Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.

 

The Greatest Offer Ever Given

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(7/28) There have been, over the years some great lines, from movies that have been remembered long after the movie has been forgotten. Like some of these: Dorthy saying "Weíre not in Kansas anymore." And Rhett Butlerís, "Frankly, my dear I donít give a d----!" Or Dirty Harryís, "Go ahead, make my day." Or Star Warsí, "May the force be with you." You can probably recall some others like Marlon Brando as the Godfather- "Iím gonna make him an offer he canít refuse." Thereís a good chance that you have used those lines sometime in your life.

I thought of the Godfather as I was preparing this Life Lesson. Jesus has spent the first year to two years of His ministry making Israel and offer that they should have been quick to accept. It is an offer that I scratch my head wondering how anyone could refuse. But unfortunately they did refuse His offer as a nation, just as so many refuse His offer of grace, forgiveness and eternal life today. John says so in His gospel (1:10-11), " He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. He was offering them the Kingdom that had been promised since Genesis 3:15, and confirmed to David and the Prophets. This is the Kingdom that Israel had been waiting for and praying for, and Jesus instructed all of us to pray for in the Lordís Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. A kingdom of righteousness and peace. In fact, Isaiah says that when the Prince of peace rules, there will be no end to His government or peace (Isa. 9:6-7). A kingdom of health, and long life. A kingdom without crime and injustice. A kingdom of safety and peace as children can play with snakes, and lions and lambs will be able to live together. This is what He and John the Baptist and now the 12 that He sent out had been proclaiming. To receive the Kingdom, they as a nation needed to repent and prepare themselves for the King. They must get their hearts right with God and humble themselves before their God and His King. To say that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand is to say that the King is coming or He is here. To confirm that He is the King, promised by the Father, Jesus preached Godís Word with authority. He exercised power over nature, calming storms, turning water into wine, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, working legs to the infirmed, cleansing and healing lepers, and commanding demons to flee. Remember the words of Isaiah. Isaiah 35:3-5 says, "Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you."5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing." 29:18, "In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness." Peter tells the Jews, that God confirmed that Jesus is His Son by His miracles (Acts 2:22). But the nation as a whole did not accept Him as their King, so He turned His attention from the nation as a whole to individuals and appealed to them to come to Him for the rest they needed for their souls. A rest that the nation refused. John 1:1-12 reminds us, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:"

Our Words in Red today come from Matthew 11, especially vv. 25-30. Letís begin by establishing the context.

I. The Commendation of John the Baptist (vv. 1-18)ĖJohn could have appeared on Duck Dynasty. He was different. The man lived in the dessert and ate honey dipped locusts and dressed in camel skins. He showed up one day and began to preach that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand and that the nation needed to repent and be ready to receive the King. To give evidence of being a repentant person they should be baptized just as a Gentile who turned from idols to follow the one true God would be baptized. Sinners came to John and repented. The religious also came and would not repent. Luke 7:29-30 says this, "And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him."

In Ch. 11:7 we are told that as Jesus went through Galilee that Multitudes of people came to Him. How many people are in a multitude? I donít know. But it was a bunch and in verses 7-19, our Lord sings Johnís praises. There has never been anyone greater than John (v. 11) Wow! What a statement, Abraham wasnít greater, nor was Moses, nor was David, or Solomon. He tells these Galileans that John was the one that Isaiah and Malachi spoke of (v. 10 and Malachi 3:1; cp. Isaiah 40:3). He is the fulfillment of the promise of Elijahís appearance before the Day of the Lord. Malachi 4:5-6 says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." But notice that verse 11 also says that the least in the Kingdom will be greater than John. How can that be? I am thinking that He is referring to privileges and not to position. John never performed a miracle nor do we know if he ever saw one except for the voice and the dove that represented the Holy Spirit at Jesusí baptism. We donít know if he ever heard Jesus speak. Those who will be part of the Kingdom will experience all the things that we spoke of earlier and share in the New Covenant promises.

But like Jesus, though some did repent John was rejected by the religious leaders and imprisoned by Herod and would die by execution as a young man. Jesus says that John was rejected because of stoic ways and people said he was demon possessed.

Notice Jesus says (vv. 18-19) He was also rejected because He acted like most people. He drank the juice of the grape which John did not. He ate normal food and went to dinner parties which John did not. And He reached out in grace to sinners, which the religious leaders did not and He was accused for being too loose. Want to know something else, I really believe that Jesus danced at the weddings He attended and had a good time.

II. The Condemnation of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (vv. 20-24) Ė Our Lord Jesus did many of His miracles in these towns. It was in Capernaum for example that He healed the man let down through the roof by four friends, raised Jairiusí daughter from the dead, healed the woman with the issue of blood, healed Peterís mother in law, two blind men, several demoniacs and more. You would have thought that the folks would have repented and received their home town favorite as the King He was demonstrating to be but they did not believe in Jesus as a whole, even though most of His disciples were from there. They were proud, educated, and arrogant and are condemned for their unbelief. He says that if three of the wickedest cities in history had seen the miracles they had seen they would have repented and still be here. We know how wicked and immoral Sodom was. Tyre and Sidon were equally wicked. Ezekiel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit uses the King of Tyre as a picture reference to Satan.

It appears from this and Rev. 20 that there are degrees of torment in Hell, perhaps as they relate to the degree of unbelief or opportunities shunned. Degrees of punishment according to degrees of sin and unbelief. I have to believe that although Jesus spoke these Words in Red, that He did so with a tear in His eye just as He wept over Jerusalem as He thought of their coming doom when the Romans would level the city and kill more than million and those who lived would be slaves or refuges. Listen to Luke 19:41-44, "Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation." This is the region that He had made His home and they rejected His offer of being part of the Kingdom and thus rejected Him as their King. After rebuking these cities in the hearing of the multitudes of people, our Lord breaks into a prayer, addressing the living God as His Father.

III. The Communication of Thanks to the Father (v. 25-26) Ė For His plan to hide these things in plain sight from the wise and prudent; that is, the educated and proud and arrogant. God has chosen to reveal Himself and His plan to babe. He is not speaking of small children but of humble, poor in Spirit people who realize that they are totally dependent on God for their life, forgiveness, salvation and eternity. Dependent sinners who humbly submit themselves to God are the ones that come to know God and experience His grace.

How sad that so many people will never come to know the God of Grace and all that he offers to those who will receive Him because they are arrogant and filled up with pride in themselves. "I donít need God." "I can save myself." "I am just as good as the next guy." Is that you?

IV. The Revelation of the Son of God (v. 27)Ė After a brief prayer of thanks Jesus resumes preaching and here in Galilee He boldly declares to be The Son of God; that is the presence of God in the Flesh. When He does this in Jerusalem in John 5, and 10, the people want to stone Him to death, because to say He is the Son of God is to say He is God with us. Psalm 2 is all about the Son of God coming as the King and he is declaring to be that King here in verse 27. Psalm 2:6-12 says, "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion."7 "I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ĎYou are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potterís vessel.í" 10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. Proverbs 30:2-4, reminds us that the Jews were conscious of the second person of the Godhead. "Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man.3 I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the Holy One.4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Sonís name, if you know?

Jesus is publically declaring to be the Son of God and He wants People to know God. Not just to know about Him but to know Him intimately, and personally. John 17:1-4 says, Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

V. The Invitation to Receive Rest (vv. 28-30) Ė It is here that many experts believe that Jesusí entire ministry focus changes from masses of people and the nation to individuals. Having plainly said that He is God the Son who wants people to know the Father, He opens His arms and His heart and I believe He is pleading to people. Letís notice:

A. The People Invited

1. All Who Labor or who are weary, tired, worn out, or exhausted.

2. Heavy Laden or burdened down; the weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. Pause! This could be referring to any number of people, such as:

a. Those who are trying to work their way to God by following all the rules and regulations that your religion has laid on you. Jesus our Lord when He blasted the hypocritical Pharisees said in Matthew 23:4, "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on menís shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." You do the best you can and yet your religion never seems to result in the peace and rest that your soul desires. You never know if you have done enough or have been good enough, and you finish the day with uncertainty. Jesus is inviting you to leave your religious stuff and enter into a family relationship with Him and the Father.

b. Those who been chasing the American dream, believing that if you work hard enough, study hard enough, achieve the promotions, make enough money, have enough things, that you will have peace and that ahh feeling because this is what the goal of life is. So we pursue happiness and peace in the accomplishment of the dream. Only to find that after we have climbed the ladder of success that it was against the wrong wall.

c. Those who have gone the other way and have believed the good life would be in the indulgence of self-pleasure. So we pursued wine women and song, or drugs and men and parties only to find that just like too much alcohol results in a hangover when it wears off, so too self-pleasure results in emptiness; so we try more and more only to feel emptier and emptier. And we feel trapped in this life of sin.

d. Those who are trying hard to get rid of the monkey on their backs called, Ďguilt,í from things we did wrong whether it was last week, last year, or 50 years ago. Those lies, that affair, the divorce, the abortion, the accident when you were drinking, and more just haunt you. David said in Psalm 51:3 that his sin was ever before him.

e. Those who are constantly worrying about tomorrow and will you have what it takes to make it tomorrow or next week, next month, next year, or when you reach retirement. You seem to be anxious about everything. A nervous Nellie. Your theme for life seems to be composed of, "What ifÖ," or, "How will this work out?"

f. Those whose life circumstances have resulted in nothing but work to try to survive and take care of a family. Days blend into weeks and there is never enough money, food, gas for the car, or time with the family. You donít know how you got this way. All you know is that you are tired. Nights donít come fast enough and mornings come too soon.

To all of these and more Jesus says, Come to Me. One of the first Bibles I ever owned has this picture in it.

B. The Invitation

1. Come to Me Ė Not to a religion, but to Me. It is an invitation to believe in Him and to rest in His promises as you obey His word. It is the kind of belief that is trusting fully in Him. He is not asking you to believe about Him, but to believe in Him. In John 6:35 Jesus says that if you come to Him you will never hunger or thirst again. To come to Him you have to move from where you are to where He is. His arms are open like a parent on one knee, saying, "Come to mommy or daddy."

2. Take My Yoke Ė Is a Hebraism meaning to let me disciple you. Let me teach you about life and the best way to live your life. Let me be your Rabbi, your teacher, your guide for life. Notice He says, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The word Easy means fitted or well adjusted. A yoke was a wooden instrument that was custom made for each animal so that it fit the animal well without digging into its hide or chafing the animal or causing it pain. A yoke is designed to make pulling a load easier.

Most yokes where made for two animals. Often a more mature animal was paired with a younger animal. The older one already knew the commands of the owner and would help teach the younger.

Also, the burden is easier when two are working together. In fact, it has been proven that two can actually pull not twice as much as one but three times as much. Jesus is not saying that life will become a piece of cake if you come to Him, but if you let Him teach you, and guide you, if you follow His lead, it will be easier than doing it on your own.

3. Learn of Me Ė Unlike the Pharisees that made life harder with their religious demands, and unlike the false promises or Satan and this Worldís system, you will find Jesus is meek, or gentle, or kindly, and lowly or humble in heart. His desire is not to hurt you but to help you. To a prostitute in Luke 7 who came to him and kissed and washed his feet, He gently says, "Your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you, go in peace." To an adulterous woman in John 8, He gently says, "I donít condemn you, go and sin no more." We are told in Isaiah 42 and Matthew 12:18 that a "bruised reed he will not break and smoking flax he will not quench." Both of these things were useless in those conditions and good for nothing but to be thrown away, but we are told Jesus not only will not throw them away, He will restore them to usefulness. "He who comes to me, He says, I will in no way cast out." (John 6:37).

C. The Promise of the Invitation Ė Rest for your souls Ė Letís pause for a moment. What does rest look like for you. Fishing by a quiet lake or stream; a Sunday afternoon nap; a rainy day with a cup of coffee and a good book; a walk on the beach; a quiet drive through the country, a walk in the woods; a relaxing hot bath without children; something else? Time to put the brain in neutral and drift for a while like in a canoe or on a raft. Jesus wants you to have that kind of rest in your soul. He offered to Israel as Psalm 95 reminded us as we began this service, but they rejected it by hardening their hearts toward God. Hebrews 3-4 all about God urging people to accept His rest. Here is what He is inviting to have

1. Peace with God Ė Trying to live life apart from God may seem like freedom but it really is a burden because our sins make us at odds with our creator and the lover of our souls. But when we come to Jesus and believe Him and accept His payment for our sins and receive His forgiveness, He gives us forgiveness and Peace with God (Romans 5:1). Now God is no longer our Judicial Judge but He adopts us as His child and becomes our Father who will always love us, never leave us, and will never condemn us. I am not at odds with God, I am at home with God. Listen, if you are not a Christ Follower, you will never know the calmness of soul until you humble yourself as a little child and receive His forgiveness and come under His yoke. Nor will you ever be able to rest in the certainty of knowing that when death comes, and it will come, that you are safe and secure with Jesus and assured of being in His home forever. That alone produces peace.

You may be a child of God that has wondered away from your Father and has seemed to have lost your peace. Know this, He is not angry, He is waiting, for you to come home, and He will receive you and restore you and give you peace. But you will never have this true tranquility of soul as long as you run from God or justify your actions apart from His will.

2. Peace of God- This is what Jesus wants you to have and He gives to His family when they come to Him about all their concerns. This is what Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." And again in Phils 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." He bids us to dump all our anxieties on Him and promises to give us peace to guard our hearts and minds. How does that work? Like this. When you dump your cares on Him and Meditate on Him and His word, His Holy Spirit reminds you that He is in control, working everything together for a good purpose, and here is how to handle your situation, even it is just to wait on Him.

The hymn writer is right, "Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

3. Peace of His Presence- As we meditate on Him and His word (vv.8-9) we will experience the presence of this God of peace. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthyómeditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." God will show us in His word and reveal to us by His presence in our life what to do both in unique circumstances and in daily, day by day living. And when we purpose to do His will, His promise is that we donít have to do it alone because He is in this yoke with me. He has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us forever and to be our helper and enable us to do what He wants in His strength and never ever, He says, in any circumstance will He ever leave us. If you donít feel His presence, it just may be that you arenít dumping your anxiety on Him and then meditating on His word with the intent of hearing what He wants to do in and though you. Moses said in Deut. 10:13, that, "Godís commands are for our good," and John said in 1 John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." His commands flow out of His love not to burden us, but to give us peace. Isaiah 48:18 says, "Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!

Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." As we saw last week, life will still be hard, troubles will still come, and work remains to be done. But if you will come to Jesus and let Him determine what you do and how you do it. If you will dump all your anxieties on Him, and remember that He is with you and will help you do what His Word prescribes, you can have tranquility in your soul, no matter how hard the storm is outside.

There you have it, the greatest offer ever given. Who can refuse it? Sadly, many do. They would rather trust in themselves and try to acquire their own peace, their own way. How sad and how foolish? Do you have rest in your soul? Really? Isnít it time to come humble yourself as a child and come dependently, honestly, and receive the Peace of the Prince of peace?

Come become a Christ- Follower and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior today. Discover how good it feels to be forgiven and know you are a son, a daughter, an heir of God.

Christian, you have wondered away from God, itís time to come home and find His grace, forgiveness, and peace have been waiting for you.

Maybe itís time to reconnect in daily prayer and meditation in Godís word. If you rush out of the house each day without time with God. You are robbing yourself of precious peace and rest for your soul. Start today, and make a daily appointment with God.

Letís pray.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman