- Sermon Notes
The Treasure of the Heart
As we left Jesus last week in Matthew chapter 12, we had just heard him declare, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” God had given the Sabbath day to Israel as a sign to them that they were His people, but also to give them rest for their souls.
But the leaders of Israel had taken that which God had meant for good, to lighten their burden, and to refresh their souls and turned it into a religious burden that had the exactly opposite result.
One of the greatest promises that Jesus ever spoke is found at the end of Matthew 11, “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest for your souls. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” God knows that man is greatly burdened and He sent His Son to free us both from the burden of our sins as well as the burden of religiosity.
One of the themes that we see running through the book of Matthew as well ask through much of the Bible is the question, “How will you respond?” Because God so loved the world, He sent His only begotten Son so that we might believe and have everlasting life. God sent His Son and the question now is how will we respond to His Son?
In this chapter there are two distinct groups with two completely different responses. We see the Pharisees resisting God and then will see the common people opening their hearts to receive. Jesus then points to their hearts and reveals that there is where the question is truly answered. These are powerful words for us to understand as well because He will also address a question that many have today.
I. No Pharisees Please
- When Jesus entered into the synagogue there were some Pharisees there who saw a man with a withered hand and decided it was an opportunity.
- The question we are asking in this study is, how will you respond? When we look at the response of the Pharisees, it's a lesson in how not to respond to God; and we are even told why - because of the hardness of their heart.
A. Don’t look for faults in others
- You would think that if they had any heart at all, they would see a man with a withered hand, know that Jesus had the power to heal, and bring the man to Him.
- But instead, they looked for an opportunity to accuse Him.
- From the gospel of Mark we get an insight as to what was happening with the Pharisees.
Mark 3:5, After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
- They had become “experts” at the law which simply meant that they had memorized many rules.
- And this gave them power and authority which they exercised by pointing out the faults and specks in other people's lives.
- Jesus had some of His strongest words against this religious hypocrisy.
Matthew 23:24-25, “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside are full of robbery and self-indulgence.”
B. God wants us to have a heart of mercy
- As Jesus pointed out, the real problem was the hardness of their hearts. Hardhearted people don't respond to the truth - you can't talk to them because they're completely unteachable.
- And then you see also that they lacked any concern or care for others. They lacked mercy or compassion.
Matthew 12:7 God desires mercy and not sacrifice.
- In the middle of this scene was a man with a withered hand. Luke tells us that it was his right hand. Luke was a physician;
Illus – It’s always encouraging when you see the medical profession being exact. There was a person who came to the emergency room with the terrible ear infection and the Dr. wrote on the chart to have medicine placed into the ear. And so as to be careful to be exact, he made a note that it was the right ear; R-ear. Unfortunately, the nurse didn't see the - .
- When Jesus saw the man with a withered hand He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” In other words, He said, let me have your withered hand, extend to God that which is broken and crushed.
- Jesus then explained the heart of God in verse 11, “If a sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not a man take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep?”
- We don't know how this man crushed his hand, but no doubt there would have been many who would have accused him of some sin. That would be their explanation for the tragedy. But here again Jesus fulfilled that invitation, “Come unto me all who are burdened.”
- Knowing God’s heart is an important part of faith.
C. Don’t quarrel with the unteachable
- Rather than arguing and debating with the Pharisees over their misunderstanding of God's law and therefore misunderstanding God's heart, Jesus withdrew from there.
- We then read that these things are the fulfillment of prophecies of Isaiah the prophet.
- These verses show the heart of the Lord so powerfully, particularly verses 19-21. Notice that it says that God’s Servant would not quarrel. That seems a good example for all of us.
Illus - There are those who use debating and arguing as a way, or at least they think it's a way, to bring people to faith in Christ. When I was in Russia, I had many open discussions with atheists who were sincere in their discussion, but I refuse to debate with those who are unteachable and hard of heart.
There's an old saying, “Never wrestle a pig. They have way too much fun and you get way too dirty.”
- There are some great scriptures that give us so much insight on this very point.
Proverbs 20:3, Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.
Proverbs 17:27, A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
2 Timothy 2:24-25, The Lord's bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
II. A Tree is Known by its Fruit
- These are some of the most famous words that Jesus taught and they are a warning as well as an encouragement.
- But He is speaking about the heart and the fruit is that which others experience of our lives.
- The point of course is that God desires us to have lives that produce fruit that is good, a blessing to those around us. Let not the fruit that comes from you be bitter.
- Lemons are bitter, grapefruits are bitter, but the quince is one of the most bitter of all -don't be like that.
A. Our words reveal our heart
- That truth is found in verse 34, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Jesus said this immediately after calling them a brood of vipers. Why?
- Because they knew that Jesus was doing miracles and casting out demons by the power of God.
John 3:1-2 Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, said what they all knew to be true; He was a man of God.
- Therefore, knowing that Jesus was filled with the power of God, they had the unmitigated gall to accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan.
- From Jesus's response we have gained a tremendous insight into the spiritual victory which is ours when Jesus becomes the strongman in our lives.
Luke 11:21-22 Since Jesus is the strong man of our lives, who can overpower Him? Answer; no one.
- Once Jesus refutes the Pharisees’ accusation, He then points out that their problem is hardness of heart. That leads us to a very interesting question…
B. Understand the unpardonable sin
- In pointing out just how hard their hearts had become, Jesus taught that there is an unpardonable sin - the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
- I'm glad we can discuss this because many people are very concerned that they may have, at one time or another in their lives committed the unpardonable sin.
- First, it's important to understand that God is a forgiving God; that is His heart and His desire.
Psalm 103:12, As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
- Second, it's very important to clarify that if you have the slightest concern that you may have committed the unpardonable sin, it is sure evidence that you haven't. In fact, if a person has committed the unpardonable sin they would be so hard of heart they wouldn't have the slightest care or concern about it.
- What is the unpardonable sin? Seeing the work of the Holy Spirit, knowing full well that it is the work of God, and having the unmitigated gall, the hardness of heart, the audacity, to actually ascribe the Holy Spirit’s power to Satan.
- The unpardonable sin is not being so angry with God that you tell him so.
Illus – One time one of our kids (I actually forgot which one) was so angry with us that she said, “I hate you,” that didn't change a thing, I knew it was only for a moment.
C. There is no neutral ground
- Jesus made another powerful statement in verse 30 when he said, “He who is not with Me is against me.” In other words, there is no neutral ground.
- Some people don't like that statement because it doesn't sound politically correct, it doesn't sound all inclusive.
Illus - If you're sailing on the Titanic and you hear that it's hit an iceberg, there is no neutral ground. Either you get into a lifeboat or you're going down.
- The good news is that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that in believing in Him, He would not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus is God's only begotten Son, He's the only hope of the world.
Illus - Some try to take a neutral stance and say that Jesus was a good man, perhaps an ascended guru, or a teacher of good. But Jesus is the one who said here that there is no neutral ground. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Either he is a liar, a lunatic or he is Lord.
- The crowd was saying, “Could this man be the Messiah, the son of David?” They were on the edge of their seats ready to receive him.
- The Pharisees were resisting the Holy Spirit.
- How will you respond?
Illus - I will never forget Sergei, the first person who came to the Lord through our outreach in Russia. He was on the edge of his seat completely ready to respond because he was completely saying yes to the move of the Holy Spirit on his heart.
Matthew 12:9-37 NASB
9 Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"-so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He said to them, "What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." 13 Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. 15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
30 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 31 "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever
speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.