Our mind-blowing adventure through Matthew continues!
Today, I want to preach the message, “God wants you to grow up.”
When I was eight years old, I had a neighbor who had a sari-sari store. I like buying chiz curls, so I went there often. Though she was older than me, wewere the same height—less than 4 feet tall.
After that, my life became busy with school and ministry. Most of the time, I wasn’t home. And I never went back to that sari-sari store.
But years later, I did, and guess who I saw? My old neighbor. She was still running it. But I was shocked when I saw her.
When I went back, I was already 5’8. But she remained 4 feet tall.
Physical dwarfism isn’t catastrophic. My neighbor lived a happy life.
But spiritually dwarfism is a serious matter.
One preacher said our churches are filled with spiritual babies, all screaming their heads off. Because they’re acting like selfish brats.
If we don’t get what we want, if we our prayers aren’t answered, if we don’t reach our dreams according to our deadlines, or if we don’t get what we expect God to give us—we throw a tantrum. We walk away from God.
Spiritual babies still need to be weaned from idolatry. We call ourselves
Christians, but in our daily life, we’re not worshipping Christ, we’re worshipping
Dear friend, God wants you to grow up.
Today, I want to share 3 lessons that spiritual babies need to hear.
Message 1: The Church Will Fail You (And That’s Good)
Let’s dive in: At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. (Note that Jesus came from His Transfiguration.) A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. (I can only imagine his pain. I’m a Dad. Believe me when I say this. The most painful moments in my 54-years of living on this planet is seeing my children getting sick—and I can’t do anything about it.) 16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” (Matthew 17:14-16, emphasis mine).
Can I insert a short but crucial message here?
This man—the father of this demon-possessed boy—was not helped by the second-line Apostles. The first line guys, Peter, James, and John, were with their Master. So Andrew, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, the other Simon, the other James, the other Judas, and Judas Iscariot were left.
These Apostles failed him. And I’m sure Matthew was writing to early Christians who were also frustrated at their Church Leaders.
And so will the Church and her leaders fail you.
I, your leader, failed you. And will continue to fail you.
And in one sense, we must fail you.
So that like this man, you will be forced to run to Jesus.
There will be times in your life when no human being can help you.
And you will have no recourse but to go to God.
This is reality. Some Christians have turned their churches and ministries and priests and pastors and preachers into their idols. Not because they see them as gods, but because they expect from their them what only God can give them. And that’s why they their lose their faith when their leaders fail them
That’s one reason I love our little community, Light of Jesus. We claim to be the most imperfect community in the world. From top to bottom, we’re all sinners that need Jesus. And precisely because we know we’re all sinners, our expectations are realistic.
Say this with me (and for some of you, with hugot 😀):
“Everyone will fail me—that’s why I need Jesus.”
Let’s go back to our Bible story…
Why Is Jesus Over-Reacting?”
After Jesus finds out that the disciples failed to drive out the demon from the boy, Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well. (v.17-18)
Reading this makes me uneasy. I don’t understand why Jesus is overreacting. In Tagalog, “O.A.”. Why is He scolding His disciples for being “faithless and corrupt?” when all they did was fail an exorcism?
This reminds me of my friend, a husband who’s been married for 17 years. He said he really loves his wife to bits, but he says his wife has a problem: She doesn’t know how to calibrate her anger. The level of her anger is not commensurate to the level of his mistake. He tells me, “When I’m late for dinner or I forget to bring out the trash, my wife gets angry at me like I committed adultery.”
That’s my problem with our Bible story today. I think the anger of Jesus was not commensurate to the failure of the Apostles.
So why is Jesus over-reacting?
Thousands of Buried Hyperlinks In The Bible
Answer: “Design Patterns”.
Thousands of hyperlinks—based on over-arching “Design Patterns”—are buried within stories, persons, places, phrases, and words.
Remember what happened before this exorcism? Jesus came from His Transfiguration in Mt. Tabor, which “hyperlinks” with Moses and his own transfiguration in Mt. Sinai.
Are you ready to receive the second lesson?
Message 2: Stop Trying To Control God
What happened when Moses went down Mt. Sinai?
Let’s go to Exodus and read what happened: The LORD told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. (Read that word before?) 8 How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” (Exodus 32:7-8 NLT, emphasis mine)
The Golden Calf was a Canaanite Idol. Its worship involved ritual orgies and temple prostitutes. But the Israelites chose this pagan god over Yahweh. Because Moses was late in going down the mountain. Because God doesn’t work according to their timetable. Because they want a God that they can control. Bottom line, because they didn’t trust Him.
Truth: We all do this. We all try to control God because we don’t trust Him. That’s what spiritual babies do. When God doesn’t deliver according to our expectations or timetable, we take matters into our hands. And worship other gods. Result? In our desire to control God, evil controls us.
Today, God is telling you, “Grow up!”
The Bewildering Anger Of Jesus Explained
And what did Moses do when he saw the evil that people were doing? It says, When they came near the camp, Moses saw the calf and the dancing, and he burned with anger. (32:19, emphasis mine)
Do you see a design pattern here?
FIRST, Moses and Jesus have supernatural transfigurations up a mountain. SECOND, Moses and Jesus go down the mountain and see evil taking over people’s lives. THIRD, Moses and Jesus get REALLY angry at a people that didn’t trust God.
With this “Design Pattern”, we understand the over-reaction of Jesus. Matthew was making Jesus mirror the anger of Moses to a faithless and corrupt generation that fell into idolatry.
And that loving anger is directed to us as well. Even if we claim to be Christians, many times, we’re still spiritual babies that fall into idolatry. We follow other gods because we don’t trust God enough.
This Was How Jesus Read His Bible
Listen. I know reading the Bible this way is very deep. Perhaps some of you are saying, “Hey Bo, can we just go back to reading the Bible in a simple way? We pick a verse that makes us feel good. Like ‘For God so loved the world…’ and ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…’ Anyway, we’re NOT Bible Scholars.”
No, we’re not. We’re much more. We’re children of God.
And our Father’s Words are in this book. A very ancient book. So we need to read the way ancients read it. Or we won’t get 80% of its content.
And if there’s something that convinced me to read the Bible in this deeper way, it’s this: Jesus read His Bible this way. He was a Jew. He read it as a Jew. And when He read the Hebrew Scriptures, He saw brilliant design patterns and thousands of hyperlinks that connected everything.
And the more you read it this way, the more you’ll understand what your Father is telling you. Right here, right now.
And what is the Father telling us through this powerful story?
Message 3: Growing More Is Trusting More
Friend, God wants you to grow.
Let’s stop being spiritual babies that throw tantrums when we don’t get what we want from God.
But what is spiritual growth anyway? So many are confused.
Some think “Growing More” means “Knowing more”—More teachings, more doctrines, more talks. Or “Praying more”— More devotions, more rosary, more prayer meetings. Or “Doing more”—More service, more charity, more obedience. But in Matthew, as essential as all these are, it’s not the core of growth. Read the last part of our story: Afterward, the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” 20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. (Matthew 17:19-20)
Faith is a trusting relationship. So growing more is trusting more.
Yes, God wants obedience. But there’s something more basic than obedience. Can I shout this from the housetops? When we don’t obey, it’s because we don’t trust.
From the first story in Genesis, Adam and Eve disobeyed God because they didn’t trust Him. That’s why they took matters into their own hands.
Let me share with my personal story.
When I had Covid for more than a month, three times during my ordeal, I stared at death’s door. Emotionally, I felt I could go anytime.
And that was when I surrendered everything to God. My life. My family. My fears. My worries. My dreams. I said, “Lord, I surrender everything to you.” And I meant it.
Because many times in the past, I prayed this prayer too—in retreats, during
worship. But when I was sick, because every breath was labored, it was different. I was literally giving my life to God.
Here’s what happened: When
I fully surrendered everything to God, I felt no more fear or worry or want. All I felt was overflowing peace.
I called this my “Surrendered Place”. It was a state of total trust in God. And to this day, I keep going back to this sacred site. Every morning, through meditation, I keep surrendering everything to God again.
Oh, I love going there! And here’s what I realized: My usual temptations are
powerless in the “Surrendered Place.” Because I trust God deeply, it’s easy to
Dear friend, God wants you to grow up. Trust Him more!