Lesson 6 -- first quarter 2005
January 9, 2005
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
Have you, through repentance and discipleship, cast your lot with Jesus and His kingdom?
Are there any whose access to Jesus you would cut off?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Jesus calls whom He will.
When the men from the East came looking for the Christ Child, they went to the obvious place: the king's palace in Jerusalem. But the King had chosen a different location for His own birth. Some thirty years after that, when the King set out to select His team, He again stayed away from the obvious destination: the temple in Jerusalem. In this particular lesson, we see Him again by the seashore as well as by the tax collector's place. Jesus' choices demonstrate that God's ways certainly soar far above ours.
The self-sufficient and self-satisfied deny themselves entrance into the kingdom.
Another of God's far-higher-than-man's ways comes through in Jesus' focus away from human perfection and righteousness. In His pursuit of hearts open to His message, He wasn't fooled or distracted by the apparent godliness of the scribes and Pharisees. Those self-sufficient, self-satisfied men denied themselves entrance into the kingdom. By refusing to accept their own spiritual sickness, they denied themselves the services of the only Doctor who could give them genuine health and wholeness.
Don't balk at whoever else is following Jesus.
Matthew, no doubt a man of means and culture, could have objected to following Jesus in the company of rough fishermen. The fishermen, pursuers of an honest livelihood, could have refused to follow Jesus further if He was going to add a tax collector to the group. However, in accepting Jesus, they each accepted His choices.
Questions and Responses
Why would Jesus begin preaching with repentance as the theme?
Jesus preached repentance because His listeners were sinners who needed to repent! He wanted to help these people, so He told them precisely what they needed to do: repent.
Jesus preached repentance because He came calling people to enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who repent have a place in that kingdom.
What is repentance?
Repentance is regret and sorrow for personal wrongdoing. Repentance acknowledges moral and personal failure, accepting personal responsibility for it.
Repentance includes an amending of life. In addition to grieving over the wrong done, it chooses a new course that will take it away from that wrong.
Unless we first repent, we cannot experience conversion and cleansing from sin. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19).
Why did Jesus go to sinners with His message?
Who else needs repentance? Who else needs cleansing from sin? Who else needs conversion? Who else had He come to?
We can consider the scribes and Pharisees and pharisaically marvel that they got it so wrong. We could (with self-satisfaction) wag our heads at their pathetic question: "What ails Jesus that He keeps such company?"
Alternately, we could search our own hearts for evidence of our own exclusive attitudes. We Christians at times put up barriers to the very Gospel we have been charged to proclaim! Sometimes there are certain types of people that we (subconsciously, I hope) consider too sinful to merit being told the Gospel message -- they wouldn't respond anyway, you know. On other occasions we might exclude someone because they make us uncomfortable or afraid. Alas, at other times we leave someone out of the Gospel loop because they have wronged us (often in some petty way).
If you ever detect such barriers in your own heart, listen: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17).
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