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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Bobby Schuller » Bobby Schuller - Follow Him Even Unto The Grave

Bobby Schuller - Follow Him Even Unto The Grave

Bobby Schuller - Follow Him Even Unto The Grave
TOPICS: Discipleship

Bobby Schuller: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Hey, good morning, everybody. It's such a joy to be with you. I know it looks like we're in Southern California outside or something. We're actually on the other side of the planet. We are in the northern part, right now, of Israel. Behind us is the Sea of Galilee. Just below us is Capernaum, and today, in our church, we're beginning a journey through the Holy Land. Today and in the next two Sundays, we're gonna be coming to you from the Holy Land while we have music in Irvine, worship in Irvine. We'll also becoming to you back and forth from Israel. So, we're really excited to bring you along on our trip and show us what it looks like to follow Jesus in the Holy Land. We're hoping that everybody learns a lot and that it's a really meaningful experience for you.

Hannah Schuller: Yes, hello from the Mount of Beatitudes. Many people believe this is where Jesus did his most famous teaching. So, thank you so much for joining us. You are loved.

Bobby Schuller: Let's begin with a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for calling us together, and we pray at the beginning of this short journey, Lord, that you would help us see the Bible come to life. Some of us have been reading it in black and white. We wanna read it in color. Show us what it means, Lord, to follow the Rabbi Jesus and to live in his eternal life every day. I pray that you'd help us grow as disciples and we thank you for calling us. It's in Jesus's name we pray, amen.

Hannah Schuller: Amen. Turn to the person next to you and say, "God loves you, and so do I".

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Hannah Schuller: In preparation for the message, Matthew 4:18 through 25, as Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea right here, he saw two brothers: Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," said Jesus, "and I will send you out to fish for people". At once, they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers: James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called to them and, immediately, they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. I love that. Every disease and sickness. News about him spread over all of Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea and the region across Jordan followed him, amen.

Bobby Schuller: Thank you for being part of our Hour of Power family. We're so glad you're worshiping with us today. Every day we receive viewer comments, prayer requests, and testimonials from viewers all around the world. Some with heartfelt prayers for my family and for the staff here and some with testimonies about how they've been touched by the Holy Spirit. A recent testimonial talked about how her connection with God was strengthened by spending time in prayer after the sudden death of her father.

Hannah Schuller: Psalm 54:2 says, "Hear my prayer, O God. Listen to the words of my mouth". To be still and sit with the Lord in silence and solitude can be so gratifying and moving. It gives us a chance to really hear from our God and seek out what he is calling us to do or not to do for that matter.

Bobby Schuller: Yeah, the Lord beckons us to lean into his presence, open our hearts before him, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we seek him first in our lives, his love naturally and effortlessly pours out within us and in turn through us to others.

Hannah Schuller: If you give God a little time every day, you'll be surprised how your spiritual health will shine brightly. Take a look at this special offer we have to help you get started.

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Bobby Schuller: Well, I'm here today with my good friend Ronnie Winter. Ronnie, I've known you for you seem a lot taller than me. We're standing on a hill 'cause we're at the Sermon on the Mount. We're about the same height, but, thank you. But, Ronnie, you're a marine archaeologist. You're very knowledgeable about the Bible, and you've been a tour guide in Israel since your 20s after serving in the Army, the Israeli Army, and it's great to see you again. We've known each other for I think 17 years, something like this, and we've had lots and lots of tour guides me, but you're one of my favorite. You're gonna be taking us through Israel over the next few weeks, but we're starting off in a wonderful place where Jesus's rabbinic ministry began. This behind us is the Sea of Galilee, then right now the Capernaum is down there, and we're on the Mount of Beatitudes, where tradition says Jesus gave a sermon on the mount. We don't know where it was, but it was somewhere like this, but tell us, first of all, about the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum and what life was like in the first century.

Ron Winter: Well, the Sea of Galilee was very lively the first century. Most of the fisherman villages are gonna be along the northern shore because most of the fish are gonna be here, so we have Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin right over here. These are same Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum that mentioned later on in Matthew 11, and the sea is a sweet water sea, very comfortable to be here. It's not a big sea. In matter of fact, it's a lake. We call it in Hebrew, but the Bible called it Sea of Galilee, so we go with that name.

Bobby Schuller: So, I wanna start with the idea that a lot of Christians don't recognize. They don't see it the way Jews would see it in the Gospels, but Jesus really begins first as a rabbinic ministry. I mean, he was a famous rabbi, wasn't he?

Ron Winter: Oh, he was super famous. I mean, everybody knew him in the area. He left Nazareth because the people didn't understand what he is, and he came to Capernaum. It was a bigger city here on the northern shore. He came to be, right away, one of the most popular rabbis around, and he was running around. We know that because from here to Chorazin and he goes to other cities. This is his base. This is a ministry. You know, Capernaum, out of 33 miracles, 10 are gonna be performed in Capernaum, so this is really his base.

Bobby Schuller: Yeah, so, I think that's something that people miss is how revered and respected rabbis were in these small Jewish communities around Galilee, so when Jesus invites these young people to follow him, it's a big deal, isn't it?

Ron Winter: It's a huge deal because, first of all, in order to become a disciple, you have to be a brilliant student, to have it almost by heart, and you can't become a disciple by saying, "Okay, I grew up to be disciple". You have to be picked up by rabbi. And here, Jesus is picking the 12 disciples, which are not the most brilliant one, but he knows what he wants to do. He knows that through them he can bring the new message.

Bobby Schuller: Mm-hm, it's amazing. Just down the hill here I can see Capernaum. Tell us a little bit about that city... or village.

Ron Winter: Capernaum is a city that's a fisherman village. It's right on the border between the kingdom of heaven and, that is, capital was here in Tiberias, and maybe the territory of Herod Phillip, so it was a border city, and that's why you have tax collectors like Matthew that are going to collect taxes from the people and the people who crossed the border, and it's a center city for the north part over here. When we excavate the city, and when I say we, I mean, the Franciscan excavated the city, and big part of the city was excavated, and we can see how people lived over there. Very simple people. Very simple life, no big buildings, but everything that we found in Capernaum is mentioned very much what we read in the Bible.

Bobby Schuller: And this is where Jesus picks up most of his disciples, right? Like, in I think most of his ministry is done within three or four miles of Capernaum, right?

Ron Winter: Absolutely. This is his center. This is his office. That's where he goes. This is where he comes back. Everything is going to be around Capernaum.

Bobby Schuller: A lot of people think he's really in Nazareth the most, but not really, even though that's maybe his hometown. So, how did he go from Nazareth to Capernaum? How did that happen?

Ron Winter: Well, you know, we know that, one side today, according to Isaiah 6, he was reading Isaiah 61 in the synagogue, and of course, said the people of Nazareth said, what is he talking about. I mean, is he referring that he is the Messiah? And they didn't like the idea. In those days there were two ways to solve the problem like that. One of them is to stone people to death and the other way was to push them from the cliff, and as we know, they chased him out of the city, tried to push him off the cliff, and the Bible tells us very clearly, he turn around and with a lot of authority, he walked through them, and he never ever comes back to Nazareth, and we call him Jesus of Nazareth because Constantine in the fourth century during the first economic convention gave him the title Jesus from Nazareth, but Matthew 9 is very clearly when it says Jesus went back to his city Capernaum.

Bobby Schuller: Oh, interesting. That's something I learned new today. So, Jesus really maybe didn't spend most of his life in Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem, as they said the Messiah would be, but then maybe he lived a lot of his life in Capernaum.

Ron Winter: He lived 3 years. I mean that's long enough, but he was born in Bethlehem because of census. He moved in with his parents back to the Galilee to Nazareth, but the main part of his life, the most powerful is when we take...

Bobby Schuller: We're gonna be in Israel for the next three weeks today and the next two weekends, but my hope is that people really understand the Jewishness of Rabbi Jesus and how that impacts us today as Christians, that we can see the Bible in fresh light if we see the Jewish part of Jesus. That's important, isn't it?

Ron Winter: Absolutely, one of the thing that I do as a tour guide is to try and to let people look at the Bible through his eyes, because... and when he came here to to Mount a Beatitude, he didn't come with a 12 Southern Baptists. He came with a bunch of Jews who followed him and admired him and wanted to hear every word and not to miss a word and they were witnessing every miracle that he did, so, he was very powerful.

Bobby Schuller: And he's sending all sorts of messages too. Like, I didn't know this but in Jesus's day, the rule was a rabbi could only have five disciples, right?

Ron Winter: Absolutely.

Bobby Schuller: So, why did Jesus have 12 then?

Ron Winter: Unusual, very unusual. You know, the rabbis going to pick five disciples. Only one rabbi in the history of the Jewish people had 7, it's Rabbi, He picked 12 disciples because he represents the 12 tribes of Israel, and for him, he wasn't just talking to 12 people, his message is for those 12 people, to all the 12 disciples, all the 12 tribes of Israel.

Bobby Schuller: Amen and to everybody today, so. Well, thank you Ronnie we're excited to begin this journey with you, and we're so glad to be here with you, thank you.

Ron Winter: Bye-bye.

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Welcome to Israel. If you're just joining us, we are coming to you on this weekend from Israel. We're here right now. It's an amazing feeling. I said earlier in the intro that it feels like when you're in a place like this, you've been reading the Bible and black and white, and all of a sudden, it comes to you in living color. You see the grass. You see the Sea of Galilee behind me, where Jesus walked on water and called the fishermen to follow him. So much of the culture and landscape that was there in the first century, a lot of it is still here. You can see many of the places from the Roman Empire, the ruins, you can see what the houses look like and what it felt like to be here, and most of all, there is just almost a spirit.

There's something in the air, but when you wake up in the morning to know that the Holy Spirit has done so much that this is Israel's land, where God made covenant with his people, where the Bible was written. It's a special thing, and I'm so glad you're with me. I know you're not here physically, but you know, you're with me in spirit, on TV, or online, and I'm so glad. I wanted to start our Holy land journey here. Many of you know that, of course, for all Christians, the teachings of Jesus are important, but for me, the Beatitudes and especially the Sermon on the Mount are so important. Years ago, I took about a year, and I memorized the Sermon on the Mount.

It's about three chapters, and I just did it as low as I could. I did about a verse every day or two, and I took my time, to the point where I could recite the whole thing, and I noticed that as I did that, the word's got into me, and I watched how the sermon of Jesus changed, and there's something about memorizing scripture that's different than studying it, and when you study, you kind of almost approached the text looking for what you already think or something, but when you memorize it, you catch these words that you wouldn't have caught before by just simply studying it. And so, I watched as the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount transformed my life.

So let's begin there. You know, I notice I made this reflection maybe about three months ago, as a pastor, I do lots of weddings. I think I've done hundreds of weddings and actually in Orange County, where I live the average cost of a wedding is about $30,000, and I've noticed that there are so many people who focus so much on the wedding and not on the marriage. Like, even for me, I've been talking to a pastor, most of the questions are not, "Pastor, how do I, you know, be a good husband? How do I be a good wife"? And people aren't asking, "Pastor, what's a Jesus way of living in my marriage? You know, or Pastor, how do we have a happy marriage a raise good children"?

All of those things are important, and I'm always happy to do that, and the wedding is important, but I noticed that when people are engaged, they think a lot more about the wedding than they do about the marriage, but do you know what? The wedding will give you, you know, one or two days of happiness, hopefully, maybe it won't, but a good marriage will give you a lifetime of happiness. I think so often as Christians, we proverbially focus more on the wedding than the marriage, you know. We focus a lot, and we should, but, we focus a lot on things like baptism, praying a prayer, getting people to make a personal decision, and those things are super important. I'm glad that people do that, but sometimes we forget that beyond a wedding, there's also a marriage.

There's a relationship with God that brings us life, and this is the first thing I wanna tackle today, the way that so many of us. We have this great sort of wedding memory. When I came to God, I chose him or he chose me and I was forgiven and rescued and became a new creation, but maybe we feel like in our daily lives, we still feel thirsty for God or maybe we feel confused or we wonder why we're still struggling with those same things. We wonder why we can't feel the Spirit, and I think it's because so often in our churches are sermons and sometimes I do this, we make the mistake of forgetting that Jesus isn't just our Savior. He's our rabbi. He's here to give us the words of life, and we're gonna learn in that way.

Here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins his sermon with the beatitudes. I've heard many wonderful sermons on the beatitudes, and all of them, to me, usually teach something that's really meaningful and really helpful, but I find that many teachers and pastors actually misunderstand what Jesus is saying in the beatitudes. Typically, the sermon goes here are the, you know, eight or nine things that if you follow these things, then this will happen to you. So if you can learn to be poor in spirit, then you'll inherit the kingdom of God. Like, it's a new 10 commandments, but you know that's not what Jesus was doing. Jesus wasn't giving in beatitudes, here's eight or nine things you can do. Jesus was making a proclamation. Poor in spirit isn't a good thing.

If you're poor in spirit, it means your heart is broken. It means you have no will left. It means you've been crushed by life, but Jesus says if you've been crushed by life, if you can't even bring yourself to believe in God anymore, if you've had it with church, you've had it with whatever, blessed are you because the kingdom of God has come. We see that there's another beatitudes in Luke and it makes it a little bit more clear because Jesus says blessed are those who are poor. Blessed are those who are hungry. Blessed are those who weep. Blessed are those who are insulted, right?

And that's how we're supposed to read the beatitudes, not to read it as commandments of things we should do but rather a proclamation from Jesus, saying, if you're brokenhearted, if you're pushed around, if you you need justice and you never got it, if you've been bullied, if you've been left behind, if you're uninvited, if you're unwanted, if you're hungry, if you're sick, if you're broken. You're in luck. The kingdom of God has come. In fact, this word "blessed," we often think it's like blessed, right, like, you're holy the word blessed means happy. A lot of scholars think that the opening of the Sermon on the Mount is a hyperlink back to Psalm 1 that also begins with blessed is the one who does not walk in the way of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers, but his delight is on the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He's like a tree planted by streams of living water.

It's a hyperlink to a happy life. It's a promise that if you want a good, rich, wonderful life, something that Rabbi Jesus called eternal life, follow his commands, live life his way, and you'll inherit the life you're looking for, but there's one thing that will never pass away and that is the Word of the Lord, the Spirit of God living within you, and if you build your life on the Words of Jesus, that's what leads to a truly good and happy life. So then after those proclamations, Jesus tells us what this life looks like and how to live this way and if we trust in these words we'll live a good life. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount ends with this line. He says anyone who hears these words of mine is like a man who built his house on the rock.

The rains came down. The streams rose, but the house stood because it had its foundation on the rock, but anyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a man who built his house on a wadi. You know what a wadi is? We don't always know in the US, but here and especially, in the desert, you have these empty riverbeds full of sand, and most of the time, it's a completely safe place to be, but when a big rain comes, the rain will come down and rush into the desert and these big flash floods will come through and destroy everything in its path. Very often animals or travelers who don't know better will stop and maybe, you know, the animals will graze in the grass or something like that because sometimes wadi has some water underneath and they'll graze from whatever's there, but it's a dangerous place to be.

You know, it's like a man who has never been to the desert and he's looking for a place to build his house. He says, "I'm going to build it here on the wadi". It seems like the best place, but the truth is when trouble comes, it's coming for him, and that's what it's like when we build our lives on something other than the Bible, on the Word of God that was given to us. Jesus promised to us is if we understand this and we build our lives around it, that even when trouble comes when the rain comes down, we'll have a strong foundation. We have to think that the foundation is Jesus himself and it is but he says very plainly it's his teachings. We're gonna get into that deeper.

So you know, I think it's interesting. One of the things I always remember when I come back to Israel is the power of and honor of being a disciple to a rabbi. Jesus was, as Ronnie and I talked about earlier, a famous rabbi. In this region, it was a big deal to be a sage or a rabbi or to be someone that knew the Torah and had a group of people following you. Jesus totally exemplified in so much of what he did, the characteristics and the life of a great rabbi. Before we get there, I want to teach what does it mean to be a disciple and where did this whole thing come from? Many of us, if you've studied the Bible for a long time, you might remember that the Babylonian exile is a critical point for so many Jews. They lived in Israel, but you see that there's this ongoing thing where the people are close to God and then they fall into idolatry and into turning their back on the poor.

And finally, it gets so bad that God exiles his people to Babylon, and after 70 years, when they come back to Israel and they began to rebuild their lives and rebuild the desert, there's a group called the greatest assembly made up of some characters you might know: Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and others, sages and rabbis and teachers who gather together and decide this will never happen again. We will never turn our back on God. We will figure out what it means to build a life so that we never become a people who turn our back on God and it's in that time that they do several things, but most importantly, they decide what's the Bible. You know, they choose what we call, as Christians, the Old Testament. They put together the tanakh, what we call the Old Testament, and they'd say, no, this is what cannon is. They also decide this is what's gonna happen in a synagogue.

This is how you have a minion, which is, you know, ten men that can pray together to form a local group of Jews, and they decide this is what the oral traditions will be and this is the beginning of what would later become rabbinic Judaism. Much later, we see that there's a guy named Simeon Bensketak who decides we need to teach our children the Torah. There was a wonderful book written called when children became people, and the argument was that in the ancient world, children were not considered people. They were considered property, and it was commonplace for children to be used as religious prostitutes or to be sold into slavery to be abused and in the worst cases to be sacrificed and tortured to pagan gods and it was the Jew who were, in a way, a unique group who made children people, and later the Jewish Christians who emphasized the importance of caring for and loving children, creating orphanages, finding ways that children, who didn't have parents could find a home.

I just think it's such a wonderful part and so part of this was a system of schools called yeshiva that began where the decided we're going to teach our children Torah. I read this great line from a rabbi that said. We love to stuff our children with Torah as you would stuff an ox. You know, there was, as time went on and yeshiva continued, this is about 100 years before Jesus, there was this love of Torah that was beginning where they never wanted to lose Torah. The idea was what if we can get as many people to memorize as much of Torah as possible, that if they burned every Bible in the world, we could get our people together and we can, you know, write it out word for word, and of course that never happened, but you can see that there's this just love for Torah and these big questions about what does this mean? Who's my neighbor? What does it mean to love my neighbor? What does it mean to love the Lord with all my Mayod with all my very? What does that even mean? How do we translate that into Greek later?

You know what the Greek Jews. And all these great discussions about how do we live the Torah the way God wants us to live Torah? And this is the community into which Jesus is born, a community of Jews that loves the Bible. They loved to debate the Bible. They love to learn it. They love to teach it, and it's in that community that the teachers, the teachers of Torah, the rabbis, that we call them today become the great sort of pillars of the society that the most some of the most honored people in the community and just like in Christianity how we have so many traditions, we have Presbyterians, we have Methodists, we have Catholics and all sorts, and we agree on critical things, but there are some smaller things that we disagree on. Many great rabbis in Jesus's day had different disagreements about what does this mean or how does it live, what's the most important command? And this was called a rabbis's yoke.

You know if a rabbi was famous and he wanted to pass on his teaching, he would pass on his yoke to his disciples and he wanted his disciples to carry on his interpretation of Torah. He wanted his disciples to live the way he lived. In fact, some were so sincere about this that they wanted the disciples to walk the way they walked, looked the way looked, tell the jokes that they tell and become as much like the rabbi as possible, to do whatever the rabbi does, to care about what the rabbi cares about and to teach the way the rabbi teaches. In that society of teaching children, some children were really special. They were super gifted. Some of them could memorize, you know, large, large portions of the Bible and recite it and debate it and they were quick minded and they were charismatic and catchy and some of them would be chosen to be disciples to a rabbi.

If a student was so gifted and so bright and so smart, the rabbi would say. Come, follow me. It's a line that that that people in those days would have understood and it's something that any boy would've just lit up I mean. It'd be like getting accepted to Harvard, you know or some prestigious school that you never thought you could get in and it's just the top 1% could get into and to become a disciple was a huge huge deal. And so think about that. We look back here down in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus is this uber famous rabbi. You know, people are following him. He was already at 12 years old teaching at the temple and the mother can't find him and he's performing these miracles and people know there's something really special about Jesus.

By the time he comes here to Capernaum, he's a famous rabbi, and of course, we know the story. He goes up to Peter and Andrew and I mean, all he says is, follow me. Why would why would Peter and Andrew just leave their nets there, just walk away from their boats. Well, it's obvious now, isn't it? If a famous rabbi says follow me, you know. I mean, you're not gonna wait. This is the greatest honor of your life. In fact, you're gonna ask permission to go home and tell your dad, Dad, Dad, guess what. A rabbi, Rabbi Jesus, Yeshua, he's the famous rabbi here in Galilee. He asked me to follow him. He thinks I'm good enough to be his disciple. He thinks I can carry on his yoke. He thinks I can remember all that he's going to teach. He thinks I could become like him. He thinks I can live out his yoke in my life.

What do you say father, and the father, it's a historian, Ray Vanderlaan, says that there was a saying that a father could say to his son who's been called to be a disciple, he would say, "May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi". Isn't that a beautiful line? You know that means? That you have a rabbi, you know, an older man with younger men walking behind him and the dust gets kicked up, and as they follow their rabbi, they're always so close to the rabbi that some of the dust gets on their feet are on their shoes or on their clothing and the idea is that because they follow the rabbi so much that when they get home, they have the rabbis's dust all over them. May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi. May you love your rabbis's words so much and love you rabbis's teaching, that when you get home at the end of the day, the rabbis's dust is all over you. Like a blessing. Isn't that beautiful?

And so when Peter and Andrew are called to follow the rabbi, of course, they're going to leave it but one of the most amazing things about Jesus is he calls people, in many cases that shouldn't be called. To me my favorite is the the calling of Matthew, and Matthew gives his own account in the book of Matthew of when Jesus called him. You know, in Jesus's day, they had this group of outsiders in Judaism called tax collectors. We have tax collectors today, right? In the United States tax collectors have rules that you follow, and you hire an accountant, and you know you fill out your forms and you pay your taxes and you might be upset about your taxes. My taxes are too high. My taxes are too low, but most people would say that it's sort of equally fair for everybody, but in Jesus's day, there were Jewish tax collectors who were religiously and ethnically Jewish, but they worked for the Roman Empire and the Jews of those days saw the Roman Empire as you know the evil empire occupying, you know, and they wanted the Romans out of Israel.

And so when you had tax collectors that we're collecting money for the Roman Empire. They were seen as like traitors. They were seen as outsiders, and you know they really were, in most cases, bad guys because the way they collected taxes was through an arbitrary system of adding just a little bit on top. Now, imagine that. Imagine that there's a secret tax amount that only the tax collectors know. Let's say it's 10%. And the way that the tax collectors make money is by arbitrarily adding a little more, and they go to you know your mom's house and they say, "Hey, Linda, the tax this year is 12%," and she says, "Oh, 12 that seems a bit high". And then you're there and you say, "Mom, it's not 12%. It's much lower. It's gotta be lower than that". And then you start arguing with the tax collector or maybe you throw a punch and he throws a punch at you. "Fine, I'll go down to 11%".

But he's still taking a cut and you don't know what it is and this is why people just hated tax collectors, because they were liars, they were cheaters, they were swindlers, but they had to do it, and of course in Jesus's day, what's the job that most people do. Well, you do what your dad does. You know, it's probably true. Matthew didn't choose to be a tax collector. His dad was a tax collector, right. More than likely Matthew's dad was a tax collector and he just had to do what his dad did and so here he is. He's maybe figuring out how to make money for his family, he's collecting taxes, and one day famous Rabbi Jesus, who he probably isn't even allowed to associate with. He's not even allowed to go and listen to his sermons. He has to stand far back. Maybe he's not welcome at the synagogue.

You know, maybe the Jews in the community hate him. Maybe has to live in another village, but Matthew is there. He's collecting taxes. And there's all these gifted religious young men around him. You know, these wonderful guys who can recite the Torah and they're brilliant and smart and and they look good and they come from great families. And there's all these people around and Jesus looks at Matthew the tax collector, the outside, the sinner, and he said, the famous rabbi, says, Matthew, come follow me. Isn't that amazing? Jesus hearing this, he says, in Matthew chapter 9, verse 12, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, but go and learn what this means. I desire mercy not sacrifice". That's from Hosea. "For I have not come to call the righteous. I have come to call sinners".

You know, so often we think that God only calls righteous people that got it altogether. Maybe you come from a past of brokenness. Maybe you've made a lot of mistakes in your personal life. Maybe you used to be a Christian and you sorta wandered away. Back when you were a kid, it was important to you, but now in life, you've just found yourself so far away and you think, how could I even come back to God? How could I even show my face to my family and my friends. You think God would never want to be with someone like me, but you know what? Jesus shows us what God is like. God is merciful. He's so full of love for you. His heart swells with kindness towards you. The way a loving father sees a child, just as the father runs out to the prodigal son, now God loves you just as you are, not as you should be. He's for you, and he knows you can be a disciple too.

Very often there's an old saying that, you know, your mess becomes your message. Your test becomes your testimony. Just remember that there's no tragedy. There's no falling short that God cannot turn around. I had a friend back in high school, who was, you know he was like a drug dealer, and he was one of the first people that I led to the Lord. I had this radical experience where I was like, "I'm gonna tell everybody in my school about God, and I want them to know the Lord, and I want them to change their lives". And my first thought was go to the most influential people in my school. You know, and these were people that came from good families, but they weren't religious. Nobody was interested. Nobody cared about what I was saying. It wasn't until I started talking to the bullies and the people with all the piercings in the wrong places and the people that sold drugs. I never thought in a million years they would be the ones who are most interested.

In fact, my first sort of disciple was this guy named Dave in my school, Broken Arrow. He was one of our school's, like, drug dealers, you know. And I remember talking to Dave and he just lit up and he came to faith in the Lord and it, like, took awhile. You know, it was a process. I remember, it's about two weeks after he became a Christian, I thought he threw away all of his drugs or something and I saw him behind the school and he was selling drugs. I said, "Dave, what are you doing? You just came to faith. You can't be selling drugs". And he said, "Don't worry, Bobby. I'm just selling the rest of my drugs, and then I'm done". His thought was "I've got all these products. I paid for these. I need to get my money back". And then once I get my money back, I'm done. And I said, "You can't do that. You gotta just throw 'em away". And he said "No, I'm gonna get my money back. I'm going to sell them".

And you know what's amazing? He sold his drugs and he got his money back and he didn't ever went back to drugs. It was an amazing thing, and I just learned that, you know, that there was a a realness and a vulnerability about people who were honest about their brokenness rather than hiding it. They were honest about their sins rather than hiding their sins. They were honest about the struggles they had in their family rather than hiding it. And that God seemed to be able to... it's like almost God could use that in a better way and I saw how this guy radically became a totally new person, and later on he ended up being a chaplain in the Navy. He was a wonderful man.

And you can see how God could turn any mess into a message, any test into a testimony. He can transform any heart. He can use any person to go from being a disciple to even being a rabbi. So I'll just finish with this. Remember that at the heart of Jesus's message, and really, at the heart of true Judaism is to do unto others what you'd have them do unto you. This is the golden rule.

There's this great apocryphal story about one of the greatest rabbis of all time, the sage and rabbi Rabbi Hillel, who lived about a generation before Jesus and was influential on all of Judaism in Jesus's day. He had an opposing sort of house, and they were like rivals. It was the house of Shammai, a different rabbi. And there was a young man who was considering becoming a Jew, and first he went to the house of Shammai and he talked to Rabbi Shammai and said, "Rabbi, if you can explain to me while standing on one leg all of the Torah, I will become a Jew".

And it says something like Rabbi Shammai rebuked him or maybe chase them off with a stick or something like this. We don't know, it's a legend, but, then he came to Rabbi Hillel and he said, "Rabbi Hillel, if you can stand on one leg and tell me the Torah, then I will become a Jew". And Rabbi Hillel responds, and at first he rebukes him and then he says. Don't do what is hateful to your neighbor. Listen to this. This is the whole of the Torah. Now go, and study. So this is, we don't know if this came from Hillel, but this is often called the silver rule. We see that both Cicero and Confucius say it. It existed before Jesus, and the silver rule was. Don't do to others, what you wouldn't want them to do to you.

So like a great rabbi, Jesus takes a famous saying of his day and he changes it just just a little bit to make it more amazing. Instead of saying don't do, what does he say, the golden rule. Do to others what you would want them to do to you. It's having eyes to see, having ears to hear that if you see someone who's hurting or you see someone who's brokenhearted, maybe you see someone who needs help or needs some prayer that you do what you would want done to you if you're in that position, that you'd be merciful and slow to judgment.

See, these are the words of life. You want to live a happy life? Do what I'm telling you today. Do what Jesus taught us. Forgive your neighbor. Be faithful in all things. Be faithful to your spouse and to your promises in the things that you say. You'll do be an honest person. Don't lie or deceive, and be true about who you are, and be truly you. Love people, love people the way that you need to be loved. And don't withhold mercy when you can give it. Never try and people please. Don't do religion to get people to brag about you or to say you're great, but whatever you do that's religious, do it for the Lord. Do it to honor him and live for his applause.

If you struggle with this, do good things in secret, things that only God can see. And then you can test your heart to see if you truly love what is good and hate what is evil. Remember that the greatest treasures are not silver and gold or clothing or things that can be destroyed by the things of this world, but the greatest treasure you have our heavenly treasures. That's your relationships the knowledge of the Word, the Holy Spirit, wisdom. Remember your family and your friends and your relationships are so much more important than many of the other things that we value. Don't worry when things get troublesome, but seek first God's kingdom and make God first in your life.

Have faith. If you need something in your life, ask God for it. Live with confidence and boldness that God's promises are true in your life and build your life on his Word. If you do this, you'll never be the same. My friends, I want to encourage you to see Jesus not just as the Messiah, not just as the Savior and he is, and thank God for that. But remember he's also our rabbi. His words are words of life. May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi. May you be covered in his Spirit and his Words and may you build your life on that, amen.
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