Monday, September 19, 2016

"Missing the point … and missing JESUS!"

Day #264

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 20 - 22 ...

Like the Pharisees and others, millions of people miss the point of the Gospels, miss the point of the Bible ... and miss Jesus ... ... and to miss Jesus is to miss His kingdom, to miss forgiveness and to miss eternal life!  Jesus was always teaching, but those without the Spirit could not and did not understand that He was talking about more than things in this world.  He was talking about spiritual things, eternal things.  If you miss this, you miss Jesus ... and you miss life ... now and forever.

As He approached the time for His crucifixion, Jesus continued teaching about the kingdom that was to come.  He began to point out that those who thought they were already in the kingdom were missing something: GRACE! And the reason they missed grace was because they didn’t understand their own sinfulness and the fact that their sin made them worthy of God’s judgment.  Millions today make the same mistake.  They thought they were good enough, righteous enough, to enter into God’s kingdom on their own merits.  The parable of the workers in the vineyard points out their error and reveals the beauty of God’s grace.

Jesus clearly points out that God can and does show His grace to whomever He desires.  The Pharisees and so many today believe that we somehow EARN God’s favor by doing good deeds.  Surely God must notice that we who believe in Him are “better” than people who don’t!  What these don’t realize is that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Once you have been saved by grace, born again by the Spirit, washed by the blood of Christ, your good deeds please your Father in heaven ... but they don’t EARN you anything.  Only God’s grace opens the door to the kingdom to anyone.  Serving the King is a privilege and judging the King for showing grace to someone else reveals that you have not understood grace yourself.

Meanwhile, Jesus had told the disciples now at least three times that He was going up to Jerusalem and that He would be crucified ... and on the third day be raised to life!  Yet, while He was talking about His death and resurrection, the mother of James and John was thinking about who would be greatest in Jesus’ kingdom!!  How difficult it is for people to get their minds off of earthly things and onto spiritual matters that are of eternal significance!!  You will miss Jesus today if all you are thinking about is the things of this world.  Jesus rules over your life now, but as He does so He calls you and me to set our hearts and minds on Him as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!

What is valuable in God's kingdom is humility and the willingness to live as a servant.  Why?  Because this world isn't all there is.  Jesus displayed His compassion for those who cried out to Him, whether their need was physical or spiritual ... or both.  But the Pharisees didn't think they needed a Savior. They may as well have said, “Thanks, but no thanks!”  Their arrogance was their greatest sin.  They saw Jesus riding into Jerusalem and should have known that He was fulfilling the Scriptures, but they didn't WANT to see.  Unlike the blind men whom Jesus healed, the Pharisees were very content to remain blind.

The Jews were and are God’s chosen people as a race, but only a remnant will be saved … and that by grace!  Paul would write to the believers in Rome, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).  There is not one way of salvation for the Jews and another for everyone else.  The only way to the Father is through faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, the eternal Son of God!  The only way to the Father is by GRACE!

As Jesus told parables that revealed eternal truth, the Pharisees asked questions.  The eternal Son of God was right there in front of them, and they were trying to trick Him!  "By what authority are you doing these things? (21:23).  He caught them at their own "game."  Jesus told the parable of the tenants and the Pharisees did not understand that He was talking about them until it was too late.  When they finally realized that He was saying that they would be excluded from the kingdom, "They looked for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that He was a prophet" (21:46).

Here's the truth:  There will be a wedding banquet (22:1-14) ... this is more than a parable (see Revelation 19:1-9).  And "many are invited, but few are chosen!" (22:14).  Jesus would go to the cross and then rise again and ascend into heaven, sending His Spirit and calling those whom the Father has chosen into His eternal kingdom by faith in Jesus, but all the Pharisees could do is try to trap Jesus into giving a wrong answer!  They thought they were so smart, but they missed what should have been obvious:  "I AM the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ..." (22:32).  God spoke those words after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were DEAD - physically.  But He is the God of the LIVING!!  They are alive by faith in the promised Savior!

"What do you think about the Christ?  Whose son is he?" Jesus asked (22:41).  When they answered, "The son of David," Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1 and asked them another question:  "If then David calls him, 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"  Matthew writes, "No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask Him any more questions" (22:46).

All they had to do was recognize Jesus for who He was:  the eternal Son of God, and they could have entered God's kingdom.  Ignorance is not bliss, and arrogance does not impress God.  This is not a game ... eternity is at stake.  Miss the point ... and you miss Jesus.  Miss Jesus ... and you miss life, now and forever.  The truth has been right in front of people for almost 2,000 years!  If you know Jesus, believe in Jesus, love Jesus, worship Jesus, serve Jesus ... stand firm.  Whoever would be great in His kingdom must be the servant of all (20:26-28).

Don't miss Jesus.  He's right in front of you.

"Heavenly Father, as Jesus opened the eyes of the blind, send Your Spirit to open the eyes of those who read Your Word to see Jesus as He is:  the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, your Son, our Savior and our Lord!  Move those who read and those who hear to put their trust in Him that they might have life and enter into His eternal kingdom by Your grace.  Thank you, Father, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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