Friday, November 13, 2015

P1 - God's Provisions - Matthew 9

Matthew 9:36-38 "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them,because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples,“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Two phrases occupy my attention as we begin today's post. The first is where Matthew describes how Jesus "felt compassion". Quite literally, it was if Jesus suddenly paused long enough to drink in the human predicament and at the core of His being identified with the crowds as a shepherd would His flock. The second phrase of interest in the above text is where Matthew records Jesus telling His disciples to prayer to "the Lord of the Harvest". The size of the field of souls was immense, and thus required more workers. 

The Lord Jesus is intensely interested in providing whatever is needed to accomplish the callings He gives to us. His own heart and will drives the mission to reach as many souls as possible. Today, I want us to consider some the ways the Lord provides for His people. Matthew 9 will be our text and in it, Jesus lays out the ways in which the Lord provides. Notice how God provides....

1. God's Provision of forgiveness. Matt 9:1-8
Matthew 9:2 reads - "And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” What follows from this pronouncement is the charge of blasphemy by the Pharisees against Jesus. In their minds, Jesus had crossed the line. From their perspective, Jesus was nothing more than a mere mortal man. Mark 2:7 provides a parallel summary of their thinking: “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus then follows up with a statement in Matthew 9:6a "But so that you may know thatthe Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. We must understand that what Jesus was claiming to be in His authority was nothing less than God. From a Jewish perspective, such charges of blasphemy would had - on the surface - contained plausible grounds. The Old Testament repeats throughout that Yahweh, Jehovah God, was the Only One who could forgive sin (Psalm 25:18; 79:9; Isaiah 43:10). The problem with their charges were that they were wrong. Jesus was exercising very appropriate behavior - being that He was and is God in human flesh (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9). Moreover, with Jesus being both God and man, anything He achieved on the cross and from the empty tomb results in forgiveness for anyone who receives such by faith (Ephesians 1:7; John 3:16). This is the first provision. Now notice a second closely related provision...   

2. God's Provision in discipleship. Matt 9:9-17
We read of Jesus' call to Matthew in Matthew 9:9 "As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him,“Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him." Matthew was into his career, his life. He was making money. Christ’s call to Matthew seemed like an interruption, an inconvenience. Yet when Christ’s voice cut through the air, it penetrated Matthew’s ears straight into his heart. Suddenly the clinking of coinage and the rustling of bills were over-powered by the voice of the One who was now laying claim on Matthew. The Call of discipleship, in the timing of God, arrived to rescue Matthew out of the poverty of his sinful condition to begin the journey of following the King of Kings. This was a voice that was unlike any voice he had ever heard. 

Two words were said that spoke volumes into His heart: "Follow Me". What comes next is as shocking as it is unexpected - Matthew, the man of means, the man of money, was touched by Divine Grace. The same voice which created all life and through whom came the entire universe was now through human vocal cords penetrating the dark heart of Matthew. The command to follow Jesus is backed up by the grace of God. Paul spells out this provision most clearly in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

More tomorrow.......