Series: Matthew: We Need a King

The Expectations of the Kingdom

September 18, 2022 | Jeff Crotts

Passage: Matthew 13:51-58

Matthew 13:51-58 – Expectations of the Kingdom

 

Intro: To be a Christian automatically means you are moving through a process of change. This is when you go through a metamorphosis the literal word used by Paul in Romans 12:2.

ESV  Romans 12:2 aDo not be conformed to this world,1 but be transformed [μεταμορφοῦσθε] by bthe renewal of your mind, that by testing you may cdiscern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.2 (Rom 12:2 ESV)

 

Resisting the world’s conformity is on the flipside being transformed in your mind.

 

  • The way you see and understand the world around you. Jesus’ teaching on the parables is a living invitation to see life in a new way. Seeing life through the eyes of the Kingdom is synonymous to this new mind transformation.

 

  • This metamorphosis is coming to understand that this world is binary, meaning it is comprised of a massive minority of softhearted Christ-followers with a massive majority of hardhearted Christ-rejectors. The cause of what’s wrong with our world is sin, leaving the only solution as grace. God is not to be blamed for sin in our world but trusted for His justice deal righteously with it. Trust comes with hope as God’s Kingdom mission cannot and will not be stopped as it permeates our world with a message that will always be believed and is promised to prevail with believers spread throughout the nations. Entrance into this kingdom only comes when someone submits to the full Lordship of Christ.

 

  • These kingdom realities are inescapable for everyone alive, has ever lived, and will live. God’s tolerance for this age is drawing to a close where ultimate judgment for eternity will be decided.

 

Seeing our world through these kingdom realities is a mindset metamorphosis.

 

  • Many have touted that post-Covid, our world is now never the same. There is a broad representation in our world that says, things can never go back to the way things used to be. And yet, the needle has moved back quite a bit, airplane travel alone says as much. Where the world cannot predict the future, Christians know that Scripture does. Seeing our world in light of kingdom parables gives us a read on the state of things and where things are headed.

 

  • It can serve as a relief to know our kingdom is not of this world. A mind focused on the Kingdom serves to dampen passions or drama over debates within the church. Infighting over politics, societal issues, general drama pales in comparison to the reality of the Kingdom. But living in terms of the kingdom within a world that resists the King will come at a cost. Our text in Matthew says as much. This account of Jesus’ life models a progressive separation even from those closest to him. Modeled what happened in Jesus’ life; what will happen in the life of any true follower of Christ. This a process of being stripped of self; the cost following Christ! Dying to self.

 

[TRANS] In in terms of Jesus’ ministry, he is now shifting into what has been called a progressive polarization. A separation away from Jesus, his message, his saving ministry. What Matthew builds as a theme, the masses negative reactions to the parables, Jesus and then John the B rejected (see Mt. 14). Jesus reveals himself to Israel, crowds, Gentiles, disciples receiving Jesus in Gentile territory (Galilee). Scene of Jesus in hometown, John executed by Herod Antipas. 

 

Prop: Four levels of progressive polarization

 

  1. Your “position” title will not matter (vv. 51-52)

 

Jesus asks the question, “Have you understood all these things?” which is the key pivot point for whether someone will live in light of what he has been teaching.

 

  • Living in view of the Kingdom is in direct correlation to what you understand. To understand Jesus’ teaching is on the depth of conviction. He’s looking for the buy in for following Him on this path of self-denial. As mentioned before, Jesus’ use of parables is a judgment and a dividing line on the masses. He has come as Messiah to his people, the Jews and they have rejected him. Not all, but most, and this narrow group says, “Yes!” This is the commitment to be “transformed” in their thinking and it is on the basis of this commitment that Jesus marches into what will be expected from them.

 

  • This expectation is principlized in a form of one final parable. I guess I did not include this as an 8th parable because it is more of a summary step for what they are supposed to do with the teaching. This a “how-to” parable. Jesus begins by characterizing these disciples as “…every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven” (v. 52). Literally, every “scribe” or is “trained” or “discipled” [μαθητευθεὶς] in the kingdom of heaven.

 

  • Scribe [γραμματεὺς] is someone who wrote the Law of God. Were known as Pharisee-scribes who governed and understood the rules of Hebrew grammar. There were also Apocalyptic-scribes who interpreted the hard or dark sayings of Scripture. They were notorious in Jesus’ ministry for adding traditions to the Law. Even contradicting the Word of God (cf. Matt. 15:6 “[Pharisees and Scribes]…for the sake of tradition you have made void the Word of God”). Politically, members to the Jewish council. Sanhedrin.

 

  • So, everyone knowledgeable in the Word of God who has been spiritually calibrated by this Kingdom teaching is responsible to do something. Mind you a “scribe” is the title Jesus uses to make the point of being able to handle the Word of God. A scribe was in charge of the stewardship to pass down the Word of God with accuracy. This title applied to believers assumes you have mastery over the message and meaning of Scripture. All by the illuminating work of the Spirit. What Jesus implies is that these Jews are those who understood the Scripture from the way they were taught since childhood, but now they see Scripture with greater depth and clarity. This new clarity brings greater accountability to share the message – not part of the message but all of the message. Again, “…trained [discipled] for the kingdom of heaven” (v. 52).

 

ESV  Psalm 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. (Psa 119:99 ESV)

 

The parable pictures you as “…a master of the house” (v. 52).

 

  • Believers are steward of the mysteries of God [οἰκοδεσπότῃ]. We are the common ware vessels with treasure inside. We are the owners of the treasure that was buried in the field and the pearl of great price. Called elsewhere to never hide this message under a bowl. A city on a hill, an ambassador, town cryer, unashamed, voice for God. The key is to understand the of bringing out “what is new and what is old” (v. 52). The picture is of a master of his home who has guests, who is willing to share from all his wealth, what is both a vintage possession and what is brand new. What is both ancient and recent vintage. What you possessed in the storehouse was something careful not to waste.

 

  • Storehouse is a picture of the heart, what someone now loves, which in this case is a transformed perspective. You will not neglect the old while gaining the new (i.e. excitement over “treasure” and “pearl”). Not weary of the old or afraid of new but old is made living by new fresh light.

 

ESV  Matthew 5:17-18 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Mat 5:17-18 ESV)

 

  • Withholding either is a common temptation. You know that when you have had something as a possession in your family for years or ages, the temptation is to keep it hidden for yourself. You do not not want risk losing it or is being damaged or worn down. On the other hand, when you come into possession of something new it might be easy to likewise withhold what you have just come to have. In either case, this is classic selfishness. I want you to see that withholding either what a disciple knew prior to the full message of the kingdom or what has now been filled out with Christ’s teachings is in the same way, selfish. A more potent application is to call this kind of withholding as self-preservation. Where you keep yourself outside of the crosshairs by watering down the message.

 

  • This is kind of soft sell evangelism is everywhere in the church. Jesus is only love and not wrath. The Bible is truth and inspired in parts but not historically accurate. You must contextualize the controversial bible topics. The Gospel is all grace, no repentance. Heaven is real and Hell is not. Simply, put you have to preach and bring “the whole counsel of God.” A true disciple of the Kingdom, like the two illumined on the road to Emmaus were able to see and believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of the all the law and the prophets. The reason for this principled exhortation is that people will always argue to have things both ways. Where they say they want Jesus and his accountability but the truth of the matter is they do not. In terms of the parables, they want soft soil or wheat but no hard soil or tares. They want the Kingdom to come but not with the eternal consequences of Hell.

 

  • To bring out [ἐκβάλλει] this treasure is to make disciples!

 

ESV  2 Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. (2Co 5:11 ESV)

 

  • Question: “What happens when you preach this message?” People progressively polarize away from you. “I do not care that you are a scribe.” Your title as a bible believing Christian does not matter. I don’t like your message so your title is bunk.

 

[TRANS] You say, “It must be that they truly do not know who I am, and that is why they do not trust my message.” “What about people from my hometown?”

 

  1. Your “place” hometown will not matter (vv. 53-54)

 

Jesus finished “these parables, [and] went away from there…” (v. 53).

 

  • How far away did Jesus go? Not very far actually. Jesus’ preaching ministry has been around the sea of Galilee so now he walks away, 40 miles, southwest from Capernaum to his hometown, Nazareth. This is where Jesus grew up, what was familiar to him from childhood. Surely here Jesus would receive a town’s welcome home. Right?

 

ESV  Matthew 2:23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene." (Mat 2:23 ESV)

 

ESV  Matthew 4:13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, (Mat 4:13 ESV)

 

ESV  Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. (Luk 4:16 ESV)

 

  1. Skill

 

Jesus went right into the natural arena for preaching the Word. “…their synagogue” (v. 54).

 

  • Jesus naturally went to the synagogue to preach and teach. Synagogues represented authority and were designed to promote the authority of the Word of God. God speaks from here. And Jesus was!

 

  • What did Christ preach?

 

“In less than a year Christ demonstrated otherworldly wisdom: He taught on virtually every subject related to life and death, time and eternity, truth and falsehood, righteousness and sin, God and man, heaven and hell. He taught about regeneration, worship, evangelism, sin, salvation, morality, divorce, murder, service, servanthood, pride, hate, love, anger, jealousy, hypocrisy, prayer, fasting, true and false doctrine, true and false teachers, the Sabbath, the law, discipleship, grace, blasphemy, signs and wonders, repentance, humility, dying to self, obedience to Go, and countless other subjects. He taught everything pertaining to life and godliness (cf. 2 Pt. 1:3).” [MacArthur]

 

  • Certainly, the most gifted preacher on the planet would be able to woo the attention of his locals. They were “astonished” but this should be taken in the context of the question that follows. “Where did this man get this wisdom…?” (v. 54). This first question could be taken as a straightforward compliment. They see Jesus as the young man who was the young boy growing up around them. He’s the preacher boy who has come home and so we are amazed at this young man’s progress. They were “astonished” by Jesus’ wisdom meaning his message.

 

  • Jesus was preaching on the Kingdom of God to his hometown, as the Master of the house tying together both the Old with the New. What was ancient with what applies today. He is the Messiah, the one in whom they have to do. Jesus’ wisdom accounts for his ability to both preach and the actual message that he preached.

 

  • This question has less to do with the origin of Jesus’ authority and more to do with the fact that he has outstripped them.

 

  1. Powers

 

Jesus’ message is back up by the “mighty works” (v. 54).

 

  • I assume Jesus is performing miracles to validate that he is Messiah. Jesus had had a massive miracle ministry for a year in Galilee. They knew about it! It is important to note that these locals are not refuting Jesus’ miracles. They are not even contradicting Jesus’ message, what they are doing is allowing their “astonishment” to fall into a digression of being incredulous. From being amazed by Jesus to being suspicious of Jesus.

 

  • There is such a fine line between being astonished and being incredulous. From saying by faith, “I cannot believe this is Jesus!” to saying the same thing with doubt, “I cannot believe this is Jesus!” or worse, “I will not believe in this Jesus!” Jesus’ words and works were irrefutable but they were not enough to dissuade these doubting hearts.

 

  • Questioning Jesus’ “mighty works” was ultimately condemning them. By the way, their questions prove that Jesus had not performed miracles as a child or younger man as the Apocrypha attests. No one was used to him in this way. It is important to note that in the teachings of Jesus, “faith and miracles always go hand in hand.”

 

[TRANS] Most of the time you would expect to be received by your home but not here!  Also the opposite.

 

It was natural that at some time Jesus should pay a visit to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And yet it was a brave thing to do. The hardest place for a preacher to preach is the church where he was a boy; the hardest place for a doctor to practise is the place where people knew him when he was young. [Barclay]

 

  1. Your “pedigree” family will not matter (vv. 55-56)

 

This digression of doubt is built on a single word, “familiarity.”

 

  • The ancient proverb: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Locals knew Jesus as a boy, concluded he was nothing special. Grew up with this crowd as with childhood friends, in formative years. Christ claiming to be a prophet inspired contempt.

 

  • Once these locals allowed their attention to be drawn away from the Jesus’ message and Jesus’ powers, so they could attack his humanity. On the surface this is not an all out assault on Christ’s upbringing. There was no shame in Nazareth for Jesus being “a carpenter’s son” (v. 55).

 

  • Joseph was the town artisan from a rough part of town. To be a carpenter was a home builder and Joseph was probably the only one and you could suppose Jesus took over the family business when he died. Mark’s account calls Jesus, “…the carpenter” (Mk. 6:3).

 

ESV  Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. (Mar 6:3 ESV)

 

Jesus would have been skilled in stone masonry work and was said by Justin Martyr (AD 150) to have made plows the yokes.

 

  • I am sure Jesus’ upbringing was a respectable one. The accounts of Joseph, where he responded to the angel’s message that Mary was with child by immaculate conception is commendable. He did not put Mary away, but instead, by embraced God’s plan by faith. Joseph, by all appearances was a very strong, upstanding worker who had raised a very large family (five sons, including Jesus) along with however many daughters (Jesus’ sisters). We know Mary as someone who was plain but very devout from her testimony, after hearing from the Angel, she would bear the Messiah. From what we know from the account in John 7, Jesus’ half-brothers were believers until after Jesus’ resurrection, but this does not reflect on Joseph. In fact, Joseph may have died before being able to raise with influence, his sons into adolescence. We do know Jesus’ half-brothers believed after the resurrection.

 

ESV  John 7:5 For not even his brothers believed in him. (Joh 7:5 ESV)

 

ESV  Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Act 1:14 ESV)

 

  • I do have to say, Jesus’ parents were not perfect. Accusations could have flown out about his parents losing him 3 days during the Jewish festival. Later, Jesus’ mother and brothers did have a lapse in judgment when they tried to wrest him off the mission field.

 

ESV  Mark 3:20-21 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, "He is out of his mind." (Mar 3:20-21 ESV)

 

  • So, again the town is associating Jesus on the level of his father, Joseph, mother, Mary, and brothers. Joseph and Mary were good testimonies and there is no reason to believe that his brothers were anything less. It is interesting to think that most believe James and Judas authored New Testament epistles. And Joseph was obviously named for his father. The mention of sisters fills out the full family picture. The question, “Where then did this man get all these things?” (v. 56) is both illuminating and indicting.

 

  • These locals are not canceling Jesus for the lack of character found in his family. They instead of are simply saying Jesus is just as common as the next person. People will doubt the full deity or full humanity of Christ because to embrace 2 natures as one individual requires faith. Here, Jesus full humanity is what is called into question. The question is not whether Jesus’ message or powers were real or powerful. No. The question is how could these powerful things be associated with someone as common as this human being.

 

  • Jesus came from a lower pedigree, not eminence, not from a high Rabbinic education. Like the Apostles, Peter and John were described in Acts 4.

 

ESV  Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Act 4:13 ESV)

 

  • This indictment reveals how people can be captivated by Jesus’ power and miss worshipping Jesus. This statement also portrays how Jesus should never worshipped in terms of how we think he looked externally. This is in part why I have problems with pictures and statues and theatrical portrayals of “Jesus.” I think Jesus was very common looking. In essence, non-descript. Nothing in Scripture describes his physical features and I believe for the express purpose of not worshipping his visage. Worshipping Jesus as an image. So many worship the image of Jesus’ – his powers, his morality, his humanity – while not worshipping the true Jesus who is only revealed by Scripture, only embraced by faith, through the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

 

  • You should follow the mood of emotion that the crowds represent. They move from being astonished to an inquiry right into sarcasm! And now one final level.

 

  1. Your “person” integrity will not matter (vv. 57-58)

 

“And they took offense” [ἐσκανδαλίζοντο] this is to stumble over.

 

  • The word, scandalize in the Bible is always used in the context of Jesus.

 

  • Even Jesus preaching kingdom of heaven became an offense to his locals. Neither his position, place, nor his pedigree mattered in the minds of people who did not believe. This unbelieving crowd rejected Jesus’ message and his display of powers, and nothing changed their mindset. They could not see through someone whom they grew up with and the family around him. All they could do is indict his character.

 

  • They moved from being astonished to be offended. This is what happens when you preach a message that naturally minded people willfully reject. The kingdom message states that you are either part of this kingdom or not. And that you are presently inside of the boundary of this accountability (i.e. the dragnet) and that this accountability is closing in, drawing you toward the end state of judgment. Bottomline is that when someone is unwilling to see Jesus as the only way, as treasure, as the pearl, that you willing to sell everything for, to have the one thing. One thing that is worth your everything, then this message is utterly offensive.

 

  • Something you simply cannot move past. You cannot allow yourself to let go of your sin because there is nothing better to you than self-gratification. Jesus himself became the obstacle of faith.

 

 

The statement regarding a prophet being “not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household” exposes a clear and damning sin.

 

  • The sin of familiarity. The idea is that you become so used to Jesus, you presume to have him all figured out. “Yes he is powerful, yes he tells an amazing message, but he really cannot be worthy of my full allegiance!” I know him so well or I know so much about him that I am convinced that he is not worthy of my respect. So much of the church settles for this state of heart. We’ve given Jesus a hearing. A look see. But, I have my own life. I will figure out life in terms of my media search, my psychologist, my medical cures, my health plan, my career. Jesus, you are just fine right where you are, which is not first place. This is a blasé view of Jesus. Often when people hear of Jesus outside of the baggage of religious tradition and inside of their desperation, it is then and only then that Jesus is revered in the way he deserves.

 

Question, “How bad off is someone’s state of heart, when they dishonor Jesus in this way?”

 

  • So bad off that Jesus pulled back from doing “many mighty works” (v. 58). Rejecting Jesus, having a blasé’ view of Jesus and seeing his “mighty works” will only make things worse. Makes more of an offense. You might think, if there is unbelief there needs to be more of a display of power to make things right. To catch the attention of people rejecting Jesus. But his is absolutely not the case. In Jesus’ approach, the more the unbelief the less revelation is given. The hard the hearts, the fewer the miracles. This to protect people from themselves.

 

ESV  Mark 6:5-6 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. (Mar 6:5-6 ESV)

 

  • “Why spend sacred energy?” “Where he would have chosen to do the most, he was forced to do the least” “He saw it would have been wasted” [Spurgeon]. Where it will do not good. Jesus could not violate his own mission, by making it a sideshow.

 

What does this mean for you?

 

  • As a kingdom citizen you will be going through a metamorphosis. A process of dying to self as you live for Christ. Your position, your place, your pedigree, will not matter in the eyes of unbelief. They stumble over your person, over your integrity. This is what it means to live in light the kingdom of heaven, in light of following the King of the kingdom.
  • This is a call to calibrate your expectations to a life where you will be polarized from others. Is it personal? In a sense yes and in another sense no. The message creates this polarizing dynamic, not you.

 

  • Key, love everyone, whether they embrace this message or not. Trust God to use his message bring his followers inside of his Kingdom. The kingdom message can be alarming if you think in terms of how high the stakes are, believing or rejecting. Still, we find peace in understand why things are the way they are, if we will but trust the Lord for the outcomes of life. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”

 

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.

Again, we should not judge a man by his background and his family connections, but by what he is. 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.

When we meet together to listen to the word of God, we must come with eager expectancy, and must think, not of the man who speaks, but of the Spirit who speaks through him. [Barclay]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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