Summary: An examination of Matthew’s description of Jesus as the fulfillment of what was said by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene," and what that means for us today.
TITLE - Jesus: The One Who Can Empathize With Our Hurts
SERIES - Matthew’s Portrait of Jesus As The Fulfillment of God’s Promises
TEXT - Matthew 2:19–23
DATE PREACHED - February 8, 2009
COPYRIGHT © JOE LA RUE, 2009
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A. Hook: Have you ever been abused, or mistreated?
1. Perhaps you have felt the sting of an insult thrown at you for something you could not change. Maybe it was how you looked, or how you talked, or how smart you were (or weren’t), or the fact that you were poor (or rich), or where you grew up (or didn’t grow up). But whatever it was, you couldn’t change it or do anything about it. And you were insulted because of it. People made fun of you and called you names. You were the butt of their jokes. And there was nothing you could do to make it stop, because they were cruel and you could not change who you were or where you came from. If it has ever happened to you, you can probably still feel the sting of their insults and mocking.
2. Maybe you were not insulted as much as you were just left out. You were excluded by the very people that you wanted to be accepted by. Maybe you were the last one picked for the team. Or, maybe you were the one who was not invited to the party. Or maybe you felt unwanted and unloved by your family, or maybe by your spouse. You were rejected, when all you wanted was to be accepted and loved. But you never received that, at least not from the people that really mattered. If it has ever happened to you, you most likely still carry some scars from that. You still feel the tremendous pain that comes from being excluded and unwanted.
3. Or, maybe you were overlooked. Maybe you accomplished something important at work, or in your family, or even in your church, but someone else got the credit. Maybe you felt like you were kind of invisible, and no one really saw you what you had accomplished and could accomplish. Other people got accolades while you just kept getting the job done, but with no recognition.
4. Or, maybe you were not overlooked, but rather you were focused upon in hateful, unfair ways, like what happened to Billy Wolfe. No one knows for sure why Billy became the victim of school bullying, as opposed to someone else. But for whatever reason, Billy became the target. He got beat up for the first time in middle school, and the bullying continued throughout junior high and on into high school. He has been made fun of, insulted, and physically attacked, over and over. He’s been assaulted so badly that medical treatment was required to fix the damage. He’s been attacked on the school bus, in the bathroom, and in the classroom. His classmates even started a group on Facebook, a popular internet site, called “Every One That Hates Billy Wolfe.” They posted a picture of him on the web page and called him perverse and unflattering names, posting them on the Internet for all the world to see. And when one asks the obvious question, “Why?,” there is simply no answer. No one knows. Billy is simply hated, and treated viciously.
(Dan Berry, A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly, New York Times (March 24, 2008), available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/24/us/24land.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&sq=bullying&st=cse&scp=2 (last visited February 3, 2009)).
Hopefully you’ve never been treated like Billy. But, if you have ever been hated, I imagine it was an experience that you will never forget.
B. Perhaps there are people here this morning for whom the types of experiences I have been describing are not a thing of the past. Perhaps they are ongoing events of your present. Maybe right now you are being left out and rejected by those you want to accept you. Or, maybe right now you feel the pain that comes from being insulted or made fun of. Or perhaps right now you know what it is to be hated. Maybe your present is filled with mistreatment and abuse.
C. If you have felt this way or do feel this way, or if you love someone who does, I have good news for you this morning. Jesus understands. He has been there, too. He has been mistreated and abused. He has been insulted and ostracized for things he could not change. He has been rejected by those he desperately wanted to be close to. And he has been hated for no reason. He understands. He knows what it feels like. He can empathize with our emotional pain.
D. We are continuing this week with our study in which we are looking at the Gospel of Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises. Open your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 2. As I have previously explained, on a number of occasions Matthew tells us about something Jesus did or something Jesus said, and then explains how that action or those words fulfilled something God had promised long ago. Matthew does this to underscore for us that Jesus really is the hero that God promised to send into our world to save us. Let’s look at the second of those promises this morning. It is found in the second chapter of Matthew, beginning in the nineteenth verse. Look at it with me. Matt 2:19–23. The Bible says,