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How Will You Respond to Jesus?

Notes & Transcripts

How Will You Respond to Jesus?

Matthew 21:23-32

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - August 26, 2012

BACKGROUND:

*In Matthew 21, we are very near the time of the cross. The chapter begins with the Lord entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, as the multitudes cried out in vs. 9, "Hosanna!" That means "Oh saved us!" They were crying out "'Oh saved us' to the Son of David!"

*Then in vs. 12&13, Jesus went into the Temple of God and drove out all the money changers and merchants. Jesus told them, "It is written, 'My House shall be called a House of Prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

*In vs. 14&15, Jesus healed the blind and lame people who came to Him in the Temple. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things Jesus did, they were greatly offended. A day or two later, the chief priests and elders confronted the Lord again in the Temple.

*Let’s read about it starting in Matthew 21:23, and think about our response to Jesus.

INTRODUCTION:

*I guess we respond to things a thousand times a day. For most of us, it starts with the alarm clock every morning. Then we respond to text messages, phone calls, email and all kinds of conversation. We respond to heat, cold, hunger and pain. We respond to humor, anger, love, respect and fear. We respond to victories, setbacks and defeats.

*But how we respond makes a big difference. Chuck Swindoll once said, "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% of how I react to it." (1)

*How we respond makes a big difference. And that is especially true when it comes to Jesus. Nothing is more important than our response to Jesus.

-How will you respond to Jesus? -- The Word of God shows us what to do.

1. First, accept the Lord’s authority.

*Don’t be like the Jewish leaders we see in vs. 23. Rebellion and rejection of Christ dripped from their lips:

23. Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?''

*In other words: "Who gives you the power and the right to do all the things you are doing?" The Lord answered their question with another question, because it was not quite time for the cross. Jesus had more to do, and more to teach His followers.

*But these hard-hearted, unbelieving leaders defiantly questioned the Lord’s authority. That was an amazing thing for them to do, considering the last three years.

[1] Time after time, the Lord had spoken with great authority.

*For example, in Matthew 7:24-27, the Lord closed out His Sermon on the Mount with these words:

24. "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

25. and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

27. and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

*Then in vs. 28&29, Matthew closed out this passage by writing:

28. And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,

29. for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

*Time after time, the Lord had spoken with great authority.

[2] And He had acted with great authority.

*Wikipedia listed 44 separate miracles that Jesus performed in the New Testament, not counting His resurrection from the dead. (2)

*And the Apostle John closed his Gospel by saying: "There are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen." (John 21:25). But speaking of hard-hearted people like the chief priests and elders, John 12:37 says that "although (Jesus) had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him."

*Don’t be like those stubborn people who rejected Jesus! -- Accept the Lord’s authority.

*Matthew 8:5-13 tells the story of a Roman soldier who did accept the Lord’s authority. Listen from the Living Bible:

5. When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman army captain came and pled with him to come to his home and heal his servant boy who was in bed paralyzed and racked with pain.

7. "Yes," Jesus said, "I will come and heal him."

8. Then the officer said, "Sir, I am not worthy to have you in my home; [and it isn't necessary for you to come]. If you will only stand here and say, 'Be healed,' my servant will get well!

9. I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers, and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave boy, 'Do this or that,' and he does it. And I know you have authority to tell his sickness to go -- and it will go!"

10. Jesus stood there amazed! Turning to the crowd he said, "I haven't seen faith like this in all the land of Israel!

11. And I tell you this, that many Gentiles (like this Roman officer), shall come from all over the world and sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12. And many an Israelite --those for whom the Kingdom was prepared -- shall be cast into outer darkness, into the place of weeping and torment."

13. Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go on home. What you have believed has happened!" And the boy was healed that same hour!

*That soldier responded with great faith. -- How will you respond to Jesus?

-Accept the Lord’s authority.

2. But also answer the Lord’s questions.

*Since it was not yet time for Jesus to die on the cross, He answered their question with another question. Listen again to vs. 23-27:

23. Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?''

24. But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things:

25. The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?'' And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?'

26. But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.''

27. So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know.'' And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

*These religious politicians remind us of far too many of our own politicians. They didn’t care about what was right. They only cared about what was going to further their own selfish agenda. So they went where they thought no one could hear them, and plotted for a few minutes. Then they came back out and refused to answer.

*Saying, "We don’t know." was certainly a lie from their point of view, because they surely rejected John the Baptist as much as they rejected Jesus. Of course the Lord knew what was in their hearts. And we don’t want to be like those men!

*But know this: The Lord has some questions for us too.

*Jesus loves to ask questions. Tom Gilson thinks the Lord’s favorite question was "Why?" And Tom gave examples:

-In Matthew 6:28 Jesus asked His disciples, "Why are you anxious about clothing?"

-In Matthew 7:3 He asked, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"

-In Matthew 8:26, Christ’s question was, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"

-Then in Matthew 9:4, Jesus met some of his enemies, and "knowing their thoughts, asked, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts?'"

*Tom Gilson explained: "Jesus was not asking out of confusion or even curiosity. He knew their thoughts. He knew what was going on under the surface. He wasn't asking because He needed to know." Jesus asks questions to help US think about who we are, what we believe, and what we should be doing with our lives. (3)

*Of all the Lord’s questions, I think the most important must be the question He asked Peter three times in John 21: "Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?"

*Church, I have been around you long enough to know that you do love the Lord. But before you answer that question from the Lord, let me tell you that there is only one measuring stick for our love.

*Jesus gave us the standard at least four times in the hours before He died on the cross.

-For example, in John 14:15, Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

-Then in John 14:21, Jesus said: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me."

*That’s the measuring stick of our love for the Lord. And the Lord has some questions for us today:

-"Do you trust Me?"

-"Will you follow Me?"

-"Do you love Me?"

*How will you respond to Jesus? Give the right answers to the Lord's questions.

3. But also apply the Lord’s lessons.

*Jesus knew their hearts of those Christ-rejecting leaders. And He had vital lessons to teach that day. So the Lord began to teach through a parable. Jesus started in vs. 28:

28. But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.'

29. He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went.

30. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go.

31. Which of the two did the will of his father?'' They said to Him, "The first.'' . . .

*It was really surprising that the first son wound up doing his father’s will. After all, he was determined to be rebellious at first. King Duncan imagined him saying, "No, I'm not going to work in the vineyard! My friends are coming over. We're going to the mall. We’re going to the movie. Working in the vineyard is a drag. Why are you always picking on me?"

*But a funny thing happened. He changed his mind. He felt bad about his disobedience and decided to obey his father. He actually went and did the work. (4)

*The second son must have made his father feel proud at first. He sounded obedient, but he wasn’t obedient. He started right, but he finished wrong. And the Lord has 3 lessons for us today in this parable.

[1] The first lesson is about honest obedience.

*Actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, sometimes we Christians are at least a little bit like that second son. King Duncan explains: "This is an important parable for us because we are those who have said, 'Yes, Father, I will go.' There was a time when we were baptized, and we promised that Jesus would be the Lord of our lives. 'Yes, Father, I will go.' There was a time when we said we would be faithful to God’s church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service." (5)

*We have said, "Yes, Father, I will go." But have we kept our commitments?

*Actions speak louder than words. It’s not enough to have good intentions. It’s not enough to sound good and look good. We have to be good. So James 1:22 says: "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." And 1 John 3:18 says: "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."

*God wants to see love in action from us. Pastor and evangelist Ron Dunn gave a great example from his own life. It centered around Luke 6:38, where Jesus said: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

*Ron told about the time that verse came alive to him. God applied it to his heart. Ron said, "God was speaking to me. That verse had my name written on it, and I had to embrace it."

*It happened during a time of financial trouble for Ron. One Wednesday he had been given $50 for preaching a funeral service. That night they had a missionary speaker at church, and after the service something said to Ron: "Give that $50 to the missionary."

*With a twinkle in his eye, Ron said, "Well, I knew that was the devil!" But he really knew it was the Lord, so Ron prayed, "Lord, I want to do your will. If that man is still out there when I go outside, I will give him the $50."

*Then Ron waited, and waited, and waited. Only then did he go outside. Everyone else was gone but that missionary. Ron said he looked like he was waiting on something. So Ron went up to him and said, "Here, Brother. The Lord told me to give this to you."

*And Ron didn’t like it at first, but remember what he said: "God was speaking to me. That verse had my name written on it. And I had to embrace it." (6)

*What we DO speaks a lot louder than what we SAY. That’s the Lord’s lesson of honest obedience.

[2] But Jesus also gives us a lesson about Heaven.

31. Which of the two did the will of his father?'' They said to Him, "The first.'' Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

32. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent (i.e. repent) and believe him."

*The only way for us to enter the kingdom of God is to change our minds about our sin and our selfish ways. We have to turn away from rebellious disobedience, and turn to God, trusting in Him, trusting in His Word...

-Believing what God says about sin and salvation.

-Believing what God’s Word says about His love for us.

-Believing what God says about the cross of Jesus Christ.

*You have to believe enough to open your heart and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This is the Lord’s lesson about Heaven.

[3] But Jesus also gives us a lesson about hope.

*There is hope for the hardest cases! Hear the Lord again in vs. 31&32:

31. . . Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

32. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him. . ."

*There was hope for the thieving tax collectors. There was hope for the harlots. And through Jesus Christ, there is hope for the hardest cases today!

*Evelyn Hall gave the example of some parents who sent their little girl to church every Sunday, but they never attended. Everybody knew about the wild parties this couple threw at their home on Saturday nights. A lot of bad behavior took place there. Then, each Sunday morning, the little girl sat in church alone.

*But one Sunday, the pastor looked at the congregation and saw the parents sitting with their little girl! They later explained that a Saturday night party got way out of hand, and the noise woke their daughter. She came downstairs, and when she saw the eating and drinking, she asked, "Oh, may I say the prayer? God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen. Goodnight, everybody."

*The little girl went back upstairs, but within minutes, uncomfortable guests began to say, "It's getting late. We really ought to be going." Then the parents looked at each other and one asked, "Where do we think WE are going?" (7)

*God used their little girl to help turn their lives around. God used their little girl to help them turn to Jesus. There IS hope for the hopeless. There is hope for us all in Jesus Christ.

*How will you respond to Him? -- Now is the time to respond, as we go to the Lord in prayer.

(1) Charles R. Swindoll quote - thinkexist.comquotescharles_r._swindoll

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Jesus

(3) Adapted from www.thinkingchristian.net/Clips/QuestionsJesusAsked.pdf

(4) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "Good Intentions" by King Duncan - Matthew 21:28-32

(5) Sermons.com sermon "A Tale of Two Brothers" by King Duncan - Matthew 21:28-32 - 2005 - Originally preached just over a year after 9-11

(6) I heard Ron Dunn give this testimony in a class at New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary.

(7) Shared by Evelyn Hall - Source: Sermons.com sermon "The Good Son" by Frank Lyman - Matthew 21:28-32 - 2005

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