Thursday, May 21, 2009

Matthew 9:27-31

BibleImage by Darren Hester via Flickr

I would like to talk with you this morning about healing. The real stuff. We live in a time of great skepticism. Rightly so I would add. There are many around us that are engaged in deception. It seems that many are in it for themselves. We become untrusting of anything and at times we become so hardened that we even begin to doubt God and His power. Today's scripture stands in stark contrast with the mood of our time. I hope that I can get out of the way enough in this sermon that you would see the hope that Jesus Christ has to offer your life.

Lets read:

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they answered Him. 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith!” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus warned them sternly, “Be sure that no one finds out!” 31 But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout that whole area.

Matt 9:27-31 (HCSB)

Jesus had just performed two amazing miracles. He had healed a woman that had been bleeding for a long time and just raised a young girl from the dead. He was heading to a house. It was most likely Peter's house as they were accustom to stay there when they were in Capernium. On his way to Peter's house two men who were blind approached Jesus.

I think of our own lives. How often we hear about what Jesus has done in other people's lives. It seems like God is always moving in other's lives. Then when it comes to our own lives then we are blinded by our circumstances. I think that we look at the things around us and say, “This is too much.” At times we come to the end of our own ability and then despair sets in. Proverb 13:12 says, “Delayed hope makes the heart sick.” Heart sickness is pervasive in our time.

Consider the recent swine flu epidemic. We have over the last several weeks been subjected to every kind of analysis of the threating pandemic that faces our world. We have seen communities in a panic. However, when we look objectively at what has happened over the last month then a different picture is painted. In the last month (in the United States) only 4 deaths have been linked to swine flu. I out of curiosity looked up the CDC stats for death rates. Based on 2005 numbers nearly 170 people a day die from complications of flu and pneumonia. Stated another way if we can assume that the numbers are similar to this year we can say that compared to the regular flu the amount of people that died from the swine flu would account for a fraction of a percent of the total flu deaths.

Let's face it that anxiety did not come from the legitimate threat of illness. I also would say that it did not come from the news media, though they had a hand in fanning the flame of our anxiety. Anxiety is a heart sickness. Proverb 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man's heart ways it down.” You see fears and doubts come from within us. We are so materialistic in our day and age that if it cannot be seen, quantified, or felt then we doubt the very existence of the thing. When it comes to our relationship with God then this becomes a serious issue because God transcends being seen, quantified, or felt when doubt is present.

Let's look back at these verses in Matthew. The two men were shouting, “Have mercy on us.” How often we come to God with a request for his mercy. We desire that God would look our way and show his compassion on our miserable situation. We desire that God would make a way for the physical affliction that we are facing. We wrestle with the desire to see God turn a loved one around. We long to be delivered from that sin that keeps us in bondage. We fight through the pain hoping that God will some how touch and heal our body. Lord have mercy on us we pray.

Then these two say, “Son of David.” It is interesting to note that throughout the book of Matthew and Luke that this phrase “Have Mercy on me” seems to always be connected to the three words, “Son of David.” The phrase Son of David is a very important term. It is a designation of the Jesus Christ as the anticipated savior of the Jews. The idea of one who would come to save them was a significant part of Jewish thought in Jesus' day. These two were identifying Jesus as the savior of the Jews. The believed him to be this promised messiah. The term “Son of David” was based on prophecies written in the Old Testament that a new king would come from the line of David to rule forever (Is 9:7; Jer 33:17). Think about that for a second. This humble carpenter form Nazareth was being addressed as the new king of the Jews by these two blind men.

What can we learn from this? I think that it is important to note that these two did not approach Jesus as some sort of miracle worker, they did not seek him as a prophet of God, they sought Him as their savior. Stated simply Jesus is the savior of all those who believe in Him. Have you come to Jesus as your savior. Or are you simply looking at him as a miracle worker? Have you come to Jesus as your savior or are you seeing Him as a man with good moral teachings that lived about 2000 years ago? Is Jesus the “Son of David” in your mind? We must approach Jesus as the Christ the savior of us all if we are to go the next step with Him.

So these two acknowledged Jesus as their messiah the “Son of David.” But Jesus did not respond but continued on to the house. I do not pretend to understand why Jesus continues to walk by and not heal them in that place. Some commentary says that at this point the crowds were becoming so overwhelming that Jesus could no longer heal in public. Some indicated that he was not ready to be exalted to the place of kingship. I think there might be a deeper more personal meaning here. Jesus walked by and continued to Peter's house. The blind men followed Jesus in spited of their continued blindness. Without healing they were content to follow him where he was going that they might be with him. They had hope that Jesus was not going to let them stay in their state of blindness. A few minutes ago I shared the first half of Proverb 13:12 “A delayed hope makes the heart sick” I left out the second half which says, “but a fulfilled desire is a tree of life.” Also Proverb 12:25 “Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down,” again the second half says, “but a good word cheers it up.” These men were seeking a fulfilled desire. They longed for the good word that would bring healing to their lives.

Sometimes we are in this spot between acknowledging Jesus as our savior and seeing fulfilled desire. The road between saying “Have mercy on me my savior” and when we enter into the fellowship of His blessings for us is a crisis of faith. How long are you willing to walk with the Savior in order for him to bring healing into your life. Are you willing to walk to the house with him? How about the next town? Maybe your whole life? Do you have faith that God has something better for you than what is found on the street when you happened to bump into Jesus walking your way?

So often we unlike these two are walking along in our own lives and we see Jesus coming our way and we say have mercy on us Jesus. We might even stop for a second to watch as he passes by. Even after we say man that was a wonderful encounter with Jesus. And then we continue on our way. Notice we continue on our way, not His way! Sad really. We say that we want a savior yet we are not willing to walk with him. Which direction is Jesus walking in your life? Are you know willing to be obedient and follow him? There is a Hymn that says “Where ever he leads I'll go.” Can we sing that song and mean it with all of our hearts? These two followed.

Then Jesus entered the house and presumably these two followed. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They responded, “Yes Lord.” This was their statement of faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” Being blind these two had no opportunity to be a witness of the works of Jesus. They like ourselves were dependent on witnesses to share the works of Jesus. Yet in their hearing they came to believe upon Jesus without seeing it first hand. That is faith. In critiquing the philosophers of his time Kierkegaard made the point that everyone is going beyond faith, and he asked where is it that they are going? I think that is a good question. Kierkegaard thought that “Faith is the highest passion in a human being.” I believe that his critique was the turning of faith from the proof of what is not seen into the tangible reality of what can be reasoned. Don't get me wrong. God gave us the ability to reason and the power of understanding. However, reason had no place in this setting. There is no reasonable explanation of how somebody blind can receive sight. That my friends is quite unreasonable.

Think about the circumstances that you are facing right now. Hold that thought. Now I ask you as simple question, “Do you believe that Jesus is able to do this?”

Father God strengthen our faith. Help us in our weakness and feebleness. Transform our despair into hope. Change what cannot be seen into the proof and reality of faith.

Jesus responded, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” Let me say something that is very challenging. Spiritually speaking you can only go as far as your faith will take you! Let me say that again. Spiritually speaking you can only go as far as your faith will take you! I don't say that as a criticism but as an encouragement. I have started working out for the last couple of months. When I started out I could only lift so much. I read that to grow in strength you have to add extra weight each time that you perform that exercise. The greater the resistance the greater strength is built. I think there is a good analogy to faith. Have you been working out your faith? Are you adding on to the weight that your faith might be strengthened? Is there a greater resistance now than when you first came to the Lord? Or are busy pressing the same 5 lbs that you had when you first came to the Lord? You will not grow spiritually without increasing in faith. Do you have weakness in faith? Praise God, because God is a prayer away from helping you in your unbelief. Mark 9:24 says, “Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”” This man was seeking a healing of his son. He had enough faith to come to Christ and yet was aware of doubting that was within. He asked for help and was granted this measure of faith. You see God is a rewarder of those that seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” Let us grow in faith that God may take us into greater things as we humbly walk with him.

This story has a sad note. To be sure the two blind men received the healing from blindness that they were seeking. Jesus then gave them specific instructions to not tell anyone. It seems a strange thing when you look at this on the surface. But when we read Mark 1:45 “Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But He was out in deserted places, and they would come to Him from everywhere.” we find out that as Jesus popularity grew he was less able to minister to the needs of people. I speak to his humanity here. Jesus was a man and could only be that man ministering to the people around him. When the crowd became too large he had to move on.

Now it is interesting that they are told to not proclaim Christ and they go out and spread the news. We are told to proclaim and most have not shared Christ more than a handful of times and some have never shared Christ. However, can I say that the effect of this disobedience is the same. They proclaimed which inhibited Jesus from ministering in that town. We don't proclaim which inhibits Jesus from ministering in our community.

Sometimes we do not doubt God and that he is able. At times we simply do not want to obey. Faith and obedience must go hand in hand if we are going to see the power of God manifested in our lives. It is the denial of self that lead to greater measure of faith which comes from this type of obedience. Who is on the throne of your life? Self or God?

Let me summarize what we have learned from this passage. First we must approach Christ as our “Son of David,” our Messiah, our Savior and our Lord. Then we must be willing stop going our own way and walk with our Lord in the direction that He is going. Next we have to believe that God is a rewarder of those that seek Him. If our faith is weak then we must be willing to let God help us and put us through a spiritual work out to strengthen our faith. Finally we must walk in obedience to our Lord and Savior. If we do not walk in obedience we inhibit the work of God in our lives and in the lives of those around us.


dannrita said...

Great sermon, BJ. I'm sorry I can't hear you speak it.

snookdude said...

Solid! May God Bless.

Lord we thank you for our day. Please bless this message. Lord bless my brother who will be sharing the message that was put into his heart. May the Holy Spirit be BJ's guide. In Jesus Name--Amen

Charlie said...

I would like to hear you speak it also! May the mercy of God abound in your life.

Cynthia Phelps said...

My heart is filled with Joy. God's promises are forever. I only wish your grandmothers were hear to see their prayerful support come to light in the grandson they loved and believed in. God is faithful.
Love, your mother and prayer warror