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2007-02-11_The Workers Are Few_Matthew 9.18-38_SL

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The Workers Are Few

   Matthew 9:18-38   |   Shaun LePage   |   February 11, 2007

I.       Introduction

A.    Marcus Aurelius had lofty ideals, but they didn’t transfer to his actions. (Read from pg. 45 of The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1, by Justo Gonzalez). Good intentions are worthless if don’t translate to action.

B.    Review: In chapters 1-11, Jesus presented to Israel as King! Chs 1-4: King’s credentials; Chs 5-7: King’s teaching; Chs 8-9: King’s power. 3 Miracles/discipleship lesson.

C.    Review of 8:1-9:17:

1.     3 miracles: Leper, Centurion’s paralyzed Servant, Peter’s feverish Mother-in-law

2.     Discipleship Lesson: “Believe and follow!” Christ above comfort, self, family, wealth.

3.     3 miracles: Storm calmed, demons cast out, paralyzed man healed.

4.     Discipleship Lessons: Physician—sick sinners; Bridegroom—new garment, new wine of new life.

D.    Miracles in 9:18-35 closely related to 11:2-5—Jesus Messianic credentials.

II.     Body—Matthew 9:18-38

A.    Miracle 1a-b: Life restored (to the dead and outcast) (18-26; Mk5, Lk8)

1.     Miracle 1a: Life restored to the official’s daughter (18-19, 23-26)

a)     18-19—Mk & Lk: “Jairus” VIP—governed synagogue | Lk: daughter “twelve years old” | dead or not? 3 accounts differ slightly: 1) hard for doctors at that time to determine exact point of death; 2) Matthew shortened for simpler report | faith contrast—“Physician” (v.12) rejected by some Jewish leaders; some—like Jairus—believed.

b)     23—“noisy disorder” 3 mourning customs: 1) rending garments (39 related laws!); 2) wailing (pros); 3) flute-players.

c)     24—“asleep”—Jn 11:11f; Gr “cemetery” lit. “sleeping chamber” | “laughed” & “Leave”

d)     25—The “Physician…took her by the hand and the girl got up”! Think about it! Mk: “they were completely astonished”; Lk: “her parents were amazed”! Understatement? 

2.     Miracle 1b: Life restored to the bleeding woman (20-22)

a)     20—“hemorrhage” Lev 15—unclean for 12 years! Shut off from worship and contact with people. Consumed her life! Mk 5:26—Professor William Barclay: “The Talmud sets out no fewer than eleven different cures for [this condition]. Some of them were tonics and astringents which may well have been effective; others were merely superstitious remedies. One was to carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen bag in summer and in a cotton bag in winter; another was to carry about a barleycorn which had been found in the dung of a white [donkey]. (New Daily Study Bible, p. 399) | Ridiculous? A desperate person will try anything—should not have been in that crowd; tried to remain anonymous “behind Him”

b)     21—“If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” Power in a garment? Desperate!

c)     22—(shortened) Jesus turned and saw her and said: “Daughter… (same as v.18) take courage, your faith has made you well.” Tender words | “At once the woman was made well.” Again, can you imagine? Her life had been restored!

3.     The Connection. [ 2 miracles; 1 event; interconnected! Mk & Lk tell it the same way. ]

a)     Jesus had said, “I desire compassion, not sacrifice.” (v.13)—Did Jairus lack compassion? Likely. Would he have felt compassion for her had she come to his synagogue before that day? What took place in his heart that day his 12-year-old daughter died and he heard Jesus speak to this woman—after 12 years of misery—and call her “Daughter”?

b)     Both were desperate. Jesus was no respecter of persons—desperate faith pleased Him. Ruler—risk and humility to go to Jesus, but He was desperate. Woman—after 12 years had tried everything else—she was desperate.

B.    Miracle 2: Sight restored (27-31)

1.     27—2 blind men | “Son of David”? Only other time blind pleaded for sight (Mt 20:30) used same title. Did they know Is 29:18, 32:3 and 35:5 (“The eyes of the blind will see…”)?

2.     28-29—“Indoors”—didn’t respond immediately. Secrecy? Prove desperation? | “Do you believe…? Done according to your faith.” Again—faith is necessary. We will only ask if we have some faith, but God is never obligated to heal. Fact is, He doesn’t always.

3.     30—“Their eyes were opened.” Can you imagine? | “Sternly warned”—very strong, with anger or great distress! Why? Suggestions: Didn’t want people to know He could do miracles? Already done many. Didn’t want people to know He was Messiah? Purpose of miracles was to reveal Him as Messiah. Best: No intention of healing everyone. He did not want to be known simply as a Healer. Spiritual healing, not just physical (v.12).

4.     31—It didn’t take. They did exactly the opposite. Hard to imagine otherwise!

C.    Miracle 3: Speech restored (33-35)

1.     32—As the blind men left, someone else came with a mute, demon possessed man.

2.     33—Little detail: Demon cast out—man spoke. Nothing about his faith here. | Focus is on responses. | 1st response: “Crowds amazed…nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!”

3.     34—Second response: “Pharisees…He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Notice: Did not deny the miracles—they questioned the source. Again in 12—more later! | Notice: No middle ground. You either love Him or you hate Him.

4.     35—2-fold ministry—teaching (where? Synagogues; what? Gospel of the kingdom) and healing. Repeat of 4:23—the truth of His teaching was verified by His miracles.

D.    Discipleship Message: Disciples are driven by compassion! (36-38—chapter 10!)

1.     Metaphor 1: Sheep without a shepherd (v.36)

a)     Picture: Crowds thronged to Him—Jesus saw their spiritual condition as worse than all the physical conditions. “Distressed…dispirited” and lost.

b)     Let that sink in: “He felt compassion for them.” TM: “His heart broke.” Lit: “He was moved in His intestines.” Heart = thoughts; Intestines = emotions. Moved in deepest part of His being.

2.     Metaphor 2: Harvest without workers (v.37)

a)     Rather than becoming defeated, Jesus saw a great opportunity—“the harvest is plentiful.” But there’s a problem: “The workers are few.” Why is that? Very few people feel compassion for the lost. Every Christian with eyes can look around and see that the people are “distressed… dispirited” and lost. Depressed, confused, defeated, hopeless. “Dead in sin…blind… demonically oppressed.” But very few are “moved in their bowels” to do anything—few care.

b)     What do we do? “Beseech the Lord of the harvest.” Pray! 1 Tim 2:1-8. The One who was broken-hearted with compassion can move us and work through us—if we ask.

E.     Conclusions:

1.     Jesus’ miracles demand a response—believe! Miracles prove He is Messiah, Lord and God. Message has repeatedly been delivered. A response is required. Believe! Fence-sitting is not an option. Either He is who He claimed, or He is a devil from hell. Manson? David Koresh?

2.     Jesus’ compassion demands a response—pray and harvest! Disgusted by the people around you? Or are you broken-hearted, compassionate? Will you pray and ask God to send those who will share the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ? Will you pray and ask God to use you?

III.   Closing:

A.    Martin Luther—the great reformer—had a friend who felt about the Christian faith as Martin did. The friend was a monk. They came to an agreement. Luther would go down into the dust and the heat of the battle for the Reformation in the world; the friend would stay in the monastery and uphold Luther’s hands in prayer. So they began that way. Then, one night, the friend had a dream. He saw a vast field of corn as big as the world; and one solitary man was seeking to reap it—an impossible and a heart-breaking task. Then he caught a glimpse of the reaper’s face; and the reaper was Martin Luther. Luther’s friend saw the truth in a flash. “I must leave my prayers,” he said, “and get to work.” And so he left his pious solitude and went down to the world to labour in the harvest. (William Barclay, New Daily Study Bible, p. 412)

B.    Will our lofty ideals about compassion and truth transfer to action? [ Pray ]


Condition Miracle Response
8:1-4—Leper “I am willing, be cleansed.” “Tell no one…go to priest”
8:5-13—Paralytic “Go! It shall be done for you as you have believed.” “I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.”
8:14-15—Fever “He touched her and the fever left her.” “She got up and waited on Him.”
8:16-17—Demon possessed / ill “He cast out the spirits…healed all…”  
8:23-27—Great storm “…Rebuked the wind and the sea…perfectly calm.” “Why are you afraid?” “What kind of man is this?”
8:28-34—Demon possessed “‘Go!’ And they came out…” “They implored Him to leave.”
9:1-8—Paralytic / sin “Your sins are forgiven…get up…and go home.” “Scribes…this fellow blasphemes.” “Crowds…awestruck and glorified God.”
9:18-26—Dead girl / bleeding woman “Woman was made well…girl got up.” “Crowds…laughing at Him.” “News spread throughout all that land.”
9:27-31—Blindness “Their eyes were opened.” “See that no one knows…” “But they went out and spread the news.”
9:32-34—Mute, demon-possessed “After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke.” “Crowds…amazed.” “Pharisees…He casts out demons by the ruler of demons.”
9:35—Every kind of disease and sickness “Healing”  

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