Saturday, March 21, 2009


2 Timothy 3:1-14 in the last days perilous times will come.


1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra --- what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

2 Tim.3:1 that the "last days" would be "perilous times." The word "perilous" means "vicious, dangerous or savage."

“The "last days": "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days" (v. 1). "Mark this" means "pay attention to this"—it's an imperative, a command. We must know what follows. Know what?

In the "last days" there will be "terrible" times, literally "grievous" or "dangerous" times. This is the word used of "violent" demoniacs (Matthew 8:28) and by Greek writers of an "ugly" wound. 2 Timothy 3:1 1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (KJV) 2 Timothy 3:1 You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times. (Contemporary English Version) 2 Timothy 3:1 You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. (The New Living Translation) 2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (NIV)

When will they come? What did Paul mean by the "last days?" It may surprise you to know that the Jews divided history into two categories: the "former" days before Messiah comes, and the "latter" or "last" days after he arrives. And so, in this era after Jesus' advent, we are in the "last days."

At Pentecost, Peter quoted Joel's prophecy about the "last days" and said they were fulfilled with Jesus (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28-32).

Hebrews 1:2: "…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son."

James 5:3: "You have hoarded wealth in the last days."

1 Peter 1:20: "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."

1 John 2:18: "Dear children, this is the last hour…."

It may be that the “last days” refers to the Christian era. But it more likely does refer to the last days before the Lord’s return.

Paul has already dealt with this concept in 1 Tim 4:1  Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth.

He is saying, that just like the waves of the ocean with each wave bring the tide higher and higher, so there will be times of wickedness that bring the end, the last days, closer and closer.  I believe we are in these last days before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not just the last days as speaking of the Christian era, but the last days of these last days.

1. There Is Peril In The Community

As we look around at world society today we are made more aware that through technologies we, mankind, have become increasingly more selfish and more manipulative as we seek to control our “environment” and the people within it.

We are told things are getting better and better…

In education… our kids know a lot more about specialist subjects and a lot less about living life fruitfully. There is a sense in which we are becoming depersonalised through the influences of education upon our society. Children resent their ignorant parents , "disobedient to their parents."

Things are getting better and better in technology…we have a lot more complicated gadgets and a lot less time to communicate with our families and friends. Technology supposedly makes communication easier, but we are more distant and fragmented in our relationships.

Computers have made big advances. Instant communication everywhere. New technology creates new problems. Always does... we can envision unbelievable technological advances. But morally we are exhausted and bankrupted. People are living longer, are healthier, but are not happier.

Chaos and crisis seem all around us. And the chaos and crisis is actually us! Our own selfish desires have run us out of “control”, we are out of sorts with friends and families. In a nut shell it is as 2 Tim 3 states, “perilous times will come For men will be lovers of themselves,”

I had a little tea party this afternoon at three.

'Twas very small, three guests in all, just I, myself and me.

Myself ate up the sandwiches, and I drank up the tea.

'Twas also I who ate the pie, and passed the cake to me.

That is the way many people live -- a self-centered existence. We live in a selfish world.

"At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don't care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all." (Ann Landers, quoted in Signs of the Times, March, 1993, p.6).

Materialism… reductionism in science and education has meant that for many of us the only things that matter are the things we garner into our barns, as “lovers of money,”. We have become self centred.

We as westerners seek a constantly increasing standard of living, a much more luxurious lifestyle? It is because money is a way of indulging ourselves.

I believe these are the last days, because the sinfulness of mankind has been magnified through the false philosophy that now undermines our whole society and even our churches.

All nations have now become western through the undermining influence of scientism that has spread through our education systems. Values such as selfless sacrifice, love and kindness have become forgotten in our value-free world. Adolf Hitler pronounced that “who controls the youth, controls the future.” Liberal engineers of social change have made the claim that, given just one generation, they can radically alter a society. And they have proven their point.

The Long War Against God, Dr. Henry Morris states that: “Evolutionism and its corollary teachings in the schools have so undermined the Bible by discrediting its record of creation and divine purpose that the whole ‘Christian experience’ has likewise been completely discredited in the minds of young people. . .”

It would be impossible to fully assess the amount of damage that the teaching of evolution has left in its wake. Since man is perceived as just a random accident in the universe, then life itself is of no real value beyond the existential seeking of momentary pleasure. As someone rightly pointed out to me last week, a television documentary indicated that Church leaders are now the main propagators of this godless doctrine.

Dr. David Jeremiah, “Abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are logical behaviors for those who have so easily disposed of the image of God in the eternal soul of man.”’ Evolution effectively takes God out of the picture and allows man to justify anything and everything that he deems is a means to his own.

We could hardly have sent a more devastating message to our children. Instead of teaching them that they were uniquely designed by a loving and compassionate Creator, in His image, with value and purpose, we set them adrift into a world of futility and meaninglessness.

Dr. Morris goes so far as to state that “evolutionary thought is basically responsible for the lethally ominous political developments and the chaotic moral and social disintegration that has been accelerating everywhere in recent decades.”

Dostoyevsky said that "anything is permissible if there is no God. But anything is also permissible if everything (or everyone) is God.”

Perhaps this gives understanding to the vision in Daniel 2:42 and that the toes of the feet were part iron and part fired clay—part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle. 43 You saw the iron mixed with clay—the peoples will mix with one another but will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with fired clay.

Out of this grows another word: "proud." The word is boastful, braggarts. That is an outcome of this loving of self. Proud, independent of God, Self sufficient, we can solve our problems, or so we think.

The word that immediately follows is, "arrogant." Proud people are arrogant people. They have a secret contempt for others; they regard themselves as above them. This is the attitude frequently displayed in many churches and by many Christians today.

"Abusive" is the next term. This word describes people who use insulting, pejorative terms that put people down. This is the manifestation of an unhealthy, unwholesome, unchristian spirit, even within the Christian church.

2. There Is Peril In The Church

lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

“lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (v. 4). According to a recent Time magazine article, pornography online has increased 1800% since 1998. Nearly one in five movie rentals is a pornographic film. Hollywood produces 400 feature films a year; the porn industry makes 11,000.

There is the Problem Of Departure- Some today have departed from the faith and given heed to the wrong doctrine ( 1 Tim. 4:1).

There is the Problem Of Denial- So many have denied the Holy One, the Lord Jesus access to their lives (Acts 3:14). They may speak much of Christ but deny Him by their sinful living.

Some leaders of some Christian organisations and churches have had terrible falls in the last few years that have made Christianity a laughing stock. Pat Mesiti from Youth Alive, Planetshakers On August 21, 2008, Michael Guglielmucci, the composer of the track Healer from the album Saviour of the World and a former pastor of Planetshakers City Church, announced that, contrary to his earlier statements, he had not suffered from cancer during the previous two years. He also stated that close friends, family, and even his wife didn't know. Planetshakers City Church pastors, as well as Hillsong Church (where Michael was serving in the music ministry)confirmed this. Kim Wheatley | August 21, 2008 Article from:  The Advertiser  "HE preached to thousands about his terminal illness and tugged at hearts with a hit song. The problem is the pastor wasn't dying at all Michael Guglielmucci, who inspired hundreds of thousands of young Christians with his terminal cancer "battle", has been exposed as a fraud. "

There is the Problem Of Deadness- It is sad that many will accept a "form of godliness" rather than want to see God’s power revealed in the salvation of precious souls. A form of godliness. Where they heal the people’s wound lightly. Where they don’t really deal with sin. A form of godliness. Just respond to this commercial “You don’t have to be religious.. just nod towards the Lord Jesus and we’ll assume that you are saved!”

There is the Problem of Deception: "having a form of godliness but denying its power" (v. 5a). They are even in the church. 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

Paul says, "Have nothing to do with them" (v. 5), literally, "turn away from these." The Greek has the strongest possible condemnation in it—avoid them with horror. Do not be like them. Choose to be holy in an unholy day.

His injunction does not mean that we withdraw from attempting to influence the world. Salt is no good in the saltshaker, or light under the basket. I once saw a poster which pictured a ship at sea, sails billowing in the wind, speeding through white-capped storm-driven waves, and the caption: "Ships in the harbour are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for."

Rather, he means that we are to change the world without allowing it to change us. A ship in the water is a good thing; water in the ship is a bad thing.

They dominate "weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires" (v. 6b). As a result, they are "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth" (v. 7). They are fascinated by the heresies advanced by these deceivers, and so unable to see the truth of God's word.

Understand that Paul is by no means condemning all women here. Rather, he is dealing with a specific problem already in existence in Ephesus, where a specific group of women have been victimized by these deceivers. Because they are "loaded down with sins," they are more easily swayed or influenced by evil desires.

It is possible and even likely that the apostle is specifically addressing former temple prostitutes. The shrine of Diana was there, the pagan goddess of fertility. Thousands of women were employed as temple prostitutes. The Christian church was willing to help them when no one else would, so that many came to Christ and their faith family. But they are still dealing with their sins and guilt, and are victims now of deceivers.

Whatever the historical context, the apostle is not describing women in general, or summarizing the larger biblical picture. How did Jesus relate to women?

Our Lord spoke to a Samaritan woman when no one else would (John 4).

He befriended an immoral woman no one else would welcome (Luke 7:36-50), decidedly not Mary Magdalene. He commended a widow's offering at the Temple (Luke 21:1-4).

Paul mentions Jannes and Jambres, the names given by Jewish tradition to the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses. Like them, they "oppose the truth" and are "rejected" in the faith (v. 8). One day "their folly will be clear to everyone" (v. 9).

3. There Is A Personal Priority To Maintain

The solution? There is only one moral preservative for our world.

It is as we Christians teach and preach the Word of God that salt is brought into our world.

Look a the solution to these problems that the apostle Paul proposes.

2 Tim 3:13 Evil people and imposters will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The concept goes back as far as Genesis 18:19 when God said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. . . .” In Deuteronomy 4: 10, He states again “. . . and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”

God says: “And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up… That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them. . .” (Deut. 11:19-21).

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

Preach The Word With Power.  2 Tim 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Preach The Word With Purpose. Why do we concentrate on preaching God's Word here at the Tabernacle?  Simply because it is ONLY the Word of God that counters the prevailing mentality of our culture. You need something more powerful than the prevailing cultural beliefs.  You need something that will tie you to the true truth! And that is God's Word.




So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own town.
2 Just then some men brought to Him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the • scribes said among themselves, “He’s blaspheming!”
4 But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts?
5 For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
6 But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He told the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
7 And he got up and went home.
8 When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck  and gave glory to God who had given such authority to men.

9 As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him.
10 While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples.
11 When the • Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do.
13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus had been pressed by the crowds in Capernaum, so He and the disciples had gone across the Sea of Galilee to the "country of the Gergesenes [or 'Gadarenes']" (v.28). After casting the demons out of the men who lived in the tombs, Jesus "got into a boat" and then he "crossed over" the Sea of Galilee back to the Western shore.

He came "to His own city," that is His adopted headquarters in Capernaum. Jesus' hometown, Nazareth had rejected Him. In fact they would have thrown Him off a cliff it He had not escaped. Most likely while in Capernaum, He stayed at Peter's house.

1. You Need To be Forgiven

There is generally today in Christianity a planned, calculated de-emphasis on personal sin. One well known Preacher said that he doesn’t preach about sin because people already know that they are sinners and don’t want to come to church and be reminded of it. I could not more vehemently disagree with him. The problem is that people don’t know what sinners they are. We have so emphasized self esteem that people esteem themselves too highly.

David Seamands tells the story of the alchemist who sold villagers a special powder that he claimed would turn water into gold provided that when they mixed it, they never thought of red monkeys. Well, of course, no one ever got the gold, because you can't tell yourself to stop thinking about red monkeys or you'll just keep thinking about red monkeys. It doesn't work to say, "Well, I'm just not going to think about those things. I'm going to put all of that out of my mind."

D. L. Moody, the great American evangelist, once said, "If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track." -- Ravi Zacharias, "The Lostness of Humankind," Preaching Today, Tape No. 118.

While no one claims perfection, most believe that they are just as good (if not a little better) than others and that’s probably good enough for God. Until we have our eyes opened to see the depth of our sin, we are not going to see our desperate need for Christ and His forgiveness. Most people are so filled with pride and love of themselves that they are strutting to hell thinking that they are too good to be condemned.

When Peter saw Jesus, he also saw the sinfulness of his own soul and said in Luke 5:8b (NKJV) "…Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" Looking back at his life before Christ, Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV) “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Toward the end of the book of Job, God revealed to Job a true picture of himself and Job said in Job 42:6 (NKJV) “Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes." There are many instances in Scripture where people came into the manifest presence of God and were petrified because they saw the depths of their own sin. I believe that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to pull the blinders off of our eyes so that we can see our spiritual poverty, but the main means by which He causes us who were blind to see is to hear what the Scriptures say about sin and its consequences.

Modern evangelism seems to focus only on the principles of Jesus (Jesus All About Life campaign) and neglects our sinfulness and the need for forgiveness from the bondage and slavery of sin. The joy of forgiven sin is impossible apart from a deep conviction of our bondage to and saturation with sin and the horrible consequences that sin brings.

Donald Baillie rightly says: “A great many persons in the world today have something like a repressed moral-failure complex. They do not confess their sins to God or man, but they have an uneasy dissatisfaction with themselves and with what they have made of their moral opportunity.”

Guilt always possesses the power to shatter personality. George McLeod says that nearly half the hospital beds occupied in Great Britain on any day of the year are occupied by mental cases. Of these, half are there because of an overloaded sense of guilt. The superintendent of a mental institution said recently he could release half of his patients if someone could assure them that their guilt would be taken away.

Guilt paralyzes the body. There are many modern counterparts to the stricken man brought to Jesus. By the pronouncement of the word “forgiveness, by the removal of the crippling sense of guilt, he was made whole. Perhaps some men and women, lying helplessly in bed, sitting imprisoned in a wheelchair, would rise up and walk if only, only the forgiveness of God could be believed and accepted.

Guilt paralyzes the human spirit. Joy and guilt cannot exist together. Guilt destroys creativity, so clouding the sky that there is little mood to fashion something new. Guilt removes God from our side, and without God life becomes scarcely worth living.

Guilt paralyzes marriage. I have been staggered over recent years at the power of guilt rising from mishandled sex life before and after marriage. I have seen homes breaking down because years later guilt for premarital unchastity lingers.

But the difficulty is that hich Jeremiah warned of so many years ago. Jer 6:14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.

So often instead of discovering true forgiveness from God, people try and heal the wound lightly. They try and forgive themselves, instead of seeking the forgiveness of God.

Man’s inability to forgive himself is demonstrated in the strange novel by Albert Camus called The Fall, The central character in the story is a Parisian lawyer, self-assured, respected, secure in his self-esteem. Then one night, walking home late across a bridge over the Seine, something happens which he was never able to forget, It was his “fall.” “I had already gone some fifty yards” he said, “when I heard the sound of a body striking the water. I heard a cry, repeated several times which was going downstream; then it suddenly ceased. I wanted to run and yet didn’t stir. Then slowly under the rain I went away. I informed no one. The next day and the days following, I didn’t read the papers.”

Always thereafter the memory of that incident haunted him. Years later, still bearing his inner sense of guilt he said: “0 young woman, throw yourself in the water again so that I may a second time have the chance of saving both of us. It’s too late now, it will always be too late.”

How do we move from hearing the voice of conscience to receiving the word of forgiveness? How do we reach the point where, having confessed our sin, we “accept our acceptance,” to use Paul Tillich’s notable phrase? How do we become certain of the pardon of God? Jesus was able to help the paralyzed man, from guilt through forgiveness to healing, because he was able with authority to pronounce those words: “Your sins are forgiven.” This is the secret of the story, the power of Jesus to bring about the miracle of forgiveness.

2. He Can Forgive

Horatius Bonar wrote:

Not what these hands have done Can save this guilty soul;

Not what this toiling flesh has borne Can make my spirit whole.

Thy love to me, 0 God Not mine, 0 Lord, to Thee,

Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

There is only one place in all the world where we become absolutely convinced our sins can be and are forgiven. It is in the presence of Jesus.

I. He Releases the Sinner (V1-8) Aphiemi

Man's greatest problem is not economical, political, educational, socially, physically, or psychological - it is spiritual, SIN! The most fundamental truth of the Bible is that man is a sinner and that he will never find real joy until he knows the joy of sins forgiven.

What is destroying humanity man can not fix, it is something that only God can fix. This is why all of man's attempts to solve our problems will prove weak at best, and futile at worse, only God can solve the true problem of humanity. Everything else that man does is like only putting bandaids on deep wounds.

The weight of sin is enormous, and the effects of it keep people from knowing the freedom that God has for us.

It was the custom of ancient conquerors to prevent the escape of their prisoners by tying a dead body to their backs. With such gruesome burdens, these poor wretches could not run away. Paul may have had this in mind; so some think Romans 7:24 should read: "Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this dead body?"

Never have more people gone to counsellors, and yet never have there been times of greater depression and emotional struggles. There is only ONE "wonderful counselor, prince of peace, everlasting father" that can truly remove the onerous curse of sin.

If what the world needed most was emotional healing God would have sent a Psychologist, if what the world needed most was physical healing God would have sent a doctor, if what the world needed most was a healthy government God would have sent a politician, if what the world needed most was financial God would have sent an economist; but since the world's greatest need is forgiveness, God sent a SAVIOUR!

From Mark and Luke’s account we find that they didn’t just carry him in on a stretcher and sit him before Jesus. The crowd was so large that they went to the roof of the house where Jesus was speaking and made a hole in the roof over where Jesus was standing and lowered him down just in front of Jesus. The paralyzed man showed faith by asking his friends to bring him to Jesus and the friends showed faith by risking rebuke and rejection to do whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus. When you boil it down, faith is when we look to Jesus as the One sufficient for the meeting of every need. The prevalent view during New Testament times was that disease and affliction was the direct result of someone’s sin. We know (with the whole of God’s word) that while all affliction, pain, and suffering are the result of the presence of sin in the world, they are not necessarily brought on by a specific sin of the person enduring the suffering. This paralyzed man no doubt believed that his suffering was because of his sin (and it could have been); he suffered in addition to his paralysis the crushing weight of the guilt of his sin. The paralysed man was correct in believing that his priority need was forgiveness. His faith is manifested in the fact that he went to Jesus as the source not only of his physical healing, but also the source of the supply to his greatest need – forgiveness.

Notice  the Forgiveness (V2b) – Even though it cannot be seen in the physical realm, when Jesus spoke these words, a miracle took place. This crippled man’s sins were forgiven! The word, “forgiven” in the Scriptures means to be sent away. David described it in Psalms 103:12 (NKJV) “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Our sins separate us from God, but to be forgiven is to be separated from our sins and reconciled to God.

To reemphasize what I said earlier, our love for God is dependent on understanding the depths of our sin. If we have a low view of sin, we don’t see that we have been forgiven very much and we love God very little. When we see how our sin is not compared with others and that we were sinful down to the core of our being – our nature, then we stand amazed at such forgiveness that would send it all away. Jesus said in Luke 7:47 (HCSB) “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”

I have talked with people - perhaps you have too - that knew they had sinned and were aware of the greatness of the 'sin-debt' they owe to God. They knew that there wasn't anything they could do to pay back that debt. But what was so sad was that, when they were told about the forgiveness available to them through Jesus Christ, they still wouldn't place their trust in Him. Often, they'd say, "You just don't understand. What I have done is just too sinful. God could never forgive me. I'm just too bad." Perhaps there is someone here this morning who thinks that way.

If you are thinking that way - and even if you think that way as a professing Christian - it's because you are still thinking that the only way you can get rid of your debt of sin is by paying it off yourself. And the fact is that you can't. You are bankrupt - as bankrupt and as incapable as that poor paralyzed man on the bed.

But the good news - the news that is taught us clearly in this morning's passage - is that you don't have to pay that debt back yourself. You have a Friend who is authorized to forgive your debt. And what's more, He is willing to forgive it. Jesus paid the whole debt of your sin by dying on the cross in your place; and God the Father has fully accepted the payment of Jesus His Son for all of your sins. All that you need to do is come to Him in faith, just like a spiritual "paralytic" - unable to help yourself - and place your trust in what Jesus did for you. You must stop believing that you must "do"; and trust confidently instead that it has already been "done".

II. He Announces the Sinner Released!

The Accusation (V3) In chapter 9, the religious leaders would accuse Jesus of: Blasphemy and Spending time with tax collectors and sinners

Here in verse 3, they accuse Him of blasphemy because He forgave this crippled man’s sins and only God has the power and authority to forgive sin. There are many skeptics and unbelievers today who say that Jesus never claimed to be God. He did here in this incident, because the Scribes were correct that only God can ultimately forgive sin. Jesus knew that in this claim, He was claiming to be God. Since they refused to accept the deity of Christ, the only other option was to accuse Him of blasphemy.

The Answer (V4-5) Jesus may have emphasized the word “say” in verse 5. In other words, saying something is always easier than doing it. He was setting them up for what He was about to do.

The Act (V6-7) Again, in the minds of these Scribes, a healing could not take place until sins were forgiven by God. Let me quote some Rabbis (not in Scripture) that these Scribes would have no doubt been familiar with: “No sick person is cured from sickness until all his sins have been forgiven him” (Rabbi Chija ben Abba). “The sick does not rise from his sickness until his sins are forgiven” (Rabbi Alexander). Jesus has power over sin and this miracle proved it!

The Acknowledgement (V8) The people did not fully understand the deity of Jesus, but they knew that a miracle had taken place and that Jesus was powerful. They gave glory to God knowing that this kind of power was associated only with God.

I recently read a story by a woman who said that as a girl she was poor. She said, "I grew up in a cold water flat, but I married a man who had money. And he took me up to a place where I had flowers, and I had gardens, and I had grass. It was wonderful. And we had children. "Then suddenly I became physically sick. I went to the hospital, and the doctors ran all sorts of tests. One night the doctor came into my room, and with a long look on his face, said, 'I'm sorry to tell you this. Your liver has stopped working.' "I said, 'Doctor, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you telling me that I am dying?' And he said, 'I, I can't tell you any more than that. Your liver has stopped working. We've done everything we can to start it.' And he walked out. "I knew I was dying. I was so weak, I had to feel my way along the corridor down to the chapel of the hospital. I wanted to tell God off. I wanted to tell God, 'You are a shyster! You've been passing yourself off as a loving God for two thousand years, but every time anyone begins to get happy you pull the rug out from under them.' I wanted this to be a face-to-face telling off of God. "And just as I got into the center aisle of the chapel, I tripped, I swooned, I fainted. And I looked up, and there stenciled along the step into the sanctuary, where the altar is, I saw these words: LORD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER. I know God spoke to me that night. I know he did." She didn't say how God communicated this to her, but what God said was, "You know what this is all about. It's about the moment of surrender; it's about bringing you to that moment when you will surrender everything to me. These doctors, they do the best they can. but they only treat. I'm the only one who can cure you." And she said, "There with my head down on my folded arms in the center of the chapel, repeating, 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,' I surrendered to God. I found my way back to my hospital bed, weak as I was. "The next morning, after the doctor ran the blood tests and the urinalysis and so forth, he said, 'Your liver has started working again. We don't know why. We don't know why it stopped, and we don't know why it started up again.' And I said in my heart, But I know. Oh but I know. God has brought me to the brink of disaster, just to get me to turn my life over to him." -- John Powell, "Prayer as Surrender," Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.

III. He Receives the Sinner (V9-10)

With the crippled man, we see Jesus forgiving sin and with the call of Matthew, we see that He receives forgiven sinners. Apart from knowledge of history and customs, it is hard to comprehend how amazing this passage really is.

Matthew Was Rejected by Others

From Mark and Luke’s account we see that Matthew was also called Levi and that he was a tax collector (publican). Matthew was a great sinner and everyone knew it. As a tax collector, he was doubtless one of the most hated men in Capernaum. Tax people in any culture are not likely to be named “man of the year”, but it was even worse in the Roman taxation system. People could buy franchises from the Roman government to collect taxes in a certain city or district. When a Jew got into the tax business, they were considered traitors to their nation. Nothing in the mind of a Jew was more despicable that a publican (tax collector). Rome required the publicans to collect so much money. Everything over the quota prescribed by Rome could be kept by the tax collector. To keep the tax machine well lubricated, the Roman government would nearly always stand behind their tax collectors. These men had almost unlimited authority in taking tax money from the people. They collected taxes from bridge tolls, road taxes, harbour dues, property taxes, and on and on. Publicans were so despised by Jews that they were barred from synagogues. Jewish tradition taught that it was impossible for a publican to repent. You can imagine the gasps in the crowd when Jesus told Matthew, “Follow Me”.

Matthew Was Accepted by Christ

The call “follow Me” is a call to salvation. There were no emotional appeals or human logic. It was a simple command. For His own sovereign reasons, Jesus chose Matthew and called Him to Himself. How do we know that this is the account of a genuine conversion and not just a following of curiosity? There are several reasons that we know that this was a true conversion.

He arose and followed Jesus – Saving faith obeys! He gets up and follows Jesus.

He left everything to follow Jesus. Matthew doesn’t mention this out of modesty since this is the same Matthew who the Holy Spirit used to write this gospel. Luke tells us in Luke 5:28 (NASB) “And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.” True salvation is not tacking Jesus onto your life. It is a turning from everything to follow Christ. Luke 14:33 (NKJV) “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

He continued with the Lord. The perseverance of the saints is not a work that we do to keep our salvation; it is an evidence that our salvation is real. This truth is stated in the negative in 1 John 2:19 (NKJV) “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” From the gospels and from history and tradition, we see that Matthew continued faithful to the end.

He was burdened for his friends to come to know Jesus. Matthew had a party – a party with sinners to introduce them to Jesus. Verse 10 doesn’t make that as clear as Luke does in Luke 5:29 (NKJV) “Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.” This is a natural thing for those who have been forgiven, been released and been accepted by Christ; they desire that those they care about come to know Him, come to know that they too can be forgiven released and accepted by Christ. You don’t have to tell a true convert that they need to share Christ with their friends and family; that is a normal and natural desire for someone who has truly met Jesus. Matthew brings together a group of social and religious outcasts and Jesus meets with them. Matthew was a forgiven man now accepted by Christ as a disciple.

In a graveyard, a headstone.. one word “Forgiven!”

It was one word, but it said it all. And you? Are you forgiven? Are you released? Are you Accepted by Christ? Just come to Him. Receive Him as your Saviour and all this will be yours too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009




Matthew 8: 23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" 26 But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.27 So the men marvelled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" 30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.31 So the demons begged Him, saying, "If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine." 32 And He said to them, "Go." So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. 33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.

Many years ago, in my years in Boys Brigade, one of my great thrills was canoeing.

Alex Hood, the captain of the Boys Brigade had bought himself a large red Canadian canoe which he nicknamed the African Queen. I wasn’t sure whether that was because it was an ugly old hulk like on that movie, “the African Queen” Or because Alex fancied himself as Humphrey Bogart, the tough rough adventurer. We took that baby out through the heads of port hacking river, and rode the waves back in around Bonny Vale point. Alex went from rough and tough to panic in four seconds flat when he realised that those tiny waves were about 4 foot high and we wee going to be swamped! And that there were sharks in that there water! He jibbered and jabbered while I paddled flat out in the fron top keep ahead of the waves.

Fear. It does interesting things to us.

We all face many fears in life. Perhaps our little vessel feels like its going to be swamped in the pressures of dire circumstances and distresses. Sometimes our fears and distresses can be overwhelmingly great, almost insufferable. We feel we just can’t go on..

There may be the fear of retrenchment, and then the fear of what the future holds as we face mounting bills and financial concerns that just will not go away. We may face fears with regard to our health. We just cannot do what we used to do. Our mental acumen just can’t take it anymore. Our nerves are frayed and our thoughts become oppressive. Our bodies seem to break down under the stress and care, and no one seems to notice. Is there any help for us at all.

God has said to the believer “I will never leave nor forsake you.” “I am with you always.” Joshua 1:9 Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We know what the Lord has said. And we want to echo the same confidence the apostle Paul had when he said Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

We want to say 37  No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.

But sometimes it is just too hard to muster it. The opposition seems utterly overwhelming. And we feel there is no strength left in us.

I am always drawn back to the wonderful passage in Matthew’s gospel.

1. The Problem of A Sinking Ship

Some problems come to us by our own hand.

Jonah 1The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me.” 3 However, Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish, from the Lord’s presence. 4 Then the Lord hurled a violent wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart. 5 The sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god. They threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the load. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down to the lowest part of the vessel and had stretched out and fallen into a deep sleep.

We have set off and decided we would do something that was just plain sinful. And we have reaped the consequences of our actions. It’s no good thinking we are going to get someone else to bear the brunt of our own bad decisions. It’s about time we took ownership of those decisions. It’s about time instead of blaming everyone else we looked at ourselves. We need to confess our problem to the Lord. And if we have to bear the brunt of the problem, then let’s have the courage to say so let it be!

Some Problems Come to Us At The Hand of God.

John 6  After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). 2 And a huge crowd was following Him because they saw the signs that He was performing on the sick.  When the people saw the sign He had done, they said, “This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!”
15 Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself. 16 When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn.

The Lord had sent His disciples into a real storm. The disciples were probably getting a bit swept away with the hype of the crowd around Jesus. Some wanted to crown Him King and Messiah straight away, and by force have Him set up his kingdom. In this miracle of the storm in john’s gospel the Lord was sending His disciples into an impossible storm. What was that movie, “The Perfect storm?” This perfect storm was a storm designed to knock all the pride and hype out of them. It was a storm designed to refine the disciples. It was the storm they just had to have!

Some Problems Come To Us At The Hand Of Satan

And yes, I believe sometimes at our lowest point the devil stirs up a storm. He thinks that somehow in the low point storms he can get Christians to beco0me depressed, distressed and down. It’s the Destroyer at his worst work. This storm the disciples faced may certainly have been a problem that has come to them at the hand of Satan.

23Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.

26 Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

The suddenness of the storm indicates it may have been a satanic assault.

Tempest (Greek word seismos) a commotion of the air, a gale, tempest, of the ground an earthquake.

The stilling of the storm indicates it may have been a satanic assault.

Rebuked (Greek word epitimao, ep-ee-tee-mah'-o) censure, admonish; forbid, to tax upon, charge, rebuke.


Matthew begins by telling us; "Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him" (v. 23). That word "follow" connects this passage with the one that just preceded it. In that previous passage, two men had sought to follow Jesus; but they were made to stop first and count the cost of following.

One man had said, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go"; but Jesus let the man know that He didn't even have a place to lay His own head (vv. 19-20). The other man offered to follow; and asked to be excused first, saying, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus let the man know that He demanded to have an even greater priority in the man's life than his own father (vv. 21-22). Both men had to confront the difficult challenges that come with "following" Jesus. To be a "disciple" of Jesus means to be a "follower" of Him. It means to go where He says to go, do what He says to do. And sometimes that will be hard work. This storm: it came when they were in the course of simply following Jesus! They were doing the right thing. They were obeying the Son of God! And yet, this violent and life-threatening storm fell upon them anyway.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

2. The Problem Of A Sleeping Saviour

THOUGH IT SEEMS AS IF THE LORD IS 'ASLEEP' DURING THE STORM, HE'S STILL PRESENT (v. 24). Matthew makes Jesus stand out in stark contrast to all the panic that's going on around Him. Matthew writes, "But He was asleep." In fact, in the original language, Matthew even puts it in a way that gives it a certain emphasis. Literally, he writes, "But He - He was asleep." What a picture that paints! I believe our God has a great sense of humour; don't you?! How can Jesus sleep at a time like that? Well; for one very obvious reason, it was because He was tired! But for another, much more profound reason, it was because He wasn't in a panic over the circumstances - like we so often are. He was at perfect peace in the midst of the storm; because He knew that the storm was under His control at all times. He was in His Father's will; and He knew that no matter what else happened around Him, His Father's will would still be fulfilled in Him. He had no reason to be afraid - vividly illustrated by the fact that He was asleep in the midst of the storm. And so long as He was in the boat, the disciples had no reason to be afraid either. Now; when you and I go through a storm, it may seem as if the Lord isn't aware of it. It may seem as if He was "asleep". But we can be sure that He isn't. He never sleeps on us; and if it appears that He does, it's only meant to test our faith in Him. When you are in the midst of the storm, just remember: Jesus is there too - in the midst of the storm with you. His apparent "silence" is to see if you will trust Him and have confidence in Him.

Psalm 121:1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. 3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

He offers us His own peace in the midst of that storm of life? He tells us, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). He says, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

The Plea


The disciples certainly did the best thing they could do. In fact, they did the only thing they could do. They cried out to Jesus, and woke Him from His sleep. Matthew tells us, "Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" Did you know that, in the original Greek, that very crucial prayer is only three words in length? Literally, it translates this way: "Lord, save! We perish!" That gets right to the point! By the way; what a fantastic prayer that is! Analyze it carefully. In the word "Lord", we see that they knew who to go to; and also in what manner of reverence they should approach Him. In that first word, they recognized and admitted His authority and power. To call Him "Lord", in this case, was to confess His deity. In the second word, "Save!", we see that they knew what they needed. They needed Him to rescue them. They laid out their need before Him. And in the third word, translated "We perish!", they rightly stated their situation; and rightly understood how helpless they were unless He did what they asked. If He didn't help them, they were lost.

That, of course, is a great "sinner's prayer" if ever there was one! "Lord, save me! I perish!" You can't be saved unless you admit your need, cry out to Him as "Lord", and plead with Him to save you.

It also happens to be the perfect prayer to pray in the midst of a storm!

Psalm 50:15; "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

The Power

Jesus says that they're "fearful". But the Greek word that is used is not the normal word for "fear" (phobos). This particular word (deilos) means "timid" or "cowardly". It suggests a kind of fearfulness that is unbecoming and inappropriate - even sinful. The only other occasion this word is used in the New Testament, apart from this story, is in Revelation 21:8; where we're told that "the cowardly . . . shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone".

And look at what Jesus says about the cause of their sinful condition. He calls them, "O you of little faith". Their real problem was being shown up by the storm; and that real problem was their lack of faith in Him! All that they had seen of Him hadn't sunk down into heart-level with them yet. They didn't yet really understand who He was; and how, because of who He was, and because of the fact that He was with them, they had absolutely no reason to be afraid.

Psalm 107:28 23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. 25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. 28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. 31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Dr. Palmer re­quest­ed her to pre­pare sev­er­al songs on the sub­ject of the cur­rent Sun­day-school les­sons. One of the themes was “Christ Still­ing the Tem­pest.” It so ex­pressed an ex­per­i­ence I had recent­ly passed through, that this hymn was the re­sult. A very dear and only bro­ther, a young man of rare love­li­ness and prom­ise of char­ac­ter, had been laid in the grave, a vic­tim of the same di­sease that had al­ready tak­en fa­ther and mo­ther. His death oc­curred un­der pe­cul­iarly dis­tress­ing cir­cum­stances. He was more than a thou­sand miles away from home, seek­ing in the balmy air of the sun­ny South the heal­ing that our cold­er cli­mate could not give. Sud­den­ly he grew worse. The writ­er was ill and could not go to him. For two weeks the long lines of tel­e­graph wires car­ried back and forth mes­sages be­tween the dy­ing brother and his wait­ing sisters, ere the word came which told us that our be­loved brother was no longer a dwell­er on the earth. Al­though we mourned not as those with­out hope, and al­though I had be­lieved on Christ in ear­ly child­hood and had al­ways de­sired to give the Master a con­se­crat­ed and obed­i­ent life, I became wick­ed­ly re­bell­i­ous at this dis­pen­sa­tion of di­vine prov­i­dence. I said in my heart that God did not care for me or mine. But the Master’s own voice stilled the tem­pest in my un­sanc­ti­fied heart, and brought it to the calm of a deep­er faith and a more per­fect trust.

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high! The sky is o'ershadow with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh; Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep, When each moment so madly is threatening A grave in the angry deep?


The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will, Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea, Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will, Peace, be still! Peace, be still!

They all shall sweetly obey Thy will, Peace, peace, be still!

Master, with anguish of spirit I bow in my grief today; The depths of my sad heart are troubled

Oh, waken and save, I pray! Torrents of sin and of anguish Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master Oh, hasten, and take control.


Master, the terror is over, The elements sweetly rest; Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast; Linger, O blessèd Redeemer! Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor, And rest on the blissful shore.


We're told by Matthew that the disciples "marveled" at what had just happened. When we look at the other Gospels, we find that it's even more profound. We find that, according to Mark, they "feared exceedingly" (Mark 4:41); and that, according to Luke, "they were afraid" (Luke 8:25).

The word that's being used here is not the word for cowardliness that we've already seen in verse 26. It's the word for "fear" (phobos) that can also be understood to express deep and heart-felt reverence. There was something of a 'holy dread' that fell upon the disciples, as they realized who it was that had rode through the storm with them. Outside the boat, at the command of Jesus, a great tempest had been replaced by a great calm; and as a result, inside the disciples, "cowardliness" had been replaced by "reverent fear".

When we trust Jesus to see us through the storms of life, He takes us through to the other side and shows us more of who He really is. And as a result - if we truly learn what He seeks to teach us through the storms of life - we come a way more in love with Him, and more in awe of Him, and more surrendered to Him.

3. The Problem Of A Satanic Stink

From the dawn of creation, a great war has raged... It is a war between good and evil, light and darkness, right and wrong, righteousness and sin. It is a war between heaven and hell... between Almighty God, the Creator of the universe and the master of the dark realms of hell, Satan.

Why has evil intensified? Is God losing the war? No. During the life of Christ, there was a great upsurgence of demonic activity. You read more about demons in relation to Jesus' ministry than anywhere else in the Bible. In the presence of the Son of God they went wild. I believe that because we are living in the last days, when Jesus will soon return, the demons are turning up the volume. In 2 Tim.3:1, Paul prophesied, "But know this, that in the last days perilous [vicious] times will come."

We read that the boats docked in "the country of the Gergesenes" (gher'-ghes-senz) There were two little towns in this region. Gergesa was located on the steep cliffs about six miles across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum. Gadara was the second town located a little further south and inland. That's why Mark and Luke speak of this as the country of the "Gaderenes" instead of "Gegesenes" (Mk.5:1; Lk.8:26). They were probably between these two small villages.

First, note that there were "TWO demon-possessed men." In similar accounts of this same incident, Mark 5:2 and Luke 8:27 mention only ONE demon-possessed man. Skeptics have pointed out this inconsistency. I want you to note that neither Mark nor Luke state that only one is present. For their purposes they focused on the more dominant and out-spoken of the two.

Second, understand what it means that they were "demon-possessed." The Greek word here means "to be under the control of demons." Being "demon-possessed" means having one or more demons inhabit and gaining control of a human being. Demons attack men spiritually, mentally and physically. Demon-possession was common in NT times. In the early church era, the Apostles had the power and authority to cast out demons. Demonism is still alive and well today. It can be clearly seen in the occultic religions of many third world countries.

These two guys were "exceedingly fierce." My study here turned something up. The Greek word for "fierce" is chalepos (khal-ep-os'). It means "vicious violent, or dangerous." The only other time that word is used in the entire Greek NT is in the verse I quoted earlier, 2 Tim.3:1, "But know this, that in the last days perilous [vicious] times will come." They were so vicious "no one could pass that way." The townspeople were frightened of them. Children had nightmares about them. Mark 5:4-5 says of one of them, "he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. Imagine how the disciples must have drawn back in fear of them.

The Plea (vv. 30-31).

Because they were so fearful of Jesus, they looked around for a way of escape. They saw "a herd of many swine feeding." Mark 5:13 says "there were about two thousand" pigs in this herd. They knew Jesus would never allow them to torment these men so they asked, "Permit [lit. send us into] us to go away into the herd of swine." We know from Mark that when Jesus asked the name of the demon, he said, "Legion, for we are many." A Roman legion was a troop of 6,000 soldiers. This large herd of swine would accommodate them. I can't imagine a demon desiring to possess a pig. However, being in the body of a pig would be a welcome escape from the presence of Jesus!

The Power of Jesus (v.32). Jesus sent the demons into the pigs (v.32a).

Jesus gave His disciples the power to cast out demons. However, on more than one occasion, we find that they had great difficulty in casting out only one demon. Note the contrast here as Jesus casts out a legion of demons with one word. He simply said, "Go." If you are a born-again, saved Child of God, this same Jesus is alive in you. Remember how the demons bowed before Him? They can never possess your body because your body is a "temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor.6:19). Demons can't live where Jesus lives. Though the works of demons may seem so great, we can remember that wonderful promise of 1 John 4:4, "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

Jesus is still the only Deliverer from the powers of darkness.

There are many "Gergesenses" in this world - places in which Jesus is not welcome and not wanted. There are many hearts that have no room for Him. There are many people who build their whole lives around shutting Him out. There are many places where the devil has hung up his sign, set up his fences, and bolted his gates. But no matter how hard people, or even the devil himself, may try, there's no keeping Jesus away. Have you received Him? Have you let Him be your Saviour?

What about you? Throughout the pages of the Scripture - and under the influence of the Holy Spirit - Jesus has often been revealed to you. In many ways, God has testified to you, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Matthew 17:5). Perhaps you are encountering Him today as He truly is. Perhaps today, you once again hear God making this testimony to your heart today about His Son. How will you react to that testimony? Will you "fear" Him in a negative and sinful way? Will you put Him off? Will you flee from Him; or seek to send Him away? Will you try to hide from Him - Or will you "fear" Him in the proper way today? Will you recognize the truth about Him? Will you allow yourself to stand in the light of His holiness, and confess the truth about your sin? Will you humble yourself before Him, and love Him, and adore Him, and receive Him, and cling to Him as your Savior. Will you worship Him and revere Him?

Saturday, March 14, 2009




2 Timothy 2:14 Remind them of these things, charging them before God not to fight about words; this is in no way profitable and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
16 But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
17 And their word will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus.
18 They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some.
19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription: The Lord knows those who are His, and Everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness.
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and earthenware, some for special use, some for ordinary.
21 So if anyone purifies himself from these things, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels.
24 The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient,
25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth.
26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Gangrene is a disease that is insidious.

Gangrene is a medical term used to describe the death of an area of the body. It develops when the blood supply is cut off to the affected part as a result of various processes, such as infection, vascular (pertaining to blood vessels) disease, or trauma. Gangrene can involve any part of the body; the most common sites include the toes, fingers, feet, and hands.

Two major types of gangrene exist:

Dry gangrene is caused by a reduction of blood flow through the arteries. It appears gradually and progresses slowly. In most people, the affected part does not become infected. In this type of gangrene, the tissue becomes cold and black, begins to dry, and eventually sloughs off. Dry gangrene is commonly seen in people with blockage of arteries (arteriosclerosis) resulting from increased cholesterol levels, diabetes, cigarette smoking, and genetic and other factors.

Wet or moist gangrene develops as a complication of an untreated infected wound. Swelling resulting from the bacterial infection causes a sudden stoppage of blood flow. Cessation of blood flow facilitates invasion of the muscles by the bacteria and multiplication of the bacteria because disease-fighting cells (white blood cells) cannot reach the affected part. Sometimes it produce poisonous toxins and gas.

It’s a terrible way to die. Some churches are in that mode of being in a situation where all you cn say is that it is a terrible way to die.

The apostle Paul highlights this when he talks about some people in the church at Ephesus that were causing it die a terrible death. 17 And their word will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus.

We don’t know much about Hymenaeus and Philetus. What we do know is enough.

We met this man Hymenaeus in Paul's first letter to Timothy. Paul says he had, "delivered him unto Satan in order that he may learn not to blaspheme," (1 Tim 1:20 {RSV}). That was several years earlier. But, evidently, it had not done Hymenaeus any good, because he is still spreading his false doctrine throughout the church, teaching that the resurrection was already past.

Imagine being called a dangerous stinking toxic poison by the Apostle Paul. And look t how these guys have effected the church at Ephesus. Paul sees apostasy and defeat all around him. This is evident when one compares 1 & 2 Timothy with the words "some" and "all."

Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter, in Explore the Book, points out that the "some" of 1 Timothy has become "all" in 2 Timothy.

- "Some...have turned aside." (1:6) - "Some...have made shipwreck." (1:19)

- "Some have...turned aside after Satan." (5:15) - "Some...have erred from the faith." (6:10)

- "Some...have erred concerning the faith." (6:21)

* This is the theme of his first letter. But in 2 Timothy, we read the following:

- " turned away from me." (1:15) - "All men forsook me." (4:16)

The churches were turning from the faith, and Paul urges young Timothy to be true to his calling and faithfully fulfil his ministry. Woven in and out of the exhortations in this letter are the concerns of the great apostle.

Paul has been addressing the question of how to stand firm as a Christian, how to maintain the truth in a world that is falling apart. Paul is addressing a new tactic of the enemy. The devil is very clever in his attack upon Christians and Christianity.

The devil has many tactics. He may seek to destroy the truth by patronizing Christianity and Christians. He may try to do so by popularity -- by diverting the attention of Christians away from why they are sent into the world. He has destroyed many a Christian witness that way. He may, as we have been seeing in this letter, bring about sharp persecution; he may try to paralyze us by fear, and by societal rejection; or he may bring about a polarization, an attempt to divide the body.

How can you and I avoid the problem of congregational gangrene?

It will spread of its not contained.

People with gangrene require urgent assessment and treatment to prevent the spread of gangrene. Antibiotics and surgery are the primary treatments and have been proven very effective. Hospitalisation is necessary for treatment.

Dry gangrene: Because the cause of dry gangrene is a lack of blood flow, restoring the blood supply is vital. Assessment by a vascular surgeon can help determine whether surgical intervention to restore blood supply would be beneficial.

Wet gangrene: Surgical debridement (removal of dead tissue) of the wound is performed, and intravenous antibiotics are administered to control the infection.

Gas gangrene: This condition needs to be treated aggressively because of the threat of the infection rapidly spreading via the bloodstream and damaging vital organs. The wound requires immediate debridement. Antibiotics are administered to the affected person.

1. Contain the Problem Remind them to Avoid The Words of Men

The first thing the apostle says is, Remind them of this, and charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words. {2 Tim 2:14a RSV}

"disputing about words." Many churches fall into that trap today. The words in question, of course, represented doctrinal viewpoints. Sometimes churches split over eschatology. Do you agree with Dr. so and so’s take on one verse or do you want something else.

Usually divisiveness is more about personalities and who wants to be first rather than about a truth.

Sometimes others will not allow others the liberty to be wrong.

Timothy is told to do four things about the word battle in Ephesus. These guidelines will be helpful to us too, if we are engaged in a controversy of this sort:

As the Battle of Trafalgar was about to begin, Admiral Nelson came across two officers of his own flagship who were arguing hotly and about to take sword to each other. Nelson stepped between them and said, "Stop." Then, pointing to the French fleet, he said, "There is the enemy."

Christians need to remember that. We are not to be engaged in debates that get so intense and so hot that we forget what the Lord has sent us to do. We forget who the real enemy is, the devil. Quarreling over words does no good, so Timothy was to plead earnestly with them to avoid such disputes. I have been present at several church quarrels, and it is very evident that it is true that no further light is ever shed when a controversy gets heated. Nobody is bringing out truth; they are simply hammering away at each other. Further, Paul says, "it leads to catastrophe." The word ruins here ("only ruins the hearers"), is literally the word, "catastrophe." Church quarrels can lead to catastrophic events. Contain the problem. Avoid disputing about words.

2. Improve The Flow Of Good Blood. Rightly Divide The Word Of God

The second suggestion the apostle makes as to how to handle the incipient quarrel at Ephesus is, demonstrate a proper handling of the Scriptures. Paul says to Timothy, "Show them yourself how to do this." Here is one of those wonderful verses which we all ought to memorize. Verse 15: Timothy is to be a workman, a laborer, somebody who needs not be ashamed because he has done his homework adequately; he has investigated throughout the whole of the Scriptures what the words in question mean.

I have found that it takes a minimum of ten to twelve hours to prepare a message for a Sunday morning service. One has to go back to the original Greek or Hebrew text and see what the words mean in their original.

"rightly handle the word of truth." “rightly divide the word of truth." I was told that meant that as one read through the New Testament or the Old Testament, one was to divide it up according to which part was addressed to the Jews, which part to the Gentiles, and which part to the Christians; or, one was to divide it according to that which dealt with the church versus that which dealt with the kingdom; whether it addressed itself to those who are under the Law or those who are under grace. That gave rise to what is frequently called, Dispensationalism, where one had to be very careful to understand exactly who God was speaking to when he said something.

There is some value and some truth in that view, but the text itself is more properly translated, "rightly handling the word of truth." It is a single word which means "to cut straight" -- "cut straight the word of truth," Paul is probably referring to his own experience as a tentmaker. Timothy travelled with Paul, so he must have worked many nights with him, cutting and sewing material together to make tents, a figure that Timothy would well understand. You ladies who have made garments from patterns know how important it is to cut the material straight. If you cut it on a line away from what the pattern says you will end up with a piece that is either too small or too large. When you try to fit it with other pieces it will either droop and sag because it is too large, or it will pull and pinch because it is too small.

That is what Paul is talking about. When you handle the Scriptures, he says to Timothy, be sure to cut a straight line. That is, understand the words that are used as they relate to other Scriptures that deal with the subject, so that when the whole thing is put together you will not have to pull or stretch or try to fit something in that does not quite belong; you have clearly understood what each section means, and it will all fit together naturally. Paul is dealing here with a very important principle in understanding the truth of Scripture – all Scripture must be understood in the light of the rest of Scripture. We really have not ever understood any single passage until we have carefully tried to fit it with all that the Scriptures say about it.

3. Cut Out The Bad Stuff Rigidly Avoid The Ungodly Words

The third thing the apostle says to Timothy about handling church squabbles is in Verse 16:

Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. {2 Tim 2:16-17a RSV}

The word for avoid is really the word, "walk around." Skirt it; do not get involved; do not join the clamor; do not let yourself be down into these kinds of word battles because, if you get involved, it will only escalate the problem. "It will lead to more and more ungodliness," Paul says. The term he uses, which is translated here, godless chatter, is literally "empty babblings." That refers to people who shoot off their mouths, who talk off the top of their heads and display a lot of emotionalism. Paul tells Timothy to not get involved with that because it will escalate; it will lead to more and more "unwholesomeness," literally.

Further, says the apostle, it will "eat like gangrene." Gangrene is an infection of the bloodstream that not only spreads rapidly through the body, but smells horribly. Foul, suppurating wounds keep increasing in size, so that it is one of the most difficult problems to handle, medically. God's view of a church squabble is that it spreads like gangrene. It smells bad, it spreads quickly, and a whole congregation can be infected by it.

Paul has an example right at hand in Ephesus. Here is a case in point (Verse 17b):

Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some. {2 Tim 2:17b-18 RSV}

4. Trust The Doctor Remember The Word Of The Lord

The last thing the apostle says is, remember God's firm foundation. Verse 19:

But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." {2 Tim 2:19 RSV}

In other words, "Timothy, don't panic over this. Yes, there may be heresy in the congregation, there may be dissension among you and you may have to do battle against it, but, remember, 'God's firm foundation stands.'"

Both of those quotations in Verse 19 are taken from the story in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers about the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. During Israel's wandering through the wilderness, those three men challenged the authority of Moses, saying, "Why do you listen to

Moses? He is no different than we are. We are men of understanding like Moses." Why don't you listen to us, was their implication. Moses took the problem to the Lord, and the Lord said, "Bring them here. Let me give them an examination." Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their families all stood together. Suddenly, before the eyes of the whole congregation, the ground opened up, down they went into the pit and the ground slammed shut behind them. God said, "Any more questions?"

Yes, God knows them that are his. He has his own ways of dealing with this kind of thing. The apostle says that those who are genuine will depart from iniquity.

You've just teed off on the 13th hole of Canyon West Golf Club in Weatherford, Texas. Your shot lands in the fairway, which makes you a better golfer than me. You stride up to the ball, ready for your next shot, when you find your ball resting on yellow metal sticking up from the ground. Congratulations—you've just discovered a buried bulldozer. Acting on a tip, officials recently dug up the fairway, where they found a 9,000 pound Ford rubber tire loader. Investigators have been told that the owners allegedly used the stolen equipment to build the course 14 years ago, then buried it. One official estimates that the bulldozer would have cost $40,000 to $50,000, perhaps more.

Buried it comes to the surface. There is stuff that is covered up that will one day be uncovered.

1 Tim 5: 24 Some people’s sins are evident, going before them to judgment, but [the sins]of others follow them. 25 Likewise, good works are obvious, and those that are not [obvious]cannot remain hidden.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Matthew 8:1-15 Faith Trusts The Lord


When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them."

5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,6 "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly."7 And he said to him, "I will come and heal him."8 But 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.9 For 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, 'Do this,' and he does it."10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.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,12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."13 And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; let it be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment.

We have been introduced to the person of the King (Matt. 1—4) and the principles of the King (Matt. 5—7); and now we are ready for the power of the King. After all, if a king does not have the power to accomplish anything, what good are his credentials or his principles? In chapters 8 and 9, Matthew reported ten miracles. They are not given in chronological order, since Matthew followed his own approach grouping messages or events.

But why did our Lord perform miracles Certainly He wanted to meet human need God is concerned about the temporal well being of His creatures as well as their eternal happiness. It is wrong to separate ministry to the body and ministry to the soul, since we must minister to the whole person.

Certainly our Lord’s miracles were additional credentials to prove His claim as the Messiah of Israel. “The Jews require a sign” (1 Cot 1:22). While miracles of themselves are no proof that a man has been sent by God (even. Satan can perform miracles [2 Thes. 2:9]) they do add weight to his claim, especially if His character and conduct are godly. In the case of Jesus Christ, His miracles also fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (see Isa. 29:18-19 35:4-6). Matthew 8:17 refers us to Isaiah

53:4. These same “signs and wonders” would be the credentials of His followers in their ministries (Matt. 10:8; Heb. 2:1-4).

Along with His compassion and credentials there was a third reason for miracles: His concern to reveal saving truth to people. The miracles were “sermons in action.” Even Nicodemus was impressed with them (John 3:1-2). It is worth noting that five of these miracles were performed at Capernaum, and yet the city rejected Him (Matt. 11:21-23) Even the rejection by the nation of Israel fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (see John 12:37-41). Like the judgments against Egypt in Moses’ day, the miracles of the Lord were judgments in Israel; for the people had to face facts and make decisions. The religious leaders decided that Jesus was working for Satan (Matt. 9:31-34; 12:24).

One thing is certain: Jesus did not perform miracles to “get a crowd.” He usually avoided the crowd. Time after time, Jesus instructed those whom He had healed not to talk too much (Matt. 8:4, 18; 9:30; Luke 8:56). He die not want people trusting Him simply on the basis of spectacular deeds (see John 4:46-54).

The collection of Jesus’ sayings, the Sermon on the Mount, is followed by a similar collection of Jesus’ doings, the miracles. Matthew masses together nine or ten miracles which are divided into three groups of three each, each group of three separated by three sections that are about discipleship. These three little breaks in the miracles are like three landings in a flight of stairs. (ch. 8:18-22; 9:9-17, 35-38).

The first triplet comprises miracles of bodily healing, and shows Jesus as the great physician, curing leprosy, paralysis, and fever. They are to outcast people; a leper, a gentile and a woman.

There was a Jewish prayer that said “I give thanks that I am a man and nt a woman, a Jew and not a gentile, a free man and not a slave.”

The cure of the leper comes first, apparently not from chronological reasons, but because leprosy had been made by the Old Testament legislation the symbol of sin.

1. The Leper’s Faith

Leprosy was without a doubt the most dreaded disease of Jesus’ day. Those with leprosy were said to have a “living death”. One expert writes of leprosy, “No other disease reduces a human being for so many years to so hideous a wreck” [Barclay, “The Gospel of Matthew, Volume One”, Page 295]. William Barclay describes leprosy this way: “It might begin with little nodules which go on to ulcerate. The ulcers develop a foul discharge; the eyebrows fall out; the eyes become staring; the vocal cords become ulcerated, and the voice becomes hoarse, and the breath wheezes. The hands and feet always ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths… [Sometimes] leprosy might begin with the loss of all sensation in some part of the body; the nerve trunks are affected; the muscles waste away; the tendons contract until the hands are like claws. There follows ulcerations of the hands and feet. Then comes the progressive loss of fingers and toes, until in the end a whole hand or a whole foot may drop off” [Barclay, P293-294]. As bad as the physical suffering was, perhaps worse was the isolation and stigma attached to leprosy. Some people treated them with such disgust that they threw stones at them. The Jewish historian, Josephus tells us that lepers were treated, “as if they were in effect dead men”. The leper was completely banished from human society. Because it was contagious, the law said in Leviticus 13:46 (NKJV) “He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.” When the leper traveled and could possibly come into contact with others, the law said in Leviticus 13:45 (NKJV) “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!'” It is interesting that leprosy in the Bible is a picture or a type of sin. At least three times in the Scripture, leprosy was given to a person as a consequence of sin (Moses’ sister Miriam for her rebellion in Numbers 12:10, Gehazi because of his greed and dishonesty in 2 Kings 5:27, and Uzziah the king of Judah when he disregarded God’s law and in pride took the role of a priest in 2 Chronicles 26:19-21). Leprosy pictures the working of sin in a life and the deadness sin causes. The instructions given to the priests regarding leprosy in Leviticus 13 illustrate that sin is deeper than the skin, it defiles, and it is fit only for the fire. Like leprosy, sin affects the whole person; it is loathsome corrupting, alienating and is incurable by man.

In this account, we see a beautiful picture of the gospel. As we read this account we notice that the leper came to Jesus which was forbidden. He had confidence that Jesus would receive him. One of the criticisms of Jesus is seen in Luke 15:2a (NKJV) “And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners…’” Aren’t you glad that He does? John 6:37 (NKJV) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

A leper had to keep apart from men and was shunned by them, but this one ventured to mingle with the ‘great multitudes’ that ‘followed’ Jesus, till he reached His side. The leper approached Him with a flicker of long-absent hope in his heart. No doubt he had heard of some of the earlier miracles; and no doubt the crowd recoiled from him so that he could easily reach Jesus. When he got there he worshipped, or, as Luke puts it, ‘fell on his face,’

He did not doubt the Lord’s Ability.

He did doubt the Lord’s Availability. Why should He do this for me?

The leper does cling to the hope that Jesus does will to heal him, but he will not rebel if he is left shut up in his prison-house. Surely in such a blending of trust, yearning, and acceptance of that Will, whatever it involved, there was the germ of discipleship.

Here was a description for you and I of the Lord’s willingness to heal the outcast. Here is a description for you and I of the Lord’s willingness to save the outcast. 1 Tim 1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them.

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself—a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.

Here is One who is willing to touch your life and mine. He is available to you and I.

John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

He would touch a world in its outcastness and sin.

The Lord’s Compassion is Available

Mark gives the precious addition to the narrative, of a glimpse into the heart of Jesus, when he tells us that, ‘moved with compassion,’ He ‘put forth His hand and touched him.’

No one was allowed to touch a leper because in touching him you would take on his uncleanness. Look at verse 3a (Read). When Jesus touched the leper, He took his defilement and conveyed to the leper His power that resulted in his healing. What an illustration of the gospel! 2 Corinthians 5:21 (HCSB) says “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Don’t take lightly Verse 3b (Read). Here was this hideous looking man with ulcers covering his body, possibly missing toes and fingers, wrapped with bandages and now he is completely healed!

That touch had deep meaning, but it was not done for the sake of a meaning. It was the spontaneous expression of love. The leper had almost forgotten what the touch of a hand felt like. He had lived, ever since his disease was manifest, apart from others, had perhaps lost the embraces of wife and children. The Lord completely cleared away the last film of the cloud of doubt as to the will of Jesus. It answered the ‘if’ by something that spoke louder than any word. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

He would touch a world that is lost just out of pure compassion.

2. The Gentile’s Faith

The second miracle of the healing of the centurion’s servant is the second of the great series which Matthew gives us. It is not accidental that both these miracles point out our Lord’s compassion to outcasts from Israel. They both contribute to the great purpose of Matthew’s Gospel, the bringing out of the nature of the kingdom and the glory of the King.

A centurion was an officer in the Roman occupying army. A centurion commanded up to a hundred men and these centurions were considered the backbone of the Roman army. The word translated “servant” in verse 6 means a young child. This child suffered some kind of painful paralysis that may be what we know as muscular dystrophy or polio. The kindness of this centurion stands out since a suffering child of a slave in that culture would normally rouse no compassion. The centurion manifests a great faith in confessing that Jesus did not have to come to the centurion’s house. He had the authority to just speak and the boy would be healed

Faith Trusts The Lord’s Ability.

Perhaps it was because he didn't want to trouble Jesus, or allow the Lord to become ceremonially unclean by entering the home of a Gentile, but he said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof." Like the leper before him, he showed great reverence and humility.

Notice that both times the centurion addressed Jesus, in vv. 6 & 8, he called him "Lord." That was not mere courtesy. The title "Lord" refers to one who is a ruler or a master. This man recognized Jesus as Son of God.

Knowing and understanding something of the unlimited authority of Jesus, he said, "Speak a word, and my servant will be healed." He recognized that the power of Jesus was not limited by time and space. He knew Jesus could heal and he believed Jesus could heal anywhere at any time.

The basis for his belief is in v.9, He said, "I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one 'Go,' and he goes and to another 'Come,' and he comes and to my servant 'Do this,' and he does it."

As a man "under authority" he could cause his soldiers and his slaves do whatever he wanted simply by giving them orders.

He reasoned that Jesus was "Lord" and had far greater authority than he. If he with limited authority could speak an order and his will would be done, how much more could Jesus do with one word!

Faith Trusts The Lord’s Availability.

He is omniscient God in a human body, Jesus knew all men's hearts, but in His humanity, he "marveled." He said to the Jews around Him, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel." Many Jews believed in His power, but not like this Gentile centurion.

Jesus went on to teach that the centurion would not be alone in His faith. He said "many will come from east and west" referring to the Gentile nations. They will "sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." He also said that many of the "sons of the kingdom," the Jews would be "cast into outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Salvation is not about being a son of Abraham, but about believing in Jesus Christ. Rom.4:3 says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."

Jesus looked to the centurion with a smile on His face and a gleam in his eye and said, "Go your way; and as you have believed so let it be done for you." Matthew adds that the servant was "healed that same hour."

3. The Woman’s Faith. 14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.

Peter’s mother-in-law was healed of a fever. Just as an aside, did you know that Peter was married? Later on in the story of the New Testament, we discover that, as Peter went about preaching, he took along his "believing wife" (1 Corinthian 9:5). Obviously, you can't have a "mother-in-law" without also having had a "wife"! I can't help but think that it would have taken a remarkable woman of God to be the wife of Peter! And it must have also taken a remarkable woman to be his mother-in-law too!

Perhaps late in the afternoon of that same day, Jesus "had come into Peter's house" in the city of Capernaum. Mark tells us that he came into the house with Peter, Andrew, James and John. Upon entering the house, they found that Peter's wife's mother was "lying sick with a fever." The Greek word that is used to describe her situation (ballo) meant that she was "cast" upon a sick-bed. Her illness forced her into bed-riddenness. And when Luke - who was a doctor - told this story, he pointed out that Peter's mother-in-law was sick with "a high fever" (Luke 4:38). It may be that her situation was, in fact, very grave. The fact that she was lying down and unable to get up suggests that she was very ill. Her "fever" would not be treated by aspirin or antibiotics. In those days such sickness could be life threatening. Jesus went to the woman and "touched her hand" like you might hold the hand of a hospitalized friend. At that very moment, "the fever left her."

Faith Trusts The Lord’s Approachability. The Lord’s Approachability was applied to this woman in a very personal way. We're told that Jesus "saw" her. The word that is used (horao) is not a word that describes a mere passing glance. Instead, this particular word is one that refers to an intense kind of "seeing" - the kind in which one looks carefully at the thing being seen, and in which one thinks carefully about what is looked at.

That's one aspect of Jesus' personal display of approachability isn't it? When one of His beloved ones is in need, He sees it. In fact, He sees it very intently. He sees it in such a way as to know, and deeply understand, and deeply feel the need in a personal and particular way.

Another way His approachability was evident was in the fact that He "touched" her. Mark tells us that He actually "came and took her by the hand and lifted her up" (Mark 1:31). Just prior to this, we were told of how Jesus healed the centurion's servant with a word from a distance. But we also read of how this same Jesus was willing to "touch" the leper who came to Him. And Jesus certainly didn't have to touch Jesus' mother-in-law. But He did. Jesus approachability was evident; He not only "sees" intensely the needs of his loved ones; but He also goes out of His way to "touch" them. He made His "touch" a part of His act of mercy. I believe He shows the same sort of loving, personal care and personal mercy to any of His loved ones who are sick and suffering. I believe He still "touches the hand" of His own in their times of affliction even today.

Jesus’ approachability was evident in the very obvious - but also very wonderful - fact that He healed her. The fever "left" her immediately. He met her need completely! And I can't help but notice that her response to His mercy toward her was for her to get up and minister to Him.

That is a very wonderful view of Jesus' mercy. His mercy is very personal. It's very individual and relational. He intensely observes the needs of His loved ones; He cares about them enough to touch them in a very personal and intimate way; and He does for them what is needed - completely.

Wouldn't you agree that you and I should be encouraged by this to turn to Jesus often for His personal mercy toward us? We should make it our regular practice to "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). He is glad to be merciful to us in a very personal way.

In the first two miracles, Jesus showed compassion to an outcast leper and an outcast gentile and slave. Here He does a miracle with for a woman. Physical health, race, social status or gender made no difference to Jesus. This was undoubtedly a serious illness and Jesus immediately healed her and she began to serve Him.

My dear friend, nothing binds a man to Christ but trust. Nothing opens the doors of His Kingdom, either here on earth or yonder, but reliance upon Him. And although you were steeped to the eye-brows in religious privileges, and high in place in His church, it would avail nothing. The Kingdom of Christ is a Kingdom into which faith, and faith only, admits a man.

When Handel wrote the "Hallelujah Chorus," his health and his fortunes had reached the lowest possible ebb. His right side had become paralyzed, and all his money was gone. He was heavily in debt and threatened with imprisonment. He was tempted to give up the fight. The odds seemed entirely too great. And it was then he composed his greatest work--Messiah. Could we not say of Handel that the Spirit entered into him and set him upon his feet?-- Peter Marshall, Sr., "Who Can Take It?,"

God's ears are open to the afflicted, the outcasts, the humble .. it is the proud heart that cannot find God or His graces.

Longfellow could take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it, and instantly make it worth thousands of dollars -- and it's called genius. Rockefeller could sign his name to a piece of paper and make it worth millions of dollars -- and it's called riches. A mechanic can take material worth only five dollars and make it worth five hundred -- and it's called skill. An artist can take a fifty-cent piece of canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it worth thousands of dollars -- and it's called art. Jesus can take a worthless, sinful life, wash it in His blood, put His Spirit in it, and make it valuable to God -- and that's called salvation.

Faith Trusts in the Lord’s Ability

Faith Trusts in the Lord’s Availability

Faith Trusts The Lord’s Approachability.


Do you trust the Lord's Ability?

Do you trust the Lord's  Availability?

Do you trust the Lord's Approachability

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