A Line in the Sand

  

Matthew 23 and 24

Each time we experience the Easter season, it can lose its Impact and become almost stale. We’ve heard the messages… we’ve seen the images… watched the plays… We’ve been shocked by the horror of all that Jesus endured – torture, crucifixion. Our task is to not only what Jesus experienced for us, but also how approached his death – to see Jesus’ attitude.

"To this point, Jesus had tried to avoid outright conflict, while at the same time, warning people openly about the poison of the Jewish leaders… However, at this point, Jesus launches a serious offensive."

THE YELLOW LINE FOR PHARASEES

1. FOR EXPLOITING PEOPLE AND HINDERING THEM FROM REALLY CONNECTING WITH GOD.

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)

Max Lucado – And the Angels were Silent

"It was Passover week… the highlight of the Jewish calendar. People came from all regions and many countries to be present for the celebration. Upon arriving they were obligated to meet two requirements.

First, an animal sacrifice, usually a dove. The dove had to be perfect, without blemish. The animal could be brought in from anywhere, but… under the guise of keeping the sacrifice pure, the dove sellers sold doves – at their price."

"Second, the people had to pay a tax… rendered in local currency. Money changers conveniently set up tables and offered to exchange the foreign money for local – for a modest fee, of course."

"It’s not difficult to see what angered Jesus. Pilgrims journeyed days to see God, to witness the holy, to worship His Majesty. But before they were taken into the presence of God, they were taken to the cleaners. What was promised and what was delivered were two different things.

Want to anger God? Get in the way of people who want to see him. Want to feel his fury? Exploit people in the name of God.

"They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.(Matthew 23:4)

2. FOR THEIR ATTITUDE OF SUPERIORITY

"Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes… and extra long tassels on their robes. And how they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the most prominent seats in the synagogue! They enjoy the attention they get on the streets and they enjoy being called ’Rabbi’." (Matthew 23:5-7 – NLT)

One can almost picture them with a spiritual "strut," moving conspicuously through the community. Many of their religious observances and routines were exaggerated to achieve the maximum public display… The farmer would put down his hoe… and the merchant would lay aside his cloth; and in full view of everyone they would pray…. If the group had a key to its philosophy, it could be stated, "Look at us?"

3. FOR DISTORTING THE TRUTH AND LEADING PEOPLE ASTRAY

"You Pharisees and teachers… are in for trouble! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves and you keep others from going in… You travel over land and sea to win one follower… you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are… You are supposed to lead others, but you are blind." (Matthew 23:13-16 – CEV)

4. FOR THEIR HYPOCRISY

"Hypocrites! You are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law – justice, mercy, and faith… You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence!" (Matthew 23:23,25 – New Living Translation)

5. FOR REJECTING GOD AND HIS MESSENGERS

"Corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the way of life, and you didn’t believe him… you refused to turn from your sins and believe him." (Matthew 21:31-32 – New Living Translation)

We can see why the Pharisees were his enemies. He emphasised the inner man; they were concerned with externals. He taught a spiritual life based on principles, while the Pharisees majored on rules and regulations.

Jesus taught humility and sacrificial service; but the Pharisees were proud and used people to accomplish their own purposes. The holy life of Jesus exposed their artificial piety and shallow religion.

 

THE YELLOW LINE FOR FOLLOWERS

1. BE FAITHFUL IN SPITE OF HARDSHIP

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. " (Matthew 24:9-10,13)

2. BE READY FOR JESUS’ RETURN

"30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[a] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 24:30,36: 25:13)

3. BE ACTIVE IN MINISTRY

"It’s like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities… After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them." (Matthew 25:14-15,19 – The Message)

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" (Matthew 25:21)

"You are a wicked and lazy servant!… Those who have much will get more, and they will have much more than they need. But those who do not have much will have everything taken away from them… Throw that useless servant outside." (Matthew 25:26,29-30)

4. BE GRACIOUS TO THOSE IN NEED

"I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me… I’m telling you this solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me." (Matthew 25:35-36,40)