DISAPPOINTMENT OR SOMETHING BETTER?
I want to begin by asking you to take a Bible and turn with me to two texts.
First I ask you to turn to Matthew 11:20-24.
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles
were done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would
have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more
tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum,
will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had
occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.
Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of
judgment, than for you."
- Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are Jewish cities.
- Tyre and Sidon are gentile cities noted for ancient idolatry.
- Sodom was a symbol of ungodliness and sexual immorality.
Now turn to Matthew 23:37-39.
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who
are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen
gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being
left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say,
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' "
- Jesus could not do what he wanted to do--the Jewish people in the Jewish capitol
would not let him!
- The people of Jerusalem would endure the consequences of refusing to allow Jesus to
Think very carefully about those two statements Jesus made. I want
you to answer one question:
Why do you think Jesus made these two statements?
- May I suggest to you that in both statements Jesus is grieved by bitter
- Jesus knew what would happen to the people of Israel because they rejected him.
- No, not every person in Israel rejected him.
- However, the greater majority did.
- They were going to suffer as a result of that rejection, and Jesus knew they would.
- Jesus did not speculate they would.
- Jesus' statement was not a matter of conjecture.
- Jesus fully understood the consequences of their rejection.
- Let me ask you some questions I want you to answer silently in your minds.
- Did God with ten powerful acts rescue the ancestors of these Israelites from Egyptian
- Did God preserve these people's ancestors in the wilderness? [Absolutely!]
- Did God give these people Canaan to be their homeland? [Absolutely!]
- Did these people have a correct understanding of who the creating, living God was?
- Did God give these people His written word? [Absolutely!]
- Did God send His prophets to these people? [Absolutely!]
- Did God promise to send His Messiah to and through these people? [Absolutely!]
- Did these people expect God's Messiah to come to them? [Absolutely!]
- Now let me ask you to consider some statements made about Jesus' ministry.
- Matthew 4:17 From that time [the beginning of Jesus' ministry] Jesus began to preach
and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
- Mark 1:14,15 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God
is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
- Luke 4:42,43 When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds
were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from
them. But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for
I was sent for this purpose."
- John 3:1-3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the
Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "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." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born
again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
- Now I want you to answer a question by raising your hand.
- The question: "Would it be better for these people to be a citizen in the
kingdom of God than for them to be a citizen in the nation of Israel?"
- All of you who think it would have been a step forward for the Jewish people to
be citizens in the kingdom of God, raise your hand.
- Did these Jewish people think being a citizen in God's kingdom that Jesus spoke about was
a step forward?
- In fact, they thought the first and essential step in being in God's kingdom was being
accepted into the nation of Israel. To the vast majority of those people it was
unthinkable that a person could be part of God's kingdom and not be a part of Israel!
- Repent? They did not have anything to repent of--they were God's people!
- Jesus' teachings were different to anything they ever heard.
- What Jesus declared was not at all what they expected the Messiah to say.
- What Jesus taught simply did not meet their expectations!
- There was no way Jesus represented what God had in mind when He promised them a
- These are the points I want you to think about.
- Because Jesus was not what they expected, they refused to listen to him.
- Because they refused to listen to Jesus, they missed the will of God.
- Because they missed the will of God, they brought great consequences on themselves.
- What Jesus taught would bring them great blessing, but they refused to believe that
Jesus' teachings represented spiritual progress.
- Because they rejected Jesus, Jesus could not help them.
- That rejection grieved Jesus because Jesus deeply cared about them.
May I ask you a question that I just want you to think about?
- The question: "Why is it that we think [without doubt] it would be the progress of
advancement for others to move close to an understanding of Jesus' teachings and God's
kingdom, but it would be failure for us to move in any direction?"
- Do you think you totally understand and comprehend God's mind? Then why would it
be failure to move closer to God's thinking?
- Do you fully comprehend God's mercy and grace? Then why would it be failure to
move closer to an understanding of God's mercy and grace?
- Do you fully know all God accomplished in Jesus' death and resurrection? Then why
would it be failure to move closer to the knowledge of what God did in Jesus' death
- If moving closer to Jesus Christ's teachings destroyed your fear and anxiety, would that
be a good thing or a bad thing?
- If understanding God's love for you destroyed your fear and anxiety, would that be a
good thing or a bad thing?
- May I anticipate a common response?
- A common response: "All my life I have heard and been taught that we must defend
- Let me share with you what I have learned [often the hard way] about "defending" the
- The more concerned we become about "defending the faith," the less concerned
we become about "sharing the faith."
- The more concerned we become about "defending the faith," the more exclusive
we become in our fellowship.
- The more concerned we become about "defending the faith," the less concerned
we become about God's priorities.
- The more concerned we become about "defending the faith," the more we justify
our ungodly acts against other baptized believers.
- Why? Defending:
- Is too often more about our history than our God.
- Is too often more about our preferences than our Savior.
- Is too often more about a cherished theological system than the will of God.
- May I make a suggestion?
- Our concern does not need to be focused on defending, but on pursuing.
- "Pursuing what?"
- A fuller understanding of the Bible.
- A fuller understanding of God's purposes in Jesus.
- A fuller understanding of God's mercy and grace.
- A fuller understanding of repentance.
- A fuller understanding of discipleship and service.
- Coming closer to God is a good thing--evil is not the product of closeness to God!
- If we are truly Christ's church, we must be the center of hope for distressed people.
- Abused people should find hope in what we pursue in Jesus Christ.
- Addicted people should find hope in what we pursue in Jesus Christ.
- People consumed with and burdened with guilt should find hope in what we pursue in
- The gospel is not for people who think they have everything right and need nothing; the
gospel is for people who know they have blown it and need a Savior.
- The whole point of baptism is a new birth, an opportunity to start over, to begin again.
The voice of the gospel is not, "Never make a mistake." The voice of the gospel is,
"Escape your mistakes by coming to Jesus Christ." The fact that we can escape past failures is
good news, the good news of Jesus Christ.
Moving closer to God should never be a matter of disappointment. It always should be
moving toward something better.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 8 May 2005
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