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Matthew 17:14-23

The King in His Power

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We study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel. We have some extra copies. If you didn’t bring on, you’d like one to follow along. Raise your hand up real high. Somebody is coming down the middle aisle right now. He’d be glad to hand one to you so you can follow along in the text, really helpful to do that. I believe the network in the room is up there on the screen or will be in about two seconds. There it is and you can jump on there if you prefer to use a digital device to … and a Bible on a digital device. So we’re going to pick up in Matthew where our study has been of The King and His Kingdom. Today, we’ll be looking at verses 14 through 23 of chapter 17.

I’ll remind you that as Jesus, Peter, James and John descend from this glorious experience up on the Mount of Transfiguration, as we call it, they’re immediately confronted and you’ll see this, with chaos, conflict, frustration and failure. Here in Matthew 17, we read the account of a father who is an anguish, over the dark and destructive forces that are work in his only son’s life. Where could he find help for that child, and if he could get to Jesus, would Jesus even see him? Could Jesus even help him? Certainly this father has exhausted some of the other options that he thought he might have had on ways to help his son. So what will happen? I want you to read Matthew account here, Matthew 17. I want you also, maybe with your right hand, be looking through your Bible and get to Mark chapter nine {v14] because we’re going to look at that as well.

There’s some additional detail in there. Watch for these elements as we read this story though, there’s a chaotic crowd. There’s a frustrated father. There’s a struggling son. There’s a very destructive demon, some deflated disciples and then, shining brightly through all of it, there’s the King in his power and that’s what we’ll focus in on, and point of course to Jesus, because this is really all about him. Let me pray for us, as we get ready to read.

Lord, thank you for your word that it’s living and active and as we come before you to read today, I pray that you will open our eyes that we might see the wonders that you have for us here, wonders about who you are, awe and astonishment at the disposition of your heart toward us and toward this darkened world. Lord, give us an open-ness to your Spirit. Work in our hearts… in our mind. What we see, not show us. What we know not, teach us. What we are not, make us. We pray in Jesus name, amen and amen.

Verse 14 then of chapter 17, “When they came to the multitude …” so they’ve come down off the mountain, right? “When they came to the multitude, a man came up to him” that is a man came up to Jesus, “Falling on his knees before Jesus and saying, Lord have mercy on my son. He is…” and in my translation, it says, “he’s a lunatic and is very ill for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.” The Greek word is only used twice. It’s in Matthew chapter four here. It’s Selēniázomai (sp? or perhaps alafroiskiotos (?) fr  google translate) and it means moonstruck. Some of your translations might say epileptic or he has seizures.

So their ancient understanding is they sort of overlap some of their nature thoughts that the moon affects and impacts things. I mean, there are people even today that would say, “Well, it’s a full moon out tonight so watch out. It’s going to be crazy life, crazy world.” People say that all the time, even nowadays, but back then, maybe even all the more. This man is thinking that his son who is doing things like falling into the fire, falling into the water and we’ll see some more detail in Mark’s gospel in just a second. He comes before the Lord and asks for mercy on his son. You can imagine this desperate father, he’s frustrated a little because, “I brought him,” verse 16, “I brought him to your disciples and they could not cure him. Jesus answered and said, ’O unbelieving and perverted generation. How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?’” And then these five words that had to be amazingly beautiful to this father, “Bring him here to me.” Just imagine this father is desperate – frustrated father hearing that.

“Jesus rebuked this spirit and the demon came out of him and the boy was cured at once. Then, the disciples came to Jesus privately and they said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ Then he said to them, ‘because of the littleness of your faith, for truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, move from here to there and it shall move and nothing shall be impossible to you’.” Verse 21 is in brackets in most of your English translations. That means it’s not in the oldest New Testament manuscript copies that we have. Some of them have it. Some of the later ones have it or some of the newer ones have it, but the older ones don’t have it, is probably what your note will say in the margin. I’m glad our English Bible translators tell us that. I like the honesty of their scholarship.

It doesn’t change what happens here, but it’s interesting to see at least what’s here. Verse 21, Jesus is still talking presumably to the disciples, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. While they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them …” so there’s a little change of scenery here, after this encounter with this father and his son and the crowd and all that. “While they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men and they will kill him, and he will be raised again on the third day.’ And they were deeply grieved.” That’s not the first time Jesus has predicted his death.

We read that earlier already, and he’s continuing to drive it home with his disciples that even between that glorious moment on the Mount of Transfiguration and this dark valley experience after the glorious moment, even in the middle of all of that, we see … even with our own spiritual lives, we can kind of relate to this. Sometimes, there’s a lot of undulation, sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes very confusing and confounding what’s going on and I … we’re going to deal with that in just a second, but first, turn with me to Mark’s gospel, chapter nine [v 14]. Let me just read that same thing. This isn’t Where’s Waldo, but I mean, see if you can find some of the detail that we pick up in Mark that we didn’t have in Matthew, okay? I’ll try to point it out as we go.

“When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and some scribes arguing with them.” So, some of the religious leaders, the experts in the law are arguing with the nine disciples that were still down in the valley so to speak – Jesus, Peter, James and John coming down off the mountain. So here’s a new bit of information. The religious leaders are arguing with the disciples. What might that be about? Are they mocking them because they couldn’t cast the demon out of the little boy? We know they’re certainly trying to find ways to discredit Jesus. That has been the tone of every encounter they’ve had. So they’re arguing in public there, “And immediately when the entire crowd saw him, meaning Jesus, they were amazed and began running up to greet him.”

This is just like a huge crowd, rushing toward him if you can see that in your mind’s eye. “He asked them, what are you discussing with them?” And remember, Jesus’ questions are always rhetorical questions. He wants them to think about what they’ve been arguing about. “One of the crowd answered him and said, ‘Teacher, I brought You, my son possessed with a spirit, which makes him mute and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him to the ground. He foams at the mouth,” a little more detail there, “and grinds his teeth and he stiffens out.” It’s like a seizure. “And I told your disciples to cast it out and they could not do it.” So you see the tension is around the inability of the disciples to be able to do this as well as the tragic torturous experience of this young man and this father being frustrated by the whole thing.

Then, the religious leaders, probably arguing with the disciples about all of that,  Jesus answered them – and this is interesting too because as I read Matthew’s account, did you think to yourself, who was Jesus saying, “You unbelieving generation.” Who did he mean? Did he mean the disciples? Did he mean the Father? Did he mean the son? Did he mean the religious leaders that we’ve now found out are also there or did he mean the whole lot of them? By extension, does he want us to ask the question about our faith? “O unbelieving generation. How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” Then, he shortens it here in Mark’s accounts, it’s just four words. “Bring him to me.” I love this.

“And they brought the boy to him, and when he saw Him immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion.” This is kind of new information, “And falling to the ground. He began rolling about and foaming at the mouth.” And Mark ties this to when he saw Jesus. See these demons throughout the gospels, they recognized something about Jesus, and it really triggered them. Well, so this happens. Well, “And He asked his father, how long has this been happening to him?” He sounds like a doctor, right? Good physician. So how long has this been happening? He just asks that question. He wants him to think about it a little bit. He wants to have everyone actually think about it and then, father answers him, ”and he says ‘From childhood and it has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water.” That’s what Matthew said too, “to destroy him.” There’s the purpose, there’s the goal, there’s the intent: destruction.

Okay, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us. And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can?” I put a little … in the way I read it there… I put a little question mark at the end, didn’t I? If you can, maybe I should have said it that way. “If you can, all things are possible to him who believes, and he cues this up so beautifully for this Father to answer this way.  “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and began to say,’ I do believe, help my unbelief.’” This is such a beautiful –  verse 24 is such a beautiful –  verse for any of us that ever find ourselves with an admixture of faith and just a little bit of question or a little bit of doubt.

My last name is Thomas, I know about this. And what will Jesus response be to, “I do believe but help my unbelief.” What will Jesus say? I love this. This is so beautiful. When Jesus saw that a crowd … he didn’t reply. Watch this though. “And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit and said to him, ‘You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again. And after crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, he is dead.”

Now, let me remind you, these people in first century Israel and really, all around the world in the first century, they know dead when they see it. We’ve sanitized a lot of that in our own day and time because we have people that take care of such things. These people knew dead. It was before them, all the time. So they see this young man and they have come to the conclusion. Still he’s so … he’s not moving. They think he’s dead. “Jesus took him by the hand and raised him and he got up. When he had come into the house, disciples began questioning privately, ‘Why is it that we could not cast it out?’ He said to them, this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Then, he does … Mark also records the prediction of his death and his resurrection as well. Well, let’s go back to Matthew because we’re going to camp out there and that’s the book that we’re studying.

I just want to make a few points if you’ll allow me to highlight just a few things here. Again, we have the chaotic crowd. Again, we have this frustrated father, exhausted all of this kid’s life has been difficult. He couldn’t probably leave him for a moment because he was so self-destructive, or all happening because of this condition. He may have had a physical condition in addition to demon possession. Don’t really know, but the son is struggling desperately. What would that have been like for that boy that day? For him to, in that moment, immediately be healed and for the very first time be able to see his Dad, be able to see Jesus. I mean, what was that like?

What was that like for his Dad? You parents will understand this kind of trauma, this kind of exhaustion, this kind of frustration that we read about in this father, but this kind of … you might be able to picture this kind of relief, this kind of help. This destructive demon clearly recognized something in Jesus and he thought he would take one last shot at this kid and threw him on the ground. Of course, his gig was up because Jesus, The Great Physician, was there.

These disciples, they’re struggling too, these nine especially because they didn’t go up on the mountain and they might even have a little bit of, “How come, I didn’t get to go up there?” They might have had a little bit of that sort of ministerial turf war stuff going on. We know they fight about who’s the greatest. Here comes Jesus with Peter, James and John. Those three, who do they think they are? Among the nine when the father presented, evidently they didn’t try prayer. How do I know that? Because Jesus says these demons don’t come out except prayer and fasting. Why would he have said that? Maybe they didn’t try prayer. Maybe one of them said something like, “I got this. I got this,” and said, “In the name of Jesus,” because they had already been out … Matthew chapter 10, they’d already been out on mission. They’d already cast out demons. They’d already healed people so why couldn’t they … that’s why they’re stymied now. They can’t do it this time. Why can’t we do this? Here come those other three, the privileged three and one of them tries and the other one tries harder. Simon the zealot, he’s kind of real zealot. He gets up and does his best TV evangelist sort of “Cast the demon out” thing and spitting and strutting and all that sort of thing and then, nothing works. Then, the religious leaders start yakking at them and mocking them, right in front of the crowd trying to discredit their master, Jesus. They’re confused, but then here comes Jesus, Peter, James, and John.

So we’ll begin with that image in our minds. Here comes the approaching and the approachable King Jesus. I love it that Jesus has taken the initiative here in this passage, but let me remind you how he’s taken the initiative in so many other ways, that he has even come at all. He didn’t have to. We’re a rebel planet, man. We’ve turned our back on God. We were living in darkness, such great darkness that for 400 years between the Old Testament and New Testament accounts, we know there’s just no prophet that even shows up to speak on behalf of God. Into that dark rebel planet, he approaches. He takes the initiative and comes. So on a global historic level, Jesus takes the initiative to approach, but on a very personal level here as well, and I would suggest by extension that he’s often approaching me, approaching you in some of the darkness that we are surrounded by. The question is do we see him come? Are we watching for him, and do we recognize him when through all of the darkness he shows up.

He also makes himself approachable. I like this. He knows there’s chaos. He knows everybody is arguing and I think he actually knows what’s happening. I would argue that, and so he makes himself approachable because his father comes up. He complains about nine of Jesus’ boys, nine of Jesus posse and says they couldn’t do it, and these other religious guys are all arguing back and forth and they probably ramp it up when Jesus shows up and try to even make it louder in front of the crowds that Jesus is discredited, that his people can’t do this anymore, they can’t handle it anymore. See the glow has worn off, that kind of thing. I love it that Jesus makes himself approachable to this father. Here’s the king of the entire universe, coming to a dust ball sized planet. Here’s the king of the universe making himself available to one frustrated father and even more, invading that kid’s life to rescue him, to redeem him.

I wonder if later that kid becomes one of the 120 in the upper room. I wonder if he becomes a follower of Jesus. I bet that father did. It’s interesting to think about those kinds of things, but Jesus, the approaching and approachable King and he is approached. You would think that the King of the Universe would pull in with his entourage and you’d never be able to get to him. You would think it’d be like some kind of celebrity or some kind of kind of politician or some powerful person that you just never would’ve asked.

We were in Washington DC one time and the president, this is years ago, this presidential motorcade came down the street and everybody is like, “Oh wow, cool,” and motorcycles and lights and all that sort of thing and then, the limo with the president and his wife. Kim swears that the president’s wife locked eyes with her. She’s saying it’s true, right now, she’s saying it’s true, and I think it did happen. I believe her, actually. We could no more approach that car and get to her, the wife of the president, then it would just be impossible. They’d take us down, throw us in jail. Here Jesus, The King of the Universe, is approachable. I love this about him. Why might you be encouraged by that? I hope you are. Because I have such great need myself, and you have such great need as well. I don’t need a God that is unapproachable. I don’t need a God that is indifferent, so indifferent to what’s going on in my life and in this world in which we live, that he’s never approaching.

I do need an approaching and approachable God and that’s who Jesus is. He’s approachable too and you say, Well, maybe he wouldn’t be approachable by me because I’ve done so many things wrong. I’ve sinned heinously. I continue to fall to the same sin all the time, and there’s no way he would allow me to come and approach him. I would say, “No, you got that wrong. As a matter of fact, his arms are open wide,” and when we think about the cross, that’s exactly the way .. that’s the disposition of his heart. He would lay down his life for you because you’re a sinner. So believe in the Jesus of the Bible. He’s the one that is calling you to come to him. In his book, Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund says:

“For all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, His supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ.”

Dane Ortlund

Question, will you turn to him? He’s turned to you already. Even as he’s come into this world, even as we are gathering every single week to preach the gospel and to study the Bible, it’s Him speaking to us and existentially he may be reaching into your heart, into your mind right now, right? Now, the question is, will you turn to him? Will you recognize him for who he is and that he has come for you? Secondly, we also here, learn a little bit about the enemy of the king. This demon and all the minions of the devil himself by extension are the enemy of the king, and by extension they are the enemy of all of the subjects of the king. All of those potential subjects of the king as well, like we have in this particular story.

On Friday night, July 19th, 1940, Adolf Hitler stepped up to the microphone and went on the radio to preach his ideology of lies to anyone who would listen – little knowing that the noted English Oxford don and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, was among those in his radio audience that night. Lewis wrote to his brother Warren the next day and told him about it, “I don’t know if I’m weaker than other people, but it is a positive revelation to me how while this speech lasts, it is impossible not to waver just a little, statements, which I know to be untrue, all but convince me, at any rate for the moment, if only the man says them, unflinchingly.” Lewis was impressed with how the shrewd, charismatic Nazi leader could make so many people believe his lies to be the truth. That Sunday, the 21st of July, Lewis went to church for a communion service and later that afternoon finished his letter to his brother.

He says, “Before the service was over, one could wish these things came more seasonably. I was struck by an idea for a book which I think might be most useful and entertaining. It would be called As One Devil to Another. It would consist of letters from an elderly retired devil to a young devil who has just started work on his first patient. The idea would be to give all of the psychology of temptation from the other point of view.” How ironic, isn’t it, that the cunning and persuasiveness of Adolf Hitler had inspired C.S. Lewis to help us look behind enemy lines to see how our humanity from the perspective of Satan could be manipulated by the father of lies, Satan. To see how the schemes in the wiles of the devil are employed in the temptation of mankind, first published in 1942, The Screwtape Letters would become one of Lewis’s most popular books.

What does the Bible teach about such things? When we touch on a passage like this, that has this in it, every now and then I feel compelled to at least talk about it because there is a fascination with the dark side in our world. If you don’t think there’s a fascination with things like magic and demons and all that sort of thing, I mean just on the light, the lighter side of all of that, think about all of the TV shows and movies about vampires and things like that. Alright. I’m not saying go home and burn your subscriptions and everything and throw away every CD, every DVD you’ve got and all that. I’m not doing that. I’m simply saying there’s a massive interest in the other side of things. Is it real?

Some would sit here and smugly say, “Ah, it’s not real.” They’re probably the same people that would say that maybe they don’t think God exists because for them, if they’re naturalistic atheist, they think the only thing that exists is the physical realm and there is no immaterial realm, and that everything can be explained including honor, love, hope, duty. All those things can somehow or another be explained by the chemicals in your brain, why they move and all that and make us do the things we do. That seems to still be a mystery, but the mysteries of even the physical realm to me are fascinating. If you took all of your own DNA and it was unfolded, just from one human person, unfolded, each strand of DNA put it length by length by length, it literally would go around our solar system two times, one person’s DNA. That’s how much information there is in your human body.

So I think science points to this other amazing realm. It’s really fascinating to me, and the fact that there is a dark side to this other realm, as is talked about here in the scriptures, as Jesus talks about quite clearly, as the Apostle Paul talks about in Ephesians chapter six; you can go read that later over lunch if you would like to learn a little bit more in this area, when he talks about putting on the whole armor of God and as the Apostle Peter talks about in first Peter chapter five, which I’ll throw up on the screen in just a second. Some of you been studying Watchfulness by Brian Hedges. This is one of his statements on all of that. He says,

“Listen up Christian …”

and I like whenever anybody says that, “Listen up…” I need a little of that in my life; I’m distractable. So this is good

“…You have an implacable enemy whose single objective is to plant a victory flag in the soil of your vanquished faith.”

–Brian G. Hedges, Watchfulness

He wants to devour you, consume you and destroy you. Are you aware of that? Are we aware of that? I think it’s good for us to talk about this from time to time, but not obsessed with it. Some people look for a demon under every rock. Other people completely deny the reality of them at all. I think demons are pleased with either mistake. If I were the devil, I wouldn’t want you to believe in me because then I could go about my business in complete stealth. You’d never know what I was up to and I’d totally manipulate you all of the time and chuckle the whole time, because you don’t believe in me so I can get away with whatever I want to get away with.

The Bible teaches us that the devil and demons are personal, powerful to a degree, intelligent to a degree, communicative, clever, strategic, not to be trivialized or trifled with not to be worshipped or obsessed over either. Scripture warns against engaging with them, but some in our day and time even, naively flirt with them anyway, at their own peril and then, their faith becomes derailed or they become deceived and in some ways, disconnected from the Lord himself. Let me throw that first Peter passage up on the screen for you. It is right here:

“Humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God,” and I love that he begins with that, “That he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him.” I often cast some of my anxiety on Him. “Because he cares for you.…

Does God care? Yes,

“…Be of sober spirit be on the alert. Your adversary of the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, but resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brother and who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

1 Peter 5:6-10 (NASB)

I love that little cluster of things that God will do, but we must humble ourselves before Him. We must resist the enemy of our souls, and we must understand that even the suffering that we go through, it’s not the kind of thing that should separate us from God; it should actually push us toward God.

“The God of all grace who called you to himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” So who do we have? This approaching King, this approachable King and here, we have the reality of the fact that there is indeed an enemy of the King and an enemy of our souls, an enemy of our faith as well.

So I think thirdly, we learn here the center of every spiritual failure. We see it right here in this passage. What keeps us from trusting belief that God knows what he’s doing. How is it that our fears reveal who, what we are really trusting and worshipping? I think we see it right here. These guys, not having prayed is … I never had seen that until this week, that Jesus makes a point to say, “This only happens by prayer.”

The idea that they hadn’t taken the time to do that, that they had rested perhaps on the laurels of their … sort of resting on the strength of their previous ministry experience, and this is a good word up to anybody involved in any kind of ministry anywhere. Don’t just rest on yesterday’s Bible study, yesterday’s prayers, even if you’re not in vocational ministry. You don’t want to rest in all that. Reading the Bible is like … and praying, this is like breathing in and out spiritually and we need to keep doing that. What happens in the physical realm, if you stop breathing? You die. What happens in the spiritual realm if you stop breathing in or breathing out, you will die spiritually as well.

It’s so important for us to understand that unbelief is at the center, and that’s what Jesus says. Look at verse 17, “O unbelieving and perverted generation.” By the way, there’s a connection between perversion ( the twisting of what God has created good.) There’s a connection between that perversion that runs throughout a culture and even runs throughout our own hearts, and whether or not we trust God. Unbelieving and perverted generations goes in that order. When you stop believing there’s a God, then you’ll start thinking that anything goes. I can be Lord of my own universe. We, you, should be the one to have the final word, and that’s the rampant worldview in our generation right now.

If Jesus is saying, “O, unbelieving and perverted generation,” about first century … yeah, the first century, I wonder what he would say about our century. Interesting to think about, isn’t it? Well, the connection between unbelief and every spiritual failure, like these guys’ inability to cast this demon out, I would argue that they should have been able to do it and that Jesus’ response suggests that to them, because that’s exactly how he responds. How long should … you can sense a little bit of his impatience, and yet at the same time, he’s gracious because he still says, “Bring him here to me.” He doesn’t cut him off because his disciples have been weak or unbelieving. Still bring that need to me.

I love the way he is gracious like that, Cornelius Plantinga:

“The anxiety is only the context for sin, not its cause. Our base problem is unbelief. Failing to trust the infinite God, we live anxiously restlessly, always trying to secure and extend ourselves with finite goods that can’t take the weight we put on them.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be

 Boy that describes right now, the way we are. We want to be the one who has the final word on what it means to be a human person and yet, we can’t bear the weight of that. We were never meant to be our own creator. It’s too great a weight to put on a young person, especially and look at what’s happening out in our world. All of that just crushing weight on the smallest, the most vulnerable among us and it’s crushing them, and it did.

I’m sorry, but it’s evil. And we need to be aware of this. Anxiety is me, thinking God will not or did not and cannot get it right. Unbelief. Anger is me thinking, “He definitely got it wrong. I can’t believe he let that happen,” because everything in my life, if I’m a believer, if I trust God, if I think he’s sovereign, if I think he’s actually numbered the hairs on my head, if I think he’s actually in control of every square inch of his universe because he’s infinite, unbelief enters in … and faith both enter into each and every experience of living. So the anxiety I feel sometimes is thinking he’s not going to get right. The anger is sometimes me, just saying, “He didn’t get it right. I can’t believe him. Why didn’t he do it my way?”

Tish Harrison Warren, some of you’ve read this book too, Prayer in the Night, a really good book.

“Every prayer I’ve ever prayed from the most faithful to the least has been in part of confession uttered in the gospel of Mark, I believe help my unbelief.”

–Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night

Some of you can relate to that verse 24 of Mark chapter nine, where the man says, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” but that’s why I had to read that account as well today. It’s so much something that I think we can all relate to. So can Jesus be trusted? Where should we turn for the answer to that question? I suggest we turn to the Bible again and in the Bible we find the trustworthy king, and we trust King Jesus because he’s the king that gave himself for us when he died on the cross for our sin.

He’s the king that even in the midst of this unbelief, in this chaos of this particular moment, the darkness, the tragic tragedy there, the two … and the conflict and all that stuff, he’s the King that in the midst of all of that doesn’t just bring down lightning and smoke the whole lot right there and then, but actually says, “Bring him here to me .” and then goes on and goes to the cross. That’s the kind of king we need. That’s the kind of king we ultimately want. We should not evaluate Jesus by the inconsistency of his followers here, and nobody should evaluate Jesus today by the inconsistency of the people in this room or watching online. Because I’m inconsistent, you’re inconsistent, but we believe in a king who is consistently faithful, generous and true.

I like the way Kevin DeYoung says it,

“Let’s not trade the glories of the cross for a mess of religious niceties, spiritual ambiguities and moral uplift. It’s time to tell the old, old story once again, the story of atoned for, wrath appeased, heaven secured, death conquered. No gimmicks, no trinkets, no goofy skits and video clips. The story is good enough all by itself. Let’s just make sure we haven’t lost the plot.”

–Kevin DeYoung

Somebody say amen. I like that stuff and I’ve been tempted to bring in my little movie clips every now and then. I thought, “Nah,” because I’ll walk out, the only thing they’ll talk about is the Wizard of Oz,” like last week, right? It’s because the devices get in the way sometimes and we have to be careful.

We need to always be pointing to Jesus, to his life, to his death on the cross to his glorious resurrection, his ascension back to heaven and then, his promise to return. Look at how faithful he is. He’s the trustworthy king. He’s approaching some of you, I hope, right now. I pray he is and He was trying to get through to you because some of you have thought, at some point, he’s not approachable, but you can’t go to him. I would just say, “Look, he’s come to you.” This right here is a very tragic situation. Your situation may be completely different, but yet nonetheless, still tough and rough, but turn to him is the point. Don’t miss that. Let’s get back to that old old story, as Kevin DeYoung has said.

“The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement and rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe.”

–C.S. Lewis, Miracles

 “He is the first fruit, the pioneer of life. He’s forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought and beaten the king of death. Everything is different. Everything is different because he has done so. This is the beginning of the new creation, a new chapter in history has opened.” Amen. Amen. Let’s pray.

Lord, thank you for coming. You didn’t have to, but you did and you came after us. Thank you for taking that initiative. Help us not to miss that as we read our Bibles. So many of us have questions, myself included, Lord, but this you have answered. You have come for us. So now, I pray that Holy Spirit, you’d work in my heart, our hearts, that we would turn to you and that we would see that your arms are wide open -that you welcome us in. Sinners though we may have been. Rebellious, though we may have … darkened, though we may have been, you welcome us into your arms of love and redemption and forgiveness and transformation. So Lord, we bow before you, the king we’ve always needed. The king we have always wanted. Even if we didn’t know it. Now, we know it. So Lord, we bow before you, honoring you as king. Amen.

(Edited for Reading)

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