“Emmanuel Rejected” – Matthew 13:53-58

November 15th, 2015

Matthew 13:53-58 (see also: Mk 6:1-6; Lk 4:16-31)

“Emmanuel Rejected”

 

Service Orientation:  BEWARE:  Sometimes God reveals His truths of greatest value in what seems to be the most ordinary and pedestrian sources.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  —  Psalm 46:10

 

Background Information:

  • Beginning with 13:53 and continuing through the first part of chapter 16, Matthew records eight incidents in the life of the Lord that correspond to and demonstrate the truths presented in the two parables just mentioned (Wheat and the tares and Sower).

The first incident involved the offense taken against Jesus by His hometown of Nazareth (13:54-58).  To them Jesus was a stumbling block, and the soil of their hearts was obviously hard.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 404)

  • In these eight accounts there is exactly the ratio of belief to unbelief (one out of four) found in the parable of the sower. By the marvelous wisdom and provision of the Lord, the twelve, through these incidents, witnessed living demonstrations of the principles He had just taught them about men’s response to the gospel in the present age.  In these situations both the power of belief and the power of unbelief are revealed.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 404-5)
  • The fourth major section of Matthew’s Gospel begins at this point. It comprises a narrative that runs through the end of chapter 17 followed by instruction in chapter 18.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 137)
  • His own countrymen had rejected him once, yet he came to them again. Note, Christ does not take refusers at their first word, but repeats his offers to those who have often repulsed them.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 194)
  • (v. 53) Jesus never went there again except as He passed through to minister elsewhere. He had come into the city and demonstrated power that could only have been from God.  Yet the people would not have Him as Lord.  Many marveled and some criticized, but few believed.  Now Capernaum’s opportunity was passed, and she entered a decline into oblivion from which she never recovered.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 406)
  • (v. 53) Thirty years of memories were associated with that synagogue. It was a small place in a small town made up of small people, but Jesus loved them.  That is why He went back.  At the outset of His Galilean ministry He had preached in their synagogue and they had tried to stone Him to death (Lk 4:16-30).  Now He would give them a chance to change their minds.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 285)
  • (v. 54) This is the last time that Matthew records Jesus as speaking in a synagogue which may be indicative of His being more and more rejected by the religious establishment of 1st century Israel.
  • (v. 54) His hometown was Nazareth, the place where he had been brought up (2:23; Lk 4:16). According to Mk 6:2 and Lk 4:16 it was sabbath.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 581)
  • (v. 54) Nazareth was about twenty miles southwest of Capernaum. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 277)
  • (v. 54) The Greek verb for “amazed” is ekplesso, which literally means “to strike out of one’s senses.” The people were so amazed that it was as if they had been struck with a blow–stunned.  They were flabbergasted.  They knew Jesus’ miracles were supernatural, but they wondered about their source (the options were either God or Satan–see 12:24) and how Jesus could do them.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 278)
  • (vss. 54 & 56) The wording, “this fellow,” (NIV – “this man”) is an expression of contempt. (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 182)
  • (v. 55) The “carpenter” was a significant member of the community. Tektōn, traditionally translated “carpenter,” is a general term for a “constructor,” and probably denotes general building work including masonry as well as woodwork; he was a skilled craftsman, probably also dealing with agricultural and other implements.  In Mk 6:3 Jesus is himself called “the carpenter,” perhaps because Joseph had now died and Jesus, as the eldest son, had taken over the business until he moved away.  It is consistent with this view that Joseph himself is not listed with the members of the family here.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 549)
  • (v. 55) His brothers–James, Joses, Simon, Judas–were nobodies too. In the end He won them all (Acts 1:12-14).  James and Judas also became the leading elder of the Jerusalem church.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 286)
  • (v. 55) After the resurrection the Lord personally appeared to James, maybe in the workshop at Nazareth (1 Cor 15:7). In any case, His resurrection blew away the cobwebs from their eyes.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 286)
  • (v. 55) James and Judas are traditionally the authors of the two NT letters of those names. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 550)
  • (v. 57) Jesus here definitely implies that he is indeed a prophet, with the right to be honored as such (cf. Dt 18:15, 18; Mt 21:11; Lk 24:19; Jn 9:17; Acts 3:22; 7:37). (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 582)
  • Christ’s death on the cross was about a year away, and during this last year of His earthly ministry Jesus made a decided turn toward His inner group of disciples. Even when He spoke to the crowds, He focused on His relationship with His disciples.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 189)

 

The questions to be answered are . . . Why does Jesus and all the gospel writers make such a big deal about a prophet not being honored in his own hometown?

 

Answer:  Because this reality tells us much about our human nature and our resistance to the Gospel.  We have a hard time believing in the power of God; especially when manifested in ordinary people.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Ordinary

 

 

Why does Matthew say Jesus was rejected?:

 

I-  Jesus is rejected because mankind tends to erroneously believe that God doesn’t reveal Himself through ordinary people.  (Mt 13:54-56; see also: Nm 22:21-35; 1 Sm 16:7; 1 Kgs 19:8-18; Ps 46:10; see the lives of: David, Elijah, Amos, John the Baptist, 11 Disciples, Paul )

 

When He came to earth, Jesus emptied Himself of certain divine prerogatives, “taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7).  And although He was sinless and morally perfect during every minute of His life, His perfection was clearly not of the sort that called attention to itself or set Him apart as strange or peculiar.  To those who knew Him as a child and young man, Jesus was simply a carpenter and a carpenter’s son.  It was partly over the commonness of Jesus and His family that the people of Nazareth stumbled.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 411)

 

The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem marveled at the obvious wisdom and power of Peter and John, knowing “that they were uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13).  But just as they had done with Peter’s and John’s Master, they did not judge the message on its scriptural merits but on its relation to their human traditions–which derived from and appealed to their works-oriented self-righteousness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 409)

 

Knowing Jesus’ humble origins and upbringing, the people of Nazareth assumed He had no right to act as a teacher.  His apparent exaltation of Himself offended them.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 447)

 

They already have their answers in mind as they pose a number of questions.  Since they know his human roots, with the town carpenter as father, the well-known Mary as mother, and his equally well-known brothers and sisters, he cannot obviously be anything special.  He is a hometown son who is trying to be more than he possibly can claim.  Thus, the townspeople conclude that since Jesus had no other training than that of carpenter, he cannot be a proper source of wisdom, nor can he lay claim to supernatural powers.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 510)

 

The gospel is not at all what we would come up with on our own.  I, for one, would expect to honor the virtuous over the profligate.  I would expect to have to clean up my act before even applying for an audience with a Holy God.  But Jesus told of God ignoring a fancy religious teacher and turning instead to an ordinary sinner who pleads, “God, have mercy.” Throughout the Bible, in fact, God shows a marked preference for “real” people over “good” people.  In Jesus’ own words, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”  (Philip Yancey; What’s so Amazing About Grace?,  54)

 

As these people saw it, however, Jesus was not supposed to reveal such wisdom and such power, for he had not enjoyed any “higher” education, and besides, he was merely one of their own.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 581)

 

“The characteristics of Christian discipleship are, from the world’s perspective, the marks of losers.”  (Alister Begg; A Christian Manifesto – Part 2)

 

Like the crowd in Capernaum who has rejected his true identity and messianic mission (13:10-17), the people of his own hometown cannot rise above their provincialism.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 510)

 

They are struck with amazement at the novelty of the occurrence, that Christ, who had not learned letters, but had been employed from youth to manhood in a mechanical occupation, is so eminent a teacher, and is filled with divine wisdom.  In this miracle they ought to have perceived the hand of God; but their ingratitude made them cover themselves with darkness.  They are compelled to admire him, whether they will or not; and yet they treat him with contempt.  And what is this but to reject a prophet whom God has taught, because he has not been educated by men?  They cut their throat by means of their own acknowledgment, when they render so honorable a testimony to the doctrine of Christ, which after all has no influence on them, because it does not take its origin, in the usual way, from the earth.  Why do they not rather lift their eyes to heaven, and learn that what exceeds human reason must have come from God?  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 213-4)

 

When Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, he immediately acknowledged that Jesus had “come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (Jn 3:2).  Even the antagonistic Jewish leaders recognized His power was real, although they illogically and blasphemously attributed it to Satan.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 409)

 

When he taught them in their synagogue, they were astonished; not that they were taken with his preaching, or admired his doctrine in itself, but only that it should be his; looking upon him as unlikely to be such a teacher.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 194-5)

 

Note, Mean and prejudiced spirits are apt to judge of men by their education, and to enquire more into their rise than into their reasons.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 195)

 

II-  Jesus is rejected because familiarity tends to breed contempt.  (Mt 13:57-58; see also: Mk 6:4; Lk 4:24; Jn 4:44; 7:5; 1 Pt 1:10-12)

 

The people of Nazareth walked right over the treasure hidden beneath the surface of Jesus’ humanity because of their jealousy, envy, ignorance and/or pride. — Pastor Keith

 

One of the problems of being a Christian for a long time is being a Christian for a long time.  (Steve Brown; Familiarity Breeds . . .)

 

We are all apt to despise mercies if we are accustomed to them, and have them cheap.  The Bibles and religious books which are so plentiful, the means of grace of which we have so abundant a supply, the preaching of the Gospel which we hear every week–all are liable to be undervalued.  It is sadly true that, in religion more than anything else, “familiarity breeds contempt.”  People forget that truth is truth, however old and hackneyed it may sound–and despise it because it is old.  Alas, by so doing they provoke God to take it away!  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 113)

 

It is characteristic of unbelief to disguise itself, and in order to hide their self-satisfaction and refusal to accept the clear evidence about Jesus, the people of Nazareth dismissed Him on the basis of having known Him since He was a child and of knowing His family as ordinary citizens of the community.  They allowed pride, jealousy, resentment, embarrassment, and a host of other wicked and petty feelings to fill their hearts and become barriers to salvation.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 411)

 

Many a message has been killed stone dead, not because there was anything wrong with it, but because the minds of the hearers were so prejudiced against the messenger that it never had a chance.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 108)

 

If you make your religion your career, you will lose one or the other.  (Spoken to Pastor Keith in one form or another by: Superintendent Cryderman, Ramundo, Steve Brown, R. C. Sproul, and Richard Pratt Jr.)

 

They were too close to the situation.  Jesus had come to them as a prophet, one who challenged them to respond to unpopular spiritual truth.  They did not listen to the timeless message because they could not see beyond the man.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 278)

 

They would not listen to him because they knew his father and his mother and his brothers and his sisters.  They could not conceive that anyone who had lived among them had any right to speak as Jesus was speaking.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 107)

 

Do we wonder that the relatives, servants and neighbors of godly people are not always converted?  Do we wonder that the parishioners of eminent ministers of the Gospel are often their hardest and most impenitent hearers?  Let us wonder no more.  Let us note the experience of our Lord at Nazareth, and learn wisdom.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 113)

 

Of course, the calling and anointing of a prophet by God was a supernatural thing, having nothing to do with human ability.  Therefore, it makes perfect sense that those who knew him best, in all his failings and limitations, were most skeptical when he claimed to be speaking for God.  Jesus was no exception.  By making such a claim, He ranked Himself with the prophets of the OT, a comparison that was more than enough to inspire contempt for Him in Nazareth.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 447)

 

Obviously some of the questioners’ motivation springs less from a serious desire to know whence Jesus derives his authority than from personal pique that a hometown boy has outstripped them.  The questions (vv. 55-56) do not call for answers but merely reveal that there has already been a denial of who Jesus is.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 335)

 

Most often a person is better received at home than anywhere else; but if he enjoys an elevated position, the reverse is true.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 336)

 

The implication of this list of family details is that a man whose local pedigree is so well known can hardly be thought of as something extraordinary (cf. Jn 6:42: “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph…?  So how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”).  Even though rabbis normally supported themselves by a trade, the village carpenter is hardly the person to pose as a distinguished teacher if he has not received any formal training–cf. Jn 7:15: “How does this man know his letters, when he has not been taught?”  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 550)

 

Although the Jews had many incomplete and false notions about the Messiah, they knew He was to come to earth as a man and that He would have to be born into some family and live in some community.  But instead of feeling highly honored that God chose to place His Son in Nazareth to grow up into manhood–as Mary felt highly honored to be His mother (Lk 1:48)–the people were skeptical, jealous, and resentful.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 410)

 

III-  Lack of faith and lack of the miraculous in your life is probably a direct result of your failure to guard your heart from becoming hard—thus rejecting Jesus.  (Mt 13:58; see also: Mk 6:1-6; 16:14; Gal 3:9)

 

When God’s love is taken for granted, we paint Him into a corner and rob Him of the opportunity to love us in a NEW AND SURPRISING way, and faith begins to shrivel and shrink.   When I become so spiritually advanced that Abba is old hat, then the Father has been had, Jesus has been tamed, the Spirit has been corralled, and the Pentecostal fire has been extinguished.   Evangelical faith is the antithesis of lukewarmness.  It always means a profound dissatisfaction with our present state.   (Brennan Manning; Ragamuffin Gospel, 161)

 

There is a great lesson here.  In any church service the congregation preaches more than half the sermon.  The congregation brings an atmosphere with it.  That atmosphere is either a barrier through which the preacher’s word cannot penetrate; or else it is such an expectancy that even the poorest sermon becomes a living flame.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 108)

 

Matthew diplomatically avoids saying, as does Mark, that Jesus could not do many miracles there, but the effect of the “unbelief” of the people of Nazareth is consonant with the repeated emphasis in this gospel on the importance of “faith” for healing or other miracles (8:10, 13, 26; 9:2, 22, 28-29; 14:31; 15:28; 17:20; 21:21-22).  Here the problem is not so much doubt over Jesus’ ability to carry out any specific healing as skepticism as to his whole image as a miracle-working “man of God.”  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 550)

 

Just as faith has the power to bring forgiveness of sins and eternal life, unbelief has the power to hold a person in his sins and under the condemnation of eternal hell.  Just as belief has the power to bring eternal happiness, joy, peace, and glory in God’s presence, unbelief has the power to bring eternal sorrow, pain, and anguish in God’s absence.

As the parable of the sower illustrates, most of the response Jesus faced and the disciples would face was that of unbelief.  Whether unbelief comes from the heart beaten hard by sin, from the rocky heart covered by a shallow layer of superficial belief, or from the thorny heart whose worldliness chokes out the truth of the gospel–all unbelief is a matter of will.  Unbelief is a choice; it is saying no to God in spite of the evidence.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 405)

 

Those who heard and saw Jesus did not reject Him for lack of evidence but in spite of overwhelming evidence.  They did not reject Him because they lacked the truth but because they rejected the truth.  They refused forgiveness because they wanted to keep their sins.  They denied the light because they preferred darkness.  The reason for rejecting the Lord has always been that men prefer their own way to His.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 409)

 

Jesus warned, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt 7:6).  The hardened unbeliever despises the precious truths and blessings of God and will even use them against the Lord and His people if he can.  Jesus refused to bend to the request of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees who wanted to see a sign from Him (Mt 12:38).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 413)

 

One preacher maintained, and not without justification, that the absence of expectant faith does more to limit the advance of the gospel than lack of money.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 80)

 

Where skeptics and atheists hold court, God seldom intervenes.  God seems to like the role of invited guest over that of party crasher.  So, let faith grow, pray all the time, and expect to see God at work in and around you.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 279)

 

This does not mean the people’s lack of faith somehow hindered His power.  He simply refrained from performing signs because He knew they would be wasted on these people.  Sadly, the people of Jesus’ hometown missed the treasure, the pearl of great price, when He stood before their very eyes.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 447)

 

There is nothing else on earth or heaven that prevents their salvation:  their sins, however many, might all be forgiven; the Father’s love is ready to receive them; the blood of Christ is ready to cleanse them; the power of the Spirit is ready to renew them.  But a great barrier bars the way:  their lack of faith.  “You refuse to come to me,” says Jesus, “to have life” (Jn 5:40).  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 113)

 

“They took offense at him” (eskandalizonto en autō), i.e., found in him obstacles to faith (see on 5:29; 11:6), even though the biggest obstacles were in their own hearts.  It is sad that every time in the NT somebody is “scandalized” by someone, that someone is Jesus (cf. Bonnard, citing G. Stählen, TDNT, 7:349; cf. Mt 11:6; 26:31, 33; Mk 6:3; Lk 7:23).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 336)

 

It seems to me that the production of miracles is similar in some ways to the case of physical things.  Cultivation is not sufficient to produce a harvest of fruits unless the soil, or rather the atmosphere, cooperates to this end.  And the atmosphere of itself is not sufficient to produce a harvest without cultivation.  The one who providentially orders creation did not design things to spring up from the earth without cultivation.  Only in the first instance did he do so when he said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation, with the seed sowing according to its kind and according to its likeness.”

It is just this way in regard to the production of miracles.  The complete work resulting in a healing is not displayed without those being healed exercising faith.  Faith, of whatever quality it might be, does not produce a healing without divine power.  (Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10:19)

 

The work of Christ is limited by our unbelief.  There is doubtless much that God would prefer to do for us and for society, but He limits His action to function where and when its results are recognized to be of God and not by our achievements.  To say that God moves where it brings glory to Him is to recognize the integrity of His grace.  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 182)

 

Lack of faith blinds people to the truth and robs them of hope.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 279)

 

When we meet together to listen to the word of God, we must come with eager expectancy and must think not of the one who speaks but of the Spirit who speaks through that individual.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 108)

 

Because of the hardness of their hearts, they are not open to Jesus’ ministry.  “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”  While Jesus could apparently heal people elsewhere whose faith was not a significant factor in the miracle, hard-heartedness and rejection prevent the ministry of the Spirit’s healing, even as it prevents the forgiveness of sin (12:31-32).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 510)

 

Here one is reminded of Kierkegaard’s emphasis on God incognito in Jesus of Nazareth, preserving the step of faith.  The evidence that Jesus provided in the human experience introduced the reality of the eternal realm.  But the people at Nazareth did not take this step of faith.  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 182)

 

Knowing that the people’s praise was based merely on faithless recognition of His popularity and power, Jesus began to expose their real motives.  He knew they wanted Him to duplicate in Nazareth the miracles He had performed in Capernaum.  And He knew that if He complied with their demand they still would not accept Him as the Messiah, because “no prophet is welcome in his home town.”  In further rebuke of their hypocrisy and faithlessness, He reminded them that in the days of Elijah God had shut up the rain in Israel for three-and-a-half years and caused a great famine.  During that time the Lord showed mercy on none of the many suffering widows in Israel but showed great mercy on a Gentile widow of Zarephath.  He also reminded them that during the time of Elisha, God cleansed no lepers in Israel but did cleanse the leprosy of the Gentile Naaman of Syria (Lk 4:23-27).  They could not have missed Jesus’ powerful, rebuking point that a believing Gentile is dearer to God than an unbelieving Jew.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 407)

 

Like the scribes and Pharisees, the people of Jesus’ hometown synagogue refused to make the logical and obvious connection between His power and His divinity because they were willfully unbelieving.  The seed of the gospel fell on the hard-packed soil of sin-loving hearts into which God’s truth could not make the slightest penetration.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 409)

 

Some of Jesus’ miracles were done in direct response to personal faith; but many others, perhaps most of them, were done regardless of any specific expression of an individual’s faith.  All of the miracles were done to strengthen the faith of those who believed in Him; but although God can perform miracles where there is no belief, He chose not to perform them where there was hard and willful unbelief.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 412)

 

Because the people of Nazareth rejected him they did not come to him in great numbers to be healed.  So the unbelievers were not healed.  Some believed and were healed.  It is not necessary to go to the extreme of saying that no one was ever miraculously healed by Jesus unless he wholeheartedly believed in him with a faith to which nothing was lacking (see, for example, Lk 17:11-17).  On the other hand, it would also be foolish to deny that divinely imparted faith was a great help (Mt 8:10; 9;22, 28, 29; Mk 9:23), and that stubborn unbelief was a tremendous hindrance!  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 582)

 

I remembered Pascal arguing that God has given us just enough light so that we can understand and just enough darkness or obscurity to deny the truth, if we wish.  That was it.  Of course, God cannot reveal Himself in a rationally irrefutable manner.  If God were plain to us as the tree outside our window, as one great theologian once wrote, we would have no need for faith.  If we saw God in His true character, in His glory, in anything like the way we see the world around us, our free will would be meaningless.  We could not help but believe in God.  It would be impossible to deny Him.  This would destroy the possibility of choosing to believe–of faith–and with it the possibility of love, because love cannot be compelled.  We cannot love God if we are not given the option of rejecting Him.  Remember, God has given us just enough light to see by, but not enough to eliminate the need to see with eyes of faith.  Our pride has to get out of the way, and we have to recognize that faith is not faith unless it is accompanied by doubt–or at least, as Catholic piety would say, difficulties.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 380)

 

Most of the people who reject Christianity know almost nothing of what they are rejecting:  those who condemn what they do not understand are, surely, little men.”  (Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, 82-3)

 

Worship Point:  If you struggle to worship Jesus in Spirit and in Truth it may be a result of your hard heart which creates in you an inability to see God working in the everyday, ordinary, common events of your life.

 

Our worship of Christ is a reflection of our belief in Christ.  We could also put it this way:  What we believe about Jesus will determine everything about how we worship Jesus.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 187)

 

The people of Nazareth were like people throughout the history of the church who can find every foolish reason to justify their rejection of the gospel.  They don’t like the hypocrites; they think the preacher is too loud or too soft, too stuffy or too overbearing; and the services are too formal or too informal.  They are offended at the slightest things Christians do and construe the insignificant as being all important.  They put up one smoke screen after another to excuse their unwillingness to believe the clear and demanding claims and promises of Christ.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 411)

 

They wanted entertainment by Jesus and benefit for themselves from the miracle worker, not conviction of sin and a message of salvation by Jesus the Messiah.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 408)

 

A friend showed me a series of pictures that he had taken.  The subject matter consisted exclusively of household items found in an ordinary kitchen:  a match stick, a pin, the edge of a knife.  Household utensils are not ordinarily thought of as possessing much beauty, but all of these photographs of very ordinary objects were quite astonishingly beautiful.  The beauty was suddenly visible because the photographs had all been made through a magnifying lens.  Small, ugly, insignificant items were blown into great size and we could see what we had overlooked in our everyday routine.  And it turned out that what we had overlooked was careful, planned details which produced exquisite beauty.

I remember particularly well the photography of a highly magnified Brillo pad.  Nothing in the kitchen seems quite as ordinary or quite as lacking in aesthetic appeal.  When possible we keep them hidden under the sink.  No one would think of hanging one on a nail or hook for people to admire.  Yet under magnification the Brillo pad is one of the most beautiful of kitchen items.  The swirl of fine wire is pleasing to the eye.  The colors of blue fade in and out of the soap film.  What we assume is not worth looking at twice and best keep in an obscure place, is, on examination beautiful construction.

Psalm 124 is a magnification of the items of life that are thought to be unpleasant, best kept under cover, best surrounded with silence lest they clutter our lives with unpleasantness:  the dragon’s mouth, the flood’s torrent, the snare’s entrapment; suffering, catastrophe, disaster. (Eugene H. Peterson; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction discipleship in an Instant Society, 73-4)

 

Gospel Application:  Jesus was willing to make Himself nothing special, just like us, so He could take our place and pay double for all our sins.  This is so amazing that angels continue to long to look into this reality.  ( Isa 53:1-12; Phil 2:5-8; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2:17; 4:14-15; Isa 40:2; 1 Pt 1:10-12)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Don’t be so superficial as to miss God working in the everyday, ordinary, seemingly insignificant events of your life.  (Mt 13:44-46)

 

How could the people for the second time reject Jesus as the Messiah, when it was so obvious that these things, at which they marveled, could only have come by God’s power?  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 408)

 

Familiarity in the midst of belief creates love.  — (Fred Smith as quoted by Steve Brown, Familiarity Breeds . . .)

 

In the heart of the believer, familiarity breeds allegiance.  (Steve Brown; Familiarity Breeds . . . )

 

The person who does not accept the light from God he already has will not believe no matter how much more light he is given.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 410)

 

 

God’s gonna survive your rejection . . . will you?  (Sign on Grass Lake Church)

 

Familiarity breeds contempt.  (The Fox and the Lion from Aesop’s Fables).

 

 

CHRIST:

TREASURE BURIED

IN HYMANITY

 

 

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