The Secrets of the Kingdom

Kingdom of Heaven  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Something fun (eg. Game, video, etc.). It is not necessary for this to have a tie in to the lesson, but it can.


This is culture/ introduction to the series.
Basic Opening Statement: We are glad that you are here with us at bcsm and we want you to know, more than anything, that you have a community of people here that love and care about you. This is a safe space to process your faith and ideas, to ask questions. You have a purpose or a place within this community which means we are better off with you than without you and you have a mission outside of this community. All of that rests on this one foundational truth that we want you to hear and want you to share: God wants to have a relationship with you.
You have community. You have purpose. You have a mission. You have truth.
I am _______________ and before we start, let me pray.”
*Pray for God to use what you have to say to move someone further along in their journey towards Jesus.*

Growth = Pain

Thirty years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. I still remember the pain that was radiating down my leg. It was intense. So I hobbled downstairs and went to my mom crying telling her my leg hurt. It was like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my thigh. I was certain I was dying or I had leprosy or something, like my body was rejecting my leg. Thank goodness I did not have access to WebMD or I would have been convinced that I had leg cancer or parasites, or I was pregnant or something. My mom asked me if I could have hit it on something earlier in the day or something and I hadn’t. So she came up with a diagnoses. It was growing pains. She said, “Sometimes growing hurts.” Growth can be full of pain. She gave me a couple Ibuprofen and sent me back to bed. But I still remember that night, thirty years later. Sometimes growth causes us to wrestle with pain.
When do you feel like you have grown the most as a person?
Was it painful in any way?
How do people usually react to painful or uncomfortable things?
We are continuing our Kingdom of Heaven series where we will are exploring the very first book of the New Testament, Matthew, a couple chapters at a time. Matthew is one of four biographies of Jesus that we have in the Bible, we call them the gospels, or good news.
Now we can not cover everything. But if you want to dig a little deeper, you can go to for our daily devotions that follow along with what we talk about on Sunday Mornings.
Now to catch you up, so far we have talked about Jesus’ origins and his preparations for ministry, His Sermon on the Mount and some of the things that happened after that. But as we jump in today I need to remind you of the guy we like to call John the Dunker. Back in chapter 3, he was standing in the Jordan river yelling at people and telling them to Repent, change the way you think about the world, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Then he tells everyone that there is one, Jesus, who is coming to baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit. Shortly after all of that Matthew tells us this in chapter 4.
Matthew 4:12 (ESV)
12 Now when he, Jesus, heard that John had been arrested he withdrew into Galilee
We are picking up the story in chapter 11 which some experts say is about a year later. So John has been in jail for a year at this point, while Jesus has been going around healing people and teaching. You guys with me?
Cool, let’s jump in.


This is the main point/ story of your lesson. Everything you want your students to Know should be covered here.
“Are you the guy? I told everyone that you were the guy. Was I wrong?”
This is a question that is coming from John the Dunker, Jesus’ biggest early supporter. He sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus, are you the one who is coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE? And I think that this is a fair question. Look at this story from John’s perspective. He has been sitting in prison for a year and Jesus has not done anything to break him out. And just look back at that verse, when John was arrested Jesus “withdrew into Galilee.”
John is arrested and this guy that would bring the Holy Spirit and fire, the guy that will judge the nations, the glorious New King for the New Kingdom retreats. Where is the justice? Where is the fire?
It is hard to know exactly what John was thinking, but I think it is safe to say he was struggling. Trying to hold onto that faith that he had earlier in this book. Wrestling with this strange Messiah, Jesus. Maybe he started to doubt what he witnessed in the water when the heavens opened up and God spoke and the Holy Spirit descended and confirmed Jesus’. Would that guy really retreat because John was put in prison? Or was it just a trick of the light and a random bird that happened to mistake jesus for a tree? Maybe there was a ventriloquist in the crowd who threw his voice to the sky?
He is growing in his understanding of Jesus and growth often comes with pain, with wrestling.
Jesus is full of difficulties for even his most devoted followers let alone those who are dead set against him. So when we are confronted with the Jesus of the Bible He forces us to grow, to wrestle and to respond.
Do you remember a time when you learned something about Jesus that kind of broke your categories?
If we are open to growing in our understanding of Jesus, how can we know when we are learning something new and true about Jesus as opposed to something that is not true about Jesus? How do we know what to accept and what to reject?


What is the rub? Create some questions and feeling.
So ultimately the question is how will you respond to growing in your understanding of Jesus when He breaks your categories? How will you respond to the pain that comes with growth? Will you wrestle through it?
Following Jesus is hard. Following Jesus requires wrestling with who He is and what He wants. Jesus’ answer to John’s questions forces John’s vision of the Messiah to expand to include compassion alongside of judgement of the religious leaders. That is not to say that he lets them off the hook. They have to wrestle with Jesus too. Matthew goes on to talk about several different ways people respond to these difficulties. The first is rejection.
This is the typical response of the religious leaders in Matthew’s gospel. I really think that deep down they get it. They see that what Jesus is doing and they know what it all means but they don’t want Jesus to be the Messiah.
I think that a lot of times we think of the leaders as ignorant. Like they don’t know what is happening. They acknowledge that Jesus is doing something that no one else can do. They know that he is working, not just on a physical level, but a spiritual one as well. They are seeing demons be cast out of people. They knew that is not a human act, but instead of acknowledging that Jesus must be from God they blame his miracles on Beelzebul, the Lord of the Flies, the Devil, the opposer.
When Jesus points out that their argument against him does not even make sense, they ask Him for a different sign. After everything else they have witnessed. And Jesus says, here’s your sign. You are going to kill me and then three days later I will rise from the dead. And the evil nations that you read about in the Old Testament, they will stand up and judge you. Because even the hearts of the evil people in the Old Testament would not be as dead set against me as yours right now. So the first response we see is rejection.
The Sideline
The second response is the sideline. Jesus is inside of a house here and his mother and brothers come and they ask for Jesus to come out to them. Jesus’ response was, “Um, they are not my family.”
Seems kind of rude, right? What happened to Honor your Father and Mother Jesus? When the book of Mark records this same story it says that they thought Jesus was going crazy. So out of compassion they were coming to calm him down. Jesus was doing things they did not expect him to do. Not even Mary, who was told by an angel who Jesus was and what he was going to become.
We have this expectation in our heads of who Jesus is supposed to be, right? Well, if I follow Jesus my life will be better. If we are in trouble we make little deals with Jesus to bail us out, etc. We put Jesus in this little box, but when he does not meet our expectations we become disillusioned and frustrated. We stand outside and ask Jesus to come out to meet our expectations instead of doing the wrestling work that it takes. So it is not like we are rejecting Jesus outright, we are just following a counterfeit Jesus that we made up. Not the real Jesus. Not the Jesus that the Bible tells us about.
The real Jesus invites us into a true understanding, but it requires a repentance from the thoughts we previously held. He invites us in but we have to let go of what we thought was wisdom when we find out it is actually foolishness. We have to let go of our definition of what is first and what is last.
So the second response is not out-right rejection, but a kind of sidelining of the real Jesus in favor of one that we made in our own imagination.
The Disciple
The third response is that of a true disciple. Inside the house. Learning at Jesus’ feet. Even if it means wrestling and questioning and becoming uncomfortable.


This is the response portion. Everything you want your students to Do should be touched on here, but you should have at least one immediate action that can be taken.
There are lots of responses that people can have to the reality of Jesus and some of those responses look quite similar at first. What matters is what happens later. After the wrestling matches. It is a long haul kind of commitment. So what is your response going to be?
For some of you, you are in the outright rejection zone. You are not really interested. Perhaps you are like the Pharisees in that you see there is something to this Jesus thing, but you have so hardened your heart to it, that you can not let yourself buy in. If that is you, let me just say, that is a hard spot to be in. At some point, unless you allow the Holy Spirit to soften your heart you will just walk away from Jesus and never come back. It takes a willingness. If that is you, I would just pray that you could hear me now.
Number one, you don’t have to believe to belong here. We are better off with you than we are without you. So I hope that while you are here you will soften your heart to the truth of Jesus because if you don’t, you won’t last here.
Which breaks my heart. Because I honestly believe that we are better off with you than without you. But following Jesus, being the church, doing what we do is hard work. And if you don’t buy the central premise of this whole thing, at some point it just won’t be worth it to you. I so want you to see how worth it this is. But for some of you, you’ll never embrace it. I get that. I hate it. But I get it.
For some of you, you may be sidelining the real aJesus in favor of one you made up. You have created this picture of who you think Jesus should be and when you hear about or have to face the real Jesus, you are kind of upset or confused. You want him to fit the mold you have created for him and don’t know how to process they way he actually operates. If that is you, at some point Jesus is going to break your categories and you are going to have to determine whether you will untimately sit at his feet or reject Him for the comfortable Jesus you have made. If that is you I pray you will lean into the struggle, because that is where the growth is.
Maybe you are a disciple. Ready to wrestle. Ready to learn. You are sitting at Jesus’ feet eager to learn more about who he is and who he created you to be. I hope that is the case for you. It doesn’t mean you have it all figured out. Just the opposite. You are so full of questions and curiosity to know Jesus.
Maybe you are like John. You were there at Jesus’ feet at some point and now you are struggling.
Wherever you are, however you have been responding to Jesus up to today, you can choose to respond differently. You can soften your heart or ask the Holy Spirit to do that for you. You can take another step towards Jesus today. You can soften your heart to his message today.
Right now, we are going to take communion together. This is something we do every week to remember what it cost Jesus to give us the opportunity to even choose. We eat the bread that reminds us of his broken body. We drink the juice to remember the blood poured out for our sakes. I am going to play a song and I would just ask you to feel free to move to grab communion, or if you want to talk with one of the adults, if you want to make a different decision today or you want someone to be praying for you, that is what we are here for. Just let us know. If you don’t want to move and just want to listen to the lyrics of the song, or pray, or read the Bible you can do that as well.
But just take this moment to reflect and identify where you are and where you want to be.
As it is in Heaven- Phil Wickham


Start with Prayer
1. Have you ever felt the sting of rejection? Have you ever experienced not out right rejection but someone sidelining you? What do you feel is the difference?
2. Talk about a time when you had to wrestle with what it means to follow Jesus on His own terms and not your own.
Read Matthew 13:14-17
3. Why was the majority’s inability or unwillingness to understand Christ’s message significant? (13:14-15) Why did Jesus say the disciples were blessed? (13:16-17)
4. What are some ways you feel like you may have hardened your heart towards Jesus?
5. How could you take come intention steps this week to soften your heart to hear his message?
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