God's Way to Measure Our Lives

The Gospel of Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Jesus gives us four good ways to measure our lives: 1. Have I rejected God's representatives? (vs. 12-19). 2. Have I repented? (vs. 20-24). 3. Have I received God's revelation? (vs. 25-26). 4. Do I have a relationship with God? (vs. 27).

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God's Way to Measure Our Lives

The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 11:12-27

Sermon by Rick Crandall

(Prepared February 24, 2022)

(Revised Feb. 26 to expand section on repentance.)

BACKGROUND:

*Please open your Bibles to Matthew 11. In this chapter, John the Baptist had been suffering in prison for months. He was an innocent man locked up in a prison worse that we can imagine, and he would soon be sentenced to death. John had gone through so much hardship that he began to question if Jesus was truly the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. And in vs. 2-3 John sent two of his disciples to make sure about Jesus.

*Then in vs. 4-6

4. Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:

5. The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

6. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.''

*This was the perfect answer to John's question, because Jesus quoted two of Isaiah's prophecies about the coming Messiah. One was from Isaiah 35:5-6 and the other from Isaiah 61:1. Both of these prophecies were written about 700 years before Jesus was born, and John's disciples could see the indisputable proof that Jesus was fulfilling them all. (1)

*In vs. 7-11, John's disciples left to give him their report, and Jesus began to speak to the multitudes. Here Jesus measured John's life and said this to the crowd:

7. . . "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

8. But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

9. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

10. For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.'

11. Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

*The Lord declared John's greatness as the prophet who had come to prepare the way for the Messiah. But there were many people in that multitude who had rejected John's message. Many of them were also rejecting the promised Messiah. That man is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and only Savior of the world.

*The Lord went on to warn them of the horrible danger they faced by rejecting Him. Jesus was measuring their lives, but these verses also show us how to measure our lives. Please keep this in mind as we read Matthew 11:12-27.

MESSAGE:

*You know, there are a lot of different ways to measure things. Back when our kids were very small, and we were on the road, they would ask that famous question: "How much longer until we get there?"

*Well, they really didn't have a good concept of how long an hour was. But they did know how long a Big Bird show was, so we would say something like, "It's 4 more Big Bird shows," and they would get it.

*People measure things in a lot of different ways, and God is measuring things too. His measurements are the ones that matter, and in these verses, the Lord gives us four good ways to measure our lives. All we have to do is answer four questions.

1. THE FIRST QUESTION IS: HAVE I REJECTED GOD'S REPRESENTATIVES?

*That's what Jesus was getting at in vs. 12-19, where He said:

12. . . "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (The NIV says, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.")

13. "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

14. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.

15. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

16. But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,

17. and saying: 'We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; we mourned to you, And you did not lament.'

18. For John came neither eating nor drinking. . . (That means John didn't eat or drink things forbidden by the Old Testament Nazarite vow.)

18. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'

19. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children.''

*In these verses Jesus used a short parable to explain Himself. Parables are basically earthly stories with a heavenly meaning, and the Lord told 40 to 50 during His 3-year ministry.

*Here the Lord spoke of two groups of children in the marketplace. One group wanted to play, and they came up with a couple of ideas. But none of their suggestions were good enough for that other group of stubborn children. They rejected every idea the first group had.

*Albert Barnes explained that "Nothing pleased them. And so, the first group complained about it. In effect, they said, 'We have made every effort to please you! We played the flute to you. We played lively tunes. We encouraged you to play cheerful sports, but you would not join us! Then we tried imitating the sad music of funerals. But you wouldn't play that game either. Nothing pleases you!'

*Jesus used this parable to describe that generation of people. The Lord basically told them, 'John the Baptist came one way, neither eating nor drinking, and you were not pleased with him. On the other hand, I, the Son of man, have come eating and drinking, or living like regular people. And you are still dissatisfied! In fact, you are even less pleased.

*You make malicious and false statements about Me. You abuse Me for not doing the very things that displeased you about John. Nothing pleases you people! You are fickle and abusive.'" (2)

*What a terrible way to treat God the Father! They rejected all of His representatives. This was true of the prophets like John the Baptist, and doubly true of the greatest Prophet, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

*In Matthew 21, Jesus talked about this same kind of rejection. There, the Lord told another parable to the chief priests and elders, and Jesus said:

33. "Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.

34. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.

35. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another.

36. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them.

37. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'

38. But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.'

39. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?''

41. They said to Him, "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.''

42. Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

43. Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."

*It was foolish for those people to reject John the Baptist. But how much more foolish to reject the Son of God! Think about these 5 vital words in vs. 19. Jesus was talking about Himself, and said, "The Son of Man came." He came! Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from our sins!

*Ralph Grant saw a small picture of Christ's coming in something Billy Graham did many years ago. Dr. Graham was visiting with our soldiers during the Korean War. He made it a point to go to the hospitals to talk and pray with the wounded.

*One day Billy met a young soldier lying face-down in a canvas cradle because his spine had been shattered by a bullet. A hole had been cut in the canvas so the soldier could see through to the floor. While Billy Graham was talking to him, the young soldier said, "I would like to see your face, Mr. Graham." Billy then got down on the floor under the cradle, so the soldier could look at his face. (3)

*This is what Jesus did for us in an infinitely bigger way. We were paralyzed by our sins, even dead in our sins. There was no way for us to get up to God, so Jesus came down to us! But He didn't just come for a visit. Jesus came to take our sin sickness on Himself. He came to take our death on the cross. Christ came down! What a horrible mistake it would be to reject Him!

*Have I rejected God's representatives? God measures our lives by our answer to that question.

2. THE SECOND QUESTION IS: HAVE I REPENTED?

*This is the measure that the Lord gives us in vs. 20-24, and unfortunately, the people in these verses came up far short. We see this starting in vs. 20:

20. Then He began to upbraid the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:

21. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

23. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.''

*The Day of Judgment is coming, and that day serves as a warning for everyone to repent. God calls on people to "repent." But what does it mean to repent? The original word basically means to change your mind, to think differently about things, to reconsider.

*Gordon MacDonald explained that "repentance is not basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where people were mostly nomads, constantly on the move. And they lived in a world with no maps or street signs. It is easy to get lost walking through the desert. Then you become aware that the countryside is strange. You finally say to yourself, 'I'm going in the wrong direction.' That's the first act of repentance, and the second act of repentance is to GO in a different direction. We start going in the right direction." (4)

*Everybody needs to make that first turn around. Basically, we change our minds about our selfishness and sin. But that's not enough to be saved. We also have to change our minds about Jesus Christ. So, if you haven't already done it, you need to turn away from sin and selfishness, and turn to Jesus. He loves you! He died on the cross for you, and He rose again from the dead! If you will open your heart to believe in Jesus and receive Him and your Lord and Savior, He will forgive all of your sins and give you eternal life.

*All of this is by God's grace. And it is only by His grace that we see the truth about our sin and our Savior. So, Ephesians 2:8-9 tells Christians, "By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." And we sing John Newton's famous words, "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

*I now see the truth about my sin and my Savior. That's repentance, and Loran Bulla surely needed to repent. In high school Loran was an unshakable atheist. He hated Christians so much that one time he started harassing a lady in a church parking lot. He said, "How do you believe in a God you can't see? You must be nuts!"

*In 1971, Loran enlisted in the Army, and joined the Airborne Rangers. He was obnoxious and rebellious, so he got into some serious trouble. Then by God's grace, Loran could see himself going down a path of destruction. He should have gone to jail but by God's grace, he didn't.

*And in this time of personal crisis Loran came across an album of Christian music. God used that music to help him see that Jesus wasn't the wimpy religious leader Loran always thought he was. Next, he awkwardly asked a chaplain's assistant (whom he detested) for a Bible. And the chaplain gave Loran a Gideon New Testament for soldiers.

*One month later Loran Bulla decided he had to talk to God. One starry night he walked through the woods to a clearing. He fell to his knees and prayed this prayer, "God, I've been reading about your Son. I've been wrong. God, I don't want to be apart from you anymore."

*Loran knew in his heart that God had heard his prayer. He sensed God's presence and peace. His life began to change dramatically, and Loran became an Army chaplain! Thank God he repented! (5)

*Lost people need to repent, but what about saved people? What about Christians? What about us? There is no doubt that we need to repent too. Jesus spoke to seven churches in Revelation 2-3, and the Lord told five of those seven churches that they needed to repent. God wants us to repent of any known sin in our lives, and He will shine His Light on some faults we never knew we had.

*Do you need to repent? Here are some probing questions from the "Sweet Hour of Prayer Spiritual Preparation Guide":

Am I really concerned about spiritual growth: In my church, my home, my life?

-Am I willing to do anything God wants me to do?

-Is my prayer life all it could and should be?

-Have I neglected the Word of God?

Have I forgiven everyone?

-Is all resentment out of my heart?

Am I impatient?

-Am I irritable?

-Do my "hurt feelings" keep me from serving God?

Have I, in any way, been dishonest with God or with others?

-Have I broken any promise or pledge made to God or to His church?

What about covetousness?

-Am I too concerned about things?

-Have I sought material blessings more than spiritual blessings?

Do I deny myself daily to follow Jesus?

-Do I have any habit which I should forsake?

-Do I have sinful pride in my heart?

Is the reputation of another safe in my hands?

-Have I been a gossiper?

Is my mind honest and clean in the sight of God?

-Is my home a testimony for Jesus?

Do I have a right attitude toward my fellow church members?

-Did I meet every situation today as a Christian should? (6)

*God calls on people to repent. Have I repented? God measures our lives by the answer to that question.

3. THE THIRD QUESTION IS: HAVE I RECEIVED GOD'S REVELATION?

*This is the measure that the Lord gives us in vs. 25-26:

25. At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.

26. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."

*God wants to reveal Himself to us. But His revelation never comes through our intelligence or worldly wisdom.

*Of course, there's nothing wrong with being well-educated. It's not like God is a big fan of ignorance. All things being equal, the more we know, the better off we are. But there is a problem with knowledge. Paul reminded us of this problem in 1 Corinthians 8:1 where he said, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Knowledge tends to make us puff-up with pride, and think we don't need God.

*Knowledge puffs us up, and that's a dangerous thing. It's an insult to the God who knows all things. God makes His salvation to be available to all people, but He also wants and deserves all the glory for our salvation. So, He designed that our salvation would come not through our intelligence, but through child-like faith.

*Aren't you glad that you didn't have to pass an IQ test to get saved! God designed that He would reveal Himself, not through man's wisdom, but through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and especially through the good news about Jesus Christ.

*God's offer of salvation is simple enough for a little child to understand, and He wants us to have childlike faith too. As Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

*Jesus was saying that like a little child, we must begin to trust someone bigger and stronger than we are. We must trust someone who loves us, someone who wants to help us, lead us, and provide for us. Salvation is not just humbly turning from sin; it is placing our trust in the Risen Savior who died on the cross for our sins!

*Have I received this revelation from God? God measures our lives by the answer to that question.

4. THE FOURTH QUESTION IS: DO I HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?

*Jesus talked about this relationship in vs. 27 when He said, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."

*Do we know Jesus Christ? Do we know God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ? Well, when we receive Jesus in a personal way, then we do know God the Father too, because we are born again into the Family of God.

*True Christians surely do know Jesus. But do we know Him well enough for it to show? Ed Young is the long-time pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Houston, and he told about a big wake-up call on his path to ministry. Dr. Young said, "While I attended the University of Alabama, I got away from Bible study and away from the church. I had a friend name Walter Carroll, who was an atheist. He was a good guy, though.

*One Sunday afternoon he looked at me and said, 'Eddie, do you believe there's a God?' I said, 'Sure, Walter, I believe there is a God.' He said, 'You don't live like it.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'You live just like I do. I'm an atheist. I don't believe there's a God, and I live like there's no God. We're buddies. You do everything I do.

*You say there is a God, and yet you don't live like there's a God. Don't you know that if there is a God, if you can get to know Him and live the way He wants you to live, that's the most important thing in life?'"

*Ed Young went on to say, "That was the greatest sermon I have ever heard. God used the mouth of an atheist. I'll never forget it. I couldn't answer. I went to my room, dropped on my knees and said, 'Lord, I know you're there. I believe Jesus is Your Son. I've gotten away from that. Just lead me. -- I'm Yours.'" (7)

CONCLUSION:

*Christians: God wants our relationship with Him to show up clearly in our everyday lives. And He is surely measuring our lives, but how are we measuring up? We need to repent of any known sin in our lives, receive God's good news about Jesus Christ with childlike faith, and do everything we can to have a closer relationship with God.

*Please talk to Him about it now, as we go back to the Lord in silent prayer.

(1) Adapted from EXPLORING THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "His Question Answered" - Matthew 11:4-6 - Downloaded to "Bible Study 6" from Olive Tree Bible Software, Inc.

(2) Adapted from ALBERT BARNES' NOTES ON THE BIBLE by Albert Barnes - Published in 1847-85 - Matthew 11:16-19 - Downloaded to e-Sword by Rick Meyers - Copyright 2000-2019

(3) From one of J. Ralph Grant's unpublished sermons titled "Christ Makes God Known to Us," p. 5. Cited in J. B. Fowler, Jr., ILLUSTRATING GREAT WORDS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1991 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Christ the King" by King Duncan - Colossians 1:15-23

(4) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "REVIVAL" by Gerald Flury - 2 Chronicles 7:14

(5) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 7257 - SOURCE: Gideon Banquet; Wayne, New Jersey - TITLE: "The Conversion of a Paratrooper" - AUTHOR: Major Loran Bulla - DATE: 10242000

(6) Sweet Hour of Prayer: Spiritual Preparation Guide from the Here's Hope. Jesus Cares for You. 1990 Simultaneous Revival Emphasis by the North American Mission Board - https://www.namb.net

(7) Sources:

-SermonCentral sermon "Because He Lives" by Evie Megginson - John 14:19

-RFPTsermons.com - Eddie, Do You Believe There's a God? - R. AuBuchon Jr. - John 11:1-45

-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_Edwin_Young

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