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You Can't Baptize a Cat

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So many people make excuses to justify their unbelief, but that won't help them on Judgment Day.

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Matthew 11:16–30 ESV
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:16–19 ESV
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Introduction: I have 2 stories to share with you this morning about baptizing cats.
Matthew 11:16-
Introduction: I have 2 stories to share with you this morning about baptizing cats.
The young son of a Baptist minister was in church one morning when he saw for the first time baptism by immersion.
He was greatly interested in it, and the next morning proceeded to baptize his three cats in the bathtub.
The youngest kitten bore it very well, and so did the younger cat, but the old family tom cat rebelled. The old feline struggled with the boy, clawed and tore his skin, and finally got away.
With considerable effort the boy caught the old tom again and proceeded with the "ceremony." But the cat acted worse than ever, clawing and spitting, and scratching the boy's face.
Finally, after barely getting the cat splattered with water, he dropped him on the floor in disgust and said: "Fine, be a Methodist if you want to!"
Story 2
There on the window sill was a little boy and his cat.
The boy's mother came to see what they were doing, and she heard the little boy preaching God's word to his cat. So she went about her chores.
Later she heard the cat fussing, so she went to see what was going on. The little boy had the cat in their kitchen sink full of water. The mother told him that cats don't like water. The boy sharply replied, "He should've thought of that before she joined the church!"
One thing is for sure, you can’t baptize a cat. Well, you can sure try but you will not survive the ordeal unscathed. They are going to fight you and claw you every step of the way. Why? They hate water and they hate those who try to put them into the water even more.
People can be like cats at times. They are contrarians. Always unhappy. Always judging. Always critical. Always indifferent. Never satisfied. They hate the truth about as much a a cat hates water. They fear it The avoid it.
Like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones sang, “When I'm watchin' my TV and a man comes on and tells me how white my shirts can be but, he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me… I can’t get no satisfaction.”
Jesus also dealt with people like that. He said, but to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children...” He could have stopped right there.
But he didn’t.
He went on to give an illustration comparing these children to children playing games. One pastor called this passage, the Parable of the Brats.
There is one theme that runs throughout chapter 11 from beginning to end: Unbelief.

The Parable (vv. 16-19)

Illus. I’ll bet many of you played games as children. I’m not talking about the kind that required a TV and a controller. I’m talking about role playing games like cowboys and Indians. You can’t play that anymore because it is not politically correct. You have to play Bovine Technicians and Indigenous Persons. On the rare occasion that I had a friend or cousin come over, we would play army or whatever.
So Jesus uses a common image that people of his day would understand - this generation is like children playing in the marketplace.

The Parable (vv. 16-19)

At the center of most villages there was the marketplace - the agora in Greek. On Market days, merchants would come and set up their booths to sell their goods to people of the village.
The people would come and go shopping and the children would get together with their friends and play games. On the days that the market wasn’t operating, this left a big open space for them to play together.
They often played games that mimicked adult life and two popular games in Jesus day were Wedding and Funeral. Those wouldn’t have been my first choices, by the way.
Inevitably, there would be disagreements about what to play and at times, there would be children who wouldn’t agree to play anything.
Imagine this dialogue among friends...
“You want to play wedding? Let me be the musician and play a song and you can dance and have fun.”
“Naw, I don’t want to play that.”
“OK, then… I know, lets play funeral. I will play a sad funeral song and you can cry and morn.”
“Nah, I don’t want to play that either.”
“What do you want to play then?”
“I don’t know.”
“How come you never want to play any of our games?”
“I don’t like your games.”
They don’t want to play anything. They just sit and criticize.
Illus. Reminds me of the story of the many who asked his friend what the difference was between indifference and apathy. The friend said, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
He goes on to explain the story...
Matthew 11:18–19 ESV
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
Luke 11:18–19 ESV
And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
We have two ministries compared and contrasted here - that of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus.
Luke 11:1
John came in funeral mode. Jesus came in wedding mode.
John lived the life of an ascetic. He didn’t wear soft clothing - he wore clothing made of camel’s hair. He ate the diet of locusts and wild honey. He preached fiery sermons and denounced sin. He was a prophet.
Jesus lived like the average ordinary person. He ate and drank like normal people did yet they accused him of having no self-control and of being a drunk. And he hung out with undesirable people too.
Was the real problem here with the ministries of John and Jesus, or was the problem with the critics? I’ll let you decide. Perhaps they reasoned, “If we can find fault in John and Jesus, we can ignore the message they are bringing.”
Was the real problem here with the ministries of John and Jesus, or was the problem with the critics? I’ll let you decide.
I have had lots of encounters in witnessing to lost people. They will ask some kind of outlandish question to deflect the conversation so that they can ignore the message. (Questions)
Perhaps they reasoned, “If we can find fault in John and Jesus, we can ignore their message.”
But Jesus was addressing the religious crowd with this parable. He was speaking primarily to the Pharisees and lawyers.
Why were they like that? Why, instead of humbling themselves, did they act like pouting children that didn’t get their way?
There is a parallel passage in that gives us the answer.
Jesus is talking about John the Baptist just as he did in the beginning of . Jesus affirmed the ministry of John saying that no one born of women was greater than John, yet the one who is least in the kingdom was greater than him.
Then Luke writes:
Luke 7:29–30 ESV
(When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
Luke 7:29-
The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves...
Chew on that for a moment.
Lost people embraced John’s ministry - but the religious people - who knew God’s Word - rejected the ministry of John and would soon completely reject the ministry of Jesus. And the really bad part about it; they thought that they were honoring God by doing so.
Their satisfaction was in the wrong source. It was in their religion and their tradition, not in God.
God’s purpose for them was good; God’s purpose was forgiveness of sin and eternal life; God’s purpose was fulfillment, joy, and peace that passes all understanding. But they rejected it all by refusing to be baptized by John.
eternal life; God’s purpose was fulfillment, joy, and peace that passes all understanding. But they
rejected it all by refusing to be baptized by John. And why did they refuse his baptism of
And why did they refuse John’s baptism of repentance? Because they didn’t think they had anything to repent of. After all, they were the most religious people of all.
repentance? Because they didn’t think they had anything to repent of. After all, they were the
When most people in our churches today
Most people in our churches today think that they are good people. But their idea of goodness is based on what other people in the church and community think of them, not what God says about them.
most religious people of all.

The Prophecy (vv. 20-21)

Matthew 11:20 ESV
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
Three of the cities mentioned here, Chorazon, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had an incredible among of evidence offered among them of the power of God and the person of Messiah. If there had been a contest to determine which cities were “most likely to believe in Jesus,” these three would have tied for first place.
By the same token, the cities to receive the “not likely to believe in Jesus” award were Tyre, Sidon and Sodom.
So when Jesus compares Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum unfavorably with Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, he is painting a dark picture. The problem isn’t the depravity of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Their problem is that they have heard Jesus’ teachings and witnessed his miracles and yet remained in unbelief.
There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. The first one is natural - everyone has doubts from time to time. The second one is willful. It’s a choice. (John the baptist had doubts…)
Jesus said that the latter three cities would have repented long before the three that had the most witness.
Even today, in the very places where Bibles and churches abound and the gospel is broadcast, we are seeing more people reject Jesus than embrace Him. While Southern Baptist saw an increase in cooperative program giving of $82 million, baptisms have again decreased by 3.02% We find ourselves at an historic, 30 year low in baptisms.
Why?
Because we have rejected the purpose of God for ourselves.
What Jesus was saying here would have ruffled a whole lot of feathers. And it was about this time that public opinion of Jesus started to shift to the negative side.
To be thought of as being worse than the pagans and gentiles was contemptuous for a good Jew. They were Abraham’s children! They weren’t gentile sinners.
Indeed, Jesus spoke about this.
Matthew 7:21–23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
You might be in a church from cradle to grave but that doesn’t mean that you’re right with God. Well intentioned good deeds do not change the fact that we are all sinners in desperate need of forgiveness.

The Petition (vv. 25-30)

Matthew 11:25 ESV
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
Jesus thanked the father that despite the fact some would not have him, others would. He didn’t respond with bitterness and cynicism, he lifted his voice in prayer thanking God that nothing could frustrate His sovereign proposes.
Matthew 18:3–4 ESV
and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
He follows that with one of the most beautiful invitations in the bible.
He follows that with one of the most beautiful invitations in the bible.
He follows that with one of the most beautiful invitations in the bible.
Come to me… Not come to church, not to worship service or Sunday School. Come to Jesus.
The object of our faith is not the church or tradition.
My faith has found a resting place,   Not in device nor creed; I trust the Ever-living One,   His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,   I need no other plea; It is enough that Jesus died,     And that He died for me.
Who is it that can come?
Allow who labor and are heavy laden. Laden with what? A load of sin, guilt and shame.
Jesus says to you: I. will. give. you. rest.
BBC Commentary: “This is the rest of salvation that comes from realizing that Christ finished the work of redemption on Calvary's cross. It is the rest of conscience that follows the realization that the penalty of one's sins has been paid once for all and that God will not demand payment twice.”
Even in the midst of Jesus denouncing their unbelief, he still offered them a way to be saved.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
In order to be saved, their must be a humbling. There must be a willingness to acknowledge our sinfulness and need for salvation. There must be repentance.
Matthew 18:3–4 ESV
and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
As Jesus said
Illus. Every man will have to decide for himself whether or not he can afford the terrible luxury of unbelief ~ A.W. Tozer
None so blind as those who will not see. ~ Matthew Henry
None so blind as those who will not see. ~ Matthew Henry
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