A Son, A Servant, A Steward

Jesus is Greater

Jesus is Greater

I AM STRUCK by a phrase that is repeated three times in Matthew 12. Speaking of himself, Jesus says, “There is one here who is even greater . . .” Greater than what? Greater than who?

Greater than the Temple: After accusing Jesus of breaking the traditions of the Sabbath by allowing his disciples to pick the heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that even the priests “did work” on the Sabbath. He was quick to remind them that their traditions prevented them from showing mercy to the one in need. So, Jesus said, “There is one here who is even greater than the Temple!” (Matthew 12:6)

The Temple was a place where God met with the people of Israel. It was a place where the sacrifice for sin was made so that the people of Israel could be forgiven. It was a place where the mercy of God was on display. Therefore, Jesus said in verse 7, “But would you not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of the Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifice.” 

Are you marked with a spirit of mercy?

Greater than Jonah: As you know, Jesus was in constant conflict with the religious leaders of his day. In Matthew 12:38, they ask Jesus for a sign to prove he has the authority from God to do what he does. He had already done countless miracles that many had witnessed, and yet the religious leaders refused to believe that Jesus was their Messiah. And so Jesus offers this sign to them, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

If you remember the story of Jonah, he came to a Gentile city preaching the need to repent of their sins or they will face the judgment of God. And what happened? They repented of their sin and God spared them. But Jesus says to these religious leaders, “Now someone greater than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.” The implication is – how much more will their judgment be because in Jesus they had greater revelation than the people of Nineveh.

Do you humbly repent of your sin and turn in faith to Jesus?

Greater than Solomon: In the same context, Jesus reminds us of how the queen of Sheba sought out Solomon because of his wisdom. She traveled a long distance just to learn from him and to see his wisdom on display. But Jesus says, “Now someone greater than Solomon is here – but you refuse to listen.”

The book of Proverbs contains much of the wisdom of Solomon. And yet, Jesus, the Son of God, is wisdom itself.  May our ears and our hearts be found listening to Jesus.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Do you listen to Jesus and follow him?

Jesus is greater!

  • Jesus is greater than the Temple – so be merciful to the one in need.
  • Jesus is greater than Jonah – so daily repent of your sin and daily rely on Jesus.
  • Jesus is greater than Solomon – so listen to Jesus and follow him.

Taking Steps Towards Racial Reconciliation

Taking Steps Towards Racial Reconciliation

SINCE PREACHING ON THE TOPIC of race about a month ago, I have been contemplating what our next step might be as a church.

How can we position ourselves as a church to better understand the plight of people of color?  And then, what can we do to act on behalf of racial minorities in our church and in our community?

To help us grow in these two areas – understanding and action – I have asked the leadership of the church to join me in doing two things.

First, to understand the issue of racism better, we are going to read the book Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey. We are going to discuss the book at our meetings throughout the month of July.

Second, this will lead us to do something. We are going to write up a position paper on race that will include several commitments we will be making to address this issue as a church.

If you would like to be part of this process, I would encourage you to do the following:

  • Follow the five-part sermon series on Micah starting this Sunday.  The title of the sermon series is “Do Justice.”  The title is taken from the key verse, Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”

  • Read the book Beyond Racial Gridlock. You can order the book here. Consider reading it and discussing it with a group of friends. 

  • Be in prayer for the last Sunday of the series on Micah (August 9). In this service, we will include a presentation of our statement on race along with the commitments we will be taking to address this issue as a church family. 

  • Participate with us. On the heels of August 9, we will plan an event that allows us to come together over this topic and to take next steps in moving towards racial reconciliation.

My prayer is simply this: “Lord, show us what needs corrected in ourselves. Give us compassion to care for the one who is in need. Grant us wisdom to know how to address the needs of the individual and courage to address the institutional realities that contribute to oppressing others.  Help us to be agents of healing, reconciliation, and restoration out of love for you and love for others. Most of all, may Jesus be seen in our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Amen.”

The Greatness of God

The Greatness of God

SPURGEON ONCE WROTE: (by the way, he was 20 years old when he wrote this.) 

“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of God. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-control, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold, I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise and with solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.” 

I wonder if this is what Moses was referring to in Deuteronomy 3:24. Here he says, “O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.”  Only begun?  When I read that the other day, I was taken back by this statement. Moses was near the end of his life when he said this. If anyone had a unique window into the inexhaustible glory of God, it was Moses. Here is how Deuteronomy summarizes his life at the end of the book in Deuteronomy 34. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

Moses knew God “face to face.” God performed amazing things through Moses. The parting of the Red Sea is just one out of numerous “signs and wonders” God performed through Moses. And yet, here is Moses confessing, “you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.” 

I hope this encourages you to put time and effort into knowing God. Paul says of this effort of knowing Christ is of surpassing worth compared to everything else.  Furthermore, the result is not just that we grow in knowledge, but it is a great source of comfort as well. Here is how Spurgeon closes out his comments.

“And while humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quiet for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is a balsam for every wound. Do you want to lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so, calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of God.”

Paul summarizes the aim of his life in Philippians 3:10, “that I may know him.” May that be our endless pursuit as well. 

As I mentioned in the sermon this past Sunday, that it is contemplating God and keeping your eyes on Jesus that enables us to endure with patience. We haven’t even begun to see the greatness of our God. 

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