Sin, Part 3
We will continue looking at sin. When it comes to talking about sin or confronting other people with sin, we have a problem trying to convince them of sin for a couple of reasons. One, so often their viewpoint of who Jesus Christ is is not really who Jesus is. But what people seek to do is look at Jesus in terms of their own viewpoint or their own ideas or what they want Him to be. Simply put, they turn Jesus Christ into an idol that they can fashion in some manner with the tool they choose, and make it look as golden as they want. In Psalms God says:
Psalm 50:21 – These things you have done and I kept silent.
God doesn’t come to the world every day and say, “This is who my Son is.” He doesn’t come all the time to present to us who Jesus Christ is. He remains silent. And when God is silent, men resort to their opinions and their ideas of what they want Jesus to be.
Psalm 50:21 goes on to say:
Psalm 50:21 – These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you.
There are different presentations of Jesus. One is the extreme Jesus that comes with hell and brimstone, laying down heavy rules and legalism. We don’t see that a whole lot today but it certainly is out there—I’ve met groups like that, where you couldn’t do anything right if you tried. More commonly, though, Jesus is this liberal Santa Claus who lets us do pretty much what we want and gives us grace and mercy in the end. As God says, “You thought I was altogether like you.” Whatever you wanted God to be, that’s what you thought He was. He was not God to you.
But verse 21 warns that God says:
Psalm 50:21 – But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.
There will come a time when each man will come before the living God and he will rebuke them to their face, and if they are in Christ Jesus they will find mercy. The question when it comes to sin is Romans 8:1. So often when you begin to tell people about sins in their life that they need to repent of, they’ll quote Romans 8:1 to you over and over again, even if they don’t know where it’s at. In fact, it seems to be the mantra that’s learned within the church whenever a little bit of conviction or a little bit of light begins to expose some things that need to be changed.
Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
And it is an absolutely true statement. We can rejoice in it and praise God for it. The only question we need to ask ourselves and the individual that we’re confronting needs to ask themselves is, are they really IN Christ Jesus? Or have they come to a Jesus they have formed in their own image, with their own mind and thoughts.
Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
“Is it the right Jesus?” is the question that each man needs to ask. Are they really honestly and fully in Jesus Christ? Have they received Him for who He is? Well, today we will look at Jesus Christ, hopefully, in a balanced view of exactly who He is when it comes to sin.
Let’s begin with John the Baptist. Because John the Baptist prepared people for Jesus Christ. We know how he preached. We know how he dealt with the crowds. He would call them vipers. He wasn’t your usual pastor that you meet today that stands at the back of the church and shakes everybody’s hands and listens to the compliments and kisses the babies. It says in verse 16 that “John answered them all.” He speaks to everybody, whether Pharisee or Sadducee, sinner or saint.
Luke 3:16 – I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
The preaching of John the Baptist was easy compared to Jesus Christ. But John with all of his requirements, all of his hell and brimstone, all of his warning unto repentance, was nothing compared to the purity that Jesus Christ seeks to bring. John goes on to say:
Luke 3:16 – He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Let’s remember again that He is the Holy Spirit, not just any spirit. And the Holy Spirit that comes to separate a people and to purify them also comes with fire that purifies and draws out the dross in a man’s life. His fire searches the corners of a man’s life, and leaves nothing unsaid, undone. And so if people think that John the Baptist is tough, if they have a hard time accepting him, if they have a hard time accepting the manner or the attitude or the tone in which a sermon comes across, what will they do when Jesus Christ comes to their life with fire? What will they do when He seeks to put a Holy Spirit within them? In other words, if we can’t handle man’s preaching, no matter how rough it is, how can we handle the Living God? I could sit in a congregation and the pastor could talk about hell and brimstone Sunday after Sunday after Sunday and it will be NOTHING compared to the baptismal fire that Jesus will put in my life. I might be uncomfortable with his preaching, I might think it’s unbalanced, but when it comes to purity, when it comes to righteousness, nothing will compare to the Holy Spirit and the fire that Jesus wants to baptize us with.
Let’s keep this in mind as we begin to move into this whole business of Jesus purifying sin from our lives and forgiving us. Again, there are two different ways that Jesus is usually viewed. One is a friendly kind of Jesus that overlooks all of our sins and really doesn’t deal with us in a very powerful way at all. I’ve had people tell me that God will never ask me to do something that I don’t want to do. They claim God doesn’t come to me any more forcefully than I can handle or accept at that time. So He’s just a friendly kind of guy that we can sit down and chat with at dinner. The other is the Jesus so full of wrath and unforgiveness that you’ll never please Him no matter what you do. Ecclesiastes 7:18 tells us to grasp both of these Jesuses. There is the gentle side of Jesus that we can call friend who says we are forgiven of sins and that He will cleanse us and purify us. And then there is the Jesus who also warns us of hell and deals powerfully with our sins, who rebukes us, and gives us things we don’t want to handle at all.
Ecclesiastes 7:18 – It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.
We see the extremes people create in Jesus. One lets people party and allows man to continue on in his sin, and the other Jesus brings down a man and stomps on him and never gives him life. There are churches that reflect both extremes. We will grab hold of Jesus and we won’t try and force Him to be what we want Him to be. We won’t come to Him and say, “These are our thoughts of You” and “This is what You need to be in the Lord.” We want Him to be what He is. Jesus taught us this by His example. He taught us to grab on to the one and not let go of the other. At the same time I hold on to God’s mercy and His forgiveness I hold onto that fact that He is God and He is a vengeful God who sends people to hell because of sin. And when I hold on to the fact that He judges my life and He brings a fire, I also hold on to the oil of the Holy Spirit that gives me life. I grab onto both at the same time and I don’t let go. In Luke chapter 12 verse 4 we see Jesus reflected this in His preaching. He said:
Luke 12:4 – I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
He addresses us as friends. He comes to us on intimate terms. But He also talks of fear, hell, and God’s power.
Luke 12:5 – But I will show you whom you should fear.
“I will point you to somebody that you should become afraid of, friend.” We need to grab hold of both and present both sides of Jesus Christ to an individual, and let Jesus be what He wants to be to an individual at that time. Jesus said:
Luke 12:5 – Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.
Jesus always makes it personal in His preaching. He very seldom refers to “they” but He talks to the individual, saying, “you” will be thrown into hell, that is where “you” will go. Jesus says:
Luke 12:5 – Yes, I tell you, fear him.
And so He teaches the people to fear the living God and also calls them friend at the same time. Look at what He talked about in verse 6. Does He begin to talk about the temperature of hell and all the punishments and all the things man can imagine to show what hell might be like? No, He talks about God’s love and mercy.
Luke 12:6-7 – Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Jesus contradicts Himself. On the one hand He says, “I will teach you whom you should fear and you need to fear Him because He can send you to hell, but on the other hand, don’t fear Him because He is full of mercy and full of care.” And we get so nearsighted and blind even as God deals with us, all we can see sometimes when God is purifying us is that He is vengeful and wrathful. When God is convicting people of sin sometimes they will say, “God really showed me I’m a sinner, I’m Judas.” And I’ll say, “Okay, if you’re Judas, get a rope and go hang yourself. You’re being melodramatic. You’re full of self-pity. That’s not what He’s showing. You just try to deal with your sin; quit being a baby about it.”
Luke 12:7 – Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Of course other people will grab on to the love and the mercy and say, “God cares for me. He looks at me with even more love than the sparrows,” and then they ignore the baptismal fire of purity that He wants to bring. They want to balance Jesus. They won’t allow God to be who He is.
When we get a Jesus that’s out of focus we do so to our own harm. If I do not allow God to come to me at times as a wrathful God full of anger and justice who needs to deal with my sin, if I refuse to let Him do that because I want Him to be my friend, I want Him to say gentle things to me, then I harm the purity that He wants to bring. And then on the other hand when God wants to speak to me in the most intimate of terms, when He wants to call me friend, and I refuse to do that, saying, “Oh, I’ve got so many sins over here that need to be dealt with, and I have so much that I need to be cleansed of. You can’t talk to me that way. I’m so bad.” If I can’t listen to Him draw me that way, then we can’t come into an intimate relationship. It would be as if as a father I will talk to a son who I’m trying to have fellowship with and trying to love and he refuses my love by whining and saying he’s so bad, he’s so wicked, and I can never build a relationship because all he can see is himself. We should want Jesus to come to us as He is, as He chooses to be.
Matthew 4:16 – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Now Jesus is starting His ministry; He’s just beginning to preach. And look at what He preaches and declares, verse 17.
Matthew 4:17 – From that time on Jesus began to preach…
And what He began with were not soft, kind words. This is not the Jesus normally presented in the churches, especially to sinners who need to repent. Instead churches are trying to get some new members. The Jesus usually presented is one that is your friend, that almost parties with you. It’s almost a Jesus who is exactly like you, made in your image, and all you need to do is sign the dotted line and say that you want to be saved, and you’ll get to go to heaven. But Jesus begins His ministry. He begins His preaching with this word: Repent.
Matthew 4:17 – From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
He preaches repentance that is about turning of a man’s life. A complete transformation of his personality, who he is, his character, how he dresses, what he finds to be funny, everything about his life and who he is will be crucified. And God calls all men to repent of exactly who they are in every way. In Luke, John the Baptist comes with this kind of preaching and he says,
Luke 3:9 – The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
And so Jesus comes with the same attitude. He comes with the same preaching. And anyone that doesn’t produce good fruit will be thrown into the fire and burned. And Jesus Christ reflects that message of John the Baptist when he goes to everyone and says, “You need to repent because the Kingdom of heaven is near.”
So as we first present the gospel to individuals, we come with these words on our lips. We come to them and say, “It is time to repent, it is time to change.” And a man who refuses to look at his sins is not looking at a correct Jesus. Because the first thing that Jesus will seek to do is expose the sin that we need to repent of.
When they came to John the Baptist, and he preached to them. He said, “Look the ax is already at the root of the tree. You need to produce fruit, or you’ll be thrown into the fire. You’ll become as wood for hell. You’ll become the fuel which fuels hell and allows it to become hot.” And the people of course say to John the Baptist, “What should we do?” And we see the same thing reflected at Pentecost.
Acts 2:37 – When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
And everything that Jesus talks about, every way that He preaches and everyone that preaches for Him and everyone filled with the Holy Spirit, always teach repentance. It comes down to doing. It comes down to the individual saying, “What must I do to repent?” And so there is within every person who honestly belongs to Jesus Christ a daily, hourly question of, “What can I repent of today? And what do I need to change today?” It is a baptism of fire, it is a participation in a spirit that is holy that we call the Holy Spirit. But people want forgiveness without repentance. Goodness, most churches want forgiveness without even baptism. Others want the Holy Spirit without repentance. And still others want a spirit but they don’t want the Holy Spirit. All because they don’t come to a Jesus and hear Him say, “You need to repent. You need to discover the sins in your life and begin to have those crucified and put to death.”
Acts 2:39 – The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.
It is good news when God comes to a man and convicts him of things he needs to repent of. It’s good news when John the Baptist says the ax is already at the root of the trees. It’s good news in Acts when a repentant Peter preaches the first sermon at Pentecost and instead of being cut down, they’re cut to the heart, and they ask, “What must we do to be saved?” But everybody wants a Jesus that is so kind and so gentle, so much in their own image that they can manipulate Him and they can carry on with their sins. And yet the Jesus that is of God calls for repentance.
Let’s look at a classic example that’s often quoted even by people that aren’t Christians, people that belong totally and completely to the world, and have probably never even cracked open a Bible. Everyone seems to know this one story from Scripture surrounding an adulterous woman. And they’ll say, “Jesus Christ didn’t come to judge, there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” They immediately go and recite this particular story:
John 8:7 – When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them…
Jesus looks them in the eye, and he points back to their sin. If it is true that Jesus doesn’t judge, then why is He judging those who are judging? But we know that Jesus judges; indeed, He goes for everybody. He goes for the adulterous woman, and He goes for the crowd, and He says:
John 8:7 – If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.
What does he bring to their minds? What is He reminding them of but all the sins they have committed? And verse 8 goes on to say:
John 8:8 – Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
It doesn’t say in Scripture what He wrote down. And I’m only guessing, but I would imagine that He could have easily been writing down various sins—anger, lust, adultery, and so on, and they’re watching Him write that in the sand.
John 8:9 – At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time…
Each one was reminded of their shortcomings before God, of their need to repent and what heeded to change. Now the next part I can really relate to:
John 8:9 – …the older ones first…
When you’re young, you don’t have much conviction about sin. You don’t think that many bad things about yourself. But as I grow in knowledge and wisdom of the Lord, the more that I study, pray, and seek God, the more I see my failures. And were I standing in that crowd as an older man I would have been one of the first ones to leave, because I have less reason to stand there than when I was young, in terms of my conscience.
John 8:9-10 – …until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Truly there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, but that doesn’t mean there is no conviction in Christ Jesus. That does not mean there is no call to repentance. And again you have to be in Christ Jesus to even claim that promise. But verse 11 is usually left out in everybody’s conversation that likes this story. Again, they can be the worst pagan, they can be New Agers but they will know this story except for verse 11. Everybody in churches everywhere, everybody that I confront likes to run to this story for cover, but they don’t know verse 11. Since I do I’d like for them to go there.
John 8:11 – “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
And then Jesus tells her to repent. He tells her to sin no more.
John 8:11 – Go now and leave your life of sin.
He isn’t just the friendly little Jesus that allows her to go on in her sin. He offers her mercy, he offers her grace—grasp the one but don’t let go of the other. He isn’t a God that indulges our sin, nor is He a hard taskmaster that He will not forgive us if we repent and are sorry for what we do.
John 8:11 – Go now and leave your life of sin.
As we share Jesus Christ with other people, we need to share our full Jesus. Jesus says this about so many people.
John 7:7 – The world cannot hate you…
It’s impossible for the world to hate those who do not belong to Jesus Christ. They embrace them on their own. Even if they talk about a hell and brimstone kind of Jesus, the world will still not hate someone unless they truly belong to Jesus.
John 7:7 – The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
Everybody seems to have this idea of Jesus that He walked on the earth and all He did was do kind deeds and He never spoke anything against anyone. I don’t know how people get that idea; just a casual reading of Scripture would prove them wrong. And today we will look at a few of those things. But Jesus Himself is saying, “They hate Me; the world hates Me because I testify by My life, by My words and by who I am that what they do is evil.” And if we are in Christ Jesus, if we are preaching the Gospel, if we are living the Gospel, then the world will also hate us because we testify that what it does is wicked, if we are of His character and of His nature and if His Holy Spirit is on us.
Now it’s true that churches hate each other sometimes and they get into all kinds of doctrinal wars, but we’re talking about being hated because of the Holy Spirit, because of a righteous life, not disagreements about ink on paper. In Luke, Jesus says:
Luke 11:43-44 – Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.
Does this sound like a Mr. Nice type of Jesus that doesn’t speak anything against anybody? Would Jesus say to the adulterous woman, “Just go on and live your life and I hope you’re happy. In fact if you’re happy that’s all that really counts”? (We’ve all heard that over and over.) In fact Ephesians 5:11 tells us as Christians to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them. We must do as His Holy Spirit leads to expose the sins around us. The world will hate us because we declare to them by our life and by our obedience and by our words, that what they do is evil.
Luke 11:45 – One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Jesus Christ was an insulting man. Unless you wanted sin dealt with in your life, you didn’t want to sit down with this guy. He would insult you, your character, your heart, what you do, who you are, and Jesus didn’t do it in a kind sort of way. He didn’t sit down with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and say, “You guys, you’ve got some problems here. Now look, I know you’re doing the best you can. I know that you pray and seek God and you give a tenth of your money, and you guys are really doing all you can. But look, you’ve got some issues inside your heart that need to be dealt with. You’ve got a little bit of greed, now, I don’t want to be pushy here, but you really need to seek God on this issue.” He comes in an insulting way and with emotion. Look at what He says, “Woe to you.” This isn’t the usual pastor that stands up and says, “I want to welcome everybody here, I’ve got good news for you. You’ve got sins in your life, but God, who is so full of mercy, invites you to come on up.” Instead he should turn to people and say, “Woe to you. What are you doing sitting here? You need to change.”
Luke 11:45 – Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.
So if you are being baptized by the Holy Spirit, if you’re walking in His grace, if you’re speaking to somebody as you should, they will walk away from you, thinking, “I was insulted by that person.”
Luke 11:46 – Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you…”
Jesus doesn’t stop. Do you get it? We’re lucky if we say one little sharp thing to somebody, aren’t we? And we feel pretty good about it. “I was bold. I said what I needed to say.” The more they tell Jesus Christ, “Look, you’re insulting us, tone it down a little bit,” he says, “Woe to you. Who are you to even offer me a suggestion that I need to tone it down or change it in some way?” Then Jesus replied:
Luke 11:46 – Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law…”
You can see Him looking at them, very specific, not general, not those people over there. He isn’t at a Baptist convention talking about the Methodists, or at the Methodist convention talking about the Baptists. He’s looking at the Baptists, He’s looking at the Methodists, He’s pointing at the teachers of the law and saying, “You, experts, woe to you guys. Because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Notice He didn’t give a whole list of specifics. You know the usual game plan, they say, “Well, give me something specific, what are you talking about?” And Jesus doesn’t do it here. Instead He says . . . (Do you think He’s stuck on this word a little bit?)
Luke 11:47 – Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them.
He blames them for sins somebody else had done.
Luke 11:48 – So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.
They thought, “What is He talking about? What kind of connection is that? No, we’re honoring the prophets.” You can see all of the excuses running through their heads. But yet we think we need to have everything so outlined and in its proper place, and we explain things in such a way so we don’t make ‘em mad. Jesus just stands there and goes, “Woe to you.” And how many times does God come to us to convict us of sin in our own life, during our own quiet times, and He says, “Woe to you.” And we think, “I don’t know what God is trying to show me—I can’t find any specifics.” Well, then just repent. Look for it. Find it. You’re listening to him cleanse you and purify you, give you a baptism of fire, and say, “Woe to you.” Don’t just try and find one little thing, just look at your life. Search and dig and repent.
Luke 11:49 – Because of this, God in his wisdom said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.”
Now look at what he says in verse 50. He shifts from the teachers of the law, He shifts from the Pharisees, and He condemns the whole generation of people.
Luke 11:50 – Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world (emphasis added).
And we think we’re bold when we speak to people? When’s the last time we turned to a prosperity teacher and said, “You know, you’re as accountable as Balaam and you belong to him. He’s in the darkest part of hell and that’s where you are going.” And then to have a little emotion behind it, “Woe unto you. I don’t want to be you, buddy. You need to repent.”
Luke 11:50 – Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world
He starts off with the Pharisees and He condemns a generation. It would be as if I’m sitting and talking with somebody, and I say, “Woe unto you, you need to repent. You’ve got these things in your life.” They reply, “Who are you to say that?” and then I continue, “The Baptist church you go to, they’re all going to hell too. Not only that, all of Enumclaw, and the State of Washington is doomed and you better repent. You’re the cause of it, and you’ll be held accountable for everybody in Washington who doesn’t repent.” That’s essentially what Jesus did.
Luke 11:51 – …from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary.
You guys get it all.
Luke 11:51 – Yes, I tell you,
He draws the attention back to Himself. “I’m telling you this. I’m in your face. It’s you. You’re the lawyers. You’re the guys. You’re the ones in trouble, yes, I tell you . . .”
Luke 11:51 – …this generation will be held responsible for it all.
Is this the Jesus that is presented to people? Is this the Jesus that we have received in our life? We play at dealing with sin. We read a little bit of Scripture, and as we get a little bit convicted over it, we feel pretty good. “Oh, I was convicted, the Lord was showing me some things.” When is the last time you were devastated? When is the last time he came, and he said, “You’re just you.”?
Luke 11:52 – Woe to you experts in the law
He picks it right back up again. He had no fear of any man.
Luke 11:52 – Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge.
Look at what he is telling these people! He is telling them they are not saved and they are worse than not saved, they are removing the very key to the knowledge of what it means to be a Christian. “You yourselves have not entered. And you have hindered those who are entering.” A true Jesus, a balanced Jesus, a Jesus full of grace and mercy is telling these people exactly who they are and what they need to repent of. The world cannot hate us because we belong to the world. But they hate Jesus because he testifies that what they do is wrong. Verse 53 gives us the obvious.
Luke 11:53- When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely …
Well, that was predictable.
Luke 11:53 – …and to besiege him with questions
Go ahead and try it. Let the Holy Spirit move you to speak with clarity in terms of what people need to repent of, and you will get one question after another question, one scenario after another scenario, a what if after a what if. You will be there until Jesus comes back trying to answer those questions. And Jesus didn’t stand there and try to answer all those questions; He told them who they were out of the greatest of love. He offered them mercy. He was the great physician that came to them and said, “You’ve got cancer. You’re sick. You need to repent. This is what needs to change. This is who you are.” And they made the choice whether to be healed or not.
We will see here in a moment that Jesus breaks one of His own commandments, one of His own rules.
Matthew 23:15 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
Brothers and sisters, I want us to wake up to this word woe in our hearts, and to ask the Holy Spirit to make it real. Because we can intellectually talk about things that are sin. We can even look at sins in our life but just to walk around thinking, “Woe unto us who do not repent. And woe unto men who do not repent and do not change.” We don’t yet feel the misery that will come upon them. We don’t really understand what judgment and hell are all about. We don’t really know what it means that God had to send His Son to die for sin. It’s become a trite thing. Satan has repeated it so often, with much fanfare and so much flesh, that the impact and power has been lost.
Matthew 23:16 – Woe to you, blind guides!
Jesus is name calling at this point. He’s not explaining things in a rational way. He’s talking with great emotion and fanfare.
Matthew 23:17 – You blind fools!
Early on Jesus taught the crowds that if you used the word “fool” that you’re liable for judgment in hell. Is He breaking one of His own commandments? I won’t explain it today. What I’m trying to get us to see today is the emotion, the zeal, the fire with which Jesus speaks. We are way too intellectual about sin. Jesus didn’t come here and open up a school to explain to us the definitions of sin and the ramifications for sin in some intellectual way. He displays emotion when he says, “You blind fools, and woe to you, wake up, and repent.” He doesn’t want our self-pity, He doesn’t want our explanations. He doesn’t want our cool, calculated kind of discussion. He wants us saying to ourselves, “I have got sin that I need to repent of and if necessary I need to cut off my hand or pluck out my eye. I’ve got people that I’m talking to for whom this isn’t a dead, dry issue, but a matter of heaven or hell.” And we need to have that fire, that heart from Jesus which would just turn to people in the greatest of love and say, “Woe to you. I don’t have to explain it all to you but I feel for you and where you are going.”
Matthew 23:19 – You blind men!
Matthew 23:23 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
He tells them who they are and He tells them with emotion. He tells them with fire. Is this not partly what it means to be baptized with fire? The zeal to snatch people from their sin. The zeal to stand against Pharisees and Sadducees. Look, it’s not an issue of dealing with somebody’s doctrine, like a prosperity teacher. But rather that what he is doing is vile, and corrupt, and it is sending people to hell. It is an emotional response as well as an intellectual response.
Matthew 23:25 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
Over and over again Jesus says it until they understand. And when you share the Gospel with people you must allow the Holy Spirit to say to them over and over again who they are and what they need to repent of. Maybe they’ll be a Pharisee, a Sadducee, a whole generation, a teacher of the law, but the hope is that somebody will repent. But we are too cool and collected and put together, and we deal with sin that way in our own life. We study it, we read self-help books, we do the outlines, the checklists, we talk about it, we pray, but we don’t say to ourselves, “Woe unto me.”
Matthew 23:25 – You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Jesus judges the heart and speaks directly to what is in a man’s soul. And if you’re dead enough to self, you’ll hear from God what is in a man’s heart and what is in his soul, and you’ll speak directly so that he knows what you are saying. And when he hates you he will have good reason to hate you.
Matthew 23:26-27 – Blind Pharisee! . . . Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
Matthew 23:29 – Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
Matthew 23:33 – You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
Are we presenting repentance to people, or are we offering the friendly Jesus that is out there today?
Matthew 23:34 – Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.
Are we of His Spirit, are we of His likeness, are we preaching the Gospel in this way? Are we pursued? Are we hated for the right reasons?
Matthew 23:35-36 – And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
Jesus Christ leaves no one unaffected. He makes sure every man to whom He speaks knows exactly what they need to repent of. But we see the love in verse 37. We see all of this is done in grace. We see it’s all mercy. This isn’t some hard mindset of a God who is unmerciful. God longs to show mercy. And when I tell a man woe unto him, when I call him a blind fool, when I rebuke him harshly when he thinks that’s what I’m doing, it’s all done with the heart of verse 37. All of it’s from mercy. And look again at the emotion of the same Jesus as the one who says, “Woe unto you.”
Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…
You see His pain, and you see His anguish. I’ve heard hell and brimstone sermons a lot. I’ve heard people preach them on and off. But I don’t hear the mercy, I don’t hear the tinge of grace in there. They pride themselves on preaching a tough message, but it never leads to life.
Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Blessed is the man who can say, “Yes, I’m a hypocrite.” Blessed is the man who can say, “I’m a blind fool.” Because they’ll be gathered under his wings. It’s all from mercy, it’s all for grace, if a man can get past the offense of the cross. If he can get past the tones of these sermons, and the offense in which they’re presented, and the roughness that first comes to them, they will find rich grace and mercy hidden in Jesus Christ.
Matthew 23:38 – Look, your house is left to you desolate.
You don’t have anything. God rebukes, and He pleads with mercy, and He reasons. He says, “Look at your life, what do you have anyway? What are you holding on to? Some pride, some hypocrisy, some greed.” He’s speaking with tears and loud cries, and moaning, offering people life. This isn’t cold, dead discussion. This isn’t debates about once saved, always saved, or some other issue. It is being under the wing of God.
Matthew 23:39 – For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Until people accept Jesus for who He is, and how He wants to come, and how He wants to speak, they will never, ever know the blessing and the grace of God. They might know a false Jesus, a lying Jesus that man has preached and presented but they won’t know the living God. Let’s look at Matthew because Jesus denounces whole towns.
Matthew 11:20 – Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.
He begins with repentance, and He ends with repentance. If people will not repent, Jesus Christ goes back to those towns and He says, “I denounce that I was ever around you. You and I have nothing in common.” You can see that Jesus says, “I blessed them, and I came and gave them all kinds of miracles. I healed them, and I delivered them from these things. But they never shared intimately with who I am, and they never really cried out to God. So now I denounce any relationship with them whatsoever.”
Matthew 11:21 – Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
He goads them, trying to make them jealous. If I’d done what I’ve done in your town they would repent, but you guys won’t even repent. Woe to you Assembly of God churches because you speak in tongues but you refuse to repent. But if we’d have preached the message of the cross overseas they would have embraced it. That’s what he’s saying, that’s how specific He is.
Matthew 11:22-23 – But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.
Sodom! A place known for its sexual immorality. If Jesus Christ would have walked and done those miracles in Sodom that He did on that day in Capernaum it would still be here today! He’s pleading with them for one thing. What is He looking for? Repentance. How many of us in the body has it come down to, “Okay, the discussion’s over with, the prayer is over with, the Bible study is over with, what will you do about it? What’s the bottom line? What will you change? How will you be different? How is repentance coming into play?”
Matthew 11:24 – But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.
Matthew 12:41 – The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
Is this the friendly, kind Jesus that is presented especially in our land? Drawing distinctions between people, name-calling different churches and different towns and different individuals!
Matthew 12:42 – The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it
She wasn’t a Jew. She didn’t belong. She came from a distance, and she will condemn all of you, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. And look what He compares these people to. Now, guys, this is not very complimentary. He says:
Matthew 12:43 – When an evil spirit comes out of a man
“Oh, are you saying we have an evil spirit?” That’s exactly what Jesus is saying.
Matthew 12:43-44 – When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
“I came into your town,” Jesus is saying, “I preached the Gospel. I healed individuals. You received the blessing of God.” He came announcing mercy, but you did not repent. So the demons were cast out, your life was cleaned up, you were a little more put together, and you received a little bit more peace. But nothing inherently changed about who you are. And so in verse 45 it says the demons come back.
Matthew 12:45 – Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.
And He condemns a whole generation of people.
Matthew 12:45 – That is how it will be with this wicked generation.
Is Jesus specific? Does He say this generation? Does He say you? Is He looking them in the eye? It is any wonder they crucified Him for His love? And if we want to love as Jesus loved, then the world will hate us.
Again we see the same thing where Jesus Christ healed a man. The man went away and he began to indulge himself in sin and Jesus comes to him and tells him to stop. Let us tell people that Jesus demands people repent. Verse 13 says:
John 5:13 – The man who was healed had no idea who it was
He didn’t know who Jesus was.
John 5:13-14 – for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
Jesus caught him in church sinning, in the temple. And Jesus sought him out again. He told him, “You were made well, you were healed. Now stop the sinning. Repent.” I know people who have received the blessings of God, who received answered prayer, but they continue on in their sin and they’ve been warned over and over again.
Jesus says this about judgment.
John 8:21 – Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me.”
And look at what He says to these people! Look at the way He talks, and the way He presents Himself.
John 8:21 – Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away.”
He could have just said that and stopped there. “Guys, I’m going away, you won’t be able to find me. I’m out of here.”
John 8:21 – I am going away, and you will look for me.
But look how personal He gets about this trip He’s taking. Was it really necessary to go this far? Yes, love demands to go this far. And Jesus says:
John 8:21 – …and you will die in your sin.
Stop saying, “Well, I think they love the message of the cross.” If you can’t say for sure they love the message of the cross, then they don’t have the message of the cross. If you have to guess at it, if you have to point it out, if you have to play at it, they don’t have it. God wants a people that are laying down everything, totally on fire for him, having given up everything. And we need to turn to those who we’re playing games with, and we need to tell them, “You need to repent, or you will die in your sins.”
John 8:21-22 – “Where I go, you cannot come.” This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
They totally ignore what He says. They’re so self-assured about their relationship with God. They go, “Okay, yeah, fine, we’re dying in our sins. Whatever. But where are You going?” That’s the kind of attitude people have toward sin. No matter how Jesus cries out, no matter how He prays, no matter how He pleads, the only thing they’re concerned with is, “Where is He going and how is He getting there? And why won’t He tell us?” They’re more intrigued with the gossip of the situation than they are with the fact that He says, “You will die in your sins.” They just don’t believe it. And they refuse to accept it.
John 8:23 – But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”
He’s trying to drive home to them what is important here. Not where He’s going and how He’s getting there or that they can’t go, but that they will die in their sins. And if they could find the solution to that, then they could be with Him.
John 8:24 – I told you that you would die in your sins
He has to repeat it again. So don’t tell me, “Well, I’ve already told them.” Okay, fine. When you’ve already told people as many times as Jesus has told them, then we can talk about being quiet.
John 8:24 – I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
What is He trying to drive home to them? The need to repent. Who they are. Over and over again he’s trying to say, “This is who you are,” and there are people even in this Body that we try to keep convincing them of who they are, and that they will indeed die.
John 8:25 – “Who are you?” they asked.
Okay, let’s get on with the other issue again. We’ve covered this once before.
John 8:26 – Just what I have been claiming all along,
They loop Jesus in this constant cycle of things that don’t have anything to do with anything concerning their repentance. When you share the Gospel with other people, they often want to drag you around in this conversation over and over again. “Well, what about this issue over here? And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Is the New International Version really from Satan, is it bringing in the New World Order?” What’s that got to do with anything? Even if the New International Version does come straight from Satan you will be there with him if you don’t repent and do what it says.
John 8:26 – I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
Jesus has a lot to say to them about judgment. They will find that they’re not in Christ Jesus, and that they are condemned. That’s why Colossians 3:6 says:
Colossians 3:6 – Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
They’re not in Christ Jesus. They’re playing at sin, they’re talking about it, they’re praying about it, without doing anything about it.
So the solution is to accept what Jesus has to say. To admit, “Yes, I’m a hypocrite, I’m blind, I’m a fool.” The solution is to receive from Jesus what He says about who we are and then to go to Him and say, “I want to be made well.” In Mark, Jesus asks some blind individuals:
Mark 10:51 – What do you want me to do for you?
No doubt there are probably some blind people who would have said, “Duh! If you’re the Son of God why do I have to answer the question? You’re making this salvation by works. What is this, a quiz?” Jesus wants us to acknowledge the thing that we need to be cleansed of and purified of. In your own life you know the only sins that you’ve ever been delivered from, in terms of overcoming and gaining some victories, are those you’ve finally admitted, “That’s me and that’s my sin and it needs to be dealt with.” Jesus stands there and He says, “What do you want Me to do?” And you look at your life and you say, “Uh…I don’t know. Maybe I’m blind. I’m a little bit crippled.” You have to be clear and to the point, with your heart fully in it. They’re saying, “We are blind, and we want to see.”
Mark 10:51 – The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Same situation, these individuals want to be made well. They have to tell Jesus what they want.
Matthew 20:31 – The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder,
A whole host of people will tell you to be quiet, don’t be so hard on yourself, go a little bit easier, things are okay, God’s forgiven you, there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Just shout a little louder. The reason they want you to shut up anyway is not because they care about you. Do you really think they’re worried about all the condemnation you feel? No, they’re being convicted by your repentance. They don’t want you to change. They want everybody to be in the same miserable state, dealing with sin. They don’t want you to change, because then they lose their excuse.
Matthew 20:31-32 – The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
So again when you come into the prayer closet, when you shout before the Lord, and say, “Lord, I want You to have mercy on me,” He will turn to you and say, “Okay, then what do you want Me to do for you?” And you can’t play a game here. You can’t halfway be convicted about this. You’re either blind or you’re not blind.
Matthew 20:32-33 – “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
“Lord, I want deliverance from this sin. Lord, remember me with mercy.” The older I get, and the closer God draws me to Him, the more I pray, “Remember me with mercy.”
Matthew 20:34 – Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.
He longs to have compassion, He longs to show mercy. But He can’t show mercy until they’re convicted they need mercy. He can’t offer a man mercy until he’s first convicted and feels guilty. Jesus longs to show mercy to all men. But they’ll only hear hell and brimstone, fire, rebuke, and correction until they acknowledge from their heart that they need to see.
Matthew 20:34 – Immediately they received their sight
And they did one of the most beautiful things you can read in Scripture. They followed Him. They weren’t like the lame man in the temple that went about in church sinning. They followed Him. When you get your sight, when you become well, follow Him.
Let’s come to Jesus, a Jesus that we don’t make of our own image, and let’s refuse a Jesus that the world tries to present to us, or that so many churches are presenting to us. Let us go to the living God, let us go to Jesus and find out where He’s staying and what character He has, and what He wants to be in our life. And if He chooses to call you a Pharisee and to rebuke you for 10 years of your life, then rejoice in that and embrace it. But when He comes to you to talk of love songs and of a relationship with Him, and He holds you in His arms, rejoice in that also. You follow Him.
John 1:37 – When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
Follow a living Jesus. This pulpit cannot possibly convey the living God to you. At best it’s a road sign that points in a certain direction. How can I speak to you of God’s love and mercy, and find the words and the power to move your heart? And I might be able to find a few words to drive some men to some tears of joy for God, or maybe a few words to convict them of sin, but we’re talking a baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. You have to go to Him.
John 1:38 – Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked . . .
Jesus is always asking us, “What do you want?” For so many today Jesus Christ turns and says, “What do you want?” And they say, “We want the Prayer of Jabez.”
John 1:38 – Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
“We want to hang with You. We want to fellowship with You. It’s not Your blessings that we’re after, or our eyes just to be healed. Where are You going? That’s where we want to be.” They’re repenting enough of their own life to follow Him. Verse 39 Jesus says:
John 1:39 – “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
He doesn’t promise them a lot of things, He just says, “Come.”
John 1:39 – So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
Is God just giving us the time of day for information? No, I think, God is pointing us to the most significant event that can happen. When a man decides to follow Jesus, to ask where He’s at, to be in His presence, that time of the day carries eternal weight to it. Jesus renounces cities in which He did His miracles, the Bible doesn’t record the time or day in that case, does it? But when somebody comes to Jesus and says, “Where are You going? We want to stay with You.” That hour is important. That hour means something. Those who were blind died. People who say, “We want to go where You are at,” they live forever. And they’ll be able to point back to that hour and say, “That’s when I decided to follow. That’s when I decided to find out where He was at.” This passage is also quoted a lot by those that are in the world and by those in the worldly church. Whenever they start to feel some conviction, when Jesus begins to speak to them boldly and powerfully to show them some things, they’ll quote Matthew 11:28.
Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Now of course they’re trying to say this is too hard, too legalistic, and too demanding because they don’t want to give something up. It is true that Jesus’ yoke is easy, and His burden is light. But it’s still a yoke and it’s still a burden. It’s still something that hems you in. It still has a cross to it. It’s still a yoke that keeps you on a path. And it’s still a burden that you have to carry. But let me tell you, with all the sins that I have had in my life, everything that I carried around, and those things that kept me captive, as He’s delivered me from them, I have discovered that His yoke is indeed easy and His burden is light. When I was a vile man, when I was running with my temper and my crudeness and just who I was, that was a heavy burden I carried and a heavy yoke, not only for me, but for others. It is nevertheless a yoke, it is a burden, but it is light and it is easy. Let’s look at this easy yoke and burden in Matthew. Jesus is not talking to the Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the law, or some wicked town that would not repent, He’s talking to Peter. He’s talking to disciples that he loved. He’s talking to the first man that preached at Pentecost.
Matthew 16:23 – Jesus turned and said to Peter,
Let’s just put our own name in here. Jesus turned and said to Adam, or He said to Tim or to Joshua or to Greg. Probably on more than one occasion.
Matthew 16:23 – Get behind me, Satan!
I’ve heard men rationalize this away. This is how offensive the cross is, yet they’ll say, “Well, He wasn’t really talking to Peter but to Satan who was like kind of standing around there.” And “He really didn’t mean Satan, He meant something else.” I just ignore their rationalizations and say “Repent” and move on.
Matthew 16:23 – Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me…
When Jesus Christ talks to you this way, it is an easy yoke and a light burden. But to the man who doesn’t want to give up his life, to the man who would like to keep his pride, to the man who doesn’t like this kind of Jesus, this is a burden he cannot carry and a yoke he will not take upon himself. It is not freedom for him, but death. He doesn’t want to be called Satan. He doesn’t want to be called a stumbling block to God. He doesn’t want to be called a blind fool and a Pharisee. He doesn’t want to be cleansed. He doesn’t want a baptism of fire. He doesn’t want a Jesus that cleans out the temple. He doesn’t want sin dealt with. And so this becomes eternally heavy. Indeed it will drag him all the way down to hell.
Matthew 16:23 – …you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.
Jesus doesn’t turn to Peter and say, “Oh, Peter, I know you’re thinking of My welfare, and you’re really concerned for Me and the Kingdom of God. I know you’re trying to reason this out the best you can, but you’ve got some self-effort involved. And you just need a little bit more knowledge to reason this out.” Jesus doesn’t deal with him that way. He deals with the heart of the issue because if the heart can be cleansed, then what Peter says and understands will become clean from then on. So Jesus calls him Satan in all the fullness of what that word means. And he does it publicly. He does it in front of everybody else. He rebukes him in no uncertain terms. This is an easy yoke. This is a light burden. When I watch some of you as God convicts you of sin, you kick and scream, you yell and fight, and you offer excuses and reasons and justifications. You pray, you sing, you do all kinds of things, and you act like it’s the greatest insult in the world, but He’s not even calling you Satan. He’s just trying to cleanse you. He’s trying to gather you under His arms. You lock in your heels, you become angry, you fight, you stand firm, you do anything but say, “Yes, Lord.” You run the risk of being denounced.
Matthew 17:14-16 – When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
And look at what Jesus says about His disciples; people who are following Him.
Matthew 17:17 – O unbelieving and perverse generation,
And so when you can’t do something in God, when you can’t fathom something in the Lord, when wisdom seems far from you, when you don’t have the knowledge and discernment that you need, maybe Jesus wants to turn to you and say, “O unbelieving and perverse generation.” You get grouped in with everybody else. Look at Jesus’ attitude: (Remember, this is an easy yoke and a light burden.)
Matthew 17:17 – How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.
We know very little of this kind of love. We would find this hard to say to our sons or daughters or wife or husband. Jesus shows no favoritism and He turns to them and says, “How long do I have to put up with you? You are perverse.” He didn’t say, “Well, let’s have a little study on faith. Let’s get ourselves built up in this issue, and let’s get a little bit more of the Holy Spirit.” He doesn’t reason it out with soft words, He deals with the root cause of the problem. “There’s too much of you in there, there’s too much self. You are perverse. You are unbelieving, and you need to repent.”
Matthew 17:18 – Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
Now the disciples don’t pout. They don’t whine, “Oh Jesus, You’re being so hard on us. Why did You group us with this generation of people? I heard how You talked about them, why are You applying that to us? You know we’re here following You, and how much we’ve sacrificed.” They don’t go off into all kinds of self-pity. What happens?
Matthew 17:19 – Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
They’re getting past the offense of the cross. They’re getting past their pride. They’re getting past all their religiosity, and they’re coming to Jesus Christ in private. They’re getting in their prayer closet and saying, “What is the problem with us? We’re listening. Teach us, and show us. We’re not saying that we’re not perverse. We agree with You that we’re unbelieving. We have a problem if we couldn’t even cast a demon out of a boy. We were powerless, we were helpless, we couldn’t do anything to rescue this boy. What is the problem?” They’re coming out of love, selflessness, and humility and He will teach them.
Matthew 17:20 – He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
You find that quoted in a lot of churches, don’t you? When is the last time you heard anybody say, “Jesus Christ just called me perverse, I need more faith.” Oh, it’s dancing, singing, and jumping up and down until you get all emotional and then you call that faith.
Luke 18:18-20 – A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’“
All the law has been laid out and what He says is,
Luke 18:21-22- “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Remember this is an easy yoke. This is a light burden that Jesus is demanding, but for this man it will be too heavy to carry. It’s a yoke he will not want to place on his back. In verse 23, it says:
Luke 18:23 – When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
But Jesus doesn’t apologize.
Luke 18:24 – Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Jesus doesn’t fudge on it. He doesn’t say, “Give 10 percent.” He doesn’t say, “Well, you’ve got all of this in your favor.” He just says it’s hard.
Luke 18:25 – Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
He makes it sound more difficult! When’s the last time in your presentation of the Gospel that you got somebody convicted and then you made it sound harder on top of that? We offer a Jesus that is not a true Jesus. It’s no wonder our conversions are not of the Holy Spirit. We get them all the way to this point and then we start fudging on it, because we want to win a number or a member. Verse 26 look at what they say:
Luke 18:26 – Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Look at their reaction! They understand that Jesus demands the complete surrender of a man.
Luke 18:27-28 – Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
It was a reality for Peter. No excuses, no justifications, no reasons. He gave up his pride—he surrendered everything. They paid the full price for the one thing the rich man couldn’t give up. I know men that get all the way down, but there was one thing they wouldn’t give up. They’ll never find Jesus’ burden to be light or His yoke to be easy. Look at how Jesus talks and with what emotion He speaks.
John 12:44 – Then Jesus cried out
You can see He’s preaching and teaching as He walks along. All of these things are going on and He’s trying to preach. Notice His emotion and His heart. So I ask you, with what kind of heart do you repent and what kind of heart do you preach to people? People call me all the time wanting to know the words to say in certain situations. But I’ve never had anybody ask me, “In what manner should I speak those words? With what emotion should I declare those words?” Let me tell you, you may not get all the words right. But if the heart is right, that’s enough.
John 12:44-46 – Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
Again, He’s crying out. He’s pleading for men to believe and to repent and accept who He is.
John 12:47 – As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.
The people in Christ Jesus are the ones that hear this cry. The ones who keep His word and accept Him for who He is, no matter how He comes. Verse 48 says:
John 12:48 – There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words
We have looked a little bit at who Jesus is and how He spoke and dealt with people. These are the words of Jesus, this is who He is and how He will come in our life, and how we are to preach to other people. Who made up this whole business of passing out a 1-2-3 tract or praying one little simple prayer? People need your heart, they need your life. God needs to be able to move His Holy Spirit through all of that. It’s not a cold, calculated kind of doctrine.
John 12:48 – There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.
Jesus cries out. And He’s a man of life and passion and emotion. He demands, He pleads, He asks, He rebukes, He cries and He prays for us to do one thing—to repent.
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, we ask that you come and be who You are. You know how best to draw us to repentance and to life, to sharing Your holiness, to fellowship with You. Father, grant us soft and teachable hearts that will be willing to be gathered under Your wings. And let us be willing to pay the price, Father, to preach to other people as Your Spirit would move, whether of kindness or sternness, let it all be of love. May we accept Your Word and who You are O Lord. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.