Facing Violence (Matthew 8:28-29)

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Jesus has deliberately taken the disciples across the Sea of Galilee. “When he arrived at   the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.”

There is no doubt that one of the men was far more violent and/or verbal than the other, because both Mark and Luke only remember one. Matthew though, recalls two. That the men come out from the tombs means they were living or hiding there for reason. Indeed, a better place from which to hide and surprise unwary travellers could not be found. After all, no one searches a cemetery for potentially unwelcoming strangers when passing through on the road! But “unwelcoming” is an understatement. 

Luke notes of the one man’s demonic condition, “For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. […] Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.” It is not hard to visualize these as hyper-violent bandits that everyone who knew the region avoided, given that they kept escaping custody and were incapable of living in community. 

The disciples would’ve now been some distance from their boat and the relative safety of the lake, and now they were faced with the terror of two mad men meeting them. Imagine the overwhelming fear such a situation would invoke! A fear made all the more visceral by the obvious fact that these were not mere men, but demon-possessed men. Yet for all that, this is the real reason for the lesson of the storm that had appeared while they were sailing – though unlike the regional circumstance of the weather, this is a far more personal event, and likely a far more personal fear for the professional fishermen that some of disciples were. Perhaps as local fishermen, they would’ve heard the tales of being robbed and/or assaulted by bandits on the road, but they wouldn’t have had to face that fear while they stayed in their hometown. When they made the decision to follow Jesus and travel about with Him, it likely ran through their minds that it was just a matter of time before the worst possible circumstance came about. Sure enough, here it was – moments after arriving in Gentile land.

Yet they must remember that the night before, they had been afraid for their lives while sailing during a sudden storm. Now they are afraid for their lives while walking the countryside. But the same Jesus who was with them in the boat is now with them on the land. He is not afraid of the storm, and He is not afraid of the most violent and pathologically disturbed. The Lord had just demonstrated His sovereignty over the wind and waves. He is about to demonstrate His sovereignty over the demons that control people, so as frightful as it was for His disciples, it is really just another occasion for Jesus to reveal more of Himself, and to demonstrate more of His Kingdom. 

Praise the Lord, this same Jesus walks with us. The most frightful circumstance is just another occasion for Him to be revealed as sovereign, powerful and Lord of all!

Apparent adversity will finally turn out to be the advantage of the right if we are only willing to keep on working and to wait patiently. How steadfastly the great victor souls have kept at their work, dauntless and unafraid! There are blessings which we cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are reveali.ngs of Divine truth which we can get only when earth’s lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only after the plowshare has done its work

Chas. E. Cowman

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Thank God that He walks with us into every situation we face. Thank God that He put His Spirit inside us, so that His power is available in every situation we face. Thank God that He never leaves or forsakes us. Thank God that He is willing to come to all – even those we consider ‘out of their minds’. 

Nature (Matthew 8:26-27)

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“He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the   winds and the waves obey him!”  Indeed. What kind of man is this Jesus? 

Any student of the Bible knows that Jesus is the 2nd person of the Trinity. He is Holy Most High God – a fact firmly established in Scripture. Yet that Jesus is also God in the flesh is also a fact firmly established in Scripture. As Isaiah foresaw, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel…” and “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” So when we read of Jesus doing all manner of miracles, we are reading not only of God sovereignly ruling the earth He made, but also of the second Adam. A man untainted by sin, living and working in harmony with God to accomplish His will on earth.

The implications of that second aspect of Jesus’ nature – what theologians call, “the Hypostatic Union”, are profound. Firstly because it means that when we are finally free of sin and its effects, we will be like Him in being able to live and work in perfect harmony with God and His purposes. As the apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” That means we will be perfectly holy and perfectly able to fully obey God in everything, just as Jesus did.

But there is a second, most profound aspect to Jesus’ nature. For if Jesus is fully man (and He is) and fully God (and He is), then those who are sanctified by His work on the cross can start to live as though we are already like Him, albeit imperfectly. Further, that life – what AB Simpson called, “the Christ life” is available to us to live both inwardly in purity (again, not perfectly, but more and more so) and outwardly in ministry. As John also wrote, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 

So when we read of Jesus and ask ourselves, “What kind of man is this?”, we should be filled with the awe of knowing that He is not only God and completely beyond us, but also our example of how we can and should and must act. It means the life He modelled is not meant to be unique. Jesus is a template for how we can and should be living

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can exercise sovereign power to still storms as we want. Sovereign power belongs to God alone. We cannot manufacture a miracle, but we can cooperate with God who does. And in that limited way we can be like Him enough to absolutely accomplish the mission the Father gives us, no matter what obstacles we come across in so doing.

There is nothing in the world worth living for, but doing good and finishing God’s work—doing the work Christ did.


APPLICATION: Intentionality

Today the Spirit of God will lead and guide you. Listen to His prompting. 

Fright (Matthew 8:25-26)

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To be afraid is to be full of fear. Fear, like all the emotions, is not wrong or   right, it is just how you feel. All the same, emotions are powerful tools that can steer our thinking, and they are not always a product of rational thought. Sometimes the emotional response we have is entirely due to our fallen flesh. Sometimes it is from that which is quite beyond ourselves. Everyone knows this. We even celebrate it every time we watch a movie. Moreover, there are times and places where we suspend how we might normally respond to our fear (or other emotion) because we know the place and time we are in does not call for a physical response. Sometimes that is obvious (as in when we are in a theatre), and sometimes it is less so. 

It would seem most reasonable to be afraid when one is in a tiny boat in the middle of a large body of water during a storm. Especially when you are among experienced fisherman who make their living on this exact body of water and they themselves are terrified! But Jesus is not afraid. Though he did not grow up a fisherman, he is sound asleep, even as the storm is so fierce the disciples fear the boat will be lost. 

When they wake Him, the disciples find Jesus unafraid. More than that, He does not identify with their fear at all. In fact, His response is rather condescending. Matthew writes, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Jesus’ response seems harsh. Surely they are right to be afraid, for they know the boat and the lake and have spent their whole lives learning to live with the weather! But from Jesus’ point of view, it is entirely appropriate for the teacher to speak as He has. As He sees it, the disciples are acting entirely out of an unfounded fear. A most unfounded fear, actually, because the situation is just a simple point of circumstance. The full reality of that circumstance is that the disciples are with Jesus – quite literally, they are all in the same boat. And to be with Jesus is to be exactly where God wants you to be. There is no better place to be. 

As readers far removed from that circumstance, we can see that even though the storm raged, they had nothing more to fear than Noah did when he was in the ark. No one focuses on Noah’s fear because the Scriptures do not mention it, even though Noah also would’ve experienced the heaving of the waves, the frightening sound of the wind and rain and the terror of not knowing exactly what is coming next. But the man of faith dismisses such fear, recognizing that the Almighty God who commissioned the boat and led them into it is more than capable of seeing them through the storm.

Jesus knows that those who act on fear are no longer in control of their own lives. Such people are not very helpful as disciples, because they cede control of their words and actions to the emotional strings being pulled by circumstance. Jesus expects His disciples to learn to dismiss that fear by rightly reading their circumstance – and their circumstance is always that God is with them. There is no reason to fear when our God is sovereign.

We now see the people called Christians, though they have drawn their faith from mere allegories, sometimes acting like true philosophers. For their lack of fear of death and of what they will meet thereafter is something we can see every day, and likewise their restraint in cohabiting.


APPLICATION: Intentionality

The decisions we make in the easy times set our ability to weather the though times without panic. Are you in a calm place? Make up your mind now to follow, to endure and to sacrifice. Practice during the calm season, so that when circumstance changes and the spiritual weather turns, you will not yield to fear and can stand strong for Christ.

Facing the Storm (Matthew 8:23-25)

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Some of the crowd that had gathered near Peter’s house had followed  Jesus to the  lakeside (v18). As preparations were made to get to the other side, two of the followers peppered Him with additional questions. No doubt Jesus was tired from a long day of ministry, but ever kind and gracious, Jesus had taken time to address those individuals. Having overheard the questions and His responses, those who remain are a bit clearer as to what a disciple is. We know this because when Jesus gets into the boat they follow Him in boarding. “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.” 

The disciples to this point include a number of people we haven’t met so far in Matthew’s narrative, but we do know Peter, Andrew, James and John (4:18-22). These four were experienced fishermen who made their livelihoods on this very lake. They would’ve known the lake and the weather of the lake quite well. One would expect they would’ve been able to spot a potentially troubling circumstance and would’ve at least commented on it prior to setting out to cross the lake. Yet they do not, meaning it is likely that it looked like clear sailing. Perhaps for that reason Matthew notes that the storm appears without warning. “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.” 

Anytime circumstance appears to be against us we are unsettled. This is especially so when that circumstance is completely beyond our control, and our own sense of exposure is simultaneously aroused. Being on a boat in a large body of water during a storm is absolutely terrifying. At least for us it is. For Jesus – who knows the Father and knows the Father’s love for Him, it is not. “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” The disciples have to wake Jesus – He is sleeping, completely untroubled by what appears to everyone else as certain disaster. There is both irony and comfort in that. He hasn’t left the disciples. He hasn’t abandoned them to their own devices or imaginations. He is both present and available. He can and will respond when they do appeal to Him. They are as safe as He is. 

Jesus is always there, never leaving or forsaking us – so we can know that our response to circumstance says more about our faith (or lack of) than about Jesus’ care for us.

That fact brings to mind the reality that following Jesus ensures at least two outcomes beyond our own experience of His peace and presence. Firstly, that Jesus will use every occasion to reveal more of Himself to you. Even when you are not expecting Him to. Sometimes especially when you are not expecting Him to. Secondly, that from time to time you will have an adventure! God – who is sovereign over every circumstance – seems to delight in arranging circumstances in ways that allow us to see Him at work in them. Sometimes that’s through a long slow progression, and sometimes it is in sudden unanticipated change. 

Both outcomes sound wonderful and refreshing and exciting, but the reality of them is usually disturbing, and sometimes quite frightening. We forget that throughout the Scriptures, the appearance of an angel absolutely terrified those who recorded it. How could we expect less when we see the hand of God? The reality of God is so much more real, so much more overwhelming, so much more awesome than we could even imagine.  

Nature fears in the presence of God.

Charles Spurgeon


In the midst of terrible circumstance, remember that our Father is yet watching over us. 

Burying the Dead (Matthew 8:21-22)

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esus is about to travel to the far side of the lake. He gave orders to set out for there after seeing the crowds gather again. Some from the crowd had followed Him over, and even as He prepares to embark on His travels, people have come up to Him with questions. One of them – a teacher of the law – professed that he would follow Him wherever He went. Jesus dismissed him because He is not looking for a bunch of groupies. He is looking for disciples who will join with Him in His ministry. But before Jesus can leave, “Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”  Unlike the teacher of the law, this person can accurately be called a disciple because He’s already learned to address Jesus as “Lord”. His request is that he be excused from active involvement in the ministry because he has a pressing family obligation. 

In ancient Israeli culture, such a request would not be unwarranted. Moses had made it clear that the Lord placed a high value on family and family relationships, to the point that a recently married man was not to engage in civic service or any other obligation for a full year (Duet 24:5). As honoring your parents was enshrined in the Decalogue (The Ten Commandments), caring for a recently deceased parent (and especially a father) was one of the highest cultural priorities. So much so, that a rabbi once write, “He who is confronted by a dead relative is freed from reciting the Shema, from the Eighteen Benedictions, and from all the commandments stated in the Torah.” To our day, time off for family funerals is an expectation that cannot be ignored – it comes before every other pressing obligation.

All the same, Jesus summarily dismisses this disciples’ predicament, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus’ response may seem harsh, but that’s only because we tend to read it as though He was being unmindful of the disciple’s circumstance – which we have to know was not the case. He was just told it, and He knows every man’s heart besides – how could He possibly be ignorant of what this particular disciple was going through? No, it is not that Jesus was unaware of this man’s loss or his social obligations. Rather, Jesus was pointing out the real and obvious priority.  After all, that particular disciple is in the middle of a conversation with God in the flesh. God Most High is standing in front of him, speaking to him and inviting him to follow! 

There are many offers we can refuse just because they seem uncomfortable to us. There are many offers we can refuse because they are inconvenient. There are many offers we can refuse because we have other pressing obligations. But when the Creator looks at you and speaks to you and extends an offer to you to follow Him – that is an offer you cannot refuse. For what could you possibly do that is better than obeying the Source of all life? 

In saying this, Jesus is pointing out that He is paramount. He is pointing out that what He is doing is paramount, and that engaging in what God is doing is not optional for His disciples. Simply put, there is no circumstance that allows a vacation from the responsibility of following God’s very clear and explicit direction.

All of mankind is made for one purpose – to bring glory to God. We do that best by enjoying Him in God-centred worship and active participation in what He Himself is doing. God, and God’s purposes – are not duties or burdens to be reluctantly carried out from time to time. It is life to know God, it is life to be a witness for God and it is life to imitate Him in what He is doing, because He is life. As Jesus later confessed, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” We never willingly set our own life aside, so why would we even consider to set the source of life aside? To do so – and that to care for the dead of all things – is both unthinkable and foolish. Seen from that perspective, one can see that Christ’s comment to this grieving disciple is logical and obvious. You do not stop being a disciple because you need to engage in grief, or attend to pressing family matters. In fact, it is during such times that your discipleship is most prominently on display. 

Commitment to Jesus is to be without reservation

Stuart K. Weber

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Discipleship is costly. It mandates focus, commitment and wholehearted engagement. Are you prepared to go and do what Christ asks you to go and do?  

Homeless (Matthew 8:18-20)

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Matthew writes, “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the   other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” ” 

Jesus sees the crowd and determines to move. His followers must not only come to Him as the crowds have done, they must actually follow Him wherever He goes. One man – a teacher of the law – does this. He follows Jesus. He approaches Jesus and tells Him that he’ll go wherever Jesus goes. One would think that to be the best possible response. But Jesus’ response is not that the teacher ‘gets it’. Actually, the fact that this particular teacher calls Jesus, “Teacher” instead of “Lord” (as the leper has just done, and as the centurion has just done) is a tip-off that this man doesn’t ‘get it’. He hasn’t fully committed himself to Jesus, in spite of his profession of faith. 

Knowing this, Jesus replies with a statement of the obvious that everyone could get; Foxes have dens to sleep in, and birds have nests to return to, but the savior of humankind has no home of His own. Following Jesus means sacrifice, and the first sacrifice to be made is one’s own comfort.

What crushing news that must have been to the teacher Jesus is speaking to. We never hear of this man again in Matthew’s account. Perhaps he was hoping for a different response – perhaps he was expecting some encouragement for having done and said the right thing. But Jesus is not looking for outward obedience without inward regeneration. Recall that earlier He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” 

Jesus’ reply to the teacher of the law about foxes and birds is a colorful way of saying that the bar is much higher than simply following Him around the globe. Groupies follow someone for the sake of enjoyment – to enjoy their presence, fellowship and at least a hint of their lifestyle. Jesus is not looking for mere groupies. Jesus is looking for followers who commit to a lifestyle of sacrifice for the glory of God.

This short episode in Christ’s ministry is another death knell to the prosperity gospel movement. It is anathema to think that following Jesus by faith results in huge homes, yachts, nice cars and a cushy bank account. The luxuries of life may come to some, but they are certainly not a product of discipleship. If they were, the Jesus of the Bible would’ve had many very large homes! Rather, the reward of faith is Jesus Himself. Those who seek mere material things may gain them (or not), but even if they do, they gain only that which is burned up in the end. Jesus is eternal. He is the source of all value and all meaning. He Himself is the best reward, and by His grace, He can be found by all who purpose to follow Him wholeheartedly.

We may be selected and fully set apart for God, yet we can gather quite a bit of travel dust on our way to the altar of complete sacrifice. Will we offer a dirty sacrifice to God?

Keith Drury

APPLICATION: Intentionality

The Lord calls us to be living sacrifices for His glory. The choice to live a lifestyle of sacrifice is a daily choice. Choose wisely. 

Facing Crowds (Matthew 8:18)

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To this point in his Gospel (8:18), Matthew has detailed how coming to the  Lord means  meeting Jesus as the fulfillment of prophesy and the embodiment of God’s love for His people. It means knowing Jesus as Savior. It means knowing Jesus as healer. It means knowing His Words to us, His grace to us, His care for us and His mercy upon us.

Love, healing, grace, care, mercy and fulfilled prophesy are in high demand. It is no wonder Matthew keeps referring to those seeking Jesus as either “a crowd” or “crowds”. 

Everywhere you go, you will find that people want the Kingdom of God. Everyone wants peace. They want relational peace with those around them. They want peace in their community. They want peace of mind in themselves. Except for truly evil, everyone wants the peace that God Himself brings. Likewise God’s presence. Everyone wants His presence, for His presence means joy, light, life and blessing. You will never meet a person who does not want some form of blessing. Further, to come Jesus is to experience the power of God. It is to obtain health instead of sickness. It is to obtain mobility instead of paralysis. It is to obtain sight instead of blindness. Everyone wants that too. The peace of God, the presence of God and the power of God are in high demand!

The thing is that apart from unity with God, you cannot enjoy any of His blessings, because there is no blessing apart from unity. All the world knows that much at least. There is no blessing in a marriage if the two partners have animosity for each other. There is no blessing in a workplace if your coworkers don’t even like you. There is no blessing in a business if the partners argue about everything all the time. Blessing is tied to unity, and unity with God is a prerequisite to His blessing. So our experience of the peace of God, the presence of God and the power of God all mandate that we have unity with God. It is true that our sin keeps us apart from Him, but this is the very good news of Jesus – He came to make a way for us to have unity with God, and He demonstrates what that unity looks like to all who come to Him. 

So it is that we read over and over again in Matthew’s Gospel account, “When Jesus saw the crowd around him…” Jesus presents a way forward. He represents freedom from what blocks us from receiving God’s peace, presence and power. The people are finding that Jesus does indeed bring freedom, “He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” Such a thing could hardly be unpopular! It is no wonder that we see “crowds” of people coming to Jesus to this point in His ministry! 

Yes Jesus was not seeking to be popular. What He was seeking is those who truly want unity with God. Those who want to become citizens of the Kingdom of God. And for that people will not only have to come to Him, they’ll have to actively follow Him. That always includes overcoming obstacles to keep following Him. After all, those who come to Christ on account of their own need inevitably are at least partially doing so out of selfish reasons. The thing is – there is not even a hint of selfishness in Christ, not a lick of  selfishness in the Father or Spirit and there is to be no selfishness in God’s Kingdom either. Consequently, those who want to follow Christ find their selfishness being ground down by the demands of simply following Him. 

“When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.”  Those who come to Him will need to follow. It is the cost of truly knowing Jesus. 

The evil practice of using God must be abandoned. Instead of trying to employ God to achieve our ends we must submit ourselves joyously to God and let Him work through us to achieve His own ends.

AW Tozer

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What obstacles are you willing to overcome to follow Christ whole-heartedly? 

Confidence (Matthew 8:17)

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Matthew says of Jesus’ healing and deliverance ministry before the cross,  “This was to  fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” In other words, Jesus’ active healing ministry is the fulfillment of that prophesy. So it is that Jesus really did take up the infirmities of the people. He healed sickness and weakness, illness and disability. So it is that Jesus really did carry their diseases. He healed leprosy, fever, dropsy and all manner of disease. As Matthew had just noted, “he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.”

Seven hundred years earlier, Isaiah had said, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” The willing sacrifice of the Son of God was sufficient to meet God’s requirement for justice, completely overcoming the punishment due us for our sins. Therefore Jesus is able to establish peace between fallen people and God Most High. More than that, Jesus’ broken body and death was enough to completely overcome the full effect of the curse laid against Adam’s race. As 1Peter 2:24 testifies, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” Read that again, “By His wounds you have been healed.” Christ didn’t suffer and die only for sins, but also to rid the world He made of the disease and death that plague us. 

That Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was not only for our salvation – but also for our resurrection to full health and immortality – is a key doctrine of the New Testament. The promise of a new bodily reality in which we can enjoy eternity is the promise of the heaven we so eagerly await. It means not only new spiritual life now, but also new physical life in the day to come. To that point Romans 6:4 triumphantly says, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life,” and Revelation 21 declares, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” One day we will be free of sickness and disease and death forever, on account of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

The truly amazing thing is that Matthew is recording the fulfillment of the prophesy even before Jesus suffered. In the fulfillment of the promise before Christ’s suffering and death we see that Jesus is actively moving some of that eternal future blessing forward into the present, in response to the people’s prayer (in coming to Him). Our eternal God can do that because He is present and unchanged in both past and present and future. He is Lord of time as well as space and matter, and praise His Name, He is not bound by time in answering us when we approach Him.

Therefore we can pray for health with some great degree of confidence that our prayer will be fully answered. We can pray with the same confidence that allowed the prophet to declare that Jesus took up our infirmities and healed us by His wounds hundreds of years before Jesus even physically entered our world. For we know that the day is coming when God’s people are totally and forever physically restored. That is a fact. Therefore, the faith we exercise when we pray for healing is not so much to believe the fact we know as it is to ask God to bring something of that future event into our present reality. 

It is that effort – to bring the future into the present – that is the greater work on God’s part, and it is our effort  to ask Him to do so now that is the greater exercise of faith on our part. 

In a determined reliance on a living God rather than on human strength, faith is renewed. When the struggle is engaged actively, believers find fresh hope and renewed life

LeRoy H. Aden & Robert G. Huges

APPLICATION: Intentionality

It takes faith to believe prophesy. It takes faith to believe God for answered prayer. It takes faith to believe for healing. What are you believing God for today? 

Prophesy (Matthew 8:17)

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We are at Matthew 8:17. Matthew has to this point quoted Isaiah 7:14 (Matt 1:22),   Micah 5:2 (Matt 2:6), Jeremiah 31:15 (Matt 2:18), unnamed prophets (Matt 2:23), Isaiah 40:3 (Matt 3:3) and Isaiah 9:1-2 (Matt 4:15-16). Each time he has used the same introductory phrase, which he now uses again in quoting Isaiah 53:4, “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” ”

Matthew is able to look at the events he saw and see not just the event, but the absolute fulfillment of Scripture long ago spoken. Of course that is because of the Spirit’s work in him during the writing of the Gospel. But each of those Scriptures also had an earlier fulfillment that others might have seen in their time. 

For instance, Isaiah 7:14 refers to the virgin giving birth, and then adds, “…before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. The Lord will bring … the king of Assyria.”  So that particular Scripture (Isaiah 7:16-17) was seen to be fulfilled in Isaiah’s time before the Assyrians invaded Judah in 701BC. But the earlier part (v14), although realized at the time, wasn’t completely fulfilled until Jesus was born. 

Likewise, Jeremiah 31:15 – which says, “This is what the Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more,” was fulfilled in part during the exile, when Israel was conquered and the children taken away as slaves. That Scripture had an even earlier fulfillment long before Jeremiah’s day, when Jacob heard his sons asking for Benjamin after going to Egypt, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin.” No doubt as upset as Jacob was, his wife Rachel was even more so! But in Jesus’ day Jeremiah 31:15 had its complete fulfillment in Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

Likewise, the unnamed prophets said of God’s chosen rescuer, “He will be called a Nazarene.” So it was that both Samson (the strong man who defeated Israel’s enemies in his death) and Samuel (the first prophet of Israel) were Nazarene. That prophesy had at least two realizations prior to Jesus, but it wasn’t completed (as a prophesy) until Jesus’ appearing. And so it goes. One wonders if every generation doesn’t see some kind of minor realization of Scriptural prophesy. One would expect so, because God’s Word is timeless as God Himself is timeless, so His Word has echoes throughout time – ripples that go backward through time and carry right up until the final purpose for which it was spoken is fulfilled. Only then can the Spirit of God say with finality, “This was to fulfill what was spoken.” 

From that point forward, the fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word changes the course of everything downstream. All who live from that point on are impacted by the historical fact. For it is not the prophesy that ripples anymore, but the faithfulness of those who fulfilled it. 

The effects of faithfulness, like ripples from a pebble tossed in a pool, spread far beyond the one who is faithful.

Walter A. Elwell


Our God is every faithful ave ever able to fulfill His every promise. Praise Him for His infallible Word! 

Facing It (Matthew 8:16)

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Jesus is literally fulfilling Isaiah 61:1-2a, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is  on me,  because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” His day has so far consisted of finishing his Sermon on the Mount, healing the leper, getting to Capernaum, meeting and ministering to the centurion (teaching those following him in the process) and then arriving at Peter’s house and subsequently healing Peter’s mother-in-law. It’s been a busy day of significant ministry that any pastor would’ve been more than pleased with. But according to Matthew’s account, the day is not yet over for Jesus: “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.”

In teaching the multitudes on the mount, Jesus has launched a full-scale offensive against the spiritual forces blinding people from understanding their true purpose as God’s children. 1John 3:8 details, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work,” and that is what Jesus was doing. Destroying the devil’s work of sickness, affliction, oppression and limitation. The sermon on the mount began that work, the healing of the leper, the centurion’s servant and Peter’s mother-in-law demonstrated that work, and this episode of intense ministry into the evening speaks to the enormity of that work. 

The reality is that while doing that work, the devil is unwittingly helping. Unable to defeat Jesus through temptation, is now trying to defeat Jesus through sheer exhaustion. He allows that many of his demonic minions afflicting God’s people are sacrificed in an effort to grind down the Son by presenting Him with case after case after case of those bound or oppressed. Healing ministry is faith-filling but tiring work. The reward of seeing someone brought into fullness of health is certainly exhilarating, but the mental clarity involved in listening to God for another, and the spiritual effort involved – not just in prayer, but in ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit – is just as tiring as any physical job can ever be. 

Healing ministry is hard work. Deliverance ministry is nothing less than exhausting work. Operating at that level of spiritual warfare is like being in the front line of a war. To say it is mentally, emotionally and spiritually intense is an understatement. That Jesus, who has just finished a very full day of ministry, now addresses the ‘many’ needing deliverance and the ‘all’ needing healing is nothing short of astonishing. No doubt it required Jesus to work very late into the evening. Yet this He does. Each time, Jesus overcomes. Jesus’ endurance and perseverance in his ministry caused that what the devil meant for the defeat of both God and His people is turned into victory for both God and God’s people. 

With each individual ministered to a son of the King is freed, the Kingdom of God advances and the reign of the evil one is eroded. Jesus is completely destroying the devil’s work, albeit one soul at at time. To this end the Father strengthens Him and enables the work. We know this because years before, Isaiah wrote of the Father, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” 

Praise God, He gives strength to all who are weary in His work, for then all will know that it is not us, but God who does the work! Glory to God. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

the apostle Paul (from Ephesians 6:10)

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Praise God that when we are weak, He is strong. When we are tired, He is fresh. When we are exhausted, He is still warming up!