Sept. 26, 2010 INTRODUCTION – Somewhere between a year and two years ago I think – we started a sermon series in the gospel or book of Matthew . Our ultimate objective in going through this book verse by verse, passage by passage, is we want to know Jesus better, and we want to follow Him more fully. The longer some of us go in this life, the more we see – – there is no one like this God/man Jesus. Napoleon – the great French military leader said, “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. “
John Knox – one of the great leaders of the Reformation in the 1600’s said of Jesus, “ No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds. Other gods have been as devoutly worshipped; no other man has been so devoutly loved. “
What we are going to see in today’s passage – is why Jesus is so devoutly loved; but we have to start with a sobering look at some who passionately hated Him. Let’s read Matt. 12:15-21
I. The Context – – the grain picking and eating vs. 1-8; the healing of the withered hand vs. 9-13; the resolve to murder Him vs. 14 (not whether to, but how to)
Now it is clear from both of these instances that neither Jesus’s disciples nor Jesus Himself broke any Sabbath laws. So why were the Pharisees so infuriated; and how could they over such trivial things decide to murder this one who had ministered so powerfully and lovingly to so many? Well the Bible says “the heart is deceitful about all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jer. 17:9 The Pharisees allowed the deceptiveness of sin to weave a web in their hearts that left them filled with hatred and jealousy and envy. They could and should have been Jesus’s disciples. They could and should have been in the forefront of the founding and launching of the early church after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. But instead they refused to humble themselves and heed Jesus’s teaching, and admit that they were sinners in need of a Savior – – and their hearts grew harder by the day.
Can I just say this morning that this can happen to any of us here today? That’s why the writer of the book of Hebrews commanded us to: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today”, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb. 3:13
There are many people in this community that have had multiple opportunities to bow the knee to Jesus Christ and experience His saving grace, healing and deliverance; but they chose not to – – and today they persecute and scorn those who do. I pray you are not one of those. I pray that you do not become one of those.
II. Jesus’s Response – vs. 15 A. He withdrew from there – vs. 15 – Jesus knew their intentions; and He knew His ministry was not over yet, so He began to walk on to the next town.
B. He healed the crowds that followed Him – vs. 15 – – This is one of so many examples where Jesus Christ never seemed to be bothered by the crowds; and He gave personal attention to every person who followed Him. Amazing focus considering that He knew the Pharisees now had decided to kill Him. He could have fled and hidden and then wished that He were dead – like Elijah did at one point – – but Jesus never missed a beat of the mission God called Him to.
III. Two Curious Things – vs. 16,1 7 A. Jesus’s warning – He warned them not to tell who He was – vs. 16 – – Why? 1. Perhaps to prevent open conflict with the Pharisees. 2. Perhaps because these folks didn’t really know Him; hadn’t walked with Him; and thus would not be able to accurately relay who He truly is. Jesus was much more than just a healer, though he was definitely that.
B. Matthew’s turning to the quote in Isaiah 42:1f – in vs. 18?? – – doesn’t refer to the warning as much as it does to His compassionate healing ministry; and unwillingness to get drawn into useless fights with the Pharisees, and to try to fight them tick for tat.
Other Reasons Why Jesus didn’t take advantage of the free publicity?
IV. Portrait of Jesus Christ A. Because of His security – two designations of honor from the Father about His Son 1. Jesus was God’s servant – vs.18a a. whom I have chosen Jesus’s mission was God the Father’s idea and initiative, and ultimately His responsibility to see it through. His passion was to just obey the Father moment by moment. That’s what a servant does.
b. We are commanded to behold Him because there is truly no one like Him. Never has been; never will be.
2. Jesus was God’s beloved Son – vs. 18b a. He gave God the Father great pleasure – vs. 18b When God the Father looked at His Son – Jesus Christ – His heart was filled to overflowing with love and affection. And surely one of the reasons Jesus didn’t need anything from man, is because He was confident He had everything He could ever need from His Father, who loved Him and found great pleasure in His relationship with Him.
So the first reason implied in our passage why Jesus didn’t take advantage of the free publicity is because He was secure and confident in His relationship with the Father. The second reason is because of His
B. Because of His anointing 1. God’s enabling of His Servant – vs. 18c I will put My Spirit upon Him = His secret while on earth The scriptures tell us that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit; we believe He was baptized in the Holy Spirit when the dove came upon Him at His water baptism; full of the Holy Spirit, led by the Spirit, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I believe Jesus Christ knew with the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit, He didn’t need any help from normal kinds of publicity and marketing
C. The Servant’s Mission – vs. 18d “He will proclaim justice or judgment to the Gentiles” That doesn’t sound too exciting…..?? Does this mean Jesus will go around telling everyone they are going to hell if they don’t repent; and condemning them for all their sins? As I studied this, it seems more to be referring to the standard of righteousness and justice that Jesus will be proclaiming just by His life; and then later through His disciples to the ends of the earth. Wherever Jesus went, by just watching Him live and interact with people and respond to situations – – people were able to see and discern how God thinks and what He expects and what He loves and what He hates. Jesus expects people to be able to do the same as they interact and watch us.
I also want to point out here that Matthew, who was writing primarily to a Jewish audience, put a quote in here from Isaiah that twice in 4 verses mentions His heart for and commitment to the Gentiles. While God chose Israel and lavished His love on them, He never intended for His love and blessing to stop with them – – rather He meant for them to be His instrument to see all the peoples of the world come to know God, and experience His love and grace.
V. Christ’s Way or Method – vs. 19, 20 A. He will not quarrel – vs. 19 – – Jesus spoke the truth; but He was never contentious; He never tried to force people to see things His way or to follow Him.
B. He will not cry out – vs. 19 – – He won’t get up on a tower and use a megaphone; or have the latest up and coming Hebrew rock group play before He speaks to gather a crowd. He will speak with calmness and quiet, and will not resort to gimmicks or pressure or threats or manipulation.
C. No one will hear His voice in the streets – vs. 19b Now obviously people heard His voice when He proclaimed God’s truth and message in their midst or within a normal hearing distance of where they were. But Jesus did not resort to some unusual crowd gathering scheme. He did not begin His ministry with a parade. He did not have trumpeters playing the kinds of tunes they usually played when some earthly king was about to appear. Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit and Him alone for gathering a crowd and convincing them of the truth of His message, and the authority of the messenger.
D. A battered reed He will not break off – vs. 20 (the first of two metaphors)
E. A smoldering wick He will not put out – vs. 20 These two metaphors – speak to the weakness and fragility of man. The battered or bruised reed seems to refer to oppression by an outside source or person or demon or both. The smoldering wick probably refers more to the consequences of our sin wearing us down and choking our lives out.
Both of these promises – as to the response of Christ – speak to the gentleness and compassion and tenderness and forbearing spirit of our Lord. When Jesus entered the lives of some of us, we were hanging by a thread emotionally. For those of us who had come to Him later in life, we had made a pretty good mess of things. We deserved to be discarded and ignored if not worse. Jesus Christ easily could have said – “I have knocked on the door of your heart many, many times. I have answered your prayers when you were in crisis. My Father sent His angels to protect you when you were making stupid and foolish decisions. And you continued to spurn Me. I’m done with you. Enjoy the consequences of your rebellion. Burn in hell!” But He didn’t say that. Time after time He extended mercy and grace.
VI. How Long Will This Last/Will He Be this way? Until He leads justice or judgment to victory – vs. 20c
Jesus Christ didn’t just die on that cross so our sins could be forgiven. He also died so that the power of sin could be broken in our lives, and we could be set free to be all that He has called us to be. His mercy and grace and forbearing spirit will continue until He returns. But you need to know He is returning for a pure and spotless bride. If there is hidden sin in your life. If there are sinful thought patterns or habits or addictions in your life – – His full intention and promise is to set you free from those things. And He will tirelessly, persistently work in your life and circumstances until you are a shining part of that pure and spotless bride.
VII. Response to His Mission: In His Name the Gentiles will hope – vs. 21 This is why more and more people of every nation, tribe and language are putting their hope in Jesus Christ. Only He can forgive sin. Only He can bring us into a relationship with the Father and free us from the shame and condemnation of our past. Only He can and will set us free from every chain that tries to hold us down and keep us from becoming all that He has destined for us to be.
CONCLUSION – Communion – – Testimonies of how you have experienced Jesus Christ in this way