Matthew Chapter 8 (26 Mar 2017)

Recorded version (Mt8.2017-03-26.mp3 30.3MB)
Jesus Healed a leper, Centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, many demon possessed, many sick people, discouraged a couple of potential followers, sailed across the lake and calmed a storm, cast out 2 demons leading to drowning a couple of thousand pigs in 6 separate dealings.

Probably not in this order

Probably not all in one day – but we’ll go through it in one day…

We need help to do this – let’s ask for it in prayer

  1. Healed the leper (1-4) X
  • Leprosy seen as an incurable, unclean => isolation
  • Regarded both infectious (although not) and a curse brought on themselves because of sin
  • See Miriam, being cursed and was miraculously forgiven & cleansed; Gehazi, Uzziah were not.

Large crowd coming down from the mountain after Sermon on Mount

  • must have been unwelcome in the crowd
  • got near to Jesus; near enough so Jesus could touch him
  • => great determination driven by his faith

No demand but humble submission:

  • “if you are willing you can make me clean” – and he was
  • immediate and complete healing and cleansing
  • sent to the bureaucracy BEFORE testimony
  • Priests not doctors declared healing and cleansing
  • ? can’t trust the priests?
  • Likely the priest would recognise sins forgiven; they did not like Jesus forgiving sins

Proper to pray “if it be your will” – but wouldn’t it be good to know what it is? For example:

  • Jn3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • 1Jn1: 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Whether or not he realised or understood it this leper was calling on both of these and was granted forgiveness, salvation and healing.

  1. Centurion’s Servant (5-13) X

Centurion: remarkable man…

  • gentile; Roman officer in hated occupying force; of rank and authority; had compassion for a servant who was suffering
  • went out of his way to find Jesus
  • a believer – knew Jesus had authority as he did
  • humility (“beseeching” “I do not deserve to have you under my roof”),
  • trust (“asking for help”) and
  • faith (“just say the word” – remember how God created everything in Gen 1)

Jesus the Jew accepted this gentile, the enemy and loved his enemy, admired his faith, a faith which put others to shame.

He offered to “come and heal him” – Jesus knew what he could do

Centurion did not say, “don’t bother, it’s only a servant” but “I don’t deserve you to come to my place” and “just say the word”.

Jesus healed the leper and laid hands on him; he healed the centurion’s servant without going anywhere near him.           X

=> a very serious matter on an unfashionable subject (vv 11-12)…

Some will miss out on the kingdom who might assume they have a right to be included – ie they will miss out on heaven and instead be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  • Modern theologians don’t want to think God would allow such a state as hell – a God who is love would not treat people that way – and to avoid that idea they also do away with the idea of heaven – how else could he be a God of justice? ‘We should be concerned with social justice in this life, seeking to have life on earth to be as it is in heaven – your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
  • They argue life is not a matter of living so we can die and go to heaven. We should not “be so heavenly minded we are of no earthly use”: don’t care about the pie in the sky when you die.
  • To which someone has replied “Heaven is just the continuation of your eternal life, so if you don’t believe in the pie in the sky when you die you will miss the steak on the plate while you wait.”
  • Stephen Hawking said, “Heaven is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark”. John Lennox replied, “atheism is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the light.”
  • We are already citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, each a new creation, the Holy Spirit giving us a guarantee and a foretaste of being in heaven which continues anew after Christ returns to clean it all up.
  • But what theologians think is immaterial when you read what Jesus believed – the Kingdom of God is where we know all tears will be wiped away and this is such a contrast with a state of pain, loss, loneliness, regret, anger, despair, darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Clearly no joking matter!
  1. Jesus heals many (14-17) X

All so matter of fact: Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law with a touch (BTW – Peter was not celibate)

  • Some cynics might see a group of blokes who could not look after themselves got the poor old lady from her sick bed to wait on them. Others see Jesus showing compassion and the lady showing thankfulness, humility and service
  • Then drove out many demons and healed many people.

V 17 tells us a wonderful/mysterious thing

  • Sin brought disruption, disorder, hurt, ruptured relationships and sickness to the world
  • On the cross Jesus took so much more than we often think of:
  • Blame, penalty and power of our sin
  • Our infirmities and disease.
  • Jesus on the cross took the first and necessary step to restore the creation which otherwise groans as with the pains of childbirth – God so loved the world (creation/cosmos), including you.
  • When he grants healing we should extend our thankfulness that we have it because Jesus took it up on the cross
  • When he grants forgiveness and healing to someone he is taking a step to restoring them to be more like the image of God they are intended to be.
  • His resurrection showed his victory over death, sin AND our infirmities and diseases.
  1. Count the Cost (15-22) X

If someone wants to join your church: lovely, so welcome. Let me introduce you to the secretary who will get your name on the roster and to the treasurer. Or, perhaps, let me run you through some theological and doctrinal hoops. Jesus did something similar:

  • Scribe/Pharisee “I will follow you wherever you go” => commitment, determination.
    • I guarantee you no more than poverty – the lot of Jesus
    • His followers must expect nothing.
    • Although Peter was better off and so are we.
  • A disciple “First let me bury my father”- “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead”
    • He is not callous – he wept at Lazarus’ tomb, comforted the sisters and raised Lazarus.
    • There are times when the right thing to do is attend to needs like the elderly and funerals
    • But there are times, when Jesus says “follow me” the right thing to do is obey.
    • Jesus would not have given the instruction if there had not been others – perhaps those who were “dead in trespasses and sin” – who could deal with the father’s death and funeral
    • It might have been that Jesus could see this disciple was procrastinating, was too timid, was not really serious, that there really no good reason to follow Jesus without delay.
    • Even though it is a wrench and some might not understand when Jesus says “follow me” then … counting the cost – follow him
  1. Jesus calms the storm. (23-27) X

You seldom read of Jesus sleeping – when he does he is on a lake in a boat in a ferocious storm.

How well do you sleep?

If you were on a lake in a boat in a ferocious storm with Jesus, how would you cope? Better than the disciples on this trip? Does that question tempt you to feel smug – or sympathetic?

They panicked and woke Jesus saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown.”

Who did they think he was? Had they not noticed his miracles and teaching?

Jesus gave two rebukes:

  • To the disciples for their little faith. Should you worry when you are with Jesus? OR, if you are with Jesus shouldn’t you expect problems? He told us to! But you won’t be the first or last to ask for more help in handling yourself in storms.
  • To the storm, which obeyed him.

The disciples still hadn’t worked it out and asked: “what kind of a man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

This man is the Creator God:

Colossians 1: 15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

They weren’t in the boat with a preacher – they were in the boat with God!

No wonder the storm obeyed him

And you are in your life with Jesus – you are in your life with God

And so should we obey him

  1. The Demon Possessed (28-34) X
  • Don’t readily label people as demon possessed in our society. Have you come across a demon-possessed person? Talk to workers in poor countries. In our society Satan finds it more useful if people don’t take him seriously.
  • Plenty of violent, threatening, evil people – clearly inspired and driven by Satan
  • These demons recognised Jesus as the Son of God but didn’t want to deal with him. Even demons acknowledge Jesus – but don’t love him.
  • They knew their destiny to be tortured at the appointed time – ie they believed in hell! X
  • Jesus accepted their suggestion to be sent into the pigs: animals regarded as “unclean” by Jews. They would be no loss to Jews although the result did the pigs no good!
  • An interesting thought from a study some of us were looking at: in other gospels these demons are identified as Legion because there were many of them. Another time legions were drowned in the sea was in the Red Sea. Here Jesus was identifying himself with the God of Israel, the God of the Old Testament, sending legions to drown in the sea he had just crossed. The Bible story starts in the beginning, is continuous and climaxes in Jesus!

The locals were upset

  • Probably not happy about losing a couple of thousand head of livestock and blamed Jesus, even though it was the demons who took the pigs; people still want to blame God for things Satan does. Did not seem too grateful about the cured men. Jesus might have seemed more frightening than the demon possessed men.
  • We then see their response to Jesus was the same as that of the demons: we don’t want to deal with you – go away, leave us alone.
  • Have you come across that attitude lately?
  • 2 Corinthians 4: 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God

 Summary

  1. Learn from the Leper
    • The crowds followed Jesus from the mountain – be like them and with the motive to know him more.
    • Get closer to Jesus – read the Bible to learn how great prayers prayed (eg see how Moses and Job argued their case with God), practice prayer, learn to hear the Holy Spirit
    • Include confession and practice repentance before approaching our great High Priest
    • pray with humility yet with confidence submitted to Jesus’ will
  1. Learn from the Centurion
  • Keep approaching Jesus with the needs of others as well as yourself
  • With humility: beseeching him, With faith: just say the word, Lord
  • Build up your faith to compare well that of the centurion rather than be put to shame
  • Enjoy the promises God has made to you and live out your eternal life.
  • Do all you can to share the truth about Jesus – praying, beseeching, for those outside the kingdom because their eternal future is very dark.
  1. Learn to appreciate the power of Jesus’ Cross

Which gives us salvation from sin, our infirmities and diseases

Galatians 6: 14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

4. Learn to pay the cost

What is it costing you to follow Jesus? It’s not the same cost for each of us – but if there is none should that make us wonder if we have missed something and are not following Jesus’ call to follow him? It might be time for repentance, obedience and action.

  1. Learn from the storm

Understand who Jesus is: our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Creator God almighty in human form. He has all authority over all things – including you and me.

It’s OK to tell him you are frightened and ask him to help, even save you but learn to be more confident of his never-ceasing presence. Have faith in him. Because his Holy Spirit is in you and with you, trust him even the midst of a storm.

  1. Learn from the demon possessed

There is a heaven and a hell.

Thank God for the faith which by his grace God has granted you that has brought you salvation, eternal life, citizenship of the Kingdom of heaven s kings and priests, co-heirs with Christ. But be aware:

We might not recognise demons but they are there, under Satan’s supervision.

1 Peter 5: 8Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

2 Corinthians 4: 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”6 made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

 

Gathering, 2017-03-26

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