Biblical Foundations 10: God’s Character 1: What Jesus Longs For (Matthew 23)

hen-and-chicks (3-4-16)

Doing is an important part of being a Christian (James 1:22-25 & John 14:23-24, among many others)…

But it is possible to get so caught up in doing things for God that we lose sight of God! (Luke 10:38-42)

It is possible to work for God but not know Him…this must not be! (Matthew 7:21-23)

We must swim against this current that reduces our relationship with Christ merely to a checklist or set of tasks! In focusing on following Jesus we must not lose sight of Who we follow, of knowing Jesus—His character, His personality, WHO HE IS!

  • How do we run the race that Jesus has marked for us? “Fix our eyes on Him!” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
  • How do we offer our bodies as living sacrifices? “Stay in view of God’s mercy” (Romans 12)
  • How do we not grow weary and give up? “Consider Jesus’ sufferings for you” (Hebrews 12)

And so this post, as part ten of our series on the Biblical Foundation of this local church, let’s look to the Bible to get a 1080p look at God—the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit…let’s look to the Bible to be amazed at & in awe of the LORD…


Jeremiah 2:18-20 NIV:

Now why go to Egypt

    to drink water from the Nile?

And why go to Assyria

    to drink water from the Euphrates? 

[Why do we sin against God & turn to false gods for comfort & nourishment & quenching? The next verse tells us…]

19 Your wickedness will punish you;

    your backsliding will rebuke you.

Consider then and realize

    how evil and bitter it is for you

when you forsake the Lord your God

    and have no awe of me,”

declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

[We sin when we lose our awe of and amazement at God, when we stop (or never start!) knowing Him deeply and personally and intimately, when we have no reverent fear of the LORD. Wow.]

Genesis 28:16-17 NIV:

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought,

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place!

This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Oh how often are we not aware of God!?!? Not only are we not amazed at His character, we don’t even notice His presence & character with us! Oh the numbing power of sin!

  • Information—whether knowledge or entertainment—is such a false god…it offers to be with us everywhere, like the real God! On your phone/tablet, at home or on the go, etc. it “promises” to always be with you to teach you, encourage you, equip you, save you, protect you, make your dreams come true, etc.! And so we pay more attention to info/worldly knowledge than we do to knowing God, we turn to the internet or t.v. when we are sad/bored/scared/confused instead of going to God in His Word; many even sleep with the t.v. on at night to comfort us when we are scared!

But please, read verses 1-15 of Genesis 28…why did Jacob become amazed and full of awe when previously he was oblivious to God’s presence, falling asleep out of tiredness & boredom, certain that this was just another ho-hum place in a ho-hum day?

God met with Jacob and made some powerful promises to him with God’s Word…GOD’s presence and Word amazed Jacob, filled Him with awe…even made Jacob afraid (in a good way)!

Same can be true for us! Let’s meet with God through His Word, let’s soak in and be amazed by His gracious promises to us!!!


John 1:9-13 NIV:

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

[Again, like Jacob–the world didn’t recognize Jesus, though He was physically in front of them!]

Amazed by Jesus:
 The word “amaze” occurs 8x in Matthew, 12x in Mark, 11x in Luke, 4x in John = 35x total.

People were amazed by

  • Jesus’ teaching
  • Jesus’  authority (He didn’t give speculative opinions but absolute Truth!)
  • Jesus’  power over nature, over demons, over sickness
  • Jesus’  responses to questions/people trying to trap Him
  • Jesus’ wisdom
  • Jesus remaining silent to the serious accusations made against Him
  • what others said about Him (shepherds—His birth; women—His resurrection)

Are you amazed by Jesus? So amazed that it’s hard to think about anything else?

When was the last time He amazed you, that you were filled with awe about Jesus?

Have you EVER been amazed by Him?

  • Now we must be careful here—I’m not saying that we are chasing a FEELING or a RUSH or a GOD-HIGH…we worship God for WHO He is, not for the feelings He gives us.
  • That’s why Job, when all ten of his children died at once, worshipped God…Job understood that this horrific tragedy didn’t change the character of God, didn’t stop God from being worthy of our worship, didn’t make God any less amazing!!!

Being amazed at God is something like this—first, noticing a sunset, and then after noticing it, instead of making a brief positive comment about the sunset & then moving on with your plans, actually pulling up a chair and gazing at the sunset, noticing how the purples and the pinks and the oranges and the reds blend together. In other words, being amazed at the sunset is enjoying the sunset, whether you have goosebumps or not! You cannot truly be amazed at anything without giving it time to reflect on it, appreciate it, notice it, bask in it, etc…

  • “In view of God’s mercy…” (Romans 12:1). Low vitamin D levels occur when we aren’t in sunshine…are you soaking in Jesus, living in view of His mercy, getting to know Him regularly? Do you have low vitamin A (amazement) levels?
  • “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Psalm 51:12). Lack of joy in Jesus’ cross needs God to restore it—only He can!
  • Though only God can light that fire (we cannot manufacture it on our own no matter how hard we try!), we can partner with Him by gathering up the wood, like Elijah on Mount Carmel (2 Kings 18:30-39)! Prayer, repentance, stillness, fixing our eyes on Jesus, taking our eyes off this world, reading Scripture regularly! Again, can you be amazed at a sunset by glancing at it? Not really? Sit down, get some lemonaid or tea or coffee, and GAZE at that sunset, stare at it, fix your eyes on it, and watch your amazement increase over time…


Here’s someone who was AMAZED by the LORD…

Psalm 27:1-4 NIV:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

    whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

    of whom shall I be afraid?

 When the wicked advance against me

    to devour[a] me,

it is my enemies and my foes

    who will stumble and fall.

 Though an army besiege me,

    my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me,

    even then I will be confident.

 One thing I ask from the Lord,

    this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

    all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord

    and to seek him in his temple.

[That’s all David wanted–not more riches, not more power, not even deliverance from the enemies surrounding him…David simply wanted to gaze upon God’s beauty and get to know Him more deeply in His Temple! What an example for us!]

Let’s gaze at the beauty of Jesus Christ—let’s STARE at Him…

Matthew 23:37-39 NIV:

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,

how often I have longed

to gather your children together,

as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,

and you were not willing.

38 Look, your house is left to you desolate.

39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


  • Jesus says these amazing verses in Matthew 23 after detailing the terrible sins of the Pharisees in the previous 36 verses—nasty, vile, terrible sins! Even after knowing our EVERY nasty thought/action, He still longs to GATHER us!

    • But the nasty sins in the first 36 verses are not just for the Pharisees! In verse 37 Jesus says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill…” THE ENTIRE CITY was nasty with sin—not just the Pharisees! All of God’s people had rejected Him, not just the Pharisees! ALL humans have rejected Jesus, not just the “really bad people” (see Romans 3:9-31).
  • We can’t be truly amazed by Jesus’ love until we are truly appalled at our sin. Verse 37 isn’t as amazing without understanding how appalling verses 1-36 are. As long as we only teach that God is love without also teaching how nasty our sins are, we will continue to be less than amazed that God would offer us such amazing love!

    • A few years ago, a group of people organized a fund-raiser for a woman whose husband had just killed himself. Most of us would agree that this was a very kind thing for these people to do.

      • But this act becomes EARTH-SHATTERING, AMAZING, when you get more of the details—the man who killed himself had just killed some of the children of the people who would raise money for his wife. The terribleness of the man’s crimes makes the act of love of the victims’ families even more amazing. And so if we AREN’T amazed by Jesus, we need to ask Him to show us how appalling our sins really are—not just MISTAKES, but SINS against God…we will go more in depth in this on March 20th…it is amazing that Jesus would want to gather US in His arms when we realize how terribly we treat Him on a daily basis…
    • But you might say, “I’ve never stoned or killed God’s prophets!”

      • Maybe not literally, but let’s get to the heart of Jerusalem’s sin—physically stoning and killing God’s prophets was of course TERRIBLE and HORRIFIC, but that is not the WORST of their sin! The depths of their sin in rejecting God’s messengers was their rejection of God Himself! Though Jerusalem couldn’t of course kill God, the closest they could get to that was killing people sent by God, just like in action movies if the bad guys can’t get to the hero directly, they attack his family! The closest we can get to killing God in our own personal lives is to reject & ignore His message and His messengers, and when we do that we are rejecting and ignoring God Himself, attempting to live as if WE are in charge of our lives, as if we are a god to ourselves…

        • Ever been ignored by someone, someone who acted as if you weren’t there, someone who coldly chose not to acknowledge your presence, whether for an hour, a day, a week, or longer? It feels like DEATH, like dying, like the friendship/relationship is DEAD…it often hurts MORE than being screamed at by the person. Now multiply that by a billion and we’ll begin to understand how serious it is when we ignore God, when we reject all or even PART of His message, His Word, His Son…
  • This is true for non-Christians for sure…but this is also true for Christians! Oh how often we reject part of Christ or part of God’s Word, oh how we without realizing it worship a Jesus made in our own image, a self-approved Jesus made up of the verses we agree with instead of the Biblical Jesus as He reveals Himself to be! Oh loved ones this verse is about ALL of us, not just the Pharisees! We may not physically kill God’s messengers, we may be more polite in our rebellion against Jesus, but it’s still rebellion nonetheless, regardless of the shiny packaging…
  • In spite of our nasty sins, Jesus LONGS to gather us! He deeply desires to bring us close to Him! God the Father longs to adopt us even though we—OUR SINS!—crucified His only begotten Son! AMAZING Love, how can it be, that You my King would die for me!?
  • How powerful is it that Jesus compares Himself to a hen, to a chicken!? It shows the tenderness of Christ, the compassion of God, the protection and life and nurture and intimacy that He offers us! He is so secure in Who He is as God that He can compare Himself to a hen so we can go from seeing Him in VHS to seeing Him more clearly in Blu-Ray! THIS IS JESUS!
  • Now to be sure, Jesus isn’t only like a hen. He is also the LION of Judah (Revelation 5:1-5), He is described as a Warrior whose robes are dipped in blood and who will return to earth to slay the wicked with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 19:11-21). Jesus ain’t playin…He is no wimp, He is not weak, He is not tame!

    • Luke 4:28-30: When people tried to kill Him before it was His time to die, when they tried to throw Him off a cliff, the Bible says He simply walked right through the mob…Didn’t scream, didn’t run, didn’t even call down lightning bolts from heaven, didn’t try to negotiate with them—He just walked right through them, head up, daring them to try to stop God the Father’s plan—what STRENGTH, what POWER, what an amazing God!
    • John 18:1-6: When Jesus was about to be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemene, He was asked if He was Jesus. When He said, “I am”—taking the personal name of God for Himself—the soldiers fell to the ground instantly! Simply at the sound of His name these warriors were humbled and brought to their knees! WHAT POWER, WHAT STRENGTH, WHAT AN AMAZING GOD!

Loved ones, look at how verse 37 ends—Jesus LONGED to gather His people to Him but they were NOT WILLING. They didn’t want Him. They wanted pleasure, salvation, life on their terms in their way with them in control.

Are you willing? Do you want Christ? Do you WANT to be amazed by Him? In view of Who He is and what He has done for you on the Cross, are you willing to let Him convict you of your terrible sin so that He can then acquit you and set you free through His blood? Has He brought you to the place where you RUN to Christ for forgiveness & new life because you know you need it and know you can’t find it anywhere else?

And if by the grace of God you HAVE repented of—turned from—your sins in genuine apology and acceptance of your responsibility, if you have received Jesus as your Savior, do you want MORE of Christ? Do you HUNGER to know Him more deeply, or are you content with just enough Jesus a nibble or a weekly snack? Are you plugging your ears and ignoring His invitations to move from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end—the deep waters—of knowing Him & being amazed by Him (since this usually involves suffering)? Let’s all confess this to the LORD and cry out to Him to gather us under His wings AS HE LONGS TO DO!

This is foundational to this local church, loved ones…let’s respond in worship to Him who responded to our sin with His sacrifice…