Summary: Father's Day sermon urging men to be godly by looking at mistakes made by four men in the New Testament.
Text: Titus 2:11-14
Traditionally, I preach a Father’s Day sermon focusing on fathers. However, not all men can or will be a father. So, today, I want to focus on Godly Men – whether you’re a dad or not – because all men should and can be godly. What do godly men look like? Godly men can be of most any race, profession, education or socio-economic status. They can be from anywhere on the earth. So I want to approach this subject by looking at four men in the New Testament and learning from their mistakes. All four men had some qualities worthy of emulation but observing their flaws may be of more benefit. I believe they can help us all to be godlier – whether we are male or female. So, I hope you’ll open your Bibles as we study together for the next few minutes.
The first man I want us to examine is Nicodemus. We first encounter this Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin in John 3:1 – and I want us to read the first 10 verses of this chapter to gain some insight to this man: There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” I want us to look at one more passage about Nicodemus before we draw any conclusions about this man – John 7:45-52 – Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”
The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”
Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”
Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” I think Nicodemus was a lot like some men today – they want to know more about Jesus but they don’t want their friends to know it. Why else would Nicodemus come to Jesus by night? Then, when he got brave enough to speak up for Jesus in the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus quickly backed down because he didn’t want his friends to know he believed in Jesus. The next man I want us to discuss is closely akin to Nicodemus. But, whereas Nicodemus is only mentioned in John’s gospel, Joseph of Arimathea is described in all four gospels. Most of us are aware of the noble deed of this man but I want us to look at a few passages to remind us of some details of who he was. First, let’s look at Matthew 27:57 – Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. From this one verse, we learn that Joseph was rich as well as a disciple of Jesus. He was also from Arimathea which many believe was in the territory of Ephraim – some 14km northeast of the present city of Lod. Next, I want us to read Mark 15:43 to learn a little more about this Joseph:
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin and was waiting for the kingdom of God. Since he was a disciple of Jesus, we can be certain that he had been baptized because he believed the kingdom of heaven was at hand. It’s interesting how each gospel writer has something different from the others. Notice Luke 23:50-51 – Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. He was a good and just or righteous man. As a member of the Sanhedrin, he had not agreed with them on arresting and condemning Jesus to death. Joseph was certainly a man we could admire. Of course, we most admire Joseph for providing a decent burial for our Savior. In fact, the continuing verses in the passages we have already read describe His tomb as a new one that had been hewn out of the rock by Joseph – his own personal tomb. Now, we’ll conclude by reading the final passage about this fine man – John 19:38 – After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. This man we’ve come to admire was a secret disciple of Jesus because he feared the Jews. So what was he afraid of? Losing his prestige as a respected member of the Sanhedrin? Losing his wealth? Losing his family? His life? Maybe it took the tragic death of our Lord to prompt him into confessing Christ before men. Sadly, it often takes a tragedy to get some men into church and active service. The cruel death of Jesus had that effect on both Joseph and Nicodemus as we continue reading John’s account – verses 39-42: And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. We now come to the third man we want to look at this morning – a man despised by every Jew – because he was a chief tax collector. We don’t have time to talk about why the tax collector was so despised in Israel. With the recent scandals within our IRS, I think we can imagine a little of the contempt held for this man. But, we like the wee little man. Let’s read about him in Luke 19:1-10 – Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”