Sunday, March 15, 2020
7 DAYS LEFT
Seven days are all you have before you go to meet the Lord. What do you do with the time you have left?
WHAT JESUS DID
When Jesus had seven days to go before the cross He became intensely focused upon giving the people of Jerusalem one last chance. A final warning shot over the bow. This included the religious rulers. Looking back, we already know where their hearts were as they plotted to kill Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus cuts through their cheap suit religion and begins open heart surgery to give them one last opportunity to respond.
ONE LAST CHANCE
Matthew 23 forms the peak of Jesus’ attempts to reason with the religious rulers. Now it is time for no-holes-barred judgement intended to soften hearts by crushing them; to open eyes rather than to intensify the darkness; to speak directly to the consciences of his audience with brutal clarity and pinpoint accuracy.
In His criticism of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, Jesus points to a set of positive kingdom characteristics that apply to all of His followers. Setting the stage, Jesus admonishes the crowds and His disciples: “…practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example” (23:3) because “Everything they do is for show” (23:5).
Then Jesus points out the distinction between the lives of the religious rulers and the lives of God’s kingdom people:
The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.Matthew 23:11-12
In Matthew 23:13-36 Jesus conducts spiritual heart surgery upon the religious rulers in front of the disciples and crowds. These 7 critiques point, conversely, to seven principles that should characterize kingdom people. We can summarize these principles as follows:
- The kingdom is intended to be an open door kingdom. No one is excluded from the invitation (vs. 13).
- There’s a difference between a) converting someone to your religion and b) leading them to fall in love with Christ (vs. 15).
- Truth and transparency are core values of kingdom people. Your word is your bond (vss. 20-22).
- Kingdom values touch all of life. From the grandest of principles to the smallest of details, God’s kingdom is all about it all (vss. 23-24).
- Kingdom people are about transformed lives, not keeping up appearances (vs. 25).
- Kingdom values are not about what I can get for me but upon what can I do for you (vss. 27-28).
- The humble realize that the mistakes of others are learning opportunities, not fuel for judgementalism. The unexamined life leaves too much room for pride (vss. 29-30).
Jesus’ final words of mourning over Jerusalem are particularly moving at this point (Matthew 24:37-39). Looking back at Israel’s history He speaks as One who stood at His Father’s side as they turned away from Him, time after time. Knowing what is brewing in their hearts now and about their plans for this special Passover, He is overwhelmed.
RELIGIOSITY VS DISCIPLESHIP
Finally, Jesus takes His disciples aside to prepare them for two important events. First, He speaks to them about the immediate future involving the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Matthew 24). Finally, He speaks to them about His return and the end of time (Matthew 25).
Seven days have now come to two days before the Passover (Matthew 26:1). Next week our focus will be upon the time Jesus gathers for a final meal with His disciples (John 13-17).
The following Skit Guys video encapsulated the lesson today at the conclusion.