Meeting the Real Jesus – Gospel in Life

Meeting the Real Jesus

Tim Keller |  September 15, 1996

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  • Salvation
Matthew 11:4-15
RS 72-2


Many people find the original Christian understanding of Jesus, the original claims from Jesus about who he is, offensive. They are not just indifferent—they’re offended, just like John the Baptist.

How amazing that we have a whole chapter in which Jesus responds to offended people. He begins to respond like this, “There’s a kind of spiritual closedness that makes people not just disagree, but be scandalized, offended, by me. I would like to show you the kind of people who are open to me, and who, therefore, meet me and find me.”

Jesus gives three descriptions in Matthew 11. Each one tells you something about what you have to be and do if you’re even going to be open to who Jesus is. Jesus describes three kinds of people who meet Jesus, who do not take offense at Jesus: 1) the poor, 2) the violent, and 3) the least.

Matthew 11:4–15

Jesus speaks to John the Baptist’s doubts by discussing how some people feel about him, especially in the Western world. He talks about the people who are upset and those who are open, focusing on three groups: the poor, the passionate, and the humble. Each group’s story shows what is needed to believe in who Jesus is and what he says.

1. The poor

Christianity is not just a set of beliefs or rules, but a gospel, which means it’s about a real event that started a new, amazing era. The gospel says that salvation comes from what happened in Jesus’ life, like his birth, death, and coming back to life, not from our own attempts. The gospel’s special strength is shown in how it affects the poor, who know they need God’s help and find hope, respect, and improvement in it.

2. The passionate

Jesus teaches that God’s kingdom is a powerful source of extreme change, moving so strongly that it might seem violent. This power to transform challenges what we think and what we value, asking us to be ready to face tough times. In the end, those who welcome these extreme changes are the ones who will really experience God’s kingdom.

3. The humble

When Jesus says that the humblest in God’s kingdom is greater than John the Baptist, he’s showing how important it is to be humble and know we need God’s help. This is made even clearer when Jesus fulfills Isaiah 35’s prediction by not coming in judgment but in a quiet, humble way. The gospel, then, is not about being great ourselves but about getting God’s goodness through belief, making even the weakest person morally stronger than the self-righteous.



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