Matthew 8
The Master, And His Authority

There are people with problems everywhere we turn. When Jesus came down from the mountain crowds followed Him. Some were curious. Others were critical of Him. Still others were needy people with problems, and for the first time they had hope. One hopeless man on his knees before the Lord, testified publicly of his faith in Christ to meet his need. There was no question in his mind about the Lord Jesus’ ability to meet his need. His concern was about the Lord’s willingness to heal him of leprosy, that serious incurable disease that had physical and social consequences. The Lord’s response to the plea of the outcast man was to touch him and declare His willingness to honor the man’s faith. That touch was probably the first the leper had felt for a long time. Some things may seem to us to have no solution. God does not leave our pleas unanswered. He has a purpose in allowing problems that are impossible for us to solve that our faith and hope may be placed in Him alone. When God works for us and through us, He is not seeking publicity, nor will He act prematurely. He has plans and purposes to fulfill through us. When He chooses to use us in His service, He does expect us to act in faith and give Him the credit for all that is accomplished for His glory “that no flesh should glory in His sight.”

I followed the Lord Jesus in my mind as He entered into Capernaum and was confronted by a centurion who was used to one hundred men obeying his orders. This man, in faith, overcame the obstacles of pride, culture, race, religion and perceived power, to come to the Lord Jesus Christ in true humility and a real expression of faith. The leper had felt the Lord’s touch. The centurion heard the Lord’s word. There never was a question in the mind of either man as to the Lord’s authority. They just wanted His help and for Him to use that authority on their behalf outside the prohibitions of the law or man-made traditions. It is never right for us to limit God in our minds. He is not bound by our preconceived perceptions as to how God is going to work His will. He is going “to will and to do of His good pleasure.” The way we think God will fulfill His work in any given situation may be far different than how He actually does it. He can use any person, and any means, at any time and in any place to do His will. When God is willing to use us in His work, it is a time of great privilege.

In Peter’s house, again the touch of the Master’s hand was used to connect His healing grace and power to a needy person. The cool touch of His grace is greater than the hopelessness of sin or the uncontrollable effects of sin. The Lord can use His authority to overcome every obstacle or claim sin seems to have against us. As I watched the private scene in that home, I saw a remarkable act of gratitude on the part of that older woman. Her immediate response was to rise and wait on Him. I thought of times when God had intervened in my life and I wondered if I have ever responded with more than a “Thank You.” An action of gratitude is more significant than an attitude of gratitude. Some well-thought out action in the future wasn’t what this woman was waiting for. Peter’s mother-in-law saw a present need and immediately went about filling that need. She was not waiting to do some dramatic feat in the future. She was there to do the menial tasks of a house servant and to do it for the Lord. I learned that it is not so much what I do that counts. Rather it is why I do a service and for whom I do it. I can do it “as unto the Lord and not unto man.”

The powers of darkness are never far away when a work for God is being done. Whether it was among the people of God or the people “on the other side,” the Lord Jesus was not limited in any way from overcoming those emissaries of the devil. The effects of the devil can be felt at times when God is working. The authority used over them was not some dramatic earth-shaking event or a tragedy over which we have no control. The power of His word was again all that was needed to bring about the desired result He had. The satanic hosts fear the Word of the Lord and are not able to resist that authority. When the Holy Spirit brings a suitable word of scripture to our mind in times of opposition, it is well for us to immediately use that to drive away the thoughts, temptations or actions that result from such an attack.

There is a cost to be a follower of Christ. The desire may be sincere but the motives behind the desire cannot be less than honest. To follow the Lord is not just an adventure. It is a calling to labor in His field whether in good or bad weather, with favorable or unfavorable results. Discipleship is not easy or comfortable. Often it will cost a friendship of long standing or popularity among people we look up to. It will certainly cost our time, comfortable habits and traditions we have been used to. They will have to be abandoned. Following Christ is a commitment, a yielding of investment in life to investing in treasure in heaven. The rewards from that kind of investment are the ones that yield the full value of living for God and serving Him.

When I saw the Lord Jesus Christ sleeping during the stormy crossing of the sea, I was impressed with His calm in the face of perceived danger. There was no reason for anyone to fear, even though it was natural, because He was there. What is normally a life or death matter to us is very insignificant when the Lord is involved in the situation. I may not see the security of faith, but I can experience it and exercise it in times of distress and danger. Faith in Christ is well-placed faith.

I learned as I followed in my mind the Savior and those who followed after Him, that faith in Him leads to a sense of His touch in every situation. It is not for publicity or just to see some miracle take place that we see the hand of God working for us. It is a testimony to His Person and power when we confidently rest in Him. When that touch of the Lord comes into our lives, it should be only natural that we respond with gratitude by meeting needs that are at hand, and doing what we do as to the Lord.

Humility is a natural result of facing our own limitations. That response to His presence in our lives is natural because we are in the presence of the Supreme Authority of the universe. When that power is used for us, and occasionally through us, it is an occasion for praise and honor to be given to Him in a special way. How great is our God! How greatly is He to be feared! How great an honor it is to be able to serve Him! How gracious of Him to let us be participants in the kingdom of His glory and grace!

Let every knee bow down, let every tongue be raised in praise.
The Lord of hosts has come, and our voices to Him we raise.
His power and authority are made plain, He has come bringing blessing to man.
The One who makes the worlds with His word, has touched a leper’s hand.

The helpless are delivered, from that over which they had no power.
With words of a gracious response, He gives deliverance in the same hour.
Gratitude and honor are due Him in whom we place our faith.
People all around are blessed and delivered by His amazing grace.

The outcasts are received again, those in bondage are set free.
Whoever came in faith to Him, the Lord set at liberty –
That they in turn might realize there was One who could forgive sin.
Forgiveness was granted to the vilest of sinners who came in faith to Him.

We are able to experience calmness through the trials and storms of life.
Resting in faith upon the Lord relieves all of our fears and strife.
Dangers that to man seem great are to Him dealt with by a word.
Even the strongest winds that blow are subject to the Lord.

The enemy of our souls will not cease trying to bring us down.
People of faith need not to fear him when Jesus as Lord we crown
As the One we know as personal Savior and to whom we yield control.
He knows what is suitable to the event – He is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.

With child-like faith we trust Him alone who has reasons for each event.
I may never know why things happened, or why this test was sent.
But I do know Him, and trust Him to do whatever He thinks best.
And with the confidence of faith in Him, I choose in Him to find my rest.

“Father in heaven, the assurance Thou hast given me over many events that happened in my life, is still there. I trust Thee to give Thy servant suitable words for this afternoon. Help me to be precise and still say what needs to be said. Please give to us a sense of Thy power and presence today and in the coming meetings. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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