Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shock and Awe - Matthew 9:32-38

Getting Too Used to Things and Assuming the Worst

32 As they were going out, a mute, demon-possessed man was brought to Him.

33 After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."

34 But the Pharisees were saying, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."

I may be the only one who finds this funny, but in verses 32-33, Matthew doesn't even bother relating the casting out of the demon - he simply says, "After the demon was cast out..." It's almost as if, having recounted so many stories of various miracles, he's used to it - it's "old news." But look at the crowd's reaction: They're completely awestruck! This plays out in modern-day Christianity as well... Have you noticed how new believers have such powerful responses to God's work and passages of Scripture, whereas seasoned believers are sort of like, "Ho, hum"? It makes sense, but it's still not optimal. God's work and Word are just as astounding today as they've ever been. Let's make an effort to pay attention to what amazing things God is doing today, and to conscioulsy think about how amazing they really are, no matter how many times we've seen them.

Now let's look at the Pharisees' response. On the one hand, it's good to be wary of apparent magic. I mean, consider that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) - he will try to pass off his evil power as something holy to trick people. This is how witch doctors, for example, have magical powers. But in this case, they were simply dead wrong! And they could have realized that Jesus got his authority from God (see Jesus's conversation with them about this in Mark 3:22-27) if they'd only thought about the prophecies and humbled their hearts. So, the lesson for us in here is, let's also appreciate what good God is working out from circumstances! We need to keep an eye out for ungodly interference, but we also need to not always assume the worst. Like many things, it's a balance.

Compassion with Action!

35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and like sheep without a shepherd.

37 Then He said to the disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

38 "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

Reading verses 35 and 36 together, it becomes very apparent that what he felt - compassion - led to concrete action - healing them. Just feeling bad for people won't help them - we are called to follow Jesus's example and actually physically help them. James 2:15-16 tells us, "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?" Also notice a couple of other things Jesus did: First of all, He went to them. He didn't demand that they come to Him - or in our case, to our church - to hear what He wanted to tell them; He went out among them to the places they went - He made it about them. Second, He both shared His message with them and ministered to their needs. So many try to spread the Gospel only by talking, but Jesus put action - evidencing His sincere love for them - behind His words.

Finally, Jesus instructs His dicsiples to pray for more Christians to go out and share the Gospel with more lost souls. We should do the same. And also consider: Is it perhaps your task to be an answer to such a prayer? Who in your life can you share Jesus with?

Sharing the Gospel Is an Investment in Someone's Life

This post is much shorter than our usual studies mainly because of time (it's almost midnight Wednesday night as I write this, and I know I won't have a free moment tomorrow to work more on another chunk of Scripture), but I also wanted to save a portion of this to share the below video with you. It fits perfectly in with what we've talked about so far, and may give you some new insight on how to effectively share the Gospel with others.

Please take the time to watch it - it's seven and a half minutes long, but well worth your time.

Questions for You

When have you been completely blown off your feet by God? Have you ever noticed yourself developing a sort of immunity to being so shocked by Him?

When you've shared Jesus with others in the past, what worked for you?
Think about how you came to Christ - what "worked" on you, and how can you use that on others?

Share these, and anything else you'd like to ask or add, in the comments section. :-)

Giving Credit Where It's Due

Picture Number One: Medieval illustration of Jesus healing the Gerasene. Wikimedia Commons. {{PD-1923}} Public Domain in the United States. {{PD-old-70}} Public Domain in the European Union.

Picture Number Two: Ravenna Mosaic of the Good Shepherd by Meister des Mausoleums der Galla Placidia. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain worldwide.

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