“When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him.”
Very shortly before this, Jesus spoke these words on top of the mountain, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
The leper heard these words of Jesus. He was listening intently. He then sought obediently, approached reverently, and asked boldly just as Jesus had said. This man had faith.
For Jesus, here is a grand opportunity for Him to teach a lesson. He was very strategic in who He healed and when He healed. This was a time for Him to show the masses who were following closely behind these things:
There was far more at stake than his health. The leper went to great lengths to encounter Jesus. Hearing him teaching from afar, he was enamored with the authority in which he spoke, unlike any he had heard before. But the stories of healings, of men and women not unlike himself, were what set him on this path.
There is no telling how many years this man had been separated from his family and community because he was unclean. Perhaps no one had touched him in an equal amount of time. His wife, his children, his rabbi, no one could come near; banished to the outskirts of town. His skin, yes, needed healing, but much more he needed to be restored back to fellowship; he needed to belong again.
He was desperate to be clean, to be known.
And Jesus touched him.
“Be clean,” he said.
And what once was distant and separate was restored.
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 8:1-4 (day five) “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” As we look at Jesus’ encounters with the leper and the centurion, we see great faith being displayed by each of them. But don’t miss their testimony. In both of their statements, there are known and unknown statements about Jesus. The unknown- Jesus’ willingness to heal. The known- His power, His capability, His authority, His majesty and sovereignty. What is it that you know about Jesus? What have you already experienced and encountered? Will you preach to yourself those Gospel truths? (The goodness and greatness of Jesus)
“Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a habit of grace that is both proactive and reactive. It’s reactive as we encounter temptation and frustration and seek to restock in the moment… But it’s also proactive. We go on the offensive when we feed our souls in some regular rhythm before the events and tasks and disappointments of daily life begin streaming our way.”
As Jesus came down from the mountain, He was met by a humble leper. The leper demonstrated some unusual qualities. Whatever Jesus chose to do, this leper was willing to accept. Sounds like three other men in Scripture…Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. These three friends of Daniel’s were going to be thrown into a fiery furnace unless they bowed to worship king Nebuchadnezzar’s gods. In Daniel 3:17-18, these men said, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, …but even if He does not, let it be known to you O king, that we are not going to serve your gods…”
Do we have such faith? Are we willing to follow Christ, even if we don’t get what we want? Do we demand the ‘correct’ answer to our prayers? May our faith match that of Daniel’s friends and of this leper…whatever your will is, Lord, I accept it!
Your body is intricately connected to your spiritual well-being. This must be affirmed, especially against the tendency to think that valuing the “inside” means devaluing the “outside”. Such reasoning is disastrous. When the body is thought of as having little value, people will violate others’ bodies with abandon. The resulting pain in the human race is staggering: body-image issues which devastate a person, human trafficking, abuses of power, unchecked disease, and more. God values the body so much that one day he will raise it from the dead. Accordingly, Jesus told the man whose body he healed that the only way to understand his healing and to nurture his body is to steward it within the community of those who will help him remember how fearfully and wonderfully he is made.
And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Make no mistake, Jesus came to change the world. This insurgency, however, was not going to be hung up on a gospel of miracles. The true miracle is a surrendered heart that is ready to worship Jesus regardless of what would happen next. Jesus sends this healed man to worship as was the custom. Yes it was incredible. Yes it was a miracle, but Jesus was more concerned with a heart ready to continue in the faith and serve as the Spirit will lead. Is this your testimony.
Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Matthew 8:1-4 in our New Winter Sermon Series: “Miracles” The Gospel of Matthew.
How fitting that we begin Advent with the story of Jesus’ temptation? O Come, O Come Emmanuel. God with us. This month we celebrate the arrival of our Savior. We will celebrate His miraculous birth with images of the Christ Child, a sweet little Baby lying in a manger. This is the reason for the season! Our passage this week shows us this Incarnation in a different image. God not only came to be with us but came to be like us. Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” The virgin birth is only the beginning of the story. Jesus was born fully man, fully God with the anticipation that He would overcome sin and death, so that He could become our bridge to the Father. This was the plan of Salvation. This is the reason for the season!
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
Jesus faced the full arsenal of the accuser. He knows what it is like to be weak and tempted in every respect as we are. More than any other, this story highlights for us Jesus’ humanity, and thus His sympathy towards us. While he had every ability and opportunity to overcome his weakness through His divine power, He endured the accuser in His humanity so He could identify with us in our weakness.
This has a profound result, even though Jesus is without sin, the Bible says He is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. This means as we face temptation we have a safe place to go for help without fear of condescension or condemnation, but instead we receive what we need, mercy and grace.
Jesus will not reject us in our weakness; He’s been there, he knows what it is like. We have a sympathetic savior.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Three times in this passage Jesus answers, “It is written”. When do you suppose Jesus first heard or read these words from Deuteronomy? How many times do you think He read and reviewed them? In His culture and religious context, we know He started when He was a young child being taught the scriptures. And that He reviewed them regularly.
1) God knows the future. He will bring to your attention and heart the scriptures you will need for spiritual growth and strength.
2) Scripture absolutely does what it says it can do- BATTLE SIN- “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”
PREPARE & EQUIP BELIEVERS– “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”
1) Parents/Grandparents, whatever the age of your children start now helping them read, speak, and hear scripture regularly.
2) Adults/Teenagers/Older Children, make time in the scriptures (reading, speaking, and learning) a priority. They will be more valuable to you than you could ever know.