The Demoniac (Matthew 8:18-34)
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Go ahead and grab your bibles turn to Matthew chapter eight, will be in verses 18 through 34. Today, if you don’t have a Bible, there’s a black one probably in front of you in the pew rack there, you can grab that and find the passage on page 789. If you don’t have a Bible, you can keep that one as a gift from us. A few years back, we were heading home from vacation, and Jackie had just let me know that we were about $100 under budget for that trip, which was great. And then we started talking and whenever I get distracted, in a conversation, when I’m driving, I don’t pay attention to driving anymore. And so I went right past the cop, a little bit faster on the highway than it should have been going on the far left lane. And so all of a sudden, immediate fear sets in, like you slam on the brakes, like that’s going to do something, right? You already passed him, then then you just look in the rearview mirror, you can’t take your eyes off the rearview mirror, because you’re waiting for those red and blue lights to start following you. And sure enough, he did. And let’s just say we were over budget by the end of that trip. So now we just plan for that when we go away. But the thing is the police officer in that moment, His power and His authority over me was a problem for me. Now think of another situation, let’s say I’m shopping and I get attacked by someone who’s trying to take my wallet, if a cop doesn’t come around the corner at that point, and I lock eyes with him, and he locks eyes, then with the attacker, what’s going to happen is the attacker is going to flee. And I’m going to run to the police officer. So the thing is, is the power and authority of the police officer remains unchanged. So what changes is my situation, my encounter with him? Why am I there? What is his power and authority for so his authority can be a problem for me or it can be a solution to my problem? Depends on the situation. But either way, there’s fear in these situations, right? There’s there’s some sort of fear when we come face to face with power, and authority. Because for most of us, we have people in our life where we see power, and it’s not a good thing. And we fear them and what they can do with that power. And others and allies, we see them we wield that for good. Now we just saying about Jesus, and there’s no other name. No other name right? He is infinitely powerful. And he has the authority, the ultimate authority. And if you read your Bibles, you understand that when God shows up when Jesus shows up, and fear comes with his power and his authority every single time. The question is, will the power and authority be a problem for you? Or will it be a solution for you? So this morning, we need to ask the question, How will I respond? When I come in, when I encounter the power and authority of Jesus? So think about that. In your life with the power and authority Jews when it has come into your life? How have you responded? What has that encounter been? Like? The chances are there has been fear. And we’re gonna see that fear this morning in every single scene we look at. And we’re going to see that in response to Jesus power and authority. So we’re going to start reading in verse 18, through verses verse 22, says when Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake, then a teacher, the law came to him and said, Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go. Jesus replied, foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. And other disciples said to Him, Lord, first let me go and bury my father. But Jesus told him, Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead. Let’s pause here for a second. Why are these encounters with these men here? It seems like an eruption if you’ve been with us in this series, we just came up with three miracle stories, where Jesus performed these amazing miracles of healing and casting out demons. And now all of a sudden, we have these two men come up to him. And then we follow this with three more miracle stories. We’ll look at two of them in chapter eight. But there’s another one in chapter nine. So three, and they get this like little interruption. And then three more. So what is Matthew doing here? Well, Jesus is going to cross the lake here in a second leave the place, he’s been ministering, and he’s going to go to a different location. And so what happens before he leaves us to men approach and wanting to follow Him, they say we have to respond to the power and authority that we have seen so far. And so we have two men, we have a scribe a teacher of the law, and he comes not understanding what Jesus ministry is all about and what it’s actually going to bring to him. That he doesn’t have a place Jesus doesn’t have a place to lay his head at night. He is reliant on the mercy of others in their hospitality for his ministry, something that scribe would not be used to. And then another disciple comes up and he wants to follow but only after he buries his father, which seems like an okay request. There’s pretty good chance to a pretty good chance that this guy’s father was not actually dead in this moment, but probably towards the end of his life maybe sick, but he would not have been in this place if his father had just died, he would have been at home taking care of some of those responsibilities. And it’s those responsibilities that he feels he needs to. He’s obligated to finish before he follows Jesus. Which just means in one year, two years, three years, maybe I’ll follow Jesus. And Jesus says, Let the dead bury their own dead, you’re supposed to follow me. So what is Jesus doing here this morning, he’s not saying that the man’s father, his obligations aren’t important. He’s just saying I’m more important. If you truly want to follow me, you must follow me right away. It’s all or nothing you commit, or you don’t. And so there is a cost to following Jesus. And that’s what Matthew is drawing out here. There’s a cost to following them a cost we have to count before we decide to follow Jesus. Now, what we have here is there’s a crowd that is coming to Jesus, and he wants to leave. If Jesus was interested in getting as many people as possible to make a little profession of faith, he could do that. But instead, when these men come to him, he tells him, this is a really hard call, are you sure you want in because of Jesus power and authority, just draw draws you like a magnet to his power and authority, and you think there’s good things coming, and that life is going to be easy, you’re going to be disappointed. That’s the cost that Jesus is laying out here for them. And if you make a commitment to something like that you’re not willing to follow through, it’s dangerous for your own soul. It’s dangerous for the church, and our ministry. JC Ryle says this about those who don’t count the cost, says nothing, in fact, has done more harm to Christianity than the practice of filling the ranks of Christ’s army with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession. Are we willing to do more? Are we willing to count the cost to follow him? And in that, quote, nothing here. Nothing that Jesus says that these disciples in this moment should make us feel comfortable with that, like there is a cost there, we don’t come to Jesus on our terms, we come on his terms. And here’s an interesting thing about this. We don’t know if these two men ever followed Jesus. We don’t get their responses here. So we need to kind of look and see, well, this is the call in our lives as well. So we need to respond. How will the story end for us? How will we respond to God’s power and authority? Because when you encounter Jesus, you need to make a choice. And if you’re here, today’s your encounter, because we’re going to come face to face with Jesus and His power and authority. So let’s keep reading. Because we need to ask who is this man? And what kind of power and authority does he have? Look at verses 23? Through 27. Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed Him. Suddenly, a furious storm came up in the lake, so that the wave swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him saying, Lord, save us. We’re going to drown. He replied, You have little faith? Why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, What kind of man is this, even the winds and the waves obey him. So they’re on their way. They’re crossing the sea of Galilee, trying to get to the other side, as Jesus said. And everyone is terrified because of this furious storm that comes on their boat. Now, at least three of these guys are seasoned fishermen. They’ve been on the sea, they know the sea. So something about this storm was something they probably haven’t experienced before, something greater than they’ve ever seen. And what are the disciples do? They do the right thing? They go to Jesus, right? They find him he’s sleeping. Lord, save us, we’re going to drown. There’s real fear in this moment. It actually means like, we’re drowning, like we are beyond what we can do anymore. Save us, help us do something. And Jesus wakes up, he gets up and he doesn’t affirm what they’re saying. He doesn’t stand up and say, Wow, this is a really bad storm. That’s not what Jesus does. What does he do? He rebukes first them. His disciple says, you
have little faith. Why are you so afraid? Now, it’s not that they didn’t have faith. It says that they have
little faith, little faith, in contrast to what we saw last week. If you remember last week in verse 10, we have a centurion who comes to Jesus and want Jesus he wants Jesus to heal his paradise servant who is not with him, but he’s in another location. And this train says, if you just say the words, he will be healed. And what did you say in verse 10, about the Cinterion? Truly I tell you, I’ve not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. So we contrast that with what we’re seeing here and the disciples who are with Jesus all the time have little faith. So what we’re seeing here is they’re drowning because they’ve been trying to save themselves instead of going to Jesus first. So they have little faith. And so they come to him, and they probably think he can do something. But nobody on that boat thinks Jesus is going to do this, that he’s going to rebuke them, then he’s gonna look at the wind and the waves. And he’s going to rebuke the wind and the waves. And what happens? It goes calm, completely out if you’ve ever been with kids, and somebody with like, big authority comes in with a big booming voice, and the kids are just, it’s just chaos. And then that one voice comes in and what happens? silence that happens maybe once in your lifetime, but at some point, there’s been a time where you just like, wow, that that happened fast. Right? I taught PE for a while. So I had a whistle. Anybody hear that whistle? You would just stop, right? And that’s what happens here. The wind the waves, it’s not this, like slow, calm down. It’s just was completely calm. It was instantaneous. When he spoke, it happened. Now we don’t get his words here. But in Mark chapter four Marks account of the story, we see three words that Jesus says the storm. Quiet, be still. That’s it. And it happens. It’s not just delayed answer. It’s very much like we see in Genesis one, God said, Let there be light. And there was light, because he spoke and it happened. And it tells us the men were amazed. Mark, chapter four tells us, chapter four tells us that they were terrified. So what is it? Are they amaze are terrified? Yes. That’s the answer, right? Why are the disciples afraid? Because they realize in this moment, the one who is in the boat with him is greater than the storm outside of them. That’s what happens. This man just told that thing that we were terrified of to stop and it did. So where their eyes go not to the storm, but to Jesus. Caitlin read it for us earlier, Psalm 89, verses eight through nine, this probably would have been going through their minds, who is like you, Lord God Almighty, you, Lord are mighty and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea. When its waves mount up, you steal them.
This is who’s in the boat with them. So if you’re following along in your notes, the first point here
is that healthy fear leads to faith. Okay, healthy fear leads to faith. How could you not be terrified and amaze in a moment like this, when you see what Jesus does? And they look into what kind of man is this, even the winds and the waves obey him. And not only that the wind in the waves obey him better than you do? Better than I do. The waves don’t fight against Jesus, they just listen, they’re still. So the disciples are experiencing the truth, their spirits in the power authority of God’s Word. And they see that Jesus is a problem. And he is the solution, like his Power Authority being a real problem to us. And yet he also saves them. And I’ve often take myself back to this moment and try to think through if another storm came up minutes after the other one. Let’s say it was even bigger than the other one. What are the disciples going to do? Do you think they’re going to be terrified of the storm? I don’t, I think they would have immediate look to Jesus and just say, can you just do that what you just did? Can you do that? Again? We know you can. And I think that’s what happened because again, their fear changed their fear change from the storm to Jesus. And so they weren’t scared of Jesus, they just leaned in closer to him. And we see that throughout the Gospels, of course, they ask question after question and struggle with their own faith, and yet they continue to trust continue to lean. So the question is, does your fear of Jesus lead to faith? Does it lead to faith? We know what faith is right? It’s that slow and steady trust of Jesus, every single day, never know exactly what’s going to come our way but knowing that Jesus is with us, and that he’s leading us to the ultimate good even if the journey is hard, and it will be hard. Alright, Jesus has power not only over nature, but also over the demonic. Look at verses 28 through 32. When he arrived at the other side, in the region of the gatherings to demon possessed man camp coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. What do you want with us Son of God? They shouted. Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time? Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, if you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs. He said to them go. So they came out and went into the pigs and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. What we were asked that question when reading scripture, what in the world just happened? Right? Well, we’ll get there. But first, we need to set up what’s happening so Jesus moves from one location to another class. The Sea of Galilee. And when it says he goes the other side, oftentimes that’s the move from Jewish territory to Gentile territory, or vice versa. And that’s what we have here, he comes to this area of the capitalist, a Gentile controlled area, which explains the presence of pigs. Because we talked about in the series that in Jewish culture in custom, there were a lot of unclean things, and you wanted to keep yourself clean. As an Israelite, right, you want to keep yourself clean. So in this scene, we have a area that’s considered unclean, we had pigs that are unclean, you have tombs and death that are unclean, and to demon possessed men who approached Jesus, and they are unclean. Jesus does not run away. Jesus steps into that mess, that onic clean situation. And it terrifies the demons, as they make it clear in their speaking through these men. And so you might be here you might be thinking, okay, demons really like you think there’s demons, like in our culture with everything that we know. Yes, I do. And there’s a lot of different things we can explore here. If two years ago, we did this same story in the Gospel of Mark, and we’ve had more time with just that story. So I’d encourage you go back and listen to that in our cross and crown series. But it for the moment here, in this context, and what’s happening here, Jesus believes demons are real. And so I’m going to stick with that. Right? That’s what that’s what the Word says. That’s what Jesus believes he believes he’s talking to these demons, and he’s going to do something. So I’m going to stick with what he believes here in this moment. But they want to know why Jesus is coming. What is your purpose? Why are you here? Is it really that time for torture, and destruction? So in that question, what we know is they believe judgment is coming for them. They know their time is going to end. They don’t question Jesus. They just wonder if it’s already there. What do they call Jesus, Son of God, Son of God, the demons, the demons have a better grasp of who Jesus is what he can do than his own disciples did just a little while ago in the boat. James 219, it’ll be on the screen for you says this, you believe that there’s one God, good. Even the demons believe that and shudder. It isn’t enough to give mental assent to God. It’s not enough. That’s what’s happening here. The demons believe that this is the Son of God. That’s who Jesus is. 81% of our country, in recent poll still believes there is a god. Okay, 81% 53% of that is walking around, saying that it’s the God of the Bible? Do you really think we’re gonna go back and count the costs of those first few disciples that 53% of our country’s walking with Jesus? Counting the costs, giving up their lives? For him? I don’t really think so. A lot of people will say, I believe that there is a God. And think that’s good enough. But the demons do that. I don’t think the demons are in a good place. So what is the difference? What is a Christian? Well, it’s submission and obedience to the Son of God. That’s the difference, that the demons know who he is. And they say, This is who you are, but they will not bend their knee in submission and say, We want to follow you. That’s what many are doing today around the world. We believe there’s a God, we’re just not going to follow him. We’re not going to listen to him, we’re not going to obey Him. And yet the demons still know their place, Visa Jesus Power Authority, and what do they do? They beg Jesus. I love that picture. The demons have to beg Jesus, because they don’t have control. They need to ask him permission for them to leave these men and go into the pigs. So they’re not submitting to him in the sense of wanting to follow him they’re submitting because they know that he can move them on to something else, where they’re going to continue to cause havoc. And Jesus, not sure the reasons why grants this permission, and says go and they go. Every time and these last three weeks, when Jesus speaks. When he speaks, things happen with a word, he says Be clean. He says, quiet, be still. He says go and miracles happen. Like Jesus is not a magician. He’s not a showman. He’s not there to draw the crowd and say and try and distract people and try and do all these different things to get people off of what actually is happening. He just does it because He’s God. He has the power and authority. No one can step back and make a YouTube video and say, Here’s how the magician did it. That’s not going to happen. Because he just speaks his word, the power and authority of Jesus as God comes out and changes things. So you can ask how did he do that all you want? The answer is simply that he’s caught. And he can, we sends these demons out allows them to enter the pigs, and they go right into this watery death. And before you feel bad for the pigs, so many people feel bad for the pigs when you read this, but there are two men who are overtaken with these demons, where their lives are completely changed. Right living in these tombs, separated from everyone else, violence causing havoc in the community. And we care about pigs. Let’s remember the guys, right and what happened here, because also, by the way, there was a pretty good chance these pigs were not being raised to be raised in homes as pets, they’re gonna be bacon and ham sandwiches eventually. So Jesus actually does something even worse, if you think about it, because he just took away a whole town’s livelihood. So it’s actually worse than just the pigs, which we’ll get to here in a second. But what Jesus does is significant. So point number two is not gonna be on the screen for you, because I changed it this morning. So let me let me fill in what it’s supposed to be. It’s right fear. A right Fear leads to freedom. Okay, right, Fear leads to freedom. Jesus’s power and authority are a problem for the demons, and a solution for the demoniacs. Those possessed same time, Jesus power, power and authority for one is the problem one is the solution. So what happens to the demons in this moment, when they go down into the pigs into that into the sea, we are not sure how all of that works. And what happens in that moment, once they the pigs die, I don’t know. But what we do know in this moment now, though, is the demons cannot influence anyone any longer. What they were afraid of happening, that Jesus was coming to destroy them actually does happen in miniature. That’s what’s happening here, Jesus in miniature is showing what will happen at the end in judgment, when he banishes them forever, punishes them forever, so that they cannot influence the world any longer. That’s why he’s showing in this moment, he does this over and over again, just giving us glimpses of what this looks like.
So he takes care of that problem, then the solution and the other side is in miniature again, in the lives of the demoniacs, Jesus heals. He takes the demons away from them, he takes the evil away from them. The evil that we know see and experience ourselves will end completely and eternally. And these men got a glimpse of that. And so do we, as we read God’s word and see this over and over again. The demons are right to fear Jesus. The demons are right to fear Jesus. He has power and authority over them. And he demolishes that power and authority that the demons have. Because it’s not greater than him. It’s never been greater than him. His authority, his power is over them. And they cannot do anything unless he says, so. See that there’s no struggle. There’s no back and forth with them. They’re just have to listen and be obedient to his Word. So the question is, where humanity? So what does this have to do with us because we’re talking about demons here. It’s the same thing though, right? Fear leads to freedom. Right fear of who God is, and what God can do will lead us to a life of freedom, freedom from the power and penalty of sin, first and foremost, but it also brings freedom as we live our lives to know that we don’t need to panic. We don’t need to be anxious, we don’t need to be worried or scared about what’s going on, or who’s in power, because they don’t have a greater power than Jesus. They don’t and they never will. So that freedom there frees us in our lives from spiritual depth, but also frees us to be able to be victorious in this life in Christ because He is victorious. We continue to trust in him lean into him, because he has the power and authority over all. And then this episode brings one more encounter with the townspeople look at verses 33 and 34. Those tending the pigs ran off went into the town reported all this, including what had happened to the demon possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus and when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. So the men tending these pigs have news to share, and they’re gonna go share it with the townspeople probably a lot of them owning these pigs. Now, these men, these demoniacs have been changed by Jesus, right? They’ve been changed by Jesus is it isn’t mere, like just mental assent, just saying, Yeah, we believe there’s a God they’ve been changed by him. It’s a visible difference. People notice it. They saw what happens they’re not questioning what Jesus did. They’re just saying, what is happening? Who is this? What else is he going to do? And the whole town comes out to see this man who has been now causing trouble taking away their livelihood. Now, this reminds me of John chapter four, if you’re familiar with John, For Jesus is speaking with a woman at the well. And he tells her, you know, kind of her life story, he knows everything there is to know about her. And she says, I’m going to go into town and tell everyone. So she goes and tells the entire town, come see a man who told me everything I ever did, could this be the Messiah. And what happens? The town comes out, they want to see they want to hear that one experience with this woman just experienced. And then they invite Jesus into their town for two days, to hear more, to see him to experience him. And what happens it says that many became believers. I wish that was where our story went here. But it doesn’t we have the complete opposite. The townspeople don’t come here in humility, wanting to know Jesus to be with Jesus, they’re intimidated by him, and they decide to push him away. Their fear, this is a problem, we need to get him out of here. They care more about the pigs and their livelihood than they do what Jesus just did for these two men. That’s what they’re looking at. They only see the problem of Jesus power and authority, they don’t see the solution. And they miss out on the truth. They miss out on the truth that his power and authority is the solution that they need for their own lives. It may not be that they’re possessed by a demon. But there’s something going on in life. There’s something going on in your life today that Jesus wants to free you from, that he wants to conquer. And they say, We want to push him away, we need him to leave the solution that demoniacs just experienced this freedom from their oppression, real true change and freedom. They see they experienced this and the people see there’s a difference in them, and they don’t want it. In Luke’s account of this story in Luke 837, it says that all the people that reach into the garrison has asked Jesus to leave them because they were overcome with fear. And the saddest part of this is it says so he got into the boat and left. So point number three, in your notes is misplaced fear leads to missing out. misplaced fear leads to missing out there misplaced fear is What will Jesus take from me? Rather than what benefit and good thing Jesus can do for us? If he could do that, for those demoniacs, what can you do in my life? No. Instead their fear is if he took that away from them, what’s the and he took away the pigs? What’s it what else is he going to take for me? What else is he going expect that I give up. And so this man threatens their entire way of life. They look at Jesus as dangerous, dangerous to allow in their lives versus the disciples who lean in closer in faith. When Jesus leaves that place, those people miss out on the greatest news, the greatest person who has ever lived, and they don’t even know it. They don’t even know it. So when they when he leaves the demoniac we’re the only ones experiencing this freedom that Jesus brings the freedom that he could have brought to that entire town. And we read in Mark actually that these men go out and they tell everyone what happened to them. So we pray and hope that people listened and responded to their message. But as we look at this, and we see the disciples, we see these two men who came wanting to fall we see the disciples in the boat, we see these demoniacs we see these talents, we have to start asking the question, what is the point of all of this. And the main point that I have for today is simply this the Jesus will wreck your life. Jesus will wreck your life. It’s what his power and authority does in every single situation. And here’s the thing, Jesus will wreck your life. So let him Let him that’s what we need to learn. Today. He will wreck the version of your life that you’ve created. Okay, he’s gonna wreck that first he’s gonna wreck the version that you feel trapped in. Like there’s demote the moniak did. He’s gonna wreck the life that someone else puts you in. Whatever it is, he will wreck your life, the life of discontent that you fight every day he will wreck that. That’s his. That’s the problem with his power. power and authority. But there, here’s the solution, the same power and authority that does that will build your life back up into a better life. That’s the truth that we believe that’s counting the cost of saying, I have to give up this, yes, but you get him. And you get those benefits, and you get those good things, and you get eternal glory with him. That’s a problem. But it’s also the solution. A couple of years ago, our church did a was a part of kind of a movement called Jesus changed my life. And some of you participate in that. And what’s interesting about listening to stories is every single one of those has a moment where Jesus came in and wrecked your life. He did. One of the stories I was very familiar with, because my wife shared. And many of you know of her health struggles over the years. And she started off by just saying, I thought following Jesus was easy. That’s what I thought I went to church to do the right things. And it was easy. And then car accidents, multiple surgeries, narcolepsy, you name it, she has it. And then we get to 2018 and find out that she needs open heart surgery.
And the whole time, you’re thinking like you’re wrecking my life. We didn’t ask for this. We didn’t want it. If you don’t my wife, she’s got a great smile.
And she says, People have asked how do you keep smiling? And she just said, Jesus changed my life. Because he knows, he threw some things in there that were really hard for us
for her. Have you ever wanted to push Jesus away and ask for an easier life, a life where you didn’t have to give stuff up.
She’s real about the fact that it’s not fun. It’s not fun to go through that stuff. But every one of you here who knows Jesus has a story like that.
Jesus wrecked something. And then he said, I’m better. And he showed you that he was better. Every single story reminds me of Mr. Beaver, Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Alright, they asked him Is as land is as land safe. What does he say many of you know this, of course he is safe. But he is good. That’s Jesus’s power and authority. It is not safe. But he is good. He is good. And then distributor says he’s the king, I tell you. And we serve a good king who is not safe. And so think for a second about the story, your life, how God has come in and wrecked your life. And I know in talking to many of you, you would never go back and get rid of that moment now. But it wasn’t easy. It didn’t feel good. It was never something you would ask for in the moment. But you know who you are today. And what Christ has been doing how he’s been forming you more and more into His image is only because of that moment. So we lean into it. And we trust, even when it’s hard. So this comes all the way back to verses 18 through 2218 through 20, who’s counting the cost? count the cost before you come to if you want to follow Jesus, you must count the cost first. So if you’re here and you are a you’re seeking something, you know, there’s something else out there that I want you to know that this is who it is to stop giving mental assent to there being a god and take a minute to consider his power and authority. And when you consider that power and authority, you must respond. You must respond. Are you content with just saying you believe? Are you willing to come and humble submission and let him wreck your life because I promise you what’s coming is not easier. But it is better. And I encourage you to talk to other people here. So they can tell you the same thing. Because when he wrecks your life and breaks that down, he builds up a better and stronger foundation. Every single time. And in church, if you are walking with Jesus, we need to keep counting the cost. It’s more than just one decision. On one day. It is daily dying to ourselves taking up our cross and following him. Because we know we’ve experienced that he is better. And then we pray. Here’s something you can pray today. And this is a hard prayer. I pray this for my kids and I know what it means. Lord, do whatever it takes Do whatever it takes to catch someone’s heart to bring them in. I pray that over my kids, and I know that can mean really bad things for me.
But if it means eternal glory for them, then I continue to pray it. Lord, do whatever it takes wreck my life. Record there’s your dangerous that is. Because if you really hard life now, but in a million years in glory,
they’re not going to walk away. Before you come to cost, you must remember to that Jesus counted the cost, he doesn’t ask us to do anything that he wasn’t willing to do. First, he counted the cost. Remember the storm earlier in our story. Jesus walked into the greatest storm any of us could ever imagine the wrath of God on him. He could have calmed it. He did. But it cost him his life. To calm the storm that we were headed for the storm we were going to walk in if he didn’t, first the rebellion and the sin against God, the punishment that we deserve, he walked right into, because he knew we couldn’t do it ourselves. He had to save us and take us to where he wanted to take us where we’re supposed to go with him. That’s why we continue to walk with Him and trust Him. And then remember the demons too. It looks like evil had one on the cross when Jesus said it is finished. And he hung his head and he died. That looked like he had been defeated by the evil that just a little while ago. In this moment. He says go and the demons flee but did evil. When when he said it is finished. It sounded like victory to the enemy. And yet, when he rose from that grave, three days later, they realized it was a statement of victory over evil and death, and sin. He has a victory, to see him in a victory not only for him, but a statement of victory for us that our salvation is done. It’s completed. It’s done. It is finished. Christ has won. He has risen. Love has triumphed over death forever. How will you respond to His power and authority, the power and authority that erase him from the dead, the power and authority that is there for us today. And my prayer is that the Lord would do whatever it takes, that he would wreck our lives in order to find a better life in him. Let’s pray. Lord, we thank You for Your power and your authority. The power and authority that we know is greater than the evil that we face in this world. It’s a power and authority that’s greater than any hardship that we will face. And we know ultimately your power and authority was enough to raise Christ from the dead. Your power and authority is enough to change our lives to transform us and to make us NEW.
Jesus, you love us. We don’t deserve it. I pray for all of us here this morning, Lord.
We’d realize that we need to come to you on your terms. Because you gave up everything, to make a way for us to be saved. You gave your very life for our lives. And I pray, Lord, that we would step into that trusting and believing that you have something better for us. We know ultimate Lord that will look like seeing you face to face in glory. But until that day, we know we get to serve you be with you. Obey you know what it means truly, to follow you to die to ourselves every single day. Jesus we love you. Thank you, you loved us first. We pray this in Your name. Amen.
The Centurion (Matthew 8:5-17)
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Good morning. Go ahead grab your Bibles open up to Matthew chapter eight. Matthew chapter eight as we continue in our series encounters with Jesus. As you’re turning, there was a question we often ask who’s in charge here? The question we ask at key moments, moments of decision sometimes who’s in charge who who has to make his decision or more likely moments of accountability? Who didn’t make the right decision so that we’re in the mess that we’re in? Now? Who’s in charge here? It’s a question most of us ask regularly. And even at the cosmic level, maybe not just who is in charge, but who should be in charge? That’s the question we were asked on Tuesday, at least, who should be in charge, but way more important than just politics? It’s often a deeper question. We say who’s in charge here? We’re asking, Why is this happening? How come nobody’s dealing with this issue? So it’s a question we might ask as refugee walks into a refugee camp with her children, wondering if she’ll ever see her husband? Again, it’s a question we asked as a child begins treatment for leukemia. Or even in a simpler moment, and it’s a question we would ask when we get ghosted after a first date that we thought went pretty well. And maybe we weren’t going to be alone anymore. Might I suggest that we would all like to know that someone is in charge. Wherever you are, in your faith journey, we would like to know that somebody is in charge, we long for an authority somewhere, even if it’s just so that we know where to direct our complaints. Whoever’s running this thing, I don’t know, if you’re doing a great job or not, because even if we didn’t always agree, at least it would make some sense of things we might see that within Christianity even for example, as we experience suffering, we may go I wish this weren’t how it shook out and all of that, but at least I know what God us suffering to arouse a deaf world to sanctify us. And so it’s got some purpose at least, we want to know that someone is in charge. More than that, I think we really want to know that the someone who is in charge is good. That would help us out a ton. As we saw last week, Merritt took us through Jesus’s encounter with the leper, we want to know is God willing, and is God able, since the passage that Kyle read for us earlier this morning, even one thing God has spoken to things I have heard, power belongs to you, God, he is able and with you, Lord, is unfailing love, he’s good. He’s willing, if we can be sure of that, that God is willing and able that he is strong and loving. Well, that would bring us some peace, wouldn’t it? We’d be the kinds of people like Jesus who could fall asleep in the back of a boat in the middle of a storm, a story I think we get to next week. In fact, don’t you want to be the kind of person who can sleep during storms, like metaphysical storms. That’s what we would have here. So here’s the simple truth we’re going to see this morning. And your main idea, someone is in charge, Jesus is King. That’s what this passage is going to show us. And there are three implications to his rule that we’re going to see. So how we’re going to hit this by the way, we’re gonna have the encounter with the Cinterion, first of all, and then Jesus draws a lesson from it. That’ll kind of be our scene too. And then Matthew does some summary work after that, work through a couple of other little moments in Jesus’s ministry. We’ll talk about that kind of our scene three, and then I’m going to wrap up with just some of why it matters that we know and believe this in the depths of who we are. But let’s start with Jesus’s encounter with Cinterion, verses five to 10. When Jesus had entered Copernicus and Tyrion came to him asking for help, Lord, He said, My servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly. Jesus said to him, shall I come and heal him? This interior and replied, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof, but just say the word my servant will be healed. For I myself, man under authority with soldiers under me. I tell this one go when he goes and that one calm and he comes, I say to my servant, Do this and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, it truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel was such great faith. So we see here in this opening scene as King Jesus enjoys the prerogative, he has the authority, so he enters Capernaum now cuppa is a garrison town. So it is no surprise that he would run into a Cinterion. There Cinterion. Maybe you see that word sent in there means he’s over 100 people, roughly. He’s a squadron leader. That’s kind of what he is. His Beloved servant has fallen ill though so that he is paralyzed, somehow, and suffering terribly. We’re not told why we don’t get the diagnosis. We just know the symptoms anyway. And it’s pretty bad. And so he comes to Jesus. Now, it was not unusual in those days, for people to ask rabbis to pray for the sick, some things never change, you ask your pastor to pray for you when you are sick, or to pray for someone you know, when they are sick. And that’s not unusual. But there’s something more at work here. Because when people ask me to pray for the sick, there is no expectation that there will be an immediate, miraculous healing at the conclusion of the prayer. But that is what the Cinterion seems to be asking for. That does seem to be his expectation. Here. He’s got tremendous confidence in Jesus’s power. Perhaps he heard the story that is recorded for us in John chapter four, where a royal official from Capernaum, his son was sick. And so he walked all the way to Cana, to meet with Jesus and to see if Jesus would heal his son. Well, here we are in Capernaum, same kind of thing. And maybe that’s why he’s got this confidence. He knows that Jesus is able, maybe he didn’t hear that story, and he still just believes that Jesus is able. The question, though, much like our leper asked last week, is he willing, especially considering the story, like let’s make sure we’re clear about this, first of all, he’s a Gentile speaking to a Jewish rabbi. And as a Gentile, that means he is unclean. A little bit like the leper, honestly, not only that, he’s a squadron leader for the occupying military force in this country. This is a Russian guy in the eastern part of Ukraine, asking the Ukrainian pastor to pray for him because his soldier is sick. Is he willing? Is he going to be willing? That’s a That’s a good question. Now, of course, we know that Jesus is not concerned about ritual defilement. He just touched the leper last week, after all, so he’s not concerned about meeting with a Gentile we know that. But this interion might not know that. So this is kind of bold, that he actually comes to Jesus and asked him all this, Jesus asks a question, in return, shall I come? And he’ll? This could be a statement, if you’re looking at a different translation, like the ESV or something, maybe it even has it as a statement, I will come and heal him. I don’t think that’s right. I think the syntax and the Greek makes it more likely that it’s a question here. What is he doing? He’s, he’s pushing the Cinterion here, like this kind of thing happens in my house, too. You got kids, you probably have lived this scenario at some point. Oh, I’m so hungry. To which the parent responds. Are you asking if you can have a snack? We have a thing we say a lot. In our household of you’re going to need to turn that declarative into an interrogative if you want something to happen. That’s what Jesus is getting here though. This interion shows up. Oh, my servant is so sick. Shall I come and heal him? Like, what exactly are you doing? Jesus wants to know exactly what is being asked of him. And Jesus often does this because he’s drawing out the incipient faith from within the heart of the person. He wants them to get a little bit bolder to trust him more. And then he gets this absolutely shocking response. Shall I come and heal him? And Cinterion remarkable faith triumphs over all these potential obstacles that I’ve thrown in the way of this. How does he respond? He calls him Lord, first of all, and let’s not get overzealous here. He’s not saying Oh, you’re probably the second member of the Trinity, aren’t you? Like, that’s not what’s being said here. But there’s a lot of honor being accorded to this guy. And then he says, I’m unworthy for you to come under my roof. You know who he sounds like, there. He sounds like John the Baptist. John the Baptist uses the exact same word when he says, I’m not even worthy to untie this guy’s sandals. Like I’m not even worthy to be his slave. And that’s what this guy says to Jesus too. I’m not worthy to have you come over since I’m not worthy. Why don’t you just heal at a distance? And that’s remarkable too. Because how does he know that Jesus can heal at a distance? At least in Matthew’s gospel, we
have no idea evidence that this has happened before. Again, maybe it did maybe that John for story, that’s where he’s getting it from. But we don’t know for sure. He believed that this can happen. His profound faith here is based in his understanding of Roman imperial authority. Note the key phrase and what he says there, I myself a man under authority. That’s not what we expect. In fact, when you read this hurriedly, you would probably misread it, I am a man of authority. And so I get to tell people what to do, I got a bunch of soldiers, I tell them go, they go, I tell them come, they come. That’s not what he says. He says, I am a man under authority. And because he’s under authority, he speaks with that authority. So as a an officer in the Roman military, he speaks with the authority of Caesar himself, the Emperor. That’s why people listen to him when he speaks. Because if one of his foot soldiers says, Listen, cap, that’s a terrible order, okay, you’re gonna get us all killed, I’m not going to do that you’re a moron, I should be in charge. Instead, that foot soldier is not defying a Cinterion, a captain. He’s defying Caesar himself and will be punished accordingly. That’s what he’s saying. He’s like, he’s got the authority of an ambassador speaking on behalf of the very king. And so there’s this mature and this immature phase kind of happening simultaneously, no surprise, he doesn’t know Jesus that well. He the maturity is that he sees Jesus as under God’s authority. So Jesus is a really impressive emissary sent by God. But the mature faith is that he knows that Jesus speaks with God’s authority. And therefore what he says will be done because he’s speaking in God’s name. So his word can heal. He says, I’m, it’s, it’s, it’s incredible to me, he says, Just say the word. Just say the word. And my servant will be he’ll, he’s not expecting magic. He’s not expecting some ritual, and he would just speak and it will be done. This is such remarkable faith that it surprises Jesus even. I assume it takes a lot to surprise you all knowing God. But in his humanity, at least we just did the Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the part about Jesus being fully God and fully human in his humanity, he’s amazed at this guy’s face. And that’s unusual, because Jesus is usually amazed at people’s unbelief. He’s, he’s often amazing. So little faith. And here, it’s the opposite. Not just that this man believes that Jesus can heal at a distance, but that he understands the nature of Jesus’s authority and all that despite being a Gentile, he says, meaning he doesn’t have the benefit of Revelation. He doesn’t have the benefit of having studied the scriptures. All this, by the way, a hints at Jesus’s mission to the Gentiles that we’ll get in this next section. But what have we seen here? Jesus is King, not just an ambassador, not just an emissary. He is king. And as king, he enjoys the prerogative, he possesses all authority. In fact, he’s not just a man under authority, he is a man of authority. That raises the next question for us, then, okay, over whom does he rule then? Let’s keep reading verses 11 to 13, as we’ll see that as King, Jesus gathers His people. Verse 11, I say to you, that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then Jesus said to the centurion, go, let it be done to just as you believed it would, and his servant was healed at that moment. This is not necessarily where we expect Jesus to go next. But his amazement at the faith of a Gentile spills over into this lesson that he then shares, now he’s speaking to the Messianic banquet, this feast that will happen at the end of time, when God will gather his people that’s not new imagery. You can read that especially in Isaiah taken from the Old Testament, this is the consummation of the coming Kingdom. And it was a looked for day. The pious Jews were waiting for this day when God would have manifest His authority among the nation’s and exalt Israel, to the place it was intended to have in God’s economy. But now in Jesus is tell Like at this moment, the nations are present at that banquet. They take their places, Jesus says they got assigned seating here, they have places at the table, they’re gonna take their places at the feast with Israel’s patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, men like that. And in this great reversal, some of the subjects of the kingdom are actually gonna get tossed out. Who are the subjects of the kingdom quite clearly, these are the Israelites who assume that they’re in because they’re Israelites. Because Abraham was my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, I’m good to go. We can’t assume our place in the kingdom by our racial heritage. That’s not how it works. But we smuggle that thinking in sometimes too, right? And that’s not just a problem. Back in Bible days, well, I grew up in church. My parents are Christians. Heck, I’m from Alabama. We’re all Christian. They’re right. I’m not by the way, but somebody is. So that was really we have that thinking like, I must be good because of my upbringing or something like that. But no, no, no, no, that’s not how it works. Note, by the way, that it’s not an absolute reversal. We know that many Jews do follow Jesus, it’s not like the Jews got kicked out of the kingdom or something like that. Good mentioned a couple of Jewish people you might have heard of in the early church like Jesus, Peter, James, John, Saul of Tarsus, also known as Paul, so of course, that but we we are here moving towards that vision of revelation five, eight, when God will gather men and women from every nation and language, tribe, and people. So what is the key then? That’s the key isn’t your ethnic heritage? What is it the key? Is your relationship to Jesus? Nothing else matters? Do you acknowledge his authority? By faith? That’s a question worth asking. Even as you’re sitting here today, do you call yourself a Christian? And if so, why? are you assuming it by birthright? Because that’s not how it works? Is it because you go to church or even give to the church? None of those are the dividing line. The dividing line is, who is Jesus to you? And that’s a serious question Jesus makes clear here, this is more than life or death, even. Because those who don’t come to Jesus in faith will be cast out where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth. imagery that we looked at in the last series. I won’t go into it here. But if you got questions about what all that means, go ahead and check out that series on our website. But put in the language of this story, at least what’s happening there, King Jesus will not in the end, have subjects who reject His authority that won’t be welcomed in the coming kingdom. And I think that’s important for us to hear, because it is very easy today, harder than it used to be sure, but still pretty easy today to like Jesus. He said a lot of good things that a lot of people like even still today. And so he can help you on your spiritual quest, which looks a little bit like 678 year olds at a soda fountain. It’s all just sugar and die anyway, right? It doesn’t matter. And so you kind of get this approach, right? Again, helping you on your spiritual quest, but that’s not going to work because either Jesus is King, or you are king. But both can’t be true simultaneously. And as soon as you’re doing this, you’re deciding what goes into your cup, which makes you king. And that’s a dicey place to be because by the way, Jesus actually is king. So it’s just best to admit it, as the Cinterion has. And so Jesus turns back to him at the end of this little teaching section, and holds him up as this example of faith. What does he say to him go? Because I don’t need to come because you understand that already. And that’s awesome to go. And it will be done, as you believed. Now, what does that mean exactly? It’s not because of his faith, or in proportion to his faith, but according to his expectation, what you thought was going to happen, how you thought this was going to shake out that is what’s going to happen. Now what a marvelous lesson for us all. asked the question in our pulse devotional just a couple of weeks back, you know, what would happen if God said yes to every one of your prayer requests this week?
is a great question again, some The LSAT acid I thought it was it was tremendous when wanted to pass it on. Like, would that mean that your finances would be healthier? And you’d get a better parking spot? With the finish the parking lot so you can really get a good parking spot? Or would would the kingdom come? When people come into the kingdom? When people grow in grace? Would you look more like Jesus? It’s kind of a similar question here. What if God did for us according to our expectations, as we have believed? What would happen then? What would your life look like this week? Jesus is King. He enjoys all the prerogatives. He has all authority. And he is gathering a people together from the east and the west from the north and the south, a gathering of people who call him king. Last question we got to ask though, is alright, but how is he going to rule what sort of King is he? Look at verses 14 to 17, we’ll see that as king he heals our pain. When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peters mother in law lying in bed with a fever, he touched her hand and fever left her and she got up and began to wait on Him. When evening came, many who were demon possessed, were brought to him and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken to the prophet Isaiah, he took up our infirmities and bore our diseases. So it says the end of our encounter, this interior runs off the stage now, but it’s not the end of Matthew’s story. We don’t get a time indicator here doesn’t say later that day, the next week or something like that. It’s just when he came into Peters house, Peters mother in law, Peter was married, the lying in bed, that lying in bed, whether the exact same word that’s used at the Cinterion servants. So there’s this connection between the two stories. But what’s different here is that Jesus sees and acts he takes the initiative, he’s not asked to heal her. But like the leper, Jesus reaches out and touches her. That physical connection is so important. Now, back then we don’t know what’s causing this fever. But back then fevers were serious business. You can think of books you read of, you know, olden days kind of thing. Somebody’s got scarlet fever, like they shut the house down. Nobody comes in, nobody comes out kind of things. You don’t know what that is, if it’s going to kill you, but what not what Jesus again, just like the leper, with Jesus, the touch doesn’t define the healer, it heals the defiles. And then what happens? She gets up and she starts serving him. Why? I mean, is this an ordinary pattern for the Christian life? Absolutely. Jesus heals you, you start serving him totally. But the point here is not that the point is that the healing is instantaneous, and complete. This is not like, Oh, I think I am starting to feel better. If I could just like, sleep for 18 hours, I’m gonna wake up tomorrow feeling much, much better. No, she gets up and goes, she’s ready to serve. That’s how complete her healing is. And so word gets around, as it would, and people start bringing their sick and the hurting and the demonized to him. And Matthew, once again, emphasizes Christ’s authority. What does he do? How does He cast out demons? He drove out the spirits with a word, just like verse eight, just what the Cinterion said, You can do this with a word, just say the word with the word. And then he heals all the sick who are brought to him. And then it gets interesting. Look at the kind of comment that makes sermons longer. Because Matthew then says, this was all to fulfill. Isaiah 53 Verse four, which by the way, we covered two weeks ago, totally unplanned but there you go. He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases. Why does this make sermons longer? In part because this phrase right here in Matthew, chapter eight is taken by some by those who proclaim the false health Well, Scott gospel to imply that healing is guaranteed, as part of the Atonement. And in a sense, they are right about that, but only in a sense, Scripture is quite clear that all sickness is a result of sin. Not directly a result of sin necessarily, sometimes, yes, but you don’t get a cancer diagnosis and go. So what’s the hidden sin in your life? It doesn’t work like that. Sickness is the result of sin. This sickness might not be a result of that sin specifically, but they do go together in a sense, in the sense that a broken world produces broken bodies. But Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. Jesus, the King is establishing a kingdom without sin, and thus without the result Let’s have sin, like sickness and pain and death and mourning. And Christ’s death and resurrection lay the foundation of that future kingdom. He takes up our pain, bears our suffering to Calvary. It takes the punishment on himself death being the punishment on him self. And then what happens, and I think it’s my favorite line of all the songs we sing, death is dead, and Christ is written. That’s how that story goes. And if death is dead, well, the stuff that causes death is dead also. And so your healing is guaranteed. Eventually, that eventually is pretty important. Because we have a whole bunch of promises in Scripture that are for sure in glory, and that we will wait for until then, we are all also promised in the atonement, a resurrection body, we will be like Him. You don’t get that now. You get that after death, you get that at the resurrection, we are promised total sanctification, how many here totally sanctified? Completely holy, just like Jesus. I got one hand in the back now he was joking, I’m sure of it. So there are things we are waiting for this comes eventually. And so eventually, we will have healing, we might have it in this life. You come to me and ask for prayer, and I pray for healing in your life, you got three possible outcomes, right? One of them is the Lord will heal in a what we might call an ordinary way. And that you’re gonna go to the doctor, you’re gonna see a specialist are gonna do some treatment, and you’re gonna get better. And that’s awesome. And thank god, that’s God healing you, or miracles, heavens or open. The power of God comes and you are healed in that moment, or you die. And when you wake up, you’re all better. Our healing is guaranteed. Eventually, Jesus’s healing ministry is a foretaste of that future glory, it is a sneak peek, he pulls back the curtain and says, look what’s coming. And interestingly, of course, his healing ministry we learn here is also the fruit of his death, ironically, and how he puts death to death. So who is this King of glory, who not only possesses all authority, not only gathering a people to be subjects in his kingdom, but establishing a perfect kingdom for those people taking the initiative as he always does, to rescue and redeem and restore us, taking up our pain and burying it away so that we can stand before him not only forgiven and accepted wonder, though, that is but healed, and whole. And on that day, the blind will see His glory and the mute will sing of His glory and the lame will leap for joy in the presence of his glory. We’ve seen quite clearly that Jesus is King, establishing this perfect kingdom, and he is inviting his people to the inauguration to the festival celebration. I’m reminded of a famous quote by Abraham Kuyper, who is a Dutch theologian, he says, There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ who is sovereign over all does not cry, mine. It’s all his he has all authority, which is why he can heal and save and redeem just with a word. But so often, like those subjects, that kingdom, we lack faith, don’t we can kind of go through the motions of the Christian life, doubt God’s power? And his goodness, is he really strong and loving? So let me ask you this, and this is the question I want to leave you with today. Write this one down, okay? Because you got to do this in your own heart. I’m gonna give you a couple of possible avenues of thought. But you got to do this in your own heart. If you knew with certainty that Jesus is King, that he is willing and able, strong and loving, what would change? If you knew with certainty that Jesus is King, what would change in your life? Think through that. I’m gonna, I’m gonna give you a couple of ideas here for at least that I can think of. What would change first of all, you’d sleep well, most nights. You just sleep better.
Now I’m not talking about like, you know, physical pain or screaming children that will keep you up that are still gonna keep you out. But you know what I’m talking about. We’re talking about that. That mind racing thing that keeps you up at night. Like that is a tremendous indicator for me if I’m not sleeping well, it’s because I’m holding on to something that belongs to God and not me. How The Psalmist said, Psalm four, verse eight in peace, I will lie down and sleep. For you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. If you knew that you were curled up in the lap of your father, who is Almighty God, do you think you could take a nap? Yeah, probably. So we’re sleeping well, because we’re at peace, we can rest because we’ve left our cares with him, you keep in perfect peace, the one whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You. Like, let me help you out here. If the election results keep you from sleeping. That means you’re trusting and Caesar and not Jesus. If your finances are keeping you from sleeping as because you’re trusting in your bank account and not Jesus, you could just go on and on and on down the line, you’d sleep well, most nights second, if you knew Jesus is King, you’d pray more. He would pray so much more often. Like why not talk to the guy in charge, talking to everybody else who can’t do a thing about it. And not talking to the one who holds all things in his hands is the way HB Charles said it. I love this. He says prayer is arguably the most objective measurement of our dependence upon God. Listen to this, this is key. The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own. That convict anyone here. What’s keeping you up at night is keeping you up at night because you think that you have to fix it. Instead of handing it off to the one who can and even if you do need to fix it in a sense, how do you fix it, you fix it with the strength that he supplies with grace that He provides. Like, let’s say you got you got conflict with one of your brothers in Christ, like you got to deal with that. Jesus says you shouldn’t even be here right now, you certainly shouldn’t take communion until you deal with that. But you don’t have to deal with that in the flesh. You deal with that as the Spirit empowers you. And it says Grace sustains you. We draw strength, this Cinterion comes to Jesus because he’s got no other options. But we come to Jesus because we know who he is. Which means we don’t need to get to the end of our rope before we ask him for help. We should just delight to seek Him and to talk to him. You ever had a little kid in your life? And you’re like with me? Like I’ve run errands I got one of the kids with me or something like that. They never stopped talking. I don’t even know what they’re saying. Half the time I got my mind can wander. I’m not gonna lie. But you know what? They’re with dad. And so they’re just telling me about their day. Why are we not that way with God? Our Father loves us. He delights to hear from us. We should delight to speak to him. You’d sleep well. You’d pray more third, you take courage. It’s a little bit like living like Jesus is King is a little bit like watching a prequel. When you watch a prequel, you know which characters live who’s watching and or not enough of you. This is shocking. Okay. Wow, that’s really good. I know that andorre lives because he’s in row one. So right there, it’s easy. Okay, we got that and spoil it for anybody here. That’s our lives. We know the screenwriter, even. He’s our dad, the author. He tells us how the story ends. And yet the church lacks courage today. We live such defeatist lives, which is so weird to me, because you all know we’ve got the victory already. Right? So how come we’re living like we’re in danger of being defeated? We lack confidence in God’s Spirit, and in His Word, both of which are powerful. Look at what Jesus did with a word in our story today. And then remember, we have this word right here. We have that same word. And so we will take courage as we mined scripture for God’s promises like dwarfs digging for mithril. Now, there are lots of areas where I think this would be true where we would have that remember or remember what you said, but here’s just one that stands out to me. As I was thinking about it this week would be our sanctification are being made more like Jesus being made holy, we would confidently kill sin because we know the promises of God Merritt gave us one last night as he gave us the benediction last night last week, as he gave us the benediction. May the Lord sanctify you through and through May May your whole spirit soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who called you is faithful and He will do it. Guess what that means? You get sanctified through and through all the way. That’s how the story ends. People will come into pastors offices, pastors share these sorts of stories. Okay, so I heard a couple of these stories recently where somebody will sit down in a pastor’s office and go, I can’t stop sinning. There’s one pastor responded by going, that’s, that’s terrible news. Let me show you how you can become a Christian. And the guy was like, no, no, I am a Christian. Okay, well, then you can stop sinning. You have the Spirit of God living within you. You can stop sinning, we could take courage, you’d sleep well, you pray more you take courage and forth. And finally, you would share the gospel boldly. Look back at verse nine. Listen, Tyrion says because I’m a man under authority, I speak with authority I speak with Caesar’s authority. Now keep that in mind, as I read this to you can be a familiar passage. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. To see the connection. We are men and women under authority, and we have a commission from our commanding officer, and it is to make disciples. I think it is indisputable that fear is the primary reason we don’t evangelize more. Maybe I think there’s a lovelessness that is underneath the fear, because perfect love drives out fear. But I think fear is the reason most of us would give anyway, and it is usually a fear of our own inadequacy. I’m not going to say this right? They’re going to ask a question I can’t answer. But that fear comes from taking on what isn’t ours. The Bible is quite clear apart from Christ, people are dead in their sin. How many of you can raise the dead? Do you think what you need is a clever answer to get the dead to rise? Probably not. How are the dead gonna rise? When God raises them, how are the blind can see when God opens their eyes, Matt Smith has puts it like this. I love this. This is what evangelism is. He says Our job is to walk through the cemetery and speak to caskets. God’s job is to crack them open. That give you some confidence as you share the gospel with a word Jesus healed even at a distance. How does God heal our sin sickness? With the word Romans 10? How will they believe unless they hear how will they hear unless somebody speaks a word to them the word to them? All we do is speak. I mean, yes, we display the message in our lives, of course, is more could say about that. But what we do is speak Jesus died for your sins, the punishment that you deserved was on him. And then he was raised for your salvation, proof of the victory that is coming, therefore, repent and believe. turn from your sin and trust the one who took up your pain and carried it away, because that one is coming to set whole things, right. So there will come a day when there is no more sickness and no more sorrow and no more sin, and no more cemeteries. And by the way, if you’re here today, and you’re still questioning, Christianity, or even openly rejecting Christianity, those words are for you. That is the message for you. Jesus is King. And he’s fairly well proven it by that whole resurrection thing, which we could talk about, if you’re not sure about that. He is king and he is a strong and loving king. He is willing, and he is able. One day he will establish His perfect kingdom. And until then you let him set up a kingdom outpost in your heart. Who was in charge? Jesus, thank God. Let’s pray. Lord, we come before
you acknowledging that you are king. We worship you, not only because you have the authority, but because we are glad you have the authority, because we know who you are, that you are a king, strong and loving, willing and able, wise, gracious, merciful, and compassionate. Just we are grateful that you have the authority and we are grateful Lord, that means we don’t have to have it all in ourselves because we know we don’t. And so Lord help us this Week to live like we believe that you are king what should change in our lives if we believe that Lord by your spirit would you show us even now that we might live to your glory as we live in faith Amen
The Leper (Matthew 8:1-4)
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Good morning. It is great to be with you all today as we begin this new series called encounters with Jesus. So we’re going to look for the next three weeks at three incredible scenes from the ministry of Jesus, where three different characters have three incredible encounters with Jesus. So I hope you’re ready to join that with us. And so today, I would like to invite you to turn to Matthew eight, verses one through four in our passage today. And in our passage today, we meet a man who is facing a terrible disease. And not much was known about this disease at the time. But it was understood as highly contagious. Those who contracted this disease were required to quarantine themselves away from society. You couldn’t go into work, if you were sick, you had to stay home, you had to keep a certain distance from others as a precaution. If you happen to come within a certain distance of someone, you were required to declare that you were infected, and that they should stay away, or else they might get sick, too. There wasn’t any known cure for this disease. But there were some treatments that were sometimes effective. And in order to be cleared of this disease, you needed to receive a negative test. And after that your entire home needed to be disinfected and sanitized by professionals. But sadly, in some cases, this disease led to death. The sound familiar to anyone on this passage, we meet a man who didn’t have a virus, but leprosy. He had leprosy. And this man had an extraordinary encounter with Jesus. So today we’re going to dig into this passage to examine this man who is our patient, we’re going to see how the physician responds as Jesus. And then we’re going to see the prescribed cure that Jesus offers to this man. So in this will see, this story is not just about physical disease, but it reveals the spiritual disease that we all face today. So I hope you’re ready to dig in with me. Let’s begin by reading the first verse in our passage. Matthew, chapter eight, verse one. When Jesus came down from the mountain side, large crowds followed Him. Let’s pause there for a second, our story begins with Jesus coming down off of a mountain. And this just so happens to be the same mountain that he went up in order to preach perhaps his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter five through chapter seven. This is where we have some of the most memorable teaching from Jesus. You know, the, the Beatitudes, Blessed are statements, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We learn about how Christians are supposed to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. city on a hill cannot be hidden. And then there are those famous, you have heard it said statements, you know, you’ve, you’ve heard, it said, You shall not murder. But I say to you, if anyone hate someone else in their own heart, they’ve already committed murder, says turn the other cheek. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. Use the famous Lord’s Prayer. It serves as a powerful model for us today. He says, Do not judge, or else you too will be judged. And in the parable of the wise and the foolish builders, the rain came down and the winds blew. And the house that was built on the sand collapsed. The house that was built on the rock stood firm. We can keep going. But we’ve all heard this sermon before the Sermon on the Mount. And at the end of Matthew chapter seven, we read that the crowds were amazed at His teaching. I mean, who wouldn’t be amazed after a sermon like that? He was teaching with authority, not like the scribes and the Pharisees, but he was speaking powerfully about the Kingdom of God. So after finishing his sermon, our Lord Jesus comes down from the mountain. Large crowds are following him now. And the question is hanging in this story and this narrative, what’s going to happen next? Now that Jesus has just talked the talk, is he going to walk the walk? Is his ministry going to confirm the sermon that he just preached? Or are his words going to be empty and powerless? Enter into the scene, our patient. Matthew eight verse two, says, A man with leprosy came and now Before him and said, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. The first person that Jesus encounters after his most famous sermon is a nameless man with leprosy. With man comes from outside the crowds, and approaches Jesus and bows before him. This is a bold move on the part of this man, because this he has leprosy. Leprosy was no joke back then, you know, we now know leprosy as Hansen’s disease. But the word leprosy in the Bible not only referred to Hansen’s disease, it it covered a range of different ailments that affected the skin. They didn’t have the same understanding of modern medicine that we do today. So the situation was dire for anyone who is unfortunate enough to contract this disease. Leprosy was one of the most feared dangerous and life altering conditions that someone could get in the ancient world. And even though we we know it’s not easily transmissible today, back then they understood this disease is highly contagious, and communities would quarantine lepers and a separate leper colony outside of the city. It started as a rash or a discoloration of the skin. And it slowly would travel to the nervous system, where the patient would lose sensation throughout their body. And then over time, it would affect the muscles and the joints, leading to physical deformities. And then in extreme cases, it would cause paralysis. And then shortly after that death, this was a horrible and agonizing way to die. And it was a dehumanizing way to live. This man was in a desperate situation. He knew what was in his future. And his only hope was a miracle from Jesus. But this is just the physical reality. This isn’t even considering yet the spiritual reality of his situation. As gruesome and as horrible as the physical disease was, it serves another purpose. So in the Bible, leprosy, is always referred to as being cleansed, rather than healed. It’s really interesting. So healing referred to the physical the bodily realm, but cleansing referred to the spiritual realm, like the temple and the ceremonial cleanness that was required to approach God, things that we’ve talked about plenty in the past few weeks. lepers were considered unclean. They weren’t allowed to go into the temple and worship. And throughout the Old Testament, leprosy is a picture of the ultimate disease, sin. And the Book of Leviticus there are two whole chapters about how Israel should respond to leprosy in the community. And Leviticus 13 and 14, you know, the part in the yearly Bible reading plan that we tend to skip over sometimes, there are 116 verses, with instructions for Israel, on how to identify leprosy, how to quarantine someone, how to clean someone’s clothes in their house after they get leprosy. And then if someone were to recover, how to restore them to the community. But Leviticus is not meant to be a medical textbook for us. God’s people were supposed to see leprosy and see their sin. As leprosy brought terrible damage physically, so their sin would bring terrible damage, spiritually. The destructive effects of both are quite startling if we consider it, like leprosy, sin that corrupts the whole person, the entire body. It spreads and it gets worse over time. Like leprosy, sin is numbing. The longer we dwell in it, the more our conscience is seared to it. Like leprosy, sin fractures, fellowship, both with God making someone unclean, but also with the community of faith, the isolation and the destructive effects of sin that it can have on our relationships. In life, unlike leprosy, sin is deadly. The wages of sin is death we read.
Listen to these instructions from Leviticus 1345 And 46 says anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face, and cry out, Unclean. Unclean Clean. As long as they have the disease, they are unclean. They must live alone. They must live outside the camp. See, whenever with some someone would pass by a leper, the leper was required to yell out, Unclean, unclean, stay away from me, I’m contagious, you’re gonna get sick to imagine that. Instead of being known by your name, you’re known by your uncleanness. So all of this makes the leper in our story quite remarkable. Can you see his faith here? This man comes to Jesus in the midst of the crowds. He shouldn’t have been there. He was breaking his quarantine. That he comes and he bows before Jesus in an act of incredible humility. He acknowledges Jesus as Lord. He says, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. This nameless man serves as a powerful example for us today. We see a pattern here that we can use and follow ourselves. When we are faced with the uncleanness the sin in our own lives. Notice the three steps of this man’s journey. It takes three steps here, he says, First, here’s the words of Jesus. Remember, this is right after the sermon on the mount. Jesus has just finished a sermon and everyone is still in the sanctuary hanging out, the band is cleaning up their instruments, you know, everyone’s talking in the lobby after the service. The words of Jesus are fresh in his mind. There’s no doubt that he was there and heard all of this, or at least heard secondhand from other people that were close enough. He heard Jesus’s words. And now he’s confident that Jesus is able to make him clean. This is the reason why this man approaches Jesus. And it’s the same for us today. If we want to approach Jesus, to be cleansed of our sin, we must first hear God’s word. We need to know what our sin is. And we need to know who Jesus is to be able to cleanse us. So that’s step one, in this journey, hear the words of Jesus hear God’s word. The second, you approached Jesus in humility. This man bows before Jesus as a sign of respect and submission, he also calls Jesus Lord, you know, this, this may or may not be he may or may not mean he’s worshipping Jesus as God, which he was definitely worthy of, seems better to simply see this just as an act of humility, approaching Jesus. But we see that this man knows that he is powerless to cleanse himself. He knows that only God is able to cleanse him. And it’s the same for us today. If we want to approach Jesus to be cleansed from our sin, we must approach Him in humility. We must recognize that only God’s work in us is able to bring them out true and lasting change in our lives, when it comes to our sin. So first, we hear God’s word. Second, we approach Him in humility. And thirdly, we believe in faith. This man has confidence that Jesus is both willing and able to cleanse him. He says, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus, if you want to cleanse me, I know you can. He believes that Jesus is able to bring about the change that he needs in his life. And it’s the same for us today. If we want to approach Jesus to be cleansed from our sin, we must have faith that He is able to cleanse us and that he’s willing to cleanse us. So those are the three steps that this man takes in his journey. Here’s God’s word. He approaches Jesus in humility. And he believes in faith that Jesus is able to cleanse him. So maybe you hear this and you’re on board with it. But you’re not sure what to say, what does this look like? How do I do this this week? I want to come to Jesus and be free from my sin, but I just don’t know how to pray. Well, what do I say? How do I express this to him? Well, if you need some, some guidance, I would encourage you to always look back to the Bible. Always look back to God’s word for guidance. You know, there are so many passages in scripture where they give us the words to say when we can’t seem to find them ourselves. Psalm 51, which we which you quoted earlier in the service is one of those passages. Psalm 51. Is King David’s cry and confession to God after he is caught In his sin, he becomes aware of his sin. He approaches God in humility and repentance. And he has faith that God is able to make him clean. He says in verse in verse seven, that the verse we read earlier says, cleanse me with hyssop. And I will be clean, wash me in I will be whiter than snow. We can identify with David in this song, we can make this prayer that he prays our prayer to when you don’t have the words to say, look to Psalm 51, As just one example. Even though the circumstances of our situations will be very different. David’s prayer is a prayer that we can use to express our heart to God when we come to Him in this way. So just like David David did this, this leopard did this these three steps, hearing God’s word coming to Him in humility, and believing in faith. You know, this is not entirely unlike something that some of you are familiar with called a gospel waltz, repent, believe, obey three more steps that are very similar. This man comes to Jesus in humility, like repent, this man asked Jesus in faith, belief. And this man, no doubt left this encounter with a change life, like obey. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then I guess we’ll just have to join a journey group to find out. But all of us can relate to these three steps. I don’t encourage all of us to follow this example, when we’re faced with the uncleanness in our own lives. So why should we come to Jesus like this? We’ll see next in our passage that Jesus, our physician, is truly willing and able to cleanse us. This is how Jesus responds to the faith of the leper. Matthew eight, verse three, Jesus reached out his hand and touch the man. I am willing, he said, Be clean. Without a second thought Jesus reaches out and he touches the man. And as he did this shock, and horror must have filled the crowd. Because this man has leprosy. You don’t touch a man with leprosy. Because whenever something unclean, came in contact was something that was clean. The corruption spreads and now both of them were unclean. But not with Jesus. Jesus didn’t become unclean like the man. But the man became clean like Jesus. Isn’t that a wonderful picture of the gospel? See, we in our uncleanness are like this man, we have no hope. The only thing we can do is come to Jesus and beg for mercy. And Jesus reaches out his hand and touches us while we’re still unclean. He takes on our uncleanness and an exchange we get his cleanness. First Peter to verse 24. It says, He Himself, bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed. To the past, as we talked about last week, Isaiah 53. By his wounds, you have been healed. It’s the great substitution. Jesus reaches out takes on our uncleanness we get his cleanness instead, think of an athlete in their uniform. If there’s there’s one thing that both moms and equipment managers both despise it is the whites uniform. Because, as you may know, it’s very difficult to remove a grass stain from a white jersey or a mud stain from white pair of pants. What do you do you pour some bleach and you soak, soak the jersey let it let it sit for a little bit and, and as it’s soaking, you can you can see this great exchange take place, can’t you? The garment becomes white again. And then the the water becomes brown and disgusting. The bleach penetrates the jersey, you can see the dirt that’s left behind. Jesus penetrates our hearts with His cleansing power. Jesus when Jesus washes us, we become whiter than snow. The incredible touch of Jesus. Can you see the heart of Christ for this man, full of compassion and mercy.
But as powerful as this touch is of Jesus, He doesn’t just touch the man he also speaks to him. He speaks to him he says, I will be clean. Only two words in the original language quite short. But these two words Dress the two deep questions that this man is wondering. Remember, the leper said to Jesus, if you are willing, to which Jesus replied, I will. And then the man said to Jesus, you can make me clean. To which Jesus replied, be clean. In this, we see two of the most significant doubts someone can have about Jesus. The first of these is the temptation to doubt the goodness of Jesus. Because that’s fundamentally what this leper, this man is saying with the first statement, Lord, if you are willing.
What if Jesus wasn’t willing? What if you didn’t care enough about this man, cleanse him?
Have you ever asked that question in your own life? About your own sin? Jesus, do you really care about my situation right now? Do you care that I have this uncleanness in my life, that I have no ability to fix on my own? Jesus Are you willing. And when we don’t hear a response right away, we we think to ourselves, he must not be willing. He must not care enough about my sin. He must not really want me to be clean. It’s a doubt of the goodness of Jesus. And to that sentiment, Jesus says, I will. Jesus is willing to cleanse you from your sin. Believe that trust in that. All throughout Scripture, we see the heart of Christ for sinners and suffers. He is compassionate. He’s loving. He’s gracious, he’s merciful. He’s gentle. He has pity on the downtrodden. This passage is yet one of many where we see the heart of Christ. Jesus is willing. We see the goodness of Jesus on full display here towards sinners, to believe that Jesus is willing. But maybe you you already know that Jesus is willing, you don’t doubt His goodness, but instead, maybe you doubt his power. You doubt his power. Jesus, are you able? Are you strong enough? That’s fundamentally what the leper is addressing in his second statement. You can make me clean. Jesus, it’s not enough that you’re willing to cleanse me. You must also have the power to do it. Have you ever doubted if Jesus has the ability to make you clean? Yeah, you don’t know what I’ve done before. Yeah, I know you’re good and all that and you care for me. But you don’t know how long I’ve struggled with this sin. I’m addicted to this certain Sam, Jesus, you’re not gonna be able to help me here. This is just who I am. I’m just an anxious person. I’m just an angry person. I’m just a sarcastic person. Whatever it might be in your life, and and when we try to overcome it, nothing happens right away, then we think to ourselves, he must not be able. Jesus must not be strong enough. It’s a doubt in the power of Jesus. And to that sentiment, Jesus says, Be clean. Jesus is able to cleanse you from your sin. He has the power. If Jesus was able to satisfy God’s wrath against sinners for all of eternity, through His death and resurrection on the cross, and what makes you think that the sin you’re facing right now is too big for him? We see the power of Jesus on full display here. Believe that Jesus is able these two words from Jesus answer two of the greatest doubts we might face in our lives. So let’s believe that Jesus is good, and that Jesus is able to do far more than we could ask or imagine. He’s our great physician. When we come to Jesus with our uncleanness, he’s willing and able to cleanse offs. And finally we see here, the incredible cure that Jesus offers to this man. Matthew, verse, chapter eight, verses three and four. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, I am willing, he said, Be clean. And immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. And then Jesus said to him, See that you don’t tell anyone. But go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them. See, when Jesus reaches out his hand and touches the man, the leprosy obeys, immediately, this man is clean. It’s gone. The leprosy is not there anymore. He’s no longer known as the leper. But now he is the man formerly known as the leper. When faith comes in contact with the goodness and the power of Christ, amazing things happen. In other words, Jesus is in the cleaning business. We see that there are two parts here to the cure that Jesus gives this man first is the physical aspect of it. The physical disease that plague this man is now gone. You know, he doesn’t have to live in fear anymore. He doesn’t have to live outside the city in the leper colony anymore. He can return to his family, he can work again, to pay the bills. He doesn’t need to cry out unclean when someone gets too close. He’s free from the destructive and dehumanizing disease that changed his life. You know, we don’t necessarily know the motivation of this man coming to Jesus, it doesn’t tell us precisely it’s possible that he was only looking for physical healing from this disease. But it’s also possible that he was looking for spiritual cleansing, which we which we read about, but what we see here is that Jesus is concerned with his physical needs. This is the felt need that this man experienced most immediately in his life. And Jesus addresses that for him. But Jesus is not only concerned with his felt needs, but he sees deeper than that he addresses our ultimate need even more powerfully. This is the spiritual cure that Jesus offers to this man. Just as leprosy is a physical condition that points to a spiritual reality. So the physical cleansing of Jesus points to a spiritual reality as well. The physical healing of Jesus always has a redemptive purpose behind it. This is why Jesus tells man, go straight to the temple and offer the sacrifice. Don’t tell anyone, just go straight there and do it. You ever wonder why Jesus says that some people don’t tell anyone about this. He was probably so excited to be made clean again, you probably wanted to tell everyone, he probably wanted to go straight home and tell his family, hey, I’m clean again. I can give you a hug. Now. The disciples maybe even could have paraded him around with Jesus, as an example, say, look, look what Jesus did look at his power. They could have written a book about it. They could have made a movie about this man’s life. But here’s why that doesn’t happen. Jesus doesn’t want him and us to miss the redemptive purpose behind this cleansing, is going to the temple and offering the sacrifice that Moses recorded in Leviticus was necessary. He would have had to brought several different animals to the temple to be to be sacrificed on his behalf. You know, two birds, three sheep, as well as some grain and some oil to this sacrifice would declare him clean again, he wasn’t fully clean until the priest had declared him clean. He can now go into the temple and worship again. But more importantly, seeing these animals killed in his place, would point to his sin of being covered in atone for the sacrifice served as a testimony to this, both to him and to those around him. Others would see this man and wonder what happened, what happened to him. And he would have the opportunity to bear witness to the cleansing power of God. Jesus wants to cleanse our hearts from sin, so that we would walk in purity and be a testimony to His cleansing power to those around us. His cleansing touch is meant to remind us of the gospel. That Jesus is the sacrifice that was made for us, so that our sins could be atone for we see this painted so clearly. And Ephesians chapter five, verses 25 through 27 says Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. This is the kind of spiritual cleansing that Jesus wants us to experience. Holy, clean, washed, radiant, without stain, without wrinkle, without blemish, holy again, and blameless. I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer my life be described by those words than the opposite. Jesus is willing and able to cleanse you from your sin, if you would come to him So, come to Jesus with your uncleanness because he is willing and able, and you will be made clean when we close them by, by offering a few more applications for us. First if you’re, if you’re listening today and you’re not yet believer in Jesus, you’re searching, you’re wondering, you’re skeptical, maybe know that you can be made clean. Is there something in your life that you want cleanse from?
Now, it doesn’t even necessarily need to be something super spiritual, like this man came to Jesus with leprosy. But he left with so much more. If you come to Jesus in humility and believe in faith, he is willing and able to cleanse you, you will receive eternal spiritual cleansing. That’s what we all need. Secondly, as a church collectively, let’s be a place that welcomes people who are unclean. We have the opportunity to extend the cleansing touch of Christ to those around us. As those who have been touched by Christ, we can extend that to others. It’s quite easy to welcome people who are like us, or seem to be clean to us. But when we want to reflect the love of Christ, we must extend that to those who are maybe not so clean in our minds. People we wish would be a little bit cleaner. This, this sort of compassion is seen so powerfully in the story of a man named Father Damien. And Father Damien was a priest from Belgium, who got stationed for his first ministry assignment on the islands of Hawaii. And after a few years, he he learned about the desperate situation on a small island called Molokai. So on this small island island of Molokai, they would send lepers there. There’s about 700 lepers who lived on the small island, basically, to die. They didn’t want them to infect the rest of the state. So Father, Damien, went to Molokai and he served the patients there faithfully. He spoke the language. He learned their own language, he, he he met their needs, he took care of them. When they were sick. He preached the gospel to them. And slowly the this island turned into a place not to die, but to live. Many patients came to Christ on this island of Molokai. When the other priests and the caretakers were afraid to get too close to the patient’s Father Damien was willing to touch them. He was willing to reach out actually make contact with these lepers. After 12 years, Father, Damien tragically contracted leprosy himself. A few years later, after that, he died from the disease that he was there to care for. He was buried on the island of Molokai and news of his ministry spread, especially back in Belgium, throughout the church there and he inspired so many during his generation. Years later, his body was exhumed and returned to Belgium, because of the influence that he had. So the people on Hawaii, were not happy about this, because they want Father Damien as their own. So they asked for his body to be returned to its original burial spot. They weren’t able to get his body back. The Belgian church there rejected their request. And so instead they said, Well, if we can’t have his body, then at least give us his right hand. Because that’s the hand that he touched us with. So Father, Damien’s right hand is now buried at his original grave site on Molokai. The power of the cleansing touch of Christ. Father, Damien touched the lives of so many, both physically and spiritually. We have an opportunity ourselves to extend our hands and share this same cleansing touch of Christ to those around us. So let’s be a place where we can do that. Let’s take risks for that. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to feel natural to us. But when we’ve experienced the cleansing power of Christ ourselves, there’s nothing else we can do except extend that to others. So let’s be a place that welcomes people who may seem unclean so that they can experience the same cleansing that we have experienced. And thirdly, as believers, individually let’s bring our own uncleanness to Christ. Is there anything in your life right now that you need cleansing from What’s the sin that keeps coming back and coming back over and over again? Whatever that is for you bring it to Jesus. You don’t need to live with that anymore. In your marriage, is there a sin problem that keeps coming up? Something that that seems to get resolved right away? And then the next week it comes back again and the week after that, and it seems like, Is this ever going to get cleanse? Or maybe you’ve gotten so used to the problem that you’ve just become content to let it go? Just hope it goes away on its own? How much have you prayed for your spouse that they will be clean from that? How much have you prayed for yourself that you would be cleansed from that? Or even better yet? How much have you prayed together, that you will be made clean? Here God’s word, come to Jesus in humility. Ask Jesus in faith and walk away, it’d be made clean. This can be yours today in Jesus Christ. And then when that happens, we’ll be able to sing the words of the song in an entirely new way, says, I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean. He took my sins and my sorrows. He made them his very own. He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone. How marvelous, how wonderful. My song shall ever be. How marvelous. How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me. Let’s pray together. Father in heaven, we come to you now, and we just want to praise you for the cleansing touch of Christ. You reached out to us when we were unclean, and you made us clean. We praise you for that. We thank you for how you’ve already done that in so many of our lives. We also pray that You would help us to extend that to those around us. Help us to reach out to those who who might be unclean that we know. Let us share with them the good news of Jesus Christ. Father also help us to come to you ourselves for the for the sin that still remains in our own hearts. Help us to trust that you are good, and that you are able to make us clean. Help us to come to you and humility. Help us to believe that you will change us. Father, we thank You again for who you are. We ask that you be with us this week as we seek to honor you through the obedience of your word. Ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Achan (Joshua 7)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord who meditates on his law day and night. With that in mind, let’s meditate on His Word together. Go ahead and grab your Bibles and open up to Joshua chapter seven. That’s where we’ll be this morning. As we continue in our series, People God killed. Now, as you’re turning to Joshua seven, I have a very special surprise for you. I made you all brownies this morning, because I just love you so much. There is a surprise ingredient in them, however, just the tiniest bit of arsenic. That’s what you get for critiquing the length of my sermons. All right. So if you were to compare, I mean, the ratio of arsenic to rich, delicious, creamy chocolate is so low, though it’s almost as nothing. So I’m hoping you will still come and partake. What’s the point of this, I did not make you brownies, some of you are gonna be crushed. I’m sorry. She just said that up front. This was an illustration. The point is that it doesn’t take much of a bad thing to ruin a good thing. Right, just a little bit of poison is enough for you to go I’m gonna pass on dessert. It might be a teenager’s one lie that destroys trust between him and his parents for years, or colleagues one outburst that destroys that sense of teamwork that you’ve been building for the last year or so. Want to keep this in mind as we go. Remember what God is doing here? Because we were in Joshua six last week. So we’re just following right on the heels of where we were. We talked about the fact that God was establishing this New Covenant community by bringing his people into the promised land, they were going to be like this kingdom of heaven on earth, this first outpost of a heaven on earth. But what happens when we bring just a little bit of poison into that new, perfect community that he is trying to create? What should God do? When that’s brought in? That’s what we’re gonna look at this morning. So our story today again, immediately after this wondrous miracle of Jericho, the display of God’s power and goodness, right they’re evident to all and yet immediately followed up by this it’s actually it’s interesting it’s really similar to what happens and acts as God establishes his church and right after that, we’ve got this story with Ananias and Sapphira bringing the poison of sin into the community I mentioned that because we’re we’re gonna hit on them a few points as we go it’s just so interesting right after God does something amazing. It seems like his people are quick to mess it up. So we’re gonna look at this story how they mess it up. We’re looking at it in three acts. This is basically a good crime drama here if you like that sort of things. We get crime investigation and punishment as we go act one, the crime Joshua chapter seven, let me read verses one to nine for us. But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things akin son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of zero of the tribe of Judah took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. Now, Joshua sent men from Jericho to AI, which is nearby, even to the east of Bethel and told them go up and spy out the region. So the men went up and spied out i. When they returned to Joshua, they said not all the army will have to go up against I said, two or 3000 men to take it and do not weary the whole army for only a few people live there. So about 3000 went up, but they were routed by the men of Ai who killed about 36 of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this, the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water. Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring it into bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan part in your servant Lord, what can I say now that Israel has been routed by its enemies, the Canaanites and the other people the country will hear about this, and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name? So we left off last week at this moment of triumph, the last verse we read 627 The Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the land everybody knew Israel and Israel’s God and then the very next verses Yeah, but
but the Israelites were unfaith fool to this God who had delivered them unfaithful. It’s the idea of spiritual adultery. They’re prostituting themselves to foreign gods to idols, in this case to the god of money. It’s this reminder that word unfaithful that sin is more than just breaking laws. Sin is seeking ultimate joy and significance apart from God. And so sin is at its core relational. It is an asking God to leave if he would. So how does this happen here akin steals some of the devoted things, those things that were intended for the temple, they belonged to God, akin is robbing God here. This has never happened to me. But I can only imagine that if kids robbed from parents steal money from the purse or something like that, I don’t think the biggest concern the parent has is the loss of possessions. It’s the breach in that relationship. How could you do this to me, who has loved you as I have, and that’s what God is experiencing here. The hardest part for us, though, as Westerners is that all Israel it says is culpable for this one man’s sin. We don’t like that. We are a highly individualistic, but we’re not dealing with a Western individualistic culture. Here we’re dealing with a strong group culture, which is true buy land most times, and most places even today, in most parts of the world. If dad sins, the whole family is dishonored. Bringing the family into that shame. We’re weird. Not really Israel at this point. We’re weird, by the way because of Christianity. That has changed us that’s moved us towards individuals. And we’ll see that in a little bit, by the way, but no, this is a communal culture, and an individual’s sin reflects on that community. We do see this today this happens but there’s a police shooting. And people don’t say we should fire this one officer but defund the police as a collective. Or if you don’t like that example, take a different one. It’s just an example. But that’s the point we see this idea. It’s very much like the poison in the brownies idea that that poison doesn’t just sit in the one brownie if it did, you could eat the rest of it. No works its way through it all. I mean, how does scripture say it that little leaven works its way through the whole batch of dough. And so the community is responsible for the community we all are. And when someone sins, it calls into question that community and frankly, the god of that community as well. So akin sin is grievous, and we’re gonna look at ache and sin plenty. But the community is truly at fault in this process. And we see this in their spiritual pride in particular, look what happens, starting in verse two, Joshua, send some spies to check out the land, the spies come back and give their report. And then they help the military devise this strategy which the military carries out. Anyone missing in that story? God, if you’ve read the rest of Joshua is really noticeable. There’s no prayer. There’s no waiting on God. There’s no asking him. What would you have us do as a people they have grown familiar with God, which has been this theme throughout our series, they begin to presume upon his good favor. He was with us last night. He’ll be with us this time. It doesn’t matter what we do. We know he’s always there. This is interesting, because it reminds us that there are two ways to lack faith. And Israel’s done both of them as they’re coming up to the promised land. The first one is the reason why they got to wander around the desert for 40 years at first time, way back at Kadesh. Barnea numbers 14, the first way to lack faith is to think that your God is not big enough. So they show up at the promised land. They go, these people are huge, their cities are huge, we will get wiped out. There’s no way God could actually do this. But there is another way to lack faith is what we see here at AI. It’s not that God isn’t big enough, it’s that we are big enough. We don’t even need God. We can handle this on our own. And depending on our circumstances, we probably fall into both but I would guess most of us fall into that second category more often mean how easy it would be for me to example for example, to to preach without prayer. You know,
I’ve got my education, I got some gifts. I can just do this without the help of God. You and your vocation probably feel the same way. You’re probably good at what you do. And see You can close that deal without the Lord’s help. And without prayer or a life decision, maybe there’s perfunctory prayer, but basically, you’re just going to spy out the land, and then make your strategy on your own. We sing a song here sometimes in the bridge says we won’t move without you. But then we do a lot of the time, and that’s the issue. We need to be careful about this because what happens they go up without God, and they get routed. This is significant by like people die because of Aikens sin. Let’s not forget that because God is no longer with them. He can’t dwell in a sinful camp. After Jericho, this amazing display of God’s power. This is absolutely shocking. This is the World Series champs missing the playoffs the next year, like what happened we were so good last time and now it all fell apart. And so they know something has happened. Joshua leads this corporate lament where they’re tearing their clothes and putting ashes on their head. They’re crying out to God, what happened? It doesn’t make sense. Joshua says that you deliver us out of Egypt. So miraculously, and then knock down Jericho is walls. So miraculously, just to let the wicked Amorites massacre us? I love that in verse nine, we see the Joshua’s primary concern is God’s name, which in Hebrew thought is really just a substitute for His glory, His fame, His honor, what will they say about you, Lord, for Your sake, for Your glory deliver us. In fact, you get this pun on name, even as he he prays, if they wipe out Israel’s name that will defame your name, Lord, which is true. Part of this covenant I mentioned that there’s this breach of covenant part of covenant is that God has bound his glory to His people, and the way we live, which is a bold move, to say the least considering what we know about our selves. But you see the problem quite clearly here in Act One can’t stand against God’s enemies and against our enemies. While sin remains within us. A crime has been committed. And so now we get the who done it, and like a good who done it. We got the first commercial break right here. Then act to the investigation. Let’s keep reading I’m gonna read verses 10 to 18. The Lord said to Joshua, stand up, what are you doing down on your face, Israel has sinned they have violated my covenant which I commanded them to keep. They’ve taken some of the devoted things they have stolen, they have lie, they put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. Go consecrate the people. Tell them consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord the God of Israel says, There are devoted things among you Israel, you cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them. In the morning, present yourself tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan, the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family, and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man, whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel. Early the next morning, Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. clans of Judah came forward and the Zehra heights were chosen. Here the clans of the Zehra heights come forward by families and Zimri was chosen Joshua had his family come forward man by man and Aiken son of Cami, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, the tribe of Judah was chosen.
Notice, first of all, that this act restores the proper order of things God speaks, then Joshua leads and the people obey. That’s what should have happened last time also. So there’s this investigation to determine guilt. Israel has sinned, there’s poison in the collective brownie pan, they have broken faith with God, and again, violated this covenant. Covenant, which like marriage is what we think of when we think of covenant. So this covenant of how God binds himself to us and yet akin tramples on that counts it as nothing it is this disgusting breach. The word that’s used there as is violate. And it’s the same word that’s used of cross when we think of transgression is to cross a boundary to transgress a boundary. What’s so interesting is that’s a word that’s shown up a lot in Joshua. That’s exactly what the people of Israel are supposed to be doing. They just crossed the Jordan. And now they’re supposed to cross into this land kind of city by city. It shows up in verse seven, it shows up in chapter six as well. But now there’s been this perversion of crossing that has taken place. And so the whole situation changes. In fact, the language of verse 14, where the Lord says he will choose, it’s the same word that often gets translated as take in Joshua, it is the language of conquest. It is the language of the taking a city is the language we use today, of course. And so this selection ceremony is really God’s act of warfare against the nation. Why? Because God opposes sins destructive power, which is now at work in the nation of Israel. And so he has declared a war on sins destruction. He’s going to take this stronghold, not Jericho, but the spiritual stronghold that has been built up in in among the people that he is called by his name. And whoever is caught he says, we’ll be destroyed by fire. Verse 15. Fire we’ve seen a lot of in this series think of Sodom where fire falls from heaven or Nadal and Avi who who are destroyed by a fire. It’s the same sort of punishment that’s going to happen. Now, is God being unfair? Is he is he being too harsh? Was he not clear about this? I read this last week when he read it for us again, this is Josh was six, verse 18, tell me if this is unclear, but keep away from the devoted things so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. God has been oh so clear. Get again, he always is we are without excuse before him. So this is a true transgression. God drew a line in the sand Don’t cross this. And Aiken said, You mean this one? And walks right across it. He is without excuse to rob God is no small thing. Now we’re not told the mechanism of God’s taking or choosing a kin? Are they casting lots? Are they using the human and fumine? It doesn’t matter. That’s why it doesn’t tell us what matters is the suspense in this moment. When just think for a moment, put yourself in Aikens shoes. And imagine how you’re feeling as all this is happening. Do you think you’re escaping notice?
There’s the defeat at AI, first of all. Then there’s Joshua’s prayer of lament. And then his announcement coming out of this, this is what’s going to happen. We’re all gonna gather and the Lord is gonna tell us who did this. He explains the process. And maybe he can still go in? I don’t know, there’s a lot of people here. And then they choose his tribe and his clan and his family. I mean, clearly the guy is sweating bullets at this point. But think of why that’s happening. The Lord could have said Joshua was akin. Go get him. Why does he go through this process because the Lord is slow to anger. One of the points I keep making in this series, even though it’s called people God killed, is the Lord is so slow to anger, he’s giving ache and all that time to repent. Like a can knows what’s coming. Good time to confess. I remember in my years as a teacher down on the mission field, in Colombia, we caught some kids in pretty obvious forgery. The younger brother had gotten in big trouble. And instead of having mom sign the note that said, I understand he’s in big trouble, big sister signed the note, really obvious, like ironclad proof. So I as chaplain got to sit down with these two people and kind of put the stuff out in front of them and was like, Is there anything you want to tell me? That’s the opportunity to repent? That’s the opportunity to say, we shouldn’t have done this. And instead, they just continued with it. No, we got nothing to say. That’s mom’s signature. Okay, so we’ll do this the hard way. We did it the hard way. That’s what Aikens doing here. He’s doing it the hard way, like just stepped forward and own it. But no, he’s cowering in the back. Still. Would things have turned out differently? If when they all gathered that morning, he’d just gone it was me. It was me. He could have done it. Probably things would have turned out differently. A god tends to respond to our repentance. You think of the difference between Saul when Samuel confronts him and Saul says, no, no, no, I didn’t sin. And then when Nathan confronts David and David goes, who was me on the man, I said, and there’s a totally different response on God’s part. If nothing else, though, even if this still ends the same way it would be better for Aiken soul. If he had owned Dutch. And what a word for us today. Don’t hide your sin, bury the evidence and found it in the darkness like Gollum with his ring just confess. This is part of why community exists, why God calls us into community so that you have a safe place to confess sin, a safe place to confess sin because the cross outs US has already outed us. The cross is behind me on the wall as a reminder, we’re wicked people. We sinned, we deserved God’s righteous anger. And yet, graciously, he took it on himself so that it did not have to fall on us. Who are you fooling? God has already told all of us that all of us have sin. So hear me clearly now, the church is not a safe place to sin. The church is not a safe place to sin. Quite the contrary, that’s kind of been the point of this series. But the church is and must always be a safe place to repent. The church is the safe place for you to come in and go, I messed up, and we go, I understand you got sin in your heart. We’ve all messed up. Alright, let’s talk about it. Are you hiding something? Are you trapped in that web of lies like you took that initial wrong turn, and you’re still just going the wrong way? Now is the chance to turn around. Do you know why you haven’t been found out yet? If you are cherishing a hidden sin, it’s because God has given you time to repent. That’s why bring it into the light. If we confess God is faithful, and just and he will forgive us our sins. And if we’re not numbers, 3223, you may be sure that your sin will find you out. There is nothing hidden, that will not be disclosed.
There’s no investigation needed. Because the Lord knows all things. You’re not hiding anything really not from the one person who matters anyway. Like if you’re trying to see what you can get away with, let me help you out here. The answer is nothing. Nothing whatsoever, because you can’t lie to God. Here’s David in Psalm 139. David who tried to keep some things from God. He says this if I say surely the darkness will hide me in the light become night around me. Even the darkness will not be dark to you. The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you. Like how often we think we’re sitting in a dark corner, maybe people can’t see us. But the Lord it’s not just like he’s got cool night vision goggles, it’s like noon day to him. The light is shining brightly and all that you do. So don’t play the church game is my point. Our youth are gone today, I’d probably go off with the youth because that’s one of the key places where this happens. But it’s happened with college students has happened with adults as way late. You may fool your parents, or your peers for a time you will not fool God. And it’s worse. Your heart is a living thing. And as a living thing, it means it’s constantly changing. It is either going softer or harder at every moment you cuddle your hidden sin and watch your heart twist and calcify and harden and possibly irrevocably, which should terrify us. But God has given us the solution. We don’t need to fear this. God has given us the solution. Just own it. Say it out loud. Maybe that’s in community group. Maybe that’s in Journey group. Maybe that’s in counseling. You will wish you had in the end, certainly Aiken wishes he had as we’ll see an act three punishment when he read the rest of the chapter for us beginning in verse 19. Then Josh was said to akin my son give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel and honor him. Tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me. Aiken replied, It is true. I’ve sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done. When I saw in the plunder of beautiful robe from Babylonia, 200 shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels I coveted them and took them. They’re hidden in the ground inside my tent with a silver underneath. So Joshua sent messengers and they ran to the tent and there it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord. Then Joshua together with all Israel took Aikens son of their the silver the road, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had the Valley of a core, and Joshua said, Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today than all Israel stoned him. After they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Aiken they heaped up a large pile of rocks which remains to this day and Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of a core Ever since. Aiken comes clean, once he has no other option, and he acknowledges that he has sinned and he’s sinned against God’s specifically all sin is against God. Like David says in Psalm 51 against you, you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, acknowledgement of the relational breach that has occurred. It’s so interesting. He describes what happened when he sinned. And it’s what we all do when we sin, by the way, all the way back to our very first father and mother in Eden, says when I saw
that something was beautiful, the word could also be rendered desirable. I coveted it. And I took it exactly what Eden says, when I saw that the fruit was desirable for gaining wisdom, I took some, we’re always trying to make ourselves happy without God. That’s what he’s done to. And here he thinks it is an abundance of possessions that will bring Him joy. Now, this is a significant amount, you probably have a footnote at the bottom of your Bible that tells you how many pounds this is. But this is several pounds of gold and silver plus a bunch of other stuff. And it’s buried in the ground under his tent. And by the way, this helps us understand some of why the family is caught up in his guilt. My one daughter said as we were talking about this as a family this week, if Dad dug a hole in the living room and put some things in it that he shouldn’t have had, do you think we’d notice? The answer is yeah, they should have said something is the reality and so they are equally culpable, of course, but it does go deeper than that. I get that this is hard for us because we are individualists. But this is what’s happening because Aiken Dishonored it God’s name. He has a stolen God’s glory. Akin has to relinquish his name, which was important for the Israelites and so he is not granted descendants at this point. What a contrast, by the way, with Rahab last week whose name is preserved Rahab, the Canaanite, the prostitute Her name is preserved. She is given descendants among those descendants is Jesus Himself. Aiken does not get descendants His name is not preserved, even though he’s an Israelite with a religious upbringing. It just reminds us by the way, how grace works. that Christianity is not a question of the religious versus the irreligious, but the repentant versus the not. All are welcome, who will come in repentance and faith. Now I gotta say, because some of you are looking at me really nervous right now, your kids around you and stuff. We are individualist as I said, Because of Christianity. Because there is this shift in the new covenant that happens, where we are no longer guilty of another’s sin. There’s a huge change between the Old Covenant and the new covenant. The old covenant was national, racial, tribal, right, it had to do with the people of Israel, specifically, the new covenant in Christ is both bigger and smaller simultaneously. It is not national, but global, and universal. All donations may enter in as we’ve seen throughout this series, but it’s also smaller because it is personal, and individual. There are plenty of us here who are here alone among our families, and we have come out in our families have not but here’s what Jeremiah says, for example, Jeremiah 31, verses 29 and 30. You can see this shift happening in those days. That is when the New Covenant is established, people will no longer say the parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. Instead, everyone will die for their own sin. Whoever eats sour grapes, their own teeth will be set on edge. The very next verse, By the way, Jeremiah 3131, is in those days, I will establish a new covenant. So that’s where we’re going. Now, that does mean some things for us. One thing it means like this is good news. If your parents were really messed up, you don’t have to get stoned to death. That’s great. We also don’t stone people to death anymore. Lots of things we could talk about there. But the bad news is, you can’t blame your parents any longer. Your family of origin may explain you it does not excuse you, under the terms of the New Covenant, you are responsible for your own sin. There is this chilling end of the story. This is the kind of story that makes us uncomfortable for sure. They take him outside the camp that is significant. And where does sin go outside the city? And that’s what’s happening here. He’s been taken outside the camp outside the city, he’s being exiled and they stone him there and his family. And then they are burned up, which is fulfillment of verse 15. And they’ll be destroyed by fire. We’re expecting fire from heaven, especially with a series like this and that’s not What happened but instead the stuff that is, in essence devoted to God is burned up. That’s what happens. It’s almost a sacrificial moment here. This raises all the same questions for us that we keep asking throughout the series. Is God too harsh? Like, this doesn’t seem like that big a deal if ever you wanted to have that excuse of it didn’t hurt anyone. Surely this didn’t hurt anyone. I guess was either stuff they were going to burn up anyway or a little extra in the temple treasury, why wouldn’t he be given a second chance at least? Well, let’s
not forget all that we’ve learned in this series. So we can make sense of this. We learned last week, in the last chapter, that God’s purpose ultimate purpose in human history is to reconcile Heaven and Earth, to bring them back together after they were fractured, separated at the fall. And so he establishes the nation of Israel in the Promised Land as this first outpost of Heaven on Earth, he’s driving the hell out of at least this land to start with. But what happens when he discovers that Hal was actually inside the camp, just a little poison in the brownies, sure, so much chocolate, but still, there’s poison there. If God is going to establish this new city, without sin without pain without mourning, then he can’t leave the rubbish of sin inside, it needs to be cast outside the camp. That’s the main idea like this is what we take away from this passage. Certainly, God will not permit even a trace of sin to remain in the New Covenant community. Not ultimately, because that would wreck it at the get go. So his purpose is loving everything we saw last week, His purpose is loving, he is still doing violence to violence. Specifically, He’s declaring war on war, his intent is peace, what we sang about that time when there will be shalom, his intent is peace and purity, his intent is not vengeance. And the irony in all this, of course, is that the irony of our complaints in particular that God is too harsh here is that this is exactly what we want. When we keep calling out to God for like, we want God to deal with hypocrisy among his people. I mentioned earlier in the series, one of my closest friends was abused by a priest, my favorite writers, his wife was abused by a pastor and we go, you’re going to do something about that, Lord? And how often by the way does Jesus say they’re gonna be surprises on Judgement Day? Because the prostitutes and tax collectors, people like Ray habarana come into the kingdom because they’ve left their sin behind. And the people who don’t think they have any sin, because they got the right religious title are gonna be left outside because their sin remains. So we want God to deal with hypocrisy, do we then get angry with him when he does? No way. Because if he didn’t deal with it, that would infect heaven, like scandals infect the church. In fact, it’s more serious inside the people of God. This is why Peter says First Peter 417, it is time for judgment to begin with us, with us with God’s household. And how this changes the whole framework of understanding judgment. Again, it’s not us versus them. The good people we hang out in this room, the bad people who are out there No, it is God versus sin. And God verses sins, destructive power wherever he finds it. Now this is undoubtedly a severe mercy. But make no mistake, it is mercy. What God does hear anything No, it’s punishment. It wasn’t mercy. Punishment can be mercy. I mean, you think the kid who’s constantly getting into trouble? The best thing for him might be to leave them in jail overnight one time. Like a parent bailing you out over and over and over again, is teaching you what your actions have no consequences. Well, guess what lesson you’re gonna learn. It doesn’t matter what I do. I can just keep going on my merry way. But that night in jail that might change your life forever, that might finally open your eyes to what’s happening. The absence of punishment? Hear me on this the absence of punishment is not a sign of mercy. It is a sign of abandonment.
That’s what happens when God says, Okay, fine, go your own way. Romans one tells us that is the harshest punishment when we are handed over to our sins. God has two choices and a moment like this, he could choose mercy in judgment, in essence, to punish the body so that you can save the soul. Or God can choose judgment in leniency. And so let people continue to harden their hearts against him. Thomas Brooks, the great Puritan preacher says it like this God is most angry when he shows no anger. And he says this, this is a shocking statement. He says, God keep me from Mercy. This kind of mercy is worse than all other misery. A few chapters later, he says it’s a little bit like when the doctor finally gives up on the patient, there’s nothing more I can do. Like that’s when you bring the death now, that person’s a goner. And so when God says, very well, you’re on your own. All hope is then lost. Now, I know some of us have this question going in our minds, because I keep saying, okay, punishment is a sign of mercy, in essence that God is directing and chasing us. Okay. There’s a whole lot of sin in this room right here. Yeah, right. Yes. Okay. Good. Thank you. So how come we aren’t like dying regularly? Then? It kind of takes us back to the question we asked under Uzza when he gets wiped out. And I quoted Hans Cohn, who said, the most mysterious aspect of sin is not that sometimes God zaps a sinner dead. The most mysterious aspect of sin is that most of the time the sinner is allowed to continue living. That’s shocking. So what’s going on here? Why does God do it here and I think looking at Acts, chapter four will help us understand what’s going on here. I mentioned Ananias and Sapphira. Very similar story, right, as the church is being formed. And churches formed in Acts chapter two, this is chapter four, but like, right there, okay. Early weeks, the church being formed, similar kind of situation, actually, there’s a holding back of money. In this case, I’m sure greed motivates it. But more likely, it’s reputation in the community that motivates their sin, where they sell their field. And they say, here’s all the money we got for the field, except it wasn’t. And so they’re lying, not just to the church, they’re lying to the Spirit. Luke tells us in Acts, and so what happens there struck down dead. They’re struck down dead. But what’s so interesting is, in both cases, it’s right, as the new community is being established, right, as Israel gets into the Promised Land, right, as the church is born. And so God acts in both cases in extreme ways in order to nip it in the bud, which serves as a warning then, which is grace to us. And it’s interesting, of course, like Israel gets the picture, read the rest of Joshua, they do pretty well after this. We read at the end of Acts chapter four, actually, after five, I’m gonna say that for this whole time, it’s actually chapter five, or the the end of the anodized inspira story, it says, great fear fell upon the people.
Yep, that would, that would happen, wouldn’t it. But as a result, of course, then they grow as a church because they deal with their sin, it serves as a warning, which is grace to us. Like you don’t begrudge the warning when it’s saved. You don’t begrudge the person who tackles you as you’re about to walk off a cliff, you thank them. And that’s what’s happening here. And we get the graciousness of this moment if we play make believe. Like, what happens if God is lenient, and he doesn’t punish a can and his family? What do you think happens to Aikens heart? It will harden because now he knows I can get away with sin. What do you think happens to his kids? Who seemed like innocent victims and all of this although they are not? What are they gonna learn? They’re gonna learn that they can get away with it. They will learn hypocrisy, that you can just play church, and they will learn delight in sin, so their bodies may thrive, but their souls will die. And then others will find out of course, eventually people gonna go boy Aikens a whole lot richer than he used to be, wonder how that happened, and what is going to happen in the community and now we got poison in the bloodstream, the infection is going to spread. And this is one of the reasons by the way, why the so called harm principle fails as a matter of ethics. Again, he didn’t hurt anyone. Right now. He’s doing enormous harm to others, to his family and to the community. Never mind to God No wonder God will not permit even a trace of sin to remain in the New Covenant community because He loves us. And he hates sins destructive power in our lives. So what does this then mean for us practically? What do we do as we go from here I got three takeaways for us. We can learn from Joshua seven. First of all, it means we better eradicate sin, eradicate sin, akin and I this story, it is a parable for the Christian life in so many ways. It is the reminder that we cannot allow hidden sin in our lives and expect to flourish really in any way but especially spiritually. And so we got to deal with it as ruthlessly as Israel deals with the sin in this story. Like last week, we put on the full armor of God, because this is warfare, right so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. We fight to eradicate sin in our lives be killing sin, John Owen said or sin will be killing you. Eradicate sins second, endure trials. This is not straight from the text. But it is implicit here. Like our dear desire should be letting God drain the poison from our bloodstream. Kill the infection within us. However, not just by the way punishment for sin, sometimes you can kind of draw that one to one connection. Sometimes you can’t sometimes you’re just going through a hard time. But what do we think about those moments when we’re going through trials? The Bible is straightforward. God uses trials to mature us in the faith. Romans eight God works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He uses all things to conform us to the image of His Son First Peter one we’re being refined like gold in the fire was AW Tozer who said, I don’t think I’ve learned anything of value that I have not learned in affliction. And so we endure trials because we know if that’s what God’s gonna use to get this poison out of my life, then thank God, third will be longer here. engage others. engage others one piece we can’t miss in this story is the importance of community. Did you notice it’s all Israel, that stones Aiken at the end? This is why I chose this story by the way and not Ananias and Sapphira. I’m cheating. Okay, I just talked about you should confess your sin. So here you go.
I cheated this week. Because God did not kill Aiken, Israel killed Aiken. And God zapped and niacin, Sapphira. Dead. They’re a much better choice except I wanted us to talk about this piece that the community was involved in purging sin from among them. I said before your sin reflects on your community. And on the God that community proclaims mean for how many years after the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Did that reflect negatively on not just individual priests but the Catholic Church? Still, in so many ways? What about evangelicals? We don’t have any problems like that, right? Ravi Zacharias, Mark Driscoll, James McDonald, Bill Hybels, Brian Houston, Carl lens, I could keep going. You have 100 others I could mention real quick. Do you think that’s reflected negatively on the Evan Jellicle church at all? And what culture thinks about us? That’s why the community is involved in the punishment. Because we’re implicated in it as well. This shocks us I get but it shouldn’t. We should be zealous for the purity of this community. The community is responsible for the holiness of the community, which means you are responsible for the holiness of this community. We saw this in June we just did you’d be merciful to those who doubt save others by snatching them from the fire to others show mercy mixed with fear hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. We get involved we engage in the mass. Now I gotta talk for a moment here about what this looks like. I cannot form a community for you. Now there can Kyle or the other elders. It is not our job to form a community. me say that again, because I’m not sure everyone’s clear on that. It is not our job to form community it would be impossible. How can we possibly connect you in those ways? All we can do is creates structures, spaces for community to form. But you have got to engage in those structures that are created, again, community groups, Journey groups, whatever this looks like. But that means that we all have this part to play, we all engage each other. We have conversations regularly, in which we engage in loving, rebuke. Otherwise, we’re just toddlers tattling. I cannot tell you how many times people come to me and let me know about somebody else’s sin. I’m going What do you want me to do about it? No, me to say so and so told me. That’s gossip. That’s not spiritual. You come to me and say that, here’s what I’m gonna tell you this way. You don’t have to come to me anymore. Go talk to them. You were the one who was there in engage with your community. This is the pattern Jesus sets for church discipline anyway, which is exactly what our story is about. Jesus says, If you see a brother or sister in sin, go tell your past. No, go talk to them. You see something, you say something, if they don’t respond if they harden their hearts to Okay, now you involve others. And that is church discipline. That’s significant. One reason we emphasize membership at this church and we certainly do. Membership class starts in two weeks, by the way, so come on, sign up for it. It defines the community. It tells us where the walls are. And it allows for discipline, we cannot do discipline where there isn’t membership. And that’s significant. Why because discipline is mercy. Discipline is mercy. I’ve done church discipline a number of times my life, it doesn’t happen regularly. It happens sometimes. Twice. I’ve done it where the person just left and went to another church. And we do what we should do there. I call up that pastor and say, Hey, so and so’s come to your church. They’re under discipline. And both times you know, the pastor did nothing. That is a heartbreaking, because that is a handing someone over to death.
You see how important this is? Why it matters. But here’s the thing, we don’t want to have to get to that stage anyway. Can I say it like this you are the gentlest discipline your friends and family will know. Because if you call me it gets intense. Because now the principal’s in the room. And that just gets you know, it’s all much bigger deal. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ enough to act we struggle with cowardice in community. We are guilty of a sinful politeness that scripture condemns engage, duly read it for us earlier speak the truth in love. That’s how the body is built up and matures. And if somebody had done it would it have been a different story for Aiken and his kids, God will not permit even a trace of sin to remain in the New Covenant community. Because if he did, that would make hell of heaven. So eradicate sin in your own life. endure trials is purifying grace and engage with others be zealous for the purity of the community, to Let’s eat the brownies, by all means. Let’s get the poison out. First, let’s pray.
Father, we are grateful for your discipline in our lives. We know that you discipline us because you love us as a father loves His children. The discipline is how you correct us for our good, so that we can experience life and not death, both in this life and forever. Help us Lord, to receive discipline as an act of mercy, to receive it with thanksgiving. And to receive it with humble soft hearts. As you by your Spirit empower us to eradicate sin in our own lives and to be zealous to help others eradicate sin in their lives to God. Would you form us into the sort of community that is passionate about the purity of the people of God? Because we know that our lives will either bring you honor or dishonor and we would love a ball above all else for you to be glorified in and through us. Amen.
go ahead, grab your Bibles open up to Joshua chapter six. I’m going to talk through a story this morning that you probably all know even if this is your first time in church, you probably have at least a little bit of familiarity with it. But as you’re turning there, on February 24 of this year, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. And the world was appalled. Norrell was appalled in particular, as the days went by. And the weeks went by with the indiscriminate shelling of cities, so that non combatants were killed as well as soldiers. And that even seemed to be intentional at several points where hospitals were being hit, or shelter areas where it said quite clearly there are kids in this building, and they’re like, super, we’re going to aim at that one. So it was not just soldiers, but women and children who are being slaughtered. And of course, as the months have gone by, we’ve known they’re being tortured and raped as well. And so the world has been almost uniform in our condemnation of Russia’s invasion. This church is not a political entity. We do not take a political stance on almost anything. And yet we’ve got Ukraine’s colors out front on one of our trees. We didn’t put them there somebody else did. I don’t know who but even still, you’re kind of like, no, that’s cool. I think we’re pretty much on Ukraine side here. That’s That’s how uniform our condemnation was. Because what did you have you have an invading army, attacking an innocent nation and slaughtering innocent people for the purpose of conquest. And we’re appalled. Now read Joshua, and tell me what’s different.
And you can see why people got questions. As they look at the story of Jasmine. In fact, I had somebody asked me this question, a mature Christian, back in February happened to be in Joshua for her URI Bible reading and said, like I’m reading the news, and I’m reading Joshua, and how are we okay with us? That’s a great question. So this isn’t an added complication to the series. We look at people God killed beggar cheating this week, of course, because God didn’t kill them. We’ve got you know, Israel’s the one attacking here. So we’ve been looking at the question, why is it okay for God to kill people like Rosa and the Diab and Abby who or Saddam? And honestly, I’m not saying it’s easy to swallow. But the easy the answer itself is easy. God owes us nothing. Every breath we breathe is a gift from him. He could decide at any moment. Your time is up and he has that privilege. He’s the God of the universe, but that’s God, who is transcendently other who’s not just holy, but holy, holy, holy. The harder question is what makes it okay for Israel? Which is a ragtag bunch of sinners to do it. Right? That’s the harder question. It is the Holy War question and a lot of us are uncomfortable with holy war because how many times have armies used the name of whatever God To justify their barbaric acts is that what’s happening here we have an invading army attacking an innocent nation for the purpose of conquest. And we should condemn it. But as we’ll see, almost every word in that sentence is wrong. And that’s what we’re going to try and unpack as we dig in and crack some characters about Holy War as we go. So just a little different approach. I’m gonna read the whole passage for us up front. And since the story is pretty well known, I’m not going to go through verse by verse instead, we’re going to look at the main players involved here, and especially a lot of background information, both historically and biblically to begin to answer some of these questions. So let me read all of Joshua chapter six for us. Now, the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites, no one went out and no one came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, see, I have delivered Jericho into your hands along with its king and it’s fighting men marched around the city once with all the armed men do this for six days have seven pre scary trumpets of rams horns in front of the ark, on the seventh day, March around the city seven times when the priest with the priests blowing the trumpets, when you hear them sounded long blast on the trumpets have the whole army give a loud shout, and the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up. Everyone’s straight in. So Joshua son of non called the priests instead of them take up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and have seven pre scary trumpets in front of it. And he ordered the army advance march around the city with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord. When Joshua had spoken to people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets in the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets in the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding But Joshua had commanded the army do not give a war cry, Do not raise your voices do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout, then shout. So at the ark of the Lord carrying around a city circling at once, and the army returned to camp and spent the night there. Joshua got up early the next morning and preach to the ark of the Lord and seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward marching for the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord while the trumpets kept sounding. So on the second day, they marched around the city once returned to the camp. They did this for six days. On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day, they circle the city seven times the seventh time around when the pre sound of the trumpet blasts, Joshua commanded the army shout, for the Lord has given you the city, the city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord, only Rahab, the prostitute and all who are with her and her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent, but keep away from the devoted things so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury. When the trumpet sounded, the army shouted and at the sound of the trumpet when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed. So everyone charged straighten and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it, men and women, young and old cattle, sheep and donkeys. Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land go into the prostitutes house and bring her out and all who belonged to her and according to their oath to her, so the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab her father and mother, her brothers and sisters, and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the whole city and everything in it. They put the silver golden the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house, but Josh was spared Rahab, the prostitute with her family and all who belonged her because she hid them in Joshua had sent his spies to Jericho, she lives among the Israelites to this day. At that time, Joshua pronounced the solemn oath, curse before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild the city Jericho, the cost of his firstborn son, he will lay its foundations at the cost of his youngest he will set up at the gates, the Lord is with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the land.
Alright, let’s take a look at these players. Let’s start with the invaders themselves. So who exactly are these invaders, the nation of Israel? Is Israel simply using God or His name to justify the conquest of innocent peoples, the way many have done throughout history, even in the United States, you know, marching under the banner of manifest destiny or something like that to slaughter the indigenous? Do they have Hitler’s justification? In essence, why did Hitler begin invading Czechoslovakia and elsewhere was the idea of Lebensraum living space? We just need more elbow rooms we’re gonna have to take over some more land. Well look at Israel, they’re this great nation, couple million people, but they’re wandering around is this just Czechoslovakia and they’re marching into it at this point, because history doesn’t look kindly on invading armies. We got issues with conquest and colonization and the slaughtered indigenous. So we got questions. Except that’s not what’s happening. That’s not what’s happening in the slightest. Israel is a puny nation of former slaves. In fact, they have themselves been oppressed for more than 400 years at this point, having escaped Egypt by the strong hand of their God, they don’t head to boot camp. They’re not going to Navy SEAL training at this point. They’re wandering around in the desert, where the first generation is actually dying off in its entirety, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. They didn’t have any weapons on them. Because as they were leaving Egypt, Egypt did not hand them their arms, weirdest thing. They did not find a stockpile of weapons in the desert. God was providing food for them. Yes, absolutely, probably could have provided weapons. Miraculously. He’s an omnipotent God after all, but we do not read that the quail came in with swords, so that they had meat and swords there. This is a group of people living on prison, fair bread and water miraculously provided Yes, but bread and water for 40 years, going up against an advanced military, with chariots, with fortresses, who are experienced in battle, and who are themselves conquerors, as we will see. I like the way Joshua Ryan Butler, I’ve mentioned the book skeletons and God’s closet already drawing quite a bit from it today as well, but he says this and there he says, you know, Canaan has fortified military outposts. Israel has a wooden box they built in the desert that houses the presence of their Lord, by the way, not gonna want to touch that box. As we learned in week two. Kanan has practiced military strategy on the surrounding nations again, their conquerors, Israel has been learning how to ward off snakes, and particularly unsuccessfully at a few points as well. Canaan has polished you army armor, whereas Israel has the rags they’ve been wearing in the desert for a few decades. You see the problem with our character. And this is not the strong, taking on the weak. It’s exactly the opposite. This is the weak taking on the strong this is the oppressed taking on the oppressor.
In fact, this is so odd. This is why they had to wander in the desert for 40 years, because they show up there the first time and some spies go through the land. 12 of them and they come back and they go, nope. We’re like grasshoppers before them. And you know what happens? The grasshoppers boots, that’s what happens to Grasshopper is not good thing. So we’re not going to do this. Only Joshua and Caleb say, Sure we can. We’ve got God on our side, no one else wants to do it. So they’re saying we would be insane to invade this country, we will lose. And so that’s important for us because like you expect a high school or a grade school bully to pick on the little kids on the playground. That’s what they do. You do not expect a grade school bully to take on the high school football team. That’s dumb. You don’t do it. In the same way. We expect genocidal dictators to wipe out dissidents and protesters are watching it happen in Iran right now. Those genocidal dictators rarely get in a tank by themselves and drive towards DC. Not a good option. Okay, so that’s what Israel’s doing here so you can see them something else must be at work is real is the little girl that’s been getting bullied, whose lunch money keeps getting stolen, finally taking on the bully. She is the group of protesters dissidents standing up against the dictator. In other words, these are not the invaders but if we’re going to fill in our blank here, these are the weak, the weak, they’re in tattered clothing, outmanned, and outgunned, absolutely hopeless, unless someone with a capital S helps. And so why are they doing this? Not because of the righteousness of the nation. Not because they think this is their right or something. But it’s the righteousness of the cause itself. It’s exactly the point God makes like this is not a group of people saying, we deserve this. God goes out of his way to make sure they know it’s the opposite of these are sinners saved by grace. Here’s what he says Deuteronomy nine verse four, says, Moses speaking people after the Lord your God has driven them out before you do not say to yourself, the Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness. No, it is not a count of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. So this is a nation that is weak physically and spiritually as well. We got to keep this verse in mind as we go as we look at the next one, because what’s the other major player here? So we’ve looked at Israel, the invaders were actually the weak ones. Look at those who are being invaded the innocents except that we’ve already seen that innocent isn’t the right word. We can fill in the blank immediately here because of Deuteronomy nine four, it is because of the wickedness of these nations, so it is on account of their wicked So God drives them out. Even as God calls Abraham to the Promised Land, like way back in Genesis 15, he lets Abraham know that it’s going to be a while. It’s going to be more than four centuries. And during that time, Israel is going to be enslaved and mistreated. Why, let’s look at Genesis 15 is verses 14 and 16. Know for certain that for 400 years, your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, but they will be enslaved and mistreated there. In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back here for the sin of the Emirates has not yet reached its full measure. So important, but look 400 years, when we talk about history, we sometimes lose sight of big numbers like 400 years is a long time what was happening 400 years ago, like the Plymouth Rock colony was maybe going to make it there, we’re starting to feel good about the fact that they could possibly survive. Like we’re talking Mayflower time anything changed in the world since then, like, you know, running water, electricity, little things. But so make sure you caught that Israel is going to be suffering injustice, oppression, mistreatment, slavery for a long time, a long time. So the complaint we make against God when we read of Jericho is not the complaint that Israel would have been making. We’re saying, God, how could you intervene like this? How could you judge this innocent nation? Israel’s going What took you so long? What took you so long that we had to suffer? How long Lord do we have to endure? And keep in mind this is Abraham’s family. I mean, you think of how he responded in Genesis 15 Like we get zealous for our family don’t
we? I think I’ve shared this before but you know, like the first time you hold a baby girl in your arms as a dad, I can speak from a lot of experience here. You just think so beautiful. I could kill someone no luck. That’s what’s changed in my life is now I’m capable of murder. Because if you mess with this girl, I’m gonna go Liam Neeson on you, just without the particular skill set is all and Abraham’s hearing this and going, that’s my family that you’re talking about. Why would you let them suffer for four centuries? Because God won’t judge too soon. That’s why God is so unimaginably patient. We keep worrying, is he flying off the handle when he kills? You have no idea how patient God is. He says their sins have to reach their full measure. I don’t want anyone to think I came in early here. We need to wait until their hearts have become irrevocably hardened that their culture is irremediably evil. Now what sin precisely are we talking about though? It’s a weird one, right? Because God takes Israel out of Egypt and then punishes Canaan. That’s another question I got. Why not punish mean Egypt Canaan’s, just they’re minding their own business and somehow they get thrown under the bus not at all. They are guilty of injustice and conquest and enslavement. Egypt gets punished to of course, by the way, so we’re gonna do like a quick study of the Bible as a whole give me like, five minutes, we’ll cover it. Alright. So scripture Presents Most of the battle between good and evil as a battle between two cities. Those two cities are almost always named Babylon and Jerusalem. Once Jerusalem is established, even in Revelation. It’s so interesting, Babylon has been wiped out. So completely wiped out that archaeologists actually didn’t think there was a Babylon until they tripped over it in the desert a few decades ago. So Babylon, so completely wiped out and yet in Revelation, we’re reading about Babylon waging war on the saints. Now, we’re talking about Rome, of course, because it’s got seven hills, which is actually true of Rome and not Babylon. But the point there is a Babylon is stands for something more. It’s not that one city in modern day Iraq. It is the city of man in rebellion against God, is what it looks like when the world stands against God’s rule. And so what is Babel? Where is it founded after the flood, it is the place where culture, not an individual, but culture first D, God’s God, the Tower of Babel, is the place where they say, What if we didn’t need God anymore? What if we made a name for ourselves, we could just like take care of ourselves. So that’s the place of rebellion against God. Here’s how Augustine describes these two cities, two loves built to cities, the earthly, which is built by the love of self, even to the contempt of God, and the heavenly which is built by the love of God, even to the contempt of self Babylon is that first city. That’s Biblical shorthand for that first city. Let’s watch this progression here as it happens to so Adam and Eve sin, and they get driven out of the garden. And God puts an angel at the entrance to the garden on what side on the east side of the garden. Flaming sore. Okay, interesting. So they must have gone out the east side, then Cain, you know, murders his brother, all that kind of stuff. And so he moves to not because he’s getting driven farther out. And whereas not it is East of Eden, we’re still moving eastward. And then here’s Genesis 11, verses two and four, right? As they’re about to build the Tower of Babel. As people moved eastward, they found a plane in China and settled there and said, Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches the heavens that we may make a name for ourselves. That’s Babylon. Okay, but now some of you still have a question for me. You’re looking at me like that was so interesting. I’ve never seen that Easting before. That’s really cool. We’re talking about Canaan, not Babylon. Brandon. Like, you lost the plot here, guy. Okay, sure.
So we’re talking about Canaan. And God even says in Genesis 15, the sin of the Amorites. Specifically, we’re not really familiar with the Amorites. Today, that’s part of our problem. You know, who is familiar with the Amorites? Abraham, the one that God was talking to here, because they were really the founders of Babylonian culture. All the Babylonian kings and queens have Amorite names, who invaded or Abraham’s hometown, he was familiar with their conquest and their pillaging, and what’s happening. So they’re over in Iraq, and they’re moving steadily, westward. Every sin was being driven out eastward, and now it’s coming back westward. So what is happening here, God is being patient with these violent Kung keystores, who are building this ungodly Empire as they enslave surrounding people. It’s Babylon invading Eden. That’s what’s happening. And so that’s why God is against them, and why eventually they’re driven out of Canaan. And we got one last piece here, because this is all well and good. And you know, you look like you’re tracking me and all that kind of stuff. But the other question we still have is the women and kids like so who is in Jericho, exactly, verse 21, we saw that they’re supposed to devote the whole city to the Lord and put to the sword. Men, women, young, and old, nevermind a whole bunch of animals. So that’s part of our concern is we’re back to the non combatants being killed, it seems indiscriminately. But is that true? I think this is a misconception here. If you look back at verse two, it says, I have delivered Jericho in your hands along with its king. And it’s fighting men. He’s already kind of defined who was actually in that place King would have met more like military commander, then we are talking about a fortress. This is a military outpost Jericho. I know that’s not what we think of because we hear city and we think Kyiv we think a population center, center of culture where all these people are here. But in an agrarian society, you don’t live inside the city, because you got to make your own food. So you live out in your fields. You only time you ever go into the city is if they’re pillaging the villages kind of thing. And then you’re, you know, you go like Helm’s Deep, and you’re hanging out in the really big fortress kind of thing. But if they’re attacking the fortress, you make sure you get out and you go to your house in the fields and hope that nobody notices that you were there. So scholars have shown pretty conclusively that Jericho was his military outpost that would have housed about 150 soldiers. I know that’s not what you were picturing all these years. But that’s what it was. Actually. We know that it’s tiny to because you remember that on that seventh day, they walk around it seven times in a day. You walking around Chicago seven times in a day? No, not anywhere close to it. Not even if you’re a marathon kind of person. This is a tiny little place. So with a military outpost, of course, you’re gonna have a military outposts. What do you need to have? Well, a tavern would be nice, preferably with a prostitute. So you keep the soldiers happy. So we’ve got Rahab there, this tavern would be the place that people who were coming through would stay and in parts that the military could keep an eye on who was coming which they do if you go back and look at Joshua chapter two, we are not dealing with women and children here not that that would make them innocent by the way. Some of you ladies are Lexi we’re going to know your wicked sinners also Okay, let’s not be sexist here. The kids all the potential is there they just haven’t actualized it yet. Sure. I’m not sure that that innocent either but alright, so verse 21, though still says they put to the sword men, women, young and old. What about that? Let’s just Astok phrase that would mean the sum total, everybody who was there, it’s a little bit like, if you had an announcer or somebody who gets up on stage and says, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, does that mean they’re all there necessarily? No, it’s just something we say, right? And that’s what we have here as well, even then they don’t necessarily kill everyone who is in there. It does say, they destroyed with a sword, everything that was in it at the end of the battle, but not those who fled. Joshua and the Israelites.
You know, as they defeat the army, we read later that they would it would say things like, they defeated them completely. And the survivors fled. We were like, Well, which one? Is it? Both? Exactly. So what do we have here? It’s not invaders attacking an innocent nation, but oppressed slaves rising up against bloodthirsty conquerors. So if you are somebody who pictures all military engagements in terms of world war two analogies, which is how I work for sure. If you’re picturing Joshua, as Hitler and Israel as Germany and World War Two, you need to drastically revise your analogy. This is much more like the Jews in Dachau and Auschwitz, rising up against the prison guards and the Nazi military. Now, why didn’t they rise up and Dachau and Auschwitz? Because you’re outmanned and outgunned, like you would need to win a miracle. And that takes us to the third point, what is the intent here? Because that then changes our understanding of the intent of the of this invasion. This is not Israel invading for the purpose of conquest. This is God doing something because Israel can’t do anything. the ridiculousness of the story makes this clear. There. There’s no power here. There’s no strategy here that’s going to win this battle. What they’re doing is insanity. Unless God shows up, and then all of that changes, of course, that’s often God’s military strategy. He wants His people to do absolutely insane things. So that they know that the victory was his and not theirs. You got a nine foot tall giant that wants to take on somebody in the army, you know, it’d be best, a pipsqueak who’s so small, no military experience so small, he can’t even wear the armor because he can’t move in it. And if the big giant beats the little guy, we all become slaves. Good strategy. Good strategy. Okay, well, I love this one too with Gideon, right as he’s going to fight the Moabites 32,000 people and God says 32,000 means you guys are gonna think you did that. How about we sent home 31,700 of them. And the 300 of you can take on the Moabite army. That sounds good. Because then there’s no confusion. We know that it was God I have hanging in my office, Exodus 1414, the Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still. The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still by the way, this totally changes another verse, though a lot of us like, so you do your quiet time every morning. And you got your arm chair, right? With your favorite pillow and your nice throw blanket on these chilly fall mornings and stuff. And on one side is hanging is from Hobby Lobby. It’s got the same calligraphy that every other side in the world has right now. And it says this house runs on Jesus plus coffee. And on the other side. It says I know some of you are like he’s making fun of me. I’m making fun of a lot of you right now. Okay. And on the other side, it says Psalm 46, verse 10. Be still and know that I am God. You want to know what that has nothing to do with your quiet time. That is a holy war verse. Just like Exodus 1414. You need only to be still what God is saying in that moment is sit down, shut up, and just watch what I’m going to do. We know that. But if you were to read all of Psalm 46, and put the verse in context and stuff, right before it God’s talking about breaking the bow and shattering the spear, he’s going to make wars cease to the ends of the earth. And we just watch him work in his power. Israel is not fighting, you know, in God’s name under God’s banner in order to expand their empire. Not at all. God is fighting for Israel to dismantle this ungodly empire that stands in rebellion against Him. This is exactly what we saw last week. I told you this was part two and I had somebody be like, it’s not part two. I read it. It’s not part two. It is part two, I promise you okay, what is happening here is what we saw last week. God is driving hell out of Earth. And that’s what he’s doing right here. The Promised Land is the first colony of heaven. then being established among this hellish existence that we endure, so God is taking on the powers of darkness at work in this world.
This is not again Hitler, or the keystores, attacking Canaan, but this is God at work for those who are in the concentration camps for the natives who are being slaughtered. Joshua Ryan Butler, he says it like this, I think is a great quote, true Holy War is not when we strap bombs to our chests and say, We will fight for God. But it’s contradiction when God steps in for the vulnerable and defenseless and says, I will fight for you. But this still raises questions for us, like how do we reconcile the violence of this conquest with God’s love? And the answer is that we have to look at his intent, which is very different, Miroslav Volf, who endured the wars of the Balkans, he’s seen all the atrocities that were going on now in the world, and he says it like this. He says, God’s violence is so different from our violence, because God’s violence is a violence against violence. God is taking on violence itself, the injustice, the evil that undergirds it. So when God acts decisively like this, it is His holy love being poured out against the destructive power of sin, to love overwhelming the power of sin. God’s intent, then is not war. God’s intent is peace. The peace we talked about last week, it is shalom, that fullness of peace that is so much more than just the absence of conflict, but the presence of human flourishing the presence of justice and righteousness in order for God, to bring in this peace, establish this peace on the earth, he must destroy evil. And that does correct another misconception for us. The goal is not to destroy the Canaanites, but to drive evil out, then drive hell out of earth. He read this language throughout, here’s Deuteronomy 1123. This is Moses talking about what Joshua is going to do. The Lord will drive out all these nations before you and you will dispossessed nations larger and stronger than you again, they’re the ones being buoyed not the opposite. And then what happens at the end, Joshua 23, verse nine, what happened, the Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations this day, no one has had been able to withstand you. So the goal is not destruction, but driving out it is the language of exile, not execution. effect, the first time that that language is used being driven out is in Genesis chapter three, when Adam and Eve are driven out of Eden, they’re exiled from the place they were supposed to be. This is part of why the conquest begins with this display of unmatched power. The walls just fall down when they shout, why? Because God is hoping the Canaanites will melt with fear and flee, so that they will not be destroyed. Make sense of the very last verse of the chapter, doesn’t it? Verse 27, their fame spread. That’s good, because it means people are gonna go. I don’t want any of that. I should go, I should leave. It actually goes even further than that, though. It’s not just that they have the opportunity to flee. The possibility of redemption is always there for anyone who would take it. It’s interesting in verse one, we read that the gates are shut. Richard Hess, he’s a commentator on Joshua says that that’s almost symbolic. The gates are shut against the people of God, just as surely as their hearts are shut against the word of God. They had heard stories of the God of Israel and what he had done in Egypt, why not rather than turn and be saved? Even seven times around the city and that’s on the seventh day? What do they do in that whole time, like, put the slushies down and just repent? That was a test to see how many you grew up in the 90s in church, okay, if you don’t know why I just mentioned slushies. You are missing out? That’s all I’ll say. They’re marching around the city seven times that the people would go, I quit. I quit. I don’t want to do this. I’m with them. I’m going with them. Instead. We’ve seen it even when we saw the proffered grace. And we saw someone who sees that I’ve skipped her this whole time. But this is Rahab. The gates of the city are shut tight.
But her window is open. Just like her heart is Rahab is proof of God’s plans and his heart even for those in rebellion against Him. You can be saved. God’s heart is for the nations people from east and west coming together. This is not ethnic cleansing or anything like that. The kingdom of God is open to all who would end Here we read of this Canaanite, who becomes part of Israel, the people of God. In fact that even says in verse 25, she lives among them. Still she is a true Israelite at this point. How completely Is she an Israelite, by the way? Let’s look at Matthew chapter one, we’ll see verses five and six is the genealogy the part you skip in your your Bible reading, don’t skip it. There’s important stuff there. Pick it up in the middle of it, Simone, the father of Boaz, whose mother was Frey hab, the pagan prostitute. And yet she marries an Israelite. And I have this baby boy named Boaz, who’s the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, by the way, book of the Bible, named after her kind of cool story. Oh, and keep in mind, she’s a Moabite, which means that his daughters all that icky stuff from last week. Here’s that story being redeemed. And Ruth and Boaz have a little baby named Obed, who’s the father of Jesse and Jesse, he’s the father of King David. And the genealogy doesn’t end there. The genealogy ends with Jesus, the Savior of the world you look at as an ancestral tree. And there’s Rahab, the prostitute from Canaan. And there’s Ruth, the Moabite. That’s his redemptive purpose. God’s purpose is peace. His plan is peace. He’s declaring war on violence. He’s building a kingdom of peace. But to do that, he’s got to drive out the kingdom of darkness to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. And that takes us to our last point here, we’re moving out of Joshua and into the rest of the Bible. What is the ideal? What is the fulfillment, the culmination of all of this, like Sodom last week, Jericho functions as a symbol of what’s to come? Like Israel in the Promised Land is not the climax of this story. It is pointing towards a greater fulfillment. We know that because Israel brings a whole lot of sin into the promised land. We’re going to read it next week in Joshua chapter seven. Okay, the next story is where we’re going here, okay, so they bring sin into the promised land, they prostitute themselves to Canaanite gods, and they imitate Canaanite practices. Which means the Bible tells us early on, we need a new and better Joshua. Joshua, by the way, and Hebrew was Yeshua. If you were to translate that into Latin, it sounds an awful lot like Jesus. That’s who we need a better Joshua to lead us into a better promised land to lead us into and here’s the fill in the blank, the ideal to lead us into the city of God, the heavenly city, where sin will be no more.
Jesus defeat sin by being defeated by it. And contrast to Jericho, the walls fall on him. he conquers death by descending into the grave. But that’s not the end of the story. He rises on the third day in triumph, and raises all those who trust in Him to new spiritual life, so that we can live as heavenly exiles that outpost of a future kingdom here on earth, and then he will return and final victory, to wage war on the city of man. We read and revelation of a rider on a white horse whose name is faithful and true, who judges in justice. That’s Jesus. Again, what language does revelation use for the city of man? Babylon, a sin of the Amorites, rebellion, injustice, evil and violence, Christ rides to victory destroys every country, Dominion, authority, and power all of Hell’s lackeys on Earth. With the same power that knocks over Jericho is walls he ends once and for all the empires of evil, the structures and cultures of the city of man and he establishes this new city, the heavenly Jerusalem, the fulfillment of Eden, by the way, it is a city Yes. And right in the middle that is a tree. It’s a garden and a city all at once Eden’s purpose is fulfilled, we know that in that city, there will be no sin, no evil, no morning, why no morning because the destructive power of evil has been driven out and all of the effects that break our hearts so interesting, too, we read that the city descends from heaven. It’s totally opposite from everyone was like what we’re talking about last week, right? This is not we ascend to heaven. Heaven comes down to earth, the new heavens and the new earth are reconciled together. The angel shows John and this division how big this city is? It’s 15,000 Miles cubed. That is a big city. Good luck walking around that one seven times. That’s the size of a country isn’t why? Because there’s room for all who would enter city is so big that if a rock like that landed on Earth, it would knock us off our axis and out of our orbit. And it’s cubed. Isn’t that fascinating? Cities are not cubed. That was like a really tall building 15,000 miles, right. Why is it cubed revelation deals and highly symbolic language. Of course, there’s only one other cube significant in Scripture. It’s the most holy place. The temple is, you know, three long and one high in the most holy places, a third of that it’s a perfect cube, you see the point, right, all of heaven will become that most holy place. But for that to happen, God has got to root sin out and that means we are in trouble, said it. Last week, we’re all living in Sodom because Saddam lives in all of us. We’re all living in Jericho and Babylon. Two, we participate in the structures and cultures of the city of man in so many ways. And so that’s kind of bad. First of all, that’s one reason why we gather, right when we come here, this is that future kingdom. This is an embassy of that future kingdom, we come to remember where we’re headed, and hopefully kind of pull up the roots a bit so that we don’t put roots down in Babylon, Jericho, and Saddam. But there’s bad news because that sin is in us. So I want to leave us with an encouragement, and a challenge as we go from here. The encouragement is Rahab story is our story. We Rahab story is the story of the shepherd going after that one lost sheep. You got sin in your life? Yes, so did she. And we can be saved if we trust in God. Every Canaanite can become an Israelite, a part of the people of God by faith in Christ Jesus. But you don’t get to carry your sin into the heavenly city. And that’s the challenge then the encouragement is we’re saved by grace. So it’s okay that you’re a sinner. But the challenge is put that sin to death. As Paul tells us in Romans eight, the Christian life is a life of warfare.
We do not wage war against flesh and blood though. We wage war against the powers of darkness. This is why in Ephesians, six, Paul tells us, we got to make ourselves ready for battle. We got to put on the armor of God the gospel, to declare total war on the sin in our lives. Where does sin remain in your heart even now? Where are their Geragos fortified cities? Where you are protecting and cherishing your sin and unwilling to let the gospel come in? Where are you stoking Hell’s fires within you still? Jesus came to save us Yes, but Jesus came to purify us to to drive the sin out of us to fit us for heaven to live with him there if I can quote the Christmas carol a few months too early, early. Let’s sum up. Israel is not slaughtering the innocence for the purpose of conquest. No, God is fighting for Shalom. The City of God is breaking into the kingdom of man, God fights the wicked on behalf of the week to bring the peace of Heaven into this world. That’s what holy war is. Let me say it again. God fights the wicked on behalf of the week to bring the peace of Heaven into this world and into our hearts. Let’s pray. Lord, we do pray that even now your kingdom would break in in our lives. We can confess that there are Jericho within us whose walls oftentimes we would prefer not to fall down. Put in our heart of hearts in the deepest place. Lord when we behold your beauty we know we want you to conquer that territory to would you God would you help us to put our sin to death by the spirit that we might see the kingdom of heaven established fully in our hearts love with your kingdom come and your will be done beginning in us but in this world to how we pray that you would Dr. evil and wickedness and injustice from this world. It is what we all long for when we cry out for justice. Lord, we pray that that would happen as many many many rehabs repent and choose to become a part of your Are people and to let you drive the sin out of their hearts? And may we be bold and winsome and loving ambassadors of that coming kingdom for their sakes. Lord, we know how this story ends. We know what you are planning to do. And as we see that Lord, we pray even so, Lord Jesus quickly. Amen. Amen.
Silence & Solitude
Okay, you can go ahead grab your Bibles, turn to Luke chapter five. Luke chapter five, by a show of hands, who has felt like since Thanksgiving till yesterday, you were just busy. Okay, a lot going on, right? We live in this constant state of busyness in the last month or so there just seems to be always something going on. And it’s just one of those times of the year where that happens. We know there’s other times as well. And we know that also, because there’s less of you here. So Christmas was yesterday. It’s a lot to get up on the day after and come to church. So I guarantee there’s more people watching online today, because we’re just tired. It’s been very busy, and many others are traveling, being with family and friends for the holidays. And if we’re honest, this is kind of our natural state anyways, we’re just busy people. How many times you hear that when you ask them the question, how was your weekend or how’s your day going? It’s just It’s busy. It’s chaotic, I’m tired. I have no idea where my kids are right now. So they did a study back in 2019, that found and this is 2019, pre pandemic, and 2019. They found that people said they have 26 minutes of free time, a week, 26 minutes of free time a week. I don’t know what their definition was a free time and all that. But we’re busy people. And then the pandemic came, we’re like, wow, we have all this time in the world. We’re going to change some things. And now things are slowly getting back to normal. We see we’re just busy. Again, we just schedule more and more things. So I don’t know, if you’re like me, I’ve looked at my schedule before I said, Well, I’ve got a lot going on, anybody been there. And he said, Maybe I should change some things. And then we don’t. Because the next week just looks just as busy. And just as busy the next week, this is becoming a big deal in our country in our society with youth, college and younger, back in 2019. Again, pre pandemic, they did a study that found the anxiety and depression among youth is just continuing to rise. And what has happened in the last couple of years has only amplified those numbers. So much. So the Surgeon General just published published a protecting Youth Mental Health Advisory that was sent out saying this is a public health issue, a crisis. There’s too much of this going on. And they point in that study mainly to social media and technology is the reasons. And a lot of that also has to do with time being too busy. I had a middle schooler two years ago, say something talking about an event coming up says I have to check my schedule. I never had a schedule in middle school. And so like those types of things, like that’s just kind of built into our culture, we have to check and make sure we don’t have something else going on. across the generations though this mental health crisis having to do with anxiety and depression is going in the wrong direction. And I believe the church has something to say about it. Because I believe God has something to say about it in his word, because he wants us to rest. He really does. He wants us to rest. And so that’s what this brief series is all about. Press pause choosing, you can see that the subtitle there is not on the screen, but it’s choosing rest, and a restless world. And I intentionally chose those words, because we can’t find it. We have to choose rest. We have to choose rest in this day and age. And so here’s the definition, we’re going to look use for press pause both this week. And next. This is what pressing pause is it’s making intentional time in your day to pursue God and to hear from him. Okay, pursue God and hear from him. So let me illustrate it for you this way, when my kids are watching TV, and I want them to do something, okay, I will go down and I will call their names while the TV is still on. So their focus, laser focus right on the TV, they don’t hear me at all. So I have two options. I can say their names again, and get louder and louder and louder. Every time I call their name or I can pick up the remote. And press pause. Now after they’re appalled that I would pause their show and they come back to Earth. They realize Oh Dad has something to say.
But that’s the those my only options I can just get louder and louder and louder, I can just press pause and make them cease from what they’re doing. stop what they’re doing. And that’s what we need to do in this life. We need to press pause from some things to go do something else, something better for us. Something that God wants us to do and to just take a second to rest. So some important things to say on the front end here. That will be for this week. And next in looking at this idea of press pause first some things about the world and then to some things about God and the church. So first the world, the world is loud. That’s the truth. The world is loud. And I don’t just mean volume, though that is true. I mean, just the number of things that are coming at us from all angles every single day the world is loud. I don’t think anybody would debate that to the world’s practice of rest is very different from The church’s view of rest, certainly the Bible’s view of rest, some of the things like social media technology the world considers restful, and yet, that’s what’s causing anxiety, depression. So we have to have a different view of this. Third, the world is in trouble if we don’t slow down. Okay, the world is in trouble if we don’t slow down. And if the church doesn’t leave that as well, because there’s just gonna be more anxiety, depression, rage, anger, impatience. Because we’re constantly going, there’s always something to do. So those are some truths about the world, some truths about God and us as God gave us rest as a gift. It is a gift that he has given to us. He’s built it into the fabric of His creation, God ceased from working to step back and and just enjoy his creation. And he’s given that to us as a gift as well. God is not opposed to hard work, he is opposed to neglecting rest. Okay, he is a post that it’s one of the 10 commandments. And we’ll look at the way we follow the commandment now and the Sabbath and the principles that we take from that and adding that into the rhythms of our life. But this is important to God. To God knows we need rest, because we are not God. Okay, we need to rest because we are not God. This is one reason why we see him. And no, he’s different than us, because he never rests. But we need rest. And then third in Christ, we can always rest we just saying about it. In the sense that, that Jesus accomplished everything for us, we find our hearts restless until we rest in Him. And that’s what we have, we’re invited into that in Christ. So the Bible says so that’s there’s some things about the world some things about God and us that are going to kind of be overarching themes throughout this week. And next. But the Bible has a lot to say about rest. You can just look that up, go type in into whatever Study Bible use online, put rest in, you will find many, many passages on rest. So if I can summarize a lot of these passages into what biblical rest is, it’s this, it is ceasing from our work and trusting in God’s sovereignty completely. Okay, ceasing from our work and trusting in God’s sovereignty, completely. So at the macro level, as Christians, we do believe that we have everything we need in Christ, that everything is accomplished in him. And so we can rest in that He invites us into that and Matthew 11, verse 28, when he says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Okay, so as Christians, if we’re in Christ, that’s what we find rest in Him. So what are we talking about today? And next week, we’re talking about the micro level, how do we experience that? How do we lean into that rest day in and day out. So we’re going to look at that biblical rest, and the spiritual discipline or habit of grace, however you refer to them this week, and next, we’re gonna look at a couple that are often neglected. So this week, we’re gonna look at silence and solitude. And next week, we’re going to look at meditation and memorization. So we want to press pause, for silence, and for solitude. So you’ll see in your notes, the outline for this week, and next are going to be the same. We’re going to look at evidence for these things in Scripture, we’re gonna look at the benefits, and we’re gonna look at the practice of them, I hope to give you some very practical things you can take with you. So first, the evidence of silence and solitude in Luke chapter five. So we’re jumping in here into Luke five, we are not in this book, right now. So what happened the first four chapters, let me catch you up because the context is important to what we’re going to see. So first is the Christmas story. Some of you probably read Luke to yesterday as a family. But then we get Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, we see His public ministry starting in Galilee, we see him being rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, then he does some healings. He’s in Capernaum. And then he ends up dropping out this unclean spirit, and he calls his first disciples. Jesus is busy. Jesus is busy. He’s doing a lot of things here in these first four chapters. And we’re going to pick up in verse 12, and read through verse 16.
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along, who was covered with leprosy, when he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, I am willing, he said, Be clean. And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, don’t tell anyone but go show yourself to the priests and offer the sacrifices that Moses Moses commanded, for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. Get the news about Him spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed other sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places, and prayed. So evidence of silence and solitude like this is an amazing miracle. We’re not going to be focusing in on this miracle, but Jesus heals this man with leprosy, this skin disease where nobody else wanted anything to do with this man. Nobody wanted to touch this man. When he approached people he had to yell unclean. He wasn’t fit to worship because he was unclean, and Jesus touches him, and heals him. And Jesus doesn’t get leprosy. In fact, he brings health to this man. And so that’s an amazing thing. To start off this that Jesus is continuing to do ministry, he is still busy, people are still coming to him. But he says, Don’t go tell anyone. And we talked about this in our mark series, and even a couple of weeks ago, why did Jesus not want people to know what he was doing who he was, because this is so early in His ministry, He knows nobody’s gonna understand what he’s doing, they’re going to try and elevate him this position that he did not come to fill the first time. And so he’s like, don’t, don’t go tell him to just just accept this go offer what you know, Moses has commanded you to offer. I don’t know if the man listened. But we do know that word spread about him. The news spread about him all the more it says. So crowds of people are coming to hear him speak, and teach. So Jesus is making a name for himself. Jesus has gone viral. That’s the language we use now. Okay, Jesus is going viral, it’s word of mouth, people are saying, you’ve got to go see this man named Jesus. You wouldn’t believe what he is saying and what he is doing. The power of word of mouth, people are telling others and the crowds are coming from other places in Scripture, we see that there was so many people that they were pressing in against Jesus, they were bursting at the seams in homes when he would go in. There’s always a crowd of people following him. So his name is going out. And they come because of what he’s saying and what he’s doing. And here’s the thing I know about our culture, if we had people knocking down the doors to get into this church, if we if people wanted to hear the gospel, hear what we had to say, hear what God had to say from his word. If people were coming in, and we were doing baptism after baptism, after baptism, we’d be really excited about that, right? And then we would say, we need to go do more ministry. Right, we need to go do more. But Jesus doesn’t do that. The crowds are coming in, what does he do in verse 16, instead of writing the momentum, but Jesus, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places, and prayed, he often withdrew to lonely places. He didn’t go hire more staff. He didn’t go find 12 more disciples to add, he often withdrew when these crowds were coming, so he can do something else. And we’re gonna see what that is here in a second. But this was an ongoing practice. He often did, as we’ll look at some more examples here in just a moment. But he’s not caught up in just doing ministry. He knows he needs to spend time with his father. So he takes himself where he withdraws to go do that. And here’s the thing Jesus couldn’t find this time, because the crowds were always coming. And you guys hopefully are in the gospels, enough that you know that whenever he would leave, who was coming after him, the crowds, the crowds, crowds followed him to the next place in the next place. So how much of this time he was actually able to get we don’t really know because they find out where he is. And they go, and they find him. So Jesus had to make the time. That’s why we need to choose rest. Good luck finding time, once you start your day, we need to choose it, we need to make the time before we even head into the day. And Jesus knew this was vital to prolonged ministry, to the kind of ministry that he was doing was he needed to rest and he needed to be with his father. It was his priority. So Jesus could have been if maybe he was the busiest person alive at this time. Okay, but he could have been busier. He could have, he could have healed more people. He could have done more miracles, He could have gone more places.
He could have been the busiest person alive. Now imagine the PR campaign around Jesus. Today, if somebody came on the scene was doing this, you would have like miracles being shown on YouTube, tons of Twitter, Twitter followers, then you would have people FaceTiming Jesus just saying, hey, just say the word and heal me. I mean, this is what would happen in this day and age. But here’s Jesus, he can be on call all the time. He can always be doing something, and yet he chooses often to withdraw to lonely places. So there’s all sorts of incidents, instances of this in scripture from other people taking risks, being in silence and solitude, but we’re just gonna look at Jesus this morning, and follow his example. So the reason is, is because of Jesus needed rest. If he made this a priority, when he could have been doing more, we should listen. We should pay attention. And we should implement this into our life, practice it as well. So you’re going to see this on the screen. I’m just going rapid fire. I’m not going to make much comment on any of these. We’re just going to read this and see that this was a normal practice for Jesus. So Mark 135. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed. Luke 442 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. Matthew 1413 And when Jesus heard what had happened, what happened here was John the Baptist was just executed. Okay, this is the news that he hears. So when he hears that, what does he do? He withdraws by boat privately to a solitary place. Luke 612. One of those days, Jesus went out to mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Matthew 1423, after he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone. And Luke 918. Once when Jesus was praying and private, and his disciples were with him, that just means the disciples were near him, but Jesus like you didn’t garlic, a tsunami went further in and prayed privately, you then ask them Who do the crowds say I am. So what do we see here? Well, that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray to be with his father. But as we look at all these passages, what we see here is that Jesus was doing this to prepare and to pray, to prepare and to pray. He wasn’t lounging. He wasn’t emptying his mind. He wasn’t being selfish. He wasn’t neglecting his responsibilities, he had a higher priority. To prepare for his ministry that was coming, the ultimate reason for why he came and to pray to commune with his father. In his book, redeeming your time, Jordan Reiner says this, he says, lonely places aren’t places of weakness, they are places of great strength.
Do we believe that? Do we believe that?
Because Jesus shows that in his life, there’s no place of weakness, there are places of great strength. And so this is a vital component of Jesus’s ministry that we often neglect. We don’t think about a whole lot, we think about what Jesus did what Jesus said, but not what he didn’t do. And the fact that he would step away, and take a break, and press pause, see, seeing the work that he could have been doing for the work that he actually came to do. Like that’s important. He knew his ultimate purpose. And so he was willing, because he had the long view to stop some things here to prepare himself for what was coming. And we need to take note of that for our own ministry. The Lord has stuff for us to do. Are we ready for it? Are we rested for it? Because it’s doing more ministry leads to burnout. We need to rest because God has given us work to do. So this changes our whole idea about what Russia looks like when we look at Jesus. Okay, because biblical rest is not like the world’s Rest, rest of the world are things like leisurely activities, like lounging, like TV and movies sleeping in, and none of those things are bad. None of those things are bad. They are good gifts that God has given to us. But I think we’re more on the we err more on this side of doing these things more and more and calling it rest, and ignoring what Jesus was doing in his rest. That’s for my own life, at least. I’m okay resting, just hey, I’m resting. I’m just doing all these other things. I’m not focusing on God and what He has for me. So I think we’re far more dangerous, spending too much time over here, and not enough in biblical rest. So what is the value of silence and solitude though? What’s the value of it? We see these in Jesus’s ministry. We see these in our own life if we practice these things. So I’m going to give four benefits you can see in your notes there, that’s the next section, benefits of silence and solitude. Number one, it helps us rest in the godness of God helps us rest in the guidance of God, His sovereign rule, Marisa is ceasing from our work, to trust completely in God’s sovereignty. Okay, data in Psalm 62, David says, this says, Truly my soul finds rest in God, my salvation comes from Him. Truly, He is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Yes, my soul, find rest in God. My hope comes from Him. We find rest, we need to pause because God is still God. It brings that perspective, that he’s God. And we’re not. We need to take breaks in this life, to see that the world goes on without us. It does. Nothing is falling apart because we go rest. Because he is God. And we’re not. So he’s sustaining. He’s holding all things together. It’s his. He doesn’t need us. And that’s painful for us to hear. But he doesn’t need us. He’s always been God. He invites us in. He wants us to be a part of it. But when we rest what we’re showing in that moment is I trust you completely. And the world does this every single night when we lay our heads on the pillow. They just don’t know it. That while we’re sleeping, he is still God. He’s still gone. So we need to remember we’re part of creation and sit back rest and enjoy the good gifts that He gives us and enjoy the fact that he invites us into spend time with Him. Jesus never regretted a moment he spent with his father. And we won’t regret silence and solitude for spending it with him. The second thing is that room removes distraction. So the most important relationship for Jesus in this world horizontally was people. The biggest distraction in Jesus’s ministry was people.
Right? I mean, this is true, it was people, that’s what he was about. But it was also the people that were distracting him, whether that was from his mission. That was they wouldn’t leave him alone, to give him some of that quiet time. But distractions were people, but they’re also the most important. So that’s why there were small groups and large groups that Jesus had all the time, but they couldn’t distract him from his ultimate purpose, because he spent time in silence and solitude with his father. And that’s why he was withdrawing from people, which leads into the next point, this time rejuvenated him for ministry, we need to remember the humanity of Jesus, when he was here, he did get tired, he did get hungry, he needed this rest, just like we do. So 30 rejuvenates us for ministry more than just doing ministry. So I left that one passage earlier to kind of show the examples and that’s in Mark six, and Mark chapter six, Jesus sends out the 12. And he says, You need to go out, you need to go serve. And they go out and they’re teaching and they’re healing, they’re casting out demons. And they come back later in chapter six, and report all that they’ve been doing and the success that their ministry was having. Now, if you returned from a short term, mission, short term missions trip, and you have all these stories, you’re really amped up to go out again, when you see life change happen, you’re amped up to go out again, and I’m sure the disciples like, man, we’re seeing God do some things here. So we’d love to go back out. But that’s not what Jesus has for them. Look at Mark 631, through 32. It says then, because so many people were coming, and going, that they did not even have a chance to eat, they couldn’t even eat, there were so many people around, and so much ministry taking place. Like for most of us, we would love that. I can’t eat because people want to hear about Jesus. Jesus says, Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Jesus stopped them from doing ministry, so they’d be better prepared for ministry. Because he knew they would burn out, he knows we need rest, because again, he has the long view. If they keep neglecting, eating, they neglect sleeping, if they neglect time with him, their ministry will suffer. And Jesus knows that. So he calls him way to rest except this pattern, saying, This is how God has designed you, you need rest. And then fourth, fourth benefit helps us to hear God better. It doesn’t mean in the quietness of your time with him that you’re gonna hear that audible voice telling you what to do. It doesn’t mean that he’s gonna appear in a burning bush. The kids downstairs are learning about that today with Moses, his call, unlikely to happen to us. So what does this mean? How can we hear the Lord? What does it what does that mean? Well, it means that distractions are gone. When we’re in silence and solitude, the distractions are gone, which means we have scripture, hopefully meditating and memorizing Scripture, we have that on our hearts, where we have our Bible with us. And we say, Lord, I only want to hear from you. We can better hear and discern what the Lord is telling us how he wants to respond to a situation, when we’re in silence, when we’re quiet before him. We give the Holy Spirit’s space to convict to rebuke and to encourage, when we’re silent. So for Jackie and I, in our relationship, we’ve always made it a priority to do date nights. Okay. And so this is a regular thing that we do. And what do we do in these date nights? We talk without any distractions, the phones are gone. The kids are somewhere else. And when I said kids are our most important relationship that her and I have together, but guess what? Our kids are distraction? Yes, you can say it. Yes. Most important relationships are people horizontally, the biggest distractions are people. And so we’re sitting there, we’re talking to each other. Are we seeing anything different than we say any other time? No, we just don’t have distractions. We don’t have distractions, so we can sit and I can hear her and I can hear it clearly. And I can hear it without thinking something else is going on in the other room. Right? And that’s what we’re having in these moments. As we communicate better, we’re we’re more clear Our understanding is better. And so when we are silent before the Lord, we hear him better. He’s not saying anything different. We just hear more clearly. At this point, I’m not asking you to go in silence and solitude. So you hear a different voice. And God say something different. No, he’s put it all here. So we’re in this we’re immersed in this. We Have this we open it? He’s going to tell us exactly what we need to hear. We just now can hear it. We’re listening. I mean, okay, raise your hands. This is participation time again, how many of you tried to read your Bible in a public place? Or in a crazy chaotic, loud place? Okay, how many of you try and do it in the quiet? You’ve done that before? We’re just when do we hear God better? When it’s quiet, it’s just true. If you’re a people, watcher, you know this.
Sure, I read your Bible had people coming in the coffee shop. We need the quiet, we need the silence. And so again, he’s not saying anything different. It’s just we hear him better. So maybe this idea of silence and solitude scares you, some people get really antsy, when you say Be silent, and by yourself. Okay, and I get that I understand that because that’s me. And this is something that I had really worked hard at over the years, because I do get antsy when somebody says, Go do something by yourself just lonely. In silence, maybe you get a little bit antsy. But this quote from David Mathis is one that I’ve experienced since I’ve added silence and solitude into my life into my regular rhythm of life. So I want you to hear it from him. He says, you may not know how badly you needed silence and solitude until you get to know them. Until you get to know them. Which means we need to practice it. And we need to lean into the awkwardness that this might be for us. So we need to practice them to so we get to know them better, and get to see that we do in fact need them. So let’s look at that last section, the practice of silence and solitude. It starts really where Mark 135 started, that I read first, as we walked through that bullet point list of verses, when it says very early in the morning, Jesus got up while still dark, Jesus made time to be with his father. He didn’t wait for it, he made sure was a part of his day. If we wait for the opportunity, it might not come. So we need to make the opportunity. Make sure that nothing else gets in the way. So I don’t know if this is weird to you. But I was encouraged years ago to actually put these times in your phone as if it was another appointment. Because usually, when you have something in there, you don’t let something else bump that thing out. Right, I have something. So if you know, I need to intentionally spend time with the Lord, pursue Him and hear him. If you have that in your phone, it doesn’t get bumped out. That should be a regular practice of ours, like we need to make the time because if it gets bumped out, where else is it gonna go? Is it gonna be able to get back into your schedule for that day, so it starts there, that’s just the whole attitude of having it. Okay, having it scheduled. Because life isn’t a work and life isn’t all rest. God is for hard work is also for rest, which is why he designed the rhythms that we have. So we have rhythms in our days. We have rhythms in our weeks, and our months and our years. So let’s look at those kinds of time periods here to kind of get more practical on some things that we can do. And I guess one other question you might be asking is okay, silence and solitude is one thing, Am I just supposed to go sit and be quiet by myself for an hour, maybe, maybe for some of you, that’s what you need to do. But more than likely, you’re going to add any of these other spiritual disciplines that you know of a Bible reading, of memorization of meditation. And you’re gonna incorporate those into the silence and solitude in some way. Because most of the spiritual disciplines work best in quiet, in silence and in solitude. So maybe it’s taking a journal out with you. Maybe it’s taking the Bible with you. Maybe it’s walking, you know, adding something in, in order to spend time with him. So no matter where you are this morning, Christian, maybe you’re checking out Christianity, want to know more about who Jesus is, maybe you feel that anxiety and depression. Maybe you feel real busy. These are things that we can add into the regular rhythms of our life. So first, if you take notes, it’s the time daily. What can we do daily to press pause? Rainer, in his book that I already mentioned, says this, we need to get comfortable with the crevices of our day. Refuse to fill the cracks and crevices of your day with noise. So that’s a simple thing. I said, we’re not gonna able to find time. Well, we could probably find a minute or two here or there. You’re driving, you’re at the doctor’s. What do we do when we get that silence and solitude in life? Where do we reach your phone? Right? So we have a crack, we have a crevasse in the day, and we fill it with noise. And he’s saying we got to resist that temptation. We got to fill those cracks and crevices was something else. Maybe that is just silence. Maybe it is prayer. Maybe it’s listening to Scripture, whatever it might be, but get comfortable with those and get comfortable entering into God’s presence in those times. Maybe need to wake up earlier or stay up later or do both Whatever some of you guys are morning people, some of you guys are evening people. And so you might do your time with Lord at different times. But maybe you need to change that even more. Jesus got up early while it was still dark, and went away, so that he could pray. Now I’m an early morning person, as many of you know. So every day is dark when I wake up,
I never wake up with the sun. Now that is not because I’m like, I wish it was looking at Jesus saying, Oh, very early morning, while still dark, he got up. That’s just me. But here’s the thing that changed and made that time silence and solitude rather than noise. Because I love sports center. And I want to know what happened the night before and all the games. But years ago, Jack and I found out on our TV that we can put a we can put a coat on it so that you can’t get on the TV until a certain time of the day. So I don’t have that option anymore, because I don’t have the code. And that was very intentional. Because I said my day, my first thing is breakfast and just watching SportsCenter. And guess what something might happen at six or seven, that gets my mind going somewhere else. And I never come back to the Lord. So I said I, we got to figure out something to do. So this is the good thing about smart TVs, you could do this with them, you can set this timer. And so I don’t have that, that in my way in the mornings anymore. So silence and solitude. That’s just that’s just what’s built into my daily rhythm. But I don’t know what it is for you. But the Lord can help. Stay up late or wake up earlier than leave the phone. Okay, leave the phone somewhere else. Get a real Bible, I’m sorry, shouldn’t say that. The Bible on your phone is real. Get a Bible that you can hold like this. Get a journal, and write and put the phone away. Because we’re tempted on our phones, if something dings, something comes across, and be distracted. So we gotta leave our phones to the side. Second, weekly, maybe need to go for a walk, just get out in nature. In the silence, not maybe not even an agenda. Just see where the Lord leads, in those moments. Find special places for you where you can go where you just know like here, I I feel like I can get away from some things. And remove the distractions be with the Lord. Donald winning his book, spiritual disciplines of the Christian life has a great one. He says trade off responsibilities with your spouse. So if somebody is struggling, being in the Word, you say, Hey, I’m going to do this tonight. So you can go do that. And you can spend time with the Lord. And then the next night, you just trade off those responsibilities. So you make sure that that’s just built into your home. Right to help each other out and your time with the Lord. What about monthly, maybe get out in nature for an extended period of time go out on a drive. But schedule something a little bit longer monthly. So for Brandon Knight, a habit that we’ve gotten into is going to the arboretum, and we kind of do our own things while we’re there. But like from 7am until before lunch, I’m there walking and praying. And I got a little journal. And here’s the thing. I’ve never heard the Lord say something different in those moments. But I have heard him say the same thing for the 1,000th time, and I finally got it. And then you just think, and you ask the Lord to show you some things, some ways that you can better serve your family, better serve the church, somebody that you know, needs to hear about Jesus, and He will bring those to you because you’re in the quiet. It’s just you and him. And then the extended one is maybe you need to take a whole day, maybe a retreat, maybe a week to intentionally pursue God and hear from him. We do retreats a lot in our culture, golf outings, spa, weekends, girls time, guys time and we go and we do all these things. Imagine if you went to your spouse and said I need a weekend to be with the Lord. Hopefully they don’t fight you on it. But isn’t that something we should do? We should, because there’s all these points in our lives, we need to be prepared, like Jesus was preparing for the cross and being with his father. So hopefully those are some ideas that we can pull from for silence and solitude in our lives. One more thing I want us to think about is probably the most famous time for Jesus in silence and solitude was in the garden Kissanime. He goes with his disciples and he goes a little further and praise the Lord praise his father three times.
And the silence and the solitude. He was preparing for what was next. He was praying for what was next. And he knew that was his betrayal and a sacrifice on the cross for our salvation. And in that salvation. He knew we would be provided rest. He knew what this would bring for us. So that should be motivation enough for us to say I want to spend time with you. I get to spend time I’m with you. Now they have to, we need to get that out of our minds. I have to go spend time with the Lord. No, you get to spend time with the Lord. Because what Jesus did on the cross, and that should be enough. And if it’s not, I love the line in the song we sing, Lord, make my heart belief. Make my heart believe that you’re better. Make my heart believe that silence and solitude are enough. Because we don’t believe it all the time. The other things look attractive, make me believe. We need to press pause to pursue Jesus and hear from him. Now quick word to parents, here in the room and online. This is important for our kids, for us as parents to create this culture in our home. One reason this generation is busy, and one reason why this generation is gonna have hard time with mental health is because of us. Because we overschedule it’s a land of opportunity, people still say that when they come to this country, it doesn’t mean we need to give them every opportunity. It doesn’t, we are setting them up, we’re doing a disservice to our kids to have them in every single thing. If we don’t teach them how to press pause, and be quiet in the Lord, they will fill it with something else. And they will always have something to fill it with. So my oldest, CJ knows this, well, we have this conversation a lot. If it’s a competition thing, or if it’s a challenge thing he wants to do, it doesn’t matter what it is, he wants to try it. And we have to have regular conversations, he knows this. You can’t do everything. But try to explain that to a kid who’s 10. And say, sometimes the quiet of home of us reading together, being together pursuing the Lord together is better. And one day, hopefully he sees it. Because it is better. So we need to prepare them to have experiences where they are quiet before the Lord and not filling it with other things. So my hope for us is we close the chapter on 2021. And we look forward to this next year is that we choose rest, okay, by pressing pause, regularly as a church, as an individual as families, and just thought, What if our goal was to just slow down this year? What if our goal was to slow down, because with my kids with watching TV, when I press pause, when I press pause, and they go do something, they’re gonna come back and finish the show. They’re just doing something that’s more important at that time and taking a break from that. And that’s what it means to press pause. And here’s the thing, when we do that, not only do we get to spend time with the Lord, we come back better for it. And that’s what we have to believe. We have to believe the pressing pause here and ceasing from something else. And spending time with the Lord is not only that’s better, but that makes everything else better to like we become a better father, a better mother, a better husband, a better wife, a better child, a better employee, a better citizen, a better friend, a better church member, we spend time with Jesus. So it’s, it’s enough to spend time with him. But we have to believe in those times he will use that He will be faithful in that to change our hearts and to transform us from the inside out. And then people will know they won’t be able to put a label on it. But they’ll know you’re spending time with him. Because our goal every year, and I say this, I think every year, on this last sermon of the year, our goal is to look more like Jesus at the end of 2022 than we do today. And that’s our goal every single year. And a lot of that is going to come from the quietness of our time with him. And so if you’ve got your notes, if you’ve got something that you’re taking notes on or grab something around you, when we start praying here, I’m going to give you a second in silence. Okay, and I’m gonna give you a second silence, and then I’m going to pray for us. What I want you to do in that moment is I want you to give this to the Holy Spirit and say, what is it in your life right now that you know you can take a break from, you’ll come back to it, take a break from to spend time with him to press pause. And so I’ll lead us in that I’ll give you a moment to just kind of be on your own with the Lord to do that. Sorry, it can’t be solitude. It was a lot of other people. But we can be silent for a few minutes. Embrace the awkwardness of the silence, and just you and God talking to each other. Figuring out where this place is in your life right now where you can do this. Okay. So let’s pray. Lord of these next few moments, I pray that you would in this silence
help us to see that area of our life where we need to set aside some time to be with you
You’ve given us rest that we need so often is neglected. So we want to say thank you for that gift. And we want to thank you that you, through the cross of Jesus Christ have made a way for us to rest. Not only in our salvation, but to be able to rest to take a break from all the other things and all the other distractions in our life and spend it with you. Not only because we know it has a chance to worship you, but it’s a chance for us to hear from you. A chance for us to be changed by you. And so for each one of us, myself included, Lord, I know there are places in my life where I can take some time and make sure that I am pressing pause from that choosing rest with you. We want to see your face. We want to gaze on you and your glory and hear from you. And if you need to tell us the same thing over and over and over again until we are quiet before you and we hear it for the first time. Please help us to do that. Make our hearts belief that you are better and make our hearts believe that spending time with you is better. Every single day. Jesus we love you. We pray this in Your name. Amen.