III. Sunday of Advent 2016
Dual Responses to Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom (11:2-12:50)
Mt 11-12 provides an overview of the various responses to the proclamation of Jesus. In these chapters we see for the first time that Israel as a whole is rejecting Jesus.
This rejection characterizes the people (11:7-24), but especially the religious authorities (12:1-45). These authorities are on the attack in ch. 12. Their sin has made them blind to the true significance of Jesus (12:6, 41-42; cf. vv. 33-38): therefore they believe wrongly that Jesus’ miracles are due to collaboration with the devil (12:24-32). Only one group within Israel, the disciples, accepts Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom (11:25-30; 12:46-50).
These chapters explore the meaning of this general rejection and describe the origins, character, and results of unbelief. Here readers are warned not to fall into the trap of rejection and unbelief. Rather, they are encouraged to hear and understand accurately (11:15), and to come to Jesus, who alone is able to grant them the rest that they desperately seek (vv. 28-30).
The key passage within this section is 11:25-30. Here Jesus gives one reason for the rejection of Jesus by Israel: It is due to the will of God, who has hidden his revelation from the greatest part of Israel (the wise and learned), but has granted it to the disciples (little children). Jesus is not suggesting that God has chosen certain individuals for salvation and others for condemnation. Rather, God has decided that those who choose to place their trust in the wisdom of this world will be blind to the reality of his kingdom, while those who reject such reliance on worldly wisdom (and depend on God) will receive understanding (vv. 25-27).
Jesus ends this paragraph with an invitation to all persons to come to him (11:28-30). Negatively, this coming involves casting aside all vain and wearisome attempts to find rest (wholeness) on the basis of human striving. Positively, it means assuming the yoke (=teaching) of Jesus, which alone provides the wholeness all seek.
ACTUALIZATION: How To Overcome The Traps
How can I Accept Jesus in my life?
The Bible suggests four steps:
Believe in Jesus and put your faith in Him. See Ephesians 2:8-10 (chapter 2, verses 8 through 10).
Christianity is not a blind faith, but rather a faith based on facts. That is, unlike other faiths, it can be verified and proven to be true, as Jesus answers the Baptist’s messengers in Matthew 11,4-5:
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them!”
Repent of your sins. (See Acts 17:30-31.)
What does “repent” mean? Well, imagine that you were going to the store when you realized that you forgot your money. What would you do? You would probably be disappointed that you wasted so much time, but you would still turn around and go home to get your money. Repentance is like that. A repentant person simply says, “God, I behaved badly in my past, and I want to turn around and Live the Way that You want me to live from now on.” You can talk to God like you would talk to a respected friend and repent of any sin that has been a part of your life.
Confess Jesus as Lord. (See Matthew 10:32,33 and Romans 10:9,10.)
In the Bible, God always places emphasis on what we say—probably because whatever is in your heart determines what you say (Matthew 12:34). Therefore God wants us to verbally commit to Jesus (as Lord of our life).
Be baptized. Live your baptism (See Acts 2:38,39.)
Being “baptized” means being “immersed in water”. Typically, a person would stand in water, be lowered into the water (by another Christian), and then be brought back up out of the water. The significance of this act can be seen in Romans 6:1-7 and an example of it in Acts 8:26-39.
Some people do not think that baptism is part of accepting Jesus. However one thing is clear in the Bible—faith and baptism are always together, never separated. Therefore, it is obvious that baptism is part of accepting Jesus.
If you have chosen to follow this four-step process, you are now on the “straight and narrow” path and can begin developing and keeping a relationship with God.
You’ll be happy because you have learnt how to overcome traps and have found the Way!
Aim: The participants realise, how important it is to see and the way you see things.
Target group: 12-year-old or more
Location: anywhere, better outside
Duration: about 30 minutes
The first part of the activity is to go one by one along a route blindfolded. Along the route there is a rope to help finding the way. It’s up to your imagination, possibilities and, naturally, the capabilities of the participants, how long and difficult the route will be.
Along the route, the participants have to find and collect a number (you decide how many they are) of sheets. On the sheets of paper there are ambiguous images (visual illusions).
The second part consists in finding out, what you can see – according to how you look at the image.
Finally, you read Matth. 15:15-19 and discuss on how important it is to see/understand the things/people/events in the right way to get the right message.