Matthew 13:53-58 – Seeing The Miracles of Jesus Christ

Posted: December 27, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 13:53-58
Jesus Is Rejected in Nazareth

My brother is a career preacher. He has been a preacher in the United Methodist Church here in South Carolina and for a while in south Georgia since he finished seminary way back in 1984 or ’85. To me, though, he is my brother. I do not really know my brother in preacher mode. To me is my one and only sibling who is like night to my day. He is like oil to my water. We are diametrically opposed in every way. I am Republican. He is a Democrat. I am a Clemson Tiger. He is a Carolina Gamecock. He talks incessantly while I am more of listener. We have never really been close. We have our spells where we are closer but it is never an ongoing deep relationship. We are just too different. I love him as my brother but we have different interests, different points of view. Over the years, we have just been at odds with one another. We are only 18 months and 2 weeks apart in age. We have always been competitive with one another. There has always been that competitive jealousy between us from practically since I was able to have a cogent thought as a child. We fought like cats and dogs growing up. It was rare that we were on the same side of an issue. Just as an extreme example, one time when he was almost 6 and I was 4, I did not want to play “rolly bat” with him (if you are unfamiliar with this game, please see http://allpoetry.com/poem/11845633-Rolly-Bat-The-Game-From-My-Childhood–by-Tyna-D.-S. for the rules). My brother became so mad at me that I would not play the game he wanted to play that he hit me over the head with the baseball bat. My friends who may be reading this are probably saying to themselves now that this incident explains a few things! LOL! But back to the point, my brother and I have issues that it has taken years to resolve about one another. We are finally in a place in life that we do not feel the need to compete with one another. Recently, I paid him as big a compliment as ever when I told him that he must be doing something right as a preacher, just look at his career. Since after his first appointment in the United Methodist Church, he has stayed at his appointed churches for no less than 4 years, the last several appointments have been at least six years. His current appointment in the Greenwood, SC area finds him in his 7th year and most likely will be back for an 8th year when appointments are made in June 2016.

To me, he is my brother. He is not a preacher. To me, he is the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker. When I talk to him, all I hear about is the politics of the United Methodist Church in South Carolina (who’s moving where, who is becoming a District Superintendent and who is not, the inner workings of a connectional church). I never hear about people or salvations or things like that. Thus, to me, it seems that the church is a job to him like any other rather than a passionate calling. However, when you look at the evidence of his ministry career, he must be doing something right. He must be effective. He must be discipling his various flocks over the years into deeper and deeper relationships with Christ. With regard to the politics of the church, I am sure that he does well at that but if he was not effective in his local church, he would not stay places as long as he stays. It’s the old saying, “ball don’t lie” used by basketball players. It means that in basketball, you can talk a good game but on the court the truth comes out. Talent will show on the court regardless of the talk. That is what I see in my brother. In the Methodist Church, you move when you are no longer effective at a given church. As long as you are effective, you can stay at a church for a long time. So, for me, although I know the real R.T., my brother, and it is hard for me to see the R.T. Bowling, III, the preacher. But ball don’t lie. He’s a good preacher. Why do I bring this up? It leads us to our Scripture reading for today. In Matthew 13:53-58, we find the following from the Word of God:

 
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith

 

 
There are two things that I think that we can use from today’s passage. First, it is hard for people to accept the changes that the Holy Spirit has wrought in us through our faith in Jesus Christ. Second, faith is a requirement for miracles in our lives. In the end, we find that it doesn’t really matter what other people believe as long as we are faithful to our Lord and Savior. That’s what matters.

Just as I have a hard time seeing my brother as a minister cause I knew him way back when, it is similar with my walk with the Lord. I am sure that there are people in Travelers Rest where I did my teenage years and most of my twenties that would find it hard to believe that I am a part-time pastor at my church. There are friends in the Berea area of Greenville where I spent my thirties that would scoff at me being a preacher in training, that I went to seminary. In both places, they knew me pre-salvation. I was a different man then. I did many things that I am not proud of now. However, when we accept Christ as our Savior, He changes us from the inside out. We are not what we once were. The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us and He changes us from the inside out. The things that I was comfortable with back in those days revolts me now. I am a different man. I am a changed man. The same is true for anyone who has met Jesus Christ and accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. We are changed by Him. There will be those who will never believe it. They will never believe that we have changed. That is the miracle of Jesus Christ. He changes people. He redeems that which seems unredeemable. He can take the foulest and make it clean. He can take even the modest hardened heart and make it soft. He can take the worst criminal and make them effective disciples. He can take our pre-salvation stories and the redemption through Jesus Christ and make our stories connect with others who are experiencing the same life and witness to them. Our past can become our testimony of the miracle of Jesus. As that great hymn writer, Charles Wesley, once wrote in that traditional hymn that stirs my soul every time I hear it, Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, says,

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

Jesus set us free from our sin, from our past, from who we were, from what we were, from what others think of us. It does not matter what others think of us because of who we were. It only matters where we are going. It only matters who we are in Jesus now. We are redeemed in his blood on the cross. Miracles happen in lives that are submitted to Jesus Christ. It does not matter if you were a wild child preacher’s kid trying to prove that you were not a holy roller. It does not matter that you ran from the hypocrisy of what you saw in the church. It does not matter if that was an excuse just to live a life of excess and immorality. It does not matter if that was the old me. It does not matter what your old you story was. It is what we are in Christ now. There is nothing that you have done that is ever so bad that Jesus Christ cannot redeem it when we ask Him into our hearts. Jesus performs miracles in the lives of those who have faith in Him. It simply does not matter if you were formerly a liar or a thief or an adulterer or mired in unbiblical sexual behaviors, or if you were a greedy bastard, or if you were a worshipper of false gods, or anything that you formerly were. Jesus can reclaim it and perform a miracle in you and through you. It does not matter what your hometown thinks. It does not matter what your old friends think. It only matters that you believe in Jesus Christ and He has changed you through the action of the Holy Spirit in your soul. It is never too late to turn to Him and beg His forgiveness for the person you used to be and have Him redeem you from the foul person that you used to be. It does not matter what others think of you or what they knew of you way back when or just a few months ago. A changed life that gives glory to God and seeks after God daily is the miracle of faith in Jesus Christ. When we keep our eyes on Him and not on what others think of us, we have our focus in the right place. Our past is meaningful only in the sense that it screams of the miracle of faith and how it change us. His blood availed for me.

Faith can bring miracles. It changes lives. Jesus can do miracles in a life. Jesus can bring about miracles when there is faith. When we have deep faith in Him and deep trust in Him, He can bring about miracles that we never thought possible. A lot of us give lip service to our faith in Jesus. How much do you trust Him. How deeply do you believe that He can perform miracles? If He can change you from the person you were to a Christ follower, can we not trust Him to perform other miracles in life? He can heal souls but do you believe He can heal disease. How deep is our trust? We can trust Him to create radical change in life through prayer. Do you believe that Jesus is great for spiritual change but do you believe that He is no longer in the tangible miracle business? How big is your God? If He can change the man you are from the foulest to the heart seeking after God, let us trust Him so deeply that we can pray for healing of disease. Let us trust Him to provide for our needs when we need it the most. Let us trust Him to change others. Let us trust Him to perform miracles that we know are miracles when others try to explain it away. We experienced a miracle at our recent Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway that you may discount for lack of faith. We thought we were going to run 50 turkeys short of what we need to service the guests who came to our campus that day. We had several reputable people count the remaining turkeys. People with meticulous minds that would not miscount the physical number of turkeys in the refrigerated truck. You might expect a miscount if one person did the count twice. But we had two or three different people count the turkeys and we were going to come up short by 50 turkeys. Somehow, some way we had enough turkeys to service every single family that came to our campus that day to get complete Thanksgiving meals (turkey and fixings) to take home to their families. It was a bona fide miracle in our minds who knew of the shortage. Tell me what you will that there was some logical, reasonable explanation. To me and to our team, it was a real miracle of tangible proportions. That is faith in action. That is God providing for us when we needed it most. That was God showing out. Let us have such deep faith in Him that we can see the miracles when they happen. Let us not be people of little faith even in the church that we cannot see the miracles when they happen. Let us be that people with that deep, deep faith that we can pray to our Lord for miracles and see them happen when they happen. The greatest miracle of all though is the changed life despite the unbelief of those who cannot fathom how this person was changed into a Christ follower whose life has turned around 180 degrees. Others will rationalize it away and others will not believe it but it is a miracle of grand proportions. Let us believe in a God of miracles. Let us pray for change in the hardest heart and watch it happen. It may take 40 years of praying for the desert to be changed into fertile ground but we must have faith. Let us believe in miracles through faith in Jesus Christ!

We will have our doubters in the miracles that Jesus brings to a person’s life. But it does not matter what other people think. It is only our relationship with Jesus Christ that matters. Do not let others detract you from your faith in Jesus Christ. Submit to Him and let Him change you from the inside out. Let Him do the miracle in you. In the end, it does not matter what other people think. Just as I see my brother as that dude that hit me over the head with a baseball bat when we were little, just as I see him as just a dude that chose to be a Methodist preacher because it was a job and was the family business so to speak, rather than an effective man of God who has discipled Christ followers well enough to stay long periods of time at each of his church appointments, it does not matter what I thought or what I think of my brother. He may have his flaws, but he has done real kingdom work through his full-time ministry these last 30 years. Others are not going to believe what change has occurred in us. Others are going to doubt God’s miracles in us and in the things that we pray for and trust Him to do. It does not matter what others think. It matters the faith that we have in Jesus Christ. He is still in the miracle business. In you. In me. In the world around us. Have the faith to see the miracles!

Amen and Amen.

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