Let’s turn to Matthew’s gospel chapter eight. The fifth chapter of Matthew begins “And seeing the multitude, he went into a mountain: and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” (Matthew 5:1-2). And so we have the great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew five, six and seven.
So in chapter eight it begins,
And when he would come down from the mountain (8:1),
And so having proclaimed the kingdom of God and those conditions of the kingdom, those that will dwell within the kingdom, having now come down from the mountain, He begins to show the activities of the kingdom of God, what it will be like during the kingdom age.
We read in Isaiah chapter thirty-five concerning the kingdom age, and it declares how that the deaf will hear, the dumb will be singing praises, the blind will behold the glory of the Lord and the lame shall leap for joy. The whole kingdom is a kingdom of a restored age. As you look around the world today you cannot see God’s divine intention, when God created the world. When you look at man around you today, you do not see God’s intent when he said “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness”(Genesis 1:26) because we look around at a fallen world and we see fallen man and we cannot understand God’s original intent as we look at the world today. And that’s why many people are confused concerning God.
How can a God of love allow the things to happen that are happening in our world today, you see. But in reality the world that you see is the world that is in rebellion against God’s law, a rebellion against the kingdom of God, and it is a world that said “We will not have this man to rule over us”. You see a world of men who thought that they knew better than God how to govern themselves. And we’re looking now at the tragic byproducts of man’s rejecting God’s reign over their lives. But Jesus, when he came declared again the glorious aspects of the kingdom, and now He begins to demonstrate a foretaste of what it will be in the kingdom.
So when he was come down from the mountain, again the multitudes joined (8:1).
When He went to the mountain it was his disciples that came to Him and “He opened his mouth and He taught them saying”. The Sermon on the Mount was not for the multitudes, it was for that intimate few; it was for the disciples. There is no broad worldly application at the present time to the Sermon on the Mount; there will be in the kingdom age. But there is definite application among His who already are citizens of His kingdom. In other words, there’s an application to us because we are a part of His kingdom and we have already bowed our knee to the King.
But once again having come from the mountain those multitudes again surround Him and follow Him.
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him (8:2),
Now leprosy was a horrible, loathsome disease in those days. At that time there was absolutely no cure for leprosy. We now have medicine by which leprosy can be arrested; it cannot yet be cured but it can be arrested. They call it now Hansen’s disease, in order to get away from the stigma of leprosy. But the word “leprosy” still sort of creates a revulsion, sort of, in our minds and, you know, ostracize and leprosy in almost a horror and a fear. So they no longer call it leprosy but Hansen’s disease, naming it after Dr. Hansen who was first able to isolate the bacillus of leprosy.
So, um, this man was a man who had been ostracized from society. A leper had to cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” to cause people not to approach him too closely. If you were approaching a leper from say, a downwind position when you came within a hundred and fifty feet of him, he had to start crying out “unclean, unclean” so that you would not come any closer except at your own risk. If you were coming from an upwind position, then at three hundred feet he’d have to start crying to you “unclean, unclean” or other way around, but it was a man that was ostracized from society because of this disease.
He came and worshipped Jesus, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean (8:2).
Somehow recognizing the power of the King, “if You will, You can make me clean”.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, and said, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy left him (8:3).
Now here’s an interesting thing; number one, there are those who complain that Jesus violated the law for it was unlawful to touch a leper. And that is true. If you touched a leper you were ceremonially unclean. You could not then come into the temple of God. It would be like having touched a dead carcass until you had, first of all, gone through the ceremonial baths and so forth. But it wasn’t you know, it wasn’t that horrible in a violation of the law, but the thing is when Jesus touched him he was no longer a leper. So there is a matter of argument there too.
But the interesting thing to me is “if You will” and the response of Jesus was “I will”. Now there are some people today who object to our praying “Lord, if You will, thy will be done”. I find no problem praying that at all. In fact, I do believe that we make a tragic mistake in assuming or presuming to always know what the will of God is. And to presume that God does will healing in every case is not really scriptural. Evidently with Paul the apostle God did not will healing concerning that thorn in the flesh. A minister of Satan was buffeting him. For three times Paul prayed concerning that and the Lord finally said, “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you”(2 Corinthians 12:9).
And thus, when I come to God concerning my own physical needs I do not see it as a lack of faith. I see it only as great wisdom and tremendous faith and complete commitment of myself to God when I say “Lord, your will be done”. I have a difficult time with people who would, who would argue with that or, or would put that down. I’m not at all afraid of God’s will. In fact, I am afraid of something, anything other than God’s will for me. I really don’t want to step out of the will of God. And Paul the apostle said, My desire is that Christ should be glorified in body whether by life or by death. I don’t care. My main concern is Christ be glorified.
Now, I do believe that perhaps in most or majority of the cases the Lord will answer, “I will; be thou clean” but he may not and I must be willing to accept whatever He says, having committed myself completely in his hands. If He says, “I will; be thou clean” praise the Lord. If He says, “Well, this is for God’s glory that you might just really develop in your own walk and relationship with God, coming to a total trust in Him.
There are areas that I want to reveal to you and glories that I want to reveal to you, and glories that I want to bring into your life and lest you be exalted above measure because of this glory that I’m going to bestow upon you. It’s, it’s really necessary that you experience this weakness of your flesh to be constantly reminded of your human nature because I’m going to bring you into a dimension and into a realm that is just, you know, so far beyond.
I say well, praise the Lord. Thy will be done, you know. And I find no problem with that at all. But to the leper Jesus said, “I will; be thou clean”. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Now Jesus commands him to,
tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (8:4).
Now, that is interesting to me that even in the law of Mosses there was provision for the curing of an incurable disease. And in the law of Moses it declares, “Now this is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing” (Leviticus 14:2). So God made provision in the law for him to do a work that is contrary to nature; that is the healing of leprosy. And so even in the law, God made provision for the leper in the day of his cleansing for the miraculous work of God in his life.
And in the day of his cleansing he was to come and to bring this dove, two of them actually. And one was to be killed, the blood put in a basin and the other one dipped in the blood and then turned loose and it was to fly off. And the leper would go through this ceremony of cleansing, but it’s a beautiful ceremony of just that, you know, whole new freedom in life that you have when God has worked his miraculous power in your life.
So the Lord said go ahead and follow the law. Go to the priest and go on through the rite. Let the priest examine you, set you in this house for seven days, examine you again and then proclaim you clean and then bring the offering and all. And the Lord told him just go ahead and fulfill the law.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum (8:5),
Now Capernaum is a little later on called His city. Jesus headquartered in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. And uh, I can understand why, what a beautiful place. Oh, I love Capernaum just from an aesthetic, you know. I love water and I love blue skies and the whole thing and what, you know. It’s just a pretty place. And I can understand why Jesus headquartered there in Capernaum.
He was entered in Capernaum,
and there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him (8:5),
Now a centurion was a Roman soldier. The first one that Jesus ministered to was a leper, a man who was outside of society, ostracized because of his disease. The second one he ministers to is a Gentile, one who is outside of the covenant to Israel. A Roman centurion who came unto him, begging him,
saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him. And the centurion answered and said, O Lord, I’m not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed (8:6-8).
He probably figured if he took the Lord home his wife would kill him, you know. She hadn’t had a chance to get the house ready. Uh, so no Lord, don’t come, just you know, say the word and my servant will be healed. But notice now his understanding of authority.
for I am a man under authority, [let’s see, having under] having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he come; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it (8:9).
I understand what authority is about, Lord. I am a man under authority. I am under authority and I have soldiers under me. I understand authority; there’s a chain of command in authority. I am under authority, yet I have men under me. No man can rule over man rightly who is not himself ruled. You see, if you get a man who does not have that sense of “I am under authority", be he the President of the United States, if you do not have a man who has that concept “I am under authority,” then you’ve got a tragic situation and you’ll have tyranny. But when I realize that though I have authority I am still under authority, I’ve got to be under that authority of God. No man can really rule who is not under authority and understands the principles of authority.
And so I am under authority but I have soldiers who are under me and understand what it’s all about. I can say hey, go, and he goes; come, and he comes. Lord, I know that you have authority and all you have to do is speak the word and my servant will be healed. You don’t have to come to my house. I’m not really worthy of that. You just speak the word.
And when Jesus heard that, he marvelled, and said unto them that followed, I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith, no not in Israel (8:10).
I’ve never met an Israelite that as much -- here’s a fellow coming from the Gentile kingdom, one who is coming from the Roman Empire, he’s outside of the covenant of Israel, but here he is demonstrating tremendous faith in Jesus Christ. Hey, Lord, don’t have to come, just speak the word. I know what authority is about. You can just speak the word. And Jesus went on then to predict the glorious work of God’s spirit among the Gentiles.
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven (8:11).
The east and the west, referring to the Gentile nations. Many will come from out of the Gentiles, sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now it’s interesting that when I think about heaven, I usually think of Paul and John and more of the New Testament characters. I never really thought too much of sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I’m sure that it will be a thrill indeed, but there are so many. I thought about David, that’s going to be a great one to get together with. Elijah and Elisha, I like those characters, Gideon. But the kingdom of heaven is going to be comprised, Jesus said, of many Gentiles also.
Whereas the children of the kingdom [that is the Jews] will be cast out into outer darkness: and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (8:12).
Because of the Jew’s rejection of Jesus Christ, the glorious good news of God will be carried to the Gentile world and many will come out of that Gentile world and will become a part of God’s glorious kingdom, whereas the children of the kingdom, those natural seed of Abraham, because of their rejection of their Messiah, will not enter into the kingdom.
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; as you have believed, so be it done unto you. And the servant was healed in that very hour [that time] (8:13).
Now the next miracle of Jesus was preformed upon a woman, who in that particular culture was not respected and esteemed as she is today. During those days if a woman was pregnant, when she would go into labor, everyone would gather at her home and they’d bring everything for a big party and a celebration. And when the midwife would come out and say, “It’s a boy” they’d all start celebrating and have a big party and a great time, a celebration. If the midwife would come out and say, “It’s a girl” they’d all pack up their stuff and go home.
The first one Jesus touches is a leper, the outcast of society. The second one is a Gentile, an outcast of the covenant. The third one is a woman who was looked down upon. You know Jesus never looked down on anyone, nor did he ever exclude anyone. The kingdom doesn’t exclude.
So when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, Peter’s wife’s mother was lying down, she had a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them (8:14-15).
That is she fixed them something to eat; ministered to him in a physical way, food and, and waited on Him.
And when the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and he healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, when he said, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our weaknesses (8:16-17).
In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, as he is prophesying concerning God’s servant the Messiah he said, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Now, there are those Bible scholars today who want to make that apply only to spiritual healing, but really the finest commentary you have on the Old Testament is not always those who declare themselves to be Bible Scholars today. The finest commentary you have on the Old Testament is the inspired New Testament. And here Matthew, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that the physical healing upon all of these people that were brought to Jesus as he was there in Peter’s house in the evening, and as Jesus healed them all, he was doing that, that the prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled. So, Matthew extends the prophecy of Isaiah to include physical healing as well as spiritual healing.
When we partake of communion, Jesus, when he took the bread he broke it and said, “Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of me”. The question arises, When was his body broken? And we know from the gospel that it was, the body wasn’t broken. That is, the bones were not broken. For though the Jews had sought Pilot that they might break the legs of the prisoners to hasten their death that their bodies would not be hanging on the cross on the Sabbath day. When they came to Jesus, he’d already dismissed his spirit, he was already dead. And they marvelled that he was already dead and they did not break his legs in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: Psalm twenty-two “Not a bone of Him shall be broken”.
So, the prophecy was “not a bone was to be broken”. In fact, as a type of a sacrificial lamb he could not have broken bones. So, he thrust the spear in the side of Jesus and there came forth blood and water. But yet Jesus said, “This is my body broken for you”. He must have been referring to the scourging that He was to receive when they would lay upon his back thirty-nine stripes. It was a form of inquisition whereby they elicited the confessions of the prisoner.
You remember when Paul, there on the steps of the Antonio fortress, asked the captain if he could speak to the Jews that had been trying to kill him and he said go ahead. And Paul began to say “Hey fellows, I know exactly how you feel. I felt just like you one time. Man I was really, you know, bent on destroying this new sect of Christianity. And I was actually on my way down to Damascus to imprison those that called upon the name of the Lord, when suddenly there came a light from heaven and I was uh, you know, lying there on the ground. And I heard the Lord saying, “Hey, why do you persecute me? I’m going to call you to the Gentiles”.
And when Paul said that word “Gentiles”, man, the Jews got upset. They started throwing dirt in the air, they started screaming and ranting and tearing their clothes and trying to mob Paul again. And the captain says, “Get him inside”. He’d been talking to the people in the Hebrew tongue. The captain couldn’t understand it and he said, “What did you say to those people that got them so upset?” He said, “Examine them by scourging. Find out what he said.” Paul said, “Wait a minute. Is it lawful to scourge a Roman citizen who is not condemned?” He said, “Are you a Roman citizen?” He said, “You bet I am.” The guy said, “I bought my citizenship. It cost me quite a bit of money. How did you become a citizen?” He said, “I was free born”.
But, that was the policy of the Roman government. The third degree you might say. They lay upon the prisoner thirty-nine stripes upon his back in order to get him to confess his sins, his crimes, his guilt. But as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, so he open not his mouth but there his body was broken. Now it was not just some capricious act of man it was a part of God’s divine plan. And so we must ask, Why would God allow his son to endure such torture and suffering? Isaiah tells us prophetically “with his stripes you are healed”. Peter quoting Isaiah said, “By his stripes you were healed”(1Peter 2:24).
Now, as Paul is writing to the Corinthian church concerning the Lord’s supper and their particular abuse of the Lord’s supper, He said unto them that many of them were weak and sick because they did not understand the Lord’s body. In other words, he is saying, you did not understand what the broken bread really symbolizes. “You are eating and drinking of the body of Christ unworthily. For this cause many of you are weak and sick because you don’t understand the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:29). You don’t really understand the full significance of the scourging that Jesus received where He bore our sufferings and our sickness. And so people are taking the broken bread not really fully understanding the Lord’s body and thus not receiving the full benefits of the work of Jesus Christ for us.
So, Matthew broadens that suffering of Christ to include the physical healing and relates it to physical healing, whereas so many today seek to narrow it and isolate it just to spiritual healing. I’m afraid that you do not have a solid, strong scriptural basis to try to just make it apply to spiritual healing only, the healing of sin and so forth. But there is also the application for the physical needs of the body.
Now when Jesus saw the great multitudes that were about him, he gave a commandment to depart to the other side. And there was a certain scribe who came, and he said unto him, Master, I will follow you wherever you go (8:18-19).
He’s getting ready to leave and go over to the other side of the lake. He said, I’ll follow you wherever you go.
And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man doesn’t have anywhere to lay his head (8:20).
In other words, he is saying to this fella that’s coming up on an impulse, and there’re a lot of people who impulsively say, “Oh, oh I wanna give my life to the Lord.” The Lord says count the cost. Follow me wherever I go, just count the cost. “The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nest but I don’t have anyplace to lay my head”, now count the cost. He’s not saying, you know, don’t follow me; he’s just saying before you jump on board just consider the cost. Count the cost of discipleship.
Another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first (8:21)
Now we talked to you about the inconsistencies of speech last week as we were studying the subject of the Lordship of Jesus Christ when many will come saying, “Lord, Lord” remember that? How Peter said, “Not so Lord” and we said that was a perfect inconsistency of speech. Here again, an inconsistency of speech, “Lord, me first”. Uh, it can’t be that way. He’s got to be first. “Lord, allow me first”, nope, you’ve got the wrong idea of the kingdom.
to go and bury my father (8:21),
You say, “Oh, wait a minute. That’s legitimate isn’t it?”
Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead (8:22).
Put me first, you see. Now, the chances are as the fellow’s father was in perfect health; this is a common term for procrastination. Hey I want to do it but I’m not ready yet, but one of these days, you know, allow me first to bury my father. Wait awhile until my dad dies, you know. And it’s a term of procrastination. And they use that, even though the dad was in perfect health and probably had another twenty years, but one of these days I’m going to get, you know, I’m going to get on board. Just suffer me first, take a little time. The Lord is speaking against procrastination. The idea of putting Him first; “Follow me, let the dead bury their dead”.
So when he had entered into the ship, and his disciples followed him. Behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with waves: but he was asleep (8:23-24).
Now this isn’t the first time and the only experience of a tremendous storm that arose on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus got in this little boat. And up at that north end of the lake these common -- it is a common thing to have these storms, these squalls come up. Through the valley there, that comes from the area of Haifa, there is this, there is this, a valley that comes through there and you’ll get these tremendous winds that will just come up suddenly. And I’ve watched the Sea of Galilee go from just a glassy calm; wow, what great water skiing, to a tremendous waves that will just -- waves can get nine, ten feet high there in the Sea of Galilee in these sudden squalls that’ll arise as the wind comes whistling up the Chinnereth Valley there. And so this isn’t the only occasion that this happened.
Now it would seem that Satan is perhaps behind the whole thing trying to destroy Jesus. There arose a great tempest in the sea, and so much the ship was covered with waves, but He was a sleep. And Jesus had a common practice of sleeping when he got on the boat.
And his disciples came unto him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he said unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and he rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (8:25-27)
So Jesus showed his mastery over the elements. One of the other gospels in telling us this story, tells us that Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to Gennesaret”. Now uh, that’s probably why He rebuked him for having a little faith; that they were fearful they were going to go under. He said, “Let’s go over”, when Jesus said let’s go over, there’s no way you can go under. So when they woke him up and said Lord, don’t you care if we perish? He rebuked them, said, “Where’s your faith?” Did you hear me say, Let’s go over to Gennesaret? “Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?”
And so when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two that were possessed with devils (8:28),
The other gospels tell us of the one who was probably more prominent than the other.
And they were coming out of the tombs, and they were exceeding fierce, so that no man dared to pass by that way (8:28).
Incidentally, just recently the archeologist have discovered that city over there on the other side of Gennesaret And it’s quite exciting that as they were building a new road to go up the Golan, they began to uncover this city. And so they actually moved the road up a little ways so that they could then go into their archeological exploration of this city. So now we can point with pretty much certainty the very cliff that the swine ran down into the sea because we have now discovered a city of Gennesaret over there on the other side.
And so these men possessed with devils, plural, were living there, in there, in the tombs.
And they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (8:29)
Number one, the demons possessing these men recognized who Jesus was and acknowledged who He was; “What have we to do with you, Jesus, thou Son of God?” You remember James, you say you believe God and you think that’s something big. Hey the devils believe. And notice hear they are sort of fear and trembling in the presence of Jesus they said, “Are you come here to torment us before our time?”
Now they know that their time is coming, they’re aware of that. They know that he has authority and power over them; they recognized that and it’s important that we also recognize “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world”(1John 4:40). We are in the spiritual battle but we need not to be fearful of the enemy because of that greater power of God’s spirit resident within us.
And so there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding (8:30).
Now that was an illegal occupation and industry in Israel. It was unlawful for them, according to the law of Moses to be raising swine, to have swine, to eat pork.
So the devils besought him, saying, If you cast us out, allow us to go away into the heard of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole heard of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and they perished in the waters (8:31-32).
There’s only about one steep place that leads into the Sea of Galilee and it’s a few miles away from the city of Gennesaret that has been discovered.
Now there are evil spirits that can take possession of human bodies and can control the motor functions of a human body. Jesus himself set free many people who were possessed by these evil entities, spirits. When He sent his disciples out, which we will get to, He gave them power to cast out these devils. When a person’s body is invaded by one of these evil spirits, they often lose control of their own faculties and these evil spirits are able to actually speak right through that individual.
This is not something that is just superstition, and a part of a superstition of an ancient culture, but there are quite a few documented experiences of the activity of these types of spirits even today. There are, there is a book by Moody Press entitled “Demon Experiences in Many Lands” which is a compilation of the witness of missionaries from different parts of the world and experiences that they have had with these evil spirit entities.
Perhaps one of the most classic modern day experiences, that of the girl whose name was Clarissa who back in 1947, there in the Philippines had the unusual phenomenon of going into these fits where, when she would come out of them would have these bite marks all over her body. Places where it was impossible for her to bite herself; on the back of the shoulder, upon the back of her neck and all, and blood would be drawn. They put her in the Bellevue Prison there for her own protection. And the greatest psychiatrists of the Philippines were brought by the mayor of Manila to psychoanalyze and to find out what was going on. And they came up with, you know, no explanation and no help.
Finally they called for a couple of missionaries; Bob McAllister and Lester Sumrall. And Lester Sumrall has written a book entitled “Bitten by Demons” of the story of Clarissa. Actually Life Magazine got hold of the thing and did a special on it, showing pictures of her and all, of these bite marks on her. And it was quite an interesting thing to the world of psychology and all at that time. But nonetheless, through the ministry of Bob McAllister and Lester Sumrall the girl was delivered from these demons and Clarissa accepted Jesus Christ. And it’s quite an interesting story; it’s one that you don’t want to read before you go to bed.
They recognized Jesus, they acknowledged his authority over them, they acknowledged their day is coming. It would appear that they do take some comfort in inhabiting a body that they do not like to be unembodied spirits, but they do like to take residence in a body. Now Jesus said when an evil spirit is cast out of a man it goes through wilderness places looking for a place to inhabit; a house to inhabit. And if it finds none, it’ll come back to the house from which it was driven. And if it finds it all clean, swept and garnished, it’ll go out and get seven others and say hey, got a neat place to live, you know, and bring them in. And thus the state of a person becomes worse than his first.
Um, it’s an area that I don’t relish, I don’t like. I keep as far away from it as I can, but there are times when we have had to exorcise these evil spirits. And it’s a very difficult and uncomfortable ministry of which I really have no real liking at all.
So they begged Jesus permission to go into these swine. And when they had entered the herd of swine, they ran down this steep place and perished in the waters.
So that those that were keeping the swine fled, and they went their way to the city, and they told everything, that was befallen to those men that were possessed by these devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus (8:33-34):
To hear Him? To receive Him? No.
When they saw him, they begged him that he would leave their coast (8:34).
Hey, you’re upsetting our industry. You just wiped out our profit. Get out of here. They were more interested in their own profit than they were the sad welfare of these two men. But it’s a sad thing that people would ask the Lord to depart, but such is often the case today. You upset my plans.
And so he entered into a ship, and he passed over, and he came to his own city (9:1).
His own city being Capernaum. I told you that was his headquarters.
And, behold, they brought to him a man who was sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus when he saw their faith said to the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee (9:2).
Now I can imagine that that was a tremendous disappointment to his friends. I’m certain that they had in their mind Jesus healing the guy so he’d get out of his bed and walk. And for Jesus to say, “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven” that probably was disappointing to them. It may be was even disappointing to the guy lying there. But in reality, Jesus was giving him the greater gift first.
Really, it is more important that your sins be forgiven than you be healed of your ailments. What is more important than our salvation? Nothing. My healing is not as important as my salvation. The greatest miracle God has wrought in my life is my miracle of salvation, the forgiveness of my sins. That’s God’s greatest miracle in my life, the rest is really nothing compared to that great miracle of God. Sometimes people tragically say, oh, God’s never really done any miracle in my life. Well, are you born again? Yeah. Well, hey, hey, hey. That’s the greatest thing that God can do for you. The rest is really very simple when you consider the first thing that God has done.
“Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven.” Oh, how we so often misunderstand because you see, we place a greater emphasis upon the material than we do the spiritual realm. Jesus was constantly showing that the most important realm is the spiritual realm and the material is inferior to the spiritual. So Jesus takes first thing first, the spiritual realm; “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven”.
However, there were certain scribes within themselves, when they heard that they said, [oh, oh] that’s blasphemy. And so Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Why do you think evil in your hearts? (9:3-4)
Would he say that to you if he knew your thoughts? “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Oh, He does know your thoughts, he knows what’s in the heart of man. Then he said,
What is easier to say, Your sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? (9:5)
Now as far as saying, it’s easier to say your sins be forgiven you because who can tell, you know, immediately what happened. If you say arise and walk, that’s really harder to say because hey, if the guy doesn’t arise and walk you say hey, he doesn’t have anything. You see the arising and walk can bring an immediate demonstration of whether or not there’s any power in what you’d said. It immediately puts it on the line because now we can have a physical demonstration to either prove or disprove the power of your word. So “What is easier to say, Your sins be forgiven; or Arise and walk?” It’s a lot easier to say your sins be forgiven.
But that you may know that I have power on earth to forgive sin (9:6),
In other words, I’ll give to you a demonstration of the power of My word that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins because you can’t see that, that the spiritual work within, but we’ll give you some physical evidence.
(he said to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up your bed, and go home. And he arose, and went home. And when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and they glorified God (9:6-8),
Notice, “they marvelled and they glorified God”. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that when they see your good works they will glorify your Father which is in heaven”(5:16). And so He did it in such a way as it brought glory to God.
And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom (9:9):
Matthew was a tax gatherer. He was a customs official. Capernaum was one of those cities where they had established a customs for those coming from the area of the north down through the valley and in the Golan and around the Sea of Galilee, catching them there as they were bringing their goods and charging custom.
And Jesus said unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Jesus. And it came to pass, as Jesus was sitting at meat in the house, behold, there were many publicans and sinners and they came and sat down with him and his disciples (9:9-10).
Open house. A lot of publicans and sinners.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, Why is your Master eating with publicans and sinners? (9:11)
In that culture eating with people was extremely significant. They had inculturated with them the concept that to eat with someone is to become one with that person. Because we take a loaf of bread and I hold it out to you and you grab a piece off and you start eating it; I pull off a piece and I start eating it, we are both of us eating from the same loaf of bread. As I am eating from that loaf of bread it is now going in and being assimilated by my body and it’s becoming a part of my body. As you are eating your piece of bread, you are assimilating it and it’s becoming a part of your body; and thus, in a mystical way we’re becoming a part of each other. I’m becoming one with you because the bread that is nourishing me and becoming a part of me is also nourishing you and becoming a part of you.
So you would never eat with anyone unless you wanted to be identified with that person and becoming one with them. That’s why they were shocked that Jesus would eat with sinners and with publicans. You mean you would become one with a sinner? You would be identified with a sinner? Yes, he was identified with the sinners in order that they might identify with Him and receive his power and his forgiveness.
And so they came to the disciples and questioned them, how come?
And Jesus when he heard that, said unto them, Those that are whole don’t need a physician, but those that are sick. But go and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice (9:12-13):
Now in the book of Hosea, the Lord talking to Israel said, “Look, I want mercy not sacrifice. I want you to start showing mercy. I’d rather you show mercy than offer sacrifices to me”(Hosea 6:6). And so Jesus is quoting them one of their Scriptures out of Hosea. And he says,
Go and learn what that means when the Lord said, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for Jesus said I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Then came to him the disciples of John, and they said, Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then they shall fast (9:13-15).
So while Jesus was with his disciples, was not the time for fasting. “The days will come when I will be gone, when I will leave and those will be the days when they can fast.” And then Jesus talks about really, the worthlessness of reformation.
No man puts a piece of new cloth onto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up will take from the garment, and the tear is made worse (9:16).
Now in those days they didn’t have Sanforize materials, preshrunk materials. And so if you would take an old garment that had been washed many times and you would sew a new patch into that old garment, the new patch would not have yet been shrunk. And so the first time you would wash the garment that new patch you put in would shrink and rip out the -- make the tear worse. And so Jesus is saying, “Look, you don’t try and patch up the old garment with new material”.
You don’t put new wine in old skins: the new wine will burst the old skins: but you get new skins (9:17).
Now basically Jesus is talking against the religious systems that were established at that time and there’s no reforming of them. I haven’t really come to reform Judaism, to sew a new piece of cloth into this old garment or to put new wine in these old skins.
I do believe that there is also an application to this in the present times. I do believe that when God is desiring to do a fresh work that God often times has to go outside of the boundaries of the organized religious systems. I really don’t know in history where we have any record of a true revival in a denominational group. Usually the great revivals ultimated in a whole new denomination being formed. It seems like the old skins get set, and so we see this marvelous work of God here.
But it is my personal conviction that God had to sort of raise up new skins for the work that He was wanting to do. And so I found myself personally in that frustrating position for many years of trying to put the new wine into the old skins and I was just ripping things apart. I was known as a rebel and as a nonconformist and every other thing that they could say, because I couldn’t see going along with just the traditional things of the denomination. Why don’t we just get back to the Word and follow the Word of God. And it seems simple enough, but the old skins just can’t handle it; they’re already set in their ways.
There are many people today who are still involved in the process of carefully pouring the new wine in the old skins, always trying to pour it in such a way that we don’t split them, you know, don’t burst them. But ultimately, people come to the conclusion that it’s not an easy thing to do if it is at all possible.
Now while he spoke these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay your hand on her, and she shall live (9:18).
Say, this fellow was understandably very desperate at this point, but look at this tremendous faith. Worshipping Jesus he said, “Look, my daughter’s dead: but I know if you’ll come and lay your hand on her, she’ll live”.
And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. And, behold, there was a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years, and she came up behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. And Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; your faith has made you whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour (9:19-22).
Now, I wanna point out something that I feel is very important and very significant in this. And that is that this woman had set a point of contact for the releasing of her faith. Now I think that many times we have faith that God is able to do a particular thing but we never come to the place of actuating that faith. And I do believe that there is a value of actuating faith and it’s important to actuate faith. It’s more than just well, I know God can do it. Well, yes I believe the Lord can do it. It is I believe the Lord is doing it or the Lord will do it now or at that point when I am really actuating then the faith that I have.
Now this woman in her mind had set a point to actuate her faith; that point being the moment I touch the hem of His garment I know I’m going to be healed. So that having set the point for the actuating of her faith, the moment she touched his garment, she actuated her faith and in that moment she was healed.
Now, I think that herein lies the value of having the elders lay hands on you, as the Bible tells us “If there are any sick among you let them call for the elders of the church. Let them lay hands on them, anoint them in the oil and the prayer of faith will save the sick”(James 5:14). I think that that laying on of hands is a tremendous place for the actuating of faith. I know that when I’m anointed with oil and the elders lay hands on me, God is going to heal me because he’s promised to. And it gives a point for the actuating of a person’s faith. As soon as they lay hands I know God’s going to heal me, you know.
Jesus realizing that the miracle had been wrought, turned to her and said “be of good cheer, your faith,” not My faith, “your faith has made you whole” and the woman was in that very hour.
And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house, he saw the minstrels and the people making noise (9:23),
A, it is a custom many times, more in pagan lands, when someone is very sick or dying to gather together a great crowd for making a lot of noise, minstrels and so forth, to make a lot of noise, to drive the evil spirits away.
Jesus said unto them, Move aside: for the maid is not dead, she’s only sleeping. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put out, he went in, and took her by the hand, and she arose. And the fame went abroad into all that land. And when Jesus departed from there, there were two blind men who followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus said unto them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? And they said unto him, Yes, Lord. And he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, Don’t let any man know this. But they, when they departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. And as they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man who was possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never like this in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He has casting out devils through the prince of devils (9:24-34).
Notice that, because we’ll be getting to that in a few moments as we move on and deal with the unpardonable sin they’re beginning to get close.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. And when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. And then he said to his disciples, The harvest is truly plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest (9:35-38).
And so the ministry of Jesus. And notice how that Jesus does not formulate a pattern. How often we are trying to formulate patterns for God, define the circles in which God can move and develop the methods and develop the means. And we get all of these little, sort of, canned approaches to dealing with the problem. Let’s see, what is your problem? Oh yeah, that’s solution number seventeen. Let’s see here, and you know, number one, two, three, four and we go down this little, you know, routine. We, so often like to routine God, put him in a box, combine him to a method and especially if, if that method has worked at one time.
And I’m guilty of this. I know that, you know, you think now what did I do, you know it worked that time. Now what did I do that was different you know. And you know, you try to get the same feeling or whatever you know, as though it was something to do with me rather than God’s divine sovereign work.
And so with some, Jesus challenged their faith. But surely this little girl that was dead didn’t have any faith. And you can’t say, well it was her faith in Jesus, but immediately afterwards with the two blind men he said do you believe that I can do this? They said Oh yes, Lord. And he said, well, according to your faith be it done and their eyes were opened. The woman who had this hemorrhaging condition said I can just touch his garment and he said, “Woman, be of good cheer; you’re faith has made you whole”. Her faith.
So, you see there’s no patterned way of God’s working in a person’s life. But when someone has the same thing that we have, we go and say now how did it happen? You know, what did you do? And, you know, I wanna learn the formula; I want to learn this little secret way so that I can follow, you know. But the Lord doesn’t confine himself to a routine or to a pattern but he is diverse as we are diverse and he deals with each of us according to our own diverse need. And I love the Lord for his beautiful adaptability in being able to minister to me according to my own personality and my own need.
God is so glorious because I relate to him in such a personal way. He understands my own individual quirks and characteristics and he understands me and loves me just like I am and he deals with me according to my own personality and all, and thus he deals with each of us on that individual basis. And it is wrong for us to attempt to pattern God to, you know, well this is the way he did it for me and so if he doesn’t do it for you that way well then hey, you, you know, don’t quite have it, you know. If it wasn’t done to you just like it’s done for me, and so you form your denomination and I’ll form mine and well, you know, and the lepers.
Another time there were ten lepers that came to Him. Jesus didn’t touch him. He just said “go your way, show yourself to the priest”. So, if they got together with this one that we read about tonight, oh, you mean he didn’t touch you, ahem. Well you didn’t get it like I did, man. He touched me. You can’t belong to my church. I’m of the touch-me church. Well, we’re of the touch-me-nots.
Yes, there is room for variety, as much diversity and variety as we have in people here tonight for God to work in our lives. Don’t try to pattern God. Don’t try to look for the same experience that someone had. You just relate to God in your own personal, unique way and God will relate to you in a very personal, unique way; and you’ll have your own special walk and experience and relationship with God. So often times we give up, you know, they said that this happened, no it hasn’t happened to me and no, you know, I don’t have it. I guess because it didn’t happen like it happened to them. The method by which God works in our lives are infinite in their varieties.
Well, we got two chapters done, we’re improving. That’s hundred percent. Next week, we’ll start at ten. Who knows? Um, we’ll try and take ten, eleven and twelve. I want to uh, get into the parables and spend time in the kingdom parables which begin in chapter thirteen, and that’s not a good place to start, I mean that’s not a good place to come in to at the end of a study; it’s a place to start. So, we’ll just aim for ten, eleven and twelve next week and uh, so, uh there’s, there’s a lot in that. Especially I want to spend some time on an issue that a lot of people have difficulty with and that’s the unpardonable sin that Jesus brings out in our study next week, chapter twelve.
Shall we stand? We are so grateful for the marvelous work of God’s love and His spirit within our lives, overwhelmed daily with the goodness and the blessings of God. God is so good. It’s such a privilege being here with you. I thank God for this privilege. Every once in a while I have a nightmare that I’m pastoring someplace else. Man, I’m so glad when I wake up in the morning. There’s no place I’d rather be than just right here because of God’s glorious work and the witness from this place that’s going out to the world. May the Lord bless you, continue to bless you. May the Lord’s hand be upon your life this week. May you experience God’s power working in your life in a very special way. May you be enriched in all things in Christ Jesus. May you experience a time of growth this week as the Lord draws you into closer fellowship with Himself, in Jesus’ name.