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Matthew 9.18-34 | Dead but for Jesus

July 6, 2014 Speaker: Sam Ford Series: Matthew | The Mission of the King (Book 2)

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 9:18–9:34

In working our way through the gospel of Matthew verse by verse, we have spent the last two months on chapters 8 and 9. Prior to these chapters, we heard Jesus preach and teach about the Kingdom of God and how citizens of this Kingdom live differently from the world. Chapters 8 and 9 are different in that they contain very little direct teaching about the Kingdom, but a number of miraculous demonstrations of the Kingdom. But the miracles of chapter 8 are different than chapter 9. Chapter 8 dealt with people nobody WOULD touch but Jesus. Chapter 9 deals with people that nobody COULD touch but Jesus.
There is a common thread that runs through both chapters—FAITH. In 8.10, as He honors a request from a Roman Centurion, Jesus says: “Truly, I tell you with no one in Israel have I found such FAITH.” In 8.26, when hen disciples fear they will die in a storm on the Sea, Jesus asks them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little FAITH.” In 9.2, when friends lower a paralytic down through a roof, the Bible says that Jesus “saw their FAITH” and forgave the paralytic’s sins. In 9.22, when he heals a woman bleeding for 12 years, Jesus says, “Take heart daughter: Your FAITH has made you well.” In 9.29, when Jesus heals two blind men He says, “According to your FAITH be it done to you.” Matthew didn’t record these statements in order to make Jesus’ acts miraculous. They were written to help us see the connection between the restoration of our bodies, minds, and souls and FAITH in Jesus. Healing, in every sense, does not come simply through hard work, moral prescriptions, or magic formulas. It comes through FAITH.

WHAT IS FAITH? Most Christians will answer that question by quoting Hebrews11. 1: Now FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And though this verse is helpful, it is also somewhat ambiguous as there are many things I can hope for (things I don’t see) that God never promised. The problem is that most those things I naturally hope for are things I can see with my flesh, and most of the things God promised are only seen by the spirit. Paul says: 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight (2Cor 5.7). God’s promises are not like the world’s promises. All of God’s promises were realized in Jesus Christ. Faith is trusting in God’s in the certainty of what Paul calls, “the promise of life in Christ” for yourself and others (2Timothy 1.1). Though we don’t SEE Jesus, we trust Him. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1Peter 1.8-9 Specifically, faith is living, seeing, and walking according to beliefs about Jesus. These three miracles (four really) reveal these beliefs:
• Faith is believing Jesus can restore
• Faith is believing Jesus will restore
• Faith is believing only Jesus can restore

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciple.

The record of this same miracle in the gospel of Mark (5.22-43) gives us a little more information. The man’s name is Jairus. He is one of the leaders of the local synagogue. His 12 year old daughter is deathly ill so, when he sees Jesus, he approaches falls at his feet and asks Jesus to come and heal her. Jesus agrees and begins to follow the man home. The record of the gospel of Luke (8.49-50) indicates that before he got home, someone from Jairus’ house meets him and informs him that his daughter has just died and tells him to “no trouble the teacher anymore.” Jesus never considers time walking with the brokenhearted with as waste. Jesus never views the cries of the hopeless as an interruption. Jesus is never bothered when his mission is “needlessly” delayed. Jesus turns to the devastated father and says, “Do not fear; only BELIEVE, and she will be well.” Jesus tells the man to have faith. This is emphasized even stronger in Matthew’s gospel. There the record states that the man initially approached Jesus knowing his daughter was dead. Far from a contradiction, Matthew wants us to focus on what the man believes about Jesus. Jairus says, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.”

He says, “I have lost what I love, but if you come Jesus.” Jesus I believe, I know you CAN bring life. Jesus I believe you possess the authority; Jesus I believe you possess the wisdom, and Jesus I believe you possess the power, and though the world tells me it’s over, it’s hopeless, it’s lost…BUT YOU CAN JESUS. What I have is DEAD, COLD, LIFELESS, but if you touch it Jesus, it will come alive. That man has a confidence in Jesus that should convict most of us as Christians. How many of us really believe that in our deathly situation that King Jesus can? I was reminded of a passage in Mark 9 where Jesus is speaking to a father about his demon-possessed son: And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9.21-23)

Faith believes Jesus can; that Jesus can restore to life that which has died. This isn’t a call to pray for physical resurrection; but it is another form of resurrection. My self-worth is dead, but if you come Jesus. My marriage is dead, but if you come Jesus. My joy for life is dead, but if you come Jesus. My friendship is dead, but if you come Jesus. Faith does not only believing Jesus can for you, but like Jairus, it’s a willingness to plead for others. My friend, my family member, my neighbor is dead, but if you come Jesus. Whether or not you believe Jesus can is most revealed when what is most precious to you dies. We either believe like Jairus trusting that Jesus can, or we believe like his servant that Jesus can’t be bothered with something he can’t change. With Jesus, dead and lifeless doesn’t mean dead and gone. There is always hope that the touch of Jesus will wake up what has only been sleeping.

Jesus not only CAN restore, Jesus WILL restore. To clarify, by using the world “will” I do not want to imply that Jesus will restore everything we ask Him too. Jesus intends for our faith to be one that trusts Him even when it seems that He is not “willing” to restore what we ask Him to. God desired for Paul to remain in an unrestored bodily state. He writes in 2Conrinthians 12: 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Jesus does not restore everything we ask Him to. Faith is the restoration of our dependence on Him—learning to trust Him in our weakness.

That dependence is birthed out of His willingness to embrace our shame and filthiness. As Jesus is on his way to restore Jairus daughter, a diseased woman approaches Him from behind him. She is afraid to confront Jesus face to face because she is unclean. She had suffered a discharge of blood for 12 years, meaning, she had bled from her womb for 12 years. In Leviticus 15, the law stated: 25 “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. This chronic uncleanness more than likely made her an outcast. It is doubtful she ever married, probably destitute, and certainly living with the stigma of childlessness most of her life. She was spiritually unclean, physically unclean, and socially unclean. Full of shame, she assumed Jesus would not touch her impurity; she snuck up behind Jesus to touch his purity. At the same time, she was desperate for His touch. She not only believed that drawing close to Jesus would heal her, but that even touching His cloak would cleanse her of all shame—even if it risked making Him unclean.
In Mark’s record, Jesus turns and asks “Who touched me?!” Peter the rock, with a head full of them, responds with “Ummm…you’re surrounded by a crowd of people and you’re wondering who touched you? Really?” Unfazed, Jesus turns around and the woman, in fear and trembling, fell down before Him and told him the truth. Instead of rebuking her for making him “unclean”, he says, “daughter, your faith has made you well.” Jesus reaction shows us that faith is trusting that Jesus is willing to get His hands dirty to restore us. All too often we’re afraid that I’m just too different, too dirty, or too deficient. We need not approach Jesus in fear. He knows our shame and it doesn’t anger Him like a tyrant, it grieves Him like a Father. Jesus is not ashamed of us. Jesus is not embarrassed by us. Jesus loves unclean, dirty, sinners. Jesus does not turn, run, or even shudder at our dirt. On the contrary, the cross shows us how deeply he would experience our shame so that he might remove it. Jesus is willing to get that close.

Finally, faith is not just believing Jesus CAN, but that ONLY JESUS CAN restore. Just because you believe Jesus can and is willing to restore our hearts, doesn’t mean our hearts are NOT prone to wander. We must read the story of the blind men carefully to understand this point. 27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
The title “Son of David” is a messianic title—the promised savior and King. Isaiah 35.5-6 describes the age of the Messiah as one where the “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; [the] shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy...” In other words these men believe that if Jesus was the messiah, he would have mercy on them, and restore their sight. What I find strange is that Jesus hears their cries and keeps on walking. He doesn’t stop to have a conversation with them but continues on to the house where he was staying. But the blind men follow Him, which may have been somewhat of a difficult and painful task depending on where Jesus stopped.

These blind men follow him and come to them into the house because they are convinced of something: ONLY JESUS CAN RESTORE them. If Jesus cannot help them, no one can.
When they are before Jesus, he asks them one question: Do you believe that I am able to do this? Jesus didn’t have to ask this question, and Matthew didn’t have to record that Jesus asked this question. But it is written for us to understand something about our own faith. When we encounter “unfixable problems” we don’t often consider Jesus to be the only solution. He is not the first one we turn to. On the contrary, when we have great anger or fear, we usually believe the solution is somewhere else. Believing Jesus is the ONLY one who can fix my problem means asking heart questions. Namely, has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart's functional trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight? If you are angry, fearful, anxious, or hopeless ask yourself: "is there something too important to me? Something I am telling myself I have to have? Am I angry, fearful, anxious, or hopeless because something is being threatened which I think is a necessity when it is not?" And though you know Jesus CAN fix your problem, you are not convinced he ALONE CAN, so when Jesus walks by (like he did the blind men), you won’t follow Him because it’s too difficult, inconvenient, or uncomfortable. James 4.8 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. In essence, we look to something else as a savior to rescue you from your problem. Jesus loves it when people not only think HE CAN, but that ONLY He can. These blind men see the solution to their problem more clearly than those who claim to have sight.

Faith is believing Jesus can, believing Jesus will, and believing only Jesus can. This kind of conviction should make us bold, but our “fire” is easily smothered by mockery and misinterpretation. When we believe that Jesus can, and when we believe that Jesus will, and when we believe that Jesus only can, we will experience heart restoration. And when we experience genuine heart restoration, we will begin to take all of our problems to Jesus and bring all other people and their problems to Jesus. Through the power of the cross, Jesus takes those who were once dead and makes them alive; Jesus takes those who were blind and causes them to see; Jesus takes those who could not speak and empowers them to speak to others and to God. In other words, we preach a little more and we pray a lot more. Why are we afraid to be this FAITHFUL? Fear of failure. Mockery of attempts. Misunderstanding of intent.

Restoration church, don’t like Jesus mission to restore all things doesn’t stop with our own restoration. The beginning of the book of Acts, part two of a two volume set written by Dr. Luke says that the first volume was a record of all that “Jesus began to do”. The book then records what Jesus does through His disciples. And He is still doing it. Jesus restored us so that we would restore others. There are others who are lepers. There are others who are sick. There are others who are possessed. There are others who are paralyzed. There are others who are spiritually dead. There are others who are blind and cannot hear God. We are the body of Christ. We are designed to touch others, literally and figuratively, in order to bring the healing of Christ. But you have to be close enough to touch.

Without question, there is something powerful about touch; but there is something infinitely more powerful about the touch of Jesus. And even if you are close enough you have to believe that your touch, whether in word or deed, has the power to do something miraculous. We have no power ourselves, but there is a power within us—Jesus. It is the spirit that is within us. That is the power that is within us. That is the hope that is within us. That is the love that is within us. That is the joy within us. That is the light that is within us. That is the mission before us.


More in Matthew | The Mission of the King (Book 2)

September 28, 2014

Matthew 13.53-14.12 | Saved by rejection

September 21, 2014

Matthew 13.31-33, 44-46, 51-52 | What the Kingdom does to us 

September 14, 2014

Matthew 13.24-30, 34-43, 47-50 | Weeds in the Church