Can You Handle the Truth About Jesus?

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CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS? by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Can You Handle the Truth About JesusWe’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and today our message is titled, “CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS?” When Jesus began His ministry, the first place He went to was His hometown. After all, He knew the place, the people, and the culture. What better place to begin than with your own?

Luke 4 16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”…21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”…28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.

Overall Background: The passage we just read was very disturbing for me. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a sight where a mob of people has gone after one person. I have seen it many times and it is very ugly. I remember this one time I was coming home from a friend’s house and I saw this angry crowd of people. From what I could gather, they had caught a thief and they were letting him have it. Everyone who could was trying to slap, punch, or kick this guy. His clothes were torn and covered in dust. One of his eyes was swollen and his mouth was bleeding. I’m sure he was guilty but it was a horrible sight.

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Now imagine that person is Jesus. Listen again to verses 28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things…” It was fine that Jesus, the local boy had come home. They had heard that He was doing some wonderful things. He was at the synagogue on the Sabbath. They even let Him stand and read a passage from the Bible. All that was fine until Jesus claimed that He was the Messiah. At that point the whole mood changed. 28 (They) were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Why were they so angry? Because Jesus had disturbed their perception of Himself. They were all right with Jesus the local boy coming home but they could not accept Jesus the Son of God who had come to save them.

Application: Many of us are comfortable with our personal idea of Jesus. Jesus the little baby in the manger – I can deal with that. Jesus blessing the little children picture hanging on the wall of the Sunday School room – that’s alright. Jesus helping the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and preaching to the multitude – that’s alright too. But Jesus, God’s Son, who came to save you – a hell bound sinner, condemned to die – I don’t know about that. Jesus – once He is my Savior, I have to make Him my king and I have to obey His every Word – that’s taking it way too far! We’re no different than that mob in Nazareth that wanted to push Jesus off a cliff. We also try to kill the truth about Jesus when it doesn’t suit us, when it’s too costly, when we have to give up something.

The problem is – we want a Jesus we can manage, not a Jesus who manages us. As we walk through this message, ask yourself “Can you handle the truth about Jesus?” – Would you have pushed Jesus off the cliff? 5 reactions we will see in this passage:

 I. INDIFFERENCE

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.

Background: According to Luke, the first place Jesus went to when He began His ministry was his own hometown. Now let me clarify something – If you read Matthew and Mark, they bring up this episode somewhat later – Matthew 13 and Mark 6. Scholars have argued over who is correct and who is not and sometimes those on the outside have used that against us – “Oh, your Bible has obvious mistakes.” As I mentioned to you last week, when you study the life of Jesus systematically, the hardest thing to keep straight is the chronology – calendar of His life – when did He start His ministry, what did He do first, how long was He there, where did He go next, and so on. It’s easy when you are looking at just one gospel but when you put all four (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) side by side it quickly becomes complicated. Keep in mind that Luke is like a newspaper editor. He puts the headline right on the front page. This does not mean that it was the first incident of the week but it’s the highlight or the main topic of what’s coming up.

I used to ask God – “Why didn’t you make things more plain in Your Word?” “Why did You allow these questionable, debatable, grey areas?” “Why not just give a calendar of Jesus’ life?” God showed me a verse in Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” Let me illustrate – think about our Easter Egg Hunt – Why don’t we just give the eggs with candy to the kids? Why do we parents and adults hide them? Because its fun to watch them look for them! So also God wants us to dig into His Word. It brings Him great joy to see His children search after and discover the truths in His Word. That’s called Bible Study. It is very unique! No other religion has it. You’ll never hear of a Quran Study or Gita Study or Lotus Sutra Study. They may have readings but nothing like our Bible studies.

Either way, it was somewhere in the early part of his ministry that Jesus decided to go to his own hometown of Nazareth. But did you notice – nothing is said about their reaction to His coming. They neither restrict Him from coming nor did they send out a welcome wagon. In other words, they didn’t care. That’s how many people are – they are indifferent to Jesus. It doesn’t really matter. Jesus is not the most pressing issue on their minds. They have career, relationships, sports, hobbies, and entertainment on their minds. They don’t lose any sleep over Jesus.

Application: May I ask you? Are you indifferent to Jesus? Is He a priority to you? Sadly, the more familiar you are to Him, the less you think of Him. People like that care a lot about church, denominations, and values, just not Jesus. Here’s a test – how much do you read His Word? How much do you talk to Him? How much do you obey His voice?

II. CURIOUSITY 

16 …And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day,

Ancient Village of Nazareth

Ancient Village of Nazareth (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his εἰωθὸς = habit. For us Christians – he went to church on Sunday. I often hear “you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” May I ask you – “If Jesus gathered regularly with God’s people, are you better than Him?” Just like baptism He laid out a pattern for us to follow.

Listen to what happens next“…and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Those verses are from Isaiah 61 and 58. Isaiah 61 was the message of God’s deliverance to the exiles. They were about the year of Jubilee when debts were cancelled and slaves were set free. Isaiah 58 was God’s rebuke against those who were being cruel towards those in need. Again, in the year of Jubilee if people did not set the captives free, God would not accept their fast and sacrifices. Hint! Hint! The Messiah had come to set the cancel the debts, set the captives free, and where Israel failed, He would do right.

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. They still did not run up and hug Him or worship Him. They were intrigued and fascinated by Him. They were just checking Him out.

Application: There are a lot of people out there who are just intrigued by Jesus. They are just curious about Him. Let me ask you a question: Are you just fascinated with Jesus? That’s wonderful but that still does not mean that He is your Savior?

III. CONDESCENSION 

21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.

Grotto of St. Joseph, Nazareth

Grotto of St. Joseph, Nazareth (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Background: Now Jesus went a step further and claimed Isaiah 61 and 58 for Himself. This was the moment of truth. Their initial reaction was one of amazement but when those words sank in, they realized what He was really saying. They were the POOR, BROKENHEARTED, CAPTIVES, BLIND, and OPPRESSED in sin. Now listen to their response: “And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” There is a tone of derision and disdain in that statement. Isn’t He that illegitimate boy whom Joseph adopted? They were being condescending to Him. They were talking down to Him. They were insulting Him to His face. WOW!

When the Holy Spirit begins to convict our hearts, it can go one of two ways – either receive the words with humility or reject the words with some excuse.

Application: How do you receive the truth about Jesus? Are you humble? Are you willing? Are you arrogant? Are you looking for some excuse? Do you look down on the presenter? Does this church offend you? Does this pastor offend you?

IV. ANGER

Luke 4 23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.

Background: Seeing the hardness of their heart, Jesus lays out their future. It will only become worse. One day some of them will stand at the foot of the cross and mock Jesus.

Every time you reject the Holy Spirit, your heart is hardened and your destiny is sealed.

But Jesus goes on tells them something else25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

Meaning: You look down on the Gentiles. Guess what – they will come to know the truth but you won’t. Show me a person who looks down on someone because of their skin color or background, it’s just an evidence of a deeper problem.

28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.

Application: How do you respond to the truth? Do you receive it with humility? Do you receive it with joy? What emotions rise up when you hear about Jesus?

V. REJECTION

30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

One of the saddest verses in the Bible.

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,

Hear my humble cry;

While on others Thou art calling,

Do not pass me by.

Refrain

Savior, Savior,

Hear my humble cry;

While on others Thou art calling,

Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy

Find a sweet relief,

Kneeling there in deep contrition;

Help my unbelief.

Refrain

Trusting only in Thy merit,

Would I seek Thy face;

Heal my wounded, broken spirit,

Save me by Thy grace.

Refrain

Thou the Spring of all my comfort,

More than life to me,

Whom have I on earth beside Thee?

Whom in Heav’n but Thee?

 

GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S TIMING

GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S TIMING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

GOD'S WAY AND GOD'S TIMINGThis morning I’m preaching a message titled, “GOD’S WAY AND GOD’S TIMING” in our ongoing series on the life of Christ from all four gospels. Trials are part of life. That’s a given. How you handle trials depends on how you see God in your trials. Many people don’t wait upon God or his timing. They do whatever they want to do. Instead of waiting for supernatural solution, they find natural solutions to fix their problems. The prophecy of the Virgin birth or virginal conception was given to remind us that God’s way and God’s timing are always perfect.

Isaiah 7 10 Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!” 13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”

Overall Background: The Book of Isaiah is often referred to as the fifth gospel. The Latin father Jerome (A.D. 342-420) said that Isaiah “should be called an evangelist rather than a prophet because he describes all the mysteries of Christ and the Church so clearly that you would think he is composing a history of what has already happened rather than prophesying about what is to come.” That is true. Isaiah gave the prophecy that a virgin will give birth to a child and he would be called Emmanuel. It was given at a time when God’s people were facing invasion from every direction – from the South, Edom was attacking; from the West, Philistia was attacking; and from the north and northeast, Ephraim and Syria were building a coalition against Judah. God was aware of all this and He sent Isaiah to King Ahaz to remind him that everything will be okay. God will take care of His people. Instead of trusting God’s way and God’s timing, Ahaz decided to do it his way. He decided to call upon the king of Assyria to come to his rescue. It was as one commentator said – “taking a tiger by the tail.” Assyria came and captured Syria, destroyed Ephraim/Samaria, sent the Northern tribe into exile, never to return, and almost wiped out the Southern kingdom of Judah. Only by the grace of God, they survived but for a short while longer.

Does all this sound familiar? Isn’t this how we do it? We face a crisis. God tells us to choose His way and to wait on His timing but we refuse to trust him and do it our way and the consequences are devastating. We make a total mess for ourselves and for those who are dependent on us. But God in his grace and goodness still works is greater plan for our lives. The prophecy of the virgin birth was given as a promise that even though everything will be destroyed that one day God will redeem his people.

This morning some of you are facing a crisis or facing the consequences of not trusting God in your crisis. Look to God. Wait upon him. Trust his way and his timing. Even if you’ve messed up, don’t lose hope. God has a plan. You may have to face some consequences of your decisions but God can still work his greater plan for your life.

So let’s walk through Isaiah 7 and understand God’s way and God’s timing.

1. A BIG PROBLEM – WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?

1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it.

Background: The historical account we just read took place around 734 BC. The people of Israel were divided into the northern kingdomSyro-Ephraimite Invasion and the southern kingdom. The northern kingdom were the 10 tribes in the northern part of Israel, led by the tribe of Ephraim and the southern kingdom were the two tribes in the southern part of Israel (Judah and Benjamin) led by the tribe of Judah. It all began after Solomon died and the tribes to the north chose their own king against the tribe of Judah in the South. The Northern Kingdom became known as Israel and the southern kingdom became known as Judah.

Let’s read again verse 1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it.

What a sad sight! Pekah, King of Israel, had made an alliance with Rezin, king of Syria, to fight against Ahaz, king of Judah. Both Pekah and Ahaz were sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but Pekah had turned to their enemies in the north to fight against their brothers in the South.

It is shameful, disgraceful, and sinful when God’s people fight against their own brothers and sisters. Church conflicts break the heart of God. Church conflicts stifle the work of God. Church conflicts give the enemy a stronghold among the people of God.

The first invasion was not successful and in verse 2 And it was told to the house of David, saying, “Syria’s forces are deployed in Ephraim.” So his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.

What a powerful imagery! Have you ever seen trees blowing in the wind during a storm? They bend and sway and even break. They are unpredictable. The people of Judah along with their King were in a great crisis.

Jeremiah 17 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Application: How do you respond to crisis in your life? Is your hope in the Lord? Are you planted in him?

2. A WISE PLEA – DON’T WORRY. GOD HAS THIS.

3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son…” Why did God say take your son? Shear-jashub means “a remnant will return.” Children are a sign of hope. They are a reminder that life will go on. We have a lot of children at Clearview. It’s not accidental. It is intentional. They are not in the way. They are the way. When we start caring for our children in our church and in our nation, then we have hope for the future.

“…at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field,

Why is the King hanging out at the aqueduct? He is concerned about the water supply in Jerusalem. He wants to make sure that if there is a siege that his people have water to survive. He is taking every precaution possible to be ready for the coming invasion. Nothing wrong with that.

4 and say to him: “Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah.

What a wonderful word of comfort from God! What a powerful imagery! In other words – they are blowing smoke. Don’t worry about them. Instead, be careful and stay calm.

Some of you need to hear that – be careful and stay calm. Don’t start scheming. Don’t start screaming. Just stand back and watch the salvation of the Lord. Just like God told their forefathers when they left Egypt and came to the Red SeaExodus 14 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

Just like Jesus with his disciples during the storm – Mark 4 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39   Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Then it goes on in verse 5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel” (There’s a play on words here. Tabiel means “my God is good” but Tabeel means “good for nothing.”) 7 thus says the Lord GOD: “It shall not stand, Nor shall it come to pass… (In 65 years Ephraim ceased to exist.) 9 “…If you will not believe, Surely you shall not be established.” ’ ”

Application: Are you in need of encouragement today? God’s word to you is – be careful and stay calm. You’ll be okay. Are you willing to see the salvation of the Lord?

3. A FOOLISH PRESUMPTION – NAH, I GOT THIS.

10   Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”

Background: Now God does not like people who test Him but here the situation was different. God was asking Ahaz to ask Him for a sign. But Ahaz was trying to sound spiritual but he really wasn’t. More than likely, he had already sent off his envoy/ambassadors to King Pul.

These are the type of people when you tell them that you’ll be praying for them. They say – “Uh huh nothing wrong with praying.” They want to do it their way. They write off God’s way as being naive.

Application: Are you a superficial Christian? Are you one of those who already have their minds made up? Are you the type who looks at Christians as being naïve and stupid?

4. A MUCH GREATER PROMISE – NO YOU DON’T HAVE THIS; BUT I WILL DO WHAT I HAVE TO DO TO HELP YOU.

Is. 7:13   Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Background: The Bible does not give much information to us on who the virgin was that Isaiah was referring to. She could have been a young woman, probably in Ahaz’s palace/harem, who was pregnant at the time.

Tiglath-pileser III15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. 17 The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.” 18 And it shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will whistle for the fly That is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

Meaning: When the prophecy of the virgin birth was first given, it was a promise of judgment. But in God’s divine plan, there is mercy in judgment. There was an underlying promise that another virgin will conceive of the Holy Spirit and give birth. His name shall be called Jesus because Matthew 1 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

God always has a plan, a much greater plan. Even when we disobey and go our own way, He still brings the message of salvation to us. He brings Jesus to us. Do you know Him?

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