King of the Mountain (Part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22.  This message was part 2 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  See below for questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:15-22
  3. Why do you think conversations related to religion and/or politics are so prone to division?
  4. The Pharisees and the Herodians ask Jesus a politically and theologically charged question in these verses.  What evidence do you see in these verses that their question was “insincere”?  In other words, were they really seeking wisdom or something else?
  5. Jesus answer about paying taxes has two facets.  As it relates to taxes, He remarks that they should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” thus legitimizing taxes paid to this pagan leader.  This was because God had established the authority of the Roman Empire to serve people for a purpose, and we talked about some of the blessings those tax dollars paid for.  What are some of the ways your taxes are used by the government to provide blessings for you today?
  6. The New Testament encourages Christians to be great citizens by paying taxes, obeying the law, respecting our leaders, and praying for them.  Do you struggle to apply consistently any one of these commands?
  7. Though we pay taxes to Caesar, there is only One we worship.  What does it look like for you to “render unto God what is God’s”?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?


To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 2) Sermon Preview

One day, near the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus’ cousin (John the Baptist) saw Jesus walking towards him, and made a spectacular declaration, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  What John was saying was remarkable . . . Jesus would be the One who would offer His life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty that our sins require.

Jesus would later authenticate this as one of the central purposes of His presence in the world when He says, “For even the Son of Man (a title Jesus used of Himself) came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)   Jesus came to serve us by showing us what God was like in His teaching and healing ministries.  But He also came to willingly and lovingly give up His life on the cross as a payment for our sins.

The idea of Jesus as the Lamb of God has its roots in the Old Testament sacrificial system, where a Passover Lamb was offered for sacrifice each year by a family.  But before the sacrificial lamb was accepted by the priest for sacrifice, it must first be examined to show that it was without spot or blemish. 

Thinking along this line, Warren Wiersbe has observed, “Jesus was going to die as the Lamb of God, and it was necessary for the Lamb to be examined before Passover (Ex. 12:3-6). If any blemish whatsoever was found on the Lamb, it could not be sacrificed. Jesus was examined publicly by His enemies, and they could find no fault in Him.”

This examination of Jesus takes place in Matthew 21-23 as Jesus is grilled with questions by the chief priests and elders, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Herodians.  These Jewish national leaders at the time, ask Jesus question after question trying to knock Him off the mountain top, but Jesus passes all tests and shows that He is truly “King of the (Temple) Mountain.”

This Sunday, September 29, at Wildwood, we will be in week 2 of our “King of the Mountain” series looking at a question posed to Jesus from the Pharisees and the Herodians, “should we pay our taxes?”  We will see how Jesus responds to this question and what it means for us today as we look at Matthew 22:15-22.  See you then!

Two more . . . from 9/22/19

A few more thoughts from this morning’s message (part 1 of “King of the Mountain” focusing on Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46):

I thought we just completed a series on Matthew 21-23?”  If you had this thought . . . you are correct!  In fact, this is our third series of messages from these 3 chapters.  In June 2019, we had the “Father Heart of God” series that included 3 messages from Matthew 21-23, and then in August/September 2019, we stayed in these chapters for 5 more sermons in the “Authentic” series.  Rather than organizing these 3 chapters exactly as they were written, our study has tackled them thematically.  The “Father Heart of God” series showed God’s heart for the religious leaders to be saved.  The “Authentic” series showed us Jesus’ rejection of the imitation faith of the Pharisees.  Now in this series, we see Jesus fielding questions from a number of different groups in the Temple Mount area just 48-72 hours before His crucifixion.

SIDE NOTE:  I have been preaching through Matthew’s Gospel now for nearly 3 years.  Though we have organized this Gospel into many different series, we have still walked through this book verse-by-verse.  After this current series, is done, we will only lack 2 more series before completing the entire book.  For those keeping track, the message series from Matthew are:

“David, in the Spirit . . .” (22:43) – I had a question asked after the sermon about what was meant by the statement “David, in the Spirit. . .”  The phrase “in the Spirit” is used by Jesus to indicate that what was to follow was not just David’s opinion, but an inerrant, inspired declaration from God.  In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter says of the writers of the Old Testament, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  The wording “carried along” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe the effect of a wind filling a sail.  The idea is that the writers of the Old Testament (and New Testament for that matter) were not simply sharing their opinions, but sharing what God was moving them along to say.  This adds authority to the text of Scripture, and is why Jesus references it here.  Certainly the Pharisees would have had respect for King David . . . but they should have an even GREATER respect for the portions of the Scripture that David wrote, including Psalm 110 which Jesus quotes in Matthew 22:43-45.

“nor did they dare ask Him any more questions.” (22:46) – After their interactions with Jesus, Matthew tells us that the Pharisees stopped asking Him questions.  This statement generally describes Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees as a group.  Just a couple of days after this encounter, the Pharisees are a part of the coalition of Jewish leaders who turn Jesus over to the Romans for crucifixion – they were done with asking questions, they simply wanted to put an end to Jesus’ life and attempt to snuff out His influence.  While this was true of the Pharisees as a group, it was not true of every individual who was a member of their posse.  Pharisee’s like Joseph of Arimathea were already in the process of believing, and Saul (soon to become Paul) would come to faith a few years later.  These examples remind us that salvation is not about belonging to the right group (attending the right church, being from the right family, etc.) but is truly anchored to how we answer the question of questions – “What do you think about the Christ?” (22:41).  Pharisees were not condemned because they were Pharisees . . . but because they rejected the gracious offer of the Savior of the World.  Pharisees who believed in Jesus, were saved by Jesus.

King of the Mountain (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 22, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:23-27 and 22:41-46.  This message was part 1 of the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to, download, or share.


To listen offline, click the link to download the audio:

King of the Mountain #1 9.22.19



To listen online, use the media player below:



To watch the video of the service, click here.


King of the Mountain (part 1) Sermon Questions

This morning, September 22, 2019, at Wildwood Community Church in Norman, OK, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46. This message was part 1 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 21:23-27; 22:41-46
  3. What questions do you have about Jesus, Christianity, or what a life looks like that follows Jesus?
  4. John the Baptist’s Message was to “REPENT.”  If someone recognizes their sinfulness and their need for grace, how does that make them in a better position to find out the truth about Jesus?  Have you seen this to be true in your life?
  5. If you had seen Jesus’ Service (or public record of teaching and healing ministry) what might you have concluded about who Jesus was?  
  6. The Scriptures teach us about who Jesus was (and is).  Look at Matthew 22:43-45 (the quotation and comment from Psalm 110).  What all can you learn about Jesus’ identity from these verses?
  7. In today’s verses, Jesus asks the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION EVER:  “What do you say about the Christ?”  Who do you say Jesus is?  What difference does that make for your life? 
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?


To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 1) Sermon Preview

When I was a kid, I spent some time each summer in a swimming pool . . . though I do not like to swim.  I enjoyed my friends and the water would feel awesome on warm summer days, but ACTUALLY SWIMMING has always felt to me more like a way to avoid drowning than a leisure-time activity.  

So what do you do when you enjoy the pool but don’t like to swim?  You play games!  Marco Polo . . . sharks and minnows . . . and gutter ball (to name a few), were some of the games I liked playing at the pool. Another game that  we would sometimes play was “King of the Mountain.”  Have you ever played this game?  It is when one person takes an elevated position (like on a floating raft) and tries to remain afloat while everyone else tries to knock him/her off.  This was a  fun game.  Not that I was ever good at “being the king” but it got me in the water and my mind off drowning!

As I read Matthew 21-23, I see Jesus walking up on the “Mountain” where the Jewish Temple was located.  After He ascends to this height, various groups of people try to knock Him off.  The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and others come at Jesus in waves, trying to get Him to make a mistake, stump Him with a tough question, or discredit Him in front of the others.  They all come . . . they all give it their best shot . . . and they all fail miserably.  In the end Jesus is still the “King of the Mount” and no one can take Him down.

We live in a world today where people are still trying to take down the King of Kings.  “He wasn’t REALLY the Son of God,” says the History Channel documentary.  “He was just another Rabbi,” say the University Philosophy instructors.  “His morals are outdated and His teaching is discriminatory,” bemoan the purveyors of “woke” orthodoxy in our culture.  Yet 2,000 years later . . . He still stands tall.  

Over the next four Sundays at Wildwood Community Church (beginning September 22), we will be looking at a number of challenges Jesus received from different groups of people in the last week of His earthly life before going to the cross.  We will see the objections of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians drown as Jesus answers their questions with authority, truth, and grace.  Join us this Sunday for part 1, as we look at Matthew 21:23-27, 22:41-46.

Two More . . . from 9/15/19

Here are two more minutes from “Authentic” (part 5) and Matthew 23:23-36.

“. . .you have neglected the weightier matters of the Law. . .” (23:23).  The Pharisees had very developed convictions about minor doctrinal issues, while avoiding obedience of the obvious applications of the Law.  They had developed a conviction about what to “tithe” but were not acting with justice or mercy toward others or with faithfulness in their relationship with God.  This meant they had “weighted” the Law wrong.  When asked to summarize the Law, Jesus said that the great commandment was to LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart soul, mind, and strength, and to Love your neighbor as yourself.  These issues of love and relationship with God and others are the weightier things in our spiritual lives.  To say it another way, if we have a “quiet time,” ace the theology exam, don’t get drunk on weekends, and give 10% of our salary to our church, but we are not faithfully depending upon God (walking in faithfulness) or showing love, justice, and mercy to others, our spiritual life needs development.  A great example of this is how the Pharisees (in John 18:28) won’t enter Pilate’s office (for fear of becoming ceremonially unclean for a holiday) but they have NO ISSUE with turning over an innocent man for crucifixion (Jesus).  This demonstrated that their spiritual scales were out of balance.  Jesus does not condemn their convictions on tithing (or our practice of “quiet times,” theological knowledge, etc.), but reminds them (and us) that if our spiritual life does not lead to a deeper love of God and others, it is lacking and out of balance.

“. . . you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous . . .” (23:29).  Religion builds monuments.  However, monument building is not necessarily a sign of spiritual vitality in the present, and often devolves into lucky charms over time.  The first century is no different.  The Pharisees made monuments to past prophets, but their behavior showed that though they tried to honor the prophets, they would not recognize a prophet if one walked right in front of them . . . as was graphically demonstrated when Jesus appears and they want to kill Him, not worship Him!  Churches today run similar risks of retreating to monument building, instead of running forward on mission.  Of this section, John Stott eloquently made the modern parallel for church leaders, saying – “This (the Temple) was the jewel in the crown of Judaism, but it had become a monument. It encouraged the ‘museum-keeper’ attitude that is so common among many ministers today. But Jesus did not leave His disciples to be keepers of aquaria, but fishers of men and women. The trouble is that so many churches are rafts to which people cling for safety in the rough seas of life, not trawlers to catch people for Christ. Such churches are into maintenance, not mission.”  These are powerful words by Stott!  We are not “keepers of aquaria, but fishers of men and women.”  We get to be “trawlers to catch people for Christ.”  Not just doing “maintenance” but being on “mission.”  Authentic faith weights for others, and takes the Gospel to them . . . inviting them to welcome the Lord and be washed on the inside.

One last thing . . . I showed a slide this morning of Zachariah’s tomb just outside the city walls in Jerusalem.  My friend Mark Burget and I regularly lead tours of Israel, and our next tour will be March 15-25, 2021.  We will pair with a good friend of ours (a native Israeli tour guide) to provide insight into the land of the bible, devotionals to how it applies to our lives, and see the history that verifies the claims of our faith.  We would love to have you join us (space is limited though!)  This is a first-class, all-inclusive tour.  If you want to go (regardless of your where you currently go to church), please send me an email at and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.  Additionally, you can see a brochure for the trip by clicking here.

Authentic (part 5) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 15, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church I preached a sermon based on Matthew 23:23-36.  This message was the fifth and final installment in the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from the sermon to listen to, download or share.


To listen offline, click the link to download:

Authentic #5 9.15.19



To listen online, use the media player below:


To watch the worship service, visit our stream by clicking here.



Authentic (part 5) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 15, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 23:23-36.  This message was part 5 of the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below you will find a set of questions related to this message for further reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 23:23-36
  3. Have you ever found yourself focused on a “lesser” issue, while neglecting the “weightier” issues of the Law?  To say it another way, have you ever majored on a minor issue of the Christian life while neglecting the clear MAJOR things we are to be about?
  4. How does one “clean the inside” of their life?  Can someone do it themselves?
  5. Do you see evidence of the MERCY of God in Jesus’ pronouncement of coming judgment in 23:29-36?  If so, where do you see this mercy?  
  6. Will you welcome in the Son of God into your life?  
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?


To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Authentic (part 5) Sermon Preview

In the summer of 1995 I was a part of a summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ, helping start a ministry on a University campus in a major Russian city.  At the time, Russia was a place of great intrigue . . . the world was nearing the end of the “Cold War” and as a child of the 1970’s and 80’s (and someone who had seen both “Rocky IV” and “Red Dawn” multiple times) I was fascinated with the former U.S.S.R.  

En route to our ministry destination, our plane landed in Moscow.  A native resident of Moscow met us at the airport and arranged transportation to a hotel where we would be staying the night.  On the ride to the hotel, I stuck close to Sergei and listened to him tell stories about his hometown.  He showed us the bridge where Russian tanks sat during Glastnost.  He pointed to the spires of St. Basil’s Cathedral in the distance.  He talked about what buildings made up the Kremlin.  But, despite all this talk, the most memorable thing he told me, was about a paint job.  No kidding.

It seems that when President Ronald Reagan was coming to visit Moscow for a nuclear arms summit in June of 1988, the Russians wanted to put their best foot forward to impress their American counterparts.  The cash poor Soviets did not want the Americans to see their deteriorating financial situation.  To show financial weakness would be to lose yet another battle in this cold war.  However, the Soviets did not have enough money to fully renovate all of the large city of Moscow.  So, Russian officials came up with a resourceful solution . . . they would remodel and repaint only the buildings that lined the exact route and rooms that President Reagan would actually drive by or sit in.  So, in the days leading up to the summit, the Russian government went to work putting a fresh coat of paint and doing minor repairs to the streets and buildings where Reagan would be.  As the day drew near, though, the Soviets realized they needed to speed up their progress.  So, they came to a creative solution.  They would only repaint the exterior of buildings two stories up (these buildings were easily 10 stories tall or more.)  The thought was that Reagan was an older man who probably could not see beyond the second floor anyway. . . so why waste good paint.  

Let’s take this image and connect it to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is not an aging President who rides down the streets of our lives only able to see about two stories up.  If that were the kind of God we served, we could decorate the visible areas of our lives with fresh coats of good works, and draw His attention away from the sin and struggle that we deal with seven stories up or on the streets less traveled.  In fact, our God is a God who sees not just selected streets, but the entire city of our heart.  He not only sees 10 stories up, He sees everything.

This is the problem with self-righteous religion.  No self is that righteous.  Upon thorough inspection, we all fall short.  This includes any today who are relying on their own performance to impress God, but it also relates to the Pharisees of the first century who could not pass Jesus’ parade inspection.

The sad reality is that Jesus WANTS to save us.  He wanted to save them . . . but they were unwilling.  

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be concluding our “Authentic” series from Matthew 21-23, with part 5 (focused on Matthew 23:23-36).  My hope is that we would see the “woes” Jesus pronounces here as a “warning shot” designed to draw us to Himself.  See you Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:45 or 11:00 service!