Friday, January 18, 2019

Devotional: Jesus Calls Sinners Into Service #2, Matthew 9:27-38

The rest of chapter 9 continues the narrative about Jesus' miracles with an emphasis on his authority over sickness and death, and his ability to bring the outcast, the unclean and the gentile into the presence of God through forgiveness and cleansing. Jesus' ability to heal paralysis, bleeding, blindness, dumbness, demonic oppression and even death is evidence for his ability to overcome evil, sin and separation from God. Jesus was reaching out and touching these disabled outcasts, healing their disabilities and strengthening their weaknesses to prepare them for service in his kingdom. This is how he was answering his own prayer for kingdom workers. This was something new which the religious establishment was not willing to accept. The one that the scriptures spoke about, who would take on the pain of the curse and defeat it, was there and it was time to embrace Him and leave behind unbiblical tradition and that which was no longer relevant. The king was there and true disciples would listen to him, obey him and spread his message and compassion wherever they went.
The healing of the two blind men and the demonically oppressed mute man (9:27-34) is the other half of the evidence, (corresponding to the healings of the two women in 9:18-26) in chapter 9,  for Matthew’s point that Jesus is able to forgive, heal and restore sinners and make them into kingdom workers and effective servants. The only requirement to receive this blessing from Jesus is to come to him in faith, Sometimes, as with the paralytic and the dumb man, they are in such a bad state that they must be brought to Jesus. The two blind men come to Jesus expressing their faith in him as messiah. It is interesting that Matthew has blind men confessing Jesus as messiah even before Peter. The dumb man is set free from demonic oppression instantly. This was something unprecedented. Only Jesus was able to make the blind see and free people from demonic oppression. Jesus will build his kingdom from sinners who are saved, healed and enabled to serve.
There are two basic reactions to this miracle. The crowds marveled but the Pharisees ridiculed Jesus. No one could deny the miracles that were being done right before their eyes. The scholarly pride of the Pharisees refused to believe that God would work outside their own narrow tradition and  in ways they did not sanction. That attitude received Jesus’ strongest warning and rebuke. The crowd’s reaction was also inadequate. They recognized that God was working but they had not yet made the faith response like the blind men who “went away and spread Jesus’ fame through all that district.” Jesus wants followers who will do what he did. “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” (9:35) He did this because he had compassion for everyone he encountered, This is our calling: to take the compassion and healing of Jesus that we have received and pass it on to others. If you have been touched by Jesus, you now have the capacity to touch and minister his healing to others.
Jesus wants workers enabled by him to take his message and blessing to the world. Our inadequacy is never an excuse. If Jesus can make blind people see, dumb people talk and free the demonized, he certainly can enable you to serve and represent him. We must do more than sit in our churches and marvel at who Jesus is and what he has done. We must take Jesus compassion, healing and blessing to the world.

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