Input sound file: Audio 01 21 2018
today we are looking at the very first command of Jesus. Remember, we said a couple weeks ago that there is a certain way that you say things in the Greek? And in the Greek, that’s like a red flag, like a blinking light. This is a command. You are supposed to change. You are supposed to do what the command says. The very first command Jesus gives to a human being is the one we’re talking about today. And it was given to John the Baptist, but I think it applies to all of us as well. John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1. In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and this was his message, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Now, for the kingdom to be almost here, what that means is that the king is almost here. They asked John, “Are you the Messiah? Are you the one who is coming?” My little clicker does not seem to be working. Jared, I’ll tell you what. When I go like this– okay. So you ready? This is an imperative. For this, verse 3, was he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His path straight.'” When the king is coming, when the king gets here, the king is in charge because the king is the king. John says this about the king who is coming, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear his threshing floor and gather His wheat into the granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” When the King comes, He’s going to sort the world out into what’s worth keeping and what’s not worth keeping. In other words, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Now, if you live in Kinmundy, you are very well aware of where the police car is parked. And you know, when you come around the corner and go under the train track on Illinois Route 37, the police officer likes to park there by the park. So you make sure, when you come under the train track, that you’re going 35 because you know that’s what the sign says. But there is a problem with over-familiarity. We get used to the fact that, well, it says 20 miles an hour, but they never stop anybody. It says 35 miles an hour, but they don’t really mean it. We get used to the customs of a particular police officer, but you know what happens? If there’s ever a new one, how they enforce the rules might change quite a bit. When a new sheriff comes to town, the rules are going to change. When a new king comes to town, there’s going to be a change in the world that we’ve gotten accustomed to Matthew 3:13, then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him. Verse 14, John would have prevented him. Now doesn’t that sound very mild? John said, “Is this the right think to do?”. But actually if you look at it in the Greek, it doesn’t say that John mildly disagreed, it said that John was obstinant. He obstinantly tried to prevent, to hinder, literally to forbid Jesus from being baptized. He gave Jesus a reason, “I need to be baptized by you. You’re the powerful one. You’re the mighty one. You’re the King. Why do you come to me?”. It doesn’t make sense to me. So therefore, I forbid it. I’m not gonna let it happen cause it doesn’t make sense to me. John would have prevented him. Why would he feel like this? Here’s the first possibility. The way the world works, particularly the world in that day, is those who are powerful are put first. They kneel to no one. They submit to no one. John has to submit to Jesus if he’s the King just as they have to submit to the rule of [Pontius Pilate?]. That’s one reason. Here’s a second reason. The way we’ve always done it before and, friends this one will sneak up on you, have you ever found yourself in a time when the way you’ve always done it before all of a sudden didn’t work? This is a picture of Kyathos, an artistici rendering of Kyathos, the high priest, who was part of the plot to kill Jesus. Why? We follow the customs of our religion and our traditions and this man is trying to change they way we have always done it before. But then there is a third possibility which is that every single one of us has inside of us an inner intuition, an inner consciounce, an inner sense of how things should be, of what should be done. Now listen carefully here, an inner knowledge of good and of evil. Now does that ring a bell with anybody? An inner knowledge of good and of evil. Who is it that wanted you to have an inner knowledge of good and of evil? If you go all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the story that explains the fall of humanity, it is because the devil wanted you to have a sense of right and wrong inside of you that did not depend on God. Why would the devil want that? If you know inside of you what’s right and what’s wrong then when God tries to change your mind, guess what, you try to change God’s mind. Do you think that works? God wanted your knowledge of good and of evil to be what God told you not something inside of you that would lead you astray. And we all have that. Whichever one of these it is, John wants to forbid Jesus from doing what Jesus says should happen and here’s how Jesus responds, “Let it be so now or this it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness and then he, John the Baptist consented”. The word that Jesus uses there, let it be so now, is the first command that Jesus gives to a human being in the New Testament. Let it be so now, this is a Greek word, [Ofus?], it means permit it, allow it. Literally it means send it away, release, or discharge it, or as a certain Disney movie said, let it go. As a certain Beatles song said, let it be. As somebody else might say, just relax and take a chill pill. So if you need those chill pills. But Jesus looks at John the Baptist and basically says, trust that I know what I’m doing. You can trust me. You’ve talked about me being the King. You’ve talked about me being the mighty one. You’ve talked about me about being the Lord. You can trust me when I tell you that this is what we should do. You don’t have to understand it and, you know something, if you disagree with it, if it makes no sense to you, that’s okay. But what you need to do is, let it be. Relax. And once Jesus explained that he had this, that he knew what he was doing, John the Baptist basically consented. It’s the same word. “Okay. I will relax. I will release. I will stop arguing with Jesus. I will let it go. I will let it be”. It’s the right decision to [have made?]. Here’s the next verse, “When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water and behold, the heavens were opened and they saw the spririt of God descending like a dove and alighting on him and, lo, a voice from heaven saying, ‘this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased'”. This verse is a demonstration of the Trinity, the father, the son, and the holy spirit. But let’s take another look at this verb, this command. From time to time, Jesus in the very next chapter, from that time, Jesue began to preach, began meaning he started preaching this message. What’s the message? Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. The same message that John the Baptist preached. The same thing. You will find this underlying every verse of the New Testament. Every verse where there’s a command from Jesus, the idea of repenting means that we want to line up with what Jesus is asking us to do and then move forward with Jesus. We want to permit it. Repent is about yielding to the will of God, to allowing the will of God to take charge and to let go, and let it be, and relax, and move forward. These are baby steps but those are not baby steps.
Now we’ve made them fun. Next slide please my dad once said the reason for basic training in the Navy is that every recruit needed to learn one important thing. There is the right way, there is the wrong way, and there is the Navy way. He also added, “You will never win an argument with your chief petty officer.” If you served in a different branch of the service you know you will never win an argument with your drill instructor, with your sergeant. There is the right way. There is the wrong way. And there’s the king’s way. And you know something? It’s okay for you to have an idea of what’s right and what’s wrong but what’s important is that the king’s way rule. And that’s Jesus’ way. To let it be so now. To let it go. We have had some bad weather. I would like to tell you that you cannot go out of your house and look up at the sky and argue with the clouds and stop the rain. You’re good, but you’re not that good. I would also like to tell you that you could not stop the snow and ice from the last couple weeks. You could not make it warmer just by arguing with the sky. You and I do not have that power. But we do have the power to yield and let it be so and go with the flow. We have the power to yield to God. So you’re not going to stop it from raining. I’m sorry. If you need the rain you can’t make it rain. If you need it to stop you can’t make it stop, but you can put up an umbrella and still go. Next slide, please.
There is a new king in town but if you go with the flow you will not have any trouble. You need to learn what the king wants and let the king be in charge. Some of you are football fans. I would like to tell you I was born without the sports gene. I just don’t know much about it. I hate to say this. I don’t even know who’s still in the running for the Super Bowl. I literally do not know. But there is one thing I do know. The very best football teams are the ones who are still playing in the playoffs. And the characteristic of the very best team is that they are the teams that have worked hard and are the very best at cooperating with each other. In the huddle, you will not hear the right tackle argue with the quarterback about what play needs to be called. Everything about their training that makes them excellent focuses on them learning how to cooperate and execute perfectly what they are asked to do. That is what makes them the best in the world. When Jesus asked John the Baptist to let it go when John the Baptist can sense what he is doing is choosing to cooperate with Jesus and in fact, this word repent means more about changing your thinking than feeling bad about something you may or may not have done. It’s about changing your thinking such that you are ready now to cooperate with Jesus because he is the king. And the better we cooperate with Jesus the greater will be the positive change in our lives or so I think. Why do we think we know better than king Jesus? Why do we think we know more? Why do we wish to argue with God? If it’s raining let’s not argue why it should or shouldn’t rain, let’s put up an umbrella and let it be so for now and go forward with our Lord. Amen. Let’s stand and sing.
The photo …
This post is based on the sermon “___” from the sermon series “___”
*date*, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_2018.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.