The Puzzle of His Conduct

Scripture: Matthew 11:18-19, Luke 2:41-51, Mark 3:1-5
Date: 05/17/2008 
Lesson: 7
The ways in which Jesus behaved puzzled the people during His time, who were expecting a different type of Messiah to appear.
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Good morning and a very, very Happy Sabbath. And a warm welcome to those of you who are joining us this morning from across the country and around the world, joining us for our lesson study here at the Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are glad that you're tuning in, whether you're listening on the radio, watching 3 weeks delayed on the various television networks, or watching live this morning on our website:, welcome. And we are gonna sing some of your requests this morning. The first one is 109, "marvelous grace.

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So send in your song requests, and we will sing those for you on an upcoming Sabbath. Our opening song, 547, "be thou my vision," 547, is from maureen in australia, luna and belinda in Canada, oxy in england, sam in india, toweenbo in norway, fernon and emmanuel in saudi arabia, nantigee in zambia, James in California, kaneesha, jim, diane, jamie, and buffy in florida, sonya in Illinois, kyra in Oregon, jamedy in Oregon and monique in West Virginia. , Verses 1, 2, and 4... Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for your grace that you have given to us. And we accept that gift this morning.

We ask you to cover us in your righteousness, to cleanse our hearts and to make us fit to spend eternity in heaven with you. We thank you so much for the freedoms that we currently have, that we still have in this country. And I pray that we will do everything we can while we still have them to spread the good news of your soon coming. I pray you'll be with each one that is studying together with us around the world or here in our sanctuary this morning, that your spirit will be poured out as we open up Your Word together. And I pray that you'll be with our speaker as he brings us the lesson study this morning.

In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you, debbie and jessica and friends for being here to study together this morning. I want to welcome our local class at Sacramento central. And it's good to see you and our visitors that may be here.

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Today, a fresh lesson. We're going through our quarterly dealing with "the wonder of Jesus." The wonder of Jesus. And we're on lesson number 7 today that's talking about the mystery, or the puzzle, of his conduct. You know last week we talked about some of the enigmatic things that Jesus said. And here we're gonna talk about some of the apparently strange things that Jesus did.

With every lesson we also have a free offer we like to give people that'll be sort of a supplemental resource. And today we have a cd, an audio cd, you can listen to. And it's called, "the character of Christ." We'll send it to you free. You just need to call the number on the screen. For those on radio, that number is 1-866-788-3966.

Or the acronym for that is -866-study-more. That's what we want everyone to do, study more. I like that. "The puzzle of his conduct." Have a memory verse. And the memory verse comes to us from Matthew 11:19.

And I'd appreciate if you find that real quick, Matthew 11:19. And you can say that with me. See if we can do this like a choir, all together. You ready? Matthew 11:19, and I'm reading it here from the new king James version, "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" Now was Jesus a winebibber? Or was he quoting what people accused him of being? Keep in mind, they also accused Jesus of being a samaritan and demon-possessed. Was he? No, so just because they accused him of something doesn't mean he was.

I've actually heard people quote this before and say, "see, Jesus, he drank alcohol. It says he was a winebibber." Well, that's saying what they accused him of. He was not. And he wasn't a glutton either. Amen? But he did hang out with people that had that reputation.

And we're gonna get to that in a little bit. "The puzzle of his conduct," under the first section, there's a lot of things we're gonna talk about. First section talks about neglecting parents. Now there's a passage upon which this is based. Turn in your Bibles please, Luke 2, starting with verse 41.

And I'll read this for you very quickly. And we're gonna explore some of this puzzling behavior. Luke 2:41, "his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast." This may have been the first time that he went with his father, being of the appropriate age. "And when they had finished the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.

And Joseph and his mother did not know it; but supposing that he was in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought him among their relatives and acquaintances." Now, went they went down to the feast, all the people from nazareth that were of age, they sort of went like a big parade. And you know, there were so many kids and they had cousins and relatives and friends and they were intermingling. And it was not uncommon to not see Jesus right at their side. Twelve years of age, boys run around. And so on the way down he spent a lot of time maybe with his cousins or helping other people along the way, but he was in the group.

And so when they left, they left in a group. And they just assumed Jesus was always so cooperative and obedient that he would be with them. But they got to the first night's camp, and they're looking around going, "where is he? Didn't he leave when we all left?" And you know the group heading back to nazareth all kind of went as a procession. And they don't see him. You might be thinking, "how could they get so far before they noticed he was missing?" Well, that's how it happened.

"So when they didn't find him," very perplexed and worried, "they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. Now so it was that after three days," from the time they left, "they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. So when they saw him, they were amazed; and his mother said to him, 'son--'" this is part of his strange conduct that puzzled them. "Son, why have you done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought you sorrowing.

We've sought you anxiously." "And he said, 'why is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?'" Now first thing we need to ask about this, was this inconsiderate? How many of you, if you were Jesus' parents, would you think, "wow, that's bad behavior. That's inconsiderate. We were worrying about you. You knew that we would have expected you to leave when we left and that you would have been in the group. Why did you not join us?" I mean can you understand that would seem puzzling behavior for them? Why did he do that? Was he being inconsiderate? Was he detached? I think that it was deliberate.

And I think he was teaching them a few things. I know that it may seem strange. First of all, at 12 years of age, the reason he went to the feast with them during this time is he was entering manhood. There were a few pivotal times in the life of a young man. One was 12.

Of course, 8 days old: circumcised. Twelve: you go to the feast. You're old enough to consider a man. Twenty: you're old enough to go to battle. Thirty: you can serve as a priest.

Fifty: you're old enough to retire, but you can still serve in the temple. Retire from battle, sorry. So these were Marks in the life of a man. Twelve years of age now he's entering into adulthood. He's telling his parents, "I am now understanding for the first time my life mission.

And I have another father that I must serve with a priority." So, when he stayed in the temple, he was also letting them know that he was going to be the lamb now. When he went and saw the passover lamb, God revealed to him, maybe not everything, but as much as he could handle at 12 years of age, "you are the Messiah. You have a higher calling. And while you are to respect your earthly parents, you now have a mission to your Heavenly Father that is to supersede, it's to eclipse your responsibility to your earthly parents." Another lesson here was I think God allowed this to happen, The Father, because Joseph and mary maybe had begun to take Jesus for granted. And they'd forgotten that he had a divine mission and that they were to guard him.

They'd forgotten that when he was a child the devil tried to destroy him. They got so preoccupied with the fun of the festivities of the feast, they took off and they're heading home and they don't even know where Jesus is. So this was a lesson for them. And in the book, "Desire of Ages," there the author says that we must always remember that when we take our eyes off Jesus and we neglect him, it may take 3 days' sorrowing and searching before we find him again. And so it's easy for us to just take him for granted and forget that you need to keep your eyes on Christ, because you can lose him and spend days sorrowing and searching before you find him again.

And when they did find him, where did they find him? He was in the temple in the midst of the Word of God. And right now where is Jesus? Is he in the heavenly temple? Yeah. He never left. They left. See? When adam and eve were separated from God, did God run from them or did they run from God? So here you've got a little parallel of separation happening again where they walk away from the temple as adam and eve walked away from the Tree of Life.

They separated from Jesus. Jesus did not separate from them. So there's a lot of allegories and parables in here. So it seems mysterious to us. And I'm not recommending any children treat their parents this way.

That would be unacceptable behavior. But Jesus was not any child. And that's the only way you can explain this. Now Jesus makes some other statements talking about the relationship between parents and children. I think I've given a couple of these out.

Luke 14:26, who has that? Birdie has the first one here. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sister, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." "If any man doesn't hate?" I'd like to follow Jesus, but first you must hate your parents, everybody? How do you explain that? Well, I just wanted to let that settle long enough for you to squirm. It's answered by another statement Jesus makes. Matthew 10:37, I'll read this one, and 38. "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.

" So when he says, "you must hate," it means you must love them less. You must be willing to turn away from them if you were forced to choose between your love for God and your love for your earthly parents or any earthly relationship. You must be willing to hate them in preference for loving God. You cannot let them be supreme. That's all he means.

He doesn't mean that in order to follow Jesus you've got to go home and scowl at your spouse or your parents. Okay? Is that clear to everybody? I've heard people who have actually taken that the way it's said there and translated and abused that. Another way you might say it is Matthew 19:29. Now I don't think I distributed that verse, but if you hold your hand up if you find that. Matthew 19:29 helps us better understand what he's talking about.

Do we got someone who has that? You got that, kwamboka? "Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life." Alright, here again Jesus is saying, "in your decision to take up your cross and follow Christ, it may mean you will have to separate yourself from brethren and parents." All kinds of relationships could be damaged by this. But he said, "you will be rewarded. You'll be compensated, not only in eternal life, but even in this life." When I decided to be a Christian, my family thought I went bonkers. They did. And to this very day they sort of say, "oh, you know, poor doug.

He's a Christian. He's not only a Christian, he's one of these fundamental Christians. I mean, they eat differently. And they don't keep the Sabbath--or they do certain things on the Sabbath, 'cause they're religious about it." And they kind of think, poor doug." And you know, i--so you sort of lose family when you're like that. But you know what Jesus does? He compensates.

And I've got so many more family and fathers and mothers around the world now because I decided to be a Christian. And some of them are a whole lot nicer than the real ones I had. So you know the Lord is good that way. There might be a time when you might need to leave father and mother. Now Jesus was always respectful to his parents.

Matter of fact, further evidence for that in the Gospel of Luke. If you keep reading, it says in Luke 2:51, he went down with them and came to nazareth and was subject to them. But his mother kept all these things in his heart. Was he subject to--did he obey his parents when he went home? Yes. Worked in the carpenter shop.

The Bible says he was The Son of the carpenter. He was subject to them. Alright, let's go to the next one: "displaying anger." And this may take a little time. "Displaying anger," alright, so Jesus has this experience. We all know about it.

Matthew 21, we'll read verse 12 and 13, "then Jesus went into the temple of God and he drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seat of those who sold doves. And he said to them, 'it is written, 'my house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'" This is that story where people say, you know, Jesus went into the temple. Actually it happened twice in his ministry. Once near the beginning and once near the end. And he goes into the temple.

Keep in mind, you've gotta have a picture of what's going on here. Because they offer various sacrifices for these feasts, and the poor could not afford the same sacrifices that the rich afforded, they basically had sacrifices there where you could buy them. And gradually they used to sell them outside the temple or outside the city. But they found their way into the gates of the temple. And ultimately because of convenience, and because the priests got a kickback, the sellers of the sacrifices would say, "look, if you'd let us, we don't have room, we want to be right there where they're offering the sacrifices.

You let us have our booths right there." And the priests said, "okay, we'll do our money changing right there." They could not use the roman currency or the Greek currency. They had to use the temple currency. And you know, whenever you change money, if you've traveled, the people who do the changing get a percentage of that. And so it was a fabulous business. They were getting a big kickback.

And so over the years now, poor people could offer the doves, middle-class people would offer the lambs; the rich people would offer the rams and the oxen with the most expensive sacrifices. And so here the courtyard is full. You can hear the cooing of the doves in these little cages. And you see the sheep are all tied off, and they're bleating. And they're being butted by the goats that are there.

And then you got the lowing of the oxen and all these sacrifices. It was like a veritable petting zoo. And all this noise and the smells that go with it. And then you can hear the clink of the money changers. And you can hear the people complaining about the exorbitant prices that the money changers are charging to exchange the money.

And then they're going trying to buy a sacrifice because they've made this journey, this pilgrimage to bring sacrifice. It's a lot easier to buy it when you get there than to carry your oxen with you. You understand? And so they're saying, "this is so much money. I can't afford it." You all know how it is. You go to the airport, buy a sandwich in the airport, a sandwich that would cost you $2 anywhere else is $8, $10 at the airport.

And you could stomp your foot. But they say, "well, you can go out to main street then. If you want it here at the airport, this is what it costs." You have to go through security." And so it's just one of those things where you're outraged of how they exploit, how much it costs. And so all this is going on. People are arguing and you hear the money and you hear the animals.

And Jesus walks in. And this temple, keep in mind, when they built the temple, there was such an awesome sacredness about it. Solomon said, "don't even chisel the stones here. Chisel and saw the stones somewhere else. Slide them quietly into place here.

There was a reverence in the building of God's temple. It was to be a house of prayer for all nations. And Jesus comes in to this place and he sees this cacophony of noise and the dust and the smell and the greed and the taking advantage of people. The whole spirit of sacrifice and prayer is gone. And this indignation rises up within him.

And he loses it, and he goes berserk. And he grabs a whip and he starts beating people and kicking over tables, yelling and screaming. Is that what happened? No. But I've heard people portray it that way. I've heard preachers paint this picture that Jesus went mad, that he went berserk.

And he had a tantrum. What he does is actually very thoughtful. He is angry, but it is the right kind of anger. He is angry that the name of God is being reproached, that the idea that other nations have of God is being maligned by the greed and by the noise and the things that he's seeing. So he grabs a little set of cords.

They used to use these cords to tie off the animal sacrifices. And they had 'em all lined up. "You buy your lamb; here's your cord." And they'd lead it off, they'd tie him up, and they'd sacrifice him. He takes this group of cords and it makes sort of a whip. It's not gonna hurt you very much.

It's not a cat of nine tails. It's like, you know, a handful of yarn. And he--but just the fire in his eyes and the authority of his presence, divinity flashes through humanity. And he says, "take these things hence." And he says it with such authority that everybody looks at him and there's an absolute silence. Even the animals go silent.

And they listen to him. He says, "take these things hence. This is my Father's house. It's to be a house of prayer. You've made it a den of thieves.

" And he says it with such authority. And it never says he whipped anybody. You show me anywhere in all three Gospel accounts where he whipped anybody. He just held it in his hand. That's all he needed, like the rod of Moses.

And he did go then and he turned over the tables of the moneychangers, because they were trying to count out their money before they left. They were leaving, but they're trying to collect their money. He says, "you don't have time for this." He turned over the tables of the money changers. He says, "you better get." And they did. And when they all scurried out of the temple, they're all out there cowering.

They're looking at each other going, "why did we run? What happened to us?" It's like the Egyptians. After they let the Israelites go, they're thinking, "what fear came over us that we let them go?" When they come tip toeing back in the sanctuary, Jesus is not stomping around kicking things. Now people have come to him, the maimed and the lepers and the children, they come to him--not the lepers, sorry-- the blind and the maimed, they come. And he's healing them and he's teaching them. So there is something about Christ where people were not afraid to come to him, but the wicked fled.

It's like when Jesus in the temple said, when mary magdalene, or that woman caught in adultery was there, "he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone." I think Jesus was angry when he said that. And the accusers left. But mary stayed. And the people stayed. And so, you know, there's something about when Christ comes, the righteous and the saved said, "this is our God.

We've waited for him." They're glad. The wicked, all the tribes of the earth that are lost, will mourn. And they run and call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them. So the reaction is different depending on what the attitude in the heart is. Right? Depends on whether you're a moth or a cockroach.

If you turn on the lights, the moths come to the light. The cockroaches run from it. Did you know that? And so they went skedaddling out of there. So did Jesus display anger? Yes. There's other examples.

Mark 3:5. I gave that to somebody. "And when he had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, 'stretch our your hand.' And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other." Alright, does the Bible say here that Jesus was angry? Yeah, he was angry. Did he lose his temper? No. Why was he angry? Does it tell us? "At the hardness of their hearts.

" Here was this man who had a paralyzed hand. And he's in the synagogue, but it's the Sabbath day. And they're all looking around saying, "oh, if he heals him, then we'll have some reason to accuse him." They don't care at all about the man. All they're looking for is evidence to use against him. And so he was, "grieved at the hardness of their hearts," for the lost.

They didn't care about the person. When they brought mary to Jesus in the temple and she was caught in the act of adultery, Jesus was grieved that they were willing to use this woman to trap him. They didn't care about her. They were ready to stone her so they could then go to the Romans and accuse Christ of issuing the death penalty. But they didn't care about the woman.

And so often in the church, and this still happens, church leaders are not really interested about saving the people. They're interesting in their positions and their power and their influence. And that grieves the Lord. That makes them angry. Didn't Jesus get into a soliloquy of talking about the scribes and the pharisees? "Hypocrites," he called them.

Why did he call them hypocrites? He was angry that they were--their hard hearts and that they were deceiving the people. They didn't care about the people. They cared about the pretense of religion instead of the genuine. And so there was a time for this righteous anger. Is it a sin to be angry? Not necessarily.

The Bible speaks about Ephesians 4:6, "be angry and do not sin. Let not the sun go down on your wrath." He says, "don't ever--" it doesn't say, "don't ever have wrath." "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath." There are things that will make you angry. Do you ever see in the Bible where Paul got angry? Paul called the high priest a whited sepulcher one time, because here he hit him. He commanded 'em to be struck contrary to the law. Paul wasn't angry that he got hit.

He was angry that you sit in the position to judge me and you're breaking the law that you're supposed to judge me by. So there's a time for righteous--if you see children or an aged person being mugged and beaten, does it make you angry? Well, it should. I mean if you've got the Spirit of God and you see the weak and the old being oppressed. Then an indignation, a pure, holy, righteous indignation might rise within you that they be protected. When you see somebody blaspheming God or abusing holy things, does that anger you? It should.

If you love God and you see somebody. Did it anger David when Goliath was mocking God? It was a righteous indignation. So that's appropriate. But most of us have the other kind of anger where we're angry because we're not getting our way. Or, you know, someone is threatening us.

Jesus never got angry 'cause someone hit him. You notice the difference? That's where most of us get angry, that the chemicals are released and the blood rushes to our face and we want to lash out and get even. You hurt me; I'll hurt you. Or we get frustrated, 'cause we're not getting our way or something's going wrong or, you know, we're having to go through three red lights before we can get through the intersection. Pound on the steering wheel.

It's not righteous indignation. It's just our impatience we're not getting our way. So the Bible talks about that. There's the wrong kind of angry--anger. Before I get to that, let me read one more verse to you.

And I haven't forgotten I gave some other verses out. Hebrews 3:10, God says, "therefore I was angry with that generation," because of the hardness of their hearts, "and I said, 'they do always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.'" After all God did to save them, they just spurned his grace and his instruction and they went astray in their hearts. What's the wrong kind of anger? Galatians 5:19-20, "now the works of the flesh are evident," this is not the righteous spiritual anger; this is the fleshly anger, "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy," here it is, "outbursts of wrath." You ever seen somebody lose their temper? By the way, when a person loses their temper, who finds it? The devil. I think when a person misplaces their self-control, and they lose their temper, they are at least temporarily demon-possessed. Haven't you seen people when they just, they fly off the handle? I mean it's like at least momentary demonic possession.

And they say things that are not logical or mean. And they do things that are often destructive. A bad temper is a costly commodity. You ever seen people lose their tempers and they start throwing their keyboard around or something if the computer's not working. Somebody e-mailed me a clip one time.

This office had video footage of its employees. This one employee was pounding on his keyboard because it wouldn't do what he said. And he just totally flew into a rage. He didn't know that he was on the security camera in the office. Pretty soon he's banging it with his fist.

And then he throws it across the office against the wall, company property. You wonder if he still had a job the next day. He just got angry, 'cause a computer locked up. I've known that feeling before, but I've never thrown my computer. That just made--I've felt like it, but that just makes it worse.

Alright, who did I give this to, Proverbs 16:32? "Who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." You notice it's not even saying, "don't ever be angry." It's saying, be what? "Slow to anger." James 1:19. "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." You know, when you lose your temper, it usually also does not indicate great intelligence. People don't usually say the most intelligent things when they're angry. Matter of fact, I heard someone say one time, "the more shallow the water in the pot, the quicker it boils." You get that? When the water in the pot is shallow, it boils quicker. If a person is a little deeper, little more intelligent, it takes longer to boil.

We should be slow to wrath. Ecclesiastes 7:9, "do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger," simmers or "rests in the bosom of fools." People that just start flying off the handle, so to speak, and stomping around, they often resort to profanity. And they do and say a lot of things that when you're thinking, you'd never do. It's a lack of thought. Anger also leads to murder.

Sometimes anger in the inside is simmering. And Jesus talks about that in Matthew 5:21, "but I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." Now why did Jesus say, "who is ever angry with his brother without a cause?" Is there ever a cause to be angry? Yeah. When was Jesus angry at the disciples? Well, he didn't really say he was angry, but he was grieved when they argued among themselves which of them was the greatest. When the mothers wanted to bring the children to Jesus for him to bless them, and the disciples said, "no, he's too busy." And they were sending the mothers and the children away. Jesus was grieved by that.

And so there is a time to maybe be frustrated with people, but when you're thinking homicidal thoughts in your mind, you can commit adultery in your mind, and you can commit murder in your mind, is what Jesus is saying. It's not just an action. It's an attitude. Now, does the Lord ever get angry? Is it righteous? Revelation 6:16, this'll be my last verse on this subject, then we'll move on. The wicked, the lost say, "to the rocks and the mountains, 'fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb!" You know what an oxymoron is? Oxymoron.

I didn't know for years. And I heard a preacher talk about oxymorons. I started studying. I'd heard them all my life. They're two words, a phrase that contradict each other, like jumbo shrimp.

That doesn't make sense, oxymoron, it conflicts. Or military intelligence. It doesn't make sense. If you've been in the military, you know what I mean. Or if someone one time said, "woman driver.

" There's just two things that don't go together. Ah! The women are shaking their head... The men are going, "ha, ha, ha, ha." It's okay. I'm not gonna patronize the women today. But someone did say that.

The wrath of the lamb? A wrathful lamb? "I was attacked yesterday." "By what?" "A raging lamb." Would you normally think that? You would think maybe a wild dog, an escaped lion, killer shark. You hear about that yesterday? But a lamb? You go to the hospital emergency room. "What happened?" "I was attacked by a lamb." Now doesn't that sound strange? To hide them from the wrath of the lamb. Is it part of God's nature to be wrathful? It's his strange act. Yes, the lamb does have wrath.

And there is judgment that is coming. But he's really a sacrifice. He's really peaceful. He's really loving. And so, but there is a day of wrath.

Matter of fact, when you read about the seven last plagues that are poured out, that is the wrath of God is filled up in those. It is the anger, the fury of God, the judgment of God is poured upon the lost in those vials of wrath. So God does have anger, but it's a pure anger. It's a righteous anger. And it's an anger that grieves his heart.

He's not enjoying it. Okay, let's move on here. "Destroying personal property." And that kind of goes with the section on wrath. Matthew 28. This is also found in Mark 5 and Luke 7.

It's the story about the demoniacs, or the demoniacs of gadara. In Luke and Mark, it says there was one demoniac. In Matthew, it says there were two. There very likely were two. One was more prominent and did all the talking.

The other was sort of in the background. It says, "when he came to the other side of the gadarenes, there met him two demon-possessed men coming out of the tombs exceedingly fierce so no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, 'what have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?' Now a good way off from them, there was a herd of many swine feeding." Bible tells us there were 2,000 of them in another story. "So the demons begged, saying, 'if you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.' And he gave them leave." He allowed it. You know, one thing you can learn from this story.

Why are we reluctant to pray when Jesus will even answer the prayer of demons? Demons ask and get answers. We won't pray. What's wrong with us? Jesus says, "ask." Now he might be thinking, "Jesus answered the devil's prayer?" Not really. In a sense, yeah, but he did it knowing what the final outcome would be. Why did he allow--let me just back up in case you haven't read the whole story.

Jesus gave this legion of demons. And I don't know, there could have been up to 2,000, a roman legion. Some said that there could be up to 70,000 soldiers in a roman legion. It's sort of a vague number, but it's a whole army. There were a whole army of devils in this man.

And when you see the way the man is behaving, it's clear. I mean he was really pretty far gone, running around naked, cutting himself with stones, covered with chains, foaming at the mouth, long, dirty, matted hair, naked, breaking the chains, living in the tombs. I mean the man, he's the epitome of the lost. He is unclean, because he's living with the dead. He's unclean, 'cause he's surrounded by pigs.

And he's unclean, 'cause he's got dried blood and wounds on him. And so for the jew, this man is naked, lost, dead, unclean. Jesus saves him that day. And the legion of demons were totally possessing him. And when Jesus says, "go out of the man," they said, "don't cast us into the abussos.

Don't cast us into the nothing, the deep. Let us go at least into the pigs." Devils want to have something to tempt and manipulate. And so he gave them leave. Now there's at least two times in the Bible we know that devils possessed animals. What's the first time? Serpent.

This is the second time. There are probably other times. There's one time in the Bible when we're not sure exactly what happened, but two she bears were filled with the devil or something. But the Lord allowed them to be and they tore 42 boys that were mocking Elisha. So Jesus allows the devils to go into the pigs.

Now this is significant because that was someone's personal property. The owners of that property had nothing to do with this demon-possessed man. Why did he allow that? The only time anything died because of Jesus' decision was the fig tree that he cursed and these pigs. So you have to stop and say that's puzzling behavior. Why did Jesus do that? I've got a couple of ideas I might offer.

Well, let me just finish this story. So Jesus says, "go." And when he says, "go," they've gotta go. But he gives 'em permission to enter the pigs. Now up on the hillside not far from the cemetery where the demon-possessed man lives, you could see there's just all these hills are just covered, they're blanketed with ,000 swine that are rooting around peacefully up there. They're snorting and digging and laying in the sun.

All of a sudden, the piggerds--shepherds take care of sheep; piggerds take care of pigs--the piggerds up there observe that the pigs jump to their feet. And they look up and their eyes get wild and they start to squeal and they go berserk. And it's like this tornado, this vortex of demons comes out of the man and throws up the hill and settles on these swine. And they start running madly towards the precipice, just like a sheet of bacon. They all go running off the edge of this precipice and tumbling on the rocks and drowning in the water below, 'cause pigs can swim.

So it must have been the fall and the water, the rocks below, that killed them. And the keepers ran off into the city and told everybody what they'd seen. Now the man who was delivered, he's sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind. And they come back. And they're no longer interested in the man who had been tormenting their region for years.

Now they're more worried about--you know how much it costs when--what do you think it did to pork futures when they lost 2,000 pigs? That really, that hit the economy there. They weren't growing those pigs for pets. You know here in America, we're right up here from the church, not too far away, and someone was walking their pig like a dog, pot-bellied pig, huge. Thing got big. And I guess they're, you know, in the dog family.

They're scavengers. Bible talks about dogs and pigs, but they're unclean. Well, it would make sense that Jesus would let the demons, which are unclean go into the pigs that are unclean. They go together, don't they? That's one reason. The other reason is the devil's thought, "if we can make all those pigs run off the cliff, they'll send Jesus away, 'cause they won't want to have that environmental, that economic setback.

Also probably was an environmental impact too. Now, when Jesus--when they asked him to leave, Jesus left. So the devils thought, "ah ha, ha, ha. We got what we wanted." But the story that I'm now telling to you, is being read all over the world because ,000 pig carcasses bloated, floated to the surface in a Jewish lake called the sea of Galilee. They were all over the lake.

Everybody there heard the story of how Jesus crossed the ocean to save that one man. And it says when Christ came back they were waiting for him, because of that man's preaching. The other reason I think Jesus allowed it is they were growing those pigs for food. How does Christ feel about that? He'd rather see them lost than eaten. Christ cares more about people than pigs.

That's what it means. Jesus said, "are you not of more value than many sparrows?" And if that's true, it's probably safe to say sparrows are at least clean. They used 'em as an offering. Pigs are unclean. Are not you of more value than many pigs? Right? "Do not give that which is holy to the swine.

" So he gave what was unholy to the swine: demons. That's just offering you some ideas on why things happen that way. I'm running out of time. I know I didn't have time to talk about cursing the fig tree. I wanna in my time that remains, "neglecting the persecuted.

" Matthew 4, we've got in verses and 13, matter of fact, if someone finds that real quick, I'll have you read that. Matthew 4:12-13. Hold your hand up. You got that? Go ahead, andrew. "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee.

And leaving nazareth, he came and dwelt in capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of zebulun and naphtali." Alright, now think about this for a second. Jesus was related to John. John the baptist was his cousin. John was the one who Jesus said was the greatest of the prophets. John was the one who went before Christ to prepare the way.

They did this great work. John was the one who said, "this is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." He's imprisoned by herod, but he has not been really charged with anything. Herodias is just threatened by his preaching, 'cause John is telling herod, "you have no right to marry your brother's divorcee. She's his wife." And that really angers her, so he's in prison. Jesus might be able to say something to appeal to the King.

Jesus might be able to say something to his followers. But it's like he leaves the territory and forgets about 'em. And people say, "this is puzzling." Before he's so bold. He's so brave. He goes and he takes on the scribes and the pharisees.

And now when John's in prison, he says nothing to defend him. He doesn't appeal. He doesn't ask for a pardon or any kind of forgiveness and to get him out of prison. And everyone is puzzled by this behavior. It seems like he's abandoning him.

Why did he do that? You know the best answer I can offer you is actually from another experience. In John 11, when the behavior of Jesus is puzzling, this is another story where they are puzzled. Lazarus, his friend, another friend, is sick, very sick. Jesus hears that he's sick. The implication of his sisters is, "come and heal him.

You can heal anything. You raise the dead. You can help him." And you go to John 11:5-6, "now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard he was sick, he stayed 2 more days in the place where he was." Disciples couldn't understand it. Then finally after he dies and Jesus does come, if you jump to verse 21, "Martha says to Jesus, 'Lord, if you'd been here, my brother would not have died.

'" That's true. He could have healed him. They're puzzled. Why did you not come? You go to what mary says, verse 32, John 11:32, "then mary came to where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" So what's the whole family asking? Why didn't you come? They're puzzled. Same thing they're asking about John.

"Why did you leave when your friend needed you?" Now, here's Jesus' answer. John 11:40, "Jesus said to her, 'did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?'" And in other words, be patient. In the end it'll bring more glory to God to do it my way. What would have brought more glory to God? To resurrect Lazarus after he'd been dead for 4 days or to heal him after he had a fever? By his waiting 4 days and resurrecting him, that brought more glory to God. What was gonna bring more glory to God: John's being broken out of prison by Jesus, performing some miracle, or Jesus working some compromise, or getting a pardon, or John's laying down his life and being a martyr? Evidently, that was gonna bring more glory to God.

And you know, you don't know the future. You don't know what would have happened to John. You don't know what kind of tests or temptation he might have gone through. John, who came in the Spirit and power of Elijah, Elijah went to heaven in a fiery chariot. Was Elijah martyred? What is the greater honor: to be translated or to be martyred for Jesus? Those who lay down their lives, the Bible seems to imply, in the Spirit of prophecy, are gonna have a special badge of honor in the resurrection.

John? He did have to lay his head on the block, but what's his next conscious thought gonna be? Resurrection. Matter of fact, think about this for a second: in Matthew 28, many of them that slept in Jerusalem were raised. Isn't that what it says? Some of those around Jerusalem. Do we know who they were? Didn't the resurrection of Jesus happen after the death of John? Could John the baptist have been one of those who went as a trophy to heaven with Jesus? Now, wouldn't that have been better if Jesus said, "look John, I didn't break you out of jail, but I got something better. When I ascend to heaven, you're going with me, see?" So don't question God.

And there'll be things that happen to you that are puzzling. And you go, "Lord, I don't understand. Why are you letting it happen? I prayed and anybody can see that answering this prayer would have been the best solution. But because you didn't answer this prayer, the family fell apart, the business fell apart, the church fell apart. Why?" And the Lord is saying, "trust me, it's for my glory in the long run.

" God knows sometimes his behavior seems puzzling to us and we don't know why he's doing what he's doing. Then the last thing, I don't have much time to talk about this. Does someone want to read for me Matthew 11:18-19? I think I gave that to somebody. "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'he had the devil.' The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'behold, a man gluttonous and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!' But wisdom is justified of her children." Why did Jesus hang around with what seemed like the offscouring of society? You know often those people are the ones who are open. the Spiritually educated were settled in their ways and smug.

And they weren't really open to listen. They couldn't be convinced that they might believe something and they're incorrect. You know there's a statement about David. I think I gave this verse out also, 1 Samuel 22:2. Mike's got that right here.

"And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about 400 men with him." You know, David sort of became a robin hood of all of the--a motley crew of people in Israel. Jesus allowed fishermen and tax collectors and what we would call undesirables to associate with him. Not that he approved of their sin, but they recognized they were sick and needed a Savior and he could save them.

the Lord is willing to accept everybody that knows they've got a problem and they need salvation. Unfortunately, sometimes those that are steeped in religion, those that are successful, they don't sense their need. These people do. As you'll often see, they're the ones who are looking for a captain and they're willing to follow Jesus and be saved of their sin. I'm gonna close by reading this statement from the book of "Desire of Ages," page 151.

"Jesus saw in every soul one who must be given the call to his kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets and the private houses, on the boats and in the synagogues, by the shores of the lake, at the marriage feast. He met them in their daily vocations and manifested an intense interest in their secular affairs. He carried his instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of his divine presence.

His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts." He went to them where they were and he met them on their own ground. He did not walk in the sinful ways. The Bible says don't do that. But he did make friends with sinners so he could reach them. Amen? That's the balance, the challenge for Christians: knowing how to be in the world without the world being in us, how to reach people where they are.

Well, we're out of time, friends. Thank you very much for studying with us. God bless you, until we meet again next week for Sabbath school with central church. The escalation of terrorism, global instability, crime, violence, and natural disasters indicate our world is plummeting toward its final hour with destiny. Who will survive the final events of earth's history? Does the Bible give any answers? Pull back the veil of uncertainty.

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