It is far too easy in the church to get our focus on religion or religious activities rather than upon Jesus. The focus of Christianity is not upon certain rituals, performing specific duties, or saying cutesy spiritual words. The focus of Christianity is upon Jesus. Any time He is not at the center, we have lost our focus.
It’s scary to me that when God wanted to contrast a group of people with Jesus, He didn’t choose the murders, the prostitutes, the drunkards, or the pagan (though they are in contrast with Jesus). Several times throughout the Gospels, when the writer (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) wanted to show the stark difference of Jesus, they contrasted Him with . . .
- The guys who grew up in the church
- The ones who memorized Scripture since they were young
- The religious leaders of their day
- People who you would think had it “all together” spiritually
- Guys that remind myself a lot of me
Yet these were the men who were continually being contrasted with Jesus throughout the Gospels. Sure, some of them (like Nicodemus) were good and did follow Jesus, but most of them were more concerned with their position, their reputation, their religious laws and activities rather than the Person their ceremonies and activities pointed to.
One such example is seen in Matthew chapter twelve. Matthew has been building his case in chapter eleven and now he takes the two different groups and contrasts them. On one side you have Jesus and on the other the Pharisees.
Throughout the past few weeks, Stephen Manley (Cross Style Church) has been walking through this passage and recently gave us a great outline. The outline is a series of questions poking at our lives that reveal the same attitude and heart of the Pharisees. I encourage you to read through Matthew 12 and then ask yourselves these questions in light of the text. May your life and focus be centered upon Jesus and Jesus alone.
Sermon: Jesus or Argument (Matthew 12.19)
Preacher: Stephen Manley
Matthew 12.1-8 :: Mercy/Sacrifice
- What is in your heart or nature that is content with legal obligations more than meeting needs of others?
- What is in your heart or nature that gains satisfaction from doing religious ceremonies than embracing hurts of your fellowman?
Matthew 12.9-13 :: Miraculous/Status Quo
- What is in your heart or nature that is more content with routine than with interruptions of God’s miracles?
- What is in your heart or nature that feels better about a man remaining handicapped than having your Sabbath disturbed?
Matthew 12.14-15 :: Ministry/Solutions
- What is in your heart or nature that is more content with solutions to your problems that in ministering?
- What is in your heart or nature that is more content with confronting organizational problems than embracing the needy around you?
Matthew 12.16-21 :: Means/Self
If you are interested in hearing the sermon, it will be available later this week on the Cross Style Church website. Click here for the Saturday evening sermon list.