am I to Jesus’ teachings…and His example for me?

You know I love both of my parents…and they taught me some things…but what I have come to learn over the years is that some of the things my parents taught me…especially spiritual and Biblical principles…aren’t in agreement with what Jesus teaches.

Several times I have studied with people and they have told me that what Jesus says is right and true…but if they did what He said their parents would disown them…and they walked away.

So how is your heart? And how is mine?” How receptive are we to the teachings of Christ…especially when they contradict what we have always believed?