1) Religion is all about rules.
2) Religious people are more interested in self than others.
3) Religious people think God wants them to sacrifice and mercy is completely foreign to them.
4) Religious people bear bad fruit.
5) Religious people deal with sin through human effort.
Religion cannot save us. If we are honest, we all realize deep down inside that we are broken. We can fix surface level things. We can get one evil spirit to come out, but 7 more come in. There are lusts and passions and desires and selfishness that is way beyond our ability to control. Like a beast in the basement, we keep feeding it and it grows larger and larger and it destroys lives. The only remedy is a change of heart. And only a Savior can give us a new heart.
29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”
This is what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. He was crucified and for 3 days, he descended to the pits of hell to defeat Satan and overcome sin and death. He bound the strong man because Jesus is stronger than the strong man, he’s stronger than sin and he set us free. Not only that, he didn’t leave our hearts empty and unoccupied. He came in to dwell in our hearts so that we would never be enslaved by sin again.
6) Final point: Jesus is greater than all the priests, prophets and kings that came before him.
Priests cared for the people spiritually.
5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one GREATER THAN THE TEMPLE is here.
The temple represented the priesthood. Jesus is our great High Priest and our Good Shepherd.
Prophets preached the Word of God to the people insightfully.
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus is THE Prophet, greater than Elijah, greater than Isaiah and Jeremiah. Greater than Jonah, who literally was a pointer to Christ because he suffered in a belly of a fish for 3 days foreshadowing the 3 days that Jesus suffered hell after the crucifixion.
Kings protected the people from their enemies powerfully.
42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
Jesus is greater than Solomon, he’s greater than David, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Matthew quotes a prophet from the book of Isaiah in v15 about the coming Messiah.
15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, 16 warning them not to tell who he was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Priests cared for the people spiritually. Prophets preached the Word of God to the people insightfully. Kings protected the people from their enemies powerfully. Jesus is all this and more. He is the Messiah prophesied in Scripture. The Anointed One, the Sent One, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Christianity is not rules but it’s a relationship with Christ. It’s not self-centered, it’s other-centered. It’s not primarily about sacrifice first, it’s about understanding mercy first and then letting sacrifices flow forth from that understanding of mercy. In Christianity, it’s important what kind of fruit is being born from your life–good instead of bad. And lastly, it’s about seeing the inability of human effort to deal with human sin and recognizing our need for a Savior.
I presented many warning signs that you and I might be in the wrong line of religion. If you recognize that you are in the wrong line, how do you get into the right line?
You go to Jesus. The Pharisees stopped at repenting and removing sins from their lives. That’s a good start. We need to repent of our sins. But we need to go to step 2 and put our faith in Christ. Go to Christ. Fill your life with Christ. Memorize verses that are about Christ. Pray and abide with Christ. Invite Jesus into your heart so that he can transform you from the inside out. When you read Scripture, let it rekindle your love for Christ and renew your appreciation for the gospel, His death and resurrection.
Second, get involved with like-minded brothers and sisters in the faith.
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
True children of God are shown through what they do. Our actions do not save us. We need a heart change and no amount of our actions can change a sinful heart. Actions do not save, but once we’ve met the Savior and we have been saved, then certain actions will follow. Actions cannot save but actions can validate that we are in fact saved. Are you doing the will of God? Are you involved with other brothers and sisters and mothers and doing the will of God together? That’s the church. Go to Christ personally and serve in the body of Christ corporately.