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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.
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?
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.
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