READ: Matthew 8-9
BACKGROUND: Chapters 8 & 9 follow immediately after the Sermon on the Mount and they detail a number of miracles that Jesus did which demonstrated that he was the promised Messiah.
8:4 – The Mosaic Law prescribed the proper sacrifice for being healed from leprosy in Leviticus 14:1-32. So, the priest should be used to it right? Not exactly. The priest was probably shocked because the only other official record of any Israelite ever being healed of leprosy was Miriam in Numbers 12:10-15.
11- Jesus is saying that Gentiles, not just Jews, will be a part of his Kingdom.
12 – Jesus is saying that a number of Jews (“sons of the kingdom”) wont make it to heaven because they’ll reject him.
17 – This prophecy is from Isaiah 53:4
20 – Jesus is basically telling the guy that it is difficult and costly to follow him.
22 – Jesus isn’t really saying that we should let the dead bury their own dead. He isn’t advocating a zombie apocalypse. He is saying, “Hey, there will always be distractions that provide you with an excuse not to really follow me with your whole heart. If you really want to follow me then you gotta get rid of the excuses and jump in with both feet!”
29 – The demons knew Jesus. They knew he was God even though the people didn’t. They called and addressed and obeyed him as such. They couldn’t do anything without asking him first.
34 – Jesus caused a stir. He was a radical. He challenged the comfortable way people were living. And people don’t like those things so they asked Jesus to go.
9:8 – Only God had the authority to forgive sins. Then Jesus forgives this guy! Pretty crazy and it makes people mad, but it is a clear claim, by him, that he is God.
9-13 – Matthew records the story of when Jesus called him. One thing is important to note – the gospel writers weren’t concerned with chronology. That’s not how literature worked back then (as it does now); instead ancient literature was organized around themes. So it’s likely that Matthew got to witness all the stuff he already wrote about. He just finally got around to telling his story.
13 – “I desire compassion and not sacrifice” is from Hosea 6:6
14 – The Pharisees very publicly fasted twice a week.
16-17 – Put simply: the old and the new cannot be combined. If you’re a new creation in Christ then the old one has got to go.
37-38 – May this be the great prayer of our hearts, that God would send out workers for the harvest. And may we soften our hearts and allow him to send us!
THINK: “I am willing!” “I will go!” “It will be done!” Willing to heal incurable diseases, to end suffering, to raise little children from the dead, to calm a terrifying storm, to cast out demons, to touch the those who are insignificant and marginalized, to care for those with power, wealth, and prestige, to eat with sinners, to act with compassion, and to forgive our sins! Matthew, led by the Holy Spirit, must have been bursting with joy as he wrote these two Chapters. He may have even had writer’s cramp trying to record all the miracles that must have rushed through his mind. And then, in the midst of remembering, Matthew may have paused, put down his pen, wiped a tear or two from his eyes, and contemplated with astonishment that he would now record in God’s Holy Word, for all the world to see, his very own miracle! Jesus noticed him! Jesus spoke to him! Jesus commanded him to follow. And Matthew did.
Each one of our stories is being recorded too! Just like Matthew, we are called by God to be witnesses to the miracles he’s performed in our lives and to tell about the miracles we’ve seen him do in the lives of others! Jesus is still willing! He is still in the business of healing and calming and casting out and touching and caring, and forgiving! Like Matthew, we are instructed to follow! I hope each day, through the power of Jesus living within us, we too can answer, “I will!”
ASK: Do I believe that Jesus is willing to step into the hurt and the pain of my life?…my friends lives? Am I willing to follow when he calls, am I willing to go and be a worker in the harvest?
Written by Deb Howard