23rd February 2023
Read (Matthew 9v1-13)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
I have seen a modern day evangelist blow on his audience causing them to collapse. I have seen another individual punch and kick people causing them to be "healed". I have seen a white suited man wave his jacket around his head knocking those around them on their backs. I have no time for such antics because like the travelling carnivals of another age, these individuals are showmen.
But didn't Christ do amazing things? He certainly did, but never to sell a book, draw a crowd or captivate the senses. One day a paralysed man was brought to Jesus and the Lord told him "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." (v2) This immediately brought charges of blasphemy against Christ (v3). What is blasphemy? Blasphemy is an act that sees the guilty individual pouring scorn on the things of God.
Normally the scribes would have been correct. No one can forgive sins but God and so if you ever hear anyone claiming the ability to forgive your sins, then such a person is a blasphemer. But this isn't a charge that can be laid at the door of Christ. He explained to the scribes that His healing ministry was to show that He also had the power to forgive sin (v6). He was the "Son of Man" to whom had been given all power and authority.
Jesus told the paralysed man to pick up his bed and go home which in itself was an extraordinary act to show that Christ had the power and authority not only to heal but also to forgive sin. When the crowds saw this miracle they didn't rush to buy a book or post video to Instagram, instead they were afraid and glorified God for giving this authority to Jesus (v7).
Later, the Lord called a tax collector named Matthew to follow Him (v9). To be a tax collector in the Lord's day was to be lower than a snake's belly. Tax collectors worked for the hated Romans and all too often they lined their own pockets by hoodwinking and overcharging their fellow countrymen. Matthew became one of Christ's followers and soon many other tax collectors and sinners gathered to share fellowship with the Lord (v10). Once again this raised questions among Christ's opponents who asked the Lord's disciples “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (v11). The Pharisees could simply not understand why a so called teacher would be lowering himself in this way.
In response Jesus made it clear that He did not come to make good men better but instead as a physician to heal the sick (v12). Hosea 6v6 says "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." and Jesus urged the Pharisees to go and learn what this actually meant (v13). His mission of mercy was not for the self-righteous but sin-scarred sinners and my friends this is extraordinarily good news.
Who among us is pure? Who among us has never sinned? Who among us has never lied? Who among us has never gossiped? Who among us has been sexually faithful in heart and deed? Who among us has kept the law's demands perfectly? You? Me? No.
David was right "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one." (Psalm 53v1-3)
We don't need a white suited American TV evangelist to punch us in the face - we need Jesus. He is the great physician who came to heal us of our sin. He meets us with mercy and forgiveness and blessed are all those who have called upon Him for the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. Thanks be to God.
Q84 What doth every sin deserve? Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.