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Entries in Proverbs (2)

Monday
Aug122019

His Own Did Not Receive Him

Mark 6:1-6.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday August 11, 2019.

In John 1:10-12, we are told that Jesus came into the world that he created, but the world did not know him.  It also says that he came to his own [people] and his own did not know him.  However, as many as received, to them he gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in his name.  Now, it is proper to see the story of Jesus and his Church as something that started small, but has become a large thing over time.  This may give us a misunderstanding about its popularity.  The overall testimony of Scripture is that the world has not received Jesus as a whole.  He is a rejected savior.  Even within the ranks of Christianity, there are many who will not accept Jesus as he is presented in the Scriptures.  Instead, they use him as an inspiring idea that can be a springboard for the philosophy and wisdom of man that they love.

Yes, the true story of Jesus is one of rejection.  We will see in our story today that Jesus goes to his hometown of Nazareth in order to minister there.  What he experiences there is rejection, the same rejection that God has experienced from mankind from the beginning.  Adam and Eve followed the serpent and rejected God’s wisdom, which led mankind into sin and death.  As a world, we cried out for help and a savior.  Eventually God sent Jesus, but most rejected him.  In his mercy, God has left the door of grace open for the last two millennia.  However, eventually his judgment will come.  So the question is this.  Am I ready?

Today I pray that we will all search our hearts and recognize any unbelief and resistance that we may have towards the true Jesus of the Scriptures.  I pray that we will fully embrace Jesus, the one who was rejected by men, but accepted by God the Father.

Jesus teaches in Nazareth

Though Nazareth is not stated explicitly in the text (regardless of the NLT), it is the clear intention.  Some versions say “his own country,” and others use the word “hometown.”  The word literally means “fatherland,” and can be interpreted differently depending on the scope of the context.  In this passage the scope is viewing one particular town in Israel versus all the others.  Thus, hometown would be a good interpretation.  If this word was used in the context of one nation among many then “his own country” would be a good interpretation. So, we are clearly talking about Nazareth, a village on a small hill halfway between the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee and the shores of the Mediterranean.  This is approximately 30 miles from Capernaum.

Quickly let me remind the reader that Jesus did spend most of his first two years in Bethlehem where he was born.  When King Herod sent the soldiers to kill the babies in that village, the family of Jesus escaped to Egypt and spent at most two years there and maybe only several months.  This makes Jesus somewhere between 4 years old and 2 years old when they move back to Joseph and Mary’s home in Nazareth.  Jesus grows up there and doesn’t begin his ministry until he is about 30 years old.  This gives Jesus 26-28 years of history with the people in this story, it is his hometown.

Let me also state that Luke 4:16-30 is a parallel passage (telling the same story) and it gives us much more detail about this event than Mark does.  So, I will refer to Luke’s passage quite a bit throughout this sermon.

We are told that Jesus goes to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath.  This was the gathering day, but it is tough to say how many were there that day.  Although we do not know the population of Nazareth at this time, we do know that it was not a large city.  It was a service community for the nearby provincial capital named Sepphoris.

Mark only tells us that Jesus teaches, but does not give any detail on what he said.  Luke 4 gives us some of the details here.  Either Jesus volunteers to read or he is asked to read.  They would have heard stories and rumors of the kinds of things that Jesus had been doing over in the Galilee.  Apparently they hand him the scroll of Isaiah and he opens it to the part that we call chapter 61 and he reads the opening lines.  Here is the passage:

“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; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,”

At this point Jesus hands the scroll back and sits down.  With every eye looking at him, he then states, ““Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  It seems likely that he had taught some on the passage before he sits down because it says they were astonished at his teaching and wisdom.  Of course that last statement is the clincher.  Who does Jesus think he is?

For our purposes, it is interesting to note that Jesus cuts off his quote in mid-sentence.  The verse at the end states, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.”  Jesus had come to offer grace to God’s people and ultimately to the whole world.  This part of the passage wasn’t being fulfilled that day.  No, this was a day of grace and Jesus had come to offer God’s peace to whosoever would take hold of it.

We should also note that Isaiah contrasts the acceptable year of the Lord (or the year of his favor) with the day of his vengeance.   All throughout Scripture, it emphasizes the grace of God lasting a long time and the wrath or vengeance of God being short.  Ultimately God is far more gracious than his is wrathful.  In fact, the wrath is proportionally very small.  The world has had almost 2,000 years of God’s grace and withholding of the judgment of the nations.  During this time, he has offered peace to all people.  We must not take God’s grace for granted.  He gives us grace because he is good and he offers it for a long time because he is good, but eventually he will judge because he is good.

The astonishment of the people is expressed in a series of questions.  Where did he get this wisdom to teach and this ability to do powerful works (healing, exorcisms, etc.)?  Isn’t this the carpenter who is the son of Mary?  (Note:  It is here that we are told that Jesus definitely learned Joseph’s trade and had practiced it until he was 30 and began to minister).  They also mention his brothers (they would be half-brothers) James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.  Plus, it mentions “sisters” plural, so we know that there are at least two of them.  To me, this passage throws a wet blanket on the idea that Jesus did miracles throughout his childhood.  They are astonished at what they hear about him.  Behind all of these questions is the idea that Jesus is just another person from Nazareth.  He seems too common to be something as great as the Messiah.

We are told that they are “offended” by Jesus (end of verse 3).  This does not mean that Jesus was being insensitive and hurt their feelings.  The word means to be made to stumble.  This is meant metaphorically.  God had sent Jesus for Israel and the whole world to embrace as the Messiah, Lord and Savior.  Yet, they are rejecting this decree because they can’t conceive of this local boy becoming something great.  They are caused to stumble by their own stubbornness and unwillingness to accept what Jesus was.  We can see this same principle when a person changes from a bad life, and yet, people continue to hold their past against them.  God has given them the thing, for which they have been praying, but it doesn’t fit their preconceived notions and so they stumble over him.  He is the stumbling stone. 

He is rejected by his hometown

In Mark we have a proverb that Jesus quotes.  However, Luke adds another proverb previous to it.  Jesus sees their incredulous looks and responds by saying, “Surely you will say this proverb to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself.  Whatever you have done in Capernaum, do here in your hometown.’”  This may sound like people were open to believing, but it is not coming from such a place.  Rather, it is coming from a skeptical, unbelieving attitude.  Instead of saying that they believe and want to be healed, it is more like “show us what you got.”

Jesus then reminds them that a prophet generally is not honored in his own town, among his relatives, and in his own home.  No doubt the brothers of Jesus were there that day.  They were probably in their 20’s and late teens.  We know that they were just as resistant to this new, older brother of theirs as the towns people were.  Luke adds some further dialogue.  Jesus reminds them that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah the prophet, but he was sent to a widow in Zarephath of Sidon in Lebanon.  He also reminds them that there were many lepers in Israel during the days of Elisha the prophet, and yet only Namaan the Syrian general was cleansed.  Both examples beg the question.  Why were these gentiles healed and not the Israelites?  His implication is that the problem back then is the same problem now.  In the days of Elijah and Elisha, the wicked king Ahab and his wicked queen Jezebel were leading the people to worship the foreign god Baal.  People had quit believing in Yahweh, the God of Israel.    They refused to worship and serve the God of Israel and so they went after idols of their own making and the gods of the nations around them.  Nazareth was going to miss out, not because God didn’t care and didn’t provide, but because they would not believe and receive Jesus as God’s answer for them.

We are then told by Mark that Jesus was unable to do miracles, other than healing a couple of sick people because of their unbelief.  This statement is made after the fact and is a general statement, so it is unclear when Jesus healed these people.  It doesn’t seem likely that a whole bunch of sick people came forward to be healed, but when Jesus prayed for them, only two were healed.  More likely, Jesus offered to heal people and only two came forward.  The key is that they do not believe as a whole.  This unbelief is not because there is no evidence, but rather it is in the face of the evidence.  They do not believe because they will not believe.  They cannot accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because they are too familiar with him.

Others today refuse to believe in Jesus because he is too gracious, or some because he is not gracious enough.  Some do not believe because he does not stroke their ego in the way that they believe it should be.  Some resist because he came in an age that was not nearly as enlightened as our age.  There are many more besides these.  Let me challenge you today.  Unbelief is powerful, but it is also easily conquered when we see the flimsy nature of the objections that we make and the things about Jesus that cause us to stumble.  Jesus is a challenge from God, a stumbling block to our flesh.  Will I let go of my pride and believe, or will I stumble?

Mark ends the story here with Jesus leaving and going to other villages to teach, but Luke tells us more.  There we find that the people became so filled with wrath that they rose up to push Jesus out of the city and off a cliff next to the town.  They were going to kill him, but it wasn’t the time.  We are simply told that Jesus passed through the middle of them and went his own way.  Were they paralyzed by the power of God in him?  Or, did he hide himself from them by the same power?  We are not told.  It is bad enough not to believe in Jesus.  This is much worse.  They are actively rejecting him and trying to remove him from before them.  You cannot run from Jesus.  God has set him before the whole world and demands a verdict from us.  Will you embrace him and live, or will you reject him and die?  I pray that you will choose life with me!

His Own audio

Wednesday
May112016

The Godly Mother

Proverbs 22:6.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 8, 2016 for Mother’s Day.

There are many adjectives that can be used to describe a mother.  Ultimately all of them would be classified as good or bad.  In our society today it is very clear that many women are struggling to embrace motherhood, much less being a good mother.  In fact that word can mean different things to different people.  I would suggest to you that for the believer being a good mom begins with being a godly mom.  A godly mom looks to Him for her direction, strength, wisdom, and purpose.  She wrestles with God and her child over those things out of her love for both.

Now we could highlight mistakes and errors that mom’s should avoid, and that would have its benefits.  However, it seems more important to strengthen the courage and dedication of mom’s so that the inevitable mistakes do not hijack their ability and desire to be a good mom.  Listen moms, don’t give up.  You are God’s gift to your child, mistakes and all.  Let the act of raising a child draw you closer to God and that will in turn draw you closer to your child.  Today we are going to look at a well known proverb that has given encouragement to some and a great sense of guilt to others.  Let’s look at it.

A Mom Trains Her Child

The word for child here is not a word that is focused on age.  It is a term that focuses on a person being untrained and in need of preparation for taking their place in society: an occupation, raising a family, etc…  Thus the term was used of a young person even up to the age of 30.  So this verse does have something to say about raising your small child.  But it is not limited to this.  A wise parent recognizes that part of their duty is to train and prepare this small child for taking their place in society.  The child will need a strong foundation of preparation that includes: instruction, discipline, and nurture (encouragement).

So what exactly is meant by the word training here?  The word points to a process of preparing someone for a trade or function.  However, it also has the sense of dedicating a person to that task.  As parents we can tend to focus so much on the right and wrong of teaching a child that we lose sight of the larger duty of launching a new person into society.  How we launch a young person into society is just as important as the things we have taught them.  Don’t get bogged down in the details of everything you can teach.  Instead keep in mind that the young person will grow up and make decisions for their self in the end.  Seek to be an influencer more than a teacher. 

This verse also reminds us that a child or even a young adult needs training.  Evolutionists see humans as just another animal.  However, we are the only “animal” that shows little if any true instincts.  The closest thing is our ability to pick up communication.  We are very dependent upon learning behavior from one another.  This pool of learning then becomes something that a young person can reflect upon and determine if they want to change or not.  Without nurture and instruction a child would die, and a young person trying to “reinvent the wheel” will be far less successful.  Thus this proverb is encouraging parents to give themselves to this task and teach them diligence, righteousness, integrity, etc. as well as the specific skills they need in life.  They are going to need both in everything that they do in life.

One thing the proverb leaves out is the issue of love (most likely because it is not focused on a parent with a small child).  You can teach your kid all the right things, but if you do it in a harsh, or resentful way, then it will harm the young person.  1 Corinthians 12 ends with this statement, “Earnestly desire the best gifts.  And yet, I show you a more excellent way.”  It then begins the next chapter with this, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”  Thus the Apostle Paul points out that having great gifts is not as important as using them in a loving way.  It could be said that though I spend every waking hour training my child until the day that he leaves, and yet have not love, it will profit me nothing.  Yes, love does correct and discipline.  But it also does so to successfully launch the child into life, rather than to control exactly what the young person does.  Of course, loving a child has its ups and its downs.  If we only look at the emotional side of love, we will see that it fluctuates often.  A young mom can come to resent the loss of “fun.”  They can also grow weary with the incessant needs of a child.  Yet, love is more than a feeling.  Love begins with a decision to act for the good of another person.  When Jesus faced the cross his emotions were putting on the brakes.  Yet, Jesus still decided to do the supreme act of love because he knew it would be for the good of all mankind.  Now let’s look at the second half of that proverb.

The Child Will Take Its Place In Life

No child remains a child, and no novice stays a novice.  The incessant persistence of a child to grow and change can be daunting to a parent.  However, the child will eventually become an adult regardless of what you do and how you do it.  All training comes to an end.  In fact, training often adapts to the stage of the person learning.  It will not help a young person if you teach a 16 year the same things and in the same way that you would a 2 year old.  Thus training must adapt and then eventually launch.  Yes, a person should continue training in any field, but at that point it becomes self-directed.  The adult has learned to become a self-directed learning.  A parent has to learn to step back and let the young adult begin living life.  Of course you want to be available and help as much as possible, but in the end, they need to live their life.  Prayer becomes a huge part of our duty at that stage.

It has been said that our eternal destiny is not to be fathers, mothers, and children.  Rather, it is to be brothers and sisters in the family of God.  Yes, in this life you are the “older, wiser sister.”  But you need to let your child grow up and take their place beside you in the family of God.

This brings me to my last point.  I mentioned at the beginning of the sermon that this proverb has given encouragement to some and a great sense of guilt to others.  What I meant by that is this.  Some people see it as a guarantee that if they teach their child to serve God then they won’t leave the faith when they are old.  Yet, those who have a child rebel, leave the faith, and perhaps die in unbelief, can feel a deep sense of guilt.  “What did I do wrong?  Why didn’t God bring them back to Him?”  Part of this dynamic is because we misunderstand how this verse is to be taken.  It is not intended to be taken as a promise or guarantee from God.  It is not a “recipe” for making a saved adult that always works.  Proverbs are sayings of wisdom that teach us the issues involved in making a wise decision.  A classic example of this is to look at these two proverbs.  “Rebuke a fool, lest he think he is wise.”  “Do not rebuke a fool, lest he turn and tear you.”  These give us insight into dealing with a fool, but they leave you with the question, “So when do I rebuke and when do I not?”  The wisdom comes from contemplating the weight of either result.  So one would not be quick to rebuke one who has proven to be a fool, but eventually the day will come when a rebuke must be given.  Thus, it is wise for a parent to train their child in the ways of the Lord and in the ways of society.  However, this verse is not a guarantee that they will not fail.  In fact, where other people are involved the outcome cannot and should not be controlled.  Without free-will we destroy any foundation for a loving relationship.  Thus, God Himself has taught mankind righteousness, but He does not try to control our choices and actions.  Why?  He does so because He wants a loving relationship with us and not the relationship of a slave.  So moms, don’t give up.  Love your child to the day they become an adult and beyond.  The time of training will come to an end.  Hopefully it will bear much fruit over the years.  But know this for sure, whether your child turns out good or not will be up to them.  Just make sure that you are a godly influence, and your Father in heaven will be pleased.

The Godly Mother audio