Matthew Chapter ★8: About faith.
★8:2And behold, a lepera came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3And Jesusb stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. I am challenged and encouraged by this leper’s heart. He approached Jesus with two things in mind. 1) Jesus is sovereign and everything is subject to his will. 2) I am undeserving of his grace but I will ask according to his mercy. I’m touched by Jesus response and further challenged to take Jesus seriously. Here Jesus’ response corresponds with the leper’s request made in humility and brokenness. Jesus responds with merciful compassion in supreme authority. “I will; be clean.” he says.
✪ Wow, what a challenge this really is when taken into consideration. What would happen if I took Jesus’ compassion and authority seriously and started saying “Lord if you will, you can make me clean”. What would change? What would stay the same? Are there things in my life that I hold onto, that if Jesus was willing to clean, I would still hold them back from him, not wanting to admit his ultimate authority?
Father, please have mercy on me. There are things in my life that I have kept from you, knowing that you would change my life if I hand them over. I thinking specifically now of my time usage and keeping my mouth shut when I feel like my opinion should be heard. Oh God, thank you for your grace over me. With these two things, time usage and opinion vocalization, please hear my prayer: Lord if you will, you can make me clean. Jesus Christ, thank you for your compassion over us, and praise you for your sovereign authority. I know there are other weaknesses and sicknesses that I can’t remember right so Holy Spirit please work in me to lay all these things down to my Lord Jesus Christ and submit everything to him. Thank you again Father in heaven, you are a very good and merciful and powerful dad and I am your very humble and broken servant. The pleasure is all mine.
★8:5When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I too 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, and to my servant,c ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israeld have I found such faith. Did you see that?!? Again! “When Jesus heard this, he marveled“, that is something pretty special. What is Jesus marveling at? What is the centurion doing right? Again Jesus sovereign authority comes into play here. The centurion acknowledges Jesus true Lordship, he is sovereign even over disease! There is nothing outside of Christs authority, nothing! There is only one other place where it says Jesus marveled and again it is in regards to faith, but this time it is not a model I would want to follow. ★ Mark 6:5 “And he marveled because of their unbelief.”
★8:11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is a warning to those who practice religion. Because the centurion was a gentile he was considered by Jewish people as unclean and unfit for God. The Israelite may considered themselves to be clean and Godly and worthy of God’s highest affections because they practiced their religion with such intense legality. But here Jesus makes a bold statement proclaiming that religion, not race, nor any other thing will justify you before an almighty, holy and righteous God. I paraphrase “People from every race and background with be at the party in God’s house with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But you religious types; I won’t be seeing you there. Just because you’re Dad is there doesn’t mean you are! The religious types around Jesus may have wondered at that time “Well how come Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob get in but we get punishment? We practice the law with much more passion and conviction than they. The answer is faith! Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the centurion all put their faith in God’s sovereignty and mercy!
✪ The lesson here is to understand that we cannot earn salvation, yet we can obtain in. It is given to us by a powerful and merciful God, our Father. This is important for us to remember because our proclivity is to try and pay God off, thinking him that we can force him into a deal, “If I’m good, you must give me what I want”. NO! Our only hope is to appeal to God’s mercy and have faith that he is powerful enough to make a way for us, despite our high treason.
★8:14And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15He touched her hand, and the fever left her… & 19And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” This says something about Jesus. His compassion exceeds his sorrow. What a challenge. Oh God, this is truly one of the hardest to admit. When I am sad, miserable, I become selfish. I have considered it my right to throw away compassion and feed first my own desires, which usually at the time is to sulk and wish justice to fall on whatever it is that makes me sad. Now as I read this, I can see the same happened to you. You were sad, you were miserable, but you didn’t succumb to self absorbed pity. You continued to give, you continued to labor over your bride, tho the fruit was slow in growth. Even though so many turned away!
✪ So how does that work out for me? Oh bother, what a challenge. Oh Father, please pour out your grace and Holy Spirit over me. I want to be like Jesus. I want to die to myself. But I am weak. You are strong God. Please change me!
★8:23And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” This story stays in the isles of faith, but now we’re seeing the lack there of, rather than the marvelous faith of verse 10. While reading this verse I admit that I first considered the disciples anxiousness to be pretty acceptable, I can’t see myself being any less anxious. However Jesus calls them out and is upset with them saying Why are you afraid, O you of little faith? What can be learned in contrast to the centurion whose faith was “marvelous”? Maybe this: 1) The centurion so believed in Jesus’ authority that he proclaimed Jesus did not even have to see or be at the situation to effect it, whereas the disciples doubted Jesus could even realize the danger of the storm. The centurion pleaded to Jesus’ mercy knowing that he didn’t deserve what he was asking for saying “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof”, whereas the disciples thought Jesus was going to let them die.
An interesting note: Despite the disciples little faith, Jesus still calmed the storm. He was still merciful, and he was still sovereign over the wind and sea. I think this is an illustration; Although the disciples had not shown lots of faith, Jesus’ faithful was not dependent on how good their faith was, but where their faith was. It reminds me of this illustration: As you stand on the edge of a cliff and begin to fall off, you see one branch to the left, and one to the right. You have to make a decision as to which is going to hold you, you can’t hold both. The amount of faith you have does not make the branch you choose stronger, it does not make your decision more right. The amount of faith you have does not ultimately make any difference to your survival. Only the fact that you put your faith in the right branch will determine your salvation as you fall. Whether your faith is big or little, it is not your effort that matters as much as Jesus.
★8:28And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes,e two demon-possessedf men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Signs and wonders may generate a reaction, but it does not sustain genuine faith. Genuine faith comes as a gift from God.