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!