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Keeping It Real

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(7/21) There are certain people that I am leery of. One is a used car salesman. I just donít expect most of them to be completely honest with me. Another is a military recruiter. Back in my day, they werenít known for their honesty. They would tell you anything you wanted to hear to get you to enlist. I am also suspicious of some mechanics, dentists, and lawyers. Hey, Iím just keeping it real. Have you ever heard that expression? Here is another question.

What did you hear that made you want to follow Jesus, (ask Him into your heart, pray the sinnerís prayer, be saved, etc.), what was it? (Take Responses)

How many of you would say that being a Christ-Follower is more difficult than you expected? Most all of us heard about the good news of Jesus. That is what the word, Gospel, means you know? The Good News is that Jesus died paying for your sins, so you wouldnít have to. He satisfied the justice of God so you wouldnít have to go to hell. The Good News is that He rose again, as evidence that your sins were paid for and that because He lives you will live also forever with God in Heaven and never have to fear death again. And there is more. When you become a Christ follower, you get more stuff from God. Letís name some:

  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Family
  • Purpose
  • Positive Self-esteem
  • His ever abiding presence to help you

All of this is part of the Good News of Following Jesus. This is what we share with people. But how many of you were presented with the Bad News of Following Jesus before you became a Christ Follower? The remainder of Chapter 10 (vv.11-42) is Jesus keeping it real. Here, He is being honest. I did this in a sermon several years ago. I remember watching the movie Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck and there was a scene which depicted Lt. Colonel James Doolittle presenting his dangerous and daring mission to a group of volunteers that would comprise his 16 bomber teams that would do a retaliatory attack on Tokeyo. Watch. (We may show it twice).

You may be dead in 6 weeks. If you fail to make the takeoff in 467 feet, you will be dead. If you want to be part of the team, step forward. Thatís what Jesus is saying in chapter 10. He is not telling us that if we choose to follow Him, if we are willing to see the world as He sees it and feel what He feels, that we will always have a peaceful easy feeling, and that we will be healthy and wealthy, and everyone will always like us, and you will always sense Godís peace and presence and blessings. This is Jesus saying that if you follow me, if you believe the Good News is the essential truth that every human being must hear and believe in order to be rescued; if you believe God is more interested in acts of mercy and compassion than He is in your religious stuff; if you are willing to pray that God will raise up people who care and have His same compassion for the sick, the stressed, the scattered, the shepherd-less, and the separated from God, and if you take the Isaiah 6 challenge and say, "Here I am Lord send me." It may cost you everything, including your family, your fortune, your friends, your future, your freedom, and your life. If you want to be part of the team-step forward. This is Jesus - Keeping it Real. And folks, remember last week; there is no Plan B.

What we have in the rest of Matthew 10 is what we may call panoramic teaching or telescopic teaching. This is when He is speaking in the present about the future. A lot of Old Testament prophecy was done this way. A passage would include both the 1st and 2nd advent of Jesus in the same passage. Isa 9:6-7, or Micah 5:2-5, or Isaiah 61:1-7. It does not appear that the things that Jesus spoke about here in Ch. 10 happened to the 12 at that time, or to the 70 in Luke 10 that He sent out shortly after these returned. But all of the things that He mentioned would very much be part of the history of Christianity from the beginning of the Church to the present and will continue to be until the time when He will return. Therefore, this teaching is for us to bear in mind. Letís listen to Jesus- Keeping it Real. Rather than a verse by verse commentary, this is going to be more of a summary of our Lordís teaching. You will notice that after 4 Ĺ verses, the rest of the chapter consists of Words in Red.

I. The Reality Ė For the last 400 years America has known little of religious persecution personally. The Pilgrims left England and came to America seeking the freedom to worship God as they believed the Bible taught. Ever since they landed in Massachusetts we have had the freedom to believe as we choose and to live out our faith with relatively little fear. This is not so, nor has it ever been in many parts of the world. To receive Jesus and become a Christ-follower in many places of the world may mean a sentence of death and people are aware of that when they decide to follow Jesus. Millions of Christ-followers died under the Roman persecutions, and during the Middle Ages. The Roman Church burned people alive for printing, owning, and reading the Bible. That is true. In modern times under Communism, Hinduism, and Islam, thousands, maybe millions have been tortured, imprisoned, and killed for following Jesus Christ. In those cultures, people know the consequences before they become Christ-followers. They know the bad news as well as the good news. They donít question why this stuff happens, as we often do, they know why, they expect it, and they follow Jesus anyway. The reality is that everything that happened to Jesus we can expect to happen to us. We are not exempt. Look at verses 24-25. "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!" Listen to John 15:18-21, also words in red, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ĎA servant is not greater than his master.í If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My nameís sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

Jesus left heaven to be born into a savage world. From early childhood, men sought to kill Him. From the very beginning of His ministry Satan and men hated Him and sought how to destroy Him. Mark 3:6 tells us, "Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him." Listen, He came as the lamb of God to live among savage wolves who would arrest, slander, falsely accuse, beat to a bloody pulp, and kill Him, when all He did was speak grace, truth, and show compassion.

In verses 16-18 Jesus says, "I am sending you (the same way), as sheep among wolves." Letís quickly understand this. We all know that wolves will try to get into a flock of sheep to get dinner, but Jesus says I am sending you as sheep into the wolf pack. I think that the primary characteristic of a sheep that He means here is basically defenseless. For a sheep to walk into a wolf pack is to offer itself to them. And of wolves, He is implying that they will tear you apart. They will kill and devour you. This is Jesus - Keeping it Real.

II. The Rejection Ė Letís just peruse the chapter and notice what is going to happen throughout history and quite possibly to you.

A. Rejection (vv. 11-15)Ė At work, at home, at school, or in the community that you are trying to show and tell the truth of Jesus to, you will be rejected by some. You are the religious fanatic, the Jesus Freak

B. Betrayal (vv. 16-18) Ė Someone is going to report you to the principal, the boss, the police, or to your religious group. (Soviet Union)

C. Arrested (vv. 16-18) Ė We see this throughout Acts (Soviet Union)

D. Beatings (vv. 16-18) Ė Again the disciples are beaten in Acts

E. Family Division and Betrayal (v.21) Ė There have been times in history and is presently so in the Muslim community, that if one converts to Christianity, he or she is considered and infidel and a disgrace to the family, and family executions are sanctioned in such cases to protect the family honor. I have heard of different religious groups holding mock funerals when a family member converts to Christianity, as if to say this person is dead to the family. Vv. 34-38 remind us that if you chose to accept the truth and follow Jesus, you may well be ostracized by your family.

F. Hatred and Hounding (vv. 22-23)

G. Slander (v. 25) Ė Jesus was called a Samaritan, and demon possessed, and acting under the authority of the Prince of Demons, Beelzebub, the Lord of the dung heap, a term for Satan Himself. You might be called better or worse, but you will be slandered and ridiculed if you try to show and tell Jesus.

H. Illustrations ĖShe was just 17 years old, a young man with a weapon in his hand looked at her and asked, "Do you believe in God?" She said, "Yes." "Why," he asked, but he killed her before she could answer. This could have happened in Rome, it could have happened in the Middle Ages, it could have happened in Romania, China, or Russia, but it didnít. It happened in a high school in Littleton, Colorado. Books like Foxes book of Martyrs, Their Blood Cries Out, DC Talkís book Jesus Freaks, or My trip to Russia and Belarus are reminders that every year 200,000 people are killed in this world for the sole reason of being a Christ follower.

III. The Reasons Ė Though our Lord doesnít say in this text, we need to remind ourselves of the reasons why People will turn on you like wolves on a sheep. This is not intended to be exhaustive but it does help us to see why people will hate us.

A. Some simply donít want to acknowledge that there is a greater being than man. If there is a God, then we are accountable to Him, and we simply donít want to be accountable to anyone beyond ourselves.

B. Some donít want to give up sin. Sin is fun. And John 3:18 following says it like this some like darkness more than light because their deeds are evil. If you tell me that pornography, sexual promiscuousness, aborting the unborn, same sex unions, drunkenness, greed, and more is wrong, you will be rejected, because people donít want to be told they are wrong. We want to feel that we have a right to do as we want with our lives. And we hate people to tell us that we are wrong.

C. Satan has blinded peopleís minds (2 Cor. 4:1-6). He does so with religion, education, philosophy, pleasure, fear and more. Everyone want to believe that they know the truth, even if that truth is that there is no truth. And we hate for people to tell us we have followed a lie, and have been wrong

D. Some just donít want to believe that what they have been taught in their religion, family, or church has been wrong. How could my parents, priest, teachers, and so many be wrong? They actually believe that killing you is doing service to God (John 16:2). Paul did.

E. Some governments have simply elevated the leader of the government or the form of Government as the Supreme power and to give allegiance to anyone but the leader or the government, or form of government is seen as treason and leading the people astray.

And folks, Jesus said that the closer we get to the time when He will return, the worse, it will get. Matthew 24, says, it will be so bad, that unless God shortens the time, no one would be saved. The Revelation and 2 Timothy 3:1 remind us that the last days will be savage times. The old KJV says, that, "In the last days, perilous times will come," but the word perilous is literally savage. The truth is that this world is not a playground, it is a battlefield. A war is being fought to secure life and freedom for Godís creation. It is a bloody war. Jesusí appearance on planet earth was to bring peace for men. Peace with God and the peace of God. But Satan and lost men are fighting tooth and nail to oppose Godís plan and peace. This is what Jesus meant in verses 34-37. Choosing to follow Jesus could mean losing your family. This is Jesus - Keeping it Real.

IV. The Responses

A. Focus on the Ones that God draws to you (vv. 11-15). Whenever you show and tell the Gospel there will be people who will be drawn to the truth, disciple them, pray for them and with them.

B. Entrust those who reject you to God justice (vv. 11-15). This is the same as the pearls and pigs passage in Ch. 7. If you have told them the truth and given them the gospel in love, you have done your job. They are responsible and accountable for what they do with that truth.

C. Be wise but harm less. You will need to rely on the principles of Godís word and the power of the Holy Spirit to respond as Jesus would. You will need to stay in Godís word where wisdom is contained and pray diligently.

D. Realize that persecution is sometimes an opportunity to show and tell Godís grace (vv. 18-20). This doesnít mean that you shouldnít study Godís word, but it does mean that God will by His Holy Spirit speak through you to courts, kings, persecutors, and the public. Just as Stephan did in Acts 7 and Peter and John did in Acts 4-5, and Paul did in Acts 22-26. Peter will tell us a similar thing in 1 Peter 3:13-17, "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousnessí sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

E. Donít be Afraid. (Vv. 24-31). This is tough. No one wants to be rejected by family, friends or acquaintances, or go to jail, be beaten, tortured, or die a cruel death at the hands of others, especially when the sole reason is that you love people and want them to know truth. You just want to be able to express love to God. There is a good chance that most of you will not have a gun or a machete put to your head, or that you will go to jail or be beaten unless you go to a country that is hostile to Jesus. I have talked to missionaries and pastors that traveled to Africa and India to train pastors and evangelists and when the training was over and they were commissioned they knew that some of these would be dead in a few weeks as they traveled to tell people about Jesus. But they did so unafraid. How? I can only imagine and this is what I want to impress on you. Everyone is going to die. In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace (Mel Gibson), says more than once, "everyone dies, not everyone truly lives." How can you not be afraid? I can only tell you to cling to what you believe. Your faith must be more than a religion. It must be your reality. You must embrace it. Believe it with all your heart. Things like:

1. Everyone dies, but only the rescued Christ-Followers will live.

2. Because Jesus lives, and I follow Him, I will live with Him forever.

3. God has a plan even when I donít understand. My persecution fits in that plan. How? I donít know. I just know it does. (Romans 8:28-29)

4. God loves me, personally, intimately. He knows all about me, every flaw, and He loves me (vv. 28-31). I am precious to Him (cp. Eph. 1:4-7; John 16:27). Even my death is precious to Him (Ps. 116:15).

5. Time is short, eternity is forever (2 Cor. 4:16-5:10).

6. Both your Faithfulness and every act of compassion will be rewarded (vv. 40-42).

F. Fear God Ė That is, revere Him no matter what. Honor Him even in the face of pain or death (vv. 28-33, 37-39). This is a strong admonition to those who are considering becoming a Christ-Follower and knowing the risks, as well as to those who claim to be Christ-Followers. It is the willingness to say with your mouth what you are supposed to believe in your heart. That is what the word, Confess, means. I am verbally agreeing with what the Bible says about God and Jesus. I am not ashamed to tell people that I am a Christ Follower, nor am I ashamed to tell others that they need to be a Christ-Follower or die in their sins (John 8:24). John 12:42-43 says, "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Peter denied the Lord 3 times, saying that, he was a not a disciple, nor did he even know Jesus. The books I told you about are full of stories that tell us of people who had the choice to publically deny Jesus or die. Some denied Jesus so they could live here. Some would not deny, and were burned at the stake, beheaded, or tortured to death. Sadly some fear men who can only take their physical life and not the one who can give them eternal life or condemn them forever.

Some of you are afraid to tell your family or friends or business associates, or customers, that you are a Christ-Follower, because you are afraid of losing a client, a customer, a friend, or your job. And you might. But can you stand before God and give a good reason for your silent denial? You are a child of the King; an heir of heaven. We will rule and reign as Princeís over Godís creation and yet we remain silent about the greatest gift and the greatest compassion there has ever been in the world.

G. Take up your Cross (v.37). I will Step Forward, with full consciousness of the possible results, I will follow Jesus Christ and show His compassion and tell of His grace. I give my life today to His service just as if I was joining an Army to go to War, knowing I could be captured, wounded or killed. I will not be a silent believer loving the praise of men more than the praise of God.

V. The Reward (vv.38-42).

A. You find Your Purpose (vv. 38-39) Ė My purpose for which I was created is to be an ambassador, a servant, a soldier of Jesus Christ and to continue His life and Ministry.

B. People will be rescued (vv. 40-41) Ė When people receive Jesus because you have been faithful, you have the reward of knowing that you were instrumental in a life being saved for eternity. Paul told the church at Thessalonica, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 for you are our glory and joy." (1 Thess. 2:19-20).

C. You will be Commended by God Himself Ė (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:21). There will be a visible reward of Glory and a Crown, and the spoken reward of the Commendation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

VI. The Resolve

There is chapter 10 in a nutshell. Jesus - Keeping it Real. No hype, No bait and switch. Just an honest summary of the results and consequences of aligning yourself with Him. The Mission He is commissioning you to could cost you your family, your friends, your fortune, your freedom, and your future, your life. Are you brave enough to step forward?

Next Week- Our Words in Red are The Greatest Invitation Ever Given Ė Matt. 11:28-30

Benediction Ė Jude 24-25

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless

before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever.

Amen.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman