“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-52

While Jesus was teaching those things that we have been looking at for the last two or three articles, a desperate ruler approached Him. The ruler's daughter was presumed dead! This is how it reads: "While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did His disciples. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned Him about, and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, He went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land" (Matthew 9:18-26). The ruler came to the right Person. The next thing to note is that he worshipped Jesus. Add to these two factors, the fact that he had complete faith that Jesus could restore his daughter to life. Jesus went with this man. On the way to the ruler's home a woman that was diseased with an issue of blood for twelve long years, believing that if she could touch even the hem of His garment that she would be healed, came up behind Him and touched His garment. Jesus did not scold her. Right in the midst of a tense situation, He took time for her. Instead of being stressed over the delay, He commended and rewarded her faith. When He arrived at the ruler's home, He told them that she was sleeping and was not dead. They laughed Him to scorn. After they were ushered out, He took the girl's hand and brought her to her feet fully restored. His fame was spread throughout that land. Jesus' ministry was to individuals, as well as to crowds. More wonderful things followed these two miraculous healings. Selah! These miracles were previews of the time when God will heal, in Heaven, the ills and hurts of all of His children. Until then, it usually takes more faith to trustingly accept a denial of healing right now, for reasons known only to God, than it does to be healed. Ron

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Hard on the heels of Jesus' explanation regarding fasting, He speaks of something that would shake up the religious establishment of His time. This information comes to us from Matthew's inspired writing in Chapter 9, Verses 16-17, where Matthew shares with us more of Jesus' teaching: "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." This was revolutionary and a threat and the religious authorities sensed the implications. The comfortable "old order" is going to give way to a new order. Life is coming to replace deadness, hope to replace religious duties and ceremonies, and a personal relationship with Jesus to replace external compliance with some system's imposed code. If Jesus had become a part of the system, it would be more of the same and would stifle what only He could bring about, namely reality instead of form. This threat contributed to the religious leaders' hostility to Jesus. They had a vested interest in the system. Their control, people's respect and possibly their income would be lost. What they failed to perceive was that nothing could be done to stop it. Selah! The modern day descendants of these religious monopolists haven't caught on either. Compliance with some group's thinking that is not solidly based on the Bible and applied the Biblical way must give way to the freedom and love to be found only in Jesus Himself! Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-50

John's disciples were perplexed. How come we're fasting and Jesus' disciples are not? It's hard to say just what was bothering them. Was it that they didn't want to fast at all? Maybe it was that they felt that all disciples should fast. John's disciples may have felt superior because they fasted, when the disciples of Jesus didn't. Whatever the reason, we have the account in Matthew 9:14-15. It reads like this: "Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." The explanation Jesus gave provides some interesting insights. As long as these questioning disciples were John's, they weren't involved closely with Jesus. Jesus, Who is the bridegroom [Head of the church which is His bride to be], was here for a limited time. With all of the experiences Jesus' disciples shared with Him, there was plenty of joy. Fasting has as one of its features that of mourning. Sadness over the plight of Israel, sadness over Israel's sinning and the consequences, sadness over no apparent help in sight may have prompted the mourning. However, the answer to all their needs was here on earth in the person of Jesus. In His presence is joy! Jesus' disciples, having been very close to Him for approximately 2-3 years, were going to feel the loss of that priceless personal Presence. It is then appropriate to mourn and fast over the loss. Selah! It is more than noteworthy that although He is not with us physically right now, we have a Spiritual intimacy that even surpasses the physical, until that glorious time when we, who are His, shall enjoy both physical and Spiritual closeness for all of eternity. Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-49

I remember a preacher one time telling about this man who testified that he was saved and sanctified. The preacher went on to say that he should have added petrified. Some Christians today should perhaps add insulated. How much real contact do we have with the unsaved? I don't mean greeting them in passing; I mean some real involvement in their lives. Wait, aren't we supposed to be separate? I'm not suggesting that we be involved in their lifestyles or attitudes or wrong activities. If we don't invest some time with unsaved folk, how will they hear? But what if they lead me astray? If we have developed our convictions from the Word and not someone's input; if we are developing in discipleship day by day, we should draw adequate strength from God to be in the world but not of it. (Local churches have an obligation to gound people in the solid doctrines of Scripture). Jesus provides a wonderful example of this kind of involvement. Matthew speaks of it in Chapter 9, Verses 10-13: "And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples and when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." He was not influenced by His hearers. He was impacting them in His Father's strength and by being sensitive to His directions. We must not be spiritual wimps but be cast iron in our standards and in our belief in His Word. Selah! "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:10-11). Let's do it! Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-48

"And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow Me. And he arose, and followed Him" (Matthew 9:8). One verse but loaded with significance. Jesus singled out one man. Individuals were given His attention. He saves people individually, not in groups. (Several may be saved in a group but that is not the blanket conversion of a group). This man was despised by most. The advice that Jesus might have been given: "Don't waste time on that low-life!" Jesus came to call sinners to repentance and to Himself. A man of Matthew's make-up might, upon the hearing of Jesus' call to follow, ask why he should. Instead, he followed without hesitation. We are not told what He knew about Jesus or about what his own thoughts might have been. He simply followed. Undoubtedly, God had been working on him. Jesus knew that at this very moment Matthew was ripe for the calling. Matthew likely left his source of income and never looked back. Jesus had become more important to Matthew than a lucrative income. We can never assume that someone is beyond reach. Too often, we look at "a down and outer" as beyond hope and an "up and outer" as one who would never be interested. There was authority in Jesus' Word and we have that same authority today when we wisely use His Word in witnessing to someone. How could a person like Matthew find a place of service? Well, he was God's instrument to write one whole book of the Bible. We simply don't know who is or isn't beyond reach. God does know. Our part is to reach out, in trust and dependence, and leave the rest to Him. Selah! God is in the business of salvaging even the most unlikely to be saved and when they do open their hearts and lives to Him as Savior and Lord, He transforms them into men and women of God. Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-47

Jesus took a ship and returned to his own city. Matthew records what happened in Chapter 9:2-8. "And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men." Some friends brought a man sick of the palsy to Jesus. Evidently, large numbers of people came along as well. Jesus saw the faith of those who brought the man. Can He see our faith? Is there faith for Him to see? (If not, read carefully Romans 10:17). An unusual response was made to the man's need. Jesus told him that he could rejoice that his sins were forgiven. This disturbed the legalistic scribes. They judged Jesus as being guilty of blaspheming. He challenged them. If He was claiming the right to forgive sins, He was claiming deity. That was exactly what Jesus was doing. He knew it would generate a negative reaction. He pointed out that a command to arise and walk would have been easier and safer, but they had to know that He could forgive sins. After He challenged the scribes, He told the man to rise, pick up his bed and go home. What a homecoming that must have been! Apparently, the scribes continued in hardness of hearts, while the crowds marvelled and glorified God. Often, common people are quicker to recognize the hand of God than hardened religious leaders. Selah! If we are in leadership in God's work, let's avoid, like the plague, hardness of heart. We must take a stand for Truth (God's, not ours). However, let's do it firmly and with love and sensitivity to His Word. Ron

“The Master and the Mission” in Matthew-46

Having taught His disciples a very important Truth (one which we need to keep in mind), Jesus arrived on the other shore and went into the country of the Gergesenes. Matthew recounts this for us in Chapter 8:28-34. "And when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way and, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought Him, saying, If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And He said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts." Two demon possessed men, coming out of the tombs, met Jesus. The demons speaking through the men asked Jesus what this was all about. The truly remarkable thing is that they recognized Him as the Son of God. These demons knew that He is God but sinful men refuse to believe it, all too often. The demons feared that their judgment had arrived. Hoping that wasn't going to happen right then, they asked to be allowed to go into the herd of swine. This, they were allowed to do. When they entered the swine, the herd stampeded into the sea and perished. A whole herd of swine couldn't contain the evil found in those two men! Those caring for the herd were terrified and fled. They told of what happened and the whole city came out to meet Jesus. However, they urged Him to leave their area. We can only speculate as to why they wanted Him to leave. Fear and/ or awareness that He was God, with the implications to them, may have prompted their desire to have Him leave. What an awful thing to ask God to leave us alone! Selah! One wonders if the loss of their assets meant more to them than the wonderful healing of two men who were bound in demonic possession. Ron