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  • Pastor Brett

Woe or Wow #4


https://www.behance.net/gallery/110813615/Sermon-Illustrations-2021

How do you show someone you love them - really love them? I suppose the ultimate example of that is a proposal of marriage. Way back in 2009, a young man named Reed Harris planned to propose marriage to his love, a young lady named Kaitlin Whipple. He decided to hide the engagement ring in a Wendy’s Frosty milkshake.

“Reed and Karen and a group of their friends went to a Wendy’s for Frosties. The friends were in on his plans and recorded what they expected to be a heartwarming proposal on a cell phone. But the other women in the group, eager to hurry the discovery process, made the mistake of challenging Whipple to a race. Being rather competitive, she grabbed a spoon and wolfed down the entire contents of the cup.

“Harris checked everyone’s cups and didn’t find the ring! The video shows him whispering in her ear that she had eaten her engagement ring.

“Whipple’s gut reaction was disbelief, the story being harder to swallow than the ring. Instead of marriage, Harris proposed a trip to the local hospital for X-rays. It was only when the technician handed her an image showing the ring inside her that Whipple accepted the truth.

“Later, one of their friends pointed out that Harris still hadn’t proposed. A friend captured the tender moment in a picture that shows him looking at the camera with a sheepish grin and Whipple holding the X-ray of her ring.

Two days later, the crisis passed. “After getting [her ring] cleaned, Whipple finally slipped the elusive ring on her finger and posted another photo.”

According to Kaitlin’s social media, the couple is still married. They have adopted one child and hope to adopt another soon. Their story has a happy ending, but there must be easier ways to show your love!

“Woe!” to those content with mere appearances. “Wow!” to those whose faith is manifest deep within their character.

1. Matthew 23:27-28 = Woe #6, to Those with Superficial Spirituality.

On the surface, the hypocrites were monuments to godliness (27). As is the case in our own culture, TOMBS were made and maintained as a way of honoring the dead. Their WHITE-WASHED TOMBS were indicative of caring maintenance and looked BEAUTIFUL.

Every year, just before the Passover, it was customary to white-wash tombs with a lime solution so that pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem would not accidentally stumble across a gravesite and become ceremonially unclean and thereby unable to observe the Passover (NBS 19:16). They were BEAUTIFUL in the sense that they were freshly painted and a help to travelers. Just as these freshly painted tombs were to be avoided, so were Jesus’ followers to avoid following the example of the hypocrites.

Below the surface, the hypocrites were containers of evil (27-28). They were like a tomb, full of EVERYTHING UNCLEAN (27). The hypocrites were very scrupulous about avoiding all things declared ritually unclean, so this statement would’ve been deeply insulting to them.

Let’s not miss the exaggeration for effect here; like a tomb, the hypocrites were FULL of EVERYTHING UNCLEAN. Jesus has no half-measures here; His condemnation is clear.

Spiritually speaking, their insides did not match their outsides (28). On the outside, they appeared to others as RIGHTEOUS. On the inside, they were FULL OF HYPOCRISY AND WICKEDNESS.

By now we ought to have a full view of HYPOCRISY. Here’s a little more information about

WICKEDNESS. The Greek word (anomia) means “without the law.” Note the irony! While outwardly they appeared to observe the Law fully, even in their trivial applications of it, they were actually lawless people because they neglected to practice JUSTICE, MERCY, AND FAITHFULNESS that were the spirit of the LAW.

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus identified the greatest commandment as loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is additional proof that the inner life is an important aspect of good character than external deeds. Our words and deeds flow from the spring of our inner life. Externals start as internals. As we have seen in these last three woes, the priority of inner life further condemned the hypocrites.

2. 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 = Blessed are the Deep Lovers.

The first step was purification by means of the truth (1:22). The TRUTH to which Peter referred, as found in the previous paragraph: YOU WERE REDEEMED…WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST (19). This purification refers to moral purity: freedom from sin.

The second step: practice SINCERE and deep love for one another (1:22). The Greek word for LOVE (agape) is the kind of love that centers on others and sacrifices self to meet their needs.

SINCERE = Being purely in the TRUTH is the only thing that makes SINCERE LOVE possible. Also - SINCERE LOVE is in contrast to the hypocrisy we’ve been seeing in Matthew 23, which is also one of the vices listed in 2:1.

DEEPLY meant “fervently” or “intensely.” FROM THE HEART = As we’ve seen in Matthew 23, the inner parts of a person are the enduring and most important; they deserve our attention and work. These verses encourage love between believers, as a part of God’s command to love our neighbor.

The third step is to get rid of all the evil that inhibits your spiritual maturing and GROW UP (2:1-3). Given all that’s come before, (THEREFORE), one more thing needs to be done: focus your daily living on becoming more like Jesus.

This will require getting RID of sin, such as the examples Peter gives in 2:1. Remember, full featured godliness involves avoiding sin and seeking good. Seeking good involves nurturing an appetite for godliness like a newborn craves milk (2:2-3).

This is PURE SPIRITUAL MILK, which is the LIVING AND ENDURING WORD OF GOD (1:23). It is PURE in the sense that it is free from the vices listed in 2:1. It is also PURE in the sense that it is entirely true; THE WORD by which we received our faith (1:25).

This MILK nourishes our spiritual maturing; BY IT we GROW UP IN SALVATION (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Hebrews 5:11-14).

Our appetite for spiritual maturity is not based on abstract thinking only, it is also based on personal experience, HAVING TASTED THAT THE LORD IS GOOD (see Psalm 34:8).

Do all of this because you have been BORN AGAIN (1:23-25). Peter’s teaching about being BORN AGAIN comes from Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3. It is a new way of life that grounds us in the word and will of God, resulting in our transformation into the character and spirit of Jesus.

Our second birth is not a physical event but a spiritual one; this is Peter’s point in making the contrast between PERISHABLE and IMPERISHABLE. He identified the SEED as the LIVING AND ENDURING WORD OF GOD. The WORD is God’s self-revelation to us. It is LIVING AND ENDURING because He gave it and is a completely reliable basis for eternal life. Verses 24+25 are a quotation of Isaiah 40:6-8 which supports Peter’s contrast of PERISHABLE and IMPERISHABLE and his point about the WORD OF GOD being the SEED of eternal life.

Verse 25 assures the reader that the WORD OF THE LORD is exactly the WORD Peter preached to them. They can be confident their faith is based on a reliable foundation.

“Woe!” to those content with mere appearances. “Wow!” to those whose faith is manifest deep within their character.

To love God deeply requires faith. To love other people deeply requires risk. Let’s look at each of those.

Loving God requires faith which is manifest in trust and obedience. We must trust that He is not only real, but actively at work doing what is best for us. Our experiences in life will not always make that easy to believe. That’s where faith comes in to supply our determination to trust Him anyway. Then we are also careful to do what He says.

Loving others requires risk. People are complicated so there’s always a risk when you open up and love them sincerely that there may be some level of rejection. In even the longest and deepest relationships, it’s still possible to be hurt. That’s where we accept the risk because we believe the reward is worth it and because our love for that person is too great, too powerful an influence to do anything else.

Love is shown in ways large and small. To be real, it has to come from the deepest and noblest part of who we really are. Loving may not be easy, but it is always worth doing.


RESOURCES:

https://www.today.com/news/gulp-she-swallowed-her-own-engagement-ring-wbna29462344

Interpretation, Matthew, Douglas R.A. Hare

The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study, The Gospels - Matthew, David K. Lowry

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Matthew, D.A. Carson and Vol. 12, Edwin A. Blum

The Daily Study Bible Series, Matthew, Vol. 2, William Barclay

The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 11, Paul A. Cedar


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