I began by asking a simple question: Have you ever found yourself caught in a Catch-22 situation? I bet you have. We all have. And I couldn't help but notice that there was a Catch-22 right in front of us... Read Matthew 22:15-22
These Catch-22 situations are not foreign to Jesus. Oh no, my friends, they are not. Jesus, in His wisdom, often found Himself in these very situations. He knew that He was being set up, entrapped, if you will. Now, entrapment is illegal, but in that moment, they were actively trying to ensnare Jesus. And I couldn't help but marvel at the grace of our Lord.
But have you ever considered how Jesus could call someone a hypocrite? I mean, really think about it. Picture this: you're at work, and your boss, the person you look up to, calls you a hypocrite. That's an HR complaint waiting to happen, isn't it? The candor Jesus displayed in those moments is truly remarkable. And what's even more astonishing is that sometimes the truth hurts, my friends. Is this the Jesus we know and appreciate? Is this the gentle Jesus we often talk about, the one who forgives us and welcomes us with open arms? But what about those moments when Jesus not only called someone a hypocrite but went so far as to label Peter as Satan and told him to get away? It's a side of Jesus that challenges our perceptions, doesn't it?
To truly understand the significance of the seven verses we discussed that day, you must grasp what led up to them. You see, at the beginning of verse 21 in Matthew 22, Jesus entered Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecies. He entered the temple, saw the chaos, and even flipped the tables. And if you read the Gospel of John, you'd know that Jesus didn't stop at flipping tables; He made a whip! Can you believe it? He didn't harm anyone, mind you, but He drove people away with that whip. Then He called them thieves for turning His Father's house into a den of thieves. And it didn't end there, my friends. Jesus cursed a tree for not bearing fruit! Now, isn't that a side of Jesus that we don't often hear about?
As if that weren't enough, Jesus faced challenges from the authorities and responded with parables like the Parable of the Two Sons and the Parable of the Evil Farmers. These stories had layers of meaning, challenging the very foundations of their beliefs. And if you continue reading Matthew 22, you'll encounter the Parable of the Great Feast, where a king's generous invitation is met with indifference, hostility, and even violence. It's a stark contrast to the image of the meek and mild Jesus we often hold.
And then we arrive at Matthew 22:15, the focal point of our sermon that day. The Pharisees were determined to find something to use against Jesus, but they were too cunning to do it themselves. So they sent their disciples, those who should have known better, along with supporters of Herod, to confront Jesus. They began with flattery, calling Him a teacher, acknowledging His honesty, impartiality, and lack of favoritism. But, my friends, they had ulterior motives, and they weren't subtle about it. They were politically persecuting Jesus.
It was in this moment that Jesus displayed radical candor. He saw through their facade and called them hypocrites. He challenged them, asking why they were trying to trap Him. And yet, Jesus knew them intimately. He had a relationship with them, and even in their hypocrisy, He chose to engage with them.
I couldn't help but draw parallels to a book I've been reading lately, "Radical Candor" by Kim Scott. She talks about the importance of having a relationship with someone before challenging them directly. It's a concept she calls radical candor, and it resonates with how Jesus dealt with those around Him. You see, Jesus didn't just call them out to hurt their feelings; He did it because He cared deeply for them and wanted them to grow.
It's incredible how Jesus used radical candor to address the hypocrisy within the church and the world. He knew each person personally, and His challenge was rooted in a desire for our eternal well-being.
I cannot help but wonder how many of us are walking away from the powerful message of the gospel because it's uncomfortable or challenging. Jesus doesn't just want to save us from hell; He wants a deep, meaningful relationship with each one of us. He knows us by name, and His love is unwavering.
So, my friends, I encourage you not to be among those who are amazed by Jesus' teachings but then walk away. Let us be amazed and follow Him wholeheartedly, not out of fear but out of love for the One who knows us intimately and cares for us deeply. Amen.
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