Day #28: Daily Bible Reading Plan - January 25th
Scripture Reading: Matthew 8 - 10 …
As you read these chapters it is easy to see why people then and now tend to focus on the power of Jesus to heal every disease and to cast out evil spirits. There is nothing Jesus cannot do, from healing the sick to raising the dead, from calming the storm to casting out demons. But ultimately, that's not why He came!
What is of greater importance in these chapters and throughout the Gospels is the central purpose of Jesus' coming, of His life and ministry, and of God's sending His Son into the world: Forgiveness! Those who had faith in Jesus, who believed that He could heal them of their diseases in this world, or even raise the dead, were healed. Notice that Jesus told them repeatedly, "Don't tell anyone!" Of course, they did and news spread throughout the countryside that this man was able to heal diseases.
In what is perhaps the key phrase in these chapters, Jesus says to the teachers of the law who questioned how He could say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," … "So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins … Get up, take your mat and go home!" (9:6). Later, when at the home of Matthew, the tax collector, and again hearing the criticism of the Pharisees because he was eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (9:13).
Many people today continue to be focused on physical healing as an essential part of the ministry of the Gospel and of those who are disciples of Jesus. Some debate the issue by pointing to what Jesus did and then at what He told the disciples to do in Chapter 10. He "gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness" (10:1). Having no great desire to enter into that debate, I will simply say that I know Jesus has the power to do the same thing today, and that God still performs miracles and sometimes answers the prayers of His people by bringing miraculous healing and even casting out demons. God hasn't changed.
But … was that the purpose of Jesus' coming … then or now?? The disciples were going to be entrusted with the Gospel, with the message that has the power to save sinners from the wrath of God, from His eternal judgment. Jesus tells them that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword (10:34). The Gospel divides people because it demands a response. You either believe that Jesus suffered God's wrath on the cross and confess Him as Savior and Lord, thus receiving His forgiveness … or you don't.
Jesus said, "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (10:38-39). It is true, you see, that you can be physically healed by Jesus and still face the wrath of God in hell. The greater thing … the greater gift … the greater purpose of Jesus' coming was His sacrifice on the cross, by which He removed the barrier that stood between us and God and reconciled us to the Father. When we "lose," when we give up that which we desire in this life, we find true life in Christ. Jesus may heal our bodies, but He ALWAYS heals the spirits of those who come to Him by faith.
While people clamor to those who claim to offer physical healing, the Gospel offers healing to all who believe. Paul writes in II Corinthians 12:12: "The things that mark an apostle - signs, wonders and miracles - were done among you." These things marked the apostles, those who were charged with establishing the Church and to whom was given the Gospel, which alone is "the power of God for the salvation of all who believe" (Romans 1:16).
Praise God for this message that points to Jesus and that carries with it the power to SAVE … to bring spiritual healing to those who were spiritually DEAD in their sin. As surely as Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead in full sight of witnesses, so He does today through the preaching and teaching of His Word through you and me who believe. We are the laborers who are sent out into His harvest field and God promises to use us to gather in the final part of the harvest before Jesus comes.
May we be found so doing when our Master returns!
"Father, how can we thank You for healing our sinful hearts and minds through the truth of Your Word? Draw us to find in the Gospel the healing we need and to proclaim to all that Jesus is willing to heal THEM! Then You will be glorified and Your kingdom will come in our midst. In Jesus' name, Amen"