By Sean Gooding
Matthew Chapter 12:15-21 (continued)
“But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great crowds followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them that they should not make Him known, to fulfill what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
‘Here is My Servant, whom I have chosen, My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will render judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not struggle nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench, until He renders judgment unto victory and in His name will the Gentiles trust.’”
We saw last time how easy it was for religion to take over the truth of Christianity. We saw how religion can even drive us to judge God and call into questions His actions as the religious leaders did to Jesus. Even more frightening is that religion can bring you to the point of wanting to kill off God since you put your faith in the ritual and not the God of the ritual.
One of the hardest things to learn as a Christian is that mankind measures people by what they don’t do most often. BUT God measures you by what is inside your heart. There are many religious people who do not have a heart for God, they don’t actually serve Him. But there are many fallen, broken people who try to fight the flesh each day because they have a deep and abiding love for the Lord.
Man would call Samson a scoundrel and the High Priest a servant. Jesus called the priests hypocrites and Samson His servant (in Hebrews 11:32). True Christianity is about realizing that we are nothing without Jesus. We live in such a time of affirmation, and intrinsically there is nothing wrong with that. But, we have taken it to the extreme.
You and I are not OK! We are lost sinners without Jesus. Further, the more time you spend with God in His Word and in prayer the more sinful you see yourself, and the more gracious you should become. For those who depend on religion they become more self-righteous and thus less useful to God. True Christianity elevates those around us and grounds us. In contrast, religion elevates us and puts down everyone else. Beware of religion, it is not of God it is a counterfeit pagan belief masking as Christianity.
Today we will take a closer look at Jesus Himself. This short passage gives us a lot to rejoice about and it would be wise for us to look and learn.
Jesus Healed Them All, Verse 15
This is an awesome statement. Jesus simply healed everyone who came to Him. This is a reminder to us of the graciousness of Jesus. He healed everyone, even as He was moving away from danger. He took the time to heal all that came His way. True Christianity is the most inclusive relationship to God that there is.
Jesus not only healed all these people physically but He is willing to heal all spiritually as well. God loves everybody. He hates that we are a fallen people; the future He had planned for us and the catastrophe we have created are literally eons apart. Yet God is doing all He can to salvage the future for us. Jesus simply healed everybody. John tells us this in John 21:25:
“There are also many other things which Jesus did. Where every one of them to be written, I suppose that not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written. Amen.”
The gospels give us a “Coles Notes” version of all that Jesus did. Jesus healed hundreds and more likely thousands in His 3 plus year ministry. He cast out demons, He made the blind see, the deaf hear, the sick well, the lame to walk, the dead came back to life and the outcast were brought into the family of God forever. Jesus healed Jew and Gentile alike, He did not discriminate and He showed God’s love to people who had been treated as dirty by the Jews. He revealed Himself to an entire Samaritan city called Sychar in John 4 and redeemed the majority if not all of them.
We are too discriminating in the Lord’s churches today. We select those who we will help and who we won’t help. Jesus, on the other hand helped everybody. What if we actually behaved like Jesus to the people around us?
I am doing a bit of reading about the whole issue of healing. I am not sure if that gift is for us today, for years upon years I did not think so and for the most part today I still don’t but I want to grow in the Lord so I am always researching. Forget about healing or raising the dead.
What if we just need to serve the living? Serve the ill? Serve the outcasts? What if we could make an eternal difference in the life of someone in our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods and our cities? Jesus is still healing; our job is to be like John the Baptist and simply point people to Him.
Jesus Is a Gentle God, Verses 18-20
I like action heroes; I have watched the Terminator series, most of the John Wayne series and most if not all of the Clint Eastwood cowboy and cop movies as well as a host of other movies. I like guys who are “men.” They are tough and can take a hit; they don’t take anything from anyone. This is not Jesus. He was certainly a man’s man. After all, He was a carpenter. He would have had rough hands, the hands of a working man. But Jesus was a gentle man. He dealt gently with people. He understood the fragility of life, the fragility of our minds and spirits. He treated us with genuine love and care as He revealed Himself to us.
Right now I am reading through the Old Testament and the God we see is one who seems to be showing His wrath a lot. But as you truly sift through the verses you find that years, even decades and sometimes a hundred years will pass between episodes of God’s wrath.
God hated and still hates idolatry. He did not tolerate it for long. But in general, God is a patient and kind God who is slow to wrath and quick to forgive. He deals gently with us even in the hard times. Every disaster has a ray of sunlight in it to offer us hope; God’s glory is shown in His grace through our pain and His promises keep us going when our minds, bodies and spirits yell at us to stop.
In Genesis we read of the Flood in chapter 6 and it seems to us that it was a short time to get from the wonder of the Garden of Eden to the global flood. But it took over 1000 years to get there. God sent warning after warning, just the Ark alone took Noah 100 years to build.
God made it big enough to house all who would enter, when the Ark was finished building God waited 7 days before He closed the door. Folks, God did not want to kill anyone at all in that Flood; He wanted everyone to repent and He offered them 1000 years of grace and provided a way of salvation, the people simply refused.
We live in similar times and all too often preachers, me included, preach a “Tough Guy” God as opposed to the loving, gentle, caring, patient, merciful, gracious and kind God that Jesus really is. Yes, He is coming back with an army, yes He will rule with a “rod of iron.” But by that time He would have offered the world 2000 plus years of grace and kindness. Up until that glorious unveiling in Revelation 19 Jesus is still this gentle God who is calling all to repentance and will refuse none who come to Him.
Jesus the God of the Gentiles, Verse 21
I am glad that Jesus is the God of the Gentiles. Jesus came to His own people but they rejected Him, John 1:11-13:
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
The Jews rejected Jesus and they opened the door for the New Testament church made up primarily of Gentiles. God always intended the Jews to take the gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles and the nations around them, but the Jews simply took on the gods of the surrounding nations way too often. Rather than leading they followed, they allowed the light of God to be shaded by idolatry.
Sadly, the modern New Testament churches are in the same boat. We have more programs and more options that any church era before us.
Yet, there is a lukewarmness that permeates the local church like never before. Sadly, church has become an accessory to too many people and not the main thing that it should be.
Jesus is the God of the Gentiles; we should count this as a privilege and not take it for granted. He would have been in His right as the righteous and holy God to simply call it quits and started again in a new dimension with a new Eden.
But NO! Jesus is not that guy. He gave all to redeem the few and He made a way when there was none and then He entrusted the message to us Gentiles. We should be over- flowing with gratitude and thankfulness that God would give us a chance to do what Israel should have done, to take the cross the world.
Yes, we have the privilege of taking the message of freedom and forgiveness to the people all across the world and just to make it easier God has literally brought the world to us. Get up, get out and do something to let the other person know about Jesus. Remember Jesus heals everyone.
“The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
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