September 10, 2017: Matthew 9 (Rich Merkouris)

Sermon Notes

00:00          As Jesus passed on from there he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth and he said to him Follow me. And he rose and followed him and as Jesus reclined at table in the house behold many tax collectors and sinners came in were reclining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this they said to His disciples Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners. But when he heard it he said those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means.


00:32          I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous but sinners.


00:40          The word of the Lord.


00:42          How many of you have ever been snipe hunter? Not very many. Let me tell you, snipe hunting is one of the greatest experiences. If you don't know what a snipe look likes, we've got a picture here from Wikipedia of what a snipe actually looks like. That's what you're hunting . You're trying to capture it. I've found the best snipe any method is a pillowcase and a flashlight. So what you want to do is you've got to go to an area where there's a lot of trees away from city lights kind of out in the dark because what you do is you stick to. What you call your pillowcase. Then get your flashlight and shine the flashlight through the pillowcase and then make some special sounds.


01:32          OK so what we're going to do this morning is for the next three minutes everything we talk about and do cannot leave this room. OK.

Raise your hand if you're in agreement with me for the next three minutes OK. Most of the time anything I say I want you to repeat out in the streets but we don't want to give away any secrets today.

OK. So when you're snipe hunt you take a pillow case in here put Take a flashlight and do this Snipes. Snipes like stuff like that. Take lots of practice together ok and in tone. And what do you call it when you're on the right note melody whatever you call I don't alter the pitch pitch. Thank you. Yes. So it's all got to you right.


02:15          OK. So let's practice this together ok. Side. Some of you aren't participating. Folks folks snipe hunting only works if you call them in. OK. Don't be afraid they're not going to come through the roof. They're not attracted in city lights on the explosives practice one more time so that when you do go with me you're prepared. OK here we go. One two three. All right. We're we're getting there. So what you do is you take your pillow case you take that out and you get out there and you put the flashlight in and you call them in and let me tell you when you call them in.


02:57          It gets wild. I mean sometimes you'll get three or four at the same time in your pillow case and that pillow case is just whipping around.


03:08          And so you've got to hold that pillowcase tight though.


03:11          Now I apologize if there's anyone in this morning with a sore stomach. But here's what you have to do. You've got to keep going like this. I hope the public is tight. And


03:19          so last night in the pillow case you can get really sore.


03:24          So this is now this is dangerous. OK. Now watch your neighbor very carefully. But because not everybody's doing this motion all the time we got to kind of practice this motion OK. So let's get your use your right hand or left and watch your neighbor OK.


03:37          So now you've got somebody you got couple in the pillow case. Come on. OK. OK. That's what it's like. Can you imagine the fun.


03:46          Who wants to me here tonight at 9:30. We'll head out to the Thornburg farm. It's a great time. Of my favorite memories ever was heading over to Minnesota going up to a gopher game when I was in college we took a buddy with here from Sioux Falls Mustafa's and my grandparents along the way and we took him snipe honey.


04:05          It was all a lot of fun.


04:07          Because it was thirty five minutes until he returned from the grove into the house. Because if you haven't caught on it. There actually is no snide Paani gate.


04:20          Now remember I said you can't leave this room snipe hunting is a show. It's a great joke to play on people. He was out there for 35 minutes with his pillowcase and flashlight just waiting. It was great. He came in just a little frustrated when he realized that he was hunting but there was nothing to be caught.


04:48          He was going through all of the motions. He had everything exactly right. But in reality it was all a game.


04:57          Sadly many of us are snipe hunting when it comes to religion.


05:20          We're hoping to get something by going through some specific motions. This morning God's word Jesus hopefully is going to refine our hearts and challenges us.

and say Are you a sniper in or are you actually getting what God wants. Because there's a big difference. And so this morning we're going to ask ourselves to reflect on three questions in this next week and ask that you reflect on these three questions to examine your own hearts.


05:52          So when Matthew Chapter 9 we encountered Jesus dealing with a tax collector


06:03          And he comes up and he says to a tax collector follow me and this causes all sorts of a ruckus because tax collectors are not well liked Not only are they not well liked they're hated they're despised. They're on the outskirts. They're not just people who are opposed to Jews. They're actually people who the Jews think are working directly against them. On offense you could say the Jews look at the tax collectors and say that the tax collectors are on offense against God because they're working for the Roman Empire.


06:38          So, Jesus really shake things up when he says “hey come along Matthew (a tax collector) let's go.” And so that causes all sorts of ruckus because then what happens next.


07:04          Matthew doesn't hang out with religious people. So why would somebody expect there to be religious people at Matthew's house. So Jesus goes to Matthew's house for a party who's there tax collectors and other sinners or people who are religious.


07:19          You've got Jesus the leader of the biggest religious movement at that moment in time Jesus. Jesus was the one who is claiming to be the Jewish Messiah.


07:32          Now Jesus is in this environment which the Jews would despise.


07:38          And this was getting under the religious leaders skin. They're not happy about this.


08:00          Matthew 9 verse 11.Now isn't this classic church life. You're grumbling and you're unhappy. Who do you talk to? Not the one who can do anything about it but somebody else. Is this not humanity it happens all the time. A little passive aggressive approach. I'm going to bring it up and then bring it up over here to the disciples. The religious leaders do this all of the time. They're caught grumbling but they never grumble directly to Jesus. They grumble to themselves, they grumble to each other or they grumble to the disciples but never to Jesus.


08:49          Why? Because they know Jesus is the one who has authority. They've seen it in action. They get caught and get proven wrong. Oh you are stuck. We don't know how to respond to that. And so the religious here want to kind of stay religious and safe. But Jesus catches what they're saying and then Jesus comes right at them. He comes right at the religious leaders and we might not see here so much as an attack, but this is a direct attack as pinpoint in sharp as it can come. Notice what he says to the religious leaders. Verse 13, “Jesus says Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

In other words Jesus is quoting to them Old Testament prophets.


09:42          Now he's quoting this to religious leaders who what study Old Testament prophets. These Old Testament prophets said brought down wrath had brought down the anger of God at different times.

Now these prophets Jesus is quoting what. Against the one who studies these prophets.


10:01          These religious leaders would have known these words well. They would have known what the prophet Isaiah specifically said at different times and recorded in Isaiah Chapter 58 about how your festivals and how your celebrations are worthless in the sight of God.

And now Jesus is saying this about them. He's saying this to the religious leaders. This should cause all of us to stop in our tracks.


10:46          Why?


10:53          You and I are some of the most religious people in the whole world. We would be considered one percenters when it comes to religion. And that's that's not a bad thing.


11:06          We have to recognize that Jesus harshest words were for the religious people.

11:20         He confronts the religious leaders festivals sort of saying “Well the seven days that you took off from work and you sacrificed and came and held the festival. Guess what. It was meaningless.”


11:58          This is an attack at their very core of their identity, saying hey what you enjoy and what you participate in it's meaningless.


12:12          Now here's where it gets challenging and catch this very clearly. Who instituted the things that the religious leaders were practicing?


This is very important.


12:50          And now And now God is saying to the people, “this stuff that you're doing which I told you to do is worthless.” Well I can imagine how much that would hurt. W


13:03          is it worth less because they've abandoned the very heart of the one who instituted the practices.


13:12          When you read the prophets in the Old Testament. What they get really angry about is that when God's people are holding all of these festivals they are not showing any loving kindness or compassion to people who are different.

When there's not even any loving kindness or compassion to the orphan or the widow to the alien or stranger in their midst, that's when the harshest words come.


13:53          Why? Because when you're not doing those things you're neglecting the very heart of the God who instituted those practices.


14:05          And so you can practice the very things that God ordained and miss the God who ordained them.


14:21          It's because practices are just that their practices. They're in out flow.

Their activity activity can be meaningless if there's not heart activity behind appearance is extremely deceiving.


14:57          There's churches filled all throughout our community, all throughout this country in the world with people finally dressed in absolutely no fear of the Living God. And there's people all throughout this country that showed up this morning in flip flops to worship and they fear God. They know that if they do not obey, there are consequences.


15:22          Appearances can be very deceiving.


15:27          Is there anything wrong with wearing a tie? Absolutely not. Actually feels pretty good.

Is there anything wrong with not wearing a tie? Absolutely not. That's just fine as well.


15:38          But there is something wrong with getting excited in either direction. Because we're getting excited about activity rather than the heart behind the activity.

This morning, Jesus is calling out and reminding us and asking us are you just going through the motions. Are you just going through the motions? That's question number one for us to reflect on this next week.

16:14          Some might say, “Pastor, It's important that we go through these motions and these traditions that we've put in place.” Absolutely, I haven't said anything negative about a tradition this morning at all.


16:27          However traditions are extremely dangerous. Because they can give the appearance of righteousness and religiosity when you don't have it. Remember Jesus harshest words were for those who are the most faithful with their traditions.

However, I would encourage some of you this morning. I think it would be helpful for some of you to actually develop some traditions because traditions can be healthy. Traditions can remind us of things in the midst of society.


17:04          Everybody's gone every direction. We need something to come back and remind us of what's true and what's good. So there's nothing wrong with traditions.


17:15          Yesterday, I was at a Catholic wedding yesterday. I disagree with a lot that's going on but there can be extremely powerful traditions. For example the reverence that they show for the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. That's huge. That's good. And when the priest comes forward after the wedding yesterday and someone is asking “why was he doing all that stuff in the back there before he turned around.” Well they believe this about the presence of God and they believe this about coming onto the altar. All of that stuff is really symbolic of a greater reality behind it. And when you keep the greater reality along with the symbol then it's a good thing.


18:11          But if you just have the symbol, it becomes very dangerous really quick. But some of us will maybe it helpful to have some traditions things that would keep us grounded and reminded. And so here's what I ask you to think about when it comes to your tradition.


18:28          Can you answer the why? Why do you do this or why do you want to do this?

“it's always done it that way. We grew up that way.” That's horrible thinking. There's a lot of bad stuff that can be done because of that.


18:49          So for example and I don't mean to make a deal out of this today but we just dedicated a child today. Guess what? That's a tradition. that's a practice. Nowhere in the Bible does it say dedicate your child. OK. That's a tradition that was instituted by human beings.


There's nothing wrong about it at all. It's a good thing to stand up and ask a group of people “hey we want you to come around us we want to make it publicly known we want our child raised in a Christian home.” That's a great thing.


19:18          It's a tradition that in the moment that you do it, you can say  “Oh yeah. Good to go.”


19:27          OK you've missed the whole point of what it represents.

So am I going through the motions here? When Jesus is focusing on challenging us on going through the motions, what he's really getting at is is he getting at his call.


19:43          Look with me in Matthew 9. What does Jesus say to Matthew? He says follow me. Now we see these words in the Bible and we go “Well yes, Jesus is physically present there it makes sense for the guy to get up and literally follow Jesus.That's not for us today.”

OK. No. Jesus call for use to be a follower of Christ is just as real for you and I today as it was for Matthew sitting in that tax collector booth. If it's not as real, then all we're doing is this we're just taking what we want from Jesus and holding on to a little something to try and give us hope. Look with me in Matthew 28 verse 18.


20:50         Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Disciple is another word for follower or a word for learner.


20:56          Disciple was not of one generation activity. It was meant for every generation in every nation for all time until Jesus returns. And so the call to you today is to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the same way that Matthew was.


21:46          The best way to think of it is this. A follower is an apprentice. It's a person who gets trained by someone who knows what they're doing and what you are supposed to be able to what replicate what that person is doing. That's what a disciple of Jesus was. They were following their Rabbi Jesus learning everything and trying to put it into practice today.  You and I are called the apprentices of Jesus Christ.


22:12          Think of it this way, you and I are called to have our lives revolve around Jesus. Everything in our life is supposed to revolve around Jesus. When I had kids everything changed. Before we had kids, everything revolves around me in our household. It worked really, really well.


22:30          The kids changed everything. On Christmas Eve and before we had kids this is going to sound horrible as your pastor and Christmas Eve our tradition was this watch diehard great Christmas movie. We are kids all of a sudden what I can watch Diehard anymore on Christmas Eve. Before kids came along. When I make breakfast in the morning that's kind of I usually like to get some smoke going through the house burn the bake and burn the sausage over that God. So before kids came along I pass fine and go to work smelling like bacon. This week I make my daughter breakfast first week in kindergarten make some sausage and I think it is a waffle that morning. Go to school or drive to school and she says to me Daddy I smell like a sausage okay.


23:18          But everything's different now. I think in advance now because everything revolves around them right. So I can't watch the same thing I want to watch on Christmas Eve. I can't cook breakfast the same way that I want to cook breakfast. Money doesn't get spent the same way.


23:33          Everything's revolved around what your children and here's the really weirdness of it all.


23:42          I lost my Die Hard and I lost smoke from bacon in the kitchen. But guess what, it's worth it and I would give it up multiple times and everyone in this room who has children will do the exact same thing.


24:06          How much more the value of Jesus Christ the Creator and the King of the universe having everything in our lives revolve around him. It's worth every sacrifice.


24:25          Are you an apprentice? Our second question this week is this, is my life marinated in Jesus?


24:42          You know what it means to marinate something right. It touches is everything.


24:51          Jesus is supposed to flavor our whole life.


25:09          Is my life marinated in Jesus?

25:24          So what is what's going on here in Matthew Chapter 9? Jesus is getting after the religious leaders because the religious leaders don't care about what Jesus cares about. They don't have an authentic relationship with God. Their life is not marinated in Jesus but also at the exact same time they're missing the whole point that Jesus is in the business of people.


25:46          And so Jesus says to them in Matthew 9, “hey those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. For I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” In other words Jesus is saying “hey religious folk you can argue all you want over there about that. But guess what the real business is over here where people need God.”


26:11          Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to bring God to bring a living relationship possible with God to people all people.


26:21          Now this is important to catch. When Jesus is in trouble here for spending time with sinners, this is not a one shot deal. It's not like Jesus was like, “Hey disciples could we set up a little PR stunt where I could get some photos with kind of the outcasts and people that aren't by the church.”

No no no. This is not a one time event.


26:45          Do you know who Jesus dines with consistently and continually? The outcast. The tax collector. The one who's far from God. So this isn't a one time event. This is every day for three years.


27:01         So how about you and I who call on the name of Jesus Christ what do we care about?


27:43          Do we care about people who are far from God?


27:48          Or do we care about our practices that give us the appearance of religiosity and righteousness?

Jesus is in the people business. So question number three. Am I concerned about people who do not know God? It's impossible to be a follower of Jesus Christ and not be concerned about people who do not know God.


28:20          IT’s impossible because if you have the DNA of Jesus Christ, you've got a heart that says I want more people to know God. Are you concerned about people who do not know God?

Let's get really personal for a moment. Can you put three people right now down on the bulletin that you're praying for that do not know God and you're making intentional efforts to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ?


28:57          This is at the heart of Jesus. We can't say we're about Jesus if we're not about what Jesus is about. Jesus is in the business of reaching people.


29:08          Now I hope you're catching onto something here you should see a little two fold approach going here. The second question was “what am I marinating my life in Jesus Christ?”

In other words, am I coming alongside and underneath the teachings of Jesus? Jesus wants us to be growing to be developing ourselves to become more mature in our understanding of Jesus Christ. It's about spiritual growth. That is Jesus wants us to understand his commandments at the exact same time (and are not in opposition to one another) at the exact same time he wants us what telling others about himself.


29:43          It's not enough to simply grow in knowledge of Jesus and not tell others about Jesus. Actually not telling others about Jesus is a reflection that you're not growing in Jesus.


30:00          If we're just snipe hunting, we're not going to care about those who are lost.


30:09          But if we're pursuing the heart of God, we're going to care about people who do not know God.


30:17          So this morning I'm asking that Jesus would liven our hearts. That he'd reawaken us to what he wants for our lives.

What does he want? He wants us to be his apprentice. He wants us to care for people who do not know God.

So those two things you can summarize by saying knowing God and making God known. That's it. Knowing God and making God known that's what God wants for your life today. So these three questions are meant to help us think about that.

Question 1, am I going through the motions? Question 2, is my life marinated in Jesus? Question 3, Am I concerned about people who do not know God. Who is this person who can walk up and say to someone else leave everything and come follow me?


31:10          That's bold to say.


31:14          Forget your family. Forget your neighbors. Come and follow me. Who is this person who can demand everything from us?

This person is the king of the universe who has existed for eternity. Jesus did not come into existence when he came to earth. He came to Earth from somewhere else, heaven. Hasn't in the reason that Jesus Christ is so concerned about people who do not know God is that Jesus Christ is well aware of what's at stake. He's well acquainted with Heaven and Hell. Jesus knows eternity. That's why when he comes he's so concerned about connecting with people who do not know God because He knows what's at stake, eternity.


32:15          Am I going to be serious about eternity?


32:18          I'm serious about eternity when I'm serious about the one who calls Jesus Christ for He is eternal. I'm serious about eternity when I'm serious about the souls of other people.


32:31          And so today would you join with me in taking six days and just reflecting on these three questions. These three questions aren't in the Bible these three questions are just things that I think God placed on my heart this morning to help us reflect upon what Jesus wants and what is teaching us. So you take the next six days and reflect on these three questions?


32:55          And just ask that God would reorient your heart to be along his heart. Am


33:01          Am I just going through the motions? Is my life marinated in Jesus? Am I concerned about people who do not know God? These three questions are worth consideration.


33:12          Not because I gave them to you, but because of the one who they represent Jesus Christ. These three questions are worth consideration because the king of the universe came on this earth and went to the cross on your behalf to give his life so that you could have life. These three questions are worth your consideration because the king of the universe went into the grave and descended into hell for


33:37          your sake, so that you would not have to descend into hell. These three questions are worth your consideration. Because Jesus Christ is worth everything we have.

So let it be said of us that our lives are marinated in Jesus. Let it be said of us that we were concerned about people who did not know God. Let us pray.


34:03          Gracious creator we come before you this morning people who we know god it's the tendency of my own heart this morning to just go through the motions. So God just reignite our hearts today with new passion, reignite our hearts with a desire and show us Lord where there's hypocrisy. And established traditions in our lives that can be healthy God that can help us live out your teachings that can help us be serious. Lord I do pray that you would put traditions in our church, put traditions in our individual lives that can help us. Lord I also pray now that Jesus would marinate in our whole life. Lord I pray that you help each of us reflect the character in the teaching and the desire the purpose of Jesus in all of life.


34:51          This morning we ask that you'd put people in our lives who don't know you.  God that you'd put us in people's lives who do not know you. Break our hearts God for eternity and give us opportunity to speak So God we ask that you make this happen. Use these next six days to prepare us for a fall season Lord when we can grow in our knowledge and that we can grow in our desire to reach people. So bless each person that's yours Lord with the presence of your Holy Spirit. Ignite our hearts for you and for your glory. In Jesus name Amen.