When Opposition Comes . . . Can You See Jesus? -- 06/26/2022
When Opposition Comes . . .
In the first 10 chapters of Matthew, Jesus preached, taught, and showed the Kingdom of heaven was near. In chapters 11 and 12, opposition emerges to Jesus and his message. We have learned that we must not allow opposition to cause us to stumble on account of Jesus. Also, when opposition comes to us and we feel tempted to disown Jesus, we must maintain a tender heart toward him, a heart that is always ready to repent.
Three subjects comprise our passage this morning:
- Instructionand an
We begin with Jesus' . . .
Jesus gives us a glimpse into his personal conversation with the Father. Therefore, we receive it as a prayer and not merely as a reported story or as data for analysis.
Yet Jesus' prayer is a public prayer. Jesus wanted the surrounding crowd to hear this prayer. Within the prayer, Jesus embeds instruction, particularly tailored to those opposing Him.
Notice the spontaneity of the prayer. Jesus moves seamlessly from denouncing the generation and specific cities opposing Him into prayer concerning this situation in real time.
How spontaneous is our prayer life? Do we move to prayer while we are in the middle of the situation in which we need the Father's guidance or action on our behalf?
How would you rank your spontaneity in prayer on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not spontaneous at all and 10 being freely moving into prayer anywhere, anytime?
If we find ourselves less than 10, and most of us probably are, we can ask the Holy Spirit to push us up the scale. Then, pay attention as we go through our day to those nudges to pray. Those nudges are the Holy Spirit doing what we asked him to do. When we sense the nudge to pray and then pray, we move up the spontaneity scale in prayer and toward a stronger, healthier, and meaningful life of prayer.
The prayer begins with praise. Jesus praises the Father for his sovereign choice that was unfolding before him now. Jesus offers spontaneous praise for how He sees the Father at work in the present moment, even though the Father's work brings opposition to Jesus.
On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being not at all and 10 being all the time, how good are we at recognizing the Father at work before us and praising Him for it - even when now, our personal wellbeing may be at stake?
If we are anything less than 10, we can ask the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes to see the work of the Father and to open our hearts to praise Him for that work, no matter how circumstances may appear for us.
Jesus praises the Father for his sovereign choice to hide these things from the wise and learned and to reveal them to little children. In Matthew 18, we read this,
"The disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
The Father's right to exercise this sovereign choice is because He is "Lord of heaven and earth" (v.25).
What are these things that are hidden to the wise and revealed to children?
There are at least three things.
· God working among them. The wise couldn't see God at work, but those with a child-like heart could.
· Jesus was the One, the Messiah, God himself. The wise couldn't see Jesus, but those with a child-like heart could.
· The spiritual blindness of the current generation and their need to repent (vs. 7-24). The wise could neither see nor repent, but those with a child-like heart could see and did repent.
Is God unjust, withholding these things from the wise and the learned? No. It is all unfolding before them in plain sight. They cannot see because their hearts belong to themselves and to this world, and not to God. Their hearts are full of pride. It is God's sovereign choice not to reveal himself to those whose hearts are full of pride.
"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 16:5, NIV)
Yet, God takes pleasure in revealing himself, his will, and his ways to all who come with childlike love and trust.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8, NIV)
What does this mean for me, for you, and for us together? On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a heart full of pride and 10 being the complete love and trust of God, where would you be? If we are anything less than 10, we can ask the Holy Spirit to increase our love and trust of our Father's goodness as circumstances unfold before us. For example, can ask the Holy Spirit to increase our love and trust in Father's goodness for our church family as He, little by little, unfolds His plans for our church family?
Jesus said, "All things have been committed to me by my Father" (v.27). This is Jesus' first point of instruction to us.
What does it mean that the Father commits all things to Jesus? It means Jesus is now orchestrating everything - even Supreme Court decisions we may agree or disagree with - even Synod decisions we may agree or disagree with - even presidential decisions we may agree or disagree with. It means that everything that is happening in our nation, everything that is happening in our church family, and everything that comes to us - that which we perceive as good and that which we perceive as bad — comes as a Sovereign choice of Jesus. It means that at every level: global, national, community, church, family, and the individual we are accountable to Jesus, who reigns over all things. Do we trust the sovereign reign and goodness of Jesus in all things?
Two weeks ago, we sang,
"I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me, of weary ways or golden days, before his face I see. But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed to him against that day."
The Father committed all things to Jesus, who orchestrates all things for our good. In return, we commit our heart, mind, soul, and body to him. Trusting we will be whole when we see Him face to face.
In his sovereign choice, the Father' committed all things to Jesus. Likewise, v.27 tells us Jesus sovereignly reveals the Father to those to whom he chooses.
This is a kind of double vision. We see the Father when we see the Son.
Jesus' disciple Philip said,
"Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the father'?"
Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father. Experiencing Jesus is experiencing the Father. So, the key question for us this morning is:
Can we see Jesus?
If we can't see Jesus, we can't experience the Father.
Therefore, Jesus said, "Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me" (v.6) Jesus' generation and the cities where Jesus did most of his miracles stumbled on account of Jesus. Jesus worked among them so they would see the Father whom they claimed to worship and serve. They couldn't see the Father because they didn't see Jesus as God's Messiah. Their spiritual blindness set them up for God's judgment.
This is true for our generation too. If we see Jesus as a holy person, a godly teacher, or a righteous martyr, we will never come to the Father, because we have never seen Jesus for who He is.
The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is in charge of everything. He is the head over every power and authority." (Colossians 2:9–10, NIV)
Until we can see Christ as Sovereign God, until we commit our entire self to him, we cannot experience the love and mercy of the Father. If we cannot see Jesus because our hearts are full of pride, then by our own design, we condemn ourselves to judgment.
Knowing this, that we cannot see the Father without first seeing the Son, Jesus says to those around him - even to those who oppose him - and this morning he says it to us . . .
"Come to me."
This is God's love and mercy. After criticism, demeaning, and judgment. Jesus says, "Come to me. Just walk to me. Come to me and all will be well for you."
"Come to me" means "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. It's near enough to walk through the narrow gate that leads to life if you will just 'come to me'. Stop walking on the broad road taking you to death and hell and 'come to me'.
Standing on the path of life with outstretched arms, Jesus says, "Come to me!"
Do we see Jesus this morning? Can we hear Jesus saying to us, "Come to me"? Can we, as a church family, see Jesus with arms open wide saying, "Come to me Emmanuel! Come to me!"
Within the invitation is this promise . . .
I will give you rest!
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (v.28).
Are you tired today? What's weighing you down today? "O soul, are you weary and burdened, no light in the darkness you see? There's light for a look at the Savior and life more abundant and free!" If we will only turn our eyes to Jesus and see Him.
Jesus is saying to us, "Look, the path you are walking has you wearier and more burdened than you know. No matter how weary and burdened you feel you are, it's much worse than you can imagine because at the end of your weary and burdened road there is no rest."
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (v.28).
What is the rest that Jesus promises?
The rest that Jesus gives is so rich we can't exhaust its meaning today. At its heart the rest Jesus gives is . . .
rest from constantly trying to be good enough.
Those who opposed Jesus, the scribes and the pharisees wanted to be good enough for God. They wanted the people to be good enough for God. But the whole point of the Law for Israel was that the people can't ever be good enough through their own efforts!
Every person, even if we don't believe in God, wants to be good enough for somebody. Yet, the whole point of our broken, finite human nature is that at some point we will not be good enough. At some point, we will fail the ones we most hope to please—usually those who are closest to us and whom we love the most. Then, on top of our human nature, the Law of God points out that we will never measure up, never be good enough for God through our own efforts.
Then came Jesus.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law for us.Jesus came and lived the life we could not live and died the death we should have died, because He was completely good.
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
This means we rest from trying to be good enough, [slower] for Jesus is good enough for us! [pause] His goodness becomes our goodness. His perfect righteousness our perfect righteousness. If we will allow ourselves, we can breathe deeply and say with Jesus—"It is finished." Jesus did the work of redemption, so we can enjoy the rest of the redeemed.
Jesus continues his invitation to us with these words:
[Slide] "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
If we want rest, we must take on the yoke of Jesus. We willingly bind ourselves to him. Yoked to Jesus, we go where He goes doing what He does. Will we take up Jesus' yoke of rest?
Jesus' yoke of rest means we are never alone. We are never helpless or hopeless, for Jesus is always with us. As we walk and listen to Jesus, He will teach us how to bear fruitfully the burdens and the work to which he calls us.
We may think that when we come to Jesus as Savior, we have done all the Jesus requires. In return, Jesus owes us a blessed life. Our concept of a blessed life means a healthy, wealthy, successful and safe life. The rest that Jesus promises us is not a lifetime at a spiritual resort. The image of the yoke says it all.
A yoke implies work to do and a burden to bear. Yoked oxen plow fields, which is the work. The burden is the plow. The yoked oxen must bear the weight and resistance of the plow.
Yes, Jesus gives us work to do and burdens to bear, but these are an easy and light yoke for us. Far lighter than wearing the yoke of sin alone and hopeless without rest for our soul.
Jesus, our yokemate, does not walk with us to condemn us, to pressure us beyond our limits or work us to the bone. No, Jesus is gentle and lowly of heart. Jesus yokes himself to us for the singular purpose that, in Him, we will find the deepest rest we have ever known for all eternity.
Can we see Jesus this morning? If we see him, then we will hear him saying to us, "Come to me. You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke for you is easy and my burden for you is light."