Power and Authority

(Matthew 10:1-4)

There is a marked distinction between power and authority. You can have the power to do something, but without the authority you are not able to do it. Similarly you may have the authority to do something but not the power. In order to be truly effective at anything you must have both power and authority.

Throughout the book of Matthew up to this point we see that the thing that separated Jesus from the scribes, Pharisees and religious leaders of his day was authority. At the end of the sermon on the mount we saw the people astonished because he, “…taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:29) The disciples too were amazed at him for he commanded the wind and waves with authority and they said, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him.” (Matthew 8:27).

Jesus himself marvelled at the faith of the centurion who came to have his servant healed, not because he believed that Jesus had the power to heal him, but because the centurion recognised Jesus authority to heal without having to be physically present. The centurion understood authority for he said, “…I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come,’ and he comes.” (Matthew 8:9) The centurion recognised that Jesus had authority over diseases and only had to say the word and it would be done even though he were not physically present with the sick person. Finally we see that the evil spirits in the demoniacs in the country of the Gadarenes recognised Jesus had the authority to cast them out for they too were subject to his command. (Matthew 28-34)

And here at the beginning of chapter 10 we see Jesus about to send out the twelve disciples, and he gave them the authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and infirmity. They already had the power to do this work, for Jesus said of the twelve that the Holy Spirit was with them and would be in them (John 14:17). It is the Holy Spirit that gives the power to do these miracles and healings. Jesus could do nothing until he received the Holy Spirit after he was baptised by John the Baptist, as he did not have the power. He further testified that, “I can do nothing on my own authority…” for his authority came from God the Father and he could do only what the Father permitted. (John 5:26-30)

Today we see some of the leaders in the churches seeking the power of God to do miracles. They believe that if they had the power to do miracles that the world would be turned upside down as it was in Jesus time and in the period of the first disciples. These men today have missed the point for the real power that God gives is the power to become the children of God (John 1:12) and that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. As to the working of miracles and healing, that is a question of having the authority of God to do those works. Men today receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as they did all those years ago and so they have the power to do miracles, but not the authority.

It is my opinion, and I stress it is only an opinion, that the reason men do not have the authority to do miracles today is because of three main reasons.

1. The purpose of miracles was to confirm the truth of the message of God (Mark 16:20) and at present that message is not fully established in the churches.
2. It is my opinion that Jesus cannot yet trust man with this authority for it would go to a man’s head. In Acts we saw a man who wanted to buy the authority of God so he could do the miraculous works the apostles were doing, and he was condemned for his desires. He wanted this power and authority for proud purposes to set himself up as being someone of importance and his heart was not right. (Acts 8:18-24). Until a man or a church reaches the level of maturity in Christ that the apostles held they cannot be trusted to wield the power nor have the authority to do the mighty works of God.
3. Finally, I believe the time is not yet right, for the Lord said at the end there would be a great invitation sent out and many would turn to him before the coming of the Lord. (Matthew 22:1-10)

Today we need to seek the power of God to become the children of God through faith, for to do this is to seek the love of God. Love will last into eternity, but the miracles will cease. When the Lord returns and his kingdom is established there will be no death, no sickness, no disease and no evil. The very purpose of miraculous healing will no longer exist, but love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

Sheep Without a Shepherd

(Matthew 9:27-38)

In the previous post we saw Jesus showing that faith was a key requirement for the people to receive healing. On several occasions he made the point that the healings they received was done according to their faith. We see now in this section that as Jesus continued his work he began to get opposition from the Pharisees and he made the point that the people were not being cared for as they were like sheep without a shepherd.

In the first section of this scripture (verses 27-31) we again see the position taken by Jesus that faith is a key to healing. Two blind men came crying aloud after him saying, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When Jesus went into the house where he was staying he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” to which the men answered, “Yes, Lord.” Jesus then touched their eyes and they received their sight.

Now the key in this section is that the men first confessed their faith and that they had the faith to be made well. It was evident they knew who Jesus was for they referred to him as the Son of David. They had no doubt heard of the miracles he had previously done, and so believed that Jesus was able to heal them of their blindness.

Jesus was not looking for glory from all the healings he was doing. He was not seeking fame or self-glorification or the praise of men, for after doing this healing he charged the men sternly to tell no-one. Jesus did this a number of times, but it was impossible to hide these wondrous things. For when these men went back to their homes and families and could now see, the people would immediately ask and wonder how such a miraculous thing could occur. And in this case the men went away and spread his fame throughout all the district. Jesus on other occasions instead said for the people to give the glory to God and that si what we should do too when we receive his gifts today.

There is a twist too that we see in the next part of this scripture. A dumb demoniac was brought to him and Jesus cast out the dumb demon and the man spoke. The people marvelled at such a thing having never seen anything like it before. But what we see also is that the Pharisees become jealous of his growing fame and reputation and they begin to stand against and accuse him. What they do not realise is that they commit the unpardonable sin in their comments saying, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” The one sin that will not be forgiven is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit as Jesus showed in Matthew 12:31-32. What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? In this case it is calling the wondrous works of the Holy Spirit or attributing the work of the Spirit to the devil. These Pharisees were saying is that Jesus was casting out demons, not by the power of the Holy Spirit but by the power of Satan…and this is blasphemy. In Matthew 12 this topic will be covered in more depth for the scriptures there are more revealing and we can begin to understand why this is the unforgivable sin.

In the final paragraph of this text we see Jesus moving about the villages amongst the people, preaching and teaching the word of God and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The truth and the power of his words were confirmed by the signs attending him as he healed all sicknesses, diseases and infirmities. Matthew wrote that Jesus had great compassion for the people for they were like sheep without a shepherd and he said to his disciples to pray that the Lord would send out people to minister to the people.

Is this any different today? There is today still a great need for the Lord to send out ministers to preach and teach the truth of the gospel. There have been many people today hurt by the church and those who should have been helping and protecting the flock, but instead used then for their own gain. There are preachers today who distort the words of God and the Bible to justify their own ends and to seek advantage over others. This should not be so and the Lord will judge those people accordingly. Are all the teachers and preachers today like that? No they are not, but it is often difficult to tell the good from the bad. For as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

If Satan disguises himself to look good, so do his people. Jesus said you would know them by their fruits and so it is important not to blindly accept what anyone says purely at face value. We must study and learn the words of God in the Bible and ask for the Holy Spirit to come to us and teach us so that we can discern truth from error and see deceitful men for what they are. If we come to the Lord in humility and ask him to lead us, he will do so and will expose impostors and take us to where his people can be nurtured in the truth. As Jesus promised, “Seek and you WILL find.”

Your Faith has Made You Well

(Matthew 9:18-26)

At this point in the book of Matthew we begin to see Jesus teaching on the power of faith. In the next few scriptures Jesus performed several healings and miracles, and in each case pointed out that it was through the person’s faith that they were made well.

The first of these was when the woman suffering a haemorrhage came and touched the fringe of his garment. She believed and had faith that the power of Jesus was such that if she only touched him she would be made well. In another version of this section (Mark 5:25-34) we see that Jesus was not even aware who the woman was when she had touched his garment. He perceived that power had gone forth from him to do a healing, but did not know who it went forth to and asked, “Who touched me?” When the woman realised she could not hide she fell at his feet in fear and trembling, explaining her situation before him. Jesus again said, “Your faith has made you well,” showing that it was on the basis of her belief that she received this healing.

Likewise in this same scripture we see Jairus who was one of the rulers of the synagogue of the Jews who in desperation came to Jesus to heal his dying daughter. Now Jairus was taking quite a risk for the Jews had agreed that if anyone should confess that Jesus was the Christ they were to be put out of the synagogue (John 9:22). And yet here we see this ruler of the synagogue showing his faith in Jesus to be able to heal his daughter. It is evident from this and other scriptures that there were rulers of the synagogue who did believe Jesus in spite of the general opposition from the Pharisees and rulers (Note that Nicodemus in John 3:1-2 was also a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee, but he too came to Jesus and confessed his faith to Jesus). Jairus’ daughter died and while others told him not to bother Jesus any further, Jesus said to Jairus to only have faith. When he had come to the house of Jairus he went into the girls room where she lay dead, and taking her hand he raised her back to life. Again this healing was performed because the father of the child had faith and called on the Lord to help.

Faith is fundamental to come to Jesus for anything, whether it be healing, learning or life. Without faith we cannot receive any of God’s gifts for they are all based upon faith. In order to receive anything from the Lord we must first believe and then go to him convinced that he can do what we desire. As it says in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” If we do not believe, how can we receive? The whole of that chapter in Hebrews 11 is devoted to the many men and women of God who through faith in God did and received many wonderful things. Faith is the key to coming to God as it was truly said by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we, “Walk by faith, not by sight”

Fasting in the New Covenant

(Matthew 9:14-17)

Jesus is approached by the disciples of John the Baptist and asked why his disciples did not fast like they and the Pharisees did. Jesus then used this teaching to show that the New Covenant was a new teaching and fasting under the New Covenant was quite a different matter to the Old Covenant.

Fasting in the Old Covenant was a process employed for many reasons. There were four appointed fasts under the law of Moses that were strictly applied as well as a fifth fast that was less strictly applied. Typically fasting was a form of abstinence, usually from food or drink, for a period of time. Fasting was also not an end in itself, but was a purpose or means to an end. Often fasting was seen in the Old Testament as a mechanism for a person to draw near to God for a specific purpose. As an example we saw King David fast to come before God in the hope that God would heal his child and prevent his death. (2 Samuel 12:13-23) Esther also proclaimed a three day fast among the Jewish people to come before the Lord on her behalf before she went in to approach the King on behalf of the Jews. (Esther 4:10-17) There are other examples, but the key to these fasts, both individual and of the whole community, were that the fasts were targeted towards a specific purpose and to seek out God.

In addition to the appointed fasts, there was also a practice of personal fasting when an individual would abstain from food or some other pleasure so as to come before God. They would fast and bring their prayers to the Lord during the period of fasting. The practice of fasting twice a week arose and became a custom although there was no scriptural basis for this practice in either the Old or New Covenants.

Fasting in the New Covenant is only occasionally mentioned and does not appear to be a strict condition or requirement under the New Covenant, unlike the appointed fasts ordained in the law under the Old Covenant. A problem had arisen in the practice of fasting in the New Covenant period as Jesus mentioned this in several of his teachings. We see in Matthew 6:16-18 that some people would disfigure their faces and look dismal when they fasted so that people would see their situation and perhaps commend their abstinence or look upon them as being pious. Rather, Jesus counselled that they should clean themselves up when fasting so no-one knew of their fast so that when they brought their petition before God they would receive their commendation from Him and hopefully gain the answer to their prayers. We see Jesus also upbraided the Pharisees who saw themselves as better than other people for they fasted twice a week (Luke 18:9-14). But in this case the Pharisees were fasting as an end in itself. They fasted so that they could look good before others rather than trying to draw closer to God. Indeed the Pharisees on numerous occasions were upbraided by Jesus for doing the works of the law without applying the wisdom, justice, mercy and truth of the law. Their fasts were not to come closer to God but were done to look pious or religious in front of the people. It was a mark of their pride, arrogance and hypocrisy which Jesus disdained.

Now in this teaching back in Matthew 9:14-17 we see also that Jesus was showing that these were new teachings he was giving. He was teaching the New Covenant although at that time few would have been aware of this matter. He showed that there was a challenge in giving this teaching for it involved a significant change. Humans as a species typically resist change because it requires effort and leads to the unknown. He gave two examples saying that you don’t put a new patch of unshrunk cloth into a garment that is already washed and old, and you don’t put new wine into old wineskins. In both cases if you do, more damage is done to both parts of the change. The wineskins are destroyed and the wine is lost and the patch shrinks and tears making a worse hole in the garment that was being repaired.

The old wineskins and the old garment in his examples are the people who have received the Old Covenant teachings. They are comfortable with the teachings and accepting of what they understand. The new wine and the new cloth patch represent the New Covenant teachings that Jesus was teaching the people. He was saying that to try and put these New Covenant teachings into the old people would be difficult and could even be damaging to them. The apostle Paul in his letters shows the anguish and heartache he went through in his walk as he had to reject the old Pharisee teachings he was steeped in from a young age, so that he could accept the New Covenant teaching he was receiving from Christ through the Holy Spirit. So it is possible to replace the old teachings, but Jesus was showing it would not be without difficulty and in some cases loss. In many cases it is better to leave the old people with their teachings and to seek new people to learn the new.

And so with fasting in the New Covenant, Jesus was saying that this is a new teaching too. Although it was mandated in the Old Covenant it is not as important in the New Covenant. The purpose of fasting in the Old Covenant was to come before God, but in the New Covenant we have direct access to God in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said that he would be with us until the end of the age and we have access to him even today. The Holy Spirit he has given us has direct access to the Father to petition on our behalf, so we do not have the same need for fasting today as in former times.

The true fast that God sought from man was not an abstinence from food but rather to abstain from evil and to do good as shown in Isaiah 58:1-9. The fasts the Pharisees held were a sham but the true fast is consistent with the teachings that Jesus gave. There are times in the New Covenant where people did fast, however whether these are necessary now is questionable as we now have access to God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit directly. I would not suggest they either are or are not necessary and for the most part it is an individual matter. However they are not mandated in the New Covenant as they were under the Old Covenant.

UPDATE: At the time I wrote this post I was undecided about the power and effect of prayer and fasting, and while I still agree with 90% of what I wrote back then, I have learned much about this matter sincethen.

In recent times I have personally been exercising prayer and fasting over several quite serious matters. The process of prayer and fasting has great power when used correctly. It is still a valid and often necessary means to petitiong God where there are serious issues and spiritual warfare matters at play.

Fasting is not mandated in the New Covenant because under the New Covenant we are set free from ALL the law, including any that mandated fasting. But the power of prayer and fasting still exists and is still available when we need to bring sserious matters to the Lord for His intervention and resolution.

Does prayer & fasting work? In my experience, YES. It has helped to resolve several issues that were not able to be fixed by prayer alone. So while I may have sounded a little ambivalent about prayer and fasting in the original post, I am not now. Do use this process in accordance with the scriptures for your serious petitions to the Lord. It is still available to Christians and it works.

You might also like:

Old And New Wineskins
Wine Wineskins
A Chosen Instrument
The Most Important Thing
Turning The World Upside Down
Chosen By Grace

Jesus Came to Call the Sinners

(Matthew 9:9-13)

In this section of Matthew we begin to see a further expansion of Jesus’ work where he begins working not with just healing the sick, but teaching and healing sinners. When Jesus had begun his ministry he was called to account for his actions on many occasions by the scribes, Pharisees and the religious people of the day. They judged Jesus for the way he conducted himself and the things he did. On each occasion Jesus pointed out to them why he did what he did, and at the same time it showed up their hypocrisy, which is in part why they both hated and feared him.

On this occasion we see the call of Matthew who was a tax collector. Tax collectors of the day were a much disliked people for often they extorted and defrauded the people taking more than they should have. And nobody likes to pay taxes…even today. But Jesus did the contrary thing by going with the tax collectors and eating with them and other sinners. He often kept company with these kinds of people who were considered sinners and thus looked down upon by the religious people of the time.

But when questioned about this Jesus made the point saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” These people were “sick” but not from illness and diseases, but from sin. They were not necessarily physically ill, but were suffering the effects of sin in their lives. Jesus was teaching that they needed to be “healed” of their sin as he had previously healed those who had physical ailments and infirmities. So in his response to the Pharisees he was saying that in order to heal and release the sinners, he needed to be with the sinners. He needed to go to the sinners so that they could hear his words and learn what was needed so they could be released from their sin. As an example, you cannot catch fish if you don’t go to the water, you cannot buy food if you don’t go to a shop or a market, and Jesus could not heal the sinners unless he went to them and they could receive his healing words.

The Pharisees on the other hand had no desire to even associate with the sinners. They felt they were a cut above the sinners and that the sinners were a low-class citizen, unworthy of their attention or presence. Their attitudes showed prejudice and pride, whereas Jesus showed no bias and humility. Yet these same Pharisees who were the keepers of the laws of God and responsible for teaching the law given to Moses, rejected that same law in their actions and attitudes. Thus they were so often called hypocrites by Jesus for in their hypocrisy they denied the very teachings and attention the sinners needed to be lifted up from their sins. They chose rather to condemn than to build up. They used the law as a weapon against the people rather than a tool of education so that the people could learn and understand the wisdom of the laws of God.

Jesus did the opposite to the Pharisees. He came and taught the people words of truth, and gave them an even better way forward than existed in the law. For Jesus did not just teach the people about the law, but taught them about repentance and the ways that would lead to life and God’s kingdom. And as he said, Jesus came to call not the righteous, but to call the sinners. His purpose was not to just come and spend time with those who were already righteous, but to seek out those who had need of righteousness and who were burdened with sin so that he could proclaim release and take away their burdens.

Finally Jesus pointed to the Pharisees the way they needed to go forward saying, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Under the law the Pharisees condemned the people for their sin. There was forgiveness of sin under the law through the process of the sacrificial offerings, but Jesus was saying that this was not what he nor God were seeking. Instead they were seeking mercy and came to give mercy to the people so they could be released from sin. God did not want burnt offerings continually from the people as a means of seeking forgiveness from sin. He wanted the people not to sin. He wanted the people to learn to live lives free from sin and to worship God. He wanted them to live with humility towards each other and in harmony with one another doing what was good and right. He did not want them to think they could do as they pleased and then come and offer their sacrifices and sin offerings as tokens of forgiveness. No, he wanted them to live “right” lives in full observance of all that is good, honourable and pleasing to God and not to please themselves.

Jesus came amongst other things to proclaim and teach the process of mercy. The Pharisees were teaching condemnation and damning the people under the law. But mercy overlooks the faults of others and recognises that as they have faults, so too do we. Mercy does not stand above people, overbearing and condemning, but it encourages and teaches people about what is good and right and true. Mercy is compassionate and loving. Condemnation is judgemental and places barriers between people. Jesus came to take away the barriers of condemnation through giving us his mercy by the grace of God, and it is only in God’s merciful grace that we can stand.

Jesus’ Power to Forgive Sins

(Matthew 9:1-8)

In the previous chapter of Matthew we saw that Jesus showed he had the power over all physical ailments, demon possession and the elements of this world. Now we begin to see the spiritual power he has to enable us to conquer and overcome the passions and weaknesses in our lives.

In this first section of chapter nine we see that a paralytic is brought to Jesus for healing. Previously we saw Jesus heal the sick and lame and so there is no question that he would have the power from God to do this healing as well. But we see now that Jesus takes a different approach to this healing than he had previously.

Instead of just saying to the man, “Rise and walk,” Jesus says to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” This is an unusual statement given that the man has come to be healed. But the lesson here is quite profound. The scribes who were there at the time said that Jesus was blaspheming by saying that the mans sins are forgiven. Their position was that only God can forgive sins, and to a degree they were correct. But they still did not understand that Jesus is both the Son of God and he IS God. So when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” he was within his rights to do so and was not blaspheming at all.

He then upbraided the scribes for thinking such evil of him. It is clear that no man on earth, and certainly not a sinner or blasphemer can say to a paralytic to rise and walk. Man does not have the spiritual authority let alone the healing power to do such a thing and the scribes as well as the people at the time knew this too. So Jesus used the power of healing in this case to prove that he had the authority to forgive sin. He said to them, “Which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” (vs.5) He knew that they knew no man could say to a paralytic “Rise and walk” and see the man healed. So using this knowledge he then said to them, “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” And the man rose and went home, fully healed of the paralysis that had kept him bedridden.

The healing was done in this case to prove to the people that Jesus could forgive sins. The healing was not for the sake of the healing alone, but to prove Jesus had AUTHORITY to forgive sins. The testimony of John the Baptist when he bore witness to Jesus was, “”Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) And in this section of Matthew we see Jesus proving he had the authority to do exactly that. In this healing he showed he could and would be able to take away the sins of mankind. This is an important point for without the removal of sin we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. No sinner will enter God’s Kingdom, but in Jesus our sins can be taken away for he has both the power and authority to do so. This matter will be discussed in greater detail in future posts or can be studied further on the website www.freegiftfromgod.com.

The Power of Jesus Conquers All Things

(Matthew 8:28-34)

When Jesus took a boat across the water he came to the district of the Gadarenes where he met the demoniacs living amongst the tombs. When these demoniacs saw him it is evident that the demons in the two men recognised who Jesus was and understood his power over them, for they were subject to him.

There were many demons afflicting these men. In the other gospel versions of this section the demons called themselves “Legion” indicating not so much a name but a number. The structure of the ancient Roman army was made up of a number of legions of soldiers. A legion was essentially a complete army which included cooks, armour bearers, smiths and tradesmen to maintain and repair equipment as well as soldiers. It was effectively and army in its own right along with all the necessary service and support personnel necessary to wage war. Typically a legion comprised of up to about six thousand men. So when the demons possessing the men Jesus met called themselves “Legion” they were most likely referring to the number of demons possessing the men, which may have been as many as six thousand evil spirits.

These demons recognised Jesus as the Son of God and were afraid. It is evident also from other scriptures that when a demon is cast out of a man it is most unpleasant for them. Matthew 12:43 says, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest…” So when the demon is cast out it is like wandering through a hot, dry and hostile desert for them and they suffer much torment as a result.

Now the demons in this case, having been commanded to depart from the men, did not wish to be tormented and so they begged Jesus to be allowed to enter the herd of swine. Jesus gave them leave to do so, but their wish was short-lived as the herd immediately rushed down to the sea and drowned and the demons would have to wander the waterless places anyway.

James wrote in his epistle that, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder.” (James 2:19) We see here in Matthew that they had good reason to believe and shudder for they knew they would receive no mercy for their evil ways and would be cast into a place of despair. Nor should they receive mercy as in this case they had tormented these men they possessed and caused them much suffering and harm. The end judgement of these demons was a just punishment for their actions.

The last few verses are interesting too. The people who came out to see him from the town nearby were greatly afraid at what they heard and saw. They were so afraid that they asked him to go away. Jesus did not attempt to force himself on them and nor does he force himself on anyone today. He did as they asked and got into the boat and left. It is interesting that even though a great sign had been performed among them, they did not want any part of what he was doing. There are many people today who say, “Show me a sign and then I’ll believe.” In reality if the do not believe without the sign, the sign may not make much impact. Jesus showed this same principle in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). For after the rich man died and went to Hades he asked that Lazarus be sent back to warn his brothers. But he was told that the brothers had the teachings of Moses and the prophets that they needed to listen to. But the rich man said, “…if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'” Then he was told that, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'”

A miracle means nothing to one who has no belief. The miracles Jesus did confirmed the truth of the message he taught, but it is the message that is most important, not the miracle. We must listen to the message and not get dazzled by the miracle for the message of Christ is what will lead us to life.

In the whole of Matthew chapter 8 we see that Jesus has power over all things. He healed the sick, calmed the storms and cast out demons all to show that his is the power from God. We who believe in him should take comfort from the knowledge that he cares for and protects us. And he also showed that no issue was too small or too great for him to handle if we only have faith and believe in Jesus.

Trust Jesus in All Situations

(Matthew 8:18-27)

Here we see that as the crowds began to press upon him as his fame grew and word of mouth got around that miracles were being performed. After seeing these things the people began to press around him wanting to be close to him and seeking more. Under such circumstances he was unable to rest and nor would the people be able to rest.

He showed this when a scribe said to him that he would follow Jesus wherever he went. This is not unlike high profile people today who are hounded by the paparazzi and constantly being followed. Jesus made this point in vs. 20 saying,”Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” There was no place he could go at that time where he would not be followed and thus not be able to get a break from the people. We must remember that although he was the Son of God, he was here as a man and suffered all the issues a man suffers including being tired and exhausted.

Jesus needed to move on & he needed to get some rest. He said to his disciples to get into a boat to go across the water. As they went a great storm arose and he boat was being swamped, but Jesus was so tired he slept through it all. The disciples with him though were in great fear thinking they would perish. They still had not the faith to know that they had the Son of God with them and he would protect them from all dangers. When you consider for a moment that he could raise people from the dead it becomes evident that a storm should have been of little concern to the disciples.

At this stage though they did not have that faith for it was still early in Jesus ministry and they were young in Christianity. They had not learned they needed to trust in the Lord and know that he is watching over them and us. So fearing disaster they woke him up saying, “Save, Lord, we are perishing.” His response was simple and showed their lack of faith, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” This was a simple enough position. They had seen the miraculous works he had just done, but their faith was still not strong enough to recognise that Jesus was God and could do anything. So he spoke to the storm and rebuked the wind and waves and it became calm. He showed them his power is unlimited. The disciples were shocked and amazed because it was unheard of that anyone could speak to the weather and change it by a word.

Through these proofs he showed the disciples that there is no need to fear the storms of the world, nor the storms of life. Whether physical matters, such as sickness, spiritual matters, like demon possession, or other things that may cause us to be afraid as they feared the storms, there is nothing that Jesus cannot and will not bring under control when the time is right.

We need not fear these things either for the Lord showed in all these scriptures that he protects and he will control these things. When we do have issues though, as the disciples feared being swamped, we need to call out to the Lord for help and he will save us. As we go through the storms of life we need to remember that we can call on him for help and that He has the power to save us from any and every situation.

The Unlimited Healing Power of Jesus

(Matthew 8:14-17)

In first part of this section (vs.14-15) Jesus goes to Peter’s house and seeing Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever he heals her. There are a couple of interesting points here in this small section. Firstly this woman was Peter’s mother-in-law which shows that he had a wife and thus was married. This was further indicated by Paul who likewise showed that Peter was married in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Some have thought that Peter was celibate but this was clearly not the case.

The second thing we see in this small section is that Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. Most fevers are associated with infection of some kind and usually not too much to worry about. We don’t know how serious this fever was or the underlying condition causing the fever. It may well have been associated with something quite minor such as a common cold or could have been something more serious. The point here though is that if this was a minor condition it shows that Jesus was concerned not with just major health issues, which were the “big” miracles, but he was also concerned with the small infirmities as well. God is not just God of the big stuff but of the small stuff too. And there is no problem too large or too small that we cannot take to him, even a minor fever from the common cold.

In the next verse (vs. 16) we see many people were brought to him for healing and to have demons exorcised and he healed all of these people. There were no questions, no requirements to be healed, no offerings given or requested. It was a matter as simple as, they came, they were sick and he healed them. All who came were healed. None were too difficult and no case was a bother to him.

Matthew then wrote in the final verse in this section (vs. 17) that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah who said, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” So we see from this and my previous posts that there were many purposes to these miracles and healings. They were a sign to confirm the message he preached, they were to fulfil Old Testament prophecies and of course they were to show the power of God.

Why Jesus Healed the Sick

(Matthew 8:1-13)
(At the end of chapter seven of Matthew we see Jesus finishes his sermon on the mount. The people having heard his words were astonished at his teachings for he taught as one who had authority. He spoke powerfully and boldly to the people all the words of life and what would be the keys to entry into God’s kingdom.
(Then as evidence of this authority he had, he confirmed all of the words through the acts that he did. This is one of the reasons he did many of the miracles including healing the sick and infirm. We see over in Mark 16:20 saying, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” The signs the disciples were given to practice included healing the sick and the purpose of these signs was to back up the ministry. Likewise when Jesus preached, his ministry and words were confirmed by the signs. No man could do the miracles he did unless the power of God was with him to do it, and so it was evidence that the words He spoke were the words of God.
(Now after finishing the sermon on the mount Jesus went forth and healed many who were ill which confirmed the message he had just given. But there are other teachings in this message as well. We see in the first section of Matthew 8:1-5 where Jesus cleansed the leper. Under the Mosaic law there were explicit teachings as to what needed to be done if ever a leper were cured of leprosy. There were offerings to be made over a period of time and they needed to be pronounced cleansed by the priests at the temple and various other practices. At the time of Jesus there was no New Covenant in effect because it did not commence until Jesus died, so the people were still under the law. Also Jesus could not be seen to be breaking the law and he would not, for he came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). So in accordance with the law he instructed the leper now healed to go and make the offerings and show himself to the priests in accordance with the ordinances on the cleansing of leprosy.
(Jesus was not making a great song and dance about this healing either. He was not doing the healings so that people would come to him and look upon how great and marvellous he was. On the contrary he typically told the people who were healed not to tell anyone but go and do as he instructed them. The point of the healings was not personal edification or gain but to confirm the message of the Kingdom of God.
(We then see a second healing in this section on the servant of a centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. This healing is different in several ways. Firstly, Jesus was prepared to go to the sick man and heal him, but the centurion said it was unnecessary to do that. The centurion recognised the power of Jesus and that if he would just say the word it would be done. He knew that the power of God was everywhere and that it did not require the Lord to be physically present for his healing power to go forth. Jesus marvelled at this centurion for Jesus saw that the man’s faith was great. This man had an understanding that many others did not. He had faith and so the Lord did the healing as the man requested and his servant was healed instantly.
(Although there were many healings done by Jesus and many miraculous things occurred, they were done for a purpose. They showed the power of God and were a wonder and blessing to those who received them, but the main purpose of the healings was to back up the words that Jesus spoke. It is the ministry that is important for the ministry and teachings are what will lead a person to life. Eventually all of the miracles will cease for they will not be required. In God’s kingdom there will be no sickness or death and so healings will not be needed. But the teachings of life are eternal. It is these that are more important and must be noted.
(Some Christians and some churches today are seeking miracles once again. It is more important to seek the kingdom. We should rather seek the truth and find the faith that will lead us into the kingdom of God as this is everlasting. Miracles and healings are temporary and of this world only, but the truth lasts forever. Focus on finding the truth that leads to God through Jesus Christ instead.