This Easter will certainly be one to remember. One like we’ve never had before. With all this extra time, it is a perfect opportunity to re-visit the foundations of our faith, to go back to the cross and think about what happened to Jesus and what He completed for us there. It really was an amazing day…but coming to Christ in repentance and faith could also prove to be your greatest day!
*This message quotes extensively from an article written by Andrew Lansdown. You can find the original article here. May it help us all to grasp the wonder of God’s grace to us in Christ.
In sending His disciples out on mission, He took time to prepare the 12 for what they would face in terms of rejection and hatred of the world, but He also took time to make sure His disciples knew of the consequences of their mission. In Matthew 10:34-42, Jesus told them that they would have to know that families would be divided over the gospel, also that their loyalty to Him would have to be greater than that of their families, and even though they would suffer privations in His service, there would be much reward awaiting them.
When Jesus sent out the 12 on mission, he wanted them to face up to reality – on the one hand they would know the hatred and rejection of the world, but on the other hand, they also needed to know some unseen realities working in their favour. Matthew 10:29-33 speaks of these realities. One was the Father’s care for them – something far greater than they would ever realise – and another was the eternal benefits of being faithful and loyal to Jesus in the present, no matter what the cost or danger.
In sending out the 12 disciples on mission, Matthew 10:24-38 records some more of the instructions Jesus gave to his men. While they had grand but false expectations of all going well and them receiving a ‘right royal’ reception, Jesus sought to put reality in place for them. They would not rise higher in status than He, their Teacher and Master, yet, in turn, they should not fear man and what man could do top them, but live with a greater and deeper fear of God.
When Jesus sent out the twelve on mission in Matthew 10:16-23, it was like he was sending them out to war – not that they were going out to kill, maim or fight – but that he sent them into enemy territory and needed to prepars them for what they would face. Rejection. Persecution. Death. The text is a wake up call to God’s people today… reminding us that the world’s hatred of the gospel and the Saviour will be passed down to us.
Chapters 8 and 9 of Matthew’s Gospel records so many of Jesus’ miracles that gave proof to who He is and was – the Messiah, the Son of God. But added to this, chapter 10 also tells us that He was the ‘Lord of the harvest’ who had come to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So, in Matthew 10:1-15, we find Jesus doing that by preparing his disciples to be sent out in His service. They would find it hard, as the rest of the chapter outlines, but in these verses, their task is fairly and squarely laid before them – and those who follow Him as disciples today!
In the next of the series of miracles performed by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 9:18-38, Jesus goes ‘one better’ than before…not only healing a blind man, delivering a demon possessed man, healing a woman suffering from a long term illness and raising a dead girl. However, the point of all these events is not for the sake of information but that we too might believe in Him. These verses also remind us why we should put faith in Him. It is because of the depth of His compassion for people – something that led Him all the way to the cross.
The text of Matthew 9:9-17 related a number of important events, beginning with the call that came from Jesus to Matthew (the writer of the gospel) to follow Him. This tax collector had no hesitation in leaving his old life behind to follow Jesus, and one of the immediate consequences of his decision to do that was seen in the meal hosted in his home at which many other ‘tax collectors and sinners’ were present. This prompted questions from the Pharisees and even from John’s disciples which Jesus was able to answer and put his grace and his coming into perspective.
Matthew 9:1-8 tells the story of the healing and the forgiveness that came to the paralyzed man. The fact that Jesus forgave the man (his first words to him were ‘Your sins are forgiven’) shows that this miracle was more than just another healing. Jesus saw that the man’s spiritual condition was more serious than his outward condition. And so to prove that Jesus was able to forgive the man’s sins (something invisible), He also brought healing to the man’s body (something that all could see) and so prove that He, as the Son of Man, could do both!
*The audio is not quite right for the first 20 secs or so, but be patient…it all comes good!
After recording some examples of the healing ministry of Jesus, in Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew tells of an encounter between Jesus and two demon-possessed men. Matthew had already told his readers of how Jesus had control over demons in both chapters 4 and 8, but this is the first real example of His power at work. And while the demons quickly recognised who Jesus was and what their ultimate destiny would be, Jesus kept his contact with them to a minimum. Matthew tells us that he just spoke one word to them and that was enough!