[07/06/2020]

The Jesus Complaints Department Pt 5 – Ps Kerrin Wallis

"That's not what I would do..."

Episode Notes

Matt 27: 38-44 (NIV)

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Well this is a sad and sorry picture of complaint that certainly seems heartless and cruel even if it were legitimate.

  • A dying and mortally wounded and suffering man and yet they throw their abuse, comments and rejection at Him
  • And it seems mostly aimed at two main complaints that if they are valid – just let Him die because He would be a useless dying man.

The complaint here is a little complex, it seems that they are complaining about two things that intertwine:

That’s not what I would do!

God’s not doing what they would do.

Their complaint was:

Matt 27:40 (NIV)

40… save yourself! Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!”

 The reason they have this complaint is ‘that is what they would do!’

  • They could not imagine any reason for Jesus being the Son of God to stay on the cross because they wouldn’t do that! So then because God isn’t doing what they would expect – they have a complaint against Him and He must surely not be God or at least He was really wrong.

So universal is this complaint, that it wasn’t just those who didn’t have a concept of God that said this, it was the religious leaders as well!

I have found that one of the biggest challenges people have both in and out of church is when God does not behave as we would or as we want, all of a sudden we begin to complain or doubt.

Even Peter in Matt 16 gets a sharp rebuke from Jesus because he proceeded to tell Jesus that the Cross was a dumb idea and Jesus shouldn’t go and be cruicified – well Peter wouldn’t do it!

Matt 16:23 (NIV)

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! (Not the meek mild Jesus perhaps you have heard about – seems He doesn’t like this complaint…) You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Peter, like everybody else is saying, ‘That’s not what I would do’!

How many times have we faced a situation in life and thought it’s not what we would do!

  • God, where are you?
    • Could He be right there – we don’t think so because it’s not what we would do
    • We go through trauma or tragedy and we assume God isn’t real because we wouldn’t do that – we would just make everybody better and play magical fairies with the magic dust
  • Life seems so cruel or unfair. Our inference is God isn’t real and doesn’t care!

I would think we have all felt like this at some point.

If you are joining us for the first time and maybe don’t even believe in Jesus, perhaps you feel like this right now. This may be our complaint today.

The second complaint we find here actually follows straight on and seems to run parallel to this initial complaint – which is why they say it all in one hit!

God isn’t true to His Word!

Matthew 27:43 (NIV)

43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’

The complaint here is – “Jesus said this, but look it’s not happening…”

Life doesn’t always seem to follow our ideal script that we like to read into the Bible or our preconceived ideas on what God should do or be like!  As a result, it’s easy to try and turn on the Bible!

  • The Bible says God heals – but I didn’t get healed
  • The Bible says God is with me – but my feelings disagree
  • The Bible says I will have peace and joy – but I face anxiety
  • The Bible says God will protect – but someone got hurt really bad or even died
  • The Bible says God will bless me – but I have lost out so big

The list goes on of many promises we like to put our own spin on or demand that God do on our timing and to our expectation.

But what happens when we don’t see it? What happens here is that it seems they were looking but their response was to mock Jesus, complain, doubt and hate God.

Jesus on the Cross doesn’t seem to answer the question, or does He??? They wanted an answer on the spot, but Jesus gave His answer three days later when he emerged from a tomb!

  • It wasn’t their timing
  • It wasn’t what they would do
  • It wasn’t what they were expecting

Kerrin’s son Boston was promised a cubby house when the family moved into their new home. Kerrin was working behind the scenes to prepare to build it, but Boston was very impatient and didn’t want to wait for the eighteen months that it took to have his cubby. He thought it would never happen, but in time it was finished.

We don’t see God working in the background.  But that doesn’t mean that God has failed in His promises.

I know we are all smart, but it’s an arrogant fool who thinks they are more intelligent than God.

While Jesus answers this complaint in three days at the crucifixion, He is much quicker at answering Peter’s similar complaint that we looked at in Matt 16.

Matt 16:24-27 (NIV)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

We see that Jesus teaches His disciples that if we want to be a follower of Him we must give up our life and sense of what we think God ought to do and embrace his life and plan.

This complaint comes from those hanging onto:

  • Their plan
  • Their life
  • Their agenda
  • Their ideas
  • Their wants
  • Their genius

But God is not so insecure that he is swayed by those things.

Again, if we go back to the Cross, the complaint is made over about a three hour- period and these people shake their fists at Jesus and complain.

What they don’t understand is that Jesus was concerned with far more than their three-hour window.

  • He settled things with the Father the night before, wrestling with God’s plan and surrendering His life to God’s will (while the complainers slept)
  • Then on the cross He knew the bigger picture and it wasn’t His death at stake but the world’s death and eternal salvation
  • He also gave the answer and delivered the promise but three days later, not three hours
  • And His plan was for eternal salvation of all mankind. Billions of people, not simply one person getting off a cross and being lost in history achieving nothing of eternal value

It just wasn’t what they would do! It didn’t seem like His Word was coming true.

Well when it comes to the big plan and God’s eternal plan and we want to give God our ideas, and we say, “that’s not what I would do…”

  • We just need to note scenarios one and two are out!
  • God isn’t asking our advice on how to run the universe
  • We have no ultimate wisdom concerned with eternal perspective credibility, just selfish, small, insecure human reasoning, limited to both our humanity and this dust realm

So, when we say that to God, it’s safe to assume we are option three.

Giving our opinion despite God not asking for it and having no idea, which makes us the arrogant know it all!

This is the clear message of the Gospel. We don’t demand of God, we come to Him knowing our brokenness and our need of a Saviour. He accepts our surrender – not our terms of negotiation.

Listen again to Jesus’ response to Peter’s complaint, ‘That’s not what I would do’.

Matt 16:24-27 (NIV)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

The problem is as believers, if we never go to our Gethsemane, we won’t be ready for God’s full plan!

The result is, we react and put in our complaint when God’s plans and our plans look different.

The question is today, will we hold on to that ignorant and arrogant complaint or approach God for who He is and surrender? Are we willing to have our garden of Gethsemane experience where we surrender our plans for God’s?

I want us to listen to the wisdom of one of the dying criminals who was dying next to Jesus and witnessed this very complaint.

Luke 23:39-43 (NIV)

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Will we come to God today with humility and surrender when our will clashes with His, knowing that His plan is eternal, more incredible and wonderful than what we could ever dream up?

The other part to this creation of Jesus is eternal perspective!

Jesus said it when he rebuked Peter in:

Matt 16:23 (NIV)

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The God of the Bible’s primary concern is that of eternity, eternal consequence and an eternal plan!

We get impatient, disappointed and complain because when we are deceived into thinking this earth and life is what matters most! Well that is untrue and the whole Bible points toward Eternity being far more important than this earthly life.

Without a God centred eternal perspective, these questions will always turn into complaints and doubts about God and we will miss the true reality of God and His plan.

Let’s finish with one understanding: whatever we think, dream up, want or desire – God’s plan is better!

1 Cor 2:6-10 (NIV)

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

God’s plan is bigger and more wonderful than we can comprehend or imagine.

Again, in Hebrews it says:

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NIV)

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

This speaks again that the only way to approach the life of faith in Christ is with an eternal perspective.

  • Believing that this earth is just a checkpoint for the reality of eternity
  • That Eternity is part of God’s plan and we can trust God has something incredible for us!

God has an incredible plan for the life of every person listening or watching today and my challenge to you is will you surrender your life to it, or hang on to the limited ideas we struggle with?

Suggestions for discussion

  1. Have you complained that God seems to be taking too long to answer your prayers? Discuss why you feel this way.
  2. What can you resolve to do to help change these feelings?
  3. How often do you feel like saying “That’s not what I would do?