Not Offended by Jesus

Understanding why we find ourselves struggling with doubt.

George Wright
Sep 15, 2019    40m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright helps us understand what questions to ask ourselves when we find ourselves struggling with doubt in Jesus. The main one being our we living like Jesus should serve us, or like we should serve Him? Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Matthew chapter 11 we're going to read verses 4 through 6 to get us started. I'd like to invite you, as you turn there, to stand with me. And we stand all around the room for our opening scripture each week so that we all can be reminded that the word of God is our authority. The word of God is the foundation that the people of God stand upon. It is what God tells us through his word is right and good and true, and God's word speaks to the blessed life. Listen to the word of God. Verse 4 of Matthew 11 it says, "Jesus answered them." Again, these disciples of John the Baptist asking questions, "Jesus answered them and said, go and tell John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them, and blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Another way you could translate that is, blessed is the one who is not disappointed with me. Let's ask God to reveal what he wants us to see, and to hear, as we turn our attention to his word.

George Wright: 01:31 Would you pray with me? Father, as we stand before you now, and as we do open your word, and seek to dive into the depth of what you say. I pray, Lord God, that your spirit would meet us in this place and join with us as we gather here and as some join us online, Lord, we want to hear from you. We want to know what a blessed life is all about. We want to know what it means to receive the blessings of God in our lives. And so Lord, I pray that you would open our ears, and these words would not fall on deaf ears. I pray that you would open our hearts, that these words would not fall on hard hearts, but that we would be receptive to that which you say we need to hear from you. So have your way among us this morning. It is in Jesus' name I pray this prayer. Amen. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 02:34 Blessed is the one who is not offended by Jesus. Let me just start by asking a simple question, but a question that I think oftentimes is not very easy to answer specifically in the context of a church gathering. The question is this, have you ever been disappointed with God? Now I'm not talking about a football game here at all, please hear me, this is far deeper. But seriously, have you ever been disappointed with God? Are we even allowed to answer that question in church? I mean, aren't we supposed to just come in here and smile and act like everything's good and say, yes, we know God is good and yes, we know God has a plan. Are we even allowed to say, we at times find ourselves disappointed with God? Have you ever come to that place where dreams have been shattered? Hopes have not been realized? Have you ever found yourself in a spot, in a circumstance, in a season of life, where things have not gone as you wanted them to go? Have you ever prayed prayers, passionate prayers, fervent prayers, believing God would come through? Then to seemingly have your prayers totally unanswered, falling on deaf ears.

George Wright: 04:22 If I'm honest, and I think we should be honest in church by the way that's a very good idea, if I'm honest, this can be very, very difficult to navigate. It's hard when things don't go the way we hoped they would go, especially as we seek to live a life of faith. It's hard when expectations that we have of God appear to fall unmet. And as a pastor over the years I have talked with many different people who are walking through struggles and walking through challenges and walking through pain, and I've heard people say things out of disappointment, like if this is what God does for those who are seeking to live by faith, I'm not sure I could believe. A child wanders away from the faith that they were raised in, a marriage ends in a painful divorce even after many, many prayers have been offered for reconciliation, a terminal diagnosis is given to one who has lived a very faithful life. These are very hard things to navigate, the reality of the struggles of life be very, very hard to navigate. And at times people say, look, if this is what Jesus does for those who pray, and for those who are seeking to be faithful, then maybe I don't want Jesus. If I'm not going to get what I pray for, and what I hope for, then maybe Jesus is a disappointment.

George Wright: 06:28 With all of that being said, I want to lay out what I believe is the big idea for today's message. Specifically from the texts that we are looking at, and the statement of Jesus, "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Here is the big idea, and this is not going to be easy at first, but just go with me for a second. The big idea that I believe Jesus is pointing us to, is when we feel like Jesus has disappointed us. The problem in fact is not with Jesus, but the problem is with us, and a set of expectations that we have placed on him. The problem comes in a crisis of faith, the problem comes as disappointment occurs, when we expect Jesus to do something that Jesus has never promised to do. We often expect Jesus to do what we want, to give us what we want, and when he does not, it is easy to be offended by Jesus or disappointed in Jesus. But here's the question we're wrestling with today, in this idea of disappointment with God. Are we in our disappointment putting ourselves in the place of God, that Jesus should serve us? Or are we willing to believe in faith that Jesus is in fact God, and we should serve him? As we think about disappointment, are we living like God should serve us? Are we trusting that he is God, that we should serve him? That's the question. Is Jesus obligated to give us what we want, or does the word of God reveal that Jesus has in fact made promises, but all of Jesus' promises are not specifically about everything we want all the time? Jesus's promises are about that which we truly need.

George Wright: 08:55 And here's the challenge, here's the challenge for all of us. I know I do this, we often blur the line between our wants and our needs, right? I mean, I'm amazed at how quickly I can find myself convincing myself that the things that I want, are actually the things that I need. And then there are times when I can convince myself that the things that I need, are not really what I want. Isn't that amazing, right, we do that. We blur these lines between wants and needs, and then we bring these expectations to God that he has never promised. And so what I hope, what I pray we can do, is we can step into the word of God and see what has God truly promised. Because the promises of God, please hear me, are better than what we often expect. I'm not asking us to lower our expectations of Jesus at all, that's not what I'm saying. In fact, I believe we should have very high expectations of Jesus, He is God. But what I'm asking us to do is to consider what the word of God actually says, and to strive and to seek, to truly understand the promises of God so that our expectations can line up with his promises.

George Wright: 10:24 I want to give you a couple of examples of this, and how quickly we can blur those lines between wants and needs. The first example before we step back in the Matthew 11, is found in Matthew chapter 7. You may want to turn over a couple pages there. Matthew chapter 7 is The Sermon on the Mount, actually then the final chapter of The Sermon on the Mount. We see this very famous sermon of Jesus, where he lays out what the Christian life is all about in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. And in this very famous sermon, Jesus makes this amazing statement around prayer, and what we should ask for. Listen to what Jesus says in verse 7 and 8, "Ask and it will be given to you. seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be open". That's amazing to hear. So here's the question. How do you read it? How do you read this? Because at first glance it can appear like Jesus is saying, hey, I want you to know I am the genie in the movie Aladdin, just rub the lamp baby, and you're going to get what you want. Whatever you ask for, the sky's the limit, just ask and you will receive. Is that how it sounds? In fact, many prosperity preachers have used verses like this to say, look, just ask and God will give you everything you want. If you just do the right things, and pray the right prayers, and give the right amount of money, God will do everything that you want, your wildest dreams will come true. Is that what Jesus is saying?

George Wright: 12:34 Let's continue to read in the scripture, because Jesus is talking about the importance of prayer, and the importance of asking. Listen to what he says next, Matthew 7 verses 9 and 10 gives an example, "Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?" What is Jesus doing here? He's immediately making it clear that the promises of God, that God has laid before us, are not promises about our wants, they are promises about our needs. The two examples Jesus gives here are about physical nourishment, and what we see in the ministry of Jesus is that when he talks about physical nourishment, he's wanting us to see that there is a deeper meaning in spiritual nourishment that flows out of the examples that he gives us about our physical needs. You can see this in John 6:35, bread. Jesus says, "I am the bread of life, whoever has me will never be hungry again." You can see this in Matthew 4 fish, fishers of men, "Jesus calls his followers to be fishers of men." To step into a life that is bigger than themselves, to give their life away for something that is greater, to join in with what God is doing, to point others to his love and his grace. This is about our spiritual nourishment, our spiritual vitality, as Jesus is talking about these physical needs being met. And then verse 11 Matthew 7 he says, "If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?" You see, Jesus wants us to see that this is all about a loving savior giving us what is good. A loving, perfect, father giving us what he knows we need, as only a perfect father can know. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

George Wright: 14:59 So let me ask a question of all the parents in the room, specifically parents. Think about your kids when they were younger, if they're grown now. Has there ever been a time in your parenting where your kids came to you wanting something, but you told them no because you knew it was for their own good? Parents, will you just show your hands on that. Has there ever been a time that you've done that? Some of y'all gave your kids everything they wanted? No wonder we have so many problems in our world. Are you serious? No, I know every parent has done that at one time or another. You've said the magic word, one of the greatest words that God ever gave a parent, no. I know you want that, I know you're screaming, I know you're throwing a temper tantrum, I know you're out of control right now, I know you're not as smart as I am, I know you're not logical enough to think deeply about this issue, you cannot have what you want, I know more than you. That's not the way we say it, but that's what we're feeling. Why did we do that? Why did we say no? Because we know that we know more about our kids' needs than they do, and we know best for our children, especially when they're younger. They start to get older, and sometimes they know better than us. But especially when they're younger, we know what they need more than they do. And we know that their wants, and their needs, are often very, very different.

George Wright: 16:41 The way this often plays out in our household is around the subject of dinner time. What we will eat, what we will drink at dinner. I have two of my four children, specifically, that have a very strong sweet tooth. If it were up to them, it would be donuts and Dr. Pepper at every meal, it's all they want. In fact, one of our favorite family movies is the movie Elf. Have y'all ever watched the movie Elf at Christmas, right? My kids love Buddy the Elf's four food groups, right? Do you know what I'm talking about here? Y'all have seen this movie, right? Candy, candy canes, candy corn, syrup, like that's what they want life to be about. And here's the amazing thing, when we don't give them that and when we dare as parents to serve them a glass of water with no sugar, and then we dare as parents to put vegetables on their plates, this happens every time. They look at the vegetables as if they've never seen a vegetable in their life. Like, what are you doing to me parents, I thought you loved me. What is this strange object you have placed on my plate is so disgusting, and will ruin my day. And I keep praying for that day when our kids say, oh father, you give such good gifts. Thank you for caring about my nourishment and my physical vitality, for loving me so much, that you give me what I need, that day has not yet come. But isn't it true? Isn't it true? We laugh as we think about how simple this can be, the how often do we look at God and say, why haven't you given me what I want? Could it be that God is looking at us at times and saying, look, I love you and I know what you need, and I know better than you know what you need. And right now,, I can't give you what you want, because what you want actually runs contrary to what you need. And I am a perfect loving father, and so I am going to give you what is good, I'm going to give you what you need.

George Wright: 19:11 Another example of this is Psalm chapter 37, so many great Psalms about God meeting us in our time of need. Psalm 37 says this, verse 4 and 5, "Delights yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust him, and he will act." What is the Psalmist saying, you're going to get everything you want? No, the Psalmist is actually saying when the Lord is your delight, when the Lord is your source of joy over and above the things of this world, and over and above the approval of man, and over and above your personal preference, and over and above just the things that you want for you. When the desire of your life and the desire of your heart is the Lord, the things that your heart wants will start to line up with his desires for you. And here's this beautiful truth from Psalm 37. When you want the Lord and his best for your life, please hear this, you will get what you want. It's amazing. It's a promise of God. When you want the Lord, and you want his best for your life, you will get what you want. Commit your way to him and he will act on your behalf, for his glory and for your joy.

George Wright: 20:45 I really believe in all of this scripture, the most example of this, the most beautiful example of navigating what appears to be disappointment and recognizing that God is at work doing what we need instead of just always giving us what we want is found in the Garden of Gethsemane. And I will tell you personally, the Garden of Gethsemane is one of my favorite places in all of the earth that I've ever been. And we get to go on our trips to Israel and study the Bible, and walk where Jesus walked. One of the places we get to go is the Garden of Gethsemane. And the reason I love it so much, it's right outside of the old city of Jerusalem. It's so beautiful and it is almost totally undisturbed from the way it was 2000 years ago. In fact, there are olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, they date all the way back to the time when Jesus was walking on the earth. It's absolutely incredible, it's a sacred spot. Is at that the Garden of Gethsemane where if you know anything about Jesus, and the story of the crucifixion. And then what we talk about at Easter, the resurrection, you know that there was this moment before Jesus was arrested, where he went to this garden, this place where he often gathered with his disciples, and he fell on his face before the Father praying in stress, in agony, knowing that the cross was right before him.

George Wright: 22:15 And he prays this beautiful prayer, Matthew chapter 26 verse 39, "Going a little further, he fell on his face and he prayed. Saying, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. I know that the cross is before me. I know it will be horrific both physically and spiritually. I mean, it's hard for us to even comprehend what Jesus must've been feeling in that moment. Feeling literally, not figuratively, literally the weight of the world on his shoulders. And saying, I know that this is the only way that those that I love can be saved, I know that this is exactly what is necessary, but in my physical state right now, this is not what I want. Is there another way? But not my will yours be done. What a beautiful gift that Jesus prays this prayer, and models for us the grace and the mercy and the love of God. Even when we find ourselves in those moments where we're saying, this is not what I wanted, this is not the way I thought it might go.

George Wright: 23:59 Now with all of this said, we go back to our text for today, Matthew 11. Yes, that was the introduction, but we're still coming close to the end. I want you to know long introduction, we're going to get to the end very quickly. Matthew chapter 11, we see this disappointment in the life of John the Baptist. If you were here with us last week, again, we talked about John the Baptist very briefly. The man who was called to prepare the way for the Messiah, the prophet who had the privilege of baptizing Jesus. The one who said he must increase, but I must decrease, this was never about me to begin with. John says this was always about the Messiah, but in Matthew 11 we see John now in prison. He's been arrested. He's now been arrested for doing the wrong thing. He's been arrested for doing exactly what God called him to do, preach and point to the Messiah. And so, John is in this moment of wrestling with the Lord. This moment that is very difficult, because he knows his life is on the line here. And so he sends some of his disciples, his followers, to Jesus to ask, okay, is this really the Messiah? Because I thought the Messiah was going to come as a conquering King. I thought the Messiah was going to come and set the captives free. I thought the Messiah was going to come and restore Israel to prominence, but now the Messiah has come and it was cool to baptize him, but here I am in jail. This is not the way I thought my story was going to go. This is not what I thought the calling of God would lead me to in my life. I sit here in jail saying, is that really the Messiah? Because this is not the way I thought things would go.

George Wright: 26:01 Matthew 11:2-3, "When John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, are you the one who is to come or shall we seek for another?" The honesty here is such a gift to us, because here is John in anguish, here is John disappointed. I've devoted my life to pointing to the Messiah. I've devoted my life to being faithful. I've devoted my life to doing everything that I thought God was asking me to do. And now the Messiah supposedly is here, and I'm jail. Maybe I got it wrong, maybe Jesus is not the Messiah. Do you feel the angst there, the disappointment there? As John says, somebody needs to find out, is he really the Messiah, or are we supposed to look for someone else? Because I didn't think the Messiah was going to come this way, I thought the Messiah was going to be a conquering king.

George Wright: 27:21 I just want you to know, I am so thankful that this is in the Bible. It is so hones, i is so raw. One of the heroes of the faith, John the Baptist, is having this really hard moment of disappointment. If I'm honest with you, I mean there are moments like this in my life. I love what I get to do as a pastor. I am so thankful for the calling of God in my life. I'm so thankful that I get to serve as the pastor here at Shandon, but can I just be honest and say, there are times, there are days, there are moments where I'm like, I didn't think it was going to go like this. God, I've tried to be faithful, this is harder than I thought. God, I thought I was doing what you wanted me to do. Why are they acting like that? And there are those moments of disappointment, But God in his grace, and God in his mercy, and God in his goodness, allows us to see on the pages of scripture that even the saints felt disappointment. And in their disappointment, he meets them with this beautiful, beautiful gift.

George Wright: 28:47 Look at Matthew chapter 11 verse 4 and 5, this is where we started this morning. We see how Jesus responds as John says, this is not what I expected, "Jesus answered them, go and tell John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news preached to them. Go tell John, that the prophecy is in fact being fulfilled. Go tell John that yes, what he was looking for in the Messiah is now being realized. I am the conquering King of Kings, but please make sure John understands that I must fulfill all of the prophecy, not just some of the prophecy. And yes, there is coming a day where I will come on a white stallion, clothed in white, to ultimately destroy all evil forever more. To show perfect righteousness once and for all. That day is coming, but until that day comes, let John know God is at work revealing my power. The deaf can hear, the blind can see, the lame can walk, the dead are raised, God is doing a great work." Don't miss it, don't miss it, John. I know it's not what you expected, but I am everything, everything, that the prophecy said I would be. And before I can truly be seen as the conquering King of Kings, right now you're just giving snapshots, but before I can be seen as the conquering King of Kings, there's other prophecy that must be fulfilled in me.

George Wright: 30:50 Like what it says in Isaiah 53. Look at Isaiah 53 verses 3 through 5, prophecy about the Messiah. A prophecy that John certainly would've been familiar with, but prophecy that does not look like a conquering King at all. He was despised and rejected by men. Isaiah 53 verse 3, "A man of sorrow acquainted with grief. It is one from whom men would hide their faces. He was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted, but he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities and upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace for it is by his wounds that we are healed." It's as if Jesus is saying to John, as he points him to prophecy, I will be seen in all of my glory as the King of Kings, but first, I must be seen in all of my glory as the suffering servant. First, I must be seen as the one who lays down my life to die for the sins of the world. First, I must be seen as the one who comes in a way that many people were not expecting, so that when I am seen in all of my glory, those who have experienced my love and my grace, will know who I truly am. John, that day is coming, where you'll see something so much greater than even what you were expecting, but right now you must know that I am doing exactly what the father has called me to do. That's what Jesus is saying, and I am doing exactly, John, what you need from me.

George Wright: 33:07 Which is why Jesus says in Matthew 11:6, "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Blessed is the one who is not disappointed with me, blessed as the one who recognizes in faith that what Jesus Christ has done, what Jesus Christ is doing, and what Jesus Christ will do is far greater than what we could possibly imagine if we always got what we wanted. This is a beautiful, beautiful, proclamation of Jesus, and a beautiful invitation to any and everyone who is struggling with doubt or wrestling with disappointment, and wondering God, where are you in all of this? That may be you today. You may be here disappointed. You may be here feeling like there are expectations that have not been met. Please hear this, Jesus is inviting you to look honestly at him, put your eyes on Jesus, and you will truly see that he has done for you far greater things than you ever could have imagined on your own. He is doing for you right now, far greater work than you ever could have thought on your own. He will do in the future far greater things than we could ever imagine. Will you trust him, and will you trust him in the process, that the work truly is for your good?

George Wright: 34:56 Philippians chapter 1 verse 6 the apostle Paul writes this, "I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." God loves you so much, that he is doing a work in you to meet the needs that you have, so that you can be perfectly complete in Christ when his glory is ultimately and finally revealed. Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world. Romans 8:18 says, "I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." The invitation of Jesus Christ is this, if we look in faith and see the finished work of Christ at the cross and the power of his resurrection, we will see that our savior is a savior who will never disappoint. As long as we recognize that our savior is a savior who does what we need for our good. This is the good news of the gospel. If we will trust that Jesus is at work for our good, and what we need, we will find joy, not disappointment, joy in the finished work and the future work of the promises of Jesus Christ.

George Wright: 36:46 Let me pray for us as we close our time this morning. Before I pray, I just wants you to know we'll sing a final song here in just a moment. And as we sing, we just want to give you the opportunity to respond in faith. Some of you need to talk to someone about something that's going on in your life, you need someone to pray with you, we'd love to do that with you. Some of you may be here today knowing you need a relationship with Jesus Christ, and we'd love to talk to you about what we believe is the most important decision that you could ever make, we'd love to walk with you in that process. Some of you may have seen the baptism, and said, I'm going to respond in faith. Some of you may want more information about the church. You may just have questions, we've got an area right across the lobby called our next step center, it is open to everyone. If God is prompting you to take a step of faith, go to the next step center where we have a team that would love to pray with you and talk with you in whatever your need may be, or whatever your question might be.

George Wright: 37:46 Let me pray for us as we prepare our hearts to respond in worship. Father, we love you, and we are thankful for what your word reveals to us. Your word is so good, your word is such a gift, sweeter than honey on our lips is the word of God. I pray, Lord, as your word meets us in our need, that your word really would fall on fertile ground in our hearts. It's so easy for us to be disappointed. It's so easy for us to even be confused about your promises and your blessings. And Lord, how grateful I am that your word lays before us the gift of your blessing for those who trust in you, for those who recognize that you are doing greater things than we can see or even imagine, for those who recognize in the finished work of Jesus, more has been done for us than we ever could have deserved. And I pray, Lord God, that as we look to you in faith, and as we fix our eyes on Jesus, that we would not be offended, we would not be disappointed, but we would be grateful for the incredible good news and the incredible gift of a savior who meets us in our need. Lord, we thank you for the good news of Jesus Christ, and we pray for those today who do not have a relationship yet with you. We pray that today might be the day that some would step out on faith, that they would say, Jesus, I need you, I'm ready to follow you. I'm asking you to forgive my sin, I'm asking you to meet my need, I am trusting my life to you. Oh Jesus, we love you. We thank you for who you are, for what you have done, for what you are doing, and for what you will do. It's in your name we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206