Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Matthew 8:14-17


14 When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him. 16 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were ill,. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ``HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.''

AGAIN the touch of Jesus, just as with touching the untouchable leper, Jesus' touch is powerful, therapeutic and miraculous! The immediacy of its effect is most always there. NOTE that as soon as she was whole again, her immediate response was to serve Him. Do you remember when you first believed and couldn't do enough? Now that you're older and more spiritual "mature", that initial excitement seems to have faded into a little callousness and maybe, at times, has transitioned into being a little cynical about life and now a spectator, not "waiting" on Jesus as Peter's mother-in-law's response? Also NOTE how the word spread, by word of mouth! Not a newspaper add or a door-knob hangers. Word spread by people sharing what they had seen and heard. The best "promotion" is "attraction" to other people sharing their experience, strength and hope.

NOTE the family dimension here. I love it! All of us who are believers are brothers and sisters, we know, but this has a little more down-to-earthness about it. Peter, Jesus' spiritual brother, becomes like a blood brother through the compassion expressed by Jesus toward other family members. We enjoy this so much. We feel like family to so many people out there and therefore feel empathy toward all of the family members in the bunch. I think of the Feenstra/Kellenger clan, Hahns, Sanders, Buskeys, Page, Teran, Ramynke, Thornbro, Nassaney, Peykoff, Calhoun, Klopfensteins, Kurjans, Kucheras and the Kegel's, just to mention a few. I love it!

One more thing about "the touch". This paragraph demonstrates how God used the differing personalities to write the Gospels. Mark, who in his Gospel presented Jesus as the Messiah-the Servant, said the Jesus "helped or assisted" Peter's mother-in-law. Luke, the physician presenting Jesus as Messiah-the Son of Man in all of His humanity, said the Jesus "cured" her. And here, Matthew presents Jesus as Messiah-the King, says that Jesus "touched" her as the touch of the King.

WDJD? What Did Jesus Do? is most important to know in your life. WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? The question is really the answer! Then, you can move into WWYD? What Will You Do? to be and do like Jesus in the world around you today? He wants you and me to be family in as many relationships as we can to reach out and touch those family members who are sick to bring them back on track. WWYD?

Matthew 8:5-13


5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly."

This was a bold move by the centurion. A Roman centurion was a high-ranking military leader within the Empire of Rome. He was concerned for one of his servants who had become paralyzed and was suffering from it. Jesus quickly responds to his request. 7 Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?"

The centurion's reply back to Jesus was: 8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

By his response he was expressing his high respect for Jesus and His authority and power. Note how Jesus views the centurion's response: 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."

Jesus was so impressed with this man's faith and Jesus claims this is the greatest expression of faith he has seen in all of Israel. What makes this so powerful and shocking is that this incredible expression of faith is not coming from any of the Jewish community, but from the Roman world. The Romans served many gods in their culture, including their emperor. Now NOTE what else Jesus says:

11 "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Jesus clearly says that many non-Jews will come from throughout the world and from many other cultures to be followers of Jesus. And, on the contrary, many of the Jewish faith and culture will not even be allowed to join in the great feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom. If you were to translate this into a more contemporary expression, Jesus is saying that the people of faith who will ultimately sit at the table of faith in the Kingdom will not all be Christians and from a Christian culture.

This is one of the key passages from Jesus that shows His attitude and teaching regarding sharing God's Messiah with the many cultures of the world.

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour. What I think is most curious here is that Jesus pronounces this man as a most significant man of faith and implies that this man and many others like him will come to the table of fellowship and faith. To me, it is even more important what Jesus does not say here. Jesus does not warn him to deny his Roman culture and gods nor did Jesus invite Him to come to a synagogue class where he can get his doctrines straight. Why? Because it's all about a person's relationship with Jesus and not a system or list of beliefs, nor is it about converting a person away from his native culture into the Christian culture.

Jesus is looking for people to follow Him and by following Him you will learn that His ways are full and meaningful for your lifestyle and in the process of following Jesus you will come to know the God of gods. In fact, it's in following Jesus that God, the Father and the Spirit will have the opportunity to transform your life inside out. I like that song, "It's All About You". In this song it says, "We made it something else, but it's really all about, Jesus." It's all about your response to Jesus.