Matthew 9
Reaching People

The journey of Jesus brought Him back across the sea of Galilee to Capernaum, the place where He lived and did many wonderful works. There were those living there who in faith had full confidence in His healing power. There were also those of authority who had control over people. The presence and power of the Lord Jesus in their community exposed their deceptive motives and challenged the religious beliefs they held and taught to the people. The presence of the Lord among His people doesn’t give room for hypocrisy or self-serving religion. Sincerity of heart and the reality of God with us, changes people and places.

When a man was first forgiven of his sins and healed after, it exposed the unreality of those who were religious. The paralyzed man was unable to help himself, and no one else could help him except to bring him to the Lord Jesus who had power on earth to forgive sins and proved that power over the inward spiritual problem, by using His power over an outward and physical problem. Men are limited, for “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” It is cause for praise when one is physically recovered from some serious problem. Often we are filled with awe at such evidence of God working on behalf of one who is in great need. How much more is there cause for rejoicing and praise when one is forgiven of their sins and born into the family of God by the Holy Spirit.

There has always been those skeptics and others who deny the existence of God and belittle the actions and proofs of faith. They always want an explanation from the natural course of things or some scientific data to give an answer to what is a work of God. To think that God works today without any assistance from men, makes them uncomfortable. It means they are accountable to God.

When the Lord paused at the tax collector, Matthew’s table, few who were following Him would have expected Him to call one to follow Him who would have had a reputation for overcharging and cheating people because he was working for the Roman government. Probably even less would have thought Matthew would leave that lucrative position where one could make material gain and become wealthy. But when the Lord calls a person to follow Him, it is well that we remember who chose us to do that. His voice of authority, His word of invitation should never be denied. When the Lord and His disciples sat at Matthew’s table eating with others who would be considered less than respectable people, His reputation would have been hurt before those who were concerned about appearances. The appearance of holiness should not excuse us from the obligation we have to connect with sinful and needy people. The poor, immoral and outcasts are in need of the Gospel and the Savior, just as much as those we would consider more likely to be saved. The Lord made it plain that His mission was to those who were sinners, not to those who considered themselves, “good people.”

Questions about forms, traditions and religious practices often arise when people try to make themselves acceptable to God. It is not unusual for people to compare themselves and what they do with what others do in other places around us. Our success or failure in the things of God is not measured by comparisons. We may at times, be measured by how we are meeting the needs of others around us. Other times we may be measured by our ability or the capacity a group may have to fulfill the obligations we can see. The final measure of acceptance is, what place does the Lord Jesus Christ have in any work or activity. The joy of fellowship with Him and assurance we are in the will of God is not able to be denied even by those who criticize. Our joy in the Lord and the joy of the Lord, is our strength – not our size.

Who would have thought a spiritual leader in the community would be kneeling before the Lord and asking Him to raise his dead daughter back to life. What an expression of faith in Christ! It was too late for anyone else to help his daughter. There was something about the Lord Jesus that inspired hope in a time of hopelessness. With both the father who lost his daughter, and the poor sick woman reaching out her hand in faith to touch the garment of the Lord, there was faith in the Person – the Lord Jesus Christ. The woman had not been able to lead a normal life for twelve years. She would have been considered untouchable by that society. At the same time she fell sick, a little girl baby was born to the ruler. The joy in the one home came when the joy in the other home was lost. We may be wanting to give up on someone we have known for years. Their situation has gone way beyond our ability to help. God can change that when a person is willing to reach out a hand of faith to the Lord Jesus and touch Him for the healing of their soul. Faith in Christ is never misplaced faith – never! For He can change what seems unchangeable and give hope and purpose to a life that has wasted long years. When it is too late for any help we can give one, we can go to the Lord on their behalf. He can do what no one else can. He can bring life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Broken relationships, binding addictions and habits can be dealt with by the power of God. He can forgive! He can give new life! He can do what is impossible with man, “for with God, all things are possible.”

In the eye of my mind, I could see the Lord leave that home and other people rush out to tell the news of the miracle of bringing back to life a child who was dead to all who would listen. Two blind men in particular heard and were following Him as best they could and their calls were unanswered. Their frantic calls would have become more distant as the sighted disciples and the Lord walked on. Those calls were to the Messiah of Israel and the Lord walked away from them. This was not the time for the Messiah to take over the leadership of the nation. Other things had to come first. They finally caught up with Him in the privacy of a house where He questioned them about their personal faith in Him. The scriptures are true, and what they have to say in prophecies are true. But saving faith is not in the scriptures – it is in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those two blind men had to confess Him as their Lord. Then He was willing to attend to their blindness. Though the Lord Jesus was stern in telling them not to publish what had happened to them, they did it anyway. The Lord can, and does still, heal people, but it was not His intention to be known as a miracle worker who just heals bodies, but the One who brings spiritual healing and life to sinners who are dead to God in their sins.

The two men who could see now, were met when they were going out of the house, by people bringing a demon-possessed man in. He could not speak because he was a mute and could make no declaration of faith in Christ. The Lord knew the problem was greater than the man could deal with and drove the demon out of the man’s body which that evil spirit had been using for its own evil purposes. The critics were there waiting to condemn the Lord Jesus for doing what had never been done there before. There will always be those who pass their personal judgment on a work of God no matter what it is. Some will criticize out of envy, others out of spite. Some have preconceived religion-based ideas as to how God has to work and cannot accept the fact that they might be wrong. It is not our right to condemn them in return, but to let what God is doing speak for itself.

None of those things stopped the Lord from going on to accomplish His purpose. The Gospel had to be preached. People had needs to be met. His compassion encompassed them all as He looked on their confusion and doubt. The harvest is still there. The need is still great. Confusion is getting more chaotic as the days pass and people do not know where to turn or what to do. Many will not listen to us but that does not mean that we can stop laboring in the Gospel. God is still able to do above all we ask or think.

There are great needs around that seem more than we can meet.
Who knows what is going on in the lives of those we casually greet.
The help that we can give is probably limited at the best.
But it is within our capacity to tell the weary, Christ will give them rest.

The measure of faith required can be very small indeed.
When a person comes to Christ, He is there to meet their need.
He can do what we cannot, He can, and will, forgive their sins.
Our part in all of this work is to bring the needy ones to Him.

We really will never know the value of a word –
When in a brief conversation we talk to a person about the Lord.
The word of God when spoken can do more than we ever can do –
But that same word may lead to repentance and faith before it’s through.

Whether it is one or many we seek to lead into the light,
At the final end of an event or work, it is God that gives them sight.
So with faith, I too must act when reaching out to others –
And put my trust in God as the ripe harvest we seek to gather.

I have wondered at times about the value of a touch.
In the Word of God I read that effective prayer avails much.
So it is with assurance God knows the heart, I pray someone will reach out a hand –
And when they do so in simple faith, God responds as only He can.

Exactly what is needed, is what God is willing to give.
From the storehouse of His fullness, He dispenses so they can have
The blessing they need whether life, or healing or their sight.
God alone can discern the need, and what He gives is right.

“Father, before us this day is the privilege of telling others of Thee and Thy saving grace. Give power and authority to Thy Word I pray, and save some of those who have been attending. Save them for Thy glory. May all of us who are workers together have the joy of seeing new life spring forth as Thy Holy Spirit works. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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