Matthew R. Perry

Do You Have Kingdom Lenses?

In Church Life, Evangelism, Gospel, Missions, Preaching, Sermons on April 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm

(If you want to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here or here to read the Introduction. This sermon was preaching on Sunday, April 13, 2008, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. Click here for the archive.)

The first portion of this introduction is three simple words: “Seeing the crowds… .” There is a difference between seeing a crowd and seeing a crowd. When I first moved to Lexington, I was warned right away, “If you plan on driving on Nicholasville Road, do not drive when there’s a ball game letting out, or when it’s rush hour. Why? Because of a crowd of cars filled with a crowd of people. You can see that crowd and get annoyed.

Or you can go out to eat and find yourself avoiding certain places because of a line rolling out the door. Or you can be the head of a company or a department and see the crowd of people working under you, but you can use those people simply to advance your own agenda.

I’m glad Jesus doesn’t fit into this category. While this little portion seems to convey a simple looking at the crowds, we get a glimpse into the heart of Jesus as he looks at the crowd in Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The key word to all of that is “compassion.” Sympathy. Having pity. He put himself in their place and began taking time to see life through their eyes.

It reminds me of a story I read about a man who put up a sign in his yard that read: “Puppies for Sale.” Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. “Please, Mister,” he said, “I’d like to buy one of your puppies if they don’t cost too much.” “Well, son, they’re $25.” The boy looked crushed. “I’ve only got two dollars and five cents. Could I see them anyway?” “Of course. Maybe we can work something out,” said the man. The lad’s eyes danced at the sight of those five little balls of fur. “I heard that one has a bad leg,” he said. “Yes, I’m afraid she’ll be crippled for life.” “Well, that’s the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?” The man responded, “But she’ll always have a limp.” Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. “I don’t walk good either.” Then, looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, “I guess she’ll need a lot of love and help. I sure did. It’s not so easy being crippled.” “Here, take her,” said the man. “I know you’ll give her a good home. And just forget the money.”

The situation for the people in Jesus’ time was one perpetual limp after another. John MacArthur noted that the religious factions of the day were leading the people astray. The Pharisees believed in keeping all the law and traditions in great detail. The Sadducees were religious liberals who rejected all things supernatural and changed the Scripture and tradition to fit their worldview. The Essenes separated themselves from everyone, like the monks. The zealots were activists who sought to overturn the political system. MacArthur wryly notes, “The Pharisees said, ‘Go back”; the Sadducees said, “Go ahead”; the Essenes said, “Go away”; and the Zealots said, “Go against.” They truly had no shepherd they could count on.

Let me ask you: when you see the people around you, what do you see? Do you see people as a way to be avoided, exploited, changed, or as many churches and cults do and aim to indoctrinate? It’s time to see people where they are. It’s time to take time to see the crowd around us. And many, whether they realize it or not have a longing for something more. No matter how hard they try, this world cannot meet their true longing for more, for better, for something to grant them purpose.

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