What if you really, with all your heart, wanted to find a short, to the point study of the heart of Jesus’ teaching? After all, we live in a time where everyone seems to be wanting a reader’s digest version of everything. If I want to look at such a version of Jesus message to the world, the very best place to look is at the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. It gives a pretty good look at what Jesus taught throughout his ministry on this earth. One of the many things that stands out when I look at this greatest of all sermons, is that Jesus preached a message about how to live for Him in every day life. Far too often in our time, we try to put the Christian life into what is done on Sunday morning for an hour or two. As important as our gathering time is a God’s people, it is amazing that in this comprehensive sermon from Jesus nothing is said about the gathering of the church. Instead he talked about how we should live every day in our relationship with other people, both fellow disciples and those in the world who don’t know God at all. He focused a great deal on our relationship with God as well. It is in our relationship with God that the segment of the Sermon that I want to focus on today, relates.
In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; to the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Remember as we look at this great promise and challenge from the Lord what had been under discussion when he said this. He had talked about making judgments of others and challenged us to correct the problems in our own life before trying to correct the problems in another person’s life. He had then challenged us to not cast our pearls to pigs or give to dogs that which is holy. This point had to do with the sharing of the gospel of Jesus and the point Jesus was making is that we need to discern the audience before we lay out the message of Jesus. Remember Jesus telling the disciples that there were many things he wanted to tell them but they weren’t ready for it yet so he would send the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth after he had been crucified and raised from the dead. Later the writer of Hebrews made the point that there were many things he wished he could share with the church but they had not grown up as they should have and weren’t ready for the message he wished to share. So, as great as the gospel or good news of Jesus is, there has to be some care given to what is given to the hearer at what time. You don’t set a sirloin steak before a six month old baby. The baby is a great child and the steak is good food, but they aren’t ready for that yet.
Jesus turned from that point to discuss people who were honest seekers for Him and salvation through him. When he makes the point that if we ask we will receive, if we seek we will find and if we knock the door will be opened to us, he wasn’t saying that anything in the world we ask for from the Lord will be given to us or anything we seek from God will be granted or anything we go to God knocking on his door to receive will be granted. Even Jesus prayed to be delivered from the cup that was set before him in being crucified for the world, but God’s answer was that it had to be done for people to be saved from sin and for Him. One of the greatest servants of God of all time was the Apostle Paul but in 2 Corinthians 12 he described how God had blessed him in so many ways with visions and revelations, but God had also given him a thorn in the flesh, a minister of Satan to bother him so he wouldn’t become arrogant or proud due to all his blesses from the Lord. We aren’t told what that thorn was. I believe it was his struggle with depression since that is the topic that runs through the whole book of 2 Corinthians but others have believed it was problems with his vision, others that it was back problems and I’ve even read where some believe it was migraine headaches. Since he doesn’t say for sure then I suppose it is alright to think all these and maybe a few others. But the point of it all is that he said he prayed to God three times to remove that thorn in his flesh. He was definitely seeking, asking and knocking on the Lord’s door asking for relief. But God’s answer was, “No”. He refused to take away his thorn and said that instead he would give him more grace for his strength is made perfect in weakness.
What Jesus is telling us in these verses is that if we are longing for the salvation that comes through him for every person, he will make a way for us to learn how to be saved. In John 7:17 Jesus said, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Think of the story of Cornelius described in Acts 10. He was a religious man who was generous with others and prayed to God three times a day. His whole family was devout and trying to be God’s servants. As he prayed one day, God sent an angel to him to tell him his prayers and giving had come up as a memorial before God. Notice that the angel then told him to send to Joppa for a man named Peter who could tell him words by which he and his family might be saved. He sent messengers to Peter, God prepared Peter to be ready to come when the men arrived and he came to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius and his family. Peter realized God doesn’t show favoritism and that in every nation those who fear him and do what is right will be saved. Peter preached to them about Jesus and God sent the Holy Spirit on him and his family so that Peter said to those with him, “Can anyone forbid water that these should be baptized since they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did? He then commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Cornelius was seeking, asking and knocking so God arranged for someone to come and teach him the way of salvation.
In Acts 8 there was an Ethiopian treasurer who had traveled by chariot all the way to Jerusalem to worship God. He was seeking, asking and knocking. God sent an angel to Philip the evangelist to go to a deserted road where he would meet this man on his chariot and he was to preach Jesus to him. Philip found him reading from Isaiah the prophet and asked if he understood what he was reading. He said he didn’t and needed someone to guide him. Philip joined him in the chariot and began right where he was reading and preached Jesus to him. As they were traveling down the road, the man said to Philip “see here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” They stopped the chariot and both got out and went down into the water and Philip baptized the man who then went on his way rejoicing.
God wants all people to be saved. Peter even said that the reason God delays the coming of the Lord is so that more people may be saved. He sends us as his people to make disciples in the world for him. But God promises that anyone who longs for him and seeks, asks and knocks wanting to be right with the Lord that he will provide them with the opportunity to come to him. It is notable that God didn’t with either the Ethiopian or Cornelius just declare them saved as they sought him but sent a disciple of Jesus to teach them the way to salvation. Paul explained this point by saying that we have this treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels. God reaches people through people. He may send dreams, visions or angels to get the teacher in contact with the one longing for salvation, but he doesn’t side step the teacher to just declare one saved.
Honest seekers are given the promise of the Lord that God will make a way for them to hear, learn and do what God says to do in order to be saved. If you read through the Book of Acts it is obvious how many times God intervened to make certain a person came into contact with the teacher of God’s will so they could turn from their life to sin to God and by faith obey his will to be saved. God is constantly at work in the world getting honest seekers in contact with faithful teachers of his word so they can turn from sin to him. Please notice that each of the words Jesus used in this text, (ask, seek and knock) are in the present tense indicating it is to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking. This is a picture of a true seeker that knows they need God and are searching for the way to him and are ready to do what he says to have that salvation in him. So, praise God, He longs for all to be saved. Praise God he hears the longing and seeking to make certain we have the opportunity to learn the way of the Lord. Praise God he makes it possible for the teacher who knows the Lord to meet with the one who is searching so God’s will can be done in their life.
Finally, it should lead us who are trying to be the people of God and teachers of his will to be always open to God’s lead in our lives to be brought into contact with the honest seeker of his will.