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Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Drop Everything" [Matt's Messages]

“Drop Everything”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
June 16, 2019 :: Matthew 19:13-30

Our series on the Gospel of Matthew is called “Following Jesus” because Matthew is a theological biography of the most compelling Person Who ever lived.

When you learn Who Jesus truly is and put your trust in Him, you are compelled to follow Him.

The Gospel of Matthew is an introduction to the identity of Jesus is and an invitation to discipleship.

Last week, we learned that Jesus is the Lord of Marriage.

We think that marriage is just about two people who fall in love and commit to each other. But marriage is much bigger than that, and Jesus is in charge of it.

He is the Lord of Marriage.

He is also the Lord of Singleness.

The Lord of Marriage Himself was single. Celibate and single.

The last paragraph we looked at last week said that some people (for some time and some for a lifetime) are called to forsake marriage “for the kingdom of heaven.”

And Jesus is the King of that Kingdom.

So Jesus is the Lord of Singleness.

He is over marriage, and He is worth more than marriage.

In today’s passage, we are asked to give up even more than marriage.

Here’s our title for today, “Drop Everything.”

We tend to use that phrase when something really important has come up and needs to move up to first priority.

You can just see the text message on your phone, right?

“Drop everything and get over here.”

We could summarize the application of this entire passage with the imperative, “Drop everything and follow Jesus.”

Jesus is headed towards Jerusalem.

And we know what’s going to happen Him when He gets there.

And He’s encountering various people along the way.

And when He encounters them, He has significant interactions with them. And then with His disciples about those interactions.

Last week, it was some Pharisees who tried to trap Him. And the disciples were flabbergasted at what He had told the Pharisees.

Today, the first encounter almost didn’t happen because the disciples tried to keep it from happening. But Jesus made sure it did happen. vv.13-15

“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’  When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”

Does this stuff sound familiar?

It sounds to me a lot like chapter 18.

Some kids like him wanted to be near Jesus.

Their parents wanted them to be touched by Jesus and prayed for by Jesus.

But the disciples didn’t want to be bothered. They didn’t want to be interrupted.

They didn’t want to have to deal with “the insignificant.”

Jesus was too important to spend time with little kids!

So they rebuked the parents; they scolded them; they tried to turn these kids away.

“Go. Go. Shoo, shoo.”

But Jesus rebuked the rebukers!

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Now, again, Jesus is first off talking about the little children.

He wants them. He wants to bless them. He puts His hands on them and prays for them.

Kids, it’s not just a song that “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

He loves you.

And, adults, we need to love kids, too.

We need to protect them and care for them and teach them and bring them to Jesus so to speak.

They are not insignificant. They are precious in His sight.

So what are you doing to value little children?

Isaac is going up to the Ranch to work with little kids.

Our children’s ministry team is serving back there in Children’s Church and Nursery, and they’re having a meeting on the 30th and they need to some more workers.

And Family Bible Week is coming up, and there are still ministry positions to fill.

We need to love the little children for Jesus sake.

But also notice what Jesus says at the very end of verse 14.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I don’t think He means the kingdom belongs exclusively to children.

I think He means like He did back in chapter 18 that the kingdom belongs to those who are LIKE children.

Children are dependent. Children are needy, and they know they are needy.

Children are humble.

Little children are a picture of humility and dependence.

So let me say it this way:

#1. HUMBLE YOURSELF.

The first thing that Jesus is asking us to drop today is our pride.

Jesus is saying that we need to humble ourselves.

To become like little children.

One of the reasons why there are little children running around our lives is so that we are constantly reminded of what we need to be like before God.

We are needy kids.

Again, we’re not supposed to be child-ish, but we are supposed to be child-like.

In what ways are you humbling yourself these days?

If you are not humbling yourself, then you should worry that the kingdom of heaven does not belong to you.

The next person Jesus encountered was worried about that very thing. And he had reason to be. He was worried that he would not see the kingdom of heaven.

But he was worried about this because he wasn’t sure if he had done enough good deeds.

He was a rich young man (and Luke tells us that he was a ruler, perhaps a Pharisee himself). V.16

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’”

Now, is that a good question or a bad one?

What do you think?

Well, he’s not trying to trick Jesus, I think.

So it’s not a bad question like the Pharisees had last week.

This isn’t a trap. He seems genuinely concerned with knowing the answer.

But’s a flawed question anyway, isn’t it?

“What good thing must I do to get eternal life?’”

He’s assuming a lot there, isn’t he?

He’s assuming that you can get eternal life by doing good stuff.

By the way, this is the first time that the phrase “eternal life” is in the Gospel of Matthew. It won’t be the last, but it is the first.

Matthew prefers to talk about the Kingdom of Heaven.

But entering the Kingdom and enjoying eternal life are pretty much the same thing.

This young man says, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?’”

And Jesus answers his question with a question of His own. V.17

“‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.’”

Interesting answer, isn’t it?

I think it’s interesting that He doesn’t just say, “Oh no, my friend, you can’t earn eternal life by your good works. That’s not how it works. You simply ask me into your heart, and I will save you.” That’s not what He says.

First, He takes issue with the word “good.”

“‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good.”

I think He’s getting across the idea that there isn’t enough good in this guy to earn eternal life. There’s only one person Who has the requisite goodness, and that’s God.

And His standard is pretty hard to meet.

But let’s go with that for second. “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

That’s definitely one way to get there. If you do it perfectly.

“How’re you doing at those?” v.18

“‘Which ones?’ the man inquired. Jesus replied, ‘'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'’”

Now, let’s just do a little Bible study together. Turn over to Exodus chapter 20, and we’ll see which of the commandments Jesus has named. Pew Bible page #73 and #74.

Which commandments did Jesus name?

Which one is murder? It’s number 6.

“Do not commit adultery.” That’s number 7.

“Do not steal.” That’s number 8.

“Do not give false testimony.” That’s number 9.

“Honor your father and mother.” (Very appropriate for Father’s Day). That’s number 5. He goes back to number 5.

And then “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s not one of the 10.

That’s Leviticus 19:18, and Jesus says that it’s the second part of the greatest commandment.

So which of the Big Ten has Jesus not named?

#1, #2, #3, #4, and #10.

No other gods.
No idols.
Don’t misuse God’s name.
Remember the Sabbath Day.

And what’s number 10?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s stuff.”

No greed.

Hmmm. I wonder if Jesus left these ones out on purpose?

Do you think He’s backing this guy into a corner?

I don’t think this young man sees it coming. V.20

“‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’”

What do you think?

Do you think he’s kept those?

I’m sure he has to his own satisfaction.

Maybe even to his own community’s satisfaction.

Externally, he’s not murdered anybody, not cheated on his wife, not stolen money from his neighbor, not lied in court, and not dishonored his parents.

Good for him.

But he still feels like something is missing, doesn’t he?

“What do I still lack?”

“Have I done enough?”

“I feel like I’m not there yet.”

Well, we know that he hasn’t done it. Not perfectly. Not enough.

We know what Jesus taught in the Sermon the Mount about those very commandments, how they go right down to the heart.

He doesn’t just want external obedience. He wants internal obedience.

His kingdom is inside-out.

And that’s probably what this young man was feeling.

There’s a reason why he feels like he hasn’t done enough.

It’s because he hasn’t done enough.

And he can’t do enough!

The Law can’t save him.

The Law can only show him how far off he is.

Now, Jesus is going to show him how far off he is.  V.21

“What do I still lack?”

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”

In other words, “Drop everything and follow me.”

This is the same teaching He was doing in the Sermon on the Mount.

You see that word “perfect” in verse 21? That’s the word for “whole” or “complete” or we said “from the inside-out.”

The same on inside as on the outside.

If you want to be whole and complete, then sell everything you have and give it away to the poor, and you will have “treasure in heaven.”

Remember that from the Sermon on the Mount?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

He’s just telling this guy what He said to everybody in the Sermon the Mount.

Except he’s a little more drastic.

He tells this guy to sell it all and give it all away.

Why?

He doesn’t tell everybody to do that.

He encounters other rich people and doesn’t tell them to do the exact same thing.

Why does He tell this guy?

Because of the 10th commandment, right?

Because of the 1st and 2nd commandments, right?

“You shall not covet.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol.”

This guy worshiped money, and Jesus knew it.

Wealth had become an idol for him. A false god.

And Jesus said that to follow Him, this man needed to forsake his false god.

#2. FORSAKE YOUR FALSE GODS.

The young man asked if he had done enough, but Jesus said, “That’s not the question.”

The question is, “Am I enough for you?”

“You’ve got too much! And it threatens what should be my proper place in your heart.”

And here’s how we know that Jesus put his finger on it. V.22

“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

And, obviously, his great wealth had him.

This young man refused to follow Jesus because he loved his money too much.

He couldn’t conceive of giving it all up to follow Jesus.

Now, Jesus does not ask all of His followers to give up all of their finances.

But!

Don’t get too comfortable!

Jesus may ask it of you or me at any time.

And if we aren’t willing to comply with that request, then it might show us how our wealth has become our god.

So here’s the question:

Is Jesus your greatest treasure?

I’m sure that this guy had given money before.

He had given alms. He had made the proper offerings.

But Jesus asked him to give up everything to show that Jesus was worth everything to him.

Is Jesus your greatest treasure?

If not, what is?

It might not be money.

“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils.”

But there are lots of other things out there that could become a false god for us.

An idol is anything that takes the rightful place of God in your heart and life.

What threatens to do that for you?

Topple it. Topple that idol. Forsake it and turn from it.

Jesus is saying, “Drop everything and follow me.”

Do you see that “follow me” in verse 21.

That’s the point of this whole Gospel.

Learn Who Jesus is and then follow Him accordingly.

Who is Jesus? He’s the greatest treasure ever.

Drop everything and follow Him.

Now, that’s going to look different for different people.

But it probably means for all of us living on less and being sacrificial with our giving, especially to the poor (notice the poor there in verse 21, we often miss Jesus’ concern  for the poor).

We need to make sure that we don’t love money more than we love Jesus, and one of the ways to do that is to give till it hurts so that we are sacrificing for Jesus.

Because wealth can easily become a trap.

And friends, we are fabulously wealthy compared to most of the rest of the world and the rest of history.

You and I may not think of ourselves as rich, but by world standards, we most definitely are.

And here’s what Jesus says. V.23 The guy has left, and He turns to His disciples.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”

Now, some people have tried to argue this away, but Jesus means exactly what He says.

Here is a needle. I asked Heather if I could borrow one of her needles.

She put this yarn on it, so that I couldn’t lose it, and so that I didn’t hurt myself, I think.

Can you see the eye of this needle?

Can you see through it?

Okay, I have also asked Heather if I could borrow one of her camels.

Bring the camel in now.

[I’m just kidding. She doesn’t have one...yet.]

The biggest animal that the Jews were around and the smallest opening that the Jews knew.

Can you fit one of those through here?

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” v.25

“When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’”

“I mean, I thought that rich people were blessed by God.

Aren’t rich people the most likely candidates for the kingdom?

They have money to give.
They have time to study the Bible.
They obviously have God’s blessing.

If they can’t be saved, then then who can?!”

“Jesus looked at them [I love that!] and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

#3. TRUST GOD TO SAVE YOU.

You can’t do this.

You can’t do some good thing and get eternal life.

You can’t clean up your act enough.

You can’t pay for your own sins.

You can’t cleanse your heart so that you are acceptable.

And you certainly can’t buy your way in.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

And we know how He made it possible.

We know what happens in Jerusalem.

We know what happens at Golgotha.

We know what happens at the Place of the Skull.

The Cross happens.

Jesus is crucified.

And in His death, He purchases our salvation.

With us mere humans it is impossible, but with God and His Son Jesus all things are possible.

Have you come to trust in God for your salvation?

Not in your own works, your own goodness, your own righteousness.

But in God alone.

In Jesus alone and what He did for you on that Cross.

You see, if the rich become like a little child and simply trust in Jesus, then they can be saved.

It takes a miracle, but that’s the business that God is in.

One more paragraph and then we’re done.

Peter has to respond to this, and he does it in his own inimitable way. V.27

“Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’”

He’s been listening to all this and wondering if he understands how it all works.

Peter knows that, unlike the rich young man who just went away NOT a disciple, he and the other disciples have left things to follow Jesus.

So what does that mean?

Now, Jesus is really gentle with Peter.

He could say, “Peter, have you really given up everything?”

Because we’re going to see that Peter has a lot more still to give up.

But he is following. He hasn’t turned away.

And Jesus says, “Oh yes, you’ll get everything.” v.28

“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake [don’t miss that!] will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Next time, he’s going to illustrate that last sentence with a parable.

But it basically means here that the little children get the kingdom and the rich young men don’t get the kingdom.

If you are first, you must lay that aside and humble yourself and become last.

But those that are last, will be moved to the front of the line.

And boy will it be worth it!

#4. LEAVE EVERYTHING FOR JESUS.

Leave everything for Jesus, and you will receive everything with Jesus.

That’s what the rich young man was missing.

He was not believing in the great reward.

Following Jesus comes with great reward.

You can’t give up enough!

Because Jesus will return everything a hundredfold! V.28 again.

“I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things [when the whole world gets resurrected and born again], when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

I wish I had time to talk about that in light of our conference this week.

There are various views of how exactly this will be fulfilled. And the EFCA is making a decision this Wednesday about which views are acceptable to hold and which ones are outside of our boundaries. I think there’s room for a few more variances than we have now.

But we all believe that Jesus is coming back in glory and going to sit on His glorious throne.

And then Peter and the others who have given up so much will rule and reign and judge with Him.

And so will we!  V.29

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake [for Jesus’ sake] will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit [not “earn;” it’s a gift, it’s inherited as gift] eternal life.”

That’s how you get eternal life.

That’s how you enter the kingdom.

Like a little child, dropping everything to be picked up by your Father.


***

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!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage

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