Sunday, July 14, 2024

021614_Kingdom Bound: Conflicting Kingdoms – Matthew 3:13-4:11

021614_Kingdom Bound: Conflicting Kingdoms – Matthew 3:13-4:11

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TITLE: Kingdom Bound: Conflicting Kingdoms – Matthew 3:13-4:11 AIM: Understand that there are rival kingdoms to the kingdom of God. INTRO: Today we begin to look at the kingdom of God in the gospel of Matthew, which will probably take us the rest of 2014. Matthew has been called by some the gospel of the king (or kingdom). Matthew wrote with the Jews in mind, longing for the Jewish nation & those Jews scattered thruout Asia Minor to know Jesus as the Messiah & their king. So Matthew purposely emphasized much of what Jesus said about the kingdom of God, which certainly fits w/our theme for this year (or rather the theme fits w/the gospel). Theme: Kingdom bound – rejoicing that we are bound for the kingdom, Christ being our Savior & coming King. But also realizing that we are bound by the kingdom, the rule of God & Lordship of Christ touching, shaping our lives now. But we should understand that there every day there will be temptation to choose (settle for) other kingdoms, other rule in our lives, instead of the kingdom of God, rule of Christ. 2 of the most imp events in the life & ministry of Jesus Christ are recorded for us in this morning’s text. These 2 events occurred back to back at the beginning of His earthly ministry – baptism & temptation. They were both pivotal to His success as God’s Messiah. John the Baptist proclaimed that all who heard him should “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Kingdom of heaven = kingdom of God – interchangeable. John could offer that challenge because he knew that Jesus represented the kingdom of God & would be ushering in that kingdom. He was called as a forerunner to Christ, announcing His coming. And, if people were going to encounter the King, they needed to repent – turn from self-life to a life of following Jesus, the King. Matthew 3:13-4:11 [READ] John (called the Baptist for obvious reasons – wasn’t his denomination) was baptizing in the Jordan River whoever would come to him, confessing their sins & repenting. He must have been greatly surprised to see Jesus, John’s earthly cousin & the One about whom he had been talking (“He who comes after me is mightier than I…He will baptize you w/the Holy Spirit & w/fire…” – Mt.3:11), come down to the river to be baptized. John naturally & humbly resisted Jesus, argued w/Him. He knew that instead of Jesus being baptized by him, he needed the Jesus’ Spirit & fire baptism. But Jesus said, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (3:15). David Gudzik wrote, “It wasn’t that this one act in itself fulfilled all righteousness, but it was another imp step in the overall mission of Jesus to identify w/fallen & sinful man, which was ultimately fulfilled at the cross.” G. Campbell Morgan made an interesting statement, w/which I’m not sure I agree entirely, but it stimulates the thinking: “In baptism He (Jesus) confessed as His own sins which He had not committed & repented of them before God. He was #ed w/the transgressor & bore the sins of many.” By His baptism, Jesus indeed ided w/mankind, but also very significant, by being baptized Jesus made a clean break w/His life up to then & prepared to begin His 3 yr ministry which would end at the cross. He chose to obey His Father & take up the mission to which He had been called & for which He had come to earth & taken on our likeness. F.F. Bruce wrote, “In accordance w/the symbolic significance of the rite denoting death to an old life & rising to a new, Jesus came to be baptized in the sense of dying to the old & natural relations to parents, neighbors & earthly calling, & devoting Himself henceforth to His public Messianic vocation.” So Jesus ided w/us in His baptism & laid aside His ordinary life as a carpenter & family member in order to begin His mission. However, there is yet another significant point to His baptism: affirmation & commissioning. At issue was His identity as Son of God & Messiah & His ability to carry out the mission. In my humble opinion, Jesus probably humanly struggled w/His identity & w/confidence that He could carry out the impossible mission to which He was called. Those human self-doubts were answered at Jesus’ baptism. In Luke 3:21 it is recorded that Jesus prayed while He was being baptized. Wouldn’t we like to have heard that prayer? Jesus needed the Father’s enabling & affirmation, & His Father didn’t disappoint. Matthew tells us that as Jesus came up out of the water, “the heavens were opened to Him, & He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove & coming to rest on Him…” The apostle John recorded that John the Baptist saw this, as an affirmation for him that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (Jn1:32-34), but it’s not clear that anyone else but John & Jesus saw this. The Father’s answer to Jesus’ concern of being able to do what He had come to do was to send the Holy Spirit, who would be w/, w/in Jesus. The Holy Spirit “rested” on Him & stayed w/Him, on Him over His yrs of ministry. The Holy Spirit was Jesus’ divine helper, counselor & friend – just as He is w/us! Charles Spurgeon wrote, “It was the Spirit of God who gave success to Jesus Christ’s ministry.” At the same time as the Spirit came upon Jesus like a dove lighting on Him, He heard a voice from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, w/whom I am well pleased.” Again, whether or not anyone else heard it, Jesus did. The Father was affirming His Son & commissioning His ministry. It was as if God the Father was quoting Isaiah 42:1 – “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” How vitally imp for Jesus to receive such confirmation & empowerment! What happened next seems like a total contradiction to that confirmation/ empowerment, but it’s not. The very 1st leading of the Spirit that is recorded was into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The Spirit didn’t tempt Jesus, but led Him to a place where He would be tempted. Why? Just as Jesus ided w/us thru His baptism, so He ided w/us in His temptation. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus can fully “sympathize w/our weaknesses” because He is “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet w/out sin” (4:15). That’s another reason for the temptation of Jesus, so that He might prove/ demonstrate His righteousness, His own holy, sinless character, w/out which He could not have taken our place on the cross to pay for our sins. Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted 40 days/nights. Gudzik points out that “Jesus’ fast wasn’t just self-denial, but a forced dependence upon God the Father.” Heb.5:8 – “He learned obedience thru the things that He suffered.” Luke indicated that Jesus was tempted for the entire 40 days/nights (4:2), so perhaps what is recorded in the synoptic gospels is the last of that time, when the weakness was greatest. These temptations really were offers of lesser kingdoms, which are also offered to us. Are we going to be bound by – give allegiance to the kingdom of God or set up our own kingdoms? There are many so-called kingdoms we are tempted to erect, just think about it. There are 3 good examples seen here. The 1st temptation of Jesus which Matthew records is the temptation to turn stones into bread. Doesn’t seem so wrong, does it? Jesus was obviously hungry, perhaps even close to starving to death. He had needs. And He could have easily done it. “If You are the Son of God…” – Satan wasn’t denying it, but tempting Jesus to prove it, to take advantage of His deity for His own selfish purposes, cater to Himself. F.F. Bruce – “Hunger represents human wants, & the question was whether Sonship was to mean exemption from these, or loyal acceptance of them as part of the Messiah’s experience.” Gudzik adds, “It isn’t that Jesus refused supernatural help in feeding Himself. He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought Him when the time of testing was over (4:11). It was a matter of submitting to His Father’s timing & will in all things.” The temptation for us is to establish the kingdom of “my needs now.” We have needs, like Jesus did (perhaps not as dire, tho sometimes…) – cancer, wayward children, financial uncertainty, fears, struggles, pains. We just want it to go away; we want God to fix it. Needs become demands & affects our relationship w/God & others. Then too, we confuse wants w/needs. We get upset when traffic is against us, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, when others don’t seem to understand & comply. Feed me; meet my needs, now. That’s where credit comes in, or adultery, or crime. My needs now! Of course, God has promised to meet the needs of His children, but He calls us to “Seek 1st the kingdom of God & His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mt.6:33). Jesus confronted this temptation & all of them in the same way we should & can: w/Scripture. “It is written” – 3 very imp wds. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every wd that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deut.8:3). One of those wds from the mouth of God is “wait;” “trust Me & wait.” The 2nd temptation we read about here was for Jesus to thrown Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Whether Jesus was somehow literally transported to the temple or was on a precipice in the desert, envisioning the temple, the temptation was for Jesus to, as Gudzik wrote, “force the Father into a supernatural event; the desire to sense approval from God & have that approval publicly demonstrated.” Satan borrowed Jesus’ tactic – quoted Scripture (Ps.91:11-12), but not correctly. Gudzik wrote, “He made the promise say what in truth it never suggested. He [also] left out, ‘to keep you in all your ways.’” Poole wrote, “God had never promised, nor ever given, any protection of angels in sinful & forbidden ways, nor dangers into which men voluntarily throw themselves.” To do such a thing as to throw Himself off the top of the temple would tempt God to do something spectacular to display His love for His Son or display who His Son was. Jesus replied, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deut.6:16). This temptation, which we face as well, is to establish the kingdom of “I’m special.” “If I’m a child of God then I want God to show others how special I am.” “If God really loves me, then I want this experience or that. I want people to recognize my spirituality, my status in the church/society, I want to be noticed. Look at me.” The truth is, if we are in Christ, then we are special to God – we are His children, heirs w/Christ. He has set us apart as His own. But in the kingdom of God we are called to deny self, die to self, & follow Christ. In the kingdom of God, the 1st shall be last & the last 1st. In the kingdom of God, God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Then Matthew records the 3rd Jesus faced in the desert, tho we should be clear that Jesus was certainly tempted many times in the 3 yrs He ministered & moved toward the cross. Again Luke tells us that when Satan left Jesus at the end of the desert temptation, he “departed…until an opportune time.” This temptation must have been the most difficult for Jesus (my speculation). Satan showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world & their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down & worship me.’” In actuality, all the kingdoms of the world were not Satan’s to give, tho he is temporarily ruler of this world. What a triumph for Satan it would have been, if Jesus bowed before him. The wd for “fall down” means “descend from a higher place to a lower, from an erect to a prostrate position” (Strong’s). The wd for “worship” means “to kiss the hand towards one, in token of reverence; fall upon the knees & touch the ground w/the forehead as an expression of profound reverence” (Strong’s). This was really a temptation for Jesus to take a shortcut around the cross. Gudzik – “Jesus came to win all the kingdoms of the world & their glory back from Satan. The temptation was to do so w/out enduring the cross.” How thankful we should be that Jesus didn’t succumb to this temptation! Jesus was already King over all, but He had to endure the cross. This is the kingdom of “no sacrifice,” & oh how we want to establish this for ourselves. We want eternity w/out surrender to Christ. The wonderful truth is that we will reign w/Christ, but now we must sometimes suffer w/Him. We want to be like Christ w/out working out our salvation w/fear & trembling (not working to save ourselves, but living out what God has put w/in). Again, we are to deny ourselves & follow Christ. Jesus ided w/us, let us id w/Him. Bro/sis, we are kingdom bound – bound for the kingdom, but also bound by the kingdom. Let us be kingdom minded & King focused!