Summary: Obedience, a lacking need in our society today
How Obedient Are You?
Obedience, here is a word that is more commonly associated with the lifestyle training of dogs than it is of people.
The dictionary defines obedience as
1. act of obeying: the action or condition of obeying authority
2. CHRISTIANITY church’s rule: the religious authority of a church or of a priest or other member of the clergy, or the people who are under this authority
If you sign a treaty, agreeing to its terms, fulfilling the conditions of the treaty makes one obedient, voiding the treaty such as just done with the nuclear disarmament treaty with North Korea is just one of many governmental violations of obedience.
There are instances of obeying the higher authority of God over the civil or criminal authority of man. Those type of violations are the exception, not the norm.
We have a societal breakdown caused by disobedience. There is a growing lack of respect for authority which will lead us on the road to chaos. A growing number of people prefer to do what is right in their own eyes, and for their own good without looking at the bigger picture. The solution is to make a simple choice, the choice of obedience.
The Scripture we are reading today covers it well. Obedience is a choice. We can choose to obey or we can chose to disobey. Our choice comes with consequences which has always been the case throughout history.
Matthew 3:13-17 gives us some powerful examples of choosing obedience. There are four things I want us to highlight today.
I. Seek to see the Big Picture
Look at verses 13, 14: 13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him. 14But John protested strenuously, having in mind to prevent Him, saying, It is I who have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?
Can you get a picture of this in your mind. John has been standing in the water telling people they need to repent and be baptized. Jesus, walking down the hillside walks down into the water with John and asks to be baptized. The scene must have been classic. Matthew gives us enough of a glimpse so the amplified Bible translates it as John protesting strenuously. To such a degree that everything John has told everyone else to do he is not will to have Jesus do. It says John had in mind preventing him from being baptized. Can you see it?
It is not that John’s thought process is wrong. He said he had need to be baptized by Jesus. He just didn’t see the bigger picture. Jesus came as a demonstration of how we should live our lives. As part of that demonstration he modeled the bigger picture.
Each of us have different gifts and talents. They cause us to focus on what we have and what we are doing with them oftentimes at the exclusion of others gifts and talents. All because we see the picture around us not the bigger picture of our function. As a result, we find ourselves strenuously protesting things which don’t fit into our area of expertise. When we are challenged by our thoughts or inactions, we, like John, try to prevent kingdom building from taking place.
We need to ask, what is it we have been strenuously protesting and why? Get a big picture perspective and see how your protest fits in.
We also need to understand…
II. Obedience may not always be popular.
Verse 15: 15But Jesus replied to him, Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him.
Jesus said, permit it just now, perform completely whatever is right, even though it may not be the popular opinion. We know John was of the opinion to say no, you have this backwards. Jesus said permit it, do it now, and then see what I have planned.
You need to use common sense. Don’t be like the manager of Bob’s Famous Ice Cream Parlor in Bethesda, Maryland. They were about to be robbed but manager Nathan Peabody was warned in time. By telephone: "Are you the manager? Listen carefully. This is the police. You are going to be robbed. Do NOT resist. Let the robber have your money. Our police will be waiting for him right outside your store and we need to catch him with the money on him. Thank you for your cooperation." Mr. Peabody cooperated. A man with a scruffy beard and a knife came in and demanded money. Mr. Peabody emptied the cash register and gave it to him. The bearded man with the knife took the money and left the store and kept going and going and going. THEN Mr. Peabody called the police and said, "I have been had!"