Last week, we started a 3 part series from the reading in Matthew 12 on things Jesus refuses to do. And the big idea we chose to study was that Jesus refuses to be impatient with sinners. And thank God for that, because if He was impatient, we would constantly have to fear we’ve ticked him off because we’ve done something wrong once again. If Jesus had a short fuse, then we’d see many a puff of smoke around us as He would be zapping people left and right for the sins they have committed.
I know God doesn’t want us walking around in fear trying to please Him with our good works. In fact, if you want that kind of religion, just go out and join one of the other world religions out there.
But that’s my point, Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship, and healthy relationships allow for uniqueness, mistakes, and faults. But, I must also warn, that persons who believe that faith in Christ allows them the right to be who they are without changing into God’s likeness are totally delusional and are abusing the grace of God.
Romans 6: 15 – 18 states it best, but before I share it with you, keep in context the word slave also means servant; and in either case, a slave or servant is at the mercy of the One who has authority over him/her. It says, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (ESV)
Yes, certainly Jesus refuses to be impatient with sinners, but He also asks for our obedience.
In this world, knowing what you know to be true about slavery or servant hood, you must obey or there are consequences. A slave who does not obey is abused and mistreated, possibly killed. A servant who does not obey is mistreated and fired, losing all credibility with the master/employer.
Let’s not deny that slavery still exists today. We have pimps controlling prostitutes. We have sex-trafficking and pornography of young girls and boys. We have addicts who are slaves to their addictions and their supplier. And this is just in the US. It’s even worse on other continents and in other countries.
And so, what I see that we as a people are really struggling with is this: the choice to obey. But I do know that if we’ll obey, life on earth can be lived without fear. I know that the more we choose to obey Jesus, the more we become like Him and need not fear of the day when Jesus does judge for sin in our lives.
Now as I said, Jesus chooses to do some things and refuses to do others. So let’s revisit the reading from Matthew 12: 14-21. And from this we get our 2nd Big Idea: Jesus declines to dampen the spirits of those who are exhausted.
That’s what I said earlier when I said Jesus’ patience keeps Him from having a short fuse. Jesus’ patience with me keeps me going even when I feel like returning to the person I was before Christ. Jesus is not cracking a whip and whispering into our ears, “I just saw what you did and heard what you were thinking. You better get it together before I take my wrath out on you.”
Yet, that was, and still is from time to time, the Jesus that is displayed to our culture. But Jesus is the complete opposite of this. Jesus is the greatest encourager that ever lived. He does not come to make us feel bad about ourselves. Believe me; we do that well enough on our own. Some of His sayings were, “Be of good cheer,” “Blessed are you,” “Peace, I leave with you,” “Take heart! I have overcome the world,” and “Don’t be afraid.”
Jesus did not come to strike or crush us, but to lift us up. He came to bless us, to strengthen us, to give us hope, to lift our burdens, and at times, to carry us. Matthew 11: 28-30 says it best: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
The story of the Black Pebble is a good illustration of our relationship to Christ.
- Many years ago in a small village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was an awful, mean man, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. Since the farmer was unable to pay the debt, the moneylender proposed a deal. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry the farmer’s daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning moneylender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty moneybag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.
- Now she was given three choices:
- If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
- If she picked the white pebble, she need not marry him and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
- If she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
- They were standing on a pebble-strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then told the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.
Now imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce these three possibilities: 1) The girl should refuse to take a pebble, 2) The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat, or 3) The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment. What would you recommend to the girl to do?
- Well here’s what she did……. The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled it and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles. “Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
Since the remaining pebble is black, it is reasonable to assume that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely favorable one for herself and her father.
This is why Jesus came. He came to take the pressure off us in an impossible situation. Satan holds the moneybag with two black pebbles in it. There is no way we can win, no matter what we draw out. But, Jesus takes what seems impossible to our way of thinking and makes it possible because He is God. He fumbled the pebble so that we might have life. He defeated the crafty cheater, Satan, and there’s nothing Satan can do about it for fear of exposure as the liar he truly is.
This is why I say all this, to show us that Jesus will step in for us. Jesus cares so much for us. He is there to guide us and encourage us, especially when our backs are up against the wall. He’s there to make the impossible, possible.
So Jesus wants us to know what He is willing to do, but He also wants us to know what He refuses to do. He refuses to be impatient with sinners – refuses to be impatient with His creation – He refuses to be impatient with me. And He also declines to dampen the spirits of those who are exhausted – refuses to kick His creation when it’s down – He refuses to burden me with more when I can barely withstand the weight on my shoulders now.
Jesus loves us so much. Why do we as a culture have such a hard time believing this? I don’t know. But I do know this, if we can believe it – if we can have the faith that He is true – then we have something truly special to carry with us everyday we’re in these mortal bodies. We have the assurance that Jesus has come to give us the tools, strength, and courage to endure the burdens we will face.
Thank you Jesus for the peace you bring into our lives.