Saturday, November 14, 2015

P2 - 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.”

Yesterday we began considering some of God's provisions in Matthew 9 - namely God's provision of forgiveness and His provision for discipleship. Today we will close out our study of Matthew 9 and God's provisions. Notice how God provides....

God's Provision of healing. Matt 9:18-35
The Lord God near the beginning of the Old Testament identified Himself as "The Lord who Heals" (Jehovah Rapha) in Exodus 15:26. Equally significant is the fact that the Old Testament revelation closed out by predicting the 2nd coming of the Messiah with "healing in His wings" in Malachi 3:2. Clearly Jesus' ability to heal body, soul and most importantly the human spirit demonstrated His identity as God in human flesh. Jesus opens up His public ministry in His first coming by referencing a prophecy pertaining to His ability to heal. By the power of the Holy Spirit today Jesus still offers various remedies, with the first (spiritual healing) and last type of medicine (scripture) being His chief remedies that govern the other three.

Jesus' healing power deals with four major sicknesses that were chronic and severe. The first was most severe - raising a girl from the dead (Matthew 9:18-19; 23-26). The second miracle of healing addressed a long-standing blood hemorrhage (Matthew 9:20-22). The third miracle performed by Jesus was the curing of blindness (Matthew 9:23-26). Then finally, Jesus would perform an exorcism (Matthew 9:27-35). We notice that Jesus' methods varied from direct laying on of hands in the raising of Jarius' daughter and curing blindness to having the hem of His garment touched by the woman with issue of blood. Matthew doesn't say how Jesus did the exorcism, however other Gospel texts often portray Jesus commanding demons to flee. God's provision of healing is always available - albeit He may dispense such gradually or delay for the sake of God's glory (compare Mark 8:24-25; John 11:40). The purpose and power of God is what effects healing. The presence of faith - even faith the size of a mustard seed - acts as a container to receive God's provision of healing. Faith cannot affect healing nor do the healing - just as an unplugged electrical cord is ineffective to deliver electricity to a given appliance. The father of of the girl expressed faith in Jesus power to heal (Matthew 9:18); as well as the woman with issue of blood (9:22) and the blind men (9:28). These observations serve to show how Jesus acted as God in human flesh to provide healing to all who came to Him. Notice one more provision...   

God's Provision in evangelism. Matt 9:36-38
Jesus makes the comment regarding the fields being white with harvest - referencing the amount of people needing to hear the Gospel. The Geneva Study Bible has this note under a similar statement from John 4:35 - "When the spiritual corn is ripe, we must not linger, for so the children of this world would condemn us." What does Jesus mean when he says "the fields are ripe"? Several commentaries on both this text in Matthew 9 and Jesus' use of this imagery in John 4:35 suggest either the ripening of a grain field or corn field. As a boy growing up in rural Pennsylvania, our home was adjacent to a field that would alternate every other year with either wheat or corn. The wheat would be harvested in the late spring/ early summer and the corn by later summer. We knew that the corn was ready by the little "tassels" that grew atop. One could peer across those oceans of waving light yellow tassels and expect to hear the whine of a farm tractor gathering the harvest. 

Jesus' point in these images was to convey the fact that in the natural realm, people discern the timing of natural processes. The Creator God is the One Who gives the plants life and the farmer wisdom to know how to plant and harvest the field (Mark 4:26-29). In like manner, the supernatural process of bring people to saving faith requires similar discernment. God equips His people with the Holy Spirit and the Gospel and provides what is needed to fulfill the Great commission and gathering of souls. 

Closing thoughts
Today's message has aimed to consider God's provisions as spelled out by Jesus here in Matthew 9. In this study we have considered four of them:

1). God's provision for forgiveness
2). God's provision for discipleship
3). God's provision for healing
4). God's provision for evangelism