Weekly Scriptures | Sermon Notes | Sermon Video

2023-04-14 | Matthew 21 | Going on the OffensiveWe often emphasize the “gentle as a dove” side of Jesus: His gripping compassion, undeserving forgiveness, admirable meekness, authentic humility, unmerited mercy, never-ending grace, and His uncanny ability to understand everything about us and to touch our hearts exactly the way we need at the precise moment we need it. But there’s another side to Jesus, the “wise as a serpent” side. It’s the in-your-face side that says it like it is—not that He had completely avoided confrontation before; He had His moments. He rebuked a few cities, addressed controversies over the Sabbath, referred to religious leaders as hypocrites, and called their doctrine hypocrisy, and even rebuked them when their manmade traditions caused violations against God’s laws. But now we are just four days from His crucifixion, and gentle Jesus has begun the final phase of His earthly ministry. Suddenly He does not seem so measured in how He deals with the religious elite. In fact, He seems to have gone on the offensive.

Can you recall what happened after King David committed that atrocity with Bathsheba and then schemed to cover it up? He would do anything to hide his mistake, even murder. He could have taken any available woman he desired. Instead, he impregnated a married woman and had her poor husband killed to hide his sin. Immediately the Lord sends Nathan, David’s prophet, to tell him a story. It’s a parable but David thinks it’s real. It’s the type of story you tell someone to show him something about himself. Nathan describes a poor man who owned one little lamb, a lamb his entire family treated like one of the children. He also depicts a rich man who refused to feed a hungry traveler from his many flocks and herds, so he confiscated the poor man’s only lamb. David was infuriated that anyone could do such a thing—a man like that should be put to death. Yes, a man who owns many and takes from a man who has just one deserves death, after he restores the poor man four-fold. David is being more than a bit obtuse here, don’t you think? Nathan then fills in the blank; “David, you are that man!

Y’shua uses the same approach towards religious hypocrites, for whom He has grown increasingly intolerant. He tells a story of two sons, one who says he won’t obey but does, and one who says he will obey but does not. Then He shares an elaborate parable about a business owner and the operators who run his vineyard. The end of the story has the operators rejecting and killing THE SON of the owner, somehow believing they can usurp his inheritance and get away with it. They can’t and they don’t. After the story the Pharisees, listening nearby, looked at one another and said, “I think He is talking about us!” Do you think? Earth to religious hypocrites—He is! Their reaction: No worries, we’re not offended; it taught us a valuable lesson. NOT! Their true sentiment: Let’s get this guy and take Him out, so we don’t have to give Him what is rightfully His: our obedience, loyalty, thanksgiving, and praise! Hey, wait a second; that’s exactly what the parable exposed! Brilliant, simply brilliant. Gentle as a dove AND wise as a serpent!