Have Faith and Do Not Doubt Matthew 21:12-22 April 27, Pastor Troy Dobbs Grace Church of Eden Prairie

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1 Have Faith and Do Not Doubt Matthew 21:12-22 April 27, 2014 Pastor Troy Dobbs Grace Church of Eden Prairie Our culture is on a slippery-slope and as Christ followers we are right to be disturbed and concerned over the the state of things in America. Right I mean identity-wise Christians are SALT and LIGHT. We have a mandate on our lives to both challenge the darkness & change the flavor of things as we live / engage in society. And yet, in our text for the day Jesus (surprisingly) doesn t begin by calling out the 1

2 sins of the culture He begins by calling out the sins in the temple! That s right: He doesn t attack Rome He attacks religion. Instead of talking about a Revolution He talked about righteousness. And instead of cleaning out the enemy He cleaned out His own house. Church first culture second. The apostle Peter concurred with Christ s ordering of things when he said: 1 Peter 4:17 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? i 2

3 Now this is an important word because the church needs to get her stuff together first! Because at the end of the day an impure church will never be an impact church! Now (a quick word of warning here as we start) you are going to see a side of Jesus that is (well) scary. A side that may make the hair on the back of your neck stand up because this is not a long hair flowing robe-wearing gentle lamb-stroking Kumbiya-singing I am alright you re alright everything is going to be alright Jesus. 3

4 This is a Zealous Demonstrative furniture throwing tree-destroying Jesus. A Jesus consumed with His house His people His glory. In a word: This is NOT your grandma s Jesus. Matthew 21:12-22 READ TEXT 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, It is written, My house shall be 4

5 called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, Hosanna to the Son of David! they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, Do you hear what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, Yes; have you never read, Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise? 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, 5

6 May no fruit ever come from you again! And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How did the fig tree wither at once? 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. ii Now let me set the stage for you! This all happened during the Passover celebration. Now the story of Passover began in the 1 st Testament during the era of Moses. And if you ll recall, the 10 th plague upon Egypt was the death of the first born. 6

7 You see God used 10 plagues to force Pharoah to free His people from Egyptian slavery. So with the 10th plague God sent a death angel to strike the first born in every home. And it was devastating! The Bible says it like this: there was not a house in Egypt without someone dead. Now the Hebrews, in order to avert the death angel slaughtered a lamb to sacrifice to God and wiped the blood on the door frames of their homes. So when the death angel came and (saw the blood) it would pass over their homes and spare their lives. 7

8 In effect, God s people were saved by the Blood of the Lamb. Consequently, the Passover feast was a huge celebration commemorating that event. Now the population of Jerusalem was roughly 100,000, but during this time of the year the population swelled to 2 million plus people. And as the people made their way up to Jerusalem they would bring an animal sacrifice with them usually a pigeon or a sheep. Now this sacrifice had to be without blemish / defect so no one-eyed or three-legged animals would do. Subsequently, if you traveled from a long distance you might maim or harm your animal 8

9 sacrifice so most people bought one when they got to Jerusalem. Are you with me? Now if you lived close by you would BYOL bring your own lamb. However, it still had to be inspected by the priests. Interestingly, Rabbinical literature tells us that inspectors spent eighteen months on a farm to learn to distinguish between clean and unclean animals. They even learned to identify an animal that would one day become unclean even if it was clean at the time! 9

10 So, here you are with your best sheep you ve been grooming all year long for your sacrifice to God. And the priest would look it over and say: Sorry this won t cut it but today is your lucky day We ve got some pre-approved sheep you can buy right over here! Now to be clear - it wasn t wrong to offer this service to people. The problem arose when merchants began to put the squeeze on people. They were extorting people by charging exorbitant rates to make money selling animals and they were doing it in the Gentile Court where the Gentiles worshipped. 10

11 All of a sudden a place of spiritual discovery and worship for the Gentiles became a slick enterprise for the religious leaders. And this infuriated Jesus (because remember we talked about this on Palm Sunday) Jesus is a King unlike any other King. And the temple was HIS HOUSE. So He rightfully entered the temple (vv 12-13) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers. 11

12 Don t miss that Jesus interpreted his actions through the quotation of Isaiah 56:7 / Jeremiah 7:11 Together they state: My house shall be called a house of prayer but you make it a den of robbers. iii Jesus was fulfilling prophecy in that sense. And He is upset because the environment of the temple was no longer about pure worship; it was about big business. And in the midst of this chaos the Gentiles were unable to worship! So Jesus did something about it He overturned the tables & drove them out of the temple and declared the Temple to be His House. 12

13 Now many scholars feel like this event was the tipping point that ultimately led to Christ s crucifixion. It certainly didn t help! Notwithstanding notice that as soon as the corrupt were kicked out the blind, lame, poor were invited in. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. (v 14) So in one sense the temple itself was cleansed when Jesus brought in the blind / sick / lame and kicked out the money grubbers! Moreover during all this the chief priests / scribes are taking notes. They watched Jesus overturn the tables and drive out the money changers and heal the blind / lame. 13

14 And then out of nowhere (on the most sacred ground in Jerusalem) the children began spontaneously crying out, hosanna to the Son of David And the text says the chief priest and scribes were indignant! Don t miss the spiritual irony here! The religious rulers are annoyed by all the wrong things. They were not put off by the unscrupulous traders that were hindering worship. They were put off by Jesus, the miracle He did and the praise He received. So Jesus, in turn, asked the chief priests/scribes if they had ever read where the psalmist identified the cooing of babies with the praise of God. (v16) 14

15 It is a reference to Psalm 8 v. 2 2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. iv Jesus (in essence) lets them know He is God and deserves the worship of anyone and everyone. And that (ultimately) if people / children don t worship Him even the rocks will cry out! Abruptly Jesus then leaves the temple area goes to Bethany (presumably to Mary, Martha, Lazarus place) to stay the night. Then it says in the morning he was hungry. (Yes, Jesus needed food. He was 100% human as well as 100% God.) 15

16 So He sees a fig tree & goes over to grab a fig newton for breakfast! However the fig tree only had leaves no fruit. So the text says Jesus cursed the fig tree and it withered at once! Now there are a few ways to look at this: 1. Jesus wasn t a morning person. 2. Jesus really wanted a fig newton. 3. Jesus was speaking parabolically about something else. (The answer of course is #3) Now the disciples were stunned by what they saw! (v20) 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How did the fig tree wither at once? 16

17 Their response actually prompted Jesus to do a little teaching on faith. (vv21-22) 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. v So what is happening here? What is God saying to us? This text (I think) clearly establishes for us what incites the anger frustration judgment of Jesus. OUTLINE The first action that incites the anger / frustration of Jesus is found in: 17

18 1. People who impede the worship of others. Jesus overturned tables & drove out the money changers because they made it difficult for the Gentiles to worship. They turned a sanctuary into a supermarket! They made worship about everything except JESUS! In this case they charged such outlandish prices for a sacrifice that people couldn t participate in worship because they couldn t afford to! Tragically a place of prayer became a place for profit-making. So how should we think about this? 18

19 Well we need to be careful to never do anything to hinder another person from worshipping Jesus Christ. We don t want our business practices as a church to get in the way of others worshipping Christ! We don t want our business practices at work to get in the way of others worshipping Christ! We don t want our preferences to get in the way of others worshipping Christ! We don t want our lives to get in the way of others worshipping Christ! We don t want our traditions to get in the way of others worshipping Christ! 19

20 We want worship to be about JESUS Not us Not our blessings Not our financial futures! Moreover, we don t ever want to do church / be church in a way that the burned out down and out strung out might feel left out. I love the fact that: Jesus made sure the people with the greatest needs had a place in the temple. (v14) And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. So we never want to hinder people (in any way) from worshipping Jesus Christ. 20

21 Because to do so is to incur the judgment of Jesus! The 2 nd action that incites the anger / frustration of Jesus is found in: 2. People who insist the worship of Jesus is unwarranted. v15-16 Notice as the children gave praise to Christ the religious leaders were indignant. They even had the gall to pose this question to Jesus. (v16) and they said to him, Do you hear what these are saying? As if to say their praise of Christ is out of place & unwarranted! 21

22 To which Jesus declared: animate and inanimate objects were created to worship Him! If people won t the rocks will cry out! So please understand Jesus expects people to worship. He knows exactly who He is and that He is 100% deserving of worship. Thus when people underestimate devalue or insist the worship of Jesus is unwarranted Jesus takes offense. And know this: He will always have a witness / remnant ready to worship Him! The 3 rd action that illicits the anger / frustration of Jesus is found in: 22

23 3. People who intentionally live misleading Christian lives. v18-22 Let me explain what I mean: Jesus used the fig tree with leaves and no fruit as a symbol of the fruitless lives of the chief priests / scribes / money changers. Now some commentators have said: the fig tree (was) in effect a lying fig tree. It was a great case of profession but no reality. The tree advertised fruit when it had no fruit. All of which is to say: I think we have to be careful not to be content with the dangerous leaves of religion. 23

24 It is easy for our busyness to hide an empty / faithless heart: Where we have a form of godliness without the power, Where we make professions without any reality, Where we go through the religious motions immersing ourselves in church activities all the while having NEVER trusted in Christ alone for salvation! As well - remember that fig leaves were 1 st mentioned in Genesis 3 v 7. Once Adam and Eve fell into sin they sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness. Thus fig leaves became symbolic of man s attempt to cover the nakedness of his wrong / broken relationship with God. 24

25 Fig leaves became (in a sense) a sign of pretension. They represent the first religious activity of sinners seeking to cover up the fact that they have no righteous standing before God. Fig leaves represent that which is a lie! Moreover notice that: Jesus is not simply condemning fruitlessness here. I mean - we all go through seasons where we don t produce fruit like we should. But here Jesus condemns the showy fruitlessness of a fig tree advertising (via its leaves) that it has something it really doesn t. The point: 25

26 If you are NOT a Christian don t try to fool people into thinking you are be real. If you are a Christian and you are far from the Lord don t try to advertise to people you ve got it going on when you don t. Be real. Now the response in verse 20 says, They were amazed and they marveled! I mean, Jesus cursed the tree and it was immediately dead! What power! So, Jesus says to them, let me tell you something, men. If you have faith and don t doubt, you ll not only be able to do things like that, but you could say to this mountain (and that would no doubt refer to the Mount of Olives) you 26

27 could say to this mountain, dump yourself into that sea and it would be done. Now obviously that s not literal. It s a picture of power. Interestingly in the Babylonian Talmud it says: the great rabbis were rooters up of mountains. In other words, they could remove great obstacles, they could solve great problems, and express great power. Rooting up mountains became a metaphor for dealing with impossible situations. And the Lord is saying, Look, I want you to know that you have this power available to you through faith. 27

28 If you believe and do not doubt, you can see God s power. So in verse 22 he sums it up by saying, And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. This is a tremendous thing as Jesus turns it into a lesson about prayer for them / us! Living by faith and trusting in Christ will keep us from devaluing Jesus and living fruitless lives! 28

29 So our lives CAN / SHOULD BE FRUITFUL - there is no reason not to have Some power Some victory Some fruit Some dynamic things going on in your life. And faith in God through prayer is the way to access that power in your life! 29

30 i 1 Peter 4:17 ii Matthew 21:12-22 iii Isaiah 56:7 iv Psalm 8:2 v Matthew 21:

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