Compassion and the Harvest

Compassin and the Harvest

Matthew 9:27-38 Preached @ Anchor Community Church on November 23rd 2014

Intro

Today we are taking a look at sort of a summary before Jesus delegates His authority to others for the sake of mission. Chapters 8+9 were demonstrating Jesus’ authority, proving He is the Promised Messiah, as promised in the Old Testament. It has been particularly favorable to the faith of the gentiles, showing that God’s intended promise was not for the Jews only, but for the nations.

Faith/Belief has been the key to this section. Faith is not the opposite of reason as some claim, but the result of reason and God’s transcendent knowledge impressed upon us. It is not the amount of our trust, but the object of our trust that matters.

Matthew afforded us 2 negative examples of faith. The first found in Matthew 8:27-37 when we see the fear that challenged the disciples faith. Circumstances can always play a role in either strengthening our faith or destroying it. A second negative example of faith was the faithlessness of the religious leaders seen in Matthew 9:3, 11, 34. The Pharisees lack “Faith,” because they have no need of faith in their minds. They don’t need anyone ro save them; they are perfectly capable to handle that on their own.

Let’s take a look at a quick recap before we move on in our passage today:

Recap

8:1-17 – Jesus’ authority over illness

8:16-22 – The cost of following Jesus (ie. Don’t follow Him for the miracles)

8:23-27 – Jesus’ authority of nature

8:28-34 – Jesus’ authority over spiritual forces (In a Pagan area)

  • This demonstrated God’s grace toward those that don’t want it
  • In spite of their unbelief, God still had compassion on them

9:1-13 – Jesus’ authority to forgive sins

9:14-17 – Jesus’ right to be treated as a King

9:18-26 – Jesus’ authority over death

The fact is, Christianity is truly a “weak” man’s religion. It isn’t based on “Good” karma or works of the person, or the boot strap mentality of much of the American version of Christianity. Following Jesus admits to faults, to sin, to a need for help. It begins with the “Poor in Spirit,” for those that can’t. It demands on dependence on God first, and then on one another.

While all of these stories of healings are real, the fact is we are all in need of healing. We are all unclean, and diseased. We are all dead and paralyzed in sin. We are all blind and deaf, and in need of God to heal our broken souls, so that we can be made whole again. We are broken people in need of a benevolent, loving King to command us to believe.

In our passage today (9:27-34), Jesus’ authority provokes the authority of the religious leaders, and shows us that ALL healings/miracles point to our Need for Messiah and our Need for Him

Note: Apostles were delegated the “Authority” to heal (10:1 cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12), while the Church is delegated authority to “Go” and be witnesses (Matthew 28:18-19). God still heals, and uses dreams and visions when He needs to authenticate who He is, but He does so in His time for His purposes.

Big Picture: The Mission of God is characterized by Jesus’ authority to open the eyes and the ears of those that are blinded to Him and His mission on earth.

Jesus came to save the lost. Jesus came to forgive. Jesus came to inaugurate His Kingdom on earth, and Jesus was motivated by Compassion (See Matthew 9:36).

Today we are looking 3 Aspects of Jesus’ Compassion and 2 Summary Statements that help us see Matthew’s purpose in this section:

From the Head…

3 Aspects of Jesus’ Compassion

Jesus’ Compassion Is Shown to Those Who Ask (Matthew 9:27-31)

In the first few verses of our passage, we encounter two blind men who honorably address Jesus as the “Son of David,” a messianic term. It’s not sure what level of theological understanding they had, but they trusted that Jesus could heal them, and they approached Him to ask Him to heal them; and because of their faith, it says they were healed.

Oddly Jesus tells them to tell no one. It is not known why Jesus wanted His healing to remain clandestine, but it certainly is quite the difference from many of the so-called modern “healers” of today. They of course disobey Jesus ad their first order of duty. They can’t contain their zeal and joy for what Jesus had done for them. When Christ truly heals a person, and removes the scales from their eyes, the desire to tell others is inherit in the result of His compassion on our lives. Verse 31 says, “They went away and spread his fame through all that district. Jesus is the only hero of the story. Not us! Our main problem is as singer/song-writer Regina Spektor sings, I’m the hero of the story, don’t need to be saved.” In the flesh, we so want to be the hero of our own stories, and spread the fame of our own names.

Our lives are changed and commissioned to “Spread His fame!” It’s about Jesus, and His glory, and when we glorify Him, we will find our glory and our joy in that action.

Jesus’ Compassion Is Shown to Those Who Don’t (Matthew 9:32-33)

The second healing is found in the next couple of verses, where a “Demon possessed” man was mute/deaf. Once again, we are confronted with an encounter with the “Demonic.” This is a spiritual situation, and reminds us that our battle is ultimately spiritual, and not physical. Whether the skeptic desire to acknowledge a spiritual world or not, we as believers must come to a place in our own lives that we understand the seriousness of the world’s condition, or we will be destroyed by our ignorance and a fear of academic opinion.

It is the secular world’s biggest mistake. They are trying to create solutions for dirty water without acknowledging how the water got dirty. They may stumble upon helpful remedies for our soul from time to time, but until they acknowledge real evil and sin, they can never deal with the root of our soul’s problem.

This man deafness was a result of a spiritual condition, that only a spiritual answer could heal, and Jesus healed it in spite of the fact He was never asked to heal. We like the deaf man are deaf to God, and thankfully, in spite of our lack of trust, and desire to know Christ, He pursues His people to heal them, and transform them.

Salvation isn’t an ascent to God, but a descent from God to us. Whether we ask or not, it is God who regenerates our deadness so that we follow Him. He relentlessly pursues those that are His, no matter if they are old, young, male, female, rich poor, white, black, wealthy or poor! It is who promises, and it is God who delivers on His promises by His might, and His will on earth, as it is in heaven.

Jesus’ Compassion Is Demonized by Those In Control (Matthew 9:34)

Quite often, when someone wants to control a situation, or an ideology, they demonize the other person, or group of people instead of allowing their truth to win over the argument. This is usually done by those that want to maintain power without putting forth any arguments that represent the “Truth” of their position.

We have seen this with different groups historically and in the present. The Nazi’s had a a whole propaganda department to popularize their position, while making groups such as the Russians and the Jews look really bad. The idea behind it is it’s easier to get people to dislike others and therefore not be concerned in regard to their fate, than it is to get people to actively lash out. This happens quite a bit too in pop culture in music videos like Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” which equates the church’s homosexuality as sin stance as the same hate we see in Russia’s anti-homosexual policy. Atheists such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have continually use ad-hominem, and straw man tactics to vilify their opponents and spew their anti-religious hate into the airwaves. However this isn’t absent from the Christian church either, who has constantly viewed the gay community, and other groups as the enemy, rather than seeing the enemy as spiritual.

Much of the latter problem, is an inherent denial of the Spiritual, and a desire to use physical, political and powerful means to maintain control and power; no different than the world’s standards for the demonization of the enemy.

As soon as Jesus threatened the powerful, He too was literally demonized by being accused of being demonic, or a witch. Hmm, sound familiar? Satan loves to demonize the work of the Lord, but God’s kingdom cannot be thwarted (See Matthew 16). Man can, religion can, preachers can, but not God’s kingdom!

That leads us to Matthew’s 2 summary statements before he changes his emphasis:

2 Summary Statements

The Current Summary (Matthew 9:35 cf. Matthew 4:23)

Matthew is writing to demonstrate that Jesus is the promised Messiah/King, And he purposely uses the healing of a blind man and a deaf man to once again demonstrate that reality. Isaiah 35:5-6 and the healing of the Blind and the Mute are signals the Messiah’s Coming/Presence. This is no coincidence or mistake for Matthew, but part of his intended ordering of stories reminding us once again of his theme that Jesus truly is the coming Messiah/King!

Note too Jesus’ motivation for His actions; Compassion! They’re our motivation too as this passage leads in to the second summary statement.

The Future Trajectory of the Church (Matthew 9:36-38)

The church also must be compelled by Compassion, as well as the church must also be compelled by God’s Mission (The Harvest). We are called toward Kingdom Works. That calling is fueled by Love for God and Compassion for others. The Harvest is “Plentiful” because it’s God’s work, not our own. It may seem gloomy, and it may seem that God only works in the west, but it is simply not true, and is evidenced not only in the scriptural promises and the clear reality that the shift went from one nation (Israel) to the world (Gentiles) in the New testament, but it can be seen in regard to God’s amazing electing work throughout the world. We can become wary, and for that we are called to find our rest in Christ, but the gospel is never dead; God’s mission is never over until it is over from His end, and we are called into that mission for His glory!

…to the Heart

I believe we live in exciting times. Communication is ever increasing, national lines and boundaries are blurring, the world is coming to America, which gives us great hope that God is moving. We are seeing for the first time that the west/north is being supplanted by the east/south in conversions and zeal for the Lord. We are seeing tribes that never heard before, coming to Christ, because God is a pursuer of those that are His!

Secondly God is calling us as His people to join the harvest like never before, because the harvest is VERY plentiful, but the workers are few. I pray that as a church, we answer God’s call to “Go” whatever that means for us as a church and as individuals, and that we would begin to see God’s mission, as more important than the church’s and ours as individuals. I pray that we would become people that would sacrifice for the sake of the call and His gospel, and that we would partner with Jesus and the gospel to His fame and our joy!

Questions To Ponder

  1. What does it mean to “Spread His fame through all that district?”
  2. In what way are we called to do the same thing?
  3. What stops us from spreading Jesus’ fame to the nations, or to our own “Districts?”
  4. How do we often justify our rejection of clear biblical truth; like be His witness to “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the outer parts of the earth?”

For Further Reading

A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener

The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins

The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti

Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson

 

 

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About Anchor Long Beach

I'm the lead pastor here @ Anchor Community Church. Check us out @ http://www.anchorlongbeach.com and on Sundays @ 10:30 @Gant Elementary across the street from Long Beach State. I love sports, philosophy, theology and discussing interesting topics. So here are some of my thoughts, I hope to hear some of yours, but be nice :)

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