Summary: Jesus wanted His disciples to understand His teachings so that they could be fruitful. He wants the same for us today.
Parables of Matthew (Part One)
Text: Matthew 13: 44 – 52
Wow! It’s been a crazy week! You ever have those times when you’ve got so much running through your head that it kind of just gets jumbled up and then your brain just kind of shuts down? Writers block is not good for a pastor. And it was messed up, because after the Easter Holiday I had intended to go right back to our study in the Book of Judges, but about Wednesday I felt like the Lord was leading me a different way… so I prayed and prayed… and… NOTHIN’!
So I figured, “Well maybe I’ll preach a few messages about what happened between the resurrection and Pentecost… Yeah! That’s it! I’ll title it ‘From Passover to Pentecost!’ It’ll be great!” So I started on that… got going, I even started the power point for it… and wouldn’t you know it… I felt the Lord leading me a different way.
So for most of Saturday I was wrestling in prayer… MJ said I was “grumpy” and “on edge” yesterday. And I probably was… it’s just that you know you’re trying to focus on hearing the Lord and you’ve got 20 other things trying to keep your focus as well. Finally I was able to get some quiet time, and then I spent most of last night working on this. I really don’t like to do sermons this way, because I like to spend several hours in study on the text, but I really believe this is what the Lord wants me to share with you this morning. And after you hear it, you can tell me if I missed it or not.
I don’t know if any of you know who Penn Jillette is… he’s part of a two man act called Penn and Teller. They do illusions and magic tricks and comedy, and he’s an admitted atheist. I want to show you a video clip of something that happened to him a few years ago. (Or: I want to tell you about something that happened to him a few years ago after a show he had just done. A Christian approached him and gave him a Bible and shared the Gospel with him… and here’s what Penn Jillette said, “I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, how much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that.”) Now here’s a guy, whose not a Christian, he doesn’t believe in Jesus… but he understands a simple truth. He understands that if you truly believe that people are going to go to hell without Christ, and you refuse to share Him with them… you must not love them.
Now the reason we’re doing this today is to be trained for the Kingdom… that’s what Jesus is talking about to His disciples in our text… He wants them… (Verse 52) to be trained for the kingdom. Now the crowds who had also heard these parables, they didn’t quite understand everything that Jesus was saying, they weren’t privy to these explanations that Jesus gave to His disciples… But the disciples not only heard the parables, they also got to talk to Jesus after words and get the full explanations for them… and so do we, because they’re written down in God’s Word. And Jesus explained it to them because He wanted them to not only get what He was saying, but to be changed by what He was saying.
Now I’ve shown that video to several Christians over the years and I get one of three responses.
The first response is: “Wow! He’s right! I’m glad I share the gospel with people!”
The second response is: “Wow! He’s right, I need to share the gospel more.” And the third response is when a person goes on the defensive: “Well I’m not called to evangelism. I don’t have that gift.” And when someone says that to me I’ll usually ask them “What Bible are you reading?” But the fact is… most of the time; that’s the answer I get. And the fact is that often times we fail to live like the disciples we are called to be. We get scared. We back off, we don’t speak when we should speak, we run when we should be advancing. And so we need instruction. That’s the point of our text, and that’s going to be the point of the sermons you hear for the next few weeks.