Monday, November 12, 2018

Jen Wilkin on the Sin of Meddling

None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing)None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us by Jen Wilkin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This morning I finished reading None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us by Jen Wilkin. This is an excellent book about the “incommunicable attributes” of God and how they relate to our daily lives. Chapter 8 is about omniscience. As she does with each of God’s perfections, Wilkin focuses on the incommunicability of this attribute–how we as humans are NOT God–and then she shows how our limitations work themselves out in biblical application. In this case, Wilkin points out how we get addicted to information (guilty as charged!) and get anxious about the future (also me). She also puts her finger on the sin of meddling (a close cousin to gossip):

“But the future is not the only place we look for knowledge that isn’t ours to manage. We often exhibit an unhealthy interest in the affairs of others. The Bible terms this ‘meddling.’ It is significant that Peter places meddling in the midst of a list of sins that includes murder and theft (1 Peter 4:15). It is a form of violation of another person made in the image of God. Meddlers believe they are entitled to knowledge of other people’s situations. While they would no doubt fiercely defend their own right to privacy, they extend no such grace to others. If information is accessible, they view it as fair game. They are the consumers of tabloid journalism, the whisperers of gossip, the curators of the secret details of other people’s lives. They are the reasons we have passwords on our phones and our computers...

We all have relationships that we feel compelled to overmonitor–a spouse, a friend prone to crisis, even someone we admire or envy. But when we meddle, we multiply their troubles and ours...

Rather than casting all your anxieties on the Internet, which cares for no man, cast them on God, for he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)...Rather than meddling, focus on your own concerns. We need to let God be the one who manages all knowledge. Only he is capable, and only he can be trusted to do so with perfect wisdom...Our comfort lies not in holding all knowledge, but in trust the One who does” (pgs. 115-116).

I highly recommend this book. I’m definitely going to read the follow-up, In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character.


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Sunday, November 11, 2018

[Matt's Messages] “The King of Rest”

“The King of Rest”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
November 11, 2018 :: Matthew 12:1-21 

This is one of those places where the chapter divisions are a little unhelpful. Matthew didn’t put the chapter and verse numbers in here when he wrote his gospel. Those were added later to help people find their way around.

And putting a big number here between chapter 11 verses 28-30 and chapter 12 verse 1 might hide the fact that both sides of the chapter division have a lot to say about “rest.”

I think chapter 11 flows right into chapter 12 without skipping a beat or really changing the subject at all.

Last week, we heard Jesus issue that wonderful invitation that we’ve been memorizing together for the last few months:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Have you taken Jesus up on His invitation?
Have you come to Him?
Have you taken His yoke upon yourself and become His disciple?
Even this last week, have you found His yoke to be easy and His burden to be light?
To find your rest in Him?

It’s wonderful!

This rest that Jesus offers is so wonderful that in today’s passage, Jesus actually claims to be “The King of Rest.”

In verse 8, Jesus will claim to be the “Lord of the Sabbath.”

Which means a whole lot of things, a lot to talk about today.

But the Sabbath as given to Israel was, at heart, a day of rest. A day for ceasing of work. A day for cessation of labor. A day of desisting, abstaining from work. A day of rest.

And Jesus claims to be the Lord of that Day. The Boss of the Day of Rest. The Boss of Rest. The Lord of Rest.

The King of Rest.

What an interesting juxtaposition of ideas, isn’t it?!

Lord of Sabbath
King of Rest

When we think of powerful kings, we don’t always think about resting, do we?

No, we tend to think about working. Serving.

If you serve a powerful king, you work for him most of the time, right?

“What does the powerful king want today?”

Well, this king...

“He wants you to rest.”

“He wants you to cease. To stop. To take a break. To put your feet up. To not work at getting a leg up. To not climb the ladder today. To cut it out. To cease striving.”

“He knows that you are weary and burdened. And He will give you rest. Rest for your souls.”

He’s the King of Rest.

Most of the time when we think about “Sabbath” we think about a list of do’s and don’ts, right? What you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do on the Sabbath.

That is part of the problem here in Matthew chapter 12. The Pharisees accuse Jesus and His disciples of breaking the Sabbath. And breaking the Sabbath rules.

But that’s not the most important thing to get out of this chapter. It’s not really about whether you ought to have a weekly day off or not. (I would argue that you should but not from this story. It’s not about that.)

This story is about the identity of Jesus.

We’ve said all along that the Gospel of Matthew is a theological biography of the most compelling Person Who ever lived.

Matthew is intent on revealing to us Who Jesus really is.

What Jesus said.
What Jesus did.
What Jesus taught.
What Jesus was all about.

Who is this Person Jesus?

We’ve said all along that the big question in Matthew really is, “Who Does Jesus Think He Is?” Who does this guy think He is?

Well, this story answers that question in big surprising ways that can be summed up with the words, “The King of Rest.”

We said the last two weeks that the conflict is starting to heat up for Jesus.

From here until the crucifixion, Jesus gets into more and more trouble.

He makes many people, especially the Jewish leaders, more and more uncomfortable.

It’s not that they don’t understand what He’s saying as much as they do, and they don’t like what they are hearing.

So they begin looking for ways to get Jesus into hot water.

And here’s one. They accuse Him and His disciples of breaking the Law on the Sabbath. Chapter 12, verse 1.

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.’”

Now, for us, this doesn’t like any big deal.

So what?

We might think that their eating the wheat from somebody else’s field was stealing.

But that’s not what these guys are concerned about.

The Old Testament Law (Deuteronomy 23:25) made provisions for the poor and for travelers to eat from the corners of the fields as they made their way past.

So they weren’t stealing.

So what are the Pharisees so upset about?

They’re upset that the disciples are working!

“Hey, Jesus. Stop those guys. They are working on the Sabbath!”

Now, this doesn’t look like work to me.

But they had all of these rules. The Pharisees had made all of these rules to make sure that nobody did any work on the Sabbath day.

The rule was “no work.” God gave them that rule.

But they made a whole bunch of rules to make sure that that rule got followed.

In fact, it had become a lot of work to make sure that nobody worked!

Their rules said no picking, no threshing, no winnowing on the Sabbath.

So if you had a little grainfield fast food, and you picked some heads, rubbed them open and tossed off the chaff, YOU WERE WORKING!!!!

“Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

Now, how would you answer that if you were Jesus?

You might say, “I don’t think that’s really work, guys.”

“Really? You’re going to get upset about that?”

“It takes a lot of work to not do work!”

In some of the other gospels, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for people. Not people for the Sabbath.”

That’s a good answer.

But that’s not where Jesus goes here.

Because He knows that it’s not really about the Sabbath.

Jesus knows that it’s really about Who He is.

So Jesus makes it all about Who He Thinks He Is. V.3

“He answered, ‘Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread–which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.”

Now, I would have NEVER come up with that!

First off, He goes on the attack. “Haven’t you read?”

“Don’t you know this?”

“You’re going to attack me, well, get ready for some pushback.”

And then He reminds them of this story from 1 Samuel 21. Do you remember that from a few years back when we studied 1 Samuel?

David and his companions were desperately hungry, and they ate the consecrated bread which they technically shouldn’t have done.

And what did the Lord say about that?

Did David get in trouble with God?

Scripture does not condemn David for that.

But how is that answer to the Pharisees here?

It is if Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater.

It feels like it’s arguing from the greater (the consecrated bread) to the lesser (the handpicked cereal).

But it’s actually arguing from the lesser (David and his companions) to the greater (Jesus and His companions)!

If David and his friends could eat that which was technically wrong, and it be okay how much more can Jesus and His friends eat something that you could easily argue isn’t even technically wrong! Just wrong in these guy’s eyes.

In other words, Jesus is greater than David.

And then pushes further. Verse 5

“Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?”

Did you ever think about that?

Who really works on the Sabbath?

Well, those priests do. It’s their job. If they don’t work on the Sabbath, the whole thing doesn’t work. The temple doesn’t work.

So they must be able to work on the Sabbath without breaking the Sabbath.

Do you see where this is going?

The Pharisees are saying, “Who does He think He is? Does He think He’s greater than the priests in the temple?”

Jesus says. More than that! V.6

“I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.”

That’s a bold claim.

We don’t think anything of it. But imagine the most important object, place, thing in your life and imagine someone coming along and saying that He was greater than that.

The temple stood for so much to those people!

If it was knocked down, it would mean the end of the world for them.

It stood for Judaism itself.

And Jesus says, “I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.”

Just let that sink in.

And then He goes back to Scripture. V.7

“If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.” These disciples.

You don’t understand the Bible. Hosea 6:6.

And you don’t understand mercy or compassion.

You don’t get it!

People are more important than stupid rules.

The whole point of the Law is love.

Now, get this.

Jesus says that He knows this because He is not only greater than King David. And not only greater than the priests. And not only greater than even the temple.

Jesus believes that He is greater than the Law itself. V.8

“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Jesus is saying, “I’ll be the One to decide what is right and wrong to do the Sabbath.”

Because the Sabbath is my day.

“I am the Lord of the Sabbath. I am King of the Sabbath.

The Sabbath exists for Me.

And I will interpret it and apply it to my people.”

Wow. Do you see how bold that is?

Can you imagine someone saying that about some other Law?

“I am the Lord of the US Constitution. I will say what it means. It exists for me. And I will interpret it and apply it to my people.”

Or how about gravity?

“I am the Lord of the Law of Gravity. I will say what it means. It exists for Me. And I will interpret it and apply it to my people.”

“I am the King of Rest. I will say what it means. Rest exists for me. And I will interpret rest and apply it to my people.”

He’s basically claiming to be God, isn’t He?

Who else can claim to be the Lord of the Fourth Commandment?

I have only three points this morning, and this is number one.

#1. BELIEVE IN THE KING OF REST.

The whole point is His identity, isn’t it?

Who is Jesus?

Is Jesus Who He believes He is?

What do you think?

Do you believe that Jesus is Great David’s Greater Son?

Do you believe that Jesus is greater than the Levitical Priesthood?

Do you believe that Jesus is greater than the Temple?

Do you believe that Jesus is the Lord of Rest?

I do. And I invite you to believe it, too.

The fact is that many people do not.

And that was true back then. V.9

“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”

You see what is going on?

They want to trap Him.

And they are using the Sabbath to do it.

[Who is really the Sabbath breakers here?!]

They are tempting Him, aren’t they? They can see that He wants to heal this guy.

And they want Jesus to say that healing somebody on the Sabbath is okay.

When they did not agree.

That’s the WORK of a doctor, right?

Should you do the work of healing somebody on the day when we shouldn’t work?

Do you see how messed up this is?

Can this man work?

With a shriveled hand in that society there weren’t very many jobs that this guy could do. He can’t work. But can you do the work of healing him on the day when nobody should work?

What would you say?

Well, here’s what the Lord of Rest says. V.11

“He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? [Well, yeah.] How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’”

He’s arguing from the lesser to the greater again, isn’t He?

This time the lesser thing is a sheep. And we are the greater thing.

How much more valuable is a man than a sheep. Good to hear it! Congratulations, you’re worth more than a sheep!

Of course it’s lawful to do good on the Sabbath!

To show mercy on the Sabbath.

To show compassion on the Sabbath.

V.13. “Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

Whoa. Whoa!

What a reaction. What hard hearts!

You see how this isn’t about what you can and can’t do on a particular day of the week?

It’s all about Who is Jesus, isn’t it?

And do you believe that Jesus is the King of Rest?

They certainly did not.

Think about this. Jesus didn’t even do any work, did He?

He just spoke and the guy was healed, and these people wanted to get rid of Him!

By the way, Jesus knows that He is jumping into their trap, and it doesn’t bother Him.

It’s all part of His Father’s plan.

They may think that they have caught Jesus. But really Jesus has caught them.

And He’s caught us.

He’s given this man rest. Hasn’t He?

He’s given him the ability to work again.

But He’s also given him a taste of the kingdom. The kingdom of rest.

He’s taken away a little bit of that man’s worry and weariness and burden.

And restored Him. V.13 “...completely restored, just as sound as the other.”

That’s a picture of the kingdom that’s coming!

Here’s application point number two:

#2. FOLLOW THE KING OF REST.

Don’t just believe that He is the King, but join His kingdom and live out the values of that kingdom.

For example, value people over stupid rules every time.

That’s what our King is like and what our Kingdom is like.

I’m not saying to throw out the Law.

But make sure you are fulfilling the purpose of that Law.

The whole point of the Law is love.

If we aren’t loving people then we aren’t doing the Law even if we say we are.

The Lord of Rest desires “mercy, not sacrifice.”

Compassion, not ritualistic rule-following.

V. 12 again “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

So if we are citizens of the Kingdom of Rest, it’s lawful for us to do good to others.

Are we doing that?

Or do we find every excuse to work around it?

Last week, I got a call from someone who needed some gas money and some food.

And it was really inconvenient. The call was at the very end of the evening for me. And I did not want to go out and help somebody.

But I said to myself, “What if that was me? And what if it was the Lord who was getting the call? What would Jesus do? What would my King do?”

So I got up and went out to meet them and help them in the name of our King.

I was trying to follow the King of Rest.

It actually meant that I lost a little of what I considered to be rest.

But what did Jesus give up to bring me rest?

He gave His whole life!

Do you ever think about that?

When Jesus holds out His hand and says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest,” did you ever think what that rest cost Jesus to give us?

He is the King of Rest not just by the Creation but by the Cross. V.15

“Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.”

He’s aware that they want to kill Him. He knows.

So He withdraws. But He doesn’t stop.

Many follow the King of Rest, and He gives them rest.

He heals all of their sick.

And He doesn’t blow a trumpet about it.

He’s not televangelist. He’s not like any other pretend Messiah out there.

It’s not time for Him to go public, so He tells them to keep it quiet.

But He keeps healing. This person. That person. That person. This person.
“All of their sick.”

Verse 17.

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Point number three:

#3. REST IN THE KING OF REST.

Matthew loves His Old Testament, doesn’t he?

And loves that word “fulfill.” v.17

This is the longest quote from the Old Testament in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew says that Jesus healed like this, powerfully yet quietly, to fulfill Isaiah 42, verses 1 through 4.

Matthew recognizes that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of the Messianic Prophecies of Isaiah.

And He quotes Isaiah at length to show us.

And it sure sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?

What a unique and compelling person!

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight...”

What does that sound like?

It sound like Jesus’ baptism to me.

“This is my Son. Whom I loved. With Him I am well pleased.”

“I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations [to the Gentiles! To non-Jews like, I don’t know, you and me!]. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. [He proclaims justice. But He doesn’t get all huffy about His rights. He heals people quietly. Listen to this....] A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out...

I love that description. This like last week when He said that He is gentle and humble of heart.

What good is a bruised reed?

A little bent over twig? He’s so gentle. So tender. So careful.

With losers! With failures. With the marginalized. With the hurting. With the weary and the burdened.

With the smoldering wick.

Just a tiny little smoke coming from that wick.

What do you do?

It would be so easy to dismiss it.

But Jesus cups it and blows on it gently and shields it from the wind.

Are you that little smoldering wick?

Do you see how you can trust Him?

Do you see how you can rest in Him?

Do you see how you can put yourself in His hands?

And He’s not going to change.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”

They will rest in the King of Rest!

Now and forever.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me

Sunday, November 04, 2018

[Matt's Messages] "Come To Me"

“Come To Me”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
November 4, 2018 :: Matthew 11:25-30 

Last week, we studied the first part of chapter 11 where the John Baptist sends Jesus the question, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

How did Jesus answer?

He basically said, “Yes, I am the one.” but He did it by pointing to the deeds of the Messiah, how He Himself was fulfilling the job description, the Messianic profile, provided by the Old Testament.

“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”

And then He spent most of the rest of the chapter explaining how important it was to answer that question correctly.

Is Jesus the one who was to come?

If you answer yes, you will be blessed. He said, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” On account of Jesus doing things differently than you might have expected.

But if you ultimately answer no, you will experience woe.

Not blessing but cursing.
Not delight but danger.
Not joy but sorrow, judgment, and woe.

Jesus denounced those who had rejected Him and predicted their judgment.

And it’s right after that that Jesus says what He says in today’s passage.

This flows right out of that.

We may study it on its own, but it doesn’t stand alone.

In today’s passage, Jesus basically stops to pray, but prays out-loud for all to hear.

And it’s definitely worth overhearing!

And then, Jesus makes an amazing assertion about His relationship with God.

And then He offers a glorious and wonderful invitation.

“Come to Me.”

That’s our Hide the Word verse that we’ve been committing to memory for the last couple of months:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

That’s the invitation.

But first we need to eavesdrop on Jesus’ prayer.

Matthew has so helpfully recorded it for us so that we can listen in ourselves and hear what Jesus said to His Father. Verse 25.

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Jesus starts by praising God the Father, and he calls Him “Lord of heaven and earth.”

That’s Lord of absolutely everything, isn’t it?

And that God, that Lord of absolutely everything is someone Jesus calls, “Father.”

That’s amazing.

I mean you and I have learned to call Him “Father, too,” but we get that from Jesus.

We’re going to see that in verse 27.

He would not be our Father if it were not for Jesus.

But He has always been Jesus’ Father and always will be.

And Jesus’ praises Him.

Jesus lifts up His voice to praise God, the Lord of heaven and earth. What for?

It might surprise you at first.

Jesus praises God for hiding things. Did you catch that? Look at verse 25.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

What are the "these things?"

It doesn’t say directly, so you have to look at the context to determine it.

I think it’s simply the mysteries of the kingdom.

The blessings of belonging to the Messiah.

The judgments of rejecting Him.

All of the inside scoop of being a follower of the Messiah.

That’s hidden from some and revealed to others.

Whom?

Our Lord says in His prayer that it is hidden from the “wise and learned.”

I think that means the so called wise and learned.

The people who think they are wise and learned and sophisticated and smart.

Who’s that in the context of Matthew gospel?

Well, the scribes and the Pharisees for one.

They thought they were too smart to submit to Jesus, didn’t they?

And these cities that Jesus was just pronouncing judgment upon. Korazin. Bethsaida. Capernaum.

They thought they were too wise and learned to be taken in by claims of Jesus of Nazareth!

They were too proud! They were too arrogant. They thought too highly of themselves.

So they were left out in the cold.

And Jesus praises God for that.

Can you praise God for that?

Let’s not be more spiritual than Jesus.

Jesus saw this “hiddenness” as God’s wisdom at work.

But wasn’t just hidden, was it? It was also revealed. To whom?

“To little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

To reveal these things to little children.

I don’t think that means just literal little children.

I think that means the humble. Those who are like little children.

Trusting. Humble. Modest. Those who did not think of themselves as the “wise and learned” of the world. Those who didn’t think too highly of themselves, but thought rightly of themselves.

Those who are like little children.

I’ve only got two main points of application this morning, and I want make this one the first:

#1. BECOME CHILDLIKE.

Humble yourself.

Because that’s the kind of person to whom the Father reveals the secrets of the kingdom.

God the Father delights, takes great pleasure, in revealing the secrets of the kingdom to those who receive them like infants.

That’s who becomes disciples.

Those who humble themselves and are trusting. They have faith.

Remember when Jesus pulled a little guy, a little child, into the middle of the circle and said, “Unless you become like this little guy, you won’t see the kingdom.”?

That’s how it works.

The proud and sophisticated and “wise and learned” of this world do not get it.

They just don’t.

And that’s a judgment on them. The Father is withholding it from them.

So to get the kingdom, you have to become like a child.

Have you done that?

Are you doing that?

If you have, don’t just want to join Jesus in praising God?

A little child says, “Thank you for including me!”

“I’m so glad to be here!”

“I need this and can’t earn this, and I’m trusting in you to give it to me.”

“Thank you for including me!”

Do you remember the first beatitude?

The first statement of blessing and flourishing? The gateway to the others?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

That’s what Jesus is thanking the Father here for.

“Thank you that the poor in spirit (who would have thought it!) get the kingdom of heaven!”

If you don’t, you won’t.

“God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be opposed by God.

I don’t want God as my opponent.

See how Jesus thanks the Father for being the opponent of the proud?

It’s right for Him to do that. It’s good.

But I don’t want that to be me.

And I don’t want it to be you, either.

Become childlike.

And praise Him and thank Him for being included.

In verse 27, Jesus apparently stops praying and briefly teaches some amazing stuff  about His relationship with the Father. V.27

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Now to me, that sounds like it almost belongs in the Gospel of John, not the Gospel of Matthew!

That’s the kind of teaching that John picked up so much of and Matthew tends more hint at. But here it is in Matthew in all of its glory.

Let’s walk through it slowly.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father.”

Not OUR Father.

Jesus says, “My Father.” He has a special relationship with God.

Remember what happened at His baptism?

Remember the voice from heaven? “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:17).

Jesus knows it.

And Jesus knows that the Father has handed over to Him all things.

All things?

All things!

Sounds like Matthew 28, right? “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”

What is the Father the Lord of? Verse 25? “Lord of heaven and earth.”

“All things have been committed to me by my Father.”

This verse is supposed to blow your mind. We aren’t supposed to be able to wrap our minds around this. But as we try, our minds expand and grow!

Listen to what Jesus says about His relationship with God.

“No one know the Son except the Father.”

So there is a special relationship between those two. (I think it’s through the Spirit. He isn’t mentioned, but I’m sure He’s excluded either).

There is a special relationship between the Son and Father. Nobody knows Jesus inside and out like the Father does. Unparalleled intimacy. Exclusivity. Direct and immediate knowledge.

No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son.

But catch this!

...AND “those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

You want to know God the Father?

You have to go through God the Son.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

No one has ever seen God the Father, “But God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” That’s in John.

Matthew tells us (V.27) “No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Do you know the Father?

So many of you in this room do.

Praise God that the Son has chosen to reveal the Father to you!

Now, this is only one side of the coin of choice in our salvation.

Some people like to emphasize one side of the coin and forget about the other.

Some people like to emphasize God’s sovereignty like verse 27 does.

Who chooses whether or not we are saved?

Well, God does.

But other people like to emphasize the other side of the coin.

Human responsibility.

Is that in this passage, too?

Of course it is. The pride of the “wise and learned” in verse 25, the responsibility of  Korazin, Bethsaid, and Capernaum for what they freely chose when they rejected Jesus. They made unforced choices, too.

Human responsibility.

Some people like to emphasize that and miss God’s sovereignty.

“No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

That’s in there, too.

Both are true. Both are important. It may seem like a paradox, but it’s a paradox the Bible doesn’t have any trouble with holding both sides of.

God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.

Because the very next thing that Jesus does after saying that He has been given all things and choose to whom He will reveal the Father is to issue an invitation. V.28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

#2. COME TO JESUS.

In pop culture, they use the phrase, “Come to Jesus” to describe a hard conversation where someone is being forced to make a decision.

That’s not what’s going on here.

Yes, there is an all important decision that must be made, but this is all invitation and not intimidation.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Have you been thinking about this invitation as you have worked on your memorization?

“Come to me,” Jesus says.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Come to Christianity.”
He doesn’t say, “Come to evangelicalism.”
He doesn’t say, “Come to Christendom.”
He doesn’t say, “Come to the church.”

Jesus says, “Come to me.”

This is all about Him. Listen to all of the personal pronouns.

We keep saying, “Who does He think He is?”

He thinks He’s the Son of God and God the Son!

That’s Who He thinks He is!

And He’s holding out His hand for us to come to Him personally.

He knows what we are like. “Weary and burdened.”

Why?

Well, I think they were weary and burdened by the scribes and the Pharisees.

They were worn out trying to please other people and follow the Law in such a way as to earn their salvation.

That will wear you out!

You trying to do that?

Laboring under the Law and weighted down by law-keeping?

But they were also weary and burdened by the Romans, weren’t they?

They were oppressed. They were pushed down.

They had the crushing weight of the world on them.

Life is hard just as it is.

Are you weary and burdened?

Jesus invites you to come to Him.

Not to some idea, but to Jesus Himself.

And He will give you rest.

That’s a glorious word.

It’s word of blessing. A word of peace.

Where the striving ceases. Where you don’t have to impress anybody.

Where you get a taste of what the kingdom will be like.

It will be the rest that was promised in the Old Testament and is promised again in the New Testament. Hebrews chapter 4, “There still exists a rest for the people of God.”

Rest from your enemies.

I think we get a taste of that rest now and we will get the rest of the rest in full when we get the rest of the kingdom.

And we will get it all from Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Look in verse 29 to see what it means to come to Jesus.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

So there is a yoke.

But it’s not the like yoke of the Law.

The rabbis used to tell people to “submit to the yoke of the Law.”

“Submit to the yoke of the Law.”

You know what a yoke is, right?

It’s that big wooden thing that ties a couple of oxen together to pull the plow or whatever.

A yoke a subjection. It does provide limitations.

It does put you in harness.

But look whose yoke it is!

“Take MY yoke upon you.”

I think that means that Jesus is the guy in the other side of the yoke!

See He says, “and learn from me.”

That word learn is the same word from which we get the word “disciple.”

He’s inviting these people and us to be His disciples.

That’s what it means to get yoked up with Jesus.

To walk with Him.

To learn how to walk this field with Him.

He’s right there. You are in tandem with Him.

Does that sound scary?

It’s not supposed to. Amazing, yes, but scary, no. v.29

“For I am gentle and humble in heart.”

“You can trust me.”

You can trust Him.

I think it’s amazing that Jesus says that He is humble when He just said that God the Father has entrusted everything to Him!

But He is, right?

Look what He’s doing with all of that power!

Look what He did in coming here.

Look what He did on the Cross!

That’s humble in heart.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Why? V.30.

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It’s like He’s saying, “Come here, try it on.”

He’s not saying that there is no yoke or that there is no burden.

He’s not throwing out the Sermon on the Mount or the Great Commission.

There is a yoke, but it’s easy.

There is a burden in following Jesus. Take up your cross and follow Him!

But you’ll find that that burden oh so light.

I think the picture is that if you are yoked to Jesus, then Who do you think does all of the heavy lifting?

Do you hear the invitation?

Are you considering it?

He’s inviting you to come to Him.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Married Up

Proverbs: "A wife of noble character who can find?"

Me: "This guy!"



Photo by: Nate Weatherly Photography, Used by Permission

[Matt's Messages] “Are You the One?”

“Are You the One?”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
October 28, 2018 :: Matthew 11:1-24 

Verse 1 of Matthew chapter 11 indicates a transition in the Gospel of Matthew. Chapter 10 was all about the mission that Jesus was giving His apostles and what they could expect to happen to them when they went on that mission. And it wasn’t all good and happy and positive.

Jesus told them, in fact, to expect opposition. To expect hostility. And one of the reasons why was because Jesus, their lord, would be experiencing hostility Himself.

And really in chapter 11 and 12 that hostility begins to really heat up.

We already know where that hostility ends up. It ends up culminating on an old rugged cross outside of Jerusalem.

Jesus has met some opposition so far, but from here on, it really builds.

And it begins to force some people to rethink Jesus.

Including John the Baptist.

Do you remember him?

We met him back in chapter 3. 

John’s message was, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And he also said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Remember that?

This is the guy who baptized Jesus and then the Holy Spirit came down like a dove and the voice of God the Father gushed over His Son.

Well, chapter 4 verse 12 told us that John had been put in prison.

Herod Antipas put John into prison for preaching all this stuff about repentance.

And I’m not sure how much time has gone by, John is still in prison.

And he’s starting to have some questions and some doubts.

I mean, he knows what he’s seen and what he’s heard, and he believes it all, but he’s starting to think that maybe he has misinterpreted what he has seen and heard.

And he can’t get out of prison to ask his questions, so he sends some of his followers to ask Jesus one key question.

“Are You the One?”

Let’s read verses 1 through 3.

“After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’”

Let me ask you a question as we get started here.

Is Jesus who you thought He was?

Or let me ask it like this:

Has your understanding of who Jesus is changed over time as you’ve gotten to know Him?

Is Jesus who you thought He was?

Now, some of you, I’m sure would say that you’ve just about always had the same idea of Who Jesus is though it’s grown and matured and strengthened over time.

You were well taught from infancy.

So the Jesus you thought He was, as you got to know Him in the Bible and in your own personal relationship with Him is just about the same as you always expected Him to be.

But many of the rest of you would probably say that you’ve been pretty surprised to find out Who Jesus really is. What Jesus is really like.

As you read the gospels, you get a very different picture than what you had always expected.

Jesus often turns our expectations upside down.

He doesn’t do what we always thought He would do.

I think that’s at the heart of John’s question.

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

The first thing I want you to see is that it’s okay to have doubts and questions.

We’re going to see in a moment that Jesus thought very highly of John. He doesn’t get mad at John in the slightest for airing his doubts and asking his questions.

It’s okay to have questions and to try find answers.

Some of you here have big questions about Jesus. And about whether this whole Christianity thing is true or not.

That’s great. I’m glad you are asking your questions. And I’m glad you’re here today.

There are answers for your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

Notice what John does with these questions. He takes them (or sends them as the case may be) to Jesus. This is not unbelief. He doesn’t talk Jesus down or run away from Jesus because of his questions. He goes to Jesus with his questions.

And he seeks answers.

And specifically, he asks, “Are you the one?”

“Are you the one who was to come?”

I think it must have been hard for John to languish in prison like that when the Messiah was supposed “set the captives free.” Right?

And John had said that the one who was to come would baptize with the Spirit and with fire.

“Where’s the fire?!

The one who is to come is supposed to have a winnowing fork and clean house and gather the wheat and burn up the chaff.

Where’s the fire?!

Or am I missing something?

Is this the kingdom?

Are you the one who is to come?

Or am I missing something? Are we supposed to be looking still for someone else beyond you?”

What’s the answer to that question?

Do you feel that question?

Do you sometimes wonder if Jesus was Who He was supposed to be?

If Jesus is ___________, then how come He __________ ?

Is Jesus who you thought He was?

Is Jesus who John thought He was?

What is the answer to that?

We already know the right answer.

Everybody in this room knows the right answer.

For 126 years this church has stood for the right answer to that question.

But at the moment, John wasn’t so sure that he had it right.

And it’s a really important question. There are few more important questions in the whole world. Everything rides on it.

“Are you the one?”

Here’s how Jesus answered. Verse 4.

“Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’”

I think that’s a YES.

Jesus doesn’t come out and say it. He shows it. He says, “What is the kingdom supposed to be like? What did Isaiah 35 say? What did Isaiah 61 say the kingdom was going to be like?  Was it the blind being able to see again? Was it the lame being able to walk again? Was it the lepers being cured? Was it the deaf being able to hear again? Was it the dead coming back to life? Was it the poor hearing the gospel?

Well, those things are happening right here, right now because I am here.

And I believe from that moment on John the Baptist did not falter.

He had his answer.

“Yes, I’m the One.”

Now, you and I knew that was going to be the case already.

So, I want to focus on the results of getting the answer right and on getting the answer the wrong. Because that’s where Jesus goes with it next.

Did you see that big powerful word in verse 6?

“BLESSED is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Blessed!

Same word as the sermon on the mount.

Same word as the beatitudes.

We translated it “flourishing” a few months.

Flourishing is the man who does NOT fall away on account me.

Flourishing is the person who decides that even if Jesus seems different than they initially expected, they will stick with Him to the end.

The person who answers the question “Is Jesus the One Who was to come?” with a big old YES will be BLESSED.

YES –> BLESSED.

Do you see that?

Now, there’s a mild rebuke there. Or at least a warning to John to not fall away. To not bail on Jesus halfway there.

On account of Jesus not being what he thought Jesus would be like.

Don’t go there, Jesus says.

Because if you go there, you won’t get this blessing.

You won’t flourish.

The person who answers the question “Is Jesus the One Who was to come?” with a big old YES will be BLESSED.

That’s where the flourishing is.

That’s why this church is centered on the Person and Work of Jesus.

For 126 years we have sought to glorify God by bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus WHAT...Christ! Messiah!

We have proclaimed to this community that Jesus Christ is the One Who was to come.

And that if you trust Him and not fall way, you will be unimaginably blessed.

That’s the gospel, isn’t it?

And that’s what we are all about and have been all of these years.

And that’s what we are about today.

Do you know Jesus as your own Lord and Savior?

Do you know Jesus as your Messiah and King?

Have you answered this question with a trusting “Yes?!”

Then you will be blessed. You will find life. Eternal life. And eternal flourishing.

Even if you have to go to prison and they chop off your head.

Because that’s what’s going to happen to John in chapter 14.

But I’m sure that He was blessed.

And I’m sure that He is flourishing right now and will forever.

Jesus has more to say to about John. V.7

“As John's disciples were leaving [with Jesus’ answer for him], Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: ‘What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? [I doubt it. John was not a weather-vane, a weak man who did what others expected him to.] If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? [Like a slick and smiling televangelist?] No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. [And this guy did not wear fine clothes. And he is in the king’s jail, not his palace.] Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

This [John] is the one about whom it is written [In Malachi 3]: ‘'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

You see how He talks about him?

He’s not mad at John. He thinks John is the greatest man who ever lived up to this point.

Why?

Because John has been, all along, pointing people to Jesus as the Messiah.

Because John knew the right answer to this question and had dedicated his life to telling people about it.

And he’s paid for it dearly. V.12

“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. [Now that’s a difficult verse to translate, but I think that it simply means that the kingdom has been under attack, and it’s still under attack by people like Herod Antipas. And this shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody because He’s just told them that they are going to be sent like sheep among the wolves. There are wolves out there, and they eat sheep. But don’t worry. They can’t really hurt you! V.13] For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.  He who has ears, let him hear.”

Do you see what He’s saying?

He’s saying that John stood at a very special place in history.

He was the last prophet of the Old Testament and He got to tip everybody into the New Testament.

He got to say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John was the fulfillment of that passage in Malachi that Peter preached here a couple of weeks ago. Malachi 4.

He came in the spirit and the power of Elijah.

He was the voice in the wilderness saying, “Here comes the Lord!”

Yes, Jesus is the One Who was to come!

Now, don’t miss what Jesus said about you and me in verse 11.

Did you catch it?

Let’s come back to it in a minute.

It’s so good, we’ll end with it.

But, first, let’s consider what happens if you answer this question incorrectly.

What happens if you get it totally wrong?

Well, it’s the opposite of blessing.

Jesus uses the word “Woe.”

NO –> WOE

It’s cursing. It’s judgment. It’s trouble and danger and woe.

And, sadly, that’s what was coming for many in Jesus’ day because they were rejecting Him. V.16

“‘To what can I compare this generation [of people rejecting me]? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' [Nothing would make you happy. You didn’t play along.] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’ 'But wisdom is proved right by her actions. [The proof is in the pudding.]’”

Do you get the picture?

It’s like one group of children playing, “Simon says.”

And the other spoiled group doesn’t play along.

“No way am I going to do what this Simon guy says!

I don’t care if it’s something I even want to do. I’m not doing it.”

Nothing makes them happy. They are full of excuses. Always an excuse.

If John fasts, they say, “What’s wrong with him? He gotta demon or something?”

But Jesus comes along and feasts and they say, “Why’s He doing that with those people? Doesn’t he know that them’s those people?”

They were rejecting both John and Jesus. Even though wisdom would say that they were obviously telling the truth.

These people wouldn’t play God’s game, no matter what.

So Jesus pronounces woe. V.20

“Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for [for those pagan cities] Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you [who should know better]. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom [sinful Sodom!], it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.’”

If you ultimately answer this question with “No,” then it will be woe for you.

Notice a couple things about this passage.

Jesus knows what might have been.

Theologians call that “middle knowledge.”

Jesus knows what might have been under different circumstances.

He knows every move on the chess board and what would happen if different moves were made. Every contingency.

That’s amazing.

He doesn’t normally tell us.

Often it wouldn’t be good for us to know “what would have happened if.”

But He always knows.

And that helps me to trust Him.

Notice also that Jesus thinks that He is a very big deal.

Doesn’t He?

We’re always saying, “Who does Jesus think He is?”

Well, obviously, from this passage Jesus thinks that our eternal destiny hinges on whether or not we believe that He is the one was to come.

And these cities who saw Him do the miracles were rejecting Him.

And Jesus says that they did so at their own peril.

Notice also that you can see miracles and not believe.

Miracles don’t guarantee faith. They can strengthen faith. They can point to what to believe. But they can always be ignored or explained away or rejected, too.

And also notice that the fire is still to come.

John the Baptist wasn’t wrong about the fire.

He wasn’t wrong about the winnowing fork or clearing the threshing floor or the chaff being burned up.

He just didn’t know the timing.

When Jesus came the first time, He came to save.

When Jesus comes again, He will rescue His people, but He will come to judge.

Woe to you if you answer this question wrongly.

“I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

That day of judgement is still to come.

Are you ready for it?

For 126 years, this church has proclaimed salvation through Jesus and the return of Jesus to fulfill all of God’s promises and all of God’s threats.

If you ultimately answer the question “Is Jesus the one who was to come” with NO, there will be nothing for you but woe. The fire is still to come.

If that’s you right now, I call upon you to repent.

To turn and trust in Jesus.

Because He is everything He was promised to be. And so much more.

And if you do, you will be blessed.

You will flourish both now and forever.

Let’s go back to verse 11.

Don’t miss this.

You and I are in verse 11.

“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women [which is everybody] there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

How about that?!

Did you know how blessed you are?

If you are in the kingdom of heaven, you are greater than John the Baptist.

Even if you are the least in the kingdom, you are greater than John the Baptist.

And He was primo-great!

How come?

John did not live to see the Cross or the Resurrection.

He only could see it from before.

But we live after.

We live on this side of the Cross and the Empty Tomb.

The New Covenant is not just promised but in effect.

The Holy Spirit that John foretold, has come, and is in you right now if you are a believer!

Lanse Free Church, every believer here is greater than John the Baptist, and that’s saying a lot.

We are so blessed!

Not because we are so great, but because Jesus is the One Who was to come.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission

Sunday, October 21, 2018

[Matt's Messages] “What To Expect On Your Mission”

“What To Expect On Your Mission”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
October 21, 2018 :: Matthew 10:32-42 

This is our third message from Matthew chapter 10. This chapter is often called the “Mission Discourse” or “Jesus’ Major Teaching on Missions.”

And that’s because it’s a major teaching from Jesus on missions!

At the end of chapter 9, Jesus saw the crowds harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, and he had compassion on them. And in Matthew chapter 9, verse 38 (which is the reason why many of us are praying every day at 9:38am) Jesus told His disciples to ask the Lord of harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.

And then in chapter 10, He sends out some workers into the harvest field!

He calls 12 men to Himself and then sends out them as apostles, authorized representatives, emissaries, ambassadors, special agents on a special mission for Jesus.

He sends out the Twelve to go on a short term missions trip throughout Israel healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, driving out demons, living on the hospitality of others, and preaching the gospel message, “The kingdom of heaven is near.”

And we noticed the last two times that Jesus seems to be teaching about more than just that first short term missions trip. He seems to also be preparing them for the mission that He’s going to give them at the end of the Gospel of Matthew (which we often call “The Great Commission”) and He seems to be preparing them for what it’s going to be like in the Book of Acts and what it still is like for those of us who are on mission for Jesus today.

He summarized the whole thing in verse 16. Which should be familiar by now.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Remember the four animals? Sheep, wolves, snakes, doves.

That’s us. Well, aside from wolves. We’re supposed to watch out for them.

But we’re supposed to be trusting and vulnerable like sheep.
Shrewd and wise and strategic like snakes.
And innocent and pure and loving like doves.

As we go out on this mission.

And as we go out on this mission, we are supposed to shout the gospel message from (v.27) the rooftops.

I wouldn’t get on this new roof up here, you might slide off.

But we are supposed to be bold and share the good news about the coming kingdom and the coming King!

It’s a dangerous mission.

We are sent as sheep among wolves.

That’s a dangerous way to go. Sheep among wolves.

But we summarized verses 17 through 31 as saying basically, “Beware, but Don’t be Scared.”

Remember that? Beware, but don’t be scared.

Because we are not sheep our own. We have a good Shepherd.

And He knows us. Even the very hairs of our heads are numbered.

And we are worth more than many sparrows. And He has His eye on every one of them.

I think these last eleven verses are basically a summary of what Jesus wants His disciples to anticipate this mission being like.

What they should expect to happen as they go out on mission for Jesus.

I’m going to title today’s message, “What To Expect On Your Mission.”

Because I think that’s how Jesus is landing this plane. That’s how Jesus is ending the mission discourse–He’s laying out for the disciples what they can expect to happen to them as they go out on His mission both then and, for us, now.

I see three main things, and I’ll tell you right up front, that they aren’t all happy ones.

They are not all positive. In fact, all three of them have difficult parts to them, and one of them is really really hard.

This is fair warning for disciples.

Do you think you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

Do you think you want to follow Jesus and be on mission for Jesus?

I hope so.

But you need to know that it’s not always easy. It’s not just a walk in the park.

And Jesus tells us that. He doesn’t hide the fine print.

He tells it like it is.

Here’s what to expect on your mission.

#1. EXPECT TO BE RECOGNIZED AS JESUS’ OWN.

And this is, I think, the most amazing one of the three.

Expect to be recognized as Jesus’ own.

And that’s by God Himself. Look Matthew chapter 10, verse 32.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

That word “acknowledge” could be confusing to some of you.

Because we often use it for a nod of the head.

Yup. I see you. I acknowledge you. You’re over there. Uh huh.

The Old King James uses the word “confess.”

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”

And that might work for some of you, but some of you use the word “confess” mainly to admit to wrongdoing. And that’s not what He’s getting at here either.

I think the flipside in verse 33 makes it clear what He’s talking about in verse 32.

“But whoever DISOWNS me before men” or King James “denies me before men, I will disown him before the my Father in heaven.”

So the opposite of “disown” is “own.”

That’s what Jesus means by acknowledge.

It means to claim Jesus as your own.

To claim to belong to Jesus.

To own Jesus as your Savior and your Lord.

To say to the world, “Jesus is mine. I belong to Jesus.”

Do you get it?

That’s our mission, right?

To tell people about Jesus’ saving work and coming kingdom.

So here’s what’s amazing.

When we tell people that we own up to Jesus–we are with Him.

Jesus tells HIS FATHER IN HEAVEN that He owns us–that He is with us!

That’s amazing!!!

I don’t think we can wrap our minds around how astonishing that is.

First off, notice Who Jesus thinks He is! Jesus believes He has a special filial relationship with God. He is God’s own Son.

That’s crazy...unless it’s true.

And because He is God’s Son, whomever He brings to the Father and claims as His own, the Father will also recognize as His own!

You follow that?

Because Jesus is God’s Son, whomever Jesus brings to the Father and claims as His own, the Father will also recognize as His own!

Of course the flipside is also true. Whomever Jesus does not recognize as His own, the Father will also not recognize as His own.

And that’s true of those who disown and deny any connection with Jesus.

Why would you do that?

In a word? Persecution.

Jesus has just told them how hard it’s going to be. They will be dragged before the authorities. They will be flogged. They will be chased from city to city.

They have the authority to preach the gospel and do miracles of the kingdom.

But they don’t have the authority to fight back for that kingdom.

They are sheep among wolves, not wolves among wolves.

And they are going to be tempted to disown and deny any connection with Jesus.

Because if they don’t, it will hurt.

Do you feel that?

We don’t feel it as much in our day in this country. Right now, Christianity still enjoys a good deal of public approval, even a privileged status.

But in many places in the world, if you belong to Jesus and you own it in public, you will pay for it.

And it’s increasingly the case here. And it will probably get worse.

Regardless, we are all tempted to be quiet about Jesus from time to time, and we aren’t even afraid that others are going to hurt us.

We’re just afraid they’re going to laugh at us or make fun of us or think less of us.

So we’re tempted to stay quiet.

But we have a mission. We have a job to do.

It’s our job to tell people about Jesus. We need to own Him. To recognize Him publicly as our Lord and Savior.

Giving testimony.
Getting baptized.
Doing evangelism.
Talking to people about OUR OWN Savior and Lord.

And get this, when we own Jesus before men, Jesus owns us before His Father in heaven.

“Yes, Father, this is one for whom I died. This one is mine. I bought them by my blood. They have trusted in my sacrificial death. They are a sinner. But I have washed them with my blood. You see; they have faith! They are telling people about me. Let me tell You about them.”

It’s wonderful thing to expect as you live your life on mission for Jesus that Jesus is holding up your name to His Father.

We can’t begin to understand how great that is.

Now, some, when they read verse 33 think about the Apostle Peter and what He did.

He disowned Jesus, didn’t he? Three times he denied Him.

And that’s true, He did.

But he didn’t stay there.

He didn’t stay a disowner. He repented and returned to Jesus and asked for His forgiveness, and then he acknowledged Jesus everywhere he went.

So, if you have disowned and denied, don’t stay there.

If you stay there, the other side of verse 33 may become a reality for you forever. “I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” I would hate for that to be said about anybody here.

So don’t stay there. It isn’t safe.

Trust in Jesus.  Take Jesus as your own Savior and Lord.

And tell other people about Him.

Here’s the application of this one.

- Own Jesus As Your Lord.

Run up the flag. Run the flag up the flagpole. “I belong to Jesus.”

Don’t be ashamed of Him. Don’t be afraid to talk about Him.

Don’t be scared to claim Him as your own.

Because as you do, He’s claiming you as His.

Number Two.  What to expect on your mission:

#2. EXPECT TO BE REJECTED BY THE WORLD.

I’d rather by rejected by the world than by the Lord, wouldn’t you?

But it’s still not easy to be rejected by anybody.

That’s why Jesus warns us in advance what it’s going to be like. Verse 34.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'”

That’s a quote from Micah 7:6. Jesus loves the Old Testament and Matthew loves to show it.

But it’s hard.

Jesus hasn’t come to bring peace, He says, but a sword.

Now, I know that He’s not calling them to pick up swords. They are sheep among wolves. They are not to go on attack.

But because of Jesus, they will be attacked.

I know, I know. This is hard one to swallow.

Especially because we know that Jesus DID come to bring peace on earth.

The angels said that at His birth!

He’s the prince of peace.

He just taught us to be peacemakers in the Sermon on the Mount.

And on the night He’s betrayed, He says that He gives His disciples peace.

But that’s not all He brings.

He also brings division.

Because the world (not everyone but so so many, the world) will reject Him.

And if they reject Him, they reject us.

The world gets hostile about Jesus.

The true Jesus.

Sometimes the world gets all excited about a fake version of Jesus that they can use to their own ends.

But when the true Jesus shows up the world starts to squirm.

And give them enough time, and they will get downright hostile.

The peace on earth will come, but it’s not automatic. And it’s...later.

In the short run, Jesus divides families.

“For I have come to turn ‘'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'”

I’ve seen it right here in Clearfield County.

Sometimes, our Kids for Christ are handing out water bottles and invitations to Family Bible Night and I’ve seen a dad make his kids return the water bottle, the pencil, and the invitation because he doesn’t want any of that Christian proselytizing.

Imagine if that kid comes to Christ, what it might be like in that home?

This is the worst kind of rejection–at the family level.

But you can see it elsewhere.

At work?
In your neighborhood?
At school?

It is not always popular to be a Christian, to own up to being a follower of Jesus.

Jesus divides people. He just does.

And most of us don’t like to be rejected. We like to be liked.

I mean Facebook and Twitter and Instagram feed off our love of being liked, right?  Look how popular they are.

But Jesus says, if you are on mission for Me, expect a lot of rejection from the world.

So here’s the application.

- Love Jesus More Than Anything.

More than being liked.
More than being comfortable.
More than your own family. Verse 37.

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me...”

That’s a way of saying, “Isn’t living in line with Me. Isn’t honoring Me. Isn’t living congruently with Me”

It doesn’t mean that we can somehow live in a way that we deserve Jesus.

We can’t. Salvation is all of grace.

But if we have been graced by Jesus, then we will put Him absolutely first.

Let me ask you a trick question about verse 37. Ready?

Can you love both Jesus and your family?

Yes.

I guess it wasn’t a trick question.

Let me ask this one.

Can you love both Jesus and your family equally?

No. Jesus calls us to love Him MORE.

In the Gospel of Luke, He says that the difference should be so great that you could basically say that we hate our families.

Not because we hate our families, but because of how much more we are to love Jesus.

Do you love Jesus that way?

Do you love Jesus MORE than anything?

More than being liked?
More than being comfortable?
More than our families?

More than our very lives? V.38

“...and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

What an astonishing metaphor–to take up your cross and follow Jesus.

This is long before Jesus takes up His own cross, though we can read it in light of that now.

But Jesus said it before He even took up His cross.

Jesus says that we must die to ourselves.
We must go on death march and count ourselves as dead.
To say with our lives that following Jesus is the most important thing.
That we love Jesus more than we love our lives.

Because, paradoxically, ironically, mysteriously...

“Whoever finds his [physical] life [as the most important thing] will lose it, and whoever loses his life [physical life] for [Jesus’] sake will find [eternal life].”

This is just another way of talking about repentance and faith.

Turning away from sin, and self and Satan and turning to Jesus for true and lasting life.

Jesus is calling us to love Him more than anything including our very lives.

Because you know what?

Jesus loved us more than keeping His own life.

What are you tempted to love more than Jesus?

In your heart right now, hold it to Jesus and give it to Him.

Repent and turn. And give it up to Him.

You’ll have to do it again.

But do it.

Tell Jesus that you want to love Him more than anything.

More than your very life.

Because that how He loved you.

One last one and then we’re done.

What to expect on your mission.

#3. TO BE RECEIVED AND BE REWARDED.

It would be enough to just be recognized by Jesus, wouldn’t it?

But it goes deeper and more wonderful. Verse 40.

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.”

That is AMAZING!

Not everyone is going to reject us when we live out this mission.

Some people are going to receive us and receive our gospel message.

And Jesus says that when they receive US, they receive Him.

You get that?

When you share the gospel with somebody, and they say, “I believe it. I am so glad you told me that. I receive you...” they are really saying, “I receive Jesus!”

Because we are intimately connected!

We’re are just that close!

You and Jesus are One!

And get this. Look at verse 40 again. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.”

You aren’t just recognized by the Father. You are vitally connected to Him.

So that if someone receives you, they are receiving HIM!

What a privilege that is!

We are emissaries of the King.
We are ambassadors of King Jesus.

And we are the ambassadors of His Father.

If they receive us, they are receiving HIM.

Jesus elaborates in verse 41.

“Anyone who receives a prophet [one who speaks for God] because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones [the least of the disciples] because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

You see how liberal Jesus is with the rewards?

He’s handing them out left and right.

If you should get a reward for living righteously or speaking God’s words or just for following Jesus, you’ll get it.

And you’ll get it just for receiving someone who should get it.

And supporting someone who should get it.

This is a great reason to support missions and missionaries.

When someone on that back wall gives out the gospel to someone who receives it in faith, they get rewarded and they get rewarded, and WE get rewarded for supporting them.

Little old us!

This is a great reason to support missions and missionaries and to live on mission ourselves.

And to help each other to live on mission together.

Application?

- Live for Jesus’ Reward.

He obviously wants us to, or He wouldn’t talk about it so much.

This could take so many forms.

Preaching the gospel from the rooftops.
Owning up to belonging to Jesus in our spheres of influence.
Giving money to overseas missions.
Filling a little shoebox with gifts for the needy around the world.

Every one of those shoeboxes gets a gospel message embedded in it and given to children who need the hope of the gospel.

“...if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

I don’t know about you, but I want all of the rewards that Jesus wants to give me.

I don’t want to miss any of them.

It would be enough to just be recognized as belonging to Jesus in the eyes of His father.

But He has more for us.

If we will trust Jesus and love Jesus more than anything and serve Jesus and receive and support those others who belong to Jesus and are on mission for Jesus, then we will be rewarded beyond what we can understand and imagine.

That’s what we can expect on this mission that Jesus has for us today.

***

Previous Messages in This Series:01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves