Sunday, December 09, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent 2018: What Child Is This?

LEFC Family Advent Readings: “What Child Is This?”
Matthew 2:1-12 :: December 9, 2018
Week #2: King of the Jews

“Advent” means “coming.” Christmas is coming. Jesus has come and is coming again.

During this year’s Advent season, we are answering, from the Gospel of Matthew, the title question of the classic Christmas carol “What Child Is This?”

[LIGHT FIRST CANDLE AGAIN.]

Our first candle proclaimed that the child sleeping on Mary’s lap was “Immanuel.” As prophesied by Isaiah, the virgin gave birth to a child who is “God-with-us.”

[LIGHT SECOND CANDLE.]

The Bible also says that this child whom angels greet with anthems sweet is “The King of the Jews.”

Matthew tells the story in the second chapter of his gospel of a mysterious group of people called the “Magi” who came to Jerusalem from the east looking for the King of the Jews. They had seen His star and had come to worship Him.

The Magi learned from wicked King Herod and the Jewish chief priests and teachers of the law that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea. They knew this because of the prophecy of Micah in the Old Testament.

[READ MATTHEW 2:6]

So they went to Bethlehem, still following that star, and that’s exactly what the Magi found–a newborn king. They were overjoyed and worshiped Jesus. They knew that He was royalty, and before they left by a different route to outwit evil Herod, they gave Jesus gifts fit for a king.

Jesus is the King of the Jews, and He is our King, as well.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

[Matt's Messages] “Get It?”

“Get It?”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
December 9, 2018 :: Matthew 13:1-23 

We’ve made it all the way to Matthew chapter 13!

We started this trek of “Following Jesus” through the Gospel of Matthew 365 days ago on December 10, 2017. But we’ve taken it kind of slow and taken a lot of breaks along the way, so that we’ve only had 33 messages so far in this series, and we’ve only made it up to the first verse of chapter 13, not quite half way. We’re picking up some steam, so I expect that sometime in 2019 we may finish the whole thing.

Chapter 13 marks a new section in the Gospel of Matthew.

Remember I said that there are 5 major blocks of teaching from Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew? We’ve gone through two of them so far.

The first and arguably greatest is the Sermon on the Mount, chapter 5, 6, and 7 which we spent a lot of time on this Spring and Summer. Jesus taught about His upside-down, inside-out Kingdom.

The second major block of Jesus’ teaching was in Matthew chapter 10, often called the “Missions Discourse” or the major teaching on missions and the mission of making disciples for King Jesus through the gospel of the kingdom.

Chapter 13 contains the third major block of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Matthew. It is also about the kingdom.

But this teaching in chapter 13 is delivered primarily through parables. We could call this whole section the “Parabolic Discourse” or Jesus’ Parables of the Kingdom. That’s chapter 13.

Jesus used parables elsewhere (we saw one just last week), but here a whole bunch of them are concentrated all in one place: Parables of the Kingdom. And particularly parables about how the kingdom is coming now.

Which is in some ways secretly. Quietly. Hiddenly. Stealthily. Undercover. Progressively.

Has the Kingdom come?

Yes and No.

Yes, it has. The King has come. “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near!”

But the Kingdom has not yet come in its fullness.

In fact, it’s still coming. It’s coming right now.

This chapter is all about how that kingdom is sneaking in, showing up, taking root, growing.

How the kingdom is arriving even as we speak.

And what we can expect as it comes.

One thing you might not have expected about the Kingdom of Heaven is that many people would reject it.

You might think that everybody would love to welcome the Kingdom of God!

But that’s not what happened, is it?

The last several weeks we’ve seen how the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and many others of the Jewish people were rejecting Jesus and rejecting the Kingdom that He claimed to bring.

It started out as fairly minor opposition and then it just grew and grew and grew.

It’s reached the boiling point now where they are looking for a way to kill Him.

And they are publicly saying that Jesus is either the Prince of Demons or at least in league with him!

So last week, Jesus called them, “This Wicked Generation.”

He claimed that they had snake-hearts, that they were a part of a snake-family, and that they were going to end up in a worse condition than they had started because they would not receive King Jesus.

They were rejecting the kingdom of heaven!

And there many people who joined them.

And there were some people who were fairly undecided.

Jesus says that you are either in or out. Either with Him or against Him. But there are plenty of people who are on the outside looking in and trying to make up their minds.

In the very last few verses of chapter 12, even His mother Mary and Jesus’ brothers were briefly on the “outside.”

I think that one of the reasons the Lord gave us Matthew chapter 13 is to explain this phenomenon. How do you process this wide scale rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven and its King?

It’s in this context–Matthew says on the very same day–that Jesus begins teaching many things in parables.

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed.”

Do you know what a parable is?

We learned about parables back in 2017 during Family Bible Week.

The adult class learned to say that parables are “stories with a shove.”

Parables are comparison narratives often told with familiar objects and aiming for application.

Stories with a shove.

Often Jesus’ parables end with a twist. An unexpected ending that catches the hearer off guard.

Things don’t turn out the way you expected, and the story ends up pointing the finger back at you.

I think this reflects the upside-down nature of Jesus’ kingdom. It’s not what you might expect.

Stories with a twist and stories with a shove.

Jesus was a master story-teller! And He loved using parables.

Another word for parable could be a “riddle.”

Parables often take some figuring out to understand, especially to understand how it relates to our lives.

There’s a puzzle-nature to many of the parables.

You have to chew on them for a while. Thinking about it until the riddle unlocks.

And then you–“Get It.”

I want to use those words (as a question) for the title of today’s message on verses 1 through 23.

Do you “Get it?”

A couple of days ago I told Heather what I thought was a very very funny joke.

And she just gave me this blank look.

I’m like, “Let me repeat the punch line!”

And she’s like “Oh, that was a joke? I don’t get it.”

And I’m like trying to explain the joke, and you know when you have to explain it, it probably wasn’t that funny in the first place?

And she’s like, “Yeah, let’s just drop it.”

Okay.

I think this passage is all about answering the question “Do you get it?” And that’s why it’s full of parables.

Jesus, teaching before a great crowd on from an aquatic amphitheater begins with a parable. It’s very familiar. You probably all know it.

What I want you to do right now is wipe your mind clean. And pretend that you’ve never heard this story before. Can you do that?

Pretend that you don’t know what anything in this story is or means. Can you do that?

Let me read it to you. Verses 3 through 9.

“Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed.’ As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”

In other words, “Do you get it?”

“He who has ears, let him hear.”

“Get it?”

Now, you’re pretending that you’ve never heard this one before.

You never went to Family Bible Week, where they had little cups of soil with rocks and weeds and good stuff in there, and they checked the plants every day to see what came up.

All you know is that Jesus just told this story.

There is a farmer who is broadcast spreading his seed, as farmers in these days did.

And the seed landed on 4 different kinds of soil.

3 kinds that performed badly.

And 1 kind that performed way beyond expectation. A bumper crop in Israel would be 1 plant produced 10 or 15 more. Making 30, 60, or 100 is phenomenal!

So do you get it?

There’s kind of a riddle or puzzle kind of feel to it, isn’t there?

We don’t know what the point is yet.

We need more help.

And even if we did understand, we may not like it.

We may not receive it.

This is a parable about parables.

And the disciples pick up on that. Verse 10.

“The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’”

What do you think the answer to that is?

I might guess to make things easy for people to understand.

They are like sermon illustrations.

Like my story about that “great joke” that Heather did get.

Everybody knows that kind of experience, and Jesus used things that everybody knew.

Well, that’s part of it.

But there’s another part that you might not expect. V.11

“He replied, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”

That’s quite a sentence!

The disciples have something that some other people do not have.

They have the “knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.”

They “get it.”

They are on the inside track.

They have entered into the mysteries and possess them.

They know the secret. The riddle is plain to them.

And specifically the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.

They “get it.”

Now, stay with me. Remember what question is answering. “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”  Verse 12.

“Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”

Now that confuses me just about every time I read it.

But the idea is actually pretty simple.

Jesus says that He uses parables because they are the perfect genre to both reveal and conceal the kingdom.

Jesus says that He uses parables because they are the perfect kind of story to both reveal and conceal the kingdom.

I don’t think it’s actually because they are so hard to understand for some people that Jesus is hiding things that some people just can’t “get.”

I think it’s because they are like that that it’s appropriate or fitting to use them because that’s what the spiritual content of Jesus’ teaching is like for people.

Some people “get it” and some people don’t “get it.”

And that’s what it’s like with Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom, too.

Some people “get it,” and other people don’t “get it.”

Now, this is what Isaiah brings into it. Jesus quotes Isaiah chapter 6 here.

And the point he’s making by quoting Isaiah 6 is that some people don’t get the kingdom because THEY DON’T WANT TO GET THE KINGDOM.

They have rejected the kingdom.

They have rejected the King.

They would never say that. But that’s what they have done.

And here is the punishment for rejecting the kingdom: you don’t get the kingdom.

You don’t get it.

So it’s really perfect to use stories where someone might say, “I don’t get it.” to illustrate that very fact.

You with me?

What were the Pharisees saying when Jesus was saying that He was the King of Rest?

What were they saying when Jesus offered rest for their souls?

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

What were they saying–“La la la la la la la la. I can’t hear you! I can’t understand you! I don’t get it!”

And Jesus said, “Okay. Let me tell you a story.”

These parables were judgments for those who were rejecting King Jesus.

And yet, they were blessings for those who were receiving Him! Look at verse 16. Don’t miss verse 16.

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

How blessed you are!

Do you realize how blessed you are?

I have three points of application this morning, and here’s number one.

#1. REJOICE IF YOU ‘GET IT.’

I mean spiritually.

Rejoice if your eyes spiritually see the kingdom.

Rejoice if your spiritual ears have heard the kingdom.

Rejoice if you know and understand the kingdom of heaven in Jesus!

How blessed you are!

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

He’s talking about the Old Testament.

He’s talking about the prophets.

He’s talking about how the Old Testament predicted the kingdom, predicted the king, predicted the Messiah, predicted the Advent of Christ.

But they never saw it.

Isaiah never saw.
Jeremiah never saw.
Hosea never saw.
Malachi never saw it.

But you guys! You have seen it.

You know that His name is Jesus.

Rejoice that you “get” the kingdom because you have gotten the King.

Remember the words of “O Little Town of Bethlehem?”

“The hopes and fears of all of the years are met in thee tonight.”

And the disciples have eyes to see and ears to hear.

They get it.

But the Pharisees looked at the same facts, the same Jesus, and they rejected it all.

They listened to the same parable, and they came up with a different interpretation.

Application point number two:

#2. REPENT IF YOU DON’T ‘GET IT.’

The Pharisees needed to get their fingers out of their ears.

They were in danger of the unforgivable sin–of completely rejecting the witness of the Spirit in the Person of Son–of completely rejecting Jesus.

They didn’t “get it,” because they didn’t want to.

And the punishment would be more not getting it.

And that is a warning to us today to repent you still can.

And that’s the application of Jesus’ parable of the sower.

In verse 18, He begins to explain it:

“‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”

Now stop there for a second.

Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable.

He doesn’t tell us who the sower is.

It could be Jesus Himself. I think that’s likely in this context.

It could be any gospel preacher. Anybody who shares the gospel of the kingdom with someone else.

It could even be applied to you and me as spreaders of the seed of the gospel.

It doesn’t say, so that’s probably not the point.

It does say what the seed is.

What is the seed?

Is it is the “message about (or the word of) the kingdom.”

That’s the seed.

Is the seed good or bad or mixed?

It’s all good.

Unlike my bad jokes, if you don’t get this seed, the problem is not with the seed.

The problem is with the soil.

And the soil is four different kinds of people.

Or two different major kinds of people:

Those who don’t “get it” (and there are at least three kinds of them).

And those who do “get it” (and they are the kinds people Jesus wants us to be).

The first kind of soil is the kind on the path. Where the birds ate it right up.

Jesus says that they “hear the message of the kingdom and ‘don’t get it’ and the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in” their hearts.

Don’t blame Satan for this one. He’s involved, but he’s not the main problem.

These folks are the folks from Isaiah 6. They don’t get it because they don’t want to get it. And that makes Satan so happy!

They are not just dumb, they are foolish in the Proverbial sense of the word.

A fool says in His heart, “There is no God.”

“There is no kingdom.”

“Jesus is not the Christ.”

“Jesus is not the Son of God.”

“I don’t believe. I don’t get it.”

If that’s you, I’m scared for you.

Jesus calls you to repent while you still can.

If you still can.

The second and third kind of person SEEMS like they get it, but then they show that they didn’t really get it. V.20

“The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root [remember the thin soil], he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

Don’t let this be you either.

I’ve seen people like this.

They say, “I like the sound of that!” when they hear the gospel.

Maybe they raise their hand or go forward at evangelistic meeting.

Maybe they begin to attend church regularly.

But then it becomes a little hard to follow Jesus, to live as a citizen in His kingdom?

And then they aren’t so sure.

When people begin to laugh at you.
When you start to get persecuted.
When your paycheck doesn’t come.
When they are trolling you on social media.
When your friends give up on you because you are getting serious about the kingdom.

Then you’re not so sure.

And before you know it, you’re no different than you were before.

This is a warning!

Jesus is asking us to check out the state of our hearts.

And make sure that we are real.

The third one is the one that we see the most in our affluent, comfortable American culture. V.22

“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Again, at first, they seem like they are disciples of the kingdom.

But then life happens.

And stuff happens.

The weeds of worry and wealth choke the message of the kingdom.

Just making ends meet.
Just getting by.
Just making a buck.
Just making a living.
Just trying to get ahead.

And money becomes the replacement for Jesus.

Remember what Jesus said about worry and money in the Sermon on the Mount?

Go back this afternoon and read chapter 6.

Worry and greed can keep you out of kingdom of heaven.

Because in time you show that you don’t “get it.”

You can only have one master.

How do you know if you “get it?” How can you show it and prove it? V.23

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’”

#3. BEAR FRUIT TO SHOW YOU ‘GET IT.’

I almost made it “replicate.”

Rejoice, repent, replicate!

Because Jesus says that those who “get it” bear fruit and produce an abundant crop. A hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.

If you “get it,” it will show in your life.

You can’t make it happen on your own.

And you can’t earn it!

But if you get it, it changes you.

From the inside out.

What does this fruit look like?

It looks like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

It looks like living out what we learned in the Sermon on the Mount. Upside-down and inside-out. The good life. The flourishing life of a disciple.

It looks like going on mission for Jesus. Taking the gospel of the kingdom to those who need it most.

It looks like resting and trusting in the King of Rest.

It looks like you “get it.”

Because your life has changed.

I’m excited that at our meeting today, we not only get to affirm a new set of officers and an operating budget for 2019. But we also get to affirm three new members whose lives have been changed by following Jesus.

They “get it,” and it shows.

And we all get to rejoice.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

Sunday, December 02, 2018

First Sunday of Advent 2018 - What Child Is This?

LEFC Family Advent Readings: “What Child Is This?”
Matthew 1:18-25 :: December 2, 2018
Week #1: Immanuel

“Advent” means “coming.” Christmas is coming. Jesus has come and is coming again.

During this year’s Advent season, we will be answering the title question from the beloved Christmas carol “What Child Is This?” from the Gospel of Matthew.

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

The Bible says that this little child on Mary’s lap was “Immanuel.”

[LIGHT FIRST CANDLE]

Matthew tells the story in the first chapter of his gospel of how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: “His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” Joseph considered divorcing her quietly, but an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him to marry her instead and that she would give birth to Jesus.

And then Matthew tells us why all of this happened. It was a fulfilment of Isaiah 7:14, predicted by the prophet over 700 years before this moment.

[READ MATTHEW 1:22-25]

The name “Immanuel” literally means “God with us.” And that is literally what Jesus is. He is God the Son come in the flesh to be with us as one of us. This is the mystery of the incarnation, and it is the greatest news in all of the world.

God has not left us alone. He has not abandoned us even though we have sinned against Him. The Lord promised that a virgin would give birth, and she did! The Lord promised that He would be with us, and He is!

Haste, haste to bring Him laud and praise. Immanuel, the Son of Mary!

[Matt's Messages] "This Wicked Generation"

“This Wicked Generation”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
December 2, 2018 :: Matthew 12:38-50 

For all of Matthew chapter 12, Jesus has been in a conflict with the Pharisees.

First, He healed someone on the Sabbath, which they thought was criminal.

But Jesus said that He could heal on the Sabbath because He is greater than the Sabbath.  He is Lord of the Sabbath. He is the King of Rest.

And then He went and healed someone who was blind and mute and demon-possessed.

And the Pharisees said that He could only do that because He was in league with Satan. “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Which is just about the most evil thing you could say.

Jesus basically said that it was unforgivably evil to say, if that was their true position to take.

And then Jesus said that it’s no wonder they said something so evil because their hearts were so evil. Because they had snake-hearts. And it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks.

And that everyone will have to give an account for every careless word they have spoken.

And that brings us right up to verse 38.

What do think the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are going to say next?

What do you think Matthew will report to us that came out of the overflow of their hearts next?

“We’re sorry?”
“Sorry for doubting you?”
“Sorry for rejecting you?”
“Please forgive us?”

No, I’m afraid it was not repentance at all.

Instead, it was a demand for further evidence.

And by the way, you and I don’t demand anything from Jesus.

It doesn’t work that way!

When Jesus answers their demand, he calls them a “a wicked and adulterous generation” and later on He repeats and calls them “This Wicked Generation.”

So that’s what I want to make the title of today’s message.

“This Wicked Generation”

Jesus uses some pretty strong words here.

He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t mince words. He tells it like it is.

He tells the truth.

He tells them what they need to hear.

And what we need to hear, as well.

This morning, I have picked out 3 key words to center our focus on this passage.

And the first word is the main thing that this wicked generation was UNWILLING to do.

#1. REPENT.

The very thing that John the Baptist was preaching. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And the very thing that Jesus was preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And the very thing that Jesus’ disciples were to preach, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. The King of Heaven Himself is near!”

But this wicked generation would have none of it.

Instead, they asked for more proof.

Let’s read Matthew chapter 12, verse 38.

“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’”

Now if that was all that we had ever heard about these folks, it might be okay.

In general, it’s not a sin to ask God for a sign.

It is a sin to demand a sign from God!

And that’s basically what they were doing.

“Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”

“Get up here and dance!

We want to see some pyrotechnics. Turn on the magic show!”

This is not a request. This is a rejection.

I mean, what more do they need?

What has this chapter been so far? He just did some miracles! Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus healed a demon-possessed mute and blind man.

Remember all of the miracles of authority in chapters 8 and 9 and 10 and 11?

Remember what Jesus told John the Baptist’s disciples, “See what I’m doing?!” “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!” (11:4-6).

And the Pharisee and the teachers of the Law are like, “Is that all you got?”

“We want some more proof. We want some more highly symbolic miracles to prove that you are who you say you are.”

“We want a spectacle. We want fireworks. And we want incontrovertible proof that you are the Messiah.”

Jesus knows that this is not a request. This is a rejection.

Nothing will convince these guys because they don’t want to be convinced.

And that’s a problem!

So here’s how Jesus responds. Verse 39.

“He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

Now when Jesus says that this generation is “adulterous,” I don’t think he means that these people were especially given to extramarital affairs.

He’s talking about spiritual adultery, right?

Being unfaithful, not to your spouse, but to your Lord.

That’s a theme that runs through the whole Old Testament, doesn’t it?

Spiritual adultery.

Hosea and Jeremiah and Ezekiel especially talk about that concept.

The Lord should be our first love above all others.

But idolatry is being unfaithful to Him and putting something else in His place.

And Jesus says that this generation, this cohort of contemporaries, is wicked and spiritually adulterous. And you can know it by their demanding of a sign.

A miraculous sign. A heaven-sent proof.

After everything that they have been given–and on top of it all–they want a sign.

SMH. “Shaking My Head.”

That’s what Jesus is doing right here, right now.

And He says, “The answer is no.”

v.39 again “But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

“This is the only miracle that I will do on demand.

I will be like Jonah.”

Remember Jonah from the Old Testament?

He was a very reluctant prophet. Didn’t want to preach repentance to the Ninevites  because he knew that the Lord was gracious, and he didn’t want his enemies to be forgiven.

But the Lord did want Jonah to preach repentance to the Ninevites, and He sent a giant fish to make sure he got there!

Everybody thought that Jonah was dead! He got tossed overboard, into the sea! Nobody lives from that!

But Jonah chapter 1, verse 17 says, “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”

And then it spit him up onto dry ground. And he went and preached to Nineveh.

I wonder what he looked like! After being in fishguts for 3 days.

I wonder what the Ninevites thought when they saw him and heard him?

Whatever they thought, they repented. V.41

“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”

There He goes again.

Who does He think He is?

Earlier this chapter, He said that He was greater than King David. That He was greater than the priesthood. That He was greater than the temple. And that He was even greater than the Fourth Commandment.

Now, He adds to the list. He is also greater than the Prophet Jonah.

Jonah didn’t really die. He just got swallowed up by a fish.

Jesus is going to really die and on the third day rise again!

And He’s on a roll. So He goes one more. V.42

“The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

Do you remember the “Queen of the South?” The Queen of Sheba?

We learned about her back in the Books of Kings. 1 Kings chapter 10.

She was probably from modern day Yemen at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

She had heard about the splendor and wisdom of Solomon so she came up to check him out, and the Bible says that she was breathless. {gasp}

She couldn’t believe what she saw.

And Jesus says, “And now one greater than Solomon is here.”

And He’s talking about Himself. Everybody knew that.

What a rebuke this is.

Do you get the rebuke here?

The principle is that the more you know about Jesus the more accountable you are.

The more you know about the Lord the more you are accountable for what you know.

Where the men of Nineveh Jewish?

Far from it?

Was the Queen of the South Jewish?

Was she a Pharisee? Was she a teacher of the Law?

How much more should the Pharisees be able to recognize their messiah than the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba?

But did they?

No. They asked for “another sign, please.”

“We might follow you if you do another good trick.”

The more you know about Jesus, the more important it is to act on it.

To repent.

And these people had Jesus right there in front of them.

Jesus says that the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South will give testimony against this wicked generation at the judgment.

Because they knew less about the Lord and they still repented.

What do you know about the Lord?

You are accountable for what you know.

You need to act on it.

You need to repent.

Repent of any and all spiritual adultery.

Repent of any and all wickedness.

And that includes, especially, the wickedness of religiosity!

Remember! When Jesus calls these people wicked. It’s not because they were selling drugs or molesting children or trafficking women.

They were the most religious people in the land.

They had their lives “straight.”

But they were rejecting Jesus.

And they were putting all kinds of things in His place.

Of what do you need to repent today?

Where are you working at repentance?

What areas of your life are in danger of taking the place of the Lord and need to be ruthlessly rooted out?

Have you repented in the first place and trusted Jesus as your Savior?

Because that’s the first and most important place to turn around.

To repent and (number two):

#2. RECEIVE.

To receive Jesus.

In verses 43-45, Jesus tells a parable.

It’s a really strange one. At first, it seems like He’s teaching us how things work in the demonic world. And secondarily, He might be.

But His main reason for telling this story is the punch line about this wicked generation in verse 45.

So you have to understand that to understand the parable. V.43

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

So this chapter has been all about exorcism and who is the prince of demons and who is Jesus. So Jesus uses an exorcism as an illustration.

He says that suppose somebody does an exorcism and the evil spirit has wander in the desert in the while and can’t find a place to rest, and then comes back to the original host person and finds that the person is still EMPTY.

He hasn’t filled up the house of his heart with a new occupant.

So the spirit calls his seven bad buddies and they turn the place into a demonic frat house.

“The final condition of that man is worse than the first [condition was].”

What is the point of this story?

Look at the punchline again.

“And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

It’s a parable.

He’s saying that King Jesus has come and is cleaning house.

The demons are getting booted left, right, and center.

The strong man stands no chance against Jesus the home invader.

But!

But this wicked generation isn’t inviting Jesus in.

Jesus is cleaning house around here, but this wicked generation is rejecting Him.

And the final condition of those who reject Him is worse than the first.

I almost titled this message after the line in “Joy to the World:”

“Let every heart prepare Him room.”

But it’s more than just prepare the room.

It’s receive Jesus right on in to the room.

So that the Holy Spirit Himself takes up residency in your heart.

Receive Him.

That’s the opposite of what this wicked generation was doing.

And they were going to pay for it.

First in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and then in the eternal judgment.

Because if you reject Jesus, there is no hope for you.

Instead, receive Him!

“...to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

How do you know that you have truly received Him?

Number Three. You:

#3. FOLLOW.

Matthew tells one more story before the chapter ends. It’s a little surprising, too. Look at verse 46.

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. [They were outsiders that day.] Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ [At this point, they apparently had some doubts about Jesus and his actions.] He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Now, Jesus doesn’t really disown his biological family.

Notice that He has brothers. I think that answers the question of whether or not Mary stayed a virgin all of her life.

But Jesus doesn’t really disown Mary or his brothers. We know that He loved her and arranged for someone to take care of her when He was going away.

But Jesus is making a profound point that spirit is thicker blood.

Jesus’ real family are those who are His disciples.

And, praise the Lord, it looks like some, maybe all, of his biological family was also part of His spiritual family. Mary, of course. And James, too, right?

But what Jesus is saying is that you know you belong to His family if you follow the will of His Father.

If you are His disciple.

If you do what He has set out for you to do.

If you accept His invitation.

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 [same root word for disciple], 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” (Matthew 11:28-30).

That’s how you join Jesus’ real family.

“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister [notice that ladies?] and mother.”

Is that you?

Are you following?

Are you doing the will of Jesus’ Father in heaven?

Do you know what He wants from you and are you carrying it out?

This wicked generation would not follow.

They would not repent even though the Messiah was standing right in front of them.

This wicked generation would not receive Jesus as their Messiah.

And they were in big trouble.

And there were probably many who thought they were on the fence about Jesus.

Maybe at this point Mary and Jesus’ brothers were undecided.

But we know that there really is no fence.

You are either in or out.
With Jesus or against Him.
Following Jesus or resisting Him.

Which are you?

Don’t be like this wicked generation that Jesus confronted.

Learn from their mistakes.

Repent. Receive. And Follow.

***



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
31. So Thankful!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

[Matt's Message] "Overflow"

“Overflow”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
November 25, 2018 :: Matthew 12:33-37 

Let me give you a quick reminder of what has happened in Matthew chapter 12 so far:

Jesus has done two major healings and has claimed to be the King of Rest, the Lord of the Sabbath. And His enemies, the Pharisees, have been angry that He did these two healings and have counter-claimed that Jesus is, in fact, the King of the Demons or at least in league with Beelzebub, the prince of demons.

As they say, “That escalated quickly.”

You can see that there is no middle ground between these two positions.

Jesus has all but said that He is the Son of God because He has claimed that He is Lord over the Fourth Commandment from God!

But the Pharisees have said that Jesus is actually Lord of the Flies. Lord of the heap or at least working for him.

There is no middle ground, no compromise, between these two extreme positions.

And Jesus has used this moment of tension to invite people to trust and follow Him.

Jesus has invited us to come to Him in our weariness and under our burdens, and He will give us rest. He has invited us to take His yoke of discipleship on ourselves and walk with Him, learning from Him, and He will give us rest for our souls. Because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. He is gentle and humble in heart. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick He will not snuff out.

Jesus is not in league with Satan.

His kingdom is diametrically opposed to Satan’s kingdom!

And Jesus is so much stronger than Satan. Satan may be a “strong man,” but Jesus can tie up the strong man and take anything from his house that He wants.

So you and I need to choose to follow Him and take His side. Because whoever is not with Jesus is against Him, and whoever does not gather with Jesus scatters.

We didn’t get to finish this section last time. There are only 5 verses left where Jesus finishes His response to the Pharisees, verses 33 through 37.

I decided to leave this last paragraph to this week because we were running out time, and because these 5 verses are really powerful and really practical for our lives today.

They should be familiar to you. They are really familiar to me as I studied them and studied them and then wrote about them in my doctoral project and then my book and then have preached about them from out of my book for the last 8 years.

They key word in the 1984 NIV is “Overflow,” and I’m going to make that the title of today’s message. The 2011 NIV has “full of.” The English Standard Version and King James Version have the word “abundance.”

The Greek word is perisseumatos.

“Overflow.”

Jesus starts by talking about trees.

He just got done talking about the unforgivable sin of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what is clearly the work of God and rejecting Jesus forever.

And then the very next verse, Jesus is talking about trees.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”

Is Jesus talking about horticulture?

No. He’s talking about people.

Why would the Pharisees say what they said about Jesus in verse 24?

“It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

How could they say that?

Where did that come from?

Well, Jesus says, “People are like trees.”

If a tree is good, and by that He probably means healthy, then its fruit will be good.

If the root system and the trunk and the heart of the tree is healthy, then it will produce healthy fruit.

Or if you make a tree bad (or unhealthy), guess how the fruit is going to be? Rotten.

And you can always recognize what kind of tree (healthy or unhealthy or even what species of tree: apple, orange, fig, whatever) it is by its fruit.

So Jesus says, it’s no wonder that these men said what they said in verse 24.

Jesus says (v.34), “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Jesus goes from calling them “trees,” to calling them “snakes.”

“You family of snakes.”

“That’s who you are.”

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?”

“It’s no surprise that you are saying the evil words of verse 24, because you have evil hearts.”

“You have snake hearts. That is clear from your snake words.”

And then He says, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

A few years ago when I was preaching this text, I poured out a water bottle onto the stage, and I said, “Why is there water on the stage?”

And you looked at me like, “Uh. Our pastor has lost it.”

And then I said, “Why isn’t there Kool-Aid or Pepsi or Orange Juice on the stage?”

And the answer was “Because Cindy would hurt you!”

The answer was, “Because there was water in the bottle.”

What comes out of the bottle was what was in the bottle.

Jesus says that what comes out of the heart was what “the heart was full of.”

“The abundance of the heart.”

“The overflow of the heart.”

So here is application point number one (of just two) this morning:

#1. GET REAL ABOUT YOUR HEART.

The reason why Jesus uses such strong language is to wake these Pharisees up to reality.

They are a brood of vipers.

They are bad trees.

They are saying these bad things about Jesus because their hearts are bad.

And they need to wake up to their condition and tend to their sinful hearts.

In other words, they need to repent.

And if they are too far gone to repent, then the people around them and the people listening (like us!) need to take note and not go down that road themselves.

Your words reveal your heart.

I’m sure that these men thought they had good hearts.

But they were self-deceived.

Jesus is calling them to get real about their hearts.

What is the “heart?”

The heart is the real you.

The inner you.

The you on the inside.

The heart is control center of the human being.

It’s the part of you that worships, that wants, that desires, that prioritizes, that is loyal to something or someone.

We tend to use the word “heart” just for the emotions.

But it’s a lot more than the emotions. It’s bigger than just your feelings.

Your heart is the worship core of you that directs your being.

The Proverbs say that the heart is the wellspring of your life.

The Lord Jesus has already taught us how important our hearts are in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember, His kingdom is not just upside down. It’s what? Inside-out.

From the heart out.

And that includes our words.

Our words come from our hearts.

Joe Stowell likes to say, “All talk is heart talk.”

Jesus was calling these men to change at their very root.

It wouldn’t be enough to just stop saying these things about Jesus and Beelzebub, they would need to change at the very root of their beings.

They would need a new heart!

How about your heart?

Do you have a new heart?

The good news is that Jesus is in the business of giving out new hearts to those who repent and trust in Him.

Have you done that?

I hope so.

If not, I invite you to do that right now.

Turn from your sin and turn to the Savior.

Because we don’t just naturally have good hearts.

No, naturally, our hearts and deceptive and wicked.

But Jesus died on the Cross to forgive us our sins and to give us a new heart.

Don’t lie to yourself and say, “No. I’m good. I don’t need that. I’m a good person. I’ve got a good heart.”

That’s what these Pharisees believed about themselves.

Get real about your heart.

Do you need a new one?

But we who are already followers of Jesus know that even though we have been given a new and good heart that we still need to tend to our hearts.

They still need renewing.

We still need repentance and growth in faith.

We need to stay real about our hearts.

If things are coming out of our mouths that should not come out of our mouths, then we can know that there is “heart work” that still needs to be done. V.35

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

That’s how it works.

And if you’re finding that there is still evil things come dredging up out of you (and I’m sure you do), then there are still things in your heart that need repenting of and turning from.

We can’t just fix things on the word-level.

We have to have them fixed on the heart-level.

And that requires getting real about our hearts.

What are you worshiping?
What are you wanting?
What is your heart desiring above other things?

What has your heart?

Because what controls your heart will control your life and come out in your words.

I’ve been fighting with anxiousness the last month or so.

And it’s come out in my words.

It’s come out in anxious words.

Self-protective words.

Defensive words.
Manipulative words.
Exasperated words.

Those words would not have been my words if my heart had been in the right place.

I’m thankful that my words were not, “Jesus is the devil.”

But some of my words may have communicated, “Jesus is not enough for me.”

“I’ve got to have this, this, and this to be happy and content and peaceful.”

And I apologize to those of you who have been affected by my words.

Because you’re getting a taste of what’s in my heart.

How about you?

If you got real about your heart, what would you need to change?

Of what would you need to repent?

What do you need to turn from?

What promise of Christ’s do you need your heart to claim?

Because this is serious stuff. Verse 36.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Now, let’s be clear.

Jesus is NOT saying that you can save yourself on the day of judgment by having good words.

Jesus is saying that on the day of judgment (which is coming!), the words you have said will be evidence of what was in your heart.

If you have trusted in Jesus, there will be plenty of words that show it.

And if you have not trusted in Jesus, there will plenty of words that show that, too.

“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Because they will reveal the reality of your heart.

Did that happen for the thief on the Cross?

Yes, it did.

Sometimes we think that the thief on the Cross didn’t have time to change.

But his words changed, didn’t they?

He went from hurling insults at our Lord to defending Him and asking Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.

His heart changed, and so did his words.

Now, notice this.

Notice how deep this accountability goes.

Jesus doesn’t just bang on those who speak maliciously about His identity.

He goes after every “idle” word. V.36 again.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every [malicious, hateful] word they have spoken.”

Is that what it says?

No it says, “every careless word they have spoken.”

Not just the big ones.

But all of the little ones.

Any of our words that don’t come out of a good heart.

Application point number two (and last):

#2. GET CAREFUL ABOUT YOUR MOUTH.

You can’t do that without getting real about you heart!

But it comes out in what you say.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

So, that’s talking about gossip.

But also about slander.

And also about sinful exaggeration.

And flat out lies.

And meddling in other people’s business.

And telling dirty jokes.

And passing on falsehoods.

And ridiculing people.

And “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” (Eph 5:4).

Every careless word.

Our Lord says that we will have to give account for every careless word.

Not just every malicious word that we intentionally threw out there.

But every one that we weren’t even really thinking about, but out it popped from our sinful hearts.

We will have to give an account.

Think about every conversation you had at Thanksgiving this year.

Are you happy with everything you said about anything you said at Thanksgiving this year?

When you sit down with your Lord someday for this accountability review, is there anything that you said that you will be embarrassed that will be brought up?

I’m guessing, “yes.”

If your answer is no, I’d say both “Good for you. Your heart is better than mine.” And also “Get real about your heart. Because it’s deceptively wicked.”

Now multiply that by every single conversation you’ve ever had.

And that’s what you will need to be accountable for on judgment day.

If you belong to Jesus, then all of your sinful talk will be forgiven. And it has been.

But you will, apparently, still need to go over it with Him.

“What were you thinking here, my child?”
“What should you have said then, my daughter?”
“What were you worshiping at that point, my son?”
“What were you trying to accomplish?”

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

And that counts for every word you have tweeted and posted and texted, as well.

Once a week, I go back over all the emails that I have sent in the previous week and remind myself of what I’ve been saying and working on.

And I also go back over my social media accounts once a week to see what I have liked and shared and posted and said.

Someday, I’ll have to do that with my Lord.

Every “like” and “share” and “status update.”

Every DM on Twitter and every PM on Messenger.

Everything said under my breath in the checkout line or in the intersection.

Everything I only said to my bestfriend and my wife.

There will be an accountability review.

So now’s the time to get careful about your mouth.

Again, you can’t do that by just focusing your mouth.

You’ve got to go to the heart level.

If you are ripping people up one side and down the other, you can’t just stop that by sheer force of will.

You’ve got to repent and trust in the promises of God for there to be real and lasting change.

But you can’t let your mouth just run on where it wants to go.

Because someday soon you’re going to have to talk to the Lord about all of your choices, and not just the big ones.

It turns out the small ones are big ones, too.

Where do you need to start?

I recommend starting with prayer that the Lord would reveal to you the sinful words that you most recently have uttered, that came spilling out of the overflow of your heart.

And then take those words to the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness.

And if they were uttered to someone else in a way that hurt them, then go to that person and ask for their forgiveness, too.

Better to talk it out now than for it to be a big surprise on judgment day.

Where do you need to start?


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.


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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