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Summary: This message series inspired by Kyle Idleman's book, "Not a Fan."

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“Missing the Mark”

A Fan or a Follower - #4 of 5

Jerry Watts

Matthew 23

(Note: This series is inspired by Kyle Idleman’s book – “Not a Fan”)

* His name was Matt Emmons. In the 2004 Olympics, he was competing in the 50-meter three-position rifle event and was one shot away from winning the gold medal. As he took his position to fire the final shot, all he had to do was ‘hit the target.’ And he did hit the target, but it was the wrong target. He was standing in lane 2 and made a shot which would have won the gold medal had it hit the target in lane 2 but he shot the target in lane three. Instead of a winning score of 8.1 he received a 0. Instead of winning the gold, he fell to 8th place. The wrong target.

* We see a picture of this happening in Matthew 23. Today we tend to have disdain for the Pharisees, but we need to understand that THEY THOUGHT they were following the Lord, they wanted to follow Him, and they were following HARD as we will see. The problem was for them was they were following the wrong thing, looking at the things, and aiming toward the wrong target. Thus Our Message!

* As we have begun to consider the question, “Are you a fan or follower”, many, if not most, of us don’t desire to be only fans. We want to be, have a desire to be, and even believe (as did the Pharisees) to be followers.

* In Matthew 23, Jesus attempts to get the attention of the fans. Let’s read about it.

* As you might be able to tell, when Jesus addresses the fans (Pharisees) this is not a moment he is attempting to gather everyone around, lock arms, and sing “We are the world” or ‘cum-buy-a.’ He is very deliberate, very confrontational, and very serious because, as He spoke to the crowd, disciples and the scribes & Pharisees who were listening, because Jesus is interested in one thing. He wants to turn fans into followers. Don’t miss how He exposes the truth – about them & about us.

1. The Classes of Fans – You know what a ‘class’ system is. Many countries are in bondage to the class system. The different classes of fans are even present today.

* In verse 2 Jesus gives honor where honor is due. He points out that the scribes are Pharisees are in the ‘chair’ of Moses. This ‘chair’ is similar to the position we hear in modern day at a college or university. (“The Preaching Chair of Adrian Rogers”). Jesus says, “Do what they say and not what they do because they don’t practice what they preach. This is sign ONE of a fan. He can tell you what to do but he/she doesn’t adhere to it. If you follow the text down through verse 7 you’ll discover that the ‘fan’ does everything in his/her power to be recognized and honored as a follower but it is self deception. We know this because 7 times Jesus pronounces a ‘woe’ on this group of ‘Spiritual elite.’ We don’t really use this word today but it is an expression of both grief & curse; and Jesus follows each ‘woe’ with a scathing rebuke to these leaders. The Leader.

* In large measure Jesus is speaking to the ruling party called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a group of 72 men. These men came from 2 groups: the Sadducees and the Pharisees. (you can get the idea of Congress made up from the 2 parties)

* When it came to interpreting scripture, as a general rule, the Sadducees were very liberal while the Pharisees were ultra conservative.

* Interestingly, the Sadducees served as the Chief Priest and Elders and we born into the family line that gave them access to this ‘prestigious’ office while the Pharisees only got there by hard work. For instance, they had to memorize the first 5 books of the Bible (the Pentateuch). They worked long and hard at the scripture.

* When thinking about the fans of Jesus – today we have some Sadducees in the church. We have those who went to ‘Church’ 9 months before they were born, they never missed a service, they were in all the children mission groups, and one day (just as they knew they should have) they told the preacher they wanted to join the church and possessed all the right answers for his questions so they were Baptized into their heritage. It was easy, simply, and normal.

* We also have the Pharisees, that is, those who have had to work for it. Pharisees define salvation and discipleship as ‘do.’ Their mantra is ‘work at little harder,’ ‘try a little extra,’ and ‘do a little more.’ They rate discipleship based on how much work they do, how many verse they have memorized, and maybe how many ministries they are involved in.

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