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“Are You The One?”

 

Matthew 11:1-18; Matthew 9:16-38

 

Jim Davis

 

This question is for those who are married: When did you know that the person you married was “the one”? What tipped it off?

 

The next question is for those who aren’t yet married: What will be the sign that you look for in those you date that will tell you “this is the one”?

 

The third question is for those who are looking for a church: “What is it that you are looking for in a congregation that will tell you “this is the one”? What is it about a church that would authenticate it as a congregation you would want to attend?

 

Authenticating whatever it is that you are looking for can be tricky business. It is tricky because you already have your mind made up as to what you are looking for. This mindset rules out anything or anyone who does not fit into the pattern you have formulated in your mind.

 

John the Baptist was heralding the good news about the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world. But amazingly he asks the one he heralded as the Lamb of God, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

 

Matthew 11:1-19

11:1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. 

 

2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

 

4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

 

7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

 

"'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' 

 

11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears, let him hear.

 

16 "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

 

17 "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'

 

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (NIV)

 

“What did you go out . . . to see?”

 

John asks, “Are you the one?” Partly out of disillusionment, and partly because Jesus wasn’t the type of Messiah he was expecting. Jesus simply reminded John of what he should be looking for.

 

Matthew11:4-6

4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." NIV

 

I think this was all John needed in his disillusionment. He knew the signs of a prophet—healing, giving sight to the blind, lame walking, leprosy cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, good news preached to the poor. No doubt once John sat down and thought about Jesus reply, his doubt was removed.

 

Jesus asks the crowd the question, “What did you go out . . . to see?” What you go out to see is the more important than asking, “Are you the one?” This is especially true if you are looking for the wrong thing.

 

This is true if you want to see the Messiah. Are you looking for Jesus, or are you looking for a church or congregation that lives up to your ideas of what it ought to be. It may surprise many of us in this audience how few are really looking for Jesus today.

 

What was it that kept the people from seeing that John the Baptist was the Elijah like prophet heralding the way for Jesus? What was it that made the people think that John had a demon, and Jesus was a drunkard? It was the same thing that makes it hard for the masses to see Jesus today. Jesus wasn’t what they went out to see.

 

Have you ever noticed the pictures of Jesus hanging on walls today? Do you believe that’s what Jesus really looked like? Those portraits of Jesus leave the impression that he had been emasculated. He looks so effeminate that you wonder how he could ever have grown a beard. You would think that he walked around with limp wrists. Is it not any wonder why many men are turned off by modern day “Christianity”? That’s not what men want to see when they seek to see Jesus. Most men want to be men. They need to see Jesus as a real man. I think it is just as important for women to see Jesus as a real man. This is especially true if you want your man to be like Jesus.

 

Are you looking for a church or Jesus? If we are simply looking for a church we may end up like children in the marketplaces—or should we say the children looking for toys in Toys R Us who can never really make up their mind about what they really want.

 

I took my three year old grand daughter, Skylar and her nine year old brother Dakota, to Toys R Us the other day. My grand daughter went in the store and I directed her to the girl’s toys. She marched up and down every aisle like a little grown up. She was just looking at the toys. I thought before I went that I would be there all day as she played with the toys trying to make up her mind about what she wanted. But it didn’t happen. She didn’t want to play with the toys. I thought she was sick or something, it was strange. She walked up and down several aisles. I was thinking how strange she isn’t even seeing anything that interests her. That was even stranger. I was thinking this is really weird. I looked over at my nine year old grandson, and he was playing with the action men as he tried to figure out which one—or ones he wanted me to buy. Then all of a sudden as Skylar was walking down an aisle she grabs a box and hugged it real tight. She held on for dear life. It was a Barbie doll head. I thought how weird, she definitely wants it. No fuss. No whimpering. Not even a word. That’s all she wanted, I couldn’t even get her to glance at the other toys. Her mind was made up.

 

I wasn’t about to take it away from her, after all it was only $8.95. I could only think, “I will never get out of Toys R Us this cheap again as long as I live with any of my other grandchildren. I surely want get out this cheap with Dakota,” and I didn’t—he was shopping for his birthday present.

 

When I got home I told my daughter how grown up Skylar acted as she was looking for a toy. She informed me that Skylar knew what she wanted before she asked me to take her to the toy store. I didn’t know that Skylar’s friend, Rachel, had a Barbie doll head and Skylar wanted one just like it. The mystery was solved. She knew what she went out to see, but what she never realized was that she settled for much less than what I was willing to spend on her. I thought, “Well it won’t make much difference, because I know she will make up for her loss the next time she gets me in Toys R Us.” So I enjoyed every moment of it.

 

When it comes to looking for Jesus—we may be like Skylar looking for toys—we may settle for much less than what he really wants to offer because we only find what we are searching for. How many are there who celebrate Christ’s birth that never see beyond the nativity scene, they never see beyond the Christ child, they never really see Jesus because they only find what they are looking for in the season of Christmas—gifts and cheer—they really never see the real Jesus. They settle for far less than what Jesus really has to offer.

 

How many are there who only find the kind of church they are looking for, but they never see Jesus. They want see him because they will be satisfied if they simply find the church they are looking for—the church of their choice.

 

It makes me wonder, “How many in this congregation have only found what they are looking for, but it isn’t Jesus?” Maybe you need to ask yourself, “What is it that I really need to be looking for?” I see many come and go in the church that really don’t know what they are looking for. They are like the children in the market place. They don’t know if they want to dance or mourn—they are never satisfied with either.

 

“Then what should we go out to see?”

 

Jesus asks, “Then what did you go out to see?” I would like to rephrase this question a little different, but in essence it is the same question. “What are we looking for in Jesus?” The danger is that we will probably only find what we are looking for, while overlooking what Jesus is all about.

 

Are we looking for a church or are we looking for Jesus? Should we go out looking for a great cathedral to worship in? Should we look for a church that seems to be enjoying health, wealth and prosperity? Should we look for a church that is swayed to practice the accepted immoral practices of the culture in which it is found. Or do we really know what we should be looking for? Should we even be looking for a church, or should we just look for Jesus.

 

John’s disciples came to Jesus asking, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" (Matthew 9:14 NIV). They simply were not seeing what they went out to see. It is often harder for religious people to see Jesus than it is for those who aren’t religious at all. Why? Religious people only see what they go out to see. It is more difficult to teach a person whose mind is made up as to how things ought to be than it is to teach someone who knows nothing. Jesus puts it this way:

 

Matthew 9:16-17

16 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

 

I remember a particular hand made quilt that we had growing up in our childhood home. Someone had put a lot of work into it, but they had used a single piece of unshrunk wool right in the center of the quilt. When it was washed this single piece of wool shrunk and distorted the entire quilt. This is what happens when we try to fit Jesus into what we may think we know about him. He warps our perception. The danger is that we will reject him because we didn’t see what we went out to see.

 

The fermentation of freshly squeezed grape juice releases gases that expand. The ancient people didn’t put this fresh squeezed grape juice in old wine skins for they were dry and brittle. The fermentation gases would expand bursting the skins losing everything in the process. Likewise, Jesus explodes our thinking of what we think God ought to be. When he explodes our ideas about God—we often reject him.

 

What Tips Us off that Jesus Is The Messiah

 

Those outside the mainstream religious circles of the first century seemed to have much less difficulty seeing the real Jesus. What was it that tipped them off that he was the Messiah.

 

The first miracle Matthew’s gospel mentions Jesus doing was the healing of a leper.

 

Matthew 8:1-4

8:1 When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

 

3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." NIV

 

This probably wasn’t the first miracle Jesus performed, but it is the first one Matthew records. Matthew wanted his Jewish readers to understand not only the miracle but the physical, social and religious ramifications of Jesus’ work. This leper was a person the Jews could not physically touch without becoming unclean themselves. He was not allowed to come to the temple. Neither was he to enter a crowded place without announcing he was a leper. The physical, social and religious ramifications of touching this man were broken by Jesus. Jesus reached out and touched the leper before he cleansed him of his leprosy. He hadn’t purposely been touched from the moment he contracted leprosy. We can only imagine how Jesus’ touch felt to this man.

 

The people in Jesus’ time were tipped off that this was no ordinary person walking through the streets rubbing shoulders with the unclean—this was their greatest tip that Jesus was a man they needed to take a second look at. It wasn’t just the miracles Jesus performed that tipped them off; it was his willingness to cross the social and religious barriers to touch them that really tipped them off. He was a man who came to salvage—he came to break down the barriers to bring them into fellowship with God.

 

Jesus’ willingness to cross social and religious barriers created enormous faith in those who were held back because of those barriers. His willingness to cross those barriers was the very thing that blinded the religious folks to his true identity. You see Jesus wasn’t the kind of Messiah they went out to see.

 

Matthew 8:5-13

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

 

7 Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

 

8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

 

10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

 

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour. NIV

 

There was much more to what Jesus was doing than simply crossing the social and religious barriers. He challenged those who perpetuated barriers. They thought the barriers existed because of God’s disapproval of those who needed healing. Jesus challenged their beliefs to the very core. The message Jesus conveyed as he crossed these barriers was the message of salvation—it was the message that he was there to salvage their lives.

 

Matthew 9:16-38

16 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

 

18 While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

 

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."

 

22 Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

 

23 When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24 he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

 

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"

 

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"

 

"Yes, Lord," they replied.

 

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this." 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

 

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."

 

34 But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons."

 

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." NIV

 

Those who considered themselves unworthy, the blind and the demon possessed found the Messiah they were looking for, but the Pharisees never saw Jesus because he wasn’t what they went out to see.

 

Conclusion:

 

Christ has always challenged the barriers men have erected. He came to remove the barriers.

 

Ephesians 2:11-22

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)- 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

 

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

 

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. NIV

 

Jesus Christ died to remove the barriers that you believe keep you from God.

 

What have you come here to see today? I hope you are looking for Jesus? Jesus can salvage you life in spite of your circumstances.

 

 

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