July 11, 2010
INTRODUCTION – Some foundational convictions as we wade through the gospel of Matthew:
1. Our primary goal is to know Jesus Christ in all of His glory and majesty. Jesus said to the Jews once, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” (Jn. 5:39) Now He was talking about the old testament scriptures. How much more do the gospels testify of Him. All scripture points to Him. There is no life or spirituality apart from Him.
2. Our second most important goal is to be made like Him in every way. Jesus said to His disciples early on, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) As we follow Jesus Christ moment by moment and day by day – He gradually but persistently transforms us into His very image and likeness. We become winsome like He was and is. There is no better place to see who Jesus is and what He is like and what it means to follow Him than in the gospels.
3. Our third conviction closely related to the second one is – that we truly can be made like Him in every way, because though He was and is fully God, He was and is fully man; In other words, when Jesus Christ walked the earth, everything He did and everything He knew about people was a result not of being God, because we know from Phil. 2, and other passages, He chose to not avail Himself of or draw on His godly attributes or attributes of deity, but rather to live as a fully human man – absolutely dependent upon God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Thus Luke, who most portrays Him as fully man (compared to Matthew, Mark and John), speaks more than them of His relationship with the Holy Spirit – saying in Luke 4 alone that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan” (4:1); “was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness” (4/1); “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (4:14); quoting Isa. 61:2, He claimed “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (4:18)
4. Finally – when we study the gospels – we are under the conviction that “all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” And that it is a grave mistake to relegate the kind of passages we are getting ready to study to history, or to a dispensation that we are no longer in ,and thus cannot and should not fully apply to our lives. This kind of thinking has led to much of the spiritual impotence and spiritual skitzophrenia that a good portion of the body of Christ in the west still walks in, though I believe that portion is diminishing as time goes on. When we study the life and ministry of our Lord as has been recorded so diligently and thoroughly in the four gospels, we dare not ever allow ourselves to think that _Oh well that was Jesus, and He was God, and that was a unique season of time, and we can’t expect to walk like He walked and minister like He ministered.
It was out of that conviction that the apostle John said in his first epistle, ch. 2, vs. 6, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Please note that he did not qualify that expectation by saying, “except for the supernatural or miraculous parts of His life”.
Now as we seek to close out our discussion of ch. 9 of the gospel of Matthew – – any of us who have been seeking to walk in the same manner as He walked – – especially in the matters of healing the sick and casting out demons – – ought to have a generous supply of humility by now – – because much of His manner can only be re-produced by the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit – coupled with an ever growing intimate relationship with the Father – – and we all have much growing to do in both of these arenas.
For many of us here today; we don’t have a problem with the convictions I just ran through; our problem is the lack of experience of seeing much of Jesus’s manner realized in our every day lives.
For those of you like me, who need their experience to catch up with their convictions, but who have not given up, I commend you. And I submit to you the following six actions steps or things we must know and understand from Matt. Ch. 9
I. Let Jesus be Lord – – His agenda or priorities may not be ours – Matt. 9:1-8
A. The complexity and intertwinedness of we humans (mind, body, soul, spirit) Don’t be merely fixated on bodily or physical healing. (Jas. 5 has some interesting comments along these lines)
B. Jesus to the man – lame for 38 yrs. at pool of Bethesda – – Jn. 5:1-15 Healed him first; but then told him later that day – “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” This man’s sinful lifestyle was directly tied to his sickness.
C. Paul to the church in Thess. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thess. 5:23
D. John – “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health; just as your soul prospers.” III John 2
II. Jesus almost always responds to great faith – Matt. 9:1-8 (friends of the paralytic = vs. 2)
9:18, 19, 23-26 (synagogue official re: his daughter = vs. 18);
9:20-22 (woman with hemorrhage = vs. 21);
9:27-29 (two blind men = vs. 29);
9:32,33 (mute, demon-possessed man brought to Him = vs. 32)
A. He typically doesn’t respond where there is a lack of faith, whether in the sick person or in the people who are seeking to minister to the sick person (Matt. 13:58 “And He did not do many miracles there (His hometown = Nazareth) because of their unbelief”
17:19,20 –disciples to Jesus, “Why could we not drive it (the demon) out?” “Because of the littleness of your faith”
III. Be prepared for scorn and ridicule, hatred and jealousy – even from religious leaders when God begins to use you in the ministry of healing – Matt. 9:24, & vs. 34
A. If you need everyone’s approval and appreciation, you will never make it in the ministry of healing
B. Ideally every person in every congregation in our Coastal Region upon hearing of anyone doing anything miraculous in the name of Jesus would be thrilled; but the reality is some will be threatened – – because their source of security and identity is not in Christ, but rather in their set of beliefs in or about Christ
IV. Jesus’s ministry was characterized throughout by the three fold combination of teaching, proclaiming and healing. 9:35 (cf. 4:23)
A. Foundational ministry to the whole person requires all three
B. It is not enough to say “I have the gift of teaching.” You may, and if you do, you should excel in it. But you can’t be like your Master, and not be willing to be used by Him to heal the sick.
C. Teaching typically implies that you have a willing audience that want to learn.
D. Proclamation typically requires the proclaiming of truth regardless of whether you have a willing audience or not.
V. Fruitful healing ministries are fueled at least partially by compassion, which comes from seeing people as they truly are, and seeking sickness as the ravaging, demoralizing, often devastating thing that it is. Matt. 9:36
A. cf. Matt. 8:2-4 the leper; Mt. 14:14 “When He went shore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”;
Mt. 20:29-34 Bartimaeus “….moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes”;
Luke 7:11-17 “…a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…when the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, ….do not weep…..Young man, I say to you arise!”
VI. While we must put feet to our compassion; our first response must be prayer – – as the need is far greater than any one of us can meet. 9:37,38
A. Laborers must be sent or else they will sit.
B. Prayer releases the Lord to send them, and releases their wills to obey
C. True laborers will seek to teach, proclaim and heal.