Joke: This morning we are in the last week of a series titled "Parables of Eternity" and thanks Pastor David, but we are not reading a parable this morning. But that's great because here at Renovation Church, we don't bend the Bible to our series', we bend our series' to the Bible.
But our passage this morning does have eternal implications.
And so go ahead and grab a Bible…
Text: Mt 13:53-58 (page 667)
A shortcut is to look for the large 14 on page 667, and the passage is right above it. I'll meet you there in a moment.
Image: My experience coming home and sharing the gospel, first time and saying no to partying - recap my story because many didn't hear it. I went back to a familiar place that was hard.
Need: We all have familiar places, whether it's at home, at work, or when you're with family on holidays that can be really hard to go to with the gospel (which is the good news that Jesus came to save us from our sins).
Subject: And so today, as we finish up Matthew 13, we are looking at a story of when Jesus goes back home.. He goes back to a familiar place with the news about the Kingdom of Heaven. And stated as simply as possible, presently - the Kingdom of Heaven is what life is like when people let God rule in their lives. And its foreshadowing - eternal life with God where all believers will live in his kingdom forever and ever. So when we talk about the kingdom of heaven, that's what we're talking about.
(Read Passage from Bible)
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
So, Jesus has been preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven and has gathered crowds of thousands and thousands of people. He has been doing amazing signs and miracles and people are coming to faith left and right, and at the end of chapter 13 we see that he goes home, he goes to Nazareth where he grew up, he goes back to you know see what's 'poppin', maybe Nazareth finally got a McDonalds and he wanted to check it out, you know it's fun to go home and see what's changed, idk… But when he got there, he was not welcomed with open arms, like he was in other towns.
The people of Nazareth were astonished at his wisdom, his teaching about the kingdom of God, and his miraculous powers. But they couldn't get past their sense of superiority. They were familiar with him, they thought they knew him. But ultimately they rejected him: The parables that we've been going through in Matthew 13 display who the Nazarenes are:
In the Parable of the Sower - they are the rocky soil where the crop doesn't bear any fruit.
They are the ones that see and hear but who's hearts are hardened by their familiarity Jesus, they think they know him, so they can't understand what he's saying.
They are the people that find the treasure in a field but in foolishness, won't sell everything to go get the treasure.
So these parables are pointing to Israel's rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Gentiles' acceptance of it. (A gentile is anyone who isn't Jewish)
In fact, we can see Matthew developing an interesting point through chapters 13 and 14. In Matthew 13, as we've seen, Jesus is sharing parables about the kingdom of heaven. Then here at the end of Matthew 13 we see his own hometown reject him even though he comes with power and wisdom about the Kingdom of Heaven! When the Kingdom of Heaven is standing right in front of them! But they reject him anyways…
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
So, in Matthew 13, Jesus goes from describing what the kingdom of heaven is like through parables, then goes to his home town of Nazareth where he does almost no miracles because of their lack of faith, to bringing the gospel to the Gentiles - then the Gentiles accept him with open arms, so many are putting their faith in Jesus, they are coming to him in droves to be healed and to hear what he's saying!
So - Matthew possibly puts this story here, to show that Jesus brought the good news about the Kingdom of Heaven to his people, the jews. But they rejected him, so he brought the news of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Gentiles!
And thank goodness he did! Because most of us in this room are Gentiles!
Transition into main points: And from Jesus' trip home we find 3 really key truths about living for Christ in familiar places:
In Familiar Places: It's hard to share the gospel
Jesus is bringing this amazing news about the kingdom of heaven. And he's bringing it to the people that he knows best! But it's hard, they are offended by him and reject him. Jesus says that a prophet has honor everywhere else, except in their home town.
And some of you probably feel this, you can go somewhere new like a missions trip and it's so much easier to share the gospel.
Illustration: Students Sharing in Guatemala (not used to the reception)
And then they go to their parents' house, and are mocked and ridiculed for their faith. They go to work and their co-workers don't respect their testimony. That honor and respect that they had in Guatemala was not there at home.
It's easy to share your faith in a place where people have no clue who you are and have no preset beliefs about you. But in places that are familiar, there can often be contempt about the message you're trying to share. The message about the Kingdom of Heaven!
Transition: I think there are two groups of people that are hard to share the gospel with, we will put these on the screen.
It's hard to share the gospel: With people who think they know you
If you come from a family that doesn't follow Jesus and maybe you become a believer later in your life. Going back and sharing the gospel with your family is going to be hard because they think they know you. They know you as little ol' Rebecca or little ol' Jimmy, they raised you and taught you everything you know so there's nothing new that you can tell them! They discount your story, and they marginalize your faith because they think they know you.
Maybe like me, you have an old group of friends that you used to hang out with and it's hard to share what God has done in your life because they think they know you.
They think you're being "radical"
"It's a phase" - She's just going through a religious phase out of guilt. She'll be back to normal in no time. But then you're not "back to normal" in no time… and they don't know what to do with you…
So, sharing the gospel is hard with people who think they know you… and it's also…
It's hard to share the gospel: With people who think they know Jesus
There are so many different views of Jesus and people have boxes they put him in. To some, he's just a religious teacher from the 1st century, nothing more. They think it's impossible that he rose from the dead and that he's God, so in their mind, he's just one of many religious teachers throughout history, so there's a wall up when you try to talk to them about the true Jesus.
You also have people that have a half-understanding of Jesus. They know that he is the son of God but it's clear that its just head knowledge. The gospel hasn't changed their life and they aren't living for Jesus.
Maybe your parents or grandparents are like this. Maybe they've been going to church longer than you've been alive but they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, their faith is just cultural and there isn't any substance to it, if they were to get really honest… they have never truly put their trust in Christ.
When you bring the gospel, the news about Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven to these people, they think they already know about him. Just like the people of Nazareth THOUGHT they knew who Jesus was, there are people in our lives who think they know the Jesus you're talking about. But instead, they believe in a Jesus who saves them based on good works or their church attendance, not by grace alone through faith alone.
So it's hard to bring the gospel to people like this.
Transition: So, number 1 - in familiar places, it's hard to share the gospel, number 2…
In Familiar Places: We still go, even when it's hard
And Jesus knew it was going to be hard visiting a familiar place like Nazareth, his hometown. He says that a prophet has honor everywhere else, except his hometown. He knew it would be hard to bring the message of the gospel to Nazareth, but he goes anyway.
Jesus went, and he's calling us to go to familiar places even when it's hard.
He's calling us to go to our extended family members that have a cultural catholic religion, but not a saving faith in Jesus.
He's calling us to go to our siblings who think we're crazy for going to church.
And he's calling us to go to our co-workers who might have never heard the good news of Jesus.
Jesus knew that only a few would have enough faith for him to perform some miracles, but he still went. Because a few miracles is worth it. And so he's calling us to go, even if only a few, or even one will believe in what we're sharing.
When we think about our familiar places: our family, friends, work, or wherever. Jesus never promised that it would be easy, but:
He's calling us to share our faith with them and what God has done in our lives.
He's calling us to invite people to church, like for Easter, even when we know they'll probably say no.
He's calling us to something potentially risky and invite people to read the Bible together or to ask if there's any way you can be praying for them.
But here's the thing… it's worth it! (Jesus thought it was worth it for even a few miracles.) Even if most people reject you, it's worth it for the one person that might actually listen to you and believe in what you're sharing, and believe in the person you're sharing about.
Passion for lost lives (Song reference)
Setup: I think for the most part, one of the reasons why we don't engage the familiar places and the familiar people in our lives with the gospel much,
is because we've already tried that, we got rejected, and it's hard.
So we mistakenly conclude that if it's hard, that means that Jesus might not be calling me to that. But that's not true! Jesus is calling us to go to the hard, familiar places with his good news!
I think we've also lost a passion for the lost - we've forgotten what it's like to watch someone put their faith in Jesus because it's been so long since we've seen it happen…
One of my favorite hot takes is that as a whole, I think Christian Hip Hop has better truth than most contemporary worship songs. Maybe it's because they can fit more words in the song? Idk. But there's a song that I've never forgotten by the Christian rapper "Reconcile". In this song, he's describing what happened when he surrendered his life to Jesus put his faith in him. And this is one of the bars (don't worry, I'm not gonna try to rap it):
There's nothing different about me except Jesus who saved me,
And that's enough to make a grown man cry.
And I've always loved that line because I think it's so true! I entered into the Kingdom of Heaven in tears, I'm sure a lot of you did to. We realized that we had nothing to bring to the cross and the only thing we could do was cling to Jesus.
And the tears were a sign of ultimate surrender - Jesus take it all. And while the tears come, they show that desperation has finally met joy and the Holy Spirit transforms us into a new creation and welcomes you in as a new citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
And for the first time we realized that we are truly saved by GRACE ALONE, not by works, so that no one can boast.
About 6 months ago here at Renovation Church we had Family Fun Day, which is a similar to our egg hunt, where lots of new people come to a service and then head across the street for food trucks and inflatables. And Lead Pastor David said to me. Make sure you sneak into one of the services at the end and see how God moves. In my apathy, I'm like OK, let's see what happens.
And as he's sharing the gospel, this Dad in the back of the room stands up and he's just bawling, like he has seen the beauty and the power of Jesus and he's just given his life to Christ. And as he's standing there he's holding his wife's hand on one side, and his daughters on the other. And it was just a beautiful picture that Jesus doesn't only change lives, but he changes families, he changes legacy's. By the way, that's why we do our huge easter egg hunt, and why David is going break is vocal cords preaching 8 times next weekend, because we believe that the gospel is the power of God to save.
That's why we go! That's why we go to the familiar places that are hard, where we are ignored, ridiculed, and mocked. In the same way that Jesus knew he would only do a few miracles, he still went.
And so we go because somebody might believe, even if it's just one person, because it's worth it. It's absolutely worth it to go.
Challenge: I challenge some of you to invite someone or multiple people to an Easter service next weekend that you're pretty sure is gonna say no. But even if it's just one person, it's worth it.
Transition: Now some of you really identify with Jesus in this story and you have found it hard to bring the gospel to familiar places. But maybe others of you don't have a relationship with Jesus and maybe you're more like the people of Nazareth. You know about Jesus, but you haven't submitted to him as Lord, yet.
In Familiar Places: We want people to stay in their lane
The people of Nazareth liked Jesus when he stayed in his lane. But when he started to do miraculous works and share wisdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, they thought, "Woah Jesus, stay in your carpenter lane."
Ex. It's like if someone went to the doctor because they were struggling with a heart issue. They want a quick prescription fix, but instead, the doctor prescribed a few months of "eating healthy and moderate exercise". Then that person might think "woah doc, stay out of my personal life, stay in your lane and just give me something to feel better."
In familiar places we don't like it when people do something we don't expect. The people of Nazareth would have been totally fine if Jesus was quiet and did the same, normal religious stuff that everyone else did: go to the synagogue and follow the law. But once he starts talking about being the messiah and the Kingdom of Heaven, woah Jesus, stay in your lane.
Today, people still want Jesus to stay in his lane:
People like Jesus as a good teacher, maybe even a prophet. But no Jesus, you can't be God himself? Stay in your lane…
People like Jesus as a guy who loves them and loves everyone. But no Jesus, you can't tell me I'm doing something sinful? Stay in your lane…
People like to come to church and here good stuff about Jesus. But when Jesus prescribes turning away from sin and putting their full trust in him - Woah, don't prescribe that, just tell me some things to make me feel better Jesus, stay in your lane…
Maybe for a long time, you've thought this about Jesus too…
You've thought he's a good teacher from the 1st century, but nothing more. But maybe this morning you're realizing that "oh, he is more - maybe this Jesus guy is God."
Not only is he God! But he's a God that loves you and wants to wipe away your sin and forgive you because he already paid for it on the cross. He wants a relationship with you. And you can have that relationship with Jesus. 1) by turning from your sin and 2) putting your trust in him.
Some of you might need to take that step this morning and say "alright Jesus - I believe - you can have it all". Maybe for a long time you thought you knew who Jesus was… that he was some guy in the sky who wanted you to do good things, go to church, keep up a good appearance, but you never surrendered your life to him, but this morning is the time.
And if that's you, if you need to turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus for salvation this morning I would love to talk to you along with our follow up team off to the side of the stage.
Maybe some of you are still sort of "checking things out" and that's great too. In fact, we'd love for you to take the Bible underneath the chair in front of you and start to read it and see who Jesus really is. There's a great Bible reading plan on the inside cover that will help you get started.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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