Introduction: How do you feel about choosing to become a Christian?  As the end of the earth gets closer this will be an issue that many revisit. No one likes to be in trouble. No one likes others to insult and abuse them. For many years the mainstream media has slandered Christians as not too smart, not too educated, and easily led. The number of those in positions of authority who are hostile to Christianity is increasing. Is there any reasonable explanation for this? Why are more rejecting Jesus? Our study this week reviews the reasons why we should come to Jesus rather than reject Him. Let’s dive in and learn more from the Bible!

  1. Rejecting Christianity

    1. Read Matthew 11:20-21. What should have persuaded the residents of these cities to repent and become Christians? (Jesus’ “mighty works.”)

    2. Read Ezekiel 26:4-6. Why is Sidon so completely destroyed? (Its inhabitants refused to acknowledge God.)

      1. Notice that Jesus says that the outcome for Sidon would have been different had He been there “long ago” and performed His mighty works. How do you explain this? God was God then. Are some people lost because of chance?

    3. Read Luke 12:47-48. Are some people beaten more at the Second Coming because of chance? How is that fair?

      1. Focus on the last part of Luke 12:48. Is Jesus talking about salvation? What point is He making? (I don’t think that Jesus is speaking about salvation. His topic is getting ready for the return. Jesus tells us that as we prepare for His return, the more you are “given.” the more is demanded of you.)

      2. Now apply this to Matthew 11:20-21. Is Jesus saying that salvation turns on chance? (No. He says what we all know, some have more access to the gospel. Some are raised in the faith by loving Christian parents. Those people have the most for which to answer.)

    4. Let’s apply this to us. Read John 20:29. Some people are like Thomas and believe that a first hand experience with Jesus is required. Does that mean that the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida ( Matthew 11:21) have an advantage over us in terms of accepting Jesus? (I think we underestimate our advantages.  When Jesus walked on earth, His claim was something new and disputed by the established religious leaders. Today, we have millions who believe in Jesus. Thousands of years of belief in Jesus have paved the way for us today.)

    5. Read Matthew 11:23-24 and Jude 1:7. Could the homosexuals in Sodom have been saved? Is there a message for us to homosexuals today? (Matthew says believing in Him is the central issue for every one of us. Jesus suggests that Sodom could have been saved.)

    6. If you were to summarize the verses in Matthew 11 that we have discussed so far, how would you do it? (It is a terrible thing to know about Jesus and reject Him. Rejection has a bad outcome.)

  2. Accepting Christianity

    1. Read Matthew 11:25. It turns out that the mainstream media was right! Does this mean that those who are “wise and understanding” reject Christianity?

      1. Would you like someone to say that your level of understanding is consistent with that of a “little child?”

    2. Read Matthew 11:26. This gets worse by the minute! It is God’s “gracious will” that only stupid people who cannot understand because they think like a child accept Christianity? Is that what this says?

      1. Would anyone like to offer a better explanation?

      2. Think about someone who is “wise and understanding.” What would that person say about the way to accomplish great things in life?

      3. When Jordan Peterson suggests to young people that the first step to having a great career is to clean up their own room, what do you think he means? (Peterson, like every other smart person with common sense, argues that we need to work hard and be responsible if we want to accomplish great things.)

        1. Is that the gospel of Jesus?  Would a child embrace Peterson’s approach? (This is Jesus’ point: the traditional path to success is not the path to salvation. It is not the gospel message.  Salvation is a free gift from God and the simple trust of a child is the best way to approach the gift.)

    3. Read Matthew 11:27. When we looked at this text recently, I called it a “riddle.” It seems to say that only Jesus and God the Father know each other. What exception is there to this rule? (Jesus can choose to reveal God the Father to us.)

    4. Read Matthew 11:28. Jesus now reveals the criteria that He uses to reveal the “hidden things” about God. What is that criteria? (Those who come and are in need.)

      1. How difficult a qualification is that? (Highly successful people are the least likely to believe they are in need.)

      2. Notice that Jesus makes his offer to “all who labor.” Isn’t this the Jordan Peterson group? Those who are working for success? (It is! Jesus tells us that the gateway to Christianity is “hidden” and available only through Him.  This gateway is just the opposite of the gateway to worldly success. Any child can figure it out!)

    5. Read Matthew 11:29-30. Is Jesus like any earthly leader or pagan god? (Gentle and lowly in heart is just the opposite of what the world would expect.)

      1. How hard do we have to work to join Jesus’ movement? (We have rest! The work is easy and the burden light.)

      2. Would the disciples agree with this assessment after Jesus left them to go to heaven? (This is much like our lesson two weeks ago. The Fruits of the Spirit include peace, but the enemies of the gospel create division. It is the enemies of the gospel who create hardship and burdens.)

      3. What specific assignment does Jesus give those who would follow Him as Christians? (To learn of Him.)

    6. Let’s step back a minute and contemplate our discussion so far.  Do you favor lazy people, or do you favor wise, understanding, hard-working people? (I absolutely favor hard-working people. The Bible says a lot of negative things about lazy people and a lot of good things about the diligent. Even the Ten Commandments says in Exodus 20:9 “six days you shall labor, and do all your work.”)

      1. What conclusion would you reach about our discussion so far that is consistent with the common sense teaching of the Bible? Consistent with the Ten Commandments?

      2. How many of you both water ski and snow ski? If you can do both, tell me about them? (You lean back when you water ski to place pressure between the ski and the water. When you snow ski, you generally lean forward over the middle of ski to retain a perfect balance.)

      3. If your only experience was in snow skiing, would your “wise understanding” keep the ability to water ski hidden from you?

        1. In this situation would it be best to approach water skiing like a little child?  Simply trust your instructor and leave your prior knowledge behind?

    7. Read Luke 18:24-25. What does our discussion so far teach us about the meaning of Jesus’ statement here? (If you are very successful based on hard work and wisdom, it will be difficult to put those lessons behind you.  In a discussion board on the topic of transferrable skiing skills I read this: “There will be a lot of un-learning ingrained habits, I imagine.”)

    8. Friend, if you are hard-working and find success in this world, the gospel calls you to “unlearn” some ingrained habits. It is not easy, and the Holy Spirit is required. But choosing Jesus is far better than rejecting Him. Will you decided today, “Holy Spirit, please teach me the right approach to the gospel?”

  3. Next week: Finding Rest in Family Ties.