Matthew 21_8-14      Hard Jesus

Rev. David Holwick  ZP             "A FRESH LOOK AT JESUS" sermon series

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

December 13, 1998

Matthew 21:8-14


HARD JESUS



SERMON SUMMARY:  Most people have a soft, stained-glass image of Jesus,

     but he could be hard and confrontational.  Christians should take

     stands for righteousness, but with compassion.



  I. Does Christmas bring out the worst in you?

      A. Putting up tree, relatives, standing in line in cold only

            to find out it is the line for Santa.

          1) Royal fights and hard feelings.

          2) What about peace on earth?


      B. Sometimes Jesus was ticked off too.

          1) But in a different way than us.

          2) An importantly different way.


II. Our sentimental image of Jesus.

      A. It is easy to picture him as kind and loving.

          1) Looking at our stained glass windows you can almost hear

                organ music.

          2) Matthew 21 paints an entirely different picture, however.

              a) It is challenging to visualize an angry Jesus.


      B. Jesus, enraged and impassioned, took a stand.

          1) No one was going to turn his Father's house into a den

                of con artists.

          2) He squared off against sin.


      C. Various reactions.

          1) Vendors not thrilled.

          2) Management wanted to check his credentials.

          3) Disciples not embarrassed - all four gospels mention event.


III. Why was it such an unforgettable moment?

      A. Jesus normally shows remarkable self restraint.

          1) "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

          2) This makes his anger all the more remarkable.


      B. How would Jesus feel about Christmas?

          1) Temple merchants were saints compared to us.

              a) Toy stores do 80% of business this month (?)

              b) Many families end up in crushing debt for stuff that will

                    be broken or forgotten in a matter of weeks.

          2) Lots of commerce, little spirituality.

              a) Jesus wouldn't be thrilled.


IV. Jesus could be confrontive.

      A. His anger against religious leaders grew over the years.

          1) Blind guides, vipers, wicked generation, Sodom & Gomorrah.


      B. An example of quieter confrontation.             Luke 14:1,16-24

          1) Dinner at Pharisee's house, command to invite beggars.

          2) Harsh punch line - "Not one of those men who were invited

                will get a taste of my banquet."


      C. Jesus took a stand against the status quo.

          1) He smashed Temple courtyards.

          2) He spoiled parties.

          3) He made people very uncomfortable.


  V. What Christians should be ticked off about.

      A. Taking a stand against sin.

          1) Hard to do when we don't feel adequate ourselves.

          2) We would rather drop broad hints and let Spirit do the rest.

             Henry David Thoreau once said:

             "For every thousand hacking at the limbs of evil,

                there is ONE cutting at its root."

                                                                    #2517

          3) Yet where would America be if a handful of people had

                not gotten angry against slavery, child labor, drunk

                   driving?


      B. There is a place for anger.

          1) Church should have anger against moral & spiritual decay.

          2) That anger should begin with us.


VI. But Jesus does more than speak against wrongs.

      A. Kindness was his usual reaction, instead of anger.

          1) Astounding that where we would justify rage, Jesus is kind.

              a) Judas greeted as, "Friend."                   Matt 26:50

              b) Arresting servant/soldier healed.             Luke 22:51

              c) On cross he forgives his enemies.             Luke 23:34

          2) His blood washed away rage.


      B. Right after cleansing Temple, Jesus heals a blind man.     21:14

          1) Jesus did not miss a beat, changing from wrath to

                compassion.

          2) He could have played it safe.

              a) It takes courage to challenge the status quo.

              b) It also takes courage to do good.

          3) Taking a stand is more than opposing sin.

              a) It also requires ministering to the hurting.

              b) Jesus spoke out AGAINST stuff, but also spoke up

                    FOR stuff.


VII. Taking a stand for righteousness and compassion.

      A. We don't feel adequate here, either.

          1) Easier to drop coins in the Salvation Army kettle.

          2) How to deal with people like Jesus did.


             Daniel Brown is pastor of The Coastlands Church in Aptos,

                California.

             He says one of the great challenges of leadership is

                learning to confront people.

             He gives these six principles:


              a) Avoid avoidance.

                   Often we think, if I just ignore the problem, it

                      might go away.

                   However, most problems that require confrontations

                      are infections: if we ignore them, they get worse.

              b) Focus on prevention.

                   Try to address problems before they become crises.

              c) Receive permission.

                   I may ask, "Do you want everything Jesus has in mind

                      for you?"  Or, "Would you like to know what I see

                         in your life right now?"

                   The person is more likely to receive the correcting

                      advice since he or she has already agreed to hear it.

              d) Build on people's strengths.

                   If we tell people only where they're wrong, they'll

                      become discouraged.

                   We need to show people where they're right, at the

                      very least affirming them as unique, beloved

                         creations of God.

              e) Instill hope.

                   Have a clear sense of the bright future Jesus Christ

                      has for people.

                   Then we'll have less trouble confronting them for

                      their spiritual benefit.

              f) Wrap truth in mercy.

                    A verse that transformed Pastor Brown's ministry was

                       Proverbs 3:3; in the King James version it says,

                    "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee."


          3) Confronting others will never be easy or pleasant.

             But if we want to see people change, we will have to develop

                the courage and skills to do it as well as we can.

                                                                    #3280


      B. Paul felt the tension himself.                       Eph 6:19-20

          1) Jesus is our guide.

          2) He is our source for fearlessness and courage.

          3) His Spirit helps us discern the motives and needs of those

                around us.

          4) His Spirit gives wisdom, guiding us as to the what, when,

                and how of taking stands.


VIII. Encountering the real Jesus.

      A. How would Jesus react to YOU?

          1) Jesus confronts us with our true selves.

          2) He makes us aware of sin in our lives.

          3) Woman at well: "Come meet the man who told me everything

                I ever did."                                    John 4:29


      B. Meeting Jesus should change us.


===========================================================================

SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:


This series was inspired by Issue 56 of Discipleship Journal, March 1990,

   and this sermon is modelled on the article "The Intruder," by

   Joni Eareckson Tada, page 25.  [summary below]


#2517, Henry David Thoreau, quoted in the Baptist Peace Fellowship

         Newsletter, April 1993


#3280, "When You Need To Confront," by Daniel Brown, Leadership magazine,

         Spring 1995, pages 136-91.


These and 4,300 others are part of a database that can be downloaded,

  absolutely free, at http://www.holwick.com/database.html

=======================================================================


ARTICLE SUMMARIES:


Joni Eareckson Tada, "The Intruder," Discipleship Journal #56,

   March 1990, page 24.

==============================================================


  I. Our image of Jesus.

      A. It is easy to picture him as kind and loving.

          1) Looking at our stained glass windows you can almost hear

                organ music.

          2) Matthew 21 paints an entirely different picture.

          3) It is challenging to visualize an angry Jesus.


      B. Jesus, enraged and impassioned, took a stand.

          1) No one was going to turn his Father's house into a den

                of con artists.

          2) He squared off against sin.


      C. An example of quieter confrontation.

          1) Dinner at Pharisee's house, command to invite beggars.

          2) Harsh punch line - "Not one of those men who were invited

                will get a taste of my banquet."

          3) He took a stand against the status quo.

              a) He smashed Temple courtyards.

              b) He spoiled parties.

              c) But he does more than speak against wrongs.


II. Right after the cleansing, Jesus heals a blind man.

      A. Jesus did not miss a beat, changing from wrath to compassion.

          1) He could have played it safe.

          2) It takes courage to challenge the status quo.

              a) It also takes courage to do good.


      B. Taking a stand is more than opposing sin.

          1) It also requires ministering to the hurting.

          2) Jesus spoke out AGAINST stuff, but also spoke up FOR stuff.


III. What does it mean for us to be Christ-like?

      A. Taking a stand against sin.

          1) Hard to do when we don't feel adequate ourselves.

          2) We would rather drop broad hints and let Spirit do the rest.


      B. Taking a stand for righteousness and compassion.

          1) We don't feel adequate here, either.

          2) Easier to drop coins in the Salvation Army kettle.


      C. Paul felt the tension himself.     Eph 6:19-20

          1) Jesus is our guide.

          2) He is our source for fearlessness and courage.

          3) His Spirit helps us discern the motives and needs of those

                around us.

          4) His Spirit gives wisdom, guiding us as to the what, when,

                and how of taking stands.

      D. We must take a stand, no matter what.

          1) Righteous anger to correct a "wrong."

          2) Sensitive compassion to help make a "right."


James Long, "When Blood Washed Away Rage," Discipleship Journal #87,

   May 1995, page 39.

====================================================================


  I. Jesus died without anger.

      A. We live with anger.

          1) Wars, abuse, road rage.

          2) Personal irritations.


      B. Jesus showed self-restraint.

          1) He is like us, and yet in contrast to us.

          2) He was tactful in tricky situations.

          3) He went about doing good.

          4) He held his temper.     (cleansing temple)

              a) He was in total control, even when angry.

              b) Offended by commercialism in temple area.


II. Various reactions.

      A. Vendors not thrilled.


      B. Management wanted to check his credentials.


      C. Disciples not embarrassed.

          1) All four gospels mention event.

          2) Why was it such an unforgettable moment?


III. Jesus was different than us.

      A. Jesus was angry for us, on our behalf.


      B. His anger against religious leaders grew over the years.

          1) Blind guides, snakes, wicked generation, Sodom & Gomorrah.


      C. Anger can be O.K.

          1) Church should have indignant urge against immoral society.


IV. Kindness instead of anger.

      A. Astounding where we would justify rage, Jesus is kind.

          1) Judas greeted as, "Friend."

          2) Arresting servant/soldier healed.

          3) On cross he forgives his enemies.


      B. His blood washed away rage.



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