Thesis: Jesus did not let circumstances get the best of him.
1. Everybody has a "bad day" every now and then.
a. You know the sort of day we're talking about--a day when NOTHING goes right!
1) Shoestring breaks; get a run in pantyhose; 10 tries to get tie right.
2) Maybe you miss the school bus; car won't start.
3) Traffic on I-95 is particularly bad.
b. You know the kind of day we're talking about!
1) We all have days like that, don't we?
2) WHY: Circumstances affect the way we FEEL & ACT.
2. I wonder if Jesus ever had bad days?
a. Heb. 4:15--"Tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin."
b. Do you think Jesus knew the frustration of having a really rotten day?
3. This AM we want to explore what must have been a routine period of time in Jesus' ministry (Matt. 12).
a. What happened to make this a "bad day?"
b. How did Jesus react to his circumstances?
c. What is the meaning for us?
I. LOOKING AT JESUS' CIRCUMSTANCES.
A. Jesus knew what it was like to have to deal with mean-spirited, petty, small-minded people.
1. Picking grain on the Sabbath (12:1-8).
2. Healing on the Sabbath (12:9-14).
3. Healing of blind/mute demon-possessed man (12:22-37).
4. Those demanding a sign from him (12:38-45).
B. Jesus knew what it was like to have trouble at home (12:46-50).
1. Matthew doesn't say why they wanted to see him.
2. Reason is clearer in Mark (3:21 cf. with 3:31-35).
II. HOW DID JESUS REACT TO HIS CIRCUMSTANCES?
A. Matthew's summary statement (12:15-21).
1. Citation of Isa. 42:1-4--one of 4 "Servant Songs."
2. After verse 18--HOW WILL WE KNOW WHO HE IS?
3. By the way he treats people!
B. The two images of verse 20:
1. A BRUISED REED:
a. Reed--symbol of something very weak.
1) Matt. 11:7--"Reed swayed by the wind?"
2) Matt. 27:29--Thorns; reed in right hand.
b. Jesus refused to run over the weak!
2. A SMOLDERING WICK:
a. Reference to the oil lamps of Jesus' day.
1) Oil runs out; floating wick begins to smoke.
2) Blow out OR gently pour oil to revive flame.
b. Jesus deals patiently with people.
III. THE LESSON FOR US.
A. Nothing reveals our heart as clearly as how we treat others.
1. Illust. A man fell into a pit and couldn't get himself out. A Christian Scientist came along & said: "You only think that you're in a pit". A Pharisee said: "Only bad people fall into a pit". A Fundamentalist said: "You deserve your pit". An IRS man asked if he was paying taxes on the pit. A Charismatic said: "Just confess that you're not in a pit". An Optimist said: "Things could be worse". A Pessimist said: "Things will get worse!" Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.
2. Illust. Harold Kushner in Who Needs God tells a story about the wife of a British colonel in India. She was expecting important guests for tea one afternoon. Looked out from her front porch after lunch & was horrified to see that the man who swept the leaves off her stairs every morning had not shown up for work. When he finally got there, she tore into him. "Don't you realize what you've done to me? Do you know who's coming here in an hour? I ought to fire you and see to it that you don't get another job anywhere in the city!" Without looking up the man said, "I'm sorry. My little girl died during the
night and we had to bury her today." For the first time, the colonel's wife began to see this man as something more than just a device that swept her stairs every day. [Harold Kushner, Who Needs God (New York: Summit Books, 1989), p. 100.]
B. What do we do when we have a bad day? What do we do when circumstances are not the best?
1. The key to knowing whether or not we are acting like Jesus is going to be seen in how we treat the "bruised reeds" and "smoking flaxes" in our lives.
a. The "little people"--the people who can do absolutely nothing for us.
2. Will we treat people with kindness and regard? Or will we treat them with irritation, sarcasm, even contempt?
a. MOTHERS: There'll be a zillion dishes & loads of laundry and diapers to change, meals to fix ...
b. EMPLOYEES: Get to work late, get chewed out by boss, work overtime without getting paid for it ...
1. We are all going to have "bad days."
2. The issue for Christians is not are we going to be exempt from them, but rather how are we are going to deal with them.
3. A good way to see if we're dealing with it as Jesus would is to ask, "How am I treating people?"