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The Offense of the Gospel Mt. 13:53 - 14:12

October 18, 2015 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 13:53–14:12

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53When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.

54He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56“And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, 2and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

3For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.

6But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, 7so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8Having been prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. 10He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.

Last week we finished the 3rd of 5 expanded teaching sections that Matthew gives us in his gospel story. 5 extended discourses of Jesus that some have written are parallels of the entire old testament story.

These are fun to look at and ponder. We won't draw any conclusions. But fun to think about parallels and types. The old testament; the story of Israel, God's son, failed. The new testament the story of the Son of God triumphant.

The first discourse of Jesus; The Sermon on the Mount, Ch. 5 - 7 parallels Moses on the mountain, giving the Law.

The second discourse in Chapter 10 is the commissioning of the 12 to go into spiritual enemy territory and conquer for the Kingdom, and it parallels the commissioning of Joshua to go into the promised land and conquer.

The third discourse, the parables in Ch. 13 that we finished looking at last week, parallels the Wisdom of Solomon. The wisdom section of the old testament. It is prefaced with Jesus telling the Pharisees that a "greater than Soloman" is here.

The fourth discourse Ch. 18 is the first mention of the church. A new word. The ecclesia, the called out ones, and parallels Elijah the prophet calling Israel to come out, come away from the surrounding evil and be seperate.

The final extended discourse is the Olivet discourse in Ch. 23 - 25 and parallels the thundering prophets of Israel foretelling their doom.

Thus, Matthew in some sense structures his entire book around the meat of these 5 extended teachings that shows how Jesus completes all of the types of the old testament. Israel the failed son, Jesus, the triumphant Son.

That was a grand panoramic fly-over, now it's time to land on terra firma and look at the nitty gritty.

The parables are wisdom, but the world is Satan's and Matthew's going to show us the effect of God's wisdom in Satan's world, and that result is offence. The world always takes offence at God's truth. Jesus tells us why in John 15:18 - 19

18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

The devil, Satan, is the ruler of this world. He hates God, and anyone that has anything to do with God or His kingdom.

Think about the turmoil in the world. If you understand a few of these truths, it all begins to make sense. Why do the arabs hate Israel? Lately, it seems like the whole world hates Israel. Her friends are dropping like flies. Jumping the ship like rats. Why do you think that is?

Are they that different. Do they pull their pants on differently than the rest of mankind? What is it about them that makes them a target for hatred?

Well, let's suppose for a minute that this earth is in a great spiritual battle. Suppose that Satan was able to usurp the authority to rule this world from fallen Adam and his race, and suppose that God who created this world has set a date that he's going to come back to this world and remove Satan and eliminate evil, and rule.

Now suppose that God, in His plan to accomplish that, chose a nation to be His own. And He gave them the land of Israel, because, for whatever reason, God loves Jerusalem and has stated that He will rule from Jerusalem on the throne of David. David the jew.

Now suppose you're Satan and this plan was on what seemed like temporary hold, but then Israel is given back their real estate and things are moving smartly in the direction that God stated He would bring to pass.

You're Satan, you're in subjection to God, but you can get at His people. In fact you can dupe the whole world into hating God's chosen people, Israel.

How does this cross over to us. The church. We're not Israel?

He hates us because we have come out of the world he controls. We have been born again into God's kingdom. God's reign and rule. And we are servants of the Most High King. We are chosen OUT of this world, and that just makes Satan boil. He hates God and he hates anything and anybody that belongs to God.

Pinch yourself. If you're a believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that's you. You've been born again, as it were, into harms way. There is a future day when evil will be finished, but that's not now. Right now Satan is chomping at the bit to get at anybody who is advancing the Kingdom of God.

Now the people who belong to Satan, who are in his kingdom, for the most part, are duped. They don't have a clue that they're pawns in a massive spiritual battle.

Those Arab boys who are stabbing and murdering Israeli's have no idea where the root of bitterness that causes that hate has come from. They are Satan's dupes.

Those people who are marching and protesting that women should have the power over their unborn babies to murder them if they're an inconvenience, are dupes of Satan. Jesus said he was a murderer from the beginning. And so it goes.

60 murders in Chicago last month. Think there's a connection? People going into public places and mindlessly murdering other people. Think there's a connection there? ISIS murdering and raping anyone who claims to have anything to do with christianity in any form. Think maybe that's got a deeper root cause than just insane evil run amuck?

Last week we visitied Exodus 20. We were looking at God's jealousy for those who are His. We'll look at it again this week and note something else.

2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3“You shall have no other gods before Me.

4“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

2 kinds of people in the world. Those who love God and keep His commandments, and those who hate God.

Jesus expands this for us. In John 3, talking to Nicodemus He says these words; 19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Men are duped by Satan. They love being duped by Satan. they love their sin. They love the darkness. They hate the light.

2 kinds of people. those who hate God and serve darkness, and those who love God and belong to Him.

With that introduction, listen again to this story of Jesus visiting His home town. Nazareth. This is about a year after the first time that Luke records in Luke 4, where they were offended and tried to throw Him off a cliff. But it sounds like it could be the same day.

53When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.
54He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?

BTW, a little aside. In the Luke account from earlier, we're told that the people stood up for the reading of God's word, and then sat down for the teaching.

That was the jewish custom to honor the Book. The very word of God. And that's also why we have done that here since my first day in this pulpit. We honor the public reading of the Book. Then we relax for a short teaching session.

Matthew skips that and tells us He began teaching them in their synagogue,

And the result was that they were astonished,

Stop right there. Jesus, when He spoke had the power to buckle knees. He knocked a whole Roman guard down, just with His voice. Those same guards answered back to the ruler's, Never a man spoke, like this man spoke.

He spoke with power and authority. He spoke with the same voice that created the worlds. A day is coming when Paul says in 2Thess. 2:8;

8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

He's going to judge the world with a sword that proceeds from His mouth!

These folks should be astonished! But that isn't the kind of astonisment we have here. What we have here is the astonisment of dis-belief.

and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?

That's a stupid question. Especially for jews.

Most of the world has never seen a miracle. Can only imagine a miracle. The jews, however had seen miracles in their long history. God would, on occasion, when it suited His plan, stick His finger into the natural realm and do something super-natural.

Those instances are rare. Hundreds of years in between the few times that God did miracles.

Then Jesus came on the scene and did, quite literally, thousands of miracles. John says all the books in the world couldn't contain the things He did.

The people of Nazareth knew He was doing miracles daily. He banished disease from the entire region of Galilee. And so their question isn't that He did them, but, How!? Why!? Why Jesus. He's just a construction worker from Nazareth. Listen to the next things they say.

55“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56“And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?

You know, people want to create stories to go along with their brand of Jesus. When he was a boy he would pick up a bird with a broken wing and heal it, or a puppy that had a broken leg, etc. You read these concoctions.

You also read that Mary is a perpetual virgin and Queen of heaven. This passage should forever silence all that made up stuff. The reason these folks were stumbling is because Jesus and his family were ordinary. Salt of the earth.

Joseph and Jesus and the younger brothers big enough to work built the yokes on my team of oxen. And they built the door frames and window frames in most of the houses in Nazareth. He's just a construction worker. His family is ordinay. Where did the miracles come from. Where then did this man get all these things?”

57And they took offense at Him. Like, what're you trying to pull Jesus. We know you. We know your mom. We know your brothers. Your sisters are here. We knew Joseph. Notice Joseph isn't mentioned. Very likely he is dead. But the rest of the family is no different than anyone else. So what're you trying to pull.

The answer is obvious to any believer and elusive to any non believer. Remember what Nicodemus said? “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

What's astonishing here is the power of unbelief to dismiss what is right in front of it's eyes.

We don't know where the miracles and speaking with authority came from, but we do know, you're just a construction worker who used to live here.

What they should say is; Glory to God who has given these powers to men.

Jesus is a stumbling block. Paul says but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness

He doesn't fit what the jews were looking for. A fierce ruler who would sit on the throne of David and restore Israel to greatness. That's the messiah. He's going to make mountains melt when He comes. Jerusalem is going to be the center of the world when He comes.

They've made up their minds. A carpenter from Nazareth, no matter how many miracles He does, or how much authority he teaches with, is not their messiah. It just doesn't compute.

57And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

Familiarity breeds contempt. These home town folks stumbled over Jesus.

The miracles were given to prove that He was God. Listen to what Jesus said, what the apostles said, and what the writer of Hebrews said about the miracles.

John 5:36 "But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-- the very works that I do-- testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. That's what Jesus said about himself.

Now listen to the apostles; Acts 2:22 on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--

Now listen to the writer of Hebrews 2:3 - 4 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

Over and over and over. It's the miracles that prove once and forever that Jesus is God incarnate.

So, if you can somehow look at the evidence, the miracles, and come up with something less, that's it. That's all you get. And that's what the folks in Nazareth did. We can't explain away the miracles, but you're just Jesus, the carpenter. Who do you think you are. They were offended. It made them angry that He sat in their synagogue and put on airs like, He was the messiah or something.

If you can get there, in your unbelief, your heart is stony enough to dismiss all of the evidence, and you're offended by Jesus and His claims, your prognosis isn't good.

God always answers dis-belief with less evidence, not more.

Vs. 58 God reacts to hardness of heart and evil, willful unbelief; And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

It's like a vicious spiral downwards. Like an airplane that's lost a wing. You just start augering in. That's where these folks are headed.

Matthew gives us this story and the next to show us the offense of belonging to God in the midst of Satan's world.

The world stumbles over Jesus. And the world will stumble over us. If we're sanctified. If we're set apart. In fact if the world isn't offended by us, perhaps we need to do a reality check. Check our spiritual pulse. Because Jesus said, If they hated me, they'll hate you. That's normative.

-----------------------------------Chapter 14------------------------------------

1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, 2and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Again, miracles. How do you deal with the miracles.

Herod the tetrarch is not a jew. He doesn't have the benefit of the Old Testament record. Previous miracles. So, like the world does, he goes immediately to superstition.

The world, without the revelation of God, is a weird weird place. Men just start making stuff up.

You should read the experiences of missionary's who are the first ever to walk into dark cultures that have never had any of the revelation of God. The stuff they believe, is, bizarre. Crazy. This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him

No basis in truth. God cannot be found out. Men just start making stuff up. Such is superstition. Ghosts and goblins. Why John the baptist??

Well, Herod's conscience was ripe for just such a haunting. The story of why is sordid.

3For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.

Notice there's no moral reason Herod wanted to keep John alive. Only a political one. He is a dupe of Satan and murder is his first choice, but the people who can make a fuss that would cause trouble, they believe John is some kind of prophet, so in order to placate them, Herod keeps him alive.

This is a rebuke to me, and I'm sure, to most of us. We are surrounded by people who have dismissed the Bible and it's morality, and we are hushed. WE don't say a word about it. Premarital sex. Extramarital sex. Co-habitation with partners not married. And on and on it goes. And unlike John, we are silent.

Our world has moved on. Or has it moved backwards. It's definitely moved away from the morality that God layed out in His law in the revelation of this book.

And it's inconvenient to mention the biblical pattern for morality, based in God's law, for the very reason we see before us. The word of God, the law of God, the morality of God, is offensive to the world that belongs to Satan.

We have a saying these days. It goes something like this. I'm not going to die on that hill. From the urban dictionary; Not a hill I want to die on. And this passage is a rebuke to us, because John the baptist, did die on the hill of confronting the worlds morality. Quite literally! And we'd just as soon not follow John to that hill. Especially now. It's getting nastier and nastier for anyone who will stand up for the morals of the Bible.

Listen to the story of John the Baptizer, who boldly confronted the folks who belong to Satan, who were in authority, in this world.

3For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.
6But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, 7so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8Having been prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. 10He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

Think about the parable of the soils.

What kind of soil are the folks we've been talking about at Nazareth and here at Herod's palace. Hard pan? Shallow? Weedy? Good soil?

I think we can go with hard pan. Would we be parable pushers to say that John the baptist was plowing the hard pan soil. Faithfully taking the folks to the Law of God. Letting the word of God break up the soil. Or not.

In this case, it seems perhaps that he was casting pearls before swine, and the swine turned on him and plowed him. To death.

Such is the world that belongs to Satan. If we are faithful. If we look anything like Jesus. If we faithfully call this world to the morality of God in heaven. The reaction is going to be offense. Hate. Imprisonment. Maybe death.

The folks in Nazareth were offended by Jesus. The folks in Herod's palace were offended by John. The world is offended by God. They hate Him. They hate His messengers. They hate His Kingdom. They hate the sons of the Kingdom.

Therefore, I have to surmise, in most cases, if the world loves us, we're doing it wrong.

That isn't to say we should be austere. I think perhaps John was, that. We should be as winsome as Jesus. As loving and accepting as Jesus. As joyful as Jesus, while we're being as confronting as Jesus.

One final verse this morning.
Vs. 12 His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.

We can re-imagine this scene in 2015. It might go something like this; His disciples said, this isn't what I signed up for, and they walked away.

His disciples said, What kind of a God let's the greatest man who ever lived get his head chopped off at the request of a lewd dancer. What kind of God ignores our prayer vigil and lets his faithful servant just die. What kind of God allows such an ignoble death for the most noble servant who ever lived?

I don't think we believe the words of the song we sang earlier.
This world is not my home; I'm just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up; Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me; From heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home; In this world anymore.

My oldest daughter Heather called one evening last week. She'd been watching the escalating tension in Israel and figured, maybe this is it. Maybe the worlds going to burst into flames and the end events are going to begin.

Well, I don't have an end events playbook with dates. We've seen these things come and go. But one of these times, it is going to be God's time, and the apocalypse is going to play out.

My answer to Heather was, I don't know. But this one thing I do know, Draw near to Jesus. Turn that fire up a notch.

It seems appropriate to close with some other words that we sang this morning. Did you listen to them as you sang them. One day we may be called on to not just sing, but do.

Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.