Input sound file: Audio 08 19 2018.mp3
Jesus gave people warning. And in the 7th chapter of Matthew, we’re going verse by verse, chapter by chapter, from one command of Jesus to another. But he warned them very seriously in Mathew chapter 7, there’s a wide road and it leads to destruction. It’s an easy road, but it leads to destruction. And many of us, many people, are seeking a wide road. They’re seeking an easy way to believe. They’re seeking an easy way out of harder forms of the faith. Not only that, there are many prophets who are clamoring for you to go this way. Look, it’s easier. They are trying to sell you on that easy way. Just pray this prayer. Just say these few little words, and it’ll lock God in and you won’t have to do anything else with regard to your salvation the rest of your life. Sometimes people talk like that. The easy way has lots of people trying to sell you a faith that they claim is [a bargain?]. And Jesus wanted to warn you about them because following Jesus is not an easy path. He said very plainly, we talked about this message a couple of weeks ago, the way is narrow that leads to life. And there are few people who find it. There are few people who travel it. Not because God has hidden it, but because usually, it’s uphill. It’s harder. It involves some work on our behalf, but it’s worth everything because it leads to life. You can make good speed on a highway like this, but if it takes you right over where the bridge is out, that’s not a wise choice. This is the wise choice, even if it’s harder to travel.
So now we get to today. The words that we’re looking at today are words that some people have said are the harshest words that Jesus has ever spoken. But before we look at the actual words of Jesus, let me remind you of something that comes from sports and teams. I need you to understand I do not have the sports gene. I do not understand sports. But I still respect what coaches do to help teams to win. Mary Grimbury’s not here to see this college volleyball team warm up. She would be smiling. But if you want to create a team that wins as a coach what you do is you have the people on the team be involved in a culture of discipline. We’re here to have fun certainly but we’re here also to work. And you’re going to have the people on your team focus on execution – on doing things the right way. There is a right way. There’s a better way. And teams that win are always focusing on more and more coming close to the best way to do things. The best
and in order to have the best form, teams that win will focus on practice. John Wooden, the famous coach at UCLA, always liked to say, “You win every game at practice.” When you go play the game, sometimes the other team outscores you, but you win at practice. And that’s why a team will practice on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, sometimes on Saturday, in order to play a game on Friday. They practice five times as much as they play because practice makes perfect. I once heard the coach of a basketball team in Quincy, Illinois. He said these particular things. He said, “We practice everything until they can do it right.” He said, “We spend an entire practice one day just practicing how you pass the ball in from out of bounds.” And they went over it, and they went over it, and they went over it until every single athlete passing the ball in knew exactly how it was to be done.
This is a focus on the fundamentals. Now, when people say, “I’m a fundamentalist,” sometimes it means other things, but really, as [churches?], we need to be fundamentalists in the sense that there are things that are fundamental that Jesus wants us to know. Jesus wants us to do, and we work on those again and again and again and again because the team that wins is the team that is the best at executing the fundamental tasks that are involved in this [world?]. And as the team spends time working on all these things, an amazing thing begins to happen. They begin to bond with each other. They begin to become friends. And quite often, after several years of playing together, they know the other people on the team so well, that when they get the basketball, they know that their friend that they’ve known for four years– playing on teams for four years, they know exactly what their friend is going to do because they’ve gotten to know each other well. This is what it means to be a winning team.
There was some research published this week. University of Kansas researchers studied how long does it take for people to become friends. He said that little children, it’s usually about 30 seconds. But he said adults; it takes longer to go from a mere acquaintance to a casual friend. They actually measured this. They studied this. It takes about 50 hours of being with each other. Now that’s not being in the same room– that’s not being in the same room, watching TV. That’s not being at the dinner table. That’s not being at work. It is 50 hours of being with each other and interacting. 50 hours to become a casual friend. If you want to become a friend, it takes even longer. 90 hours. Takes 200 and a half hours to become a really close friend. And when looking for the statistics last night on the internet, I could not find them, but some study 15 or 20 years ago showed that fathers interacted with their children face-to-face like that on an average of about 15 minutes a day. It takes a long time to become [friends?]. So here’s what Jesus said. Here’s the command that’s in red. Beware. Now, beware does not only mean be concerned about or afraid of. Beware means to be aware. Notice. Pay attention so that you are always aware. Be aware of false prophets. The word there is pseudo. People who seem like a prophet, but really are not. But aware of false prophets who look like sheep, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. How do you know a false prophet? Verse 16. You know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? So, Jesus says, every [inaudible] tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. The [inaudible] tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit in time is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, you will know them by their fruits.
Now, here’s the question, what sort of fruit is Jesus talking about? I know what some people think, but the context shows us something very different. Then come these words, which are pretty harsh. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. What was the focus of Jesus’s work? What was he trying to execute? What did he practice? What are the fundamentals? He said I am here to do my Father’s will. Now, there are so many things that Jesus did, but the way he defined it is, I am here to do my Father’s will. And the implication of that is that’s why we’re here too. Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. Why? Luke 6:46 Jesus puts it even more plainly. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? There is a cookbook. There is a recipe. There’s this much salt that goes in the soup. Why do you put more in than I tell you to put in? Why do you do that? And you know what the answer technically is. I like it this way. Well, here’s the problem with that. Verse 22. On that day – and that little phrase in the scripture typically means the Day of Judgment – there is going to be a judgment day. On that Day of Judgement, Jesus says many – not just a few – many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord.’ They’ve been saying that all along. Did we not prophecize your name, cast out demons in your name, do many mighty works in your name? Quite obviously this is what they think is true. Why are you here? Oh, I’m here to prophecize name of Jesus. Cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Do many mighty works in the names of Jesus. Because what Jesus wants is for me to do great things. And for everyone to know this. Everything I’ve done. Friends, I hope you do great things. I hope you do many good things. But it’s not about what you have done. It’s not about what you’re going to do because it’s not about how wonderful you are. It’s about how wonderful Jesus is. Now notice, on that day, the judgment day, they’re being sorted and these people are actually making a protest. They’re trying to correct Jesus. Lord, you’re making a mistake. Don’ you see the long list of everything I’ve done? Here’s how he responds. These are the harsh words. And then I will declare to them, I never knew you. And then comes the second command in this text. Depart. Depart from me, evildoers. You ever heard the phrase that is sometimes said. It kind of has the different cultural origin, you’re dead to me? You don’t exist? That’s what that depart– some commentators suggest that that’s what that means.
But let’s take Jesus literally. Let’s take Jesus literally. You did all these things but you missed the most important thing. I never knew you. This will come as a great surprise to them because they thought what Jesus wanted was for them to do all of these mighty works. But, perhaps, what Jesus wants is to know you and for you to know him. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke, my dad thinks that if you go to church you’re a Christian. Well, I go out in the garage and it doesn’t mean I’m a car. I go out to the chicken house and it doesn’t mean I’m a chicken. I go to school and it doesn’t mean that I’m smart. What’s the key thing is for Jesus to say, “I know you. I’ve spent time with you. You’re one of those people who follow me.” So how can you do miracles and all of that the wrong way? Well, the truth is, they didn’t do anything the wrong way. They did everything my way. And in focusing on the fulfillment of their way, they missed what the truly right way was which was to be someone who Jesus knew. Not someone who knew about Jesus. But someone who knew Jesus. And I will declare to them I never knew them. Why? Because you didn’t follow me sure you studied in the right schools and you did the right things and you went on mission trips and all that’s very admirable, but what I want you to do is follow me. And that may possibly take some time. What did Jesus do? He walked through the country and he said, “Follow me,” and they came and they spent time with him. 50 hours probably went by in a week. 90 hours went by in two weeks. You know, if you followed Jesus as if it was your job for 40 hours, you’d get through that 200 hundred hours where he was your best friend very quickly. And I want to tell you something. This greatly concerns me because, see, I have a prayer chair. I sit in my prayer chair every morning, and I allot 30 minutes to my prayer time. I don’t always make it to the full 30 minutes. It’s going to take me a long time at half an hour of the day to get to know Jesus. Because it takes time. Who are you to doubt? And sometimes, because we live in this crazy busy world, we don’t have much time. I’m 63 years old. You remember back when you were young, sometime in the summer looking at your mom and dad and saying, “There’s nothing to do”? Do you remember that? Remember what they would always say? “I’ll find you something to do.” I haven’t said there’s nothing to do for over 40 years. But maybe I need to be like a kid again, and have time that I can spend with Jesus. Because what seems to be important is to know Him and for Him to know me. It’s not what you’ve done. It’s who you know. What would a culture of discipline look like in a church? I would like to tell you, it’s very possible that I’m overeducated. But wouldn’t it be lovely if we had cookbooks for church? And we could look up how to do every little thing that Jesus wanted us to do? Well here’s my– that’s not going to stay there. Here’s my suggestion. This could be a book of recipes. All you have to do is read through here, start with the words of Jesus, because remember, you want to get to know Him. Now it’s good to get to know Moses. Moses is wonderful. But let’s start by getting to know Jesus. Go through the words of Jesus – if you have a Bible where those words are in red, that’s very convenient – and whenever he tells you to do something, highlight it with a yellow highlighter. Make a mark in the margins so you can find it again. And try to do that. Then we’ll know what to do. We’ll be able to execute it. As for practice, well I don’t know exactly what the correlation to a game is. If the game is an hour on Sunday morning, are you able to come back every afternoon after school gets out for two hours? I don’t know. How can we practice so we get better at what Jesus wants us to do how can we practice so we can get better at the fundamentals? How much time would that take? And all of a sudden, we realize probably what the biggest problem is. My life is so busy with things that don’t matter I don’t have much time to devote to becoming a better Christian. I squeeze it in, in between all the other important things like my favorite TV show. Can you see the problem? Now, it’s not that I want you to feel bad, but we need to see the problem. How much time would it take? What is it we should study?
Well, this might be all we need to study. In Acts chapter 4:13. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated– oh my gosh, they had to go [to in the seminary?]. And perceived that they were uneducated, common men– oh, they were just ordinary folks. They knew that. Well, what did they perceive about Peter and John in the book of Acts? They instantly and immediately– they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I want to suggest this to you. If you spend time with Jesus, He will get to know you, and you will get to know him. And his influence upon your life will be seen in a way that can be recognized by others. One of the most wonderful things anybody could ever say to me would not be about how much I studied or what degrees I learned or whatever, but for someone to say, “I can tell that you have been with Jesus.”
Revelation 3:23. So many different words could be said about this, but Jesus makes a promise to the people in the church, the church of Laodicea. And He says, “I’m coming to the door and knocking,” because I want to come in. I want to spend time with you. I want to have supper with you. That fellowship of closest friends– apparently, these harsh words of Jesus can easily be understood if we understand what he wants, and sadly realize how often Jesus does not get what he wants.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, thank you for coming and knocking on our doors. Thank you for coming because you desire to be a part of our lives, to know us, and for us to know you. How often, Lord, do you come and knock on our door and nobody’s home? Or it’s come to a place in the TV show that we like that we’re too focused on that to bother to come to the door? Or, perhaps, we’re hiding because we just don’t have time for you to be a part of our lives? Lord, help us to be followers of you and to spend that time with you until we also can be a friend of Jesus. We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.
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.