Nov. 20, 11 INTRODUCTION – Our Theme this year = “Your Kingdom Come”
The theme of the King and His kingdom through Matthew as contrasted with the other three gospels.
The kingdom of God is not a democracy nor a republic. It is a kingdom unlike any mankind has ever known – – primarily because the King is unlike any earthly king that has ever ruled on this earth. For many Americans the kingdom of God and knowing Jesus as King is difficult because there is little in our heritage and experience along those lines. Folks who grew up in England have an advantage over us in this regard I suppose – – and yet because their kings and the kingdoms they ruled were so corrupt – they have the problem of seeing the kingdom of God through those lens.
Thus the gospel of Matthew is crucial in helping us develop a righteous grid or lens through which to grasp these truths.
Perhaps then it would be good to have a bit of a review about what each chapter has contributed to our knowledge of the King and His kingdom. It might help as I do this to kind of flip through each chapter and go along with me.
Ch. 1 – Matthew gives us a look at the genealogical tree of this King, though in actuality – it is the genealogy of Jesus’s mother’s husband = Joseph – – then Matthew explains how God pulled off bringing Jesus into the world through a human mother, without a human father; and how God got Joseph to accept this very unusual pregnancy. What is crucial to see I suppose in this first chapter is that this baby – unlike every other baby in human history – did not come from an earthly father – but rather was supernaturally conceived in a human mother by God Himself. Thus His right to the throne of this kingdom called the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.
Ch. 2 – begins with some magi or wise men from the east arriving in Jerusalem in the time of “Herod the king” with a little k; asking where they might find the “King of the Jews” – big K; and then king herod trying his best to destroy this would be king Jesus. This King – even as a baby – wrought fear and trembling in the heart and mind of king Herod, who knew well what the implications of a King from heaven would mean for all earthly kings.
Ch. 3 – John the Baptist starts his ministry by proclaiming “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Ch. 4 – King Jesus begins His ministry by proclaiming the same message as John the Baptist – “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Later in vs. 23 Matthew says Jesus was “going throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness among the people.” This is the first time we are introduced to the concept of “the gospel of the kingdom”
Ch. 5 – Jesus begins to explain or describe what kingdom culture looks like – – or what kind of Christ like character or righteousness is necessary for the kingdom of God to come to and to be experienced by any given city or people.
Ch. 6 – Jesus instructs the disciples how to pray – commanding them to ask as a way of life for God’s kingdom to come – and commanding them later in the chapter to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness – as the only sure fire way to experience, and to not worry about – the provision that we will need along the way in this earthly life.
Ch. 7 – Jesus continues to describe this kingdom culture of righteousness by explaining the difference between unrighteous judging of one another and examining a tree by its fruit – – and what the true path to this kingdom looks like. This kingdom will always attract imposters; ….. and false teachers and false prophets will always seek to infiltrate or draw people away from this kingdom. The best way to spot them and avoid them is to know the real thing.
Ch. 8 – After Jesus finished his long teaching to His disciples (usually referred to as the sermon on the Mount) He continued doing the works of the kingdom by healing a leper, the servant of a Roman centurion, Peter’s mother in law, and then challenging the half heartedness of two would be disciples, and then by demonstrating the power of God over nature and over demons.
Ch. 9 – As the kingdom of God expands we see more healings and we see the compassion of the King for the unlovely and the unlikely, and an increasing resistance and hostile reaction from the religious leaders, who could care less about the unlovely and the unlikely, but were obsessed with their own power and influence.
Ch. 10 – Jesus sends out the twelve after giving them specific instructions on how to carry out their mission – commanding them to preach the same message He did, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Ch. 11 – Jesus began to challenge the crowds and the un-repenting cities about their lack of repentance – at the end – praising the Father for His sovereign revealing work and way, which bypassed the proud and haughty.
Ch. 12 – We find Jesus continuing to experience hostile slander and maligning from the Pharisees as He gently and compassionately ministers to His disciples and the needy that He encountered along the way. Jesus confronts the Pharisees with their hypocrisy and hardness of heart; and makes clear the seriousness of their quickness to judge, criticize and accuse.
Ch. 13 – Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God through a variety of parables – explaining to His disciples in private why He was now using parables, which is a loud statement about the motives of many in the crowds.
Ch. 14 – Matthew tells the story of the tragic beheading of John the Baptist; but the kingdom continues to advance as Jesus’s compassion trumped His grief, and motivated Him to feed the five thousand men plus women and children; and then after some prayer time alone on the mountain went for a walk on the stormy lake and even taught Peter to walk on the water – for a moment; As the disciples saw Him both rescue Peter and calm the storm – they grew in their conviction and revelation that He was indeed the Son of God.
Ch. 15 – Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes spar some more over empty tradition vs. ongoing obedience to the Living God. After explaining to His disciples the source of evil; He ministered to a Canaanite woman as a result of her faith, healed the crowds, and then fed some thousands again miraculously.
Ch. 16 – More confrontation with the Pharisees and Saducees, and then a stern warning to His disciples to not be influenced by their evil and adulterous ways. Peter in one day has a glorious revelation and proclamation of who Christ is, an enthusiastic blessing from Jesus as a result; and then a stern rebuke from Jesus for his man centeredness only moments later. In the midst of that – Jesus proclaims that He will build His church, and nothing will stand in His way or thwart Him from that.. The chapter ends with Jesus explaining why people who seek to follow Him must die to themselves and their own agendas.
Ch. 17 – Jesus allows Peter, James and John to see Him in His glory up on a mountain. When they rejoin the crowds – He casts a demon out of a boy; and then explains to the disciples the role of faith in seeing mountains like this removed or overcome; and then speaks to them a bit about the role of earthly governments and civil responsibilities – for those whose citizenship is now in the kingdom of God.
Ch. 18 – Jesus speaks of rank in the kingdom, the seriousness of being a stumbling block in the kingdom, God’s heart for those outside the kingdom, how to deal with those who sin in the church, and the call to ongoing forgiveness and mercy in the kingdom.
Ch. 19’s contribution to this pursuit: 1. Hard hearted men (starting with the leaders of the church) must repent of their callousness toward women – especially their wives. When men start taking the marriage covenant seriously – the kingdom will begin advancing powerfully (vs. 1-12)
2. Hard hearted men (starting with the leaders of the church) must repent of their obsession with adults, and begin to make children the priority they ought to be. When men begin to make time in their prayers and pursuits for children, the kingdom of God will begin to advance God’s way. (vs. 13-15)
3. Would be disciples must not settle for less or compromise; but instead must lay their lives down for the King and His kingdom (vs. 16-26) When would be disciples begin to truly lay their lives down for the King – choosing to wait for His promised reward rather than pursuing the empty promises of this fallen world – – His kingdom will begin to advance with power
As we begin to look at this story of the rich young ruler, I want us first to see this event from the disciples’ perspective
I. Expanding the kingdom from the disciples’ perspective A. The crowds had begun to thin
B. Finances had probably also begun to thin
C. Here comes a wealthy young ruler and leader – a man of influence and power
D. And Jesus runs him off?! You’ve got to be kidding! BY THE WAY – Luke tells us that the young man was a ruler and was “extremely rich”
II. Expanding the kingdom from Jesus’s perspective – – four principles A. Any sense of human goodness has to go 19:16,17 (read it) 1. Psalm 14:1-3 “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heave upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”
2. Eccl. 7:20 King Solomon; Romans 3 – apostle Paul; and basically every biblical writer in some fashion
3. Every culture has its own developed standard of goodness; since the measurement or standard is always based on men or women – – all of them fall critically short of God’s standard. It appears Jesus was seeking to help the rich young ruler see that He was indeed the Son of God – since goodness does not reside anywhere else. And that he – the rich young ruler – was in that light – found wanting.
B. Any sense of rights or idolatry or divided loyalties must go – especially the love of money and things 19:18-22 (read it) 1. Why does Jesus only mention the man centered commandments? Why not: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (which the rich young ruler obviously did)? Maybe it was a bit of a test to see how much self insight this guy had?
2. Did you notice this phrase in vs. 21 “If you wish to be complete” This is a crucial question to reckon with. Many people who initially come to Christ are not wishing to be complete or perfect or mature; but rather are just hoping to get justified before God so they can get into heaven. The greek word translated “complete” here actually showed up at the end of chapter five of Matthew – – only that time it was translated perfect. It was a command from Jesus for us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; and thus from now on it makes the standard of our goodness or righteousness – God Himself – instead of some system the unrighteous Pharisees or any other earthly leader puts together.
3. An interesting contrast with the way this rich young ruler responded is that of Zaccheus in Luke 19:8. Remember how Jesus merely looked up into the tree where Zaccheus was perched and said, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” There is no record of Jesus saying anything to Zaccheus about his money or wealth. But because Zaccheus wasn’t satisfied with just sneaking into heaven, but wanted to please Jesus in every way, he voluntarily said, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” (vs. 8) Jesus was perfectly satisfied with that it appears. One more difference here is – Zaccheus addresses Him as Lord; the rich young ruler as Teacher.
4. Well obviously the rich young ruler did not wish to be complete, so he walked away still stuck in his idolatrous lifestyle – grieved, but not broken, nor contrite. His sense of identity and security was all wrapped up in his stuff; and he couldn’t imagine life without it.
So what do you make of Jesus’s comments about the kingdom of God and riches in vs. 23-26?
C. Rich people in general will find it hard to enter in and experience the kingdom of God. (read vs. 23-26) Doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t. Just means it won’t be easy, and some – like the rich young ruler – will choose to cling to their toys and investments – rather than cling to Christ. Some will do whatever it takes to cling to Christ, and they by God’s grace and power may continue in their wealthy state, but will always hold it with an open hand. Riches in and of itself are not evil or bad. Prov. 10:22 says, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.” The key is where my true affection is; and whether I allow Him to be Lord over my decisions and lifestyle or not. Obviously the more I have – the more temptation I will have to find my identity and security in it; and the more I will have to invest time and energy just to maintain and deal with it all. But that doesn’t have to affect my walk with Christ.
D. Why total self denial in the pursuit of following Christ is so crucial (read vs. 27-30) 5 observations about this passage Self denial for the sake of self denial is worthless. Only worthwhile if we gain something valuable that is only attainable by the denial of self.
1. Note Peter and the 11 had left everything – their families, homes, livelihoods…to be able to follow Christ; God’s promise for them in vs. 28 is unique to the 12.
2. Vs. 29 God can and will provide much more than we could or would have on our own; and His commitment is not only to provide, but to preserve if we are seeking first His kingdom and righteousness. Doesn’t mean we will necessarily own more houses or farms. Just means what we gain by abandonment to Christ will far outweigh whatever we lose. Btw – Luke in his account of this question from peter and Jesus’s response adds, “who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:30)
3. Eternal life will be guaranteed – a sure thing; we won’t be under constant stress and anxiety and uncertainty because of our life of compromise. “If there be anything that is capable of setting the soul in a large place it is absolute abandonment to God. It diffuses in the soul a peace that flows like a river and the righteousness which is as the waves of the sea.” Francois Fenelon
4. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matt. 6:24 You can steward wealth. But you can’t serve it. If you do – it will master you and take you places you never wanted to go.
5. From vs. 30 – Know that in life, some who seem to have it all – will end up at the end of the line – bankrupt, poverty stricken, grieved, and alone. Others – who choose to wait on Him and do things His way – – may seem for a time to be being left behind – – but in the end – they will inherit the promises.
CONCLUSION – “God is not satisfied by the sound of our lips, nor the position of our bodies, nor external ceremonies. What he asks is a will which will no longer be divided between him and any creature, a will pliant in his hands, which neither desires anything nor refuses anything, which wants without reservation everything he wants, and which never, under any pretext, wants anything which he does not want.” Francois Fenelon
“The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him.” A. W. Tozer The Works of A. W. Tozer
“He who makes himself his own master subjects himself to a fool for a master.” Bernard of Clairvaux
“The greatness of man’s power is the measure of his surrender. It is not a question of who you are, or of what you are, but whether God controls you.” Henrietta C Mears