“Emmanuel’s Restoration Part 1” – Matthew 8:1-4

May 17th, 2015

Matthew 8:1-4 (see also: Mk 1:40-45 & Lk 5:12-16)

“Emmanuel’s Restoration Pt. 1”

 

Service Orientation:  Jesus is King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords with ultimate and comprehensive authority over all.  We are living  outside of reality if we fail to live in light of this.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. — Luke 19:10

 

General Background Information:

  • A new section of the Gospel begins with this chapter, and in it the deeds of our Lord are prominent, rather than His words, as in the previous chapters. The three typical cases of healing recorded are regarded as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in 53:4.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 44)
  • The eighth chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel is full of our Lord’s miracles: no less than five are specially recorded.  There is beautiful fitness in this.  It was fitting that the greatest sermon ever preached should be immediately followed by mighty proofs that the preacher was the Son of God.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 56)
  • Matthew arranged the following accounts topically, not chronologically. Mark and Luke recorded some of the following events, but placed them in different locations, probably in the chronological sequence of events.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 146)
  • Matthew now brings together several miracle stories to show that Jesus not only has a great messianic message but also a great messianic mission. Jesus is not only Messiah in word (chs. 5-7) but is also Messiah at work (chs. 8-9).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 339)
  • (v. 1) As in 4:25, the “following” by the crowd carries no technical sense of discipleship as it will do in vv. 19-23; they are there to listen and to watch, not yet to commit themselves to join the “disciples” of 5:1. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 307)
  • (v. 2) The rabbis considered the healing of a leper as difficult as raising the dead. Yet, God is able to cleanse the leper, as Nm 12:13-15; 2 Kgs 5:14; Mt 8:2-4 (and parallels); 11:5; Lk 7:22; and 17:11-19 clearly prove; but at the moment when Jesus was confronted with the leper mentioned in our passage, Mt 8:2-4, the healings recorded in the NT had not yet occurred, and the OT cures were known to have been very few indeed.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 390)
  • (v. 2) Proskune (from which comes bowed down) literally means to prostrate oneself and is most often translated “to worship” (see Mt 2:2; 4:9, 10; Jn 4:20-24; Acts 7:43; Rv 4:10; 19:10).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 8-9)
  • (v. 2) It is both interesting and instructive to note that the scribes and Pharisees who were doubtlessly in the multitude that day were beautifully and richly attired, yet were inwardly corrupt, proud, and unbelieving. By contrast, the leper appeared loathsome and repulsive on the outside, but inwardly he was reverent and believing.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 9)
  • (v. 4) If word that his healing was done by Jesus reached Jerusalem ahead of the man, the priests would no doubt have been reluctant to verify the cleansing. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 10)
  • (v. 4) In one sense Jesus does submit to the law. He puts himself under its ordinances.  But the result is startling:  the law achieves new relevance by pointing to Jesus.  In conforming to the law, the cured leper becomes the occasion for the law to confirm Jesus’ authority as the healer who needs but to will the deed for it to be done.  Thus the supreme function of the “gift” Moses commanded is not as a guilt offering (Lv 14:10-18) but as a witness to men concerning Jesus.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 199)
  • (v. 4) In contrast to the OT’s assumption of gradual improvement, the man was cleansed immediately. Jesus’ command in verse 4 is to go and show himself to the priest and offer the offering as prescribed in Lv 14:10-11.  This is consistent with Matthew’s understanding that Jesus fulfilled the Law rather than destroy it (Mt 5:17).  (Roger L. Hahn, Matthew: A Commentary for Bible Students, 116)
  • (v. 4) Of what would this “gift,” this sacrifice that the cured leper would offer, serve as a witness? In the context, clearly it would serve as a witness to the fact that the man was healed–and healed by the transforming power of Jesus, who is relating his power to his messianic calling and mission.  Thus the law of Moses itself is being used to testify to who Jesus is.  In other words, in this context the supreme function of the gift Moses commanded (Lv 14:10-18) is not as a guilt offering but as a witness to Jesus.  In his very act of submission to the law, Jesus makes the law point to himself.  If the cured leper pursues the various steps laid out by Moses to attest his purification, then the priest must pronounce him clean; and the pronouncement attests that Jesus performed the miracle that brought about the cleanness.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 162)
  • (v. 4) But Matthew gives no such explanation here, and the immediately following instruction to go and show the priest that he was cured would suggest that this is not so much a blanket prohibition as a matter of priorities: first show the priest, and so gain official sanction for reentering “clean” society; to tell others before the priest had been informed and had ratified the man’s new status would have been pointless as well as contrary to established law. Once that was done, we may assume that others would be told, since a former “leper” could hardly be expected to reappear as a healthy member of society without people needing to know how it had happened.  The visit to the priest and the sacrifices would take a long time: the ritual covers eight days (Lv 14:8-10) and the offerings would have to be made in the temple, necessitating a journey to Jerusalem and back before the man could rejoin his Galilean society.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 308)
  • Granting that physicians might, by their professional skill, have given some relief, it is manifest that there was nothing human about this miracle. (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 372)
  • The purpose of Matthew in these two chapters is to offer the credentials of the Messiah as predicted in the OT. (John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 63)

 

Background Information on Leprosy:

  • From Job 4:7; 8:30; 11:6; 22:5-10; Lk 13:1-5; and Jn 9:2 we gather that the erroneous but almost universal notion (cf. Acts 28:4) according to which a bitterly afflicted person must be notoriously wicked, a superstition refuted by Jesus, was prevalent also among the Jews. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 391)
  • Leprosy is a graphic illustration of sin. Like leprosy, sin infects the whole person, and it is ugly, loathsome, corrupting, contaminating, alienating, and incurable by man.  Lepers in ancient Israel were vivid object lessons of sin.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 8)
  • In ancient times this dreaded and repulsive disease was incurable. Josephus the historian asserts that “lepers were treated as if they were dead men.”  Even in the middle ages priests read the burial service over the victims.  The Jews regarded it not only as a loathsome, contagious disease, but as a judgment from God.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 44)
  • People jumped to this erroneous conclusion because in past history such people as Miriam (Nm 12:6-10), Uzziah (2 Chr 26:19), and Gehazi (2 Kgs 5:25-27) had been judged with leprosy. (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 262)
  • No one might come nearer to a leper than four cubits–a cubit is eighteen inches. If the wind was blowing towards a person from a leper, the leper must stand at least one hundred cubits away.  One Rabbi would not even eat an egg bought in a street where a leper had passed by.  Another Rabbi actually boasted that he flung stones at lepers to keep them away.  Other Rabbis hid themselves, or took to their heels, at the sight of a leper even in the distance.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 296)
  • To be a leper often meant you were under God’s curse (see Nm 12:10, 12; Job 18:13). Healings were rare (see Nm 12:10-15; 2 Kgs 5:9-14) and were sometimes thought to be as difficult as raising the dead (2 Kgs 5:7, 14).  Jesus himself understood the healing of leprosy to be a mark of the dawning of the messianic age (Mt 11:5).  Probably that is why Matthew places this account at the head of his lift of healings:  it provides a startingly powerful instance of Jesus’ authority at work.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 159)

 

The question to be answered is . . . Why is Matthew spending so much ink telling us about Jesus’ authority?

 

Answer:  Because we simply don’t get it.   Jesus is Lord, Master, King and Ruler over all.  ALL!  To fail to understand and live accordingly (put this truth into practice – Mt 7:26) is to identify us as a delusional, psychotic moron.  

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Authority

 

What can we learn from Jesus about authority from Matthew 8:1-4?:

I-  Jesus has the authority to rebuild, restore, renew, reform, revitalize, rebirth, resurrect, reconcile, and redeem that which is lost. (Mt 8:2; see also: Isa 9:6-7; 61:1-3; Dn 7:13-14; Mt 28:18; Mk 1:40; Lk 5:12; Jn 13:3; Phil 2:9-11; Rv 17:14)

 

The authority of Jesus to heal and transform is implicit in his person and mission.  The authority is already his.  He needs only to will the deed, and it is done.  Few lessons are more urgently needed in the modern church.  Hope for reformation and revival lies not in campaigns and strategy (as important as such things may be), but in the authority of Jesus.  His followers must come to him with the attitude of the leper in this account:  they must recognize the sweep of his authority and petition him for grace, for a decision to display his authority in their favor.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 160)

 

Jesus’ miracles were the supreme proof of His divinity and the irrefutable credentials of His messiahship.  Matthew’s purpose in recording the miracles, like Jesus’ purpose in performing them, was to confirm His deity and His claim to be the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.  In many ways this section is the heart of Matthew’s message.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 3)

 

He (the leper) only declares, that he is so fully convinced of the power of Christ, as to entertain no doubt that it is in his power to cure leprosy; and then presents himself to be healed, but uncertain as to the result, because he did not yet know the will of Christ.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 373)

 

When Jesus comes in contact with defilement, he is never defiled.  Far from it:  his touch has the power to cleanse defilement.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 159)

 

Jesus’ authority has been established by his Word and his power.  The Scriptures are explicit about his authority (note the relationship of authority with each of the following):  he has authority to teach (Mt 7:29; Mk 1:22, 27; Lk 4:32); to exorcise (Mt 8:28-34; 9:1-8; Mk 1:23-27; Lk 4:35-36); to heal (Mt 8:1-17; 12:15, 16; Mk 1:29-34; Lk 4:38-31); to forgive (Mt 9:2-8; Mk 2:3-12; Lk 5:18-26; cf. Ps 103:3); to judge (Jn 5:27; 17:2); to give life (Jn 10:28; 17:2); to empower (Mt 28:18-20).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 152)

 

He came to leave us “an example” that we should “follow in his steps” (1 Pt 2:21), But more:  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tm 1:15).  But even more; he came to destroy the devil (Heb 2:14) and to “disarm the principalities and powers” (Col 2:15).  But most of all, most broadly and cosmically of all, God sent his Son to unite or reconcile all things to him (Eph 1:10, Col 1:20).  That is, he sent Christ to restore a broken and rebellious universal kingdom. (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.; Assurances of the Heart, 164)

 

II-  Jesus has the desire to rebuild, restore, renew, reform, revitalize, rebirth, resurrect, reconcile, and redeem, that which is lost. (Mt 8:3; see also: Mk 1:41; Lk 5:13; ch 15; 19:10; Jn 3:16; Rom chps 5-8)

 

Why did God create us and later redeem us at great cost even though he doesn’t need us?  He did it because he loves us.  His love is perfect love, radically vulnerable love.  And when you begin to get it, when you begin to experience it, the fakery and manipulativeness of your own love starts to wash away, and you’ve got the patience and security to reach out and start giving a truer love to other people.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 99-100)

 

The leper came with confidence.  He had no doubt that, if Jesus willed, Jesus could make him clean.

No leper would ever have come near an orthodox scribe or Rabbi; he knew too well that he would be stoned away; but this man came to Jesus.  He had perfect confidence in Jesus’ willingness to welcome the man anyone else would have driven away.  No man need ever feel himself too unclean to come to Jesus Christ.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 297)

 

God is a restoring God.  He takes problems and crises and redeems them.  In the strictest sense, God has never faced a problem.  He doesn’t see problems; He sees opportunities to demonstrate His grace and mercy.  (Floyd McClung Jr.; God’s Man in the Family, 94)

 

Several of those coming to Jesus for healing or other miraculous help are said to have “bowed low” and addressed him as kyrie (see 9:18; 15:25).  Neither term in itself need involve more than a polite recognition of the superior status of the one addressed, but see on 7:21 above for the fuller sense clearly intended in at least some Matthean contexts.  The man’s assumption that Jesus can cure his disease, reflecting Jesus’ popular reputation as set out in 4:23-25, indicates that he is doing more than merely being polite.  More unusual is the explicit raising of the question of Jesus’ will to heal, which perhaps reflects the general horror with which “leprosy” was regarded.  A Jewish teacher with a proper concern to maintain ritual purity might be expected to refuse to have anything to do with him.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 307)

 

III-  Jesus knows mankind’s proclivity to be mindlessly attracted to the dramatic.  He therefore restrains our sinful, natural inclinations so we can come face to face with reality and submit to authority and not the spectacular.  (Mt 8:4; see also: Mt 24:4-24; Mk 1:44-45; 5:43; Lk 5:14-16; 10:20; Jn 2:23-25)  

 

Wouldn’t this have been great advertising for Jesus, bringing more people to hear his message?  While we might think so, Jesus knew better (Jn 2:24-25).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 149)

 

Jesus’ desire for silence is not some theme contrived by the Gospel writers to explain the nonmessianic tradition they received, but is a theme that characterizes Jesus’ historical mission.  He carefully avoids stirring up in the crowds a misunderstanding of his messianic identity.  Although miracles will attest the authenticity of his gospel message about the arrival of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus does not want crowds clamoring for the miracles alone.  They may easily misunderstand his message to mean that he has come to effect only physical healing or to bring national and military liberation.  He will guide his disciples and the crowds to understand that his primary mission is to bring forgiveness of sins (see 9:1-8; 20:28; 26:28), which brings true cleansing.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 341)

 

Why Jesus forbids the healed leper from telling anyone, Matthew does not make immediately clear.  But if we may judge from parallel situations, one of the prime purposes Jesus has in this and similar prohibitions is to discourage the notion that he is primarily a wonder-worker who can be pressed into messiahship by enthusiastic crowds more interested in healings, bread, and trouncing the Romans than in righteousness, repentance, and revelation from the Father.  Jesus’ authority derives from God alone; it is not dependent on the will of the people.  Jesus can never be a democratically elected Messiah.  The will of the people is often fickle; and in any case it is usually controlled by what the people think they can get, not by how eagerly they will submit.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 161)

 

Jesus had to educate men’s minds, he had to change their ideas; he had somehow to enable them to see that his power was love and not force of arms.  He had to work, almost in secrecy until men knew him for what he was, the lover and not the destroyer of the lives of men.  Jesus enjoined silence upon those he helped lest men should use him to make their own dreams come true instead of waiting on the dream of God.  They had to be silent until they had learned the right things to say about him.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 299)

 

Hence we learn the reason why Christ did not wish the miracle to be so soon made known.  It was that he might have more abundant opportunity and freedom for teaching.  Not that his enemies rose against him, and attempted to shut his mouth, but because the common people were so eager to demand miracles, that no room was left for doctrine.  He wished that they would all be more attentive to the word than to signs.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 377)

 

In Mt 12:38 and 16:1 certain religious leaders approach Jesus and ask him to perform a miraculous sign; but they earn only rebuke from the Master.  They had not asked from the perspective of personal need, nor even from the vantage point of the supplicant.  Rather, they ask Jesus for a sign in order that they might come to believe him.  They thus set themselves up as judges, not needy folk hungry for grace.  There was ample opportunity to witness Jesus’ miracles; but they wanted a miracle on demand.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 160)

 

Mark records that the man disobeyed Jesus’ warning and “went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.  As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places” (see Mk 1:45).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 150)

 

Susannah Wesley’s definition of sin: “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is a sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”  (The Fountain)

 

This injunction to silence is common on Jesus’ lips (Mt 9:30; 12:16; 17:9; Mk 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26).  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 298)

 

The leper was so far from deserving praise for the disorderly exhibition of his regard, that he ought, in my opinion, to be condemned for not obeying Christ’s injunction.  If he wished to express his gratitude to him to whom he was indebted for his cure, no better method could have been found than obedience, which God prefers to all sacrifices, (1 Sm 15:22) and which is the origin and foundation of lawful worship.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 374)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does Jesus want us to learn about His authority?:

 

 

A-  To enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ authority, you must first have faith He has authority.  (Mt 8:2; see also: Bk of Judges; Isa 9:6-7; Dan 2:35, 44; 7:13-14; Mt 25:31-34; 28:18; Mk 1:40; Lk 1:32-33; 5:12;  10:22;  Jn 13:3; Phil 2:9-11; 1 Tim 6:13-16; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 2:7-8; Rev 1:5-7; 19:11-16)

 

George Bernard Shaw, about 50 years ago, wrote that the average person today is about as credulous as was the average person in the Middle Ages.  In the Middle Ages, people believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what.  Today, we believe in the authority of our science, no matter what.  (Niel Postman; Technopoly, 57)

 

God said it.  I believe it.  That settles it.  NO:  God said it.  That settles it

 

The essential issue is between the authority of autonomous man and of the Sovereign God.  To allow God into the universe, provided that we open the door, is to say that the universe is our universe, and that our categories are decisive in human thinking.  We can accept the Scriptures as inerrant and infallible on our terms, as satisfactory to our reason, but we have only established ourselves as god and judge thereby and have given more assent to ourselves than to God.  But, if God be God, then the universe and man are His creation, understandable only in terms of Himself, and no meaning can be established except in terms of God’s given meaning.  To accept miracles or Scripture on any other ground is in effect to deny their essential meaning and to give them a pagan import.

Thus, the consistent Christian position must be this:  no God, no knowledge.  Since the universe is a created universe, no true knowledge of it is possible except in terms of thinking God’s thoughts after Him.  (Rousas J. Rushdoony, By What Standard?, 17)

 

God does not expect us to submit our faith to him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity.  — Augustine.

 

I do not mean that when God wills to do something we can always see what the end is.  On the contrary, in countless cases, we can only see that it is His will, and that should be enough for us.  We are sure that whatever He does is done with a holy purpose.  The purpose is often hidden in the mystery of the divine wisdom.  For us to refuse to bow to God’s will just because we do not know what His purpose is–that is the very height of irreligion.  It is the sin of all sin; it is to pit our ignorance against His infinite wisdom and knowledge; it is rebellion and pride and madness.  May God save us all from such a sin as that!  (J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man, 30)

 

The church has been compromised because it has been guilty of elevating human expediency over divine principle.  —Alister Begg

 

Their own authority, these critics tell us, is not the Scriptures, but the lord Himself.  Now this sounds very impressive and very imposing at first, as if they were but stating that for which we are ourselves are contending.  It sounds as if it were a highly spiritual position until, again, you begin to examine it carefully.  The obvious questions to put to those who make such statements are these:  ‘How do you know the Lord?  What do you know about the Lord, apart from the Scriptures?  Where do you find Him?  How do you know that what you seem to have experienced concerning Him is not a figment of your own imagination, or not the product of some abnormal psychological state, or not the work perchance of some occult power or evil spirit?’  It sounds all very impressive and imposing when they say, ‘I go directly to the lord Himself.’  But we must face the vital question concerning the basis of our knowledge of the Lord, our certainty with respect even to His authority, and how we are to come into practical possession of it.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authority, 36)

 

The faith will totter if the authority of Scripture loses its hold on men. —St. Augustine

 

According to Lv 5:3, Jesus becomes unclean the moment he touches this leper.  Yet by means of his healing touch it’s as if he transcends the Law without abolishing it.  Jesus’ touch doesn’t make Jesus unclean; rather it cleanses the unclean.  But in another sense, by touching this leper Jesus is showing us that he is willing to take on his impurities and is foreshadowing his taking all of ours as well (2 Cor 5:21).  Put differently, his mission is the cross.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 205)

 

Needless to say, this view of human reason contradicts the biblical point of view as it has been explained in previous lessons.  The fall of man involved the entirety of man; all aspects of his personality were corrupted by sin.  As a result, reason is not the judge of truth; only God can act as such a judge.  Moreover, sin has so affected mankind that even rational abilities are not neutral.  Christians seek to use their reason in dependence on God.  Non-Christians seek to be independent in their thinking; there is no neutral ground on which to deal with unbelief.  Human reason can be as much a hindrance as a help to faith in Christ.  As St. Augustine once said, “Believe that you may understand.”  To rest our faith on independent reason is to rebel against God.  Reason must rest on our faith commitment to Christ and our faith must rest on God alone. (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive: A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 74)

 

  1. To enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ authority, you must confess your uncleanness and your need for the Savior to rebuild, restore, renew, reform, revitalize, rebirth, resurrect, reconcile, and redeem you. (Mt 8:2; see also: Bk of Judges; Mk 1:40; Lk 5:12; Rom 8:28-30; Phil 3:17-21; 1 Jn 1:8-9; 3:1-2)

 

Coming to Christ is not getting on a popular bandwagon of religious sentimentality.  It is facing and confessing one’s sin and bringing it to the Lord for cleansing.  True conversion takes place when, like the leper, desperate people come to Christ humbly confessing their need and with no pride, no self-will, no rights, and no claim to worthiness.  He sees himself as a repulsive sinner who has absolutely no claim to salvation apart from the abundant grace of God.  He comes believing that God can and will save him only as he places his trust in Jesus Christ.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 11)

 

There was nothing he could do to help himself.  Everyone else had probably given up on him too.  His many years of illness probably meant that even some in his family had discontinued their prayers for him.  He was painfully aware of his condition, and in this he exemplified the blessed spiritual awareness found in the very first words of Christ’s great sermon:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:3, 4).  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 263)

 

This is the only way we can come to Christ too–saying, “Unclean!  Unclean!”  If we come saying, “only partly unclean” or “25% clean,” he will not receive us.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 263-4)

 

All your life you’ve been rewarded according to your performance.  You get grades according to your study.  You get commendations according to your success.  You get money in response to your work.

That’s why the rich young ruler thought heaven was just a payment away.  It only made sense.  You work hard, you pay your dues, and “zap”–your account is credited as paid in full.  Jesus says, “No way.”  What you want costs far more than what you can pay.  You don’t need a system, you need a Savior.  You don’t need a resume, you need a Redeemer.  For “what is impossible with men is possible with God.”  (Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 28)

 

This, then, is the essence of sin; man’s rebellion against recognizing his dependence on God in everything and the assumption of his ability to be independent of God.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 29)

 

The church is closest to heaven-sent revival when it comes to an end of its gimmicks, and petitions the great Lord of the Church, who alone has the authority to pour out blessing beyond what can be imagined, who alone opens doors such that none can shut them and shuts them so that none can open them, to use the full authority that is his (Mt 28:18) to bless his people with repentance and vitality and thereby bring glory to himself.  Only his authority will suffice.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 160-1)

 

A miracle does not come by a lazy waiting upon God to do it all; it comes from the co-operation of the faith-filled effort of man with the illimitable grace of God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 300)

 

The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images:  sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold.  Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck.  Sin is blindness and deafness.  It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it–both transgression and shortcoming.  Sin is a beast crouching at the door.  In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their diving calling.  These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal.  Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony.  Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God, and it does all this disrupting and resisting in a number of intertwined ways.  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 5)

 

The human heart was deemed to be in need of instruction in moral uprightness.  There needed to be a renewing of the mind.

Today, however, such sentiment has been angrily and mockingly denounced in academia; laden down by our technology, we crawl to our halls of fame like Alexander, desperately wanting the world to believe that we, too, are immortal.  How revealing it is that in the bloodiest century of history we deny human depravity.  The relativism of ancient Greece has worked its way into modern America, though the Greek philosophers themselves, even in their day, warned that relativism would be suicidal.  To her credit, early America knew that this was not merely a philosophical problem, as real as that was.  This was a problem of the soul, and the heart of humanity was in need of redemption.  (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintegrating Culture, 40)

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the concern, compassion and love which he showed to mankind, made some very vivid portrayals of man’s condition.  He did not mince words about the gravity of human sin.  He talked of man as salt that has lost its savor (Mt 5:13).  He talked of man as a corrupt tree which is bound to produce corrupt fruit (Mt 7:7).  He talked of man as being evil:  “You, being evil, know how to give good things to your children” (Lk 11:13).  On one occasion he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and talked about an “evil and adulterous generation” (v. 45).  In a great passage dealing with what constitutes true impurity and true purity he made the startling statement that out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, evil thoughts and things of that kind (Mk 7:21-23).  He spoke about Moses having to give special permissive commandments to men because of the hardness of their hearts (Mt 19:8).  When the rich young ruler approached him, saying, “Good Master,” Jesus said, “there is none good but God” (Mk 10:18)…

Jesus compared men, even the leaders of his country, to wicked servants in a vineyard (Mt 21:33-41).  He exploded in condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees, who were considered to be among the best men, men who were in the upper ranges of virtue and in the upper classes of society (Mt 23:2-39).

The Lord Jesus made a fundamental statement about man’s depravity in Jn 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”  He saw in man an unwillingness to respond to grace—“You will not come to God” (Jn 5:40), “You have not the love of God” (v. 42), “You receive me not” (v. 43), “You believe not” (v. 47).  Such sayings occur repeatedly in the Gospel of John.  “The world’s works are evil” (Jn 7:7); “None of you keeps the law” (v. 19).  “You shall die in your sins,” he says (Jn 8:21).  “You are from beneath” (v. 23); “Your father is the devil, who is a murderer and a liar” (vv. 38, 44); “You are not of God” (v. 47); “You are not of my sheep” (Jn 10:26); “He that hates me hates my Father” (Jn 15:23-25).  This is the way in which our Lord spoke to the leaders of the Jews.  He brought to the fore their utter inability to please God.

Following another line of approach he showed also the blindness of man, that is, his utter inability to know God and understand him.  Here again we have a whole series of passages showing that no man knows the Father but him to whom the Son has revealed him (Mt 11:27).  He compared men to the blind leading the blind (Mt 15:14).  He mentioned that Jerusalem itself did not know or understand the purpose of God and, as a result, disregarded the things that concern salvation (Lk 19:42).  The Gospel of John records him as saying that he that believed not was condemned already because he had not believed on the Son of God (Jn 3:18).  “This is the condemnation, that…men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (v. 19).  He said that only the one who has been reached by grace can walk not in darkness but have the light of life (Jn 8:12).  The Lord Jesus emphasized that it is essential for man to be saved by a mighty act of God if he is to be rescued from his condition of misery (Jn 3:3, 5, 7-16).  Even in the Lord’s Prayer the Lord teaches us to say, “Forgive us our debts” (Mt 6:12).  And this is a prayer that we need to repeat again and again.  He said, “The sick are the people who need a physician” (Mt 9;12).  We are those sick people who need a physician to help us and redeem us.  He said that we are people who are burdened and heavy-laden (Mt 11:28)…

The people who were most readily received by the Lord were those who had this sense of need and who therefore did not come to him with a sense of the sufficiency of their performance.  The people he received were those who came broken-hearted and bruised with the sense of their inadequacy.  (Roger R. Nicole, “The Doctrines of Grace in Jesus’ Teaching”)

 

  1. To enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ authority, you must also submit and bow unreservedly before His authority. (Mt 8:2; see also: Ex 15:26; 19:5; Lv 26:3-43; Dt 4:40; 7:12-15; 11:26-27; 15:4-5; 28:1-14; Bk of Judges; Isa 40; Dn 2:21; Mt 23:37; Mk 1:40; Lk 5:12; 13:34; Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pt 2:13-14; Rv 3:14-22)

 

Notice the balance of the leper’s faith.  He has confidence in Jesus (“you can heal me”) mixed with humility (“only if you will”).  Now that’s faith–absolute trust in Jesus and absolute poverty of spirit before him.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 204-5)

 

The man knew that Jesus was not obligated to heal him, but he also knew that He was perfectly capable of doing it.  He had the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who declared to Nebuchadnezzar, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan 3:17-18).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 9)

 

He did not pray, “Lord, cleanse me.”  Rather, he leaves everything to the Lord and makes his own recovery depend entirely on him.  Thus he testified that all authority belongs to him.  (Chrysostom, The Gospel of Matthew Homily, 25.I)

 

The leper came with humility.  He did not demand healing; he only said, “If you will, you can cleanse me.”  It was as if he said, “I know I don’t matter; I know that other men will flee from me and will have nothing to do with me; I know that I have no claim on you; but perhaps in your divine condescension you will give your power even to such as I am.”  It is the humble heart which is conscious of nothing but its need that finds its way to Christ.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 297)

 

The leper came with reverence.  The Greek verb is proskunein, and that word is never used of anything but worship of the gods; it always describes a man’s feeling and action in presence of the divine.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 297)

 

This is why so many moderns have no kingdom power.  You cannot enjoy a kingdom unless you are submitted to the king.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 158)

 

It is not our work to rule the world, but to submit to him that does.  (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 50)

 

We will be spiritually safe in our use of the Bible if we follow a simple rule:  Read with a submissive attitude.  Read with a readiness to surrender all you are–all your plans, opinions, possessions, positions.  Study as intelligently as possible, with all available means, but never study merely to find the truth and especially not just to prove something.  Subordinate your desire to find the truth to your desire to do it, to act it out!  (Dallas Willard, Hearing God, 210)

 

Furthermore, praying “Your Kingdom come” involves a commitment to do God’s will.  Matthew’s record of the Lord’s Prayer expands this phrase: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (6:10).  To pray “Your kingdom come” is to pray for the bending of our wills in profound obedience to his.  It is a commitment to consciously submit everything to his authority.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 157)

 

To worship God is also to bow before his absolute, ultimate authority.  We adore not only his power, but also his holy word.  Psalm 19 praises God first for revealing himself in his mighty acts of creation and providence (vv. 1-6) and then for the perfection of his law (vv. 7-11).  When we enter his presence, overwhelmed by his majesty and power, how can we ignore what he is saying to us?  So, in worship we hear the reading and exposition of the Scriptures (see Acts 15:21; 1 Tm 4:13; Col 4:16; 1 Thess 5:27; Acts 20:7; 2 Tm 4:2).  God wants us to be doers of that word, not hearers only (Rom 2:13; Jam 1:22-25; 4:11).  (John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth, 4)

 

Worship Point:  Recognize the all inclusive realm of Jesus’ authority and worship before Him as King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords.

 

Gospel Application:  In spite of our uncleanness and repulsiveness; perfect, righteous, healthy, and whole Jesus loved us enough to reach out and touch us.  He became what we were so we might become what He is.  (2 Cor 5:21)

 

No creature that deserved Redemption would need to be redeemed.  They that are whole need not the physician.  Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.  (CS Lewis, The World’s Last Night, 86)

 

To a Jew there would be no more amazing sentence in the NT than the simple statement:  “And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper.”  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 296)

 

When Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden, Satan used as the source of his temptation that he could make Adam and Eve “like God” . . . the very thing that God designed and created them to be and the very thing that God desires to restore in us (Rom 8:29-30; 1 Pt 1:1-4).  — Jean Porter 8-7-12

 

If you are regenerate by the power of the Holy Spirit, if you are a converted person, you have been cleansed from something far more deadly than leprosy.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 223)

 

According to the NT, Christ’s blood was shed as a sacrifice (Rom 3:25; 5:9; Eph 1:7; Rv 1:5).  Christ redeemed His people by means of a ransom; His death was the price that freed us from guilt and from enslavement to sin (Rom 3:24; Gal 4:4, 5; Col 1:14).  In Christ’s death, God reconciled us to Himself, overcoming His own hostility that our sins provoked (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18, 19; Col 1:20-22).  The Cross propitiated God.  That is to say, it quenched His wrath against us by expiating our sins, and so removing them from His sight (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).  The Cross had this effect because in His suffering Christ assumed our identity and endured the retributive judgment due to us, that is, “the curse of the law” (Gal 3:13).  He suffered as our substitute, with the damning record of our transgressions nailed by God to His cross as the list of crimes for which He died (Col 2:14; cf. Mt 27:37; Isa 53:4-6; Lk 22:37).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr., New Geneva Study Bible, 1772)

 

Perhaps he was a father and had once known the embrace of his children and his wife, but that was years ago.  In fact, according to Jewish law, no one could come closer than six feet to him.  But now Christ touched him, and as Bishop Westcott says, the word “expresses more than superficial contact.”  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 264-5)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Strive to relinquish control of your life and make Jesus the chief authority to whom you submit. (Ps 111:10; Prv 1:7; 9:10; Mt 6:10, 24; 7:24-25; 12:50; 26:39; Mk 3:35; Lk 6:46-48; 11:28; Jn 15:14; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 3:24; 5:2-3)

 

Spiritual authority is hard to pin down in words, but we recognize it when we meet it.  It is a product compounded of conscientious faithfulness in the Bible; vivid perception of God’s reality and greatness; inflexible desire to honor and please him; deep self-searching and radical self-denial; adoring intimacy with Christ; generous compassion manward; and forthright simplicity, God-taught and God-wrought, adult in its knowingness while childlike in its directness.  The man of God has authority as he bows to divine authority, and the pattern of God’s power in him is the baptismal pattern of being supernaturally raised from under burdens that feel like death.  (J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 77)

 

 

All authority in heaven and on earth

has been given to me. — Jesus in Matthew 28:18

CHRIST:

OMNI-AUTHORITY

 

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