On Sunday, July 5th we held an outdoor gathering where live-streaming was not feasible. We tried to record the audio of the time spent in Matthew 9:18-34; however that recording failed. So, Pastor Paul turned his teaching notes into a written piece for those who were not able to join us on Sunday. Please forgive improper grammar and typos as spoken notes were converted to writing fairly quickly.
A young girl who passed away: restored to life.
A woman with a long-term illness: restored to health.
Blind men: sight restored.
A mute & oppressed man: speech & soul restored.
Jesus has the authority & ability to restore all our brokenness. But, in our life do we associate more with the restoration? Or, the brokenness?
We’ve been reading chapters 8 & 9 of Matthew and noticing a back and forth rhythm of powerful miracles & calls to discipleship that Matthew has curated.
8:1-17 :: Jesus heals the marginalized 8:18-22 :: Consider the cost discipleship 8:23-9:8 :: Jesus calms the disturbed 9:9-17 :: Follow Jesus & Fasting 9:18-34 :: Jesus restores the broken 9:35-38 :: Give your life to Kingdom work
This past Sunday we saw Jesus miraculously restore the broken and we considered these stories more closely through this outline:
Disciples are people who find themselves in a repeated pattern of faithfully finding the things God reveals, responding to them, and then reflecting that to others.
The important, essential first step in discipleship is finding, seeing, listening, seeking for the things God reveals. More specifically, disciples keep returning to & seeking for Jesus. Our transformation always starts with Him. Our faithfulness is compelled by Him. Our hope reorients to Him
We must, if we are disciples of His, have a regular diet of hearing Him and seeing Him. Each of us must own this for our self and exhort it for each other. Our discipleship will stall if we are lazy with this step.
Pause & Consider: How are you doing with consistently seeing & hearing Jesus? We tend to see & hear Jesus most consistently in reading the Word, listening to others, and in prayer. How are you doing with these in your life?
From this passage in Matthew, there are two things I see about Jesus: He has authority & He is the Answer.
The authority of Jesus is on display from Matthew 5 all the way through the end of chapter 9. In chapters 5-7 we have the Sermon on the Mount and we should feel Jesus’ authority to teach us and change our minds.
Then in chapters 8 & 9 we see Jesus heal sicknesses and disabilities, calm stormy sees, cast out demons and forgive sins.
His authority over the natural, physical & spiritual world is on display for us to see and change our lives.
In these stories we see Jesus’s greatness; He has the authority over every aspect of our lives. We also feel His goodness; He has the heart and desire to restore every aspect of our lives too.
Seeing & believing this about Jesus can have a monumental impact on our lives.
Pause & Consider: Where are the places where belief in Jesus’ authority for your life change the way you live? Do the realities of His greatness & goodness push back against your fear and anxiety?
I believe Matthew wrote this book to lay out sufficient evidence for faith that Jesus is the long awaited for and promised King & Messiah of the Old Testament. This was as true at the time of its writing as it is today.
In short, Matthew wants us to see Jesus as the answer to all the promises & prophesies of God. Consider just this one short prophesy:
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
Blind eyes opened to see. Deaf ears start hearing. The lame leaping. Mute mouths no longer silent. This promised work is the work of Jesus. He is the answer and Matthew wants us to make that connection.
Jesus has the authority to restore us. Jesus is the only answer for full restoration.
Matthew, the little girl, the woman, the blind & mute men saw Jesus. They felt his powerful presence. They experienced His authority to heal. They witnessed Him to be the answer.
But what about us? Do we associate with their experiences of restoration? Or, do we more closely associate with their long-suffering through the brokenness of life?
It is likely, day in and day out, we more closely associate with death, long-standing illnesses, disturbed souls, and anxious hearts. We may associate with the desperation in these stories. The loneliness. The isolation.
We can associate with the need for restoration, but may wonder why we don’t associate with the experience of restoration more abundantly.
Here are a few thoughts to encourage us to trust that Jesus still has the authority and is still the answer for us too.
Who He was for disciples then, remains who He is for disciples today [Hebrews 13:8], even when circumstances within us and around us feel like He has forgotten us and left us in our brokenness.
In Matthew 8 & 9 we see a key element that moved Jesus to act. It was the faith of the people around Him. Several times we are told by Jesus things such as, “Your faith has made you well.” (v. 22), or “According to your faith, be it done to you.” (v.29).
Faith is the key. Not dumb luck. Not the right prayer. Not the exact right words.
Faith is the idea that something unseen & not felt is as real as the seen & felt reality. It is holding a conviction based on things that are not seen. Faith believes Jesus can restore, even though we may remain broken. And sometimes, Jesus graciously & powerfully converts our faith to reality.
So, though we may closely associate with brokenness, we can also cling to association with faith. That despite our circumstances, Jesus remains our only, ultimate answer.
The component of time is important in these stories. The little girl had just passed away. The woman was ill for 12-years. We aren’t told how long the blind or mute men suffered, but it was likely for some notable length of time.
We tend to read ourselves into these stories at the healing moment — and wonder why we don’t experience the same thing. But maybe we are not at the healing moment yet. Perhaps we are in year 2 of a 12-year illness.
That doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t have the authority or ability to heal us; He does. However, it could mean that He has us in the broken chapter of our story for longer, so the pain may cultivate in us a desire for His presence to comfort not just His power to restore. He has power to heal. He also has grace to comfort when pain lingers. [2 Corinthians 12:8-9]
So, let us not to be too quick to read ourselves into the healing moment and then withhold our faith when that delays.
Pause & Consider: Specifically, where in your life could faith feed your patience & endurance? Can you share this with a trusted friend so they can help bear your burden [Galatians 6:2]? Community is critical for the hope of our faith.
Something has stood out in the collection of these healing stories of Matthew 8 & 9: The sick have friends that bring them to Jesus.
In Chapter 8, a Centurion goes to Jesus on behalf of his servant. In Chapter 9, a paralytic was brought to Jesus by his friends, and a father pleads with Jesus on behalf of his daughter. In Matthew 8:16 we are told “they brought to Him [Jesus]” many who were afflicted & ill.
This is an invitation for us to this truth: Others can experience healing, peace, restoration because of our work of bringing them to Jesus.
We tend to be so focused on our own physical and spiritual battles — but these stories call us to stop navel gazing and consider: Who do I know that needs to be carried to Jesus? Who in my life can I plead with Jesus in prayer to move and act on their behalf?
It is a beautiful, communal truth that our faith can be agent for someone else’s healing.
It is my hope for our church, that even while we fight our own battles, we are a family who carries the sick, lonely, sad, despairing, isolated, and anxious among us to the feet of Jesus begging, pleading Him to restore them. We cannot wait until we have nothing dire to pray for for ourselves to begin the work of praying for others.
Jesus didn’t just heal those He sought & found. Jesus didn’t just heal those who could carry themselves to His feet. Jesus also healed people that were brought to Him, by others. We must see this and sacrificially act likewise.
Pause & Consider: Commit time this week to earnestly pray for others around you (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers) who need the healing power of Jesus in their life. Plead with Jesus on their behalf.
My guess is that when we see & witness Jesus heal our friends, even if not our self, it can build our faith that Jesus still has authority & is the answer.
Seeing & caring for others in the midst of our storms, will bring healing for them and deeper faith for us.
Let me close by drawing out a spiritual truth that parallels these physical healings, quoting James Montgomery Boice who wrote this about this passage:
“Why does Matthew include these stories of healing here? The reason is his understand of what these healing stories are to teach us. If we see rightly, they teach what is involved when Jesus saves men and women from their sin — not just heals them from physical ailments. The physical portrays the reality our spiritual conditions — we are all unclean, isolated, hopeless, even dead in our sins — and they show that to be saved from sin we need to powerful, forgiving, saving grace of God, which is found in Jesus Christ alone.”
James Montgomery Boice
This draws my mind to Ephesians 2
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins … But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:2 & 4-5
We all can be blind to our sin. We are all dead in our sin. But God … two words that call me back to the singular answer that is Jesus Christ. For any who come to Him in Faith, knowing they are sick with sin — dead in their sin— Jesus has the authority to forgive and restore our souls.
May we more diligently seek after & more closely associate with Him & His restoration.