Preached @ Anchor Community Church on February 1st 2015
Last week we saw that John doubted Jesus, mainly because Jesus wasn’t judging the nations and the fact that Jesus was interacting with sinners, and not acting as he had expected the Messiah to act. After all OT verses such as Isaiah 8:13-14 seem to indicate that reality; But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. We have many expectations of Jesus and God that when they are not met, they begin a trail of doubt in our minds. In a sense, we put God on trial, because He doesn’t meet our expectations for how we feel God ought to act. We put God in a box, the box of our own, finite reason.
Jesus offends us for many reasons. Mostly we expect one thing, and get the other. This is why Jesus says, blessed is the one who is not offended by me (Matthew 11:6). The fact is Jesus is offensive, and He will always be a stumbling block for many people. 1 Corinthians 1:23, iterates this very point; …but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles
Jesus is offensive, because His message is counter-cultural. The things He says are offensive to our own reason. And certainly any idea of judgment in our current cultural climate is highly offensive. People like Jesus’ teachings in regard to loving one another’s enemies, but they hate the idea of Jesus being the “Only way,” or of Jesus having the audacity to pronounce judgment on anyone. After all, the Jesus of our culture is a kind, cuddly, loving God. Ultimately we are all offended by something Jesus says, when we understand what that is He says.
Big Picture: Jesus will judge un-righteousness on His terms, but He offers Himself as a solution to our brokenness!
Today we will see Two Facts from our passage:
From the Head…
Jesus Will Judge Unrighteousness (Matthew 11:20-24)
Jesus will judge in the end. Jesus judges on His terms and in His timing according to His purposes. It’s that simple. Many people see a dichotomy between the Old and New Testaments, but it is simply not there when understood correctly. The Old Testament God is both holy and loving as is the New Testament God. And while Jesus has some incredibly mind blowing and other world-kingdom teachings on “Loving our enemies,” He is equally holy and righteous, discussing judgment where real, gracious, loving and just judgment is due. As a matter of fact Revelation 19:11-16 clearly shows Jesus in His final call upon the earth will come as a judge…
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now what is interesting in our passage is that the three cities Jesus mentioned were basically friendly to Jesus, and were the places He did many of His miracles. Below is a look at two of the cities where Jesus did do most of His miracles; Bethsaida and Capernaum, and some of the truths in regard to those cities.
Walks on H20 (Mark 6) Jesus Lived there (Matt 4:13; Mark 2:1))
Heals Blind Man (Mark 8) Heals Centurion Slave (Matt 8; Luke 7)
Feed the 5000 (Luke 9) Peter’s Home (Matthew 17)
Phillip’s Home (John 1:44) Jesus Taught There (Mark 1; Luke 4; John 6)
Made H20 à Wine (John 2)
The fact is these towns appeared to be friendly and accepting of Jesus, then why the “Woes?” What’s the problem? The answer is simple, yet perplexing and found in verse 20, “They did not repent!” Their main issue is that they liked Jesus, especially when He did cool things for them, but they had no need to repent (See John 4:48), because “They weren’t that bad!” This is the problem with all of us, and how we often judge God for judging. We often ask, “Why is God judging ‘innocent’ people?” We struggle to see our selves and most of humanity as evil. We have no problem judging people we deem evil, like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the neighbor we hate, etc.… but we don’t see ourselves as fundamentally deserving of judgment. With that perspective, we also don’t see the awesomeness of the cross, since we really didn’t need it. Subsequently we come to religion, or even Jesus for help. To this Jesus says, “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” (John 4:48).
They liked Jesus for what He could do, but used Him for their purposes. What is interesting is that Jesus said the irreligious cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom are better off. Is He saying you are better off rejecting Him as a “Sinner” versus being a self-righteous religious rejecter of the gospel?? Hmm?
Now in all of this talk about judgment, Jesus in His grace and love gives a clear escape route via Himself!
Jesus Offers Himself For Our Brokenness (Matthew 25-30)
Jesus offers Himself! We are broken, and dead, yet Jesus offers life and rest! There are three things regarding this segment that are interesting.
- Jesus’ Weird Declaration
Why is Jesus thanking His Father for “Hiding” this truth? And what does it mean to “Reveal” them to little children? And what is He hiding?
He is thanking His Father for hiding the gospel message of salvation from those that already reject Him, because they don’t need Him. The hiding here is figurative in the sense of not revealing something to those that are already rejecting Him for arrogant and prideful and self-sufficient reasons; yet He is also thankful that the Father is giving everything to the Son so He can reveal Himself clearly to all of those are “Poor in spirit.” To those that are downtrodden, and know they are lost and broken. Children here are a metaphor for being completely dependent. We come to God in despair, needing Him as our salvation and sustenance for eternity. He is our “Crutch!”
We are ALL dead in our sins, and in need of God to clearly reveal Himself. Yet, there are those that at this time are hardened to anything God reveals. Romans 1:18ff tell us that God does reveal Himself via the things He has made, yet humanity rejects that revelation, and worships the creation, rather than the creator. God had to intervene, and He does reveal Himself in a more special, saving way to whom He wills for His purposes, and verse 26 reminds us He does this according to His “Gracious will.” He does all things according to His will and His purposes (See Ephesians 1:11). He doesn’t have to do any of this, but He does, because of His grace and His love for His creation!
- Jesus’ Startling Statement
“No one knows the Son except the Father.” “No one know the Father except the Son” What a startling statement! This kind of knowledge is reserved for God only. Paul had many things revealed to Him when he was “Caught up into heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), yet Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Paul, who writes 13 letters in the New Testament didn’t know God the way Jesus claims to. In effect, Jesus is saying ‘I know all things!” He is claiming practical equality with His Father as God. Jesus’ statement is startling, because it justifies His outrageous claims to love Him more than your mom and dad, sons and daughters…
Because He is God He is worthy of these startling claims. Jesus doesn’t want to be your guru, therapist, example or your co-pilot. He rightly wants your full honor and praise, because He is God! He is Lord of all, but they didn’t repent, because they weren’t planning on making anyone “Lord” over their own lives but themselves. They liked Jesus, but weren’t planning on changing their lives for Him.
In spite of this…
- Jesus’ Offer of Salvation
Jesus’ offer here however is on His terms. You come as a little child, completely dependent on Him and not anything you did. Those that think they have something to offer God, never truly find God. Those that come to Him, come empty handed, in humility recognizing their spiritual poverty and need of a savior, and it is there they meet their creator.
To them He says, “Come to Me all who labor… I will give you rest…Learn from Me my yoke is easy, my burden is light”
Jesus’ offer is amazing. It is made to those that need rest from their weary ‘self saving’ mechanisms (“All who labor”) that attempt to save, but end in frustration. It is for those that are through with religion, and are at their wits end. Jesus doesn’t just judge, He offers a plea bargain that is out of this world. It’s one that is easy for us, but incredibly hard and burdensome for Jesus. He’s willing to take our pain and sin on for His glory and our salvation!
…to the Heart
The question is why do you struggle with Christ’s claims? Is it because they are narrow/arrogant? Or because His claims of our weakness and His demands for praise are insulting? You don’t like to be weak?? The fact is, we are weak, broken people, and like a child, we are helpless and in need of salvation from external means, but if we believe that we don’t need any help, but maybe like some of the teachings we deem are ok, the fact is we don’t really need Jesus, and it is that pride that is at the root of all of humanities problems, and the real reason, we badly (All of us) need Jesus now! What are you going to do? You can either repent and trust in Christ now, or continue on with either unbelief, or using God for your own purposes. It’s you your choice!
Questions To Ponder
- Why do we hate God’s justice?
- Why do you think that people don’t feel God has that right?
- Is God’s justice Holy and Good? How so? How not?
- What is the sin of Sodom? (See Ezekiel 16:49).
- What is God judging for?
- IN what way(s) are you using God for your own purposes?
For Further Reading
A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener
The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins
The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti
Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson