Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall Who’s the Greatest?

Yesterday and today's blogs are from my book, World Changer's Guide to Turning Lives Right-Side Up.  It's available on Amazon.  

When character traits and cultural standards clash with Christ, the Kingdom suffers.

Matthew wrote his gospel to show how Jesus trained his disciples. By the time we get to chapter 17 he has shown us that Jesus:

1. met all the qualifications necessary to be God’s promised messiah

2. Took the lead in showing us how to enter into the realm where God is King, i.e. the kingdom of God by:

a. obedience to the message being proclaimed by God’s messenger, John the Baptizer, which told them to change their thinking. That the  inauguration of God’s Kingdom would make what they previously held obsolete.

b. revealing the process He went through in assessing His own beliefs and temptations that would have destroyed any hope of Him walking in the Kingdom of God.

c. surrendering his ideas to the truth of God’s reality.

d. walking in and demonstrating the power that is available to those who walk in God’s ways and principles, i.e. Heaven’s Kingdom.

3. taught those who were hungry to know, the principles by which God’s Kingdom operates This brings us to the next lesson in Jesus Disciple Training Program: deal with the disparity in their hearts. Things get personal as Jesus focuses on heart-held beliefs rooted in the principles of the world’s system.

FAILURE

Matthew 17 ends with an account of the disciples’ first failure in ministry. Something that should have been routine; they were unable to cast a demon out of a boy.

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. NKJV

This seriously messed with these men who had front row seats to the greatest demonstrations of God’s power in history: a few fish and loaves of bread multiplied to feed thousands, blind eyes and deaf ears opened, withered limbs restored and dead people raised to life. Deliverance from demons1 was just run of the mill stuff.

The disciples themselves had been used in a very successful Kingdom of God Campaign tour where demons were subjugated to their commands.

HE ANSWERS
Matthew 17
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. NKJV

The word translated unbelief in verse 20 means to withhold belief in divine power and putting faith instead in a lesser power –rendering their power neutral.

Jesus’ message to them that day: The reason you failed in this is because you have put your faith in something powerless and impotent. The kingdom reality is that when you anchor your faith in truth you would have been able to say, to this (or any other)
self-exalted enemy power that rears its ugly head, leave and it would be impossible for it to not obey you. (paraphrase)

THE LESSON BEGINS
Matthew 18:
1… At that time, the disciples came to Jesus,  saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" NKJV

As you read chapters 18, 19 and 20 keep their question in mind:

Who is the greatest in the kingdom?

Jesus begins to deal with the heart issue that their question revealed: pride and the various forms it takes.

  • If you believe you are greater than a child, you are not great by Kingdom of Heaven standards. Matthew 18:6-9

  • If you treat those who are weaker and younger with disdain and disregard, offending as you go, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 18:10-11

  • If you cannot see the value of one you are not great in Kingdom standards. Matthew 18:12-14

  • If you use a public platform to your advantage to ostracize another you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 18:15-17

  • If you refuse to forgive, you are not great by kingdom standards. Matthew 18:18-35

  • If you are one who would put away2 your wife, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:3-10

  • If you despise little children, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:13-15

  • If you think that keeping all the laws of Moses is what qualifies you for eternal life, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:16-22

  • If your trust is in your financial status, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:23-26

  • If you work in the kingdom, but not for the kingdom, you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:27-29

  • If you think, it is about rank, authority and privilege you are not great by Kingdom standards. Matthew 19:30

THE LESSON ENDS

Matthew 20:25-28
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." NKJV

TO PUNCTUATE THE POINT

What we have next might, at first seem out of place but it actually punctuates the lesson and is the segue to the next one. Matt 20:29-34

29 Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. 30 And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" 31 Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" 32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" 33 They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." 34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. NKJV

This story illustrates the fact that there are two kingdoms. All the efforts we put to trying to measure our worth in The Kingdom of Heaven by using the standards of the Kingdom of Darkness proves that we are blind and must have Jesus open our eyes to see our worth by God’s standards.

Failure was the springboard. A question exposed the beliefs that neutralized their effectiveness. And the lesson provides us with a guide to trouble shoot our own lives when I find myself walking in failure and ineffective ministry, it is time to examine my
heart.

Footnotes:
1. Luke 10:17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." NKJV


2. ‘Putting away’ was a common practice used at that time. Men would leave their wives and refuse to give them a legal divorce. Making it legally impossible for the woman to remarry, often forcing the woman into a life of abject poverty, illegitimate relationships, or slavery.