Matthew 4:13-17 — You Could Never Be….Because of What You Used to Be (Don’t Listen to the World; Listen to Jesus!)

Posted: September 13, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 4:13-17 — Matthew says, “He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali” in v. 13. Why did Jesus move away from Nazareth? Jesus had lived in Nazareth probably since he was maybe 3-4 years old. He was now 30 years old. So, he was leaving a town he had known for 26-27 years. That’s where he grew up. Everybody there knew Jesus when he was just a kid. They knew him when we He was a teenager. They knew Him when he was a young man working with His earthly father building things as carpentry handymen. They doubtless knew Him from the synagogue in Nazareth as Jesus most assuredly spent much time in synagogue services and participating in Sabbath activities there. They knew Him well. His move of his residence to Capernaum was even before he preached at the synagogue in Luke 4 and uttered the famous words of Luke 4:23 where Jesus said that a prophet is never accepted in his hometown. Jesus knew something beforehand. He knew the nature of people. We often see this ourselves when we accept Christ as our Savior.

Although Jesus was perfect and we are not, He knows of the “old playground syndrome” that many of us Christ followers have to deal with. Jesus dealt with human perceptions that he was a carpenter’s son and they did not think that He couldn’t have great scriptural insight because he was a common laborer in their eyes. He was the Son of God but all they saw was the carpenter’s son. Many of us have to suffer with people remembering. People remember when. People remember when you and I use to be wild and crazy guys and gals. People remember when you and I use to be hell on wheels. People remember that maybe you were the son or daughter of wild and loose parents. People don’t give you a chance when you have an imperfect past or come from a long line of people with imperfect pasts. He could never be a preacher just look at his past. He could never be a good Christian just look at his parents, they were some of biggest party people around and even now they don’t even go to church. People will judge you for what was in your past and sometimes judge you for your family’s reputation. People are long on judgement and short on grace. Sometimes, you have to leave your reputation behind and create a new playground with new playmates. That does not mean that you have to move to a new town and start over when you are a new Christ follower (sometimes that is just impossible), but we can change the people we hang around with. We must seek out those who will support us in our new adventure into this Christ following thing. There will be those who just think we are on some fad that will fade away and that we will return to their lifestyle. We must seek out those who are going to disciple us and support us as we grow in Christ. We have to leave our past behind sometimes. Although in his perfection, Jesus did not have to deal with a sordid past, but He did have to deal with people’s perceptions. He had to leave Nazareth behind.

Sometimes, too, when we take a stand as Christ followers on some moral issue as we have matured in Christ, people are going to call us hypocrites because we are not perfect ourselves. Right now, the clerk of court in Kentucky is being lambasted by the liberals as being a hypocrite for not signing gay marriage licenses because she was a rebel rouser in her past and is now on her fourth husband or something like that. I even read an article by a Baptist preacher in Kentucky who said she didn’t have the right to do what she was doing because she is hypocritical in that she has been married four times. Wow! That Baptist preacher didn’t get it. If we look at his life, I would be willing to bet, using his logic, that we should call for him not to stand up in the pulpit each Sunday because it makes him a hypocrite. By that standard, all Christians are hyprocites and we are. Our lives after meeting Jesus Christ as our Savior creates a new person changed over time from who they used to be. Yes, we are hypocrites in that sense because we are actions now are in complete opposition to the way that we lived in our pasts. If all Christians were measured by the standards of this preacher, none of us could make a stand on any moral issue of our day. All of us are sinners and have sinned in our past and even reveled in it. And each of us continue to sin today though as time progresses the Holy Spirit makes us more and more aggrieved by our sins. World out there, we can change. We can be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and grow in Christ daily. But go ahead and judge us because we can stand on what the Word of God said not on our merits. We do not deserve the grace we have been given. We deserve to be judged. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we are changing and growing in Christ and we have God’s Word to illuminate our hearts as to the truth of our shortcomings. The difference between the self-righteous and the righteous is that we know we are far short of perfection. We know that we need grace to cover us. We know what we deserve for who we are and who we used to be.

Jesus was almost stoned later when he preached in Nazareth. They judged him for who they thought he was. He had to walk away from Nazareth and set up his base of operations somewhere else. People are going to judge you for who they know you to be because of your past. People are going to call you a hypocrite if you ever take a moral stand on any issue if you a Christian because of your past. We all have a past that we have to live down. We all have a present in which we are being painfully perfected over a lifetime of painful course corrections in us by the Holy Spirit. Keep believing. Keep following Christ. You are His child now. Allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in you. Be honest about your past. It is part of your testimony. It testifies to the power of salvation through Jesus Christ. It testifies to the continuing daily work of the Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts. Keep pushing. Don’t listen to the detractors of your new life. Stand on God’s Word. Live the Word no matter what anyone says.

You live to please an audience of One. We live now to please God. We live now with eternity in mind. May we do what is pleasing to God. If every Christian listened to those detractors that use our past, we would never take a step forward. We would be mired in silence and inaction. Don’t listen to what people say about your past. Listen to the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit continue to change you from the inside out. Become what God intended you to be. Move on from your Nazareth to your Capernaum! Move on to the mission that God has in store for you.

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