Painting by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier 1838. Isaiah was a Hebrew prophet from the 8th century B. C.

What hurts your pride and what comes out of you when it is hurt? Do you know when it happens that it is pride? I ask that because I didn't know. For me last week what came out was anger. I was very angry with a person and I thought I had an anger problem.

Are you familiar with Jeremiah 33:3? It says this

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

I even made up a little song many years ago to help memorize it. So, I have been asking the Lord last week and this week Jeremiah 33:3. I had another reason in mind, but then the answer to why I was angry came. It popped into my head and I know I didn't figure it out, it was the Holy Spirit . . He said: "It hurt your pride". What made me mad was the fact that it hurt my pride. So . . I didn't have an anger problem . . well, I did, but the root of it all was pride.

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

"To fear the Lord is to hate evil;

I hate pride and arrogance,

evil behavior and perverse speech." Proverbs 8:13

Why am I bringing all this up? Because I believe the Pharisees and Saduccees in today's message will show the Bible teachers who opposed Jesus are guilty of the same thing. Their pride was hurt because of how Jesus acted and what he said.

Yes, you are in the right place. We have talked about the New Testament book of Matthew for the past 2 weeks . . first an overview, then the genealogy of Jesus. I want to bypass the birth of Jesus and all that entails and, Lord willing, will cover that in December of this year. Christmas is a wonderful time to think about the Birth of our Savior and enjoy the music of the season.

Have you ever heard of a preacher named Billy Sunday (1862 - 1935). Known for his fire and brimstone sermons, he drew 70,000 people to a Boston Revival in 1916. What if he had made a statement like this:

800 years ago a prophet told anyone who would listen that I would be here and what I would say . . that I was preparing you for the greatest preacher who ever lived: Billy Graham . . that Reverend Graham would preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands and thousands of people and they would be saved.

If you can imagine that, then you will understand why there is a picture of Isaiah the Prophet at the top of this page. Isaiah 40:3 states this:

A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.

Isaiah preached judgment but judgment was not the end of the story. With God's help and God's provision, Isaiah heard John the Baptist hundreds of years in the future. He didn't name him but he knew what would be said. Isaiah understood what it meant. Isaiah was God's servant and knew this prophecy was of THE SERVANT (Jesus) of Jehovah.

Matthew 3 begins:

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying,

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

"A voice of one calling in the desert,

'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.'"

In verse 4, Matthew describes John. His clothes were made of camel hair but not the camel hair softness in sweaters of today. A leather belt was around his waist which was probably very small since his food was locusts and wild honey. The locust must have served as protein and honey as a carb fuel, but yikes! Can you imagine existing on that? What did the people think of him? He must have seemed way too serious . . over the top serious. But John has a heavy duty sense of the sin of people of his generation. He was different, strange, but none the less, he drew crowds. Not only crowds, but people who did repent and were baptized!

They were baptized in the Jordan River. They confessed their sins to John. Somehow they found John and his message true / attractive / meaningful for their lives.

John thundered REPENT!! Turn the other way. Go the opposite way in your doings, in your living. Change your mind about everything. REPENT!! Why? Because the Kingdom, God's Kingdom, is near. The Kingdom of Heaven is here!

"Your Kingdom come, Lord!" My Kingdom is dumb (see above).

But when John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees (religious leaders of his time) coming to him, he called them a name (You brood of vipers - snakes) and asked

"Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?"

Then he told them what to do:

1. Repent and produce fruit in keeping with repentance. In other words, how are you going to change so that it really shows that you repented?

2. Don't think just because "Abraham is your father" that it is enough because God can raise up children for Abraham out of ROCKS! (They thought because they were Jews they did not need to repent.). Remember last week how important it was to each and every Jew to have a spotless genealogy going back to Abraham? They thought that was sufficient.

Then John expanded on No. 1. explaining the axe is already at the root of the trees and if your tree doesn't produce good fruit, it will be cut down and thrown into the fire. All these words angered the religious leaders beyond frustration. Their faces probably all turned dark red with rage.

All the above was preparation. It was to show what was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. It was to make people think about their sins. John could not do what Jesus would. He could not forgive sin. He could not give everlasting life.

And then . . . and then . . John revealed the crux of his message / what the prophets of old had died not seeing but knowing it was coming.

Matthew 3:11-12 I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

It has been said "if you think you are humble, then you are not! But one who is truly humble, does not realize it.

Above John reported accurately he was not worthy to carry the sandals of Jesus. This was not a pretense of humbleness. Listen to what Jesus thought of the Baptist:

Matthew 11:11 "Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;"

That is what the King thought.

Then the King added this:

Matthew 11:12-15 "yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear."

This sound confusing, does it not? That first Jesus praises John, then remarks that he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John? What in the world does that mean?

It speaks to understanding. John came before Jesus. When John was in prison, he sent word with his (John's) disciples to ask if Jesus was the One foretold. There were things John did not understand and he was right to ask questions.

Contrast that with yourself, and I will with myself. We live and breathe on the other side of the coming of Jesus. The Kingdom has been here and is here and is at our door. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help us understand. That also makes us responsible for our acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ.

After we die, will we hear "Welcome home, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21) or will it be "Depart from Me, I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23) . . .

I am a servant, I am listening for my name

I sit here waiting, I've been looking at the game

That I've been playing, I've been staying much the same

When you are lonely, you're the only one to blame.

I am a servant, I am listening for Your call

I've been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall

How can He use me, when I've never given all

How can He choose me, when He knows I quickly fall.

So He feeds my soul and He makes me grow

And He lets me know He loves me

I am worthless now but I've made a vow

I will humbly bow before Thee

Oh, please use me, I am lonely.

I am a servant, getting ready for my part

There's been a change, a rearrangement in my heart

At last I'm learning there's no returning once I start

To live's a privilege, to love is such an art

But I need your help to start - Oh, please purify my heart

I am your servant. Joni Eareckson Tada

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