Sunday, November 18, 2018

[Matt's Messages] "So Thankful!"

“So Thankful!”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
November 18, 2018 :: Matthew 12:22-32 

If you remember, last week, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, and He got into trouble with the Pharisees.

He was always getting into trouble with the Pharisees.

This time they were unhappy that Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath. They claimed that He was breaking the Law.

But Jesus claimed that He WAS the Law.

He claimed to be The King of Rest.

The Lord of the Sabbath.

Greater than Great King David.
Greater than the Levitical Priesthood.
Greater than the Temple that stood for the People of God.
Greater even than the Law of God itself.

He said, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

And Matthew, the evangelist said, “You better believe He is. He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. He is so gentle, He won’t break a bruised reed. He is so humble of heart that He won’t snuff out a smolder wick. And in His name the nations will put their hope.”

Jesus is the King of Rest.

Well, that’s NOT how the Pharisees wanted that interaction to go!

They were so rip roaring mad that they began to plot out how they could kill Jesus.

And in today’s passage, they came up with idea.

It’s a really bad idea.

But if it had worked, it would mean the end of Jesus.

They decided to claim that Jesus was not the King of Rest, but the King of Demons.

Yes, you heard me right.

Jesus was claiming to be The King of Rest.

But the Pharisees are claiming that He is instead the King of Demons, or at least working for and with the King of Demons.

Now, I’m sure that you did not come to church today wondering if Jesus was in league with Satan.

You just came to give thanksgiving this morning.

But aren’t just SO THANKFUL that this is true?

That’s what I want to call this message today.

“So Thankful!”

Because there are at least three big things in today’s passage that we should be rejoicing about every single day that we live. So very thankful!

The story starts with someone who had very little to be thankful for. V.22

“Then they brought him [Jesus] a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’”

Isn’t that amazing?

The people sure thought so.

Think about what this man’s life was like.

He could not see. And he could not talk.

So he was cut off in significant ways from the people around him.

But even worse, inside of him was an evil spirit.

He couldn’t see, but he was tormented by this demon.

And he couldn’t tell anybody what that was like!

We don’t know what he was like. What forms that possession and oppression took beyond his blindness and muteness.

He was shut in himself with a demon.

And Jesus healed him!

I’ll bet he was thankful!

The demon was gone.
The man could talk.
The man could see.

And everybody was astonished and said, “Is this the Messiah?”

“That’s the kind of thing the Messiah is supposed to do!”

“Could this be the Son of David?”

We say, “Of course it is, and we are so thankful!”

And the Pharisees said, “No way!”

Verse 24.

“But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.’”

What?!

Did they just say what I think they said?

Notice that they don’t dispute the miracle.

Nobody says, “That guy isn’t really healed.”

They can’t argue with that.

So they argue with the only thing that they can think to argue with.

They claim that Jesus is in league with Satan.

“It is only by the Lord of the Heap, the prince of demons, Satan himself, that this fellow drives out demons.”

The New Living Translation put verse 24 this way, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.”

Now, that is crazy to say.

That is absurd.

But if they could convince everybody that Jesus is an evil sorcerer in league with Satan, then it would be a capital offense, and Jesus would be put to death.

Jesus said back in chapter 10 that they were going to call Him that.

Remember? And He said that we should expect to get some of that, too. Jesus said, “It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!” (10:25).

They called Jesus Beelzebub or in partnership with Beelzebub.

But we know better.

And we so thankful that it is not true.

I’m serious. Here’s point number one of three.

We can be so thankful that:

#1. JESUS IS NOT IN LEAGUE WITH SATAN!

I know that sound silly to say.

But aren’t you grateful?

Just for a second think about what if He was.

Okay, that’s enough. We don’t need to go there for very long to be incredibly grateful for the truth.

In verse 25, Jesus fights back with the truth.

Verse 25. “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?”

Jesus says that Satan isn’t stupid.

That’s His first answer to this stupid assertion.

Satan is not so stupid that he would send Jesus to drive himself out of people.

Jesus says if you have a kingdom, a city, or a household, you don’t intentionally set one part of it against another unless you want civil war.

President Abraham Lincoln famously alluded to this very passage to warn our country over what was going to happen in the late nineteenth century.

Jesus said that Satan wasn’t so stupid as to empower Jesus to bring the kingdom of God because it would mean the end of his fallen kingdom.

He isn’t going to work against himself like that!

Jesus and Satan are not in league with each other.

Even to do the work of the kingdom of God!

That’s what Jesus is doing.

The blind see.
The mute talk.
The demons are cast out.

Jesus is whomping on the evil kingdom of Satan.

Satan isn’t behind that.

V.27 “And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.”

“You Pharisees have exorcists, too. In your own little way.”

They had a lot of incantations and phrases they used. And their excorcisms weren’t nearly as effective as Jesus’.

Jesus just had to say, “Go,” and they had to go.

But if Jesus was doing this by the power of Satan, then that throws some shade on their ministry.

No, that’s not what’s going on. Jesus is not in league with Satan.

Jesus is bringing the very kingdom of God. V.28

“But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Yes!

That’s what happening here.

Jesus is driving out demons by the Spirit of God. Luke calls Him the “the Finger of God.”

And that means that the kingdom of God has arrived.

So thankful!

So very thankful!

That the kingdom of God is here.

Now, of course, the kingdom hasn’t come yet in all of its fullness. This is not as good as it gets. It’s going to get amazingly better.

But it’s here.

The King has arrived.

So the Kingdom has arrived, and we have everything to be thankful for.

Because, think of this:

#2. JESUS IS MUCH STRONGER THAN SATAN!

Not only are they not on the same team.

They are on opposing teams.

But they are NOT EQUAL teams!

Jesus is so much stronger than Satan. It’s not really a contest!

Look at verse 29.

“Or again [look at it this way], how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”

Now, follow Jesus closely here. It’s a little surprising.

Who is the robber in verse 29?

Who is performing a home invasion?

It’s Jesus!

Who is the strong man of verse 29?

That would be Satan.

Satan is a lot stronger than any of us here on our own.

If we went up against Satan all by ourselves, we’d be like the man in verse 22.

Possessed, oppressed, shut down, and beaten.

But what if Jesus wants what the strong man has stolen and stockpiled in his house?

Can Jesus beat up Satan?

You bet He can.

He can walk in, tie him up, and walk out with whatever He wants.

Remember the contest between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness? The temptation in back in chapter 4.

Who won that one?

There is someone who is strong than the strong man.

“...the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Satan is going down.

He’s a defeated enemy on his way out.

He is a roaring lion. He is someone that is a enemy to be wary of.

But he is not winning and will not win.

Resist him, and he must flee! (James 4:7)

I think sometimes we give Satan way too much credit and fear him way too much.

Respect his power and don’t trust him, for sure.

Don’t think that you, on your own, are any match for Satan.

But don’t give him too much credit.

And don’t cede to him any ground.

Because Jesus is so much stronger than Satan.

We can be so thankful.

Jesus kingdom will come and it will not fail.

We can be so thankful.

And we can choose the right side. V.30

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

That means that we need to choose which side we’ll be on.

You don’t automatically end up on Jesus’ team.

You are not with Jesus by default.

In fact, by default you are with the other one.

So this is a call to not pretend or think that you are neutral.

It’s a call to join Jesus’ kingdom.

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

Is a way of inviting us to be WITH HIM.

To take Him up on His offer to come to Him and find rest for our souls.

Wade Nolan was our wild game dinner speaker two times in the last ten years. He died this year and went to be with the Lord.

I remember the first time he spoke, he told us about this fence. That guys like to think that they are on the fence.

They haven’t yet decided or made up their minds about Jesus.

They’re fencesitters.

But Wade quoted this verse right here, and he said, “Guys, there is no fence.”

“He who is not with [Jesus] is against [Jesus.]”

This is not a call to get off of the fence.

It’s a call to make sure you are on the right side because there is no fence.

And the right side is Jesus’ side because He gonna win.

So thankful that Jesus is so much stronger than Satan.

Do you need to hear that this Thanksgiving week?

Does it seem to you like the opposite is true?

Or even that Satan is winning?

No. That’s not true. That’s not how it is.

Satan is alive and a dangerous enemy.

But He is a defeated enemy on a short leash, and he will not win.

One more and then we’ll sing, “How Great Thou Art!”

We can be so thankful this holiday season that:

#3. JESUS FORGIVES EVERY SIN BUT ONE! V.31

“And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Now, I know that that’s a scary passage.

We focus on the “but one” part.

Just knowing that there is an unforgivable sin is a scary thing to understand.

And Jesus was warning these people that they were doing it or getting really close to it.

What is this “blasphemy against the Spirit?”

Blasphemy is an extreme slander. It’s an outright and total lie about Who God is.

And the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing to Satan what is clearly the work of God.

It is looking at Jesus, the One who is bringing the kingdom of God, and saying and not repenting of saying, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

It’s not just speaking against Jesus. V.32 makes that clear. It’s speaking against Jesus in such an irretrievable way, such an irrevocable way, such an unrepentant hard hearted way that you don’t care what the Holy Spirit says about Jesus, He is the devil.

You utterly and totally reject the witness of the Spirit to the Person of the Son.

Now, I know that you might be afraid that you have done this unforgivable thing.

If you are afraid that you, I can tell you that you have not yet done it.

Because those who have done this, don’t walk back from it.

The Apostle Peter denied that he knew Jesus.

But he was forgiven.

Judas betrayed Jesus and though he felt bad about it, he never repented and came back.

The unforgivable sin is rejecting Jesus and still rejecting Jesus and always rejecting Jesus.

Rejecting Who the Holy Spirit has clearly revealed that Jesus is.

Unless that’s what you are doing right now, you have committed this sin.

So think about this from verse 31.

Focus on this. “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven by men...”

The Lord forgives every kind of sin but one!

That’s what to be thankful for today.

Your sins can be forgiven!

Does verse 31 include your sins?

Think about your sins for just minute.

Not more than a minute.

But just look back over your past.

I’m so ashamed of my sin.

Including the ones I still struggle with today.

Now, put those sins into verse 31.

“And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven...”

“And When I Think That God, His Son Not Sparing
Sent Him To die, I Scarce Can Take It In
That On the Cross, My Burden Gladly Bearing
He Bled and Died to Take Away MY Sin!”

So very thankful!

I know that Jesus said these things to warn the Pharisees.

You know, they were really the ones in league with Satan.

They didn’t know it, but they were playing his game.

Jesus warned them to repent while they still could and join His winning team.

And He’s inviting you and me to do that, too, today.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke [of discipleship] upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Have you done that?

He’s inviting you now.

And He’s paved the way. He died on the Cross to pay for your sins so they will be forgiven.

Have you trusted Him for that?

He’s inviting you now.

And there is no sin that is too big for Him to forgive.

Certainly if you reject Him, He will reject you.

But if you want to come to Him, He will in no way leave you out.

He is so strong! He is stronger than the strong man.

He is mighty to save.

He is bringing His kingdom which will rule over all.

And He invites you to come to Him. If you don’t you are against Him. There is no fence. “He who does not gather with [Jesus] scatters."

But all who come to Jesus have every reason to be SO VERY THANKFUL.


***

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
30. The King of Rest

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.


View all my Goodreads reviews.

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.


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Previous Messages in This Series: