Friday, January 29, 2010

An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday January 31, 2010

(As HIS disciples, we share in JESUS’ rejection)
(Matthew 13:54-58)

JESUS revealed many additional things about HIS millennial reign here on earth that had not previously been mentioned by Old Testament prophets. As resistance to HIS teachings hardened, particularly among the Pharisees and scribes, JESUS began to speak in “parables” that could only be understood by those who were open to HIS teaching. And even though HE came and offered up HIS Kingdom to the nations, many, even from among the Jews, chose instead, to reject HIM.
In Matthew 13:53-58, after JESUS had finished instructing HIS disciples on what the Kingdom of Heaven was like, HE returned to HIS hometown of Nazareth and began teaching the people in the local synagogue. The town of Nazareth had already rejected JESUS during an earlier visit, when they had attempted to throw HIM over a cliff, after HE had proclaimed HIMSELF as being the long-awaited MESSIAH (Luke 4:14-29).
Familiarity oftentimes breeds contempt, and on this second visit, even though they were impressed by HIS wisdom and miracles, the people still couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that JESUS was truly the MESSIAH. They reasoned that, someone who had grown up right before their eyes, couldn’t possibly be anyone near as special as the much anticipated MESSIAH, the SAVIOR of the Jewish nation. For, they knew HIS earthly father Joseph, and they also knew Mary and all of JESUS’ brothers and sisters, and they were all just ordinary people. They asked themselves, “How can this man claim to be the MESSIAH, the SAVIOR of the world? In fact, here in Nazareth, the people were even offended by JESUS’ seemingly outrageous claims.
Even in today’s society the most difficult place for a preacher to preach is in the place where he or she grew up. The element of familiarity almost always places a barrier between people who know each other intimately, especially husbands and wives, and other family members. The closer they are, the more difficult it is to have a positive effect on their lives as a minister. The attitudes will either bring an atmosphere that has a barrier that cannot be penetrated, or, the high expectations of some will be too lenient, and they, as a result, will accept spiritual advice that sometimes cannot be endorsed by the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD.
There can be no effective preaching in the wrong atmosphere. Many a great message has fallen prey to the devil, simply because the hearer was prejudiced against messenger. We see here in this passage that it happened, even to JESUS, WHO was the greatest messenger that GOD ever sent. And so, those of us who are ministers in this day and time, should not be surprised when it happens to us, even in, and probably, especially in, our own hometowns, and even, in our own households.
Those who choose to follow JESUS will always inevitably experience the taste of the same bitter cup from which JESUS drank. But we must persist in sowing the seeds of the Good News of the Gospel among those whom we encounter on a daily basis, just as JESUS did. And remember, it is not our task to convert everyone that we meet, but rather, it is only those whose hearts have already been prepared by GOD to be receptive to the message.
When JESUS sent the disciples out to preach the Gospel to the nations, he told them to abide only in those places where they were welcome. And when they came across places that were unreceptive to their message of Good News, they were to shake the dust off their feet, and move on to the next town or city.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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