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2007-01-21_Believe and Follow_Matthew 8.1-22_SL

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Believe and Follow

Matthew 8:1-22   |   Shaun LePage   |   January 21, 2007

I.       Introduction

A.    Matthew’s mission: Introduce the real Jesus. Clear up false ideas. Bastard child? From Galilee? King of the Jews—dead? Body stolen? Matthew wrote to set the record straight.

B.    16:15: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter’s answer—most monumental moment in Matthew: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Jesus said: “Blessed are you, Simon!” You’re right! There is a right answer! We can’t define Him however we want.

C.    Misinterpretations:

1.     Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez (sworn in for his third term Thursday, 1/11) lifted up Jesus Christ and Fidel Castro as his models. “I swear by Christ, the greatest socialist in history.” Does Hugo Chavez have an accurate understanding of Jesus?

2.     James Walker, in the Watchman Expositor, writes: “The apostle Paul expressed … concern when he warned the Corinthian Christians about false teachers who would present ‘another Jesus, whom we have not preached,’ (2 Corinthians 11:4). …Today there are hundreds of competing Christs and each group produces lists of convincing Bible ‘proof texts’ for their candidate. Is Jesus really the spirit brother of Lucifer and the offspring of a heavenly mother and father as claimed by Mormonism? Is Jesus really the archangel Michael, a created being who died on a stake and never rose bodily from the grave as claimed by the Watchtower? Or is Jesus really God incarnate, both fully God and fully man, the second person of the Trinity, who died on the cross as total payment for men’s sins?” (The Jesuses of the Cults: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?; The Watchman Expositor, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1990).

D.    Matthew Review: In chapters 1-11, Jesus is being presented to Israel as her King!

1.     Chs 1-4: The King’s credentials. Genealogy; Virgin-born; Baptism; Temptation.

2.     Chs 5-7: The King’s teaching. Sermon on the Mount—authority; like Moses.

3.     Chs 8-9: The King’s power. (Picks up 4:24) 9 miracles; 3 groups of 3—discipleship.

4.     Each miracle attracts more and more attention—confrontation with Jewish leaders.

II.     Body—Matthew 8:1-22 [ Let’s begin by looking carefully at the text. ]

A.    Healing 1: The leper (vs.1-4)

1.     Gr: lepra; skin disease of some kind—not necessarily technical “leprosy”

2.     Lev 13: detailed instructions for diagnosis; see v.45—explains his humility.

3.     “Bowed down”—“Proskuneo”—forehead to ground. Worship?

4.     “Lord”. Not always “God” but could be acknowledgement of Jesus’ deity.

5.     Faith! “If You are willing, You can make me clean!”

6.     “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him”! How long had it been?

7.     Simultaneous: “I am willing.” Jesus’ words beautiful in his ears. Imagine Jesus’ smile!

8.     “Immediately he was cured”! Fascinating to see! Awesome!

9.     “Tell no one”? Jewish leaders might have been reluctant; instead, they confirmed it!

B.    Healing 2: The Centurion’s Servant (vs. 5-13) [Capernaum” see map.]

1.     “Centurion”—Gentile; Roman commander of 100 soldiers; normally hated, but Luke reports Jewish elders came: “He is worthy…loves our nation…built synagogue”.

2.     “Servant”. Gr: paiV; boy; “paralyzed…fearfully tormented”; Luke: “highly regarded”.

3.     Recognized Jesus’ “authority” (7:29, etc.); again, Matthew explaining who Jesus is.

4.     Jesus “marveled”. Contrasted with Israel—prophecy: non-Jews in kingdom.

5.     “As you have believed” (faith!); “healed that very moment.”

C.    Healing 3: Peter’s Mother-in-law (vs. 14-15)

1.     “Fever” no big deal today; probably very serious because she was “sick in bed”; hard for us to appreciate these healings because of modern medicine

2.     Healing again was apparently immediate: “fever left her, and she got up and waited on Him”; a great response for those healed physically or spiritually—serve Him!

D.    Discipleship Message: “Follow Me” (vs. 16-22)

1.     Matthew stopped with 3 exs., but mentioned many others were healed; Then quoted Is 53:4 as explanation—Jesus is Messiah! “Suffering Servant”! (“Son of Man” Dan 7:13).

2.     Jesus fulfilled this prophecy during His healing ministry. No biblical reason to expect on-going fulfillment—physical healing in the atonement. Healed of sin because of the cross (1 Pet 2:24-25); ultimate physical healing later—in heaven (Rev 21:4).

3.     With this in mind (Messiah!) Matt. gave discipleship message; response of 2 witnesses: 

a)     “I will follow”—Willing to forsake comfort? Following requires commitment.

b)     “Permit me first…”—Willing to forsake family/money? Following Christ requires loving Him over every thing/person/self.

E.     Observations:

1.     Jesus healed immediately and completely. Don’t be fooled.

a)     Unlike the shysters of our day, Jesus really healed people. “Immediately” (v.3) and “that very moment” (v.13) and “she got up and waited on Him” (v.15).

b)     Man I knew: “Healed of back injury!” But, still spent several months in hospital, not completely cured when he told me the story.

c)     C. Everett Koop story (The Agony of Deceit, pgs.177-8).

d)     Hank Hanegraaff story (Christianity in Crisis, pgs. 340-1).

2.     Jesus healed upon request. Don’t hesitate to ask.

a)     Does God still heal? Absolutely! We should not hesitate to ask.

b)     The leper (v.2); centurion “imploring” for servant (v.5); “Mother-in-law—Lk 4:38.

c)     Faith is a factor. We won’t ask if we don’t have faith. Leper believed and Jesus said “I am willing.” Notice: Jesus was pleased by the faith of the Centurion. Heb 11:6.

d)     But God is not obligated. It was an act of His will. Leper said, “If You are willing…” Our request must be “Your will be done”. 1 Jn 5:14

3.     Jesus healed to show God’s compassion. Don’t forget outsiders.

a)     A leper, a Gentile servant and a woman. All “outsiders”!

b)     Jesus was no respecter of persons. He treated the “lowest” people in society with compassion. He didn’t have to heal, but He did. Matthew highlighted outsiders!

c)     We, too, must never forget the truly less-fortunate; “lowest” people in society.

4.     Jesus healed to reveal His identity. Don’t miss the point.

a)     Focus on the Healer, not the healings. The purpose of miracles was to authenticate the messenger—in this case, Jesus.

b)     In John, Jesus said miracles “bear witness” of His identity; Heb 2:3-4

III.   Closing: Who is this Jesus? Matthew makes it clear: He is the Christ (Messiah) who has the authority to cure diseases, cast out demons and so much more (next time). The One with that kind of authority says, “Follow Me.” Do you believe He is Messiah? Do you believe He has all authority? Do you believe He has the power to heal leprosy, paralysis and fever? He deserves your followship. Your devotion. Your complete commitment. The miracles showed that He was worthy of great commitment. The call of discipleship is: “Believe and follow!” Put Christ above your comfort. Put Christ above yourself. Put Christ above family. Put Christ above all earthly things. He deserves that kind of commitment. Believe! Follow!

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